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Aug 02 2012

News Flash: Sexism still a huge problem

The following is a screencap of a Facebook conversation happening right now.  It is a lesson in how not to be welcoming to women in the movement.  And I would like to point out that the person who is recievng this abuse is a woman in a position of power.  I cannot imagine what a girl who is not already a member of their group would think when looking at that.  Hey, would you like to join our group, I promise to tell you if you’re hot or not.

Zack Fowler, ladies and gentlemen:

For those who cannot see images, the conversation goes as follows:

Kelley Freeman: Hi SSA at EKU! I’m Kelley and I’m the Volunteer Network Coordinator for SECAA (Southeastern Collegiate Atheist Alliance) and a leader of the SSA affiliate at USC (formerly Pastafarians, now SSAUSC). I’m sort of in charge of helping to facilitate networking between groups within the region and such. I also operate as something of a ‘second’ for Gordon Let me know if you have any questions. SSA at EKU leaders are more than welcome to add me especially. :D

Zack Fowler: 10/10 would bang.

Kelley Freeman: Cool story, bro.

Zack Fowler: Figured you would need a pretty blunt greeting. We’re rowdy and crude and hungry for babies. You’re welcome to stick around and get nasty.

Kelley Freeman: Good to see this group is so welcoming to women.

Katherine Leonard: We’ve had a few feminism discussions now and then :p *thwacks Zack upside the head*

Zack Fowler: What makes me not welcoming to women?

Kelley Freeman: Dunno. Generally when I’m introducing myself with some professionalism, I don’t expect people to comment on my gender or looks.

Kelley is the very awesome president of my university’s SSA affiliate and someone who spends an unbelievable amount of time and energy working for the secular movement.  And this is the shit she takes from people who are on her side when she is trying to reach out to do her job… her job that she does as a volunteer.

This is what the problem looks like.  Can we please all agree that there is a problem and that we should be fixing it?

62 comments

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  1. 1
    julian

    Why keep such incredible jerks around? Clearly he’s not going to change.

  2. 2
    Alukonis, metal ninja

    10/10 would block from facebook immediately

  3. 3
    dogeared, spotted and foxed

    Oh, for fucks sake. Kelley Freeman is doing a terrific job of explaining why this is a problem. Hopefully, they’ll listen instead of attacking her for not placating the local twit.

    Also, how creepy is that “play nasty” stuff? It sounds like Zack has been using that as an excuse to be an ass for some time now.

  4. 4
    ZeLinator

    Fucking turd. I too have to keep a close watch on my unconsciously self-selected group of White Males in my university’s group to make sure objectification, sexism, and especially glomping don’t drive people away.

  5. 5
    Miriam

    Ashley, you should go back and get the rest of the comment thread into this post.

    Just now he produced this:

    “Thanks for assuming so much about the group based on my behalf. Talk about power. Anyway, you’re a candy ass and entirely too serious. And what exactly do you expect the “group” to do? Take arms and run me out of town? Welcome to the internet, kid.”

  6. 6
    Ophelia Benson

    Sigh.

  7. 7
    eyeedinburgh

    The discussion topic just below that on their FB page is: “Why should or would a woman be loyal to, or follow, or support a religion that is biased against her and all women in general?”

    The irony, it burns….

  8. 8
    Avicenna

    What I found ironic was that the post underneath that one is about the abuse of women in religion…

    Because clearly they should join an atheist group where we can rate them by their beauty rather than by what they have to say.

  9. 9
    Paddy

    “welcome to the internet…”

    Exactly

    What he’s saying is: welcome to a forum where I can hide behind my keyboard and say the crudest, most disgusting, misogynist shit without suffering any real consequences.

    Social media really has ushered in a generation of ignorant, narcissistic scum bags. It’s so fucking disgusting I can’t stand it.

    I apologize to women, yet again, for the current crop of douchebags, who lack any sense of decency or empathy, and contribute nothing of value to society, except for perhaps video clips for the Darwin Awards…

    I’ve got nothing else….sigh

  10. 10
    Feminace, formerly Qurikythrope

    Holy fucking headdesk.

  11. 11
    gworroll

    I thought those comments were bad enough on TYT videos.

    Got to give him credit, he’s found a more inappropriate context for that sort of a comment.

