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May 24 2013

“She Cut Me Off and Blocked Me”

Travis Roy, of the Great Penis Debate, dropped a comment (in moderation) on my Vacula v. Silverman post to do something that he seems to think was defending himself. I’m highlighting it here because it so perfectly captures the pettiness of the complaints that have led to years of sniping at activists in this movement.

Since this was posted I thought about commenting, mostly to address #16 Oolon’s comment.

The first comment he links to, I was addressing what Melody said directly, that people she blocked were showing up in her mentions. I argued that they were showing up someplace else (in a search perhaps). Simon, her husband, told me he would get me examples of blocked people showing up in her mentions, but he never did. I was addressing her concerns and pointing out that either there may be a technical problem with twitter that’s causing this, or that people she thought were blocked were perhaps not blocked.

As far as the second tweet he links to, yes, many women (about a dozen in the past two weeks since this has kind of come up again since WiS2) have said to me that they don’t feel like speaking out because they are worried about backlash, even if this is legit. Mallorie (who I know most people on this site probably don’t agree with) is often given as an example since Lousy Canuk mentioned her in a blog post and it did cause her some problems with potential clients asking her about it. He took her name off the post when she brought it up and that has been, overall, a very good exchange so there’s not much to go on about other than it’s an example of how these debates in the skeptical community can bleed into our professional lives.

I think you would find, if you actually talked to most of us on what people perceive as this “side” of the sexism/feminism issue are actually pretty moderate, and agree with what most of you on that “side” seem to want.

Nobody is perfect in any of this, and everybody, on all sides and in the middle have made mistakes, myself included. Painting me with some weird broad brush as kaboobie did about how I had “developed a bizarre vendetta against Surly Amy and Rebecca Watson” is very much unfair.

I haven’t talked publicly about the falling out that happened there, but in the case of Amy, what I will say is that at NECSS 3 I bought a bunch of Granite State Skeptics surly’s from her, and my wife got some others for herself and it was all very nice and pleasant and she actually gave us a discount for being such good customers. Two weeks later she cut me off and blocked me, when I emailed her to ask what was up to see what I could do it order to fix whatever I inadvertently done to upset her I got back a “never contact me again” reply, and I think I’ve pretty much kept to that, as far as I know.

I still would greatly like to repair these relationships, but I feel that they’re to far gone at this point.

It is true that I’m critical of Rebecca, Amy, and many bloggers here.. But I’m critical of everybody. I’ve been critical of DJ, Justin, Emery, and others on both sides.

Anybody is free to contact me off this comment thread if they would like to discuss further, be it email, FB, twitter, whatever. I’m more than happy to talk about it in more detail, or at TAM if you want to do it in person.

First of all, Mallorie received arguments against her position, not backlash, and she stood up and took them well. She didn’t ask Jason for changes to his post because of that. She asked for changes, months after the arguments had died down, because people were treating her argument as preapproval to sexually harass her. Go lay the blame for that with the people who defend harassers, and if you have to look in the mirror to do that, then try not to flinch.

Now for the rest of your complaints.

I do actually have a pretty good idea why Amy decided she didn’t want to talk to you anymore. It was this weird little passive-aggressive post about Amy trying to “tell [women] how to feel” about feminism and the skeptic movement. The article was posted just after NECSS 2011 about an article Amy posted just before NECSS 2011 and about a workshop that had happened nine months before. It was posted on the website of a group, your group, which, during NECSS 2011, received a nice discount on custom work from Amy, and comes complete with comments from you.

So is Amy deciding she didn’t want to deal with you based on that bit of rudeness and other interactions with her friends (mentioned in the comments on that post) an overreaction? I don’t think so, but I don’t care. I don’t care whether Amy decided your position on the Oxford comma was an abomination and she didn’t want to deal with you because of that. She gets to decide who she wants to talk to and who she doesn’t.

Despite your protestations in this comment, you apparently didn’t agree. Two months after, by your own account, Amy asked you not to contact her again, you showed up in the comments of Skepchick to point again to the GSS post. A month later, you showed up again. Both of those comments were on Amy’s posts. You didn’t leave her alone.

