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Mar 13 2014

You Made Your Bed, Now Burn in It

Kameron Hurley wrote a great post recently that everyone in the atheist community ought to read right about now. It’s starts with an argument with a toddler.

I had the questionable delight of hanging out with a 3 year old for the last week, and at some point, when I hauled off his pants so he could go “Pee-pee in the potty” he proceeded to sit on said toilet for a solid five minutes having an argument with me because I’d said “Hey!” when he tried to hit his mother.

“You YELLED at me!” he yelled. “We don’t yell in this house.”

“We don’t hit our mom, either.”

“We don’t YELL. You HURT my FEELINGS.”

At some point, this child will understand the difference between a feeling of guilt for being called out when he does something bad and actual hurt feelings, but today is not that day.

“And you hurt your mom’s feelings,” I said. “You don’t hit your mom.”

“We don’t YELL IN THIS HOUSE.”

The post then goes on to use this framework to explain why the idea that Jonathan Ross was abused by that portion of the F&SF community that objected to his hosting this year’s Hugo Awards at WorldCon is nonsense.

Because in all the rage about how fandom must be full of crazy idiots who no longer have a Great White Hope to Save their Genre From Obscurity, what nobody seems to remember is that the actual pushback on Twitter was not raised fists to hit him, but expressions of fear that Ross was going to hit their mom. It was the internet yelling, “HEY!” and asking for reassurance that they wouldn’t be diminished, spat on, ridiculed, or raged at in their own house. (EDIT: for a sample of some of the “abuse” hurled at Ross, there’s an abbreviated storify thread here)

In fact, folks like Farah Mendlesohn spoke up pretty clearly about this early on, before the statement was made public (her post about resigning her committee position over the issue has since been made private) and Seanan McGuire bravely stated her fears point blank on Twitter, fears which, if I was a Hugo nominee and attendee, I would also share.

For doing that, for expressing their fear that Ross would do to them what he has done to others, for having a perfectly reasonable concern rooted in their history and Ross’s, those women and others who expressed the same reservations were branded as “haters” and lectured for “vilify”ing Ross (or accused of “abusing” someone without a single piece of abuse in evidence). Neil Gaiman did this despite having had such reasonable fears himself at one point.

No, Gaiman’s fears didn’t come to pass. Ross was kind to him and to Dave McKean when they met. Those fears were still reasonable, though, given the history Gaiman cited. Ross made fun of people for a living. The fears of Charlie Stross, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Farah Mendlesohn, and–yes–Seanan McGuire. Ross has a history of misogynistic humor. Would he have engaged in it onstage at the Hugo Awards? Maybe not. Is it a reasonable fear that he would? Absolutely.

It was with that in mind that I answered a request from a friend yesterday who was concerned that when a chunk of organized atheism reacted to Hemant giving guest post space to a crappy (really crappy, really, really crappy) pro-life “argument” by saying, “This is not up for debate”, it was somehow a worrisome, anti-intellectual position denying the possibility of any ethical questions surrounding abortion aside from bodily autonomy. I’ll share with you more or less what I shared with my friend.

The problem with debating the ethics of abortion beyond the question of bodily autonomy is that the question of bodily autonomy for women is not settled yet (using “women” because for trans and genderqueer people, I’d say it’s barely been raised), and it is foundational. Without that foundation clearly laid and agreed upon, no other debates can happen, because they keep reverting to that foundational question.

Obviously, the fact that this isn’t a settled question is not unique to atheist and humanist communities. However, I don’t think it’s the fact that it’s not settled “out there” is what keeps deeper discussions from happening within these communities. The problem is that women have had their nosed rubbed in the fact that they’re not considered to have bodily autonomy by people within these communities for the last several years.

We’re still having arguments over whether women’s bodies are communal property to be commented upon and sometimes even touched by whomever, whenever. We’re still arguing over whether women even get to name what happens to their bodies–or whether they’re capable of being or likely to be rational and honest while doing so. Give yourself a moment to let that sink in.

We’re doing this incredibly publicly. We’ve been doing it for more than three years. The debate goes on, in no small part, because there continues to be very little consequence to those who argue against women’s bodily autonomy and rationality and a great deal of resistance to the idea that those who do so repeatedly and using poor premises are unethical.

