“The Great Penis Debate” Transcript, Part III


Kate Donovan is wonderful and patient and finally done. Here is part three of the transcript of this video. Part one is here. Part two is here. There will probably be a few errors in the detail here. I told Kate not to bother to do one last play through after she’d immersed herself in the nastiness for this long. Please let me know if you find errors, so I can get them corrected.

Trigger warning for dismissal of claims of abuse, gendered slurs, and jokes about rape.

Minute 1:05

Emery: Travis?

Travis: Actually, I’ve put that to a lot of people, and nobody has really given me an answer. I have a little bit of an answer. So TAM 9, they had a harassment policy. It was in everybody’s packet. They talked about it onstage at least once, that I know of. They did a survey, an anonymous survey that over 800 people filled out. DJ has the specifics. I’m not going to get to it on here, but basically, nobody complained about sexual harassment on it or anything else. What more do you want TAM or DJ to do?

Sara: Get rid of all misogyny everywhere on the planet.

[a few laughs]

Emery: Ohhh, isn’t that cute?

Travis: What I’m suggesting is that because of the aspect of people hanging out in the same hotels that I mentioned earlier–and you got to remember, there’s people that go to Southpoint during TAM, that don’t go to TAM—to hang out with their skeptic friends. So those people aren’t—I mean, you can’t eject them from a conference they’re not going to. But if something is reported to the hotel, then I think that the TAM organizers should have an agreement with the hotel that the Southpoint security mentions it to the TAM organizers, and they can decide whether or not to deal with that particular participant or not. So that’s one example of something I think could be an improvement.

Richard: For further—could I just fill in on that, Travis?

Travis: Sure.

Richard: With TAM being in Vegas, in a casino hotel in Vegas, it’s very different from it happening in a Hilton in Nebraska. It’s very different in one way. They have real, honest-to-God security. Security that will take you out of that hotel immediately. They don’t mess around. Watch if there’s a seventeen year old in that Del Mar lounge. Twenty people descend from the rooftiles. It’s crazy. If there’s a real problem, they will take you out. They will throw you out. It’s their job. TAM does not have security. We’re not DragonCon, where we have a security staff. We’re not WizardWorld [?] where we have a security staff. We have a casino with real cops at the beck and call of real security, with real weapons. Go to the experts.

Wendell: But I don’t think anybody’s saying TAM staff should physically grab people and throw them out. All they’re—

Richard: But they are, Wendell. They are. They are.

Wendell: All they’re saying is TAM staff should have procedures and policies. It can be that procedure is to have hotel security handle it.

Mallorie: Don’t they have procedures and policies?

Wendell: They finally did, last year, yes.

Mallorie: Okay, so why are we still having that conversation? Why are we saying, “People are saying we should have this”, when they’ve had it for over a year.

Richard: People like Greg Laden are saying this. People who have never been to TAM, who have no understanding of what happens.

Wendell: Again, the reason some people are saying it right now is because nobody has said there will be a policy this year, and here it is, or there will be one this year, and we’re working on it. Very simple things that someone could have said, and would make a lot of people happy.

[everyone talks again. Someone in the fray says Wendell should call DJ and ask him]

Wendell: I think I will.

Mallorie: I mean, if they had it last year, and it was successful, I think the assumption is that they’ll have it this year. But if you don’t feel secure in that, and that’s your only concern—

Wendell: But I don’t understand is, people have um—Stephanie Zvan—I don’t know how to pronounce Stephanie’s last name, if that’s right, somebody tell me—has one, communicated vie email and Twitter, to JREF, saying “hey, can you assure me that the policy will be published, and will be in effect this year?” And that was three weeks ago. Dead silence. Why didn’t somebody just reply to her?

Emery: Really? Really Wendell? Really? I’m setting my computer down, and I’m ranting. Are you out of your mind, brother? Really? A single person sent an email three weeks ago and asked about the policy, and she didn’t hear back? From an operation that is completely underwater the month before?

Wendell: Now this person is probably the single blogger most talked about being “the one” at that group of bloggers causing this problem.

[noise]

Travis: Rebecca, not Stephanie.

Wendell: Well, I think it’s been more Stephanie, actually.

Emery: Is Stephanie one of the people who’s been outspoken against TAM? Is that one of the problems we’re dealing with?

Wendell: Stephanie has been outspoken against what she believes is not having the harassment handled properly.

Emery: Then I might ignore her fucking request too, Wendell. In fact, I might ignore it publicly.

Wendell: Then you’re going to make the situation worse if you do that.

Emery: Well, people like that can suck my fucking cock! It’s bullshit!

Wendell: You’re doing exactly the same thing we’re talking about!

[Everybody yells, Travis breaks in]

Travis: Wait, wait, wait. You said something about—

R: DJ Grothe’s number. Call him.