  12. 12
    Gus Snarp

    Ugh. Horrifying. I truly hope this dirtbag will face the appropriate social consequences in real life.

  13. 13
    Jasper of Maine

    People suck.

  14. 14
    Chris

    “welcome to the Internet” works both ways. Naming and shaming is easy, blocking is easy, setting to ignore is easy. People like Zack should be given a chance to explain himself, told why his behaviour is unacceptable, then blocked and ignored. I assume there’s a policy somewhere that explains why his behaviour is unacceptable. Point him to it and let that be the end of it. Engaging in conversation just legitimises it …

  15. 15
    Catherine

    We’ve all seen these types of conversations go to really bad places and fortunately he took his leave before that happened. It was good to see people stand up and call him out in a respectful way for something that was objectifying and disrespectful. We need to strive to speak up each and every time or our silence can be taken as approval – we need to be better than this example.

  16. 16
    Will Radik

    This guy puts the “ass” in “classy.”

  17. 17
    Will Radik

    Explain himself? Maybe in an ambiguous case. “10/10 Would bang,” is hardly ambiguous, isn’t it?

  18. 18
    Pierce R. Butler

    Gotta wonder about that name.

    Louisiana’s best-known young paragons of freethought are named Zack Kopplin and Damon Fowler. It would be a particular shame if some schmuck “on the internet” succeeded in smearing both of them with atrocious behavior with which neither has (sfaik) any connection.

  19. 19
    Feminace, formerly Qurikythrope

    Point him to it and let that be the end of it.

    Well, golly, where would we be without someone swooping in to tell folks how exactly to handle such “delicate” situations that you deem not worth the time.

    One small problem, however:

    Engaging in conversation just legitimises it …

    WRONG. Engaging in conversation helps, if not the unrepentant offender, then the people reading along i.e. the lurkers. It helps the people who find such behavior fucking stupid recognize allies in the people with the spine to stand and engage in conversation. And hey, who knows, maybe (not in this case, obviously) a conversation might change the unrepentant asshole’s mind in the way that just ignoring it would.

    If it’s not your cuppa, then you’re more than welcome to skip the conversation, but please spare the rest of us such unhelpful “advice”.

  20. 20
    Feminace, formerly Qurikythrope

    “a conversation might change the unrepentant asshole’s mind in the way that just ignoring it would.

    wouldn’t should go there. All hail Tpyos.

  21. 21
    john

    His profile says he’s been “in a relationship” with Lindsey VanArsdale” since 2010. The poor thing.

  22. 22
    Chris

    And right there is what I don’t understand. I posted my opinion, which obviously shows support for and understanding of this issue and I get met with not just a dissenting opinion, but an explanation of why I’m a douche for expressing it. Niki tells me not to bother “swooping in with unhelpful advice”. Niki, you either think discussion of this topic is a good thing, (like you expressed), or you don’t. If you do, why tell me not to bother expressing mine? Is there just one solution to this – yours? I’m the type of person you should be engaging positively with. Instead, you tell me not to bother.

  23. 23
    Jen

    When I was the president of my SSA group, I would have indeed kicked him out of the group for that behavior.

  24. 24
    mojo jojo

    It doesn’t amaze me that people act like idiots behind the veil of pseudonymity that is the Internet. What does amaze me is that this behavior transfers to forums such as Facebook that are often tied more closely to their real identity (except for the worst trolls, who make fake accounts for trolling purposes.. )

  25. 25
    Chris

    Woah there Jen, according to Jen, “swooping in to tell folks how exactly to handle such “delicate” situations” is not needed according to Niki. Unless of course, your opinion is more valued and OK than mine as a former president… and woman (yes I am making many assumptions here – still a bit taken aback by Niki’s attack)

  26. 26
    Feminace, formerly Qurikythrope

    I do agree that discussion is important, which is why advice like yours (just tell the asshole he’s being an asshole and then block him) doesn’t help. You’re the one apparently against having a conversation. Me telling you to “spare us” (because, as I’ve explained repeatedly, it doesn’t help, and I’ve explained why already) isn’t some directive you have to follow and you well know it. Sniffing about how it’s just your “opinion” doesn’t make it immune to criticism.