You can’t “move beyond” that fight in a community where the fight still rages. Without a general agreement that women are fully entitled to bodily autonomy, without that being a settled question, every other concern becomes an attack on that autonomy. It is both a distraction from a fight still needing to be fought for a basic right and–no matter how sincere the person who brings up the argument, no matter how much they agree that women have that right–a weapon that will get picked up and used by the opposition in that ongoing fight.

Does that mean you can’t ever bring up those other ethical concerns? No, but it does limit the circumstances in which you can do so productively are severely limited. I have quibbles with how some statements have been laid out, but I’m not going to air them in a discussion of Hemant’s terrible post. I’m not distracted that easily. I’m not three.

Basically, if you want to have those discussions, you have to have them in situations where bodily autonomy for women (preferably everyone) is treated as a settled question. In fact, those kinds of ethical considerations come up reasonably often in feminist spaces and even in conversations among abortion clinic escorts. Contrary to “hive-mind” stereotypes, people who have spent a long time arguing generally about the ethics of abortion think about these issues and talk about them. They just don’t have those conversations with people who don’t clearly respect a right to bodily autonomy.*

If you wanted to host a discussion about other ethical questions around abortion, you could probably do it on your blog, but it would be a lot of work to make it productive. For every issue you raised, you would have to flatly state that the issue did not constitute a good argument to curtail bodily autonomy but was instead an argument to do XYZ.

Additionally, if “do XYZ” amounted to “consider this factor when making the decision to have an abortion” you’d have to either provide evidence that people contemplating abortion don’t make that ethical consideration now or flatly state that you assume they do but that people who haven’t had to contemplate abortion may not have taken it into account. Abortion debate is nothing if not full of “You don’t agree with me; therefore, you have not thought about this.”

Essentially, if you want to write or debate on ethical topics in abortion other than bodily autonomy, you have to carefully locate your thoughts in relation to the ongoing debate on that topic. Or solve it. I’d be fine with that too.

What I am not fine with is people holding a discussion of issues surrounding my rights without paying me and them the respect to have the very best, most productive discussion possible–which does not include uncritical presentation of pseudoscience, ignorance of the ramifications of their positions, emotional slight of hand, or pretending that there aren’t people with basic rights surrounding the embryos and fetuses in question. If you try to have that conversation about my rights in that unacceptable fashion, I will absolutely tell you that we are not having that debate.

Beyond that, I will do my damnedest to strip you of every shred of legitimacy you claim in your attempt to host your shoddy “debate”. Not only will I be supported by others in that attempt, but I will be correct in doing so. You don’t get to hold others’ rights in your hands until you’ve demonstrated you’re mature enough to handle them. And the atheist movement has done anything but prove it’s that mature.

We–this movement–are not having this debate. Go clean house and put real demands on people to grow up and treat women like they have and deserve bodily autonomy, and then we’ll talk, assuming you still see a reason we need to.


While I’m talking about the completely predictable knock-on effects of an atheist movement that’s been hitting many of its prominent female activists for years, it’s time to talk about Dave Silverman’s comments about abortion at CPAC. I support Dave’s decision to represent conservative nontheists to theocratic conservatives. I support his decision to do so at CPAC as part of American Atheists strategy to turn conflict into media attention, and don’t assume he expected to find “his people” there. I think “fiscal conservatism” is short-sighted in someone who wants to see atheism grow, given that the top countries for atheism are mostly socialist democracies, but whatever. We all contain contradictions. I even agree with Jason’s analysis that Dave’s abortion message was mangled and not representative of his views.

Where Dave loses me, instantly and wholly, is when he starts lecturing others about giving him the benefit of the doubt and coming to him for clarification before reacting to his comments. He’s done it in a couple of places. I’m doing him a favor by not linking them.

Here’s the thing. When Dave Silverman claims that he is owed that kind of deference, his claims don’t match reality. Is Silverman personally pro-choice? I’m willing to believe he is if he says so, but there’s nothing about his history to tell me that he’s willing to take a stand on the issue if it gets n the way of his other goals. If you look for “abortion” or even “contraception” on the American Atheists site, you’ll find the Secular Coalition’s Model Secular Policy Guide, which is good on abortion, but you won’t find any attempt to uphold that particular section of the policy.

