Harming TAM »« “The Great Penis Debate” Transcript, Part II

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  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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