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How I Unwittingly Infiltrated the Boy’s Club & Why It’s Time for a New Wave of Atheism

It’s been five years now since I first became involved with the atheist and skeptic movements. And for most of those five years, I felt like I belonged. When I started the Society of Non-Theists at Purdue University, I was relieved to know I wasn’t the only atheist on my campus. So when I realized there was an even greater national movement, I was elated to become a part of it. I had finally found people who shared my passion and values. I was welcomed with open arms.

Until I started talking about feminism.

You see, my previous atheist activism wasn’t sullied by the f-word. People applauded me for starting an atheist group on a conservative college campus. For blogging about our events and getting local media attention. For volunteering as a board member of the Secular Student Alliance. And most of all, for creating Boobquake.

I’ve always considered myself a feminist, but I used to be one of those teenagers who assumed the awesome ladies before me had solved everything. But Boobquake made me wake up. What I originally envisioned as an empowering event about supporting women’s freedoms and calling out dangerous superstitious thinking devolved into “Show us your tits!” I received sexual invitations from strangers around the country. When I appeared or spoke at atheist events, there was always a flood of comments about my chest and appearance. I’ve been repeatedly told I can never speak out against people objectifying or sexually harassing me because a joke about my boobs was eternal “consent.”

So I started speaking up about dirty issues like feminism and diversity and social justice because I thought messages like “please stop sexually harassing me” would be simple for skeptics and rationalists. But I was naive. Like clockwork, every post on feminism devolved into hundreds of comments accusing me being a man-hating, castrating, humorless, ugly, overreacting harpy. Despite the crap I received, I continued to publicly support these movements and stress that the haters were just a tiny minority. I thought this flood of sexism I had never experienced before was just a consequence of me growing up and heading out into the real world, and had nothing to do with these movements in particular. I can’t count how many times I publicly stressed that the atheist/skeptical movement, while not perfect, is still a safer place for women and other minorities.

But now I recognize that I was trying to convince myself that this is true.

I don’t feel safe as a woman in this community – and I feel less safe than I do as a woman in science, or a woman in gaming, or hell, as a woman walking down the fucking sidewalk.  People shat themselves with rage at the suggestion that cons should have anti-sexual harassment policies. DJ Grothe, president of JREF, blamed those evil feminist bloggers for TAM’s female attendance problem instead of trying to fix what’s scaring women away (and then blocked me on Twitter and unfriended me on Facebook for good measure). A 15 year old girl posted a photo of herself holding a Carl Sagan book to r/atheism and got a flood of rape jokes in return. The Amazing Atheist purposefully tried to trigger a rape survivor. Paula Kirby decided we’re all feminazis and femistasis. I’ve become used to being called a cunt or having people threaten to contact my employers because a feminist can’t be a good scientist. Rebecca Watson is still receiving constant rape and death threats a year after she said “Guys, don’t do that.” And mentioning her name is a Beetlejuice-like trigger for a new torrent of hate mail.

Groups of people are obsessively devoted to slandering Freethought Blogs as a whole because many of us have feminist leanings. They photoshop things to try to humiliate us, they gain unauthorized access to our private email listserv. And anyone associated with us feminists are fair game. People have tried to destroy Surly Amy’s business, and Justin Vacula has publicly posted her home address with a photo. One blogger who describes their blog as “rejecting the watson/myers doctrine” ridiculed skeptical teen activist (and feminist ally) Rhys Morgan for flunking his exams because he had severe physical and mental illnesses.

I now realize I was never truly welcome in this movement. I just managed to unwittingly sneak in before I opened my big fat feminist mouth.

I was exactly what a Boy’s Club wanted. I was a young, not-hideous woman who passionately supported their cause. I made them look diverse without them having to address their minority-repelling privilege. They liked that I joked about sex and boobs not because it was empowering for me, but because they saw it as a pass to oggle and objectify. But the Boy’s Club rescinds its invitation once they realize you’re a rabble-rousing feminist. I was welcome at TAM when I was talking about a boob joke, but now I’m persona non grata for caring about sexual harassment. I used to receive numerous comments about how hot and attractive I was, but when I politely asked for people to keep the discussion professional, the comments morphed into how I was an ugly cunt. I was once considered an up-and-coming student leader, but now I’m accused of destroying the movement.

Well, that last bit is partially true. I want to destroy the part of the movement that has privilege as its foundation, as Natalie Reed perfectly describes:

The creepy thought that the reason a lot of outspoken, committed, passionate atheists are choosing this as their arena is because they’re too selfish, too entitled, or too sheltered, to allow any other issues to really matter to them. That they choose this ONE civil rights issue to dedicate themselves to, because it’s the ONLY legitimate civil rights issue that actually affects them, secure in their absence of ovaries, melanin, exogenous hormones, medical devices/supports, welfare checks, track scars and rainbow flags.

[...]It seems that there’s some kind of weird psychological need that a lot of people, perhaps in response to feelings that their belief of their privileges being earned is under threat, valorize and mythologize themselves as valiant Robin Hoods who dare to speak truth to power and stand up for the little guy against the tyrannical… …. Jews? Blacks? Trans people? Atheists? Women? The theme is always the same, however.

And what I worry is how much Atheism might be offering a similar sort of feeling without requiring the same levels of divorcing oneself from reality and diving into some kind of Bizarro World inversion of actual social dynamics. That what atheism is offering so many middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men is the capacity to see themselves as these savvy, smart, daring, controversial rogues who are standing up against an oppressive dogma in order to liberate the deluded sheeple. They’re, like, totally against swallowing the blue pill, dude. And so they get to be the heroes of their own narratives, instead of a passive passenger adrift on social forces more or less beyond their control… social forces that happened to guide them into a relatively safe and comfy position.

No matter how limited your views, no matter how much privilege you have, when you prop yourself up against Christianity, you get to be clever, and you get to be the rebel.

I don’t want good causes like secularism and skepticism to die because they’re infested with people who see issues of equality as mission drift. I want Deep Rifts. I want to be able to truthfully say that I feel safe in this movement. I want the misogynists, racists, homophobes, transphobes, and downright trolls out of the movement for the same reason I wouldn’t invite them over for dinner or to play Mario Kart: because they’re not good people. We throw up billboards claiming we’re Good Without God, but how are we proving that as a movement? Litter clean-ups and blood drives can only say so much when you’re simultaneously threatening your fellow activists with rape and death.*

It’s time for a new wave of atheism, just like there were different waves of feminism. I’d argue that it’s already happened before. The “first wave” of atheism were the traditional philosophers, freethinkers, and academics. Then came the second wave of “New Atheists” like Dawkins and Hitchens, whose trademark was their unabashed public criticism of religion. Now it’s time for a third wave – a wave that isn’t just a bunch of “middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men” patting themselves on the back for debunking homeopathy for the 983258th time or thinking up yet another great zinger to use against Young Earth Creationists. It’s time for a wave that cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime. We can criticize religion and irrational thinking just as unabashedly and just as publicly, but we need to stop exempting ourselves from that criticism.

Changing a movement seems like a mighty task (especially when you lack a witty name – the Newer Atheists doesn’t have a great ring to it). But the reason I’m not throwing my hands up in the air and screaming “I quit” is because we’re already winning. It’s an uphill battle, for sure – in case you’ve forgotten, scroll up and reread this post. But change is coming. Some national organizations accepted anti-harassment policies with no fuss at all. A lot of local or student groups are fabulous when it comes to issues of diversity and social justice. A number of prominent male leaders have begun speaking out against this surge of hate directed at women. I’m working with others to hopefully start an atheist/skeptical organization specifically focused on issues of equality. And although the response from the haters is getting louder and viler, they’re now vastly outnumbered by supportive comments (which wasn’t always true). This surge of hate is nothing more than the last gasp of a faction that has reached its end.

There will inevitably be people who use this post as evidence of some gynocratic conspiracy and will hunker down even more (for examples, check the comment section in a couple of hours – odds are good you’ll find some). There will be organizations, conferences, communities, and individuals that will never care about diversity or equality or social justice. There will be some that continue to devote their free time to harassing and threatening the rest of us instead of going outside for a walk or reading a book. Though these people claim to love reason, no amount of reason will ever get them to admit that they’re wrong. So to them, all I have to say is have fun as you circle jerk into oblivion. Keep unintentionally or intentionally excluding women, minorities, and progressives while cluelessly wondering why you’re losing members, money, and clout. The rest of us will be moving on.

If you’re ready for this new wave of atheism, now is the time to speak up. Say that you’re ready. Vocally support organizations and individuals that are already doing it right. Vocally criticize the inappropriate and hateful behavior so the victims of such actions know you’re on their side. Demand that your organizations and clubs evolve, or start your own if they refuse.

The Boy’s Club may have historically ruled the movement, but they don’t own it. We can.

*EDIT: I want to clarify that I did not mean the people and organizations involved with the official “Good without God” campaigns are the ones behind the rape and death threats. My intent was to show that if we’re publicly promoting atheists as good people, we need to deal with the not-so-good stuff that’s happening behind the scenes. I chatted with Greg Epstein specifically and he’s super supportive of the mission of A+.

Comments

  1. Pteryxx says

    *standing ovs*

    Third Wave atheism might be a bit confusing while simultaneously talking about feminism… how about ‘inclusive atheism’ ? That’s the best I’ve been able to think of so far.

  2. says

    I don’t want good causes like secularism and skepticism to die because they’re infested with people who see issues of equality as mission drift. I want Deep Rifts. I want to be able to truthfully say that I feel safe in this movement. I want the misogynists, racists, homophobes, transphobes, and downright trolls out of the movement for the same reason I wouldn’t invite them over for dinner or to play Mario Kart: because they’re not good people.

    Now it’s time for a third wave – a wave that isn’t just a bunch of “middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men” patting themselves on the back for debunking homeopathy for the 983258th time or thinking up yet another great zinger to use against Young Earth Creationists.

    Fuck yeah! Exactly this.

  3. Beatrice says

    *applause*

    This is one brilliant rant and a call for a revolution.
    Thank you for speaking up.

  4. says

    I agree, and have been trying to be part of a new movement for some time now. Whether its atheism, secularism or humanism, these movements are undergoing a shift, and call me the eternal optimist, I think it is for the better. I don’t want to get involved in the “sides” which have arisen, but I do feel compelled to speak up when I see posts like this. It is time to move forward. It is time to create a new movement which focuses not just on religion and skepticism, but a humanism which embraces diversity and the differences within the movement. I have always hoped that these movements could stand as an example for the wider community, and I still think they can, but not without a little introspection and honesty about how we conduct ourselves in our interpersonal discourses.

  5. felixBC says

    Hurrah!

    “If you’re ready for this new wave of atheism, now is the time to speak up. Say that you’re ready. Vocally support organizations and individuals that are already doing it right. Vocally criticize the inappropriate and hateful behavior so the victims of such actions know you’re on their side. Demand that your organizations and clubs evolve, or start your own if they refuse.”

    We’re ready!

  6. llewelly says

    This will resonate with many; people will empathize with your experience, either because they know people who had a similar experience, or have had a similar experience themselves.

    Reforming the atheist movement is vital to its long term success, and to enabling women to break free from religion.

  7. says

    *applauds*

    This particularly stuck with me:

    We throw up billboards claiming we’re Good Without God, but how are we proving that as a movement? Litter clean-ups and blood drives can only say so much when you’re simultaneously threatening your fellow activists with rape and death.

  8. says

    I am absolutely with you on this.

    I’ve felt disaffected with the atheist community for a long while now. Tired of the sexism, the bullshit infighting, the sexism, the fact that many prominent atheists are flat-out assholes, and the sexism. A little over a year ago I pretty much gave up on atheism as a movement.

    I won’t say I always agree with prominent feminists either. I’ve made a conscious decision not to refer to myself as one. But my nitpicks with feminism are molehills compared to the veritable mountain of bullshit which is mainstream sexist atheism.

    You’ve opened a lot of door for me, Jen. It was through your blog that I first discovered concepts like privilege, and the subtle way sexism still controls our society. It was through you that I decided I was comfortable using the word “Atheist” rather than simply “Agnostic who actively disbelieves in any commonly accepted notion of divinity.”

    I want to see Newer Atheism happen. I want to see atheists become the morally upstanding, ethical people that I used to think we were.

  9. says

    EPIC WIN!

    And Pteryxx has maybe the right idea with “A+” because it can be positive atheism and “atheism plus”… “plus” social justice and all the rest. Certainly, the loud angry bigots are going the way of the dodo in the grand scheme of things. And with the good folks here and over at Skepchick and other places in leadership positions, those bigots won’t be allowed to hang back and tag along and sabotage future progress.

    Again Jen, well fucking done.

  10. Gordon says

    I want those guys out too. I cannot understand what the hell is wrong with them! I’m a straight white cis guy, and it doesn’t seem to have stopped me noticing that women are people.

  11. Arakiba says

    Alot of the men in the atheist/skeptical movement love the feeling it gives them of specialness, that they’re so much smarter and more enlightened than the religious or spiritual people they mock. Think about it, who is more smug and self satisfied than Richard Dawkins? That’s the attitude so many of these men have. They’re exactly like the Galt-wannabe guys who discover Ayn Rand in college in that they feel very superior to others and can’t tolerate challenges to their superiority.

    Makes me proud I’m not part of their movement.

  12. 'Tis Himself says

    Speaking as a middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied man, I applaud your stance against the misogynists who refuse to accept anyone but themselves and their clones into their club.

  13. TychaBrahe says

    I’m really happy to see your enthusiasm, because it’s something I no longer have. I have never been subjected to sexual harassment as an adult, because as a child I ate myself out of the category of sexually attractive women. I do get a lot of fat shaming. It’s one of the ways I know that the person I’m talking with has no valid counterarguments.

    My desk faces a bookshelf, and not five feet from me is Susan Faludi’s Backlash, 21 years old now. I don’t see much changing in those two decades, except that if anything it’s gotten more vicious and vitriolic. Blonde jokes are nothing compared to the repeated refrain to “get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich” or the constant reference to rape or why sexual harassment is natural for men.

    I used to belong to an organization dedicated to inspiring young people in space and science education. All of the members had dreamed of being astronauts but would never meet the physical and mental requirements of a space program that launched maybe a dozen people a year. Still, we committed to making each generation have easier access to space. Right now, the fact that I spent decades of hard physical labor (you try wearing 60 pounds of suit and gear in the desert for five hours with only a fan blowing air in your face to fool your body into believing you are cool) doing this seems pitiable. And I wonder what gains have been made by decades of feminist writings and lives devoted to struggle.

    I keep going because there is no alternative, but I no longer believe I’m accomplishing anything.

  14. says

    I’m with you on “third wave atheism”, it includes “third wave feminism” and can’t stand “third wave misogyny”. Makes perfect sense to me :)

  15. Stevarious says

    If you’re ready for this new wave of atheism, now is the time to speak up.

    Absolutely.

    I want Deep Rifts.

    I don’t know who originally said it, but I’ll paraphrase. Any Deep Rifts® that get between me and a bunch of misogynist assholes is welcome and invited. I’m done with them, I don’t want any more to do with them, I’m tired of arguing with them, I’m tired of the abuse and the threats. If you are so committed to treating other human beings like shit that you would rather turn your guns on your allies than give it up, then we don’t need you as allies.

    Get ye gone!

  16. mel says

    I agree, I just don’t want to be part of the atheist movement now, you try and mention feminism or or stuff like that and watch all the haters come out of the wood work. I have been threatened, my children threatened, so I will not involve myself with it any more. Good on you despite all the crap that has happened

  17. Keely says

    It’s entirely unsurprising for me to say “I’m with you”, but I’ll start with that. You are right, you are brave, and you are awesome, and I’m with you all the way.

    But an aside…

    I can’t tell you how many fights I have had over your blog. In fact, my ex felt you had “infected” me with crazy feminist ideas. And I’m so glad. Standing up for my stance on your ideas was a big part of me learning to stand up for myself. And I know that is a little quirk of my own life, and that you had nothing to do with it, but…

    You got so much pushback, and yet you kept going. And I looked at that and said, if she can keep going in the face of that, I can stand up to my one asshole.

    So thanks for being awesome. You have done and will do huge things for this movement. And the people in it.

  18. says

    *applause*

    Lets see….
    Next Gen Atheism?
    Freethougth Atheism?
    PanAtheism?
    New2 Atheism….doh…

    Novas (latin new) Atheism?

    We could also hijack the “New Atheism” title. I don’t think the boy’s club reign has lasted long enough to be it’s own reign. Merely being loud and vocal against atheism (what used to define “new atheist”) has partially backfired with the loud, vocal minority oppressing social minorities. What you consider first and second wave atheism is merely a product of more christian media attention trying to turn us into the boogyman, not an actual new wave.

  19. Matthew Oakley says

    Bravo, bravo, bravo! Awesome post! As someone who is often far too quiet and far too reserved about this issues, let me say that I support you 100%. The truth is that you, Ophelia Benson, Greta Christina, Rebecca Watson and countless others have made such an impact in this community, opened so many eyes to their privilege, and made so many people challenge most if not all of their wrong headed beliefs.

    It certainly did with me. I was once someone with fuzzy ideas about equality yet still held toxic views that reeked of privilege. Thanks to those poeple listed above I know understamd how wrong those ideas were and how far short of my ideals I really was. Whilst I’m far from perfect and still have first responses (which I then brutally beat down) that I know are wrong, I’ve come so far and learnt so much that I really am a different person. One day I hope that I will have shed all remnants of my privilege and will finally manage to live up to my ideals. If not I will be damn close, I assure you of that.

    This is a fight that must be fought, not just for the good of the atheist comunity but for society in general. It may be that the fight won’t be won by this generation or indeed the one after but one day it will be won and the world will owe it to people like yourself (and the others that I’ve mentioned) for the victory and your sacrifices will be celebrated like so many who have fought for similar causes in the past.

    As for the trolls and scumbags who stand against us, I’m not sure what to say. Their ideas are so alien to those I hold that I struggle to understand them. Hopefully, one day they will finally start to understand why their ideas are so wrong. If not then not just the atheist movement but all of society would be a better place without them and hopefully, in time, their ideas will be treated with the contempt they deserve.

  20. says

    Great post! I hope our children start right from the new wave already. Sadly, I speak from a country where a first wave is yet to come or has been *very* weak so far.

  21. ~G~ says

    Excellent!!

    I’ve been thinking about names, too especially last couple weeks. Life long atheist, but my motivator is skepticism bc to me it is all about critical thinking and applying that same critique to one’s self, society, not just at the easy stuff. I wondered about “pan-skepticism” or what about “progressive skepticism”?

    Totally on board sick of the damn hero of their own narrative and circle jerking bullshit. And sad thing is, I actually *do* enjoy and find value in learning about cryptozoology, paranormal, etc. But not to make fun of people. To learn about how people think, how to analyze info, and they are a great way to introduce newbies to skepticism. And you can learn a lot about biology, anthropology, psychology, etc. from actually learning about the whats and hows of these topics. Not just going, “You believe in ghosts, derp your’e STUPID!!!! Give me cookie.” So many atheists/skeptics, so little humility.

    But yes, there must be room for more, too. Shit that matters to diverse people who suffer due to real crap in our society. Can’t say religion is bad because it’s sexist and homophobic and racist and then refuse to look for the dirt under your own nails.

  22. Pteryxx says

    Progressive skepticism, or pro-skepticism, works too IMHO… it’s been banging around my head as an alternative to “hobby skepticism” that goes around debunking people’s hobbies. Sheesh…

  23. willemref says

    Gonna pray for ya Dennis. I believe in something more powerful, and you believe in nothing at all but you. Such a strong mind and you can’t see past your nose. I say this with all respect, so please don’t be offended.

  24. Izzy says

    Jen, you are my hero! You give me hope that world my now 2 year old daughter is going to grow up is going to be better than what we have now! (yes I am a white male, but it shouldn’t matter, this is an issue we all have to support and change for the better)

  25. says

    Gonna pray for ya Dennis. I believe in something more powerful, and you believe in nothing at all but you. Such a strong mind and you can’t see past your nose. I say this with all respect, so please don’t be offended.

    What?

  26. dogeared, spotted and foxed says

    I think A+ is a great idea. Who’s going to design a logo?

    Might want to run it by the talent at Mad Art Lab.

  27. elronxenu says

    I’m with Jen and Gordon on this one. This talk of feminazis and femistazi is just ridiculous. The level of hate directed at Rebecca and Jen and now Surly Amy is appalling.

    I’ve been an atheist for over 30 years now but identified as a skeptic for only 2-3. In that time I’ve come to realise that skepticism as a process and the scientific method are really central to figuring out what’s true, and therefore acting on a rational basis. Atheism is the result of applying skepticism to religion. Humanism is the result of applying skepticism to social issues.

    Skeptics who say that the skeptical movement shouldn’t touch religion are guilty of being selectively skeptical. Most people who are not idiots know there’s no Bigfoot. I can’t say the same thing about Jesus Christ. Debunking Bigfoot causes little controversy, and perhaps that’s what these people want, but is it effective at encouraging people to be skeptical? By reaching the same conclusion they already reached for irrational reasons? Sometimes you have to shake the tree to get the good fruit.

    The skeptical movement needs feminism applied to it. I haven’t been around long enough to witness the “old cis white dude” effect, but that wasn’t necessary – observing the level of hate directed at people who speak out in support of diversity and gender equality is enough.

    I was once that privileged young white dude. I got schooled by a feminist. I didn’t like being “that guy”. Instead of doubling down on the stupid, I shut up and listened – for a year or more. I’m still doing it, doing far more listening than talking. I hope when I’m an old cis white dude, I won’t also be an asshole.

  28. says

    Agree 100%.

    You, Rebecca Watson, PZ, Greg Laden, and the rest of FreethoughtBlogs have done an absolutely fantastic job in opening the movement’s eyes to the problem of privilege. I was never someone who would have done anything extreme (like a death threat, wtf?), and always believed in equality (duh, how could you not?), and would have even labeled myself a (weak) feminist despite being male, but the whole issue of privilege was something I had heard very little about until… Elevatorgate, probably. Now I’m fully aware of it (or I try to be anyway) and that’s definitely thanks to you and the rest named above. I didn’t even need convincing – it’s so frickin’ obvious. It’s just mind-boggling how this is even still an issue.

    So when you say you believe you’re already winning, I think so too. Keep up the great work and let us know what we can do to help. Hopefully it’s just a matter of time before the atheist movement emerges as the most progressive group in the nation (and more than just a group that also happens to support same-sex marriage and abortion rights, but also supports full equality and other social justice issues).

    P.S. I also like Pteryxx’s idea of A+ as a symbol.

  29. gssilva says

    You’re right, Jen. And you’re making me think I should stop being a lurker. I’ve been reading for years now, but I already had sexism fatigue even then… so, hi, nice to meetcha.

  30. JDD says

    And so the troops are being rallied for a final push against inequality within a movement that by its very nature should be promoting the greater good.

    I applaud, and look forward to seeing the banner of victory, followed by moving on to face the forces that keep society from being the utopia it should be.

    For any one person to be at their best, ALL people need to be at their best, for the most any one person can have is achieved through to collective potential of the entire human race united as one.

  31. Faust says

    I am completely for all of this.

    I used to be a libertarian/randroid complementarian christian, and a lot of that stayed the same after I became an atheist. It’s only because of groups like the skepchicks and bloggers like you, Natalie, and Greta that I’ve given up the Randroid BS and have become more of an ally toward lgbt and feminist causes. The atheist community really helped educate me. Keep doing what you’re doing, Jen.

  32. says

    I think you hit it exactly right, Jen.

    Have some guy, unsure facing the world, suddenly he makes a comment about how some bookum is bookum… and is suddenly a superhero. They start a blog or something decrying pyramid power or magnets or homeopathy and people flock to them. Until they make that one little comment, probably in joke. Now, the little pedestal they found themselves on is threatened. So they get defensive and worried. They get their gender and race called out, which is something uncomfortable (I once heard a teacher of mine say “Being white means that you don’t have to think about being white.”)

  33. Nathair says

    Jen, I think you’ve achieved fractally right with this one.

    I do think that “A+” rather smacks of gloating self-satisfaction though, shades of “Brights”.

  34. trinioler says

    I am for the A+ name as well. I’m going to start a Skeptics+ in the Pub in my local area. We have a nasty infestation of MRAs and other intolerable bigots.

  35. says

    Not gonna lie, it’s becoming a brutal fight. The best we can really hope to do is to keep pushing back against the evo psych garbage and the general attitude that prevents people from examining their own prejudices. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll be stuck burning the motherfucker down and rebuilding.

  36. Nathair says

    Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll be stuck burning the motherfucker down and rebuilding.

    If needs must.

  37. says

    I just want to keep on believing that things will get better. The only requirement is to have more and more people speaking out. It is unfortunately a risk to do so, as it turns out. I have the most admiration to everyone doing so. It requires the true sort of bravery to go through all this BS just for the betterment of a community that at best is indifferent.

    I would like A= better than A+.

  38. says

    Sign me the fuck up for A+. I want a SurlyRamics necklace, like, yesterday. I have some mild graphic design/artistic skills, I’m going to see what I can come up with.

    I like the A+ concept because it implies that the folks who are satisfied with A for “atheism” without the humanist values and the diversity are missing something. And they are.

  39. Pteryxx says

    for what it’s worth, I thought some about A=, and I’m meh about that variant because various detractors so often claim “women are equal now!” or “there’s no racism now!” as an excuse to ignore the very real bigotry still going on all around them. I think of A+ as inviting the question “…plus what?” because there’s always going to be some form of privilege we don’t even know we’re espousing until we take the trouble to add it to our consideration. (Besides, A+ is catchy.) ~;>

  40. says

    Words are important, and they should be used with care and clarity. What you’re describing isn’t the “atheist community” or “atheism.”

    Jennifer, what you’re describing is a greater movement of secular humanism. Not atheism. Atheism is simply lack of god-belief, and muddling words to have atheism be anything more than just that, clouds & tarnishes the greater movement that you’re actually describing.

  41. says

    I agree, entirely. The atheist and secular movement needs to grow and be inclusive. I am thrilled by the positive reponses I see above! We want change . . . Now let’s make it happen.

  42. lorigb says

    Jen, this post is fantastic and I’m behind you 100%.

    Also, thinking of stitching a little + onto my red A patch on my backpack when I get home in a few months…

  43. says

    I’d certainly like to see an alternative, but we’re arguing with people who take pride in thinking sticking to their prejudices is somehow a badge of rationality. And it’s not that far a leap from there to tinfoil hattery and/or Jacobinism — we’ve certainly seen quite a bit of the latter directed at people like PZ.

  44. CanadianChick says

    yes, yes YES!!!

    I want a Grand Canyon sized rift between me and misogynistic libertarian douchebags, please and thank you. I see the jerks on the “other side” harassing Rhys and Amy and PZ and Rebecca (and you) and I do NOT want them claiming to represent me. They’re not ‘future leaders’ (as one d-bag is called) of anything I’ll be part of.

  45. Eric says

    Awesome post, Jen. For a long time, your blog has opened my eyes to the fact that misogyny is, sadly, alive and well, even among atheists and skeptics. I’ve called myself an atheist for many years, but I didn’t start thinking of myself as a feminist until I started reading your blog (and I’m a guy!)

    I’m with you all the way on this.

    Oh, and +1 for “A+”.

  46. says

    Jennifer, what you’re describing is a greater movement of secular humanism. Not atheism. Atheism is simply lack of god-belief, and muddling words to have atheism be anything more than just that, clouds & tarnishes the greater movement that you’re actually describing.

    A+ denotes lack of god-belief that is the result of critical thinking and skeptical inquiry.

    Critical thinking and skeptical inquiry, applied to questions of social inequality, lead inevitably to recognition of privilege and the need to fix inequality.