If it appeared that Dave was willing to embrace a cross on public land in order to grow American Atheists, I might justifiably be ridiculed for believing that, but it’s not unreasonable to think he might put abortion on the table. Wrong, perhaps, but not unreasonable.

In the broader context of the attacks on women’s bodily autonomy rights in the atheist movement, it is also not unreasonable to be uncertain where Dave will take his stand. Yes, American Atheists was an enthusiastic early adopter of anti-harassment policies. Yes, Dave wrote a piece for Surly Amy’s series on taking a stand against harassment. Yes, he yelled at Justin Vacula in public.

However, at the same time, his walk hasn’t always fully followed his talk. Dave has insisted that his tent needs to be big enough for even those people who work against anti-harassment policies. He’s promoted the Twitter feed of an “Elevatorgate” blogger. His behavior has not been as “zero tolerance” as his rhetoric.

Again, we all contain contradictions. We don’t always live up to our own expectations of ourselves, much less the expectations that we set for others. Dave is hardly alone in that.

However, the fact that none of us is perfect means that none of us is beyond reproach. None of us gets to demand that the people injured by our actions come to us hat in hand for explanations and clarifications before getting angry about those injuries. Not even the president of American Atheists gets to say, “How dare you yell at me not to hit you?!” Dave would do well to remember that.

For that matter, everyone over the age of three would do well to remember that. If you can’t, don’t be surprised if we sweep in and take away your toys until all you’re left with are the child-safe ones. This last week has ignited an acute, incandescent rage that I haven’t seen before in the atheist movement.

We–this movement–are not having this debate either. If you try to have this debate on top of the last few years, you will not have the same movement left when you’re done.

The last three years have changed the landscape of the atheist movement, and it hasn’t gone well for the people who have tried to keep women from speaking up for their rights. Those women certainly haven’t had it easy, but we now have anti-harassment policies in most places. We have more activities that appeal to and are available to women. We have more women speakers and leaders. We have Women in Secularism. We have Secular Woman. We have women networked and supporting each other behind the scenes in ways you can’t see until they erupt into action. We also have a bunch of men who have educated themselves on what supporting women’s rights actually means.

Much of that has happened out of anger. It’s happened at and after pivotal, explosive moments of collective rage. This could be another one of those moments. I can’t tell you what may come out of it, but I can tell you that I’ll watch for opportunities to make it a productive rage, because that energy has been and should be useful.

You’re not going to get to hit us again. If you try, damned right we’ll yell. Now, go prove to us that you’re not three years old anymore.

*I saw yet one more of these discussions in an explicitly feminist space today. It was thoughtful. It was calm. Someone changed their opinion during it. No one questioned whether women should have the power to make their own medical decisions. Funny, that.

42 comments

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  1. 1
    hjhornbeck

    In some sense, it’s been great to bring out pro-choice arguments to an audience that hasn’t heard of them. But there’s a strong political angle to this as well.

    Anti-choice groups love manipulating people by language. Ever heard of “partial-birth abortions?” They invented that term to score easy points, even though the most similar medical procedure was very rarely done and has morally-acceptable usages. Likewise, they’ve realized that approaching abortion from a religious angle is a losing proposition as it brings up inter-denomination fights.

    So much like creationists, they’ve tried to take advantage of the science’s brand power and wrapped themselves in the flag of secularism. If you try bringing up religious arguments with their protesters, they’ll dismiss them and repeat the mantra of having solid secular arguments, even though spending a little time with them reveals the church attendance rate hovers approaches 100%, the leaders of their groups all have strong religious backgrounds, and they are well-funded by churches.

    As a result, saying there are secular arguments against abortion is an act of support for religious groups, by your endorsement of coded language. It’s just another form of the Southern Strategy, directed against women’s rights.

  2. 2
    Mimmoth

    Very well said. Thank you.

    I looked at that piece on Friendly Atheist (specifically the part where she said, roughly “fetus=human=equal of the woman thus can use her body without her consent” and thought–wait, what? I mean, if I’m interacting with an equal, a lover, say, and at 9:15 we agree to have sex and at 9:17 I say, “Ow, that hurts; stop. I don’t want to do this anymore” he’s got to stop. That’s what “equals” means. If he doesn’t have to stop, if he gets to say “too bad for you, toots; I’m going to use you until you scream and you bleed”–then he’s not my equal. He’s my owner. He’s my master.

