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Jan 02 2012

The straw woman of the skeptical movement

Let’s break this one down sequentially:

1. Penn Jilette tweets a link to a “really wonderful” article his friend Mallorie wrote about her experience in the skeptic community.

2. I click said link.

3. I nearly vomit while eating my dinner because the article can be summarized as “I’m a woman who doesn’t feel uncomfortable in the skeptic community, therefore all those other women who complain are humorless, overemotional, and anti-sex. Don’t listen to them, listen to me because I’m part of the boy’s club!”

4. I get in a twitter fight with Penn Jilette and he actually responds, insisting that she’s “just right.” Yes, I know, my life is weird. He is totally bewildered by all the people trying to explain what’s wrong with her article.

Penn Jilette is a major celebrity in the skeptical movement and has traditionally played a major part in The Amazing Meeting, including throwing his Bacon and Donut party to raise money for the JREF. I know he cares about it, so I want him to understand why this article is so terribly, terribly wrong. Let’s break it down:

For as long as I can remember I have been welcomed in to communities which were generally considered “sausage fests”. If not for the constant noting of this fact I would have never noticed. You guys were always just my friends.

As I’ve gotten older these subcultures have become more vocal about wanting to include more women, the discussion has become “how can we make the community more welcoming to women”.

As a woman who has been here all along this is distressing to me, I love you guys for who you are, from my table-top strategy gaming group though my political debate forum right in to the skeptical community. You have never been anything but awesome and welcoming. Who made you think you weren’t?

The women who are seen as nothing more than sex objects and whose views and opinions are ignored or dismissed. The women who give talks and receive compliments about their appearance before the content of their presentation. The women who are sexually harassed by big names in the movement and are too afraid to speak up lest her social life or career is ruined. The women who make it clear that sexual advances are personally unwelcome, yet have their boundaries disregarded. The women who blog that are silenced by gendered insults and threatened with sexual violence, rape, and death threats.

The outspoken women who aren’t as lucky to have had awesome, comfortable experiences like you.

I am here, in my various communities because I like you guys, and I like the basis of the movement. The idea that you have to set time aside to cater to me, because my vagina imbibes me with some special needs is becoming increasingly insulting. These communities are about our minds, not our genitals and as far as I can tell my mind is just like yours.

Here’s the first straw man. No one is asking for communities to cater to our special needs, because being treated as equal is not a special need. We’re asking for exactly what you claim to want: recognition that these communities are about our minds, not our genitalia.

More recently I have noticed a trend among men in my communities, you seem to have been told that you’re  awful and need to change. Again, apparently because your genitals imbibe you with an inescapable assholism. Please never believe this lie. With all my heart I beg you to not make monsters of your gender. I like your jokes. I like your humor. I like the casualness and ease that no gender distinction has allowed us all over the years. You have never hurt or insulted me, you have brought me years of joy, wonderful debate, and stimulating conversation. By forgetting to see me as a woman, you have treated me as an equal, as a comrade, as a friend.

Again, straw man. No one is saying all men are evil misogynistic assholes, and that this is a trait somehow biologically predetermined by the presence of a penis. Were saying that the select men who are treating women poorly need to cut it out and treat us like human beings.

If your jokes or teasing manner offend some people, so the fuck what? Someone will always be offended by jokes, never let them make you believe that you are guilty of something worse simply because of your gender. If you want to make boob jokes thats fine by me, you have after all been making dick jokes since you were old enough to make jokes. Plus they are funny as hell. If you want to go free and uncensored among a group of like minded people, if you want to try to acquire sex from a like minded person, awesome, do it, sex and friendship are amazing. You are not a monster for wanting these things.  You are not a monster for attempting to acquire them.

Third straw man. This has nothing to with dirty jokes or flirting. Scroll back up to that paragraph I wrote about the kind of women who are asking for change. That’s what we’re upset about. Not crass jokes. I am the skeptical movement’s fucking patron saint of boob jokes. Don’t tell me that’s what I’m complaining about.

I type this with all of the warmth and sorrow of someone entangled in the most beautiful of bromances. I love you guys. And I’d like to slap the silly assholes who have given you the idea that you have mistreated me.

With all of my heart I beg you: Do not change. Do not change for me, do not change for someone else. You’re wonderful, just the way you are. If the day comes when you censor your language around me, when dick/fart/vagina jokes are not allowed because of my delicate gender, my heart will break as I wave goodbye in a search for a more open, natural, candid community that does not insist on seeing me first for my gender. And if you want to tease me because I am shedding a little girlish tear though an odd smile as I type this, thats ok too. But don’t ever stop being you.

Yeah, just do whatever you want! Who the fuck cares if you’re hurting people. If you’re racist, great. Homophobic, splendid. Sexist, woohoo! Because you should never change your behavior to try to be a better human being.

I did not enter this relationship with the intention of changing you all. I am enough of a grownup to know that is a terrible idea. I entered because I love science, truth, questioning, and curiosity. I love candor, and occasionally rough humor, I love the ingroup demeanor we have with each other. And I have stayed because you never insisted on seeing me as a girl.

And there’s the first part of a declaration of being part of the boy’s club. “Thanks for not seeing me as an icky girl.”

I came because I love what we are about, and I love you guys too. Don’t ever adulterate yourselves in an attempt to try to lure more vagina possessing patrons. I can think of nothing more tragic and disingenuous.

Keep joking with me, keeping being open and awesome and curious and funny, keep trying to fuck me, because I cant think of any reason why I would rather fuck someone else, we are after all human. I assure you I’ll return the favor.

And there’s part two: “Keep trying to fuck me.” That statement effectively communicates “I put out, unlike those sexless naggers, so you should keep me around.” It’s a straw man in itself, since no one is telling men to stop flirting or trying to get laid. We’re asking that you respect the boundaries that we clearly state, understand when no means no, and time your advances for appropriate social situations. Flirt with us in the pub night following the group discussion, not while we’re organizing a campaign to fight the anti-vax movement.

And I’m not sure how this logically flows with her insistence that guys don’t see her gender or treat her differently. Unless the whole skeptical community that she’s addressing is bisexual, and she’s the only one in on that secret.

In conclusion: Don’t ever let someone make you feel bad for being you, for being male, for being funny, don’t ever believe the lie that us delicate girls cant take being hit on, cant keep up with the filthy jokes, cant argue you blue in the face, and need special treatment. I love you guys. Don’t change.

Don’t ever believe the lie that those topics are what skeptical women have been shouting about for the last couple of years.

I’m glad there’s a woman out there who has had nothing but lovely experiences in the skeptical movement. I hope the number of women who feel that way grows and grows. But I hope none of them totally disregard the experiences of other women like Mallorie has. It’s salt in our wounds that Penn felt the need to promote this. Has someone so involved in the skeptical movement really not been listening to what we’ve been saying?

477 comments

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  1. 1
    BT Murtagh

    I like Penn a lot, but there is one cognitive error he’s badly prone to, and that is selection bias. When he wants to believe something, he will hunt until he finds some anecdotal support and is quite capable of ignoring mountains of evidence against his chosen position. He doesn’t want to believe this problem exists, plainly.

  2. 2
    Jonathan Figdor

    Interesting question Jen. Do you think you could coexist with an atheist woman like this in an atheist community, or would you two be necessarily mutually exclusive? I’m just curious how far you go in rejecting her viewpoint. I’m with you in your critique of her recommendations for the movement, but does she get to have a personal opinion (one with which we disagree)?

  3. 3
    John-Henry Beck

    I don’t want to believe it’s a problem either.

    But there do seem to be many women pointing out some bad experiences, some bad treatment they’ve experienced. Or pointing to documented stuff I can see for myself, like blog posts and comments.

    And then there’s the fairly compelling evidence of the relatively low turnout of women to our groups and events.

    So while I don’t (think I) witness much of these problems in my local group, and like to think I’m not a (significant) source of any such problems, it seems kind of hard to escape seeing a significant amount of evidence that there appears to be a problem to at least some degree. It doesn’t require agreeing with every point every feminist makes to see said evidence.

    Of course, even if seeing the evidence there’s another step of caring. (Which I do for various reasons I think are important, but that’s another subject.)

  4. 4
    Deanna Joy Lyons - Mentioner of Patriarchy

    You stated it perfectly. Patron Saint for sure! Thanks.

    I used to feel like her, but I just hadn’t had the experiences myself nor heard much from others about what they saw and heard. Keep speaking out.

  5. 5
    Izzy Leonard

    Penn is about to drop a serious load of ignorant, belittling mansplaining on you. Just a heads up.

  6. 6
    Jonathan Figdor

    I want there to be a way for a group to be welcoming to both the women who are like Jen AND the women who are like Mallorie (and women who are not like either of them). I’m just wondering how we can work that out.

  7. 7
    Jen

    I can tolerate people – men or women – who have personally had great experiences and are genuinely unaware of the bad things that happen. Glad they’re not experiencing them, since that’s our goal.

    I can tolerate people who are not personally bothered by experiences that other women are made uncomfortable by. Maybe they have super duper thick skin or just don’t have the time to care about it.

    I can tolerate people who are not personally bothered by experiences that other women are made uncomfortable by, and who also don’t understand why those other women are made uncomfortable. Not everyone is well versed in sexism, and no everyone is good at empathy. I will try to explain why these things make women feel uncomfortable, but I can tolerate them.

    I CANNOT tolerate people who tell women to stfu with their complaining, mischaracterize their concerns, and encourage men to continue with harmful behavior. That’s just vile and cruel.

  8. 8
    Marie the Bookwyrm

    I know this is a minor point, but doesn’t ‘imbibe’ mean ‘to drink’? She talks about our genitals imbibing us, and I’m just WTF!?!

    Yeah, those people who say (essentially) ‘I’ve never experienced this, so obviously it’s never happened to anybody’ give me the urge to smack them with a wet halibut.

  9. 9
    Cristina

    Yeah, I was put off by that, too. She probably meant “imbued” or something. Of course, I was waaaaay more put off by her obtuseness.

  10. 10
    Stray Cat

    Penn has always struck me as the kind of person who would prone to flinging “anti-PC” excuses around to deflect real concerns. Maybe it was when his show “Bullshit” began to devolve into libertarian ranting that I got that impression. Heh. Doubt he’ll change. Hope I’m wrong, though.

  11. 11
    Edward Clint

    Relevant tweet from Penn from 5 hours ago

    “She’s reacting to a very specific incident in one little skeptic group.”

    Note that the this woman did not post on a blog, but as a relatively unformatted message on a personal website. Note further some of the language..

    “More recently I have noticed a trend among men in my communities…”

    She appears not to be commenting on the national or international skeptical community, but literally about her friends and acquaintances. This would also explain why Penn is utterly confused by the response from Jen and others. It is highly likely there is no real disagreement of substance here.

  12. 12
    Jen

    Such backpedaling. She refers to “THE skeptical community” and “the movement” and “trends.” That hardly sounds like an isolated incident in a group of 10 people to me. And that doesn’t excuse Penn at all – he tweeted it fully supporting it, and KNOWING what the whole skeptical community has been talking about.

  13. 13
    Ben Crockett

    I actually kind of doubt that. I was on Twitter watching this whole ordeal unfold. Penn apologized. Here’s what he said:
    ‘@jennifurret I don’t believe you and I have any real difference in opinion on how people should be treated. I’m sorry.’

  14. 14
    Ben Crockett

    I watched this whole Twitter saga unfold. Read the article myself. I have to say, as much as I like Penn, he was most certainly in the wrong on this one.

  15. 15
    Konradius

    But, don’t you know Jen? “It works for me” is such a powerful, sceptical piece of evidence to any claim!

  16. 16
    Barakosh

    For the first paragraphs I relied on Jen to point out the bad arguments, but when I got to this “Don’t ever adulterate yourselves in an attempt to try to lure more vagina possessing patrons.”

    “Lure”?

    Since when is trying to make our group more open and inviting luring?

    And don’t get me started on the rest of that abomination of a sentence.

  17. 17
    Edward Clint

    I don’t think it’s fair to call it backpedaling, as that would imply a second action following an original action against which one needs to backpedal. The quote above is from the same letter.

    I do agree the terms are confusing. Community can mean many things; certainly we here in the atheist blogosphere usually use it in the broad sense. Still, I think it more kind to presume honest lapses in word choice over wanton sexism and ignorance, until we can determine it for sure.

    Certainly, Penn has no truck with anything you are saying. He has tweeted you and a dozen other people saying “I don’t think we disagree at all about how people should be treated”. Is it absolutely necessary to immediately assume the worst and start attacking?

  18. 18
    Konradius

    That’s a classic notpology. It’s even more notpology than english.
    And what’s with the ‘we have a difference in opinion’ anyway? Has he never heard of the phrase ‘You’re entitled to your own opinion but not to your own facts?’.
    Really, Penn is losing sceptical points by the bucketload.

  19. 19
    Konradius

    (the [sarcasm] tags were so convincing the editbox left them out…)

  20. 20
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Like this:

    Jen acknowledges Mallorie and women like her experienced what they say they’ve experienced.

    Mallorie acknowledges Jen and women like her experienced what they say they’ve experienced.

    Note, Jen is already doing her part. Mallorie is not.

  21. 21
    benjaminsa

    Great break down, @MallorieNasrall promises to respond. I hope she does and addresses your points and doesn’t fall into victim blaming and straw arguments.

  22. 22
    Jonathan Figdor

    Very fair.

  23. 23
    BobApril

    You said “He (is) saying “I don’t think we disagree at all about how people should be treated”.
    That’s not inconsistent with the problem Jen is noting. Yes, Penn and Mallorie agree with Jen on how people – specifically women, in this case – should be treated. But Mallorie appears to be dismissing the possibility that other women are NOT being treated that way within the skeptical community, and Penn is reinforcing that by publicizing her post.

    There’s not a disagreement here on what SHOULD happen – the disagreement is on what IS happening.

  24. 24
    Mallorie Nasrallah

    Jen, I find it unfortunate that your entire response is little more than telling people what you think I was trying to say. Apparently you believe that you can speak better for me than I can.

    The women who are seen as nothing more than sex objects and whose views and opinions are ignored or dismissed. The women who give talks and receive compliments about their appearance before the content of their presentation. The women who are sexually harassed by big names in the movement and are too afraid to speak up lest her social life or career is ruined. The women who make it clear that sexual advances are personally unwelcome, yet have their boundaries disregarded. The women who blog that are silenced by gendered insults and threatened with sexual violence, rape, and death threats.

    I dispute your claim that there are droves of women who are seen as nothing more than sex objects. But you are the pro at explaining people’s view points to them, so who am I to argue.
    I am sorry it offends you to your core that women are given compliments on their looks. While I understand this being annoying it is not an egregious offense, and I have to inform you, you do not speak for all women, perhaps some of us don’t mind?
    Without evidence I am sorry your claim that there are large numbers of women who are pressured in to sex, yet fail to report it is absolutely worthless.
    And lastly internet attacks =/= skeptical community. If you are legitimately fearful you need to report it to police. They handle that.

    The outspoken women who aren’t as lucky to have had awesome, comfortable experiences like you.

    So this somehow invalidates my experience? I’m not allowed to share my experiences, or love of the community because of this?

    Here’s the first straw man. No one is asking for communities to cater to our special needs, because being treated as equal is not a special need. We’re asking for exactly what you claim to want: recognition that these communities are about our minds, not our genitalia.

    Really, because I have personally experienced such demands first hand. Additionally based on the responses my letter received, others have too. People behaving according to the personal standards of some members has become one of the prominent topics of discussion.
    And again, none of this invalidates my experience, I have been treated as equal. The first group of people to seriously involve my genitalia Has been Neo-feminists.

    Again, straw man. No one is saying all men are evil misogynistic assholes, and that this is a trait somehow biologically predetermined by the presence of a penis. Were saying that the select men who are treating women poorly need to cut it out and treat us like human beings.

    You seem to think my letter was specifically to you, it was not. Unless you have been privy to every conversation and essay I have, you can not say “No one is saying all men are XYZ”. Very publicly I have seen people rage at the actions of a man, where they were have been brushed off had they been the actions of a woman.
    Again, others obviously share this experience, it is unfair for you to dismiss our experiences as invalid. Unless you feel only negative experiences that fit your view are valid.

    Third straw man. This has nothing to with dirty jokes or flirting. Scroll back up to that paragraph I wrote about the kind of women who are asking for change. That’s what we’re upset about. Not crass jokes. I am the skeptical movement’s fucking patron saint of boob jokes. Don’t tell me that’s what I’m complaining about.

    Well damn I feel like I should be saying “third straw-man” to you, being that it has been you who has pointedly and deliberately put words in my mouth.
    I hate to inform you of this, but you do not speak for all women, you do not get to say what is being asked for and what is not. I’m glad you like boob jokes, really I am, they are fucking great. But this does not mean you are all women. You are guilty of the exact thing you have accused me of: attempting to make your own viewpoint represent that of everyone.
    To add to that, our boundaries are different, and what constitutes a joke to me, likely may not to you.

    Yeah, just do whatever you want! Who the fuck cares if you’re hurting people. If you’re racist, great. Homophobic, splendid. Sexist, woohoo! Because you should never change your behavior to try to be a better human being.

    Yeah just attempt to invalidate dissenting views with more straw-men!
    Keep in mind here, I am addressing the concept of systematic change in the community. A community which has been nothing but awesome to me. I hope you can understand that I am not encouraging beating up the gay kid.
    But it was really nice of you to act like thats exactly what I meant.

    And there’s the first part of a declaration of being part of the boy’s club. “Thanks for not seeing me as an icky girl.”

    I’m sorry you feel my joy at acceptance, and friendship can be reduced to “I’m not an icky girl”.
    And I’m sorry I am able to celebrate the very thing you claim to have been demanding, which is not being judged for my gender, while you can only twist it in to the above statement.

    And there’s part two: “Keep trying to fuck me.” That statement effectively communicates “I put out, unlike those sexless naggers, so you should keep me around.” It’s a straw man in itself, since no one is telling men to stop flirting or trying to get laid. We’re asking that you respect the boundaries that we clearly state, understand when no means no, and time your advances for appropriate social situations. Flirt with us in the pub night following the group discussion, not while we’re organizing a campaign to fight the anti-vax movement.

    Wow, correct me if I am wrong but did you just call me loose? And so what if I am?
    Congrats, you have added ad hominem to the fallacies you have committed.
    This is no Straw-man, it is a statement of personal preference.
    You do not get to decide when I find it appropriate for men or women to offer me sex. Your personal standard of propriety =/= universal rules on when and where to offer sex. You are not the law maker for what women find appropriate. And you absolutely do not get to demand that all people follow your arbitrary personal rules. You get to decide that for you, I get to decide it for me. Thats how it works.

    And I’m not sure how this logically flows with her insistence that guys don’t see her gender or treat her differently. Unless the whole skeptical community that she’s addressing is bisexual, and she’s the only one in on that secret.

    It would be one hell of an affront to biology if I were honestly stating that men are not aware that I do not have a penis, but rather a vagina.
    There is a large difference between socially and intellectually being treated equally, and the biological fact of sex. I am wondering why that even needed saying.

    I’m glad there’s a woman out there who has had nothing but lovely experiences in the skeptical movement. I hope the number of women who feel that way grows and grows. But I hope none of them totally disregard the experiences of other women like Mallorie has. It’s salt in our wounds that Penn felt the need to promote this. Has someone so involved in the skeptical movement really not been listening to what we’ve been saying

    Well I am relieved that you’re glad, for a second there it sounded like you wanted to dismiss my experience, and be grumpy about it.
    I have no idea how my voicing of preferences and experiences dismiss or invalidate yours.
    Maybe you should spend a little more time listening to what “you side” is saying.

    You have taken my celebration at the years of friendship I have had, and turned it in to a personal insult.
    Apparently because I dared to have an experience that differed from yours, and probably a different sense of propriety.

    You and those like you do not get to speak for all of us, you dont get to say what we like and do not like, you dont get to say when and were we find sex appropriate, you dont get to determine how far our sense of humor extends.
    And you certainly dont get to speak for me, so please stop attempting to do so.

  25. 25
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Wait a minute. Is this the same Mallorie who thinks that a 15 year old referencing her anus in a Reddit comment is an invitation and excuse for a thread full of rape jokes?

    …um, is someone paying her off or something?

  26. 26
    Kris Preusker

    Well! Now that we’re all talking past each other, and making accusations and inflammatory comments, I’m sure this will be resolved quickly and satisfactorily.

    Good job, Internet!

  27. 27
    Anne

    Why the obsessive conflation of genitals and gender? Besides being massively cis-sexist, it gives this article/rant/soliloquy the general feel of “Listen to this vagina that is just like all the dicks! and not those other whiny girly vaginas.”

    I have had some seriously negative experiences with the only social atheist group in my area. If I hadn’t stuck through them and demanded that certain issues be taken care of, I would have no support in my town. Incidents like another member slapping me on the ass after a meetup, as a general trend in inappropriate physical behavior (from that one person). The founder of the group, when I presented him with what happened and asked him to talk to the perp, started whining about feminists saying they wanted equality, then asking to be taken care of. I managed to talk sense into him, that he had responsibility as the head of the group to stop such irresponsible and unwelcoming behavior, and please see it as you would a punch thrown instead of a slap on the ass, if you can’t see past the sexualized nature of the incident.

  28. 28
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    She talks about our genitals imbibing us, and I’m just WTF!?!

    Do not taunt Rule 34.

  29. 29
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I think “false equivalence” is actually my least favorite fallacy.

  30. 30
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Huh. Holy shit, it is.

    (I didn’t even see the comment above when I posted. Lucky guess?)

  31. 31
    papango

    Yeah, I have a feeling he doesn’t consider the fact that there are women who are just fine sitting at the back of the haradi bus is a very convincing argument against religious discrimination. But this is just different because ‘she’s right’.

  32. 32
    mark murty

    I bet a MAN is paying her off. Someone has some mansplaining to do.

  33. 33
    mark murty

    Mansplaining = not a sexist term at all.

  34. 34
    Gerry

    Just substitute “blacks” for women and “whites” for men. And then see if what she wrote makes any sense at all.

  35. 35
    papango

    I have the same experience I think. I’m a woman and I have found my local skeptics group to be really inviting and comfortable. But we are a small group and have a fairly good proportion of women in the group and running it. (New Zealand skeptics is currently headed by chair entity Vicki Hyde, who is awesome).

    I want to think that all the groups are like that, but the evidence that other women are having problems is pretty compelling.

  36. 36
    papango

    She appears to be addressing men who consider the vagina to be a woman’s most salient attribute. And women who are fine with that.

  37. 37
    Brian Lynchehaun

    This is a perfect example of:

    A) backpedaling, and B) doubling down (depending on the paragraph).

    I dispute your claim that there are droves of women who are seen as nothing more than sex objects.

    That’s a dismissal of their experiences then. Which you claimed that you’re not doing.

    But you are the pro at explaining people’s view points to them, so who am I to argue.

    Passive-aggressive bullshit.

    I am sorry it offends you to your core that women are given compliments on their looks.

    Passive aggressive bullshit that is also a strawman. Please provide a reference to where Jen actually did that, please.

    While I understand this being annoying it is not an egregious offense, and I have to inform you, you do not speak for all women, perhaps some of us don’t mind?

    Please point to where Jen claimed she was ‘speaking for all women’. Jen has repeatedly said that she is speaking on behalf of:

    The women who are seen as nothing more than sex objects and whose views and opinions are ignored or dismissed. The women who give talks and receive compliments about their appearance before the content of their presentation. The women who are sexually harassed by big names in the movement and are too afraid to speak up lest her social life or career is ruined. The women who make it clear that sexual advances are personally unwelcome, yet have their boundaries disregarded. The women who blog that are silenced by gendered insults and threatened with sexual violence, rape, and death threats.

    Making shit up, Mallorie, doesn’t improve your argument.

    Without evidence I am sorry your claim that there are large numbers of women who are pressured in to sex, yet fail to report it is absolutely worthless.

    You appear to be quite ignorant of the research on things like ‘under-reported crime’, which includes sexual assaults and affects many other facets of life too.

    Please address this absence in your education before commenting in the future. Assuming that you don’t wish to appear to be an ignorant fool, of course.

    So this somehow invalidates my experience? I’m not allowed to share my experiences, or love of the community because of this?

    Yet more passive aggressive bullshit.

    Your experiences are not invalid. Your claims that people within the skeptical community don’t need to change are invalid. Stay on point.

    Really, because I have personally experienced such demands first hand.

    It is unfortunate that there are people out there who are both priviledged and unreasonably demanding. It is unfortunate that Jen stated her claim as a universal negative, which requires only one selfish and uniformed individual to stand up and demand (actual) special treatment in order to invalidate.

    However, if you were interested in an actual discussion here, rather than simply metaphorically hurling faeces, you’d have understood Jen’s point to be that the people-who-are-speaking-from-a-feministically-informed-perspective aren’t demanding special treatment.

    Very publicly I have seen people rage at the actions of a man, where they were have been brushed off had they been the actions of a woman.

    You’re aware of the concept of ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’, right?

    If so: mystery solved.

    If not: please go educate yourself.

    Again, others obviously share this experience, it is unfair for you to dismiss our experiences as invalid.

    I’m going to stop highlighting this now, it’s become tiresome.

    Well damn I feel like I should be saying “third straw-man” to you, being that it has been you who has pointedly and deliberately put words in my mouth.

    When someone quotes you, and offers an interpretation of what you are saying, they are not ‘putting words in your mouth’. They’re quoting you.

    You don’t like the interpretation? That’s fine: clarify what you mean. That you spoke unclearly in the first place is no-one’s fault but yours. Jen’s interpretation of your words is not unreasonable. Her interpretation is, of course, possibly incorrect: please offer clarification.

    This attempt at blaming the interpretor for the ignorant words originally spoken is just bullshit.

    You are guilty of the exact thing you have accused me of: attempting to make your own viewpoint represent that of everyone.

    Given that Jen has clearly and specifically outlined precisely who she is speaking for, you’re just bullshitting. Please stop.

    Keep in mind here, I am addressing the concept of systematic change in the community.

    As is Jen. Thanks for noticing.

    I hope you can understand that I am not encouraging beating up the gay kid.

    When there are people who are homophobic (to the point of harming gay kids) in the skeptical community, and you say “don’t change”: then yes, yes you are encouraging beating up the gay kid.

    But it was really nice of you to act like thats exactly what I meant.

    How about you write less ambiguously and stop pretending that what you wrote has only one possible correct interpretation? Also: dropping the passive aggressive bullshit would be nice too.

    Wow, correct me if I am wrong but did you just call me loose?

    No, you did.

    You said “keep trying to fuck me”. Jen quoted you, and then you accused her (basically) of quoting her.

    This is beyond ridiculous. I’m done at this point.

    Mallorie: you’ve said some extremely stupid shit. Now, you can own up to it and clarify what you meant (I, for one, don’t think an apology (except for lack of clarity) is in order), or you can continue to pretend that the problem is with everyone else.

    I’m hoping on the former.

  38. 38
    Elaine

    But she didn’t dismiss your experiences, while you did dismiss ours. And you didn’t just celebrate your good experience, you told people to go right on doing what they were doing, despite the fact that so many hundreds of women have been harmed and put off from the skeptical community by it. There’s a big difference between saying, “I’ve had a great experience, I’m sorry other women have had bad ones,” and saying “I’ve had a great experience, so don’t listen to or change to accommodate the people who have had a bad one.” The absolute worst is saying you don’t mind when people treat you in a way that makes so many others feel belittled and dehumanized, so therefore that behavior is just fine. Telling people to go on with behavior that is harmful to others because it doesn’t bother you is unconscionable, in fact. Why would you do that?

  39. 39
    Elaine

    And, because I’ve just seen how you operate, and I’ve unthinkingly put paraphrases in quotation marks, no, I don’t mean to misquote you there. You obviously didn’t say it was fine for people to go on with harmful behavior because you don’t acknowledge that the behavior is harmful. You told them to go on with behavior that many, many women have said has harmed us, because you, personally, are fine with it and don’t find it harmful to you, specifically. That’s not OK.

  40. 40
    Feminace, formerly Qurikythrope

    You and those like you do not get to speak for all of us, you dont get to say what we like and do not like, you dont get to say when and were we find sex appropriate, you dont get to determine how far our sense of humor extends.
    And you certainly dont get to speak for me, so please stop attempting to do so.

    Apparently, you didn’t read Jen’s post very clearly before you started the passive-aggressive victim pose, so let me help:

    The outspoken women who aren’t as lucky to have had awesome, comfortable experiences like you.

    I’m glad there’s a woman out there who has had nothing but lovely experiences in the skeptical movement. I hope the number of women who feel that way grows and grows.

    …so, exactly where did Jen claim to speak for every woman? For the love of cheese, at least have the maturity to acknowledge that those whose experiences aren’t as positive as yours (a) exist and (b) might have a reason to want change so that more woman can have a positive experience with other skeptical folk.

    Signed, a so-called “silly asshole” (your words on your own post, not mine) silly enough to expect better for everyone

  41. 41
    J. J. Ramsey

    Wow, correct me if I am wrong but did you just call me loose?

    No, she just pointed out that you were implying that the women that you were criticizing were prudes (or as Jen put it, “sexless naggers”).

