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Jun 15 2012

The point of the TAM harassment posts

I read the comment threads on a lot of these TAM harassment posts and many readers seem to miss the fundamental point:

DJ said women were not attending TAM because other women were posting about harassment at skeptic events. He justified this by saying no reports of harassment were made at TAM last year.

These “feminazi” posts are actually just a skeptical examination of his claim.  And since there’s a lot of evidence in favor of reports of harassment having been made, his conclusion, that women should stop talking about it, is without any evidence or argument to justify it.

At this point, it seems the more reasonable claim is that DJ needs to stop posting comments in blogs blaming women for low female attendance as that has directly led to several women deciding not to go.

Obviously, this is an emotional issue for a lot of the people involved, but we have to remember that emotions are valid and exist on all sides of the debate.  The point stands regardless: women are leaving TAM because of DJ.

29 comments

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  1. 1
    Kaoru Negisa

    I would argue that *now* women are leaving TAM because of DJ. Previous to this whole kerfuffle (not trying to minimize a serious issue, just like using that word)women were leaving TAM because of a lack of action on the part of organizers, which I suppose could mean DJ in a roundabout sense, in regards sexual harassment. However, harassment at a number of cons probably also contributed to this, hence the reasons why so many feminist bloggers have been bringing it up.

    However, at this point the very action of claiming that TAM has never had a complaint in contradiction of the numerous people who have complained, reveals either that DJ is not paying attention, there is no system in place at TAM to track these sorts of complaints, or he was lying to prove a point. No matter what the answer, it’s going to have a negative impact at attendance at TAM and any convention that doesn’t go to exceptional lengths to make their harassment policy clear and enforced. And that’s really the way it should be.

  2. 2
    Ophelia Benson

    DJ needs to do more than stop posting comments blaming women (and as far as I know he’s already stopped doing that – he posted some about ten days ago and that was it, I think). He needs to withdraw the ones he’s already made. Not just apologize to Rebecca for blaming her specifically, but withdraw the claims.

  3. 3
    Ashley F. Miller

    Yes, withdraw erroneous claims like a good skeptic. He can even do that without nonpologizing to anyone.

  4. 4
    Greg Laden

    DJ is just doing his job. The problem isn’t DJ. The problem is the patriarchy. I blame the patriarchy.

    He still has to resign, though.

  5. 5
    Atheistwizard

    I’ve never been to TAM nor have I read all the posts relating to the sexual harassment that takes place there. I do have a question however: If sexual harassment is so rampant (and I’m not saying that it isn’t), what can be done about it to make it stop? What is being done to solve the problem besides complaining about it?

  6. 6
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  8. 8
    celticwulf

    Dagnabit…I shoulda refreshed before I posted…Pteryxx wins all the internets with fast link posting skills :)

  9. 9
    Atheistwizard

    Thanks. I’ll have to dig into it more when I have the time.

  10. 10
    Ashley F. Miller

    The general proposals are for clear sexual harassment policies (several conferences have now done this thanks to the online conversation), better enforcement, and better reporting procedures. Also, to get conferences to recognize it’s a problem so that it can be addressed.

  11. 11
    Lou Doench

    I have come to the conclusion that Pteryx is actually a self aware part of the internet. There’s no other way to be so amazingly prompt. ;)

  12. 12
    Momo Elektra

    “Thanks. I’ll have to dig into it more when I have the time.”

    Apparently you had time enough to imply people weren’t doing enough to solve problems other people are responsible for.

  13. 13
    SallyStrange

    Haha! That would be SO cool! The internet is alive, and it hates the patriarchy.

    But no.

    In real life, Pteryxx is a small, hyperintelligent dino-bird. Watch out or zie will nip your ankles.

  14. 14
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    What? It’s DJ’s job to misrepresent the hstory of JREF responses to harassment at TAM? This is one of the most cynical images of organizational leadership I’ve ever heard, and it’s a style of leadership that can cause lasting damage to the organizations that tolerate it. I’d prefer leaders who actually take responsibility for errors and work to correct them.

  15. 15
    Eskeptrical Engineer

    I will be attending TAM this year and, as a woman, I am concerned that if JREF doesn’t come out with a very strong harassment policy soon, there could be increased harassment compared to previous years. People are now aware of the problems with the existing policy and the lack of reporting and record-keeping, which could embolden some harassers. Also, a lot of women have said they won’t be attending over this issue (and I absolutely don’t blame them), but I’m worried that those of us still going might be inherently viewed as “wanting the attention” for not staying home.