    So if the fetus gets to, in effect, say “too bad for you toots; I’m going to use you until you scream and you bleed” it’s obviously NOT my equal. And the idea that a fetus is so much better than me that it is my master is an insult.

    And really, I don’t know where these people get this idea they can wander around voicing this insult–”you’re so much less than a fetus that you have no right to resist its ownership of your body” over and over and over, and pretend they’re having some kind of civil discussion.

  3. 3
    oolon

    Haha, the toddler thing stuck a chord, especially as my 5yr old daughter is starting to get this bit…

    At some point, this child will understand the difference between a feeling of guilt for being called out when he does something bad and actual hurt feelings, but today is not that day.

    Not so much that it isn’t the first thing she goes for when told off, but she is starting to understand it is not a valid argument. Saying, “But…But… You did X!”, has no relevance to her transgression. When she finally gets it I can mark it as the day she is more emotionally mature and has mastered logic to a higher standard than the average anti-FTB’er.

  4. 4
    GregB

    What an absurd comment. So, because a secular person happens on their own to have decided to be “Pro-life” (whatever YOU, in your limited-mind-reading-state, may think about their reasons), they are supposed to shut up because their conclusion coincides with that of people YOU happen to loathe? It does not trouble you that they may not be using this “coded language” and thus shouldn’t be silenced for the sins of others?

    I wonder if you trouble yourself to apply this ludicrous “thinking” to your own ideas. Do you, before blogging, consider “well I feel X is true, but as it happens this other group over here also feels X is true, and they are horrible people using horrible arguments, so therefore I will not write my piece”? I’d guess you never do.

  5. 5
    SallyStrange

    What true things do the Forced Birth Brigade say about abortion, GregB? Be specific.

  6. 6
    Shannon Drury

    I am grateful to you and Greta Christina for all you’re doing to make atheist spaces safer for feminists!

  7. 7
    besomyka

    @3 GregB I have yet to hear a single pro-life argument that wasn’t dismissive of the person carrying the proto-human. Occasionally a more thoughtful lifer will casually mention it, but only as a intermediary step before explaining why we can safely ignore them.

    My loathing is a reaction to the dismissal of our rights and concerns. I don’t disapprove because we disagree, I disprove because pro-lifers don’t think I even need to be listened to, that my concerns aren’t important.

    I mean, go for it. Give me a sincere secular argument that allows an otherwise healthy person to refuse to donate a kidney to a deathly ill person that needs it to survive, but doesn’t allow a pregnant person to refuse to donate their own body and substance to the proto-human that need them to survive.

    I don’t see any way to thread the needle. Either you think life-saving procedures can and should violate another persons right to bodily autonomy, or you don’t. You can’t be selective and expect someone like me to think that the exception you’re making is because of sexism and misogyny.

  8. 8
    Menyambal

    I like the article. The comparison made some things very clear, and reminded me of a few incidents. Thanks.

  9. 9
    August Berkshire

    It’s hard to think of a single human right that doesn’t start with bodily autonomy. You’d then have to present an argument why that should be restricted or diminished. In the case of a dangerous criminal, we can present a valid case that that person’s freedom of movement should be restricted (i.e. prison). But we still couldn’t present a valid case why their bodily autonomy should be violated (e.g. rape, implantation of a foreign object in their belly, etc.).

  10. 10
    Donnie

    GregB: What part do you not understand? Be ‘pro-life’ all you want…with your fucking body! Leave other people’s bodies alone, and do not dictate how they use their body because YOU are ‘pro-life’. Seriously, have fucking difficult is this to understand.

    I think @2 Mimmoth covered it fairly well: It is her (assuming Mimmoth is a female) body, and she gets to decide how her body is used by a lover, or by a fetus. No one else. Be ‘pro-life’ with your own body. Leave other’s alone. No one appointment you to be the master of someone else’s body…m’kay!

  11. 11
    Donnie

    ‘no one ‘appointed’ you to be the master…..sorry.