  42. 42
    Greg M. Johnson

    Anti-paternalism, anti-communitarianism, as in “get off my back, let me be!” is a faulty basis for forming any sort of religious/ philosophical opinion. What you complain about is the fruit of this.

  43. 43
    carlie

    No one is asking for communities to cater to our special needs, because being treated as equal is not a special need.

    Yes yes yes a thousand times this. This needs to be emblazoned in every discussion about any-ism in any community.

  44. 44
    Puffy

    You and those like you do not get to speak for all of us, you dont get to say what we like and do not like, you dont get to say when and were we find sex appropriate, you dont get to determine how far our sense of humor extends.
    Absolutely, I couldn’t agree with you more. As you’ve said, people’s boundaries are very different, a large number of women within the skeptic community have said they feel uncomfortable with certain behaviours and remarks directed at them. [Most] People are not saying that these behaviours are necessarily wrong (although some patently are), simply that you should respect a women’s boundaries. If of course, like you, she is happy with certain behaviours and explicitly makes that clear, then go nuts, nothing is wrong with two consenting adults enjoying whatever they want. It’s simply a matter of respecting the wishes of the person you’re engaging with.

  45. 45
    penn

    In this entire comment you pretend like the point of your previous post was just to say that you’ve had wonderful experiences in the skeptical community and have never felt uncomfortable in any way due to your gender. If that was the post you wrote, no one would care, but it’s not. The post you wrote said that you’ve had wonderful experiences in the skeptical community and have never felt uncomfortable in any way due to your gender, so the women who say different should stfu or be ignored.

    Jen accepted your experiences as genuine and was happy for you. Her problem was with the whole “the skeptical community and its members shouldn’t change because some women (me) are perfectly happy” argument.

  46. 46
    penn

    Mallorie had a perfect response to that, though. Unspecific anecdotal counter-evidence! Mallorie knows of at least one person at one time did ask to be catered to, so the whole argument is bunk.

  47. 47
    mcbender

    The more I see of Penn Jillette, the more I throw him into the category of “stopped clocks” in the sceptical community (which group also includes such paragons as Bill Maher, for instance). When these people are right, they often say some great and quotable things, but when they’re wrong, they’re so off-base that I wonder how they ever managed to get anythjng right in the first place. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

    It’s never fun to have to relegate somebody to this category; if nothing else, it serves to reinforce just how rigorous we should all be with our reasoning at all times, and how careful we need to be to avoid confirmation bias and wish thinking. Just because we’re atheists and “sceptics” when it comes to all of the woo, doesn’t mean we’re automatically sceptical about everything: labelling oneself a sceptic does not always make it so; it requires diligence and I think a lot of people forget that.

    As for Mallorie’s article, and subsequent response to Jen’s reply… Well, keep digging. I honestly can think of nothing else to say.

  48. 48
    Blitzgal

    This was the EXACT example I was coming in here to post about. But if this Mallorie person is already brushing that off as a concrete example of precisely why many women feel uncomfortable in the skeptic community, then she obviously isn’t going to listen to anyone. She’s made up her mind and no other evidence will make her re-evaluate. Some skeptic.

  49. 49
    carlie

    D’oh! Foiled by the anecdote!

    I’m still not sure how Mallorie doesn’t understand how dismissive she was of anyone who didn’t have exactly her experience.

  50. 50
    WhatPaleBlueDot

    But but but I like fart jokes!!

  51. 51
    Ana

    You know, I usually keep out if these shitstorms because I don’t feel like I belong to your community, and because my atheist group is amazing, and like you I never felt harassed. Hell, I haven’t even been harassed in my gaming communities, nor in my WOW server! But after the call to action by JT this week I really feel I should add my voice and strength to this.
    Mallorie, I believe, from your post, you are simply impervious to sexism as it exists all around you. You said yourself you always were in “sausage fests”, and you seem to feel the problem other women have is with crass jokes and flirting. This tells me you realize some of the jokes and flirting around you could be seen as sexist, but you are immune to them and so all others should be too. This is, in itself, priviledge. You are priviledged in the way that your personal boundaries were never challenged, never ignored, and this makes you blind to sexism. But the fact that this is due to your ‘thick skin’ does not mean everyone should have the same thick skin. Just because you’re not offended, that doesn’t give you the right to declare no one should be offended. On the contrary, you should take special attention that your words and attitudes don’t alienate others whith thinner skin.
    The answer from that 15 years-old to that shitstorm was (slightly paraphrased) “that moment when you realize you’ll never be taken seriously in the atheist community..because you’re a girl”. Then, she changed accounts. The thing about ‘harmless flirty jokes’ is that they quickly become the only thing you hear, the only answer you get, and everything you were actually trying to say gets lost in the flood you called just by being female. This is NOT ok. Sexism is a FACT, no matter how invisible it is to you, or me. #mencallmethings exists because men ARE calling women awful things just for the sin of being female online. The feminist response exists BECAUSE we live in a sexist society. And you are joining the ranks of misoginy by trying to shut up the women who feel harassed, and by telling their harassers never to change. Go around the internet and see, really see, the way women feel about these things. Forget that if they were directed at you you wouldn’t care, focus instead on the experiences and feelings of those who lived it. You may have flexible boundaries, but wouldn’t you be equally upset if those were broken and ignored?
    And before you start acusing me of trying to speak for every woman, I’ll give you a standart: something is offensive when it offends someone. Anyone. Then, it’s a matter of deciding what is more important: the offense or the person. Do you really want to alienate women just to keep your sausage fest? Do you think it is a worthy deal? If your crass joke turns away one single woman, one single voice of reason and atheism, one single person who could contribute to your cause in ways you don’t even know…is the joke worth it?

  52. 52
    Emil Karlsson

    The ironic thing here is that McCreight complains that other women are naively extrapolating from their personal experience or the personal experiences of a selected few and from that offering suggestions for male behavior when McCreight, in fact, is guilty of the exact same thing.

    I guess such a logical pirouette is only acceptable if it corresponds to what McCreight already believes.

  53. 53
    Richard

    I’ve been back and forth on this whole issue. I can sympathize with the females that feel like they’re being mistreated. That should not be happening. But it’s not like a Royal Order of Macho Men Club either. Not every male is immediately accepted in the skeptic community (or any community for that matter).

    From a male point of view, looking in on the complaints, they seem silly on the surface. Elevator Guy? Some random dude that may or may not be part of the community trying hook up late at night in a hotel? Yeah, that happens, I’m sorry. 15-year-old girl on Reddit? I spent a couple days trying to participate on Reddit a year back and left extremely frustrated. It’s a community of immature, self-obsessed loudmouths. You don’t drop a piece of meat into a piranha tank and act surprised when they go ravenous. These are the most popular examples and do nothing to further anyone’s cause.

    I’m a nice, quiet, intelligent guy. I’ve never been very popular with the opposite sex…overlooked constantly. When I hear women complain about being mistreated by people that are unquestionably going to mistreat I just get discouraged. I don’t feel very excited about helping them out if they’re going to continuously walk into shitty situations. When the jerks hear these stories, they know where they can find power. Rape threats and cat-calls are often used because these deviants know it hurts women. Men have other weak-points…we’re called “fags” or “white knights” if we try to stick up for women.

    But you know what? I found the solution to be treated equal and not be abused…stay away from the piranha tank. I spent a couple days at Reddit, saw the abundance of asshattery, and never went back. This wasn’t a snapshot of MY community. These trolls were not MY skeptics. I did find MY community on Twitter, however. People who are more interested in intellectual discussion and people who care for each other. I think what Mallorie was getting at was that the Skeptic community can be good, as long as you know how to find it. Humans are going to act human no matter what community they associate themselves with. Everyone has there own social disorders and messy pasts. Assholes are easy to find, unfortunately.

  54. 54
    Brian Mardiney

    I have no idea if what you are saying is true or not about women being threatened and sexually assaulted and such. But here is what I do know: I read all about “Elevatorgate” a few months ago and came away with this conclusion: The “female side” is utter bullshit.

    It consists of solipsistic emotions and perceptions that are not based on anything real, just the “potential” for something bad happening. Seeing so many women (and brow-beaten men) defend the non-existent “threat” as something to be concerned and outraged about, I made it a point to solidify my own opinion on the matter: Women who think like this deserve alienation. Like government, the church, and everything else horrible in life, they seek to control others. But instead of taxes and sins, they use guilt trips and political correctness.

    After metaphorically vomiting in reaction to that whole topic, I related it all to my friends, who had similar reactions (including all the women I know, who were EXTRA horrified that this was being done “in their name”).

    In summation, whereas before I didn’t even know there were women stupid enough to think like this, now I’m actively opposed to them. Elevatorgate has showed me that there is yet another enemy to fight as an Objectivist: the war against so-called “tolerance”. Every person, man or woman, who changes their behavior, or worse, their actual thought process purely to avoid “offending” someone else is a casualty of that war and a little part of them dies. It’s disgusting.

  55. 55
    LawnBoy

    +1

    If Mallorie’s point had been “I don’t have a problem with the community’s behavior, so don’t change for me,” I don’t think anyone would have objected. Unfortunately, the point that came across (whether intended or not) was “I don’t have a problem with the community’s behavior, so don’t change for anyone.”

    That perspective is seen as going beyond expressing your opinion to dismissing the opinions of others.

  56. 56
    Rob C

    As a guy, reading Mallorie’s article felt masturbatory. Not in a good way.

    As an introvert/gamer/comics reader (not even the cool ones; we’re talking ROM: Spaceknight here)/engineer who has grown over time and is thankful for the opportunities that growth has opened up for me, I suggest many men in these communities would be better off developing greater social intelligence and skills than basking in the celebratory words of Mallorie.

  57. 57
    penn

    The ironic thing about your post is that Jen does no such thing. Jen and other women in the skeptical community have experienced problems with sexist treatment from some men, and they argue that such treatment shouldn’t go on. Jen accepts Mallorie’s experience, but the fact that Mallorie has not experienced or has not felt uncomfortable due to such treatment, does not mean there isn’t an issue.

    Some members of the gay community may be fine with being called queers or even fags, that doesn’t mean that it is acceptable behavior.

  58. 58
    Hertta

    The weird idea she has about flirting (“blood is nature’s lubricant”) might explain why she’s never felt uncomfortable or unwelcome. It’s not that she’s been treated as an equal, it’s that she doesn’t mind even the vilest displays of misogyny.

  59. 59
    penn

    From a male point of view, looking in on the complaints, they seem silly on the surface.

    Let me fix that for you:

    From MY point of view, looking in on the complaints, they seem silly on the surface.

    You don’t speak for me or the male skeptical community at large.

    I’m a nice, quiet, intelligent guy. I’ve never been very popular with the opposite sex…overlooked constantly. When I hear women complain about being mistreated by people that are unquestionably going to mistreat I just get discouraged. I don’t feel very excited about helping them out if they’re going to continuously walk into shitty situations.

    Oh, you’re clearly a Nice Guy alright. “If women won’t sleep with me, then they deserve what they get.” That’s really nice. I hope somewhere deep down you do realize that plenty of genuinely nice guys are quite popular with women and do get laid regularly. You’re problem is not that you are nice.

  60. 60
    penn

    I agree with you. When I was in college (about 10 years ago), I was well on my way to being a Nice Guy. I was nice, and girls only liked jerks. That was my problem. Didn’t they realize that I deserved to be with them for being “nice”? Over time I realized that my real problem was that I was socially awkward and generally unwilling to make a move, so I never really knew which if any women were interested in me because I never really expressed my interest in them.

  61. 61
    Munkhaus

    Brian, you’re slut-shaming Mallorie! You misogynist pig!

  62. 62
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Uncle Ruckus has a sister?

    In any situation of sexism, racism, etc. there’s always a small percentage of the targeted class of people who are comfortable with the role thrust on them, and quickly realize that by kicking the other members of that class they can gain a certain amount of status.

    There are the atheists who spend their lives bashing the Gnus, the “Fox News Democrats”, and women who tell other women to STFU and stop trying to say, do, or BE anything that might make men uncomfortable. It is a shame, but there’s one in every crowd isn’t there?

  63. 63
    penn

    Oh, if equal treatment of women gets the Objectivists to leave the skeptical community, then I’m doubly for it. Reducing sexism and bringing more women into the skeptical movement is great and all, but getting rid of Randian douchebags (excuse the redundancy) is a truly worthwhile goal.

  64. 64
    Brian Lynchehaun

    Elevatorgate has showed me that there is yet another enemy to fight as an Objectivist

    Hold on now, don’t you think that your dance card is a little over-booked as it is?

    I mean, fighting reality is tough enough…

  65. 65
    benjaminsa

    You say:

    I have no idea if what you are saying is true or not about women being threatened and sexually assaulted and such.

    .
    and then in the very next paragraph you contradict yourself saying:

    that are not based on anything real

    .

    Well what is it? Do you know or don’t you?

  66. 66
    Jane

    Anyone else find Mallorie’s article unintentionally funny/ironic? I mean, part of her point, such as it is, is that women like her aren’t delicate and don’t need to be protected from the evil men. But, at the same time, the entire article kind of assumes that men are delicate, and need to be protected from the evil feminazis. If I were a man, I’d be insulted :-)

  67. 67
    Stacy

    Must admit, she sounds like a candidate for what Florence King called the “Penis-washing school of femininity”.

    (What? Mallorie’s down with jokes referencing naughty bits, right?)

  68. 68
    Brian Mardiney

    I’m saying that from everything I read on Elevatorgate (which was a lot), it was all preposterous and not real.

    As for the references made in the first paragraph of this blog to sexual assaults and rape threats and the like, I can’t comment because I haven’t witnessed or read anything on the matter. I’m speaking SOLELY about Elevatorgate (which seems to be the biggest flash point in this debate so far).

  69. 69
    Christina

    I’ve never personally had a bad experience with the skeptical movement either. No one has ever threatened to rape me harassed me, and I’ve never felt like I’ve been treated unequally, personally.

    That’s awesome for ME and everything, but I can clearly see other women getting rape threats and being treated like objects. I found it pretty easy to recognize a problem in a movement despite the fact that I myself have not experienced it.

  70. 70
    Brian Mardiney

    Gotta love how the simple word “Objectivist” is enough for people to throw out their logic and argumentation and simply name call and appeal to weak sarcasm. How about you all actually try engaging with what I said, rather than intellectually defaulting because I self-identified.

  71. 71
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    I don’t know about the “penis washing” thing… the general tone and especially the “keep trying to fuck me” line makes me think more along the lines of “there’s a slim chance I’ll touch your penis if you let me win this game/pick me up at the airport/help me move/buy me drinks/fight for my attention with the other guys” sort of thing. I guess that actual equality would be a step down from the pedestal she’s currently placed upon.

    Like I said, there’s always some small percentage of an oppressed group who can turn things to their advantage by being what the oppressors want and kicking down instead of up. Being one of 12 wives in some polygamous cult sucks, but maybe being #1 wife has enough perks to make it worth preserving the system, starting with 11 other people to boss around and make wait on you. For all that sexism hurts women, there’s a tiny subset of women who are pleased as punch that no one ever asks them a hard question, expects them to lift things, or hesitates before paying for her meals and maybe her rent.

  72. 72
    Emil Karlsson

    The same logic can be applied to McCreight’s case. Just because McCreight and a few other women has experienced sexism does not mean that it is a prevalent problem. This is the fallacy of biased sample / small sample and really just a form of anecdotal evidence (whether or not it actually occurred). You have to compare this with the number of women who has experienced equality, rather than sexism to properly evaluate the situation.

    Either it is alright to extrapolate from personal experience or it is not.

    Either anecdotes count as evidential support or they do not.

    You cannot have it both ways!

    Why does the experience of sexism count in favor of the hypothesis that sexism is a major problem if the experience of equality cannot be counted in favor of the hypothesis that sexism is not a major problem?

    If you accept the possibility that there can be evidence for a position, you must also accept the possibility that there can be evidence against that position.

    Try to apply your skepticism symmetrically instead of applying the strongest possible skepticism to things that goes against your expectations and beliefs and applying almost no skepticism to things that support it.

  73. 73
    Wayne

    Every single time this issue comes up it demonstrates more and more clearly just how very many people simply will not open their eyes and see the truth for what it is: there’s a real problem here. How do I know that? Well, women keep saying it, which means they keep experiencing it, which means it’s real. Jebus! So many people in denial about something that’s so obviously true. If our supposedly progressive, supposedly enlightened community can’t figure this out and work to improve the situation what hope is there for the world in general?

  74. 74
    Matt Penfold

    Well given what you said amounts to telling the bitches they had better get used to having men hit on them at any hour of the day or night then you do not really have anything to say worth addressing.

  75. 75
    benjaminsa

    I’m saying that from everything I read on Elevatorgate (which was a lot), it was all preposterous and not real.

    As for the references made in the first paragraph of this blog to sexual assaults and rape threats and the like, I can’t comment because I haven’t witnessed or read anything on the matter. I’m speaking SOLELY about Elevatorgate (which seems to be the biggest flash point in this debate so far).

    This makes no sense and doesn’t answer my question. You are being vague. What is not real?

    As for the threat of sexual assault, well sadly that is very real. I suggest reading: The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS)

    Including such facts as:

    Nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3%) and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives, including completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration, or alcohol/drug facilitated completed penetration.

    So no these are not “solipsistic emotions and perceptions that are not based on anything real”.

  76. 76
    penn

    Your “arguments” have already been addressed elsewhere. The only additional point I wished to make was that I hope Objectivists leave the skeptical community because they belong here about as much as creationists do.

  77. 77
    VeritasKnight

    I get what’s being said on the outside. “Women aren’t always victims and men aren’t always assholes, so why paint them with those brushes?”

    The problem is that’s not true. Some women are victims. And nobody is saying women are delicate and need a special class of protection – they’re saying men shouldn’t act towards them like assholes. Not all men are dickheads, though sometimes I get embarrassed towards my gender by their behaviour.

    Just because you are careful to not infringe on someone with privilege and dickery doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. I have many female friends with whom I’ve had many inappropriate conversations and discussions – and who sometimes say worse back to me! The difference is consent – those women have said that these conversations and jokes and discussions are cool with them. We’re friends and we have some give and take – and if we say something that offends the other, we have the social capital to pay for it, apologize, forgive, and move on.

    With random internet people, or random people at a skeptical movement, you don’t have consent or social capital. You’re strangers with no relationship. Presuming one thing? That’s just stupid.

    The fun doesn’t stop if you’re behaving the way people like Jen, Greta, Christina, Stephanie, Rebecca, etc. have suggested. It’s just you take some extra time to make sure the fun is mutual, and find fun and laughs that can be honestly shared by everyone.

  78. 78
    Hanna

    I always thought it was in the spirit of skepticism to change your opinions through fact-searching and argument. Not saying: “This is me, this is what I believe, and no-one will ever convince me otherwise”.

    What the article says is pretty much “I fit into the male gender roll enough so that I can pass and don’t feel rejected by the sexism.” It also furthers the fact that the man is the norm, and if we where just a little bit more like men and relaxed and dude-ish, we’d all just get along fine. It upholds masculine gender-role as the standard we should all be held to, and doesn’t do jack to change society, equality or anything else.

    But a big nation-wide movement shouldn’t just cater to one type of people and exclude the ones who don’t fit in, they should take steps and measures to include everyone, and for no-one to feel unwelcomed.

  79. 79
    The Pint

    Jebus. Her whole argument basically boils down to: “I’ve never thought or felt there’s a problem with sexism in the skeptic community, ergo, there *is* none (and women who are arguing the opposite, it’s just because bitches be crazy and I’m not like that, I swear!).” How disappointingly unoriginal.

  80. 80
    The Pint

    But taking the time to think that other people might not find menz behavior just peachy keen and take the feelings of others into consideration is just so hard! *whine*

  81. 81
    Aimee

    I was thinking the same thing. There seems to be a conflating of advice for basic social rules in large group settings of strangers with a common purpose, and the behavior that is acceptable amognst friends.

    Online forums presumably count under groups of strangers, and that is why feminist atheist bloggers are trying to make the atheist/ skeptical spaces less sexist. Online accounts are generally anonymous which often makes people feel more like expressing things in a far less appropriate manner than they would in person, and there is now a backlash of people saying that this is unacceptable. Because we want our online spaces to be held to a higher standard, in addition to the work in our real life groups.

    Friends and smaller close knit groups have more leeway with their behavior depending on what each person finds acceptable. Additionally, I may not mind if my bff calls me a thundercunt, but be offended if a person I do not know does it. I think it is possible to have a group that includes men and women who are both sexually crude and physically flirty and men and women who prefer to keep all that separate from their skepticism groups. If people are able to communicate their boundaries, and respect those of others. Surely it is possible to restrain flirtatious commentary to persons and times that are appropriate and welcome. Which may well be all the time among groups of close friends etc.

  82. 82
    sambarge

    And she’s right because she agrees with Jillette (who, I should take this opportunity to come clean, has always struck me as an asshole).

  83. 83
    sambarge

    Yes. Plus, Jillette knew what the climate was online before he posted the link to her post. Whatever she was thinking about when she wrote it, Jillette knew about the rape jokes about a 15 yr old debate before he linked to it.

  84. 84
    penn

    The cases aren’t symmetrical. Don’t you get that?

    If a doctor looks at my chest x-ray and says there’s cause for concern, I shouldn’t feel better because a different doctor looking at an MRI of my brain doesn’t see a problem.

    Some women have experienced sexism from some men in the skeptical community. Their concerns should be addressed. No extrapolation is necessary. You just accept that they have real concerns, and other women coming forward and saying they have not experienced sexism doesn’t change that.

  85. 85
    puckmalamud

    I know this is a total side note, but can I just make a request that we STOP EQUATING GENITALS AND GENDER?

    Are we seriously still doing this? Do you honestly believe that the only women who are experiencing misogyny are the ones who have vaginas?

  86. 86
    sambarge

    I assumed she meant imbued as well. Unless she meant to use ‘imbibe’ to mean the absorption or acquisition or taking in of knowledge through the genitals. But in that context, imbues seems to make more sense – not that she’s making a ton of sense here but you know what I mean.

  87. 87
    adamgordon

    Two questions, Emil:

    1. How many women need to speak out about sexism and misogyny in our community before you will believe it is a problem? 10? 50? 100? 1000? How did you arrive at this number?

    2. Let’s say, hypothetically, tomorrow a study is released that definitively shows that sexist attitudes are prevalent in the atheist / skeptic community, and these attitudes are driving women away from our movement. What would you personally do differently (again, hypothetically) to help change this?

  88. 88
    The Pint

    Here’s the thing, and it really shouldn’t be that difficult of a concept to grasp – if even one woman speaks out about having experience sexual harassment or discrimination within the skeptic community, it’s a problem that should be addressed. That kind of behavior is unacceptable on any level.

  89. 89
    ischemgeek

    Wow, what a Nice Guy! How very nice of you to completely dismiss everything this is about and make it all about you and then wrap it all up in a nice layer of victim-blaming as the icing on the cake. So very considerate.

    Maybe try listening, putting yourself in others’ shoes, and asking for clarification on their point of view, and if you still disagree, try calmly and rationally explaining why so that you can start a conversation… rather than condescendingly insisting to everyone that you’re a Nice Guy wrapped up in awesome and implying we’re just too dumb to realize what a Nice Freaking Guy you are.

    Let’s draw an analogy: If a 15-year-old walks into a strange neighbourhood and ends up harassed or assaulted by a gang of thugs because she has boobs and is alone, who’s fault would that be? The 15-year-old? Or the gang that harassed and assaulted her?

    Why, if it’s on the internet, is it her fault?

    As a final note: Maybe it’s not smart for someone who’s not male to knowingly go swimming in the piranha tank that magically targets anyone who’s not male almost exclusively… but have you ever thought that what we’re saying is that there shouldn’t be a gender-specific piranha tank in the first place?!

  90. 90
    penn

    Thank you. It’s not a binary choice that the skeptical community is completely sexist or completely not sexist. The truth is that some segments of the skeptical community are sexist at sometimes. We should all be able to agree that sexism is bad and should be reduced from it’s current level to ideally zero.

    Some of the people here sound like they were probably very convinced by Hermain Cain’s “there are thousands of women I haven’t sexually harassed” argument.

  91. 91
    iknklast

    And I discussed it with most of the people I know, and all of them, including men, took away the message that Rebecca was right, and the man was out of line. You presume to speak for everyone, but isn’t it possible that you surround yourself with like-minded people on purpopse? Of course, I could be doing the same thing, though many in my community are NOT okay with equal rights for women, and are in fact quite sexist. They, too, agree that this was out of line. So, please, let’s not pile up anecdotes to the moon, and claim we’ve received more enlightenment than the other person, who maybe only has half as many friends (since I’m not on Facebook, that in fact may take me several orders of magnitude lower on the scale of how many friends I have).

  92. 92
    Brian Mardiney

    That’s exactly what I’m saying. So…yeah I guess that’s the end of that then.

  93. 93
    Pugachev

    Some of the language here is starting to confuse me. If men in these social groups talk to each other as men, and they talk to each other as equals, the feminist complaint is that women do not need to be talked to as men, but as equals. Where is the disconnect between a man talking to another man as an equal, and a man talking to a woman as an equal, if man on man conversation is inherently one of equality?

  94. 94
    Neverheidae

    This might just be me, but it kind of seems like both sides of this argument are both right and both wrong. (all of text Inc)

    My experience in the skeptic/science/atheist/comic art/videogame (my professions) movements and communities has much more closely mirrored Mallorie’s.

    The guys I’ve encountered have been nothing but kind and friendly, if not downright paragons of a weird sort of chivalry that has never included singling me out for anything other than my ability or perhaps my acerbity, and the lewd humor is generally relegated to the social “in the pub” or around the gaming table venues. In professional environments it’s been nothing but professional.

    I’ve had problems with idiot man children threatening to murder/rape me online, yes. I’ve had bosses who treated me like my opinion was somehow less than a male counterpart. I’ve had arguments reduced to “well you must be ___hot/ugly/aslut/awhore/easy/frigid/etc____.” I’ve been appalled at some of the stuff even “leading” people say about women and “how they think” or “what they need” or whatnot on their blogs.

    But on the whole I recognize that I’ve been very lucky, and most of my experiences in these communities have been great.

    And in the last few years it seems like all of these communities have sort of realized “oh hey girls do exist other than that one we have over there.” Which is awesome and good and needs to keep happening. I don’t think anyone would argue against that. More diversity = more awesome. But what I got out of Mallorie’s article is something that I’ve had a hard time articulating.

    I’ve not joined any feminist wing of the skeptic’s movement because I sort of don’t feel like their/our, entirely VALID, anger, indignation and rage are directed towards the right people.

    Or at least the wrong people are listening. (Which is something I think could be fixed, if we could figure out why)

    What I got out of Mallorie’s article, and in much of my experience, was that it’s the skeptics in the pub, the gaming group, the atheist meeting people, the socially awkward teens at dragon con, that are hearing the messages, and, having tried their best to be the friendly men who love women(platonically and as people), treat all people with respect, but still be themselves, are just hearing “nope, not good enough, you’re still fucking assholes”. Which is kind of not the point.

    Those guys aren’t the problem. They already figured it out, and have been trying to do the right thing their whole lives, in some cases. Lumping them in with the evil-doers that threaten rape just confuses and hurts, especially the young guys, who are listening. One little astrisk or caveat at the beginning or end of a rant exempting “the few the proud”…that’s what we’re trying to change about being women in the skeptics movement, right? we want to not be asterisks?

    There are really GOOD things about these communities, and some of them ARE intensely welcoming. Why? What makes them different? What makes Mallorie feel at home in her groups? What makes me feel cozy in mine? Are they the same? Different? How can we spread that feeling of love for her friends and families of skeptics she talked about. Those are good things! Maybe if there’s a way to harness and spread the good rather than constantly weed whacking?

    The feminist movement is VALID and it’s righteous, and it’s necessary and I want to be behind you in a less tepid way. But I can only ever get my righteous indignation up to a lukewarm smoulder because I can’t figure out a way to actually address a problem I don’t see as coming even mostly from within the skeptic’s/atheist/nerdysciencenerdsnerds communities.

    Women are told, by the whole WORLD that Science, Math, Comics, Strategy, Debate, Free Thought, Questioning, Seeking, Stargazing, Squids and Magic….they are not our domains. We have already fought through that. That’s why we’re here. I can’t help but think…what drew us through that harrowing curtain? The beauty, the thrill, the mysteries answered and new ones to chase, and in many cases the welcoming pint or proffered cup of late night coffee from our brothers in arms.

    We’re all on the same side, and I do think we all want the same thing, it’s just…I have to believe there’s a way for us to include more people that doesn’t involve making the men that are doing it right, are already on our side, or are young and going to be joining the movement never having done any of the wrongs their predecessors have, rethink their positions, or feel cowed, wrong, or reduced to asterisks.

    That doesn’t actually get us anywhere.

    I’d really like to see more focus on the positive, and, for an article as positive as Mallorie’s…I think there’s stuff to take from that. There’s lessons to learn.

  95. 95
    Brian Mardiney

    Yeah I understand that women get raped and threatened. That’s a serious offense and should be prosecuted fully.

