Quantcast

«

»

Aug 03 2012

Don’t read this if you’re a Misogynist, MRA, Feminazi, Femistazi, FTBully, Rape Apologist…

By Aron’s wife

…Groupthinker, Troll, Person Blinded by Privilege, Leg-Chewer, and especially if you are Thunderf00t (that’s honestly a joke TF).  Do read this if you are tired of reading vitriol, and would genuinely like to know whether our community really feels welcome to women.

Sometimes labels are a useful shorthand for having a nominal understanding of a topic you are not familiar with. For example, people frequently refer to me as Asian because of what I look like. In a lot of ways the label is useful,because I was raised by an Asian parent and I have Asian physical characteristics. I really don’t discourage it for the most part, because it is more convenient than trying to explain to people that I am really not Asian in any real sense of the word.

I’m actually Eurasian and also raised by a white parent, and have yet to set foot outside this country.  It is a chore to explain this even to people, who know me well.  Especially because people can dismiss what you are saying as you being too sensitive. Also a lot of people don’t like ambiguity, and they don’t like doing the mental work about something they can’t be bothered about.

More seriously, we make labels like “misogynist” and “feminist”(only you have to mentally hiss that when you read it for the purposes of this discussion) that become more charged every time they are repeated.  Pretty soon the labels start meaning different things to different people.  At this point it can be more useful to show and not tell what action you are referring to and abandon the labels.  Realistically not everyone is equally invested in putting time into learning about things that they don’t think directly affects them.

However not learning about different groups has become more and more impossible in a growing and increasingly diverse community.  In fact, we live in a more mobile age where it is increasingly impossible to maintain a homogeneous, isolated community. (Notice the Chick Fil A President’s struggle to maintain a homophobic tradition) Friction is inevitable.   I have been warned by some community members not to speak about this.  I’ve been told it will blow over, and that it is drama intended to get more blog hits and video views. The problem with this opinion is that in the mean time people that are for the most part good are getting hurt.

Obviously if you are not a decent human being-meaning you fit neatly into one of the labels in the title, this post is a waste of your time.  It is also a waste of your time if you can’t be bothered to understand what other people think and want to make a quick snap judgment and leave.  If you are a decent human being and you genuinely care about how your actions may affect others; you’re going to take time to understand an issue before drawing a conclusion.  Speaking of snap judgments there are a few common ones that are often repeated. These are a few from a Facebook discussion that are getting in the way of meaningful discussion.  These are freshly minted comments; they were posted this week.  I am posting these without naming names.

Stop talking about Rebecca Watson and Elevatorgate comments that are all basically saying this…

The elevator thing is still going on? Wow.

I hate to see an important movement collapse into itself over stupid bickering.

and…

Don’t like the guy but I’m with tf00t here. The whole thing caused by that ridiculous elevator incident and Watson acting like an offended child, saying she now hates Dawkins and everyone who disagrees with her. Its now months that you guys have talked about nothing else but some supposed hatred against women. Just stop the bullshit.

and…

You know what would provide some solution to all this, is if elevator guy actually came out and told his side of the story, in public. Because I like many others do not think that he actually exists. At least not outside RW’s mind, because

you have to admit if he only exists in her mind, it is an excellent tool to use to promote the views that she is talking about. She can imply whatever she wants about this person and not have him come out and rebut it. Well done, RW you have won so far, until people start to think about the issue and not just take your word for it. Take a step back and have a look everything is working out for RW and her click, she can do no wrong, so far. But when the crash comes and it will, her public will make her cry worse than Roth.
This is not just about elevatorgate, it is about one group creating dislike against another group. I can bet the real enemy is out there eating their chicken sandwiches and enjoying the dissent among the ranks.
These are just three examples of how badly misunderstood  gender-related issues are in the freethinking community.   Way too many people are minimizing gender-based harassment to a single incident that Watson admitted herself wasn’t a major big deal.  Ironically, they are the ones that need to stop obsessing over a single incident, so they can see that there are numerous examples of hatred directed specifically towards women both in our online communities and in communities everywhere.  This is another related example of oversimplification of the problem…
There is no problem with hate in the skeptics community…

“do you think there is a real problem with ‘hate against women’ in this community? “

I’ve got to say I’ve seen essentially NONE.

This is the thesis of a rant that denies there is any problem at all in the skeptic community with “hate against women”. You can eviscerate this argument easily with only one example of hate against women.  Like for example, a co-founder of a skeptic online forum pondered this in a public forum…

Would it be immoral to rape a Skepchick?

Not for sexual gratification or power or anything like that, just because they’re so annoying.

I’m really torn on this one

After being a few rounds of laughs at the Skepchicks expense, his own forum members criticized him and he apologized for the joke’s offensiveness and “lameness”.  (*edit this is the word choice in the apology not mine)However, to date I haven’t seen an apology for publicly shaming the Skepchicks, and having a laugh at their expense in the skeptic community.  Whether you agree with Skepchicks or not do they deserve gender based hatred directed at them in the form of pondering raping them as a joke to shut them up?

The original ranter I quoted continues trivializing the numerous rape threats Watson got as mere trolling, and to be expected as a public personality. Is anything Watson ever said or done worthy of hundreds of threats written with the intent of shaming her with threats of violence?

The problem of gender based hatred wasn’t created by Skepchicks and Rebecca Watson. In fact, rape threats are widespread all over the internet to silence women from speaking publicly. Someone in the same online Facebook discussion shared this article from The Guardian with me…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/05/women-bloggers-hateful-trolling?fb=native&CMP=FBCNETTXT9038

Crude insults, aggressive threats and unstinting ridicule: it’s business as usual in the world of website news commentary – at least for the women who regularly contribute to the national debate.

The frequency of the violent online invective – or “trolling” – levelled at female commentators and columnists is now causing some of the best known names in journalism to hesitate before publishing their opinions. As a result, women writers across the political spectrum are joining to call for a stop to the largely anonymous name-calling.

The columnist Laurie Penny, who writes for the GuardianNew Statesmanand Independent, has decided to reveal the amount of abuse she receives in an effort to persuade online discussion forums to police threatening comments more effectively.

and specifically…

Lewis-Hasteley has also been surprised by some of the reaction to the growing campaign to protect women writers from this verbal abuse. “Someone asked me if I didn’t realise that I wasn’t really going to be raped. But the threat of sexual violence is an attack in itself, and some commentators have their Facebook pages searched, and their home addresses tracked. It’s a real feeling of being hunted by these people.”

If you’re still reading this post, my intent is to help promote a better understanding of why people are speaking out so strongly on gender-based hatred.  I sincerely hope that more good people will be able to see beyond the labels, insults, and slurs to see the actual problem. Although, I do understand that many decent people are weary of the controversy, and would love to see it blow over.  I really do hope that before it does our community will benefit from a better understanding of this issue that affects all of us.

364 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    dougal445

    while we’re on the subject ot labels and feminism, “Aron’s wife”?

    1. 1.1
      dougal445

      i think this goes to the heart of real femnist issues far more than the skepchicks noise.

      1. Besomyka

        I see your point, but in this context it’s understandable. This is Aaron’s blog, and if he has a guest post, generally you’d expect some explanation as to who it is and thier relationship to him. In this case, ‘Aaron’s wife’ is a tidy way to do it. Like being introduced in person, “This is my wife, so-and-so.” in the say way “this is my good friend so-and-so” would be expected.

        If she became a regular contributor, I’d expect the association to become less important.

    2. 1.2
      joearnold

      What? She’s his wife. He’s her husband. She can call herself whatever she pleases.

      If my mother was a popular voice in some movement, and I made a guest post on her blog, I’d likely put “Sharon’s son”.

      There are real, serious issues regarding attitudes toward women without inventing new ones.

    3. 1.3
      hyperdeath

      As pathetic “gotcha!” arguments go, this really takes the biscuit.

    4. 1.4
      peterhearn

      Obviously she was just saying that to clarify that it was her posting and not Aron.

      1. smhll

        Yeah, if she typed “Aron’s alter-ego” half of us would be fuddled and think is was still Aron.

    5. 1.5
      M. A. Melby

      Coincidentally, I had a discussion about the names of wives on a different blog: http://freethoughtblogs.com/cristinarad/2012/07/29/why-i-removed-my-video-on-feminism/#comment-2163

  2. 2
    Charles Col

    Calm, reflective attempts to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable don’t drive page views.

    1. 2.1
      M. A. Melby

      ding ding ding ding ding

      That was you getting the right answer.

      Seriously. When I write anything on my blog about TF or Greg Laden (or, I assume, whatever is the latest drama), I get over 200 views immediately. Other stuff – not so much.

      I think in honesty, most people are drawn to drama. It’s just one of those things.

      It’s good to recognize that, and make a conscience choice to attempt not to get swept up into it too much.

  3. 3
    lilandra

    It’s Aron’s blog just distinguishing it isn’t his post. Would you prefer MrsRa? That is what some people call me.

    1. 3.1
      dougal445

      it’s your choice of course, but it does rather harp back to a more patriarchal, mysoginst past, it seems to deny youf own identity.

      1. lilandra

        Labels have limited uses. I am known to be his wife by others. I also contribute to his videos and speeches. We have a partnership in more than one sense of the word. We drive each other to be better people.

        1. dougal445

          well that’s cool.
          It’s your choice of course.

          1. Danny

            So let her make it then. Part of being an ally is to respect the Agency of women. She has the choice, has made the choice, to be identified in this fashion. While this would be problematic if she was setting herself up as a direct and influential voice in the feminist arena, that’s not what’s going on here. She’s posting as an aside in a blog that’s run primarily by her husband and is about things made of bones and meat, not ideas and philosophies.

            Thanks Aron’s wife and Mrs. Ra, as well as any other names you like to take :3.

          2. strange gods before me ॐ

            So let her make it then.

            Criticism should not be equated with restricting someone’s freedom.

            (Whether or not dougal445 is making a bigger deal of it than is worthwhile, I don’t care enough to comment on.

            But this thing where “X might be part of a problem” is responded to with “let this person do X” is totally missing the point.)

          3. TM

            Did I miss the part of activism 101 where we learn to question our allies’ self-labelling decisions and then follow up with the patronizing “well, it’s your choice…I guess…if you really want to…” ??

            Part of being a good ally, as was said before, is respecting self-labelling choices. A name belongs to the person who carries it. He/she doesn’t owe you an explanation, nor is he/she obligated to choose a name according to your guidelines, even if you think your ideas are better.

            Naming choices are made in context of culture, often in consideration of expediency or convenience. When the internet is involved, naming can get more complicated, and an online handle might take into consideration a host of other issues – troll avoidance, anonymity… or maybe, you know, informing the audience about one’s relationship to blog. It is not helpful to reduce all that down to “well, you called yourself someone’s wife, isn’t that a bit patriarchal?”

      2. astro

        If my wife had a blog, and I made my first post as a guest on that blog, I would refer to myself as ‘X’s husband’. I suppose ‘spouse’ is an option, but so what?

  4. 4
    Charles Col

    “while we’re on the subject ot labels and feminism, “Aron’s wife”?”

    If she chooses to be known by a relationship she chose to be in rather than a name she was given as an infant, what do we care?

    1. 4.1
      dougal445

      A name doesn’t have to be a birth one, ot may be one chosen by oneself. . . . . . I know ! . . .”Aron’s wife” can fall into that catagory.

  5. 5
    ZeLinator

    Let’s go back to discussing the core points in the post, shall we?

    I think you were on to something, Madam Ra, with the discussion about the heavy label words (misogynist, feminist, etc). I worry our community uses them so freely and in such fractured sub-discussions that their very appearance turns all participants and observers into giant squids of anger.

    But I’m not concerned about it enough to tone troll other peeps. Do what you do.

  6. 6
    Mai

    Just to clarify an apology was posted here:

    http://rationalia.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=75&t=38220&p=1223613&hilit=+skepchicks#p1223613

    To my fellow Rationalians, all Skepchicks and any people of the world who are interested…. I’m genuinely sorry for my lame attempt at humour that trivialised rape. I shall be more mindful of my words and how they can negatively affect others in future.

    1. 6.1
      Michael

      Hey it wasnt that bad man, I mean it wasnt very cool but its not the worse thing on the internet.

      Go look up gonza porn where a women is tied up, humiliated, beaten, raped and see how many views and comments it has or look at the news articles of women beng stoned in the middle east for not covering up or look at the comments from republicans about never having a female president or look at the teachings of the church, any church…..there really are bigger problems to get upset about and better ways for people to spend their time.

      I really feel like if people had focused on these issues things might have gone better. sure rape jokes over the internet is not cool but in the scheme of things? sure we need more women in the movement and we should talk about that but we also need more blacks and maybe their are similar reasons why atheism is mostly white males – is the reason their arent that many blacks compared to whites because all the atheists men are racists as well as sexists? possibly but its probably not the whole storey, their are probably other reasons here

      you know what would be interesting, sexual harrasment in the LGBT community and god knows that you cant blame white men for this.

      Sexual harrasment seems to be a large issue and I feel we as a community look at it irrationally as a men vs women issue

      1. strange gods before me ॐ

        Notice how you try to deflect from a problem within the atheist movement — specifically when some atheists participated in and defended misogyny against a group of atheist women — you’re pointing outside the atheist movement and trying to tell atheist women that they should not be upset about misogyny among atheists because someone somewhere is doing something else.

        You are a bad person and you should stop.

      2. Lucy

        Er, wow – really? Don’t object to X because Y is worse? Where does THAT stop? I’m not allowed to object to being groped by a stranger because somewhere in the world there’s a woman being raped?

        Tell you what, next time someone swipes your wallet or phone in a club or wherever, don’t report it to the police; there are people out there who were actually HURT for their possessions, so what the hell are YOU complaining about?

        No, I don’t think threatening to rape someone is the same as stoning them to death or actually raping them. But if our principles extend to no higher ambition than NOT being absolutely the worst person on earth, we ain’t exactly on a path to self-improvement and ethical thinking.

      3. didgen

        An attitude that allows you th believe that something that is hurtful to someone else is exactly how and why all of your other examples become socially acceptable. The more comments demeaning women, threatening rape, or physical harm or death become routine the more ingrained the feeling that it’s OK to feel that way, or do those things.
        I think your last sentence was more appropriate than you meant it to be. To minimize the harm that this caused to the women is looking at it is looking at it irrationally. To minimize the harm it does to the men is looking at it irrationally. We need to treat each other as equals, respect for each other is a goal that we all need to strive for.

  7. 7
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Obviously if you are not a decent human being-meaning you fit neatly into one of the labels in the title, this post is a waste of your time.

    Harrumph. I’m an FTBully and a person blinded made ignorant by privilege, and I thought it was an okay post.

    If you are a decent human being and you genuinely care about how your actions may affect others; you’re going to take time to understand an issue before drawing a conclusion.

    But I genuinely care about how my actions may affect others and I fit neatly into some of the labels here. Maybe femistasi too; it’s rather a silly word though.

    +++++
    Since I’m not a regular commenter here, I should note: neutral or male pronouns, please. I only play a goddess on the internet.

  8. 8
    Michael

    Great post, I really feel like the water is tainted at the moment.

    My understanding was that feminism was about breaking down fake gender roles and highlighting oppression or coersion based on gender or sexual oreintation

    Their is irrationality from members on both sides of the discussion but what really irks me is when atheists blame all christians for what west boro baptist – it makes atheists look like Nobs that dont understand what is actually going on in the world

    In a similar vein it irks me is that if I stated that I find anti women statements annoying I would get praise from the feminists…..if you stated that you find anti men statements irking….ohh boy watch out, your obviously this that and the other.

    Men in general are not the enemy, hating or judging someone based on their gender should not be considered a feminist ideal….it should be the opposite

    1. 8.1
      strange gods before me ॐ

      if you stated that you find anti men statements irking….ohh boy watch out, your obviously this that and the other.

      ohh, citation needed.

      1. Michael

        You want me to spend time trolling through previous comments i have made on the internet in order to prove something to some random person i have never met and will never meet and who probably wont believe me anyway….why would I bother, I dont mind if you dont think what I wrote as my experience is genuine or not, thats your issue, I have better things to do

        1. julian

          Then why open your mouth in the first place if you’re just gonna spit shit?

          1. Michael

            There is a difference between “Spitting Shit” as you so eloquantly put it and stating my experience. Just because my comment doesnt meet your standards of approval doesnt mean I shouldnt comment and doesnt mean my comment was “Spitting shit”, my comment is a reflection of my experience, you may have had a different experience, I would be interested to hear if you have and I have no doubt that it will be different – I wont accuse you of spitting shit jst because your experience is different though, I will take it at face value, what else can I do?

          2. Michael

            Sorry, slight correction, “What else can I reasonably do?”

          3. Forbidden Snowflake

            There is a difference between “Spitting Shit” as you so eloquantly put it and stating my experience.

            You stated your interpretation of your experience. Then someone asked you to point to the actual experience, and you refused to, assumed without foundation that you wouldn’t be believed anyway, and got huffy.

        2. strange gods before me ॐ

          Rather, I want you to not make misleading statements in the first place.

          I don’t believe that your experience is representative — yet you presented it as though it were representative.

          (And I don’t believe that whatever you’re thinking of actually happened the way you portray it — if anything happened at all.)

          1. Michael

            Great, once again, your issue not mine

          2. strange gods before me ॐ

            Wrong.

            It is an issue with your own words, because you presented your experience as representative, while it is not representative (even if it actually happened).

            You have said something misleading, and you should feel bad about that.

    2. 8.2
      Chris Smith

      “In a similar vein it irks me is that if I stated that I find anti women statements annoying I would get praise from the feminists…..if you stated that you find anti men statements irking….ohh boy watch out, your obviously this that and the other.”

      Based on this generalization, and without the benefit of seeing specific examples, I can only guess that you consider some statements to be anti-men when they really are not. Take these two examples:

      “Men don’t care about women’s feelings.”

      “Some men don’t care about women’s feelings.”

      The first statement would be anti-men, because it implies that all men don’t care about women’s feelings.

      The second statement is simply a fact, because some men don’t care about women’s feelings.

      If you claim that the second statement is anti-men, then people are right to correct you about it.

    3. 8.3
      lilandra

      @Michael What point are you trying to meake by equivocating violence directed at men with violence directed at women?

    4. 8.4
      thebigJ_A

      “Their” =/= “There”

      1. thebigJ_A

        Also “your” does not equal “you’re”.

    5. 8.5
      B-lar

      Is it possible that you are equating all feminists with the westboro church esque extremist irrational feminists? Doesnt that irk you too?

  9. 9
    Darragh

    “while we’re on the subject ot (sic) labels and feminism, “Aron’s wife”?”

    That’s it, we’re through the looking glass now.

    Lilandra can’t even point out her relationship to Aron so that readers will know why she, who isn’t Aron, is posting on Aron’s blog, without letting down feminism.

    The pedantry is suffocating.

    1. 9.1
      kimrottman

      Hey now, sometimes pedantry is all you’ve got when you want to disagree with someone but can’t because you know they’re right.

    2. 9.2
      Turtle

      It was clearly a comment by a guy taking the piss out of feminists in order to derail. “Hurr Hurr you call yourself a feminist while saying you’re a wife, so your whole argument is invalid!”

      Worked well didn’t it? You’re so desperate to believe that all feminists are man-haters and prescriptivists, that even an obvious troll is able to bait you, and reel you in.

      1. thebigJ_A

        Except it wasn’t a troll. See the actual, non-trollish continuance of the conversation.

        Not everyone who says something dumb is just a troll trying to tear down a movement. Every movement has people with bad ideas.

  10. 10
    OtherSider

    Honestly, I don’t think many people care that much about having a harassment policy.

    I think most people who are against it just don’t trust Skepchick. In fact, a large amount of criticism has been levied towards the American Atheists for adopting the Skepchicks’ provided thing word for word in some aspects, so all “unwanted sexual attention” is now harassment, etc.

    Of course, I get the idea this article isn’t intended towards that argument at all.

    1. 10.1
      OtherSider

      Also, I have to correct you on Watson saying that EG wasn’t a big deal.

      In fact, she was pretty darn offensive to those who did say it wasn’t a big deal, read:

      http://www.thearmchairskeptic.com/2011/08/civility-is-in-eye-of-beholder.html

      1. Pteryxx

        no, Watson said *being creeped on in an elevator* in and of itself was no big deal. Annoying, creepy, potentially threatening, worth saying “Guys, don’t do that.”

        A couple of months (at the time of your cite; now over a year) of increasingly unhinged hateful backlash and misrepresentation FOR saying that, coupled with “You said it was no big deal so STFU already, ugly bitch!” now THAT is a big deal.

        Of which your post is case and point. Thanks for being your own counterargument, OtherSider.

        1. OtherSider

          Actually, the CFI speech was… What? maybe a week after EG?

          1. Pteryxx

            and the backlash of hate started immediately in the comments on Watson’s vlog and the video of her panel talk. Her CFI talk was ABOUT sexist treatment of women within skepticism, and she added these examples from her past couple of weeks’ experience, coming from self-identified atheists and skeptics, as evidence.

            At the end of June 2011, RW presented a talk at the CFI Student Leadership Conference, titled “The Religious Right VS Every Woman On Earth”.

            RW talked about her experience in Dublin. During the presentation, she put up a display of several hateful and highly misogynistic emails/messages that she had since received, noting that unlike her male colleagues in atheism/skepticism, she received messages that wanted to visit rape or other sexual abuse, or death upon her.

            Again, “Elevatorgate” has never been about making a big deal out of one specific creepy incident. It’s about the wave of hate that women receive when they say anything.

            Quoted from EG timeline:

            http://ohthehumanityofitall.blogspot.ca/2012/07/deep-rifts-or-humanity-of-it-all-part-1.html

          2. OtherSider

            Sure, I am understanding of that.

            But that doesn’t justify the accusations and vitriol aimed towards people who did NOT make abusive comments, like Stef McGraw and Rose St. Clair were treated in the speech linked.

            So conflating the two is hardly fair.

          3. SallyStrange

            How is saying, “You seem to be parroting some well-worn misogynist platitudes, thus I deduce your understanding of feminism is lacking,” vitriolic?

            If you have examples of actual vitriol aimed at either McGraw or this other person (of whom I haven’t heard, despite being clued into “Elevatorgate” since the beginning), please present them. Don’t just assert that there was vitriol.

    2. 10.2
      Dave Allen

      “Honestly, I don’t think many people care that much about having a harassment policy.”

      Yeah, but that sort of Argument from Popularity isn’t going to persuade those who do want one – especially if there are increasing reports of incidences where the behaviour of men towards women at conventions causes some distress.

      Because the nature of these incidences is often fairly borderline then perhaps there should be some sort of common consensus as to what counts as unwanted behaviour.

      This wouldn’t mean that incidences such as those making up the infamous EG need be explicitly banned – we can agree that that sort of late night flirting is ambiguous territory – but it would make people annoyed by more egregious examples (people being licked by strangers, upskirt photography and so on) aware of their rights and how to go about having their rights respected.

      1. OtherSider

        You miss the point here. I meant to say that most people aren’t going to fight against it, just Skepchick’s implementation of it.

    3. 10.3
      Stephanie Zvan

      I’m the person who proposed and pushed anti-harassment policies. You do know that I don’t write for Skepchick, right?

      1. OtherSider

        Well, you and they seem to work together on this, and wasn’t the SkepchickCON one used as a template?

        1. Stephanie Zvan

          They asked me to take a look at theirs when they were developing it, but I didn’t have time just then. They got good feedback from their readers instead. And no, theirs was not used as a template.

          Why are you making criticisms about what happened when you don’t know what happened?

          1. OtherSider

            Okay, so I was wrong on who did it. I thought Skepchick was more involved in the drafting, although they were definitely involved in pushing its implementation at TAM, together with you guys.

            The point is: Honest criticism can be levied at the SkepchickCON draft and the similar wording used in the American Atheists and other sections, in particular the “unwelcome sexual attention” clause, making it seem like any harmless flirting or hitting on someone is harassment if rejected, even if it is not in poor taste or repeated.

          2. OtherSider

            To clarify: I’m well aware Steifel made this criticism already, and I am also aware that CFI issued a clarification on that issue, drawing a distinction between what constitutes a single-instance harassment and what would require repetition.

            I’m more wondering about the rest of the conventions.

          3. Danny

            American Atheist’s harassment policy was actually based on the harassment policy for a very successful non-monogamy conference called OpenSF and it was suggested by Greta Christina, who gave a talk at OpenSF.

            By the way, there was more actual flirting at OpenSF than any atheist convention I’ve ever heard about, just to preempt your worry about “demonizing harmless flirting”.

            The rules about unwanted sexual attention are about unwanted sexual attention. At that point it is no longer harmless. It is not illegal, it is not dangerous (necessarily, it can quickly become dangerous) but it is no longer harmless.

            Further, there are harassment policies that cover this kind of thing literally everywhere thanks to relevant laws about sexual harassment. From a legal perspective your arguments are ridiculous.

    4. 10.4
      Maria Silvia Possas

      I couldn’t reply to your next post , so I do it here. When all this began, I sort of thought Stef McGraw pehaps had a point, that Rebecca should not have named her. But the way the whole discussion went, it became clear to me that most of those who were criticizing RW were not really aiming at her behavior toward McGraw, but about her right to tell men not to proposition a woman at 4 a.m. in as elevator after she made it abundantly clear that she was tired and wanted to sleep. (As I see it, Dawkins is wrong when he says that when she said no, the man accepted it, because she had already said no before he even propositioned her),
      That’s why the whole affair is called Elevatorgate and not Bullyspeakergate. Nobody remember McGraw anymore, but there´’s still a lot of RW and feminist hate all over the so called atheist/skeptic community.

    5. 10.5
      SallyStrange

      I think most people who are against it just don’t trust Skepchick.

      It has already been pointed out that you are mistaken in thinking “Skepchick” is the source of the policies, but also, this statement appears to be suffering from the same flaw that the whole FTBullies thing did: there are 30-odd people writing for Skepchick in various capacities.

      I think you mean “most people who are against it have a hate-boner for Rebecca Watson.”

      1. B-lar

        Thank you for “hate boner”!

      2. Lou Doench

        If I remember correctly from my SGU listening, rebecca has been dealing with serious abusive behavior from small portions of the SGU audience for a long time before the EG incident. There is a serious amount of Rebbecca Watson derangement syndrome out there.

  11. 11
    Bill Yeager

    Seeing this from the outside, as an occasional commenter on FtB blogs, I’d like to make the following observations:

    1) It would appear that a proportion of the atheist ‘movement’ are complete and utter fucking dorks with little or no social skills whatsoever. They say and do thing to members of this community, of all genders, that utterly confound me. I truly am at a loss as to how their thought process leads them to the words or actions that they inflict on others.

    2) The victims of these UFD’s (Utter Fucking Dorks), quite rightly, react to this behaviour, but by way of an extremely broad range of responses. Depending on the focus of their response, certain sections of this community who self-identify as belonging to the same subset of characteristics displayed by the victim and the nature and scope of their response to the offence, will ally with the victim and launch their own vitriolic attack on said UFD and all recognised members of that particular UFD’s social subset.

    3) The UFD will respond to this reaction, along with their own self-identifying group who will, in turn, add to the UFD’s stance by way of supporting commentary in said UFD’s defence and, often, by way of ‘playing down’ the incident or calling out the victim and their subset of supporters as having over-reacted, or some such falsehood.

    What then follows is much wailing and gnashing of teeth as numerous groups of supporters, defenders, apologists and progressives, pile in and create an issue that has absolutely zero chance of resolution. Why is there no chance of resolution? Because all the different self-identifying subsets operate within different psychosocial value definitions and boundaries.

    We are left with something resembling a theist ‘schism’ with attendees at conferences making snide statements on their T-shirts, or in their presentations, conferences being boycotted by previously-attending speakers, or entire blogs and forums being forced to choose ‘sides’ in issues that only ever come down to one simple thing:

    The person who has committed the offence is an Utter Fucking Dork who clearly does not have the maturity to recognise that fact.

    We don’t need to be escalating it into a crescendo of community intellectualized soul-searching and self-loathing, we only need to acknowledge that the UFD in any given case, fucked up and needs to accept and acknowledge that they fucked up and that, unless they are willing to put their hand up and say “Fair enough, I fucked up, I am genuinely sorry about that”, then they will always remain marked as a UFD.

    1. 11.1
      hyperdeath

      As many others have pointed out, having poor social skills and behaving like a jerk are completely different things. The former can sometimes inadvertently lead to the latter, but the two are not intrinsically linked. Someone can be kind and considerate, but at the same time be poor at picking up social cues and appear shy and awkward in conversation. Similarly, a high functioning sociopath can be socially adept, but will use these skills to hurt and manipulate.

      Please refrain from making this equivocation in future. It is offensive to awkward people who don’t behave like jerks, and provides an illegitimate excuse to those who deliberately behave like jerks.

      1. Lou Doench

        +1

  12. 12
    JL

    (Ignorance alert – this post is the first one I’ve read on this blog)
    By “Asian” I’m going to presume the American version of the label, as in a label for far-east Asian people. In UK though, they use that label for Indian people and the like. Just thought it might be interesting to know.

    1. 12.1
      lilandra

      Yes they do mean East Asian when they say Asian here. Again that takes a lot of time and effort for people to understand.

  13. 13
    triscele

    Work hard enough at it and you can be offended by anything. We’re essentially asked to pick sides based on an incomplete set of evidence and are being judged as horrible people whichever side you choose. I’m sick of it personally.

    1. 13.1
      lilandra

      @trisele I’ve set the bar for decent human being at being interested in hearing evidence before making a judgment. Do you think women writers should receive rape threat en masse based on their gender gto silence them?

      1. OtherSider

        No… But respectfully I would love to know how you get to “Misogyny is bad” to “Therefore Skepchick is right about everything and representative of the proper way of dealing with the problem”…

        1. hyperdeath

          I would love to know who made the claim that “Skepchick is right about everything”.

          1. OtherSider

            Because way too often, the argument is framed as either agreeing with Skepchick, or misogyny (or at least ignorance of the problems faced by women).

            Which is obviously bunk.

          2. julian

            otherside, you’re the one framing the argument that way. You’re the one making this about Watson and skepchick. So please, shut the fuck up. If you give a damn about harassment stop trying to make people reject Watson before you’ll join them. That’s incredibly petty and pathetic.