  12. 12
    desertyeti

    It is rather ridiculous that certain bloggers like Svan, P.Z., Greta Christina, et.al feel that it is somehow their duty to purge the atheist community of all those who dare hold differing opinions. I think it is a very good thing that Silverman attempted to reach out to conservatives at CPAC, and likewise, it was nice to see Hemant allow that guest post on his blog to help illustrate the diversity of opinion that exists in the atheist community. If some of you want to run your blogs so as to not allow dissenting opinions that is your choice to make, however, it is rather rude and presumptuous of you to berate other bloggers who do allow actual discussions with dissenting opinions.

    As to the abortion issue,I personally am pro-choice, however, it is plainly obvious that you are .misrepresenting the entire anti-abortion argument by framing it as nothing more than misogyny.. You are simply poisoning the well rather than addressing the actual arguments against abortion.

    It is sad to see that many atheists are becoming as bad as the religious conservatives when it comes to smearing ideological opponents and shutting down debate.

  13. 13
    Stephanie Zvan

    So where is your blog where you’ll house my guest post on how people should lose their freedom of speech until they can read well enough to tell the difference between “this debate is nothing but misogyny” and “this debate will not be held somewhere with a big misogyny problem”? It won’t take me but a few minutes to write it.

  14. 14
    changerofbits

    Thanks Stephanie!

    @4 Did you read the post? It has nothing to do with whether an atheist’s “pro-life” conclusion happens, out of honest happenstance, to be shared by a bunch of religious nitwits. It has everything to do with that position taking the right of bodily autonomy away from women. I suppose that means we’re saddling the atheist movement with the ideologically of human equality, but you should shut the fuck up if you think it shouldn’t be. We are not having that debate.

  15. 15
    Donnie

    @13 Stephanie Zvan: Will you host an article for me? I want to write, as a White Male, that all White Males must be selectively castrated before puberty. Only those White Males that meet a strict breeding program, very much like cattle, will be allowed to have sex (and eventually breed) after puberty. I mean, should not the sexual rights and freedom be up for debate? Should we not seriously discuss the benefits of social Darwinism as a means to an end? When a white male gets to puberty, he will be required to report to the ejaculation room where his penis and ball will be hooked up into a milking catheter and his semen will be instantly evaluated for any genetic flaws. If his semen does not rate, ‘superior’ than his penis and balls will be instantly cutoff and lasered closed – painlessly of course we are a humane people.

    Of course, in this new sex/breeding program, anyone can be castrated for being convicted of being ‘an asshole on the internet’. Right? This is a debate that Hemant is required to post with no dissenting opinion because Freeze Peach demands that anyone can post interesting debate topics on any website. And, of course, any rebuttal that is not specifically written in the comments section of that guest post will be considered the most violent, and hideous crime against Freeze Peach.

    Does that sum up the position of #12 desertyeti?

  16. 16
    Donnie

    Over the top? Or not? Yes, I am pissed at the Freeze Peach brigade because they are such fuckingly clueless assfuckerozzies!

  17. 17
    Stephanie Zvan

    Probably more free inquiry than freeze peach, but I can’t find any reason Hemant shouldn’t post it under desertyeti’s reasoning.

  18. 18
    desertyeti

    I don’t blog so I can’t help you there. As to your comment, I don’t think I am misinterpreting your post at all- you absolutely are trying to frame the debate around misogyny, and you imply misogyny on the part of anyone who weighs the ethical question of the rights of a fetus vs a women’s bodily autonomy differently than you (or I) do. As to the debate not being held somewhere with a “big misogyny problem”, are you implying that Hemant’s blog has a misogyny problem? Can you provide examples? Or are you saying that it is the atheist community as a whole that has a misogyny problem, so no atheist ought to discuss a view of abortion that differs from your own? The internet is full of all sorts of idiots, including misogynists. Many would argue that the internet as a whole has a misogyny problem. By your reasoning then, should all discussions on the internet about abortion that don’t conform to your viewpoints on the issue be forbidden?

    I don’t take issue with your views on abortion rights or criticism of the guest blog post-in fact, I assume that my personal views on abortion rights are similar if not identical to yours. My issue is that you seem to be saying that no discussion of opposing views should happen at all. Like I said, if you don’t wish to entertain such discussions on your blog that is your choice, but why do you think you should be dictating the discussion on other blogs on the atheist community?

