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Jan 13 2013

The Other Petition

I’ve pointed you to Adam Lee’s petition to the leaders of several national organizations. I’ve told you why I think signing it is a worthwhile thing to do if you agree with it.

For those of you who don’t agree with Adam’s petition, however, I should make you aware of another petition that hasn’t had quite so much publicity.

For a number of years now, Skepchick.org, FreeThoughtBlogs and some associated sites have been portraying the online skeptic and atheist community as rife with misogyny and unwelcoming to women. This attitude has particularly been encouraged by persons who are considered to be at the higher echelons of those named sites.

These people appear to have uncritically and wholly accepted ideas of gender feminism (as opposed to equity feminism) and have been making factual claims made to support gender feminism which can be found to be wholly incorrect through the application of critical thinking and considered research. These people have also been wholly resistant to the application of any critical thinking in relation to this ideology and the claims made.

The adoption of this ideology, and surrender of principles of critical thinking, has been accompanied by a divisive approach of attaching unwarranted labels such as “misogynist”, “MRA”, “chill girl” and “gender traitor”. These labels are generally, if not always, levelled only on the basis that the person labelled has applied critical thinking to the ideas underlying the ideology of gender feminism and the polite expression of disagreement or scepticism at the factual claims or narratives espoused by the gender feminists within the atheist and skeptic community. The unwarranted attachment of these labels has then been used to justify otherwise unwarranted claims that those people at the sites are being harassed or harangued by the persons so labelled. The conduct unfairly labelled as harassment is then deemed grounds to ban or block those people are ‘harassers’ on the sites purporting to be the face of the atheist and skeptic community to the rest of the world.

It goes on. Read and decide whether you agree. Sign it if you do. Share it either way. I would hate for the petition creators to feel that their numbers were only a reflection of its limited distribution.

62 comments

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  1. 1
    Jasper of Maine

    I’ve stopped calling myself feminist *and* atheist because of the dogmatic, cultish behavior.

    Maybe it’s just me, but that seems like an irrational response. “I’m not going to call myself tall anymore because some tall people did something I don’t like”

  2. 2
    Tom Foss

    “Polite expression of disagreement”

    BWahahahahahahahahahaha…haha…ha. Oh my.

  3. 3
    sambarge

    I’ve stopped calling myself feminist *and* atheist because of the dogmatic, cultish behavior.

    This comment stood out to me as well. There have been times when I’ve been disappointed and driven away from feminist blogs/ boards due to the embrace of “woo” and from atheistblogs/ boards due to unquestioned or actively supported racism and/or sexism. At no time did I feel like I shouldn’t call myself a feminist or an atheist. I am both those things and identifying myself as such has no connection to the attitudes of other feminists or atheists.

  4. 4
    EllenBeth Wachs

    Well, “they” certainly can’t accuse you of suppressing their POV, now, can “they?” Freeze Peach!

  5. 5
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Whoever uses “FtB” and “many years” or “Elevatorgate on FtB” has already lost all credibility.
    If you need to re-write basic timelines, you’ve lost already

  6. 6
    A Hermit

    That’s just…sad…

  7. 7
    Kelseigh

    Hah! I see Unbelievable Steve signed up, that’s the guy who went so far as to start TWO blogs about Greta having the temerity to buy shoes. Presumably because everyone else got sick of dealing with his shit. And this is the guy going on about “equally noble views”, too funny.

  8. 8
    Robert Bauer

    @ 1, 3

    Wait, I thought “atheism” meant only that one didn’t believe in God? Don’t tell me these folks believe in God now because they don’t like the way we do feminism? :-)

  9. 9
    sheila

    “Polite expression of disagreement or scepticism” as in calling caner and major surgery a “cancer scare”?

  10. 10
    hjhornbeck

    Oh, I love this second petition so much!

    1. It cites no specifics, at all, instead hoping we’ll take everything it says at face value.
    2. It incorporates every dog whistle I can think of: equity feminism, feminism as ideology, unwarranted labels, “unfounded claims of oppression or harassment.”
    3. It doesn’t even pretend to have a chance. The letter they’ll be sending to FtB is one sentence long, and the target is set at 100 signatures.

    Overall, though, I have to give it credit for being well-written propaganda. It’s the best the opponents to Adam Lee could have done, in my estimation, and to someone who doesn’t know the back-story it sounds pretty legit. The signature count will be a good gauge of how much support the anti-A+ crowd enjoys.

    And that’s the best part of all.

  11. 11
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I guess the fact that Adam Lee’s petition has about 100 times the signatures is conclusive evidence that A+ and feminism are fringe ideologies of people who are just a few loudmouths…

  12. 12
    PatrickG

    the target is set at 100 signatures.

    My eyebrow raised at this too… they’re not really expecting to get too much out of this, are they? Particularly since we know the Slymepit has Four Hundred Members™.

    Talk about setting the bar low.

  13. 13
    A Hermit

    It’s a tempting target for spoof signatures, but I think it’s actually much funnier to just let the sad little thing lie there desperately struggling to get at least 20 real signers…

  14. 14
    Argle Bargle

    This petition has 21 signatures now.

  15. 15
    A Hermit

    This petition has 21 signatures now.

    And one of the 21 was actually me accidentally hitting the “sign” button without meaning to…not realizing I was still signed in after signing Adam’s petition.

    Yes, I am an idiot sometimes….T_T

  16. 16
    Justin Vacula

    Karla Porter releases new episode of “As the Atheist World Turns” – The Thunderf00t Army Faction’

    http://personal.karlaporter.com/post/40472858170/atawt-episode-the-taf

  17. 17
    rocko2466

    Thanks Stephanie for posting this.

    People are complaining that I didn’t cite sources. Well, I can say myself for one (I’ve been called a misogynist a number of times, including by PZ Myers). I do resent it and it is wholly untrue.