    Of course there are people who are atheists because nobody ever taught them about gods, or because all their friends are atheists and it seems cool.

    But they’re hardly going to be organizing any sustained campaigns for social change, are they?

    Personally, I believe in A+, progressive skepticism, or whatever you want to call it, because I passionately believe that EVERY person should be taught critical thinking and have access to the tools that skeptical thinking provides. In order to do that successfully, you have to take into account where people are at, what their experiences are, what their interests and most pressing problems are. Thus, in order to succeed, organized skepticism must embrace diversity.

    Voila.

  47. Pteryxx says

    Also, “equality” gets thrown around as “no affirmative action!” and “men have it just as bad!” *headshake*

    …Hey, how could I forget that the symbol for female is a circle with a + on it! (And if you combine the pointy triangle A+ with an overlapping female symbol, you get a sort of +IDIC…)

  48. Jim says

    Fuck yes. I listened to Rebecca Watson at Skepchicon (aka CONvergence) this year on a panel about harassment, and it was appalling. All of the panelists had the same, or worse, stories to tell. Why are we letting this happen? I don’t even understand the mindset that lies behind this. It needs to end.

  49. says

    It’s time for a wave that cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime. We can criticize religion and irrational thinking just as unabashedly and just as publicly, but we need to stop exempting ourselves from that criticism.

    Awesome needed words.

    The community needs to be skeptical of itself. When we apply critical thinking to itself, it is really difficult to run away from the truth, that there is a big issue among us. All those people who crash on media reports about the TAM sexual policy controversy trying to convince outsiders about how there is no problem. I bet that some of them are well-intentioned, but they are not being good skeptics if they really think it is more important to protect the community’s image over the community’s own members.

  50. says

    Hi Jen,
    I think this post brings up an absolutely excellent point and I hope you don’t mind, but I took that point and sort of ran with it at my own blog.

    I think the idea that social justice issues in general and feminism in particular aren’t topics that intersect with skepical inquiry is absolutely ridiculous.

    The tools of skeptical inquiry should be used to shed light on issues of social justice – how are questions of sexism, racism, homophobia and transphobia not empirical claims? If some guy tells me that ‘women are totally not discriminated against or oppressed in society’, is he not making a claim about the world – a claim that is absolutely testable? Also, how does it make sense for a movement – and the conferences the movement spawns – to ignore the requests of its members who think that maybe people might feel more comfortable if they knew that the movement was looking out for their safety?

    It’s a pretty sad statement about a movement that some of its most strongly expressed passion is reserved for attacking its own members – those who dare to speak out on issues that matter to them.

  51. says

    Brilliant, except that the RDF has used A+ for their Atheists Giving Aid campaign. That’s not to say it’s necessarily off limits…

  52. Pteryxx says

    Oo! “Affirmative atheism” works too. (h/t John S. Wilkins above) What do y’all think, does anyone even remember what “affirmative action” is anymore?

  53. Georgia Sam says

    Like x 1000. Another excellent post. People have threatened to contact your employers & “expose” you as a feminist? Seriously? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I hadn’t heard that one before. Anyway, for what it’s worth, please count me as a supporter of “third wave” atheism, whether that name or some other ultimately sticks.

  54. Elerena says

    Too ****ing right it’s time!

    And on a personal note… Jen, I don’t think I can ever say how much what you do has meant for me. Your blog was essentially my introduction to modern feminism, and it’s where I learned to notice and recognize my own privilege. You, and the people I got linked to and introduced to from you, are how I learned to educate myself on the things that really were happening- and why they mattered. You’ve made an incredible difference in my life, and… just wanted to say thank you for that.

  55. says

    “I’m working with others to hopefully start an atheist/skeptical organization specifically focused on issues of equality.”

    DO IT!!!! Where do I sign up?!?!

  56. Lindsay says

    I’m so “in” for this. The faux-enlightened lolbertarian dudebro atmosphere kept me from getting really involved in both the atheist and skeptic groups in college, and now that I’ve graduated, I really feel like I missed out. Well, no more!

  57. Eric RoM says

    IMO, this is a case of “sow the whirlwind”. For years the skeptic/atheist movement had as prominent spokespeople men who could truly and safely be classified as “assholes”.

    Surprise surprise! They created a harbor not just for the skeptical, but those of the asshole persuasion. Who could’ve possibly foreseen that? {/snark}

    Over and over again this past year, kerfuffles have emerged with overtones of “how COULD this certified skeptic be such a jerk/sexist/racist/my-own-ox-gorer?” Or shorter, “who expected human behaviour in our little clubhouse?”

    This ludicrous coffee-smelling is overdue. Those thousands who called your heroes assholes and pigs were not mistaken: they were and are. And they emboldened the lesser a&ps that you now have to deal with at your cons as the cockroaches of your movement.

    Lookit that, the law of unintended consequences arises again. This fish stinks from the head. Maybe Myers has some biology metaphor he can deploy. Oh wait: he’s part of the problem.

  58. Elaine says

    Delurking to add my approval of the A+ symbol. Brilliant. We need to make this happen. Who’s a graphic designer?

    Great post, Jen! You voiced exactly what I’ve been thinking.

  59. says

    This is my first time posting on an atheist blog. I’ve always been a devout (?) Atheist, and a progressive – but I’ve never wanted to get my hands “dirty” by going to conferences, getting involved in the community or being active outside my circle of friends and acquaintances.

    Part of the reason is that I’ve always felt that atheism is a political and intellectual problem, not something where a “circle-jerk” of community is something that appealed to me. I’ve always had the fortune of having a circle of friends who were secular and I wasn’t bothered by religion except at the level of the country where I lived in.

    But this is different, and this post really moved me. Feminism and equality and equal opportunities is one of the reasons why it’s important for me to be an atheist, more so than even science education. If we cannot have the majority of humans (lest we forget that women are the majority) live up to their full potential without fear and with equal opportunities, then we have failed as a society. We have failed as human beings. If men cannot relate to women as human beings rather than sexual appliances, then we men have failed our society. We men have failed as human beings. This is a cause I can join and be vocal in.

  60. says

    Thank you so much, Tycha, for your hard work. Women like us stand on the shoulders of women like you, and we are convincing men and we are making progress, even if it is hard to see. I cannot express my appreciation for the work that women like you have put in. I promise it is not meaningless. My sister-in-law, who is going to be an engineer and who aspires, though Air Force ROTC, to be in NASA, has a lot to owe to women like you.

    Please don’t despair. Thank you.

  61. says

    Hey Jen,

    Without you, I wouldn’t identify with the atheist movement the way I do. I also wouldn’t identify as a feminist. I wouldn’t notice privilege the way I do, and I wouldn’t be trying to change and monitor my behaviour and speech and thought patterns. I wouldn’t think the way I think today.

    I guess what you could say is that the Blaghag blog has changed my life, and made me a better person. I’d also say that I’m happy to still consider you a friend, and a role model. I’m glad your form of atheism is the kind I learned to subscribe to.

    Keep doing it. It makes a difference. And let me know, let us know, what you need us to do to help.

  62. carlie says

    I don’t think that would be a good idea. It’s not just feminism – atheism is exceedingly white, too, and one problem feminism has had (and still has) is ignoring the needs of minority groups. I’d like to see enhanced atheism not make that mistake right out of the gate, and try to be inclusive of all kinds of diversity.

  63. adamcasey says

    Great post, however I do come away with the same questions I always do when reading about feminism in atheism. I have never been a woman at a con, nor have I ever seen a serious statistical analysis of reports of harassment. I have exactly no evidence on which to base a judgement of the seriousness of this problem. This is why I worry about passages like:

    “I don’t feel safe as a woman in this community – and I feel less safe than I do as a woman in science, or a woman in gaming, or hell, as a woman walking down the fucking sidewalk.”

    That is great rhetoric, I get a good sense of how serious you consider this issue to be. What I don’t know reading this is how much more than rhetoric it is. In fact are you safer from abuse or attack at a con or the sidewalk. Your male readers have no way of knowing this. If in fact that passage is a good representation of how safe women actually are then the solution needed is radically different than if the problem is online trolls making everything less pleasant and creating fear and intimidation. I do not know the nature of the problem because I have never encountered any serious data about it. Equality of course ought to be a key part of the atheist movement, but I have no idea what that means in terms of practical policies.

  64. Paddy says

    Dead on, Jen. Let’s see if we can move past this ugly period in the movement.

    I doubt I’ll ever understand what it is the haters are so afraid of. I’ll NEVER understand how some people think a rape or death threat is acceptable!

  65. Aurelia says

    Hear, hear!

    I’m in! I’ve been “in” for a while now. It’s good to hear a leader of the movement speak up about this! I’m behind you all the way!

  66. Pen says

    Can we do economic justice as well please? Because there’s a branch of knowledge that’s rotten to the core, that’s as tough to figure out as science and that’s still stuck in the dark ages and full of superstition. Plus, it entangles with social privilege and questions of equality to a very great extent.

  67. carlie says

    Are you serious? Please, stop opining and listen more.

    If women in the movement are saying “there’s a large contingent of assholes making me feel like shit in this movement”, what else exactly do you think you need? THAT’S ENOUGH TO CHANGE THINGS IF YOU WANT WOMEN IN YOUR MOVEMENT. But if you don’t care, by all means, keep saying you need statistics on how many instances of each finely-dissected level of harassment happen at atheist/skeptic events.

  68. carlie says

    Equality of course ought to be a key part of the atheist movement, but I have no idea what that means in terms of practical policies.

    Then it’s a good thing that other people do, have already discussed it at length, and many organizations and organization leaders have already decided on and enacted such policies, isn’t it?

  69. Smhll says

    I’m ready. I like A+, I like Atheism for All. I’m trying to think of a mathematical operator that represents inclusion. I sort of think the “at” sign of an encircled lowercase “a” has some potential.

  70. says

    Regarding logos, the one reason I never got one of those stupid “A” shirts is because of the name underneath it.
    Nothing against Dawkins per se, but being an atheist and signifying that I am seemed to have little to do with promoting someone’s book sales or website.

    I found it very cult-of-personality-ish. I always thought it seemed a little bit egotistical to have a group named after yourself.

    A person should have the humility to not name anything after themselves or allow something to be named after them (instead of after the goal or focus) until they’re good and properly dead.

    A logo that doesn’t define me as one person’s fan or admirer would be nice. I don’t do the hero worship thing. And that was my feeling BEFORE the whole “Muslima” thing.

  71. rapscallion says

    I was aware of the Watson story and I was deeply disappointed with Dawkins reported reaction to it. But this wave of vitriolic hatred towards women is extreemly shocking. I want to know other freethinkers but I have no interest in associating myself with a pack of backwards knuckle dragging thugs. I have even saving money for a couple years now because one of my goals was to attend TAM, hopefully before Randi leaves us. However I’m no longer sure I want to go after reading more details about this anti-feminist shit-storm. It’s highly discouraging.

  72. Nick Johnson says

    Great post! You definitely cited the answers to a lot of things I had just heard through the grapevine and now I not only feel more informed but more empowered!
    The highest mountain in the world still isn’t high enough to give you the highest of high fives you deserve for just being you.

  73. strange gods before me ॐ says

    I agree, Pen.

    Btw, Pharyngula Wiki has a page on economics; if you’ve got any links to add to it, please do.

    I’m trying to link to the page for you, but it’s getting caught in the spamtrap. Should be easy to find via google, though.

  74. Stacy says

    Jennifer is right, Tycha. If you compare where we’re at with where we’d like to be, of course sometimes it feels like nothing has changed.

    But that’s simply not true. A lot has changed. Social change happens slowly relative to a single human lifetime (usually, though upheavals do happen.) But it happens. Look at the big picture, and you’ll see how far we’ve come.

    Don’t give up.

    “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.” –Martin Luther King

  75. says

    Thank you.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
    I agree 100% with you Jen. It is absolutely time for a new movement. These MRA assholes and misogynists are mind-boggling and, frankly, unwelcome. I don’t get them and I never will. And I do think it’s time to kick them out, build our own thing, and move on from them. They are the old. We’re the new.

    Let’s bring it.

    As for a name… I like A+, but what about Humanism? Isn’t that what it is? Atheism/Skepticism + Human Rights = Humanism?

    What I like about A+, though… when I finally get my tattoo, I can use the simple + to denote my attachment to the new movement.

    But whatever the name is, just come up with a name and a tattooable logo before I get my tattoo… one that’ll fit with my tattoo design (The first half of my last name, Heven, stylized like the Batman symbol, with the atheist atom symbol off the bottom of the V as the “stone”, completing my full last name, “Hevenstone”).

    And one other thing:

    TychaBrahe @ #23… I can’t believe I’m saying this, considering how much of a cynic/misanthrope I am, but you are not a failure. Chances are, you gave all those kids a chance to live their dreams. You did good with them. And we will do good moving forward. I’m going against every bone in my body, but I have a tiny bit of optimism for this. I think it could actually work.

  76. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I haven’t read any of the comments yet because it’s important to say this without being distracted by bullshit.

    I’m totally in with your third wave, Jen. Count me among the troops. This post is so good I wish I could hug you right now and we don’t even know each other.

  77. Midnight Rambler says

    On the bright side, it took nearly 100 comments, and almost two hours, for the first idiotic comment to show up. I guess that’s a sort-of good sign compared to normal?

    And while I’m here – I hate to be redundant with all the other commenters, but this was a much-needed and welcome post Jen, I wholeheartedly agree!

  78. says

    Great post, Jen. Count me in!

    I’ve always been a feminist, even before I knew there was a word for it, but there have been a few events in my life that I’d consider radicalizing. One was entering active duty in the Army as a combat arms officer. The other was a few years ago when I realized how many atheist men were willing to marginalize women, minorities, LGBT people, etc., and how many in those groups were willing to aid and abet their own marginalization.

    I think it’s time for a third wave of atheism and a fourth wave of feminism. Each group – both atheists and feminists – is a natural constituency for the other. Let’s make this happen. We can do this.

  79. Douglas Kirk says

    I want to add another voice to the chorus. I am just starting to get involved with my local groups, but I will be pushing for A+ (like it) or Affirmative Atheism (also like it) in my neck of the woods. I want to say, I appreciate greatly the efforts you, Greta, PZ and so many others have put forth to get some much needed rifts into the atheist community. Your words are an inspiration to this former blind to privilege atheist.

  80. says

    This a hundred times this! I’ve been horrified at all of the sexism I’ve been hearing about with in this movement! Who the hell finds anti-harassment policies controversial, for fsm sake!?

    I think an important thing to look at is the student groups. The group I’m a part of is about 1/3 women. 4 of the 8 board members are women, 2 are minority races, and the vast majority of men in our group are awesome and welcoming and some I’d wager would self identify as feminists or at least allies. So yes, the larger community has issues we need to work on but the students now are the future of the movement and we are more diverse and more welcoming towards minority atheists and I truly believe what we’re seeing of the bigoted atheists is really on its way out.

  81. callistacat says

    This post is so amazing!
    Thank you Jen for cutting through all the crap
    and being such an inspiration!

  82. Stacy says

    I’m in. And for the rest, they’d better start swimmin’ or they’ll sink like a stone.

  83. Chris Ho-Stuart says

    Full support. Well said.

    Rifts in a group when we have problems like this are essential. They are healthy.

  84. alexdavis says

    You have stated the issues perfectly. I completely agree with you. The atheist movement needs to change; it needs to grow.

  85. Trebuchet says

    As a 60+, well-off, straight white male, all I can say is: You’re Awesome!

    This surge of hate is nothing more than the last gasp of a faction that has reached its end.

    That’s exactly what I started thinking about halfway through your post. I hope we’re right.

  86. Mimi says

    *applauds*
    A+ sounds fantastic. I don’t normally make comments, but I just had to thank you for such a wonderful post. You are inspiring.

  87. says

    I’m on-board, Jen. As to the proposed names/symbols:

    *I think “A+” is far and away the best. Not only is it pithy, positive, and recognizable, it also dovetails nicely with PZ’s whole “not just dictionary atheists” meme. Only downsides are the apparent concurrent use by RDF, which someone mentioned above, and the possible American-centricness of it. I’m clueless: do other countries use/have familiarity with the letter-based grading system that puts “A+” at the top?

    *”A=” is probably a little more to the point than “A+,” but suffers in that the only thing I can think of that uses the “A=” notation is “A=A,” the law of identity, which I’ve seen used as Objectivist jargon. The upside is that the symbol could be really easy, just a capital “A” with two cross-bars.

    *”Affirmative Atheism” is just begging for jokes/derision. “Affirmative Action,” for all the benefits (and parallels) is largely seen as something that gives unearned benefits to minorities. I’d think the last thing we’d want is to suggest that minority atheists aren’t just as deserving of a place in the movement as the straight white cisgendered able-bodied male ones.

    *”Progressive Atheism” and “Intersectional Atheism” are okay, but seem kind of jargon-y.

    *”Humanism” is great, but doesn’t necessarily emphasize the point of “atheism plus social justice.”

  88. says

    Thanks for a great post, Jen. I’m with you 100%.

    I’m fine with “Affirmative Atheism” and the A+ symbol. But I like your idea of “third-wave atheism” and I think that would be a fine name for the movement as well.

  89. ~G~ says

    100x yes. For every finger pointing outward there needs to be one just as big pointing at ourselves. That’s hard. But needs to be done before anyone should be thinking of giving themselves any medals. A blog/podcast and book I really like (haven’t read book, but DH has) is http://youarenotsosmart.com/ (a celebration of self-delusion) He has a post on the just world fallacy which I think drives a lot of victim blaming and libertarian type world views.

  90. Peter says

    Awesome post, and necessary.
    How about A++ as a logo? To computer nerds that suggests that it is the next step, and I think that’s appropriate.

  91. Nick says

    As a longtime lurker I thank you for this, but more importantly my two month old daughter will be thanking you in the future. You’re amazing, Jen.

  92. adam.b says

    I don’t have anything to add so I’ll just say that I’m sick of this crap and I’m totally with you.

  93. ~G~ says

    The thing I like about Affirmative Atheism is it both alludes to affirmative action in the sense that everyone is welcome, (although that has baggage as you hinted at), but more so, affirmative such as it is positive and inspiring. What do atheists get criticized so often for? For being against something and not offering anything positive. (A claim I both understand but also find lame). Nevertheless, maybe this hits the mark in the way, “brights” missed.

  94. Lyn M: Necrodunker of death, nothing but net says

    Wonderful post, Jen. You nailed it. Please count me in, too.

    When I think of A+ as a logo, I can see the plus above the A, like a guiding star or a goal we are headed for.

    On the other hand, third wave Atheism, I can see three A’s, small one on the left, pale blue, larger one in the middle, medium blue, largest on the left, strong blue.

    Now if only I could manage actual images.

  95. Ella says

    I’m an agnostic rather than an athiest, but can I join? I like social change. It’s invigorating.

    (Also, I bake chocolate cupcakes.)

  96. mandrellian says

    Jen, you rock. Count this Oz male in.

    Atheists and skeptics DO need to progress, we DO need to be about more than quackery and Genesis and we DO need to recognise, publicise and criticise when certain of our number act like irredeemable arseholes.

    If someone can’t apply skepticism to themselves or their privilege or their own behaviour, we don’t need or want them.

  97. Jessica says

    I never comment on atheist blogs because I’m too afraid to bring up these issues. I’ve seen the responses they get. Thank you SO MUCH for being willing to speak up about this, even with the harassment you get in return.

  98. strange gods before me ॐ says

    I suggest using no adjectives or other verbal modifiers.

    It’s a rhetorical trap. (Visual signals like the ones Jadehawk uses for feminism+atheism are excellent — they’ll do the work of signaling our presence to each other. With descriptive alt-text for screen readers.)

    A minor but important victory will come when the misogynists and racists start complaining that the word atheism has become so contaminated with progressive connotations that they don’t want to self-identify as atheists anymore. “Blech! Atheism is too feminist! We need a new word!”

    That will probably not happen if we use some kind of [adjective] atheism.

    They’ll always be able to say “I’m just an atheist. I’m not an [adjective] atheist. I don’t need anything else.”

    And that kind of “purist” self-identification is very attractive to naive people (here naive is not intended as a pejorative; there are always people who are new to atheism and who may, in the beginning, feel overwhelmed by the Deep Rifts; we want to appeal to the new and naive people).

    If we brand ourselves as a subtype then we’ll always remain a subtype. We want to be the ones who, if you’re a misogynist and you don’t want to be confused for us, you’ll have to apply an adjective to yourself. We don’t want to be a subtype. We want to be the type.

  99. Fizzing thru da Fizzics says

    One of the reasons I lurk is the overpowering urge to scream when reading some of the utter bilge people of the slightest difference are subjected to for daring to have … whatever, that is different from the perceived “mainstream ideal”.

    Thank you Jen, Sally, Greta, PZ et al for turning this ageing, cis white blah blah guy into a feminist.

    Go the new whachawecallums!

  100. says

    Like the “A+” idea. Don’t really like the Zapfino-derived “A+” logo. That font has a pile of built-in elegance, and the derived logo kinda breaks that elegance. So here’s my shot at designing an “A+” logo:
    http://cubist.on-rev.com/atheism/Atheism-plus-logo.gif

    And here’s the Photoshop file from which I generated said gif:
    http://cubist.on-rev.com/atheism/Atheism-plus.logo.psd

    Am willing to collaborate with others on this. My email is [ cubist[at]aol[dot]com ].

  101. Quietmarc says

    Start with sexism in the general public first. Atheism is a subset of society at large, and there are HUNDREDS of good, reliable sources in several fields (sociology, psychology, economics, political science, anthropology, neuroscience….) that demonstrate that sexism (and other forms of intolerance) is a) real and b) a problem.

    Once you have a grounding in the basics of social justice, you’ll be better able to contribute to the discussion. It’s really not difficult: go to your favourite search engine or online library and search for “sexism” and you’ll have enough reading material to keep you busy for years.

    When people join a discussion like this and start asking for evidence (implying that there is none), they come off as a derailer, troll, or at best an ignorant noob who hasn’t done their homework. There is TONNES of evidence that sexism is a problem in general society and NO EVIDENCE that atheism and scepticism are somehow immune.

  102. dcortesi says

    Went out to supper and could not stop thinking about this.
    The A+ just crystallizes all the things Jen said, and more.

    Henceforth let this be THE A-PLUS MANIFESTO!

    The concept gets Atheism out of the negativity trap.
    What do you atheists do, besides sitting around not-praying, eh?
    Well, we are
    Atheists plus we care about women’s rights,
    Atheists plus we care about social justice,
    Atheists plus we protest racism when we see it,
    Atheists plus we contest stupidity in the public arena…

    Atheist-plus is a great identity to adopt, a great banner to rally under.

  103. PDX_Greg says

    I don’t usually post this far down (100s plus) as I figure it will never get read, but, YAAAAYY anyway! Well said! I am so ashamed of all the self-absorbed “rational” thinkers in the athiest movement (almost all men) that can’t exercise the few neurons necessary to see through the veneer of their own privileged ignorance. It bothers me more that the privilege shown by other groups because atheists, rationalists, and skeptics can’t hide behind the thousands of years of patriarchal legacy to claim support for their ignorance. THEY SHOULD KNOW BETTER!

    I’m starting to think that privilege is like a million-mile-long band-aid. It takes forever to rip it away, and the person it is attached to turns into a quivering infantile ball of retaliatory scream.

  104. Quietmarc says

    I’m in. This post is what I believe.

    And I’m gonna add, my heart sank when I saw there were almost 150 responses because I was expecting the usual. The fact that the HUGE majority of these comments are people I would be proud to consider allies in this kind of movement has completely made my day.

  105. says

    I’m sorry but there is a reason feminists don’t do well in the ‘skeptic’ community. They aren’t all that skeptic and view any criticism no matter how mild as an attack on them personally, on their sex in general, and as sort of some plot to destroy feminism.

    Take Skepchick for example, sells erotic photos of herself, complains that people (read MEN, disgusting men) view her in the sexual manner she sold herself in. Then gets pissed and equates being asked out in an elevator to being raped though technically the guy did EXACTLY as she asked and waited until the conference was over to hit on her.

    And might I say this is a perfect example of why many men in general don’t like feminism or feminists. They come in try to shift the agenda from an atheist one to a feminist one, and then turn around and cry harassment because others dare to DISAGREE with them

    And as far as the how the ‘anal rape of a 15yr old jokes’ thing goes I’ll repost my analysis of it once again

    There weren’t hundreds of rape jokes as Watson asserted there were maybe ten, most of the hundreds of comments were saying the jokes went to far REGARDLESS OF THE FACT THAT THE GIRL HERSELF MADE A JOKE ABOUT HER ASS FIRST, another point Watson failed to mention.

    Watson also went on to claim that such comments were typical for atheists and men in general. Slight problem with that claim as well as I personally clicked on the profile links of scores of commenter’s on that thread. Want to know what I discovered? Of the 60 or so profiles I looked at not one, NOT A SINGLE SOLITARY ONE, had any gender or religiously identifying info.

    Watson had no way of knowing whether the commenter’s were atheists or men, she just made the assumption. And anyone who disagreed was “sexist” and “harassing”

    My comment on Watson website highlighting the fact that she assumed facts not in evidence never got pasted the ‘moderation’ phase.

    Feminist skeptics don’t do well in the community because the freak out the moment anyone starts applying the same skepticism to their dogma. Are their jerks and harasser and sexists? Of course there are, there are some in every movement, even the feminist movement. The leader of NY-NOW claimed all kindergarden boys were gangrapists becuase a drunken 60 year senator supposrted Obama over Clinton in the democratic primary. Went on to remark how he owed women because they looked the other way when he left somone to drown in acar at the bottom of a river.

    But most of the “harassing” memes are typically overblown, misreported, misattributed, second and third hand stories which are taken at face value for no other reason than another feminist said so.

    And ‘someone else told me’ just doesn’t cut it in the skeptic community. No exceptions for marginally hot chicks in particular or feminism (or any other beliefs system) in general.

    If you cant handle that, then log off the internet

  106. says

    Wow, this post is exactly what I’ve needed! I’ve been getting pretty discouraged lately because of the whole sexual harassment drama and calls for change like this give me hope of what the secular movement can become.

  107. bad Jim says

    More cheers.

    Atheism isn’t the only boys’ club struggling with this problem. Bruce Schneier noted this week that it surfaced at Defcon in Las Vegas, and Maria Farell wrote about the phenomenon at an ICANN conference. The good news is that these aren’t exclusively boys’ clubs any longer and there is a growing recognition that everyone is going to have to grow up.

  108. says

    I agree strongly with what you wrote, with one exception. This new wave… let’s come up with some other name than “atheist.”

    “Atheism” is (depending on the definition one prefers) the lack of belief in god(s) or the belief in a lack of god(s). Atheism itself make no mention of feminism or misogyny. No mention of equality or bigotry. No mention of social justice or class warfare. It takes no stand on homophobia or prejudice or hate. And as we keep seeing, over and over and over again, this is a problem.

    “Freethought” has its advantages, but it is a philosophical world view that emphasizes rationality and logic. But while freethinkers are often agnostics or atheists, there have been many freethinkers of faith as well. And while rational, logical arguments can be made in support of treating one another with respect and fairness, such values are not inherent in freethought.

    I like the term “humanism,” but it is too broad. Humanism is a set of values, and anyone who embraces those values — even devout theists — are welcomed in the Humanist fold.

    If you were to draw a Venn diagram showing the overlap of atheism and freethought and humanism, this new wave would be within the intersection of all three areas. People who held this worldview would stand in opposition to theocracy and superstition, call upon others to exercise their ability to think and understand, and emphasize values of equality and social justice.

    So, anyone have any suggestions for a name?

  109. ChasCPeterson says

    They aren’t all that skeptic

    the adjective is ‘skeptical’.
    oh, and by the way, you are an ignorant jackass.