  19. 19
    Stephanie Zvan

    Who am I? I’m one of the folks that a fairly large number of people in this movement come to when they’re tired of putting up with bullshit and want to know how to change things. And so far, I’ve been pretty good at it. I’m also one of the people who has told leaders in this movement what will happen politically in response to certain behaviors. And so far, I’ve been pretty good at it.

    I’m not dictating anything. I’m telling you and a whole bunch of other people that this isn’t going to fly–not because I have a magic wand and will make things happen–but because I’ve been watching and listening, taking pulse and temperature of this movement. I’ve had people–people who get things done–telling me they’re ready to riot. They’ve had quite enough of this crap, thank you, and one drop more is going to be one drop too many.

    I’m also telling you that I don’t feel like trying to calm them down. They’re right. There’s too much of this crap–too much misogyny, too many imperious attitudes, too many people leaving themselves open by pretending expertise and logic where there is none.

    What I’m doing is warning you that I won’t dampen the flames if the “powers that be” in this movement continue to try to tell women not to “get so emotional” about their abortion rights. I’ll spark the keg instead if it comes to it. And so far, I’ve been pretty good at it.

  20. 20
    Flewellyn

    As to your comment, I don’t think I am misinterpreting your post at all- you absolutely are trying to frame the debate around misogyny, and you imply misogyny on the part of anyone who weighs the ethical question of the rights of a fetus vs a women’s bodily autonomy differently than you (or I) do.

    That’s because there is no rational basis for restricting abortion access, and the only reason that does not fall down immediately upon even casual scrutiny is animus, specifically misogyny. It only appears otherwise because of the false and deceptive rhetoric of the anti-choice people who frame the issue as one of protecting “life”, which fails under scientific and ethical scrutiny.

    My issue is that you seem to be saying that no discussion of opposing views should happen at all. Like I said, if you don’t wish to entertain such discussions on your blog that is your choice, but why do you think you should be dictating the discussion on other blogs on the atheist community?

    Why are you framing this issue as one of her dictating to people? She is arguing that having such discussions is a bad idea, unproductive and almost certain only to alienate more women from the atheist movement at a time when the movement is already in the throes of a massive internal struggle over the place of women and minorities. She’s saying that it’s insulting and harmful to treat women’s basic rights as “up for debate”, as though they were an intellectual exercise instead of life or death for half the world’s population.

    If you still want to engage in mass debating of the issue, somewhere else, by all means, go do that. But don’t pretend that you’re accomplishing anything good by it.

  21. 21
    Stephanie Zvan

    Flewellyn, that isn’t what I’ve said about bodily autonomy in this context at all. desertyeti is simply continuing to demonstrate himself to be incapable of reading what I have said. We are not going to have an abortion debate here.

  22. 22
    Flewellyn

    Oh. I must have misread you, then. My reading was that you felt such debates were not productive in general, especially in the face of a very hostile and misogynistic community.

  23. 23
    Stephanie Zvan

    Not that they are not productive per se, but that unless and until the question of whether everyone has the same right to bodily autonomy as cis straight white (etc.) men is settled, every argument about abortion becomes that argument–which I and others are not going to have with people who have demonstrated this much bad faith. I do not grant them the standing to argue about my rights.

  24. 24
    Flewellyn

    Ahh, okay. I think I was trying to be there, but phrased my statements wrong in my above post.

    Well, I think I can stand by “it’s insulting and harmful to treat women’s basic rights as up for debate”.

  25. 25
    Stephanie Zvan

    You’ll get no argument from me there.

  26. 26
    desertyeti

    “Not that they are not productive per se, but that unless and until the question of whether everyone has the same right to bodily autonomy as cis straight white (etc.) men is settled, every argument about abortion becomes that argument–which I and others are not going to have with people who have demonstrated this much bad faith. I do not grant them the standing to argue about my rights.”

    This is where I think that you are arguing in bad faith. You are implying that the pro-life argument is that women have no bodily autonomy. Many times that is not the case, and that was certainly not the argument made in Kristines post. She stated that women have a claim to bodily autonomy, but that a fetus/unborn child also has a rights claim as well. In her view the fetus’ right to life outweighs the woman’s claim to bodily autonomy. It is a bit dishonest to imply that her views are based on a misogynistic view that women have no rights.