  27. 27
    Feminace, formerly Qurikythrope

    Also, are you going to bother to acknowledge the rest of my post, where I explainwhy your advice isn’t helpful? Because if you’re going to focus just on the part where I suggest you stop.giving it, you’ve missed the point royally.

  28. 28
    Chris

    Niki, please don’t back away from what you said, or if you do, have some grace doing it. Putting up straw men and batting them down is easy. Reducing my criticism to “sniffing” is easy. Arguing and discussing the issues reasonably and rationally is a bit more difficult.

    Far from what you paraphrased I said: “just tell the asshole he’s being an asshole and then block him”

    …I actually wrote: “People like Zack should be given a chance to explain himself, told why his behaviour is unacceptable, then blocked and ignored.”

    So you see, my very first suggestion is to invite discussion.

    Again, I don’t understand your approach to the discussion – without even asking for clarification or why I think a certain thing, you attack me personally, and attack my position. Again, I am someone who (for want of a better term) is on your side. What do you seek to achieve?

    For instance, your assumption that I “don’t deem the situation worthy of time” is wrong. My suggestion has nothing to do with the worthiness of the issue or situation. It has to do with how best to approach and address the situation.

  29. 29
    Chris

    I did in my last post.

    1. As I explained, my first suggestion is to invite discussion, or at the very least give an opportunity for explanation.

    2. Your assumption that I “don’t deem the situation worthy of time” is wrong.

    If you want to ask me why I think my approach is the right one, I’d be happy to answer.

  30. 30
    Feminace, formerly Qurikythrope

    For starters, unless I completely misread, I assumed you were talking about blocking someone online in a conversation like this one, between commenters and I’m assuming Jen is speaking of removing the jerk from the group entirely, like what a leader of a group or an admin of the page can do(correct me if I’m wrong here please Jen.) in this case of the jerk being unrepentant after being told he’s being a jerk. What Jen is completely well within the group’s rights. My argument is between commenters.

    If I read wrong I’ll apologize. As it stands, the post you wrote smacked too much like “don’t feed the trolls”.

  31. 31
    Feminace, formerly Qurikythrope

    Then I may have misread what you posted, as I said further up to your response to Jen, and assumed it was some sort of Don’t Feed The Trolls thing. I apologize.

  32. 32
    Chris

    Niki, appreciate the apology. I can understand how my first post may have appeared directive or authoritative, but really I was on my phone in a movie theatre and the movie was about to start, so I didn’t have a chance to edit as I might otherwise have done to better clarify my position.

    Here’s what I think. (everything below is prefaced by “I think” and the caveat that I know things can get more complex than the picture I paint below.

    1. I think there should be a position outlined – for instance for SECAA – that clearly states what is acceptable behaviour. It doesn’t need to be a “policy”, but it should be explicit enough to not be open to interpretation. If there are specific issues (such as sexism), these should be addressed as part of the overall position.

    2. “10/10 Would bang” happens. Point poster to the position, explain that it is unacceptable, give an opportunity to explain. Poster engages positively, great. Poster continues douchery, block and ignore.

    The bigger picture for me is developing a consistency of position and consistency of approach from a community that is diverse and disparate. Coming together on issues such as this is important, because a) they take energy away from what the group should be focusing on; and b) unity on these issues gives more time, space and power to discussion of the issues of importance to the group.

    Happy to hear differing opinons.

  33. 33
    WoolyBumblebee`

    He apologized, if anyone cares to actually read the whole thing on FB.

  34. 34
    Captaintripps

    It sure was a candy ass apology filled with a lot of ifs and qualifications. It shouldn’t take a long paragraph to say “I was wrong for posting that sexist message and will refrain from doing so in the future. My apologies, Kelley.”

  35. 35
    Pieter B, FCD

    Dear Zack:

    If you posted a picture of, say, you and your mom, and I as the first commenter were to say “Damn! I’d fuck her, for sure,” how would you feel?

  36. 36
    WankMyCock

    2/10 would not bang.

  37. 37
    Christine

    This post brought this gem to mind…

    http://ccday2day.blogspot.ca/2012/08/a-flattering-introduction.html

    I explained it and put a screen shot here on my blog for your viewing pleasure. Charming.