    I can use this one: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/01/07/i-do-love-a-good-snark/comment-page-1/#comment-530969

    Reap is caught up in that one too. So we can say Reap too. I’ve spoken with Reap personally, been on his podcast, listened to a few of his podcasts and read a bit of what he’s written. I’ve not seen any sexism.

    For those who wonder if I have different views legitimately held without hating women, please see unsolicitedcomment.wordpress.com. I don’t get paid for clicks so you’re not ‘enabling’ me if you disagree. ;)

  18. 18
    Tom Foss

    A Hermit: I hope no one does do the fake signatures thing. That’ll give them license to claim that it’s exactly the same as people putting together Twitter accounts to mimic Ophelia and Greg Laden and the like.

    They’ll probably claim that anyway, but no need to give them the ammunition. They’re already saying that somehow the number of signatures on Adam’s petition isn’t significant because PZ promoted it. So…okay?

    It’s like the hue and cry I saw earlier about a sexist tweet Melody Hensley wrote, as though they didn’t have a ginormous sexist redwood sticking out of their own eye. Ugh.

    I would like to see the simple critical thinking and considered research that renders these factual claims incorrect. Somehow, I haven’t yet seen those posts.

  19. 19
    Tom Foss

    Rocko: You conflate being a misogynist, appearing to be a misogynist, and doing/saying misogynist things.

    First, I searched that thread, and didn’t see you being referred to as a misogynist anywhere in it. So, strike one?

    Second, Reap Paden repeatedly called Stephanie Zvan a bitch and defended his use of the term (this is not the only thing, but it’s a simple, clear example to which you’ve been directed before). “Bitch” is a sexist slur. His use of it was sexist. He said and did sexist things. People do the only thing people can do: judge him to be sexist based on his statements and actions. Is he a misogynist in his heart of hearts? Perhaps, perhaps not, but no one–not me, not you–except Reap Paden has any ability to peer into that innermost self. If he is not, in fact, a misogynist, then he probably ought to stop using terms that mark him as such.

    Saying that “X is a misogynist” is not saying “X, in their deepest heart of hearts, is a through-and-through misogynist, a true hater of women, down to the core of their being.” It’s saying “X says and does things that are misogynistic.”

    As to the “I’ve spoken with Reap personally, been on his podcast, listened to a few of his podcasts and read a bit of what he’s written. I’ve not seen any sexism” remark. I’ve known racists and homophobes and other kinds of bigots who were perfectly pleasant people to be round until you got them talking about their bigotry. Bigots typically don’t stomp around like Yosemite Sam saying “Ooooh, I hates those minorities!” as if that’s the only facet of their character, any more than an atheist stomps around saying “Ooooh, I don’t believe in those deities!” Most of them are normal people who hold views and make statements–sometimes explicitly (“black people are inferior to white people”) sometimes more implicitly (“I don’t have a problem with people being gay, but do they have to shove it in our faces?”)–and take actions that have the effect of promoting or perpetuating bigotry.

    You may disagree that “bitch” is a sexist slur. Go right ahead. I think that argument/opinion is obviously without merit. I think defenses of it ignore its history and usage, and I think they tend to be borne out of a privileged position.

    I look forward to the critical thinking and considered research that you have to rebut all that.

    Oh, and apropos of nothing, “I’ve spoken with Reap personally, been on his podcast, listened to a few of his podcasts and read a bit of what he’s written. I’ve not seen any sexism” is a classic argument from ignorance.

  20. 20
    EllenBeth Wachs

    @16 Rocko, I just read that link you provided and saw that you got called out for being a member of the slymepit (of which you are) but certainly saw no one call you a misogynist.

    Do you want to try again?

  21. 21
    rocko2466

    Hi again folks

    I would again like to thank Stephanie for letting me post on here.

    It’s actually difficult now to bring up the tweets where I’ve been called a misogynist – as I’ve been blocked from those FtB twitter accounts (so I can’t bring up whole conversations or search tweets!). But feel free to ask them to unblock me so I can do so.

    I note that when people have asked for evidence of harassment / threats, everyone gets up in arms, but when people ask me for evidence of this kind of behaviour, I am expected to oblige or cannot be believed.

    @18 – Not necessarily a sexist slur, but sometimes a gendered slur. Depends on the context. Various meanings. I note in any event even on worst interpretation it does not necessarily indicate misogyny and (again) if it did, it would not ground a final conclusion that Reap is a misogynist. Let’s be frank; we’d need more than that to say he’s a misogynist. He theoretically could be a very active women’s rights activist who agrees with everything on (say) the NOW platform but still thinks the use of that word is appropriate.

    (Please don’t derail this into a conversation about the use of the word bitch).

    My interaction with Reap weren’t intended as an argument from ignorance. It was that I’ve interacted with him on a number of occasions and those interactions have been inconsistent with him being a misogynist.

    @19 – hi Ellenbeth. I recall when you suggested that I was involved in criminally attacking you then walked it back on Nugent’s blog. (see #54, #57 and #62 – http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/01/04/retraction-and-apology-to-wb/)

    Also, does anyone recall Rebecca (and cohorts) accusing lots of people of being rapists when people asked questions about a very vague tweet she sent about alcohol and rape?

    In any event, my point remains that the behaviour at FtB (generally) has increasingly been insular and not conducive of debate about reasonable issues. This scares people away who can help our secular goals.

    I do ask that people stand back and look at things and see whether this type of rhetoric is conducive to helping our secular / atheist / skeptic goals.

  22. 22
    Stephanie Zvan

    Also, does anyone recall Rebecca (and cohorts) accusing lots of people of being rapists when people asked questions about a very vague tweet she sent about alcohol and rape?

    Well, no, because that isn’t what she said, and you’ve been told that before.

  23. 23
    EllenBeth Wachs

    hi Ellenbeth. I recall when you suggested that I was involved in criminally attacking you then walked it back on Nugent’s blog.

    I neither said it nor walked it back. Rocko, you are a rather dishonest fellow. You made an assertion that I proved wrong. Whether you internalized guilt is not my problem.