Travis: Wait wait, guys. Don’t make me start muting people. So DJ posted on 6/12 on Skepchick’s blog post, where Rebecca said she wouldn’t be going to TAM. He said, let me get the exact quote…”one way we work to combat the problem was by publishing a code of conduct for particular events last year”. And he puts the link to it. Right?

Wendell: Right.

Travis: Well, to get this away from just Rebecca specifically, or TAM specifically, we have to remember that TAM is the only freethought conference, still, from what I checked last week, that has a policy, or has had a policy. Ever.

Emery: The only one.

Travis: It’s the only one that has near parity male-female speakers, even remotely close. There are 50-50 percent. Not that it matters. But the point is that they’ve done more stuff as implementing policies and trying to get more women speakers and everything else, than any other skeptic or freethought or atheist conference. Ever. And they’re getting the most shit for it. Why?!

Emery: Let me ask you a question, Travis.

Wendell: I know why DJ’s getting shit, but that’s okay.

Emery: Travis, is it possible they’re inviting more women to speak, and they’re inviting more women to come just be TAM goers, and I think they have an actual fund they put together.

Mallorie & Travis: That’s not JREF.

Wendell: And you know who puts the fund together, Emery? That was Skepchicks. Surly and her friends that do that.

Emery: Okay.

[Everybody talks at once. Again.]

Travis: But there’s a number of grant programs.

Emery: Well then maybe, maybe Rebecca and her group are involved in this as well, if they’re putting together a program to get more women to come to TAM so they can just be sexually harassed.

Travis: Well, Rebecca’s even said in her post—

Wendell: Come on, Emery!

[Everybody talks. ]

Wendell: (sarcastically) I think you’re right. I think that’s a good plan. The more they get harassed, the more power Rebecca has, so she can take over the movement.

[Everybody laughs]

Wendell: (sarcastically) Actually, I forgot to tell you this, but she’s offered to pay me to go there if I harass women on her behalf.

Travis: But Wendell, Emery brings up a good point. If Ophelia Benson, if that’s her name, she compared TAM—not directly, but insinuated—Nazi Germany, and all this other stuff. She’s on the speaker list. If she really thinks TAM is that bad, why is she going and speaking there.

Wendell: I haven’t read Ophelia, so I don’t know what she’s been saying. I can’t speak to her posts.

Travis: But regardless. But Rebecca said in future conferences that Amy’s grant program, which I think is great, for the record, because people think I don’t think that for some reason, that they’re not going to use the grant program for TAM, that they’re going to use it for other conferences. And you know, I can give her credit for sticking to her guns and stuff, but like, really, it’s ridiculous. As for as I’m concerned, Ophelia should say “I think this place is unsafe. I think it’s Nazi Germany” or whatever the exact quote that she said it was, and “I’m not going to speak there because this is how I feel about it”.

Sara: Oh, God, no.

Wendell: But of course, that’s Ophelia’s decision. Because she’s a woman on “that side”, they should all drop out because they’re all part of the same bloc, thinking the same thing, right? They don’t get to be individuals.

Travis: I’m not saying that. That’s not what I’m saying. She has specifically called out TAM for being a problem. Sara’s speaking; she’s not saying that. She can go all she wants! There’s no reason for her to pull out.

Wendell: I’m just saying I don’t know what Ophelia’s position is exactly, but she has a right to choose to come.

Sara: But I’m a self-hating fuckface, so there’s a difference.

Travis: You’re gender crazy, Sara [?]

Mallorie: Man, have you got [muffled]

Sara: I’m a self-loathing woman.

Wendell: Self-loathing. Now that’s different than self-hating, I think.

Mallorie: I got, what was it, Stockholm Syndrome, from one of the Freethought Blog people.

[Emery laughs over the rest of what Mallorie says]

Emery: So anybody who speaks out against that position—

Wendell: Hold on for a second, I’d like to hear more about that. Mallorie? You’re saying you were specifically called a person with Stockholm Syndrome by a Freethought Blogger?

Mallorie: Yes.

Travis: Sara was called a lying fuckface!

Mallorie: I’ve been called a lot of things, but my favorite was a person with Stockholm Syndrome. I wrote a note—I’m in the local SSA and atheist group, and I wrote a nice little letter to them, and I happen to be close personal friends with Penn Jillette. So I sent it to him because he’s my friend, and also an atheist. And he really liked it, and was like “can I Twitter it”. And I naively was like, “Yeah, great!” I’m not aware of how Twitter works, and that you have three million viewers or followers, or I don’t fucking know. And the fact that it was meant for my personal friends is mostly irrelevant. Because fine, have it. I stand by everything I said. A few Freethought bloggers got hold of it and were incredibly dishonest about what I said. Especially after—

Wendell: Well, but I’m curious. Can you name names? I read most of those bloggers. I’d like to know.

Mallorie: Jen actually blocked me from commenting on her blog post about me.

Wendell: I didn’t hear you, who did?