          3. OtherSider

            Are you saying I can be on your side and still disagree with the Skepchick’s proposed code for reasons that Stiefel and even Carrier on FtB articulated?

            If so, you’ll find the sides aren’t as set as most think they are.

          4. hyperdeath

            No one has claimed that everyone who disagrees with Rebecca Watson is a raving misogynist. The problem is the refusal to acknowledge that there are some raging misogynists in the skeptic movement*. For example, I don’t think Paula Kirby is a misogynist, but she has a Pollyannaish belief that the skeptic movement is doing fine, and that those those who dispute this fact are trouble making outsiders.

            [*] Some of this is not just nasty, but plain obsessive. For example, the @ElevatorGATE twitter account, and its associated blog, which largely exist to trash Watson, have been going strong for over a year.

          5. OtherSider

            Fine. I agree that there’s misogyny.

            I still don’t agree with Skepchick’s rules, or American Atheists’ 1.1 CoC draft, and think they represent a tendency to micromanage human relationships.

            Where does that put me?

          6. hyperdeath

            It’s a position I disagree with, but it’s not a stupid position.

          7. OtherSider

            Well, could you clarify Carrier’s criticisms to it about the implications that you need to ask verbally before acting in any way, regardless of human interactions and body language.

            And how “unwelcome sexual attention” should all be harassment, essentially making it so a guy who hits on a girl, no matter how harmlessly, is a harasser if she does not want him to do so.

          8. M. A. Melby

            Are you saying I can be on your side and still disagree with the Skepchick’s proposed code for reasons that Stiefel and even Carrier on FtB articulated?

            If so, you’ll find the sides aren’t as set as most think they are.

            I have been spending way too much of my free time BOTH making suggestions to the AA harassment policy (I did on both Carrier’s and PZ’s blogs) and essentially scolding people for being jerks to RW and SA.

            In fact, PZ (who is the poster-child for “on the Skepchick’s side” apparently) agrees that some of the wording is problematic, namely “offensive” comments being changed to something like “abusive” comments in one of the sections.

            I know that sometimes the tone of PZ comment’s sections are a bit crazy – and we could have a fight about whose tone is worse – but this REALLY isn’t about disagreements on specific actionable topics it is about civility and how arguments should be made and how you respect those you disagree with.

          9. M. A. Melby

            In other words – the *sides* are being created because people feel disrespected, not because they actually disagree on something.

            If it was about disagreement, they would simply be discussing it.

            In my union days, an old-school organizer once said that no strike has ever been mounted due to disagreements on what the contract should say. Every strike has occurred due to lack of mutual respect.

            If it was about disagreement, they would be at the table talking. If it’s about respect, they are holding signs and (dare I say it) wearing T-shirts.

          10. OtherSider

            Melby, you’re awesome.

            That is exactly true.

          11. julian

            the *sides* are being created because people feel disrespected, not because they actually disagree on something.

            Repeating this won’t make it true. It’s clear there’s a very deep almost fundamental disagreement on 1)what constitutes harassment 2)who can claim to be harassed and 3)how to handle harassment.

            But yeah let’s stick with this there’s no real disagreement thing. Makes everyone seem so much more forward thinking.

          12. M. A. Melby

            I didn’t say the disagreement didn’t exist, and it would be difficult to come to that conclusion since I actually mentioned points of disagreement. My analogy to union negotiations was clear. Strikes don’t happen because of disagreements. Strikes happen because the people that have different positions and need to come to an agreement, are not able to come to the table and discuss it because there is a lack of respect. I’m referring to the “camping up” that is happening – not with the actual disagreements.

            There are disagreements WITHIN the apparent (and supposed) “camps”. Carrier tackled wording issues in sexual harassment policies on his blog. I mentioned PZ. ME (I suppose) counts, as well as others, have weighed in, in reasonable ways, on specific issues and how things should be worded, publicized, and handled.

            Others in the “disloyal opposition” has mounted personal attack after personal attack, misrepresented others, etc. This has usually indicated that their actual disagreement is more fundamental, but not always.

            I don’t even really know what TF’s opinion is about any subject of substance IS. His points are hidden by his penchant for ridicule.

            In his FIRST video in his series about “laughing” at creationists. In the first few minutes, he used something that VenomFangX (who, by the way, is practically a child and is just parroting Creationist literature that HE is not actually producing unlike heavy hitters in Creationist circles that are absolutely worthy of scorn) about the Grand Canyon being created in “like five minutes”, took the “five minutes” literally on top of everything else and mocked VenomFangX by looping the kid saying, “..and they laugh at me” over and over again.

            I unsubscribed and wondered why this guy was so popular.

            Now, everyone who was tolerant of the way TF acted toward Creationists and Muslims when he disagreed with THEM are seeing for the first time how ridiculous his argumentation style is when it is directed at THEM instead of the “other”. TF seems to be finding out what it is like to have a REAL challenge to his ideas and argumentation style, instead of “debating” with the likes of Ray Comfort.

            (I apologize if I’m being harsh, but that is how it seems from my limited perspective. Please fill-me-in if I’m completely off-base here.)

            Meanwhile, some are insinuating that TAM implemented their not-well-publicized harassment policy in problematic ways *intentionally*.

            http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/07/18/tams-harassment-policy-was-secret-why/#comment-71971

            Once we start talking about ill *intent* we are no longer talking about the actual issues, we’re discussing respect.

  14. 14
    aronra

    My black or Hispanic friends have to tell me what sort of racist nonsense they still have to put up with. Otherwise I wouldn’t know that still goes on. The same goes for my familiarity with misogyny, and I mean REAL misogyny, not just guys being heterosexual. The hateful comments I read against the skepchicks and any other representative feminists are staggeringly callous. I simply don’t understand that sort of hatred, and that’s all I want to say about it.

    1. 14.1
      CT Chimako.27

      aronra:

      I mean REAL misogyny, not just guys being heterosexual.

      What does this mean? Are some things are ‘just guys being heterosexual’ that women think is misogyny but it isn’t because it’s just guys being heterosexual? Or are we talking about someone besides a woman thinking it’s misogyny? Or what?

      Confused.

    2. 14.2
      SallyStrange

      I mean REAL misogyny, not just guys being heterosexual

      When you say that, I hear, “Fuck you, you delusional, lying bitches.”

      I am open to hearing your explanation of why you chose to use such a loaded phrase.

      Do you sincerely believe that there are women who are so, well, stupid, as to mistake “guys being heterosexual” for genuine contempt and hatred for women as a class? Who are these women? Are they a large percentage of women? Enough to warrant a spiteful comment that didn’t distinguish between them and the other women?

      1. thebigJ_A

        Spiteful? What was spiteful about it? Sure, if it said the ridiculous sentence you heard it as, it’d be spiteful. Luckily it doesn’t. If really can’t find ANY other way to read that simple turn of phrase, then the problem’s with you.

        Try not to assume people are attacking you, and you’ll find you aren’t being attacked nearly as often as you’d thought.

        1. SallyStrange

          If you’d talked about sexual harassment as much as I have, you’d be aware that the response is often, “Oh chill out, it’s just dudes trying to get laid, what’s the problem?” Which is factually wrong and offensive because it presumes that women are incapable of telling the difference between a guy who is respectfully trying to initiate a sexual encounter and a guy who is engaging in some sort of dominance ritual at her expense.

          This is PRECISELY what Aron Ra is communicating with his “REAL misogyny, not guys being heterosexual” comment.

          If he is unaware of the fact that women get this response when they talk about harassment ALL THE TIME, and also unaware that it’s both false and insulting, well, now he knows. Notice that I left it open for him to explain why he chose to use such loaded language.

          Now you’re no longer ignorant too, so I hope you won’t choose this similarly insulting and facile tack of implying that I’m delusional and seeing attacks where there aren’t any. If someone says that there’s a problem with women who talk about harassment because they’re too dumb to tell the difference between being hit on and being harassed, well, I take it personally because I am a woman who talks about harassment a lot, and I know that the difference between being hit on and being harassed is usually pretty fucking obvious.

          1. edmundog

            Maybe I’m reading it wrong, but I read “real misogyny, nor dudes being heterosexual” as an attack on the strawman that feminists are being too sensitive and attacking boys for being boys.

  15. 15
    SPACKlick

    Great start to the post but it doesn’t really add a lot to the discussion.

    Because of the labelling, fracturing, posturing etc. that has gone on, it’s very hard for an outside observer to see what the actual problems related to gender are within the community.

    Do male skeptics get a similar level of threats? If so then it’s not a gender issue but really is a 2public personality” issue.

    I just can’t find, anywhere among all these discussions, anything that would help me understand;

    1) What the problem is. Specifically.
    2) What the scale of the problem is.

    Not a thing, which considering the huge amount of blog posts and forum discussions on it is a disgrace.

    1. 15.1
      lilandra

      Did you read the attached post from the Guardian? How can you still not understand the scope of the problem?

        1. OtherSider

          Way to compare assholes, or simply people who don’t understand, on the internet, to actual rapists.

          You prove all the points they make about you dropping the rape card on everything.

          1. OtherSider

            Because way too often, the argument is framed as either agreeing with Skepchick, or misogyny (or at least ignorance of the problems faced by women).

          2. OtherSider

            Oops! Replied to the wrong thing.

          3. Danny

            Uh, no.

            People who threaten to rape other people know what rape is. They’re assholes because of the casual use of violent language and sexualized threats to silence women who are speaking publicly.

            They know exactly what they’re doing.

            It isn’t about people not understanding, it’s about people utilizing violent language to wield power over another person. Legally, it’s emotional and mental abuse. Any civil court I’ve ever been in would define it that way and I grew up in “the system”.

            People who don’t understand are corrected then everyone moves on. These people know what they’re doing, you know what you’re doing, and that’s what makes them assholes.

          4. OtherSider

            Okay, point made. Sorry.

      1. peterhearn

        How can we accurately determine the scope of the problem? Its not an easy thing to prove is it? We can’t just believe any perceived injustice from a feminist blog without real evidence. Especially when some equate non physical flirting with sexual harassment or even intent to rape. There is certainly sexual harassment going on everywhere to some degree, but its not something we can easily measure. So shouldn’t skepticism be a good thing here?

        1. lilandra

          Whoa…What?!! The linked Guardian article is not a feminist blog. It is an article about prominent women writers and the disproportionate gender based hatred in the form of rape threats. Not all women writers are feminists bloggers. Please read the article before you comment that the claim is unsubstantiated.

        2. M. A. Melby

          PZ gets threats – he doesn’t get threats like RW – at least according to him. That is just one example, but there is no reason to doubt it.

          I used to spend a lot of time on YouTube – the person I followed who got the worst behavior on un-moderated comments, by far, was Zinnia Jones (who once publicly identified as a non-gender conforming gay male and now identifies as female with a wonderful out-spoken feminist cis-female partner).

          Well more than AronRa, Cris, Non-stampcollector, etc.

          On some videos there would be more comments (by various people, not just one person) calling her a fag, asking “what is it?”, etc. than comments about the video.

          I seriously don’t know how she can stand it. She routinely finds the worst comment ever and puts it on her facebook for her fans to make fun of – it is usually one that mentions Christianity ftw.

          In my own experience, I have to tell you, it is much worse for women. I can tell you that is the case for me, because for several years I kept my gender a secret (allowed others to assume I was male – which they did) on many of the forums and blogs I frequent. The extreme 180 I experienced once I identified (or outed in one case) as female is STARK and pretty terrifying really.

          I am far from being alone in this feeling. I don’t know if anyone has done a study on this, and I would welcome that! There ought to be some grant out there for such an endeavor.

          Some numbers might shed some light on this, and give a more solid answer to those who doubt the problem has a gender-related component.

    2. 15.2
      Pteryxx

      I just can’t find, anywhere among all these discussions, anything that would help me understand;

      1) What the problem is. Specifically.
      2) What the scale of the problem is.

      Not a thing, which considering the huge amount of blog posts and forum discussions on it is a disgrace.

      Yep, I agree that it’s a disgrace that YOU can’t understand even with all of the research evidence linked in so many blog posts and forum discussions.

      http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/06/02/the-further-hyper-skepticism-stalling-our-conversation/

      Cites several research studies in the article and in comments.

      1. peterhearn

        aauw.org. You think they might be biased? Doesn’t it seem strange that every time someone links to papers there are sources biased toward feminism? What does it say about the individual when they’re presenting biased evidence? Do the conclusions you’re making line up very accurately with the research? Are the claims you’re making very falsifiable in nature? Do you think one should try to be skeptical about the issue?

        1. Sheila Crosby

          And every time someone links to a peer-reviewed paper on climate science, it’s a paper that supports human-made global climate change. Because sometimes reality isn’t what you want it to be.

          1. peterhearn

            I wish this problem was as easily measurable and verifiable as climate change but its not. Is it better to accept biased data to draw inappropriate conclusions on something that can’t even be easily proven with a research paper? I’m just trying to be objective here and recognize this is something we can’t know accurately. If you’ve made up your mind otherwise then it seems like you’re the one that doesn’t want a clear picture of reality.

          2. SallyStrange

            It isn’t QUITE as easy to measure and verify as climate change, but that doesn’t mean it’s IMPOSSIBLE to measure and verify.

            You just choose to ignore the measurements and verifications because, like the climate change denialists, you don’t like the results.

  16. 16
    bruce

    “But the threat of sexual violence is an attack in itself”
    hahahahahahaahahahahaha

    1. 16.1
      bruce

      “Someone asked me if I didn’t realise that I wasn’t really going to be raped. But the threat of sexual violence is an attack in itself, and some commentators have their Facebook pages searched, and their home addresses tracked.”

      it must be traumatic to have people go through the stuff you made public online, truly a scarring experience.
      there was no threat, a threat is when someone actually has intent of doing something. in this case nobody was under any real threat.

      home addresses tracked? please provide evidence of this? i highly doubt it, sounds like paranoia or a bad excuse

      1. Bill Yeager

        there was no threat, a threat is when someone actually has intent of doing something. in this case nobody was under any real threat.

        Ah, here we go, here’s one of these UFD’s I was talking about.

        A threat is when somebody makes a statement implying that they may inflict some sort of harmful action. It is irrelevant whether they *intend* to carry it out. It is still a fucking threat, it is still fucking intimidation.

        That you claim to be blessed with a psychic gift of mind-reading and can discern if someone actually intends to go through with their threat, I suggest you contact JREF to claim your million dollars.

        1. bruce

          your definition wouldn’t be accepted in a court of law, and is therefore moot.
          it may have been a perceived threat but not a real one.
          for a real threat you need someone to be in real danger

          1. bruce

            furthermore
            you can’t cite an example of someone being mean online and refer to it as an example of hate against women in the free thought community, it would be a different story if women were harrassed in the reason rally or whatever, but online?

            when discussing with people online you have to use common sense.
            trolling is common but it really means nothing most of the time and you can make sure you’re being safe if you don’t publish your personal information online, which you shouldn’t be doing anyway, not only to keep safe from violence but also identity theft.
            if you can’t handle the trolls then what are you doing in an unregulated forum? might be better for you to stick to sites that count with moderators and such

          2. Besomyka

            I’m pretty sure you’re wrong about that, although it may depend on jurisdiction and the vocabulary is a bit different.

            http://definitions.uslegal.com/h/harassment/

            For example:

            A person is guilty of aggravated harassment in the second degree when, with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm another person, he or she:

            Either (a) communicates with a person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, or by telegraph, mail or any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm; or (b) causes a communication to be initiated by mechanical or electronic means or otherwise with a person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, or by telegraph, mail or any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm; or … Strikes, shoves, kicks, or otherwise subjects another person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same because of a belief or perception regarding such person`s race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct;

            So, yeah, threatening people, even if the only intent is to scare the person and not actually do physical harm is illegal in most places in the US, with slightly varying details.

          3. Bill Yeager

            Troll fail:

            Threat: “an expression of an intention to injure another”
            Source: Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law

            Just because there’s no moderators around to remove threatening posts you believe that there’s nothing wrong with threatening posts or that, for those who do believe there *is* something inherently wrong with threatening posts, they should just fuck off to a part of the internet where threatening posts are moderated?

            Asshat.

          4. Shin

            your definition wouldn’t be accepted in a court of law, and is therefore moot.

            I wonder if people used this ridiculous form of argumentation 200 years ago.

            “I think black people are people”

            “your definition wouldn’t be accepted in a court of law, and is therefore moot.”

            “…”

            How moronic.

    2. 16.2
      SallyStrange

      Let me guess: you don’t get many, if any, threats of sexual violence.

    3. 16.3
      M. A. Melby

      @bruce

      You suck at psychology.

      The end.

  17. 17
    Proxer

    Great post Lilandra

  18. 18
    Pen

    If a woman says ‘I don’t think you should get so drunk you puke on the stairs’, nobody says much.
    If she says ‘I don’t think you should hit on me in an elevator’, they explode.
    If a woman says ‘I don’t think you should send me letters threatening to sue me when you know very well you can’t’, nobody says much.
    If she says ‘I don’t think you should send me rape threats even if you don’t intend to carry them out’, … they mock her?

    1. 18.1
      M. A. Melby

      Aparently.

    2. 18.2
      Turtle

      +1

  19. 19
    Richard

    Well, now I remeber why I usually stay out if thr comments section. Good read and well written Lady Ra.

    1. 19.1
      lilandra

      Most of the comments have been articulate. The few using insults could use a bit more articulation.

  20. 20
    Besomyka

    I think you have a great point about how the definitions of words change as the two camps become isolated. It can become increasingly frustrating to have conversations when the same words being used by both parties not only have different connotations, but difference implicit associations.

    When we notice that sort of thing happening, it may be worth it to define more precisely what we mean, even if we thought it was self-evident before.

    1. 20.1
      M. A. Melby

      I am a huge proponent of retiring “MRA” as a slur.

      If we talking about “anti-feminists” we should say that. If we are talking about “male supremacists” we should say that.

      “Feminist” is a solid label of solidarity and I use it for myself. However, too often when I am either labeled or label myself as “feminist”, incredible amounts of assumptions (very specific assumptions) about my stances that are not articulated by me and in many cases completely the opposite of MY actual stances are made.

      For example, I am NOT a female exceptionalist. I don’t think that if women ran the world it would be a better place, for example.

      I don’t deny that gender identity has a physiological basis or deny the significance of some sex-linked traits, another example.

      I had a huge conversation about the wage gap with someone (Tbyte I think the name is) on Cris’ blog about why she took down her first vid about feminism and zie eventually said he didn’t care what feminists said their stances were because their actions were such and such – so, as far as zie was concerned, what I said I thought didn’t even matter.

      That’s just a little extreme y’know.

      1. Danny

        MRA isn’t a slur, it’s just that the Men’s Rights Movement is full of hate groups (like The Spearhead and A Voice For Men). The Southern Poverty Law Center did a post about this a while back and is now tracking a few of the groups in the same way they track Neo-Nazis and the KKK.

        1. M. A. Melby

          I went a few rounds with FinalJusticeMovement on YouTube – you don’t have to tell me that. Nothing like talking to someone who essentially thinks that feminists and “homosexualists” are the enemy who are actively emasculating men, and believes that open warfare against them is justified.

          However, if specific groups are the issues, or people, then a more specific phrase would decrease the possibility of collateral.

          To some men who call themselves “MRA”, feminists represent the ones that supported laws and attitudes that caused them not to get custody of their children, to get passed over for a job, to fear increased criminal punishment, endure double-standards for spousal abuse and rape, etc.

          When feminists wish to engage, it is reasonable to insist that “feminist” not be used as a slur that represents a set of stances and ideas that not all feminists hold or may arguably be “straw” feminism.

          I understand that a very good argument could be made that there is not parity between “feminist” and “MRA” – however, even given the perceived parity, it is supportive to open discussion, clarification, and engagement to avoid the appearance of hypocrisy by using vague labels.

          Anything short of that shuts down meaningful interactions.

      2. SallyStrange

        Now that the Southern Poverty Law Center has classed MRAs as hate groups, I don’t think either your objection or your insistence on calling the label a “slur” stands up. MRA is a label that is self-chosen by bigots. Men who sincerely care about men’s issues don’t use the label, by and large.

        1. M. A. Melby

          “..by and large.”

          So, the rest don’t matter?

          I realize that “male feminist” is preferred by “feminists” and that those who don’t have deep criticisms of feminism are MORE likely to not be put-off by the label “male feminist” (obviously).

          Using “MRA” as a slur though, completely writes-off anyone who might use “MRA” to describe themselves or be sympathetic to MRA causes – some of which are not only legitimate (or at least worthy of discussion) but have strong overlap with feminism if not for the criticisms of feminism that some MRA attach to those issues.

          What benefit is using “MRA” as a slur?

          Is that benefit greater than the risk of confirming (in some people’s minds) that feminists are indeed the enemy – on every point?

        2. SallyStrange

          First of all, you haven’t established that “MRA” is being used in an equivalent fashion to “pussy” or “cunt” or “faggot” or “nigger.” Those are slurs. “MRA” is a descriptive title which is usually self-applied. Sometimes it gets applied to a person who espouses beliefs similar to those who claim it for themselves.

          That’s not a slur.

          Second of all, the benefit of using it with a lot of negative connotations is that it alerts the men who are using it in ignorance of the fact that the major MRA groups have officially been classified as hate groups that they might want to re-evaluate their associations, and give them the opportunity to ally themselves with groups who don’t promote hate against women.

          1. M. A. Melby

            Sorry “as an insult” then instead of “slur”.

            I think of it as vaguely equivalent to saying something like, “Feminists push for laws against face covering.”

            Many feminists disagree with those laws on civil liberty grounds. So, it’s just vague enough to be misleading.

            Hypothetically:

            “Feminists misrepresent wage-gap data.”

            “Crazy feminists attempt human parthenogenesis.”

            Think of what this looks like:

            http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/08/04/an-mra-explains-christianity/

            To anyone who does NOT see MRA has a term only used for male supremacists, but as a blanket term that also includes groups that work toward gender-neutral family law or fair treatment of men in the justice system, etc.

    2. 20.2
      lilandra

      Exactly.

  21. 21
    Andrew Hall

    Would it be immoral to rape a Skepchick?

    Not for sexual gratification or power or anything like that, just because they’re so annoying.

    I’m really torn on this one

    - I humbly propose that joke writing should be banned in the atheist blogosphere. Bad jokes are far too dangerous — they’re the ebola of memes.

    1. 21.1
      SallyStrange

      People kept claiming that this is a joke.

      Do you think it’s a joke?

      If so could you please explain the punchline? I know explaining a joke kills the humor but I really don’t get it, and I’d like to understand where the humor is coming from, but for some strange reason, nobody could ever explain it to me.

      I’m hoping you can help me out.

  22. 22
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    After being a few rounds of laughs at the Skepchicks expense, his own forum members criticized him and he apologized for the joke’s offensiveness and lameness

    Y’know, people with mobility impairments have to tolerate a ton of things being associated with us. We’re like boring TV shows, we’re like a day wasted at the DMV, we’re like contemptible idiots…

    But saying that lameness = rape jokes is really over the F*n top.

    Seriously?

    What is it about mobility impairments that is just so like thinking rape is funny that you have to use the comparison here?

    I am lame. I am – on rare occasions – funny. Time with me is certainly better than a day at the DMV.

    And, lo and behold, I don’t go off on how it might be a moral good to rape people. What is it about me that makes you put “offensiveness” and “lameness” together? Is it that offensive to you that I have a disability?

    What?

    Seriously, WTF is it that makes you want to use my life to illustrate just how much you dislike moral approval of rape?

    1. 22.1
      Hayden

      I’ve never associated the word “lame” with human disability. Is that common anymore? The only times I can think of hearing the word “lame” used to reference actual physical impairment is with regards to animals.

      1. Turtle

        It is still used, and now two of us have confirmed that.

        Now is it wrong?

    2. 22.2
      Turtle

      Institutionalised ableism.

      We’re sexless, feeble, pitiful jokes. If we try to counteract that view, or complain about ableism, we’re “angry” or “bitter”, or “whiny” or “overreacting”.

      So the “Laaaame” shit continues, because nobody ultimately gives a fuck about us, especially if we’re straddling several axes of oppression.

    3. 22.3
      Jens Randrup

      I don’t understand the point of this post. Is it to support the obvious fact that women who post about anything related to feminism on open boards, where any anonymous hillbilly can comment, get slammed by disgusting comments? If so, that’s not news, or even unexpected.

      In fact, it is not news that any woman posting on any topic in an open forum, will probably get slammed with disgusting comments. It is also not news that any man posting on any topic in an open forum will get slammed with disgusting comments. This is the Internet, and its upside/backside is that every Joe Blow with a connection can comment. And with several billion Joe Blows connected, you will always get disgusting comments …on an open forum.

      So again, what’s the point of this post?

      1. Turtle

        What’s the point of you spewing your tedious views hither and yon? You’re not saying anything that hasn’t been said by the many whining mantrolls that came before you.

        “Wah wah it’s just the internet, why do you care? Just ignore it! Men get rape threats all the time!”

        Dullarf.

    4. 22.4
      lilandra

      I am quoting the apology. He used the word lame to describe his joke. It is his word choice.

      1. aleph squared

        That would be clearer if you’d use quotation marks or a blockquote, or, if you are paraphrasing, explicitly mention [his words] or [sic]

        1. lilandra

          Yeah it’s a good idea to edit it.

  23. 23
    Brad

    Excellent post, lilandra.

    I first became aware of the level of hatred spewed toward visible female bloggers (of all kinds, not just atheists) in 2007 when Kathy Sierra cancelled her appearance at a technical conference due to what she perceived as death threats (BBC article). She is quoted as saying, “I have cancelled all speaking engagements. I am afraid to leave my yard, I will never feel the same. I will never be the same.”

    She subsequently killed her very popular technical writing blog, saying “she did not want to be a part of a blogosphere where such threats could be made”.

    So much of the aftermath of that event sounds almost exactly like what we are hearing in this discussion today: “it was just a joke”, “what about free speech?”, “don’t feed the trolls”, even the accusation of her being part of a cabal of close-minded bully “a-list” bloggers!

    etc. Kathy’s response to that is as appropriate today as it was back then:

    If you want to do something about it, do not tolerate the kind of abuse that includes threats or even suggestions of violence (especially sexual violence). Do not put these people on a pedestal. Do not let them get away with calling this “social commentary”, “protected speech”, or simply “criticism”.

    The only difficulty, I think, is in distinguishing between 2 different responses that can sometimes sound very similar: I truly don’t understand this, help me learn vs I am using hyper-skepticism of your claims as a method for dismissing them.

    I was originally in the first category myself, truly not understanding what the big deal was about “elevatorgate”. It was only after reading some excellent articles by Greta, Ophelia, and Jen (my first introduction to them, actually, and well before FTB even existed), that the light bulb slowly started to flicker on. The Schrödinger’s Rapist post (and its comments) was probably the most influential in my whole journey to feminism.

    (That doesn’t mean we have to have infinite patience, of course, since the second type of commenter can often cleverly disguise themselves as the first.)

  24. 24
    Iamcuriousblue

    “‘The elevator thing is still going on? Wow.

    I hate to see an important movement collapse into itself over stupid bickering.’

    These are just three examples of how badly misunderstood gender-related issues are in the freethinking community. Way too many people are minimizing gender-based harassment to a single incident that Watson admitted herself wasn’t a major big deal.”

    Wow – clearly they don’t get it! If they were following the issue more closely, they’d see the freethinking community has now moved on to being bent out of shape by a t-shirt that says “I’m not a skepchick” and “I feel safe and welcome at TAM”. Hyperskeptics like you quote above are failing to notice the *progress* the freethought movement has been making.

    1. 24.1
      hyperdeath

      Context. Who needs it?

      1. Iamcuriousblue

        Um, I absolutely understand the context of that t-shirt, and I still say, anybody who thinks that’s an example of “harassment” is completely out to lunch. The most “aggressive” thing about Harriet Hall’s statement is that it says, essentially, “I don’t want to be a member of your group. I’d rather be part of this one.” That’s it.

        And, sorry, I don’t think “skepchicks” or any other group or clique represent something so righteous that an unequivocal statement that one doesn’t want to be a part of it would amount to “harassment”. The level of butthurt over Hall’s t-shirt is simply indefensible.

        In fact, looking at it *in context* makes me think the whole thing was a very contrived way to create an “Elevatorgate II” around the most recent TAM. Sad, really.

    2. 24.2
      julian

      Do the world a favor and stop talking. You have nothing of value or worth to say. Your every utterance robs the world of space that could be occupied by new/interesting/thought provoking ideas. Every word you put to print ends a pleasant or interesting comment.

      Stop speaking. Stop commenting. Your obsessions is your own. Take it elsewhere or keep it inside you. No conversation will suffer from your absence.

      1. Iamcuriousblue

        Well, dear Julian lets his hate flag fly again. I think it’s pretty subjective, really, just who would be better off just shutting the fuck up and going away, but ultimately, you don’t really have the right to silence anybody, nor do I. And if you don’t like that state of affairs, that’s tough, really.

        1. julian

          Why shouldn’t I hate you? You’re dishonest, dismissive and condescending. You belittle people who’ve suffered sexual harassment and protect people who “joke” about raping women they dislike.

          That’s not even getting into just how little you ever actually say. Hell your reply is just more of your trademark “MUST WIN!!!” approach to discussions. The only reason anyone ever replies to you is they hate seeing your bullshit stand unchallenged.

          1. Iamcuriousblue

            Projecting much, Julian? You talk about a “must win” approach, but clearly, it’s you who are trying to get in the last word in a number of conversations on this very thread. And the pathetic thing is, you’re not even able to “win” an argument for all your bluster, because you’re unable or unwilling to bring actual arguments to the table. Instead, all we get is a lot of self-righteous chest pounding on your part and demonization of your opponents. Your entire approach to “social justice” is about as childish as it gets. Sorry if you find this to be “belittling”, but your rhetoric and approach deserves little else. As I’ve said before, you get the level of conversation you deserve, and I leave it to you to raise that level if you want any better.