  24. 24
    Rob

    Not necessarily a sexist slur, but sometimes a gendered slur. Depends on the context. Various meanings.

    You’re going to have to help me out here. Gendered but not sexist? Please provide a real world common usage example with what you regard as sufficient context and meaning that demonstrates calling somebody a bitch, that is not at it’s heart sexist. I don’t see one. And, sadly, I’ve used the word plenty in my lifetime as it’s a common epithet in my country.

  25. 25
    rocko2466

    @21:

    I’ll let Rebecca Watson’s words speak for themselves:

    http://skepchick.org/2012/12/twitter-users-sad-to-hear-they-may-be-rapists/

    I responded in blog form if anyone’s interested:

    http://unsolicitedcomment.wordpress.com/2012/12/25/more-from-skepchick-and-a-concerning-definition-of-rape/

    @22:

    Ellenbeth, for what it’s worth, I’ve now heard your side of the story with the sheriff (from a Slymepitter, no less!) and having heard that explanation, I’m wholeheartedly on your side.

    (Although, on the you-vs-me issue, I will still have to take my own side. I’ve not done anything wrong and this is the rhetoric I’m talking about.)

    @Generally:

    I hope in any event people consider my point, even if they don’t agree with it. I’ve only been really active for a few weeks (after being somewhat active for a week or so in 2011) and I and a lot of people I’ve spoken to have been called ‘rape apologists’, ‘MRAs’, ‘misogynists’, ‘sexists’ and ‘privileged white males’ (and so on) when we’ve been engaging in good faith discussions about issues.

    Even though people may not agree with you, it doesn’t mean we’re evil. If your beliefs stand up to scrutiny, they will be fine. If they don’t, they won’t.

    I invite people to reconsider who they consider misogynists or similar (I for one don’t consider Dawkins, Thunderf00t or Reap misogynists). You (read: FtB, Skepchick etc.) are losing valuable allies on secular / atheist / skeptic issues (including many issues which directly affect women) if you close them out.

  26. 26
    A Hermit

    A Hermit: I hope no one does do the fake signatures thing. That’ll give them license to claim that it’s exactly the same as people putting together Twitter accounts to mimic Ophelia and Greg Laden and the like.

    Yes that’s actually what I was thinking…thank you for saying it better than I did.

  27. 27
    Tom Foss

    It’s actually difficult now to bring up the tweets where I’ve been called a misogynist – as I’ve been blocked from those FtB twitter accounts (so I can’t bring up whole conversations or search tweets!). But feel free to ask them to unblock me so I can do so.

    There’s such a thing as screenshots, and you can still view someone’s Twitter feed if you go to their page, or if you sign out. I mean, if you’re committed to this thing enough to make a petition and all, aren’t you committed enough to actually gather some evidence?

    I note that when people have asked for evidence of harassment / threats, everyone gets up in arms, but when people ask me for evidence of this kind of behaviour, I am expected to oblige or cannot be believed.

    The reason for that is largely because the harassment/threats have been well-documented. People who demand evidence of harassment/threats over and above the pages and posts and Twitter feeds and screenshots and podcasts of said harassment and threats are either A) ignorant of their existence and unwilling to correct said ignorance with a simple google search, B) unwilling to accept that they represent sufficient evidence of a problem, or C) denying that they constitute harassment or threats. Group A has no place in the conversation until they correct their ignorance. Group B is being willfully disingenuous. Group C is a group that we’d generally like to have nothing to do with. And yet, they persist in their obsessive campaign.

    Not necessarily a sexist slur, but sometimes a gendered slur. Depends on the context.

    I don’t see those things as distinct and different categories.

    I note in any event even on worst interpretation it does not necessarily indicate misogyny and (again) if it did, it would not ground a final conclusion that Reap is a misogynist.

    I see you didn’t understand what I wrote. It’s still there; I don’t feel the need to repeat it.

    Let’s be frank; we’d need more than that to say he’s a misogynist. He theoretically could be a very active women’s rights activist who agrees with everything on (say) the NOW platform but still thinks the use of that word is appropriate.

    How many uses and defenses of misogynist slurs does it take for someone to be accurately labeled a misogynist?

    This is why the “what he is in his heart of hearts” argument is such an idiotic one to have. Reap Paden has said misogynistic things. He has defended them on cluelessly sexist grounds. Such behaviors are misogynistic. I don’t see there being some magic threshhold of “misogynistic things done/said” that one must reach before we say “boy, that person’s a misogynist.” If he were, in fact, an active women’s rights activist, then it would behoove him not to use sexist slurs (which he should realize may cause him to appear to be a misogynist) and defend them with the same arguments that clueless privileged misogynists would use.

    Again, you conflate “misogynist in his heart of hearts, through and through” with “misogynist” as any reasonable person would use it, which is to say, based on his actions and statements, it is a reasonable label. If he would like to not be labeled a misogynist, it would behoove him to stop behaving in a way that makes him indistinguishable from misogynists.

    It was that I’ve interacted with him on a number of occasions and those interactions have been inconsistent with him being a misogynist.

    What are the defining characteristics of a misogynist that you would expect to notice on various interactions with an individual? What red flags denote that someone is a misogynist?

    Also, does anyone recall Rebecca (and cohorts) accusing lots of people of being rapists when people asked questions about a very vague tweet she sent about alcohol and rape?

    No, I recall Rebecca clearly stating the legal definition of rape, and many people responding with either an inability to read words, or a very broad (and non-standard) definition of “drunk.” There is nothing “very vague” about “If you have sex w/ someone who is drunk, they are unable to consent & that is rape” or “If you “took advantage” of someone who is unable to consent, it is rape. End of story. “

    Either your recollection is faulty, you are ignorant of basic law, you are ignorant of what simple words like “drunk” mean, or you are being disingenuous.

    In any event, my point remains that the behaviour at FtB (generally) has increasingly been insular and not conducive of debate about reasonable issues. This scares people away who can help our secular goals.