Mallorie: Jen McCr…? And then also Jason Thibidoo, or however you say that.

Wendell: Yeah, I don’t know Jason.

Richard: Lousy Canuck, yeah.

Sara: And boy, he is lousy, too. He’s really mad.

[laughter]

Mallorie: Anyway…

Travis: That doesn’t sound insulting when you say it, Sara. I’m sorry, it’s your voice.

[joking around]

Mallorie: suggested very strongly that I had Stockholm Syndrome because I had a good experience and I don’t have any issue with people flirting with me.

Wendell: I apologize, who said the Stockholm thing specifically?

Mallorie: Jason Thibidido, the Lousy Canuck.

Travis: Does anyone else think it’s funny that the people who are on Freethought Blogs calling for a harassment policy run a blog that has the most harassing comments ever?

Mallorie: [something muffled] The title of Jason’s blog about me is “Mallorie Nasrallah: I like it when #mencallmethings”. I mean, maybe I do, but that [laughter] but that wasn’t an assumption on his part, because I said I like dick jokes and crass humor and it doesn’t make me uncomfortable, and I like banter.

Wendell: Oh, that was you!

Mallorie: Yeah, hello!

Wendell: I saw that! That was you, I remember now!

Mallorie: Yeah! What horrible things did you say about me?

Wendell: I can’t recall.

Mallorie: Did you call me a liberterian? Because they did a lot of that too.

Wendell: I might have.

Mallorie: I am. It’s okay.

Wendell: And I actually dislike them more than JREF, but that’s beside the point.

Mallorie: It’s horrible. If anything has made me uncomfortable, it’s those douchebags. Just being shitheads. A couple of them implied that I was doing it to popularize my work, which really upset me. I happen to be an erotic photographer. Irrelevant. Jason was actually like, “Cut that shit out”. Also, Ian, blogs under the name Crommunist, got into it with me. Oh, who else? Oh, the WWJDT blog [sic] got into it with me. Apart from Freethought Blogs, the guy who wrote the book The Man Who Didn’t Sell His Soul on Ebay [also, as she said it], what’s his name? Oh! Friendly Atheist. Friendly Atheist got shitty with me about it. And really, you remember the letter. It wasn’t like that. Those people are great at making people feel uncomfortable. And if somebody asked me, do you feel less comfortable, I’d have to say yes because of those douchebags. Not because of any harassment policy, not because of people with penises, not because of people trying to get laid, but because of these dishonest asssholes who will deliberately—

Sara: Doucheface blogs who think that they’re cool because they have blogs.

Mallorie: I know, right? Maybe they’re just mad because I have an actual website—

Wendell: Is there anybody who doesn’t have a blog anymore?

Travis: I have a personal one.

Wendell: Hey, guys, I have a commitment at 9 o’clock.. I’d said before…

Travis: Okay.

Wendell: Do you want to try to circle around and do what we said we were going to do?

Travis: Emery is there anything you want to touch on? We’ve got ten minutes left.

Emery: I think that the greatest harm that has ever been done to TAM, so far, is, in my opinion, the awful awful groundswell of bullshit that claims that TAM is an unsafe place to women. I think that’s absolute bullshit. I don’t know what the motivations were of the people, all the people involved in turning this into this. I’m not going to say I know or I feel or I think. I just think this: I just think they’re doing so much more harm to the skeptic movement in general. And I don’t believe that there is a danger or a risk, going to TAM, to women and higher than going to the fucking grocery store. I want to also say, in my opinion, TAM should be doing nothing more than they’re doing. I think they’re probably getting themselves too involved, in my opinion, in terms of speaking publicly. I think that’s probably why that girl Zvan—whatever her name is—Stephanie—didn’t get a response back. Because it sounds to me like she was baiting them. And it sounds to me like they said ‘she knows where to find it. It’s on her own fucking blog’. DJ commented there. The fact that she would tell anybody that there was a three-week delay and no response to her email is fucking dishonest. It’s a lie. If DJ said clearly—

Wendell: No—

Emery: No, no, no. If DJ said clearly on her blog, a blog that she is aware of, and in her own community, what the plan is, and she said that, that makes what she’s suggesting a lie. And you yourself, Wendell, are proof that it was a lie. If she knows they have a system in place; if she knows they have a plan, if she knows they’re working on it, because he mentioned it on the Skepchicks blog, very clearly—

Wendell: He did not say that. He did not say that. In that quote he did not say they were working on a plan.

Emery: What did he say? What did he say, Travis?

Travis: Going back.

[We wait—Travis says to go back to talking, he’ll chime in]

Emery: Okay, my point is, if Stephanie is disseminating the information that JREF doesn’t even have a plan this year, for…cause that’s what you intimated, Wendell. You said—

Wendell: I’ll tell you exactly what Stephanie said. What Stephanie said is that all the references she’s seen to this, all references last year’s plan. All references, including the post you’re going to read in a minute, Travis—

Travis: Yeah, no, I found it. It doesn’t mention anything about this year, you were right.

