No, You Can’t Address Misogyny in an Election Year, Comments Edition

Yesterday, I posted something about the race for the Democratic nomination. It wasn’t an endorsement of either candidate. It made no argument in favor of either candidate. It didn’t even express my preference for either candidate.

What I posted yesterday was a critique of the political process as it’s playing out this year. It pointed out that allowing our progressive selves to embrace decades of right-wing character assassination of Hillary Clinton harms more than Clinton. It pointed out that doing this harms me and other women who have been subjected to similar campaigns for being politically active and effective. And it pointed out that it’s nearly impossible to get people to pay attention to this problem.

It also said this:

Commenting note: If you think a personal reflection like this is a place to argue for or against your candidate, whoever that might be, think again. Think hard. Trying to talk about this problem–and having that treated as though I were campaigning instead of engaging in the same cultural critique I do every day as a feminist–has been exhausting and disheartening. My reserves of diplomacy are running low.

Here are the comments I received on that post that you won’t see there. [Read more…]

If Clinton Is a Monster, So Am I

I was chatting with someone last night about politics, like you do, privately, like you do, so we could have a conversation instead of being interrupted by people telling us how Hillary Clinton is evil. Things get a little rough when politics turns people into sea lions. He mentioned appreciating a piece on the Democratic contest at Shakesville, so I went looking for it.

I don’t know whether “Expectations of the Monster” is the piece he was talking about, but I didn’t get past it. I got stuck instead, stuck trying to figure out how to share it. I got stuck trying to figure out how to get people to read it as it was, there on the screen, instead of as a piece of partisan propaganda. It was the same stuck I’d been trying to figure out how to share the “All-Caps” piece (warning: brief auto-play video at the bottom of page) from earlier.

I was still stuck when I went to bed. When I woke up, this is what came out.

When we’re talking about the Democratic presidential nomination, and I tell you that Hillary Clinton’s actual record shows continual movement to the left (which is not flip-flopping), some of you will tell me that you just don’t trust her. You’ll tell me Clinton is calculating, cold, evasive. You’ll point to “scandals” as though the existence of so many allegations proves there must be some core of fact.

You might as well call me “dogmatic” and “authoritarian” to my face. [Read more…]

Dawkins Goes Denialist: An Open Letter to the CFI Board

Let me start this by offering my sympathy. You have what was probably a tough decision just behind you. You have another ahead. You haven’t had much time to be comfortable that you made the right decision in between. You have no options that will please everyone or even any options that will not sadden and anger many people.

That said, I’m writing this to make sure you understand the full import of what’s ahead of you. When someone like Richard Dawkins conjures up a new storm on the internet every week or two, it’s easy to slip into the habit of thinking they’re all the same and they’ll all blow over. That isn’t the case here.

What Dawkins has done over the course of the last couple of days has ramifications for CFI that need to be considered carefully. I don’t want you to miss them. [Read more…]

My “Theory” of Codes of Conduct

Oh, good lord, we’ve got a “thinker” on our hands. Seriously, that’s how he describes himself in the bio for his self-published book about psychopaths (based on his personal experiences rather than psychological research, natch). Only now he’s thinking about codes of conduct.

Is there a problem with thinking? Nope. Is there a problem with this guy thinking? Not in particular. It sounds like he’s even pretty good at it when it comes to software. So what’s the problem?

It’s the same problem that continually happens with people who define themselves as smart or as good thinkers: They forget about GIGO. They come to think of themselves as experts without having done any of the work.

This guy, in true “thinker” fashion, has decided he knows how people who work on codes of conduct theorize and conceptualize them without apparently ever having talked to any of us.

And indeed, I think the mainstream Code of Conduct model is based on false assumptions. The mainstream theory of harassment (let’s call it “Model A”) has these assumptions:

  1. Anyone can be the harasser.
  2. Harassment is a motiveless act.
  3. Outlawing harassment will stop it.

Those are indeed false assumptions. They are also not even close to the premises I’m working from when I talk about codes of conduct. Here are mine. You’ll note some contrasts. [Read more…]

Secular Women Work: The Nonsense

Why am I posting this? I’d collected it all as it happened, then never bothered to publish it. I’m reminded in another venue, however, that unless I remind people that harassment is continual, they assume it’s all better now. So here, this is what it’s like to run a conference as an open feminist in this movement.

You know, of course, that neither I nor Secular Woman could be involved in running a conference without a load of nonsense being passed around and the conference hashtag flooded. It started with the Kickstarter.

He means I reported him to Twitter for harassment and Twitter suspended his account after agreeing with me. [Read more…]

Not About the Ability to Harass

It’s not about wanting to harass, they say. Of course harassment is bad, to the extent it exists, they say. Our stake in this is objective and civil minded, they say. We object to your authoritarian attitudes, they say. It’s definitely not about protecting our ability to harass, they say.

Then you follow Skepticon news on Twitter and this comes up.

But it’s not about the ability to harass, they say.

Competing Models for Codes of Conduct

This is one of the essays I delivered to my patrons last month. If you want to support more work like this, and see it earlier, you can sign up here.

There are plenty of reasons that discussions around codes of conduct, their goals, and what should be included in them can be frustrating. Among people talking in good faith, however, the primary reason for frustration is that people are using different theoretical frameworks for codes of conduct and they’re not making those frameworks clear. It’s obviously difficult to come to any agreement about what should be contained in a code if you don’t agree on why you have one.

So here are several common models people use when discussing codes of conduct. Hopefully, this guide will make it easier to explain where you’re coming from when advocating for a particular code and to recognize both what model someone else is using and where the strengths, weaknesses, and unspoken assumptions of that model are. [Read more…]

Pitposting

Yesterday, I put up a post urging the CONvergence board to listen to their volunteers regarding something they screwed up during con. Shortly after the post went up, it received a longish, bizarre comment:

I am so sorry to hear about how you were treated, and disappointed to hear what ASSHOLES the convergence organizers are. The fact that they let asshole dudebros sexually harass you without consequence is completely fucking inexcusable. I am so glad that I didn’t get to go this year, and I am damned sure I will never be back to their shitty con again.

I wasn’t sexually harassed, and no one “let” it happen. [Read more…]

For the Record

Apropos of this bizarre post, I should let you all know that I…

  • …don’t follow Ben Radford on Twitter.
  • …have not been contacted by Ben Radford with this statement.
  • …have not been contacted by Karen Stollznow with this statement.
  • …do not expect to be contacted by Karen Stollznow about this statement as all she seems to currently have the energy to do is post new baby pics and recover from her C-section.
  • …have not been contacted by anyone else with this statement to suggest I should update readers.
  • …was not contacted by Hemant before he posted this.

[Read more…]

Make Your Code of Conduct Work for You

I haven’t featured most of my FtBCon3 sessions here, yet, and I should. There’s plenty of good content, but just looking at the list of sessions can be overwhelming for people.

Here’s the session I organized with Chelsea Du Fresne and Michael Thomas about making sure your code of conduct is something that adds to your event. We talked about creating a code that aligns with your mission and sets the tone for the event. We also talked about how codes of conduct cover more than the -isms that received the most press in the push to get these in place. [Read more…]