Why You Throw Like a Girl is both Wrong and Right

Throw like a Girl

I was watching a Reality Television show called Southern Charm when Chelsea Meissner erupted at a male cast member who was having a meltdown. She said something along the lines of check your pants for a vagina and I’ve got a bigger penis than you. Meissner, as you might imagine, has more than a bit of There’s Something About Mary in her. In any case, it got me thinking.

Meissner did not intend to denigrate women but the phrases she used most certainly did. On the baseball diamond it was not unheard of to say, and I’m as guilty as anyone: You throw like a girl. What is meant is not that girls throw badly but the person in question is not good at throwing. The reality is it insults women and makes negative assumptions about their throwing ability.

In the same way Meissner was subtly, although I’m sure unconsciously, suggesting men are better adults than women. Her point was the male cast member was throwing a temper tantrum like a small child and that he couldn’t handle even the slightest bit of adversity without falling apart. This was absolutely true. She was accurate in her assessment but the phrase she used is clearly denigrating toward women in general. That’s the problem.

We have a culture of terminologies that make clearly false gender assumptions, particularly in this modern day and age when women, in progressive countries at least, are finally being given all the same opportunities as men and proving, over and over again, they are equally capable.

What’s to be done about it? I think it’s important to come up with new phrases that will, hopefully, slowly enter the culture. We can easily find ways to make our point without insulting one gender or the other. Instead of you throw like a girl we can simply say you don’t throw well. If we want a bit of color, I’m sure there are ways to make the phrases both appealing and gender neutral. You throw like a penguin perhaps. I’m sure someone else can do better.

It’s got to be a conscious effort. I have to stop complimenting a person’s boldness by tying it to the size of her or his testicles, non-existent though they may be. You have to do the same. It takes time, these changes, but it can be done with a concerted and honest effort. When you say something that denigrates a gender unfairly, you are setting an example. Try to be better, I am.

Tom Liberman

Psychics Mislead Grieving Families

Psychics spew Nonsense


Sadly, psychics are in the news again and things don’t seem to have changed much from the times of the ancient Greeks with the Oracle of Delphi to current times and  John Edwards. As a Libertarian and Objectivist I’m torn by this particular industry.

On one side I see that people are not being forced to go to a psychic, they are not being forced to spend their money, they are certainly not being forced to believe the nonsense they are told. I’ve had a number of friends go to psychic fairs and come back at least marginally convinced in the accuracy of their readings.

On the other side I see fraud against people who are at their most vulnerable. It seems fairly common that a psychic comes forward to give misguided hope to the family of a missing child, for a price. This sort of financial manipulation of grieving family members is truly vile and, in my opinion, rises to the level of criminality. Anyone who goes to a psychic is vulnerable in some way and they are being manipulated.

Vulnerable People

I’m not going to spend your valuable time trying to prove how ridiculous is the entire psychic industry nor how vile are those who take advantage of people in a distressed mental state. What I’d like to discuss is the culpability of the average person in this industry. My friends who go to a psychic fair, the parent who reads a horoscope to their child, the match-maker who uses astrological birth-signs to set up couple, all of these people are supporting an industry that preys on grief-stricken people.

A 2005 Gallup poll indicates that 41% of people believe in some sort of extra-sensory perception. However, I’m not willing to dismiss this group as hopeless. I think it’s clear from story after story that psychics prey on vulnerable people and far more than 59% of people find that disgusting. Even if you’re in the 41% who believe in some sort of psychic phenomenon you most likely despise this sort of manipulation.

So, I ask the 41%, is it worth it? Is the fantasy of psychic powers, of someone knowing the future, worth the damage it entails?

Skeptics Stand Up

To the 59% percent I say, don’t stand idly by when your friends go to psychic fairs and read their daily horoscope. You don’t have to tell them they are stupid, that psychics are wrong and vile. Just say, out loud, that you don’t believe in that sort of thing. Every time you hear someone talking about such things; politely interrupt and say that you don’t believe it and then don’t participate in the conversation.

When we skeptics stand up, politely, you never know who we might inspire.

Tom Liberman