    Biology dictates that abortion restrictions only affect women, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all ethical arguments against abortion are based on misogyny. I also don’t buy the argument that a subject can’t even debated because it involves personal freedom- society places restrictions on personal freedoms all of the time, examples include drug laws and euthanasia laws. It would be absurd to claim that nobody can debate these issues because they involve personal liberty,. One issue of personal freedom that only applies to men (at least in the United States) is military conscription. Should men be aggrieved just because a women states an opinion on this issue? I don’t think so.

    I am not sure how the part about “white” or “cis” has anything to do with this discussion at all.

  27. 27
    desertyeti

    @Flewellyn

    I am not interested in a debate on abortion-as I said before I am staunchly pro-choice. What I take issue with is the attempt to shut down debate on other blogs as well as the complete misrepresentation of the argument made in the original anti-abortion blog post.

    As to the issue of Stephanie’s post trying to dictate the discussion on other blogs-I don’t think it can be interpreted in any other way. She states the following:

    “What I am not fine with is people holding a discussion of issues surrounding my rights without paying me and them the respect to have the very best, most productive discussion possible–which does not include uncritical presentation of pseudoscience, ignorance of the ramifications of their positions, emotional slight of hand, or pretending that there aren’t people with basic rights surrounding the embryos and fetuses in question. If you try to have that conversation about my rights in that unacceptable fashion, I will absolutely tell you that we are not having that debate.”

    That appears pretty clear cut to me.

  28. 28
    Stephanie Zvan

    I am not sure how the part about “white” or “cis” has anything to do with this discussion at all.

    I know you’re not. That and your inability to read are what disqualify you from being taken at all seriously on the topic.

  29. 29
    hjhornbeck

    desertyeti @18:

    I don’t take issue with your views on abortion rights or criticism of the guest blog post-in fact, I assume that my personal views on abortion rights are similar if not identical to yours. My issue is that you seem to be saying that no discussion of opposing views should happen at all.

    The same argument is invoked by creationists. “Why are you stamping down talk of Intelligent Design? It’s a valid, secular alternative theory!” We are not forced to consider every possible argument, we instead weight them by plausibility and prioritize.

    In the case of abortion, the answer was decisively settled forty-two years ago. I’m aware of no plausible counter-argument developed since, and the fact that abortion opponents are reduced to lies and manipulative rhetoric suggests none will be forthcoming. There should be no debate over abortion; the fact that there is speaks poorly of our collective critical thinking skills.

  30. 30
    SallyStrange

    you imply misogyny on the part of anyone who weighs the ethical question of the rights of a fetus vs a women’s bodily autonomy differently than you (or I) do

    Imply? It’s being stated outright. If you believe a fetus’ right to life trumps a pregnant person’s bodily autonomy, but don’t believe that an adult’s right to life trumps the bodily autonomy of a person who could donate blood, kidneys, etc., you are a misogynist.

    Feel free to argue otherwise. It’s only going to make you look more like a misogynist.

  31. 31
    carlie

    And really, I don’t know where these people get this idea they can wander around voicing this insult–”you’re so much less than a fetus that you have no right to resist its ownership of your body” over and over and over, and pretend they’re having some kind of civil discussion.

    I like that we’re at that point now, that we’re able to say “No, that is not a civil discussion. Your views are not defensible, and we will not have this discussion with you.” I like that a lot. It draws the real issue right out into the open.

  32. 32
    desertyeti

    @sallystrange

    So all of the women who oppose abortion, including the woman who made the guest post on Hemant’s blog, are misogynists?

  33. 33
    Stephanie Zvan

    Don’t respond to desertyeti. He couldn’t read the bit where we’re not having that argument. I sincerely hope everyone else can.

  34. 34
    Stacy

    GregB, you need to work on your writing: “Seriously, What an absurd comment”–what “comment”?

    Are you referring to the OP? If so, you also need to work on your reading comprehension, because you’ve utterly missed the point. Per usual.

    After this movement spends two years arguing about whether or not people like you have the right to be free of harassment, you come back here and lecture us some more about how terrible it is to “silence” people who just happen to have decided you don’t have a right to bodily autonomy.