    Do you have any evidence that people who can help “our secular goals” have been driven away? What are these goals, and how do you know that they are shared? For instance, one goal shared by the people involved in the petition you responded to is to increase diversity in the community and movement by making spaces safe from harassment, threats, and bigotry. It was in response to a year-plus-long hate campaign where multiple prominent members of this community have been threatened with rape and harm, called ugly slurs, mocked and harassed on a daily basis, and in some cases, have been driven from active participation in the community. There is clear evidence, well-documented and attested-to, that the toxic commentary against people like Rebecca Watson, Jen McCreight, Amy Roth, Greta Christina, Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Zvan, Melody Hensley, and so on and so forth, has actually led to people withdrawing from the community or stepping back from it, and you can read for yourself the comments from others on these posts and these situations, who see this atmosphere and say “this is why I don’t speak up.” I can provide links if necessary, but I don’t know that you can function in this community and actually be unaware of what has actually been happening.

    I do ask that people stand back and look at things and see whether this type of rhetoric is conducive to helping our secular / atheist / skeptic goals.

    Physician, heal thyself.

    Is it “conducive to helping our secular/atheist/skeptic goals” to oppose harassment policies at conferences?
    Is it “conducive to helping our secular/atheist/skeptic goals” to place the blame for lack of women attendees at conferences on women speaking about their harassment experiences, not the harassers?
    Is it “conducive to helping our secular/atheist/skeptic goals” to accuse prominent voices in our community of being “professional victims,” of lying about threats, of lying about harassment, of lying about cancer, of hating one gender or another, of trying to outlaw flirting, etc.?
    Is it “conducive to helping our secular/atheist/skeptic goals” to call people cunts, bitches, whores, manginas, etc., and defend the right to do so?
    Is it “conducive to helping our secular/atheist/skeptic goals” to obsessively follow the writings and doings of people you disagree with so that you can hurl invective and abuse and mockery at them on a daily basis?
    Is this “conducive to helping our secular/atheist/skeptic goals”? Or this? Or this? Or this? Or this? That was one search, maybe fifteen minutes, of the usual suspects on one social media service.

    But please, explain how it’s far, far worse to block people on Twitter than to obsess over them, tweet insults and abuse at them, comment and mail abuse and threats to them, and so forth. Explain how banning a person from a comment thread is just as bad as demanding the right to call people cunts. And be sure to back it up with all that critical thinking you do so laud.

  28. 28
    Tom Foss

    I invite people to reconsider who they consider misogynists or similar (I for one don’t consider Dawkins, Thunderf00t or Reap misogynists). You (read: FtB, Skepchick etc.) are losing valuable allies on secular / atheist / skeptic issues (including many issues which directly affect women) if you close them out.

    You misunderstand what an ally is, and what issues we prioritize. I neither want nor care to be allies with people who trivialize consent and harassment (as Thunderf00t did), who use and defend the use of sexist slurs (as Reap did), or who make profoundly stupid “shut up because others have it worse” arguments in response to actual issues, and continue doubling down with increasingly snide, passive-aggressive remarks, or who think it is somehow beneficial to anything to make arguments that trivialize sex abuse in the service of anti-religion sentiments (as Dawkins continues to do).

    For me, being inclusive of others and promoting liberal social values are highly-prioritized goals. I’d rather live in a country of liberal religious people like Fred Clark or Barry Lynn than a country of sexist atheists like Thunderf00t and Reap Paden.

    But your argument there cuts both ways, doesn’t it? Perhaps Reap Paden should reconsider who he calls “bitch” if he wants to avoid alienating valuable allies to secular/atheist/skeptic goals. Perhaps Thunderf00t should make a video saying “I have profound disagreements with feminism and the policies they propose, but I think fighting against the forces of religion are more important than squabbles over harassment policies. I’m willing to stop fighting against the feminists in order to unite against religion.”

    Why is this side the one that has to compromise and work with people who call them names? Why isn’t the Thunderf00t/Paden/Dawkins side worried about shutting out valuable allies by promoting sexism and standing up for abuse?

  29. 29
    Stephanie Zvan

    I’ll let Rebecca Watson’s words speak for themselves

    Which ones? Whom does she call a rapist? Which sentence or sentences contain the accusation?

  30. 30
    hjhornbeck

    I note that when people have asked for evidence of harassment / threats, everyone gets up in arms.

    i don’t. Admittedly, I have more patience than most, and don’t mind rehashing things that have been covered many times before, and that are easily found with a simple web search.

  31. 31
    rocko2466

    Sigh. There’s a difference between trolls on Youtube and reasonable disagreement.

    Never mind.

    Oh, by the way, you’ll see the petition’s mine – I’ve flogged it to the slimepit and got a mixed response. I’m not expecting numbers. That’s why I set it low.

    I made the petition so you’d have the chance to read it. And think about it. Job done.

    Thanks for the chance to discuss it. It’s a step in the right direction that people are exchanging ideas.

    Oh and re: harassment generally: http://unsolicitedcomment.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/just-a-quick-one-harassment/

    I gotta get back to work now, though.

  32. 32
    hjhornbeck

    On top of that, I’m glad to have you here too, Rocko, because a few things bugged me about your petition. As I mentioned earlier:

    3. It doesn’t even pretend to have a chance. The letter they’ll be sending to FtB is one sentence long, and the target is set at 100 signatures.

    Was my assessment accurate? If not, why was the letter you’d send to Skepchick exactly one sentence long? Why is the goal of the petition set so low, if the views of Skepchick / FtB / Atheism+(*) represent a fringe of the skeptical movement?

    I and a lot of people I’ve spoken to have been called ‘rape apologists’, ‘MRAs’, ‘misogynists’, ‘sexists’ and ‘privileged white males’ (and so on) when we’ve been engaging in good faith discussions about issues.