Wendell: They didn’t mention this year. And Emery you got all upset that she’s getting upset because they haven’t replied. They did reply. Her very first tweet to them, as I recall. They replied, and referenced last year’s plan. She then followed up that tweet. They replied very quickly with the first reply. She then followed up with them to say “Well that’s great, I’m glad you did that. By the way, is there going to be a plan this year? Will last year’s plan be in effect?” And I can show you these. They’re on her site. She’s got a picture of the tweets. And they did not reply to that reply on her part. So I do not believe she’s lying at the least. I read everything on that blog, and it was perfectly honest.

Emery: I will rescind half of my rant.

Wendell: Well that’s wonderful. I’m thankful for that.

Emery: I will say this. I will say that in my opinion, what you’re telling me—first of all, you said there was an email, that she hadn’t gotten an email back. I thought it was a private email.

Wendell: I think she did email and tweet both. I’d have to look at the post to tell you.

Emery: If she’s doing that via tweet, if that’s what she’s doing, then their non-response could not be more appropriate, in my opinion. Because what she’s trying to do is inflame this discussion. And what she’s trying to do—anything that she can get them to say publicly, that she can then go after, as she obviously does, going after DJ. And you yourself said you agreed with that post by that one guy….

Wendell: Greg Laden, the one you hate.

Emery: Greg Laden, yes.

Sara: Policies are usually put in place, and then they are in place until someone says otherwise! [makes angry face and fists at camera]

Wendell: That is not true. And all they had to do was say that! She asked the question—

Emery: [yelling] No, it’s not all they have to do! She is fighting them, Wendell! Do you not see that she’s trying to harm TAM!?

Wendell: No, I do not! Why the hell would she try—

Emery: [yelling louder] Because that’s what she’s TRYING TO DO! rough, That’s what she’s doing!

Wendell: What’s her purpose?

[Mallorie tries to talk, but can’t be heard]

Emery: [still yelling] I don’t know what her fucking purpose is!

Mallorie: You have said she only wrote them to do X, Y, and Z. That is assuming her purpose, and that is assuming her purpose.

Wendell: Thank you.

Mallorie: You can say ‘I think she’s a nasty cunt’, but you can’t convict her guilty of something she has not yet done. Whether or not she deserves a personal reply?I think that’s a much stronger argument. Which is no!

Wendell: But she did get a personal reply! Want me to read it to you?

Mallorie: Yes, well awesome! Be happy you got one! These people are fucking busy.

Wendell: You want me to read you what she said?

Emery: Wendell, you don’t—you just did, we heard it. What I’m trying to say, Wendell, is she is doing harm to TAM. She’s doing harm by inflaming a situation that, in my opinion, is not even real. There isn’t a real threat to women at TAM. Not any. Not at all. Now when I say ‘not any’, I mean there’s no more risk going to TAM, and hanging out with the nerds at TAM, than any other setting, where you might—

Wendell: Well guess what? The people that I have been reading, and I haven’t been reading the asshole Canadian, so I don’t know what he says,–

[general giggling]

Wendell: Well, I mean, I don’t know him, so that’s how I’m going to refer to him until I get to know him: the asshole Canadian. I’ve been reading Greta, I’ve been reading Stephanie and Rebecca, who hasn’t said that much about it, really.

Travis: Yes, she has. Let me read a quote from Rebecca—

Wendell: My turn, my turn. No one has said, of the people I’m reading, has said TAM is worse than the universe in general, the human community. No one is accusing TAM of being the problem, and TAM being worse. [Travis is wagging his finger]. I’ll let you read in a second, Travis.

Travis: Yeah, no, it’s fine.

Wendell: They’re saying that it’s not as a safe a place as they want it to be, as they would like it to be, and as they had hoped it to be. Okay Travis…

[Emery starts laughing]

Travis: Okay, this is from Rebecca’s post. “Over the past several years, I have been groped, grabbed, touched in other non-consensual ways, told I can expect to be raped. Told I’m a whore, a slut, a bitch, a prude, a dyke, a cunt, a twat. Told I should watch my back at conferences. Told I’m too ugly to be raped, told I don’t have a say in my own treatment because I posed for sexy photos, told I should get a better headshot because that one doesn’t convey how sexy I am in person. Told I deserve to be raped, by skeptics and atheists, all by skeptics and atheists, constantly”. And this is in a post where she’s talking about why she won’t be at TAM. How does that not reference TAM?

[Wendell and Emery both try to talk]

Emery: Let me just say, that’s not true. When someone say’s she’s too ugly to be raped, I totally disagree with that. [Mallorie laughs]

Wendell: You disagree with that, fine.

[Other people laugh]

Wendell: No opinion, no opinion.

Mallorie: I think it’s a valid point.

[Emery chuckles]

Emery: I’m sorry Wendell, go ahead now. I’m just being silly.