  110. Robert B. says

    Aw, someone already did the “and my axe” joke…

    But yeah, you’re describing a movement that my heart is already in. Let’s go, let’s do this.

  111. Ouigui says

    Then gets pissed and equates being asked out in an elevator to being raped

    Rebecca Watson saying “Guys, don’t do that” is totally the same thing as what you just claimed she did. Oh, wait, no it’s not.

    Credibility, you haz none.

  112. says

    I’ve been very disappointed in the skeptical movement the past year. I’m all for A+ or even Skeptical Humanism.

    Skepticism is a tool. There should be a movement or branch that uses it to guide progressive causes. We can’t let the haters take control of skepticism.

    Thanks for writing this, Jen. I’m in too!

  113. ~G~ says

    This is an example of what I’ve hated most about this abuse. When I see women being harassed for making simple statements asserting their own viewpoint, it is directed at *all* women. I’ve spent over 5 years active in the atheist/skeptical movement and I now wonder, what if I ever get a bigger platform? How will I be treated? Damn if I’ll give it all up because of that, but I feel like saying, “I am Rebecca Watson.” “I am Surly Amy.” Dramatic sounding, but there is a real chilling effect on women everywhere when this happens. The subtext is, “and let that be a lesson to all of you ladies before you get any crazy ideas.”

  114. kaboobie says

    I was out at a theater performance tonight and checked Twitter during intermission to see that Greta had linked to this post. I clicked through to read it, and in the midst of a crowded, noisy theater lobby I wanted to scream, “F*** yeah!”

    Thank you, Jen. You have my unwavering support.

  115. mandrellian says

    147: It’s telling that the bulk of your comment here on Jennifer’s blog is to further demonise Rebecca Watson, instead of engaging with the points Jennifer (the owner of the blog, in case your Skepchick tunnel-vision had obscured that fact) raised, or the abundant links she included. The rest of your post appears to be general MRA butthurt bullshit assertions, unsupported by anything and bordering on incoherent irrelevance.

    What this tells me is that you’re yet another adolescent jackass still fucking obsessed with Rebecca Watson two years on, as if she personally opened the gates of Men’s Hell herself by suggesting that hitting on a woman at 4am in an enclosed space after she’s said clearly and publicly that she’s going to bed might not be the best way to introduce yourself.

    The only thing unskeptical about this situation is the creationist-level mental gymnastics required on the part of commenters like yourself to continue to demonise women in the face of reams and reams of evidence that what they are saying about douchebags in atheist-land is undeniably true.

  116. Joe says

    Let’s have a look at how wrong you are:

    Take Skepchick for example, sells erotic photos of herself, complains that people (read MEN, disgusting men) view her in the sexual manner she sold herself in. Then gets pissed and equates being asked out in an elevator to being raped though technically the guy did EXACTLY as she asked and waited until the conference was over to hit on her.

    For starters, Skepchick != Rebecca Watson. Second, someone selling erotic photos of themself doesn’t give people permission to treat them in a sexual manner anytime people feel like it (just like how giving consent once doesn’t mean it is automatically given at all later times). Also, where did Rebecca equate the elevator thing to being raped? From what I recall, all she said was “Guys, don’t do that”.

    And as far as the how the ‘anal rape of a 15yr old jokes’ thing goes I’ll repost my analysis of it once again

    Going through Rebecca’s post about it, I count about 20 rape jokes. Going to the reddit article in question, I count more. That, however, is pretty much beside the point – how low do you have to go if you defense is “oh, there were only ten rape jokes, so it’s ok.” The joke the poster made is also irrelevant – saying she brought it on herself is just victim blaming.

    The assumption that most of the posters were atheists and men was pretty well supported – it was the atheism subreddit, so a lot of the posters will be atheists, and the nature of the jokes make it pretty clear they were written by men.

    But most of the “harassing” memes are typically overblown, misreported, misattributed, second and third hand stories which are taken at face value for no other reason than another feminist said so.

    Um, did you read, I don’t know, any of the links Jen posted. Or any of any of the posts linked to in those? There are many tales of harrassment out there, and that is why they are taken seriously, because many, many women have reported being harrassed. So, it isn’t so much a case of ‘someone else told me’ as it is ‘This large list of people, many with supporting evidence, have told me’

  117. redleg says

    100% support from this straight white guy. I blew the whistle on workplace sexual harassment a number of years ago and paid a steep price (whistleblower protection laws are essentially a joke, BTW), so dear readers don’t underestimate how difficult this task is.
    But it is the right thing to do.

  118. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Unfortunately “A=” invites confusion with “A=A,” which is some kind of Randroid sign.

  119. Nathair says

    The leader of NY-NOW claimed all kindergarden boys were gangrapists becuase a drunken 60 year senator supposrted Obama over Clinton in the democratic primary. Went on to remark how he owed women because they looked the other way when he left somone to drown in acar at the bottom of a river.

    I really, really hesitate to ask this considering the industrial grade shit you just sprayed the place with, but what are you talking about here and what does it have to do with anything?

  120. says

    “Feminists are bad skeptics. As proof, here’s a list of talking points I’m parroting without ever researching their veracity or critically examining them at all.”

  121. Kate says

    You’ve inspired me, Jen. I’m ready to be front and center in the New Wave. Thank you for writing this!

  122. MrPeach says

    Fuck those nozzles, we’d be far better off without them.

    The problem with atheism the movement (as it has been) is that the only thing that joins us is our atheism. This means any misogynistic ass is free to join and ruin the party for everyone else. We need to bridge over to a community that starts with atheism, but actually stands for something positive. We need to start judging people as not worthy of the movement if they would treat anyone poorly – the worst of us is what the theists (and our members as well) remember, and it’s time we rid ourselves of them.

    Bring on the atheist humanist movement!

    I’m with you Jen, and have always been!

  123. says

    I agree, so I revise my suggestion:

    “Affirmatism”.

    This is a movement that affirms rights, equality, humanistic values, liberty, and general good taste. I hereby declare it started.

    [Those who object to allying this with affirmative action, please remind me. What's the problem with affirmative actions again? Is it helping folks who have been traditionally marginalised get into the mainstream? If yes, then that says a lot about you.]

  124. MrPeach says

    Actually, come to think of it, this is exactly what NAP is trying to do – but on a political plane. Perhaps they need to expand their mission.

  125. Brad says

    I hope this takes off. In addition to all the other reasons above, it’ll be something much better to explain who you are to people that hadn’t heard of you than “boobquake lady.”

  126. emilysmith says

    I was thinking that “intersectionality” was an awesome word for this that really deserves more attention in all sorts of movements. “Secular humanism” is also a handy name to have on hand.

  127. TychaBrahe says

    Try this. Invent a female persona. Give yourself a name that obviously indicates you are female.

    Join an atheist chat room. Go to reddit. Log onto an online gaming forum.

    See what it’s like.

  128. says

    I’ve been in for a good six months or so, only I’ve been calling it “social justice atheism.” I’m cool with whatever label we settle on, though, and I gotta admit “affirmative atheism” has a sort of pizazz to it.

    Oh, and I’ve got another logo to add to the pile. I’ve never been much of a fan of the Dawkins “A,” instead preferring the ol’ Atheist Alliance International one from ought-7, as designed by Diane Reed.

    Oh oh, and AWESOME post Jen! You win one (1) Internet2!

  129. says

    Late to the party, but as I’ve said elsewhere, you are totally on point and I’m absolutely on board. Count me among the infantry.

  130. natashayar-routh says

    I wish you luck Jen but this is not my fight. I view atheism and skepticism as tools I can wield in the fight against haters and bigots, religious and otherwise, to tray to carve out a space where we trans* people can get on with our lives. I have neither the time or the energy to fight yet another bunch of smug, self righteous, over privileged, spoiled, straight, white cis people. I deal with enough of that sort as it is.

    Still be of good cheer Jen, your enemies in this fight are pathetic little wastes of protoplasm that with any luck will whine themselves to death.

  131. says

    I’m only a silly white guy, but I want to say that I think you are more that welcome in the movement as far as I am concerened.

    Reading your blog as well as Skepchick and others has informed me about the importance of feminist ideas. I think it sucks that you have been made to feel unsafe in this community, but you have made a difference.

  132. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Jen:
    Wow. Well thought. Well executed.
    Is it possible to agree 110% with you?

    It’s time for a wave that cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime.

    Yes, please.

  133. says

    I didn’t really believe that there was an overarching problem here until I read this post. Jesus effing Christ, I really am part of a boys’ club! That, as, Shakespeare said four hundred years before the scanner, would be scanned.

    Third Wave sounds like either Transhumanism or The Talking Heads. Let’s go with A+.

  134. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Oh, and I’m so totes behind A+.
    I can imagine that as a soundbite.
    CBS anchor interviewing Jen:
    “So just what does A+ stand for?”
    “Atheism + Social Justice”

  135. cityzenjane says

    Very well said Ed – I have often wondered why this gaping blind spot existed in some people’s assessment of the facts. OR worse do as Dawkins did and suggest that because women suffer brutality elsewhere trying to handle online and offline sexism here is suspect. Who asked you Mr. Dawkins?….Women are fighting it everywhere and are not working against each other. It stunned me that he thought he had position to take women to task on where and when to confront it.

    Imagine if we suggested such a thing to the ADL?

  136. says

    Thank you all for proving my point

    1. What advice would that be exacly, staying of the net if you cant handle criticism? I handle it just fine. I’ve yet to really see any though most people just make assignations about my charecter rather than the points I wrote about, see #’s 3,4,5,6,7,& 8

    2. Your welcome

    3. I have dyslexia, spell check tends to spell words fine but miss the finer points, and you are discriitory against dyslexics for being mean to me (do you see what I did there with the second half of that sentance?)

    4. Acctually she said guys dont do that in the conference in response to the elevator incident she said felt attacked, even though the guy took no for ananswer, never laid a hand on her, and didnt even ask a second time

    5. A few thing mandrellian, “futher” implies I’ve demonzied Watson here before. As the Jens point that she feel more safe walking down a dark alley than she does exchanging words on the internet or in a well lit public building in the midlle of the day surroded by dozens of men who would beat the shit out of any other mad daring to put his hands on a woman saying no, I cry bullshit. Its not true, and she knows it.

    As to the rest of my post, what makes you think I’m an MRA? Technically feminists themsevles should be MRAs as they claim to be for the equal treatment of both sexes’ nice insunuation of gay anal rape in there too, I didnt know you could divine age by text message. And how exaclty is one comment proof of an obssesion? Alo what makes you think I am a creationist

    And finally how exactly is pointing out that one woman lied in her charecterization of strangers on a a message board “demonization” when it is the truth? And how is pointing it out proof of “douchebags in atheist-land”

    6. Joe, I knoe SC=Watson, thats why I switched to her name. No it doesnt, fair point, but it also means that they cant really complaign if someone does, actions have consequences. Male sexuality is fairly straight forward. To take advantage of it for finacail gain(and what she used the proceeds for was admerable) and then turn around and demonize it is hypocracy at its finest

    If the number of jokes is beside the point then why bring it up? Second MY point wanst about the number of jokes but that the article was written in such a manner as to suggest nearly EVERY comment was an anal rape joke, when in fact it was the opposite.

    Again my point was not that such jokes were OK becuase f the low number. My point was Watson LIED in suggesting that the majority of comments were inappropriate, when in fact they were protesting the very jokes she was coneming. My further point was that Waston claimed it was athiest men making the jokes, but when I clicked on nearly 60 different profiles not one of them had any info identifying the posters as male or athiest – so where did she get the data that shows those posters were men or athiests?

    I post on religious boards al the time, doesnt make me religious, I post on womens issues and feminists boads, doesnt make me a feminist or a woman. Facts not in eveidence.

    And finally I never said there was not harrassment. I said most of it was overblown. I dont consider asking a woamn for coffe after she spent hours partying in a bar to be harrasing. Repeatedly asking, getting up there. Putting your hand on her definatly harrasment. But saying hello, and asking her to your room in such a non threatening way and taking no for an answer is not harrasment. If it is saying hello to anyone on the street if they dont want to talk could be considered harrasment

    7. Pointing out sexists and harrasing women withing the feminist movement.

    8. Note how you cant point to anything specific? This is what I’m talking about. And you should have used these ‘ ‘, not these ” “, as the words yo are attributing to me are not an actual quote

  137. cityzenjane says

    I call this stance DATA OR GTFO. It’s about as subtle as the original.

    If your sister said something horrible was going on would you ask her for data or would you aks what the guys name is, what he did and where he lives?

  138. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Fizzing thru da Fizzics says:

    One of the reasons I lurk is the overpowering urge to scream when reading some of the utter bilge people of the slightest difference are subjected to for daring to have … whatever, that is different from the perceived “mainstream ideal”.

    I know people lurk for a variety of reasons, but I wonder if more people delurked when the asshole MRAs, slympitters, sexists, et al come crawling out of the woodwork…would that push them away more? If it seemed like a veritable avalanche of progressive A+’s coming at them, would their crap get drowned out?

  139. says

    Excellent post, and I am so glad that you say:

    But the reason I’m not throwing my hands up in the air and screaming “I quit” is because we’re already winning.

  140. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Please take your own advice. Get the hell off the internet you sexist asshat.
    For the umpteenth time, Rebecca Watson said “guys don’t do that”.
    That’s.
    Fucking.
    It.
    It’s advice on how *not* to hit on women, unless your goal is to be creepy and get shot down.
    That you can’t understand this shows how much ‘respect’ you have for women, as well as the level of privilege you have.

  141. cityzenjane says

    It would be nice if we didn’t ghettoize to nerd-com…we already have this problem. And as much as nerdom is a lovely space for nerds it’s not really an attractor in the wider world.

  142. cityzenjane says

    Suggestion – How about someone set up a collab space to hash out some of the meat of this?

  143. Bjarte Foshaug says

    I want Deep Rifts.

    Ditto, here’s something I wrote over at Ophelia Benson’s blog:

    One thing is getting increasingly clear:

    * I don’t want to “heal the rifts” in the skeptical/atheist movement.
    * I don’t want to “work together for a common goal”.
    * I don’t want to “find a way to coexist”.
    * I don’t want to “seek common ground”.
    * I don’t want to “just get along”.
    * I don’t want a dialogue.
    * I don’t want friendship.

    As long as the trolls who have been flooding every skeptical website, youtube channel, forum, or blog with toxic waste since a woman had the audacity to say “Guys, don’t do that” are part of the “movement”, I want nothing to do with it. That movement is dead to me. Buried and forgotten. Gone beyond the event horizon, and nothing can bring it back. And it’s a good thing.

    However, that doesn’t mean I am less dedicated to critical thinking. I think Natalie Reed gets it just right:

    The Atheist Movement doesn’t have a monopoly on atheism. Anyone can simply come to the conclusion that religion is kind of silly and dangerous. The Movement doesn’t have a monopoly on secularism. Anyone can pitch in and help fight to keep religion from influencing legislation. The Movement doesn’t have a monopoly on skepticism. It barely practices it. Anyone can learn to value critical thought, doubt, hesitation, humility, honesty and questioning their perceptions and biases. And none of us need their permission. We don’t need DJ Grothe or Richard Dawkins or Justin Fucking Vacula’s seals of approval to do any of this.

    Atheism? Sure!
    Skepticism? Absolutely!
    Critical thinking? Hell, yes!
    The skeptical/atheist movement? I would rather die!

  144. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    I said most of it was overblown. I dont consider asking a woamn for coffe after she spent hours partying in a bar to be harrasing.

    And there’s your problem. Or one of them, more accurately.
    You don’t get to decide for someone else what is or isn’t harassment. More to the point, you don’t get to mansplain’ to a woman that “oh, sweety, you’re overreacting. this isn’t harassment. never you mind.”

    You patronizing, sexist, lying, asshat.

    Oh yeah, and ONE rape joke is one too many.

  145. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    The suggestions of A+ (atheism+social justice) have gotten much love.

    I like it because it announces out the gate that this isn’t a religious organization. Then it says “…plus we care about social justice in all its forms”.

  146. Eric O says

    I don’t post here often, but I just wanted to say that I’m totally on board with this new wave of atheism, and I’m optimistic about the outcome.

    Also, Pteryxx’s “A+” idea is awesome. I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable with the idea of wearing the scarlet A on a t-shirt, but I feel like I could wear an A+ shirt with pride.

  147. cityzenjane says

    “emphasize ACTING ON values of equality and social justice” – I’ve had enough jaw-flappin.

  148. Pete Knight says

    I’m not too comfortable with a new wave, or as I see it, a sub-division of the skeptic movement, this is looking terrifyingly like the religionists break away sects that fight among themselves. A further sub-division is going to deter people from participating if we’re fighting among ourselves, and the current row has caused a lot of people to walk away rather than take one side or the other.

    Would it not be better to stay as one and fight the injustices from within? That said there will always be the numpties who just don’t get what skepticism is about, they just pick a side and dig their heels in, it’s human nature…… unfortunately!

  149. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    PDX_Greg:

    I don’t usually post this far down (100s plus) as I figure it will never get read, but, YAAAAYY anyway!

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I keep up with a fair amount of bloggers, and I frequently read all the comments (or the vast majority of them). You’d be amazed at the people reading a comment @324.
    ****

    Quietmarc:

    The fact that the HUGE majority of these comments are people I would be proud to consider allies in this kind of movement has completely made my day.

    Me too.
    I’m glad to see that at nearly 150 responses, this has been overwhelmingly in support of Jen and A+.
    ****

    natashayar-routh says:

    I wish you luck Jen but this is not my fight. I view atheism and skepticism as tools I can wield in the fight against haters and bigots, religious and otherwise, to tray to carve out a space where we trans* people can get on with our lives. I have neither the time or the energy to fight yet another bunch of smug, self righteous, over privileged, spoiled, straight, white cis people. I deal with enough of that sort as it is.

    You do know there’s a lot of overlap there, right? Many of the same type of smug, self righteous, over privileged, spoiled, straight, white cis people you’re fighting are the ones activists like Jen are fighting. That’s part of the reason A+ works. It’s not just about Atheism. As others have said, that’s not enough to unite a diverse group of people into a movement. The addition of PLUS means that we’re *atheists* plus we fight for social justice.
    An end to sexism and misogyny.
    An end to homophobia.
    An end to ageism.
    An end to ableism.
    An end to transphobia.
    So many of those issues overlap with the others, that if you tug on one string, two or more will start to unravel.

  150. cityzenjane says

    [Insert People's Front of Judea joke here]

    Nevertheless….consider me an enthusiastic splitter. A divider.

  151. cityzenjane says

    You do that Pete….stay and fight from within….It will be a pleasure to watch as you take them on! As for me – I do my bit every day.

  152. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Pete:

    Would it not be better to stay as one and fight the injustices from within? That said there will always be the numpties who just don’t get what skepticism is about, they just pick a side and dig their heels in, it’s human nature…… unfortunately!

    I think that for many people, a desire not to be associated with the scumbags, MRAs, rape apologists, misogynists, homophobes, transphobes, etc is the reason they don’t want to be part of the current atheist/skeptic movement.
    I agree that the movement needs to be redefined, with clear goals and an understanding of THIS shit won’t be tolerated *. Jen’s post does a magnificent job highlighting what the redefined movement should be about.

    Where’s that darn ‘LIKE’ button…?

    *stuff like ElevatorGate, and the vile, monstrous things said to Rebecca Watson.

  153. mildlymagnificent says

    That beeping noise you hear is the great big truck backing up to deliver mountains of shiny new internets in boxes of any and every colour anyone ever liked with stars, rainbows, balloons and ribbons galore.

    Enough for every one of you delightful people. Jen gets first pick ….. and as many other picks as she likes.

  154. Joe says

    No it doesnt, fair point, but it also means that they cant really complaign if someone does, actions have consequences.

    No, it doesn’t. Like I said, selling erotic photos doesn’t give permission for people to treat someone in a sexual manner anytime they feel like it (to which you agreed). This means they can complain if someone does – because they haven’t been given permission.

    And finally I never said there was not harrassment. I said most of it was overblown.

    And if you read any of the links Jen has so helpfully provided you, you will see that it is not overblown. It is pretty clear that this is a serious problem – prompting the very blog post we are commenting on.

    And, as Tony has said, you don’t get to decide what is harassment, so whether or not you think it is overblown is irrelevant.

  155. bvganfematheist says

    Can’t really say anything that hasn’t already been said better. So just, yes, definitely, count me in. You are awesome! Thankyou.

  156. whatnot says

    I *don’t* think cons should have specific anti-sexual harassment policies.

    Cons *should have* anti-harassment policies that are broad enough to cover sexual harassment, as well as other types of harassment that we should choose not to tolerate in society.

  157. Cinnamonster says

    A very well thought out article. I never could understand how people could claim to function on reason and logic and then proceed to act the way that some of those idiots do. It amazes me even more that in 2012, a sexual harassment policy had to be requested. I would have thought people would have simply known how to behave like respectable adults.

    I think you’re right about the nay-sayers losing, though. As you said, it’s an uphill battle, but there is ground being gained. Even if those obnoxious few never change their mind, if feminists and minorities continue to write articles like this and speak out against that kind of behaviour, it’ll have an affect whether they like it or not.

  158. nathan says

    Hi,
    First let me say I support third wave atheism 100 percent. Secondly let me say that I am a Christian.
    Ok, let me explain that a bit more. I don’t believe that what we believe has anything to do with what kind of people we are. I believe in God, atheists don’t. So what. What we are is determined by the good that we do. Equality is good. Bigotry is bad. And I will always support those fighting for equality no matter what their beliefs on God are.

    It’s no secret that Christianity (and for that matter every religion) has had its share of infiltration by those trying to use it for their own political will. Some churches and denominations more than others. And I think by recognizing that both Christians and atheists deal with bigot infiltration, we can separate the bigotry we see from the respective groups and recognize we’re all just people trying to work out answers to our questions. Through this recognition we can also become allies in the fight for equality, despite differing beliefs.

    So that’s really my main point, that we can both see that bigotry is wrong, and we can work together to do something about it regardless of whether it appears in atheist groups, churches, or anywhere else. You have allies where you would least expect. :)

    Thanks and keep up the good work!

  159. cityzenjane says

    can’t have a social justice fight unless you talk about racism and classism….

    seriously no point in even starting unless those are included as matters up for compassionate discussion as well…

    perhaps it’s just an oversight… hope so.

  160. brianpansky says

    the only person I know who explicitly identifies as a humanist also happens to be a fan of “the amazing atheist” :/ which I find rather confusing.

  161. cityzenjane says

    Well said Nathan – and welcome… I have been saying for a while that I have more in common with religious people who fight for social justice than I do with atheists who spend every waking moment pwning young earth creationists… I mean once it’s done…It’s done. Also….seriously how hard is that?

    The work of pwning sexism, racism, homophobia, ablism, and all other sorts of hatred is never done….and it’s ACTUAL WORK.

  162. Hertta says

    For a while now I’ve been (mostly quietly and to myself) calling this new wave ‘social justice atheism’. I wouldn’t call myself a skeptic, because of the libertarian Boys’ Club association and even just ‘atheist’ makes me cringe a bit. I like to call myself a social justice atheist. But if all the cool kids start calling themselves ‘third wave atheists’ or A-plussers, I’ll go with that.

  163. jedimasteryoda says

    As a white, cisgender, male, hetero, privedged, human being:

    1. This was one of the best posts I’ve ever read.
    2. You have my support.
    3. Let us change the world for the better.

    May the Force be with you, Jedi Grand Master Jen!

  164. Jenny P says

    Hi Jen,

    I’m mostly a lurker, but I feel that on this post I ought to show my support for you. Fight the good fight! Thanks for peeling back the rug and showing how many cockroaches this movement has become riddled with. You might get some crawling up your arm, but you can’t crush ‘em if you can’t see ‘em.

    And that overlong metaphor is why I don’t comment very often ^_^

  165. machintelligence says

    Wow! It took awhile to read all of the comments, but COUNT ME IN!
    Now for a few random thoughts:
    It seems like the MRA’s have learned one thing from the Gnu Atheists (and only one thing) — it is OK to be loud.
    The rape fixation of the misogynist/libertarian wankers may be due to the fact that they view rape as their only chance to have sex with a woman. They sure as hell aren’t going to attract any girlfriends or mates with their wonderful personalities. Natural selection will remove them eventually, but it is a slow process.

    When you agree on the form of the A+ symbol get in contact with the folks at Evolve Fish. They did it for the Digital Cuttlefish and they can do it for you.

  166. says

    ADD ME! I want to be part of this new wave of atheists, or A+.
    Atheism plus, A+, is excellent, and says it all.
    The “dictionary” atheists can stay on the other side of that rift, along with any MRAs- they aren’t needed, or wanted in a truly inclusive A plus.

    This post is simply perfect. I am delurking just to add this comment.

    I have been that girl, the token, the one who thinks the guys like her because she’s cool and passionate about atheism, but finds out they only “like” her if she doesn’t expect to be treated w respect.

    Finding other atheists was so thrilling that I didn’t notice the anti woman bias at first. When I started noticing it, it was an enormous disappointment, huge. Kinda like finding out your fiancé is KKK member, or that your mom hates gays. What a let down! Of all people, you would think atheists/skeptics would have been able to see misogyny for what it really is, and be offended by it, based on reason alone. I guess they are blinded by privilege?

    There’s just no excuse for the anti woman attitude. I find it shocking, and disgusting, how many nasty comments will pop up every time even the most innocuous female topic comes up. I mean, still mad over Rebeccas request not to hit on her in an elevator? Really?

    (And to the (non empathetic) men, just because you feel safe at skeptic events, doesn’t mean some women do NOT feel safe at the very same place.)

  167. SpriteSuzi says

    I really like Jadehawk’s logo. The A+ is too clearly related to the scarlet A (is there a copyright on that?) as well as being reminiscent of the Brights. Maybe if we did something creative with a different font and “plus” written out it would be better, but Jadehawk’s is a better fit to me.

    Coming up with the logo is the easy part, though. We’re all saying yes to the idea of a new version of the movement, but how do we move forward as a new group? I don’t know; I’m in the middle of nowhere Antipodes, with no local group at all, and very few contacts in the country. Guidance, anyone?

  168. says

    Therefore harrasment is subjective and not objective? In that case Tony you have sexally harrassed me. And if one joke is too many why wasnt that the subject of Watsons post? Why did she insinuste that nearly all the posts were the same as the quoted examples?

  169. Goblinman says

    This is about more than just about what’s going on internally. A lot more. This could change our outside reputation–which currently has us as being a bunch of grouchy, nihilistic, middle-class white guys.

    If atheism isn’t about humanism–about social justice–then it’s useless. We’re not a movement–just a bunch of theological critics. From what I gather, the real reason the atheist movement has been gaining momentum is because more and more people are waking up to the human harm religion causes. We’re already the heart of the movement.

    So yeah. A+

    (I’d vote for “atheist humanist” for the technical term, and “atheist plus” as the soundbyte.)

  170. says

    The problem with most of Jens links is that they link to summeries, of other web pages summaries of other webpages assertions, and you have to follow the daisy chain for five or six links untli you see the quote in its actual context, the one direct link regarding the mailing lists mentions a thunderfoot, but doents really say whether or not thunderfoot is a man or not, and even if he is isnt is sexist to attibute the action of one individual to an entire gender?

    As for the thing about Rhys I didnt see any comments made about him that I have heard of simmilar vein from him(though to be fair those accustion follow the same kind of daisy chain link)

  171. says

    Camouflage. The godbots will think everyone with that A+ symbol is just another nice Christian like themselves, and by the time they suss out our true intentions and goals, it will be far too late. Far, far, far, far too late.

  172. says

    My advice was to get off e net if you cant handle criticism, I can.