    Stormfront and A Voice For Men also engage in good faith discussions of the issues, from their point of view anyway. What really matters is a willingness to change your mind, and an openness to other people’s ideas. So far, I’m not seeing that from you, but hopefully you’ll look at the evidence instead of doubling down, as seems to be the norm with people who share your views.

    Even though people may not agree with you, it doesn’t mean we’re evil.

    For my part, I don’t think of anyone as evil. At worst, some people are serially mistaken and misinformed. I hope you don’t fall into that latter camp, though so far you haven’t done much to distinguish yourself.

    (*) I love how FtB in particular is somehow held up as a hive mind. Do you realize it hosts or hosted Justin Griffith, Ed Kagin, Al Stefaneli, John Loftus, and Thunderf00t? Back during the A+ flare-up, I sat down and cataloged what the blog network as a whole thought of it. Net result: only two bloggers were active in A+, 11 labeled but weren’t that active, and 15 were neutral or opposed. (Those numbers are slightly updated, because Benson popped up down-thread to say she doesn’t label).

  33. 33
    Tom Foss

    Sigh. There’s a difference between trolls on Youtube and reasonable disagreement.

    I agree. But you asked for evidence of harassment and threats.

    But I also don’t think calling people cunts and bitches and whores and manginas and “professional victims” and manglings of their names that would have been embarrassing on a kindergarten playground, crying about “witch hunts,” bawling about “free speech” because people blocked you on Twitter or banned you from commenting on their blogs, opposing standard harassment policies, baselessly accusing people of lying/stealing/sleeping their way to the top, and the like constitute anything approaching “reasonable disagreement.”

    I made the petition so you’d have the chance to read it. And think about it. Job done.

    Meanwhile, you’ll continue on without a thought spent.

    Also, excellent cherry-picking on your definition of harassment (and inability to google more than a page or two deep in the search for it on Jen’s blog/Twitter feed). Perhaps the legal definition–”the act of systematic and/or continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party or a group, including threats and demands. The purposes may vary, including racial prejudice, personal malice, an attempt to force someone to quit a job or grant sexual favors, apply illegal pressure to collect a bill, or merely gain sadistic pleasure from making someone fearful or anxious.”–is more germane?

  34. 34
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    It’s fascinating that, even after all this time and it having been repeated over and over and over again, the anti-Atheism+/FTB/Skepchick etc. assholes still haven’t realised that their constant bleating about ‘alienating allies’ and ‘risking our shared goals’ isn’t going to change anything.

    Newsflash, dumbasses: those involved in A+ or who share its goals without being publically involved with it would rather do without you than compromise on the issues they consider important.

    There are two very good and – to me at least – staggeringly obvious reasons for this: 1) because they feel not being treated like second-class citizens is actually more important than appearing monolithic, and want to have spaces (both online and off) where they can discuss the topics they want to discuss; and 2) because they’re reasonably sure that those who are interested in atheism even without the social justice aspects are going to continue to do as much as they ever did in fighting for things like science education and secularism and reducing religious privilege.

    Any other group attempting to create a niche for itself would have been ignored, or at the very least fallen from the radar after a very brief period – but because it involves the dreaded feminism (woo-ooo-ooo!), it’s being treated very, very differently. The unbelieveable levels of obsessive hatred and stalking and threats and carrying-on oozing from the slymepit is ample evidence that it’s really nothing to do with atheism’s goals and more about the fact that A+ dares question TEH MENZ right to decide what’s important.

    Just let the A+ people alone. If your goals really are about furthering atheism, focus on that and let them have their space.

    Oh, and don’t even think about trying to claim that their actions and methods are comparable, unless you’re prepared to include links to/screenshots of tweets, blog post and videos created by A+ people (or those with similar goals) that come close (in either number or vitriolic content) to those made by the slymepitters.

  35. 35
    doubtthat

    Each and every time these wierdos get a chance to explain themselves, I understand them even less.

    Rocko’s Modern Farce is linking directly to sites that don’t, in any way, say what he says they do. I’m baffled. How can engage that which has no point?

  36. 36
    Tom Foss

    Wowbagger:

    It’s fascinating that, even after all this time and it having been repeated over and over and over again, the anti-Atheism+/FTB/Skepchick etc. assholes still haven’t realised that their constant bleating about ‘alienating allies’ and ‘risking our shared goals’ isn’t going to change anything.

    I find it fascinating that this is the same argument we’ve been having since the Framing Wars, with the same complete lack of any evidence and complete lack of understanding that “our goals” may not be the same.

    It’s just funny that five years ago, we were getting the “you’re alienating potential allies” spiel from people who clutched their pearls at the mere hint of an f-bomb,, and now we’re getting the same arguments from people who think “c*nt” is an acceptable thing to call someone you disagree with. And either way, it’s people who just want some group (atheists/feminists) to shut up about some thing (religion/social justice) so we can present a united front of (skepticism/atheism) and not drive off potential allies who may be (religious/bigots).

  37. 37
    hjhornbeck

    Oh wow, this Rocko is a piece of work. He deliberately quote-mines Greta Christina, and despite all his research had no idea that in Canada, rape is known as “sexual assault.”

    I’m not hopeful he’ll change his mind, or argue in good faith.

  38. 38
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    So, Rocko has his own especially high treshold for what’s sexism and misogyny (and rape, btw, if he thinks that Rebecca’s statement that having sex with somebody who’s too drunk to consent is totally way off) and he’s quite willing to move that one even higher, but clearly critical thinking would mean that we all just accept his superior wisdom.
    And clearly the worst crime ever was comitted against him: He was banned from Pharyngula, something his pal Reap can’t accept to the day because by now he’s collected a record number of sockpuppets.

  39. 39
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Just to point out just how not a sexist Reap is, here is his last statement at Pharyngula before he got banned. The very model of being reasonable.

    As noelplum was kind enough to inform me, my stupidity is my defining feature. Rocko, help me out and explain why that was not sexist.