Wendell: I don’t know, the blue hair doesn’t work as well for me as the red hair did.

Travis: Regardless, you said that there hasn’t been specific cases of people saying they feel threatened or whatever at TAM specifically.

Wendell: At TAM. And she’s talking in general. Those things have happened to her in general. I didn’t hear her say—

Travis: But in the same post—

Wendell: I didn’t hear her say “I’m not going to TAM because it’s more dangerous than other places”

[Everyone talks over one another. Emery calls for Travis to read the post]

Travis: “This is quite obviously not a safe place for me or other women who want to be free of the gendered slurs and sexual threats and come-ons experienced in our day to day lives.”

Wendell: She’s saying she wants it to be better than the rest of her life!

Travis: But what I’m saying is that comes right after she lists all these things that have happened to her!

Wendell: Read that sentence again. Read that sentence again.

Travis: “This is quite obviously…” This being TAM. “…not a safe place for me or other women who want to be free of the gendered slurs and sexual threats and come-ons experienced in our day to day lives.” But the point is that she says, later on in the post, that she’s going to go to CSICon, she’s going to continue to go to Nexus. She singles out TAM by saying all these other things she’s going to go to. She obviously doesn’t feel threatened there, otherwise, why would she go?

Wendell: I’m going to have to read the whole post. I’m telling you, that one sentence does not make your case, though.

Emery: Email it to him.

Wendell: No, I’ve got the post. You don’t have to email it to me.

[Everybody talks]

Emery: I know you have to go. I’m going to say this, and then you have the last word before you go and then we’ll finish. But Wendell, if you can’t see that she’s being dishonest and incendiary there, and completely sending an awful message, and quite frankly, is the result of lower women registering at TAM, probably. That’s the most incendiary thing I’ve ever found about this whole thing. And that’s one of the main reasons people don’t feel safe at TAM. And it’s fucking dishonest, and it’s evil. And it’s wrong. Now go ahead and finish.

Travis: Last word—

Wendell: Hard to follow. [laughs]. I’m going to back out and not fight for the last word, because I don’t have time.

Emery: Well what do you think we should do? No, please tell us. What should we do now?

Wendell: I’ve already been through. I believe there should be harassment policies. I’m not going to tell you what should be in them. I mean, honestly guys, I’m not involved in this at the same level that all of you are, even. I’m just a guy who reads some blogs. I mean, we’ve got people here who know Penn Jillette. Oh, I’m so impressed.

Mallorie: I wasn’t trying to name drop!

Wendell: People who have called DJ Grothe, and talked to him. Oh, boy. We’ve got Emery. So I admit, I don’t have the same knowledge base you guys do. I do share Emery’s…well, everybody agrees, I think. Would you guys agree that everybody has handled it crappy? On both sides?

[talking]

Wendell: Well, not every single person on both sides. But generically, most sides have reacted badly enough to cause it to get bigger and bigger.

Mallorie: No, I like what DJ has done. It has been slow and methodical, but it has given us actual results—

Wendell: Ah, I’m out of time.

[Discussion of issues ends, plans for other stuff is made]

Comments

  1. julian says

    No, I like what DJ has done. It has been slow and methodical, but it has given us actual results— – Mallorie Nasrallah

    You realize, I hope but doubt, that almost everyone who’s been critical of Grothe gave him credit for being the first with an anti-harassment policy and congratulate him for TAM’s success.

  2. Momo Elektra says

    How much of these faux communication problems can be explained by network rivalry?

    They weren’t really debating the situation. This was a mock fest of FTB and Skepchick.

  3. says

    Awesome, high five to DJ.
    I would not say “I agree that everybody has handled it crappy? On both sides?” As Wendell asked. I don’t think DJ has handled it badly.
    Thats all I was saying.

    You do realise that you don’t have to argue with everything I say?

  4. screechy monkey says

    Could these people at least make an attempt to be consistent?

    How can you rag on people for blogging and tweeting about this issue instead of phoning DJ Grothe, and insist that the JREF is totally right to ignore Stephanie’s emails and tweets on the subject, and ignore the fact that it was DJ who made this a public discussion in the first place! Why isn’t it his fault for not picking up a phone and asking these nefarious bloggers, “hey, what have you been telling people about TAM? Because I’m seeing a drop in women’s registrations, and I think that’s the reason”? Why isn’t DJ the one being accused of doing things just for attention and self-promotion?

  5. A Hermit says

    This was the defining moment of the video for me: Emery thinks the proper response to someone asking see TAM’s harassment policy is to tell her to suck his cock.

    That one moment (and no, he wasn’t “just joking” he was angry and ranting) tells you just how far removed from understanding the issue he is.

    I only kept watching after that because I was hoping to see that bird of his empty it’s bowels on his head…

  6. julian says

    Why isn’t DJ the one being accused of doing things just for attention and self-promotion?