    Someone casually asking you to go for coffee because they are into you is not a threat of rape. That is solipsistic: “I felt threatened so I WAS threatened”. If the man in that situation were to edit his behavior because of the woman’s irrational fears, that would be the very definition of living his life for others. And that is just about as immoral as it gets. These women need to realize that just because they feel something doesn’t make it real. Again, emotions are solipsistic.

    And again, I speak only on Elevatorgate. And yes, I find the term “Elevatorgate” stupid as well.

  96. 96
    Matt Penfold

    You have said nothing new, nothing of interest and nothing that has not already been dealt with many times before. There is no reason to treat your views with anything other than contempt.

  97. 97
    Brian Mardiney

    Oh I would never presume to think that just because my friends shared my mindset, that somehow that makes me right and other people wrong. I’m right because of logic, not popularity.

    I would really like to get past all the name calling of “sexist” and such, and hear a real, logical argument for Rebecca’s side. Because the only thing I’ve heard in defense of it is words like “sensitivity” and “consideration” and many other vague, non-concrete words. No where have I seen principles in play, except the principle of living your life based on how others perceive you, which is, on the face of it, deeply flawed.

  98. 98
    Matt Penfold

    Rebecca Watson was not being asked for coffee. Sure that is what the man said, but anyone who is aware of the facts knows that coffee was being as a euphemism for sex.

    Why the dishonesty ?

  99. 99
    Gus Snarp

    Well, I guess that should at least disabuse everyone of the notion that her post is entirely about some particular issue in some particular group that she is a member of, of which the wider skeptical community, Jen in particular, is unaware. It should also disabuse us of the notion that she isn’t aware of what’s been going on in the skeptical blogosphere of late with regard to sexism. She didn’t write this and post it into a vacuum, she has to own the fact that this post is relevant to elevator-gate and all the latest sexist crap from reddit atheists. So there’s context at least.

  100. 100
    Raptor

    1 in 5 women have been raped, stalked, or other wise sexually harassed/assaulted. All of which goes unreported because of the belief that this sort of stuff is very rare and that anyone who points it out is either a liar or just making a big deal out of it. Just because you personally believe that this sort of stuff is a few personal experiences that don’t have any bearing on real life, doesn’t suddenly invalidate they have said has happened to them. It’s still wrong and it still needs to have a spotlight shined on it. If someone wants someone to stalk them, fine. I personally don’t and when I tell them to stop, that’s not permission for them to try harder.

  101. 101
    Matt Penfold

    No, we are not all on the same side. I am not the on side of anyone who wants to treat women like second class citizens, and that is what a significant number in the atheist/sceptic movement seem to want to do.

    One could be charitable, and assume they are unaware that they way they treat women does just that, but that excuse ran out a long time ago. For those who think RW overreacted, and had nothing to complain about, to continue to think that means they have been ignoring what women, and men, have said repeatedly. They cannot be that obtuse.

  102. 102
    adamgordon

    Women are told, by the whole WORLD that Science, Math, Comics, Strategy, Debate, Free Thought, Questioning, Seeking, Stargazing, Squids and Magic….they are not our domains. We have already fought through that.

    Did you even read Jen’s post? It’s wonderful that you’ve had such an easy time entering these communities. Jen recognizes that things are easier now then they have been before, and agrees that it’s a good thing that there are women out there like you.

    HOWEVER

    Just because there are women like you out there doesn’t mean that ALL women have had the same experience. Even one incidence of sexism in our community is one too many. I think you recognize this.

    HOWEVER

    you lost me with this:

    I have to believe there’s a way for us to include more people that doesn’t involve making the men that are doing it right, are already on our side, or are young and going to be joining the movement never having done any of the wrongs their predecessors have, rethink their positions, or feel cowed, wrong, or reduced to asterisks.

    Who exactly is this happening to? Who is ‘rethinking their positions’ on making the community more welcoming to women? Who feels that they are being reduced to an asterisk? This male scientist, atheist, gamer, comic nerd, etc. doesn’t feel that way. Where did you get the impression that there are many out there that do?

  103. 103
    Lagerbaer

    This is a variation of the “others have it worse so stop whining” theme. Now it’s “others don’t complain, so stop whining” and it doesn’t make any more sense.

  104. 104
    Gus Snarp

    I’ll be honest, I’ve never much cared for Penn Jillette. He comes off as an asshole, and his arguments are frankly chock full of fallacies. What I see in Penn is a guy who believes a lot of correct things for a lot of the wrong reasons and/or is willing to distort the truth to promote his views. Of course, he also believes in at least one big wrong thing (Libertarianism, an entirely evidence free, utopian ideology), and I am not the least surprised to find that he just doesn’t get it with regards to sexism. He and Mallorie both suffer from a delusion common among libertarian types, that if we just don’t talk about the power differences that exist between men and women in our society, then those differences will simply cease to exist. It’s frankly identical to the common libertarian notion that not only do we not need affirmative action, but that the markets would have fixed the problem of whites only lunch counters if we had just left them alone, so the Civil Rights Act was unnecessary.

  105. 105
    Fritz T

    I often say that people today are the end result of a quarter-million year breeding program to produce animals that are very good at two things: fighting and fucking. Even though most of us no longer have to fight for food or mates we are still wired for these responses.
    I think that being a skeptic involves a degree of self-awareness. Swimming against the stream of broader opinion takes resolve that is usually derived from self-knowledge. Oddly enough, there is a belief in many spiritualist circles that adherence to the dogma will produce “enlightenment” as well, and often this enlightened attitude provides for a release from the burden of the mating urge. I suppose this notion is popular among those whose belief system requires them to be celibate.
    Is there a chance that there are some of us in the skeptic community believe that we are “above” our sex drives, and are thus being blindsided by our ids, much as the believers so often (and often to scandalous or criminal results) do? In other words, I say that I can both be self-actulized enough to question commonly held beliefs, but also motived by my subconscious motivations to seek out a sex partner, and in denial about this drive, possibly because there is a pattern of belief that to sublimate the mating urge is “noble” or enlightened, according to another widely-held (but not necessarily correct) belief.

  106. 106
    Aimee

    I can understand the confusion, because the language might seem contradictory at first glance. I think the best advice is to equally treat men and women as individuals. This involves generally taking a bit of time to get to know the other person to understand what is or is not acceptable to them. I do not mean to sound patronizing, I am just trying to simplify a bit.

    When you first meet someone in a friendly environment, there are social norms people adhere to: introductions, short “tell me about yourself”, finding common ground, etc. Once a conversation gets going, and commonalities are found, a friendship can form. It is this sort of mindfulness that meetings between men and women should have (equally). Even if you are interested romantically, it behooves you to take time to consider her desires, boundaries and expectations and to do that you have to follow basic social norms of communication. You can drop a shocking or lewd statement on a person immediately, but it can backfire. And any offence caused is on you because you didn’t take the time to learn what was acceptable.

    There is no one-size fits all solution to any inter-personal interaction.

    There are some people you will just not like, and there are some people who will just not like you. Yet there is no reason to not attempt to reach an equal understanding of a person’s boundaries before becoming more familiar with them. This may take more work or time to get to that understanding with some people, even if it is just, “don’t even bother talking to this person” if you can’t seem to get a good read on them or already have problems with them.

    The extra consideration to take when men are talking to women is just to acknowledge that her experiences may well have caused her to have a guard up around men she doesn’t know well. Try not to take this personally.

    Not sure what you mean by, ‘talking to other women like men and not equals’ – the experiences of women are not generally equal to the experiences of men so there may be a need for different approaches. If you mean instances like when men feel they have to modify the language they previously used among other men (perhaps a few women) in consideration of a woman’s feelings – they were probably just being checked on their privilege. Sexist language is not usually thought about until someone speaks up about it, but it is not that person’s fault for pointing it out.

    Finally I would not say that a man to man conversation is inherently one of equality. There are many inter-sectional levels of privilege one can have in relation to someone else, gender being only one.

  107. 107
    Momo Elektra

    There are really GOOD things about these communities, and some of them ARE intensely welcoming.

    Until they aren’t.

    It’s not as if they are huge, obvious woman-hating communities. I was in mine for 6 years and never had a problem of this sort.
    Well, not until I loudly and angrily defended the point that women have feelings too and those feelings should be accepted and taken into account by those people who interact with those women (sometimes better known as Elevatorgate).

    Because by doing that I made some people realize I was a woman with woman-feelings and I was punished for being angry, because really, angry women are just hysterical (being angry is a justifiable feeling (for males), hysteria is not, which is why this label is so damn silencing).

    That’s why the article is so off the mark.

    Those communities are welcoming to women, as long as they play along with the boyz.
    If they don’t, then gender becomes an issue.

  108. 108
    benjaminsa

    (Replying to your comment here as the nesting was getting to deep, and the text too narrow.)

    You claim to have read a lot about elevatorgate, yet you don’t seem to have a basic grasp of what happened. RW said, to being propositioned in an elevator: Guys don’t do that. That was it. The whole gate part came when their was an explosion over that simple request.

    We live in a culture where rape is common. It is not irrational to feel an emotion of fear when alone in an elevator, and it is not unreasonable to ask for some minimal compassion and empathy. For you to dismiss that as illusory emotions, and to say it is immoral to alter ones behaviour in any way shows a small mindedness and callousness which is breath taking.

  109. 109
    Ganner

    All these incidents, and people’s response to them, often look to me like a microcosm of the atheist movement in the world at large, or ANY movement to change thoughts and behaviors. You have the people pointing out a problem, saying that people aren’t even noticing that they’re hurting or offending or driving away people, and then the ones saying “hey seems ok to me, why do you have the keep harping on it?” Theists in the world at large just don’t get why those annoying atheists have to keep making so much noise and can’t just get on with life. Many people among skeptics and atheists seem to not understand why those annoying feminists have to keep making so much noise and can’t just get on with life.

  110. 110
    Momo Elektra

    It’s not as if they are huge, obvious woman-hating communities.

    Sorry, missed something:

    It’s not as if they are _all_ huge, obvious woman-hating communities.

    Not every community is as obvious as r/Atheism, and even that one found people to defend it.

  111. 111
    Brony

    I’m not exactly a normal guy. But issues like this make me leave responses like this,

    http://www.ponychan.net/chan/dis/res/30709.html#i30719

    In public places that I care about. (Please don’t flood them. Some of them can be understandably sensitive).

  112. 112
    Neverheidae

    I did read Jen’s post, and I understand and in no way wish to diminish the very wrong, very upsetting, and very valid problems, conflicts, insults, threats, and horrors she and other women, myself included, have endured.

    I admitted I have, however, had more positive than negative, and am quite lucky this is the case. To reiterate, I do not wish to say that there is no problem, everything’s fine, women need to stfu.

    I do however think that when women like me, and, I think, Mallorie here, try to talk about moving the argument in a way that focuses on “Hey, this is good. How can we make more of THIS?” instead of just “This is bad, we must stamp this out” those voices, as far as I’ve read, tend to get shouted down. I personally feel very afraid posting on feminist forums because I don’t have the unilateral “no this is wrong and we must fix it” approach I see over and over.

    I understand there’s a lot of anger, and it comes from somewhere very real, experiences very hard, and cruel, and that should never have happened and should never happen again.

    I do, however, think that there is a place for Mallorie’s voice, and the argument that there are communities that ARE welcoming, there are women who DO have good experiences, and that if, when those do show up on the internet, they weren’t immediately thrown on the pyre, someone smarter than me might find a way to spread those experiences.

    You can’t grow a garden just by pulling weeds. You can’t change the world just by stamping out vile behavior. You gotta encourage the good, too. I was just trying to say that, yes, while the anger and the bitterness is not something we need to say “stfu” to, it’s real and it’s necessary and it gives the feminist movement force, it would really, really be nice to see some focus, some twitter trending topic, about growing what’s…good.

    When I read Mallorie’s post, that’s what I liked about it. It wasn’t angry, and it DID speak for a group of us in it’s tone of “thanks guys. You do good.” if not in all of it’s words. Because a lot of guys out there do. They really do. And I don’t think, and I might be wrong, please tell me if I am, but I don’t think that the internet is so small that we can’t have both anger at what’s wrong, and happiness at what’s right, and use them both to craft a better world.

    My point regarding the asterisk thing was that the feminist anger is right, but it’s not always getting to the right people. The guys who are hearing it, again in my experience, are the ones who abstractly see the problem, and are concerned by it, but would never contribute to it, because they are doing it right. The loudmouth assholes who don’t give a shit, and are the problem, aren’t hearing the message. Because they don’t give a shit. It’s the great guys like you (I assume based on your name) that are hearing it. You don’t need to! You know!

    I guess it might be bias based on experiences with my rather awesome and yes, I admit, I am lucky, skeptics groups, confused co-workers and angst ridden friends who came back from “women in __science/games/comics/atheism___” conferences asking me “do I ever make you feel like that!? I’M SO SORRY!!!! D:” , admittedly, but from what I’ve seen it’s the same group of people that are getting the message that “Skeptics/whatever groups don’t include women and men in skeptics/whatever groups are assholes ergo you, man in skeptics/whatever group must be an asshole.”

    They’re not assholes, and I think, what Mallorie’s article was getting at, is that she’s had one of those “Do I ever make you feel like that?!” conversations too many. That’s not a desired effect of the feminist movement, I don’t think, anyhow? And maybe there’s a way to lessen that effect by changing the aim of the message? (NOT the message. Your anger is valid. Your experiences are valid.)

    But I don’t like those “Do I hurt women!?” conversations any more than I like being called a slut or a whore just because I disagree with someone. I think /that/ was what Mallorie’s article was about.

  113. 113
    Johnnykaje

    Elevatorgate has showed me that there is yet another enemy to fight as an Objectivist: the war against so-called “tolerance”.

    Sounds cool. I will start by not tolerating dumbass Randoid Nice Guys.(tm) Coolbeans?

  114. 114
    Rowan vet-tech

    By your “logic” here, I, as a woman, should not have felt at all threatened by the guy following me through downtown at 1 in the morning. It was silly of me to assume he could have been a threat, even though I made a complete circle several times to check if he was following me. And it was likely horribly, unforgivably rude for me to have pulled that stupid 11″ decorative dagger and stood in a fighting stance in a street light. He was probably just trying to help me and I completely overreacted, right? It’s not like another woman had been raped near the college campus not that long before. But of course, that would have absolutely no bearing on *my* situation.

    Or the “nice guy” who would feign all sorts of problems to get my sympathy, and then when I started showing romantic interest in someone else became violent, and close to physically assaulting me. It was probably all my fault. I must have led the guy on with my overemotional vagina.

    Or the time I was “stalked” because the guy who kept calling the house and asking where I was before hanging up, and who eventually tried to break into the house was just trying to be friends.

    I’m 29 now. All these incidents happened before I was 25. I’ve had three really close calls, but I deserve to be alienated? Because I am now extraordinarily cautious around men I don’t know well, I deserve to be alienated? Because I have had ample reason to fear, I deserve to be alienated?

  115. 115
    Neverheidae

    I’m sorry; I wasn’t trying to say that they’re all welcoming in perpetuity or anything at all.

    It’s absolute and total b/s that the response to valid anger is being shut out or punished, and yeah that is a problem. It’s also a problem if a place or group is just a “boyz club” because it’s really not actually inclusive, then.

    I guess what I’m “defending”(how did that happen?) in this article is the attempt to try something other than anger, or a rather lecturing “here is why you are wrong” tone, and highlight a rare situation where it sounds as if things are going right, in what kind of tends to be a sea of horror stories. :\

  116. 116
    Beth

    One thing I would like more clarification about is the equality/special treatment distinction.

    One thing I have noticed about conversations about sexism, briefed touched on by Richard in #22, is that many women do not realize how some men treat other men, most notibly men who who are somewhat soft spoken and not very assertive. They are frequently belittled, ignored, their sexuality is denigrated and made fun of, threats of violence etc. In short, many of the same problems that are being called evidence of sexism and/or misogyny.

    I don’t want to dismiss the problems that many woman are experiencing, but I can understand why asking men to change their behavior may be preceived as asking for special treatment not equality.

    In some communities, such as the athiest or skeptical communities, a particular group of men may be used to making riblad jokes and harrassing all newcomers mercilessly, but normally it’s all men and goes unremarked. Is it misogynist or sexist when such behavior is also applied to women? Is it asking for special treatment to ask them to stop treating women that way? I honestly don’t know the answer to such questions.

    I asked my husband about forum he frequents that is heavily male with lots of displays that I find as disgusting as the REDDIT thread. It’s an accepted part of that forum’s culture and I wasn’t sure how to tell the difference between them. He informed me that although his favorite forum is quite tolerant of rape/sex jokes regarding other posters, put downs, etc., the REDDIT thread wouldn’t have been permitted as moderators would have removed it and/or the community wouldn’t have tolerated such responses to the Reddit OP. Good to know and I’m glad to hear that his forum isn’t as bad as Reddit, but that sounds to me like special treatment for a young female, not equality.

    Given that most women react very differently emotionally to such discourse than most men do, if you think that it’s special treatment do you think it is justified?

    I’m of the opinion that such discourse is inappropriate conduct to anyone. I don’t want to be a part of communities that tolerate the type of behavior displayed in the Reddit thread, but that’s why I only frequent forums which have moderation rules that suit me personally. OTOH, for those who enjoy participating in that sort of thing with like minded people, I don’t object to their having a place where they can do that. I’m just not going to participate. I don’t see this as a problem.

    I do see it as a dilemma when more gender diversity is desired, but it doesn’t appear that the Reddit atheists have that desire.

  117. 117
    The Captian

    ahh yes, another example of a woman within the skeptic community who doesn’t agree with what apparently is the “official” viewpoint a woman in the skeptic community should have, so all hell breaks out on the internet at her. So great, continue to put off most of the women I know from the movement who don’t share y’alls cultural sensibilities since they know if they speak up for themselves, they’ll just get trashed too (all in the name respecting women right?)

    And yes, you are allowed to “respond” to her, but I find it telling how aggressive the hoard goes at it when it’s against a women who speaks differently on this subject.

    Yea, there is some sexism going on around here, but it’s not always what everyone thinks. And it’s mixed with a whole lot more cultural elitism than anyone will admit!

    It’s amazing, the whole skeptic movement is comprised of a lot of people who think they are smart, but they can’t seem to understand this whole argument is about something that its SUBJECTIVE!

    For a movement that is trying to be “inclusive” of more people, it sure does seem to go all internet lynch mob over anyone who expresses a different cultural viewpoint.

  118. 118
    Matt Penfold

    I think we must have been reading different articles.

    The one I read suggested that since Mallorie has not been subjected to sexism within the sceptic community, claims that others have must be exaggerated and in any case do not matter.

  119. 119
    The Pint

    For fuck’s sake. Look, I’m a woman who’s been inordinately lucky in 33 years of life on this planet. I’ve only been assaulted once – by another woman trying to snatch my purse – and the majority of my interactions with men, both personally and professionally, has been lacking in sexism, misogyny or discrimination because I’ve got a pair of ovaries and an unrepentantly outspoken and opinionated.

    And you know that the first thing I think of is when I hear stories about women who’ve been assaulted, raped, victims of harassment or workplace discrimination? “That’s awful, I am so lucky that I have not had the misfortune to experience any of that” not “PFFST! I’ve never been the victim of sexual assault or discrimination, so these women are obviously making it up/overreacting, jeez, why can’t they just shut up because I don’t know men like that so it can’t be a real problem, just unfortunate outlier events.”

    Because, you know, I’m able to understand that my experiences aren’t the same as other women’s – and because mine are positive, it’s even more important that I not silence or invalidate what they’ve endured just because I’d prefer to think that the environment is closer to my experience than theirs. The fact that it’s happened at all is shameful to begin with.

  120. 120
    Emil Karlsson

    The cases are certainly symmetrical. We have personal anecdotes from McCreight et. al. about male sexism. We have personal anecdotes from Nasrallah about getting treated equally by males.

    Why is the anecdotes from McCreight incorrectly considered scientific evidence of male sexism whereas the anecdotes from Nasrallah about getting treated equally correctly considered anecdotes? This is the place where the asymmetrical skepticism comes into play. Two roughly identical things (personal anecdotes) are treated different, because one of them confirms your expectations and beliefs, whereas others contradict them.

    Your analogy with imaging techniques is false, because (1) the analogy talks about scientific evidence, while what we have here are personal anecdotes, (2) the analogy talks about one specific person, whereas the situation has to do with two different people. A cause for concern about the chest affects the entire individual, whereas sexism against a particular female does not affect the entire group of women.

    The bottom line here is that we cannot say that there is a problem with male sexism in the skeptic community just based of the anecdotes of McCreight and others. We do not know if these men are representative for skeptic males as a group and we have no scientific evidence for the position that these particular anecdotes are accurate.

    Similarly, we cannot say that male sexism in the skeptic community is not a problem just based on the anecdotes of women like Nasrallah and others. For the exact same reasons; we do not know if the males that Nasrallah and others have been treated fairly by are representative for skeptic males as a group and we have no scientific evidence for the position that these particular anecdotes are accurate.

    If it is the case that 1:5 or 1:10 skeptic males are sexist pigs, then we have a problem. If it is 1:100000 or 1:1 million, the situation looks different, especially if these latter figures are lesser than the population average for all males, skeptics or not. What if skeptic males are a lot less likely to be sexist than the overall population average? Then it makes little sense to select skeptic males for special critical consideration.

    No one is denying that certain women in the skeptic community has experienced sexism from males. This is not under debate; it is a fact. The question is how frequent this is. This question cannot be answered by personal anecdotes from a few, as humans tend to remember things that confirm their beliefs and expectations and also remember very unpleasant things easier than average and mundane events and the problem of unrepresentative sample / lack of scientific evidence for the validity of specific anecdotes.

  121. 121
    Johnnykaje

    Shorter version:

    “How come you don’t tolerate people who won’t tolerate you?”

  122. 122
    Emil Karlsson

    It is unfair to compare rape with “sexual harassment” (which can be almost anything). It is also a suspicious figure because you say that all of this goes unreported. If it goes unreported, how did you acquire those figures?

    At any rate, it does not mean that the majority of males are rapists or sexual harasser. You are also performing a host of statistical fallacies:

    (1) even if 1/5 of females have been sexually harassed or raped or whatever does not mean that 1/5 of males do these things. There is nothing that says that there is a 1:1 correspondence between victims and perpetrators.

    (2) the average says nothing of the spread. Even if we, for the sake of argument, assume that 1/5 of males are rapists or sexual harassers or whatever, it does not follow that 1/5 of skeptic males are doing that. The average says nothing about the spread.

    Also, rape or sexual harassment is not the same as an occasional sexist comment.

    Also note that you are performing the straw man fallacy; nowhere have I claimed that I know for certain that sexism in the skeptic community is a non-problem, just that personal anecdotes cannot be used to demonstrate this position.

  123. 123
    Momo Elektra

    I guess what I’m “defending”(how did that happen?) in this article is the attempt to try something other than anger, or a rather lecturing “here is why you are wrong” tone, and highlight a rare situation where it sounds as if things are going right, in what kind of tends to be a sea of horror stories. :\

    Why?
    Because I’m a woman? Because men (or some) can’t deal with anger? Women should be nice, don’t they? An angry, mean woman is just a hysterical bitch and won’t be taken seriously?
    Yeah, that’s kind of (one part of) the problem…
    Being nice does not fix it.

  124. 124
    Munkhaus

    If it all goes unreported, where do you get your 1 in 5 figure from? Is there a reliable source? It’s not from one of those questionaires where an unwanted phonecall counts as stalking is it?

  125. 125
    aurophobia

    Mallorie Nasrallah is a potential ally. I can see all of this from her perspective; she was coming to the defense of her friends. And her response to your critique was”I don’t believe you. Show me the evidence.” That’s a good thing! That makes her a good skeptic, like the rest of us.

    Now we just have to show her the evidence that droves of women have been made to feel unwelcome/disrespected/harassed/dismissed.

  126. 126
    Momo Elektra

    And yes, you are allowed to “respond” to her, but I find it telling how aggressive the hoard goes at it when it’s against a women who speaks differently on this subject.

    Again, it seems to be a problem because a woman does it.
    I rarely see people complaining that Dawkins is such a meanie to the theists. I mean, other than theists.

  127. 127
    Eric RoM

    “wahhh, what about the menz???”

    ::eyeroll::

  128. 128
    ewan

    “Why would you do that?”

    I think that’s an excellent question, and one that many people on the ‘feminist’ side of these arguments could do with giving some thought to. The answer, of course, is that (some) people are asking for wholesale changes to a culture in which she feels comfortable – essentially destroying it and replacing it with another one.

    Can you really not see why some people would be unhappy with others pushing for changes to something they like just fine as it is?

  129. 129
    Emil Karlsson

    1. The figure does not really matter. The plural of anecdote is not evidence. What matters is actual scientific evidence. And not just evidence indicating that many women have some time during their life been exposed to sexist comments. We need to empirically quantify how often women get exposed to sexism from males compared with how often women do not get exposed to sexism (or exposed to equity) and how often males get exposed to sexism from other men as a control.

    Only then can we quantify how large the problem is. How big does the difference has to be to be scientifically significant? This is a problem that plagues e. g. all clinical trials. If the statistical over-representation is statistically significant, then this just means that the results is unlikely to be due to chance. Statistical significance does not tell us anything about the scientific or clinical significance of the results. For that, we can use established values from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence or pick one that would convince us.

    This value, like all values for clinical and statistical significance, will be arbitrary. But this does not mean that any value would convince us. A common threshold for statistical significance is p < 0.01. This is in some sense arbitrary (what it if was p < 0.011, would that really make that much of a difference?), but that does not mean that we would accept results where p = 0.90. If we did, then 90 out of 100 results would be due to chance alone. From that, we cannot reliably reject the null hypothesis.

    2. I would publicly announce that I was wrong in my skepticism and carry out an intellectually slaughter those who did not consider it a prevalent problem. The shifting sands of evidence would have turned against their position, and those still clinging to the misguided notion, in spite of the evidence, would deserve all the criticism and ridicule they would get.

  130. 130
    Eric RoM

    cue the stupid “cis” stuff.

  131. 131
    carlie

    This is all so tiring.

    For everyone arguing that sexism isn’t present in skeptical groups, and even if it is it’s not that bad, and even if it is that bad women have to deal with it: what exactly are you afraid of? You’re being asked to do one thing, and one thing only: treat women as people. Not a monolithic group, not a stereotype, not an item there only for your pleasure. Treat each of them as an individual person.

    Why is that so hard and so threatening that it brings up so many defenses? Why is it such a huge and high cost that you spend so much time fighting to prove that it doesn’t happen? Let’s say it’s all made up; is there any harm in pretending it’s true anyway and acting more decently because of it? Is it so hard to treat women like people that you simply cannot be convinced to do it unless there is verifiable evidence of women being, I don’t know, raped right in front of you or something? Because you don’t believe the stories women are telling you, and you don’t believe the evidence of women being absent in large numbers, and you don’t believe the sociological studies of how ingrained sexism is. Why are you so defensive about it? Wouldn’t it be so much easier to treat women like people and just get on with life?

  132. 132
    Momo Elektra

    Given that most women react very differently emotionally to such discourse than most men do, if you think that it’s special treatment do you think it is justified?

    Women don’t react differently because they are women and not men (that implies they are more sensitive or emotional, which is sexist), but because they are usually on the receiving end (as are others who we tend to overlook).

    No one, as far as I can see, is arguing for special treatment for women, but for equal treatment for people on the receiving end (who tend to be marginalized people).

  133. 133
    Munkhaus

    Slut-shaming Joe, is sexist. You’re part of the problem.

  134. 134
    Eric RoM

    Hah! Good one.

  135. 135
    The Pint

    Going on some of the posts here and the general ridiculousness that followed Elevatorgate, it seems that the unfortunate answer to your question is “No!! I like my privilege and I wanna keep it! WAH!”

  136. 136
    Eric RoM

    You missed “obtuseness”.

  137. 137
    Matt Penfold

    If Mallorie has not found the evidence then she cannot have been looking very hard.

    It is good to ask for evidence, but it also good to your homework, and try looking for yourself. She must be aware of Rebecca Watson and how she was treated after what was a perfectly reasonable request. She only needs to read Abbie Smith’s blog to understand just how vilely sexist some who consider themselves sceptics can be. I simply do not accept she is unaware of the evidence. No one can be that obtuse and still function.

  138. 138
    Chris Willett

    “No one is saying all men are evil misogynistic assholes.”

    Perhaps not, but it is my experience that merely stating a differing opinion here or at Skepchick will get you labeled as “sexist” and “mysoginst” almost immediately. Or posts expressing a different point of view will simply be erased, as Greg Laden did to me at his blog.

    Interesting that you list each straw man you perceive in the letter written by Mallorie Nasrallah, but then engage in the exact same activity yourself. Do you really believe that her position is as you summarized here: “Who the fuck cares if you’re hurting people. If you’re racist, great. Homophobic, splendid. Sexist, woohoo! Because you should never change your behavior to try to be a better human being.”