    I do find it odd that I am so often accused of hatred and bigotry and sexism, yet I am the one who remains calm and rational, and you so called good guys let fly with the personal attacks and the swearing.

    Watson gave a talk on not hitting on people durring the confernce, the conference ended, she went partying (good for her) she left to go to bed, the guy already on the elevator hit on her, she made is seem like he was a creepy stalker who follwed her and cornered her.

    Seems to me he did exaclty as she asked and only hit on her once the confernce was over.

    And we have a problem Tony, under you theory of sexual harrasemnt anything can be harrassing at any time, totally on the whim of whomever feels like it.

    He asked, ONCE. She said no, he did nothing else. How is that harrasment? He took a shot, and backed off when she said no.

  173. hadjuk72 says

    When I read this article it occurred to me that the author seems to expect “atheism” to equal “humanism”. Stating the belief that “God does not exist” is unrelated to a belief in gender equality. If there is no supreme being then your choice is to look to the natural world and science or to adopt nihilism ( I suppose solipsism has a certain internal consistency going for it). I would even argue that the opposite belief system would be a far more rational conclusion. You only have to look at the way the vast majority of mammalian inter-sex interactions to conclude that “Mother Nature” wanted the male of the species dominant. I am not saying humans should behave in this manner– quite the opposite. I agree that women should have social and legal freedoms and protections equal to men and this includes freedom from sexual harassment and unwanted repeated sexual advances. What I am saying is that a *lack* in a belief of a supreme being and likely its concurrent moral code does not lead to humanistic beliefs or even basic courteous behavior.

    This ugly misogynistic harassment that the author had to endure also brings me to my fundamental problem with “Atheism” in relation to skepticism.

    Suppose I claim that there is a teapot orbiting Alpha Centauri (to bring Russell’s analogy up to date with the advances of modern astronomy). You would likely look at me as though I were insane and correctly ask me for some evidence to support this wild claim. I of course would tell you that I know in my heart and soul that it is there. You can’t prove it is not. In fact its actions are all around you and you need only to *believe*. Maybe I’d even threaten you with dire consequences for not acknowledging the Blessed Chinaware. You would rightly back up slowly toward the door shaking your head and wondering how I got this delusional. Undoubtedly we have all had these discussions in some form or another but with angels, demons, Transubstantiation, and the Conversion of the Jews as more “plausible” stand-ins for the teapot.

    As an “Agnostic” though I cannot say that the teapot orbiting Alpha Centauri doesn’t exist only that the burden of proof lies with the person who makes such a fantastic claim. I cannot logically claim to know that the teapot doesn’t exist. The statement that “Teapot doesn’t exist” is a belief just like “Teapot does exist”. One is helluva lot more likely than the other granted but to state with certitude that there isn’t a teapot is incorrect. All you can say is “I see no evidence for the existence of the Teapot”.

    I know that the people who read this are generally well-read and intelligent so I will point out that I understand that the maxim “you can’t prove a negative” is untrue. Dr. Steven D. Hales is also mostly correct (http://departments.bloomu.edu/philosophy/pages/content/hales/articlepdf/proveanegative.pdf) but, in this case, if you make the teapot an omnipotent, omniscient super-being with “His ways inscrutable”, you do in fact make this negative impossible to prove (Descartes in his ontological argument had to logically acknowledge that God could be an “evil demon” bent on deceiving us before he quickly and lamely rejected it). If you are up against something omnipotent that you want to prove does not exist and it wants to deceive you, well, you’re stuck.

    With a group that identifies itself as “Atheist” you will draw a heterogeneous group with widely differing moral philosophies. Some of these will be people who hold highly values of nonviolence, human equality, justice, truth and compassion. Some well be simply forcefully rejecting a particularly hated religious upbringing. Others will be hardcore individualist-anarchists. And as was demonstrated in the author’s blog, some will have the usual staggering ignorance of all misogynists, racists, and bigots.

    Those of you who are fighting the hypocrisy, fear, and ignorance that is much too common in religion by forming collectives of atheists are substituting one belief for another and you will continue to draw adherents who will be increasingly indistinguishable from the angriest fundamentalist. The pendant jewelry with the atom model will warp from protest piece to icon and Atheism will warp into the exact thing you are currently commendably fighting. As an agnostic and as a skeptical rational being (not a Skeptic in capitalization) you shrug your shoulders at the statement “God exists”, give it as much thought as Russell’s teapot, and continue trying to show by courteous logic that God is not necessary for a just and fascinating universe.

  174. Hastur says

    Bleh!
    I wish it was possible to evict the misogynic assholes from the able-bodied white males because I don’t want them in my group anymore.

  175. Silus says

    Any movement I want to belong to can’t just be pure atheism and nothing else. Social justice and equality are too important to toss by the wayside in pursuit of another creationist on the internet.

    Thank you for writing this post!

  176. Beatrice says

    I do find it odd that I am so often accused of hatred and bigotry and sexism, yet I am the one who remains calm and rational, and you so called good guys let fly with the personal attacks and the swearing.

    That should be a good prompt for you to do some self-questioning.

  177. random says

    “It’s time for a wave that cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime.”

    Nice sentiments but I’ve seen plenty of atheists/skeptics form opinions on the above matters with which most of the people posting on FT would vehemently disagree (yes yes I know my personal experience doesn’t matter and I’d probably be better off looking for stats on this). Random example: “I applied skepticism to race maters and found out that yes, race matters; sub-saharan africans are truly not fit for our society due to their mostly genetic lower IQ” (even some well-known atheists adhere to such, as we know…). The only thing that will ever unite a significant percentage of atheists is lack of belief in “god” and related, imo but I could be wrong…

    PS: sorry if this was addressed in the comments, feeling a bit under the weather so wasn’t in the mood to read everything

  178. says

    Really? So if in response to your calm and rational argument I were to fly off the handle and call you a sexist ball busting hag and not attept to refute you argument in any manner you would see that as “a good prompt for you to do some self-questioning”

    Or would you see it as a moron with impulse control issues attacking you for disagreeing and not even capable of a reasond response to your writting?

    Lets recap – I Calmly and rational point out someone who happens to be female is lying, and proved proof. Meanwhile I say nothing of women in general

    My repsondants call me a bigot and claim it doenst matter that She lied

    And you think that is good enough for me to question myself? For what exacly. Tony and Joe I am assuming are men, but you as a woman with a better developed frontal lobe should be capable for far more ellegant articualtion So perhaps you can tell me exactly what is sexist about highlight non subjective facts, and why my calling attetnion to them is deserving of such vitriol

  179. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    a) He wasn’t already on the elevator. He was in the bar where she was and went to the elevator after her. Unless you know differently, and the only way you could was if you WERE elevator guy.

    b) Her advice for ‘Guys, don’t do that’ was in the nature of friendly advice. Doing that sort of stupid thing is creepy, doesn’t work and so if they actually do want a relationship with an actual women, it’s a losing strategy.

    c) The harassment wasn’t so much Elevator Guy, and if you had read even a smidgin of the posts on this over the last year or so you would already know this. The harassment was the severe over-reaction by entitled, privileged males (and some chill girls) to this friendly advice.

    This leads me to conclude that despite your claim to be calm and rational you are arguing in bad faith and have not a rational leg to stand on.

  180. Beatrice says

    Oh please.

    When you regularly get called a bigot and a hater then yes, you should definitely check if maybe the description fits.

    That you were calm has no bearing to the quality of your argument. You can calmly claim that the Earth is flat and your first cousin is a pony. It would be just as rational as your whining over Rebecca Watson.

    You gave no facts. You just had a great big temper tantrum in written form.

    Fuck off.

  181. Beatrice says

    The whole elevator incident has been discussed dozens of times. It has been dissected and looked at from every angle imaginable. Bringing it up again serves nothing more than derailing.

    Trust me, lujlp, you aren’t bringing anything new or interesting to the conversation.

  182. angelina says

    I completely agree with Jen. The atheist community is not immune to the issues in society, and I do not for one minute imagine that (some) atheists do not think the same way (some) men do outside of atheist groups, that is: “You have been drinking and talking to me all night, this means you want to fuck me, otherwise you are being a tease”, or “Well, you are wearing clothes like that, you should expect that men want to touch your ass”

    Whilst society in general may not want to stand up and say “this far and no further”, I think we as a community can say that we do not accept behaviour like this.

    I have to admit I have been one of those who stand back and ignore low level sexism, misogyny and transphobia etc. I am an online gamer, and I play a game where less than 5% of the players are female (Eve Online), and where misogyny is within some sections of the player base, almost a required behaviour, so, whilst I may have spoken up when people in my immediate group have used misogynistic language, I rarely speak out when it is in larger groups, or among those who I am not familiar with.

    At least within the skeptic/atheist movement, we should be able to stand up and say “No more”.

  183. maureen.brian says

    If you had been paying attention, adamcasey, you might have noticed that the problem was identified, described, analysed and backed with research papers – all by the women and our much appreciated handful of good blokes. A couple of modest solutions were proposed.

    Only after that did the mindless trolls come along, waving their genitalia and shouting, “You’re not allowed to say that about me. I’m perfect.” Since then they have come up with every possible permutation on the scatological. But not a single useful idea.

    As for this “take me back to the beginning and explain it all very slowly” scam, let me try an analogy.

    If I mention the word “atom” you don’t immediately demand that I go back to the first mention of the notion with the ancient Greeks, do you? You don’t expect me to go though the story and the understanding decade by decade until we arrive at the Large Hadron Collider where I show you the whole of the press conference on video for the Higgs boson announcement, do you? Of course not!

    For fear of looking an idiot you have a quiet word with your neighbour who is a junior science teacher or you take a basic text out of the library. After that you might ask questions.

    So what you are doing is a well-know delaying tactic, designed to waste as much woman-power as possible. Whether you realised you were doing it or not – you have been spotted!

    Besides, where I live the campaign for full rights for women begins in the middle of our civil wars of the seventeenth century. At best I have 20 years left. I intend to use them doing something interesting or productive, preferably both.

    Btw, Jen – excellent stuff!

  184. Beatrice says

    And there are people who would claim that they have applied skepticism to their thoughts about the existence of god and concluded that some “greater power” must exist. Thumping one’s chest because “me, skeptical!!1!!11eleven!” isn’t the same as actually applying careful thought and coming to rational conclusions.

    Those who claim that their careful skeptical thinking led them to the conclusion that non-white people are inferior to white people obviously did something wrong in the process. It should be obvious that when Jen writes that people should apply skepticism to everything it’s implicit that saying one’s skeptical while actually just indulging in confirmations of one’s bigotry doesn’t count.

  185. Svlad Cjelli says

    Popper once remarked on words, that if the definitions of tyrrany and democracy were reversed, he’d rather be called a tyrant than a democrat.

    I’m not sentimental about being called “new atheist”. I’ve never even liked the term.

  186. maureen.brian says

    Pete Knight,

    There are more people being deterred by the current image of the movement than could possibly be deterred if it takes a turn towards social justice or even has heated debates now and then.

    How do I know that? Because we, the othered others, are far and away the majority in every population. No?

  187. neilcn says

    Yes – count me in.

    Funny thing is, I’ve not always been an athiest. When I was a christian believer, the first chinks in my faith really came through my discomfort with how christian churches deal (or often fail to deal) with issues of inequality and privilege.

    After I rejected my faith, this blog, along with those by PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson, Greta Christina et al were my introduction to the athiest community on the internet.

    It seemed entirely obvious and unremarkable to me that athiest bloggers and activists also stood up for equality and the rights of those disadvantaged by our patriarchal societies. Why WOULDN’T an athiest/skeptic movement stand up for such values? It certainly seemed obvious to me!

    So elevatorgate, and the subsequent flowering of the trolls, came as something as a shock!

    Hey-ho, having spent decades trying to stand up for equality and justice in the Christian church, I guess I’ve just got to start all over again in my new home. It really is the least I can do from my white, male, middle class privileged position.

    So, as I said, count me in.

    Neil

  188. says

    I see where you’re coming from, but I think choosing a new name would be conceeding too much ground to the hate shreikers. We are the skeptics and we are the atheists. We reject the woo of no-I-won’t-share-my-toys-with-that-slimy-girl libertarianism, and we lack their devout faith in the present movement’s perfection.

  189. mdevile says

    Another mostly-lurker stepping up to say “Fuck yeah!”

    I actually had a similar conversation the other day, as following the TAM, Tf00t and related drama was quickly raising my disgust levels with parts of the movement. And yes, agreed, 100%. Non-belief is all well-and-good, but then what? If it’s really the only thing holding your group together than you’re going to run out of shit to say and do pretty quickly. I’d like to think that rational, free-thinking people would all be able to agree that all human beings deserve respect and safety just on the basis of their personhood. If not, well, you’re not really the kind of people I want to be around, even if we agree on the no invisible man in the sky thing.

    Random aside is random, but isn’t it odd that rational thinkers are weighing in social justice issues without doing any homework? Isn’t that one of the things that pisses us off about creation vs evolution debates, the lack of any grounding in the science behind evolution before weighing in to whine that “we didn’t come from monkeys”? It’s not like there’s entire textbooks, articles and websites on the subject or anything…

    Anyway! A+, new new atheism, humanist pizza with everything… I don’t care what we call it (within reason) I just want it.

    Thank you for this!

  190. A 'Nym Too says

    Congratulations! You were always brave, you just needed that perfect chance to use it.

    I hope you’re enjoying your new life.

  191. says

    Jen,

    a few months ago we had a brief e-mail conversation, during which I thanked you for being such an accessible gateway into a friendly, atheist, feminist community when I needed it. You will be pleased to know that since that low moment I have soared in terms of confidence and happiness, and a lot of that is because I am much more comfortable with my identity as, what I would term, a humanist.

    Anyone can be atheist, just by not believing in deities. But if we want a community, it has to be one based on social justice.

    I’m with you 100%.

  192. adamcasey says

    “If women in the movement are saying “there’s a large contingent of assholes making me feel like shit in this movement”, what else exactly do you think you need? THAT’S ENOUGH TO CHANGE THINGS IF YOU WANT WOMEN IN YOUR MOVEMENT.”

    What? You have radically misunderstood/misinterpreted. There is a problem. It’s called sexism and it exists everwhere. I know, it’s not exactly hard to notice. Do we need to fight sexism everywhere we find it? Yes of course, what kind of idiot do you take me for?

    The post I wrote is specifically about that species of sexism that exists within atheism. It exists, I know, again, it’s not hard to notice. What is it like? I have no damned idea. Sexism comes in many shades and many forms. The fact that sexism exists does not tell me that I ought to support one particular policy to deal with it.

    Consider. If people of colour come up to me and say that they do not feel safe in one area is that enough information to tell me what to do? Of course not. If the problem is that they are likely to get stabbed in that area then the solution is dozens of police on patrol. If the problem is racist graffiti that is a radically different kind of problem.

    My question is not and never has been “ought we to give a damn about women”. The question is “what is the detailed nature of the problem and what policies ought we to impose.”

  193. adamcasey says

    “If your sister said something horrible was going on would you ask her for data or would you aks what the guys name is, what he did and where he lives?”

    What the hell is “asking what the guy did” if it’s not asking for data?

  194. adamcasey says

    “There is TONNES of evidence that sexism is a problem in general society and NO EVIDENCE that atheism and scepticism are somehow immune.”

    Yes, of course. That is obvious. I dont know if I wrote particularly badly above but people are assuming an incredible amount of ignorance on my part.

    Sexism exists, it is a complex and multifaceted beast. It has different parts that must be tackled in different ways. It also exists everywhere. This is a post about sexism in the atheist community.

    If that sexism manifests in exactly the same way in atheism as it does everywhere else then we have no need to talk about this specific case, we should simply act here using the same techniques we use everywhere.

    However, I doubt it does manifest in exactly the same way. This community is different in terms of makeup and how it communicates. As such I would expect that the details of the problem are different. As such I would expect that we actually need to talk about the issue and communicate clearly about what the nature of the problem is.

    Is that really such a controversial notion? Sexism is bad, we need to do something about it. Sexism is not a homogeneous thing, we need to understand this instance and talk clearly about how it is different.

  195. says

    I don’t think we should treat this guy as an asshole who’s playing the fool. We’re not sure he’s an asshole yet, but we already hate him. He could be (a) a regular ignorant person, or (b) a budding asshole, testing the waters of assholery, or a (c) veteran asshole getting ready for an argument and starting soft. I think we assume it’s (b) or (c) too often, without evidence, and that just justifies their belief that we hate them irrationally.

    We should make ignorant people feel ignorant, not unwelcome.

  196. adamcasey says

    “Do you have any actual interest in finding out?”

    No, normally when I ask questions online I dont give a damn about the answer. … What?

  197. says

    Well, Jen, I am living on the opposite side of the globe and in the countryside, so I do not visit any conferences and I am not member of any atheist organisation (or to be more precise, of ANY organisation, period).

    But for what it is worth, here is one cis-gender-white-middleclass-male who supports you wholeheartedly.

  198. adamcasey says

    No, that’s not what I’m asking at all. Unless I’m much much worse at communicating than I expect you have misinterpreted wildly.

    Sexism exists. There is a hell of a lot of literature on the subject. We need to act on it. Yes… I fucking know. It’s not exactly a secret.

    The question I raised is not “explain to me what sexism is”. The question is “how, in detail, is sexism in the atheist community different from sexism on the sidewalk”. That’s a damned important question and one that needs to be communicated clearly.

    Clearly the solution to the problem of there being disproportionally more rapes at TAM is a very different solution to the problem of disproportionally more rape threats. These are two different things and they call for two different responses.

    I have encountered in all these discussions nothing to tell me, within TAM, which is the more significant problem. That is radically different from “please explain what sexism is.”

  199. Esox says

    Of course there’s a teapot orbiting Alpha Centauri. The mindworms need something to drink, don’t they?

  200. blgmnts says

    And if the RDF kind of owns “A+” lets use “A++”.

    A blog post like that was so necessary!

    64738 times thanks, Jen.

  201. One Thousand Needles says

    In that case Tony you have sexally harrassed me.

    Gee, I wonder if I could, y’know, apply skepticism to your claim?

    Let’s start with the women first: what evidence do you have to determine that their reports of harassment are false or “overblown”? If you don’t have a preponderance of evidence that suggests this, then your null hypothesis should be that they are telling the truth, and you need to take their claims seriously.

    Now onto you: what evidence do we have to suggest that your claim of harassment is false? Well, your comments show that you are trying (and failing) to make a clever rhetorical point. Therefore, claim dismissed.

    Skepticism applied! See how easy that was?

  202. One Thousand Needles says

    Why not both? Jen’s post isn’t suggesting that other forms of harassment be ignored.

    She saying that, within their broader harassment policies, they should specifically address sexual harassment.

  203. Beatrice says

    You can disagree all you want. The problem is that all your reasons for disagreement have already been observed and dismissed as not valid. So you’re just repeating the same old shit, bringing nothing new to the table.

  204. Christopher Camp says

    Yes, that hack into the FTB backbiting channel was some scary cyberpunk shit. Apparently, all the hacker had to do was open an e-mail Freethoughtblogs had sent him.

    Aside from this, I cannot really take this seriously. If you actually have to state that you *actually* feel *safer* walking down the street than xyz, then you are simply addicted to feeling threatened and in the habit of attributing victim status to yourself. That is to say, unless you live in a scary city where people get shot and assaulted at every turn.

    The thing is, atheism is not a movement. It was never going to be a movement. It is the simple rejection of the idea of the supernatural (which is an important rejection in parts of the Middle East and the Americas, not so much in Europe anymore). That’s all. No need to throw conservatism, feminism, anarchism or any other kind of ism in there. Ockham’s razor, folks.

    Now, what is in its last gasps is not the bogeyman of the ‘male white’ in the ‘movement’ (I know, feminism and racism are *totally incompatible*). What’s in its last gasps is people’s tolerance and willingness to have people shove their ideologies -ranging from quaint to obnoxious- down their throats. They are beginning to resent the fact that, instead of agreeing on the common denominator, the whole ‘movement’ is populated by deranged crazies who are trying to peddle their ideological nonsense to unsuspecting passers-by.

    Yet, the ideologues soldier on and on, alienating more and more people in the process – people who were never going to be their opponents. Who never had any interest in their funny ersatz religions in the first place. Every alienated atheist is another example of the oppressive patriarchy and another claim to victimhood.

    Richard Dawkins was right. There is no atheist movement. Trying to organise atheists is like trying to herd cats.

  205. says

    I am a secular humanist. That includes being an atheist, but I find “secular humanist” more descriptive, and of course, I am a humanist. I am also a feminist so I am very happy with the way this shitstorm in the community is turning out in the end. I jumped on board the Secular Woman thing the first day. Love it.

  206. says

    Fucking A+!

    What a thoroughly righteous rant, Jen! Thank you for voicing so well the growing frustration I’ve been feeling toward those who can’t – or won’t – see past their own privilege. Count me in!

  207. says

    Jen, I very much look forward to hearing more about the more inclusive secular organization you’re working on establishing.

    As an aside, last year I had an idea for a blog/forum/community that would focus specifically on intercultural humanism. The site would feature rotating bloggers addressing skeptical and atheist issues connected to gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, and so on, and would serve as a hub for humanist conversations across cultural lines.

    I ran this idea by some of the prominent figures in the movement, and while some were supportive or even enthusiastic about it, others persuaded me that the message wouldn’t reach the folks who most needed to hear it, and that the cultural consciousness-raising really just needs to continue in the comments sections of already-existing and worthy venues. So I stopped investigating options and focused my attention on other projects.

    I bitterly regret not following through on the idea then, as I think this explicit mission is vital right now, and I currently lack the time and resources it would take to get it off the ground. But the conversations that have unfolded here and elsewhere recently make me guardedly optimistic about where things are headed. Let me know if my involvement would be helpful.

  208. Kindnblue says

    Thank you Jen! As a father of two young women, I am so proud to point them to you as someone to emulate. To quote Tom Waits off of his newest album, we need more Raised Right Men!

  209. Carlie says

    For those saying it’s just humanism by another name, it’s not. Humanism doesn’t require skepticism or critical thinking skills or the scientific method. This fuses them all together, and creates something new.

  210. says

    You don’t get this, do you? We want to alienate people like you. If your reaction to someone’s account of not feeling safe, is to indulge in stupid, arrogant, self-righteous dismissal, then please feel unwelcome, please feel unwanted, and please leave.

  211. julian says

    -_-

    Exploiting errors and shoddy protection has always been the go to way for criminals to take advantage of others. From your comment it’s obvious you applaud those individuals and mock heir victims. Clearly you’re a repulsive human being.

  212. Bjarte Foshaug says

    When did the most conservative and downright reactionary position imaginable become the “unpolitical” and ideologically “neutral” position anyway?

  213. Joe says

    The problem with most of Jens links is that they link to summeries, of other web pages summaries of other webpages assertions, and you have to follow the daisy chain for five or six links untli you see the quote in its actual context

    The link about the rape jokes points to a post with direct examples and a link to the reddit in question. The Amazing Athiest link points to a post with direct quotations and a link to the reddit in question. The Paula Kirby link points to a post with screenshots and links to the tweets in question. The photoshop link includes the image in question. The private emails link points to a post with links to numerous pertinent sites (namely Ed’s post about it and Thunderf00t’s confession), as well as including quotations. The Amy Davis Roth link points to a post explaining all the important details, with links to evidence. The Vacula link points straight to the important screenshot.

    So, no. Jen’s links point to webpages providing a sumary of the situation, with direct links to the evidence. I think I had to follow at most two links to find the quote in context.

    As for Thunderf00t, he is a fairly well known identity (look up Why do People Laugh at Creationists, on Youtube), so it is rather reasonable to say he is a man. We aren’t attributing his actions to an entire gender, but using them as a data point supporting the idea that this kind of thing is widespread.

    As for the thing about Rhys I didnt see any comments made about him that I have heard of simmilar vein from him(though to be fair those accustion follow the same kind of daisy chain link)

    Now you are just being deliberately obtuse – Jen has linked directly to the page doing the ridiculing. I really can’t see how that is a daisy chain.

  214. Haran says

    Awesome article! I support you fully and share your ideals!
    I’m hoping we can change or get rid of all the sexists who think it is fine to harass women.

  215. jackrawlinson says

    The problem with this post and others putting the FtB case – and also with many of the posts attacking FtB, you, and Rebecca watson – is that the argument has devolved into selective spin on both sides.

    Many of the people you oppose spin your entire line as being “radical feminist”, “misandrist” and so on. This is – to a significant extent – nonsense. Unfortunately, you, PZ, Ophelia and others spin the entire opposing line as “misogynist”, “privileged”, “entitled” and so on. This, too, is – to a significant extent – nonsense.

    There has been anger on your side because genuine instances of harassment and sexism have occurred and because too many knees have jerked stupidly at the very mention of the word feminism. There has been anger on the other side because genuine, reasonable questioning about the extent of the issue and the best responses to it have been met with insults, dismissiveness and lazy, fallacious misrepresentation.

    I have long considered myself a feminist and have written numerous pieces on various internet boards vigorously defending equal rights and opposing sexism, harassment, the crass objectification of women and so on (e.g. here and responding to a response to that here). Now I find myself described as a “scumbag” and a “misogynist” by the increasingly intemperate and tunnel-visioned PZ Myers. According to him, I never posted anything at Pharyngula except to “…snipe at the skepchicks, argue that the interests of women weren’t worth fighting for, and dismiss any discussion of sexism.”

    This is a flat lie, and one that can easily be verified as such. Myers, and others at FtB, have been indulging in this sort of abuse and dishonesty not only against genuinely abusive trolls and idiots but also against many of us who simply questioned whether all of the claims about harassment, or the extent of the need for policies, or the behaviour of Rebecca Watson regarding Steph McGrath and so on… were correct, or had been properly established. In fact we had seen that some of the claims about harassment were, initially, exaggerated and distorted but that the tendency at FtB and elsewhere was to instantly assume that the worst must be true. It did not seem unreasonable for us to suggest caution. And for this we were subjected to absolute tirades of personal abuse, dismissed as “mansplainers” (or gender traitors, in the case of dissenting women) and in some cases banned from blogs.

    It became clear that apparently abuse is not necessarily bad if it comes from the “right” side. So yes, some of us got a bit annoyed about that. Being on the receiving end of double standards causes anger – as you are well aware.

    The pity of it is that both sides are now seem obdurately entrenched but both need to realise that neither is being fully reasonable, and most importantly that there has been wrong done on each side. That’s the only way we’ll ever get past this. Personally, I’m not hopeful that we can, but I’d love to be proved wrong.

  216. Lokleo says

    Woo Hoo! I’m so ready.

    I love A+.

    All these mathematical atheist symbol ideas made me think of |A| ( absolute value of atheism, always positive atheism?) I don’t think it works as a symbol, just kind of fun to think about.

    Thanks Jen!

  217. Pteryxx says

    In fact we had seen that some of the claims about harassment were, initially, exaggerated and distorted

    Feel free to present evidence that any claim of harassment in this discussion has been exaggerated or distorted by the reporters, witnesses, or anyone operating in good faith. All the distortion I’ve seen has come in the form of accusations from the harassment denying side. While you’re at it, feel free to try and present an argument against anti-sexual harassment policies that isn’t based on personal incredulity, misogyny, entitlement, and/or privilege.

  218. Anonymous Atheist says

    Not anymore, it seems. givingaid.richarddawkins.net is now “NBGA: Non-Believers Giving Aid”. So no problem there. :)

  219. says

    I agree, Jack. Yes, on ‘our side’ there are unhelpful and nasty trolls, anti-feminists and even some outright misogynists, but I do feel that the discussion is being framed as if anyone that disagrees fits into one or all of those categories. I really don’t think that’s true, especially as it is possible to agree with a central message (i.e. equality) but disagree with particular details.