    Especially considering that’s more or less his job. To promote TAM and draw attention to it. But drama whore reveling in rape threats is reserved for Watson because she’s oh so evil and condescending towards men and a celebrity and such.

    I hate this community.

    That one moment (and no, he wasn’t “just joking” he was angry and ranting) tells you just how far removed from understanding the issue he is.

    And his she isn’t to ugly to rape joke. It’s all something to laugh at for him. The harassment, the threats, the groping, all of it means nothing to him.

  7. says

    I think one thing to be a little careful about is that Emery, the whole show, kind of prides itself on “inappropriate” jokes and language. So, for example, from their view, they’re telling people to suck a cock rather often and not treating it as gender-specific. I’m sure there’s lots of room to argue about that kind of approach and appropriateness. But I also don’t think it should stand out that much.

    That said I think it’s pretty clear that Emery and the rest there don’t understand the complaints and are missing some big pieces of what’s going on. Some of it looks like a defensive reaction to the appearance of friends being unfairly attacked.

    So while I’ve been listening to the podcast since it started, and I think they do some interesting stuff, stuff like this does keep me from being willing to sign up to pay for it.

  8. says

    John-Henry, the people who think it’s their right to do their thing no matter who or what they’re dealing with are pretty much exactly the problem here. Racists are very proud of being “not politically correct” too. I’ve never found a good reason to make less than a big deal out of that.

  9. screechy monkey says

    Especially considering that’s more or less his job. To promote TAM and draw attention to it. But drama whore reveling in rape threats is reserved for Watson because she’s oh so evil and condescending towards men and a celebrity and such.

    Well, that’s true, too. Self-promotion isn’t inherently a bad thing.

    Richard Dawkins has made himself the world’s most famous atheist through books and op-eds and interviews and debates and lectures and other appearances, all of which display his name prominently. He even named his non-profit foundation after himself, as did James Randi. And that’s all to the good as far as I’m concerned — we need prominent spokespeople, and there’s nothing wrong with those people building a personal brand especially given that they seem to be using it for good causes.

    But it’s an interesting double standard that Dawkins can announce that the Richard Dawkins Foundation takes such-and-such a position on an issue that doesn’t involve him personally, and James Randi can demand that Prominent Psychic X — who’s never said boo to or about Randi — should take the James Randi Educational Foundation’s challenge, and nobody (or at least, nobody on the “skeptic” side) complains that they’re attention whores. Nor should they, I think.

    But if Rebecca Watson (or Ophelia, Stephanie, or any other woman) blogs about or retweets some accusation or insult that was directed at her personally… “ATTENTION WHORE!!!!!”

  10. Robert B. says

    I assure you, it’s quite possible to do inappropriate humor without being a sexist, or any other *ist. You can even be anti-*ist. First rule of working blue and not being an asshole: the people you tell to suck your cock should not be victims of anything.

  11. A Hermit says

    John-Henry Beck says:

    “I think one thing to be a little careful about is that Emery, the whole show, kind of prides itself on “inappropriate” jokes and language. So, for example, from their view, they’re telling people to suck a cock rather often and not treating it as gender-specific. “

    So he’s a professional jackass…that doesn’t make his behaviour any less offensive.

    Sorry but he doesn’t get to hide behind the “it was just a joke” excuse here; he’s talking to people who, regardless of their gender, are telling him they have been subjected to (or are at least concerned about the possibility of) sexual harassment and are asking, quite reasonably, for some assurance that there will be a policy in place regarding such harassment and his response is…to sexually harass them. That’s not humour, it’s not even just inappropriate…it’s pathological.

    Now maybe I shouldn’t judge the guy on the basis of one internet video but he came across in every way as a smug, angry, small minded bully with no ability to see beyond his own ego. He seems to be more interested in maintaining a pose (the pose of a pre-adolescent who has just discovered he can get attention from mummy and daddy by using bad language and throwing tantrums) then in discussing issues.

    If he’s worried about TAM”s image he should stop pretending to speak for them. He did more damage to TAM and JREF here than a thousand Stephanie Zvans could ever hope to…even if that were actually her intention…

  12. says

    This stuff about wanting to damage TAM is lying bullshit. I don’t know of anyone saying anything specifically about TAM – I certainly hadn’t, not least because I don’t know anything about it – until DJ made his memorable, well-chosen comments.

    First DJ said the evil women were scaring women away from TAM.

    Then we started talking about DJ and TAM.

    Does this halfwit Emery think we should have kept quiet?

  13. says

    Having hauled myself through the entire transcript, I’d like to point something out that isn’t clear from writing. There were a lot of interruptions, as is common when you have upwards of three people in a podcast. However, as someone who had to stop and re-listen every time it happened, I would estimate that upwards of 80% of the time women were speaking, they were interrupted or talked over, and they never got to finish. Nearly every *single* time a man was interrupted, he was returned to, or allowed to finish his sentence.