Even when you weren’t talking to her, you kept talking about her. There’s this:

So it seems that @ has blocked me here and on FB :( I thought things were cool http://bit.ly/lDZSZ2
@Sc00ter
Travis Roy

There’s this retweet promoting Dale’s suggestion that not interacting with you two amounts to silencing:

Then this little love affair starts:

#FF @, just because, it's funny as hell.
@Sc00ter
Travis Roy

And is carried on in conversation:

Thanks to this story, we now know that ALL paramedics are potential rapists. There is NO GRAY ZONE, PEOPLE. http://t.co/67quzThE
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
Those are just Gender Traitors. Like Tokyo Rose, or women who criticize Skepchicks. RT @ Even female paramedics?
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
@ So you're saying women can't be paramedics.. You're saying that's a man's job?
@Sc00ter
Travis Roy
RT: @: @ MISOGYNIST! Challenge not my logic! *setsforthhordeofangrycommenters* Muwahaha! Feast, my pretties! // Crap
@Sc00ter
Travis Roy
Surly Amy made a list of 15 books on Evolution. Guess how many female authors were on that list? Guess how much protesting I'll do? #Zero
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
@ How about this nice book by Dawkins. Would you like that?
@Sc00ter
Travis Roy
Men: I appreciate you not expecting womyn to be as thin as rails. But please don't describe my body as "Nice and curvy, like a Manatee."
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
@ didn't you dscribe yourself as testical eating hippos earlier?
@Sc00ter
Travis Roy

Solicitations:

Snark is only appropriate in debate when I get to use it, particularly as a substitute for substance.
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman

Some ignored:

@ hey... @ called you a sexist naughty word!
@Sc00ter
Travis Roy

Gifts:

And retweets:

PZ Myers can get a pass on anything. It's not because he is properly docile towards us. It's because he has a vagina. No shaving, ladies!
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
Screw your privilege. I'm entitled to live my life how I want: By telling men how to live theirs.
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
Remember: It doesn't matter WHAT good work a male has previously done. He says ONE thing out of line, and he's a misogynistic bigot.
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
Men who flirt with me are unwelcome sexual harassers. By the way, I'm showing so much cleavage in this dress today, I'm freezing.
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
A guy offered me coffee. I said, "Yes," then threw it in his face. I told him, "THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE," and then went shopping.
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
A misogynist is anyone who disagrees with me about the definition of sexism.
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
Review: Me calling people names=A-OK. You calling ME names=oppressor. You telling me not to call OTHER people names=tone troll. Got it?
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
So if you cough up enough $$, you can meet both Dawkins and Krauss the day prior to the Reason Rally. Is Mace given out at the door?
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
I'd take a meat cutting class with OJ Simpson before I'd ever admit to being wrong about something.
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
Just in case anyone's wondering, Skepchicks will be burning @ tonight. In effigy. While kicking it in the balls.
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
Some asshole used the phrase "Chick Flick" around me. I told him to not use ANY offensive, sexist terms and to otherwise quit Mansplaining.
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
Wow, @ follows @. In other words, PZ thinks it's fine to call women cunts. No other explanation is possible! Rage!
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
The Colbert Report is unexpectedly off the air. I KNEW it was dangerous for people to parody unreasonable folks who don't tolerate dissent!
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
People who are "neutral" on the Skepchicks vs. everybody who doesn't think like them scale, are better known as PART OF THE FUCKING PROBLEM.
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
I'm not invited to speak at the Reason Rally. So, it's sexist. I AM invited to speak at NECSS, but it's also sexist. #NotEnoughWomen #WinWin
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
WTF?! Penn Jillette's new podcast is #1 on iTunes USA and Canada? People are just ADMITTING they are misogynists now!
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
Men should RELAX if they aren't misogynists. Just know at every Skeptic event, we're watching you, hawklike, for the smallest transgression.
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
WTF, today is "National Cleavage Day?" Well, stare at my chest, and there WILL be a "Cleaver" involved, I can promise you that.
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
It's not enough to simply want equality for women. You have to be constantly pissed off and easily-offended, or you're part of The Problem.
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
I'm at #NECSS. Wearing the cutest little outfit. HEY, DON'T SEXUALIZE ME! #OrOfferMeCoffee
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
New anti-harassment policy in place? Check. No specifics given about why we need one? Check. We are SO going "Drumhead" on a guy soon!
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
Just like when you follow someone I don't like, if you go to TAM, you'll also become suspect. We're always watching. Monitoring. #BigSis
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
The mere suggestion that SOMETHING might happen to me at TAM is awesome. It's like suggesting someone is racist, homophobic, or a stalker.
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
The target of the suggestion to spends all their time denying, explaining, or complaining. Even if innocent, which makes them look guilty.
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
That threat I got wasn't a threat. But I didn't incorrectly call it a threat, either. It was a threatening nonthreat that threatened me.
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
Folks: I need a list of the books you read and the music you listen to. If I don't like ANY of it, you can burn them, or be unfollowed!
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
I've heard the phrase, "Streisand Effect" a lot today. I also gained about 50 followers today. Wait, is someone saying I have a big nose?!
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
So PZ Myers follows @? Therefore he must endorse calling women "cunts!" No other explanation! Time for a mutiny!
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman

Then there’s this touching exchange:

I'm back, bitches!! Wow, lying to silence a viewpoint you don't agree with. That's positively . . . feminist of you. <3
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
I'm like the Phoenix. Reborn. Except I'm real. Real fucking pissed off.
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
@ Glad you're back.. I was getting far to privileged without you to put me back in my place.
@Sc00ter
Travis Roy
@ @ @ My eye is on YOU. I'm like Sauron with eye shadow. No, that's over the top. I'm not into makeup.
@AngrySkepchick
Angry Skeptic Woman
@ You're eyeballing me? I feel sexualized :(
@Sc00ter
Travis Roy

But, you know, that’s just “satire”. You’re still just leaving Amy alone, certainly not contributing to making anywhere like TAM hostile to her. At least you’re not after you’re caught:

I might RT: @: @ thinking about braving the Surly protestors for the 2PM showing. Del Mar at about 1 if you're in. #TAM2012
@Sc00ter
Travis Roy
Alright, heading home, for those that don't know, amy is blocked for me, I can't see anything she says unless it's sent to me.
@Sc00ter
Travis Roy
@ @ @ FYI, @ is one of the most valued supporters of JREF and #TAM2012. There isn't any protest to worry about.
@jref
Randi Foundation
@ @ @ @ for the record.. I never said anything about a protest.
@Sc00ter
Travis Roy
@ I also think what @ does with the grants is awesome and have never said otherwise. #TAM2012
@Sc00ter
Travis Roy

Until there’s a rift to applaud by retweet:

Best T-shirt ever! "I'm a skeptic, not a 'skepchick' not a woman skeptic just a skeptic". #TAM2012
@Wendy91602
Wendy Hughes
"If Harriet Hall is part of the problem, I don't want a solution. " - Jamie Carr. Well said #TAM2012
@Sc00ter
Travis Roy

If you can interfere with that rift being healed, all the better.

Travis Roy arguing with Harriet Hall, agreeing with Sara Mayhew that Amy is two-faced and telling the same story he tells in the comment at the top of this post.

You may not have contacted Amy directly since…well, a few months after she asked you to stop. However, you’ve been poking and prodding at her and her friends for most of the two years since. And I’ve only captured the obvious stuff because I’m tired of spending time on you.

As for the idea that you criticize others, that’s trivially true. You criticize people making the products your placebo bands are supposed to fight, along with assorted psychics and mediums. You criticize tech companies or products occasionally. I haven’t seen the criticism you claim to have made of folks on “your side”, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

However, the only other skeptic you “criticize” the way you do Amy is Rebecca Watson. All over a heap of nothing. Amy expressed her opinion about feminism and asked you to leave her alone after you gave a rude response. You’ve done anything but, contributing for most of two years to the hostile environment female skeptics have to deal with if they want to contribute to the movement. Thus, your comment gets its own post as a great example of the petty crap we’ve been handed as a result of speaking our minds.

Congratulations.

15 comments

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  1. 1
    PZ Myers

    Hey, he even “criticizes” me…by laughing at how I have a vagina! Because, after all, accusing a man of having a vagina is both hilarious and damning.

    Geez, but we’re so cruel and awful and vicious to, like, tune the noise out of our twitter feeds. His free speech is as compromised as if we showed up at his house and slapped duct tape over his mouth. While people like you and I and Rebecca get rape and death threats, savage brutes threaten him with a block on twitter and ignore his emails (those are, of course, equally horrible fates).

  2. 2
    Sassafras

    Sara projects so much it’s like IMAX.

  3. 3
    thetalkingstove

    Didn’t Mayhew take a rather smug snipe about the TAM T-shirt incident along the lines of ‘Harriet Hall is a pioneer and so you’re being stupid if you don’t listen and accept what she has to say’?

    And here we see that Mayhew.can’t even bring herself to respect Harriet’s wishes not to be insulting for a single facebook post.

    So her message should really have been ‘you should listen to Harriet Hall…when I agree with her…’

  4. 4
    Argle Bargle

    She blocked his twitter feeds. A fate worse than death. How can poor Travis go through life, knowing that his passive-aggressive tweets will go ignored by their target?

    Please, Travis, remember that suicide is not the answer. I recommend you run away and join either the circus or the French Foreign Legion. These are the two escape routes traditionally used by spoiled, emotionally immature six year olds.

  5. 5
    jacksonp

    The post you linked to that supposedly caused Amy to block him, wasn’t written by Travis.