  220. jackrawlinson says

    <

    Feel free to present evidence that any claim of harassment in this discussion has been exaggerated or distorted

    Apologies, I wasn’t clear. I’m not referring to specific matters raised in this particular post but to things that have occurred since this whole sorry business began. One example would be the “upskirt photography” thing in which the worst possible interpretation was initially assumed to be true and later even the person who first mentioned it felt it necessary to rein things back a little. Please understand: I am not saying all the reports are false, or exaggerated. I am saying that occasionally there has been a visible tendency to assume the worst on insufficient evidence. Those of us who noticed this expressed concern mainly because the rush to damnation on insufficient evidence is dangerous, and something those who consider themselves rationalists should be on the look out for.

    While you’re at it, feel free to try and present an argument against anti-sexual harassment policies that isn’t based on personal incredulity, misogyny, entitlement, and/or privilege.

    And this is why I grow weary of this. I have not, and do not say that there should be no anti-sexual harassment policies. I said that some of us questioned the extent of the need. It is precisely this unwillingness to properly read what we do say, and this readiness to descend into straw-manning, false dichotomising and so on that so frustrates those of us who sometimes question the prevailing attitude.

  221. Pteryxx says

    See: hyperskepticism. The only example you can cite is the upskirt photography, and it is entirely reasonable and rational to say that upskirt photography was extremely likely given the evidence presented. It’s unreasonable to insist on absolute proof before taking the complaints seriously.

    Likewise, it is not reasonable to question the extent of harassment or the need for harassment policies except out of sheer ignorance. It’s been documented and backed up with research for years, including current detailed accounts from other conferences that are instituting policies. Questioning it now is just special pleading.

  222. says

    Nicely written Jen! It’s good to see the negative comments are drowning for a change! I suppose they must feel oppressed, although what they should feel is being left behind. Yep, it’s time for the boy’s club to stop being the loudest voice.

    The A+ thingy is a really good idea, although I would also like A++, being a programmer :) But since I’m also a student, A+ will do just fine!

  223. says

    Whew! What a ride. I’m probably just gonna keep calling myself an “atheist” but totally supportive of diversity around it.

    All my life I’ve read science books written by white straight dudes – enjoyed them very much but didn’t know what I was missing. Science bloggers have much more diversity than science authors had historically – I hope that is changing – and it’s opened my eyes to a larger world. Your blog is a part of that and I am certainly not unique.

    It was the reaction to Rebecca Watson that really – I don’t know how to say this – pierced my heart. Years ago I’d read Gavin DeBecker on safety and he specifically mentioned women and elevators. So when RW said “Guys, don’t do that” it made perfect sense to me and seemed unremarkable. And then came the mind-boggling reaction. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. No way in hell can I break metaphorical bread with anyone who would treat another person that way.I may have atheism in common with that person – but I am also a carbon-based life form. It doesn’t mean I will identify with them. That’s the rift you’re talking about.

    I see in the comments that A+ has a lot of support but it does seem a bit “Bright-y”. Here’s my suggestion. How about An in Helvetica inside a box like a chemical symbol, where n represents diversity?

  224. natashayar-routh says

    Tony •King of the Hellmouth

    I know there is a lot of overlap, this is a matter of emphasis for me. The concept of spoons is useful here, I just don’t have the spoons to deal with the fight for the atheist/skeptical movement.

    A lot of spoons go to dealing with just being a late transitioning trans woman and I’m rather fortunate all in all. A lot of other spoons go to supporting the trans people I know many of whom are on the edge of survival. My remaining spoons go to fighting for our right to be and live our lives. I simply have none left for this fight.

    I wish you and Jen well and hope you succeed in this struggle.

  225. jackrawlinson says

    The only example you can cite is the upskirt photography

    No, that is the only example I did quote because I saw no value in posting a list and getting into lengthy re-hashes of previous discussions. This does not mean it is the only example I can cite. Once again you have simply resorted to fallacy to dismiss me.

    and it is entirely reasonable and rational to say that upskirt photography was extremely likely given the evidence presented.

    That is a mere statement of opinion, and one which is based on the idea that someone should be presumed guilty until proven innocent. Which was precisely the basis of our concerns about this and other reports. But again: I see no value in re-visiting this argument. You suggested I had no examples. So I gave one. That’s all.

    It’s unreasonable to insist on absolute proof before taking the complaints seriously.

    It is reasonable to take all complaints seriously. It is, however, unreasonable to simply assume guilt; especially about something heinous and potentially reputation-wrecking. This was the essence of our problem.

    Likewise, it is not reasonable to question the extent of harassment or the need for harassment policies except out of sheer ignorance.

    This assertion is questionable, to say the least. Why is it unreasonable to question the extent of harassment? Surely it is not only reasonable but fair and necessary to do so, if we are to form a rational and realistic assessment of any problem at conventions? Don’t we want to get as accurate a handle on the situation as we can? And, yet again, I have not suggested that there is no need for harassment policies.

    Questioning it now is just special pleading.

    What are you implying here? How is being keen to establish an accurate understanding of a situation “special pleading”? For whom?

  226. Anonymous Atheist says

    “still fucking obsessed with Rebecca Watson two years on”

    It seems like longer, but it’s only been 1 year so far since ‘elevatorgate’.

  227. Pteryxx says

    Feel free to read the research and share it.

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

    cites research with harassment ranges from 52% to 100% in the article and the first few comments.

    See also:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/06/01/how-big-is-the-problem/

    which provides survey data specifically from the American Secular Census. 23% of women report that unwanted advances from other participants contributed to feeling unwelcome.

  228. Pteryxx says

    No underprivileged group or person should be required to commit anything at all to this movement. They should be supported regardless.

  229. jackrawlinson says

    but I do feel that the discussion is being framed as if anyone that disagrees fits into one or all of those categories.

    Precisely. And that’s why some of us lost patience, somewhat. That is why, regrettably, the discussion degenerated and polarised. I for one take great exception to being labelled a misogynist, MRA etc. simply because I am concerned about rushes to judgement and condemnation. Those things are the sign of a political movement going wrong and in danger of becoming doctrinaire and intolerant. That is what some of us see going on at some of the FtB blogs, and the fact that raising the concern resulted in absolute swathes of the most personal abuse and hectoring did not exactly alleviate that concern.

    I have been a staunch supporter of women’s rights and a vocal opponent of sexism all my life so when someone lazily dismisses me as the very opposite of that – the sort of person I have fought with consistently – I am, unfortunately, likely to react unfavourably. And as I said, this has been going on in both directions. I recognise that. I want to see some sign of recognition on the FtB side too. Until we have that there will be no prospect of a meaningful reconciliation of the warring parties here, and no way to move on together. That would be a shame.

  230. says

    I could not agree with you more. Civility and civil rights are for everyone. I’m in MN and my skeptic/atheist/humanist community is gender diverse (working on racial, etc) and at our regional conference the harassment policy was briefly outlined. Guess what? Everyone had a good time.

  231. says

    i’ve resisted for a while calling myself an atheist. partly due to an internal debate between agnosticism/atheism and secular/humanism. and partly due to being turned off by the aggressive and combative nature of many online atheist groups. now i wonder if it was the ugly hyper-masculinity of the vocal majority that was off-putting to me. i am glad to see that this might change when more ladies, and the real men, speak up and don’t put up with the ugly. A+

  232. carlie says

    What’s so nice about the +, though, is that by definition, it means positive. And that’s what I think a lot of people really want: not a movement that is reactionary against something else, but something that is in itself a positive force.

  233. says

    The fact that my local Skeptical Society of St Louis gets this makes me so enthusiastic to continue on as a member. Yesterday we had the largest Skepticamp so far, 125 attendees. And we care. If you have a problem, we want to hear about it. And that helps people continue to show up. And if we stopped wanting to make things better for our members, I can guarantee you people would stop wanting to show up.

  234. TonyInBatavia says

    It amazes me that this clarification still needs to be made after all this time, but I thank you for making it.

  235. Jesse Needham says

    It sounds like you are describing secular humanism. Since atheism is not believing the existence of an intervening god, the label should be just that, precise, without becoming a loaded word. there is too much misunderstanding of atheists already.

  236. Socio-gen, something something... says

    It’s time for a new wave of atheism, just like there were different waves of feminism.

    [...] all I have to say is have fun as you circle jerk into oblivion. Keep unintentionally or intentionally excluding women, minorities, and progressives while cluelessly wondering why you’re losing members, money, and clout. The rest of us will be moving on.

    FUCK YES! I’M READY! Love the A+ idea, but whatever the new movement is called, whatever its symbol, I’m all in.

  237. plutosdad says

    Wow that’s the same book that taught me the same thing.

    I think a lot of men don’t even think about how they are perceived. I did a little, because I am large, and because I had sisters. And maybe my parents taught me better than some. But even I never thought about elevators as locking metal boxes where you are putting your trust in the other people to not harm you.

    I really think more men should read that book. It is more marketed to women which is unfortunate. The other quote from that book that really affected me and helped me understand was

    “men are afraid that women will make fun of them, but women are afraid that men will kill them”

  238. TheTruePooka says

    Humanism is a legitimate philosophy.

    however I’ve noticed a trend where these double issue atheists use humanism to do a left handed dismissal of issues that don’t fit their goals.

  239. jackrawlinson says

    Pteryxx, for some reason I am not seeing a reply option to your latest response to me so I will just post here. Your response contains a couple of links which I have already read, but I have to say it does not seem to actually be responding to my previous comment in a way that either recognises the specific points I made, or rebuts them. As such I find myself at a loss for a further response.

    Sadly, our whole exchange illustrates one of the major concerns I have had during the whole protracted schism: some of the people on your side simply to be unwilling to listen to us or to read our words carefully, preferring instead to say rather appalling (to us)things like :”No underprivileged group or person should be required to commit anything at all to this movement. They should be supported regardless.”

    I’m sorry, some of us are not going to accept that anything should be supported “regardless”. No, uncritical support – or opposition – is the domain of the doctrinaire and the “True Believer”. That is never going to work for us.

    I’m bowing out of this now. I feel I have said my piece as respectfully and fairly as I can manage and I am grateful that such responses as it garnered have also been respectful. We could all do with more of that. It was a much nicer experience posting here than over at Pharyngula. :-)

  240. postwaste says

    I’m sure this has been covered, but I still want to say it.
    The reason so many of the privileged class (of which I am a member) don’t see a problem is because they are in the privileged class. I taught my two sons from an early age that they were, because of their ethnicity, nationality, sex, gender, and later, their sexuality, were given a huge headstart in life. The choice they had to make was to continue to promote this or work to eliminate it.

    There are a million things, both big and small that I will never have to deal with on a daily basis. I do have a responsibility to bring about a society that treats everyone with the same respect as I automatically get.

    I have been trying to call out bad behavior when I see it at a personal level. I think more of us who have the privilege need to do this.

  241. julian says

    Please explain to me, why I’m an irrational baboon dolt for suspecting someone walking around with a camera around ankle height would be taking upskirt pics?

  242. Mark Erickson says

    I’m wit you. Although I wouldn’t use the last gasp / dead enders argument. A vocal minority will always be there, especially since it is so easy to comment and claim you’re an atheist / skeptic. Even this could be a positive because it will be hard to get complacent.

    Meet space should strive for 100% safe environment. While the same low barrier to entry exists, immediate negative feedback can actually reinforce that the environment is safe. Thanks for all your hard work and perserverance.

  243. Jeremy Shaffer says

    I’m totally on board with this.

    It was only on the religious front that I’ve ever received any sort of discrimination that effected me personally. My response to that, however, was not to make that the one and only fight worth worrying about. Instead it helped me gain an idea of what others have to deal with, which is often on a far greater scale and way worse than what I have. I didn’t like what was happening to me so why would I be fine with it happening to others? It just seemed clear that we should help each other. I mean, we were in the same boat after all.

    It surprises me, though not as much as I would have thought or liked, that in a group with so many intelligent and rational people that such an obvious reaction does not come naturally or easily.

  244. says

    I’m not sure if you’re being serious or not, but you raise a good point. The most obvious parody comes across as childish name calling, rather than a clever insult.

  245. says

    Unfortunately, it’s a fact that every group of any size includes a broad spectrum of people. The fact that someone shares an idea with all of the members of that group (be it atheism, catholicism, or pot-smoking) doesn’t exclude the possibility that you will end up clashing with some members of the group. There simply is no group that ever will be a perfect match to you and your ideas. It saddens but does not surprise me that the aggregate group of atheists includes misogynists.

    Clashes within atheism will never go away .. we have in commonly only one fairly small thing: the absence of a belief in a deity. Beyond, that, it’s a free-for-all. We apparently love to argue (a time well beyond the point of civility) with each other almost as much as we love to argue with theists!

    I’m very sorry, Jen, that you’ve had these disillusioning experiences – likely it was bound to happen sooner or later – but don’t let them cause you to tar everyone in ‘the movement’ with the same brush. There are many of us standing in support of true equality for women, and who don’t condone misogyny in any form!

  246. carlie says

    There are many of us standing in support of true equality for women, and who don’t condone misogyny in any form!

    Rather than telling women to be nicer about it, why not tell the men who are doing it to cut it out?

  247. says

    @Carlie – sure, and any symbol requires some explanation. I also liked the comment of the fellow upthread who said ++ indicated the next thing. Another person suggested An which I liked. But as always the idea is the important thing.

    @PlutosDad – “I really think more men should read that book. It is more marketed to women which is unfortunate.” Exactly. It is marketed (perhaps by male publishing company executives) to women for their strategic self-defense, but it is the responsibility of men to understand and act accordingly. Gents, go get yourself a copy of The Gift Of Fear and get educated.

  248. Pteryxx says

    How about instead of being politely appalled, you learn to read for comprehension. My quote that you find so abhorrent reads “They should be supported regardless (of their commitment to our cause).” as it refers to the previous sentence of the statement; and that’s what it means. A rational social justice movement will support trans* people, minorities, women, the poor, male rape victims, and anyone else oppressed by discrimination, whether or not those people give two damns about atheism or have ever even heard of it. And if you find THAT appalling, good riddance to you.

  249. julian says

    Sure, I’m more than willing to admit I’ve helped polarize this, been abusive and outright motivated by spite during this. What good does denying reality do me?

    But that really doesn’t say anything about the abuse feminist women like McCreight have been getting for pointing out what they receive as sexism or how complicit you all have been in it You’ve tolerated it, laughed along with the jokes and done nothing to stop it.

  250. says

    Doh! Apparently the platform didn’t like the superscript tag. I meant A^n, like an exponent. But whatever everyone comes up with is fine.

    For the record, the whole A thing – a Dawkins invention – carries some Dawkins baggage with it. Love his books on evolution, but I am frequently amazed by the awful stuff he says on diversity. Guess we all have strengths and weaknesses.

  251. Pteryxx says

    Amazing that a handful of commenters actually have been saying ‘Atheism already has a (dictionary) definition, stop touching it!’ Sheesh.

    Via linkbacks from LousyCanuck, another relevant essay just went up, specifically discussing social justice as a natural extension of atheism:

    http://cognitiverevolution.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/atheism-therefore-feminism/

    My point (I realize that it may not be clear yet) is that atheism does not end with the dictionary definition. I find it hard to see how one can state “I believe in no gods” and then move on without considering the implications. The passage quoted above was the first implication that was made clear to me. This is all there is. There is not afterlife, no eternal reward; putting up with oppression and abuse in the hope that it will all be alright in the next life is tragic. Oppressing and abusing others, whilst offering them hope of some karmic balance in another life, is criminal.

  252. Badger says

    Well, atheism means “non-religious”, not “morally superior” so I’m not at all surprised that there are sexists, racists, and homophobes in the community.

    I’m in support of A+ for sure.

  253. Onamission5 says

    It’s the good without gods part that I keep getting hung up on. Are we? I see so many examples that show we aren’t necessarily; the push back against social justice is primary. I don’t understand those who say that if we want to work on social justice, we need to separate ourselves from atheism. If we do, can we take our Gw/oG billboards with us? Why can’t I be an atheist and also concerned with humanitarianism, with equality? Can one really say they are good without gods in one breath, and rail against the ebil feminists or dismiss racist statements or engage in homophobic apologetics with the other? I posit that one cannot. If you’re not concerned with social justice, if you’re dismissive of social justice, if you’re cruel to those who fight for social justice, you’re not good without gods. You’re just an entitled person who happens not to believe in deities, and thinks that they’re all done learning now.

    Thanks for this post, thanks for the work you do, just thanks.

  254. callistacat says

    My experience was the same. When Dawkins said the god of the OT was a misogyinist I thought ‘Wow, he acknowledged that as an actual thing!’ That was so rare. And female genital mutilation was being taken seriously and not called “culture.” They take women’s isssues seriously too? Count me in!

    But I was disillusioned way before the elevator incident. Hearing big names say things like “reality is sexist” and “there is nothing more natural than rape” didn’t help things.

  255. rowanvt says

    I will try to explain a little in the 20 minutes I have before I must leave for work. And my work figures into this.

    For “on the sidewalk” sexism- I have long, blonde-brown hair that is quite shiny in sunlight. Sometimes, strangers (mostly men, a very few women) will come up behind me and pet my hair. The sexism inherent in that is that they feel some entitlement to invade my personal space in a way that they would never do to a man. This is one type of example.

    Another is my workplace. I’m a vet tech. I work at a veterinary hospital and that means that most of the employees there are women. I’m 5’6″ and somewhat overweight so I don’t look that imposing. But I’m strong as hell. I can pick up a (standing) human being up to 250+ pounds and walk away with them without problem. This means that I can hoist around most of the dogs we deal with.

    Sometimes animals come in that are ‘down’, meaning they can’t stand up or walk. We have a gurney, but I can usually carry in dogs up to the 80+ range on my own (before the start getting too long to handle easily). So I regularly have conversations like this:

    Recept: Can you call Bob out of the boarding wards? The client requested a man to help carry their dog.
    Me: I’ll be right up. I’m not busy, and I’m stronger than Bob anyway.
    Recept: Okay, but they did request a guy…

    Me: Hi, I’m here to help you carry your dog.
    Client: Aren’t there any guys who can help? My dog is really heavy.
    Me: I’m stronger than the guys here. Let’s go get your dog.
    Client: I still think a guy would be better… I don’t want you to hurt yourself.
    (I hoist large dog out of car and carry it to the door while client stares at me)
    Me: Can you get the door for me, please?

    That is a type of everyday, ‘sidewalk’ sexism. I’m female, therefore I must be weaker than *any* man.

    The key thing with those examples though is that they are one-offs. I will rarely, if ever, see those people again. This is also something happening in everyday life.

    Atheism, on the other hand, is a movement centered in the internet. Most of the discussions and activities happen online, or are organised online. And online, people feel safer to act out their assholeish tendencies. And some of them bring that to the events as well.

    Say I was at an atheist event, and I had an occurrence of the random hair petting. I tell the guy to stop, he gets a little offended (they always are) but he stops. However… then I do the worst thing ever. I tell someone about it… on the INTERNET! D: dundunDUN! I am liable to get flooded with “it was just a compliment”, “I wouldn’t mind if a woman”, “That’s not creepy”, “It’s just ’cause the rest of you is so ugly” or other such delightful comments. And they wouldn’t be for just a short time. It could happen for months. Or years.

    Elevatorgate started with something akin to “It’s a little creepy to get asked to a stranger’s room for coffee at 4 in the morning, in an elevator with only the stranger, after saying I was tired and going to bed. So guys, don’t do that.”

    Now read up on all that Watson has had to deal with. THAT is atheism-sexism versus sidewalk-sexism.

  256. Pteryxx says

    For what it’s worth (and I hate to plug ‘my’ symbol here) another problem with A++, |A|, A^n and similar is that the symbols only make sense to someone who already has a high degree of specialized knowledge: programming, mathematics, chemistry and similar. Atheism and skepticism already have a snooty ivory-tower reputation, and an inclusive symbol shouldn’t include what is in effect an in-joke that only the minority of highly educated people will get. Almost everyone knows that + means additive or positive; and we should be welcoming to anyone willing to learn, regardless of education level.

  257. Onamission5 says

    As a fellow lurker who was de-lurked by all the gross push back and a burning need to say something in defense of reason, welcome!

  258. says

    Two points.

    First, I think it really stinks that there are so many misanthropes that you have encountered in your atheist endeavors. Shame on them.

    Second, I do think you should not try to combine ideas which really are not related. The NRA doesn’t spend time talking about affirmative action because that is not really relevant to what the group is primarily formed to support. Atheism, in the same manner, does not have a real connection with feminism. Now, if you were talking about a “feminist, atheist” group then both tags would apply and you might have more ammunition for that part of your argument.

    I won’t use this post to go into a deep argument about feminism, I will just point out there are SOME aspects which are problematic. Title 9 was significantly bad (not in intent, but in design). Women and men are different and pretending they are equal, in everything, is not rational.

  259. hannanibal says

    So being abusive and motivated by spite is fine as long as you are doing it for (what you perceive to be) good reasons? You can justify anything with that sort of logic.

    I think you have been staring to long into the abyss.

  260. hannanibal says

    Bloody hell. All the peopele frothing at the gash over the “A+” symbol are jumping the gun a bit.

    “Oh we have a symbol!!! JOY!! the battle is already over now we put a plus sign after a capital A.”

  261. says

    “For what it’s worth (and I hate to plug ‘my’ symbol here) another problem with A++, |A|, A^n and similar is that the symbols only make sense to someone who already has a high degree of specialized knowledge: programming, mathematics, chemistry and similar.”

    OK, that’s a good point. They might not make sense to someone who isn’t a total science geek.

  262. tim says

    Honesty and clarity is appreciated – but this is a note of respectful disagreement.

    The core of scientific skepticism is that it is based on evidence and, to the degree possible, dispassionate analysis. It follows then, that it is by its nature no cognizant of privilege, gender, wealth or politics. It also follows that feelings bow to evidence and experience must be corrected for bias and preconception.

    When one claims that one doesn’t “feel safe” at TAM, without attempting to analyze as to if you ARE safe – that comes across as both practically AND intellectually damaging to the movement. We are human, you and I both. Feelings can be misleading, even false. They can be a starting point for investigation only.

    Many of the vile comments you referenced are repulsive to most and all sane people. To the degree that trolls are scribbling anonymously on bathroom walls – they should not be empowered. When criminal, they should be reported and hopefully prosecuted.

    It feels good to link humanism with the scientific and skeptical movement. I mean that honestly. If you scratch the surface and subtract the angered personalities – we almost certainly share most of the same values and only have minor discrepancies on how we should put them into practice. But this link is dangerous and unfounded. “Scientific rationality” has been used to justify economic oppression, sexism and racism.

    Because most of us hold science and skepticism dear while we recognize how it can be misused. Many are uncomfortable with its inappropriate use – even in a “good” cause. Much pain can result in good people trying to do right in the inappropriate way.

    Thank you for considering my words.

  263. Tim Reid says

    Bravo Jen, great post and a brilliant rallying cry to move it all forwards.

    A+ sounds good to me.

  264. Pteryxx says

    The NRA doesn’t spend time talking about affirmative action because that is not really relevant to what the group is primarily formed to support.

    And if the NRA did consider affirmative action at all, maybe it’d be less racist. Bigotry is the default position when groups do NOT make a commitment to diversity; because of historical ignorance and silencing, and unconscious bias, among other factors.

    Women and men are different and pretending they are equal, in everything, is not rational.

    Unfortunately you just did make a deep argument against feminism. Presuming women and men AREN’T equal, or presuming they’re different, most often can be explained by bias, and bias is not rational. See the Pharyngula feminism wiki resource, linked in the sidebar there, with scores of researched resources.

  265. Emptyell says

    YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    GREAT POST JEN!

    FWIW I give it an A+

    Also…

    Re: Manifesto, see OP.

  266. julian says

    Except I don’t think it’s ok. I think it’s morally reprehensible and something that should be beneath most people. Unfortunately I’m still a vindictive person (trying to work through it). I’m not making excuses for myself nor do I want any made on my behalf. I know I fucked up several times during this making the situation worse (at least in a small way) each time.

  267. says

    Second, I do think you should not try to combine ideas which really are not related. The NRA doesn’t spend time talking about affirmative action because that is not really relevant to what the group is primarily formed to support. Atheism, in the same manner, does not have a real connection with feminism.

    Woah, hold the phone there. Ideas do not exist in silos. If this life is the only one we will have, then how does anyone get off denigrating the life of another person living the only life they will have? And as a society how could we possibly benefit from making whole groups of people walk around feeling like crap for their membership in some demographic? Misogyny and privilege produced religion and are produced by it, shampoo, rinse, repeat. So respect for others certainly is part of the realization that we are on our own, with no god to make justice for us.

  268. pilot says

    Well I think A+ is a great, fitting symbol. I don’t think there’s a faster way to let everybody else know just how arrogant you are. You’d grade yourselves A+ from the outset. Its perfect.

  269. ischemgeek says

    I missed this post yesterday because I was asleep for most of the day (long story short: I slept for 24 of the past 48 hours. And paying back my sleep debt was glorious). Don’t have much to say that hasn’t been said already and better than I can say it, so:

    I’m with you, and I like the A+ idea.

  270. Pteryxx says

    When one claims that one doesn’t “feel safe” at TAM, without attempting to analyze as to if you ARE safe –

    Well, it’s good that Jen provided all that relevant evidence in the OP, which is backed up by harassment and chilly climate research! Wouldn’t want someone’s stated feelings of safety or non-safety getting emotion all up in the discussion of helping women feel safe among atheists.

    By the way, if you’re actually interested in the misuse of research to justify inaction against discrimination, see here for an example:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/08/19/motivated-research-on-the-wage-gap/

  271. says

    I’m not opposed to feminism, I am opposed to some of the more outrageous feminist ideas. And NO, the reason men and women are not really the same is NOT mostly the result of bias. Sure it is, in SOME aspects, but there are real physical differences and even brain differences between the sexes. It is not rational to pretend those do not exist.

    The NRA is not one bit racist. There are racist jerks in the NRA, but there are also plenty of non-whites in the NRA and they have never discriminated against a member because of race.

  272. callistacat says

    Yes, I’m trying to shove the insane ideology that I am a full human being down your poor little throat. So when Dawkins condemns misogyny and racism in religion is he doing the same?

  273. julian says

    And my issues started way before this. It used to be me calling women who believed in God dumb cunts whenever they’d comment on Thunderf00t’s videos.

    I’ve made some progress I think :/

  274. carlie says

    I bet it feels awful to see your superiority complex evaporate like that. Makes you seem small, and scared, and lashing out at with the feeble bit of imagined strength you have left. So, so sad.

  275. Emptyell says

    A misogynist reference to piss on others’ enthusiasm.

    Are you really such an ass?

    Though you do manage to rather succinctly illustrate Jen’s point. Thanks for that I guess.

  276. says

    I never said women are not full humans. I’m saying to argue that there is no meaningful differences between men and women is just scientifically wrong. It is scientific fact that the brains of men and women develop differently, and it is beyond science that the bodies develop differently too. I never said either is better, so it is only on you if you feel that somebody might be slighting women by making that argument. If you feel inferior or superior because of your sex, then that is on you.

  277. Pteryxx says

    And ideas are conceived, discussed, and enacted by human beings who are universally prone to bias. Failing to address that bias does nothing to address or remove it.

  278. says

    I believe I just established a connection between atheism and diversity, based on a simple principle of reciprocity. So these two ideas, at least, are not separated by silos.

    I will grant you that the NRA is well-separated from diversity. Perhaps purposely so.

  279. felixBC says

    others persuaded me that the message wouldn’t reach the folks who most needed to hear it, and that the cultural consciousness-raising really just needs to continue in the comments sections of already-existing and worthy venues.

    Marcbarnhill–your idea sounds great, even now. Maybe the others above need to reconsider why they would oh so tastefully discourage more communication and more voices joining the conversation. But good ideas stick around, so I figure this will happen, one way or another.