  14. Pteryxx says

    Kate, that’s an interesting point. It reminds me of the observations of Bernice Sandler, who coined the term “chilly climate”, cited in “Is it cold in here”:

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cocktail-party-physics/2011/07/20/is-it-cold-in-here/

    Sandler told me she first encountered the chilly climate for women as a feminist activist in the 1970s, sitting in a policy meeting in which she noticed that the few token women in the room were constantly being interrupted by the men. She decided to perform her own little social experiment, carefully keeping count of the number of times both men and women in the meeting were interrupted.

    The results: women were interrupted (invariably by men) at least three times more often than the men. Sandler shared her results with her male colleagues, who were predictably defensive, claiming she must have miscounted or been biased in some way because of course they would never do such a thing. But the next day, when the meeting resumed, the men were far more careful not to interrupt when the women were speaking. Their awareness of the problem altered the way they treated the women in the meeting, even though they denied the problem existed. And Sandler realized, “Oh — this is changeable behavior.” She’s been working to change those behaviors ever since.

    Maybe interruption ratio could be a sort of Sandler Test?

  15. says

    @Pteryxx
    I would totally do a count if it didn’t mean listening through again. I’m really curious…though shy of trusting my fallible brain. I certainly wasn’t looking for some sort of disproportionate gender thing, however, since interruptions make transcribing that much harder, I couldn’t help but notice. Besides, I tried to keep it as clear as possible, and I started noticing when I never managed to finish Sara and Mallorie’s thoughts. And I know they said more things than I recorded, because just about two thirds of the [everybody talked] brackets involved one of the women making a full statement that just never was audible.

  16. Pteryxx says

    Heck, I wouldn’t ask *you* to go through all that again! You’ve done enough, yeesh, and thank you again. It’d just be interesting to have that information, and I doubt I could do a count myself.

  17. carlie says

    Wow, that Emery guy is a clueless asshole. Has he ever run an interview/discussion before? That was an entire boatload of failure from a structural standpoint, not even considering how the discussion went. That was like fifth graders try to do a debate about what’s the best flavor of ice cream level of chaos.

  18. says

    There isn’t a real threat to women at TAM. Not any. Not at all. Now when I say ‘not any’, I mean there’s no more risk going to TAM, and hanging out with the nerds at TAM, than any other setting…

    Well, that’s exactly the point, isn’t it? Rebecca, Stephanie, PZ, and everyone else have been saying this over and over again, but these dudes refuse to hear it: the problem is not that TAM is worse than anywhere else. The problem is that “anywhere else” is pretty fucking bad, and we expect BETTER.

  19. mehitabel, wotthehell wotthehell says

    Well. I’ll have to give this crew their due: for one brief interval, they brought me my youth back. All that awesome boy/ girl posturing, the deformation of people’s names, the tattlefest about the meanies at FTB (and these are the people going on about gossip?)…OMFG you guys, call everybody! Rebecca Watson and that girl Stephanie are plotting a student council coup!

    I’m being callous to joke, but…that’s just about the level I thought this talk rose to. I’ve got nothing else. I may be stunned.

    And it’s fucking dishonest, and it’s evil. And it’s wrong. Now go ahead and finish.

    If that was going really Socratic, I think I’ve been doing it wrong all these years.

    I wonder what happens when this man strategically debates? (Because he can! He knows how to do that! For realz!)

  20. says

    I have shared all parts of this Great Penis Debate on my Facebook page and one of the other feminists (who is also an atheist, but doesn’t do atheist/skeptic conferences) weighed in and asked after watching the Google Hangout podcast: “Why is it that “the cause” whatever/no matter what “the cause” is, is more important than the people it trounces along the way? isn’t the notion that people can continually be sacrificed of an idea part of the problem?”

  21. says

    So… well over an hour worth of chatter and shouting, and they didn’t manage to address the subject matter seriously even once.

    Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, I present Exhibit A.

    Title: How Not to Discuss Sexual Harassment and People’s Safety

  22. says

    I assure you, it’s quite possible to do inappropriate humor without being a sexist, or any other *ist.

    No, of course, not, you’re so right.
    If somebody makes a rape joke they’re not actually making a joke about rape. It doesn’t mean that they’re painting rape as something funny. It totally doesn’t mean they’re using the most traumatizing event in many women’s lives as pointe of a joke, no that’s totally not retraumatizing victims and telling them that what happened to them was totes funny.
    Sure.

    Kate

    I certainly wasn’t looking for some sort of disproportionate gender thing, however, since interruptions make transcribing that much harder, I couldn’t help but notice.

    I noticed it, too. I remember typing some of it out in my “type as I watch”. I thought that I would have long shouted that they either let me finish my fucking point or I would fuck off. But the Chill Girls™ seem content with the scraps the guys leave them.

  23. says

    (sarcastically) Actually, I forgot to tell you this, but she’s offered to pay me to go there if I harass women on her behalf.