  40. 40
    rocko2466

    @36: Thanks hjhornbeck. I’ve responded to your detailed comments on my site. Not quote-mining. I think you misunderstood the article. Please do read.

    @37: That’s what I was talking about! Her tweet was that “If you have sex w/ someone who is drunk, they are unable to consent & that is rape.” It should have read “If you have sex w/ someone who is TOO drunk TO BE able to consent, that is rape”. It was deliberately controversial IMHO, so all of Twitter could come alive and she could retreat back to saying her real and obvious meaning was “having sex with somebody who’s too drunk to consent”. As a professional writer, it’s not like she will slip up that majorly without intending to; it was clear she meant to make a broader statement for a reaction.

    In any event, I’m not so annoyed about the Pharyngula ban – it’s more the rhetoric that’s coming out of FtB and Skepchick. As you’ll see in my petition.

    @38: Thank you Janie. I really do appreciate it; the first person to have proferred something!

    He certainly is fine cussing, but I don’t see any misogyny in there.

    I think we can acknowledge men and women have different body parts and different body shapes. My partner has just given birth and I can strongly say – there is a lot of difference inside of us!

    This is also why we have specialised women’s health facilities because our bodies and needs (in terms of healthcare) are different.

    To acknowledge this is not sexist (in fact, we need to acknowledge it in order to argue for abortion and discuss the impacts of FGM and male circumcision!).

    What we need to do in our societies is ensure that unfair discrimination does not take place REGARDLESS of whether there are differences. We cannot justify rejecting the science just because it may affect our sociopolitical goals.

    Can I also please take the chance to point out that if “bitch” is a sexist slur, so is “douche” – which PZ is using with free abandon in the post Janie linked me to?

    “A douche pron.: /ˈduːʃ/ is a device used to introduce a stream of water into the body for medical or hygienic reasons, or the stream of water itself. Douche usually refers to vaginal irrigation, the rinsing of the vagina, but it can also refer to the rinsing of any body cavity. A douche bag is a piece of equipment for douching—a bag for holding the fluid used in douching.”

    Douche is only used on men and is very, very negative. If one’s not permitted, the other shouldn’t be.

  41. 41
    EllenBeth Wachs

    Ellenbeth, for what it’s worth, I’ve now heard your side of the story with the sheriff (from a Slymepitter, no less!) and having heard that explanation, I’m wholeheartedly on your side.

    (Although, on the you-vs-me issue, I will still have to take my own side. I’ve not done anything wrong and this is the rhetoric I’m talking about.)

    @24 Rocko This you-vs-me issue started with you mocking and attacking me on twitter because some slymepitter linked you a story about me and you decided to believe the worst simply because I am a known FEMINIST! That says very little for you as a skeptic and says even less for you as a lawyer who is supposed to understand the presumption of innocence. A slymepitter then explains my side of the story to you and you are now on my side? Is that supposed to make me feel all warm and fuzzy? As I have given my side of the story to very few people and a slymepitter isn’t one, I don’t see how that is possible.
    Protip- don’t believe everything that you read and hear and sometimes people are actually innocent.

  42. 42
    Tom Foss

    Janine: Clearly there’s nothing sexist or misogynist about saying that men and women are different and that those differences should require us to consider them differently for hiring decisions. It’s just asking us to not be indiscriminate. Let’s put the statement in a different context, so you can see how not-bigoted it is:

    Black and white people have different characteristics both mental and physical that would indicate there are obvious advantages and disadvantages when considering their effectiveness in a work environment. You know what evolution is right? There are certain characteristics each has the other doesn’t. For example black people tend to be taller, stronger, and faster. Is there a profession that they would be better qualified for than white people because of that? That’s just one example.

    See, no bigotry there. just a calm explanation of how evolution works! Don’t you know that evolution creates such strong sexual dimorphism in hominids that you can use the biological tendencies of a whole sex to make meaningful judgments about individuals? Evolution certainly doesn’t produce a wide range of variation on traits that might result in significant overlap or common outliers.

    Look, the bottom line is that you can’t consider someone a misogynist unless they preface every statement with “I am a misogynist. i hate women so much that–that flames…flames, on the sides of my face!” I mean, would you expect a misogynist to behave like just some normal person who just happens to hold prejudiced views toward women? Surely not. If we were going to be reasonable and scientific and properly skeptical, we would take every statement Reap has ever made, and see if the majority of them (at least 50%, which is the scientific standard) showed a clear hatred toward women. Otherwise, it’s possible that he’s just a women’s rights activist who thinks “bitch” is just a really neat thing to call people.

    And skepticism is all about suspending judgment until we’ve absolutely 100% ruled out every possibility, no matter how remote. In order to be justified in calling Reap a misogynist now, we’d have to have complete knowledge of everything. since we don’t, the best we could say is that he’s misognostic.

  43. 43
    Jason Thibeault

    “misognostic”

    … I’m so stealing that.

  44. 44
    A Hermit

    Like a lot of the anti-feminists I see rocko complaining about being called a “misogynist”. But what I see is behaviour being described as “misogynistic” and some people taking that as a comment on them personally.

    I’m willing to believe that he is not really a misogynist, but he, and his friends, should realize that when we point out that some behaviour (eg broadcasting a radio program in which the host screams and shouts and calls a woman with whom he disagrees a “fucking bitch” over and over and over again) is misogynistic and you defend that person instead of denouncing the behaviour you are reinforcing that misogyny.

    Crommunist had a great piece on the error of calling people “racist” ; that there isn’t some binary state of “racist” and “not racist”, but rather a continuum of behaviors and attitudes to which we are all susceptible in some degree. I think the same can be said of sexism. http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2011/07/26/youre-not-a-racist-youre-just-racist/

    So if I object to some behaviour as sexist or misogynistic and you think that means I’m calling you a misogynist, rocko, maybe you should take a step back and think about the behaviour being described (like screaming “fucking bitch” at women you disagree with…) and whether you want to be a part of that or not.