            As to your charges against me, I have no idea where I’ve “belittled” someone who’s suffered sexual harassment. I’ve questioned certain language in anti-harassment policies that defines such harassment in overly broad language, which is hardly an attack on anybody. As to your point about “protecting” people who “joke” about raping women, well, yes, I believe free speech protections do cover rape jokes and I’ve even said it can be valid kind of humor depending on the context, but no, I’ve never said anybody has to find rape jokes funny, in good taste, or above criticism. And I have never stood by *any* use of threats of rape or other kinds of violence to try to shut other people up. (And there is a minority of people *on both sides* of the “social justice in secularism” debate are guilty of that shit, actually.)

            Basically, you have no real reason for the rage that you project against me, other than I guess I represent something you find deeply threatening. And really, that’s your issue, not mine.

          2. lilandra

            @Julian hate is a strong word. this person appears to be posting more moderate statements than this one elsewhere in the thread. Your other comments appear to be cogent and to the point. I know that you are aware that there are people that read and don’t comment. Some of them haven’t made up their minds, or might join in to ask questions. I would like to raise awareness of the problem.

        2. lilandra

          @Iamcuriousaboutblue tolerance of rape threats normalizes abuse of women. Online or not it is not right to make women the subject of abuse. What are your thoughts on articulate women writers who have quit writer or posting their thoughts on the internet because of the abuse they are subjected to?

          1. Iamcuriousblue

            First, I’m not sure why you’re asking me about rape threats, which kind of implies I would defend anything of the kind. If you go back to my original post, I *am* dismissive of claiming as “harassment” somebody wearing a t-shirt with a message that amounts to “I don’t want to be a member of your club.” Not remotely the same thing and *very wrong* to conflate with anything a serious as threats of rape or other kinds of violence.

            As to the issue of women being “subject to abuse”, I’ll turn the question on you. Is it right for *anybody*, male, female, or other, to be subject to abuse online or off? The thing is, I see a lot of abusive rhetoric online, fueled by the anonymous, non-face-to-face nature of the internet, and when it comes to wars of words around feminism, I really think feminists give as good as they get. I’ve seen some pretty shocking forms of *abuse* toward sex workers, trans people, women, and, yes, men perpetrated by self-described feminists, and more than could be dismissed as merely isolated incidents. And, yes, I’ve also seen feminists like Ana Sarkisian be the target of some abusive campaigns as well. As to women who have been “silenced” by abuse online, you’ll have to be more specific with examples, because if anything, I’ve only seen women become *more* vocal after becoming targets of controversy.

            Now as to misogynistic abuse that women receive on the internet, I agree, women get an added dose of that. I’ve seen plenty of random misogyny toward women who were very much not “gender warriors”. It is something that needs to be named and shamed. But on the other hand, piggybacking the butthurt of certain bloggers who dish out every bit as good as they get onto the larger problem of online misogyny simply trivializes the issue and makes it partisan. It is not enough to say that certain women have gotten mean comments online – in the context of a heated argument, that’s not unexpected. The pattern of women getting abusive comments outside of “internet wars” is what really needs attention.

  25. 25
    Jens Randrup

    (Hope this gets posted in the main thread as my previous post got attached to an ongoing sub-thread)

    I don’t understand the point of this post. Is it to support the obvious fact that women who post about anything related to feminism on open boards, where any anonymous hillbilly can comment, get slammed by disgusting comments? If so, that’s not news, or even unexpected.

    In fact, it is not news that any woman posting on any topic in an open forum, will probably get slammed with disgusting comments. It is also not news that any man posting on any topic in an open forum will get slammed with disgusting comments. This is the Internet, and its upside/backside is that every Joe Blow with a connection can comment. And with several billion Joe Blows connected, you will always get disgusting comments …on an open forum.

    So again, what’s the point of this post?

    1. 25.1
      Makoto

      Maybe to say, in an open and clear manner, rather than just assumed, that it is a problem? To show us that maybe we should try to fix things as we can?

      Perhaps it’s ” my intent is to help promote a better understanding of why people are speaking out so strongly on gender-based hatred. “? Yes, everyone can comment.. and we should try to help those who make gender-based comments understand why those are bad. That includes a lot of people in these communities, not just every joe on the internet. We have to start somewhere.. why not with the communities we’re a part of?

      1. Jens Randrup

        Makoto says: “Maybe to say, in an open and clear manner, rather than just assumed, that it is a problem? To show us that maybe we should try to fix things as we can?”

        Idiots posting disgusting comments on the Internet has been a problem since the ability to post comments on the Internet was achieved. I don’t think there is anything new regarding the current topic which changes that. The only known remedy, as far as I’m aware, is the use of Moderation.

        “Perhaps it’s ” my intent is to help promote a better understanding of why people are speaking out so strongly on gender-based hatred. “? Yes, everyone can comment.. and we should try to help those who make gender-based comments understand why those are bad. That includes a lot of people in these communities, not just every joe on the internet. We have to start somewhere.. why not with the communities we’re a part of?”

        Again, what are you talking about? You think that the assholes whose niche is atheist/skeptic threads and who enjoy making disgusting comments on these types of threads, are “special assholes” which we should especially try to reach?

        Why would you think this is the case?

        1. Makoto

          “Again, what are you talking about? You think that the assholes whose niche is atheist/skeptic threads and who enjoy making disgusting comments on these types of threads, are “special assholes” which we should especially try to reach?

          Why would you think this is the case?”

          Because they’re here and we can try? Why shouldn’t we try to reach them, since they’re here? Just because they’re also common elsewhere?

          1. Jens Randrup

            We shouldn’t try to reach them because they are assholes and are not the sort of people which are “reachable”.

            What we need to do, what anyone (especially women), need to do, is to accept that they exist and move on. Don’t care about them, don’t respond to them, don’t recognize them as fellow human beings, even with a comment. Alert the authorities if you feel so inclined, but don’t recognize them with a single response.

          2. Makoto

            Accept it and move on? Keep quiet and hope they don’t bother you (except maybe in cases where you have to call the police it’s so bad and you feel so inclined)? No. We should inform these people. Teach them. Try to prevent issues before it gets to the level of the authorities if possible, because when they are needed, it means something really bad has already happened.

            Keeping quiet and moving on is the proposed solution for quite some time, and it hasn’t helped – it just means more people think they can get away with things.

    2. 25.2
      lilandra

      You did indeed miss the point. Your comment is illogical just because men also receive threats, and people troll the internet it doesn’t invalidate that women are subjected to hateful, gender based rape threats. The fact that rape is the most common threat is a clue that it is a gender based threat. No public male skeptic that I know of has received a thousand rape threats like Watson.

  26. 26
    MaryL

    I haven’t read through all the 90+ comments here, so don’t know if this has been mentioned. Murder and rape are both felonies. I believe it is also a felony to threaten someone with a felonious act. DECENT, MATURE adults don’t do this. Those who do should be introduced to the police, who have been given evidence of the threat. Then follow through as needed. If this is done as often as necessary, people may learn something.

    1. 26.1
      Jens Randrup

      Correct and obvious.

      I continue to wonder at the point of this thread.

      1. julian

        Obviously it exist solely to befuddle you. There’s absolutely nothing going on worth discussing or putting in print so the writer specifically to irritate you to comment.

  27. 27
    Daneel Olivaw

    I like how she points out what she believes is a legitimate issue without pointing fingers or singling out any blogger or vlogger as inherently evil. A discussion can be had here!

    1. 27.1
      Jens Randrup

      A discussion about what? That there are assholes who have net access?

      The point of this thread continues to elude me.

      1. SallyStrange

        No, the point is that there are misogynists who have net access, and this is because there is a strong vein of misogyny in the culture, which is a problem that needs solving.

        Shutting up about the problem never solved any problems.

  28. 28
    Desertphile

    A man making lewd suggestions to a lone, trapped, isolated woman that he does not know in an elevator is assault and threatening. Any man who does not understand this needs to be monitored by law enforcement, and his parents should be fined.

    1. 28.1
      M. A. Melby

      Your troll is showing.

      At least now I know you weren’t serious about the crap you said on Cris’ blog.

      If you aren’t going to have honest discussion, please quit bothering the people that do.

    2. 28.2
      lilandra

      Are you being earnest Desertphile?

  29. 29
    Brony

    This article.
    “How Our Brains See Men as People and Women as Body Parts: Both Genders Process Images of Men, Women Differently”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120725150215.htm

    If you take the implications of it seriously, even for a portion of the population, it’s frankly horrifying. A significant portion of us literally treat women like body parts before they treat them like persons, computationally speaking.

    Do you know what I think perfectly represents what genuine misogynists fear? A chess board. Most cultures don’t want girls to know how to do things like that, and it shows.

    1. 29.1
      Iamcuriousblue

      ““How Our Brains See Men as People and Women as Body Parts: Both Genders Process Images of Men, Women Differently”
      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120725150215.htm

      If you take the implications of it seriously, even for a portion of the population, it’s frankly horrifying. A significant portion of us literally treat women like body parts before they treat them like persons, computationally speaking.

      Horrifying how? Underneath this moral panic about “sexual objectification”, we’re really just talking about sexual attraction here. When we encounter strangers in any context, we objectify them because we don’t know them as individual people. How many of your interactions with the person behind the checkout counter are deep and personally meaningful?

      Now if said strangers “body parts” happen to have a comely appearance, you’re definitely going to pick up on that and maybe feel some level of sexual attraction, maybe even a great deal of it, without knowing the first thing about them, other than appearance. It’s called sexual attraction and it’s part of being human. Are men more quick to go there than women? Sure, for a variety of biological and social reasons. Does that make them somehow worse human beings? Not in my estimation.

      Here’s the key – most people, and I think most men too, are capable of feeling raw sexual attraction to somebody and acknowledging that that person is an individual with their own thoughts, needs, and desires quite apart from what one’s desires toward them are. That comes with the simple capacity to hold two thoughts in your head at once, something that those whinging about “sexual objectification” fail to acknowledge.

      It’s idiots who don’t have the ability to empathize with another person beyond what their immediate desires are dictating that create a problem. And if somebody is that unempathetic, then they probably have issues with wrongful objectification of people that goes beyond just sexual stuff.

      1. julian

        -_-

        No. If my first instinct (which it is) upon seeing someone I dislike is to hurt them, I have a problem. Whatever later rationalizations move me away from that or whatever repercussions discourage me from taking action don’t stop that emotional response from being wrong.

        Ditto for objectification. As we know, we think less of people when we see them as sex objects, we dismiss their opinions, we view them less competently and we, overall, disregard aspects of them not relevant to sex. So it will be a problem if the first thing you do when meeting a woman is stare at her breast.

        1. Iamcuriousblue

          “Ditto for objectification. As we know, we think less of people when we see them as sex objects, we dismiss their opinions, we view them less competently and we, overall, disregard aspects of them not relevant to sex. So it will be a problem if the first thing you do when meeting a woman is stare at her breast.”

          Um, no, we don’t “know” that – that is in fact merely the rhetoric of a very puritanical strain of thought behind *some* forms of feminism. Raw sexual attraction, what moralists dismiss as “sexual objectification” (in what amounts to a secularized version of the “sin of lust in one’s heart”), does not inherently mean dehumanizing or belittling the object of one’s desires. Only when one takes the further step toward seeing the other as being nothing more than a means toward fulfilling your desires rather than a subject in and of themselves with their own thoughts and desires does ethically wrongful “objectification” take place. And that kind of objectification can take place in plenty of non-sexual contexts as well. That’s a basic point that we pointy-headed sex-positives have been making for years, actually.

          As to “staring at someone’s breasts”, give me a break. That’s a *behavior*, and one should damn well know that no matter how turned on one happens to be by somebody else, one should avoid making that person uncomfortable. Sexual Ethics 101, and all that. Not something that requires squelching your actual desires.

          “And if it were sexual attraction heterosexual women wouldn’t be seeing women as body parts first. They’d see men that way. They don’t which tells us what?”

          That women often see other women as competition, perhaps? And perhaps women, on average, need more context before they start thinking of someone sexually? Whereas men, on average, might cut to purely sexual thoughts more quickly? Neither of which makes men’s or women’s approach to sexual desire the “right” one, but just different.

          BTW, the study in question might be a bit more interesting if they were a tad less heterocentric and compared same-sex “objectification” between men and women. My guess is that you’d see a very similar pattern of same-sex attracted men “objectifying” other men, which might tend to put a dent in the “men’s power over women” interpretation of this phenomenon.

          1. julian

            I didn’t say it was inherently dehumanizing. I said we end thinking less of people we objectify sexually. Think religious upbringing. There’s no inherent reason it will lead to anti-gay sentiments. But it does.

            That’s a basic point that we pointy-headed sex-positives have been making for years, actually.

            Are you going to start lecturing me now on how sex is the single greatest thing ever and everyone must absolutely always be up for it? Cause I’m not in the mood.

            As to “staring at someone’s breasts”, give me a break. That’s a *behavior*,

            Staring implied more time then I meant to say. But looking at someone’s breast (even gawking) is as immediate a response as any thought. Hell, it’s going to happen if the first things you notice about someone are sexy bits.

            Neither of which makes men’s or women’s approach to sexual desire the “right” one, but just different.

            -_-

            Really?

          2. Iamcuriousblue

            I didn’t say it was inherently dehumanizing. I said we end thinking less of people we objectify sexually. Think religious upbringing. There’s no inherent reason it will lead to anti-gay sentiments. But it does.

            “But it does” OK, citation with empirical evidence, please? BTW, and please give your definition of “sexual objectification” while you’re at it, because that’s a loaded term, prone to ideological manipulation. Do you even meaningfully differentiate raw sexual attraction from sexual objectification?

            “‘That’s a basic point that we pointy-headed sex-positives have been making for years, actually.’

            Are you going to start lecturing me now on how sex is the single greatest thing ever and everyone must absolutely always be up for it? Cause I’m not in the mood.”

            Um, WTF? Did you just pull that random snitty comment out of thin air, or do you really think that’s what “sex-positive” means?

            “‘As to “staring at someone’s breasts”, give me a break. That’s a *behavior*,

            Staring implied more time then I meant to say. But looking at someone’s breast (even gawking) is as immediate a response as any thought. Hell, it’s going to happen if the first things you notice about someone are sexy bits.”

            Well, I don’t know what you mean by “implied staring”, but basic social manners would dictate that if you’re going to look, be discrete about it. But I suppose that isn’t good enough for you, it’s *thought* and *desire* itself that need policing.

            I can’t help but think you’re projecting here more than a bit. I remember a comment you posted about *your* history with women, that you used to have a problem with following women you were turned on by. Did I get that right? Pardon me if I didn’t. If that’s the case, maybe you’re projecting *your* lack of self-control onto other people, and your projecting anger at your own past actions onto other people. Some of us can control our behavior, thank you very much.

            “Neither of which makes men’s or women’s approach to sexual desire the “right” one, but just different.

            -_-

            Really?”

            Yeah, Julian – really. You want to attempt a rational argument as to why the more female-typically approach to sexual desire is inherently better and more elevated than the more male-typical one, go right ahead. Good luck doing so in a way that isn’t warmed-over high Victorianism, though.

          3. julian

            Staring implied. As in, my use of the word staring implied something I didn’t meant to. Get it?

            OK, citation with empirical evidence, please?

            Let’s flip this on you. Why don’t you show evidence that people don’t think of less of people they’ve objectified and give what you think sexual objectification is.

            But I suppose that isn’t good enough for you, it’s *thought* and *desire* itself that need policing.

            Thoughts and desires do need policing. They form our perception of the world and determine how we interact with it. I’d assume a community trying to push back against homophobia would realize that.

            Half of skepticism is policing your own thought process to try and counter act our innate cognitive issues.

            I can’t help but think you’re projecting here more than a bit.

            Oh save it.

            Yes I was quite the misogynistic MRA Libertarian post-racism twit. I’d have fit in perfectly with you and your friends. What’s that got to do with anything? Do I feel shame? Of course, how couldn’t I? But that’s entirely besides the point.

            Some of us can control our behavior, thank you very much.

            Let’s go with this.

            Assume some can’t. Assume a large portion of the population is unable to keep from gawking at a smaller portion. Suppose this has caused them some discomfort (from minor to great) and has been linked to, in some studies, as contributing to a hostile atmosphere.

            Should not what’s causing this behavior be curbed in some way?

            You want to attempt a rational argument as to why the more female-typically approach to sexual desire is inherently better and more elevated than the more male-typical one, go right ahead.

            Ok, pause. Where are you getting that women approach sexual desire this way? I didn’t see it in the piece linked above but I could have missed it.

          4. Iamcuriousblue

            First off, you clearly get skepticism wrong – skepticism is about educating *how* to think, not policing *what to think*. And you actually think thought policing is a *good thing*? Um, just WOW, Julian. You always came across as a bit of a fascist, but thanks for confirming just how totalitarian your beliefs really are. Clearly we have a difference in values here, and insofar as what I do undermines your totalitarian values, that’s a *good thing*.

            You also admit that your hatefulness comes from problems with your own past behavior. I can’t say how many shades of *wrong* it is to go around attacking other people over what are clearly *your own* issues.

            That said, I will address a few of the points you raise:

            “Let’s flip this on you. Why don’t you show evidence that people don’t think of less of people they’ve objectified and give what you think sexual objectification is.”

            The first part is a ridiculous question – I don’t know what “evidence” I could provide to a stranger on the internet that would begin to be valid proofs. And even if I did, that’s anecdotal – at best, a single data point. More importantly, can you provide hard empirical evidence for your position beyond anecdote? Show me the data that backs up the assertion. And hopefully, data from solid studies, not just an example of poorly done social science backing up somebody’s political agenda. (Lots of that floating around.)

            Now as to what “sexual objectification” is, that’s a hard one to answer in less than a few pages, but I’ll try. First, it’s a subset of objectification, a general phenomenon in which you understand another person in their social role or utility. Something, I might add, that is completely unavoidable in a world of strangers, and something we couldn’t have a functioning society without. The problem comes when we *only* objectify, and fail to understand that other people have their own individual lives above and beyond one’s own desires, stereotypes, and projections. There’s lots of subsets and types of objectification – you do a type of it every time you demonize complete strangers on the slightest suspicion that they might hold a different opinion from you.

            In terms of *sexual objectification*, it means to view someone in terms of their sexual attractiveness without regard to them as a sexual subject. And again, some degree of this is natural – strong physical sexual attraction often long proceeds knowing the first thing about another person. That’s just part of the human condition (your wishes for a feminist thought police to erase this from existence notwithstanding). Again, it becomes ethically problematic to the degree that one sees desired others *only* in an objectifying way, and fail to consider that they have their own wants, needs, and desires apart from one’s own.

            Good Men Project has a good piece on the topic. (There are others, but I’m not going to dig at the moment.) Note that I define sexual objectification somewhat differently, in that I consider sexual attraction a benign form of it, but otherwise, I’m on board with the distinctions and ethical POV taken here:

            http://goodmenproject.com/noseriouslywhatabouttehmenz/on-objectification-2/

            “Ok, pause. Where are you getting that women approach sexual desire this way? I didn’t see it in the piece linked above but I could have missed it.”

            The study linked above shows a difference in male and female patterns of objectifying attraction, and would certainly imply a difference between male- and female- typical modes of attraction overall. By “difference”, of course, I mean in terms of overlapping bell curves, not in some absolutist “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” sense. I think the jury is out on to what degree there really innate differences in male and female approaches to sexuality versus purely socialized ones, but insofar as such differences exist, I’m not going to jump on the moralist bandwagon and say that the male lust mode is in some way inferior to the female relational one.

            Not that I expect to convince you of anything, nor are you going to convince me. Our *values* are simply too far apart for that. I find yours every bit as repugnant as I do those of the religious right, even if they are in some sense “secular”. If you want to debate on points of fact backed by empirical data, of course, be my guest, because I’m quite willing to take that on.

          5. julian

            Yeah, last response. I’m obviously not entirely within the spirit of this site so I’m walking off. You’re welcome to the last word on sexual objectification.

            First off, you clearly get skepticism wrong – skepticism is about educating *how* to think, not policing *what to think*.

            But you do police what you think, don’t you? You (ideally) select against ideas that are self-contradicting, ideas that are bigoted, thoughts that are undesirable because they are untenable. That’s policing. Your ranting is over word choice.

            You also admit that your hatefulness comes from problems with your own past behavior.

            No I didn’t.

          6. Iamcuriousblue

            As much as I’d prefer to just give you the last word and let the whole thing simmer down, I do want to clarify this point:

            “But you do police what you think, don’t you? You (ideally) select against ideas that are self-contradicting, ideas that are bigoted, thoughts that are undesirable because they are untenable. That’s policing. Your ranting is over word choice.”

            Well, perhaps, but words have meanings, and you don’t have to be George Orwell to understand why *thought policing* has a really negative connotation. In any event, I really don’t consider self-discipline to be “policing”, which I think implies an external and authoritarian kind of discipline. It really doesn’t have positive connotations, generally speaking.

          7. Brony

            Um, no, we don’t “know” that – that is in fact merely the rhetoric of a very puritanical strain of thought behind *some* forms of feminism.

            Definitely did not read the article. Talk about a useless comment since it’s attached to the article. The whole point of the work described in the article is that while we say and probably even believe that we are not objectifying and reducing to parts, we are really doing something else mentally. It’s not just feminist thought, it’s neurobiology.

            BTW, the study in question might be a bit more interesting if they were a tad less heterocentric and compared same-sex “objectification” between men and women. My guess is that you’d see a very similar pattern of same-sex attracted men “objectifying” other men, which might tend to put a dent in the “men’s power over women” interpretation of this phenomenon.

            So we don’t “know” that we think less of people when we objectify them when we have research to support that (to say nothing for the role of women through human history), but you are fine with your “guess”. How do you live like this? I fear for your other daily judgements.
            I can think of one reason you are wrong. In the study women and men tended to see men as persons before objects, and women as objects before persons. If Women tend to see other Women as object before persons gay men would likely do the same.

          8. Iamcuriousblue

            No, Brony, it’s actually not “neurobiology”, but “social psychology”. And as so often happens in social sciences, a *great deal* of overinterpretation of the data, in this case, using some very limited findings from a pattern recognition study to attempt to prove a much larger and ideologically loaded “objectification theory”. Has it occurred to you that just maybe the observed data doesn’t exactly support the authors more broadly drawn conclusions? It happens a lot in science, and even moreso in social science, which is notoriously less cautious about interpretation.

            “So we don’t “know” that we think less of people when we objectify them when we have research to support that (to say nothing for the role of women through human history), but you are fine with your “guess”.

            The research supports a very limited finding, and certainly *not* the kind of harsh value judgements you’re making. It supports nothing more than I know from daily experience, namely, that, one can get turned on by a nice ass in less than one second, but it takes a good deal longer to know anything about a person. I know, how HORRIFYING, that – somebody fetch the fainting couch!

            How do you live like this? I fear for your other daily judgements.

            And I wonder how you can carry on living with such a level of self-righteousness that you can let statements like that run off of your keypad. For fuck sake, an “I fear for your soul” statement worth of worst kind of fundie.

          9. Brony

            No, Brony, it’s actually not “neurobiology”, but “social psychology”. And as so often happens in social sciences, a *great deal* of overinterpretation of the data, in this case, using some very limited findings from a pattern recognition study to attempt to prove a much larger and ideologically loaded “objectification theory”. Has it occurred to you that just maybe the observed data doesn’t exactly support the authors more broadly drawn conclusions? It happens a lot in science, and even moreso in social science, which is notoriously less cautious about interpretation.

            I had to come back for this one. Did you just suggest that neurobiology is not related to social psychology? They are both relevant to these questions you don’t get to dismiss one “just cause”. Tell you what, I’ll stop being arrogant when you stop saying stupid things. Since you want to have an opinion I’ll give you the critics questions,
            *Why is it overinterpretation? Be specific.
            *Why is the concept of objectification a problem? You can actually damage parts of brains that do thing with objects in specific ways.
            *Why is “because it’s hard!” a valid response?

            The research supports a very limited finding, and certainly *not* the kind of harsh value judgements you’re making. It supports nothing more than I know from daily experience, namely, that, one can get turned on by a nice ass in less than one second, but it takes a good deal longer to know anything about a person.

            They are general findings about the general behavior of human beings both male and female, not specific persons. That is a fallacy I would not dream of making. You sound desperate to wave this away like its a spider.
            1. “Person” and “Parts of persons” are very real parts of mental circuitry.
            2. How we interact with others connects to these concepts in very real ways. Ways specific each experiment.
            3. Your objections reference neither and the article cites a relevant authority.
            4. Human history is so full of nastiness and misery it is completely unsurprising that we discover really screwed up realities like this.

            I reject your opinion.

            And I wonder how you can carry on living with such a level of self-righteousness that you can let statements like that run off of your keypad. For fuck sake, an “I fear for your soul” statement worth of worst kind of fundie.

            You make life more painful for other people. You have no idea how little I care.

          10. Iamcuriousblue

            “You make life more painful for other people.”

            Wow Brony, did you just end that post with a statement that was not only self-righteous, but utterly and completely lacking in perspective, to the point of utter stupidity? I guess you did.

            I’ll respond to the “substance” of what you said at a later point.

      2. julian

        And if it were sexual attraction heterosexual women wouldn’t be seeing women as body parts first. They’d see men that way. They don’t which tells us what?

      3. Brony

        Horrifying how?

        Did you read my next sentence? Horrifying because this means many of us treat Women as body parts before we treat them as persons. In other words the humans that do this treat Women as if their “value” is dependent on their female function first, and not their personhood first.

        Apparently this is a male and female problem which is unsurprising to me. We already knew there are very deep social patterns that make Women property in the eyes of society. They are just probably deeper than we thought. But that depth will give us information that will help us figure out how to best try to change all of this.

        Also you avoided the point of my comment. At no point did I fail to acknowledge sexual objectification, you made that up. I LIKE sexual objectification. The key to allowing yourself to sexually objectify however, is to make sure that your internal definition makes them a person, BEFORE an object.

        Care to try again “Not-so-curious-to-bother-to-understand-a-comment”-blue?

  30. 30
  31. 31
    NoBumPaper

    Thoughts aren’t free if they are caged. Free speech or freedom to speak is key to this site having content.

    Liberty is about sharing our ideas without fearing the consequence of being silenced .

    It is ofcourse possible to have liberty and use it to take the liberty of others away. FtB, has done just that.

    Banning is an act that forcibly silences a person. Which is anti-free-thought. However I insist I don’t believe any amount of anti-free-thought could ever destroy the axioms of free thought.

    PZ is correct in his assertion that there is a world (interwebs) outside FtB, but he has unilaterally walled in the bloggers.

    For the time being FtB can technically edit permissions, and add members using web-technology, but existence is finite.

    You may think it is PZ’s right to choose who stays and who goes, but as a blog site dedicated to free-thought, aren’t the axioms more important? Axioms are indestructible. ~You should be open to being told you are wrong especially about fallacies.

    IF Thunderfoot was a woman-hating, homophobic, racist, arrogant troll, you may be in the right to eject him. But none of those things describe what he was banned for. Can you name any anti-feminist position he was trying to advance?

    And what about on youtube? Is he a homophobic, racist, arrogant troll who spouts woman-hating propaganda, on there? No he is not.

    If your interpration of his views while on FtB lead you to believe he is one or more of those things, maybe you should take the time analyze yourself.

    No ideas are sacred. Nor should they need to be.
    And as Hitches may say: thought crime is an absurdity.

    1. 31.1
      lilandra

      I have a sneaking suspicion you didn’t read the original post. This post is not for you if you are not going to invest the time into learning about what you are commenting on.

    2. 31.2
      mildlymagnificent

      It is of course possible to have liberty and use it to take the liberty of others away. FtB, has done just that.

      Whaaaat? What liberty has been taken away?

      afaik, the only thing that has been ‘taken away’ is the opportunity to earn a paltry amount of money through FtB arrangements. Noone has denied the person you’re talking about the right to engage in or comment on any FtB blog, let alone any others. Noone has denied that person the right to run websites or blogs or channels of their own devising or under their own or anyone else’s control elsewhere on the internet.

      All this whole incident has shown is that people who run a group of associated writers need to be more careful about how they decide who is and who isn’t qualified or suitable or a good enough writer to add to the list. Relying on personal friendship (and failing to check the person’s credentials on things that are important to you like, say, racism or writing style) turned out badly in this case. That won’t happen again.

  32. 32
    tigtog

    Thoughts aren’t free if they are caged. Free speech or freedom to speak is key to this site having content.

    Your naive etymologising is leading your logic astray.

    Freethought as a movement has a precise definition which has been the same for the last 200 years. Perhaps you might like to look it up?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freethought

    Not to be confused with Freedom of thought or Free will.

    1. 32.1
      Iamcuriousblue

      Looking at previous definitions of the “Freethought” movement link it back to 18th Century Deism, which would seem to have no bearing on what a current “freethought” movement might consist of today. And in fact, I see no indication in 18th-19th Century Freethought that the ideas espoused by “Freethoughtblogs” have any particular claim on being an heir to those ideas.

      I also find the current trope that “freethought” is not the same as “freedom of thought” (and hence, freedom of speech) to be rather disingenuous. True, the two are not exactly the same thing. But it would seem to me that the word “freethought” implies not only “freedom from religious superstition”, but intellectual liberty on other topics as well. So it strikes me as rather odd that those who are trying to marry secularism to some very narrow ideological positions should be the ones to be claiming the exclusive title to “freethought” for themselves. If that’s “freethought”, then I guess 20th Century Communism would have been the ultimate expression of a “freethought” movement.

  33. 33
    ccdimage

    In regard to hatemail, I found some advice that looks appropriate for dealing with cyber vermin.
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/11/17/episode-cxxxii-the-hate-mail-t/
    “Do it with the panache of a Dawkins, please!”
    PZ Myers 2010.
    Personally if my wife was receiving any cyber threats at all, we would have called the police. Don’t piss about if there is a threat of rape, go to the cops and let them deal with it, that is their job.

    In the spirit of not “obsessing over a single incident” I will ignore elevators and give my thoughts on the recent t-shirt issue.
    This for me was the point when I realised that there was a larger issue of free speech.
    “We need to stop the harassment and hate and this sort of instigating should not be tolerated by a group of rationalists.”
    I got a little pissed off, and my respect for any message from the group was lost. After reading Mrs Ra I am back on board with the traditional feminist message (thanks for that), but the radical feminist message is intolerable to me. Respect has been lost and I am afraid it is gone forever because my eyes are now open.
    People who are not a part of radical feminism are a walking on eggshells now. The radical feminists find themselves excluded from the rough and tumble of sceptical debate as explained by.
    “There was definitely an us against them feeling that I personally experienced at the event, with groups of people who wouldn’t get within 10 feet of my table.”
    This is exactly the response that I would expect, people are afraid of causing offence/tears/sh*t-storm for making the most innocuous statement. I expect next year some people may not want to be within t-shirt reading distance of radical feminists, and fair enough too. Imagine a gathering where you can be expelled for saying that you feel safe – the radical feminist utopia.

