Showing posts from 2011

Untangling the gender knot, part 523: On withholding sex as a form of punishment

This concept sloshes through pop culture (see for example: The Lysistrata Gambit on, and I've always considered it dodgy at best. The idea just seemed nonsensical to me (spoiler: it still does).
I've recently come to think about it some more, because a friend of mine told me that this has happened to him frequently in past relationships. I've found this curious but hey, just because there's something I can't relate to doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
But - yesterday, we somehow arrived at this topic again, and I asked my friend whether maybe the women in question didn't actually intend to punish him by withholding sex; instead, maybe they were simply upset with him and thus not in the mood for physical intimacy. Which turned out to be a completely new idea to him. This struck me as extremely odd and made me think of the old trope of female sexuality existing not in its own right but as a means to an end and mostly a tool for exercising contro…

Finde den Fehler

Zwei der möglichen Arten, als Mann über Genderfoo zu schreiben:

1) Zu der Erkenntnis kommen, dass allgegenwärtige, normative Genderstereotype auch für männlich identifizierte Personen Nachteile, Probleme und Einschränkungen mit sich bringen, und dass ein Gegenhalten gegen diese Stereotype häufig zu Frust und schlechter Laune führt; darüber reflektieren und die Erkenntnisse aufschreiben.

2) Für Obiges den Feminismus verantwortlich machen, seinem Beissreflex gegenüber dem bösen F-Wort freien Lauf lassen, selbigen vorwiegend mit vagen und noch nicht reflektierten Eindrücken von "Feminismus" begründen ("Ich hab da vor 15 Jahren mal gelesen, dass eine Feministin Männer doof fand") und ansonsten sein "Argument" vor allem aus Anekdötchen konstruieren über all die Male, die man von Frauen schlecht behandelt wurde.

Hausaufgabe für die Leserschaft: Welche der beiden Varianten ist konstruktiv und lädt zu empathischer Auseinandersetzung ein, und welche ist destruktives,…

What do you hear when someone says "Anything goes"?

This post concerns a theme that has been threading through my various social circles and fields-of-activity, and it comes down to this question:

What do you hear when someone says "Anything goes"?

Many conflicts I've come across in several areas - such as privacy and civil rights activism, or the advent of citizen biotech and its biosafety issues - can be framed as a conflict between parties who perceive "Anything goes" as a threat, and those who perceive it as a promise. Note that neither of these answers is universally right or wrong - but which answer a person chooses will tell you something about how they see the world and which side they're likely to be on in the above mentioned conflicts.

Example? The discussion between old-school privacy activists and their post-privacy counterparts. Let me give a polemic summarization of the rationale that underpins the arguments each side tends to put forward:

Old-school privacy activists: "Oh my god, there are so…

DIYBio Continental Congress, London, May 8th 2011 - Personal Impressions

Last weekend, some fifteen people gathered in London for a workshop on the ethics of DIYBio, and I thought that I should write about it. The goal was to work out some kind of code for people who kinda-sorta feel associated with the DIYBio movement. The workshop was organized by Jason Bobe from, who deserves thanks and bunnies and rainbows for bringing all these people together.

So. This is mainly a post about my personal impressions from the workshop, excluding any actual results, the reason being that there will be an analogous workshop in the States in June, and we agreed that we don't want to influence or bias it by publishing any of our results or discussions.

First off: It was brilliant to meet everyone. We had participants from Le Paillasse in Paris, London Hackspace, DIYBio Manchester, BiologiGaragen in Copenhagen, and from Cork (Ireland), Freiburg and Berlin. Definitely expanded my "places to travel to in the near future" list.

Truth be told, getting to…

Ramblings: "On Regulation" by Andrew Ellington

Andrew Ellington, Fraser Professor of Biochemistry at UT Austin, has recently published an opinion piece in The Scientist concerning garage biology, synthetic biology, hype and regulation. His main points seem to be:
Synthetic biology is nonsense and nothing but a hype, a fantasy Garage biology is nonsense and nothing but a hype, a fantasyThe analogy of early computer garage innovation and early biotech garage innovation is nonsense and nothing but a hype, a fantasy. Ellington and his fellow students considered it 30 years ago. They found it impractical then, therefore it's nonsense for all eternity.All this hype and nonsense is threatening the work of real scientists by making authorities go into a panicked regulation frenzyI do agree that there's a lot of hype and fantasizing going on, and I'm not sure I'm buying into the whole BioBricks-approach to biological engineering. And yes, BioBricks-style synthetic biology may turn out to be biology's Artificial Intelli…

DIYBio and biotinkering - Laws and regulations in Germany

A few days ago, I was reading a book on working with cell cultures, which includes an overview of the legal requirements for working with GMOs in a lab. This was a bit of a smack on the head for me - I had never thought of that before. With all that talk and all the recent articles hyping garage biology (often meaning garage genetic engineering), I had never come across a discussion of the legal situation. How could I have missed that?

So I looked into the matter, talked to people on the DIYBio mailing list, and it turns out that opening up a biohacking space in Germany as an autodidact is somewhat tricky. The following is a summary of the legal situation in Germany (though bear in mind that I'm no legal expert).

Genetic engineering is regulated through the Gentechnikgesetz (GenTG) and the Gentechniksicherheitsverordnung (GenTSV). Any work that inserts synthetic DNA into an organism falls under this law. To do that kind of work, you have to register a lab. This lab has to fulfill ce…