  45. 45
    Tom Foss

    Rocko, if someone is drunk enough to reasonably be called “drunk,” they are too drunk to consent. In fact, since different people sometimes have wildly different presentations of being drunk, there are some people who you might not reasonably call drunk, who are nonetheless too intoxicated to consent (just as there are people who blow .08 on the breathalyzer who nonetheless “looked/seemed okay to drive”). Anyone who was not attempting to split the finest of hairs would gather this from Rebecca’s use of the word “drunk” (she didn’t say “if you have sex with someone who has been drinking”) to the following clarifying clause.

    Had she instead phrased it the way you did, it would have left, in the minds of would-be rapists, the opening or out that “I didn’t think she was too drunk. Only a little drunk!” They’re going to take whatever out they’re given, legal, moral, or otherwise.

    See, this thing that you’re treating as so controversial is the notion that when there’s any room fordoubt, one should err on the side of not raping. One might even go so far as to say that you shouldn’t put yourself in a situation where you might commit rape, but that would require such crazy things as getting to know and trust a partner and establishing enthusiastic consent and respectful boundaries before engaging in a sexual relationship, and not getting so blind stupid drunk that you may unwittingly rape someone, and we all know that that’s just totally unreasonable.

  46. 46
    PatrickG

    I tried to say something relevant, but my brain kept shorting out reading rocko’s assertion that Reap Paden hasn’t displayed sexism and misogyny in his repeated posts on this site, his podcast, and other internet ventures. More feminism-laced coffee indicated.

    @ A Hermit:

    Thanks for linking the Crommunist piece, so highly relevant to this thread.

    @ Tom Foss:

    flames, on the sides of my face!

    +1 for the Clue reference, and +1 for misognostic.

  47. 47
    doubtthat

    Goddamn, this is stupid.

    That’s what I was talking about! Her tweet was that “If you have sex w/ someone who is drunk, they are unable to consent & that is rape.”

    There are two ways to interpret this:

    1) If you have sex with someone who is drunk, drunk meaning above the legal limit, in all instances, that is rape.

    2) If you have sex with someone who is drunk AND they are unable to consent AND that is rape.

    Given the way it was phrased (on twitter, no less, tough to be perfectly accurate within the character limit) either is possible, though to gin up outrage, like the dumbasses who responded, you need to add some ridiculous definition of “drunk,” as I did.

    One reaction would be to ask for clarification from Rebecca. Another would be to fly off the handle and start acting like a group of baboons. As usual, your ilk chose the latter.

  48. 48
    A Hermit

    “See, this thing that you’re treating as so controversial is the notion that when there’s any room fordoubt, one should err on the side of not raping. “

    Yes, it really is that simple. Not sure why anyone has difficulty with the concept…

    Really enjoying your comments by the way, Tom. This earlier especially:

    Is it “conducive to helping our secular/atheist/skeptic goals” to oppose harassment policies at conferences?
    Is it “conducive to helping our secular/atheist/skeptic goals” to place the blame for lack of women attendees at conferences on women speaking about their harassment experiences, not the harassers?
    Is it “conducive to helping our secular/atheist/skeptic goals” to accuse prominent voices in our community of being “professional victims,” of lying about threats, of lying about harassment, of lying about cancer, of hating one gender or another, of trying to outlaw flirting, etc.?
    Is it “conducive to helping our secular/atheist/skeptic goals” to call people cunts, bitches, whores, manginas, etc., and defend the right to do so?
    Is it “conducive to helping our secular/atheist/skeptic goals” to obsessively follow the writings and doings of people you disagree with so that you can hurl invective and abuse and mockery at them on a daily basis?

    Certainly bears repeating…

  49. 49
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I’ve not seen any sexism.

    *facepalm* Well, that settles it. Dude didn’t see sexism, therefore it magically doesn’t exist. Fuck what the bitches say, everyone knows you don’t listen to bitches.

    Douche is only used on men and is very, very negative. If one’s not permitted, the other shouldn’t be.

    *facepalm* So,having a handy label for people who voice anti-woman statements and/or engage in sexist behaviors is wrong, because it hurts a misogynist’s feelings? I think I’m starting to understand why people consider you a sexist.

  50. 50
    doubtthat

    Alright, if he wants a gender-neutral description of him and his friends, I suggest “square of shitty toilet paper.”

  51. 51
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    @38: Thank you Janie. I really do appreciate it; the first person to have proferred something!

    Thank you Rocko for not getting my name right.

    He certainly is fine cussing, but I don’t see any misogyny in there.

    I am a more creative cusser. And I can do it without gendered putdowns.

    I think we can acknowledge men and women have different body parts and different body shapes. My partner has just given birth and I can strongly say – there is a lot of difference inside of us!

    Really! Also, there are lots of women who are not able to give birth. Does this make them different from other women. These “differences” between male and female are highly blurred. Just what are intersexuals anyways?

    This is also why we have specialised women’s health facilities because our bodies and needs (in terms of healthcare) are different.

    Are you aware that the male body has been the default human body with the female being deformed in medical studies through out history. And that attitude still colors medical studies?

    To acknowledge this is not sexist (in fact, we need to acknowledge it in order to argue for abortion and discuss the impacts of FGM and male circumcision!).

    This depends on the context of the discussion. Lots of people still argue these differences in order to argue why woman should be kept out of different fields and occupations and are more suited to others (That is if women are allowed to do more then giving birth and raising families.)

    What we need to do in our societies is ensure that unfair discrimination does not take place REGARDLESS of whether there are differences. We cannot justify rejecting the science just because it may affect our sociopolitical goals.

    Please, give us an example of fair discrimination. Also, please let us know what science is being dismissed because of “gender feminism”.

    Can I also please take the chance to point out that if “bitch” is a sexist slur, so is “douche” – which PZ is using with free abandon in the post Janie linked me to?