  280. hannanibal says

    Says the people patting themselves on the back over a symbol and nothing else.
    I am sure your sense of worth increased ten-fold after somebody else decided on which picture would accompany your “movement”.
    It’s kind of like designing a DVD cover before you have made the movie.

  281. says

    Religion is responsible for generating and sustaining most of the racism, sexism, anti-(insert minority human subgroup here)-isms… it gave a voice to the bigotry, established the privilege, and fed these things from the pulpit for thousands upon thousands of years. What sense does it make to throw out the garbage bag of religion yet keep all the garbage that it contained?

    I can’t help but see social justice as a logical consequence of atheism. I’m for getting rid of all the garbage.

  282. says

    Of course, if one were paying attention earlier, one might think the individuals you are dissing have spent years living the movie.

  283. julian says

    Oh, hush, george. We know feminist like Jen McCreight have never done anything ever. They’ve gotten by on their looks and conning better much more talented people. It’s true. Just ask Abbie Smith.

  284. tim says

    Read your link to the opinion post, then reviewed the GAO document. You do know that it looked at broad categories, rather then specific jobs in a region ?

    We should probably first define what economic gender discrimination IS in the workplace, then analyze quantifiable outcome variables. IMO we should control for THE specific jobs in the broad fields analyzed. The null hypothesis is that there is no gender discrimination – from which statistical significance must be proven.

    There is a real danger of confirmation bias, and it is exacerbated if we share the same preconceptions and biases. If we are in conflict – as long as we play by the same scientific rules – this is good (and WHY it is important to be broadly inclusive in skepticism, BTW).

    The conclusion is less important than the process. This is the core of skepticism.

  285. blgmnts says

    I disagree regarding “A++”:

    An added “+” as a symbol for something “taken further” should be reasonably clear. And even the intellectually and linguistically impoverished people of “1984″ were portrayed as being able to understand “double plus whatever”. The fact that (a certain kind of) nerd can see, where “A++” came from, would be just an added treat.

    Sure, we shouldn’t make people take an entry exam. But we shouldn’t treat them as idiots, either.

    I mean, there is Google+, so how difficult can that be?

  286. Pteryxx says

    Hey now, Abbie did apologize for saying Jen got in on her looks. Only for that one comment though.

  287. says

    Consider me another atheist guy with all the privileges who is a feminist (and trans, gay, minority) ally. I think you’re right about the last loud gasp of a dying group. This is also what I think about all the amendments passing to disenfranchise homosexuals. The people in power can get it done, but they only feel the need to do it because they can smell the change coming.

    And dudes, you can still get laid without resorting to sexual harassment. In fact, I think it improves your chances.

  288. julian says

    If we are in conflict – as long as we play by the same scientific rules – this is good

    Does anyone else find this truism just plain stupid at this point?

  289. Anonymous Atheist says

    Yeah, right, because the “A” by itself didn’t already have the same ‘problem’. :rolleyes:

  290. says

    The humanist viewpoint that women are fully human, is a reason-based conclusion. Skepticism about the truth and moral validity of old biases about women has done great work in blunting their effect. The benefit of making more minds available for important civilization building work is being reaped even now.

    It is also a properly skeptical view to recognize human desires and motives as both wonderful and dangerous. Fear of strangers, for example, is a natural human impulse. Sex is a natural human impulse. Fight or flight in the face of perceived threat is natural. Desire to maximize ones position is natural.

    Becoming civilized, i.e. capable of living in city-based world, is an exercise in respecting, but taming and managing all these impulses in the best possible way. I don’t know what others’ experience has been, but mine suggests we have plenty of this kind of work left to do. We certainly have quite a bit left in what passes for the Atheist Community.

    Jen and others have rightly brought evidence of ways our community performs quite poorly in these areas. It is appropriate to skepticism to take this evidence seriously. It is foolhardy to worry about the negative effects of bringing this evidence to light. The negative effects of the less-civilized aspects of our community were always there waiting to happen. It is natural to wish that they not happen now, here, to us, but there were only a few ways that was going to happen. Either women in the community would have to be something other than themselves, or kept out. The first is neither humanist, nor realistic, the second is undesirable.

    Freethought, if it is to grow beyond an isolated cult (for lack of a better word), is simply going to have to integrate its worldview with all the current and future issues in civilization at large. That’s a large task. We’re not going to do a very good job of it without the equal partnership of people like the Skepchicks, or Ophelia, or Jen, or of those interested in racial discrimination or other important social issues. If we have nothing to say about this stuff other than, “we don’t want to talk about it”, why should anybody see us as a useful worldview?

  291. Utakata says

    This is an interesting claim coming from someone who has so far demonstrated a high degree of arrogance, along with turgid ignorance when trolling their way threw FtB.

    …but on that note, yes there is a degree of arrogance that can inflict anyone in any movement of any cause. Some of it’s justified, some of it is problematic. And yes, I am sure some Slimepitter dezian would deface this A+ movement (presuming it will take off) as Arrogant + or even Asshole +, but it does not take away the legitamacy this could be a movement by people who have real issues who want the world to be better and more progressive place. So trash it all you want with cute little insults, but it will unlikey stop what is happening here. /shrug

  292. julian says

    Yeah it’s not it received constant mockery and scorn from agnostics and believers alike.

  293. hoary puccoon says

    Love the A+ !

    Now, where, *specifically* are you going? I think most of the Cons now have anti-harassment policies. What else– more women speakers? Finding and supporting groups of minority atheists? Supporting gay and trans rights?

    A push on an important issue gets people working together and makes the endless whine of “you just shouldn’t FEEEL that way” coming from the misogynists look as childish and negative as it really is.

    (This is in no way a criticism of what you’ve done so far, Jen. It’s– use this energy. Where do we go from here?)

  294. hannanibal says

    Good to see you are using the term “frothing at the gash”. I am glad it’s catching on. :D

  295. Old Lars says

    Wow.

    Nobody around here, in Toronto, bats an eye at atheism or feminism, so it was easy for me to forget that it isn’t that way everywhere, even in places that I think of as sociologically similar, such as the urban centres of the USA. (BTW, I’m a dual American-Canadian; came here 18 years ago, just about the time the web was born.) So I’m shocked and saddened to learn of the “boy’s club” mentality that the poster describes, but it’s better than being naive and uninformed.

    And I’m encouraged at the determination to re-set this movement along more inclusive lines. “A+” is, as others have said, brilliant.

  296. Jessie says

    Why DO you keep posting on FtB? You do nothing but criticise and demean others but it seems you just can’t stay away. Are you really so unhappy that we disagree with you that you feel the need to try to silence and exclude us?

  297. clamboy says

    This is a reference to Ted Kennedy, who did support Obama over Clinton for the presidency, and to the Chappequidick (sp?) incident, for which Kennedy was rightly condemned. He was something of a scumbag, despite his excellent work in the Senate. As to what the head of NOW-NY had to say about kindergarten children in response to Kennedy’s support of Obama, I have no idea and don’t feel the need to go looking, given the distortions and drivel in the original comment.

  298. Ma Nonny says

    I must say, it is heartening to see just how many positive comments in favor of social justice there are in this thread in comparison to nay-sayers who apparently think social justice just isn’t that important/necessary. You seem to be right, Jen, that “we are winning.”

    It is nice to see how many de-lurkers there were for this post – I had no idea that the people arguing AGAINST basic respect for all people were in such a minority (you wouldn’t know it with all of the internet drama). This is refreshing. I’m not much of a “joiner” – as in, being an official part of an organization that I may not totally agree with all the time … I think religious upbringing spooked me – but I support the promotion of skeptical social justice groups 100%.

  299. says

    I like the ideas expressed in the post and in most of the comments so far. I also really like the A+ logo as posted at https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5xaYSiHF0DfNE1OWFVvakRsSE0/edit (by One Thousand Needles, above). I’ll admit that my first thought was that it smacked a bit of pride (like the Brights meme) as expressed earlier in this stream, but I don’t think that’s actually a valid criticism as I gave it more thought. The “A” symbol is pretty widely known as an expression of out-atheists, so adopting it with a “+” expressing the idea of a community that goes beyond mere non-belief in god(s) and towards values like those Jen addresses, PZ Myers does in his recent Free Inquiry article on “Atheism’s Third Wave,” and that many other deep thinkers in our movement also have discussed in blog posts, statements of support, and articles all over, is a positive step and one that, I think, we need to move towards both in our activism as well as our adopted symbols. I consider myself many things besides an atheist (e.g. skeptic, freethinker, and humanist among others) and I realize that these sorts of ideas sound a lot like those the humanism movement has expressed for years, but to gain the adherence of a wider set of people, many of whom have perhaps avoided the humanist tag but do vigorously subscribe to the atheism (or agnosticism, if they prefer) label, this simple expression that they are ready now to move beyond mere disbelief and work for an expanded set of social values may be persuasive. If there is an issue with this symbol and the RDF, I’d suggest that they’d readily agree to it’s use for the good of the movement, and should be approached sooner rather than later since this symbol has the potential to become ubiquitous very quickly. I certainly am ready to start using and spreading it around. Thanks Jen, PZ, and so many others who are helping all of us move in this positive direction. Good things can come out of discord, and I’m convinced that our growing collection of critical thinkers is well-suited to making that happen.

  300. pilot says

    Its a perfect case-study for me, and its funny. I’m not trying to silence you or exclude you. Don’t be so dramatic.

  301. Sine Nomine says

    Salutations Freedom Fighter,

    I was looking for the entomology of the term “freethinker” and stumbled upon your blog. It was a very well written article and I found it informative and disturbing. The level of intransigent ignorance prevalent in the world today is disappointing.

    Fight on!

    Sine

  302. says

    I really really appreciate reading this article! Thanks Ms. McCreight for putting your story out there. I am frequently shocked an saddened by the behavior of people that I otherwise agree with.

    I’ve been an atheist for about 10 years now and over the past year or so I’ve gotten involved with a Unitarian Universalist congretation. It’s a really warm and welcoming place for atheists in a way that *some* Christian/religion-bashing atheist boys clubs are not. The first principle of Unitarian Universalism is “We affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” It’s something I find very powerful as a feminist, atheist and anarchist.

    To me, A+ sounds a lot like UU (definitely not a bad thing), so I wonder if it might make sense to see what work is already being done that aligns with A+ and build a broader coalition.

    Cheers,
    -Eric

  303. 'Tis Himself says

    He’s also not fond of people wielding supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at them.

  304. Pteryxx says

    My first exposure to UU has been their work with my local NAACP. Definitely a social justice connection to look into.

  305. Alhazred The Sane says

    Fair dues to you, keep on trucking and feck the begrudgers. This is one man who wholly supports you.

  306. Utakata says

    I was just going to say, “Its a perfect case-study for me,” clearly reads: “I’m trolling”, julian.

  307. Larkness says

    The movement has been in place for quite a while, it just hadn’t been formally distinguished. I think the reason many of us are excited by A+ (or whatever rallying cry we decide to use – we could choose to use many) is because it is an encouraging reminder that we get to define who we are and what values we endorse… and we get to leave the chaff behind. That’s really refreshing, to me at least. I’ve long wanted to get more involved in this movement (I even applied to be a Skepchick!), but all of the infighting and rampant misogyny left a horrible taste in my mouth. “I don’t want to be a part of *that*.” But now I have something I can truly get behind and fight for 100%. It makes me want to start up my old blog again. :)

  308. says

    Atheism necessarily leads to a shift in philosophy, though. It isn’t just not believing in a Divine Agent, it’s also restructuring how one sees the world given the knowledge that there is no divine agent. Step two of Atheism is to ask yourself why you believe certain things and to start justifying your beliefs with the naturalistic worldview you’ve adopted.

    Atheism, in this way, is an expression of skepticism and leads, necessarily, to fully secular thought patterns and philosophies. This, in turn, leads necessarily to humanism.

    Atheism does not exist in a vacuum. Those atheists that continue to wave the oppression flag against anyone are, perhaps, the most irrational people in our movement since they have yet to go past step one – calling oneself an atheist. There’s more to responsible philosophy than that.

  309. TonyInBatavia says

    Perfectly said, Jen. As a middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied man, count me in, not to back-pat the obvious but to fight for the necessary.

  310. 'Tis Himself says

    You do realize the best way for you not to be taken for a troll is to not indulge in trolling behavior. Doing some research instead of demanding people answer detailed, statistical questions is a good start.

  311. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Atheism does not exist in a vacuum.

    Except in the skulls of the misogynists and Dictionary Atheistsfence-clingers.

  312. Larkness says

    Let me tell you something: you can’t tell a woman that she should feel safe, or that she IS safe, when she sees the venom and hate spewed at women (generally or specifically) on these forums. I don’t know what else you want in terms of evidence. Go find any blog post dealing with feminism on FtB and read the comments. Your evidence will be there.

    Now, as a woman who knows that at least some of those commenters are likely to be in attendance at an atheist/skeptic meetup, and knowing what they believe about women and/or feminism, do you think I feel comfortable with the idea of going to one of those meetups?

    It’s not just the documented cases of actual, IRL harassment that concern me and keep me away from such events. It’s also the virtual torrent of hate left by anti-feminists on the internet THAT I CAN SEE WITH MY OWN EYES. Does that make sense?

  313. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Well, normally when people ask questions whose answers are readily available and have been expounded on at length, especially in that kind of tone, and especially with these kinds of questions, they’re just trying to stall or frustrate discussion.

  314. spdoyle17 says

    Jen,
    I must respectfully disagree, on these grounds:

    1) The broader the group, the more momentum we gain.
    1a) Broad groups have scumbags in it, social progress has been made (not enough by a long shot, but it has.) The more positive forces within that tent, the better.

    2) How many faction splits have worked?

    3) Strange Gods Before Me made an excellent point: Rebrand as a subtype, and you’ll always be a subtype.

    Sorry, I love reading your blog, and agree with you the vast majority of the time, but I’d rather be a positive force from within than without.

  315. says

    Even though there are biological differences in the way brains and bodies develop, the claim that the differences are “meaningful” is your claim to prove. There are lots of differences in the way my table lamps were developed, you know, and they still do exactly the same thing equally well when I put bulbs of the same brightness in them.

  316. DAstronomer says

    Jen,
    I’ve watched with silent rage all the sexist bigoted goings-on from the start of Elevatorgate. As a white, cis, male astronomy grad student, I am rather privileged. I’ve read Pharyngula for over 5 years (that’s how I found Blag Hag in the first place). I don’t comment but once a year or so, mainly because I can barely find time to play with my cats ( damn grad school!) and also I can’t seem to find the energy to post regularly. My own blog is sadly neglected.
    I grew up in rural western Colorado, and I’m glad to say that through reading you and other great atheist feminists I am no longer the bigoted homophobic misogynist I was when I graduated high school. I’m not quite finished growing, but I’m more complete, closer to reaching my full potential, in no small part to your many posts and unwavering integrity.
    You, among others, have made me a better human being. I am not a great feminist, but I’m improving every day. I am proud to stand by your side and work toward a better future.
    Thank you for being so eloquent and passionate!

  317. says

    I would like some examples of the outrageous feminist ideas that are putting you off. And no one has ever denied that differences in bodies do not exist.

  318. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    1) The broader the group, the more momentum we gain.

    False. Velocity vectors must have components in the same direction for momentum to add.

  319. Ze Madmax says

    1) The broader the group, the more momentum we gain.

    The problem in this specific instance is that we’re not all pushing in the same direction. To claim that you should tolerate bigotry for the sake of group size is silly when your goals are to fight against bigotry.

    A second issue which was mentioned above is the fact that by splitting away from the bigots, we make the movement more appealing to a lot more people with whom we share common goals (see the whole “better a progressive theists than a bigoted atheist” idea).

    A third issue is that numbers per se don’t matter as much (particularly now) as having people committed to change and willing to work for it. What use is having a large group of people, if all they are willing to do is navel gaze and pat themselves in the back because they don’t believe in gods or Bigfoot? Better to have a smaller group who is passionate about activism and fighting against gender/race/class oppression.

  320. 'Tis Himself says

    There is a field of study called sociology. Some of the things that sociologists study are the social differences between men and women. These differences are not physical but social. Perhaps if you stopped thinking about physical difference between men and women and realized there were other differences that weren’t physical, then you’d have some slight clue about what people here are talking about.

    Just a suggestion.

  321. maureen.brian says

    I dunno! I would have said that a 20% difference, otherwise unaccounted for, would be statistically significant.

  322. oolon says

    Very good summary – but imo is not atheism-sexism it is internet-sexism. Combination of morons on internet plus outspoken women = shit storm of hateful sexism. Just look at Anita Sarkeesian, no idea if she is an atheist but she got pretty much the same treatment by being an outspoken woman on the internet. In her case it was gamer-morons rather than atheist-morons doing the harassing.

  323. postwaste says

    I have seen several posts saying the A+ symbol implies superiority. That may be the case, personally,I don’t really have a strong opinion on which symbol to use.

    I am mostly curious about why so atheists resist being proud of being atheistic? Maybe it’s my lingering religious upbringing, but I feel pretty good about shedding my superstition. It’s perfectly legitimate to be proud of one’s accomplishments. I could not care less if a believer is put off by it. I sure as hell don’t tell them they can’t be proud of their belief in superstition. I’m put off by the crazy beliefs, not whether they feel pride in it.

  324. postwaste says

    I have seen several posts saying the A+ symbol implies superiority. That may be the case, personally,I don’t really have a strong opinion on which symbol to use.

    I am mostly curious about why so many atheists resist being proud of being atheistic? Maybe it’s my lingering religious upbringing, but I feel pretty good about shedding my superstition. It’s perfectly legitimate to be proud of one’s accomplishments. I could not care less if a believer is put off by it. I sure as hell don’t tell them they can’t be proud of their belief in superstition. I’m put off by the crazy beliefs, not whether they feel pride in it.

  325. says

    As an example: I’m not gonna pretend that just because Karl Rove is an atheist, that I would take common cause with him. Another atheist might support additional causes which I support, or causes about which I am indifferent, and I will take common cause with them. But if they support causes I find morally repugnant, they cannot sit at my table. Life is too short to do otherwise.

  326. happyathiestmommy says

    I think I get what you’re asking. If we’re going to combat sexism in the atheist movement that is worse than on the sidewalk, we first need to know WHY it’s worse and how it’s worse so that we can do that. I don’t think you meant it as a delaying tactic, but more just asking the question. I was a little curious myself, since I never go to conferences.
    Rowanvt made some good points, and I’m sure we can find some more. Also, it might be worse because we don’t really expect to have our views heard and and debated by the guy on the sidewalk. The guy on the sidewalk isn’t likely to talk us down when we’re trying to join discussions, or threaten us with rape based on our opinions simply because he probably isn’t privy to our opinions. And we can always just cross the road if they seem creepy. We don’t want to leave the movement, so we’re *stuck* with them more.
    (Someone else can probably say this all much better than I can.)

  327. spdoyle17 says

    My point was primarily within the focus of atheism itself. Personally, the idea of wading in the muck and trying to end bigotry by standing against it from within appears to have a greater chance of success than breaking off into a subtype.

  328. karmakin says

    I think it’s probably a necessary thing, from a social and a mental health point of view, but, if it’s going to actually do any good outside of that remains to be seen.

    Personally, I see much of the opposition as anti-feminism at its core. This is something that often sounds like misogyny, but I think it’s something a bit different. It’s still wrong, of course, but the solutions for the two things may be very different.

    Where I differ from other people is that I do not think that momentum is currently on our side. Quite frankly, if the current growing opposition to feminism is based out of strong misogynistic roots, we’re basically fucked. Then it’s time to batten down the hatches, form our own groups/cultures and wall off. I actually prefer to be optimistic, so I go the other way. I think it’s far too important for far too many people for that.

    If we can actually teach and educate people that feminism (I’d link other social justice concerns as well, but quite frankly I don’t think that any of them have the same baggage that feminism is dealing with right now) isn’t the scary dogmatic anti-egalitarian thing that they think it is. Yes, that means we need to excise the trolls and the assholes and the sexists out of our movement.

    Theoretically, we could do both. And in fact, I HOPE we do. Get away from the “skeptics” and at the same time work towards rehabilitating the view of social justice concerns in our society. I just don’t expect it.

  329. oolon says

    Why are you continuing to misrepresent what Rebecca said in regard to the elevator? I can only assume you have read what others have said instead of going to the primary source.

    Personally I think all these boring posts should just include this link and say please listen -
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKHwduG1Frk#t=4:30

    I even added the time for you – as you will notice it is already more than halfway through so a passing comment – given the shit that happened due to it that is important! Now what exactly did she say and how does that conflict with your presentation of the events?

  330. tim says

    As much economic impact is at the margins – you would be very right if that was validated for individual jobs corrected for seniority, and a host of other confounders.

    Check out the GAO document (and if I stand corrected, please let me know) – it was an analysis of categories (craftsmen, for example). The document is quite good, and acknowledges this limitation.

    thanks and respect extended.

  331. Bob Moynihan says

    As an outsider looking in at this whole debacle, i’ve tried to look at both sides dispassionately. For the most part, my attitude is that if a lot of women *say* they do not feel safe, then they *don’t* feel safe. While i understand the “other side” of the argument – that if women are being systematically harassed at cons, where is the evidence of it – i also understand there are a whole host of reasons why harassment would be unreported, both at conventions and in the outside world.

    There is a problem. I believe it. I accept that policies should be in place to address it. In that regard, i am 100% on your side.

    However, there is more than one problem here, and the FTB bloggers around which this tempest revolves are guilty of adding fuel to the fire of the second. You see, it seems as though you expect everyone to agree with you on every tiny detail, not only on what the problem is, but how everyone else should perceive it, how it should be dealt with, what the anti-harassment policies should be down to the slightest “jot and tiddle,” to borrow a phrase from everyone’s favorite book. Even the slightest deviation from the party line brands one as a misogynist. (Don’t believe me? Let’s see how long it takes for me to be branded as one merely for daring to write this.)

    People that offered reasoned, alternate solutions to the con harassment issue have been themselves harassed and insulted merely because their opinion was different. In that regard, the involved FTB team needs to be honest and shoulder its share of the blame for the level of incendiary levels to which the rhetoric has risen. Vitriol and insult have been spewed by both sides. When that happens, no one wins, no one sees the light.

    The FTB bloggers in question have enemies today that were once their allies. Those former allies were alienated because of some perverse need for dogmatic purity that brooked no deviation from the party line of how the issue should be addressed. You are not right about everything. No one ever is. There can be reasonable alternative means of addressing problems, and not everyone will see a problem in exactly the same fashion.

    Look for a means to a solution, to get back the people that really SHOULD be your allies, not merely on the issue of atheism, but yes, even feminism, or keep insisting that everyone see things EXACTLY your way and keep the politics of division tearing things apart. It’s your board, it’s your choice.

    I honestly wish you good luck.

  332. spdoyle17 says

    There’s a common ground at the core that can be used, a general direction. I’m disagreeing purely out of a desire to try to get the most out of a broader base, and try to be a positive influence.

  333. 'Tis Himself says

    According to him, I never posted anything at Pharyngula except to “…snipe at the skepchicks, argue that the interests of women weren’t worth fighting for, and dismiss any discussion of sexism.”

    This is a flat lie, and one that can easily be verified as such.

    If it can be easily verified, then start verifying it. My memory of your posts at Pharyngula were as described by PZ. Without exception!

    So if you want to claim you were such a nice guy, then you’d be able to show posts where you supported women. Ready, set, go….

  334. dogeared, spotted and foxed says

    Reading all these comments – it’s amazing. This may be the first time in a year that I’ve felt part of the atheist community instead of merely an outsider with similar interests.

    It would be nice to have an A+ symbol as an identifier. Something to suggest a positive space. If someone is wearing an “A+” t-shirt, pin or surly, they are already aware of problem and may be willing to listen to a newcomer.

  335. carlie says

    People that offered reasoned, alternate solutions to the con harassment issue have been themselves harassed and insulted merely because their opinion was different.

    I’ve followed pretty much this whole thing from the beginning, and I haven’t seen any “reasoned, alternate solutions”. What I hvae seen is a whole lot of stop complaining about it and maybe it will go away if we pretend it doesn’t exist. Honestly, seriously, what is even one example of one of those reasoned alternate solutions?

  336. spdoyle17 says

    Rove won. Anyone can sit at my table if they can help me in the long run. Does it mean I enjoy it? No.

  337. says

    No, what you did was mix two ideas together. To suggest that they are ALWAYS linked is simply ludicrous.

    Atheism is atheism, diversity is diversity. Well over 99% of what atheism is has nothing to do with diversity. Well over 99% of what diversity is about has nothing to do with atheism.

  338. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Well that’s a perfectly reasonable solution, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not like it affects HIM anyway…what is WRONG with you that you think you have the right to make him uncomfortable just because you feel endangered?

  339. Emptyell says

    Oh noes!!!

    A+ suggests that we are arrogant and might think our position superior to our opponents. Gods forbid that we should actually represent our position forcefully and positively.

    This is terrible.

    Perhaps it would be better to use Atheists Urging Gentler Happier Thoughts (the AUGHTs)

    …or,

    Atheists Who Think There’s More to Being Civilised Than Just Dissing on Other People’s Nonsense (the AWTTMBCTJOPNs)

    …or maybe just,

    Oh don’t mind us out here in the rain.

    Get real guys. Arrogance is part of the job description for anyone seeking to change the status quo. That these gals are pulling it off with grace, thoughtfulness and even humility is testament to their mastery in the matter.

  340. oolon says

    Thunderf00ts blog is really useful for seeing how these people with valid concerns behave when the leash is off. Jack Rawlinson appears to have a serious problem with FtBs. But don’t worry him and his mates are organising the Peoples Front of Atheism to fight back and reclaim the ‘movement’. Be afraid, be really afraid!

  341. 'Tis Himself says

    If you want wade through the muck and tell the bigots to knock it off then do so. Have a nice time. Let us know how it works out. Meanwhile, the rest of us will remove ourselves from the slimepit and work in a way we think would be more productive.

  342. says

    Well enjoy the company of people who make you sick, then. There are plenty of people with whom I can take cause and feel all right about it. As I said, life’s too short.

  343. says

    Well, idea number one is that men and women are equal in all things. Fact is, physically men are superior in some ways, women are superior in others. Same goes with mental functions.

    Title 9 was a horrible idea. The INTENT of getting more girls opportunities for sports was fine, but the mechanism by which they forced it actually resulted in LESS collegiate sports. Even Men’s sports which were able to sustain themselves (like Rugby) were cut from school programs because there were not enough women who wanted to participate in sports and that meant the ratios for athletes were off and thus the mens sports had to be cut.

    Plus you have many women who believe that equal titles should mean equal pay and they will happily sue companies who do not despite evidence showing that the men were producing more value for their employer.

    Too many “feminists” want, not equal, but actually special treatment when it comes to the government and the law. Get back to me on it when the feminists manage to get their special privileges removed. (And if you didn’t know they have them, then you have not worked with the government before. My current employer is a female owned company which is why they won the government contract I am currently on. Before you say anything, prior to this company taking over, I was working for Dell at the same location so in the end the only thing that changed was the company name that showed up on my direct deposit.)

  344. Sally says

    Look for a means to a solution, to get back the people that really SHOULD be your allies, not merely on the issue of atheism, but yes, even feminism, or keep insisting that everyone see things EXACTLY your way and keep the politics of division tearing things apart. It’s your board, it’s your choice.

    Dream on, Bob.

    The ‘Plus’ in Atheism + refers to a broad range of social issues for which there is no further to discussion to be had.

    Any attempt to criticise, challenge or in any way disagree with the bloated tenets of this new religious movement will be met with condemnation, pariah-hood and excommunication.