  139. 139
    Johnnykaje

    The evidence is right there. In Jen’s post, in the previous post at Greta’s that Mallorie commented on, in the comment threads, in two godzillion examples all over the net. Her response to the evidence was “well that wasn’t ME, stop trying to erase MY experience”.

    Because if it’s not about Mallorie, who cares?

  140. 140
    Eric RoM

    I too think Gillette reeks of assholery. But, so does PZ.

    I don’t make Mallorie’s mistake of assuming all skeptics are therefore assholes, despite prominent spokespeople demonstrating extreme examples of it.

    It’s pretty hard to believe that “Not everybody has your experiences” is SUCH a hard sell in the SKEPTIC ‘community’.

  141. 141
    sunnybook3

    Well said!

  142. 142
    Eric RoM

    ::waves hand:: I think the cultivated crudity of PZ isn’t helping much, no matter how much he enjoys masturbating his smug sense of correctness.

    Harsh enough? Not bloody likely.

  143. 143
    Chris Willett

    But this is exactly the point, isn’t it? Those who condemn sexism and then turn around and use sexist terms are hypocrites! And it’s all over blogs here and at Skepchick.

  144. 144
    Eric RoM

    “Make even the SLIGHTEST change in my behaviour?! Dash it, that shall not stand!”

    Yeahhhhh, heaven forfend they just nod and think “Gee, I’ll watch out for that more.”

  145. 145
    Johnnykaje

    Perhaps not, but it is my experience that merely stating a differing opinion here or at Skepchick will get you labeled as “sexist” and “mysoginst” almost immediately.

    Maybe it wasn’t because the opinion wasn’t so much “different” as it was “sexist and misogynist”?

    I’m just throwing out options you might not have considered here.

  146. 146
    Chris Willett

    See what I mean? No differing view is respected or honestly considered even for a moment. I comment on what I believe to be an unfair practice and the immediate response is that my views must have been misogynistic and sexist. It’s such a delicious irony that some of these “freethought blogs” are anything but.

  147. 147
    The Pint

    It’s pretty hard to believe that “Not everybody has your experiences” is SUCH a hard sell in the SKEPTIC ‘community’.

    I don’t think it’s a hard sell – the problem is the direction that thought goes in after the assertion is made that not everyone shares the same experiences. Often, I’ve seen women saying that because they haven’t experienced the sexism or misogyny that others have, it must not be a problem because *they haven’t experienced that sexism of misogyny themselves,* which is the wrong tack to take.

    Just because I haven’t experienced much, if any, misogyny or sexism directed at me in my life and therefore don’t share the same experiences at other women, it doesn’t give me the right to tell those women they’re imagining it or overreacting or that they should just shut up and deal with it – instead, I should be working to make my positive experiences the norm so that they will be shared by more women. Because the reality is that it has happened to other women, and there’s no guarantee the odds will continue to hold in my favor so that I continue to escape those experiences. Working to ensure equal treatment benefits both those women and me in the long run.

    This shouldn’t be a hard concept to grasp either but apparently it is.

  148. 148
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Right, because this isn’t like radical feminists trying to impose extremist views on everyone. I totally get the pushback against some things that can be described as “nitpicky” or at least up for debate. Stuff that fair-minded, honest, and decent people can disagree about without anyone being called sexist or a traitor to feminism or whatever.

    The level that we’re at here though is basic Social Behavior 101 stuff, and skeptics seem to be failing miserably at it left and right. This is stuff as simple as “know your audience” and “think before you speak” and “things that you’re fine with aren’t fine with everyone, and things that offend you don’t offend everyone” and especially “treat others the way they want to be treated.”

    And the response is just wacky and weird, and I can’t tell if it is because of willful blindness, unconscious privilege, blatant dishonesty in the name of open misogyny, or some combination of the three. I read Jen’s post, I read the pushback, and the two things seem to exist on different planets.

  149. 149
    Utakata

    Oh dear…fuckwit dropping wedge issue in isle one!

  150. 150
    Momo Elektra

    I comment on what I believe to be an unfair practice and the immediate response is that my views must have been misogynistic and sexist.

    Not that they must have been, but that they could have been. As indicated by the “maybe”. Maybe you just read it as “must have been” because you want to think they must have been wrong?

  151. 151
    Johnnykaje

    I have never understood the whine that “I just expressed a different opinion, and was labeled a (blank)ist/(blank)phobe/anti-(blank).” Of course, when I’ve been accused of being such, my response was to read and ask and above all else LISTEN to the other person’s side. But I’m weird, in that I try to correct my own privilege and not defend it. Or, if I find out I am anti-something (anti-creationism, for instance) I OWN it instead of weasel out of it.

    When you tell us you like muffins over cupcakes and someone calls you sexist, I’ll believe you were just expressing a “different opinion.”

  152. 152
    aurophobia

    There’s something about human endurance that allows people to be extremely obtuse and still survive. We also like to be correct and it’s easy to not see the evidence that contradicts what we want to believe. So, maybe we can gently, and respectfully, deliver it in an easier to digest form, without even a hint of spin. Seems like the most straight forward way to do this is if people directly tell her their own personal stories.

  153. 153
    Samantha Snyder

    I think what he may be referring to is how to have a group for women who do not appreciate being hit on, do not appreciate sexist jokes, and who feel uncomfortable with the male:female ratio, and yet still attract the women who do enjoy those things. For example, I do enjoy those things. One of my favorite things to say when a guy asks for a favor (please hand me a pen) is to ask if he would like a “sammich” with that. I would hate our student group if it was completely guarded and we could flirt and make jokes. But some jokes take it too far.

    However, it’s also important that it’s made clear that everyone is respected as a person, and valued for their intellect and character. It’s very hard to make the group feel welcoming to both parties, where one feels safe to not be sexually harassed, and the other feels safe to be candid and uncensored around their peers. Our group, in my opinion, does a fairly good job, although I can’t speak for other women.

    Perhaps we should start including workshops in the leadership conferences that present both sides of the argument from experts.

  154. 154
    Matt Penfold

    Wow, aren’t you an arrogant one, thinking that his argument has the right to be respected just because he made it.

    If you do not like your arguments (I use the term loosely, and you use it dishonestly) being treated with contempt trying making better arguments.

    I have checked out your blog. Calling you a sexist and misogynist would seem to be an accurate summation of your views with regards women. If you do not like being called a sexist and misogynist , then stop offering evidence you are. I would also suggest you put a check on your ego. It seems rather large, and more than your limited intellect seems able to support.

  155. 155
    Johnnykaje

    Show us some of these comments that were unfairly labeled as misogynist. I’m chugging through the links on your blog but a quick link or a summation would help wonders.

  156. 156
    Matt Penfold

    It is not as though the original comment by RW was angry, or full of vitriol or even that reproachful. She merely pointed out that many women do not much care to be propositioned by men they do not know at 4am in a lift. I was surprised it needed saying, as I would have thought it was bloody obvious (got that wrong!).

  157. 157
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    People aren’t complaining about Mallorie Nasrallah’s post(and Penn Jillette’s response to it) because it shows a differing viewpoint, or because she has a different experience from other people.

    People are complaining about Mallorie Nasrallah’s post(and Penn Jillette’s response to it) because it appears to be dismissing all experiences that are not Nasrallah’s, and advocating that no one else’s viewpoint is worth taking seriously.

  158. 158
    Jafafa Hots

    Yep, it is.
    And as far as Penn Jillette, well… I’ll just shut up now.

  159. 159
    The Pint

    Mallorie, your experiences and mine seem to be the same in skeptic communities. I’ve been the kind of woman who’s tended to have just as many male friends and female friends (if not more of the latter) and tend to have interests that tend to be male-dominated (comic books, sports, etc.). I have rarely been on the receiving end of sexist comments from friends, social groups or in professional milieus. I have never experienced sexual assault, been the victim of rape or sexual discrimination. I know good, kind and compassionate men who treat women as equals.

    You know what the difference between us is? I’m not going around telling women who haven’t been as lucky as me that because I’ve never experienced sexual harassment or assault or discrimination within my skeptic community (or other traditionally male-dominated social circles), that those issues must not be a problem. Doing so silences those women and invalidates their experiences, and they get enough of that crap from our culture at large as it is.

    When these women tell us these things have happened to them, they are not invalidating our experiences – if anything, their stories should highlight just how lucky we are to have escaped that kind of treatment and to be a part of communities that are supportive of us as women.

    Instead of using your good fortune to silence women who haven’t been as lucky by implying that their stories are upsetting to the men you know and hurt their feelings, you should be working to make your good experiences shared by more women. The positive relationships you and I have had being treated equally and with respect by the men in our circles should be the norm shared by all women.

    And those men whose feelings you are so concerned about? If they’ve never treated women as second-class citizens or acted in a sexist manner toward women, then they’re not the target of criticisms directed at the skeptic community’s apparently overall problem with women feeling discriminated against, and they’re smart enough to know that. They don’t need you or anyone else to preemptively protect them from criticism that’s not directed at them in the first place. If they’re the good men that you believe they are, they’ll be just as upset as we are about other men treating women in sexist and misogynistic ways. But if they’re only good to you because you’ve never attempted to challenge their behavior or unexamined privilege, then you might want to reconsider just how lucky you’ve been to have escaped the overt sexism and misogyny other women have experienced within other skeptic communities.

  160. 160
    BentleyOwen

    Thanks for that.

  161. 161
    Utakata

    You never got harassed on your WoW server? Must be nice. I remember one server that I learned quickly never to roll female N’elfs. But in fairness, that was just the one server my friend was one. I quickly transfered my remaining toon from there when she left…thank Elune.

    Anyways, great reply! +1

  162. 162
    Munkhaus

    In the comments of the post below this one, Greta explicitly asks for special treatment for women.
    And are men and women exactly the same emotionally? I thought that at least women experience more stress due to a differently set up amydala (which deals with fear and anxiety).

  163. 163
    J.B.

    I have to say how impressed with how civilly the major players in this discussion have been. As someone who respects both Penn, and Jen I had some trepidation that I would lose respect for one or both of you, and I haven’t.
    May not mean much to you: “oh good that one guy from the internet still respects me, I can sleep tonight,” but small things give me faith in humanity.

  164. 164
    penn

    No one is denying that certain women in the skeptic community has experienced sexism from males. This is not under debate; it is a fact.

    And we know that through the anecdotal experiences of women in the skeptical community, so clearly you do understand that the cases are not symmetrical. You agree that someone saying there is a problem means that a problem of some sort exists, but someone saying they haven’t experienced a problem does not tell us whether or not a problem exists. We aren’t discounting or treating Mallorie’s experiences any differently. But all she is telling us is that not every women in the skeptical community experiences sexism, but since no one ever claimed that, it isn’t very interesting.

    You’re only disagreement appears to be with regards to the scope of problem. So, Jen is not “in fact, is guilty of the exact same thing” as a Mallorie as you originally claimed. Jen just believes from her own experiences and the numerous experiences that others have related to her that there is a significant problem, which you admit is different than Mallorie assuming there is no problem whatsoever from her own experience.

    Here’s another analogy: Mallorie claims that all swans are white because she’s never seen a black one. Jen and others have seen black swans and say they do indeed exist. You then accuse Jen of claiming all swans are black and thus committing the same fallacy as Mallorie, when she has done no such thing. Then you backpedal and claim that it’s the same because Jen has made claims about the frequency of black swans (which she hasn’t), she’s only said there are enough that we shouldn’t ignore them. You then play the more skeptical than thou card by liberally sprinkling the term “scientific evidence” in your responses, which is a nice way of accusing the victims of sexism of being liars like Sylvia Browne or something. As I’m sure you’re aware, anecdotal evidence is often times the only available or even possible evidence especially with regards to social interactions.

  165. 165
    Munkhaus

    Perhaps she *is* aware of the evidence: the nasty, bitter treatment of Steff McGraw; the nauseating histrionics of the Dear Dick letters and childish Dawkins boycott etc etc

  166. 166
    Stephanie Zvan

    Are you guys really going to try to come into this from a position of naivety? It’s not as though this topic hasn’t been being discussed for months. It’s been all of almost three weeks since the most recent round of CDC victimization data was released. Go read before you keep yammering about this: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/NISVS/index.html

  167. 167
    Laurence

    I want to know is what is a prerequisite for people to have to change their behavior or “who they are” (whatever that means). Most atheists and skeptics think that extremely conservative religious people should change their behavior based on the fact that most of what they believe is based on false premises. Most people think that racist people should change their behavior as well no matter how near and dear it is to their heart.

    In the case of Mallorie and her friends, maybe they shouldn’t change their behavior when they are around her because it is seemingly not doing any harm to her. But I don’t think it is too much to ask that they change their behavior that they do not know nearly as well. I know it wasn’t too much to reevaluate my beliefs and behavior based on things that are going on in the world. If I can make people in a community that I care about and want to support by changing my behavior slightly, I’ll do it and won’t think to much about it.

  168. 168
    Crissa

    Seems like it’s describing a sexist act.

    Or do you believe observation creates reality?

  169. 169
    nathanlee

    There is this thing called context, and I think you broke it down, spat on it, and then threw some feces on it. Your post was long, but in the end I think you over-analyzed things that didn’t exist, and ignored things that did. I would go and find all the points that you said Jen didn’t say something, then pull out the context of where she did, but at some point the return on investment isn’t worth the effort, and with no evidence it’d be possible to change your mind, I’m not going to bother.

  170. 170
    Jafafa Hots

    His show has been on for HOW many years?
    I’ve never understood the reverence he gets to begin with.

    I thought for a while “well, that’s just the show, it’s a gag, it can’t always get it right, maybe they need to layer on the sexism because it’s Showtime, etc.” but then I heard him interviewed on other shows, a recent example being Marc Maron’s podcast.

    I just don’t get the hero worship for this guy.
    I admit that much of my dislike is simply a personal reaction. Not all of it is a reaction to the creepy sexism in his show…
    Some came from the shows where they were ridiculously wrong.
    Some comes from the times when he starts preaching his bizarro Randian religion.
    Some is just personal stuff like the times I’ve heard him express his disdain for “hippies” and liberals etc.

    So I have to admit that in large part my reaction is personal. The guy makes my skin crawl.

  171. 171
    penn

    You do understand on some level that you’re being absolutely ridiculous right? The ideal level of sexism in any community is zero. It’s not really important whether or not the skeptical community is more or less sexist than the population at large. I think most people will agree that it is as a whole less sexist. I think even the “militant” feminists like Jen or Ophelia or Amanda Marcotte will agree with that. Exactly quantifying the level of sexism and comparing it against a baseline if it were even possible doesn’t get us very far.

    You come off as straw-skeptic talking about the clinical trial that needs to be devised before any provisional determinations can be made. Different claims require different levels of evidence. That’s skepticism 101. If I told you I took the bus to work today, you’d probably believe me unless you had evidence to disprove my claim (e.g., the buses aren’t running today). If I claimed I flapped my arms and flew to work today, you’d rightly request solid evidence from me before believing such a thing.

    So here’s the situation:
    Many women have said they have experienced sexism in the skeptical community. A skeptic should then ask is it more likely that they are lying/mistaken or that they have in fact experienced sexism. With little to gain from lying and these being sane adult members in good standing in the community, we can safely provisionally assume that most of them probably actually experienced sexism (these aren’t extraordinary claims, so they don’t require extraordinary evidence). From there we can start looking for ways to fix the problem (i.e., treat people with respect, listen when people explain their boundaries, try to be more inclusive, etc.) even if some women come forward and say that they have not had similar experiences.

  172. 172
    Crissa

    There was a culture of serfdom and starving, too.

    Should we worry about the discomfort of those comfortable in that culture?

  173. 173
    Munkhaus

    Yes, this has been the real eye-opener for me: the wilful dishonesty, deceit and censorship from the FFB crowd. Laden is particularly unctuous, tacitly endorsing one of his drones that called Steff McGraw a rape apologist. Benson is also unprincipled and will ban/censor/alter comments at whim. Stephy Zvan is the worst I have dealt with: deliberately deleting/moderating *facts* that went against her argument. And these people are meant to be concerned with truth, rational discourse and skepticism! What a sham.
    (it’s absurd to have to do it, but take screenshots next time)

  174. 174
    Jafafa Hots

    this.

  175. 175
    James K.

    Thank you.

  176. 176
    Crissa

    Yeah, well said.

    And… Man, you’re lucky, I stuck to RP servers and still got harassed ocassionally. Never for being a night elf, but I was rather the sort to stick my head up when trolls – no, not the horde kind – would roll into channels and start mucking things up.

    Can I have some of your luck? ^-^

  177. 177
    Crissa

    Or are women at all?

    Woe be the person who doesn’t follow gender norms or merely appears to in those places. Why would we want atheism/skeptics circles to be such a place?

  178. 178
    The Captian

    Exactly, that’s why so many people I know (many many women included) are so put off by the current skeptic community. The snobby geek elitism that has no tolerance for anyone outside of their narrow social norms has forced them to say “screw it, you won’t tolerate us so we’re out”.

  179. 179
    CycleNinja

    I’m typing this without reading the above comments, but Penn Jilette is a classic case of someone who talks too much to be truly smart. The information stream can’t flow in both directions at once.

  180. 180
    JRB

    No, Greta is not asking for special treatment for women in the previous thread. Greta is asking that people recognize that being truly “gender neutral” is difficult thanks to a number of influences. One common consequence of the resulting subconscious process is that work done by men is seen as more important and serious than work done by women.

    Greta suggests that when composing a list of people based on accomplishments that are largely determined through subjective criteria, gender should be taken into account as a way to combat potential subconscious gender bias in the selection.

    If you view this as “special treatment” as opposed to a useful method to help minimize potential accidental sexism than I would like to know what colour the sky is in your world.

  181. 181
    JohnM

    I can’t help it but when I read “chair entity” I envisioned something that was a cross between Cthulhu and the Flying Spaghetti Monster (May His Noodliness be praised. And served with a nice marinara sauce. Oh, and some garlic bread. Mmmm…garlic bread.)

  182. 182
    Laurence

    I think it’s a mistake to think that we have to wait for scientific data to figure out whether there is a problem or not. One reason is that scientific data may never materialize which would mean that we would never be able to say that there is a problem or address it if there is one. I think that if there is a significant amount of anecdotal evidence to support that there may be a problem, then it would make since that the community should take steps to address the problem. Also, even if there isn’t a problem and we take steps address the non-existent problem, what harm has been done? I cannot think of one. To me, it just makes sense to make a community as welcoming as possible to as many people as possible even if this requires some people to change their behavior.

  183. 183
    Brian Mardiney

    It’s quite telling that you think you know that he meant something ENTIRELY different than what he said, even though you weren’t there and only know of it second and third hand. Cynicism by proxy. I’ll add that to the ever-growing list of “horrible logic in support the ‘rape argument’”.

    I am only going based on the facts. The facts were a man asked a woman for coffee in an elevator. Woman equated the offer as some sort of assault or at the very least, intentionally making her feel threatened. That’s it.

    Her conclusion was WRONG and her feelings were misguided. Again, just because someone feels something doesn’t mean it should be regarded as valid. Her feelings of threat and discomfort say a lot about HER psychology, and absolutely nothing about the man, except maybe that he’s comfortable asking women on dates, which is great.

  184. 184
    doktorzoom

    Well, women keep saying it, which means they keep experiencing it, which means it’s real.

    Not necessarily–maybe it just means that lots and lots of women are Just Plain Wrong. Probably because they’ve been brainwashed by feminists, or because they’re just irrational to begin with. Silly women.

  185. 185
    nathanlee

    I just re-read the original article (a few times), and there is only one small fragment where she dismisses other people’s opinions: “With all of my heart I beg you: Do not change. Do not change for me, do not change for someone else. You’re wonderful, just the way you are.”

    You could pull out sentences that imply otherwise, but in context every single one of those is saying something different. It’s all about protecting men from feeling like they have to change their behavior for the sin of being male. That’s it. That’s all.

    So when people like Jenn (and you guys) start implying (and outright saying) that Mallorie dismisses the viewpoints of all these poor abused raped and victimized souls, using horribly logical fallacies, and being protected by a arrogant boys-club mentality, it’s a bit crazy.

  186. 186
    iszi

    my response (really not as good as this one) http://www.iszi.com/2012/01/move-away-from-the-internet/

  187. 187
    nathanlee

    There is a huge difference between saying “you guys are awesome, so don’t change” and saying “you’re delicate and I’m protecting you from feminazis”

  188. 188
    nathanlee

    Reverse the argument and you’ll see her side. “I’ve heard of an occasional problem with sexism in Y community, ergo we should change the entire culture to treat women better”.

    Then you get the problem of changing the entire culture.

  189. 189
    Earl Mcbakersfield

    Looks like Mallorie had too much privilege, and is now excommunicated. A Judas ‘gina. An honorary misogynist.

  190. 190
    nathanlee

    I think this is great example of how people make opinions on celebrities based on their stage persona.

    Remember, the original post by him was from a article from a friend that he read. That’s information flowing in, and more so than most people that post in forums.

  191. 191
    Nena

    That was very well said.

  192. 192
    m.entropy

    Thanks for continuing to fight the good fight, Jen. You rock.

  193. 193
    carlie

    One thing I have noticed about conversations about sexism, briefed touched on by Richard in #22, is that many women do not realize how some men treat other men, most notibly men who who are somewhat soft spoken and not very assertive. They are frequently belittled, ignored, their sexuality is denigrated and made fun of, threats of violence etc. In short, many of the same problems that are being called evidence of sexism and/or misogyny.

    That is ALSO evidence of sexism; those men are being picked on because they “act like girls”.

  194. 194
    nathanlee

    But she never said STFU. She said (paraphrasing): don’t change guys, and don’t feel like you have to treat me specially, and don’t feel like you’re horrible people because of your genitalia.

  195. 195
    Earl Mcbakersfield

    Elevator gate, a horrible situation… of a woman not getting raped or threatened, or anything. I think some women want the privilege of ‘not being put in awkward situations’

  196. 196
    Nate

    This is just another geeky community with the same geeky problems, isn’t it? Some girls come around and get involved (and why shouldn’t they?) and there are two primary kinds of responses they get from their socially deficient dorky male colleagues (many of whom think they look good in a fedora for some effing reason): 1) “Wow, you’re so hot!” 2) “I’m sympathetic to feminism, and I’m going to vicariously adopt your plight (while secretly hoping that it will one day lead me to the promised land that is your hairy triangle.)” both of these reactions should be offensive, and would be horribly pathetic if they didn’t actually work. Certainly some ladies really enjoy the attention that the first scenario gives them (possibly Penn’s friend, but it’s unfair to judge based on this alone) , while other ladies need to have their complaints validated by the opposite sex in order to make them feel relevant (For example: probably some of the ladies who have a huge problem with what Penn’s friend said).*

    Ultimately, who gives a crap what this lady thinks? It’s a tweet! Last time I checked, tweets didn’t exactly start the most satisfying conversations. They’re like the internet’s bumper sticker. Also, maybe this lady likes things the way they are in her particular community? Who’s to tell her that she’s wrong? Yes, people have made great points about how women aren’t treated fairly in some specific cases, but those points really are irrelevant to what she’s saying.

    I’m really, really, really tired of things being made out to be something that they aren’t. The other day on Hemant’s blog there was a post about Xtians carrying concealed firearms into a church. In the post it was actually said by Hemant: “If you don’t think God’s gonna protect you in a place of worship, what good is it to believe in him at all?” This is like saying “Xtians should believe this, so that I can make fun of them for it, but since they don’t, i’m just going to make fun of them for it anyhow.” Can we really missunderstand something this much and still pretend to be the personification of reason? Seems like nothing more than dishonest complaining to me.

    *I’m not saying that these are the only two types of boys or girls in these groups, but they certainly get the most attention.

  197. 197
    Jafafa Hots

    whoosh.

  198. 198
    John Horstman

    He just oozes unexamined privilege (hence his Libertarian outlook), which is what you’re picking up on. I still recommend Bullshit! overall (I just got God, No! as a Solstice present, which I haven’t read yet), but be wary of disingenuous or even unintentionally-biased framing when looking at any of his projects.

  199. 199
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    I’ll bet you say that to all of your betters.

  200. 200
    Kate

    I’d like to talk to the skeptical community that I’m familiar with, if only tangentially and through reading here, at Free Thought Blogs and over at Skepchic.

    For a long time now I’ve been reading about the sexism problem in the skeptical community, and like Mallorie I’ve never experienced it. If I’m honest, despite being a gay lady, I’ve experienced very little prejudice in my whole life (that I know of), and not one iota of it among the skeptical community, neither here online nor in person.

    I have of course heard about it, and while I have never been the target, I’ve seen it. To those who were the target, who shared their stories and their outrage, thank you for this. Thank you for facing it head on, for not taking it in your stride, for jumping and down and screaming that it is not right. To those who have a keen eye for spotting it, even when the target may not have the strength or the will to combat it on their own, thanks for keeping the debate going, thanks for making sure that sexism and misogyny doesn’t just fade into the background and become white noise, a niggling annoying hiss pervading our community. I love you for that. I wouldn’t have seen it or heard about it otherwise. I wouldn’t have known, and it’s good that I know, because I can empathize and I can help make a change now.

    To all the people who have reconsidered their positions, who have heard what both men and women are saying and recognized that what differentiates the genders is not just about what genitalia we have but also about how we experience the world. Take note: This is not to say that all women (or all men) have the same experiences in life, but that if you dropped two very similar people, one male, one female into the same situation they would probably (though not always) have a different experience, directly because of how our society and our gender is constructed. Whether these differences are innate or taught or a little bit of both is a good debate, and thanks for having those debates.

    Also, to everyone who gets that different treatment does not automatically mean “special” or “unequal” keep doing what you’re doing. Keep being open minded and attempting to see things from other peoples point of view, and trying to understand differences instead of just endlessly denying that they exist at all.

    And thanks for recognizing that women are individuals as well as part of a specific group. That a woman who has had no encounter with bullying or pain from sexism or the misogyny might have a different reaction to a joke or a comment than a woman who is constantly confronted with it. For just as many people enjoy the comfort of a lovely warm fireplace, the victim of a terrible house fire might not appreciate being constantly invited to enjoy the same. Thanks for seeing that there are lines you can and cannot cross with some, and those lines are different for different people, and recognizing and respecting that does not mean you are compromising who you are or who they are.

    Lastly, I just have one simple request: keep changing. Because this is what being part of skepticism and science is all about. If you are presented with new evidence that may suggest a better or different way, test it out. Examine it, dissect it, and see what the result is. If you notice a problem or an issue you would like to change, hypothesize about its cause, figure out a solution and try it. Change a variable or two and see if you like the outcome.

    I love this community. I love it’s sense of humour (the raunchy side, the esoteric side the sarcastic side), I love it’s intelligence, it’s hopefulness, it’s defiance and it’s understanding. But what I love most about the skeptical community is that it is always questioning, always examining, and always adapting, always ready and willing to change.

    So, yeah, keep doing that.

    Thanks,

    Kate

  201. 201
    daenyx

    Are you fucking kidding? You’re going argue semantics?

    Fine. She didn’t say “STFU, women who complain,” she said “Men, don’t listen to those women who complain.” Totally different.

    *slow clap* Congratulations. You get a shiny star for your superior powers of reading comprehension. Now go away.

  202. 202
    Earl Mcbakersfield

    If sexism is less prevalent in the Skeptic community, than in the larger community, then that is certainly a good thing. And kind of destroys the idea that sexism is keeping the female skeptic population low (why would you not join skeptic community because of sexism, when other places are much worse)?

    Honestly by the comments and blog posts we have heard, you’d think sexual harassment and rape had reached epidemic proportions in the skeptical community.

  203. 203
    Crissa

    Even if the guy was just asking for coffee… How is anyone supposed to know? Obviously some people would use that as a euphemism for sex. Even if it was innocent, it looked just like the non-innocent offer. Rebecca just made it known to the public – so those of us who didn’t know that, now do.

    It’s like a little caution sign saying this corner is slippery when wet. Sure, we knew the hazard was out there, but now we know it’s right here.

    How is that not real? Who wants to do things which are the same as a predator would do?

  204. 204
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Seemed like a pretty darned good response to me.

  205. 205
    Beth

    Women don’t react differently because they are women and not men (that implies they are more sensitive or emotional, which is sexist), but because they are usually on the receiving end (as are others who we tend to overlook).

    Actually my point was that women, as a group, do react differently than men when targeted by the type of abuse/humor that is under discussion. I don’t think it is due to being on the receiving end because men have also been on the receiving end of similar abuse. I think the differences do exist in same way that men are generally taller and stronger than women. Is it sexist to acknowleedge that such differences exist?

    My point with different in this case is that equal treatment may result in unequal reactions. There is no need to assume that women are more emotional than men, just that their emotional reactions are different. Women are more likely to express their emotional reactions and more willing to risk being labeled as sensitive, but I suspect that has to do with our culture and what is perceived as acceptable behavior for women and men.

  206. 206
    SallyStrange

    Yeah, that would be pretty nice, actually. Though I don’t see how it’s a “privilege” i.e. “special law” or “special rule.” Most human beings don’t appreciate being put in awkward situations when it’s not necessary. And I’d say your boner does not qualify as making an awkward situation necessary.

    Am I to understand that women requesting to not be put in awkward situations creates some sort of unbearable burden for men?