    1. 33.1
      M. A. Melby

      The problem with what you just said is that Surly Amy, even in her first descriptions of her experiences at TAM, positively asserted that Hall had every right to wear the shirt.

      She felt that wearing it for THREE days was a bit excessive, especially when Hall knew it was upsetting to Surly Amy and the shirt specifically mentioned “skepchick”.

      Essentially saying, “I feel safe” when others don’t – is sort of an jerk-ish thing to do given a particular perspective.

      However – ABSOLUTELY nobody, that I am aware of, has suggested that wearing a t-shirt as Hall did should get her expelled. In fact, they have said, positively and pro-actively, that is NOT what they would want or expect.

      Imagine a gathering where you can be expelled for saying that you feel safe – the radical feminist utopia.

      That’s a dramatic concept, but that characterization is unfair – in the extreme.

      Obviously, Skepchick and other feminists are NOT above criticism and none of us are. However, I’m seriously AMAZED at the depth of the slander they are constantly subject to.

      Perhaps you are making the error in reasoning mentioned earlier in this thread?

      Criticism should not be equated with restricting someone’s freedom.

      1. ccdimage

        You were correct to point out that there is a context to this quote.
        “We need to stop the harassment and hate and this sort of instigating should not be tolerated by a group of rationalists.”
        I agree she said people can wear what they want in one part of her post but then how do you read “should not be tolerated”. Her meaning in this quote is clear to me, she is saying that wearing a t-shirt with the message “I feel safe…” is hate speech should not be tolerated.
        What you have done by highlighting what Amy said elsewhere is show a cognitive dissonance. Amy says in one sentence that it is OK to wear a t-shirt and later call it hate, harassment, and that it should not be tolerated. Her thoughts/words on Free Speech are there sure, but so is the thoughts/words that it is intolerable. We see the same mental gymnastics that is required for a belief in a dogmatic religion.

        1. Sassafras

          There’s a serious problem where feminists cannot say anything without it being interpreted as a direct policy statement or a call to make things against the law. Not tolerating the crappy treatment Amy got (which was not limited to a t-shirt) doesn’t mean it has to be made against the law; people speaking out against it is another way, and showing that this sort of childish taunting isn’t endorsed by rational people.

    2. 33.2
      M. A. Melby

      Don’t piss about if there is a threat of rape, go to the cops and let them deal with it, that is their job.

      …and this is getting really really old.

      I’ve had someone threaten to break my jaw and “kill my faggot boyfriend” (weird since he wasn’t there), in person while I was at work, and then he got into a fight with someone else. The cops did come because of the fight. They didn’t arrest him, just made him walk away. I was left as the only employee, all night, knowing some extremely unhinged hateful man was out there, that knew where I was, that had nothing better to do than beat the shit out of me because women and gays, and sexuality, made him uncomfortable. Tell me again that myth about how the cops are going to magically fix everything?

      The only reason I wasn’t completely scared out of my mind is that customers stayed with me until 6 in the morning. Being there completely alone between 6 and 8 was difficult, but I was reasonably sure he wasn’t going to come back by then.

      That is how this scenario plays out in person. How do you suppose it plays out when it’s vague, semi-anonymous, generally non-actionable, descriptions of sexual violence from multiple people on the internet?

      Also, which is it? Should RW et al. (as well as all the others who get threats) read them aloud and talk about them; or not “piss about” them?

      1. ccdimage


        Well it depends. If the threats are vague, semi-anonymous, generally non-actionable, then taking the piss as Dawkins did, is I think worthy. Having a laugh at trolling is OK as it takes the power away from the troll.
        There is a limit however. If the threats are descriptions of sexual violence then don’t piss about tell the cops. They can do something about such repugnant behaviour. Allowing these people to continue to threaten rape is not a good idea.
        There is also the issue of who the attacks are against. If someone threatens my wife then firm legal action is warranted, but the same threat is made to me maybe not. I realise that is sexist but that is the way my world works I have a duty to protect my wife, and I wouldn’t blame her for leaving me if I did not act to stop rape threats.
        Interesting how you transformed thousands of rape threats into something vague.
        A rape threat is actionable.
        You belittle rape threats by not reporting them to the police.
        Make an example of a few of those assholes.

        1. Trina

          @ccdimage: Sexism is how your world works?

          That’s just lovely.

          1. ccdimage

            Women and children into the lifeboats first, that is the way the world works. I do not think that the societal attitude in this respect is either lovely or hideous, but it is sexist(as in decisions are made based on gender).
            There was no equality for those guys who made the ultimate sacrifice and saved their girlfriends at the Batman shooting. Those guys were heroes, but if they had been cowering behind their girlfriends they would have been vilified. It is sexist that the girls who were saved by hiding behind their boyfriends are not being lambasted.(Now I think about it, it is likely some radical feminists are critical of those girls, fortunately most of society is not so crass.)
            When I get punched in a bar I consider it is just a part of life and I have never yet reported it. If my wife was punched you can bet your ass the cops will get called and charges laid. I even feel confident taking my wife to a bar where I have been attacked, because I know that the type of man who hits me is also sexist and wouldn’t touch my wife. Also a man who may feel compelled to hit me knows if he did hit a girl he would get his ass handed to him by a bunch of sexist men like me in the bar.
            Society discriminates against men in situations like the Batman shooting. When the bullets hit the meat (or threats hit the inbox) the world is sexist. Society treats females differently to males in certain circumstance, but my sexism does not mean I think men are superior to women or restrict female agency.

          2. SallyStrange

            That “women and children first” thing has been shown to be a complete fiction.

          3. ccdimage

            @SallyStrange
            I was using “men and women first” in terms of a meme rather than a specific case of survival rates from tragedies at sea where other factors are involved (“The most important argument would be that men are physically stronger than women)”.
            I will let the case of the Batman shootings and the heroic actions of John, Matt(+Nick), and Alex stand as an example of what I am talking about.

        2. M. A. Melby

          Sorry – but you don’t know how this works at all.

          Going to the police in many of these situations is like swatting at a hornet – it doesn’t do much of anything, and it just pisses them off.

          Also, MANY of these threats and harassing statement are not actionable.

          Take what “The Amazing Atheist” did. In an effort to make an extremely poor point, that he felt trigger warnings were stupid, he wrote a personalized description of rape to someone who had just mentioned that zie had been raped.

          The description of sexual violence was SO horrid, there is NO WAY I’m going to repeat it here. If you really care, you can try to find it yourself.

          What he did was NOT LEGALLY ACTIONABLE. There is no legal or criminal remedy for what he did.

          Now, image a world where the subject of the abuse is told not to “piss” about it unless it’s bad enough to go to the police. Imagine a world where “The Amazing Atheist” even after doing this, is by far, THE most popular atheist on YouTube with over 300,000 subscribers.

          That is the world we currently live in.

          It’s where “Papa” can make a joke about raping women for being annoying and when someone on the thread says that to “some of us” rape jokes are never funny just a few comments later, it is ignored.

          There is a chorus of “apologies” saying – quit bringing this up, it’s not big deal, it was a mistake, quit punishing them…..

          This is also a world where a pre-teen can be gang raped and when the neighbors are interviewed about the incident they express worry about the reputation of the boys and their future; and talk about her make-up and fashion sense.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/us/09assault.html?_r=2&ref=us

          No, of course, “it’s not as bad as all that” except when it is.

          I’m sorry – I want to live in a world where when people do shit like that their name is shit. I want them to feel socially obligated to weep openly in regret for their violently stupid attitudes before anyone will give them any hope for forgiveness.

          Instead we get, yeah, that was bad, but they are actually nice people in many ways, you don’t know them the way we do, and look at that shit those other people did to deserve it or is just as bad or is worse, etc.

          1. ccdimage

            So your argument is someone was an ass-hat on Reddit.
            Did you know there is a racist on 4chan too? I don’t think that these websites are a good place to go unless you have thick skin and liberal sense of humour.
            I would not put this Reddit retardation into the same category of harassment as a rape threat e-mail. Reddit and such places are full of retards saying silly things. The reaction to the incident was in line with the “Do it with the panache of a Dawkins, please!” and this strategy appears to have worked. AA had his ass handed to him, so you have provided a good example of people using the strategy I advocated in my first few sentences to good effect.

          2. M. A. Melby

            …and yeah this “retard” (seriously?) still has 300,000 subscribers and is the MOST popular (by FAR) out spoken atheist on YouTube.

            I was really really hoping that he would have a mass-exodus of subscribers as many people were finally fed up with the way he conducts himself.

            That didn’t happen.

            You minimizing the pure level of horrible of what “The Amazing Atheist” did – writing it off with the word “retard” of all stinking things – helps illustrate the problem.

            So, thanks for making my point.

          3. ccdimage

            @M. A. Melby
            I think we have a clash of internet cultures.
            (In case you had not already guessed from the very first sentence I typed, I hang in the coarser parts of the tubes sometimes.)
            In my culture there is a big difference between a Reddit post and an e-mail. If you take things posted on Reddit seriously then in my culture you are being silly.
            In cases of culture clash I have found there is usually enough common ground that most sensible people can get over it. If you want to be bigoted about internet culture that is your problem. The people who have a ‘I don’t like you because you are from a different culture’ attitude are the people who miss out.
            We are the 300,000 we do not unsub because of retarded posts on Reddit, we do not unsub because people put bananas in their date:)

          4. M. A. Melby

            And how did he handle the situation my friend?

            Not well.

            There are still boundaries even on “tough” parts of the internet. I used to hang out with the Noise and PE crowd – you know, people who literally make hate and misogyny into an art form?

            I’m still interact with a person who joked about suffocating my son with a plastic bag. He apologized to me because even he knew he went too far (eventually).

            I get it.

            The issue here is social entitlement. You can say something incredibly obscene, but when you find out you’ve harmed someone and you would rather front than apologize publicly or you purposely direct your comments at someone who isn’t in on being “rough” – it’s wrong.

            In my experience, in the male-dominated rough parts of the internet, in order for men to “look good” in front of other men, they attack and ridicule the (known) females. After they found out I was female on the Noise forums I used to go to (decided it wasn’t worth it anymore once I had kids), I was attacked and ridiculed constantly – and I actually sort of enjoyed trying to stand up to it, be witty, that sort of thing.

            You know – yeah – want to focus on my sex all the time – fine, I’ll talk about the sordid details about my periods and bursting ovarian cysts and possible spontaneous abortions(TM).

            What struck me is that, more than once, I would be on a chat with someone alone and we’d be chatting about this and that and another man came into the chat and the person I was being friendly with would immediately start tearing into me with sexist slurs. Then the person would later apologize PRIVATELY to me for being so awful, but “You know how it is.”

            That sort of shit is fucked up – just sayin.

            If I want to go to a PE show – I’ll go to a PE show. If diversity of involvement is a goal among the Freethought crowd, it would probably be best for our social interactions not to be similar to a PE show.

            Oh gosh, I could care less about the “banana”.

            Maybe that’s why I find his channel boring. I can’t hardly get through an entire video of him shouting insults at the camera as if he is being “edgy” or something.

            I don’t like TYT for that reason either, they don’t shout, but it’s the same old – let’s make fun of something we think is self-evidently ridiculous!! Hurray.

            Very little substance – at least from what I’ve seen.

          5. ccdimage

            @M. A. Melby
            Fantastic post.
            I don’t like the attacks on females on the boards that I visit but I am guilty of ignoring it. I usually dismiss such attacks as trolling and not worth my time. In the future when I see it I will say something.
            One thing that does piss me off, and I see it a bit, is when I am debating on a forum and out of nowhere comes the “I’m a female” post. You probably know the type, a person ill-equipped to debate about climate change or something like that making an attempt to get the 14 year old boys on side by playing the gender card. It was this playing the gender card activity that resulted in the creation a few anti-female memes like – there are no girls on the internet, and – t*ts or gtfo. The misuse and misunderstanding of these memes is a problem (dammed newfags get off my internet).
            One thing that I have been guilty of is making posts while drunk, if I check the next day I always felt like a total fool. So a few years ago I made my internet golden rule- The keyboard is off limits after the first glass of wine. I think a lot of stupidity online could be prevented if computers came with a breathalyser.
            Youtube channels have an interesting entertain vs inform problem, AA & TYT get good views because they target the large entertainment market, and I fully agree they are often without substance.

    3. 33.3
      lilandra

      This post is for people like you, who are try to understand things they are making a judgment about.

  34. 34
    lilandra

    @Iamcuriousboutblue

    First, I’m not sure why you’re asking me about rape threats, which kind of implies I would defend anything of the kind.

    I want to know where you stand after this…

    And I have never stood by *any* use of threats of rape or other kinds of violence to try to shut other people up. (And there is a minority of people *on both sides* of the “social justice in secularism” debate are guilty of that shit, actually.)

    You sound like you are equivocating by saying afterwards that both sides “are guilty of that shit”

    As to women who have been “silenced” by abuse online, you’ll have to be more specific with examples, because if anything, I’ve only seen women become *more* vocal after becoming targets of controversy.

    There is a linked article from The Guardian in the original post with examples of women being silenced by abuse. Not sure how you can say you don’t see evidence of this if you read my article. Laci Green was very vocal until she received a threat with her physical address.

    1. 34.1
      Iamcuriousblue

      “You sound like you are equivocating by saying afterwards that both sides “are guilty of that shit”

      Well, I’m sorry you don’t like my “equivocating”, but I’ve seen some very real and very ugly bullying by self-described “radical feminists” and even a few “mainstream” ones. (And I’ve personally been on the receiving end of one unprovoked out-of-nowhere “joking” threat to cut my penis off by one of the nuttier internet radfems. Now are *you* going to equivocate and say that’s somehow OK?)

      And, in particular, I’ll point to a source of my pox-on-both-your-houses stance:

      “There is a linked article from The Guardian in the original post with examples of women being silenced by abuse. Not sure how you can say you don’t see evidence of this if you read my article. Laci Green was very vocal until she received a threat with her physical address.”

      Have you actually *read* the threat against Laci Green? Here, let me link it for you:

      http://lacigreen.tumblr.com/post/26843554247/hey-peeps-i-am-going-to-be-taking-a-break-from

      The threat came from some nutjob who was stalking and threatening LG over her “transphobia” and “Islamophobia”. In other words, some fanatic from hyper-PC wing of the the “social justice” side of the blogosphere. And yet the “social justice” crowd, rather than taking responsibility and telling the loose canons in their ranks that this shit is *not* OK, simply throws out the context and lumps it in with the anti-feminist backlash against Ana Sarkisian and Rebecca Watson. Nice bit of subterfuge, that.

      (I had not thought of LG in the context of silencing, because I really thought she’d only be away from blogging for a few days, but I see now she hasn’t written anything or posted videos in several weeks now. So, yep, I’ll acknowledge that as a case of silencing. Hopefully not long-term.)

      Now I’m perfectly willing to call what happened to Laci Green “misogyny”, even seeing that it came from some so-called “social justice” type. It’s consistent with the fact that some of the ugliest misogyny and slut-shaming I’ve seen online has actually come from “feminists” hating on other women. It demonstrates the fact that misogyny is a systemic problem on the internet, rather than a bunch of evil MRAs beating up on poor little feminist lambs.

      So, hell yes, I point the finger at both sides, and I could care less who doesn’t like that hard truth.

      1. M. A. Melby

        poor little feminist lambs

        *bangs head against brick wall*

        I once saw a great post discussing the culture of covering. It was nuanced, it was insightful, and I learned a lot from it.

        Then it ended in “fuck you”.

        The world would be a better place is everyone quit book-ending expressions of their perspectives with “fuck you” – dotcha agree?

        Because that right there – that I saw before I even read your entire comment – made me inclined not care about what you had to say.

        In fact, I am fighting actively, not to insult you. I really really want to. You just hit me in the face – misrepresented me, infantilized me, dismissed me, made me a subject of pity, diminish my experiences, devalued me, projected an identity on me and insinuated that that is how I see myself, etc so forth.

        It’s difficult not to want to punch back.

        However, that would make me a “bully” right? – If I stood up for myself?

        It’s simply extreme disrespect to misrepresent the stance of someone else. Using charged language does that.

        It’s the equivalent of “NANA A BOO BOO” or some sort of other school yard taunt.

        It’s ridicule with no substance, but it’s more than that.

        Not only does the taunt attempt to erase the person it is directed toward, someone else is substituted in that person’s place.

        It’s infuriating.

        1. Iamcuriousblue

          Well, I’m sorry you felt personally attacked by that statement, however, it was not addressed to you, and it wasn’t meant as an attack on anybody in particular, much less as a “fuck you”.

          I am objecting to the framing of online misogyny as the concerted efforts of a certain faction of reactionary men, versus a group of feminist white hats who have never said or done anything problematic themselves. That framing is bullshit, and I’m calling it so. Now if I’ve misread prior statements as framing online misogyny in that way, then I am sorry for that.

          And as to “feeling like punching somebody”, well, plenty of that to go around. How do you think I feel when I deal with venomous haters like Julian?

          1. M. A. Melby

            Just to be clear – that wanting to punch someone was supposed to be figurative, but yeah – these discussions can get very heated.

            My nephew made this analogy once. He gets mis-gendered all the time and has had to deal with problems that, if taken alone, aren’t really that big of a deal. He gets told to “chill” all the time.

            He said it’s like getting hit with pebbles instead of rocks. If someone hits you with a rock, you get sympathy – but not if someone hits you with a pebble. – right?

            However, if you are hit with pebbles every day, sometimes several times a day, it can be frustrating – your skin becomes raw and each pebble hurts worse and worse.

            Those that don’t understand what you are going through – all they see is that someone threw a single pebble at you and you made a big deal out of it. The person who threw the pebble becomes defensive and doesn’t understand why they deserves such abuse.

            That whole situation is not fair – to anyone – not even the person who threw the pebble. I recognize that, that situation is what causes people to feel as though they have to “walk on egg shells”, which isn’t good for anyone.

            “poor” “little” ?

            I’m simply going to agree with you – THAT framing is ridiculous, obnoxious, and terrible. I haven’t seen it, frankly, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.

            I also suspect however, that a framing like that could possibly be intensified by sexism (on the part of either the person commenting on the issues OR the person reading those comments OR both). It feeds into classic sexist ideas perfectly – which is why the phrase you used in front of “feminists” was read by me as a good old fashioned FU.

            It’s the same old:
            complain = bitch
            upset = hysterical
            cry = weakness

            “Someone has done something bad/inappropriate/damaging to me” = “Your playing the victim.”

            blah blah blah

  35. 35
    Mel

    I got threatened after posting, threatened by violence and rape, I can post examples if any 0one needs me too. By the way the threat is just as frikken bad as the action and fu if you dont think so

  36. 36
    geraldmcgrew

    It looks like the comments here are focused on a couple of main topics:

    1) On-line threats

    I have to concur with the commentors here that I’m not sure what the point of the OP is on this subject. I think we all recognize that bloggers/authors/journalists of all sorts get any number of offensive, hateful, and threatening comments from anonymous commentors. I think we all also recognize that all those cases are inappropriate and unacceptable. The problem is, I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do about it other than say that it’s inappropriate and unacceptable. Specifically within the skeptic community, unless there are members who are arguing that such things are appropriate and acceptable, there’s not really much else that can be done.

    As long as the internet allows anonymous commenting, haters, trolls, and idiots will always attack at the basest and most obvious level. If you’re an African-American, gay, Asian, female, Latino…whatever, they’re going to say the most offensive and hurtful things they can think of.

    2) Feminism in the skeptic community

    As somewhat of an outsider to the “skeptic movement” (in that I generally support its ideals, but don’t do much other than read about it), it’s been interesting to see the evolution of this issue in the community, and its parallels to similar events in my own life.

    I think it’s obvious that most people within the skeptic community support feminism and its goals, e.g. equal treatment and pay between sexes, opposition to assigned gender roles, opposition to blatant objectification and sexism, etc. However, within the skeptic community are a small number of feminists who express positions that are rather extreme, e.g. being hit on = sexual harassment, noticing a woman’s looks = “rape culture”, offering suggestions to harassment policies means you’re a misogynist etc. Further, the extremists (like extremists in all topics) cannot discuss these issues calmly and rationally, and thus oftentimes preclude constructive dialog on this issue, resulting in divided camps within the community.

    This is very similar to what happened in the office where I work. We’re a group of about 25 professionals (biologists, admin staff, and IT support), and about 6 years ago a drama-queen feminist (yes, I’m using that term, which is appropriate) came into our midst. She was very outspoken about her views on just about everything, but especially about feminist issues. That by itself isn’t bad, but it was non-stop, loud (volume-wise), and little more than self-centered victimization. No matter what happened, no matter what the issue, it always revolved around treatment of women. A boat broke down? It was because society won’t let women be boat mechanics. A person in the office died of cancer? That was an opportunity to give a sermon on how society always sees women as nurturing and men as strong. These complaints and sermons were often given at staff meetings and other office settings, and gawd-forbid, if anyone dared interrupt, say we need to move on, or otherwise basically tell her to shut up, then it got really bad. “You’re trying to invalidate my feelings as a woman!” “You have no idea what it’s like to be a women in today’s society!” Some of the same sort of comments I see in FtB threads about feminist issues.

    The end result was similar to what I see currently evolving in the skeptic community, i.e. division into divided camps with most everyone else walking around on eggshells. In our office, the good thing was she ended up leaving for another job last year. I honestly don’t see that happening in the skeptic community. At some point, someone is going to have to stand up and draw some lines and say things like, “No, being asked out is not sexual harassment”, “A T-shirt saying ‘I’m not one of you’ is not harassment, no matter how many days it’s worn”, “Disagreeing with you does not mean I am belittling women”, “Saying ‘the male brain is a female brain that’s been damaged by testosterone’ is wrong and stupid and makes us all look stupid”.

    Until there’s a collective realization that yes, there is such a thing as drama-queens who will do nothing but create controversy and claim victim-hood, and that the entire community doesn’t need to jump every time they cry “wolf”, this is just going to get worse.

    The saddest part for me is that there are indeed some women’s issues that need to be addressed, and a great deal of good can be done on them by this community. But as long as the extremists are steering the ship on this issue, you’ll just keep going in circles.

    1. 36.1
      M. A. Melby

      Who said that the shirt constituted “harassment” – NOBODY.
      Who said that what Elevator Guy did constituted “harassment” – NOBODY.

      Let me quote someone earlier who said this better:

      There’s a serious problem where feminists cannot say anything without it being interpreted as a direct policy statement or a call to make things against the law. Not tolerating the crappy treatment Amy got (which was not limited to a t-shirt) doesn’t mean it has to be made against the law; people speaking out against it is another way, and showing that this sort of childish taunting isn’t endorsed by rational people.

      Equating what individuals have said and done with some obnoxious feminist (real or imagined) and being ill-informed enough to loudly “disagree” with a bunch of stuff they never said or did, seems pretty popular.

      Craft a policy, enforce it, and move on.

      I’ve not been involved directly. I’ve only been reading posts about the subject…and I started jumping up and down in frustration and feeling inclined to throw my computer at the wall (an inclination I was able to abate regardless of the strength of the insurance policy on it).

      I have no idea how those directly involved can keep their cool as well as they seem to.

      It is my understanding that:

      That is what a great number of people have been trying to do for a year.

      Instead of support, constructive criticism, or simply being ignored – they get told to shut up about threats/harassment, ridicule of misrepresentations of their stated position, sexually charged name-calling and just to top it off, a joke about raping them.

      …EVEN IF you disagree with them about “stuff”.

      Please, please…recognize that is F’ed up.

      1. geraldmcgrew

        MAM,

        Oh, sorry. The T-shirt was merely characterized as:

        “One of the most hurtful things” someone experienced at TAM…

        “Dehumanizing, gender/color blind, and very hurtful”, especially to a person “who [has] to deal with harassment regularly”

        “A personal attack”

        And the results of this dreadful t-shirt?

        A person’s “feelings were the minority and so became irrelevant”

        …and it “[made] people like me cry and leave events early”

        So yeah…my bad. While the demon shirt wasn’t specifically characterized as “harassment”, it was extremely trauma-inducing. And don’t get me started on the whole, “They hid their sexual harassment policy” when the friggin’ thing was in the FAQ on their website!

        My point was, IMO the skeptic community has a handful of prominent drama queens/professional victims in its midst (read through that thread for further confirmation if needed). If they end up being given a stage and everyone is expected to acknowledge their drama, people will leave in droves.

        1. M. A. Melby

          Surly Amy explained how she felt.

          THE HORROR

          Yeah, maybe feeling unwelcome at a convention she’s been working with for YEARS, giving her time and a great deal of money too, and being proverbially kicked in the teeth by someone she respected for THREE DAYS made her upset.

          However, what if she was just upset? I mean really – what if she was just feeling emotional for whatever reason and she was upset. Is that a valid subject of scrutiny?

          How about LYING about what she said and then, when you are told what you said was a lie, decided to pick out the most dramatic sounding things in her post and lambast her for being a big baby about it? – including quotes that aren’t even from her that describe what you just quoted from her?! (Going for length there?)

          Yeah – that’s sounds much more reasonable than DARING to be emotionally moved by having unhappy social experiences. /sarcasm

          If she characterized it (or anyone characterized it) specifically as “harassment” that would imply that she believes that there should be an official response. Since she didn’t (in fact she proactively said the opposite of that), than this has nothing to do with policy. Then you are just making fun of someone.

          You’re being really terrible.

          Now, as far as if TAM’s policy was adequate or inadequate, publicized well enough or not, etc. That’s a real conversation to have. I absolutely don’t have enough information about TAM to make criticisms of how this year was handled. I wasn’t there.

          Some criticisms seem unreasonable, especially those that point to assumed intent. However, what you just did was get caught in a untrue statement, lash out, and then point at someone else to deflect.

          So no, I’m not going to get you started on that because that would be completely changing the subject.

          For goodness sakes, just say you were mistaken. That’s reasonable.

          1. Iamcuriousblue

            You seem to want to have it both ways about Harriet Hall’s t-shirt. You acknowledge that it does not rise to the level of harassment, yet keep claiming that this was something meant to *deliberately* provoke and hurt Surly Amy. So which is it?

            First, I don’t think Hall’s shirt even was specifically directed against Amy. Clearly the sentiments expressed in Hall’s shirt was the outgrowth of several months of bad blood between Skepchick and FTB on one hand, and JREF and TAM on the other. The “trolling” panel at SkepchickCon, which was in a lot of was a massive bitch session about opponents of FTB, was an analogous response from the other side. Neither was to be unexpected given the hostile atmosphere leading up to both conferences.

            And secondly, when we’re talking talking about Hall’s t-shirt, just what was the “offensive” message. It said that Hall is not a “skepchick”, and hence doesn’t want any part of that group. And that she feel’s “safe and welcome at TAM”, and, hence, identifies with that group. I can’t think of more basic form of intellectual liberty than for than for somebody to be able to say what groups they wish to be part of and not be part of. And that liberty certainly does not stop where the hurt feelings of members of the rival group begin.

            And since “how this makes me feel” has been often expressed in this conversation, I’ll let you know how the anti-Hall sentiments make me feel. Attacking her right to express herself in this way, to make her own choices as to what group or faction she identifies with, to tell her straight up that she has no right to say that she identifies as “not a skepchick” because that might hurt a Skepchick’s feelings is a *fundamental* attack on intellectual liberty and ability to dissent in the skeptical community, and **OFFENDS THE FUCK OUT OF ME**.

          2. geraldmcgrew

            MAM,

            Surly Amy explained how she felt.

            So that’s all there was to it, eh? Just a handful of people expressing how they felt, with absolutely no drama?

            Yeah, maybe feeling unwelcome at a convention she’s been working with for YEARS, giving her time and a great deal of money too, and being proverbially kicked in the teeth by someone she respected for THREE DAYS made her upset.

            Ah, I see. You actually agree with the drama surrounding a t-shirt that said nothing more than “I feel safe here” and “I’m a skeptic, not a skepchick”. Now your response makes sense.

            However, what if she was just upset? I mean really – what if she was just feeling emotional for whatever reason and she was upset. Is that a valid subject of scrutiny?

            Now who’s lying? All people have said is “I’m just upset”? LOL!

            How about LYING about what she said and then, when you are told what you said was a lie, decided to pick out the most dramatic sounding things in her post and lambast her for being a big baby about it? – including quotes that aren’t even from her that describe what you just quoted from her?! (Going for length there?)

            First, while I was wrong in that the t-shirt wasn’t specifically described as “harassment”, it was hardly a matter of me exaggerating or totally mischaracterizing how the demon shirt was received by the drama queens. What’s the effective difference between being “harassed” and experiencing something that is “dehumanizing and very hurtful”? Looks to me like you’re hanging your hat on pedantry to avoid the main point.

            Second, it was hardly a matter of me “picking out the most dramatic things” from that thread. Did you read through it? Are you actually disputing that there was an inordinate amount of drama surrounding this shirt?

            Finally, I never attributed those quotes to any one person. Do I now get to accuse you of lying? Or maybe I can be bigger than that and figure in the heat of a debate, you just made an error?

            If she characterized it (or anyone characterized it) specifically as “harassment” that would imply that she believes that there should be an official response. Since she didn’t (in fact she proactively said the opposite of that), than this has nothing to do with policy. Then you are just making fun of someone.

            No, I’m pointing to the reactions to the shirt, the TAM officials, and their policy as all examples of the feminist hyper-drama that is currently dominating the conversations in the skeptic community.

            (And btw, so what if I was making fun of her? FtB bloggers make fun of ridiculous reactions by right-wingers, the religious, etc. every single day! Is everyone expecting that to be a one-way street?)

            For goodness sakes, just say you were mistaken. That’s reasonable.

            I was mistaken in the exact word I used, but not in the larger context.

          3. M. A. Melby

            Attacking her right to express herself in this way

            Seriously – at this point – I’m so incredibly pissed off.