  6. 6
    A Hermit

    Ah yes, the great Penis Debate…watching the screaming spittle flecked sexually aggressive reaction to someone daring to ask politely to see TAM’s harassment policy was the thing that really opened my eyes to just how deep the divide is, and how desperate, angry and irrational some of these people can be.

    Though to be fair to Travis he seemed to be just clueless….

  7. 7
    kellym

    Stephanie, Thank you for providing evidence that Travis Roy is lying when he writes, “I haven’t talked publicly about the falling out that happened there.” And thank you for documenting Travis Roy’s harassment of Amy, and his work to be one of the several dozen who made The Amazing Meeting a hostile place for her.

    Travis, How illuminating of you to publicly trash Amy for “publicly badmouthing me at various events.” (Then to lie about it.) In the first place, you don’t provide evidence of your smear against Amy. Bad skeptic. Bad. In the second place, are you sure you don’t mean, “publicly telling the truth about me at various events?” There is a difference, you know.

    Travis, Also, I would contact you to ask you to stop harassing Amy, Rebecca, and any other feminist targets you have, but I don’t want to become one of your targets. That’s how harassment works as a silencing tactic.

    And I would discuss the issue with you at TAM. I’ve had a fantastic time at five different TAMs in the past, and paid all expenses for my sister to attend a TAM.
    But I can’t go to TAM any more. Because you and dozens of others have made TAM a hostile place for those of us who don’t hate the Skepchicks. I’m certain that TAM this year will be welcoming and fun for you. The pro-harassment team won TAM, and you deserve to relish your victory.

    Sara Mayhew, I don’t follow you around, the way you obsessively follow Amy, Rebecca, and Ophelia, so I wasn’t aware of your efforts to try to turn Dr. Harriet Hall against Amy. Every time I think you can’t sink any lower, you surprise me. Don’t ever change.

    Sara, wouldn’t you be angry at Rebecca if she lied on Ophelia’s blog that you never raised money to send women to TAM? And then when the lie was pointed out, Rebecca refused to apologize or to correct the record?
    Wouldn’t you be angry at Rebecca if she spitefully Tweeted malicious false gossip that you had made anti-Semitic remarks at a convention?

    You would, right? And rightfully so!! If Rebecca had done those things to you, you would feel angry and maybe a little harassed, too. You would want her to stop doing those things, right?

    Except that these aren’t things that Rebecca did to you. These are things that you have
    recently done to Rebecca. I know I’m not getting through to you, am I? Not even a little bit. Oh well. I can always hope.

    Out of curiosity, do you think there is anything that will ever happen to make you stop this petty weird vicious obsession?

  8. 8
    surreptitious57

    I wish some one worked out how to stop
    the machine which now is just insatiable
    The way things are going there will be no
    other issues to discuss once it becomes
    uncontrollable since this is just inevitable

  9. 9
    maudell

    Wow, that angryskeptchick person sounds like a 1913 “criticism” of suffragettes.

  10. 10
    mikmik

    It started long ago on my web dev forums, but I now see that whomever complains about being censored or blocked unfairly never represents their own actions properly, if at all. Anyone that complains about being rejected I almost automatically assume to be getting what they deserve.

  11. 11
    Tom Foss

    Ugh, this is the guy behind the Placebo bands? Guess I won’t be buying those for my classes again any time soon.

    So much of it comes down to this sense that one person is entitled to another person’s time and attention. When the latter cuts the former off, the former has this enormous overreaction that can only be sated by…regaining that latter person’s time and attention.

    It’s a tantrum. It’s a tantrum that has lasted for years. And it’s from people who have the unmitigated gall to call others immature and emotional.

  12. 12
    kaboobie

    Thanks for the details, Stephanie. I knew some but not all of the story. I still think “bizarre vendetta” is a good description.

  13. 13
    kaboobie

    jacksonp @ 5:

    The post in question was written by Travis’ wife. It was critical of a Skepchick post by Amy, Amy was critical of it in return, and Travis participated in the comment thread on Skepchick.

    As Stephanie said, whether or not one agrees with Amy’s reasons for blocking him, “She gets to decide who she wants to talk to and who she doesn’t.” I’ll never understand those who insist that they are entitled to another person’s time and attention, and that if that person chooses to avoid them they are being “silenced” and “censored”.

  14. 14
    Marcus Ranum

    It seems like Harriet Hall’s coming around. Or am I misinterpreting it?

  15. 15
    Stephanie Zvan

    Marcus, Amy and Harriet patched things up over the t-shirt a while ago. This happened then.

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