  16. 16
    carlie

    And I would bet dollars to doughnuts that any woman who does report harassment will get accused by at least one person of making it up in order to make it look like there’s harassment at the meeting and somehow score points that way.

  17. 17
    Michael Hawkins

    Unless DJ actually used the term “feminazi”, I really don’t see the excuse for putting words in his mouth. It’s annoying and dishonest.

    As for the reason women aren’t going to TAM, I’m perfectly happy to lay the blame at the feet of those in charge – since there clearly have been reports – as well as Watson. She’s a blight on Gnu Atheists, though, so I’m glad she’s staying away.

  18. 18
    Nandy

    Unless DJ actually used the term “feminazi”, I really don’t see the excuse for putting words in his mouth. It’s annoying and dishonest.

    Actually, Ashley didn’t do that. The way it read to me, Ashley was addressing the tendencies of some commenters to dismiss FTB harassment posts as “feminazi” posts. She wasn’t referring to anything DJ wrote.

    As for Watson, I’ll just disagree and go on my merry way.

  19. 19
    R Johnston

    The point is that the people signing DJ’s checks don’t view the JREF response to harassment complaints and reports as errors. They want an environment that tacitly encourages the harassment of women and discourages the attendance of women who don’t view themselves as meat market subjects.

    DJ is clearly doing his job. That’s a sad and biting commentary on the nature of his job and the people who employ him.

  20. 20
    Michael Hawkins

    That’s fair enough. I’ve never known Ashley to misrepresent anyone in her posts, so you’re probably right. That said, the use of fake-quoting people who disagree with any feminist position is rampant and I wish it would stop.

  21. 21
    Stacy

    That said, the use of fake-quoting people who disagree with any feminist position is rampant and I wish it would stop

    Fine. So call it out when you see it.

    And you might also want to address the people who fake-quote any feminist whose position they disagree with. That’s been rampant for months now. And yes, people have been called “feminazis.”

  22. 22
    CT Chimako.27

    Think Walmart or Bank of America. A lot of the things that happen in their culture is caused by managers’ need to not piss off the investors.

  23. 23
    Michael Hawkins

    I’m talking about when someone comes to the table with a perfectly reasonable position (right or wrong) and then gets the response, “You’re right, teh wummenz better shut up! Stoopid bitches!” I don’t see those sort of asinine caricatures anywhere except in FTB-style feminism and creationist babble. (http://synapticcohesion.wordpress.com/)

  24. 24
    carlie

    Well, Michael, when there’s a reasonable anti-feminist position that comes up, be sure to let us know. I haven’t seen any yet.

  25. 25
    Deen

    Unless Ashley Miller actually used the words “DJ called us feminazis”, I really don’t see the excuse for putting words in her mouth. It’s annoying and dishonest.

  26. 26
    Michael Hawkins

    Yeah, you’re right. I was probably just lying when I interpreted quotations as if they were quoting something.

  27. 27
    Michael Hawkins

    Carlie – How about this one? I was once told that it was sexist for CNN to show the midsections of two overweight women on an article about a study dealing with overweight women’s access to healthcare. Every so-called feminist in the thread agreed because pictures that focus on the bodies of women are (at least usually) inherently sexist. I disagreed because I adhere more closely to philosophies of intention than to ones of consequence.

    But let me be more succinct: Immanuel Kant came up with some pretty reasonable positions two or three hundred years ago. (And that doesn’t mean I hate women or that I’m pro-rape.)

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  29. 29
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Michael Hawkins:
    I disagreed because I adhere more closely to philosophies of intention than to ones of consequence

    Am I to understand that your place greater emphasis on the intent of others rather than the consequences of their actions?
    If so, how can you know anyone’s intent?

  1. 30
    The Roundup On Our Video With Eight Freethought Bloggers And Rebecca Watson Discussing TAM, DJ Grothe And Sexual Harassment At Secular Conventions. | Al Stefanelli

    [...] past weeks, several other bloggers here that have addressed this issue. Namely, Greta Christina, Ashley Miller and Jen McCreight. Of particular interest is Stephanie’s [...]

  2. 31
    Accusations of harassment at various skeptical, freethought, and atheist conferences stirs controversy within the atheist community | God Discussion

    [...] threats of violence, especially when he asked why women are not attending TAM.  In fact, DJ also posted that women are not attending due to bloggers posting about harassment and then declared there were no harassment reports made at [...]

  3. 32
    Addressing some things Thunderf00t definitely actually said « The Hypothetical Bus Stop

    [...] up the Interwebs lately here. Jason Thibeault gives a timeline of the major events. Ashley Miller explains what the point of all this is. Teal Deer version: a few months ago, a few women in the atheist [...]

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