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.


  1. says

    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. says

    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. Ashley F. Miller says

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

  4. says

    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. Atheistwizard says

    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. celticwulf says

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

  7. Ashley F. Miller says

    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.

  8. says

    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. 😉

  9. Momo Elektra says

    “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.

  10. SallyStrange says

    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.

  11. Mattir says

    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.

  12. says

    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.

  13. carlie says

    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.

  14. says

    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.

  15. Nandy says

    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.

  16. R Johnston says

    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.

  17. says

    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.

  18. Stacy says

    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.”

  19. CT says

    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.

  20. says

    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. (

  21. carlie says

    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.

  22. says

    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.

  23. says

    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.)

  24. Tony... therefore God says

    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?


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