            The same LIE repeated OVER AND OVER again in the SAME frickin’ thread. It doesn’t matter how many times it is corrected – you just keep banging away.

            At this point I’m starting to wonder at what the “stupid” and “evil” ratio is, and getting a better understanding as to why Julian was on the attack so quickly.

            NOBODY EVER – for the last frickin’ time – is saying that Ms. Hall does not have the right to wear the shirt. Surly Amy specifically said, Hall had every right to wear the shirt.

            Surly Amy was upset by it. She talked to Hall, personally, that she was upset about it. So what?

            How DARE there be conflict about something?!

            What Hall’s freedom of expression dictates that Hall is not criticized or confronted about her speech?! Are you for real?

            I NEVER said Hall was intentionally trying to hurt Amy – how the heck would I have any way of knowing that? I know that she continued to wear the shirt after Amy told her that she was upset by it. That’s all.

            I’m NOT taking sides in the conflict between Hall and Amy. I’m pointing out that making fun of Amy for being upset or repeating the LIE that ANYONE is “attacking” Hall’s “right to express herself” who has said the exactly OPPOSITE is…

            …wait for it…

            FUCKING UNETHICAL.

            So would you kindly STOP LYING. That is all I’m asking. That’s it. Apparently that common courtesy to NOT KNOWING LIE is too much to ask.

          4. M. A. Melby

            What’s the effective difference between being “harassed” and experiencing something that is “dehumanizing and very hurtful”?

            I explained that.

            One is an expression of feeling.

            (Feelings I don’t either agree or disagree with – frankly that’s silly. It is understandable from Amy’s perspective to be upset. It is understandable from Hall’s perspective to make the statement that she did – and she has since clarified her intent. It has to be understandable from their perspectives because that’s what they did! – that’s sort of how that works.)

            The OTHER is a matter of POLICY and in a strict sense LAW.

            That is a world of difference that you seem to completely ignore.

            I don’t think there was drama? Of course there was drama. What do you think drama is?

            Guess what decreases the effects of “drama”?

            Another hint:

            It’s not attacking people for being upset.
            It’s not figuratively pointing and laughing when someone cries.
            It’s not pretending that being upset equates to censorship.
            It’s not exaggerating or lying about what people said.
            It’s not taking strong stances on interpersonal conflicts and allowing that to dominate the substantive discussions.
            It’s not participating in the drama and amplifying it and then pretending it’s all someone else’ fault.

            Forget it – here is the answer sheet:

            You allow people to deal with their own interpersonal conflicts without taking strong stances.
            You don’t allow your own emotional responses to the conflict to color your assessment of any appropriate remedies.
            You don’t assume that remedies are being requested of you if they are not.
            You point out when others discussing the issues are misinformed or being unfair, and attempt to separate defending a person or defending the truth with defending their position.
            If you have been misinformed or have been unfair, you apologize and try to avoid attacking the other side as a defense.
            You avoid making harsh judgments on others emotional responses, and focus on any real issues that the conflict might bring up.
            Don’t assume that the conflict itself is an issue that you are able to judge or resolve or are socially required to “take sides” concerning.

          5. geraldmcgrew

            MAM,

            Ok, on those terms, I was wrong to use the term “harassment”. As a side note, I’m amazed at how in every discussion of sexual harassment, the term “harassment” needs to be defined before anything else (i.e. differentiating between the colloquial and the legal use of the word). It seems whenever I’m using it one way, the other person is using it the other.

            As far as “these are people’s feelings, let them deal with it”, I’ll simply point out that a few of the parties involved chose to post their feelings on an open blog where comments are allowed. So to suggest that everyone just leave them alone and not offer their own comments is just ridiculous.

          6. M. A. Melby

            Sorry for flipping out so much about definitions – but at least we have that sorted out.

            You do realize that there is no law that compels you to comment on people’s public posts right?

            Just sayin’.

            If you actually hate the drama – the best way to deal with drama is to avoid amplifying it. It has a half-life.

          7. Iamcuriousblue

            Melby, if I didn’t want to cling to some small thread of civility, I’d tell you what you can do with your shitty accusations of “lying”. I am telling the honest truth about the way I see this situation. Even if, for sake of argument, I happen to have called this *really* wrong, you might do well to learn the difference between inaccuracy and lying.

            If you really are acknowledging Hall’s right to express her opinion, well, then I stand corrected, because it sure as hell doesn’t come across in your earlier posts. Your emphasis is so much on Amy’s hurt feelings, it’s a reasonable interpretation that you’re accusing Hall of being abusive.

            And, yes, Amy has a right to her emotions, and to write about how she felt. But, really, if it is truly the case that Hall has the right to express her opinion, then, really, why should at least a few in the “freethought community” be jumping all over her t-shirt as an opportunity to bash TAM?

          8. M. A. Melby

            Your emphasis is so much on Amy’s hurt feelings, it’s a reasonable interpretation that you’re accusing Hall of being abusive.

            No, it’s not a reasonable interpretation. Also, I’ve repeatedly said that even though Amy being upset might be understandable given her emotional investment in TAM, I have repeatedly said that I can’t know (and nobody can know who wasn’t there with her every step of the way) if she was over-reacting. I am not taking sides about her feelings or even the actions of others that she described as being the reason she was upset.

            EVEN if I thought it was abusive, that’s not even the same as wanting Hall (or anyone else) to be disallowed to act in that way.

            The language “should not be tolerated” was used by someone – but that was not me. I wouldn’t use that strong of language, especially since I was not at TAM. The person clarified that zie didn’t want policy to police that sort of speech, but that social pressure should be less tolerant of the treatment that Surly Amy received.

            Sorry I lost my temper, but really I’ve been explaining the difference between disagreeing with something and wanting it to be outlawed since I wrote an essay in Junior High School about the Flag Burning Amendment. (And I’m NOT even explicitly disagreeing in this case, but reserving judgment – and still that is interpreted as wanting a law/policy.)

            Here are the comments you may have missed.

            August 5, 2012 at 11:25 pm

            I have no idea if her reaction was reasonable or unreasonable. I was not there. I am not her. I didn’t listen in on her conversations. I have no stinking clue and neither do you.

            She NEVER said that the shirt constituted “harassment”. She did not proactively seek out any official reaction on the part of TAM because of either the shirt or any other treatment she received.

            That means what you said is untrue.

            It is, in fact, a lie.

            You were misinformed. It happens.

            When you know something is untrue, and a lie, and it is repeated by other people – it is appropriate to correct them.

            So, if you hear this often repeated lie, could you please correct it?

            Thank you.

            and

            August 4, 2012 at 6:27 am

            The problem with what you just said is that Surly Amy, even in her first descriptions of her experiences at TAM, positively asserted that Hall had every right to wear the shirt.

            She felt that wearing it for THREE days was a bit excessive, especially when Hall knew it was upsetting to Surly Amy and the shirt specifically mentioned “skepchick”.

            Essentially saying, “I feel safe” when others don’t – is sort of an jerk-ish thing to do given a particular perspective.

            However – ABSOLUTELY nobody, that I am aware of, has suggested that wearing a t-shirt as Hall did should get her expelled. In fact, they have said, positively and pro-actively, that is NOT what they would want or expect.

            And two posts by two different people explaining the common error that you have seemed to make:

            August 4, 2012 at 5:34 pm

            There’s a serious problem where feminists cannot say anything without it being interpreted as a direct policy statement or a call to make things against the law.

            August 3, 2012 at 8:01 am

            Criticism should not be equated with restricting someone’s freedom.

          9. M. A. Melby

            why should at least a few in the “freethought community” be jumping all over her t-shirt as an opportunity to bash TAM?

            HOW TAM reacted to the situation is a completely different issue. Again, that is a conversation that should happen, but since I was not at TAM nor do I understand what they did or did not do except for a few stories on the internet, I absolutely WILL NOT take a personal stance on that issue.

            In extreme irony, of ALL stinking ironies, the criticism that Surly Amy and others have against TAM is that they…

            wait for it…

            OVERREACTED

            According to her account: Instead of simply being supportive, TAM proactively sought her out when they found out she was upset and mounted an over-the-top response that she NEVER asked for and didn’t want, that made her even MORE uncomfortable.

            So, yes….the criticism against TAM is that they made too big of deal out of it.

            The “atheist women feminists are whiny bitches” model of interpreting the universe is perverting people’s perceptions of what is going on.

            I have NO idea if all of the criticisms of TAM are valid. I just don’t have enough information to speak about that. A few have conjectured that TAM is mounting a deliberate attempt to, essentially implement a harassment policy in such a stupid way that public opinion is strongly against it and they will blame the feminists for their own brand of stupid, or that TAM was targeting Surly Amy. However, that quasi-paranoid stance of *intent* is NOT gaining traction. The push is simply to explain clearly how TAM’s policies are problematic, and absolutely is not representative of what has been suggested to them by various feminist bloggers. http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/07/18/tams-harassment-policy-was-secret-why/#comment-72320 That conversation is INDEPENDENT of the specifics of any interpersonal conflicts, whether or not Harriet Hall’s shirt was insensitive or not, or ANY of that.

            It’s extremely frustrating to attempt to discuss these sorts of issue without someone assuming that you think something you’ve never said, as well as, things that you have repeatedly refuted or expressed the mutually exclusive opposite opinion of.

          10. M. A. Melby

            Typo fail – “with someone” not “without”.

    2. 36.2
  37. 37
    lilandra

    @Iamcuriousaboutblue and mcgrew. Whatever your issues with individual people, who espouse their own brand of feminism, the topic is systemic hatred directed toward women in an effort to silence them. Does your feelings about the actions of a few people change that there is indeed gender based hatred of women?

    Can you admit without changing the subject that the problem is tolerant attitudes in our society of hate speech towards women,which normalizes abusive behavior?

    1. 37.1
      Iamcuriousblue

      Sorry that you perceive it as “changing the subject”. I think it is very much part of the subject, and I will not have dictated to me that I should respond “yea” or “nay” according to *your* framing of the subject. It’s your post and you can 86 me from the conversation if you want, but for my part, I would rather not respond at all than be asked to respond on cue like a trained seal.

      That said, I’ve already “admitted” that online misogyny is a very real problem, and if you actually read my post, I said that quite clearly. The fact that even some of those claiming to be on the “pro-woman” and “social justice” side of things engage in some of the worst of it (again, read the actual threat against Laci Green) show how systemic the problem is. (I’m reluctant to use the term “hate speech” until that’s better defined – I do not endorse it as a legal category, for example.)

      I have several caveats, however. I do not think women have any sort of entitlement toward a more kid-gloves treatment on the internet than men do. I have read details of Anita Sarkeesian’s harassment. And indeed while much of it does rise to the level of misogyny and misogynistic harassment, some of the examples she posts of hostile YouTube comments are the kinds of hostile comments that *everybody*, myself included, who has ever made a controversial statement on YouTube has been on the receiving end of. I have a problem with that being treated as normal but suddenly rising to the level of harassment when a noted feminist is on the receiving end of it.

      Second, I also have a problem with milking incidents of harassment for some kind of “sympathy credo”. There is quite a bit that I and many others take issue with in Sarkeesian’s Gail Dines-style feminism, and while I agree she has suffered treatment that *nobody* deserves, I do not intend to be any less critical of her ideas just because she’s been victimized.

      1. M. A. Melby

        I do not intend to be any less critical of her ideas just because she’s been victimized.

        Please explain where ANYONE has ever said that only people with particular views engage in online harassment.

        Please explain where ANYONE has ever said that anyone should be less critical of someone’s ideas if they are the subject of online harassment.

        I know – I’m asking you to respond as “trained seal” or something?

        It might be a good idea, if you want to have this argument, that you find people who actually think the way you IMAGINE that those in this thread think, and have that conversation with them.

        Unless I’m REALLY REALLY missing something:

        You’re just getting your teeth and claws full of straw here.

        1. Iamcuriousblue

          First off, I wasn’t even responding TO YOU, yet you’ve taken it as an attack ON YOU.

          Second, I do think some of the articles I’ve read on Anita Sarkeesian have framed it as “brave feminist blogger persecuted for her wonderful ideas”. There is a “halo effect” she’s received from this, and I’m calling bullshit on it. Nothing more, nothing less.

          I’m also calling bullshit on the idea that feminists are uniquely attacked for their ideas around the internet. *Everybody* who posts a controversial idea on the internet gets opposition, even very hateful opposition, and I’m certainly getting my share of it here. Now, that said, I think women often get a particular double dose of venom when being opposed, though I think that occurs regardless of what their relationship to feminism is. So called “anti-feminist” women get it from their opponents too.

          1. M. A. Melby

            Yeah, and I’m suggesting that nobody is disagreeing with you, so there is no need to be disagreeable.

            Who has said that if someone receives internet harassment that their ideas are now magically above criticism, because it certainly seemed like you were implying that was the case.

            TF made an entire post making fun of Surly Amy for crying, and got high-fived by many of those commenting talking about how funny it was that she became upset.

            Linked within the post here: http://sinmantyx.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/i-didnt-want-to-hurt-you-but-youre-pretty-when-you-cry/

            Do you think that TF’s original post is a “criticism” of Surly Amy’s ideas, stances, opinions, etc – or EVEN criticizing anything she has said or done?

            I think you might be confusing defending PEOPLE with defending IDEAS. I don’t read Surly Amy’s blog. For all I know, I disagree with her on a great many things – in fact it is likely.

            That doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t point out that TF’s words and actions in this case lack common decency.

            In doing so, I’m not taking Surly Amy’s side concerning Harriet Hall or TAM – I’m smart enough to know that I do NOT have enough information from where I sit to make those sorts of judgments.

            Telling someone zie are out-of-line is JUST telling that person zie is out of line. That type of treatment of others (anyone) – especially if it is SUSTAINED and endemic – should be met with resistance.

            If that resistance to extreme incivility is interpreted as believing that those who are being defended can’t do any wrong (as if only the perfect deserve that type of defense) – that is a error on the part of the person making that erroneous conclusion and no-one else.

  38. 38
    geraldmcgrew

    Does your feelings about the actions of a few people change that there is indeed gender based hatred of women?

    Of course not. But why would you even need to ask that?

    See, your response reads to me like a bit of a dodge/evasion of the issues I and several others are raising about the current issue of feminism in the skeptic community. As soon as someone tries to point out the extreme brand of feminism and victim-hood that occasionally pops up in the community, someone else has to respond by questioning their views on women’s issues overall.

    It’s like when an African-American guy at a fast food place I worked at through high school came to his managers training still drunk from the night before. Naturally, he was removed from the program and sent back to the grill. He starts complaining, “They just don’t want a black man in charge!” Whenever someone would point out the obvious (“Dude, it’s because you showed up drunk”), he would immediately say “So you’re saying there is no racism against blacks, huh?”

    In both cases, it’s an attempt to avoid directly confronting the obvious issue that was raised.

    Can you admit without changing the subject that the problem is tolerant attitudes in our society of hate speech towards women,which normalizes abusive behavior?

    Again, same response.

    Your OP was about the issue of, “gender-based harassment” in the freethinking community. You know what would help advance that conversation beyond elevatorgate, policies, and T-shirts? Giving an example of actual, real sexual harassment from actual, real freethinkers.

    So far, all I’ve seen in terms of gender-based harassment from freethinkers is a lot of drama over non-incidents (elevatorgate, the T-shirt) and unsubstantiated rumor. If all that’s going on here is guys hitting on women in post-conference bars, then you really don’t have much of a problem, do you? Craft a policy, enforce it, and move on.

    Then you can write about larger women’s issues without having to bring up the non-issues mentioned earlier.

    1. 38.1
      Iamcuriousblue

      To be fair to both Rebecca Watson and “Elevator Guy”, it was indeed a non-incident. Both his clumsily propositioning her, and RW’s making a video saying “Guys, don’t do that”. What it got blown up into *by both sides* was what made it truly ridiculous.

      Now with the “t-shirt” incident, I think there’s even less substance and even more overreaction right off of the bat. The t-shirt itself was clearly not harassment, and I really have my doubts about SA’s claims of “cameras being trained on her”. I think she just talked herself into a pique, quite honestly. And of course, certain bloggers who were chomping at the bit for there to be another “incident” with TAM just ran with it.

    2. 38.2
      lilandra

      @McGrew I agree there are many more incidents of hate towards women that go unnoticed. Whenever, a woman does speak up publicly, they are commonly bullied with rape threats. They are often belittled or labeled as hysterical. In order for that to change societal attitudes will have to change. That won’t happen without an honest discourse, and increased awareness. BTW there are examples beyond EG in the linked Guardian article.

  39. 39
    SallyStrange

    However, within the skeptic community are a small number of feminists who express positions that are rather extreme, e.g. being hit on = sexual harassment, noticing a woman’s looks = “rape culture”,

    People who lie about the positions their opposition holds know, on some level, that their position is untenable.

    1. 39.1
      Iamcuriousblue

      “However, within the skeptic community are a small number of feminists who express positions that are rather extreme, e.g. being hit on = sexual harassment, noticing a woman’s looks = “rape culture”,”

      “People who lie about the positions their opposition holds know, on some level, that their position is untenable.”

      And who’s “lying” here? From where some of us are sitting, the positions taken by the more militant feminists amount to exactly that. If there’s any nuance or moderation in their position, then they’ve done a damn poor job of explaining themselves. But, of course, when one’s only way of dealing with opposition is to try and shout it down, then perhaps only the most extreme aspects of one’s position are what get communicated.

      1. punchdrunk

        Could you link to specific individuals espousing specific beliefs so others have an opportunity to repudiate or agree?
        ‘Radical Feminism’ keeps being brought up, but nobody will name names, except for some out-of-context quotes from second wavers.

        I’ll give you Twisty Faster to get you started.

        1. Iamcuriousblue

          Twisty Faster’s ideas are utterly repugnant, and the fact that she’s one of the major feminist bloggers speaks poorly of some popular strains of feminism. Skeptifem would be another example of a self-described “radical feminist” with some very extreme beliefs that many here reflexively close ranks with.

          And of course, radical feminism exists as an all-too-powerful influence in academic and legal circles, and I suggest you read up on people like Catherine MacKinnon, Gail Dines, Melissa Farley, Gunilla Eckberg, and others of their ilk if you don’t believe me.

          Many of the “extremist feminist” I refer to in the context of this debate, however, are not formally aligned with radical feminism as defined above. However, they show a severely paranoid mindset that squashes all moderation and nuance any conversation about sexual harassment, objectification, and any number of other issues. If you want an example, follow my debate with Julian, who seems to have staked out a very extreme position for himself. I might also point to Natalie Reed’s statements that the Third Wave of feminism went “too far” in it’s defense of individual sexual liberties. See also, Ophelia Benson’s increasingly paranoid rants on her own blog where she trolls the blogosphere looking for any small disagreement with her line on anti-harassment policies as evidence of a vast misogynistic conspiracy within secularism.

          1. punchdrunk

            You have a problem with feminism, period. Nothing to do with radicals or extremists. Natalie Reed, Ophelia Benson, Surly Amy, some of the commenters here – they’re not anywhere near extreme.

            I was expecting something along the lines of castration or female supremacy rhetoric.

            You just despise activists. Good to know.

          2. Iamcuriousblue

            “You just despise activists. Good to know.”

            Right, you got me figured out. Just keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel any better.

            Hey, “activists” can do no wrong, so I shouldn’t dare criticize them, I guess.

      2. M. A. Melby

        then they’ve done a damn poor job of explaining themselves.

        Or other people have done a smash-up job of misrepresenting them and making assumptions.

        Please considered that alternate explanation.

        Or you could please quote something that “they” have actually said (in context) that made you come the conclusions that you have.

        1. Iamcuriousblue

          Well, perhaps some of this stuff starts to look pretty extreme when you don’t go *out of your way* to give such statements the most charitable possible interpretation. Consider Surly Amy’s statement on returning from TAM. Looks like an extremely paranoid nut-out from where I’m sitting, but because you sympathize, you’ve found a way to spin it as in some way reasonable.

          1. M. A. Melby

            I have no idea if her reaction was reasonable or unreasonable. I was not there. I am not her. I didn’t listen in on her conversations. I have no stinking clue and neither do you.

            She NEVER said that the shirt constituted “harassment”. She did not proactively seek out any official reaction on the part of TAM because of either the shirt or any other treatment she received.

            That means what you said is untrue.

            It is, in fact, a lie.

            You were misinformed. It happens.

            When you know something is untrue, and a lie, and it is repeated by other people – it is appropriate to correct them.

            So, if you hear this often repeated lie, could you please correct it?

            Thank you.

          2. julian

            It’s deliberate. Iamcuriousblue is as dishonest a human being as you can imagine. The lie of a crying and hysterical SurlyAmy will be repeated again and again.

          3. Iamcuriousblue

            Julian – your demonization of me would be offensive if it wasn’t so laughable.

            Now as to Surly Amy’s post, I’m referring to what was she posted as a comment on B&W right after. I’ll have to dig for the link to it and repost later, unless anybody else here wants to go looking.

            Anyway, I defy anybody to read that and say the response wasn’t completely manic, bent out of shape, and paranoid to the point of being suspect that she really was relating an accurate version of events. Find it and read it for yourself. I’ll try and link it later.

          4. julian

            There are two comments I think you can be referring to. This and a second where she recounts what she felt at that time (that I can’t find.) In either case this is standard dishonest, callous you.

          5. M. A. Melby

            Julian – there is no evidence that zie is intentionally lying. Intent is difficult to determine.

          6. Iamcuriousblue

            “There are two comments I think you can be referring to. This and a second where she recounts what she felt at that time (that I can’t find.) In either case this is standard dishonest, callous you.”

            I am referring to the one you haven’t linked to and which I can’t easily find either. If Surly Amy has realized how crazy that post sounded and has backed away from it, then I’ll let go of it as well. But if people are going to keep throwing it out there as an example of “harassment” at TAM, then, yeah, I take issue with it.

          7. M. A. Melby

            Do you mean this: http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/07/in-your-face/#comment-223155

            From the same thread?

            Yeah, she seemed upset, but as I KEEP saying nobody said the shirt constituted harassment (in a strict sense), only that it wasn’t very nice (essentially).

            The characterizations of Surly Amy’s response by others (notably TF as I mentioned before) are WAY over the top – in terms of exaggeration as well as simply being painfully immature and uncivil.

            I tend to think that someone’s emotional responses are nobody’s business except those personally involved or the person’s friends/family. (I know – bizarre ideas.) If they share those emotional responses with the rest of us, that’s just being open and we can be respectful of that without putting either a halo or a set of horns on hir head for being open with us.

            I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to talk about Surly Amy being upset at TAM for the next year. The way that’s going to NOT happen is if jerks don’t constantly lambast her for it, give her a nickname, etc so forth….ick.

            We can talk about what types of policies should be at TAM. That’s a fruitful discussion. Making it all about Surly Amy becoming upset is counter-productive really – and I see that as a self-fulling prophesy for those that might accuse her of being a drama “queen”.

  40. 40
    julian

    I said I’d flounce but haven’t. Sorry for muddying the thread up.

  41. 41
    lilandra

    @Julian You’re input is welcome. I think you understand I just want to stay on topic rather than discuss whether you have a hate on for another commenter.

  42. 42
    NoBumPaper

    The controversy isn’t that thunderfoot has disagreeable views on feminism or rebecca watson.

    The controversy is why was he booted for his views? If supporting TF means to have him on your site, then everyone who remains you must agree with.

    PZ Meyers actually agrees with everyone remaining? Simply because their views on feminism are more agreeable? I don’t even..

    I don’t care if TF was a crap blogger, if his views of feminism were like everyone elses he wouldn’t of been booted.

    How can you discuss an issue critically if you aren’t allowed to have independent thought?

    1. 42.1
      NoBumPaper

      Does free thought come at a cost? Wouldn’t thunderfoot increase your site views meaning more money? I don’t even.

    2. 42.2
      M. A. Melby

      I don’t care if TF was a crap blogger, if his views of feminism were like everyone elses he wouldn’t of been booted.

      Unless you are an FtB writer – one of the nearly 40 that decided to not host his blog here anymore – you don’t know that.

      Just sayin’

      1. Sellsword

        Just as a point of information M.A., let’s not pretend that that decision was arrived at by popular consensus. On the 6th of August PZ Myers just said “The Absolute Law – I AM THE BOSS, and don’t you forget it”.

        And that’s undisputed, it’s his site. But you can’t then turn around and seriously claim some kind of rule by the collective.

        1. tigtog

          On the 6th of August PZ Myers just said “The Absolute Law – I AM THE BOSS, and don’t you forget it”.

          And that’s undisputed, it’s his site. But you can’t then turn around and seriously claim some kind of rule by the collective.

          PZ said that about his New Rules for his own personal blog, Pharyngula. Those new rules do not apply to the other blogs on FTB, and they say absolutely four-fifths of Sweet Fanny Adams about the decision-making process for FTB as a collective.

          You do realise that right now you’re not posting comments on Pharyngula, right?

    3. 42.3
      lilandra

      The original post is about whether there is hate towards women in the Freethought community. In what way does Thunderf00t being kicked from FTB have something to do with the topic?

  43. 43
    Iamcuriousblue

    Your point about sensitivity due to microaggressions and everybody walking on eggshells as a result and that not being fair to *any* party is well taken.

    However, to across-the-board accept anyone’s (or at least, any woman’s) claim of victimization as valid and in need of remedy is a recipe for making all sorts of Type I (false positive) errors and guarantees that at least some will exploit this state of affairs and “play the victim” when it is not warranted. One can analyze a situation with some sensitivity to what women face, but ultimately, one’s best judgement based on the presented facts of the situation is the best one can do.

    1. 43.1
      M. A. Melby

      Obviously – there IS such a thing as “playing the victim” and it is easier to do that if you are from an embattled group.

      However, that TOO requires evidence – solid evidence. When someone (anyone) explains that they have been the target of mistreatment, “playing the victim” is NOT the default (at least it shouldn’t be).

      Dawkin’s read his hate-mail out loud. PZ has a REGULAR installment of “I get mail”. Several YouTube vloggers post compilations of their most interesting, horrid, worst comments. This is a common practice.

      For whatever reason, I have never heard anyone tell a cis-man to shut up about it or that they needed to grow a “thick skin” or that they were whiners.

      EVER – in my experience.

      That doesn’t PROVE anything, but there appears to be a trend here.

      When DJ made his comment about “messaging” about sexual harassment issues being an issue – he specific said “female bloggers” even though male bloggers have been “messaging” similar “messages” that he felt were problematic.

      I’m sure we could argue for quite a while about who seems to be mistreated in the court of public opinion, however, FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT what if someone was absolutely playing the victim and being a drama fiend?

      What would be an appropriate, mature, way of trying to minimize the negative affects of someone doing that?

      1. NoBumPaper

        @Drama Victim if Played

        You don’t tell them they are unwanted. You let them have their say, and no more unless another incident happens.

        If it happens consistent, have observation done to see if there is substance to the claims.

        1. M. A. Melby

          Why?

          What would be the point of limiting how much they can speak about it, “no more”? How do you think they would react to that?

          Why would you launch an inquiry if they made other claims? Under what circumstances would that be appropriate?

    2. 43.2
      M. A. Melby

      And what is the solution to people throwing proverbial pebbles?

      Telling people that they are throwing pebbles at you and asking them to stop. You can try to do this diplomatically in person or loudly to raise awareness but not doing that is just allowing the problem to persist.

      There isn’t a different solution.

      So, if people are walking on egg shells – perhaps they need to take a deep breath, start asking questions, and be honest and attempt to engage in a way that’s going to help them understand the perspective of others and effectively and respectfully communicate their own.

      I was accused of being sexist and supporting “sexist shit” and I simply asked if the person could point out how I was being sexist.

      This isn’t rocket science people.

      (Of course, as I always like to say, if it WERE rocket science we would all be better at it.)

  44. 44
    geraldmcgrew

    The original post is about whether there is hate towards women in the Freethought community.

    Do you mean the hate is coming from within the community? If so, then I’ve seen no evidence of that. OTOH, if you mean coming from outside the FT community, then of course.

    The problem is (as has been repeatedly expressed), what to do about it? The hate we’ve seen is mostly in the form of online comments from anonymous people. But then, everyone who writes online gets hate posts of one form or another. PZ gets hate mail, Ed gets hate mail, Mikey W. gets hate mail…heck, I got a lot of hate when I used to debate creationists online. I’m not trying to minimize the specific type of hate directed at women writers, but what do you do? It seems to me there are only a handful of options: 1) ignore it, 2) quit writing online, 3) only write in places where comments aren’t allowed, 4) do away with anonymous commenting altogether, or 5) keep going and speak out against such hate.

    IMO, #5 is the most obvious choice but will never eliminate the problem.

    1. 44.1
      M. A. Melby

      Three examples come to mind – since they were already mentioned in this thread.

      1) The Amazing Atheist describing explicit sexual violence to someone who just mentioned zie was a rape victim
      2) “Papa” joking about raping the Skepchick bloggers
      3) Thunderf00t writing an entire post ridiculing Surly Amy for crying, because it’s funny when feminists cry

      …and ALL the literally thousands of people who think that is okay.

      I am on Matt Dillahunty’s facebook – which is where the comments that lilandra mentioned came from. Facebook is NOT anonymous. Matt contributed to Surly Amy’s blog and voiced that he was upset at Thunderf00t, because of this, was called a “school girl bitch”. Other men who support Skepchick are called “manginas” etc.

      One of the other comment on Dillahunty’s facebook was, “I really can’t think of one female atheist that I can still respect.”

      1. geraldmcgrew

        MAM,

        I’m not sure what your post had to do with mine. As I said, we should definitely speak out against hateful comments against everyone, including the religious, conservatives, tea partiers, women, blacks, Asians, etc.

        I’m not sure what else can be done regarding “things people say”.

        1. M. A. Melby

          Okay, you said there was no evidence AT ALL – so I spent five minutes giving you a couple.

          The question of “What can be done?” is a VERY good question. Thank you so much for asking that question, instead of calling everyone liars, misrepresenting what they say and do, giving vocal women nicknames or areas of twitter specifically designed to ridicule them constantly, saying how much you are going to enjoy it when everyone turns on Rebecca Watson and she cries more than Roth did (also from a comment on Dillahunty’s FB), insist that people either shut up or go to the police, accuse anyone defending civility of defending people’s views on non-articulated vague topics, etc…..