    .“A douche pron.: /ˈduːʃ/ is a device used to introduce a stream of water into the body for medical or hygienic reasons, or the stream of water itself. Douche usually refers to vaginal irrigation, the rinsing of the vagina, but it can also refer to the rinsing of any body cavity. A douche bag is a piece of equipment for douching—a bag for holding the fluid used in douching.”

    Douche is only used on men and is very, very negative. If one’s not permitted, the other shouldn’t be.

    You are aware of the use of “bitch” in dismissing in what a woman has to say or do.

    You are also aware that douching is an unhealthy practice that was foisted upon women because a woman’s body is “filthy”.

    Hardly the same, douchecanoe Come back when douche has the same history as bitch.

    Sorry, rocko, but when lies and misrepresentation are in regular use (Thunderfoot and Renee Hendricks), one cannot seriously claim to be using critical thought.

  52. 52
    abear

    #18; Reap Paden repeatedly called Stephanie Zvan a bitch

    As Stephanie Svan referred to herself as “an effective bitch” for her relentless stalking and harassment of Justin Vacula, apparently she must be a misogynist too. And look at the crowd she hangs with; Greg ” becca get off the rag and kiss my ass” Laden is not only a pal of hers but she defended his making that crude remark as well as other sexist rants.
    Stephanie; stop calling yourself a feminist, you and your minions are giving real feminists a bad name!

  53. 53
    Stephanie Zvan

    As Stephanie Svan referred to herself as “an effective bitch” for her relentless stalking and harassment of Justin Vacula

    Uh, no: http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/10/08/thats-fucking-effective-bitch-to-you/

    she defended his making that crude remark as well as other sexist rants

    If I recall correctly, I referred to it as deliberately doing something unforgivable. This is a defense?

  54. 54
    jenniferphillips

    abear, quotemining ‘effective bitch’ is asinine. For any lurkers who might want some context, first refer to Reap Paden’s broadcast (referred to above) in which he repeatedly called Stephanie a ‘fucking bitch’. Then refer to
    Stephanie’s post from Oct 8, 2012 entitled ‘That’s “fucking *effective* bitch” to you. Hint: be sure to read *beyond* the title.

    Re: rocko, I think this line pretty much sums it up for me:

    I’ve only been really active for a few weeks (after being somewhat active for a week or so in 2011)

    So, rocko, might I suggest that, as you’re a bit late to the party and clearly relying solely on s’pitters to fill you in on what you missed, you might be lacking both perspective and objectivity? And, as such, you might want to reflect on how absurd you sound when you lecture those of us who have been tracking/receiving this vitriol daily for going on 19 months on our positions?

    Seconding appreciation for Tom Foss’ comments in this thread. Heads and nails, as Ed is wont to say.

  55. 55
    Jason Thibeault

    A Bear appears to deliver some of that vaunted “civil disagreement”.

    Oh how we need better enemies.

  56. 56
    SallyStrange

    apparently she must be a misogynist too.

    Supposing you weren’t a dirty fucking liar. Supposing Stephanie really did refer to herself as a bitch, effective or otherwise.

    No, she would not be “A Misogynist.” She would be doing misogyny.

    I know the difference is lost on you. Hopefully, with repetition, this message will sink in with other people who haven’t similarly closed themselves off to learning new things.

    It does not require active personal animosity towards all members of a particular demographic to inadvertently contribute to furthering the oppression of that group. Women do sexism constantly, usually without realizing it. Kind of like, oh, say, how even atheists yell “JESUS CHRIST!” when they drop a brick on their toe? Is that something simple enough for you to comprehend? Never mind, you’re not the point. The point is that yes, “bitch” is a misogynist term, regardless of the personal feelings about women the person using the term has.

  57. 57
    maddog1129

    @ Tom Foss

    Your comments are much appreciated, throughout the thread.

  58. 58
    Tom Foss

    Thanks for all the kind words, folks :).

  59. 59
    sambarge

    Janine @ #50

    This:

    Sorry, rocko, but when lies and misrepresentation are in regular use (Thunderfoot and Renee Hendricks), one cannot seriously claim to be using critical thought.

    The lies, untruths, misrepresentations, exaggerations, out of context quote mining…. It’s fucking insane. And then they claim that feminists are the irrational, non-critical thinking ones in the (I hesitate to use the word) debate.

    I try to avoid comments on blogs and YouTube because, as Stephen Fry says, the “bottom half of the internet” will make you despair for humanity. I haven’t wanted to keep up with the misogyny of some in the online atheist community. I had hoped that, in time, the issue would be, if not settled, at least accepted as a done deal. Do people like Thunderfoot or Hendricks (who I recently had the misfortune to become acquainted with) et. al. really think that their abuse will suddenly convince feminists and other social justice activists that we’re wrong about misogyny in the world?!

    Do you think screaming “bitch” and “cunt” at a woman you disagree with about misogyny in the movement makes your case rather than their case?

  60. 60
    PatrickG

    Do you think screaming “bitch” and “cunt” at a woman you disagree with about misogyny in the movement makes your case rather than their case?

    Seriously. This.

    Also, a tip o’ the hat to Tom Foss, along with everyone else.

  61. 61
    estraven

    “Polite expression of disagreement”? I was called “an internet douche” and “an asshat” for disagreeing with a slyme pit commenter on a FB page.

  62. 62
    A Hermit

    Adam’s petition hit 2000 signatures today.

    Rocko’s has stalled at 52 (one of which was me accidentally hitting the sign button, and another is Elyse Anders the Skepchick, mocking the whole thing, as a re a number of the other signers….)

    I keep saying the anti-feminists are a minority, and this, while not a scientific measurement by any means, does seem to support that.

    The haters are small, weak, and they are losing.

  1. 63
    The Petition to Ask Freethought Blogs and Skepchick to “Return to Critical Thinking” » Lousy Canuck

    [...] alerted us to this petition’s existence, otherwise I’d never have known it was created. It is vitally important that we know, though. [...]

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