  207. 207
    penn

    Yeah, she may have only directly said it once, but it was by far the most significant conclusion of her piece that everything else built up to. The rest of piece was explaining why they don’t need to change and/or shouldn’t feel the need to change.

    It doesn’t take a rhetorician to realize that it’s very common to only directly state your main thesis one time, especially in a post on the internet.

  208. 208
    Earl Mcbakersfield

    Forget logical reasoning, forget a critical analysis, forget a skeptical mindset, we will just treat your views with contempt.

    Also, what you have said has been addressed by someone, somewhere, at some point. So im certainly not going to address it, nor link you to a relevant discussion on it. Your view is contemptible(read:contrary) to mine.

  209. 209
    Ologies

    My two cents goes like this:

    I understand Mallorie’s perspective. I have been a part of the boys’ club (a fraternity, to be precise) as an attractive, intelligent female with traditionally “male” interests like video games, crude jokes, science, and action movies. I was the only woman in the group for a time, and it was pretty great. I got a lot of attention and they often expressed interest, which made me feel great about myself. They were — are — a great group of guys. They respected and treated me as an equal while still making it clear they wanted to fuck me (to put it in the spirit of Mallorie’s post). NBD.

    Having that attention on me felt good, but it also made it harder to see until much later that many of these dudes treated women that were *not* me like shit. I defended them to a lot of people who tried to point out to me that they way they behaved when I wasn’t around was harmful, offensive, and demeaning. They were good guys, cool guys, much like the ones in Mallorie’s article, and they treated me like an equal, so I pushed back.

    To this day, I’d still tell others that they are a GREAT group of fellas, seriously hilarious, fun, low-drama guys who are a blast to hang out with — but I would also say that they need to adjust their “fuck bitches” attitude that I not only realize now they harbored the entire time, but that I also participated in, along with other harmful attitudes towards women because it was easy points and I liked the attention I got.

    “Don’t change for anyone” is the LAST piece of advice I’d give them in retrospect knowing what I know now, but that doesn’t mean I want to change every single thing about them until they’re different people. This is a false dichotomy and very much to the contrary. I want them to keep making inappropriate jokes, swearing like sailors, and flirting with women they are attracted to, I wouldn’t change those things for the world, but their exclusive attitude towards women who are /not me/ is regressive and harmful no matter how many good experiences I’ve had with them. Sexism does not go away when you can’t see it and pretending otherwise is solipsistic

  210. 210
    daenyx

    There’s a very simple way to make a community welcoming to women of all levels of tolerance/appreciation for various types of interaction:

    Start from a place of respect.

    None of the arguments from the feminist side of the table are telling anyone to treat us all exactly the same. I will laugh at boob jokes. I will *rip faces off* for ‘get back in the kitchen’ jokes. Know how you find out what will offend me or make me feel threatened and what won’t?

    Treat me as an individual and bloody ask me. I hear that’s effective.

    Or don’t ask, and set your personal bar for how ‘polite’ you are in interacting with me as high as possible until I show you through my own jokes and interactions with people what I’m okay with. If you overstep, and upset me, own up to it and apologize. I’ll almost certainly forgive you. If you flirt with me, respect my stated boundaries, which may very well be quite different from my friend’s boundaries.

    Respect that I am a person – individual and worthy of individual respect.

    That’s really all that’s needed, in the skeptical community or anywhere.

  211. 211
    Crissa

    The difference seems minute.

  212. 212
    nathanlee

    1 – smartass.
    2 – she didn’t say that either, verbatim or otherwise.
    3 – screw you, I’ll leave after when I think the added effort is no longer worth it to debate on here anymore.

  213. 213
    daenyx

    I should probably clarify, in case you (Samantha) read my previous comment, that your post triggered my somewhat verbose response indirectly. I don’t think you’re advocating anything different, and going back and re-reading what I wrote, I fear it could come off that way. So, that’s not how I meant it. :)

  214. 214
    The Pint

    Jen accepted your experiences as genuine and was happy for you. Her problem was with the whole “the skeptical community and its members shouldn’t change because some women (me) are perfectly happy” argument.

    Bingo.

  215. 215
    SallyStrange

    Masturbatory, yeah. Masturbatory in a sort of vindictive way. There’s a word for that: “hoggling.”

  216. 216
    penn

    Yeah, and why do crazy bitches always need to jump off the handle and ask people not to do stuff they don’t like? Crazy irrational cunts, right?

    Quick Elevatorgate rehash since some people can’t help but make shit up:

    RW said she didn’t like constantly being hit on at skeptical conferences and later says she is tired and going to bed. EG follows her to the elevator and then propositions her using a commonly accepted euphemism for sex despite her clearly expressed wishes. RW says, no and they go on their merry way. RW later says “don’t do that” because EG had acted creepy and ignored her stated wishes.

    She didn’t flip out, or bite the EG’s head off. She said “don’t do that” because it was creepy and disrespectful (i.e., it ignored her plainly stated wishes).

  217. 217
    Earl Mcbakersfield

    The ‘coffee’ remark was most likely a euphemism for sex… So the fuck what? Are we no longer allowed to proposition women for sex? Perhaps we must pass that privilege solely to women. Because any time a man asks it, it is inherently threatening.

    An important aspect of the ‘coffee’ euphemism, is that it is a very polite way of asking it, it allows plausible deniablility on both sides, it is designed to be a non threatening way to ask if someone is interested in sex.

    I could certainly understand watson’s complaint, had the man said something to the effect of “I want to have sex with you” such a forward statement could be considered somewhat threatening, but instead he made a deliberately non threatening and euphemistic request, to allow for plausible deniablility on both sides, and when his offer was rejected he went no further.

    The poor guy was publicly(and yes anonymously) admonished on an international podcast, the poor guy will probably be too scared to ever ask for sex again. But such is the casualty from those seeking special privilege.

  218. 218
    SallyStrange

    Or lying. Because women just love lying. Like, all the time. See also: False Rape Society. Any MRA website dealing with divorce and alimony. Etc.

  219. 219
    MarinaS

    He made this whole Youtube video in which he seriously compares universal healthcare to false imprisonment. Big fan of the fake equivalence/stretched analogy school of argument, which the post Jen is responding to is also long on.

  220. 220
    colluvial

    A request that you change your behavior is not a condemnation of who you are, only how you’re behaving. When someone tells you that something you do or say makes them feel threatened or uncomfortable, take it as valuable feedback. You can change your behavior or not, but if you don’t, you’re alienating people who might otherwise be friends or allies. Of the myriad ways that you’re asked to moderate your behavior in public, not saying things that make other people feel denigrated is a relatively minor one.

  221. 221
    'Tis Himself

    Because of my deep prejudice against libertarians, I don’t hold Penn Jillette in high regard. He’s an excellent stage magician. As a human being he’s an excellent stage magician.

  222. 222
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    So?

  223. 223
    The Nerd

    “Unless the whole skeptical community that she’s addressing is bisexual”

    Wait, not all skeptics are bisexual? Damn it! There go my plans for SkeptiConOrgy 2012…

  224. 224
    nathanlee

    She had her own, well labled conclusion section, and it disagrees with yours. The whole conclusion is:

    “Don’t lever let someone make you feel bad for being you, for being male, for being funny, don’t ever believe the lie that us delicate girls can’t take being hit on, can’t keep up with filthy jokes, can’t argue you blue in teh face, and need special treatment”

    So you saying that the conclusion is about dismissing other people’s opinions, you’re just seeing what you want to see. It’s like a Rorschach test or something.

  225. 225
    SallyStrange

    Perhaps not, but it is my experience that merely stating a differing opinion here or at Skepchick will get you labeled as “sexist” and “mysoginst” almost immediately.

    What was the opinion? State it precisely, please.

    Because there is an alternative hypothesis: it was in fact a sexist or misogynist opinion.

    Keep in mind: holding sexist or misogynist opinions doesn’t make you a Bad Person. It makes you a product of your culture.

  226. 226
    LTFT

    Jen,

    I’ve been reading blaghag since PZ linked your critique of the Creation Museum. I occasionally get frustrated with your posts. This is one of those times.

    Mallorie’s argument is along the lines of, ‘I like the skeptical community I joined way back when and I’m afraid that the movement is changing for no good reason. Worse, I fear that those changes will make the movement less enjoyable for me.’

    Were I you, I might argue that no major changes are afoot and that Mallorie should not feel threatened. Perhaps I would argue that what changes should occur really are necessary. Maybe I would argue that the movement will be no less enjoyable for Mallorie after these changes are made. Or I might argue that, whatever the merits of Mallorie’s argument, making that argument the way she did was poorly thought out: the format is needlessly provacative, some of her argument is demonstrably wrong, the hostility contained limits honest debate, the writing reduces, rather than increases, the liklihood of a Mallorie-preferred outcome, etc.

    Instead, in reading your post I see a series of piecemeal responses with no clear focus, no overriding theme, and no basal message aside from, ‘Mallorie is wrong.’ Unfortunately, I see many of the same flaws in your writing that I do in hers. On the whole, while I agree with your message, I am none-the-less disappointed in your writing.

    I understand that blogging can be off-the-cuff and I think you’ve generally done great with that. But you’re young, you have a great forum, and you could really develop into an author respected for the quality of your arguments and opinions. Instead I feel like you’re progressing more towards quantity that quality, and that’s disappointing.

  227. 227
    Jadehawk

    One thing I have noticed about conversations about sexism, briefed touched on by Richard in #22, is that many women do not realize how some men treat other men, most notibly men who who are somewhat soft spoken and not very assertive. They are frequently belittled, ignored, their sexuality is denigrated and made fun of, threats of violence etc. In short, many of the same problems that are being called evidence of sexism and/or misogyny.

    I don’t want to dismiss the problems that many woman are experiencing, but I can understand why asking men to change their behavior may be preceived as asking for special treatment not equality.

    well, there’s a very easy solution to that fauxlemma: don’t be use misogyny against other men, either (because that’s precisely what “They are frequently belittled, ignored, their sexuality is denigrated and made fun of, threats of violence etc.” is)

  228. 228
    The Captian

    Don’t mistake snark for stupidity.

  229. 229
    SallyStrange

    Fantastic comment. Sums it up nicely. Thank you.

  230. 230
    Liam

    What I got out of Mallorie’s article, and in much of my experience, was that it’s the skeptics in the pub, the gaming group, the atheist meeting people, the socially awkward teens at dragon con, that are hearing the messages, and, having tried their best to be the friendly men who love women(platonically and as people), treat all people with respect, but still be themselves, are just hearing “nope, not good enough, you’re still fucking assholes”. Which is kind of not the point.

    This exactly, as someone who has spoken at length to mallorie about this. this^

  231. 231
    The Pint

    As a former member of “the boy’s club,” thank you for this.

  232. 232
    Jadehawk

    Given that most women react very differently emotionally to such discourse than most men do, if you think that it’s special treatment do you think it is justified?

    they don’t react differently, actually. Men who are subject to hazing with no promise of ever being the hazer rather than the hazed react exactly the same way women do; the difference is that some men don’t belong in that category and thus can treat the hazing as an initiation ritual; but then, the few women who also for some reason or another expect to be doing the hazing at some future point also don’t react the way you claim women in general do.

    IOW, difference in reaction isn’t caused by gender per-se; it’s caused by whether someone is permanently on the receiving end, or only being n00b-hazed.

  233. 233
    earl mcbakersfield

    Women don’t react differently because they are women and not men (that implies they are more sensitive or emotional, which is sexist), but because they are usually on the receiving end (as are others who we tend to overlook).

    Biology is sexist.

  234. 234
    adamgordon

    Emil, I’m a scientist and statistician. You don’t have to explain to me how p-values work. I find it rather patronizing, actually. Your problem, however, is that you’re not considering the situation from a Bayesian perspective.

    We know that sexism and misogyny exists in society at large. There is plenty of data supporting this point that I’m sure you’re aware of if you’ve been following this issue at all. That alone adds to what we label the ‘prior’ when it comes to determining what the ‘likelihood’ of the overall hypothesis is. Every time an atheist/skeptic woman comes forward and states that she has herself perceived misogyny in our community, this adds a little more weight to our prior, which increases the likelihood that our community, like many others, has a problem with misogyny. Notice I’m not saying how ‘extensive’ this problem is, because as others here have noted, who cares? Why would we tolerate any instances of such behavior?

    Even if we stick to an empiricist’s perspective, you’re framing the situation entirely wrong. It’s a problem of the null hypothesis. Like I said, society at large has a sexist streak. You could argue this point, but I’ve encountered very convincing evidence that this is the case. It makes sense that subsets of society, being subsets, also contain sexism in some amount. What I’m trying to say here is that the null hypothesis should be that our community contains sexism. The alternative hypothesis should be that our community is unique in that it is sexism-free. Why, as an empiricist, aren’t you demanding evidence that our community does NOT contain sexism? What led you believe that the null hypothesis should be that our community is uniquely free of sexism? I am genuinely curious. I want to know how you arrived at this.

  235. 235
    Beth

    That is ALSO evidence of sexism; those men are being picked on because they “act like girls”.

    If a particular behavior is likely to result in abuse regardless of gender, then I don’t think that we can then draw the conclusion that the abuse is due to sexism or misogyny.

    I do regard the attitude that ‘acting like a girl’ is asking for abuse as sexist. However, I don’t know that men who get picked on are guilty of ‘acting like a girl’ on the internet. It may be true, but it’s not something I have noticed.

  236. 236
    John Horstman

    2) “I’m sympathetic to feminism, and I’m going to vicariously adopt your plight (while secretly hoping that it will one day lead me to the promised land that is your hairy triangle.)”

    You’re projecting here. That makes me suspect that YOU frequently act out option 2 and/or you’re one of these guys, upset about all of the attention lavished on other guys who you see as jerks. Strange as it may seem, there are all sorts of men who actually believe in feminism and championing feminist causes and don’t do so simply in the hope of getting laid. Your failure to recognize that possibility suggests that you yourself think feminism is bullshit. (If you actually valued the issues that the women were raising, why would you be doubting others doing the same?)

    You also have some unexamined sexism/male privilege going on:

    both of these reactions should be offensive, and would be horribly pathetic if they didn’t actually work.

    You sound a little bitter about what you perceive to be going on, and you’re stating that sexual harassment and feigned interest in feminism ‘work’. I’m not sure what definition of “work” you’re using, but it’s not one with which I’m familiar. The overwhelming majority of women do not respond positively to sexual harassment at all (see any selection of these for the data: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=women%27s+responses+to+sexual+harassment&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart ), and any trained feminist can spot a fauxmenist (not mine, saw it on a blog so long ago I can’t remember; Googling, I found a Twitter feed that credits Kitty Finer for coining the term) a mile off.

    Certainly some ladies really enjoy the attention that the first scenario gives them (possibly Penn’s friend, but it’s unfair to judge based on this alone) , while other ladies need to have their complaints validated by the opposite sex in order to make them feel relevant (For example: probably some of the ladies who have a huge problem with what Penn’s friend said).

    Again, this is baseless projection; well, maybe not baseless, but based in sexist stereotypes. Both of these statements construct women as constantly needing male validation. To be fair, many women are socialized to seek out male validation and feel worthless without it (whether they actually buy into that socialization is another story), but you’re still speculating on the causes of others’ behaviors and feelings without direct evidence. Your qualifying asterisk doesn’t negate the projection, as you really have no way to know that your statements accurately describe ANY of the women about whom you’re talking. Also, the way in which you use “ladies” over and over comes off as marginalizing to me (though I acknowledge that this might not be the intent or how its interpreted by others).

    Ultimately, who gives a crap what this lady thinks? … Also, maybe this lady likes things the way they are in her particular community? Who’s to tell her that she’s wrong? Yes, people have made great points about how women aren’t treated fairly in some specific cases, but those points really are irrelevant to what she’s saying.

    She’s saying that the specific behaviors identified by any number of women as problematic for them are intrinsically not problematic and that the men engaging in these behaviors should not change them because they don’t bother her (and fuck all those other women: their experiences don’t matter). The women who find those behaviors problematic are the ones to tell Mallorie she’s wrong, which is exactly what Jen has done. Mallorie is wrong because she is a) dismissing the experience of women who are not Mallorie as unimportant/irrelevant and b) erecting straw sexless, humorless feminists to knock down in order to play apologetics for sexual harassment, which is a very problematic aspect of rape culture. The points raised are not at all irrelevant because Mallorie is commenting exactly on the women objecting to sexism and harassment in skeptic communities.

    I’m really, really, really tired of things being made out to be something that they aren’t.

    Me too, and I imagine every other person working for social justice of any sort; that is exactly why straw man apologetics are so aggravating, and why Jen dismantles and refutes Mallorie’s foray into it.

    Seems like nothing more than dishonest complaining to me.

    That’s an effect of privilege that I like to call center-blindness (the blindness of those in the ‘center’ of a particular cultural discourse to the experiences/perspectives of those on the fringes of that discourse), privilege-blindness (the blindness of those to whom social privilege is ascribed to the experiences/perspectives of those in socially-marginalized positions), or positionality-blindness (in the case of persons in marginalized positions being unable to understand the perspective of those to whom social privilege is ascribed because they lack the experience of being in a socially-privileged position): you are unable to see/accept/understand the validity of the experiences of those in different social positions than yourself. Try not to dismiss the experiences (and feelings about those experiences) of others just because you can’t understand where they’re coming from right away. Ask questions about what you don’t understand or about the things with which you disagree and be open to the answers, even if those challenge things you take for granted. Approach people with an honest attitude of friendship (and it’s not friendly to simply dismiss someone out-of-hand), and you can start to become aware your own privilege, which is the first and necessary step toward any effort to combat the negative impacts your actions might have on others because of your privilege.

  237. 237
    earl mcbakersfield

    Very telling isn’t, no one could put together a reasoned, rational response to your post, instead they had to resort to logical fallacies and straight up dismissal. This is what happens when certain ideologies tint the world view. Skepticism and rational thought must be suspended in favour of the ideology.

  238. 238
    John Horstman

    Exactly this.

  239. 239
    Brony

    I have the same problem. I consider him a bit of a role model when it comes to presentation when I write. Which unfortunately implies I like his emotional style. I think the problem with the “Skeptical Figureheads” that come off as sexist is that they have a bit of an empathy problem. The are good at the anger part of the message, but not so good at the empathy.

  240. 240
    earl mcbakersfield

    I think this is the point of Mallorie’s post. You admit that sexism may only be on a small scale, perpetrated by a small number of men, yet you address all men to change their actions and attitudes. Mallorie’s point was simply that most of the men here are great people, and those guys should certainly not change like that.

  241. 241
    sambarge

    Yes.

    I don’t think I’ll be watching any more episodes of Bullshit though. The conceit of Teller not talking and Penn’s unexamined arrogance is more than I can stand (I gave up after their episode that ridiculed people they intentionally misled for being misled with that whole dihydrogen monoxide nonsense). There are plenty of other ways to get good information about the world.

    Also, PJ’s adherence to libertarionism and support of Ron Paul just proves that he’s an ideologue, not a skeptic.

  242. 242
    adamgordon

    They’re not assholes, and I think, what Mallorie’s article was getting at, is that she’s had one of those “Do I ever make you feel like that?!” conversations too many.

    I think we’re on fundamentally the same side here, but the above quote illustrates what I don’t understand about your point. Why wouldn’t anyone want to have these conversations? What’s the harm in explicitly reaffirming that no line has been crossed and that it’s all good? I’m not talking about after every freaking sentence, of course, but maybe when something nears or crosses ‘the line.’ Because to me, these brief discussions end in one of two ways:

    1. Everyone of both genders agrees that it’s all good, and perhaps even funny
    2. Any offended parties feel free to air their grievances, and any inappropriate behavior is learned to be avoided in the future.

    Aren’t both of these outcomes positive?

  243. 243
    Brony

    I’ve always thought it was an empathy negligence problem.

    These folks have not lived the experience so they don’t understand it. This makes them unintentionally pretend that parts of the experience don’t exist when they think about the problem.

    It’s a concepts problem, they don’t have the concept, so they don’t know how to talk about it. The issue for me is how to get them to understand that.

  244. 244
    julian

    But I don’t like those “Do I hurt women!?” conversations

    Interesting. Your friends who seem to want to avoid sexist or denigrating behavior towards women are just as bad as the people who engage in sexist and denigrating behavior openly.

  245. 245
    earl mcbakersfield

    “Do you think maybe you were labelled a misogynist because your views were misogynist”

    “do you think you were raped because you really were asking for it?”

    Brilliant isnt it, just like you wouldnt have gotten raped if you werent asking for it, you wouldn’t have been called misogynist if you werent writing like one.

    Probably best some quotes are posted before ‘blaming the victim’

  246. 246
    Munkhaus

    Ah, well that does make more sense, yes (if there is evidence for the phenomenon that is). She should have had you write her comment for her!
    (no need for the snide ending though old bean.)

  247. 247
    SallyStrange

    Comparing being raped to being called a misogynist?

    Actually, THAT is pretty misogynist all by itself.

    And yes, when you express misogynist views (like equating being raped to being accused of misogyny), you invite accusations of misogyny.

  248. 248
    Jadehawk

    sexism is not behavior by or against a particular gender; sexism is behavior that enforces sexist structures and causes sex-differential outcomes. Thus, beating up on “girlie-men” is sexism in that it reinforces the male/masculine > female/feminine hierarchy, which in turn causes the gender gap across society

  249. 249
    The Pint

    If the men in Mallorie’s group are as good as she claims, then there’s no need for them to change, thus criticisms addressing sexism in skeptic communities do not apply to them.

    It would be one thing if Mallorie had written a piece telling her specific community that despite the criticisms being leveled at various skeptics communities and the skeptic culture at large about sexist treatment of women, she wanted to reassure them that they were not sexist and she had never been made to feel uncomfortable, and let them know she thought they were doing it right. Unfortunately, she went beyond that, making the fallacious jump that because she’d never experienced sexism in her own community, there isn’t a problem at all and no one in any other community should change his behavior.

    Also, Mallorie seems to be making the assumption that these men she knows are going to have their feelings hurt so badly by these criticism of the skeptic culture at large that it’ll have a negative effect on her community even though they are apparently not the men who criticisms about sexist treatment and behavior against women are being leveled against. Seems rather infantilizing of Mallorie toward her male skeptic friends that she seems to feel they must be so sensitive and delicate they need her to protect and defend them from criticism of behavior they’re not displaying in the first place.

    This really shouldn’t be hard for anyone to grasp. If the skeptic community Mallorie belongs to is going along just fine and not exhibiting any sexism or misogyny in its ranks, hey, that’s fantastic and there’s no need for them to change. Criticisms of sexism in other skeptic communities and the culture in general don’t apply to them.. But just because it’s fine in Mallorie’s circle doesn’t mean that it’s just as fine in other circles, so none of those men need to change either.

  250. 250
    julian

    how did that happen?

    Because you agree with it and feel Ms. McCreight is out of line and getting to much credit for this post? That’d be my guess, anyway.

    try something other than anger, or a rather lecturing “here is why you are wrong” tone

    I don’t see that in Aunt Ruckus’ piece (it seems to affirm and encourage the behavior many women find harmful) but even if it were, what’d make it anymore valid a method of drawing attention to problems then, well, drawing attention to problems?

  251. 251
    Momo Elektra

    You said women react differently emotionally than men because they are women and men are… men.
    But that’s not true.
    Different people react in different ways. People who feel as victims react in different ways. And of course culture shapes those reactions and the expectations of reactions.

    I think the differences do exist in same way that men are generally taller and stronger than women. Is it sexist to acknowleedge that such differences exist?

    It is when you put a value on it or construe a (biological? like being taller) gender difference where none exists.
    People are diverse. People will not react with equal (meaning: same) reactions.
    It seems to me that is reason for you to question the concept of equal treatment (which, if I understand you, is futile because equal treatment will not produce equal reactions. Maybe it’s just my ESL, but are you not confusing two meanings of “equal” here?)

  252. 252
    The Pint

    Nicely put. Thank you.

  253. 253
    SallyStrange

    Good. I don’t want people like you on my side. Objectivism is bullshit, pure and simple. As is misogyny. So, they go together. Have fun playing with the dudes who enjoy making rape threats against teenage girls!

  254. 254
    Tony B

    One night I was leaving a friends apartment building with a group of people. We say our goodbyes and as I get in my car I notice a car rolling slowly down the lane. Some guy walks up to my window and asks for money because he “needs gas”. I glance in my mirror and realize that this guy’s car is now parked such that I can’t back out. I don’t really believe him but decide I’d better give him some money because at this point if he wants everything I’ve got and my car there’s not a whole lot I can do about it. I fish around in my pockets mumbling about how I rarely carry much cash and pull out two bucks. He seems satisfied and takes off.

    In retrospect I choose to give this guy the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he really was in a tight spot and was just innocently looking for help. There’s nothing wrong with asking strangers for money, right?

    Surely anyone can see that this was just about the creepiest way he possibly could have gone about it. Rather than approach a group of three people in a well lit area he follows me to my car and parks me in so my only option is to pay him or risk upsetting someone who I’ve never met. I have no concept of how stable he is, the only thing I know about him for sure is that he thinks it’s OK to corner people and ask them for money.

    I would have to be a complete fucking idiot to not have considered the possibility that this guy intended to rob me. Similarly, Rebecca Watson would have to have been a complete fucking idiot to not have considered the possibility that the man propositioning her wasn’t going to accept a negative answer gracefully.

    She was never saying “you shouldn’t ever ask for sex” She was saying “Jesus fuck that was creepy. DON’T DO THAT.”

  255. 255
    julian

    *slow clap*

    Mallorie Nasrallah has some amazing buddies. And their sense of proportion and reasoning? Unmatched.

  256. 256
    Jurjen S.

    It says something about this whole “discussion” that I can’t remember which party wrote the quoted passage. But I’d say if it was Jen, it’d be a damn sight more justified.

  257. 257
    Munkhaus

    There seem to be a lot of comments like this here, and at other FTB’s:
    “For a long time now I’ve been reading about the sexism problem in the skeptical community, and like Mallorie I’ve never experienced it.”

    “and like you I never felt harassed”

    “Just because I haven’t experienced much, if any, misogyny or sexism”

    ” I have not had the misfortune to experience any of that”

    and they all say, yes, but it’s horrible that it happens.

    Are women being abused at atheist conventions, or are they reading about it? Skeptically asking the question. A lot of people seem to be angry about something they have had no experience of.

  258. 258
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I think few if any men are actually surprised by this. The ones reacting angrily know, but “well, damn it, she SHOULD be fine with it!” [arm-crossing, foot-stomp]

  259. 259
    The Artful Nudger

    So if someone is inclined to be racist, bigoted, or homophobic, they should go on with their lives and never let anyone make them feel guilty for being them?

    If they think that their jokes about blacks are funny regardless of whether or not people are laughing, they shouldn’t let people make them feel bad for “being funny”?

    “Be yourself” is a long-standing bromide, but its limit is, broadly, the rights of others to be themselves as well. If you contribute to the marginalization or oppression of others, their freedom to be themselves is similarly trammelled. As in society, your freedom to do things is (and should be) limited in a fashion that allows most people most freedoms, rather than complete freedom for some and none at all for others.

    So yes. There are circumstances when people _should_ feel bad for being who they are, and should strive to change. And Mallorie’s conclusion is that this is not the case, and the opinions of those who are hurt by an individual being “who [they] are” don’t matter. That is how she is being dismissive of others’ opinions.

  260. 260
    Momo Elektra

    but instead he made a deliberately non threatening and euphemistic request

    Nah. Maybe that’s what he tried to do (big maybe), but he failed.
    Because wether or not a request is non-threatening depends entirely on the one being questioned.
    It is quite simple really. Do you let others decide if their actions towards you don’t bother you?

  261. 261
    John Horstman

    1) Moderation is not the same thing as censorship; there’s an ongoing discussion on FTB (I *think* you meant FTB and not “FFB” above) about exactly how to handle moderation, when one wants a space to be open to dissenting opinion but not open to violent commentaries that may make some community members, particularly those in marginalized positions, feel unsafe and stay away. Also, in case you thought there was such a thing, let me tell you right now that the idea of “free speech” is a myth. Even without any laws/policies in place (or with laws/policies guaranteeing that no speech will be blocked), what is/is not/can be/cannot be said is dictated by coercive social norms, social privilege, and access to particular discourses (which is generally contingent upon social privilege). In the case where free speech is guaranteed, only the socially-privileged enjoy relative freedom in speech. Because e.g. misogynistic (substitute racist/racial minority persons, homophobic/gay persons, transphobic/transgendered or genderqueer persons, classist/poor persons, ableist/disabled persons, etc. as appropriate) speech can be experienced as harmful by women, allowing misogynistic (and in particular intentionally-vicious/-hateful vitriol) speech can drive women who do not wish to be subjected to harm away, denying them access to the discourse and effectively silencing them – their speech in that case is not actually free (in the sense of unencumbered, an encumbrance being an implicit restriction) because there is an additional restrictive condition put upon them that is not put upon men. Libertarian/Classical Liberal philosophies fail to recognize the role played by extralegal contexts (e.g. social privilege), and are therefore not as good as other models of human social organization/discourse that have been devised since.

