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…]

A Skeptical Statement from CFI on PTSD

Yesterday, the Center for Inquiry Management Committee put out an unprecedented statement.

We, the management committee of CFI, believe it is appropriate to confirm that Ms. Hensley is suffering from PTSD. Among other reasons, both Ms. Hensley and CFI receive comments on a regular basis that assert or imply that Ms. Hensley’s statements that she has PTSD must be false. For example, just the other day, CFI received a communication stating “Your organization is terrible for having people on its staff that claim to have PTSD from Twitter!” Some communications on this issue, especially those directed to Ms. Hensley, have themselves been abusive and harassing.

This reaction is disappointing on a number of levels. As explained below, these communications are based on mischaracterizations, false assumptions, faulty reasoning, unscientific attitudes, or misunderstandings. (And, of course, the subset of these communications that are abusive are intolerable.)

This is important for a couple of reasons. [Read more…]

Five Things #Gamergate Needs to Know About Twitter

Looking at bad arguments is a hobby of mine. So when I discovered Milo Yiannopoulos (@Nero) had been suspended from Twitter last night, I had a look at what people were saying about it. Long story short, it was a combination of “Nero was suspended for no reason” and “Ooh, now you’ve messed with the wrong person”. (Irony much?)

The Twitter logo.Along with that, however, were a whole bunch of conspiracy theories and a lot of placing blame based on really, really bad assumptions about how Twitter works. So let’s fix some of those. Based on what I saw last night and what I received from a sealion this morning, here are five things gamergaters really need to understand about Twitter terms-of-service (TOS) violation reports that they don’t.

Also, five attempts to teach gamergaters some vocabulary lessons. [Read more…]

Michael Nugent and the Email

Mick Nugent has responded to my post about providing haven for rapists. As he titles his post, “Why Stephanie Zvan’s defence of PZ Myers’ ‘haven for rapists’ smear is not reasonable based on the evidence“, allow me a moment to clarify a couple of things.

If I thought that PZ’s comments particularly needed defense, I’d have done it before now. I think the tweets in question, which can be found here, stand on their own for anyone who is familiar with Nugent’s recent behavior in email and on his blog. My post responded to demands from Aneris, a slimepitter, that I respond to a skewed version of PZ’s statement in which Nugent’s behavior was attributed to the pit. I ignored that problem and responded because it gave me an opportunity, a hook on which to hang some writing I wanted to do anyway.

I wrote my post because I wanted to say, in my own words, that Mick Nugent has provided a haven for rapists. I’ll still say it. Mick Nugent has provided a haven for rapists by his actions with respect to Michael Shermer. I don’t have to consult with PZ in order to say it. I don’t have to be defending PZ in order to say it. I said it. I believe it. I said why I believe it. I’ll stand by it on my own, thank you very much.

However, rant aside, that’s not what I want to draw people’s attention to. I want to draw attention to the fact that Nugent says PZ claimed Nugent’s commenters were rapists. In particular, I want to draw attention to Nugent’s use of an email from PZ in this regard. [Read more…]

The Ogvorbis Boondoggle

A couple of days ago, I posted a piece thinking through what it means to provide a haven for rapists. Someone left this comment on the post. Pitters have poured massive amounts of time and energy into spreading this idea that it’s worth looking at in detail.

Of course, the burning issue is whether the support and protection of Ogvorbis, a confessed child rapist, here at FreeThoughtBlogs, makes some bloggers such as PZ Myers, Ophelia Benson, and you, “a haven for rapists”. This depends on what the likes of PZ means by “a haven for rapists”.

We know for sure that FTB most certainly is a “haven” for at least ONE rapist, and a couple of others who have been accused of rape. [Read more…]