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…]

More Solutions for Twitter

In case you haven’t seen it yet, Women, Action, & the Media released their report today on what they learned from acting as mediators for reporting harassment on Twitter last year. You can find it in several formats. There’s the summary, the infographic, and the full report (pdf). I suggest reading the full report if you have any interest at all in online harassment. From the types of reporters to the emotional cost involved in processing the reports, it’s got a lot of good information.

If you’re going to take away just one thing, however, make it their recommendations to Twitter: [Read more…]

Ron Lindsay and the Myth of the Feminists Who “Cry ‘Sexist'” (Updated)

Update: Ron Lindsay has acknowledged that he was wrong and said that he would have corrected the record at the time if he’d understood that it was important. Please also see a correction near the end of this post.

You’ve seen the complaint before. “These feminists didn’t address my argument. They just called me names”, where “calling names” means identifying someone’s behavior as sexism, misogyny, rape apologia, etc. As far as I can tell, it’s meant to signal either that we are less rational than those whose behavior we label or that we don’t have a counterargument.

There are good reasons to sometimes skip the argument. Sometimes we’re talking to audiences we’re confident can recognize the problems in the original argument. Sometimes these are ongoing arguments where one party has already done all the productive arguing they can do. Sometimes the timing or the medium is terrible for productive argument, but we don’t think the behavior should go completely unremarked. Sometimes we don’t think the person whose behavior we’re talking about would be receptive to argument or argue in good faith.

Sometimes, however, the statement itself is simply false. [Read more…]

On Friends and Allies

Greg Epstein has written a post on the topic of men’s unmet needs for intimate friendships and emotional support. The parts of the post that are about the topic are good. The phenomenon has been observed for a while, but he presents research that systematically confirms the observations.

However, Epstein’s post takes a dive off the rails when he tries to use this research to explain a lack of gender parity at the Harvard Humanist Hub and, by extension, in atheist spaces in general. [Read more…]

Religion and Atheism in Geek Spaces

I was talking with a friend a couple of weeks ago about religion and codes of conduct for geek spaces. Geek spaces are unusual in the U.S. in that they lean toward majority-nonbeliever populations without explicitly being organized around a lack of religious belief. This can create some unusual dynamics that organizers might want to consider, one of which my friend was trying to figure out how to deal with. I’m sharing the outcome of me thinking about this, reading up on prior discussions, and talking with other friends here as a framework for others thinking these questions through.

The first thing to remember in spaces where a minority becomes a majority is that, while the power structures that exist outside these spaces may be attenuated within them, they don’t disappear. To use an example people are familiar with, men may unconsciously expect and even be allowed to disproportionately interrupt and talk over women even in feminist spaces. Their words may carry more weight. We carry the habits of a lifetime with us even into groups that are created to oppose them.

Those of us who are involved in organized atheism see proofs of this all the time. It’s trivial to find atheists telling atheist activists–in activist spaces—that they need to demonstrate more respect for the phenomenon of belief or religious tradition or the role that religion plays in society. Though atheists themselves, these people have internalized the demands of religious power and impose them on others.

If the concerns of the dominant religion can intrude into explicitly atheist spaces, they will intrude into spaces that are incidentally majority-atheist. They will continue to be found in geek spaces.  [Read more…]

Right Where Dr. A Pinched

I received a comment on my post about Isaac Asimov’s habit of sexually harassing women at conventions yesterday. I’ve seen and received other comments like it, but this one hits all the buttons. Because of that, I figure it’s worth responding to.

The commenter arrived via a Google search. There’s no indication that this person is who she says she is, but I’ll extend the benefit of the doubt for the purposes of this post. I’ve certainly seen these sentiments often enough from people I do know belong to old-time fandom. I’ve seen them as recently as the WisCon debacle, when some of these people were forced to confront the fact that a friend of theirs had harassed many women over the years (me included) and the fact that other friends of theirs had ignored and enabled the problem.

In fact, if I hadn’t seen that behavior, I probably wouldn’t bother with a response to this comment. To me, the problems with it are transparent. Apparently, however, that isn’t the case for everyone. [Read more…]

“Just a Shirt”: Sexual Imagery in the Workplace

They really ought to know better.

Who, you ask? The people trying to say that Matt Taylor’s shirt, the one covered in fetishwear Bond girls, the one he wore on camera to talk about landing a probe on a comet, was nothing worth noticing. The people trying to tell you that feminists are overreacting when they object to the shirt. The ones telling you feminists are picking on some helpless guy who dared to be a little different.

Really, they ought to know better. Why? Because this is how it goes when we find sexual imagery* in the workplace.

[Read more…]