    …And I actually dislike them more than JREF, but that’s beside the point.

    …I don’t know, the blue hair doesn’t work as well for me as the red hair did.

    Yeah, Wendell’s totes our ally. “He’s learning,” my ass.

    Sara: But I’m a self-hating fuckface, so there’s a difference.

    Travis: You’re gender crazy, Sara [?]

    Sara: I’m a self-loathing woman.

    Wendell: Self-loathing. Now that’s different than self-hating, I think.

    Mallorie: I got, what was it, Stockholm Syndrome, from one of the Freethought Blog people.

    [Emery laughs over the rest of what Mallorie says]

    Yeah, fuck all of these people. Also… “Doucheface”? Like, um, rilly, Sara, what are you, like, in junior high?

    John-Henry Beck, if ~~~edgy~~~ humor is a necessity on this show, then they have no business discussing sexual harassment.

    Screechy Monkey, remember the 15-year-old girl in /r/atheism who was called an “attention whore” for posing with a photo of a book she had, with d00dz insisting that men never do that, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary?

  24. cdt says

    But Wendell, if you can’t see that she’s being dishonest and incendiary there, and completely sending an awful message, and quite frankly, is the result of lower women registering at TAM, probably.

    What are “lower women”?

    Seriously? “Lower women”, whatever they are, are the cause of all the problems?

  25. says

    …I don’t know, the blue hair doesn’t work as well for me as the red hair did.

    I’m with Daisy Cutter. I appreciate your stated intent in taking part in the discussion, Wendell, but this is vile.

    One of the most common things that men do that makes rape possible is to play along when someone else makes a joke of rape. And that fact that you’d do this while acting as a volunteer spokesman for the feminist point of view?

    Fucking hell.

  26. Cyranothe2nd says

    “Why is it that “the cause” whatever/no matter what “the cause” is, is more important than the people it trounces along the way? isn’t the notion that people can continually be sacrificed of an idea part of the problem?”

    QFT

  27. says

    File under “people I never want to be in a room with ever”.

    The stuff on blogs about TAM isn’t what’s keeping me from going ever. It’s this. I do not want to be on the same continent as some asshole who thinks “not too ugly to rape” is an acceptable thing to say about anyone ever.

  28. says

    @cdt #26

    What are “lower women”?

    To be fair, I think when he said “lower women registering at TAM”, Emery probably intended to mean a *lower number* of women registering, not to provide any comment about status of women.

    As for the more general issue:
    I guess I have a lack of appreciation for what many people consider humorous. For the most part, I don’t “get” standup, I don’t like sitcoms (though I admit to a fondness for parody, satire, and wordplay). So I can’t really tell if it was supposed to be a joke when Wendell and Emery said (numerous times) that men’s behaviour and opinions are very straightforward and pretty much all the same (ie in contrast to women who are hard to understand and have varied opinions and approaches). But I actually found this to be one of the more disturbing statements of the session.

  29. SoulmanGT says

    @25 and 27
    That line was unbelievable. The very fact the dissenting viewpoint said it is proof of the problem.

    The only possible response to emery at that point was to get really mad and then disconnect. I was actually expecting it.

    But he played along.

    Someone who knows him and is friends with him really has to point out how bad that fuck up was. I don’t think he even realised what he just said.

  30. Joseph says

    I’m going to sort of defend Wendell here, a bit. I can’t excuse him, but here’s a thing – he’s a man, and so blinded to things. He admits this in the conversation. It happens to me too, I think it happens to a lot of men with good intentions. Reading this transcript (Kate is a braver and more patient person than I ever will be), I kept thinking “these people are wrong, but not that bad”, and it wasn’t until I read the comments on this section that I realised “oh yeah, it’s totally creep central actually”, because the interruptions, the dismissiveness, all that, it managed to seem bad, but not as bad as it really was, because it’s something that for many men (white men, straight men, wealthy men, English speaking men) will only ever be words. And I think Wendell knows this, and he admits this, and it’s why he was right to ask his wife, and his female friends about this, because he doesn’t know these things in the immediate way women do. So, he was blind, and foolish, but I think (hope?) he knows, in a rational way, the reality of things, and he’s certainly not blindly refusing that reality, but he doesn’t know it emotionally.

  31. says

    Having finished ploughing through the transcript, I’d guess that most of the participants in that discussion are teenagers sitting in basements in their underwear, commenting on the internet while their parents are out.

    I’m embarrassed for them.

  32. Cara says

    Mallorie Nasrallah says:
    June 16, 2012 at 2:40 pm
    You do realise that you don’t have to argue with everything I say?

    Sorry, did you say something? All I heard was “tee hee!”

  33. Justin Moskowitz says

    I have to say and put on record that I am quite uncomfortable with the topic and title. But in the long run, the article/transcript made me tihk about the quite controversial topic. Is there a part 4?

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