          (Okay, now that’s out of my system. In sincerity – thanks for asking.)

          What can be done?

          If someone says something really sexist (or other -ist), hurtful or unfair around you – say, “That’s not cool” – even if the comment is against someone you don’t like or that you disagree with. Don’t necessarily make a big deal out of it – putting the person on the defensive – just say, “Uncool.”

          That’s it.

          Recognizing when someone is attacking a person or class instead of someone’s ideas and arguments would be nice too. That will make your “That’s not cool” statement more effective.

          The end.

          ***

          Example:

          You: I think Rebecca Watson seeks attention too much, and the way some people talk about what happened with Surly Amy seems really over-the-top. I support Hall’s decision to wear that shirt.

          Friend: Yeah! Rebecca “rape threat” Twatson is a bitch! I hope Surly Amy cried all the way home.

          You: Dude, I don’t agree with how they are handling this, but that’s really not cool.

          Friend: Whatever mangina!

          You: Yeah – really mature there. So, what do you think of Missouri’s new “right to pray” law?

          1. geraldmcgrew

            MAM,

            Ok, sorry, I see what you were doing.

            The first doesn’t have any context, link, or other reference, so there’s nothing really to comment on. The second and third were definitely not examples of “hate towards women”. The joke was stupid and insensitive, and was immediately apologized for, and TF’s post was mocking a specific person for what he thought was an overreaction, which is not “hate”.

            Again, if that’s all there is, there really isn’t any evidence of any sort of endemic, systemic problem within the freethought community.

            The rest of your post I agree with.

          2. M. A. Melby

            OH – you don’t know about “the Amazing Atheist” thing?!

            That made the mainstream news it was so bad.

            http://www.dailydot.com/news/amazing-atheist-reddit-rape-controversy/

            Just like Rush Limbaugh though – he takes a few lumps and keeps on truckin!

            As far as “Papa’s” joke – if you don’t find that “hateful” we’re not agreeing on language. I tend to think that “insensitive” is a dismissive euphemism in this case.

            How about “spiteful, sexist and disturbingly crass”?

            I think we’re also not agreeing on the definition of “quickly”.

            As far as TF’s post, how about a “dishonest and childish example of inciting sexist ridicule”.

            And that comment about not respecting female atheists – can we please just cut the crap and call that “misogynist”?

          3. M. A. Melby

            Just to put this into perspective here – one of the first comments on the “Papa” thread was not, “Not cool man – you should delete that post right away – that’s really messed up.”

            It was a comment saying that he should watch out because he is going to garner the Skepchick’s wrath.

            I wish it didn’t have to be like that. You’d hope that the threat of wrath wouldn’t be what makes people think that is not okay.

            However, that’s where we are.

            I know it is sometimes problematic to assume what *might* happen in a similar, but socially different, situation. The whole “If it were whites….”, “If it were men….”, “If it were Christians/Muslims/atheists/etc…” However, I’m going to do it anyway, cause I think there is a point to be made by it here.

            I suspect that if someone made a “joke” about lynching the Black Skeptics; the fear of retribution would be there, but I doubt we’d get an expectation of unconditional forgiveness or insistence that the joke wasn’t technically “hateful”.

            Know what I think of that?

          4. M. A. Melby

            *aargh*

            Sorry about that. I forgot, yet again, what WordPress does to YouTube links!!

            I didn’t mean to be THAT obnoxious about it, especially with that song.

            *sigh*

            Oh well.

    2. 44.2
      lilandra

      @nobumpaper Melby gave you several examples from the FB post that provoked this post. Those are all Freethought community comments. Additionally, Watson got hundreds of rape threats from our community. I would like to think that our community automatically thinks about everything critically, because they have rejected religious dogma. However, that appears to not be the case judging from the uncritical participation or tolerance or dismissal by some of hate speech in the freethought community.

      1. geraldmcgrew

        Sorry, but the OP lists FB comments that don’t rise to the level of “hate” at all. From what I’ve seen, they’re mostly people saying what I’m saying, i.e. “You’re letting the drama queens play the fiddle and you’re all dancing to their tune”.

        As far as RW’s rape threats claim, no evidence has been presented that they came from the freethinking community.

        And the stupid rationalia rape joke was immediately criticized and very quickly apologized for by the person who made it. I hardly think that constitutes real, actual “hate” towards women.

        If the feminists are going to convince the larger freethought community that hate towards women and sexual harassment are real, tangible, systemic problems in the atheist/skeptic/freethought community, they’re going to have to offer better than people asking “You’re still talking about that”, anonymous internet comments, and t-shirts that say “I feel safe here”.

        If that’s really all there is, then the argument that this is mostly over-hyped drama is self-evident.

        1. lilandra

          @McGrew we can only provide examples. Your hand waving hundreds of rape threats against Watson because people have to prove they are actually from the community is unreasonable doubt. No one has to provide you with an unreasonable burden of proof.

          People have provided enough evidence to back up the claim for a reasonable person. In the end that is all anyone can hope to do is to persuade reasonable people.

          1. geraldmcgrew

            Nope, sorry. It doesn’t work that way.

            (I’m surprised I find myself having to explain this)

            “RW received hundreds of rape threats from members of the freethinking community” is a positive claim. Thus, it falls upon those making that claim to, 1) provide evidence of these hundreds of threats, and 2) provide evidence that they came from within the freethought community.

            As is so often repeated in the skeptic community, “Assertions given without evidence can be equally dismissed without evidence”.

          2. M. A. Melby

            What do you suggest Rebecca Watson do? Give everyone her account passwords?

            Considering that many other bloggers (especially female bloggers) have had similar problems makes her claim NOT extraordinary. For her to *prove* the amount and severity of the threats she receives she would have to have an independent research group do the following:

            1. Create a list of criteria to categorize various threats and online harassment.
            2. Create a criteria for determining if someone is a member of the “freethought” community.
            3. Go through all of her correspondence and internet speech she may have access to for the last five years and categorize and count all examples of threats and harassment
            4. Attempt to track (by username, email address, or IP) each person who made those comments and determine whether or not that person fits the criteria for being a member of the freethought community.

            Do you have evidence that she is lying? – I mean, anything at all? Any reason to doubt?

            We at least know that there she does receive threats and harassment. That’s clear.

            So, you don’t think the problem is quite as bad as she says it is? Okay. That’s very possible, especially if you take what she has said literally (she did say “constantly”!) or create very strict definitions (is already clear that you’re doing that last part). So what?

            Is she (or anyone else) asking you to ACT on that *specific* information?

            If so, asking for evidence would be reasonable.

            Having harassment policies at conventions and what those should or should not say has NOTHING to do with just how many threats and harassing comments RW gets.

            Do any potential remedies for online harassment have anything to do with exactly HOW MANY threats and harassing comments RW gets?

            Do any social remedies for potential sexism within any community have anything to do with exactly HOW MANY threats and harassing comments RW gets?

            That’s one error TF had right out of the gate. He said that we need to know the EXTENT of a problem in order to consider solutions to any problem!!

            That’s false.

          3. geraldmcgrew

            MAM,

            Again, the burden is not on me to disprove RW’s claims. In the absence of supporting evidence, her claims are, by definition, empty assertions.

            We don’t let creationists get away with such behavior.

          4. M. A. Melby

            Wow – The life of the people asking for evidence must be interesting.

            Ed: I just had a horrible day. My coworkers were obnoxious. My boss gave me a hard time for no reason at all, that I could tell. Some customer got angry and started yelling at me. I swear this guy was going to throw a punch. It sucked.

            Alan: Do you have video or audio of the altercation?

            Ed: What?

            Alan: I’m really skeptical that this happened to you.

            Ed: Okay. Well, you know Sally, the line cook? You know how she can be. All she talked about is her engagement ring and it’s “WOW factor” for HOURS. It was really obnoxious. There, there is an example.

            Alan: That doesn’t sound THAT “obnoxious” and you said all of your coworkers were obnoxious, not just Sally. If a customer was about to beat you up, you would have gone to the police. If you don’t provide adequate evidence that everything you said is true, I’m going to assume you’re just starting drama and exaggerating.

            Ed: WHAT? What do you think the police would have done about it? And why do you need audio and video? It’s not like I told you the aliens landed.

            Alan: YEAH RIGHT – customers are all out to beat the shit out of you. You’re hysterical.

            Ed: I just had a fucking horrible day and you’re just being an ass.

            Alan: The burden of proof is on you. Look what you did? You started all this drama.

          5. oolon

            Cheers M.A.Melby your characterisation of a day in Geralds life made me laugh – mainly cos it is so true. Gerald would not be so hypersceptical in almost any other area of his experience so why with this? Evidence is needed apparently – extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence to be sure. In this case it is some women who say they get hateful comments and emails from men whenever they appear on the internet – not a very extraordinary claim just look on youtube for plenty of evidence.

            But then when you demonstrate there is evidence the argument flips to ‘oh well they are only trolls and it is not real’. Try experiencing it or even empathising – I’ve not had any hateful comments directed at me personally since school days but I’m pretty sure a constant barrage would wear me down even though I am older and hopefully wiser.

  45. 45
    SallyStrange

    Do you mean the hate is coming from within the community? If so, then I’ve seen no evidence of that. OTOH, if you mean coming from outside the FT community, then of course.

    Once again, you resort to blatant dishonesty.

    Your position is untenable.

    1. 45.1
      lilandra

      There can be other explanations besides dishonesty for this dismissal of the reality of hate speech in the freethought community. Misinformation on this topic is rampant.

      1. SallyStrange

        Really. Please feel free to offer an explanation besides “deliberate dishonesty,” aka lying, for spreading the frankly idiotic proposition that sexism is a problem in the culture at large, but somehow magically disappears when a person slaps the “skeptic” label on him or herself.

        1. lilandra

          @Sally-I provided one misinformation is rampant on this topic. They people who are doing the misinformation are possibly, uncritical, biased, or dishonest. Talking offline to people a number of them think this is just about EG and egos and or social awkwardness and don’t really understand the scope of the problem. That is why I am trying to help address misconceptions in this post.

  46. 46
    SallyStrange

    You know what would help advance that conversation beyond elevatorgate, policies, and T-shirts? Giving an example of actual, real sexual harassment from actual, real freethinkers.

    People like Gerald need to stop treating claims of sexual harassment as if they’re extraordinary claims.

    What would be extraordinary is if being a freethinker somehow magically erased the sexist cultural thought patterns we all absorb.

    Can you propose a mechanism by which endemic sexism is somehow erased once one chooses to apply the label “skeptic” or “freethinker,” Gerald?

    1. 46.1
      geraldmcgrew

      People like Gerald need to stop treating claims of sexual harassment as if they’re extraordinary claims.

      Here we go again.

      “Sexual harassment is a real problem in the freethinking community”

      Really? What examples are there of actual, documented sexual harassment within this community?

      “So you’re denying that sexual harassment occurs at all!!”

      Can you propose a mechanism by which endemic sexism is somehow erased once one chooses to apply the label “skeptic” or “freethinker,” Gerald?

      You’re doing the exact same thing lilandra did earlier. You’re dodging the specific issues I raised by hiding behind the larger issue of sexism as a whole.

      1. lilandra

        No Mr McGrew there are specific examples of hatred directed at women in our community by others in our community.

        1. geraldmcgrew

          Then why didn’t you provide them in the OP?

          1. lilandra

            @McGrew -examples provided in the OP-Rape joke publicly posted about the Skepchicks and I talked about Watson didn’t do anything to deserve all the rape threats she got. I am still reading your posts charitably at this point that you may have missed that.

  47. 47
    Sellsword

    This whole saga is nothing but some already bloated egos butting heads, while crowds of enablers on both sides tell them that what they’re saying is somehow meaningful or important. My respect for DPRJones has sky-rocketed, because he is THE ONLY major rationalist commentator that I am aware of who correctly identified this business as the morass of gossip and bickering that it is and chose to rise above it. My respect for so many others has been damaged, in some cases really quite seriously.

    1. 47.1
      lilandra

      If DPR did indeed minimize the problem to gossip and egos then he is wrong. Since you have I am assuming read the article you are commenting on and still think what you thought before you read it, then you must be very self satisfied at this point.

      However, I would suggest thinking a little more about whether receiving thousands of rape threats for something a person says is justified because of their ego.

      1. Sellsword

        I read the article with an open mind and did not find it persuasive. That brings me neither self-satisfaction or the opposite. As for me

        “thinking a little more about whether receiving thousands of rape threats for something a person says is justified because of their ego.”

        I’m not certain whose position that comment is really addressing, but it cannot be mine; my only post on this issue does not say that I hold that position, or even come close to implying it. I would never condone making rape threats and I think that the people who do so simply lay themselves open to being judged accordingly. My position is that I have yet to see ANYONE emerge from this situation having spoken or acted to their credit, with the aforementioned exception of DPRJones.

        1. M. A. Melby

          My position is that I have yet to see ANYONE emerge from this situation having spoken or acted to their credit, with the aforementioned exception of DPRJones.

          That’s funny because you have just “spoken” on the issue.

          Blanket insults are sort of awful, would you agree?

          1. Sellsword

            No. I take no side in this issue, save to praise those who have not been sucked in.

            By all means keep trying to catch me out. Maybe next time you actually will.

          2. M. A. Melby

            It just seemed like an odd thing to say right after you spoke about it.

            I’m a fan of DPRJones. I haven’t seen the vid/post you are talking about though. I haven’t hung out on YouTube fore a while, and he talks a lot about British politics and being in the U.S. that generally loses me.

            I think it would be dishonest to say that NONE of the current turmoil is about personal conflicts, gossip, etc. There is a reason that the people who make claims are generally asked, “Where did you hear that – cite please,” types of things.

            There is a whole lot of camping up. I noticed pretty clearly that making a blog post criticizing TF gave me a certain amount of “cred” on PZ’s blog.

            I’m not about to throw the whole situation away and belittle it as nothing, however. Whenever stuff gets stirred up this badly (or goodly) there is always (at least usually) stuff that gets brought to the surface that wouldn’t have been dealt with otherwise.

            Conflict is always messy, but conflict is a sign of growth.

          3. Sellsword

            Well first of all let me thank you (and I mean this sincerely) for that more thoughtful reply. Just in case there is some concern that I might be misremembering or misrepresenting him, here is the video with DPRJones’ relevant comments:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5efXBNnW3ec

            To address the meat of your reply:

            “There is a whole lot of camping up. I noticed pretty clearly that making a blog post criticizing TF gave me a certain amount of “cred” on PZ’s blog.

            I’m not about to throw the whole situation away and belittle it as nothing, however.”

            I’m afraid I am. Utterly and completely. And while I hope that my mind can always been changed by new evidence or sound argument, I’m also afraid that anybody who looks at the excessive sensitivity of the Watsonians on the one hand and the ludicrous belligerence of the AmazingAtheistites on the other and says to themselves something along the lines of “This is a very serious story that deserves to run for well over a year” (as it now has) is somebody with whom I deeply disagree with about what our priorities as a movement ought to be, maybe even about what people ought to be worrying about in life in general.

            There’s nothing wrong with that, but its probably too big a gap to be easily crossed.

            Mostly what this situation makes me is nostalgic. I’m not that old, but I do remember a time when the rationalist/skeptical community was motivated by two things; anger towards swindlers and sympathy for the swindled. Those were the only feelings that mattered. If some fool was throwing hate in our direction, then that was their problem. We weren’t going to stoop to that level ourselves, we didn’t need to, because we had the facts. It was, in the best possible sense, a more adult community.

            Now we seem to have become divided between naval gazers who are far too concerned with a paternalistic desire to make sure that people who are meant to be adults in an adult world feel protected and “comfortable” at all times and an amorphous mass of ignorant children (and adults who remain emotional children), who just enjoy causing purposeless offence and think that’s what skeptics do.

            “Conflict is always messy, but conflict is a sign of growth.”

            Sometimes, but not always and not I feel in this case. I guess you could say that this situation shows that we’ve grown sufficiently have our own “community celebrities”, but if they’re going to mire us in nonsense like this then I don’t see that as a positive step.

          4. M. A. Melby

            @sellsword

            I appreciate your perspective.

            However, what you have done (albeit eloquently) is make blanket statements that are extremely dismissive to those who have been involved in a long-running conversation that you haven’t been, and therefor most likely don’t have as much understanding of.

            An issue I see is that so many people seem to think that simply saying that some good might come out of having the conversation or someone simply expressing themselves about some aspect of this conversation; is automatically interpreted as being prescriptive (and often times misrepresented) and all the sudden requires defensiveness.

            If you aren’t interested in various topics, that’s fine. It’s not necessary for you to judge others for having a conversation or discussing something you are not interested in. You are not being hijacked.

            I know I have been harping on Thunderf00t a lot, which I really shouldn’t do, but that is the example I know most about. He, too, thinks that too much emphasis is being placed on feminism and feminists ideas, conversations about sexual harassment policies, and the issue of sexually charged online threats and harassment.

            So, his tactic in shifting the focus was to start a huge accusatory shit-storm about it and blogging about nothing else, then when he was asked to leave, continuing attack after attack, beginning to refer to Rebecca Watson as Rebecca “rape threat” Watson and writing blog posts about how funny it is when supposedly strong feminists “cry”.

            THAT is the problem.

            My impression is that the reason we are still talking about EG a year later has NOTHING to do with EG. It’s an online social climate where pointing out that calling someone “Twatson” is sexist is met with ridicule and attack/drinking the feminist kool-aid, accusations of over-sensitivity/whining/bitching, and a bizarre pretension that being a sexist ass is a win for free speech (as if anyone actually said they didn’t have a RIGHT to say it).

            It’s the reality that associating with Skepchick (such as going to their events or contributing to their blog) invites sexist insults, backlash based on misinformation, and calls for feminists to shut up and/or get out. That is exactly what is happening to Matt Dilahunty.

            How refreshing it would be if his size-able “following” would actually not care so much about it.

            So, please, if you don’t think this is something you wish to talk about – just don’t. Talk about something else.

            It would have been so refreshing if Thunderf00t followed his own advice, or actually honestly engaged in the conversation without the pretense that he was the only calm reasonable one in the room.

          5. Sellsword

            @ M.A.Melby

            “However, what you have done (albeit eloquently) is make blanket statements that are extremely dismissive to those who have been involved in a long-running conversation that you haven’t been, and therefore most likely don’t have as much understanding of.”

            Well it is always possible for others to know more than we ourselves do about almost anything. I have been observing this little furore since it started (I actually remember reading about the unfolding events on the day it began and believe me, that know feels like it was about a decade ago). I think that level of knowledge at least permits me to feel that I have a considered opinion.

            “An issue I see is that so many people seem to think that simply saying that some good might come out of having the conversation or someone simply expressing themselves about some aspect of this conversation; is automatically interpreted as being prescriptive (and often times misrepresented) and all the sudden requires defensiveness.”

            Well I think I would deny the claim that I am defensive, or at least defensive in the sense normally meant in this context. If I am trying to defend anything then it is the integrity of a movement, I don’t really care which of our current warring factions eventually feels more justified in announcing their triumph. But lets cut right to the chase here; the proposition is that good things will come out of this “conversation.” looking at the current state of discourse and state of affairs generally I feel entitled to ask, what are these good things and why are they likely to happen?

            “If you aren’t interested in various topics, that’s fine. It’s not necessary for you to judge others for having a conversation or discussing something you are not interested in. You are not being hijacked.”

            Again I would beg to differ. All communities have limited resources in terms of time and energy. Even if you regard this as purely a matter of my own perspective, when I see the community that I identified with (and still want to identify with) suddenly frittering those resources away, you have to allow that, from my point of view, we have unequivocally been hijacked.

            “I know I have been harping on Thunderf00t a lot, which I really shouldn’t do, but that is the example I know most about…his tactic in shifting the focus was to start a huge accusatory shit-storm about it and blogging about nothing else, then when he was asked to leave, continuing attack after attack,”

            I feel no need to defend Thunderf00t. Whatever his arguments he displayed a bizarre lack of savvy by even getting himself into that situation. I would just note though that describing him as having been asked to leave treads a line between euphemism and doublespeak.

            “refer(ing) to Rebecca Watson as Rebecca “rape threat” Watson and writing blog posts about how funny it is when supposedly strong feminists “cry”.

            THAT is the problem.”

            That is HALF of the problem.

            “My impression is that the reason we are still talking about EG a year later has NOTHING to do with EG. It’s an online social climate where pointing out that calling someone “Twatson” is sexist is met with ridicule and attack/drinking the feminist kool-aid, accusations of over-sensitivity/whining/bitching, and a bizarre pretension that being a sexist ass is a win for free speech (as if anyone actually said they didn’t have a RIGHT to say it).”

            Well know you can’t have this both ways. A moment ago you were criticising people (including myself I presume) for doubting the usefulness of the argument. You can’t adopt that position and then point out how juvenile that argument is.

            “It’s the reality that associating with Skepchick (such as going to their events or contributing to their blog) invites sexist insults, backlash based on misinformation, and calls for feminists to shut up and/or get out. That is exactly what is happening to Matt Dilahunty.”

            No it isn’t. If that was going to be what happened to Matt Dillahunty then it would have happened long before this. He has firmly supported feminist positions for years and provided tech support for the “Godless Bitches” feminist podcast (both things I would also endorse by the way). No I’m afraid Matt Dillahunty seems to have felt ideologically compelled to dig his own hole for himself and he then proceeded to line that hole with a thick layer of woolly thinking. I have already given some of my thoughts about Matt Dillahunty’s response within this:

            http://freethoughtblogs.com/aronra/2012/08/03/dont-read-this-if-youre-a-misogynist-mra-feminazi-femistazi-ftbully-rape-apologist/#comment-3807

            reply to Lilandra. Repeating them would only clutter things up.

            “So, please, if you don’t think this is something you wish to talk about – just don’t.”

            The advice that I should keep quiet because I do not agree with the prevailing opinion about the worth or meaning of this broader ongoing, raging, circular discussion is not advice that I can be expected to want to follow and is a suggestion that is unworthy of you. I hold one position, you hold another. The thing to do is to present persuasive argument.

          6. M. A. Melby

            The advice that I should keep quiet because I do not agree with the prevailing opinion about the worth or meaning of this broader ongoing, raging, circular discussion is not advice that I can be expected to want to follow and is a suggestion that is unworthy of you.

            And yet that’s what you seem to want everyone else to do.

            The discussion is about how we have discussions, especially concerning sexist ridicule.

            If you are talking about whether or not it is appropriate appropriate to ask someone out in an elevator, we’re not talking about the same “discussion”.

        2. lilandra

          @sellsword I am referring to this comment…

          My respect for DPRJones has sky-rocketed, because he is THE ONLY major rationalist commentator that I am aware of who correctly identified this business as the morass of gossip and bickering that it is and chose to rise above it.

          It is not simply a “morass of gossip and bickering”. Unless you agree that the actual rape threats women have gotten are simply gossip. The problem is the few women who have spoken out about the problem are subjected to ridicule, threats, and minimization. What you said didn’t accurately identify the problem.

          1. Sellsword

            “It is not simply a morass of gossip and bickering.”

            As long as its a battle being endlessly fought out within an insular blogging community and good old youtube comment wars then it fits my idea of one I would have to say. This “she said this” “well he said that” “well you wouldn’t believe the emails I’ve been getting” back and forth is not productive or even interesting, but it keeps getting discussed as if through it we might arrive at some major social change, or profound truth.

  48. 48
    geraldmcgrew

    MAM,

    No, I didn’t know about the TAA-rape trigger incident. Pretty sad. One thing though…was the target of TAA’s comments a man or a woman? The link you gave states, “The recipient, who goes by lorrdernie, however, did not accept. He responded…”.

    As far as “Papa’s” joke – if you don’t find that “hateful” we’re not agreeing on language. I tend to think that “insensitive” is a dismissive euphemism in this case.

    For that joke to be an example of “hate towards women in the freethinking community”, I would have to conclude that the “joke” really was meant to show his hatred for women. Given the ensuing dialog on that thread and the quick apology, it looks to me more like a stupid, insensitive attempt at humor/commentary on the whole “FtB-feminist” controversy, rather than an expression of genuine hate towards women.

    As far as TF’s post, how about a “dishonest and childish example of inciting sexist ridicule”.

    Certainly TF’s posts have incited ridicule of the brand of feminists at FtB and skepchicks. However, the ridicule is along the lines of what I’ve already stated as my position, i.e. the existence of drama queens/professional victims and those who enable them.

    Seriously, you can’t honestly be arguing that a person going online and posting, for all the world to see, her description of how a t-shirt that said “I feel safe here” and “I’m a skeptic, not a skepchick”, was “dehumanizing and gender/color blind” and made her cry and leave the conference…doesn’t warrant an initial reaction of “WTF?”

    If there’s a deeper context that better explains her reactions and comments, then she should post them first so everyone can better understand the situation. If she doesn’t want to do that, the either don’t post your “feelings” on the shirt at all, or go ahead and post them and expect some ridicule. Because in the absence of anything further, “That demon t-shirt reduced me to tears and is horribly hurtful and dehumanizing” is positively absurd (especially given the text of the shirt).

    And that comment about not respecting female atheists – can we please just cut the crap and call that “misogynist”?

    Whose comment is that?

    1. 48.1
      M. A. Melby

      Look, I have no idea why you feel compelled to apologize for or minimize the incidents that I mentioned.

      Obviously, I don’t have the means to actually compile data for you that would actually show you (and me) a quantified “scope” of the problem. We don’t have that data, so it makes sense to simply form conclusions based on the information we have. You said there was “no evidence” which is false. I was simply giving a counter-example to that.

      We could go through each incident and I could explain to you why I feel they are problematic, as far as sexism and rape-culture, but I don’t know how fruitful that discussion would be and it would be a LONG one. It also wouldn’t be good evidence on the prevalence of sexist on-line harassment.

      Do you think I’m putting you in the position of defending the FT community in general?

      Perhaps you are misunderstanding the assertion here. The greater culture has sexist attitudes, and the FT, atheist and skeptic communities are part of that as a matter of course – they are not immune. Since it is traditionally male-dominated, some of those pervasive sexist attitudes tend to be more pronounced and that is one reason that some women stay away. Part of that is how the on-line community operates; cis-women (and non-gender conforming people) tend to receive much more on-line harassment than men do. When some women discuss sexism (not making ANY claim on the right-ness of wrong-ness of their opinions here) within these communities, they tend to receive an inordinate amount of sexist comments, on-line harassment and sometimes even sexually charged threats.

      I think that’s not okay.

      None of those assertions rely on knowing the number of rape threats Rebecca Watson receives. However, seeing how some people react to her and her crew (and I’m NOT talking about agreeing or disagreeing with them about actionable things – but how they are treated) by some people who make comments on blogs, have blogs, are prominent, etc is unreasonable and is absolutely reserve for them as women. The overtly sexist language that is used for them makes that pretty clear.

      I suppose if I knew I would be asked, I could have counted how many times I’ve seen the word “Twatson” in online comments, even if the vid or blog has nothing to do with her. Do you really think that our communities are not harmed by people like me (who are new to being involved) seeing how these communities react when they disagree with a woman on routinely irrelevant or unspecified things? There is an incredible amount of hate poured at her and people she associates with – someone who a subscriber of Cris said zie was disgusted that Cris would associate with Skepchick. Matt Dilahunty’s facebook gets filled with sexist insults whenever he either contributes to Skepchick or mentions them.

      This is pretty obvious from where I am sitting. I don’t follow Skepchick. I have no idea how much I was agree or disagree with them concerning sexism or any other topic. However, the NATURE of the attacks that they receive have everything to do with them being women, which is (understatement) extremely off-putting.

      I don’t expect anyone to wave a magic wand and make the problem go away.

      However, it just more frustrating to see this and have others deny that it is happening and positively assert that Skepchick are lying or are manipulating everyone with their girly tears, or some other sort of sexist crap on top of all the other stuff.

      That’s why it meant so much whether or not Surly Amy called the actions of others toward her “harassment” or not. We can actually have a REAL discussion about whether or not various speech/actions should be considered harassment.

      If did call it harassment (which she DID NOT) or actually stand against Hall’s right to wear the shirt (which she DID NOT) then it would be appropriate for public discussion.

      We cannot (nor should we) have a discussion concerning personal disagreements between people we don’t know JUST because they shared parts of that conflict on Twitter and FtB.

      There is no need to call for evidence about an assertion (especially a personal one) if it is not being used WITHIN an argument for or against some sort of action or policy or stance.

      NONE.

    2. 48.2
      M. A. Melby

      Oh yeah. I’ll de-indentify him simply because lilandra did and it is her blog post. This is from Matt Dilahunty’s FB.

      ***

      C: Wow, the atheist movement seems to be all about the problems of some feminist idiots. Atheism is not about feminism. I don’t care what your gender is, only your arguments count. Matt Dillahunty, blocking someone because you think your arguments are better presented than his is stupid. I must say, that in your latest shows, you have been very soft-skinned, you might need to take a brake for some months. You seem to see a personal attack from every caller. You might have done the show too much. Relax! With all this whining and bitching over these last few months from the female atheist celebrities, I really can’t think of one female atheist that I can still respect. Not that I am going to block any of them, this would just be cowardly.
      August 3 at 3:46am · Like · 3

      ***

      Of course, to be fair, he may be just talking about female atheist celebrities – but that’s pretty bad there.

      One comment doesn’t prove anything obviously. Another good example was someone named “Neil” who was discussing the topic with a female commenter and refused to reply to her points until she took her “feminists goggles” off and talked to him like a human.

      Another one implied that RW was being inconsiderate to young men by stating she didn’t want to be hit on in elevators, and if she is going to tell boys and men what not to do, she should give them advice on hitting on girls so that they don’t become intimidated in courtship.

      Very few people are going to state, “I am sexist” “I hate women” “I think women are there for me and not themselves”…

      There were MANY strongly anti-feminist comments, and I know that anti-feminist does not equate to misogynist. However, it was clear that several commenters were unhappy that atheism was somehow being taken over by feminism or some such paranoia.

      How DARE Matt talk about women’s issues!! That has nothing to do with atheism!!!!

      (Which is bizarrely stupid considering that religion is the PRIME reason that millions of women in the world are treated as slaves, legally compelled to submit sexually to their husbands, and denied comprehensive reproductive medical care.)