    The position of this new great religion is that unless you are with them then you are, by default, a misogynist, a rape enabler, a sexist, privileged, etc.

    There is no need for free-thought in the New Best Atheism – all thinking is done for you.

    All one needs to do to be part of this new age is get on their knees, confess their error, and submit.

  345. Rieux says

    It is better than “third [or any ordinal] wave.”

    I like both “inclusive atheism” and “A+.” Count me in.

  346. says

    You see, it seems as though you expect everyone to agree with you on every tiny detail, not only on what the problem is, but how everyone else should perceive it, how it should be dealt with, what the anti-harassment policies should be down to the slightest “jot and tiddle,” to borrow a phrase from everyone’s favorite book. Even the slightest deviation from the party line brands one as a misogynist.

    This is false. There’s been plenty of debate about exactly how harassment policies should be implemented and what specific behaviors should or shouldn’t be permitted. (Here’s an example.)

  347. Mary WIttry says

    If you haven’t already, look for a local Ethical Culture group. We are an atheist/humanist community, that works for social justice. We have a long history of working for social justice. (try aeu.org or ethicalstl.org)

  348. Larkness says

    “…a broad range of social issues for which there is no further to [sic] discussion to be had.”

    I don’t understand your position. I hope you will explain and help me understand.

    From my perspective, until there is true equality for all people in our society these discussions are far from over. There is still much work to be done. Do you not agree with this?

  349. Sassafras says

    If people think “A+” is too arrogant and superior (and yes, I know they’ll come up with something to complain about no matter what), what about just reversing it? “+A”? Shorthand for both “Positive Atheism” and “plus Atheism” as in “(good causes, social justice, etc.) plus Atheism”?

  350. Rieux says

    I for one am entirely comfortable communicating gloating self-satisfaction when the contrast at issue is with drooling bigots.

    Plenty of religious believers are solidly intelligent and humane, and it’s stupid to pretend to “bright”ness superiority over them (though we should remember that the creators of the “bright” label had no such intention… though, as usual, Intent Isn’t Magic). Misogynists and transphobes and the like, whatever their (ir)religious status, are another matter entirely.

  351. Sassafras says

    This emotional ploy might have been more effective if theists hadn’t been using the phony “you’re a religion too!” tactic on atheists for decades. It was bullshit when they said it and it’s bullshit when you say it.

  352. cag says

    I suspect that a lot of the misogynists are post religious individuals who have not shed all their patriarchical indoctrination. As they are replaced by “uncontaminated” atheists the quest for equality should become much closer to moot. Thankfully most people who escape from religion are not in this category.

    I believe that second generation atheists will be less influenced by societal pressure and biblical nonsense.

  353. Anonymous Atheist says

    UU is an overall good thing for people who want the church experience without most of the baggage of particular religions. But from what I’ve heard, there is a lot of variation between UU congregations. Some are more atheist-friendly than others. Some have great sex ed programs. Some are more woo-heavy than atheists tend to like. Some are more Christian-esque than atheists tend to like. Some are LGBT-friendly, but not all are.

  354. hadjuk72 says

    I’m new to discovering the “Atheism/Skeptic” community. It appears you feel I’ve rehashed an old criticism. Can you elaborate?

  355. Rieux says

    There’s a lot of (justified) excitement downthread about “A+,” but can I put in a vote for “inclusive atheism” as the long-form title? “A+” makes a great logo, but I think “inclusive” is better for the literal spelled-out title than “plus.”

  356. Bill Goodwin says

    Love the A+ idea and I think it will survive/transcend the “brights” association. It has a good feel. Where Atheism is not really a system of belief but just the lack of a god belief, though I do identify as an atheist, I also think Agnostic applies, and African (as we all are) then adding the plus can encompass sexism, racism and other bigotries, humanism, free thought, skepticism and the community writ large.

    Love the post. This is really brilliant and I really hope that we have marked the high tide in this discussion followed by real thoughtful and effective commitment to solve these problems together in a meaningful and constructive way.

    Glad to be even a very latecomer to the pile on of support I’m seeing here. :)

  357. psychodigger says

    Dear Jen,

    I am a member of the Boy’s Club by default, but I completely agree with you. I will speak up when called upon.

  358. Rieux says

    Do you think the “+” has this problem? (Not a rhetorical question; I’m genuinely interested.)

  359. julian says

    Same goes with mental functions.

    This is most definitely not a fact. Where’s your evidence? This is a bullshit poorly thrown together hypothesis that’s failed to gather any conclusive or major evidence since it was proposed in the Victorian Era.

  360. Kurt1 says

    Amazing! Everything I wanted to comment about resolved itself the further I read, everything was already written down. Thank you for your courage, for enduring all the hate from people who should be on the side of reason and for carrying on.

  361. cityzenjane says

    Werd. And that’s why they are squeeeling like the alien spawn that jumped out of that guys chest in the movie…. not just in this community – but in the world.

  362. Rieux says

    I agree strongly with what you wrote, with one exception. This new wave… let’s come up with some other name than “atheist.”

    I’m sorry, but that’s a terrible idea. That directly cedes “atheist” to the bigots.

    Not to mention that atheism, as such, is overwhelmingly socially salient in a huge proportion of the world. Giving up that place in the societal conversation would be a huge mistake.

    Jen’s idea is to improve the atheist movement, not to abandon it.

  363. Smhll says

    The number of replies on a Reddit thread increases over time and the proportion of negative or hostile comments can also change. I’m skeptical that you can support your claim that RW “lied” unless you have a screen shot of that thread on that subreddit from the moment in time Rebecca started writing her blog post.

  364. says

    I like Sassafras’ +A idea. It’s inclusive (not geeks-only), it avoids school-grade associations, and it would make an equally nice SurlyRamic.

  365. cityzenjane says

    As a part of many movements – it undermines my credibility to quietly tolerate it where I see it…. I don’t understand why this is hard to understand.

    I do understand people in the groups not enjoying layers of privilege…not having the energy to do battle all day all night…

    So people need to step up. If you are willing able…learn all you can, assess self and speak up, take responsibility, address issues has the come up and don’t make it about yourself.

  366. says

    Thank you so much for writing this. Point me to the new wave of non-douchey atheism and I will be there. Tell me how I can help get others there. I would love to feel safe in the atheism community. I don’t.

    Angie the Anti-Theist

  367. christopherhuelsbeck says

    I never said you weren’t a full human being. You’strawmanning/kicking down wide open doors. Not interested in a fallacy orgy, sorry.

  368. cityzenjane says

    During the Civil War the same thing was said about the institution of slavery. True fact.

  369. soul_biscuit says

    Jen, posts like this are why you will continue to be an “up-and-coming student leader” of this movement, and why the privilege-blind wing will not be able to change that.

    Is anyone else amazed and thrilled by the comments in this thread? There have been very few critical posts among an overwhelmingly positive response. Magnificent.

  370. F says

    Uh, the movement already exists. It’s that thing with which you keep telling everyone that you have a problem. And it’s different enough from the parts of various movements of atheism and skepticism that Jen thought it might be time that we have an identifier so that we don’t have to keep having conversations with people who want to complain about someone else getting feminist or anti-racist chocolate in their variously cisgender heterosexual white male atheist/skeptic entertainment peanut butter. Because there is always some jackass who has to tell others what things don’t go together, and what blogger who identifies as atheist can write about on their atheist blog.

    Sometimes having an identifier clears the issue up front.

    But saying that people are patting themselves on the back (and who were these people, anyway?) for designing a logo for something which does not yet exist makes you ignorant, a hypocrite, a liar, or some combination thereof. That thing which annoys everyone so much which Skepchick and FTB and and all sorts of people have been doing? Yeah, the identifiers are for that.

  371. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    People keep lumping me into it, and trying to foist “membership duties” onto me, but I’ve always felt incredibly alienated from and by it. I’m really happy that other people are willing to help fight it.

  372. oolon says

    Hanannibal – a least your ‘side’ might find it a little harder to wax lyrical about how FtBs/Skepchick are destroying the atheist movement? Unless you want to keep them in and this A+ thing is just splitting the cause.

    Anyway I’m sure there are lots of ways you can take the piss out of it so everyone is happy!

  373. cityzenjane says

    First….many of us came to anti-theism and atheism – not through philosophy but through actual oppression by religions forces. See: women, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, people of color etc…Being told you are not a real person, a full human being, an abomination, a curse has it’s effects on a human psyche. It often means that our lack of religion is directly as result of the experience OF religion.

    When we find we receive the same treatment in the non-theist community we generally speaking are greatly saddened. What we thought might be a refuge…is not.

    Unless and of course it becomes commonplace in that “community” to be heard and respect. To have our motives respected when we criticize from within that community.

    This A+ happening is a potentially extremely powerful and healing experience. It is possible that Iwill not shy away from identifying more openly and aggressively because on the whole I will be less embarrassed to be potentially associated with hateful, self satisfied, blinkered, priveleged, clueless people.

    There are indeed many more of us – and will be should the movement actually become a REAL movement through some serious if you will forgive the term….soul searching. That is the ONLY way to grow and go global and not just be a club for white dudes who agree with each other about philosophy and shit.

  374. F says

    How do you keep a broad base of people who disagree with 90% of what you’re about? People who want to drag you in the opposite direction?

  375. cityzenjane says

    Thank you for noting that a culture of misogyny impacts those in the middle – and new gamers – to assume “that’s just how it is”….and so it not only stays that way but new generations of people who do not care are created…because culture replicates memes. We CREATE culture.

  376. tab says

    The problem I see is that, for the people that have become disenfranchised with the movement, a splinter has to not end up being what is going on now- bickering back and forth. I’ve lost interest because of the sexist and etc… crap, and frankly if I were to get involved again I wouldn’t want to just see more of this same rehashing with the “A+”s devoting a bunch of energy to treating the sexist people like they are saying anything that’s valid or in any way not just trolling.

    The only way I’d care to be in any of this community again is if they were just dealt with coldly and quickly- you crack your bigotted stuff, it’s deleted and you’re warned, do it again and you’re gone. Same with speakers, etc… You vent your bigotry once and you’re just told if it happens again we won’t have a part with you. No long debates, no blogstorms, etc… Kick the trolls out. Do not feed them. And be done with it.

    We don’t treat people spewing outright racism as if they’ve something intelligent and worthwhile to contribute so it’s far past time we don’t treat those unapologetically spewing sexism, ablism, cissexism, heterosexism, etc… as if they’ve given us something worth debate. It isn’t advanced stuff, they don’t need endless lectures, excuses of just being ignorant, and handholding to get it. No more excuses. No more caring about engaging them because all they do is thrive on the attention you give their bigotry. And as we as a community seem to have an untiring patience for giving these people a podium, I doubt that this will happen. If some good splinter movement does come up, and doesn’t fall into the trappings of being defined by a constant battle with the current privileged cis straight white male middleclass one, then maybe I’ll have the energy to care but… I’ll believe it when I see it. For now, the boys club won and I have no desire to be associated with it nor the energy to constantly combat it.

  377. Bob Moynihan says

    Well. That didn’t take long. Who said i felt uncomfortable? Did you even read the first couple of paragraphs, or did it all get forgotten the second you read something you disagreed with?

    Also, you don’t know me. You have no idea what issues i may be dealing with that could put me in a similar – if not the same – position of fear. But that’s okay, leap to conclusions. It seems a popular pastime.

    No one is right all the time… not even me. (Someone record the date; this may be the first time in the entire epic saga that seems to have reached the public eye with Elevatorgate in which someone actually admitted the possibility that they might be even a little bit wrong.) I can only tell you what i read, and how the discussions hit me as someone that had no axe to grind in the debate.

    I feel terrible for women like Rebecca and Jen (just to name two.) No deserves the BS they have been subject to just for saying there was a problem that should be addressed. Not ever. There’s a lot of folks on the “other side” of this debate that i’d love to slap upside the head for being hardheaded, sociopathic dipsticks. There’s a genuine problem here that hurts a lot of real people, and they’re too busy bandying semantics and playing their skeptic games that they can’t see there are times when the evidence they are seeking is hidden for damned good reasons.

    People want to be condescending because i point out something they don’t like, fine. Knock yourselves out. You’re not hurting me. You’re so tied up in your anger that once again, you beat on someone that WANTS to stand with you, but because he doesn’t agree with you on every point, must be turned away. And before someone says it, no, i don’t feel like any sort of a martyr.

    Jen, i’m sorry for what you have gone through. I hope the day comes when you and every other woman – or LGBT person for that matter – can feel safe wherever they go.

  378. Quietmarc says

    I’d suggest that maybe you should look at how you’re communicating, because several of us seem to have read your comments in the same way. For me, the things in your original post that stand out are:

    “I have exactly no evidence on which to base a judgement of the seriousness of this problem.”

    If you have “exactly no evidence” the fault lies with you. As I said, there is plenty of evidence. If you have no evidence, that is because you have not looked for it, nor have you listened. Is your expectation that everyone who cares about this issue should take the time to give you a basic education before we can get on talking about how to solve the problem? Can you see how that expectation may be perceived as unreasonable?

    “If in fact that passage is a good representation of how safe women actually are then the solution needed is radically different than if the problem is online trolls making everything less pleasant and creating fear and intimidation.”

    I don’t understand what you’re trying to say here. Do you feel that it is impossible to take action until we understand all aspects of the problem? Do you require 100% of the details of a problem before you start to solve it?

    How do you feel our actions would change based on the two (not mutually exclusive, and not an exhaustive list, btw) realities you suggest? Why do you think others have not already tried to take action based on either of those contingincies? Are you aware that there are over 5 decades now of serious research on the issue of sexism and women’s safety?

    When you say that you feel we need more information before we can take correct action, it feels like a stalling or diversionary tactic because a) there is information, certainly enough that we have an idea of SOME actions we can take (anti-harrassment policies are a step in the right direction) and b) telling people to hold their horses until we have more information is a long, long history of holding back equal rights movements of ALL types.

  379. Utakata says

    …though honeslty, I should be more kind to Drive By jacktrollinson, …a name I affectionally called him everytime dropped insinuating liners, then scurying off before the moderation radar picks up his offense over at Pharyngula. Until that is, PZ gave him the righteous and well deserved permaban smackdown. Alhtough it should be said, I can’t really take anyone seriously who does that…but I am told in good debate one must give person who takes the time out to explain their views the benefit of the doubt.

    So let’s look at this from a skeptical point of view. jackrawlinson tend to always show up at FtB when women’s issues are being discussed. And he shows up to diss those bloggers who are trying to discuss proactive and progressive debates about it. Though he never claims he’s an out right sexist…it does appear from his posting habits that he does have issues that gives preference to women. Thus I think he despises women given any sort of preference what-so-ever. So cryptically he’s likely a misogynist not a rationalist as he indicates. Though he uses the launguge.

    So yeah…he has women issues. And he probably doesn’t like them very much outside the porn/sex industry. And is especially uncomfortable with giving them any equal footing. Therefore, quite likely being a bigot. Since there is no other convincing and compelling reasons why he would reject Jen’s post.

    It’s too bad though, he covers this up with flowery launguage instead of just telling us the real reason why he’s posting about it. /sigh

  380. says

    The core of scientific skepticism is that it is based on evidence and, to the degree possible, dispassionate analysis. It follows then, that it is by its nature no cognizant of privilege, gender, wealth or politics.

    lol. scientific skepticism is something people do, and people never exist outside of the kyriarchy. As a result, scientific skepticism as actually practiced in the real world absolutely is influenced and shaped by privilege, gender, wealth, or politics. Because the humans doing it are.

  381. christopherhuelsbeck says

    I think you just don’t. Atheism, skepticism, secularism, rationalism – those opinions, viewpoints and ways of thinking are not movements, nor where they ever capable of becoming movements. The question anyone considering joining a movement should ask themselves is this: what do I need to accomplish? If the atheist’s rejection of god is in part a reaction to political circumstance -eg an oppressive theocratic régime the atheist has to live under-, then atheism can become political. It can also be the reaction to an oppressive socio-cultural environment.

    In this case however, the amalgamation of a new ‘movement’ that’s never going to work, built on top of the smouldering ruins of the perceived ‘old atheist movement’, which has always been a figment of the imagination anyway, this amalgamation, must find its targets first. And what motivation would true sceptics and rational thinkers have to join a movement, the plurality of which woul, hypothetically speaking, be subscribed to oppressive, anti-free speech kookeries?

  382. A Hermit says

    Damn that was some good blogging there Jen…Add my voice to the chorus; we are winning and this is not the time to take our foot off the gas.

  383. Rieux says

    Seems to me atheism the philosophical term merely means the lack of belief in gods.

    But atheism the movement can—and, in the opinion of what is clearly a large number of us, should—stand for vastly more.

    Is there something problematic about this?

    (Not that you are implying there is, Pteryxx.)

  384. NA says

    I’ve noticed that some women will pander to the lesser evolved in their blog/googleplus/whatever readerships by posting sexist content. They seem to think that will get them accepted as “one of the boys.” That is a huge mistake. It sets the progress gained from earlier feminist efforts back, and makes those women just as sexist and offensive as the men whose favor they seek.

  385. says

    It’s time for a wave that cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime.

    This this a thousand times THIS!

    This is why as an ex-Mormon I was so stoked to find an Atheist/Skeptic community in the first place. Onward, to the future! :D

  386. says

    Not much to add to this post and comments, other than to support.

    And those who want to use abusive behaviour to maintain their sense of status don’t deserve support – unless its to mend their personal issues.

  387. Rieux says

    I’d like to know what Jen thinks of the “A+.” It’s clearly going over like gangbusters on this thread (and I’m not complaining), but does our host like the direction her commentariat is taking her “new wave of atheism” suggestion?

  388. Rieux says

    As an atheist who spent seven years as a UU, I feel compelled to point out that the picture is not always so rosy. The short version is that a large number of very powerful people within UUism are staunchly and loudly opposed to outspoken atheism, and they express this perspective in ways that very much disrespect the First Principle (not to mention the Fourth).

    Please have a look at what Adam Lee (an atheist UU) and I have written on the subject; one place to start, which includes links to some others, is here.

  389. carlie says

    People want to be condescending because i point out something they don’t like, fine.

    That is not at all what I said. I said tell me one time, one example of those reasoned alternative responses to the documented problem of sexism at atheist conventions. And you can’t. And you try to hide behind poor, feeble you, can’t be arsed to not spout shit without finding out if you can back it up first, we should feel sorry for you simply making a “mistake”. Well, it’s not a mistake. You’re poisoning the well by claiming things that aren’t true, and nobody stands for that.

  390. Steersman says

    Carlie said (#272.1),

    I’ve followed pretty much this whole thing from the beginning, and I haven’t seen any “reasoned, alternate solutions”.

    Really? Then maybe you missed Massimo Pigliucci’s comments on The Misogyny Wars which addressed the topic, his “reasoned, alternate solutions” essentially consisting of this:

    So, where do we go from here? Here are three conceptually simple, yet I’m sure extremely difficult in practice, action items. First, let’s tone down the self-righteousness, on both sides. It just doesn’t help. Second, organizers of all future CON(s), you need to take the issue seriously, develop and clearly enunciate your policies, and be ready to deal with the consequences in a firm, if courteous and hopefully constructive, manner. Lastly, the A-S community needs to take the first step toward solving any problem: admit that there is one. Pretty straightforward, no?

    Now, one might criticize that as being a little too vague, a little too “motherhood and apple-pie”-ish, but the article by Russell Blackford that he linked to discussed some problems and solutions in more detail. However, the fly in the ointment exemplifying Bob Moynihan’s point about “party line brands” is that Massimo noted the following:

    I have been warned that I will likely be banned from (ironically) “freethought” discussion groups, and that my views will be seen as misogynistic and those of “a rape apologist, potential rapist.” This is just really, really sad.

    However while he also noted in his P.P.S. that he hadn’t expected that he would actually be accused of that, one might reasonably argue that several subsequent criticisms of him by, among others, Ophelia Benson, Melody, Sally Strange & Rebecca Watson for an insufficiently militant allegiance to the feminist “party line brand” is virtually tantamount to a charge of misogyny: “if you’re not with us then you’re against us”. But for instance, this comment by Melody:

    See, Massimo? *This* is the problem with your post. This fellow thinks, “Both sides do it!” He also compares the feminist movement with MRAs. This is what he got out of this post.

    Considering that Ophelia can draw some parallels between Nazi Germany and TAM – oppressing the Jews; oppressing The Sisterhood – and that Paula Kirby can likewise point to some fascistic tendencies in feminism, and that at least some segments of the MRM show the same tendencies, I hardly see it is much of a stretch, at least for those still with a foot or two in the skeptic camp, to think that there are some problematic parallels between “the feminist movement” and the MRAs. That Melody at least seems to balk at that possibility tends to justify the conclusion that some feminists at least are overly committed to that particular brand – maybe that their emotion is clouding their judgement?

  391. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Yes, because it’s trivially pronounceable (“ay plus”), so it functions as a verbal modifier. The ‘purist’ line will be “I don’t need to add anything to my atheism. Atheism is good in and of itself.”

    I want to add that other than this vulnerability, I think A+ is clever. I was never really irritated with the Brights label like some were, and A+ seems reminiscent of that.

    A+ will isolate us, though.

    I get that people need to make some kind of statement, but there isn’t a specific need for [adjective] atheism or atheism[modifier].

    There is a general need to say “we are the future of atheism and you can’t stop us!” That’s what I want too. It’s just that there are other ways to achieve this without isolating ourselves.

  392. Ganner says

    What you don’t get is that you, and this crap you just posted here – essentially “Shut up wimmun, your concerns aren’t valid and there isn’t a real problem other than your damn whining” – is the proof that we need a culture change, and that there is a problem that needs fighting.

  393. tim says

    You can be right in practice – and to the degree you are right I think you would be surprised that there is broad agreement that this is a bad thing. Biases in conclusions, and even more subtle biases as to which questions we address – are corruptive.

    However, the claim that the tools of the scientific and skeptical enterprise are inherently biased is simply not the case. There is no “privileged white male” T-test, for example.

    This is why broad inclusion is very healthy, as is discord. More diversity becomes a further advantage. I suspect we don’t actually disagree on this, but emphasize different points.

    Best wishes.

  394. says

    I really like the green reflective logo, Jadehawk, not least because it does contain the idea of reflection, reflective thought. I also like that the A looks like it has one foot planted firmly in a negative (skepticism) but is stepping out firmly into a positive (humanism) – both aspects are important to me. Can I go ahead and start using it? I want to set it as my FaceBook avatar.

  395. says

    A very latecomer to the horde that this post has de-lurked. Nothing to add. I’ve been disgusted by what I have seen over the past year with much of the atheist/skeptical movement. If it is just another movement that panders to white men frightened by social change, then stuff it. I can join the Tea Party or the local Baptist church and get that. Thanks for everything you and the others are doing to make atheism something worthwhile.

  396. David Marjanović says

    Gah! The purple circle becomes pink in the simplified version!

    The A+ designs are interesting.

  397. says

    There it is folks:

    The position of this new great religion is that unless you are with them then you are, by default, a misogynist, a rape enabler, a sexist, privileged, etc.

    I predict that you will never see this charge backed by anything remotely resembling evidence, no matter who says it: Not backed by a real or metaphorical Paula Kirby, Phil Mason, or Richard Dawkins. Detractors seem merely resentful about the admixture of Feminist/Race/Gender politics with their pure, pure “Atheism” (unless, of course, that admixture benefits them or their own agenda).

    The closest any detractor will (or can) get will be to complain about stridency and whine about “free speech” — never bothering to highlight exactly what is “strident”, explain how anyone’s ability to express was threatened, or acknowledge the supreme irony of a complaint made about free speech simultaneously juxtaposed against a complaint about stridency!

    I counter accuse: Nothing but sour grapes!

  398. Henry says

    Great post, Jen. I met you at the Rapture RAM in Oakland last year, and I remember feeling such pride in our movement when you and Greta called out one of the other speakers on some sexist comments in his talk. The other guys I spoke to at the meeting were supportive too, which felt doubly great. Then came Rebecca’s innocuous comment, followed by some seriously disappointing behavior by Dawkins, Shermer, DJ, Thunderf00t and a few dozen misogynist lunatics. Wow. I hope it’s still possible for the atheist and skeptic movements to tame the wild bunch, but there is no excuse for what you and so many other atheist women have had to put up with. If A+ is the answer, rock on.

  399. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Thanks for the shout-out, but I also disagree with your #1 there.

    I don’t want a big tent, like you want.

    And I don’t want a divider in the tent, or an extension of the tent, or a second tent, like A+.

    I want to push the racists and misogynists and other regressives right out of the tent.

    (I want them to eventually feel like atheism per se is too progressive for them, so that they want to rebrand themselves.)

  400. David Marjanović says

    O noez! She made a joke about her ass! That must be punished by threatening her with rape! It must, I tell you!!!1!eleventyeleven!!

    You don’t exactly look at the screen when you type, do you?

  401. jimbo says

    “Feel” is the operative word here. You “feel” unsafe, you “feel” that you’re winning. In the scheme of things, FTB and Skepchick are insignificant in this movement and they’ve both been criticised roundly by some of the biggest playiers in this movement.

    I am truly sorry that you feel the way you do, but the bottom line is that feelings are not facts.

  402. G Lynn says

    Jen

    Just remember these insults and threats come from complete inadequates – unfortunately there are many vociferous ignorant and inadequate people out there

    I wish you strength.

  403. tim says

    Larkness

    Thank you for your note. I have no intention of telling anyone how to feel. All I am claiming is that not all feelings are sensible or valid. This is a core scientific insight, and should not be surprising. For example, many fear terrorists or guns, while alcohol and autos are far more deadly.

    I also (and absolutely) do not claim to be above this – and understand that our feelings are shaped by our experiences and predispositions. As to the ugly and often illegal threats cited and posted – although as a male I don’t have associated fear or risk – for different reasons I hate these threats and the hatred evidenced. Firstly, as a human I am disgusted that fellow humans would write such things. I am inclined to defend my fellows and a movement I associate myself with – from such base filth. Lastly I am perplexed at the confusion of wanton trolling with fair criticisms of skepticism being confused with humanist or political goals.

    As to how we could evaluate this issue ? Quantify the outcome variables and compare with matched cohorts. How safe ARE women at TAM compared to the places of work, homes, other meetings, etc ? Feelings aside – pretty safe I suspect, but we all bow to data and I am vulnerable to disproof.

    Thank you

  404. Chas says

    Wonderful post and wonderful discussion in the comments (if the 50 comments in that I’ve read is any indication – I only stopped because I had to post this!). What I love about the active movements (atheism and/or skepticism) is that it has forced me to question not only my thinking, but my behavior. Thanks Jen for keeping my eyes wide open.

    And as everyone’s been saying: sign me up.

  405. GordonWillis says

    I’ve always worried about Atheism as a label because the word seems to represent only part of a much bigger picture. Well, if we accept that we are going to use the word “atheism” for our entire set of principles, then Inclusive Atheism is a pretty good proposal. And, Pteryxx, I do like A+ as a logo. And thanks for a brilliant post, Jen.

  406. jasonharman says

    Great article Jennifer. I liked it for exposing the misogynist elements of the atheist community but also for a look at the underlying “Robin Hood” complex that permeates so many ‘critical’ groups today.

    It is in the latter regard that I address the following suggestion. It seems to me that the whole movement of atheism is irretrievably locked into that sort of “Robin Hood” complex that generates the type of behavior you find so reprehensible. [I write this, I should add, from the comfort of a nation (Canada) where extremely conservative and/or extremely irrational religious thinking belongs to a minority.]

    There is something inherent in the idea of a group that is opposed to another that generates this mentality.

    Perhaps a recognition that there is and are many free-thinkers within religion, and hence that religion per se is not the enemy but rather the sort of irrational thinking in religion. In this way, you might recognize that the same traits you opposed in religion are found in the atheist community, and conversely, some that you called enemies are much better allies.