  35. 35
    Valde

    I think that people should see this, so I am posting it where applicable. If anyone else wants to repost it, feel free:

    Two other arguments advanced by Kristine K in the past:

    1) “”I don’t think the rape victim is responsible in terms of the ultimate
    responsibility if pregnancy was forced on her against her will. Nevertheless, by basic biology of reproduction her body initiated and welcomed a new life into existence even if she didn’t choose or will it. “”

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/08/02/pro-life-clinics-reject-pro-life-volunteer-because-shes-an-atheist/#comment-1004923702

    2)” On the one hand the fetus is not an intruder – the uterus invited him/her into existence and he or she is now in his/her natural and rightful environmen,…”

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/02/17/pro-life-atheist-speaks-to-college-group-but-not-without-some-controversy/#comment-1249253325

    —————-

    Biology = destiny is not exactly what I would consider to be a ‘humanist’ viewpoint.

  36. 36
    D. C. Sessions

    Abortion debate is nothing if not full of “You don’t agree with me; therefore, you have not thought about this.”

    Well, that’s the short form. The full version is more like my [1] “Holy Warrior Thinking” model, paraphrased:

    * You don’t agree with me, therefore you have never heard The Truth
    * You have heard The Truth and don’t agree with me, therefore you don’t/can’t really understand it
    * You clearly understand The Truth and still don’t agree with me, therefore you have sided with Evil.

    In short, the only way to disagree with me is to be either ignorant, incompetent, or evil.

    [1] Originally posted on Usenet almost 20 years ago. Eep!

  37. 37
    August Berkshire

    @ Comment 35: To demonstrate how poor these arguments by Kristine K. are, they could be used to justify rape:

    1) “Nevertheless, by basic biology of reproduction, her body was constructed in a way that welcomed a penis into her vagina, even if she didn’t choose or will it.“

    2) “On the one hand the penis is not an intruder – it is now in its natural and rightful environment.”

  38. 38
    D. C. Sessions

    Valde, I’m impressed by the sleight of rhetoric that transforms “my body did this automatically” into “consent.”

    No, really, it’s lovely.

    It’s lovely because it so clearly illustrates the fundamental argument going on: that the female brain is ethically subordinate to the uterus.

  39. 39
    Valde

    #37 and #38

    PRECISELY.

  40. 40
    SallyStrange

    Can I just note my amusement at the fact that desertyeti seems astounded by the idea that women can do misogyny?

  41. 41
    Stephanie Zvan

    There’s also a comment in moderation about how me booting him for being unable to follow directions proves I’m against all debate everywhere. The world is fresh and new to him.

  42. 42
    August Berkshire

    The debates about sexual orientation equality and bodily autonomy are over for the atheist community. The atheist community has had those debates and they’re settled.

    Compare this to evolution vs. creationism. The scientific community has had that debate and it’s settled.

    So while scientists don’t argue among themselves about whether evolution occurred, there is still a need to educate the public. And while atheists don’t need to argue among themselves about abortion rights, there is still a need to educate the public.

    It seems to me that we have to do more than try to elect pro-choice legislators. And we have to do more than hope that court cases will be successful – especially when abortion rights are being eroded by TRAP laws that few courts have stopped. So what is our best tactic when it comes to educating the public?

    I have a pamphlet that points out what many people have said before: that if a god exists he is the world’s biggest abortionist. Two days ago I spoke with two young women students at a Christian high school and told them this (much to their surprise). I also tried to make it personal, saying YOU own YOUR bodies. They couldn’t deny that. Finally, I said that if the women I loved – my partner and two sisters – got pregnant, it would be unthinkable to me to force them to carry out a pregnancy against their wills.

    It was a friendly conversation with two young, inquiring minds, and maybe if I didn’t change their minds about what their options were if they got pregnant, I hope I gave them an understanding that it is not as clear cut as their religion says it is, and maybe they should allow other women to have a choice when it comes to their own bodies.

  1. 43
    On the Privilege of Discussing Abortion

    […] I posted that article I have given a lot of thought to the many comments I have received from members of the secular movement, from people with uteri, from philosophers and […]

  2. 44
    On the Wrong Side of the Argument… | Polimicks

    […] female atheists and skeptics have also spoken out on this matter, vociferously:  Greta Christina, Stephanie Zvan, Ophelia Benson, Dana Hunter, to name a […]

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