      This is the treatment that both Cris and Matt are receiving for associating with Skepchick – and the treatment Matt is getting for associating with Feminism at all.

      That’s one reason why I REALLY don’t see RW’s claims that she receives tons of online harassment an extraordinary claim that someone requires her to provide comprehensive proof that the number of rape threats she’s received in the last FIVE years is nearly a three digit number. That seems like a completely counter-productive focus to me.

  49. 49
    lilandra

    @sellsword He was talking about the actual incident in the elevator. The original post states that the scope is larger than elevatorgate, but people dismiss the discussion of gender based hatred to being solely about one incident.

    1. 49.1
      Sellsword

      I haven’t seen him mention a change in his position since making that statement, but if he has then the only thing that that would change from my perspective is that I would no longer feel he has earned the credit that I have given him. I praised DPRJones because I agree with what I have seen him express, it seemed to second my own opinion. The idea that I might not actually find a seconder for my position does not trouble me in the least; I do not feel a need to retreat from positions just because they might be unpopular.

      1. lilandra

        Well the original post says Watson said herself the incident itself wasn’t a big deal, so her, you, and DPR, and me all agree. It also says a lot of people misunderstand the scope of the problem, and think it is all about EG when the problem is bigger than that.

        1. Sellsword

          I agree, the specifics of what happened late one night in an elevator more than a year ago are now almost completely irrelevant; this issue has by now become a self-perpetuating phenomenon, both sides may well provide hyperbolic material for their opponents to hyperbolically reply to more or less ad infinitum. I really hate that (for reasons that I touch on in my longer reply to M.A.Melby), but there’s nothing I can do to change that. The other thing that I don’t like about this situation though, is that there seem to be a few genuinely well-intentioned people (and that is the category I believe you yourself fall into) who are trying to lend this personality driven spat a dignity that it clearly does not deserve.

          It is not a meeting of the minds, an emergent social movement, a valuable debate, or any kind of process that could be said to progress with hope of leading to a meaningful resolution, it is a row, pure and simple. A row whose leading actors have sadly taken this opportunity to thoroughly expose their own feet of clay. In some cases, even more sadly, they have exposed the fact that said clay may well extend up to at least shoulder height.

          I used to have a cat and every so often that cat would take a little fall, off a window-ledge, or the back of a couch say. What it did next always amused me. It would quickly get up, stand stock still for a moment and then saunter slowly off and something in the exaggerated casualness with which it appeared to move seemed to say “You did not just see that, it did not happen, we will not discuss it.” And that is almost certainly where this is business is ultimately heading. At some point something semi-relevant to the issue with publicly happen, the louder mouths on both sides will all declare victory, and the skeptical community will, in a metaphorical sense, lope off quietly, in the unspoken understanding that it would be better never to mention what had happened ever again.

          If what we were seeing were solid proposals to combat prejudice within the community, perhaps an offer to moderate some kind of formal skype debate that might help find common ground and diffuse tension, or even just useful anecdotes that might help direct an acceptable policy by identifying where and when people feel the problem is at its worst, I would be all for it. But that’s not what we’re seeing. I say again, this is a ROW, a lurid soap-opera-esque confrontation between groups of people using the internet to catch a glimpse of what it might feel like to be H.G.Wells’ Invisible Man for a little while. It can tell us much (far too much) about the decline in maturity and mature discourse within the rationalist/skeptical community. It cannot tell us anything about the people involved in it that those of us who feel that this community should strive to be united because our work is important probably wouldn’t have wished to have known.

          And it won’t lead to change until a majority of the community is prepared for a serious discussion of the issues rather than a tribal discussion of the personalities.

          And that is coming any time soon.

          1. lilandra

            @Sellsword I don’t like the “row” aspect of it either. I would applaud a skype conversation to seriously discuss the real issues within the community. I would refer you to Michael Nugent’s head of Atheist Ireland recent article about hatred directed toward women within our community.
            http://skepchick.org/2012/08/speaking-out-against-hate-directed-at-women-michael-nugent/

            If you would take a minute to read it you will see it goes way beyond EG.

          2. Sellsword

            I have read the article and indeed several more in the same series. I was already aware of the fact (and indeed in this very comments section had already fully acknowledged) that this all goes far beyond EG. Michael Nugent provided a list of attacks made against various women, including one instance of actual serious criminality (a break-in and rape) and the actions of Anonymous, a group that already regularly engages in activities likely to draw the attention of law enforcement authorities. In only one of the instances that he listed (the attacks against Rebecca Watson) is there any real reason to suppose that the perpetrators would have self-identified as skeptics, rationalists, free-thinkers or any similar label. So what exactly is his point then? That lots of people try to bully each other? That lots of men try to bully women? I did not need the help of Michael Nugent to become aware of these things.

            I don’t think anybody who has read my posts will be unclear on this, but in case I am wrong about that, let me clarify. I am neutral on this issue in the sense that I condemn both sides, not in the sense that I see points in favour of both sides. I fully condemn the harassers; the best of them are ignorant fools and the worst well be something quite a lot worse. But my reading of this article series provided me with another example in support of my initial thesis; that people who have spoken out on behalf of either side in this argument (I will not dignify them by referring to them as having “positions” or as engaging in a “debate”) do so to an inevitable loss of their intellectual credibility. Specifically Matt Dillahunty (normally an erudite, intelligent and clear spokesperson for our community), who said this:

            “You don’t get to decide what someone else finds offensive.
            You don’t get to decide what someone else finds uncomfortable, unwelcoming, disconcerting, stressful, harassing, troubling or painful.”

            Now on a superficial level this is all true; I don’t (and indeed both can’t and shouldn’t) get to decide any of those things. But lets address the assumption that must underlay this assertion given that Matt himself thinks that it has some relevance – that offense felt by others should lead us to change our discourse.

            Here is the thing that Matt Dillahunty ought to know, but has perhaps forgotten, about the skeptic community – We almost always espouse controversial positions that may well cause offense in those who disagree. I personally do not feel that the available evidence points to an Earth that is only six to ten thousand years old, I doubt that a self-professed “medium” is going to facilitate contact between a person and their dead mother, I am skeptical of the claim that somebody in a white suit can call upon their god to heal another person of their cancer. People who disagree with me on those issues may well find my views uncomfortable, unwelcoming, disconcerting, stressful, harassing, troubling or painful. To cause those feeling is not my goal, but the possibility that I might do so is not going to stop me from asserting those views. LIFE can be uncomfortable, unwelcoming, disconcerting, stressful, harassing, troubling or painful. Indeed I would go so far as to say that if it never is any of those things for somebody then they have almost certainly ceased to grow as a person. The notion that we should avoid discussion because it might to cause offense is fundamentally opposed to very principles upon which the skeptical movement used to be based. The fact that such a view could be put forward by somebody respected (even to some extent by me, though certainly on nothing like the level that he used to before this) as a voice and spokesperson for the movement, betrays how (unwittingly, but still shabbily and shamefully) this movement is being betrayed by those who ought to be its brightest stars.

            I have remembered somebody else that I ought to have praised when I praised DPRJones and for the same reason; James Randi. Now James Randi is one of my heroes and I am a person who tries not to have heroes, but occasionally I find I can’t help myself. Over the years I have listened to him to speak for certainly hundreds (and perhaps into the low thousands) of hours and I have observed him to tear up precisely TWICE. The first instance was when he recalled seeing a man drag himself along on his knees towards a Catholic shrine, carrying the grey, withered body of his own baby in his arms and leaving a trail of blood behind him on the stone floor. Randi said that he was to some small extent able to console that man and his wife, and at least successfully council them against leaving the little money that they had on a meaningless alter that could never offer them the miracle that they sought. The second instance was when he recalled to Penn Jillette the racist invective (which I will not repeat here) used by the wife of Peter Popoff to describe the sick and desperate people who wanted only to give their savings in exchange for her husband’s “care.” But surely James Randi has been upset by the many nasty things (and there have been plenty) that have been said about him over the years? I mean this is a noticeably diminutive man and indeed a gay man, in whose youth being such a thing was still widely regarded as criminal.

            I would challenge anybody familiar with his work, writing or speech to produce instances of such self-pity from James Randi. His is the kind of heart we need now more than ever in this movement, a heart that will bleed for the exploited, the deceived, the oppressed and a heart that is FLINT against the slings and barbs that may be thrown back against it. If somebody cannot agree with me on that kind of sentiment then one of us no longer belongs within the skeptical community. It is with a legitimate sense of melancholy that I acknowledge that, given the wider community’s willingness, even eagerness, to embroil itself in personality led stuff-and-nonsense, that out of place relic of an earlier era, is almost certainly myself.

          3. M. A. Melby

            The fact that such a view could be put forward by somebody respected (even to some extent by me, though certainly on nothing like the level that he used to before this) as a voice and spokesperson for the movement

            And here is another example of the problem.

            I disagree = I disrespect

            It’s even worse when that disagreement is, at least in part, imagined.

            He said before your quote:

            When you hear a complaint that someone has raised, you might think that they’re expressing an irrational, emotional, over-reaction to the situation. You might even be correct –

            He also said after your quote:

            We need to make sure that people who express their concerns are treated with respect and compassion and that we make reasonable efforts to either alleviate their concerns or clarify why we can’t or won’t.

            So, explain why you would come to the conclusion that the unstated assumption should be:

            But lets address the assumption that must underlay this assertion given that Matt himself thinks that it has some relevance – that offense felt by others should lead us to change our discourse.

            I have a suspicion that he is thinking this is relevant because so many people have ridiculed Surly Amy for being upset – purely on that basis – not anything she did or even said, but essentially just pointing and laughing like school-yard bullies.

            Some have suggested than anyone who dares express being upset (especially at criticism) is not worthy of being among “us” “FLINT hearted” super-humans.

            http://sinmantyx.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/i-didnt-want-to-hurt-you-but-youre-pretty-when-you-cry/

            What I am taking from his blog post here:
            http://skepchick.org/2012/08/speaking-out-against-hate-directed-at-women-matt-dillahunty/

            Frankly, I have a deep suspicion especially considering the comments I received on my blog post I linked up there, that a great many people equate emotion with irrationality. Crying = manipulation; Talking about how one feels = drama queen; etc. It’s a pretty popular issue that people sometimes go into “panic mode” the moment someone becomes upset, especially when that person cries – and they blame there own reaction on the person who is upset.

            Also, I must say that given your examples of standing up to criticism – there is a lot of difference between standing up to a quack or a religious zealot, and enduring a great deal of harsh criticism from those that you admire and would have reason to believe are part of your social support within a community/movement. The psychology is completely different.

            Also, we are dealing with a GREAT DEAL of the availability heuristic and caricature. (Vilification, deification, blah blah)

            The social rules you seem to think are important are:

            Take harsh words or actions without complaint or emotional response
            Lose respect for those that say things you disagree with

            My proposed important social rules:

            Attack ideas not people

          4. Sellsword

            Thanks for throwing in the blah, blahs by the way. Maybe when I first explained that I disagreed with both sides you felt on some level that I couldn’t possibly be including your own in that. I would rather still keep things civil.

            “I disagree = I disrespect”

            Well in a very limited and specific sense. You seem to want to make it sound as if I think that the people who disagree with me have suddenly become shady characters or something like that. I don’t. People can do and say things that are less rational than I would like and that would lead me to regard them as…less rational. I’m not clear on why that’s unreasonable.

            If your issue is with me feeling that being a public skeptic requires a certain level of emotional resolve then I won’t deny feeling that way; by definition when you adopt a position like that you are putting yourself in open disagreement with many other people, often about things that are very emotionally dear to them. That’s just a fact. I not saying that anybody is not “worthy” of being among us, that very notion is ludicrous. As much as anything else by what possible mechanism would you prevent them (and what does it even mean to be “among” us)? Some people probably would be happier not throwing their hats into that particular ring, I think that’s true, but what they choose to do is entirely their decision.

            No I don’t think that “crying=manipulation” or anything like that.

            “there is a lot of difference between standing up to a quack or a religious zealot, and enduring a great deal of harsh criticism from those that you admire”

            Trust me this is in the eye of the beholder. Say for the sake of argument somebody else within the community finds that I believe in something that is in reality a quack cure. I fully expect them to call me out, excoriate me with evidence and I will then stop believing in that quack cure. That person would have helped me clarify my understanding of reality – that’s helpful. The community that features the harshest internal criticism in the world is the scientific community. Whatever it may be becoming in 2012 the skeptical movement did not used to be a social club, it was an activist movement, with goals. The goal of a club is generally to have fun in some way, people should be members of clubs and those clubs ought to have rules in place to make sure that people are able to have fun, because that is the goal of the club. I’ve never thought of it as the goal of the skeptical movement, but hey, I’ve already admitted that I’m behind the times.

          5. M. A. Melby

            No acknowledgement that you misrepresented Matt?

            Perhaps when I said “harsh criticism” I should have been more clear – I’m talking about personal attacks.

            When you have an unpopular opinion, you expect to get attacked. It is EASIER to deal with that when you have a group of people you can retreat too. In fact, for some, this is the ENTIRE reason that they are involved in the atheist community at least. I suspect that is part of the reason that skeptics are involved in their community as well, even though it is more goal oriented.

            If a skeptic started talking about how great alkaline water was for your health, obviously they should be able to deal with harsh criticism of that idea. They should not be called sexist names, have small swathes of the internet created for the purpose of ridicule or their emotional responses exaggerated and mocked.

            There is a real conversation happening about ideas; harassment policies, issues of civility, sexism, etc.

            Then there is noise that is nothing more than personal attacks and that’s unreasonable. When those attacks happen to be extremely sexist or vague; then we have a toxic atmosphere.

            Those who are discussing that problem are not the problem.

            I want to think I misunderstood you and you agree, but your example of Matt Dilahunty’s blog post illustrated otherwise.

  50. 50
    Jutland

    I agree that there is a serious issue here and that is has become too focused on certain incidents that are now polarizing people. With regards to Rebecca Watson, certainly she should not be subjected to threats of rape and assault, but by the same token surely she should report the people making these threats to the police? Likewise with the talks she has given at conferences where she has said women have been raped and assaulted at such events, surely she should be attempting to see the people responsible brought to justice rather than using the events for a nice soundbite with which to advance her own position whilst allowing other women to come to conferences where such individuals might be?

    It would be nice if people treated each other with respect irrespective of gender, race, orientation, or beliefs. Is it really impossible for people to use common sense on these matters?

    1. 50.1
      lilandra

      @Jutland Good for you. However it is not so simple to get the police to do something about it even when it is an assault. Sure some of it is reported, but part of the problem is tolerance and dismissive attitudes in society. If more people are aware that for example in the past 10 years 7 out 10 of reported online threats were reported by women, more people will call these people to task.

      1. Jutland

        @ lilandra

        “However it is not so simple to get the police to do something about it even when it is an assault.”

        No, getting things taken seriously is not easy and can be very distressing for the victim. However, reporting incidents to Rebecca Watson will see no action at all other than to hear it brought up at conference after conference. Another problem for the authorities is that some claims have no substance or are even malicious claims. This really does nothing for real victims, so identifying people who do make false claims is important. My thought here is that all claims should be taken to the police, they may see a pattern or even identify a previous offender, but nobody will know unless they try this course of action. The last thing anyone wants to see is the perpetrator of such acts going free and unchallenged.

    2. 50.2
      Sassafras

      certainly she should not be subjected to threats of rape and assault, but by the same token surely she should report the people making these threats to the police?

      I don’t understand why there’s a “but” in the middle here? She can report such threats to the police AND still talk about them; it’s not like she or anyone else has to choose just one.

  51. 51
    lilandra

    @Sellsword As to your disapproval of Dillahunty, I find it interesting that he has gotten nothing but At-a-boys from the skeptic community until he posted in support of denouncing hatred of women. I’ve never seen one criticism of him from our community until then. I think the criticism he has gotten has been unreasonable in light of how much good he has done and still does for the skeptic community. Also, there is nothing wrong with what he has said about feminism. The only explanation I can think of for the unfair criticism is that some people are not ready to look at the matter fairly.

    1. 51.1
      Sellsword

      There is no question that some people are not ready to look at the matter fairly. My criticism focused on WHAT he said and not who it was said in support of and I believe I was very clear on that in my relevant comment. Your suggestion that criticism of him is unreasonable is just an argument pro hominem. I’ve explained my objection to his stance:

      http://freethoughtblogs.com/aronra/2012/08/03/dont-read-this-if-youre-a-misogynist-mra-feminazi-femistazi-ftbully-rape-apologist/#comment-3807

      I think it is, at best, a thoroughly self-neutering stance for a skeptic to take. If you feel I am wrong, then how am I? How can skeptics express their positions if they are obliged to worry about causing offense to “true believers.” Much of what we have to say will offend some people in their deepest sensibilities. As Dan Dennett once said that’s “just too bad.”

      1. Sellsword

        As a postscript to my previous comment, I would like it to be noted that much of what Matt Dillahunty has said and does say offends some people in their deepest sensibilities and that fact has, quite rightly, never appeared to have stopped him from expressing himself so far.

        1. lilandra

          @sellsword The comment you linked to is not offending to people’s deepest sensibilities(paraphrasing). If you are speaking of his criticisms of religion, I did specify I was speaking of criticism within our community. Post a comment where he said something deeply offensive to the freethinking community such that it would “lead to the loss of of his intellectual credibility” as you have posted. Otherwise, you are adding to the undeserved calumny of a public figure.

          1. Sellsword

            I would have thought it self-evident that when I said that what Matt Dillahunty has to say deeply offends some people I was referring to his well-known and eloquent critiques of religion. If anybody was uncertain about that, then that was in fact what I was talking about.

            The notion that we should have one standard of behaviour for people within our community and a different standard of behaviour towards those outside of it is one that I reject absolutely. Even if there were no other grounds to do so then the breathtaking hypocrisy of such a position would be reason enough for me, but I can actually think of at least two other good ones.

            1) Firstly people within this community often disagree about deep-seated, fundamental issues. These disagreements should be debated frankly and such debates should not be hampered by concerns about causing offence.

            2) Secondly the skeptical community is not some kind of formal organisation that someone can official join or later be expelled from. Anybody can assert that they are a member of it and their capacity to be viewed and respected as a member will be based on their ability to assess evidence, reason logically and debate clearly. If a homoeopath states that they’re a member of the skeptical community because they agree that its hugely unlikely that the Loch Ness monster exists, I’m not going to ignore the fact that they believe in homoeopathic witchcraft because calling it that might call them offense.

            Now on the subject of Matt Dillahunty threatening his intellectual credibility; as I explained in a previous comment, but will reiterate here, it is NOT because he has said anything offensive to skeptics or anybody else(quite the reverse), it is because he is choosing to state that skeptics should take the possibility of causing offense into account within their discourse and change their discourse to reflect that. Such a position is not tenable for a skeptic, essentially every meaningful thing we have to say offends somebody. I regard attempts to have some different standard for people who identify themselves as belonging to the community to be equally untenable, for the reasons I have outlined above, as well as for the simple reason that when we choose to speak out on topics such as religion and other woo we are effectively asserting a right to cause offense ourselves, even though causing offense is not our goal. Given that fact, I would find it difficult to claim morally that we have some right not to be offended in return.

          2. M. A. Melby

            it is because he is choosing to state that skeptics should take the possibility of causing offense into account within their discourse and change their discourse to reflect that.

            No. He didn’t. He essentially said the opposite of that. He also didn’t make a distinction between how you should treat the “in crowd” and the “out crowd”.

            I’m the one who said those had psychologically different effects, but I never said that we should be treating people differently depending on their “in” or “out” group status.

            Taking out the quote you did without the context and clarification that I mentioned earlier is essentially quote mining.

            You agree with what he actually said, and then argued against an assumption you made that was refuted right before and right after the quote you choose.

            So, that’s not cool.

            Do you think it would be fruitful to the discussion for me to talk about how I’ve “lost respect” for you and accused you of lacking intellectual integrity and honor?

            Of course, if I explain this over and over again and you just keep chipping away at an argument/statement that nobody made as a means to judging them, you’re absolutely right that it’s difficult not to think less of someone.

            However, it’s polite to try to have the conversation first, ask for clarifications or evidence, before going straight there.

  52. 52
    lilandra

    I am going to put what you said about Dillahunty’s credibility back in context (bold emphasis mine)

    But my reading of this article series provided me with another example in support of my initial thesis; that people who have spoken out on behalf of either side in this argument (I will not dignify them by referring to them as having “positions” or as engaging in a “debate”) do so to an inevitable loss of their intellectual credibility. Specifically Matt Dillahunty (normally an erudite, intelligent and clear spokesperson for our community), who said this:

    “You don’t get to decide what someone else finds offensive.
    You don’t get to decide what someone else finds uncomfortable, unwelcoming, disconcerting, stressful, harassing, troubling or painful.”

    It is not as you are saying; you actually said if anyone comments on this from either side, they will do so to a loss of their “intellectual credibility” case in point Dillahunty’s statement.

    1. 52.1
      Sellsword

      I did not deny having said any of that; it has indeed been my observation that the people who decide pick a side (either side) in this excessively emotive and polarizing issue inevitably seem to either feel bound to adopt positions or make statements that are either unhelpful at best or further polarizing at worst, or they quickly descend into just making snide remarks and bickering like children. Or indeed they may do both.

      Doing any of those things will reduce a person’s intellectual credibility in my eyes. To varying degrees and perhaps not in other people’s, but I can only give my opinion on such a thing.

      Perhaps other people whose commentary on this issue I have not seen have done better, but I cannot speak to that, because I have not seen it.

      All that is my opinion, I admit, I claim it, if anyone asks I will own it. I have written at some length now in this comments section trying to make clear my position. I certainly never intended to suggest that my position had changed and to be frank, I don’t actually think that anything have written really is written in such a way as could reasonably be expected to give that impression to a majority of readers. I will cling to the hope that I am merely being woefully misunderstood and not wilfully misunderstood.

      1. lilandra

        I don’t see Dillahunty’s statement as unhelpful, snide, or childish. I am also not sure how anyone’s intellectual credibility could be at stake for discussing this unless they argue dishonestly. I agree it has been polarizing, but if the homophobia argument had been polarizing to our argument would it not be worth having?

        1. lilandra

          edit- our community not “our argument”

          1. oolon

            Seems like a freudian slip describing the community well – a pride of lions, a shiver of sharks and now an argument of sceptics.

    2. 52.2
      ccdimage

      Here is my 5 cents on Matt.
      In this case he is making emotional arguments. Reason trumps emotion. The weakest reasoned argument will for me destroy these silly emotional “feelings” arguments.
      People who resort to this type of emotional argument seem to be common here, this is not what I consider scepticism.

      1. M. A. Melby

        What?

        HOW?

        You’re confusing discussing emotions/offense/etc with USING them in an argument.

        NO.

        1. ccdimage

          Dismiss opposition with statements like “extremely hateful people”, “These individuals are beneath contempt.”, and “They aren’t decent people disagreeing”. These are emotional arguments demonising the opposition rather than responding to any actual point they raised.
          Demands ‘respect’ “they’re malicious little thugs who are lashing out in response to the fear that someone might actually expect them to treat another human being with respect.” This is clearly an emotional argument. (Civility =/= respect, buy a dictionary).
          “When someone expresses a concern that something is making them feel unwelcome, we need to address it. Period.” Why? There is no logical argument, this statement is just an emotional deepity.
          “we need every decent person to participate.” Implying that disagreement or not caring makes you a bad person.
          I will boil down his argument (perhaps unjustly) to – I think position X is bad position, Y is a good position, and if you don’t agree with me, or you don’t care for either position then you are a bad person.

          1. M. A. Melby

            I’m pretty sure he is saying that there is a level of civility that we should actually enforce. I agree.

            Addressing it isn’t saying it is valid or requires accommodation, only that when it happens it needs to be addressed. It needs to be addressed because we want people to feel welcome, and trying to figure out why people might not feel welcome is sort of a good idea if you want to change that.

            It is possible that if we take the time to understand why this might be the case we can then take reasonable steps to make our online spaces and conferences more welcoming.

            However, he emphatically says that “what we do” might be to explain what we are NOT going to do.

            This is what many FtB blogs are doing currently with moderating comments sections. A couple have decided that allowing unrestrained insult-culture is LESS conducive to a marketplace of ideas than a few rules are.

            Somehow discouraging someone from telling someone else to go fuck themselves isn’t stopping anyone from explaining why the alkaline diet is really stupid and doesn’t cure cancer.

    3. 52.3
      Jutland

      “You don’t get to decide what someone else finds offensive.
      You don’t get to decide what someone else finds uncomfortable, unwelcoming, disconcerting, stressful, harassing, troubling or painful.” -

      This is a good point from Matt, but there is a flaw to it in that you often do not know what will cause offense, make someone uncomfortable, or find harassing, that is often down to the individual recipient. Certainly there are obvious cases where this should be predictable, but I am sure almost everyone here has at sometime inadvertently caused offense or upset another person unintentionally. I have certainly fallen foul of this when trying to break the ice with a member of the opposite sex and when trying to be very diplomatic and correct within the workplace only to find that the communication process broke down in an unforeseeable manner and ended up as an uncomfortable situation.

      We dont get to decide what someone else will object to, but sometimes you have no way of knowing that until it is too late.

      1. M. A. Melby

        I think several people are not taking him literally ENOUGH.

        He isn’t even suggesting that you TRY not to offend people in many situations, only that you can’t MAKE them not be upset or offended at whatever they happen to get upset or offended by.

        What we are getting is NOT, “I know you are offended by this, but I’m going to do or say it anyway, because I feel I am justified in that.”

        We are getting, “Quit being offended! You don’t have a right to be. When you get offended it pisses us off.”

        When Matt (or most other atheists) discuss religion, we tend to offend some religious people by saying things we think are true or questioning their beliefs.

        When they get mad or upset, we should be able to justify that offense. “I understand this offends you and might be uncomfortable, but I’m just being honest and I think the truth is important.”

        If we can’t justify what we are doing that is upsetting someone else, than we are hurting someone for the sake of hurting them, or attacking just for the sake of attacking, or being hostile because it’s fun.

        That might be enjoyable for some people, but especially when the ways in which they are hostile attack groups of people, it creates an unfriendly atmosphere.

        Here is a recent comment on PZ’s youtube vid about TF:

        It still boils down to one thing:  You axed him for disagreeing with the party line on sexual harassment, and labeled him and anyone else who disagreed with Twatson as trolls.

        Dang PZ, I thought you were better than this. Seriously.

        vinesster 5 days ago 12

        The “12″ there is how many likes it got.

        Apparently at least 13 people don’t understand the difference between having an honest disagreement with someone and referring to her as “Twatson”; and don’t understand that the former is probably not why the person got labeled a “troll”.

  53. 53
    tigtog

    ccdimage upthread (couldn’t nest my reply):

    One thing that does piss me off, and I see it a bit, is when I am debating on a forum and out of nowhere comes the “I’m a female” post. You probably know the type, a person ill-equipped to debate about climate change or something like that making an attempt to get the 14 year old boys on side by playing the gender card.

    In my experience, actual women very rarely refer to themselves as “a female”.

    It was this playing the gender card activity that resulted in the creation a few anti-female memes like – there are no girls on the internet, and – t*ts or gtfo.

    In which case it seems a bit odd to blame women for men pretending to be female on the internet.

    1. 53.1
      ccdimage

      I think you miss my point. Whether they say I am a girl, female, or woman is irrelevant. The memes were a response to people playing the gender card. For example. PersonA asks silly question or makes a flawed argument and gets told they are silly. PersonA responds with that is why girls don’t come here, give a girl a break, or other such post identifying them as female. This is an appeal for to the basic appetites and instincts of 14 year old boys for support. Most annoyingly it actually works.
      The correct response is I don’t know that you are female and I don’t give a toss – This response can be in the form of a meme which appears sexist, but when used correctly is saying your gender is irrelevant.
      When making an argument.
      Reason > appeal to emotion > appeal to base instincts.

      1. M. A. Melby

        OH – so that’s why when I mention that I identify as female after being mis-gendered as male for half an hour, I get attacked!

        Then when I say “wtf?”, they accuse me of playing a card.

        Good to know.

        I think this might be a perspective issue. Just because someone mentions zie is a particular gender doesn’t mean zie is automatically using it to win arguments or get what zie wants. (I’m not saying that never happens, but sometimes it is assumed when it is NOT happening.)

        The correct action is to not say, “I don’t care!” (because that means you actually do). It is to actually not care. Just use the right pronoun after that, and stick to the arguments.

        If anyone has an instinct to get all giddy around the girls (or anyone) that’s sort of their own problem to work out. I don’t doubt it though, there have been studies about this sort of psychological issue where boys (boys as in young men) (hetero-boys I assume) do worse at tasks when a girls gives them the test or her voice is heard or worse if she is in the room (girls as in young women). Presumably this is because of a certain level of stress associated with her presents. Thing is – unless we want to go to burka-town, we can’t start blaming girls for this.

        (I really wish I could find this study for you, but I can’t remember enough details for search for it effectively. So – grain of salt.)

        1. oolon

          I remember reading this some time ago – http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/apr/21/girls-boys-english-grades

          In real schools the effect was only in English and pretty small. I think this idea that men get all ditzy around women is, in part, responsible for the ridiculous MRA concept of ‘white knighting’. You are dismissed when agreeing with women (Or anonymous internet users who identify as women) as trying to get laid. Especially ridiculous in the realm of the internet given said women could live 1000′s of miles away and/or not be women at all.

          I personally think showing off or wanting approval is common across the genders and we want this attention from both genders to establish status. Saying ‘Give a girl a chance’ or similar is not necessarily working just because of sexist attitudes or some form of white knighting. You are admitting you are wrong and you are putting yourself in a submissive position deferring to the other persons alpha status. The immediate response from the person or persons on the other side of the argument will be to relax and not feel threatened by this girl/boy or person who identifies as a lower status. The conversation will proceed in a much more friendly manner once one side bows down to the other.

          My dog used to do the same when involved in a conflict – roll over and show her stomach to the other dog – once identified as non-threatening and a lower status they usually got on a lot better.

          1. M. A. Melby

            There might be some weird “alpha status” thing going on, but this has actually happened to me a few times.

            I am NEVER assumed to be female – I’m just not. I also have “man” in my youtube and blog title “sinmantyx” – so people have a little bit of an excuse I suppose.