  38. 38
    Mr.Kosta

    The ony “bang” shitstains like these deserve is with a brick in the head. I’m so fucking tired of these assholes giving us decent blokes a bad name.

  39. 39
    Mikey

    Engaging in conversation legitimizes it but we should also let him explain himself…

    hmmm…

  40. 40
    WankMyCock

    Poor you. All you want is to be understood but the trolls are tarnishing your pristine reputation. *manly hugz*

  41. 41
    Chris

    People should always have a chance to explain themselves. I think that’s fair. People misjudge context, situation, the social dynamic etc. all the time – I know I do. There is no objective ‘this is wrong all the time in every situation’ for “10/10 would bang”.

    I cause offense all the time by simply discussing religion with religious friends. Obviously, questioning religion is not wrong, but the decision I have to make is whether I forge ahead and cause offense at the risk of damaging the friendship, or say “sorry I offended you, didn’t know I would” and move on. I’m pretty regularly surprised when I do cause offense and have to make this choice.

    Saying “10/10 would bang” might be funny in the right context and in the right crowd. Kelley actually notes this, by saying “Dunno. Generally when I’m introducing myself with some professionalism, I don’t expect people to comment on my gender or looks.” That’s the issue – this is a group context, people don’t know each other, it’s more formal, there is already some discussion about sexism etc etc.

    I made a post in response to Niki about setting up the rules for everyone. That way, if/when people break the rules, you don’t need to explain every time – you simply point to the rules.

    I don’t think there is only one way to address this. I’m sorry if I indicated that there was and it wasn’t complex situation.

  42. 42
    Ashley F. Miller

    10/10 would bang

    10/10 would bang

  43. 43
    Chris

    *Like*

  44. 44
    Qwetzaqwetal

    This is a fair point. When I first saw this story, I thought it *was* Damon Fowler (as it took me a minute to recall the first name was different), and was horrified that after all the work people did to improve his life, he would go around worsening others’. It is perhaps just a coincidence, but an inconvenient one if so.

  45. 45
    Who Knows?

    Something tells me Zach’s response would include the acronym, MILF.

  46. 46
    Who Knows?

    He apologized, if anyone cares to actually read the whole thing on FB.

    If I make an honest mistake, like forget to pick up a loaf of bread on my way home an apology is an appropriate response. If I act like a complete asshole, then try to defend the behavior only to give up and finally apologize an apology is meaningless.

    Somethings you cannot take back and your dignity cannot be recovered.

  47. 47
    PatrickG

    Kind of with Who Knows? here…. but for the sake of clarity, here’s the apology he offered:

    Alright guys. I can see my actions have had unmeasurable and desirable repercussions. Let me take a second to apologize to Kelly for being less-than welcoming and to our SSA community as a whole for blemishing our organization. I’m sorry
    it escalated so highly and so quickly, and above all, I’m sorry it brought stress and shame to a very dear friend of mine. So please, allow me to make it up to anyone that I wronged. Let this be an exercise for all of us: sensitivity and atonement from me, and, hopefully, forgiveness from you.

    So I give him kudos for recognizing that his actions led to harm, and for recognizing that he “blemished” the organization. But it’s hard to escape the inference that what really motivated this apology was that he caused harm to a close friend.

    In other words, I don’t think he really feels he did anything wrong, but at least he did acknowledge his mistake in this instance. Possibly a teachable moment for him; he does, after all, have friends this behavior hurts, and he hopefully realizes this now and can generalize now or later. I’ll hope that’s the case.

  48. 48
    SallyStrange

    Yeah, douchebag, “welcome to the internet”, where women don’t have to take your sexist bullshit lying down. Don’t like having your sexist bullshit called out? Don’t like being called a sexist? THEN DON’T SAY SEXIST THINGS AND DON’T ACT LIKE A SEXIST.

    It’s pretty fucking simple.

    Guys like these are going to either wise up and act like adults or be left behind, that’s all there is to it. And fence-sitters who “see both sides” need to stop waffling: this guy is wrong, and we are right. There’s no place for such fuckery in the movement, not if it’s ever going to grow beyond being the province of privileged white boys and men.

  49. 49
    sumdum

    Like.