    2) You continue to ignore the possibility that Chris Willett’s (and your?) moderated comments are just plain misogynistic trolling, or identified as such because they beg questions that have already been answered, use hate words, or fail to respond to the actual issues raised (i.e. are completely off-topic). I would love to see screenshots of this sort of thing (as would everyone else asking for examples), as they would allow me to judge whether this was in fact the case or whether the moderation was unfair, in which case we could all petition the blogger to change one’s moderation policies/practices. As far as I can tell, everyone here is really interested in skeptical, evidence-based discourse, and you’re the ones sitting here making claims without providing evidence, even anecdotal evidence (Chris didn’t even give us an example without a screenshot, just said ALL dissenting opinions are labeled misogynist, which I suppose is theoretically true, and not necessarily indicative of bias, in the event that all dissenting opinions are actually misogynist, though I doubt that’s the case; I find it more likely that any/all misogynist comments made here are called out for being misogynist, which is likely a sharp contrast to many other blogs/internet fora).

  262. 262
    The Pint

    So by your logic, if I’m angry about rape, even thought I’ve never been raped and all I know about rape is because I’ve read or heard stories from other women who have been raped, I should be instead be skeptical that rape even happens, because I’ve never been raped?

    Or, as a Asian, if I’m angry about racism, even though I’ve never been on the receiving end of racist practices and all I know about racism is because I’ve heard or read stories from other ethnic minorities who have been discriminated against, I should instead be skeptical that racism happens because I’ve never been racially discriminated against?

    I could so easily go on, but there’s got to be a character limit to comments here.

    That sound you heard was my brain cracking to pieces inside my skull.

  263. 263
    KarenX

    Ultimately, who gives a crap what this lady thinks?

    Honestly, I don’t think anyone gives a crap what this lady thinks. What people give a crap about is dismantling one very common approach to dismissing the need to address sexism in skepticism, and about how Penn Jillette–a prominent feature of the TAM community–repeated this sentiment to his 1.7 million follows, and endorsed it.

    You can say that he just didn’t read closely enough and didn’t get what he was endorsing, or you can say he’s proud women like Mallorie are on his side, but either way you look at it it’s a blow to the people trying to fix skepticism from the inside.

  264. 264
    The Artful Nudger

    And I’ll bet you feel clever for writing that, as well.

  265. 265
    julian

    Jen, I find it unfortunate that your entire response is little more than telling people what you think I was trying to say.

    I find it unfortunate you think sexual harassment doesn’t exist, that it can’t impact the workplace and that a sexist environment (or any kind of environment that unfairly impacts a group) is impossible.

  266. 266
    earl mcbakersfield

    There we go again, ignore the point of my post, which was demonstrating poor circular logic in both ‘blaming the victim’ situations. It’s just easier to call me misogynist and be done with it. No thinking/analysis/reasoning required.

  267. 267
    Munkhaus

    I rather think you’re right… your brain has cracked.
    What are you ranting on about? We’re talking about the “atheist community” aren’t we?
    I’m perfectly willing to accept that they’re are plenty of women being abused by atheists in the community, but I’m just pointing out that there are a lot of commenters saying the opposite.

  268. 268
    JesseW, the Juggling Janitor

    First of all, ZOMG, 250+ comments? Wow.

    What I came here to do was link to a response to Mallorie’s post by Christina@WWJTD titled: “Jumping on the sexism train. Again.”. IMO, it’s very good, and I’d love to hear Mallorie’s thoughts after reading it.

  269. 269
    Matt Penfold

    It is not acceptable to ask someone for sex given in the circumstances in which RW was, no.

  270. 270
    The Artful Nudger

    Kudos to this, sir.

  271. 271
    The Artful Nudger

    (Or ma’am.)

  272. 272
    Amanda Marcotte

    It’s all fun and games to be in the boy’s club, right up until you disagree with one.

    That’s when you find out you were never actually in the boy’s club, and were kept around as an ornament.

  273. 273
    ginmar

    Ugh. She’s the one who’s been infecting various discussions with equalist crap and derailing about ‘people’ when we’re talking about shit men do to women.

  274. 274
    Matt Penfold

    Oh, don’t worry. There can be no mistaking your stupidity.

  275. 275
    ginmar

    Because when an oppressed group comes up with a sarcastic term for the condescension that the oppressors use on them, it’s just the same as oppression? Christ, check that fuckin’ privilege, or trade with somebody. I’m sure they’d like the view for a bit.

  276. 276
    John Horstman

    Yeah, and all of that “White”, “Christian”, “male”, “heterosexual” stuff is stupid too: obviously there are just regular people and Minorities, regular people and Heathens, regular people and Women, regular people and Queers, etc. I’m normal, you’re all Other.

    Is marking the unmarked normative category for ascribed gender/biological-gender-as-identified-at-birth agreement REALLY so problematic for you that you have to go out of your way to denigrate the practice? Do you really not see why it might be important to point out, even when we’re talking about the majority, that not everyone is like that? While I don’t think it’s possible to account for every possible non-normative identity expression/performativity ever, the non-binary-gender-conforming group is only growing as it becomes incrementally safer to be out, and is large enough that I think it merits accounting-for, especially when we’re specifically talking about gender.

    Don’t be a prick (sexism! sexism! male-anatomy-based slur!): even if you think “cisgender” is a stupid term, using it is a minor concession to make a whole lot of people feel better (and not going out of your way to call it “stupid” costs you nothing). Think about it in the same way one might think about not going through every comment and correcting the grammar for Standard Received English usage, instead focusing one’s energy on responding to the ideas in the posts.

  277. 277
    nathanlee

    An interesting take, but it’s far enough away from what her actual words were that I still think it’s a case of seeing what you want to see. This would assume that her audience is homophobic, racist, bigoted, or otherwise unpleasant to the point of limiting your freedoms. Instead, it is heavily implied that her audience is the dirty-minded, well argued personal friends that feel like they have to hide those aspects of themselves whenever they’re around skeptical girls (IE, her).

  278. 278
    Amanda Marcotte

    Anyone who uses the terms “male” and “female” as nouns, I’ve found, never has anything really of value to say about gender. This is as true as the sun rising every morning. It’s a really nice filtering system.

  279. 279
    John Horstman

    What she said!

    Basically, Mallorie, you fucked up and wrote something stupid, borne from a place of unexamined privilege or perhaps sheer luck in personal experience. You have many people explaining to you point by point why what you wrote is so problematic. They’re not saying you’re a Bad Person, just that you wrote something thoughtless. Have the good grace to listen and perhaps apologize if you feel it’s appropriate; don’t double-down on your marginalizing apologetics by continuing to dismiss points that are raised while refuting points that no one raised.

  280. 280
    Amanda Marcotte

    By the way, I don’t “keep up” with men. That assumes, incorrectly, that men are naturally great and women are lucky if we can be as good. Believe it or not, some of us have abilities that surpass the average man’s in many departments.

  281. 281
    Munkhaus

    Like bullshitting, in your case Amanda.
    Have you considered some sort of therapy for your issues?

  282. 282
    John Horstman

    And then the Internet exploded with sexual-harassment apologetics.

  283. 283
    Nate

    John Horstman, did you spike the hay? Because your horse is awfully high! In the spirit of brevity, I did qualify that these are not the only two scenarios that exist using my handy asterisk. That should obviously give me carte blanche to say whatever I want about the two scenarious I represented.

    First of all, if I’m projecting anything at all it’s that I’ve actually seen these scenarios unfold, and the fact that they have “worked” for some people is what perpetuates the problem. Obviously, they only work on certain (stupid) people, but you can’t tell me that everyone in this community is as intelligent as you are. I’m willing to bet that only 85% of the community is as intelligent as you. That leaves 15% of the community as suckers. You can assume whatever you want about my own actions and behaviors, but I can assure you that I’m not one of “those” guys. I prefer women who are impervious to this kind of elementary D&D sorcery (the 85%, of which my awesome wife is certainly a part). It is kind of funny that you accuse me of such behavior simply because I’m calling it out, when you agree with me so passionately that it’s wrong. Why don’t you throw me into the river and see if I sink? All I’m saying is that this crap goes on, as described, and it’s really lame and very easy to figure out.

    A secondary projection I’ll admit to is that I don’t like fedora hats on nerds (they belong on tough guys), and that I stereotype feminists as having hairy triangles. Though I don’t really have a problem with hairy triangles at all (my extended olive branch to all feminists).

    Your argument that I’m speaking from a position of priviledge is noted, and it is something I’ve been aware of for a rather long time (and by aware, I mean not allowed to forget). You also argue that not every male feminisit is a “fauxmenist” (thanks for sharing that BTW. I’m gonna get a lot of mileage from that), but some men are genuinely passionate about the “movement”. I understand, because I’m passionate about gay rights. I’m passionate about all people being treated equally. Where I have a problem is when people such as yourself become offended when I use a word like “ladies.” I didn’t say “girls” (except early on in the comment, simply for emphasis), and I absolutely refuse to say “females” because I’m not a mouth breathing idiot. Being irritated with the term “ladies” just makes people look extremely unreasonable. And not because “women are unreasonable,” but because THAT is unreasonable.

    Also, at what point did I claim that women respond well or should get used to harrassment? I guess we fight strawmen with strawmen around here, which was kind of my point with my entire comment.

  284. 284
    Raptor

    Thanks Stephanie… not to mention that the reason I didn’t post it was because someone already had. I mean, seriously. And it’s back to the point of how people are calling these women do who report this stuff liars. How they personally do not believe the numbers, therefor, it doesn’t happen and those that say it does are making a big fuss out of nothing. (p.s. last numbers I saw gave it that rapist rape about 10 people before being stopped.. So, we’re talking 1 in 50). And no, I do not think that any certain community of people have a special immunity from these numbers. The other studies that go along those lines are just as frightening number wise. How men who are rapist not only understand the words ‘maybe later’ mean ‘no’, but if actually told no, think it means that woman deserves to be raped… and that they are just the person to do it.

    What’s being asked of everyone is simple: Treat a person like a person (women included). And if you have to add a ‘I get it, but…’ then no, you don’t get it. Fail.

  285. 285
    Steven Ree Worley

    Right on.

  286. 286
    ginmar

    Mallorie has been victim blaming the fifteen-year-old girl who received rape threats in pretty damning victim-blaming terms. Rebecca Watson and, I think, Greta Christine, are also targets of her ire.

  287. 287
    John Horstman

    It’s weird how knowing that people don’t think like one or share one’s experiences in one area (for example, in this case, not believing in any sort of god vs. the majority that do) doesn’t translate into a realization that people might not share one’s perspectives/experiences in other areas as well, for many people. Corollary: frequently people who are ascribed some marginalized social positions fail to recognize their own privileged positions with respect to others.

  288. 288
    julian

    It’s just easier to call me misogynist and be done with it.

    You weren’t called a misogynist.

  289. 289
    John Horstman

    Aww fuck, I took the time to write a detailed response to one of your less-overtly-misogynistic posts, and it turns out you’re just an obstinate troll. Amanda’s awesome; go do something worthwhile yourself instead of hating on other people.

  290. 290
    Tim Groc

    You’re creepy.

  291. 291
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Of course, it could just as easily be that they behave like the ones we are criticizing but that she’s internalized the “don’t be a whiner” gaslighting that’s so chokingly pervasive in American culture so thoroughly that she can’t even admit to herself that the way her friends behave isn’t really respectful. It’s hard to tell from this distance. :/

  292. 292
    The Pint

    I’m stating that I think your logic is flawed. You’re asserting that because much of what you’ve read are women saying that they’ve read about sexism in the skeptics community, despite the fact that they haven’t personally experienced sexism within the community, perhaps sexism isn’t a problem in the skeptics community. You’re insinuating that women who are upset about sexism in the skeptics community are only making noise because they’ve read about it, not because they experienced it, and that because they haven’t personally experienced sexism in their dealings with the skeptics community, they should be skeptical that it even happens.

    It’s like telling a woman that because she’s never been raped and has only read about it, she should be skeptical that rape happens.

    These aren’t stories about women who’ve heard about women who’ve experienced sexual harassment and sexism at skeptics conferences or in communities. The stories come DIRECTLY from the women who experienced them. One just needs to take a peek at the sheer volume of sexist vitriol Rebecca, Jen, Greta and other female skeptic bloggers/writers/speakers get whenever they even mention the mere fact that sexism exists even in the skeptic community to know that it’s there. That may not be physical sexual harassment, but it sure as hell is verbal.

    I don’t have to have experienced rape to know that it happens because there’s evidence that it does. Likewise, I don’t have to have experienced sexism in the skeptics community to know that it exists because there’s ample evidence that it does, some of that evidence taking place in this very thread.

  293. 293
    Ologies

    Congratulations, in the least helpful, least insightful, and least intelligent comment on this blog contest, you’re a final contestant!

  294. 294
    patrickbarrett

    Penn Jillette is absurdly overrated and frequently — as you point out, in so many words — intellectually dishonest. If he is, as Jen says, “a major celebrity in the skeptical movement,” that just demonstrates the need for greater skepticism within the movement.

  295. 295
    Tim Groc

    Amanda. Do you believe you are not in a “club”?

  296. 296
    julian

    Oh, Munkhaus. I can count the number of comments you’ve made that weren’t fallacy ridden gibberish on my left hand. Please don’t try to call someone out on ‘bullshit.’ It looks very hypocritical and diminishes any impact you could possibly have.

  297. 297
    Munkhaus

    Oh come off it! Look at this comment… completely uncalled for, generalising and sexist. Ooh, yeah, until you disagree with one of “them”, “I don’t keep up with men”… juvenile bollocks.

  298. 298
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    There are admittedly quite a few communities where people have become so accustomed to dealing with misogynist trolls that they’ve become a bit trigger happy. And there are admittedly a subset of them where people not only lash out based on overactive pattern recognition (understandable) but treat any protests as vindication of their original assumptions and twist words and move the goalposts pretty blatantly to continue attacking a person who merely disagrees (intellectually dishonest and regrettable). Those latter places are pretty disagreeable and I try to stay away from them (on the other hand, I realize that an echo chamber can be quite a valuable tool to people who’ve never been able to hear their own voices before). But so what? Unless your point is that you and yours won’t lift a finger to improve yourselves until all feminists and all feminist communities become perfect….

  299. 299
    earl mcbakersfield

    You sound like a misandrist in this post. Watch out for the men everybody, one minute you’re in the boys club, the next you are writing generalisations about men in the comments section of a blog.

  300. 300
    The Pint

    And even though it’s been said elsewhere multiple times in this thread, I’ll repeat the point because it’s relevant to your pointing out that there have been women on this thread (including me) who have not experienced sexism within the skeptic community personally:

    Just because I’ve never experienced sexism within the skeptic community, it doesn’t mean I automatically brush off stories from women who have as outliers or rare events. Instead, women like me view ourselves as fortunate to not have experienced sexism from the skeptics of our acquaintance, and work so that more women share our positive experiences than negative ones. Because even just one instance of sexist treatment is one too many, and allowing it to happen just because we haven’t personally experienced it is selfish, self-centered and morally irresponsible.

  301. 301
    elijah snow

    I agree with Mallorie’s vision. We should all strive for equality, even if such equality is full of gender traps. Isn’t that what feminism was all about when it started? I prefer to treat people as my equals, otherwise I feel I’m not being honest. As for Jen’s “analysis”, it feels more “responding” than “revisionist”. It comes off as the comment of a person with a stick up the arse. Greetings.

  302. 302
    papango

    That is what they want you think. I believe that the decision to go with ‘chair entity’ came about at the same time as a small town in the central North Island that had declared itself a republic elected a goat as their president. That goat won fair and square and it was a wake up call to organisations that person-ist attitudes may have to change.

  303. 303
    Steven Ree Worley

    Wow, you are making a huge leap from somebody telling sexual jokes.

  304. 304
    Tim Groc

    What exactly did she write that Penn should not have endorsed? Does Penn have to check with Pharyngula, Skepchick, Blag Hag, etc. first, before he does anything?

    For a group of skeptics, actual evidence seems really hard to come by.

  305. 305
    earl mcbakersfield

    Has there ever been a report of a rape incident happening at a skeptics even, or by a skeptic male to a skeptic female? Im interested.

  306. 306
    Nate

    KarenX, I see what you’re saying, and you make valid points. I just don’t really think the girl understood any of that when she posted it. I don’t think she’s very aware of the “feminist movement,” and if everything is personally going well for her, why should she feel like she has to be aware of it? It’s kind of the point of any movement, to make things right and even. I can tell you as an outsider (or person of priviledge, your pick) I don’t always see what the fuss is about. That being said, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Personally, I don’t think I treat people differently unless they prove themselves to be assholes, and I have severe disdain for anybody who treats people unfairly. It’s obvious that other people do not live by this, hence the need for feminists, gay rights activisists, and the Fairness To Gingers Brigade, which I would certainly join were it real.

  307. 307
    Munkhaus

    More juvenile schoolyard jibes… fallacies my arse. Make a point huevón.

  308. 308
    earl mcbakersfield

    Yes, it would be very unlikely that she is telling the truth that she has an enjoyable and sexism free time in the skeptical community. This place is overflowing with so much sexism, its best to speculate that she might be lying or covering something up. Makes it easier to dismiss.

  309. 309
    H.D. Lynn

    I completely agree. I was explaining this to someone last night when I said I liked to watch a particular program because the host usually tried to get many different viewpoints on the show. Person says “oh, opposite viewpoints.” I said, “No, different and legitimate viewpoints, but not always opposite.”

  310. 310
    The Artful Nudger

    As is often useful in these cases, modify the viewpoint you agree with to be along racial lines, rather than gender. In place of jokes about keeping women in the kitchen, make jokes about racial minorities.

    Then, imagine you’re trying to include individuals of those racial minorities in a conversation. Would it be treating them as equals to tell them those jokes? Or would it be treating them as equals to realize that you _weren’t_ treating them as equals by telling the jokes in the first place?

    Maybe some of the individuals in question actually find the jokes based on stereotypes of their own ethnic group funny. And they can tell you that. But making that assumption is arrogance and privilege – not exactly hallmarks of equality.

  311. 311
    julian

    And here was me trying to be nice to you. Geez, well that’ll teach me to be kind to trolls.

  312. 312
    patrickbarrett

    She is indeed reacting to a very specific incident, and that’s exactly what makes her open letter — and Penn Jillette’s endorsement of it — so repulsive. The reaction and the endorsement are utterly stupid and completely inappropriate.

  313. 313
    Nate

    Well said LTFT.

    Jen is obviously very passionate, but I think the method here could have been better. It’s more important to state a clear case than it is to rail against a flawed one. I often have to remind myself of that when I’m discussing things with people who don’t agree with me, and I hardly adhere to it.

  314. 314
    Ologies

    Yeah, but he should NEVER change for ANYONE because someone out there thinks he’s great!

  315. 315
    The Artful Nudger

    @nathanlee – You’re right. I’m being unfair to Mallorie, at least in the context of her original article. She thinks that her buddies are fine the way they are, and is telling them so. (I’m not so sure about her doubling down in the comments, though.)

    But the issue here is that the support from Penn suggests that this can be applied more broadly, when it cannot. What is suggested is that people ought not to feel bad when they make other people uncomfortable or exclude them for no reason other than their genetic makeup, which is manifestly untrue.

    If someone tells you, directly or indirectly, that they’re alright with dirty jokes, that’s fine! But if doing so makes them uncomfortable, and you’re aware that it does, then “being yourself” is being an asshole.

    @Steven – not really. Say that someone is inclined to use the word “fag” in a pejorative sense. Someone tells them that they find the term offensive when it’s meant to disparage. They may not be consciously homophobic, but their use of the word is, and ignoring someone’s discomfort to “be yourself” would be the same in that situation as it is in this. Whether someone is born with XY or XX (or other permutations) is beyond their control, and they should not be forced to bear unwarranted societal burdens because of it.

  316. 316
    earl mcbakersfield

    Unfortunately, she went beyond that, making the fallacious jump that because she’d never experienced sexism in her own community, there isn’t a problem at all and no one in any other community should change his behavior.

    I tried looking through her post to find where she did this, can you please cite it?

  317. 317
    earl mcbakersfield

    Sharp wit there Julian, irrelevant semantics however. My posts was considered misogynist, and as the posts above mine show, if you are making statements people label as misogyist its because you are one.

    Again, these little red herrings are used in place of rational discussion, thanks for participating.

  318. 318
    SallyStrange

    OY.

    Logic 101:

    “Don’t do this” applies ONLY to those who are doing “this”.

  319. 319
    The Pint

    Right. Because sexism is only a problem if sexual harassment and assault reach, as you put it, “epidemic proportions.” If it happens once in awhile or not on what you’d consider a large scale, we should just shrug and go “aw, that’s too bad” or just ignore it because it’s not a real problem.

    You seriously don’t see a problem with this point of view? No one should ever be the victim of sexual harassment, no matter what the scale. Period. Sexism in any form is wrong. That fact that you seem to think it’s ok as long as sexism isn’t sexual harassment or assault at “epidemic proportions” speaks volumes, and none of it good.

  320. 320
    The Pint

    But if you’re criticizing some men about bad behavior, other men not engaging in that behavior might still think that criticism is about them and their feelings will get hurt! What about teh menz???

  321. 321
    SallyStrange

    Earl, I have no idea how you relate to women in your heart of hearts.

    What I can say is that there is NO comparison between being raped and being called a misogynist.

    One is a potentially life-shattering trauma.

    The other is a word (on a screen, in your case) that evokes some social stigma.

    To suggest the two are remotely equivalent is to minimize the seriousness of rape. And that, in my mind, is a misogynist thing to do.

    I have no comment on whether you are, in your heart of hearts, a misogynist. But that thing right there, that you just wrote with your keyboard? That was a misogynist thing.

  322. 322
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Irrational cunts?” Excuse me, but the female genitalia CAN be expressed as a division of two (w)holes. :P

    (See, this is the sort of joke that I’d expect would actually be considered funny.)

  323. 323
    SallyStrange

    Captain Logic strikes again!

    With enemies like these, one hardly needs allies.

  324. 324
    KarenX

    Penn Jillette should endorse whatever he wants to endorse. I was answering the question about who gives a crap what Mallorie thinks, which is almost nobody. But people who give a crap about addressing sexism within skepticism will react strongly when a figure of the movement–and I use the term as shorthand, not really interested exactly in discussing what makes a movement right now–broadcasts to 1.7 million people that he endorses the “there’s nothing wrong with skepticism” and “never change” sentiments.

    Penn Jillette shouldn’t ask for permission for anything. But people who are disappointed with what he does should say so, without also having to ask permission from the people upholding the status quo.

  325. 325
    Crissa

    He’s been writing for decades, too.

    Your excuse for him is that it’s part of his act to be a pompous misogynistic ass in his non-stage dealings?

  326. 326
    SallyStrange

    This may come as a surprise to you, but not all men act like they are members of a “boys’ club.”

    Who’s the misandrist here? The person who notes that there is one specific group of men who act in an undesirable way, or the person who assumes that ALL men act that way?

  327. 327
    SallyStrange

    Yes, I feel pretty safe saying that anyone who unironically uses the phrase, “Women are as good as men” still doesn’t get what equality is all about.

  328. 328
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    That’s not what I said.

  329. 329
    KarenX

    Nate:

    I just don’t really think the girl understood any of that when she posted it.

    This is pretty patronizing. Mallorie is a grown woman who understands perfectly what she thinks. So perfectly, in fact, she was able to communicate it in writing, which everybody who read it understood.

    Personally, I don’t think I treat people differently unless they prove themselves to be assholes, and I have severe disdain for anybody who treats people unfairly.

    You may not realize it, but you are very likely treating her differently because she is a woman. She says something that a lot of people are taking her to task for, but you are waving it off as naivete, or obliviousness, or living in some kind of bubble, instead of treating her (considered by many) unsavory thoughts as clear conclusions she’s come to about her life. I strongly suspect–but cannot prove–that you would not describe a man who expresses an unpopular opinion as a boy who doesn’t understand what he is saying. You are being unfair, both in the way you cast her as a character and in the excuses you are making for her arguments.

    Did you realize you were doing that? I’m not saying that to beat you up about it–just pointing it out. And if this is happening in a post where you say you are a person who does not see what the fuss is about. Stuff like this is what the fuss is about. You say you generally give us the benefit of the doubt; why don’t you give Mallorie the benefit of the doubt and assume she actually knows what she’s saying and her critics the benefit of the doubt when they say there is something to make a fuss about?

  330. 330
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Yeah, this. I’ve noticed that even most of the anti-sexist, anti-racist, queer-friendly social spaces are fairly clueless about neurotypical privilege, for instance. >.>

  331. 331
    SallyStrange

    Are you searching for individual stories? Why would any woman want to share her personal story of trauma with a man who thinks that being accused of misogyny is comparable to being raped?

    It’s none of your goddamned business, is what I’m trying to say.

    Go look at the statistics on rape (1 in 5) and percentage of rapes perpetrated by friends, boyfriends, and husbands (over 75%), THEN come back and give us your estimate of the probability that such a thing has NOT occurred.

  332. 332
    julian

    irrelevant semantics however.

    Pointing out that you in fact were not called a misogynist is not ‘irrelevant semantics’ when your complaint is that you are being called a misogynist or sexist.

    My posts was considered misogynist, and as the posts above mine show, if you are making statements people label as misogyist its because you are one.

    It was considered misogynistic and while saying bigoted things might reliably mark you as a bigot it does mean you are a bigot. Which is why, I think, it’s important to note you weren’t called a misogynist.

    Which is good. If it’s only the occasional actions or words that are misogynistic you haven’t very much work to do. You can readily and easily remedy that. In this case you were incredibly dismissive of rape by lowering it to the level of something trivial and that’s an entirely legitimate observation.

  333. 333
    SallyStrange

    This is just off the top of my head, but I believe it was the part where she said (paraphrased):

    DON’T CHANGE FOR ANYBODY

  334. 334
    SallyStrange

    So, that’s HARD WORK, and then we would have to do WORK, just because a few WOMEN said so, and we can’t do that because… er…

  335. 335
    Tim Groc

    You present something of a straw man, because you are implying that Penn’s “endorsement” of this woman’s own POV is somehow an insult to those battling sexism in the movement. Nobody has pointed out anything in that women’s view that endorses sexism.

    Just because Penn “endorsed” this POV, it does not mean he opposes people like Jen, etc. who are fighting to raise awareness about sexism.

    Your jibe about him tweeting to his 1.7 million followers does not mean he has “endorsed” anything along the lines of “there’s nothing wrong with skepticism” and “never change” sentiments. It merely means Penn accepts that a woman can make up her own mind about how she perceives things, and how she would want to be treated, The people on here giving her grief have no right to be telling her what she should think.

    People who are “disappointed” with Penn are perfectly entitled to their opinion, but that doesn’t mean throwing around insinuations of sexism, “not getting it”, etc. when his “endorsement” of the woman’s POV does not equate to this.

  336. 336
    RemieV

    Forgive me for not knowing how to do a reply-comment properly.

    Someone asked if there have ever been reports of rape at a skeptical/atheist event.

    Yes.

    I disagree with Jen’s article solely because I believe that she and Mallorie are talking about two different subsets of people. One is a group that makes dirty jokes and is open about sex. The other is sexist and rapey. Writing a message to one group (especially if you point out the group you are referring to, as Mallorie did) does not automatically give the green light to the other.

    Mallorie’s article was not, “All men of the skeptical movement blahblahblah,” it was, “All men of the skeptical movement who are told they can’t do this set of things, none of which are rape.”

  337. 337
    A. Noyd

    Really, because I have personally experienced such demands [for catering to special needs] first hand.

    You know, I’m sure you think you have, but given how spectacularly you fail at reading comprehension, as demonstrated here in your reply to Jen, it’s a good bet that you fabricated such demands from far more reasonable requests.

  338. 338
    Dr24hours

    LawnBoy nailed it. Not just this issue, but the whole of discussing anything with anybody. Relate your own experience, describe your own needs and beliefs and desires. When people start saying “This is how I feel and so should you”, no matter what the topic (even the whole New Atheism movement) you offend and end up harming your own objectives.

  339. 339
    Jen

    Well, I think this wins the Stupidest Sexist Comment of the Thread Award.

  340. 340
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    It seems from my experience that it’s specifically a matter of using ‘males’ and ‘females’ when they mean ‘men’ and ‘women’ (or, sometimes, ‘men’ and ‘teenage girls and women’, for the creepier ones). I’ve seen contrary data points where ‘men’ and ‘women’ are used appropriately, with ‘males’ and ‘females’ as catch-all terms including all age groups.

  341. 341
    SallyStrange

    Are we no longer allowed to proposition women for sex?

    My standard response to what has by now become a standard rant from clueless guys (of which you are definitely one, Earl):

    No, honey. It’s only YOU, personally, who is not allowed to proposition women for sex. Men who understand the importance of setting and context and showing respect for a woman’s previously expressed wishes can do whatever they like.

  342. 342
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Hmm. An apparent complete inability to type a single sentence that doesn’t include lying, distorting, logical fallacies or pathetic whining passive aggression. i can see why Whats-His-Name likes you.

    An obedient little tap dancer.