            I’ve simply said, “Just so you know, I’m a woman” or “That’s “she” btw” and somehow this makes them all indignant. It didn’t really dawn on me that ANYONE would assume that I was saying that to get an *advantage* in the argument, because it is almost always the other way around, as I am more likely to be dismissed and not treated as seriously. I just get sick of being assumed male – as if it is the default.

            I wonder if I used default “she” all the time if any man that corrects me would be accused of playing a card? I mean, it might happen. Perhaps just the statement clarifying that seems strange in conversation since in most other forms of communication it is usually assumed.

  54. 54
    Jakie_paper

    @AronRa I’m waiting for you to apologize for your “real harassment” jab. It stinks of the “Bitchez alwayz be lying” trope, as well as the pervasive attitude Whoopi Goldberg clearly shared with her claim, “Well there is “rape” and there’s “rape rape”. At what point exactly and who gets to decide when a woman has REALLY been harassed, threatened or raped? Because it seems that in each of these scenarios the woman involved is not ever considered a reliable source. That’s rape culture and you are perpetrating it. I’m incredibly disappointed.

    1. 54.1
      M. A. Melby

      For goodness sakes, he was already been asked what he meant by that and he hasn’t posted since. Some people actually don’t hang out on their blog constantly – some even go entire days without going on the internet.

      Yeah – that deserved, very much, a “What now?”. However you are the reason that I have to explain to students at the beginning of the semester that if they send me an e-mail on Friday at 10 p.m. they shouldn’t accuse me of ignoring them if I haven’t gotten back to them by Sunday morning.

    2. 54.2
      oolon

      Are you referring to a different thread? I see him say “REAL misogyny” but not “real harassment” in this one, anywhere… In fact in that comment above he acknowledges that the comments and emails to skepchicks constitute real hate. I see people after his comment ask for clarification as they interpret that comment to be along the lines you suggest – but there is little to go on there? He even makes it clear he relies on others to provide his information on this subject and he has no personal experience.

      Comparing men being heterosexual vs ‘real’ misogyny is a dangerous line to draw I agree. A lot of behaviour is dismissed as boys being boys which minimises its effect and blames the victim for taking it seriously. I’m not sure I know what real misogyny is – I personally think it is when someone takes the objectivising of women so far they really think any given woman’s role is to make them sandwiches and provide sex on demand (Or some such caricature of reality). So when they find the real world conflicts with this they blame the women and end up hating them for not conforming to how the real world ‘should’ be. This is surely an extreme and while staring at women’s bums in public or wolf-whistling is sexist it is not misogyny? Maybe that is near the line he is trying to draw…

    3. 54.3
      aronra

      Jakie_paper, I will explain the ‘REAL misogyny’ comment the same way I did before, below the article I wrote for Taslima Nasrin’s blog.

      “As Cristina Rad [ZOMGitsCriss] pointed out in one of her recent videos, there are some few feminist extremists who consider any sexual attention to be inappropriate, a form of abuse. Zomgits said that such women even questioned whether she should call herself feminist because we can sometimes see her legs. A feminist should be able to dress sexy if she wants to. A misogynist would say that she has to dress that way even when she doesn’t want to.

      Ashley Paramore [HealthyAddict] addressed this recently too, wherein she said that men simply desiring sexual relations with women who appeal to them does not qualify as sexual harassment. She said it isn’t harassment until those invitations are repeated long after they have been denied and are known to be unwelcome.

      These are two women I’ve known for years and feel very close to. They both admit a basic human compulsion -even within themselves- toward sexual gratification. At the same time, both of them have had to find tactful, respectful ways of keeping some wolves at bay. I’m proud to say that I have even acted as the designated cock-blocker on occasion. I’ve been called on to be a stalker-stopper too, and I don’t mind that either.

      Two or three decades ago, I had both men and women coming onto me so forcefully that they would not accept any polite means of rejection. Fortunately most people are not that beastly. How this issue has been exaggerated to extremes is that we are so willing to defend a homosexual lifestyle as a matter of human rights, but we’re expected to suppress heterosexuality as if it is always a criminal threat. It’s not, but it is a very powerful drive, and is therefore difficult for some people to manage and maintain dignity at the same time.”

      Now Jakie, I can hardly apologize for statements I have neither made nor implied, but openly denied. So how did you interpret what I actually said into what you thought I meant?

      1. M. A. Melby

        I suspect it’s because the sex-negative feminism that you mention in your quote isn’t that terribly popular, yet many feminists are accused of having a sex-negative position when they don’t (see the quote from PZ’s vid in comment #55).

        Simply saying that something is annoying or unwanted is sometimes interpreted BY THE LISTENER as:

        (Thank desertphile for, yet again, giving me good examples of wacky shit.)

        A man making lewd suggestions to a lone, trapped, isolated woman that he does not know in an elevator is assault and threatening. Any man who does not understand this needs to be monitored by law enforcement, and his parents should be fined.

        Yeah – no.

        It should go without saying that a straight man being a straight man is not misogyny. Just like when we’re talking about sexual harassment – we’re actually talking about something someone does to someone else.

        I know you were talking about misogyny in your original comment, not sexual harassment. However, you mention unwanted attention in your clarification.

        What current arguments have been about has been: Is a person (any person) entitled to touch someone else without finding out (somehow) if that’s okay? I don’t think they do. However, then we start getting into the messy business of what constitutes consent. That isn’t a trivial question.

        I discussed this with Carrier earlier: http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/1679/comment-page-1/#comment-15036

        Unfortunately, what you said *sounds like* something that many woman and girls have heard in their lives “boys will be boys” – essentially forgiving boys and men for being really terrible because supposedly straight guys are so crazed by their hormones (or something) that they can’t possibly not run you down in the hallway in a small pack and try to rip your shorts off (yeah, high school sort of sucked for me in some ways).

        It’s not necessary to pro-actively explain what your saying with the assumption that enough people reading it are so completely off their rocker that you have to make distinctions between BEING a straight man and being misogynist or sexually harassing someone.

        Now, I know we aren’t in school anymore, but the AAUW created a report on harassment in schools, and I thought this section might be at least tangentially relevant.

        Many of the students who admitted to sexually harassing
        others didn’t think of it as a big deal (44 percent), and
        many were trying to be funny (39 percent). Only a handful
        of students who harassed others did so because they wanted a date with the person (3 percent) or thought the
        person liked it (6 percent). Thus, sexual harassment does
        not usually appear to be a misunderstanding. Few harassers
        see themselves as “rejected suitors,” and many appear
        to be misguided comedians or simply students who are
        unaware, or unwilling to recognize, that their actions
        may bother others. These findings suggest that prevention
        efforts need to address when humor crosses the line and
        becomes sexual harassment. Moreover, for some students,
        understanding that sexual harassment can indeed be a big
        deal for other students is a necessary first step.

  55. 55
    Sellsword

    @ M.A.Melby

    Well the doubts I was starting to have have been thoroughly confirmed, so I will combine answers to these posts:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/aronra/2012/08/03/dont-read-this-if-youre-a-misogynist-mra-feminazi-femistazi-ftbully-rape-apologist/#comment-3884

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/aronra/2012/08/03/dont-read-this-if-youre-a-misogynist-mra-feminazi-femistazi-ftbully-rape-apologist/#comment-3885

    into one post and present it exclusively for the benefit of any interested third parties who might remain.

    Being forced into these quarrels is not my preferred position, but I respond to the “arguments” I’m confronted with, not those I might wish to be confronted with.

    “No acknowledgement that you misrepresented Matt?”

    Well no actually. For the same reason that I won’t acknowledge that I’m a burglar. Because I’m not a burglar. And my failure to admit to those things is not some kind of victory for you. But here’s an admission I will make; you got me Melby. There’s a veneer of engagement and civility to your posts that made an old cynic like me believe that you’d made a genuine emotional investment in the skeptical community. Silly, silly me.

    Now Matt Dillahunty said:

    You don’t get to decide what someone else finds offensive.
    You don’t get to decide what someone else finds uncomfortable, unwelcoming, disconcerting, stressful, harassing, troubling or painful.

    You aren’t the world: everyone isn’t exactly like you.

    And I felt that, if making a statement like that was to have any point to it, the implication must be that, because we “don’t get to decide what someone else finds uncomfortable, unwelcoming, disconcerting, etc”, this should have an effect upon the discourse we arrive at as a skeptical community. To put this into my own earlier phrasing, so that it reflects your earlier quotation of me:

    “he is choosing to state that skeptics should take the possibility of causing offense into account within their discourse and change their discourse to reflect that”.

    WHY say such a thing otherwise? You responded by saying:

    “No. He didn’t. He essentially said the opposite of that.”

    So apparently he didn’t just say something different to what I said, but THE OPPOSITE. Which would be to say that we should disregard the possibility of causing offense when it comes to determining the tenor of our discourse; which would, ironically enough, seem to be far more closely match my position than yours! But then I am only familiar with the common usages of the words involved, I am not familiar with other usages, which may make them mean different things altogether.

    He…didn’t make a distinction between how you should treat the “in crowd” and the “out crowd”.

    I’m the one who said those had psychologically different effects, but I never said that we should be treating people differently depending on their “in” or “out” group status.

    Although you seem to believe it was, the passage that preceded this quotation was not yours; it was Lilandra’s, and she said this:

    “If you are speaking of his (Matt Dillahunty’s) criticisms of religion, I did specify I was speaking of criticism within our community.”

    I have said before (and still believe) that there should not be any difference in terms of how we treat people that we perceive to be members of our community and how we treat people that we do not perceive to be members of our community. My reasons for thinking so are given here:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/aronra/2012/08/03/dont-read-this-if-youre-a-misogynist-mra-feminazi-femistazi-ftbully-rape-apologist/#comment-3825

    Are there reason’s for thinking that we should pre-judge people in that way? Well, we must always allow PERHAPS, though I certainly hope not and such an argument has not been properly presented to me.

    “Do you think it would be fruitful to the discussion for me to talk about how I’ve “lost respect” for you and accused you of lacking intellectual integrity and honour?”

    Maybe it would do you the world of good within this new community? I don’t really mind. You’ve already talked about me “misrepresenting” people by judging their reputation by their words and not their words by their reputation. You say whatever you feel you need to say.

    On reflection I sit here and type these words and realize that I have made a mistake. Not in terms of what I have said; I have re-read my previous words (and I am by no means certain that I am not the first person to do so thoroughly) and I stand by them, but I clearly erred when I felt that it was worth trying to involve myself in this argument as an even-handed voice of reason and feeling that sufficient time had passed for such a thing to be welcomed. More than a year might have been felt to be long enough. Silly me for the second time.

    Unless I am presented with a new perspective on this issue this will be my final word. Anybody who want to feel vindicated by this is welcome. You guys are the future of skepticism. Good luck to you.

    1. 55.1
      M. A. Melby

      Yes. If you think that others are not worth your time, then you don’t.

      You misrepresented Matt. I doubt you did this on purpose, but you did.

      You agreed with what he actually said, then assumed that for what he said to be relevant, he must want us to “change our discourse” to suit anyone offended.

      He didn’t.

      He said that you don’t get to decide if other people feel unwelcome, become upset, are offended, etc.

      I’ll go one further and say that THEY don’t get to decide if they feel unwelcome, become upset, or are offended, etc.

      Humans can’t just decide how they feel. I can’t just turn off my “pissed off” switch if someone says that “men are women brain damaged by testosterone” for example. I can’t. I can however, decide what I do in response to someone saying that.

      So, I express to others why I am annoyed by that phrase and I explain why.

      Matt is saying that the best response to “I am offended” is not “Shut up you have no right to be” because nobody else gets to decide how I feel.

      However, he specifically said that someone’s offense need not change what we discuss or even how we discuss it – need not be answered with accommodation – only that we should be dealing with what IS not what WE might prefer.

      Surly Amy, for example, as far as I am aware – has asked for NO formal accommodation from ANYONE for her being upset by Hall’s T-shirt; yet she is being attacked for having a “hissy fit” about it. Hoping out-loud that those types of personal attacks become less frequent and less socially encouraged; is equated with censorship or “FREE SPEECH” or some such reaction to something never said.

      That equates to people being UPSET by the UPSET-NESS – not by anything action of even words, or any stance or an opinion.

      He deals with people being upset and offended ALL THE TIME. The best way to deal with it is try to understand it and then decide whether or not that understanding is going to change how you go about doing things. If you decide to go along your merry way, than that is what you do.

      What you said was that he thought that the offense or being upset SHOULD necessarily change what we talk about or how we talk about it (you changed “our discourse” to “tenor of our discourse” somewhere in there – which are very different things). He said something *very different* than that, which is that we don’t necessarily have to change what we talk about or how we talk about it in response to someone feeling unwelcome or being offended.

      I used to work in politics in college and was part of a lobbying organization. Eloquently saying insulting things – still sounds like insults to me. I find it much more respectful for someone to tell me to go fuck myself than what you just said, because the denotative meaning is the same but it’s not as patronizing or pretentious. Just sayin’. Now, I don’t think MY prefer social norms would be good for any community that wants to convinced anyone of anything and many people become uncomfortable with that type of bluntness – emotional expression – and uncomfortable honesty especially if they have been socialized to disregard the thoughts of the rude, so I try to put my academic diplomat hat on (well, as much as I am able) when I talk about these sorts of things NOT my art hat.

      That’s what I decided. I could decide something else. I could make a YouTube channel and do nothing else but shout obscenities at a camera loudly as I scream “Jenny McCarthy stabs babies dead with stupid” with some sort of peddle-noise backdrop. I get to decide how I act on the knowledge of what makes others offended or upset, I don’t get to just decide that isn’t the way the world works.

    2. 55.2
      M. A. Melby

      Now, to be painfully fair, Matt did also say this:

      Unfortunately, there’s also a vocal contingent of extremely hateful people who aren’t willing to honestly engage in the discussion and they’ve been venting – if not simply trolling. When there’s an expressed concern, or a proposed solution to a concern, they frequently respond with cartoonish arguments loaded with fallacies but the more disturbing responses simply include hateful threats of rape and violence.

      So, he did express a desire for a socially imposed “line” on how we treat one another.

      I don’t see this as a inhibition on “discourse” – unless you think “hateful threats of rape and violence” is “discourse”. That’s not discourse as in debate, education or even expressing perspectives on a topic.

      I’m not lying when I say that I’ve been (at least somewhat) involved in artistic communities that were all about exploring hyper-masculinity and the hatred of woman. Album covers would routinely show beaten half-naked tied up women. In that group, there is very very little social prohibition on sexism or even expressions of violence. There is also a culture of essentially playing a role within the group as essentially performance art – an inherent dishonesty that is not articulated but understood.

      I don’t see that as “discourse” in the context of skeptic and atheist communities.

      If you do – then yeah – Matt is totally saying we should change how we talk about things to make people feel more welcome by not threatening to rape them or being willfully dishonest.

      Of course there is a line as far as the treatment of others and you seem to agree.

      He is not suggesting that every time someone is upset or offended that we need to censor ourselves to make them more happy.

      He is suggesting that if someone feels unwelcome or is offended, that you bother to figure out why and then decide how to react.

      For example, if I said, “Folks, could you not use the term “retarded” to refer to people you disagree with, cause that’s sort of awful and your liable to look like jerks to many people that have intellectual disabilities or have family members who have intellectual disabilities” – you can decide to stop using the term “retarded” or not. If I suggest that comments be moderated to disallow the use of that language (which I’m not, just speaking hypothetically), you can either do that or not do that. Wasting time attacking me for being offended is sort of silly since you don’t get to decide whether or not someone is offended about stuff.

      1. Sellsword

        I’m going to break the “the no more contact” rule that I set for myself in my last post, because because you were courteous enough to provide a full answer to my post and so I think it would be rude of me not to do likewise.

        Also I have been asking myself if my responses so far have been fully governed by the rational part of my brain and I have decided that I have to be adult enough to admit that they haven’t been. Now I’m not saying this as some kind of intro to a total change of position of anything, but I will say that “rage-quitting” as I seemed to try to do in my last post here was not within my normal character and I apologise for it. A build up of quiet irritation with this situation was largely why I posted anything about it here in the first place and I should not project this onto people whose position, even if I disagree with it, is still more reasonable than most other peoples. So once again, I apologise for my own excesses, after much reflection I don’t think I could agree that my feelings are wholly unjustified in a general sense, but I will admit that my anger was misplaced.

        Well the first part of my answer to you ought to be an acknowledgement of new developments around this story. Matt Dillahunty has posted this video:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQEKXlSrziM

        Now I don’t altogether agree with all the points made in this video and nor do I agree that I misrepresented his specific statements that we discussed earlier. Perhaps those statements discussed only partially reflected his position, or perhaps one of us did not make our case clearly enough, either way there was a weariness to this video that I DO identify with and that makes me think that there is not much point in pursuing this issue further. The disagreement between me and Matt was always a matter of degrees anyway. I have spoken about (and still maintain) this issue’s capacity to damage reputations, but Matt would be my example of somebody who has emerged with only minimal damage.

        And so what do I make of Thunderf00t’s action re the email list? It was a dick move, a real DICK move. I was genuinely moved by Natalie Reed’s response to it;

        http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/08/10/all-in/

        She discussed it at length and I don’t agree with every single point she made, but this is clearly a person who doesn’t deserve to have even the potential of exposure hanging over her, and I have sent a message to Thunderf00t letting him know that I think that. I would like to know (before anybody thinks that I have betrayed myself and picked a side) why Thunderf00t’s actions are considered to be even comparable to the “Lousy Canuck’s” (now there’s an understatement), who released a slew of not only email addresses, but also IP addresses:

        http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/03/11/the-twenty-comments-in-my-moderation-queue/

        despite the fact that the comments form of this site says “Mail (will not be published)”. When challenged about this the Canuck replied “go fuck yourself with your rules-lawyering.” It sounds incredible, but I’m not making any of this up, anybody who doubts me can check the link.

        If I could just take a moment to address the Lousy Canuck directly (everybody else should skip over the rest of this paragraph). Hey there L.C. Thunderf00t screwed up big time. He behave immorally and he has caused pain and fear in a way that has no justification. He has NO right to even be perceived as threatening the anonymity of the bloggers who rely on their anonymity when they post on this site. So basically we all have to hope that he doesn’t do what you have ALREADY DONE, you worm, you slime, you hypocritical fool. This comment will give you an email address of mine, under a name I use (though thinking about it, it won’t give you my real IP). If you like I can send you a picture that you can print onto t-shirts that say “this guys a d*ck”, or whatever other kind of real world exposure gets you off, because if I’m NOT an enemy to guys like you then I’ve already betrayed my own principles.

        Moving on to other matters:

        He said that you don’t get to decide if other people feel unwelcome, become upset, are offended, etc.

        I’ll go one further and say that THEY don’t get to decide if they feel unwelcome, become upset, or are offended, etc.

        Humans can’t just decide how they feel. I can’t just turn off my “pissed off” switch if someone says that “men are women brain damaged by testosterone” for example. I can’t. I can however, decide what I do in response to someone saying that.

        I entirely agree with your one step further. It is entirely congruous with my previously stated position. Nobody controls their own feelings, or anybody else’s. We can subject our own feelings to subsequent interrogation though.

        Surly Amy, for example, as far as I am aware – has asked for NO formal accommodation from ANYONE for her being upset by Hall’s T-shirt; yet she is being attacked for having a “hissy fit” about it. Hoping out-loud that those types of personal attacks become less frequent and less socially encouraged; is equated with censorship or “FREE SPEECH” or some such reaction to something never said.

        I’ve been pretty busy for about the last week or so and so I had not been previously aware of the Surly Amy/Dr Harriet Hall business. If Surly Amy isn’t asking for any accommodation and Dr Hall isn’t offering any, isn’t that just where the story kind of ends? They can have their disagreements, it doesn’t really involve third parties.

        I used to work in politics in college and was part of a lobbying organization. Eloquently saying insulting things – still sounds like insults to me. I find it much more respectful for someone to tell me to go fuck myself than what you just said, because the denotative meaning is the same but it’s not as patronizing or pretentious. Just sayin’.

        Well I feel obliged to say, with respect, that this is a point of view that can’t be borne. Over the past year I have read many (justified) complaints from women who have been targets for vulgar abuse, sexual innuendo and everything in between. You can’t now turn around and say that that’s preferable to clearly written responses that disagree with you. I doubt those other women would agree with you. And if we supposed that they would agree with you, then what was their initial complaint?

        Something I have noticed is that everybody who’s picked a side in this row clearly wants to be the heroic figure in it. That is a role so much easier to adopt when everybody you disagree with is just swearing and cursing at you and its so much harder to adopt when they aren’t

        I’m not lying when I say that I’ve been (at least somewhat) involved in artistic communities that were all about exploring hyper-masculinity and the hatred of woman. Album covers would routinely show beaten half-naked tied up women. In that group, there is very very little social prohibition on sexism or even expressions of violence. There is also a culture of essentially playing a role within the group as essentially performance art – an inherent dishonesty that is not articulated but understood.

        I don’t recall ever suggesting that you were lying. Sexism within music and in album covers specifically has been a well recognised phenomenon since AT LEAST 1984 when Spinal Tap satirised the cliché in their mockumentary:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOSAumt6YF4

        I really don’t know what else to say. I am not personally responsible for that particular history of sexism and I don’t see it as one that’s particularly relevant to the topic under discussion.

        He (Matt Dillahunty) deals with people being upset and offended ALL THE TIME. The best way to deal with it is try to understand it and then decide whether or not that understanding is going to change how you go about doing things. If you decide to go along your merry way, than that is what you do.

        If you agree with that, then I’m not sure why you disagree with me.

        You’ve said:

        I don’t see this as a inhibition on “discourse” – unless you think “hateful threats of rape and violence” is “discourse”. That’s not discourse as in debate, education or even expressing perspectives on a topic.

        I had already said:

        I would never condone making rape threats and I think that the people who do so simply lay themselves open to being judged accordingly

        before you ever responded to me in this comments section at all and in case there was any remaining doubt I reiterated that point using still stronger language later. So am I meant to be my own counterpoint? That doesn’t make sense.

        Wasting time attacking me for being offended is sort of silly since you don’t get to decide whether or not someone is offended about stuff.

        I’m not aware of anybody who is suggesting that that is their right, but just in case somebody is, I hope it is at least clear that I am not. What I do not understand is why this concern that other people want to decide whether or not something is offensive seems to be the crux of this discussion.

        1. M. A. Melby

          Oh yeah, I know you don’t agree with having an uncivil social climate and neither do I. (I mentioned that very briefly in my post.)

          I know that eloquence and diplomacy have there place, especially in an organization that tends to be involved in attempting to be convincing or being involved in politics and “hearts and minds” campaigns.

          That’s why I *don’t* want a social climate that I might be personally more comfortable with (to an extent anyway), and I absolutely don’t want the social climate similar to that art communities that I’ve been involved with (that’s why I mentioned it).

          There is a culture of “outing” on FtB which is very controversial – including PZ not de-identifying threatening e-mails that he has received – though to be fair he is clear that he will do it. They are making distinctions, it seems, between the ones being threatened (or potentially harassed) with those they feel are hiding behind being anonymous in order to do the harassing. One of the people commenting on PZ’s blog published names in connection to the “Papa” rape-joke thing and PZ deleted it immediately the moment he knew it had been put up.

          I have mixed feelings about this practice, but I don’t condone it. I think giving out personal information *to the public* of people behaving badly is opening a can of worms. If someone is being threatening, that information should be documented and given to people of authority.

          We agree much more than we disagree, I suspect. We got off on the wrong foot there.

          “This issue” – the conflict that is happening in general – has many facets (such as those issues of what should be kept private and not and what are appropriate and inappropriate tactics, the level of civility that should be expected and when that expectation becomes stifling instead of welcoming, etc). Calling it ALL just a bunch of gossip and bickering (perhaps I read you too strongly there) just sounded too much like the same old, same old, bizarrely proactive divisiveness that is what is getting me all riled up.

  56. 56
    M. A. Melby

    PZ Myers, and his harem of Women-Who-Could-Not-Get-A-Date­-In-High-School have been an inexplicable embarrassment to the skeptic community. If only this gang of puritans would take their cache of scarlet letters and go play in Saudi Arabia for awhile, the rest of us skeptics could discuss human sexuality in an intelligent and enjoyable manner.

    TheTorJohnson 2 days ago 5

    Oh – that one’s fun too. It got “5″ likes. Yeah, I bet PZ Myers “harem” would be surprised to know they are so damned sex-negative!

    I won’t post anymore comments, if you want to go and watch the sexism on YouTube videos comments about “TF vs PZ” it is a quasi-enjoyable spectator sport: Notice that the people commenting refer to the personalities involved and refer to themselves as involved skeptics or atheists. Notice that many of the most sexist comments get the most “likes”. That means that they are not “trolls” in the classic sense. They aren’t just random uninvolved people saying terrible things to get a reaction, they are involved and popular enough to not be “just trolls”.

    Now, I don’t know a lot about the bloggers at Skepchick or Rebecca Watson. They could all be secretly worshiping Valerie Solanas shrines in their basements for all I know. What I’m seeing is that a sizable group of people (at least online) are not articulating specific disagreements with them, but are constantly referring to their vaginas.

    ….and a large number of other people, who probably aren’t so bad, are for whatever reason denying that this is happening or belittling it’s impact on the social climate.

  57. 57
    Ztoical

    I wonder Mrs.Ra is you’ve seen Gabby Shultz wonderful comic on the topic of sexism and the internet – http://www.gabbysplayhouse.com/webcomics/sexism/

    He produced it after cartoonist Kate Beaton posted the following on her blog: “dear internet, you are well meaning, but I’d like to make a point. when you tell a female creator you like her work so much you want to marry her and have her babies, you’re not doing anyone any favors. first of all, as cute as it sounds in your head, it’s a shitty, disrespectful ‘compliment.’ No one makes comics looking for sexual attention. secondly, by doing so you invite others to critique that person’s works based on their looks, which is uncomfortable, sexist and unfair.” and she was attacked online by trolls.

    1. 57.1
      M. A. Melby

      That was awesome.

  58. 58
    lilandra

    I liked it. This discussion nearly mirrored the comic only it didn’t reach the phase where expletives were used to silence it.

  59. 59
    Tessasaurus Regina, Queen of the Cretaceous

    “The original ranter I quoted continues trivializing the numerous rape threats Watson got as mere trolling, and to be expected as a public personality. ”

    Boy, doesn’t that just sum up the problem entirely? “You’re a woman with a public persona, you should expect rape threats. Get over it already.” Or, for a more generalized body of women, take out “with a public persona” and interchange “rape threats,” “rape,” and “sexual assault” as you see fit.

  60. 60
    Nyx

    Feminazi’s, really? As a Jewish woman whose lost 3 relatives in the Shoah I find it disgusting that you refer to an egalitarian movement as nazi-like.

    I’m also a feminist and the use of the term feminazi and femistazi is actually demeaning. When you use these terms it’s hard for people to take you seriously.

    In fact, I think you’re completely ignorant.

    Remember the difference between a nazi and a group of women who formed to give women the right to vote, own property, have battered women’s shelters, change the laws to accomodate mothers etc.

    1. 60.1
      lilandra

      @Nyx I am not sure what you are referring to. The beginning of my article is about labels, and how they can be inaccurate. The title is several labels, slurs, and insults others have used in this debate. The article warns against using labels. If you read the entire article, the conclusion you have drawn that it refers to the feminism to being nazi-like is unfounded.

      Therefore, I highly doubt that you actually read the article.

      1. Nyx

        I did read the entire article. I don’t think in this case the more you use a term like ‘femin…” the more it will lose it’s disgusting quality. The LESS you use it the better it will be. So by titling your post with that crap was totally unnecessary.

        I got that you were talking about labels but throwing that word around STILL isn’t right for the reason I’ve stated. It’s insulting on so many levels. Plus, you didn’t explicitly discuss why that term was wrong and yet you used terms that weren’t derogatory in your title.

        MRA is not derogatory. Feminism is not derogatory. You made it quite unclear by using all these terms together.

        I cringe when someone says femin…

        It’s so vile.

        1. Sellsword

          If I could just intercede for a moment.

          Nyx, you are quite correct when you identify serious faults in the term “Feminazi”. The intent behind that term is to equate the activities of some more extreme feminists to fascist notions of thought-crime and thought-control. This idea breaks down when you remember that there were incidents of the Nazi SS throwing live babies out of upstairs windows and using them for clay-pigeon type target practise on their way to the ground. There can be no response to that. Whatever criticisms might, rightly or wrongly, be levelled at aspects of modern feminism, to compare them to that kind of barbarity is ludicrously unfair.

          But Lilandra did not invent the term “feminazi”, it is usually attributed to “stand-up-comedian Rush Limbaugh” and it is now regularly used by people who don’t give much thought to its full implications. Lilandra wrote this article’s title in reference to the terms that people actually use, she did not invent them for this purpose and if they are used mistakenly (as I will certainly agree the term “feminazi” is), then that reflects a mistake upon the part of other people, not Lilandra herself.

    2. 60.2
      Iamcuriousblue

      While you’re correct in pointing out that the comparison between Nazism and most feminism is way over the top, I think you reasoning doesn’t stand. I’ll point out that Leninist Communism was also a “movement for equality” and in some countries actually played a salutory role in things like union organizing. Nonetheless, it supported a lot of terrible things, too, and historically was among the most pernicious ideologies in human history.

      So it is not an adequate argument to say that feminists are “for equality” and “build women’s shelters”. They can do all that and support some very wrongheaded things too. That much should be obvious.

  61. 61
    Jern

    I would like to know the author’s opinion on Rebecca Watson using the bully pulpit on Stef McGraw since that is where this elevatorgate issue really started getting blown out of proportion.

  62. 62
    Random Commenter

    “Whether you agree with Skepchicks or not do they deserve gender based hatred directed at them in the form of pondering raping them as a joke to shut them up?”
    Just a nitpick, nobody engaging in a open dialogue about any topic deserves any form of hatred, but I don’t think that the hatred is gender based, the fact that they are women is just a characteristic that “haters” use to intimidate them, the hatred is based on the skeptchicks arguments.
    Again just a nitpick I just dont wanna label this people as mysoginist just as dumbasses.

Comments have been disabled.