  50. 50
    WoolyBumblebee`

    So some of you wanted him to apologize, he did, and now it’s not good enough? No matter what a guy does, he is screwed. No allowance for any screw-ups right? Let’s just hang any and all men who do not fit perfectly into the radfem ideal. How ridiculous can you be? All this energy wasted on such trivial crap when REAL misogyny and abuse of women happens every day, and all you people can do is waste time on a random FB post? Way to go guys!

  51. 51
    Who Knows?

    WoolyBumblebee, an apology is for honest mistakes.

    A mindset that allows you to think it is ok to respond to someone who is publically introducing themselves as a member of an organization with “10/10 would bang” cannot be apologized away. It is just too offensive.

    You don’t like it? Too bad for you.

  52. 52
    julian

    10/10 Wish would stuff a sock in it.

    10/10 Unlikely to ever say something helpful to a discussion.

    10/10 Def annoying.

    Anyway, from the sounds of it, he’s done this before and been reprimanded. As a guy who has issues doing what he knows is right (avoiding my more aggressive and violent rhetoric) I’m kinda sympathetic. But when we have a history of being “unwelcoming” why keep us around?

  53. 53
    julian

    Bumblebee, take your gaggle of dimwits with you and piss off.

  54. 54
    carlie

    He said he was sorry it escalated.

    He said he was sorry one of his friends felt hurt.

    He didn’t say he was sorry he did it.

  55. 55
    ...

    Dear God. There are uncouth loudmouths on the internet? Who knew?

  56. 56
    Pieter B, FCD

    “MILF” sounds a bit different when it’s your mom who’s being labeled as fuckable, so I don’t think he’d use it, but I wish I’d used it in my first comment. “Dude, wotta MILF! I’d fuck her so hard…”

  57. 57
    carlie

    Everybody. And we’re finally getting sick of it enough to call them little shits and try to shame them when they do it instead of just shrugging, ignoring it, and letting it take over.

  58. 58
    eNeMeE

    Can we please all agree that there is a problem and that we should be fixing it?

    Unfortunately not, since ‘we’ in this case includes a bunch of people who derive their social skills from somewhere south of their intestines.

    Fortunately we can point this shit out and call people on it – thank you for doing so.

  59. 59
    Proxer

    We should have a storeroom full of care packages to send every time anyone has to deal with sexist dumbasses like this.

    … we’d probably run out pretty quick. Oh well. We’re with you Kelley Freeman!

    Thanks for bringing this example to light Ashley.

  60. 60
    thetalkingstove

    >blockquote>Let’s just hang any and all men who do not fit perfectly into the radfem ideal. How ridiculous can you be? All this energy wasted on such trivial crap when REAL misogyny and abuse of women happens every day, and all you people can do is waste time on a random FB post? Way to go guys!

    There’s no hanging. A guy got told a comment he made was unacceptable.

    There’s no radical feminism being espoused here.

    Do try and control your hyperbole.

    And don’t bother with the “Dear Muslima” angle. Dawkins couldn’t make it sound reasonable and you can’t either.

  61. 61
    ...

    Yeah, good luck with that.

  62. 62
    scenario

    While I don’t believe that it is always wrong to comment on how someone looks, in this case it is obvious that the comment was wildly inappropriate.

    The apology/not apology got me thinking. In the adolescent psychology classes I’ve taken, they say that children’s first step towards a sense of morality happens at about age two. It’s basically avoiding punishment. They really don’t understand why something is wrong just that they will be punished if they do it.

    I wonder how many people in the U.S. never develop their sense of morality beyond this level. When I hear people discussing gay marriage, I hear people who do not seem to understand the question, why is gay marriage wrong? If they believe that god punishes gay people and their morality is based solely on punishment/reward, they may truly not have the ability to understand any why questions about morality.

  1. 63
    “Don’t Feed the Trolls”: Reexamining a Tired Maxim | Brute Reason

    [...] nasty comments rather than leaving them up and responding can be counterproductive. For instance, take this example, which some of my friends and I actually watched unfold yesterday. A female volunteer for the [...]

  2. 64
    Sisterhood of the Oppressed « Liberal Will

    [...] I started drafting this a week or so ago, two things have come up: the first, is a blog post by Ashley Miller about how a SSA affiliate president received rather unwelcome comments. And the second, and most [...]

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