  343. 343
    SallyStrange

    Feelings! They are so illogical! Who could have guessed that a man would have to take a woman’s CRAZY FEELINGS into account before he fucks her!

  344. 344
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Forget logical reasoning, forget a critical analysis, forget a skeptical mindset, we will just treat your views with contempt.

    Also, what you have said has been addressed by someone, somewhere, at some point. So im certainly not going to address it, nor link you to a relevant discussion on it. Your view is contemptible(read:contrary) to mine.

    We’ve done all that and it didn’t work, because you fuckheads are not arguing in good faith. No amount of effort we expend will cause you to start arguing in good faith. So why shouldn’t we do what’s easiest and most satisfying instead, since the outcome will be the same no matter how much effort we expend?

  345. 345
    julian

    One is a group that makes dirty jokes and is open about sex. The other is sexist and rapey.

    They aren’t mutually exclusive. Judging from the contents of sites like InMalaFide it’s perfectly common to be both.

    And having been reading BlagHag for a while (although not very) she isn’t exactly a blushing virgin when it comes to humor.

    Mallorie’s article was not, “All men of the skeptical movement blahblahblah,”

    I’m not sure what distinction you’re drawing.

  346. 346
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Isn’t wanting to fuck someone an illogical feeling in the first place?

  347. 347
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    awww, are you still upset she banned you from her blog? Poor bigot baby.

  348. 348
    KarenX

    I’m not sure where this is going to land, but it’s in reply to Tim Groc on 1/3/12 at 3:52 PM.

    1. Plenty of people have pointed out how the letter from Mallorie to the men in her skeptic group endorse sexism. You can read all about it in this post.

    2. Just because Penn “endorses” it–and I don’t know what other word you would choose to describe him forwarding the message to his followers with the assessment that she had wonderful things to say–does not mean he is opposed to fighting sexism, but he said in a tweet that is still on his account that he agrees with her completely and that she is just right.

    3. The message includes not only that Mallorie hasn’t had problems but that also she would prefer if the skeptical movement would not change in order to accommodate the women who have had problems. She considers that the potential tragedy of the skeptical movement–that it might become less hostile to women. So Penn is not simply endorsing a woman who knows her own mind and what she likes; he is also endorsing a woman who prefers to maintain the status quo and it’s current environment towards women.

    If Penn doesn’t realize that’s what the letter actually says and actually does think it’s more important to be welcoming to women than to maintain the status quo, then he has endorsed something that isn’t that, and should know better, and should retract his endorsement if he doesn’t want people being disappointed in him. And there’s no “insinuation” about it–people are speaking pretty clearly what they think of his endorsement and of these sentiments.

  349. 349
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    On the contrary, people like Mallorie are not-looking, very hard.

  350. 350
    SallyStrange

    It is, but not in the way you seem to think it is. And this is still not an argument for doing nothing about sexism.

  351. 351
    Chris Willett

    It is amazing how many people who call themselves “skeptics” or “free thinkers” are more interested in dominating a debate through insults and name-calling than through the use of honest argument.

  352. 352
    The Artful Nudger

    Oooh, passive-aggressive concern trolling. Good job, Chris.

  353. 353
    SallyStrange

    I really don’t like nested replies.

  354. 354
    julian

    It is amazing how many people who call themselves “skeptics” or “free thinkers” are more interested in dominating a debate through insults and name-calling than through the use of honest argument.

    He says while not making an argument, making his position clear or addressing any point raised.

  355. 355
    caseywollberg

    Hi, I’m new here. Couple of honest questions: (1) Can a woman be guilty of “mansplaining”? (2) How does one avoid “mansplaining” when explaining something, if that one is a man and the listener is a woman? Just trying to avoid being slandered as an oppressor. Thanks.

  356. 356
    The Captian

    @Matt

    Aw wow good one. Did you work all day on that? You would have made Hitchens proud.

  357. 357
    Pickle surprise

    100% this.

    The mind boggles that a group of supposedly rational beings are being so fucking obtuse about this issue.

  358. 358
    papango

    1) Yes. 2) Mansplaining is a terrible word. To me, it is when a persons explanation to you (the confused listener who has asked a question) is condescending and suggests the question was stupid and you’re simple for having asked it and needing an explanation, rather than addressing your issues. It’s not so much a gender thing, as a dismissal of a person’s argument because of who they are rather than what they are saying. Bad managers do it to their staff.

  359. 359
    julian

    (1) I dunno. Could a black man be guilty of whitesplaining slavery?
    (2) From how I understand it, you’d only have to avoid being dismissive when dealing with sexism or insisting what she’s experiencing isn’t an issue. That is, of course, just a general rule of thumb. Honestly just be open to being wrong and you should be fine.

    Slander? How’re you being slandered?

  360. 360
    CanadianChick

    This, a million million times this.

    While I am almost stereotypically feminine in that I’d rather bake cookies than play video games and would rather cross-stitch than do anything sports-like, nevertheless most of my friends are men and always have been.

    Even when I was 20 years younger and a lot of pounds slimmer I didn’t get TOO much harassment, although it was still there, depending on where I went.

    My PERSONAL experience in the skeptic community as a woman has been great. I’m treated as an intelligent equal with skills and opinions worth bringing to the table. Naughty jokes have never gone beyond my personal comfort level and I’ve never been hit on. That may be as much because I’m a married, overweight, middle-aged woman (and thus not prime pick-up material), but in our group I’m quite sure I’d be treated just as well were I young and hot. We’ve got a lot of self-proclaimed feminist men in our group, and even those who don’t make that claim are decent, respectful guys.

    HOWEVER – I don’t claim that MY experience is representative of all women. Not by a long shot. I know there are women who don’t like coming to our Skeptics in the Pub because it’s in a bar. Or because the bar is in a neighborhood they don’t feel safe in. Or because they feel overwhelmed by a lot of men who have had a beer or three. (our gender balance is better than a lot of other groups, I think, but it is still an imbalance)

    If I was one of those women, and didn’t have the other events that we’re able to have here in Vancouver because of market size, I’d feel pretty alienated by the skeptical community. And I’d be pissed off about it.

    (Let me add that the Vancouver group is not perfect – we’re human – but we’re pretty good)

    I DO want people to change. I want them to be more open to others’ experiences and how that impacts participation in the community.

  361. 361
    caseywollberg

    Mansplainin’? Or not? (And, please, I want an explanation, not a mansplanation–thanks.) By the way, I’m being flippant, I admit it, but I am sincerely skeptical about this concept.

  362. 362
    Nate

    KarenX, give me a break. You cannot be serious!

    You make a decent argument about me patronizing her. You make a good point about why she would even make this argument if she didn’t at least know about the criticism of the skeptic community by feminists. But the simple fact that nearly every feminist on this blog opposes her does more than imply that you think she’s incorrect and that she’s missing the point completely. I don’t see what’s so wrong to say, based on what I’ve learned in these comments, that she must not understand exactly the depth or impact of what she’s saying if she is so incorrect (as nearly everyone says she is). After all, plenty of women here have said the same thing.

    Maybe she’s not a feminist? Maybe she didn’t have the divine big picture of the feminist cause in the forefront of her mind when she made this post? Maybe she was just defending people that she thought were automatically labeled as misogynists? Maybe she felt that was more important than the movement? So while I misjudged how my point could be taken, maybe you also misunderstood my point. Or maybe my point just doesn’t resinate with you, since it’s coming from a man. (I’d like to believe that’s not true, but right now it feels more like pretending for me to suggest that it isn’t).

    Where you go COMPLETELY to far is when you assume that I’d treated her differently because she’s a woman. How dare you! That’s just absolutely unfair and condescending of you. I admited that I don’t always understand what the “fuss is about,” but that doesn’t give you license to accuse me of being misogynistic and incapable of treating people equally, nor does it mean that I’m new to reason or to the cause of feminism. You are completely jumping to conclusions there, and you even admit it by saying that you “can’t prove it.” You have no evidence to support yourself. This is nothing short of a disingenuous, intellectually offensive, antisocial conversation strategy.

  363. 363
    nathanlee

    Nothing to do with hard work.

    Changing a subculture is relatively easy. However, changing an entire culture does not mean “keep it the way it is, but better”. There are always unintended side effects, many of which make things less comfortable to be around.

    I’ve seen dozens of organizations (some of which I was a very active member in) change to the point that I no longer wished to be part of them. When the culture changes even slightly, then several train-stops later you have something new, quite often worse, and largely irreversible.

  364. 364
    Kris

    Are you actually saying that changing an entire culture to treat women better is…bad? Hopeless, maybe? Naive?

    Because if I had to come up with a (sub)culture which has the best bet of changing its social mores to better treat women, the atheist/skeptic culture is pretty much choice #1.

  365. 365
    Stephanie Zvan

    And all of a sudden, it has to be rape to be taken seriously. Sexism just isn’t a “real” problem, Earl?

  366. 366
    nathanlee

    @The Artful Nudger (again)
    In summary:
    1 – You admit your being unfair to her article.
    2 – Because Penn supports his friends article, it now can be applied to everyone, and it means something that neither Penn nor Mallorie ever said nor implied.

    Because of this, I post comments in a forum for an entire freaking day fighting against people calling both Penn and Mallorie misogynistic privileged straw-man toting dumb people.

    And this is why Mallorie’s post is so passive aggressive.

  367. 367
    Kris

    Not responding to bullshit is not the same as acknowledging bullshit as truth. I’m not sure if there is a name for this, “Ha! No one responded! Just goes to show how right I am!” …Actually, now that I phrase it like that, I guess it’s just a boring ol’ non sequitur. Too bad.

    But! Since you appear desperate for a response, I take specific issue with this:

    And yes, you are allowed to “respond” to her, but I find it telling how aggressive the hoard* goes at it when it’s against a women who speaks differently on this subject.

    I’m not sure why it’s telling that people get upset when a woman “speaks differently on this subject”…by saying that there’s nothing wrong and nothing should change. It’s like there’s a 300lb. drunk gorilla wandering around the room, stepping on people’s toes, and she’s saying, “Whatever! He’s so cuddly!” That doesn’t magically make people’s toes un-stepped-upon, it just makes them angry that she’s dismissing a problem for irrelevant reasons.

    * Oh, and that would be “horde,” not “hoard.” Although if this is a subtle dig of women-as-property, that’s very sneaky.

  368. 368
    Jafafa Hots

    It seems to me that objectivism and misogyny often go hand-in-hand.

    From what personal interaction I’ve had with objectivists it seems that their religion is possibly caused by or at least routinely accompanied by a serious empathy deficit.

    That might be why they keep missing the sexism and racism and economic injustice that is around and that would result from the application of their philosophy.

    “Problems? What do you people mean problems? There aren’t any problems! I never have problems!” etc.

  369. 369
    michaeloday

    As a guy, I relate a lot to what the article says. It may not represent all of the female skeptical community, but it is still a very strong portion of the message that comes across:

    Men are inappropriate and an increasingly large number of women are demanding we behave differently.

    I would never generalize and assume all people feel this way, but it certainly represents my perspective. There is a certain underlying guilt that demands I reconsider everything I do when around a woman because you never know if she’s one of the extra sensitive types who do demand special treatment.

    It’s not right for you to claim that “no one” is talking about crass jokes, flirtation, etc because some women are.

    If you don’t like the way the message comes across, then you need to clarify. (Which you’ve done here) But getting frustrated at someone’s reaction to what you’re saying is little like criticizing the volume of someone’s cries after you strike them.

    You may have a pure, reasonable message at the heart of it, but it’s not the only message out there. Perhaps this article is written as a response to ideas that you do not share and never promoted.

    I found it refreshing to read the thoughts of a women who likes men for how they are instead of another woman demanding we change. Whether or not you feel her voice represents yours has very little to do with the fact that I feel she represents some of the more vocal feminists these days.

    I am a feminist myself, I’m all for equality and everything, but as with any movement some of the more extreme points of view have clouded the issue. I think she was speaking against the extremes, not equality in general.

  370. 370
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    On the one hand, I’m generally in favor of stating things precisely, and it’s not that hard to explicitly restrict your statements to the people they’re actually meant to apply to. On the other hand…well, it doesn’t help. >.>

  371. 371
    SallyStrange

    No no Azkyroth, that’s an evolutionarily derived biological imperative. Perfectly logical–you know, end of the human race and all that.

  372. 372
    nathanlee

    It has nothing to do with hard work, Spawn of Cthulhu (Wow, I do like that name though).

    It has everything to do with unintended consequences when you think you’re changing something straightforward. You don’t just change a little piece of a culture. You wouldn’t be creating an identical culture that’s also more fair. You’d be taking a culture that a lot of people are comfortable with, and twising it into something completely different.

    And honestly, I don’t think it would be because of the speeches on treating females better. The famous skepchick elevator post was pretty mild and had a decent culture imbued within it (don’t be stupid, guys). But then someone is stupid, another overreacts to everything, and we get huge pissing contests over who is more misogynistic and who is the better and person. The fights lead to people who cringe at the artificial controversy, and who suddenly want less to do with that community, and so forth down the road.

    Suddenly a blog that I love to read for it’s witty banter and pictures of certain biologists riding dinosaurs feels unfriendly and weird. I mean, seriosly, some girl says “I love my dirty-minded atheist friends” and she’s put on “the friendly atheist” as some sort of idiot misogynist slut. It’s disturbing.

  373. 373
    SallyStrange

    Gosh Nathan, that’s an amazingly unconvincing argument for not changing the culture so there’s less sexism.

    “BAD THINGS MIGHT HAPPEN! YOU JUST NEVER KNOW!”

    You crack me up.

  374. 374
    Tom Foss

    This, totally. As a dude, it shocks me how much misogyny is double-edged–usually it’s the “women have to act/dress in X way because the menz can’t control themselves!”

    In this case, it’s more ‘oh poor baby, what did the mean feminists say to you? You know it’s not true, you’re perfect just the way you are.’ It’s like Mom telling you that to her, you’re the handsomest boy in school. It’s condescending to everyone.

  375. 375
    JediBear

    Is that because by even comparing “women” and “men” in that fashion, one has committed an error? Or am I missing something more significant?

    Still learning here (that is, I’m not sure I get what this equality thing is all about, but I think I’d like to) and wasn’t quite sure what the reasoning behind your statement was.

  376. 376
    Jafafa Hots

    This is why I lose my patience. I lost my patience in the thread Mallorie is complaining about, and for all I know I may be a lot of the reason that she felt the need to write further.

    The reason I lose my patience is because I don’t need to hear claims of sexist treatment from women to know it exists, I know it exists simply because I’m a man who has been alive on this planet for 46 fucking years.

    I’ve HEARD other men talk. I’ve seen other men harass women. I’ve seen incompetent male workers get promoted above spectacularly competent women. I’ve listened to “liberal” men reduce their female counterparts to a collection of body parts when they were out of the room.

    I’ve watched TV. I’ve seen beer commercials.

    I’ve fucking LIVED IN THIS WORLD.

    Anyone denying that we are in a sexist environment is an idiot, and it’s not much of a stretch to assume that this pervasive sexism could spill over into your local bowling team.

    So when a man reacts with outraged denial to an assertion from a woman that she has experienced misogyny when he wasn’t there to see it then he’s being an ass regardless of whether or not her specific claim turns out to be true.

  377. 377
    SallyStrange

    EXXXXTREME EQUALITY!

    That’s bad. Can’t have that.

  378. 378
    Tom Foss

    Here’s what I don’t get. Let’s say that you’re a skeptical dude, and your privilege has blinded you completely to the problem of sexism. A woman (or lots of women) says that what you’re doing/saying is uncomfortable. How hard is it to stop doing that?

    Like, this isn’t a matter of something that takes a lot of effort. This isn’t even walking on eggshells, afraid to say the wrong thing for fear of some major backlash. This is recognizing the same appropriate boundaries that you hopefully recognize in various other facets of your life. This is standing and quietly facing the front of the elevator like everyone else. This is not making rape jokes at a 15-year-old.

    Even if it were women being all crazy and irrational and anecdotal, are you really so attached to making rape jokes at anyone and hitting on anything with legs that you can’t even entertain the notion? What is lost by restraining yourself a little?

  379. 379
    julian

    Which is why teh but sekhs is ebil.

  380. 380
    Godless Heathen

    …many women do not realize how some men treat other men, most notibly men who who are somewhat soft spoken and not very assertive. They are frequently belittled, ignored, their sexuality is denigrated and made fun of, threats of violence etc. In short, many of the same problems that are being called evidence of sexism and/or misogyny.

    1. It’s wrong for men to treat other men like that.
    2. That’s an example of sexist behavior, because those men are being equated with women or are viewed as not being “real men.”

  381. 381
    Tom Foss

    But…but we might have to preface a particularly bawdy version of The Aristocrats with, “oh, hey, is anyone here offended by jokes about rape/necro-/corpro-/pedo-/zoophilia?” And that’s a lot of words!

    Worse, we might have to get to know people as people, enough that we could gauge whether or not certain actions or statements might come across as asshole behavior! And I just won’t cotton to treating people like people. I only have so much respect to give!

  382. 382
    Max

    “Wait a minute. Is this the same Mallorie who thinks that a 15 year old referencing her anus in a Reddit comment is an invitation and excuse for a thread full of rape jokes?”

    No, it’s not. There is no such Mallorie because that’s not what she wrote. If you actually read for comprehension, you would know she actually condemned such behaviour. Now go back and read again.

  383. 383
    Tom Foss

    Privilege is a wounded animal. Poke it, prod it, encroach on its territory at all, and it will lash out in self-defense. Doesn’t matter if it’s misogyny (“the women want to be treated like people! That’s so irrational!”), homophobia (“the gays want to be able to hold hands in public! That’s disgusting!”), or religion (“that billboard says you can be good without God! That’s offensive!”).

  384. 384
    Colleen

    I am willing to bet that was NOT written by a woman.

  385. 385
    Jeanette

    I don’t really like the implication in the “Keep trying to fuck me” sentence that I’m a bad person because, see, I really do want guys at skeptic conferences to stop trying to fuck me.

    I mean, if someone in good faith who is roughly my age (as opposed to the guys that normally hit on me, a 19 year old, at skeptic events, who generally look around 40 to me) or has been talking to me for more than thirty seconds…okay, whatever, you can flirt with me or ask me out or whatever. The answer is gonna be no because I’m in a monogamous relationship, but I’m not going to be weirded out by normal dating behavior.

    But when the second I mention my boyfriend or just make it clear I don’t want to date someone they disappear and it’s clear the only reason they were talking to me was because of attraction to me and they have no interest in my friendship or opinions…uhhh, yeah. Sure, you have the right to do that, but that’s why women don’t go to these events. I’m already someone you can count as someone who isn’t going back to another atheist convention because of that kind of treatment.

    And hey, trying to actually genuinely make friends with women without constantly trying to have sex with all of them might just be the key to a good relationship…many of the best ones blossom out of strong friendships, after all.

  386. 386
    The Artful Nudger

    @Nathanlee -

    Clearly, you weren’t reading my reply beyond “you’re right”. I was being unfair by suggesting that the article itself was originally meant for a venue outside of her small group of friends.

    The “conclusion” you quoted above, however, is _absolutely_ dismissive of others’ opinions, in a broader context. So your argument, that there’s nothing of substance here, is wrong. But you’re right in that she didn’t originally intend it to be taken broadly.

  387. 387
    Michael

    For the past year and a half feminists have been claiming they speak for the women in the skeptical community. Mallorie wanted to let people know that they don’t speak for her. You’re free to disagree with her opinion and criticize it, but let it be understood that people like Rebecca Watson were wrong to act as if they speak for all women. They don’t, and Mallorie has shown that.

  388. 388
    Jafafa Hots

    I read this and your follow ups and your point still is that it’s unreasonable to try to change the culture to be more fair to women. Why? Because something bad might happen. Dunno what, but it could because y’know, change is SCARY.

    Same shit I hear from the “reasonable” people who are nervous about gay rights. And what my “reasonable” father thought about those agitators for civil rights in the 1960s.

    Pathetic.

  389. 389
    Jafafa Hots

    Yep, that’s what he’s saying.
    Nope, no misogyny problem amongst atheists, nosireebob.

    People like that have no advice to offer me about how to conduct myself and what to expect from others.

  390. 390
    sambarge

    Fail. It’s already been pointed out that Rebecca (and Jen) don’t think they’re speaking for all women in the movement and never claimed they were. Also, Mallorie doesn’t just say that they’re not speaking for her. If she had, I would have rolled my eyes but walked away. What she said was, they don’t speak for her therefore men don’t need to change their behaviour – no matter how crude or seemingly disrespectful some women find that behaviour.

    You see, if Rebecca’s (and Jen’s) message was heeded by all men in all dealings with women, we’d get a slightly more respectful dialogue and full participation in the movement regardless of gender. People who want to have men try to ‘fuck’ them would still have that opportunity.

    If Mallorie’s message is heeded by all men in all dealings with women, you’ll get fewer women coming out to skeptic events because, frankly, if I wanted to be ghettoized and objectified, I would have stayed in the fucking Church.

  391. 391
    Bytor

    Gee? Really? What are the chances that there are two Mallorie Nasrallah’s who are equally dismissive of the topic of sexism and who both comment on FTB? No, they couldn’t possibly be the same.

  392. 392
    SallyStrange

    “Women are as good as men” indicates that men are the standard, to which women aspire.

  393. 393
    Steven Ree Worley

    One cannot prove a negative. The burden of proof lies with the person making the claim or accusation. Making the claim that sexism is ‘prevalent’ among atheist/skeptic males is tantamount to stating that a majority of atheist/skeptic males are sexist. The burden of proof for claims of misconduct is called innocent until proven guilty in our society.

  394. 394
    RemieV

    What does it matter if Jen is a blushing virgin or not? Mallorie’s post wasn’t directed at her.

  395. 395
    Bytor

    I would never, ever call Bill Maher a Skeptic. Partially because he is deep in to the alt-med woo-woo, but mostly because he doesn’t give lip service to being one. He cherry picks everything even when it’s not a hot button issue for himself and shows no evidence that he has even a partial understand of what methodological naturalism is. Maher is an Atheist, but not a skeptic.

    Penn Jillette certainly has his bugbears where he isn’t very skeptical, but in other areas he is a damn good skeptic – far better than Maher will ever be.

    One of my personal bugbears is when people mistakenly conflate skeptic and atheist.

  396. 396
    Bytor

    Eesh. I really hate how FTB’s commenting system screws up FB login names. :-P

  397. 397
    Jeanette

    Well said sambarge.

  398. 398
    mcbender

    Good point, I suppose I ought to be using more precise language. Maher is not a sceptic. I was just using him as another example of the broken-clock phenomenon, as he was the first that came to mind.

    Jillette has a much better track record than Maher in terms of how often he goes off the deep end, too. That just makes it all the more depressing to me when he does.

  399. 399
    SaraDee

    Neo-feminists? Are those the kind that glow in the dark?

  400. 400
    Bytor

    How is there a problem with treating women better? Oh… I get it – you think they’re saying “treat women better than men” rather than “treat women, equally – better than we are treating them now”. ‘Cause of course obviously all those out-spoken women skeptics arte really saying they wante to be treated as a preferred class of people rathe rthan as an equal class of peole.

    Well, at least that’s bette rthan “bad things happen some times, get of over it…”, Oh, wait. You’re saying that, too, that women just need to get over being sexually harrassed/assaulted/raped and stop bitching about it.

  401. 401
    KarenX

    I loathe them to the core of my being, but wasn’t going to say so. Since, however, it’s been brought up…

  402. 402
    ginger k

    Penn Jilette is a fucking asshole. His book was awful. He is an extremely privileged straight white man who is utterly clueless about anything not related to extremely privileged straight white men. If everyone just ignores him he might go away…

  403. 403
    SaraDee

    You don’t drop a piece of meat into a piranha tank and act surprised when they go ravenous.

    Ooh, who got “women are pieces of meat/ men in public spaces are predators” on their sexism-apologia bingo card? I did! If only she’d covered her rotting meat self, like a good Saudi woman, then the flies wouldn’t have swarmed all over her.

  404. 404
    Max

    Sorry, guess I wasn’t clear. I was not stating that the person named Mallorie posting there was not the same Mallorie posting here. My point was she did not state the position attributed to her. She did not say the comments joking about rape and the like were ok. Quite the opposite.

  405. 405
    Jurjen S.

    Despite, by your own claim, reading a lot about “Elevatorgate,” you appear to have missed what the actual bone of contention was. It wasn’t that the guy committed some heinous act by propositioning Ms Watson in an elevator at four in the morning (though, as an aside, who invites someone for coffee at 4 AM; let’s be realistic and not pretend he wasn’t making a pass); that was clumsy, and a bit creepy, but there was evidently no malicious intent, and Ms Watson never claimed there was. She merely said “that creeped me out, please don’t do that sort of thing again.”

    What ignited the firestorm were the responses to Ms Watson’s post, to the effect that she was being completely unreasonable in feeling creeped out, and not only had no right, but was outright wrong to demand anyone so much as consider refraining from that kind of behavior and, perhaps more importantly, the sheer amount of gender-based invective that accompanied these responses.

  406. 406
    Bytor

    Then if that is what Mallorie mean, she said it in an awfully dumb way, and the way she’s repsonded has only dug herself in deeper. As Jen pointed out, Mallorie made use of a whole bunch of strawmen like the claim that those speaking out against sexism are asking for special treatment rather than equal, or her implicit denigration of the women wo wouldn’t want to fuck their skeptical guy friends. Later, Mallorie’s replies to Jen’s deconstruction were passive aggressive and littered with even more strawman and never really addressed any of Jen’s points.

    Mallorie apparently doesn’t want to change. She’s addressing all men in the skeptical movement as if they were the guys who get it about sexual harassment and she doesn’t seem to acknowledge that for sexism to exist in our movement that menas there have to be men who are sexist (and the men who never act sexist themselves but never call out other guys for doing so, the enablers).

    Even if everybody has completely misinterpreted Mallorie, is she so stupid that she cannot see how her piece would have come across to those who *have* been the victims of sexism? Rather than the passive aggressive bullshit and more strawmwnr, why didn’t she try to explain more clearly what she meant instead of continuing the “I haven’t been thevictim of sexism so things don’t need to change” bit?

  407. 407
    Bytor

    Me, I think nested – a.k.a. threaded – comments are great. It makes it far easier to read through a converstaion in the comments rather than wading through 5 dozen other comments in 17 different other conversations until you finally get to the reponse to comment at #175 which was a response to the comment at #73 which was a response to #3. Most especially for blog posts that incite a lot of discussion where quite often I am not interested in every subthread or have the time to read them all. Threading like that orders commenst in a conversation-like format that is easily understood.

    Now FTB doesn’t display this threading very well. Actually, it displays them absolutely horribly what with the ever narrowing columns constrained by this silly blogosphere convention that the main content block of a blog post web page can’t be more thabn 640 or so pixels wide, leaving vast wasted white spaces on either side instead of adapting itself to the width of the user’s screen. Commenting sistems need to learn this from Usenet and would be better for it.

  408. 408
    benjaminsa

    Ah but you see these men where just following their selfish desires, in fact it would have been immoral for them not to stalk, harass and attempt to assault you. One can hardly conceive of a more immoral act, and I can conceive of slavery and murder so that is pretty damn immoral.

    I am beginning to think that Brian Mardiney is an actual straw man of objectism, all we need to do is find a wizard to give him a brain.

  409. 409
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    We apparently were reading different threads because she quite clearly and repeatedly characterized what happened in the linked thread on Reddit as mutual flirtation between a 15 year old girl and a bunch of guys of various ages, and accused the original poster of lying and distorting facts to cover it up.

  410. 410
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    REALLY do not taunt Rule 34. O.O

  411. 411
    Max

    1) Turns out you are correct. She did start making that claim. I apologize.

    2) When citing a particular comment or set of comments, it is best to provide the exact url (like so) rather than expect someone to hunt through to at least the seventh fucking comment that person made, you ass.

  412. 412
    Pickle surprise

    And it’s amazing that these arguments have already been made (several on this very thread) and Chris can’t be arsed to look at them. I am starting to think your idea of rational debate is people telling you how awesome and right you are.

  413. 413
    Justin

    I’m not trying to defend Jilette in this post but I think the whole backlash to things like “Elevator Gate” and the like are a feeling of being grouped in with the pervs and sexists. I seriously doubt Jilette is sexist seeing has his mother’s love and devotion to him are one of the reasons he does not believe in god. What I do think is driving his somewhat sexist rhetoric is that many men in the movement who are not, and do not exhibit this behavior feel like they are being grouped together with these people, however untrue this might be.

    I find that the sexism that exists in the skeptical community is no different than what exists anywhere else, especially when dealing with the anonymity of the internet. However, I do think the community is full of humans whom tend to have human reactions to things and can get quite irrationally defensive when dealing with criticism; especially when that criticism is valid.

    I do disagree with Jilette on a lot of things especially his extreme libertarian views, but he is still a decent skeptic and I think is a powerful force when dealing with charlatanry. When his ideology is in conflict with the evidence though cognitive dissonance arises. I think as someone who probably is not sexist, and thinks that the skeptic community is less sexist than others, any evidence to the contrary is deemed invalid or marginal.