    Understanding that free-thinking is also first and foremost a charitable thinking (hence an ethics) will go a long way to understanding how religion can serve a meaningful role in a rational life by encouraging and emphasizing those very ethics that are often the first to fall away in the rationalist life – just take a look at the sociological analysis of anomie, atomism, and solipsisms (all notions with deep connections to philosophically rational perspectives).

  407. says

    Fact is, physically men are superior in some ways, women are superior in others.

    This is where you are going wrong.

    “Superior” is a loaded term with a fuzzy meaning that supposedly indicates “better” without ever naming the terms of comparison. Let’s walk through a thought experiment! How are men superior physically in some ways? Do you mean upper body strength? So what if men generally have more upper body strength? How does that make their body strength superior? Is more always better? So what if a man can lift a bigger rock than a woman? with no tools? There are tools. There are people to help. The rock gets lifted either way. Who cares how?

    If you consider being able to lift a heavier rock with no tools and no help “superior,” that’s all on you. It’s a personal preference for the use of the term, and there is no necessary reason for calling the bare-handed solo method superior to the tool-using or cooperation method. That is your personal bias.

    Maybe not your exact personal bias and maybe you agree with me on the whole rock-lifting dilemma, but you can extrapolate to other examples and see what I’m getting at.

  408. morgan says

    Jen, I love you to bits. If I had a granddaughter I would wish she were you. I’m all in. And for jadehawk re a logo, try using the red A with the plus sign raised and to the right. As in A to the + power.

    Once more into the breach my friends…

  409. says

    Title 9 was a horrible idea. The INTENT of getting more girls opportunities for sports was fine, but the mechanism by which they forced it actually resulted in LESS collegiate sports.

    And then there’s this. The INTENT of Title IX was to remove discrimination that kept women from participating in all kinds of federally funded educational/collegiate endeavors, from science to sports. Title IX concerned itself not at all with increasing the total number of students participating in sports, or increasing the number of sports. Are women participating more in everything from science to sports and facing less discrimination? That’s the question you have to answer before writing off Title IX as a horrible idea and/or failure.

    Even Men’s sports which were able to sustain themselves (like Rugby) were cut from school programs because there were not enough women who wanted to participate in sports and that meant the ratios for athletes were off and thus the mens sports had to be cut.

    Resources are scarce. There’s no right to play rugby under the college umbrella. And there are other ways to reduce the number of male athletes without cutting entire sports, and schools have the freedom to choose how they do it. But where sports meets academics meets college meets money is a huge topic that would derail this conversation. I only bring it up because men playing rugby within an official college athletics department supported by college money is the kind of very specific example that has nothing to do with why Title IX was enacted in the first place, and is kind of a red herring.

  410. Albatross says

    We lurkers are like the Grey Host; call upon us and we’ll come thundering from beyond the pale.

  411. cityzenjane says

    +A is MUCH better….and avoids that front of the class teacher’s pet thing as well… And to be honest… social justice comes first for me… Atheism is a philosophic position I arrived at having been oppressed by religion (among other things…)

    So YES!

  412. Ze Madmax says

    Uh. Sure they are. I understand this can be hard to grok by those that think atheism/skepticism must be done by everyone pretending to be Spock-Mentat hybrid, but that’s not really how humans operate.

    The way one feels in a given situation is extremely valuable data, as shown by research on chilly climate and stereotype threat.

  413. carlie says

    Damn, but you’re ignorant. Go back to the beginning and read all of the actual firsthand accounts of actual harassment, and then come back and say feelings aren’t facts.

  414. A'Llyn says

    Deep Rifts! Deep Rifts! Deep Rifts!

    I’m so on this side of the Rifts, which honestly cannot be too Deep if they separate me from people who think rape and death threats are amusing and/or appropriate responses to anything,

  415. cityzenjane says

    Confounding expression of your privilege(s) will get you kicked out of the Boys Club fast enough, not to worry.

    Do wish people who enjoy certain privileges (me white, generally straight) would stop apologizing for it. There is not need… what there is a need for is to actively undermine those systems where and when you can.

    You need not apologize for the skin you were born into. IMHO.

    Simply be an active traitor to this system of privileges.

  416. mel says

    So links to posts or comments expressing threats of rape and violence are no facts? Feelings are not facts you are right, however cornering people in elevators or alone in rooms are facts. Do those count or are you going to now say well those aren’t really harassment, besides no one saw them.

  417. Rieux says

    Never mind–question answered!

    (Reading this thread took so long I didn’t notice Jen had posted again.)

  418. David Marjanović says

    In French, A+ is short for à plus, which means things like “see you later”.

  419. Don C says

    What u r describing Jen is atheism plus humanism. Humanists stand for all these positive things….but a few may believe in a god. They..like all humanists…believe it is we humans who must solve our problems without supernatural appeal or intervention. So I favor your term ‘atheism plus’. The plus may then be simply explained as humanism….instead of having to enumerate all we stand for. Other options might be pantheism or humatheism.

  420. Sally Strange says

    We’re not talking about scumbags here. We’re talking about bigots. Having bigots in the movement alienates the people who are the targets of the bigotry. Failing to kick the bigots out ensures that the movement will always remain small.

    How telling that you can’t seem to process that groups can grow without relying on adding more white men in order to do so.

  421. MeesterMike says

    Very well said. I was worried you were going to drop out of the movement altogether, which would have been a huge loss. Count me among the members of your boys and girls club!

  422. Julia says

    Ah, great to see a fellow female vet tech. atheist. Back to the subject: I really do hope that this A+ movement gains more than majority status so I and other women will feel comfortable to attend meetings and participate online as an “out” female. When I attend a meeting about atheism/skepticism to discuss the relevant topics I want to be without worry that fellow attendees will have another motive in being personable. As an aspie [Asperger's] I have already been victim to mixed motives from several males in my life starting at age 5 or 6. I do not want to have to be suspicious of all males I talk to online or in person that are in the atheist/skeptic movement.

  423. Mushukyo says

    I registered just to comment on this and I wanted to say: Jen- Don’t let the haters get you down. You are doing great work and I think A+ is an awesome idea.

  424. Johnny says

    Males for 3rd wave atheism!!!!

    Outstanding article. Thanks so much for posting. While we may not agree on our view of religion, I think it’s time that we took the power in our movement away from the scientists and started to give it to the activists; the ones that care about change and equality and not selling books.

  425. says

    For those who don’t know about the differences in brains between the sexes:
    http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=brain+development+differences+gender

    For how title 9 is killing men’s sports…
    http://savingsports.blogspot.com/2010/12/john-stossel-on-unintended-effects-of.html
    http://espn.go.com/espnw/title-ix/7959799/the-silent-enemy-men-sports
    Which again points out it is the IMPLEMENTATION not the intent that is the problem, just as I stated.

    And for Karen, yes, the strongest men physically can lift far more than a women can. THAT IS A VALID COMPARISON and IT DOES SHOW THAT IN SOME WAYS MEN ARE PHYSICALLY SUPERIOR. And, I also stated there are ways in which women are physically superior. The point is, there ARE real differences, and to argue there isn’t or that they are meaningless is to ignore reality. Even around our office, men do the vast majority of the lifting of office equipment because, in the vast majority of the cases, the men are physically better suited to doing so, being stronger, taller and having better leverage. To try and insure that women do the same job as the men is simply not directly feasible in almost every environment. Nor is it really necessary. As long as all the work is getting done, nobody really cares that the women take on the majority of some other office tasks as it all balances out in the end.

  426. says

    WHY would we take any power away from scientists? And just what POWER do you think they have? Are facts, logic, rational thought and an ability to use their education now considered some kind of super power??

    I want MORE scientists in this world, and I only wish they actually were able to wield some real power.

  427. Dennis S. says

    I have never been a member of an atheist organization and I was horrified and surprised to learn that atheist men were treating women so badly. I, naively too, thought that atheists and more rational people in general would all be feminists and strident defenders of civil rights for all legitimate claimants and would act appropriately.

    Hypothesis: men who attend atheist/sceptic conventions are more likely to be misogynist a**holes/bigots than atheists who stay home. If true, perhaps we find better ways to convince more of the atheist community to attend (especially folks who are not hetero white males).

    As I believe that atheism will eventually be the default worldview and the need to espouse and defend it will fall away, hopefully within my son’s lifetime, it will necessarily have become the widest tent. So, one way to see the task could be to find a way where one who is “of course” an atheist is also, “of course” a feminist, and general, all-around strong supporter of equality for all. I think it is a great idea that atheist groups, in other words, should attempt to explicitly hold more in common than nonbelief in god(s). Perhaps this ‘more in common’ starts as simply rules for behavior at meetings or in public. (Also, a metaethics, like Sean Carrol has noted is largely missing, needs to be worked out – or at least better presented as such to this community by philosophers and other critical thinkers.)

    Would it be enough of a start to have such rules/laws written down, widely known, and enforced in the main (national/transnational) atheist groups? Whatever it takes so that we can actually inherit and make our own the values of the enlightenment, extended far beyond what some of the enlightenment thinkers considered, no doubt. Sapere aude.

  428. Utakata says

    …meanwhile, while having a chuckle at taking back what is ours, you might want to look behind you. As we’re in the process of dumping our tea leaves in the Slimepit harbor. Viva la revolucion, moron.

  429. opposablethumbs says

    If we have nothing to say about this stuff other than, “we don’t want to talk about it”, why should anybody see us as a useful worldview?

    QFT. To pretend that atheism has nothing to do with social justice issues is to gut it and leave no more than an intellectual conceit: factually correct, certainly, but of no particular relevance to anyone’s life.

    Definitely an A+ OP!

  430. Steersman says

    Interesting article and I’m sorry to hear about the apparently extensive nature of the sexual harassment you’ve been subjected to.

    However, I can’t help but note several problematic statements of yours. For instance, I really don’t see that “Paula Kirby decided we’re all feminazis and femistasis” is particularly accurate or credible as I read that article of hers quite closely and I see nothing like that at all. In addition, while I’ll concede that many of the “men” – and I use the term loosely – commenting about the “15 year old girl” and her receiving a Carl Sagan book were at least boors, I would say that the young lady in question was anything but “nonsexual”, as Rebecca Watson argued, as her own comment which initiated that sequence betrayed a sexual knowledge that belied her tender years. In addition, I wonder if you might point me to the page on Skepchick where Ms. Watson has listed all of the “rape and death threats” she has received – as Richard Dawkins has done with his posting of the letters and threats he has received on “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” pages of his website.

    Seems to me that if you want to make a credible case for your argument you might want to be more circumspect about making categorical statements or ones with insufficient evidence to justify them. Tends to raise a question or two about the rest of the arguments presented …

  431. Jimmy Joe says

    Great post. So jealous that I can’t be this articulate. Want to add:
    Atheists plus pro GLBT rights.
    Atheists plus pro immigration policies.
    Mostly, thanks for being great. Don’t let the bastards get you down.

  432. says

    Two comments:

    First, thank you! Thank you for the wake up call, for putting into words what needs to be a serious part of a dialog that focuses on aspiring to be the best we can, as opposed to merely presuming that being an atheist makes one part of a superior subset of society. Rational criticism is best served evenhandedly. So very true.

    Next, like so many others, I also find the A+ concept appealing. I’d like to explain why it appeals to me, not as a badge of superiority, but as a catchy logo to help identify support for the positive aspirations so eloquently spelled out here. The term ‘atheist’ is a very simple description, after all: it describes a person who does not happen to believe in the existence of any gods. No more, no less. The A+ concept, however, not only emphasizes positive aspirations, but also signifies the addition of something more to the plain fact of atheism.

    Why add something else? Because, as we all know, being an atheist (i.e., being overtly free from theism) does not in and of itself mean that the person so described does not still suffer from, or even desperately cling to, many of the worst aspects of faith-based prejudice, sexism, unmitigated arrogance, irrationality, or violence. The ‘+’ indicates there is something more.

    Not a bad conversation starter!

  433. Bob Moynihan says

    This has gone on for so long, and had so many threads on many boards that seriously, to find a specific thread is a virtual impossibility, However, there was one thread i read in which a person familiar with venue security mentioned that those that felt they were sexually harassed should report the situation to venue security. He gave a very detailed, logical explanation of how venue security worked, what their job was, and why, regardless of the event or organization using the venue, the person feeling victimized should avail themselves of the venue security team. The poster, who was VERY supportive imho, was virtually disemboweled by the FTB community.

    Go ahead, feel morally superior. The fact of the matter is, there are people that want to be allies that this community has turned away. you don’t want to acknowledge it, not my problem.

    As i said before, good luck.

  434. scrutationaryarchivist says

    Actually, I would suggest having more than a single design. Part of the idea of inclusion means allowing a variety of expressions and iterations.

    If the symbols are consistent, a multitude of logos will still communicate the same message. Together in their diversity, they also communicate one of the larger points we are trying to make.

  435. rowanvt says

    I can pick up and carry significantly more weight than any of the men I work with.

    Who is physically superior now?

  436. markbrown says

    An atheist movement that doesn’t seek to promote social justice is merely a group of people being mean at the religious and gullible (which I believe is all the misogyny brigade is here for).

    I’m for social justice… where do I sign?

  437. Ysanne says

    First off: Great post, Jen!
    Second: I disagree, Gregory, because I think the problem isn’t that “just atheism” were inherently not enough substance for a good movement, and more that some assholes think that they can push others around without repercussion.

    I don’t want good causes like secularism and skepticism to die because they’re infested with people who see issues of equality as mission drift.

    Yes yes yes!

    I’m not sure if a new A+ movement that includes a left-progressive view on social issues (which I happen to share) is the answer to this problem — after all, it’s perfectly ok for secularists and skeptics to disagree on issues of social justice, politics, feminism or whatever.

    I’m really sure though that people who erupt in verbal violence at the first hint of disagreement (seriously, rape threats as an argument for/against anything? wtf?), and who claim that opposition to bullying in the movement amounts to mission drift should be excluded from ANY movement that is concerned with ANY worthwhile cause, and specifically skepticism. Because they’re simply assholes who want to keep bullying without repercussions. Because they make constructive debate and action impossible. Because they are great examples of irrational hate-filled bullying, i.e. of not-skeptical thinking.

  438. Lux aeterna says

    Long time FTB reader, first time commenter. De-lurking, with rock fingers in the air, to say “wheeeeeee! count me in!”.

    And now I go back to preparing for a committee meeting.

  439. EdW says

    Just adding my voice to the support. Let’s make this bowel movement into a movement. Nothing else to say that hasn’t been said already, but I’m adding a “+” to my atheist A T-shirt.

  440. cityzenjane says

    1. You need to read more research on what differences there are and and what the potential impacts *may* be.

    2. Who cares? Brain differences and their potential effects are not relevant to THIS topic in any way shape or form.

    3. Stop derailing.

  441. scrutationaryarchivist says

    Sine,

    First of all, welcome.

    Second, your accidental comment about entomology reminded me of an XKCD comic, number 1012. If you’ve never read XKCD, I recommend it.

  442. ryangerber says

    Dammit, one day late and I’m already at the bottom of a thread long enough to build the biggest ball of twine in minnesota.

    You have my axe.

  443. says

    That’s great, but are you trying to imply that your situation is the norm in most places? I would assume the answer to that is no. You might, after all, be working at a nursing home surrounded by men all in their 80′s and beyond. I’m willing to bet that I could out lift you and as could many of the men that I work, play or just hang around with. And I am 44 years old with a blown out knee, serious shoulder damage and related back muscle atrophy. Of course, I work out regularly and did a lot of PT to overcome those injuries, but while I am pretty fit, there are plenty of men in better shape than I am. I do work at a military facility with plenty of women in that gym. Not ONE woman in there can lift as much as I can (set of 10) in ANY category of lifting and many of them are in better physical shape than I am.

  444. Drew says

    I am livid about the hate in the “atheist movement” but I’m honestly not sure what to do. I don’t even like thinking of us as a “movement”. I haven’t moved. I’ve always been here! Yes, I’m one of those privileged people. White, male, cis, grew up middle-class, dull, raised by a feminist mom, can’t match his socks with his sandals, et al.

    First, I don’t think that people mistreating one another has anything to do with atheism so if there’s a third wave and it gets back to something more like “secular humanism”, I’m on board. That’s about how people behave with people. If it’s “3rd wave athiesm – now without the trolls” I’m not so sure that’s my thing and I don’t expect it to take off.

    Second, I completely forgot that you were “Boobquake Jen”. I just remembered you as funny, athiest Jen who moved to the PNW when I moved away (with a snifle of sorrow for myself) whose blog I read once in a while. There’s an important point you may have to make for folks who show up here on the blog. What’s the difference between you being in control of your body and someone else being in control? What’s the difference between you leading Boobquake vs someone else sexualizing and/or harassing people? Yes, I know the difference but I think that’s fundamental and *probably lost on a lot of folks*. Especially guys who think everything they say and do is driven by some kind of innate logic that trumps anything else. Again, though, this seems more like something humanists or feminists would say than athiests . . .

    Third, I’m finished enumerating but everything needs a third, right? Makes it seem more formal and finished.

    You have my support for whatever that’s worth.

  445. cityzenjane says

    Watch as the majority of secular/skeptic/atheists move away fast from your “movement”…because a real movement involves a diverse range of people. It’s actually you that thought you owned this movement (it’s not one yet)…but what you actually had was a pair of air quotes with nothing in it but a thin thread of non-belief.

    This is why people have pointed out building a movement on a negation is a faulty start. It should be obvious why that is now. That was not a movement but a Mutual Admiration and Soft Target Pwnage Society.

    New footing – building on solid ground…critical thinking in most cases ends up in a commitment to social justice…

    What’s funny to me is you still think you’re being asked for permission to reset the ground rules…. You’re not!

    Train is leaving the station….woot!

  446. Papzee says

    Feminism is the camouflage word for “feminazi”. It is ofcourse bullshit in the premises of atheism since everything falls under “secular humanism” since the rights of the slaves have been earned. Feminazis are average looking individuals with not much to show for face or body. So since men won’t treat the same pretty vs ugly women feminazis have issues. (Just to let you know, it does happen to men and we don’t complain either)

    Do you know why? Because some of us grew up. We accept that life is not fair and that sex is dynamic. We accept that our society will judge people of how they look..in the same way you feel “harassed”, “threatened” or whatever just because some people told you off. Same thing happened with that elevator c*nt. Sad and immature women trying to solve the issues of why they are not getting laid. and no..pink color won’t cut it..i seriously do not understand what is with feminazis and pink hair. I consider myself a freethinker but i came across way too many of you and you do seem like a cult because you look. act and behave the same.

    moto: the hate for the phallus.. the bullshit of patriarchy and all that crap.

    The only person segregating is you. you think you are being persecuted..you think you are “perfect” but at the same time you attack sexual behaviour because YOU find it inappropriate…you segregate haptic and linguistic behaviour and call it “wrong”…not because of “critical thought” but because you look like an upside-down fuck with no glitter..( and don;t you dare talk to me about rape because most rape happens in families and people that know each other)…what happens in public places though with people wanting to get it on…they will treat a pretty lady like a queen and probably come to you quite rude just for a fuck..because thats the reality…you are not appealing to the current social and sexual trends…sexism will always exist because people need to fuck. people will segregate because sex is a dynamic mechanism that needs competition.

    trust me…every time i see a woman or a man like you…i do troll the shit of them because they are mostly psychos that got like that due to luck of sex.

  447. says

    “People shat themselves with rage at the suggestion that cons should have anti-sexual harassment policies.”

    If conferences or conventions SHOULD have anti-harassment policies (I’m not 100% convinced that they should or must) then we should be clear here that what we would be, or should be, implementing are *anti-harassment policies*, not *anti-sexual harassment policies*.

    I would hope we wouldn’t need to have anti-harassment policies, because I would hope that sensible, reasonable, mature adults can behave respectably – and reasonably, sensibly, tactfully correct any person’s behaviour which is an outlier, which in all but the most extreme cases shouldn’t and wouldn’t involve throwing them out of the conference, and I think, I hope, we can do that as decent human beings without forcing all the adults at the conference to abide by specific behavioural rules set out to them like schoolchildren.

    However, I digress. Whether or not harassment policies should exist is basically a separate discussion altogether. For the sake of argument right now let’s suppose yes, they should exist.

    If we’re going to have conference anti-harassment policies, then they should be anti-harassment policies, which are drawn up and implemented with the goal of preventing any harassment of any person for any reason. Race, gender, religion, social skills, favourite comic book, whatever. No harassment of anybody, for any reason, is appropriate.

    (Of course, before the creationists and anti-vaccinationists jump in, rational, respectable critical debate about your scientific claims and scientific review or debunking of your statements is never harassment of any kind.)

    What I’m saying is that preventing harassment is certainly not just about sexual harassment, and it’s not just about women. It’s important to remember that. Men are subject to sexual harassment too. Women and men are both subject to all kinds of harassment, which is undesirable and unacceptable, which is not sexual harassment. It’s crucially important to remember that when framing this discussion.

  448. jaimeadams5 says

    “You only have to look at the way the vast majority of mammalian inter-sex interactions to conclude that “Mother Nature” wanted the male of the species dominant.”

    Honey, why don’t you do yourself a favour and get a copy of Bruce Bagemil’s “Biological Exuberance”. I know you put in “majority” to absolve yourself of the ‘exceptions’, but there’s far less male dominance than you presume, particularly since traditionally, observation of animals in the wild has interpreted actions and interactions with eyes of the times (often sexist, homophobic and misogynist, etc).

  449. quantheory says

    *applauds*

    I’ve always been interested in science (and philosophy), but what really attracted me to organized (skeptical, humanistic) atheism was its power to respond frankly to the injustice of religion. Nothing is quite so clear a rebuttal to religious hatred as saying a) your hatred is based on something that is objectively, factually wrong, and b) the fact that your bad behavior is based in religion is irrelevant: it is morally wrong either way. It was at first bewildering, then appalling to realize that so many atheists did not value this at all, or, worse, were unable to percieve the blatant injustices that they themselves committed.

    Frankly, I don’t have it too bad myself. I’m male and more-or-less present myself as such. I almost always pass as white without effort, which neatly exempts me from implicit bias and awkward encounters. I’m bisexual, but atheists are overwhelmingly more accepting of homosexuality than the general population (at least *in principle*).

    But from a queer perspective, and from the perspective of someone who has dated women who approach relationships in a non-stereotypical way, there are still so many common-yet-bizarre myths and bad attitudes floating about in the atheist community, and these have been disturbing to watch even as a man who didn’t express much in the way of feminist sentiment before.

    Perhaps the most obvious one is the antagonistic model of sexual relationships, the “I’m a man who’s always horny, but women are not, so we will always be ‘disagreeing’ about sexual boundaries and manipulating each other.” mentality. You get the restrained, ‘geeky’ versions of this attitude, the “nice guys” and some of the bullshittiest bullshit in evo psych. You also get the outright nasty versions, the POA’s, the unabashed rape apologetics…

    Besides the obvious (well, they should be obvious) ethical issues here, what really bothers me is that the antagonistic model does not even seem to be an *adult* approach to relationships. I don’t see how anyone can even operate on this level unless profound ignorance prevents them from accurately empathizing with individuals of the opposite sex. And yet you have this whole population of people who will jump all over you for pointing out how idiotic and hurtful this mindset is. A whole population of “skeptics”, even, exerting massive amounts of energy in defending a totally dysfunctional, often dangerous attitude toward sex.

    This is just one example, of course. There’s also a lot of unthinking nonsense along a few, well, historically common patterns.

    “I’m tired of hearing about issue A, but rather than ignoring that discussion I’m going to complain endlessly about having to listen to it, even in spaces that are devoted entirely to discussing A, and even in other people’s personal spaces that don’t exist to cater to my whims.”

    “I think that problem B has already been solved (even though there’s empirical evidence that it was not), so I’m going to regard all attempts to address B with suspicion, like maybe they’re an unfair attempt to exploit members of the dominant group.”

    “Group C has a problem, but it’s not my problem, so any organization that focuses on things that *are* my problem should not expend any effort toward helping C.”

    It’s troubling that we see these attitudes at all. It’s even more troubling that they are directed primarily toward women.

    It bugs me to see people wallow in ridiculous ignorance. It irritates me to see that people who claim to be politically allied with me act like total assholes. It infuriates me to see women whose well-being I care about being targeted for threats and harrassment. It shames me that, as a man, I’m implicitly expected to agree with these ideas I find repulsive. It worries me that these attitudes are often the very same attitudes that have been used to oppress queer people. It’s disquieting to see how very much certain people, who believe racism is largely solved, sound racist. And it’s depressing to realize that sometimes we don’t seem to have much of an international “game plan”, a way to deal with the fact that in many regions expressing one’s atheism (or any form of religious dissent!) is not just a social risk, but presents considerable physical danger, danger to which no one should ever be subjected.

    So I whole-heartedly agree. Whether it’s a “third wave” in atheism, or whatever else that may come, we need a movement that’s inclusive… but doesn’t accept bigoted bullshit from atheists, any more than it accepts religious bullshit. And one that doesn’t tolerate violence, threats, or harrassment, period. (Well, subject to the atypical exceptions, self-defense and so forth.)

    Trying to craft a movement that’s totally “unified”, by accepting unethical conduct from our own members and making no move toward remedying injustice? Worse than useless, if it could even be done. It would be making us into something that does not present an ethical alternative to religion in the first place. Responsibility first, power second.

  450. callistacat says

    Oh, Bob. Someone disagreed with you and you think that means they’re calling you a misogynist? Did they call you one? I missed that. A couple of people disagreed with you and you write them off. And I thought you were pro-disagreeing about stuff.
    Was that too harsh?

  451. cityzenjane says

    Rove and Ayn Rand though atheists are not people I have anything but that in common with. They HAVE a movement. I reject everything they have to contribute to life on earth.

    Their atheism – is a mere fact about them. We have no common cause. Rove for instance supports putting people in office who slash science, research and education programs…people who cut Thomas Jefferson and slavery out of history books, people who PUT IN GAWD WE TRUST on the money and added UNDER GOD to the pledge they now force on our children…

    He and his ilk (yes you libertarians) are in league with Christian Dominionists in a political alliance…

    Neither are allies in any sense of the term regardless of what they believe about God(s).

    So no. There is no common ground. Nor will there ever be.

  452. quantheory says

    Here are the obvious points:

    “I would hope we wouldn’t need to have anti-harassment policies”

    I hope that I don’t need life insurance, because I don’t plan to die this year. But I have it anyway because in my case it’s relatively cheap and it provides a form of security.

    I would hope that we wouldn’t need to have laws against murder, if I was hopelessly naive about everyone agreeing that murder is wrong, agreeing not to do it, and having perfect impulse control.

    I also hope that none of my sexual partners have ever had an STD, but I haven’t relied on that.

    Hoping you don’t need a security measure is a terrible reason to not adopt it, particularly when the cost of adoption is small.

    “What I’m saying is that preventing harassment is certainly not just about sexual harassment, and it’s not just about women. It’s important to remember that. Men are subject to sexual harassment too. Women and men are both subject to all kinds of harassment, which is undesirable and unacceptable, which is not sexual harassment. It’s crucially important to remember that when framing this discussion.”

    A) Is it important, actually, for this *particular* discussion? Let’s pretend for a moment, just hypothetically, that we live in a world where all harrassment is sexual and only ever targets women. Would that make a difference as to whether or not one should have a policy against it?

    B) As far as I can see, no one has been advocating a harrassment policy that only focuses on women, and only on sexual harrassment. Quite the opposite, really. If you are arguing against that position, you are addressing a straw person.

    C) If you are instead arguing that proponents of such policies should emphasizing the fact that the policies protect both genders from lots of problems, then point taken; that might actually be helpful. But it doesn’t change the fact that sexual harrassment against women is the pa