    Check out the interview on WTF Podcast w/Marc Maron of Penn and you will find he is extremely warm and sentimental but can often provide evidence that he is only human and not immune to bias and fallacies. Which I think almost all of us are guilty of myself included.

    I do think sexism is a problem in the skeptic community but no more of a problem than it is in society as a whole. I think what the women of skeptic community have to deal with though is probably heightened as the ratio of men to women is still so unbalanced. As a man in the community I see what the women are talking about and definitely agree with them that it is something that the skeptic community should be trying to be better at the the rest of society.

    All one has to do is look at the posts of any picture of a skeptical female blogger and you can see that what they face is very different than what a skeptical male might face online. Any person who doubts the terrible things that get said to female skeptics just ask them to give you some vile emails/posts that they get daily.

    Sorry bout the length but I had to vent as someone who as worked in the service industry and now in the blue collar sector the disgusting and degrading things men say around my female colleagues or when not around them continually surprises and disgusts me.

  414. 414
    Jesus DeSaad

    Seems to me like you just want everyone to keep everything platonic, while your so-called straw-woman likes to fully socialize.

    The difference between the two of you is that she doesn’t care about the status quo you are describing and just intermingles as if it doesn’t exist, and you try to fight it and destroy it so you can intermingle as if it has been destroyed. You are both crossing the gate, just through different methods.

    To which I say both of you are right, and both of you are wrong, in the end we all die alone so we better live the life we want instead of the life others want us to live. To each their own.

  415. 415
    sambarge

    Could we be so lucky?

  416. 416
    Jen

    This is a great post. I love it when people tear apart articles that have completely and totally missed the point.

  417. 417
    Bytor

    Problem is, for a woman who isn’t affected by the sexism (or thinks she isn’t), simply trying to “intermingle as if it doesn’t exist” really only helps to further the problem. What it really means is that she isn’t calling the men around her on any sexist behaviour and she is just letting it continue and implicitly condoning it.

    Your faux-philosophical “both of you are right, and both of you are wrong” doesn’t make you look smart or like a deep thinker, it just makes you look stupid. And that you condone sexism. That is simply wrong.

  418. 418
    SaraDee

    this one already exists – I was referencing an actual bus ad that the Modesty Commission ran in Saudi Arabia that compared women who didn’t cover to rotting meat that would attract flies.

  419. 419
    sambarge

    I’d like to add, as an aside, that I personally don’t like fart/dick/vagina/booby jokes. No offense to folks whose humour runs that way but I find most jokes down that road base their punchline on the shame some or many people feel about their bodies or about how stupid people are who possess those body parts.

    I’m sure there are some jokes out there that are funny and not just sort of depressing (for me at least) but I doubt they’re being told at skeptic conferences.

    Frankly, I haven’t heard a fart joke since the 3rd grade so I’m a bit surprised that adults still tell them.

  420. 420
    sambarge

    I don’t “keep up with men” because I don’t assume the standard for anything positive is set exclusively by men.

  421. 421
    Toby

    Probably beating a bit of a dead horse at this point, but after reading the bulk of the comments, I can’t resist chiming in.

    I’ve been reading a lot of the stuff about “sexism in the skeptical community” posted here, and this article in particular. Perhaps it’s just generally left unsaid because it’s taken as a given, but I feel the need to point out that sexism is a general issue, and not endemic to the skeptical community; it isn’t a special problem in this one area. That isn’t to say that nothing should be done about it, but I feel like some comments or posts make it feel like it’s some kind of special conundrum that — gasp! — it’s here, too!

    I think part of the problem in handling sexism is highlighted here quite well: people have different boundaries for acceptable behavior; this applies to more than just sexism.

    I feel that its incumbent upon everyone to be respectful of individual boundaries, and to attempt to avoid blindly tromping all over them in ignorance. When you get to know someone, you learn what is and is not acceptable with that person; until then, one should tread lightly — because it is the prudent, polite thing to do. It’s also important to note that respecting boundaries does not require someone to agree with them. If a person’s boundaries are so incompatible with your own, that doesn’t give you license to ignore them, but it does give you license to avoid that person where possible. This, too, is respecting a person’s boundaries.

    This is something I learned a long time ago and am often surprised when I run across people who just don’t seem to understand this concept. Perhaps I shouldn’t be, but I am.

  422. 422
    Nate

    Excellent comment Toby. I’ve noticed on this topic that when a person makes an good point that isn’t what the majority wants to read, usually the best that the poster can hope for is no reply. I find it dishonest and shortsighted to only accept arguments that further a cause.

    Respecting individuals is the only real way to everyone being treated equally and fairly.

  423. 423
    Aardvark Cheeselog

    Did my comment get moderated or did I just screw up posting it in the first place? Or something else?

  424. 424
    Toby

    Thanks. :)

  425. 425
    Jen

    I didn’t touch it, and I don’t see it waiting in moderation or spam. Something must be wonky on your end?

  426. 426
    The Pint

    I think there might be a bit of a glitch in the system. I made a couple of comments yesterday that didn’t appear after submitting – nothing big so I didn’t bother redoing them, though.

  427. 427
    Nate

    I’ve experienced the same problem, which is why I always copy my comment before I post it. It also takes forever for what I type to appear in the box. There’s a serious lag.

  428. 428
    julian

    Same things been happening to me for the last couple days. Figured it was just my idiocy getting me tossed into the moderate/delete pile again. Funny I thought all those glitches had been worked out.

  429. 429
    ginmar

    Unless that wonderful culture is based on treating women as bags of meat to be fucked, then what the ‘feminist’ side are asking for is to be treated exactly as the men are. So what would change exactly?

  430. 430
    julian

    but I feel like some comments or posts make it feel like it’s some kind of special conundrum that — gasp! — it’s here, too!

    The difference is of course the rest of society and the skeptical/atheist communities espoused views.

    We supposedly embrace the view that all people deserve to be treated as people and that sexism, racism, tans and homophobia and all other forms of bigotry need to be stopped. We are also supposedly advocates of letting go of old and outdated practices especially when they are harmful.

    The reality is that we are no where near this ideal (except perhaps in the area of homophobia). We are very much part of the problem despite insisting we are part of the solution.

    To me, this is similar to a medical organization that’s increasingly tolerant of alt-med practices. Or an Internal Affairs office with issues of agents covering up for one another. They may not be as bad as the rest of society but that’s honestly besides the point.

    Also the self-congratulatory nature of your post is more than a bit obnoxious.

  431. 431
    Nate

    A self-congratulatory tone is hardly an offense worth noting at this point in this thread.

    I get the idea from Toby that he is already endorsing your view, and the views that you associate with the Skeptical communitiy. When one says “treat all as equals and respect them as individuals” that does not mean “there aren’t any problems here at all.”

    Also, what do you suggest for a solution? I keep reading about all of these “changes” that must take place. Aside from a refocusing on and firmer commitment to the values Toby expressed, what can be done to change things?

  432. 432
    Toby

    You make a good point about the contradiction between one of the ideals of the group and the behavior of some individuals within it. Put that way, it is vexing.

    It wasn’t my intention to come off as self-congratulatory, so I’m sorry for that. It was my intention to vent a little that (as highlighted in this blog post and in some comments on it) sometimes what I feel are basic concepts in civility are lost on some, and that quantity of “some” occasionally feels to be on the rise.

  433. 433
    Svlad Cjelli

    Dood, a literal decade too late.

  434. 434
    Aardvark Cheeselog

    Ah well. What was great for comment #50 is not so fresh as #400-something.

  435. 435
    Beth

    You said women react differently emotionally than men because they are women and men are… men. But that’s not true.

    Says you. I disagree. I think that, in general, males react differently to threats of violence than women do. This may not be the case, but that is my observation and you’ll have to provide evidence to convince me otherwise.

    Different people react in different ways. People who feel as victims react in different ways. And of course culture shapes those reactions and the expectations of reactions.

    This is all true, but doesn’t contradict or invalidate what I said about differences existing. Consider height as an anology. Even though different people are different heights, even though environmental factors have an impact on the height a person grows to, and even though some women are taller than some men, we can still determine that the average man is taller than the average woman. A difference exists and can be quantified.

    Beth said: Is it sexist to acknowledge that such differences exist?
    momoelektra answered: It is when you put a value on it or construe a (biological? like being taller) gender difference where none exists.

    Let me rephrase this a bit then. When a gender difference actually exists and no valuation is being placed on the goodness or badness of the characteristic, it is sexist to acknowledge that such differences exist?
    If yes, then biology is sexist.
    If no, then discussing differences should not merit disparaging terms like ‘sexist’ or ‘misogynist’.
    As far as whether difference in emotional reaction to threats of violence and/or rape jokes actually exists, I think that given that the sex organs produce hormones that affect a person’s emotional state, it seems to me a reasonable conclusions that emotional reactions to some situations will differ in predictable ways between men and women. Do we disagree on this point? Or only on whether a difference in reaction to threats of violence and rape jokes exists?
    It seems to me that is reason for you to question the concept of equal treatment (which, if I understand you, is futile because equal treatment will not produce equal reactions. Maybe it’s just my ESL, but are you not confusing two meanings of “equal” here?)
    It’s not two different meanings of ‘equal’ but two different ways the concept can be applied. Should it be applied to the actual treatment of others (everyone is treated the same way) or should we take into consideration our knowledge of the way people in different groups can be expected to react to the treatment? For example, if people in group A will be offended by a joke that people in group B will find hysterical, should telling them the same joke be considered treating them equally?

  436. 436
    daenyx

    Can’t nest replies any further, so here you go, just in case you really are this dense.

    Directly from the letter:

    …you seem to have been told that you’re awful and need to change. Again, apparently because your genitals imbibe you with an inescapable assholism. Please never believe this lie… ”

    “And I’d like to slap the silly assholes who have given you the idea that you have mistreated me.

    With all of my heart I beg you: Do not change. Do not change for me, do not change for someone else. “

    I could pull something out of pretty much ever paragraph, but that might get a bit long. Probably easier for you to just go re-read the letter.

    If you would like to explain to me how she has not told the men she’s addressing not to listen to the women who are talking about sexism, I am all ears. Just let me pop some popcorn.

  437. 437
    Svlad Cjelli

    Must be inexperienced. Blood is not a good lubricant because drying blood is adhesive, while dried blood is brittle and sometimes sharp.

    The fanfiction “My Immortal” suffered the same idea.

  438. 438
    badandfierce

    I gotta admit, I used to sound like this a bit. Not about the skeptical community, but the nerd world. I was lucky in my compatriots and environment and I tend to be assertive/aggressive/confident/whatever supposedly masculine (insert eyeroll) trait allows someone with two X-chromosomes to fit in with the boys. All the dudes I knew were pleasant and generally respectful, or at least didn’t mind being corrected. And because I’d been teased and dismissed for being a nerd, I tended to assume all the “geek guys are awkward and terrible” stuff to be more cultural stuff than an actuality. Then I got a little more exposure to reality outside my small circles, did some reading online, and realized just how lucky I’d been and how ugly things can turn. You get a lot of cross-pollination between skepticism and nerddom, both in people and ideas, so I’m not surprised at the parallels.

  439. 439
    Svlad Cjelli

    Yes. I would categorise it as dry.

  440. 440
    daenyx

    I’ve wondered the same, often, and at length.

    I was guilty of that lack of empathy as a teenager; I experienced sexism but internalized the *shit* out of it and was proud of being ‘one of the guys’ when I was allowed to be. I think that the aggregate of experiencing more sexism (starting to play a MMORPG as a woman was… eye-opening), and beginning to read serious, well-articulated accounts of sexism and combating it was what tipped the tables. Having realized just how much privilege can blind people to the problem of sexism, it was then an easy transition to realize that I had quite a bit of privilege of my own (white, cis, able-bodied) and to learn to listen rather than talk in conversations about the application of the types of privilege I partake in.

    But breaking that complacence in the first place isn’t easy, and the way it happens I think is necessarily rather individual.

  441. 441
    Svlad Cjelli

    Depending on the presence of contradictions, at least one opposite would need to be wrong.

  442. 442
    Jafafa Hots

    I am a man, and have on occasion been the target of this kind of behavior from other men, and I didn’t like it one bit. I didn’t laugh and join in and insult call the other guys “faggots” and “pussies” and whatnot in an attempt to be accepted as part of the fun group.

    It upset me very much and the pass that the culture gave it (and teachers and principals) is part of the reason I dropped out of high school.

    I guess I must be abnormal.

  443. 443
    Beth

    Jadehawk, cascadeuse féministe says:
    sexism is not behavior by or against a particular gender; sexism is behavior that enforces sexist structures and causes sex-differential outcomes. Thus, beating up on “girlie-men” is sexism in that it reinforces the male/masculine > female/feminine hierarchy, which in turn causes the gender gap across society

    Not a definition of sexism that I’m familiar with, but I’ll keep it in mind.

  444. 444
    andre

    I just read all of these comments.

    NO I didnt! LOLOLOL

    everybody shutup, troll/flame wars dont change anything, only peoples’ experiences can really change someone’s views, so go out and live your change dont talk about it. weeeee

  445. 445
    ginmar

    Hey, I know. In a post that’s specifically about specific sexism in a specific community, you know what would be really really really helpful? Is if somebody started talking in general terms that changed the subject.

    Oh, wait, except not.

  446. 446
    ginmar

    Yeah, because, like, sexism isn’t, like, a specific problem that affects a particular group and is the subject of this post and needs to be focused on to be fixed. No, let’s talk about general crap. And stuff.

  447. 447
    Byroon

    Why all of these tit for tat debate when we continue to ignore the pink elephant in the room that is religion and conservatism?

    Why do skeptic organizations like the JREF not proclaim they’re “Atheist” organizations? Why pussyfoot around religion and conservatism?

    Those are the very foundations of sexism, if skeptic groups continue to appease those foundations its not only impossible to end it in the community but ironically by and large accepted by the community.

    Just seems like a bunch of horse shit if you ask me to claim one woman is more right than the other when neither are part of the problem but both could solve them if the community at large was actually concerned with the problems themselves rather than the symptoms thereof

  448. 448
    Anome

    This is the basic tenet of Libertarianism, though. “I’m alright, Jack.”

  449. 449
    Tom Foss

    Also, it implies that “men” is some single category, that all men are good, and equally so.

  450. 450
    Bytor

    Byroon: Because this debate is not about political conservatism or religion. It’s about sexism, that’s why. And sexism is not limited to the religious.

    But let me feed your desire for an off-topic rant.

    Maybe the reason why the JREF doesn’t proclaim it self to be an “atheist” organization because it realizes that”atheism” is not the same thing as “skepticism” and that conflating the two is wrong?

    Yeah, a lot of skeptics are atheists, but not all, and certainly not all atheists are skeptics. In my short time in the skeptics movement I’ve noticed that 1) there are a lot of good skeptics who are not atheists but some flavour of liberal Christian or definite agnostics and when I finally admitted to myself I was an atheist found that 2) skeptic atheists are a much smaller part of the atheist community than atheist skeptics are part of the skeptic community. I’ve met a lot of atheists that are 9/11 truthers or global warming deniers or alt-med supports or anti-vaccination or UFO believers an doften combinations. The predominant famous non-skeptic atheist that springs to mind is Bill Maher. He only gives lip service to science and critical thinkign when it supports his already held views. On something like alt-med he is deep into the woo. Say whatever you want about Penn Jillette’s Libertarianism or such, but he is still a WAY better skeptic than Bill Maher will ever be.

    Atheism is simply the lack of belief in a supernatural power. Nothing about it says how you arrived there, what values atheists should have, what political ideologies or what moral and ethical systems. A Randian Objectivist is just as valid an atheist as a socialist pinko liberal like myself.

    Skepticism is different. Not only does it attract more liberal people who are already comfortable challenging belief systems, cultural traditions and the restrictions and stigmas they place upon people who act differently, especially if those difference are not harmful to others. I’ve read many stories by skeptics about how critical thinking changed their minds on things as diverse as global warming and homophobic prejudices, almost always leading to a more liberal, less conservative worldview.

    Some have even argued that skepticism leads necessarily to atheism. It resulted in atheism for me after almost 20 years considering myself a liberal, pro-science Christian who spent that time battling creationists on the Internet and variously calling himself “theistic evolutionist”, “panentheist” or “deist”. But I don’t agree that it necessarily leads there.

    I see skepticism as a path. You start off questioning something, like maybe the idea of Noah’s flood so you star reading about geology and realize that there’s no evidence for it, so you abandon that belief. Maybe your next stop is herbalism and you realize (again after reading up) that there’s no evidence for a lot of the purported effects so you cast off that belief. Then something else, and something else and something else. That last things to fall away are the strongest held beliefs – like a religion that we’ve adopted as defining whom we are and out ethical values.

    But not everybody makes it that far and that doe snot make them bad skeptics for retaining that belief. I’m sure everybody has known or at least heard of some skeptic who is also a liberal Christian who’s skeptic-fu is much stronger than some atheist who is a newly minted skeptic who’s critical thinking skills are not as well exercised. Hal Bidlack comes to mind.

    None of us is a perfect skeptic and to conflate skepticism with atheism and to say things like and to say things like “unless you’re an atheist you’re a shitty skeptic” does a disservice to those non-atheist skeptics by insulting them. Before the howlers leap in here, please note this is not the same as “taking religion of the table to placate the non-atheists. I believe that one can talk skeptically about religion, challenge opinions and do it with respect of The Other in welcoming fashion, not simply calling non-atheist skeptics “shitty”.

    I didn’t find out about Skepticism until maybe 3 years ago but I immediately feel like I had been one for over 20 years. When I joined in by going NECSS and TAM8 in 2010 and I had many interesting discussions about religion and belief with atheists skeptics who were challenging but respected me as a person instead of calling me “shitty”. So when I realized that many of the stereotypical “angry atheists” I had encountered in Pharyngula comments, the talk.origins newsgroup and elsewhere online were skeptics who dismissed any theist skeptics out of hand as immediately being shitty, I was well innoculated against them by knowing that there were better, more compassionate people in the movement and that they appeared to outnumber the angry atheists.

    Six months ago I finally admitted to myself that I was actually an atheist and had been for many years, since long before I heard of skepticism. Four months ago I told my Mother and stopped going to church with her every Sunday. I didn’t leave because I became an “angry atheist” but because the advance of critical thinking just eventually left no room for faith in the supernatural. The four decades of my life in the Mennonite Church were replete with shining examples of people who truly lived by the Second Greatest Commandment – “Love your neighbour as yourself” and who constantly challenged themselves with the question “Who is my neighbour” to make sure they did not grow complacent or restrictive about whom they showed that love to. And by “love” I mean actual good, humanitarian deeds, not proselytizing (Mennonites are embarrassed by that).

    Had I encountered the “angry atheist” skeptics first I’d never be part of this discussion because I would have been pushed away by the hatred and would probably still be trying to convince myself that I was a Christian.

    That is why the JREF and other Skeptic organizations should not participate in the false conflation of “atheist” and “skeptic” and declare themselves to be atheist organizations. There are millions, maybe tens of millions, of other liberal Christians out there who are just like I was – unknowing skeptics who are our allies in the fight against both woo and intolerance because they are valid skeptics in spite of being theists. We will cut ourselves off from them because they will not want to deal with those who call them shitty and dismiss them out of hand.

  451. 451
    John-Henry Beck

    I don’t think that’s a valid ‘what about the menz!’ retort.

    You are forgetting about the effects which can happen when accidentally hitting the wrong targets. Besides any pain it might cause them unnecessarily, there is also confusion, and even defensiveness as they start some pushback against the original claim because they think it’s unfair to them.

    Basically, I think extra effort to be precise helps the message get through more clearly and cuts down on the unintended consequences. Just because it’s not possible to completely avoid these problems doesn’t mean it isn’t worth some effort to try.

    In various threads I see, particularly with the sexism but on other topics too, I think I see a good bit of the defensiveness and the pushback comes from that sort of confusion and people who think they may be targeted, and unfairly, even though they weren’t the intended target.

  452. 452
    John-Henry Beck

    I do see some of that behavior in comment threads at Skeptchik.

    I know it makes me less inclined to spend time reading comments or sometimes even the blog posts.
    Which means I’ll end up less familiar with what people are saying there, their viewpoints and arguments and the like.
    Which then results in me being potentially less of an ally than I might otherwise be. Even though I don’t expect perfection and do see problems in need of addressing. By which I mean, using that as an excuse to be dismissive is only one possible negative reaction.

  453. 453
    JediBear

    “as [whatever] as” is a claim of equality in a particular attribute. Because equality is commutative, it makes no difference whether you say “apples are as big as oranges” or “oranges are as big as apples” Either way, it means that they are the same size.

    The word order does carry an implication, but only about the prejudices of the audience. If you wanted to formulate a construction of an identical claim that wouldn’t accuse the audience of sexism, that’s possible (ex: “men and women are as good as each other”.) But one wonders where it would become necessary or useful.

    But in writing this, I think I may have grasped where you’re going here. Is your meaning perhaps that the “point of the equality thing” is that people should be treated with equal respect regardless of any differences between them?

    Or am I barking up the wrong tree again?

  454. 454
    skeptifem

    Why all of these tit for tat debate when we continue to ignore the pink elephant in the room that is religion and conservatism?

    Why do skeptic organizations like the JREF not proclaim they’re “Atheist” organizations? Why pussyfoot around religion and conservatism?

    Those are the very foundations of sexism, if skeptic groups continue to appease those foundations its not only impossible to end it in the community but ironically by and large accepted by the community.

    Liberal dudes are sexist as fuck, just in a different way from conservative ones. Atheist dudes are sexist as fuck, just in a different way from the religious ones. Bill Maher is a good example of both of those things. Its cute that you think you’ve figured out the root cause of sexism, and that it can be summed up in a sentence, but you didn’t, and you can’t. There isn’t a group of “good guys” who aren’t sexist at all. The least sexist men I know admit that anti-sexism is a process that is ongoing, one of examining personal attitudes and using a big dose of empathy while interacting with women.

  455. 455
    Max

    Liberal dudes are sexist as fuck, just in a different way from conservative ones. Atheist dudes are sexist as fuck, just in a different way from the religious ones.

    Language please. I could agree with you if in place of “are” you had put “can be”. I could even accept with qualifications “often are.” But as stated this is merely slanderous and my response must be fuck you.

  456. 456
    ginmar

    Gee, who better to know what women go through than a man?! And don’t forget, ladies, Matt will judge you harshly if you’re not perfect ladies while being oppressed.

  457. 457
    Max

    Gee, who better to know what women go through than a man?! And don’t forget, ladies, Matt will judge you harshly if you’re not perfect ladies while being oppressed

    This is not what I wrote or implied you twit. Go back and read both posts again gitmoe. I objected to the wording of her post, which painted all liberal and atheist men with a broad brush.

  458. 458
    ginmar

    Mansplaining and insults to seal the deal. You just proved her point, genius.

  459. 459
    Max

    You really didn’t read either comment, did you? You just read one sentence (“Language please”) and jumped to unsupported conclusions. If you had bothered to read further and had half a brain it would be clear I was referring to her wording.

    Since when is pointing out the errors in your conclusions “mansplaining”? Yes, I insulted you. As you insulted me (hint: misrepresenting someone’s viewpoint is insulting). The difference is I had a point. You only have the insults to fall back on.

  460. 460
    byrooon

    Atheism is the lack of belief. A liberal christian god is still a sexist god. Conservative values with a place for a man and a place for a woman is still a sexist belief. Including christianity in the “big tent” of skepticism is a general acceptance of the sexist tenents thereof. I’m not sure HOW you can accept that as “ok”.

  461. 461
    Cara

    Fuck your “language” bullshit. How dare you.

  462. 462
    Max

    How dare I criticize the wording of a post? I’d be something of a milquetoast if I didn’t. Here’s something else I dare. I dare to question whether you understand what I’m stating in my post.

  463. 463
    ischemgeek

    What would qualify as evidence for you? What are your standards of evidence?

  464. 464
    amc

    I can’t add anything more to this great post/thread, but my take on Mallorie’s article was “All women should ‘man up’ like I have, or shut up and join a knitting group”, which is facepalm material.

  465. 465
    The Ys

    And here I thought the important thing was to do the right thing (treat all people as equals) because it was the right thing to do (treat all people as equals)…but obviously it’s more important to passive-aggressively threaten to withhold support from a group because they refused to acknowledge you were more important than the discussion at hand.

    Shows what I know.

  466. 466
    ljbriar

    I am not in the least to see that Penn promoted something like this. As others have pointed out, he oozes unexamined privilege, and that was a big part of what made Bullshit less enjoyable for me after awhile.

  467. 467
    C. Mason Taylor

    @Brony, #2-1-4,

    In other words, she’s been privileged to have not been party to the problem, and therefore assumes it doesn’t exist. Goes right back to the dog and the lizard. If someone else is cold, and you’re not, that doesn’t mean that being cold isn’t a problem.

  468. 468
    Alexa

    Thank you, took the words right out of my mouth. :)

  469. 469
    Alexa

    Men like you are exactly the reason I refuse to participate in atheist communities. Thanks for making me feel the need to isolate myself from my own community!

  470. 470
    Someone

    Speaking of disingenuous, unintentionally-biased framing, have you read this article? At every point she addresses, Jen either adds in a concept that Mallorie never said, or simply attacks her own strawman- the whole time misrepresenting the fundamental idea that Mallorie (whose empathy we would do well to emulate) was trying to convey in her letter. Ironic, Jen, that you esteem yourself the skeptical movement’s patron saint of boob jokes: the only boob in this post is you.

  471. 471
    Alexa

    This. So much.

    I was molested in a public pool by a complete stranger when I was 11. At 18, I was stalked by a strange man I had never met, who somehow managed to find out my phone number, birthday, and address; he threatened me with violence if I reported him, and left hundreds of disturbing voicemails on my phone. I frequently receive perverted, disturbing messages from strangers on Facebook. I’ve been groped, sexually harassed, and made to feel uncomfortable by men more times that I can even list.

    Heaven forbid I feel nervous or apprehensive around men!

  472. 472
    Alexa

    From a woman, thank you, thank you so much! You get it, and the fact men like you exist in our movement makes me feel much more hopeful.

  473. 473
    Someone

    Mallorie never said anything about women needing to ‘man-up.’ What she said is that if women want to hang out with men, they need to accept men as men, and stop trying to change them just because they believe their personal feelings about their personal experiences entitle them to dictate the standards of other people’s behavior- especially when the standard they espouse is unnatural. If women are so uncomfortable with what men are, then they should just hang out with each other and leave men alone. You know, like our society used to do before late-stage feminism insisted on everyone playing together all the time.

  474. 474
    ginmar

    Bullshit. Since the get go she’s been sucking up to men and telling them not to change for those stupid other women, who unlike her special snowflake self, do not love adore and appreciate men.

  475. 475
    madfoot713

    Jen;

    Your experiences are just as valid as Mallorie’s. You’re guilty of exactly the same mistake you are accusing Mallorie and Penn of making, and they didn’t make several blog posts attacking you because of it.

  476. 476
    satanaugustine

    Hi Jen. This is a very late addition to this comment thread so I understand if you don’t respond to it. I haven’t read all of the comments so my concern may already have been addressed. If so, I apologize for the repetition. You said:

    I CANNOT tolerate people who tell women to stfu with their complaining, mischaracterize their concerns, and encourage men to continue with harmful behavior.

    I didn’t read Mallorie’s article as saying any of the things you accuse her of saying in your above comment. I got the impression that what she stated in her article applied only to her (she has indeed since stated that this was the case). She wasn’t telling women to STFU or encouraging men to continue their harmful behavior. She wasn’t encouraging harmful behavior, but rather telling the men she knows to continue to treat her the way they’ve been treating her because she likes it. Penn may have wished for this to apply to all women, but I didn’t get the impression that Mallorie does. At least, that’s how I read her article.

  477. 477
    Jim

    Am I the only one who finds it unusual that for a skeptical community, these discussions are almost always referenced with either anecdotes, or hypotheticals, such as:

    “The women who are seen as nothing more than sex objects and whose views and opinions are ignored or dismissed. The women who give talks and receive compliments about their appearance before the content of their presentation.”

    “The women” is not even an anecdote or a hypothetical, its just a reference to potential anecdotes that might later be referenced. Not especially compelling evidence of a problem.

    Unless of course we are to define “a problem” as ANY negative experience from any woman in the entire skeptic movement, in which case even one anecdote would be sufficient, but then absolutely no one would suggest that there is no problem or could ever be no problem (barring utopian sci fi future society where all negative behaviour is prevented by brain chips/genetic engineering).

    You’d think for a community that’s supposedly interested in empirical evidence, that there would be some kind of reliable statistics on this matter at how many women in the skeptic movement experience sexism.

    Instead we have one group of people saying “Well from my anecdotal experience there’s no problem”, and another group saying “You’re just privileged, just because you’ve not experienced a problem doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. Here, look at these anecdotes that prove there’s a problem.”

    Imagine a skeptic debate where upon one side was claiming they had experience with magnet therapy so it worked, and one side said they had no experience so it didn’t. Imagine how fruitful and illuminating that discourse would be, and how much that would benefit the skeptic community

    It’s ironic that both groups seem to accuse the other of this lax skepticism while neither seems to recognize their own deficit.

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