Richard Dawkins disappoints me yet again


From Veronica at Purple NoiZe:

Good for you Lucy. Good for you. There are numerous women who have, but I’m glad you’re not one of them.

The problem, however, with this tweet is of course the second sentence. Lucy seems to be saying that either is the abuse imagined, i.e. that the recipients interpret the abuse as sexist while it is actually just for laughs or something. It is a little tricky to treat death and rape threats as funny jokes, but I suppose if you’re naive enough you could manage it. The other option is that the abuse women receive online is caused by women assuming these people are misogynists, therefore the sexism is really the victim’s fault for being so uppity. The classic victim blaming that we so often see of rape victims.

So yeah, Lucy. You’re full of shit.

… and Richard Dawkins retweeted it.

Looks like Dawkins hasn’t learned anything in the last year. And this is why you shouldn’t have idols, folks.

Comments

  1. Nikoel says

    “I don’t see sexism, therefore it doesn’t exist!”

    I’m pretty sure that’s in ‘Derailing for Dummies’ but I can’t prove it because apparently they’ve exceeded their bandwidth.

    Dawkins doesn’t give two shits about women. He just likes to use them as pawns to prove how evil religion is. Us uppity atheist ladies don’t appreciate how good we have it!

  2. Robert (SeraphymC) says

    I learned mcuh about evolution from Richard Dawkins books. Also, he writes as if he believed in the equality of women in several places in his books. His behavior however suggests otherwise.

    I am grateful for the evolutionary knowledge, but he’s still an influential asshole who is now part of the problem.

  3. says

    I am a woman & never experienced sexual abuse from fellow atheist, but I understand my experience is not everyone’s experience. Maybe it is because I know I am not the final arbiter of what every women should feel.

  4. says

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again — Richard Dawkins is the George W. Bush of the atheist movement: waging the wrong war, against people who have done no wrong, based on false pretenses, for no reason other than to enhance his own standing as “the decider,” without regard to the welfare of the movement or its ability to do any good in the outside world.

    At least Bush Jr. could plead ignorance as an excuse, and everyone can see he slept through all his classes and really doesn’t know any better. PROFESSOR Dawkins doesn’t even have that excuse.

  5. says

    What happened to the “consciousness raising” Dawkins? Remember him?

    Was that just a ruse, or has he stopped caring about the feminist movement that he so often lauded in his speaking engagements as an shining example of shifting/improving moral values?

    I’m chagrined that Dawkins has such a huge glaring blind-spot regarding sexual harassment in the atheist community.

    Between the “Dear Muslima” crap and his thuggish scorning of RW and co., I’m finding it really hard to remember why I used to hold him in such high regard.

    Stick to the science, Professor; your social commentary is abysmal.

  6. Donovan says

    I think Dawkins is a wonderful humans being, but far from perfect. Like so many cultural giants before him, he has deep flaws that have been laid bare. Kennedy was a womanizing bastard, but did help propel women’s rights. I’m not excusing any behavior, though. There is never any excuse to treat half the population as sex toys, no matter how much respect you have for such toys.

    I vehemently disagree with him on this issue, and many more I’m sure. He has disappointed me. If he refuses hear reason, then it is perhaps best he be removed from speaking lists and allowed to fade into myth. But despite these serious and rather ignorant tweets and statements, I don’t think he can be demoted from his incredible importance in bring atheism, freethought, and humanism to the height it is now. Despite his flaws, I respect most of his previous career.

  7. says

    NOOOOOOOOOO

    Someone dammit Dawkins! Some people should never have been granted access to twitter. Now he is quoting chill girls. On the other hand I am glad to see him be criticized for turning full blown asshole. If he really was the pope of atheism, as creationists love to claim, we would just quietly ignore his misogynist apologetics.

  8. says

    Who would have imagined such behavior from someone who with some success made as a symbol for all atheism a certain style letter “A” with his name under it.

  9. oolon says

    He’ll be linking to articles from a Voice for Men next :-)

    Just goes to show competence in one area does not guarantee it in any other. Thunderf00t is a good case in point, good at laughing at creationists and good at science… Less good at understanding feminism. I’ve not really liked the term privilege when used in its most disdainful way but how else can you explain such intelligent people being so blind?

  10. woo_monster says

    Why retweet that message, Richard? Why not just write it yourself?

    I am an old white man & atheist advocate, & I have never experienced sexist abuse from fellow atheists. Maybe cause I don’t assume they are misogynists?

    – Sincerely, faux-progressive Richard Dawkins

    It would be no less fallacious than inferring general truths about systematic sexism from Lucy Wainwright’s singular personal experience.

    It is embarrassing to see such an obviously intelligent person fail to grasp such simple concepts and, worse than that, to vocally and proudly display their failure of comprehension.

    I think Veronica at Purple NoiZe nailed it:

    …either is the abuse imagined, i.e. that the recipients interpret the abuse as sexist while it is actually just for laughs or something…The other option is that the abuse women receive online is caused by women assuming these people are misogynists, therefore the sexism is really the victim’s fault for being so uppity. The classic victim blaming that we so often see of rape victims.

    I tend to think Dawkins thinks along the lines of the former option. Hysterical wimmenz be seeing sexism everywhere. Those feminazis think every manly man is a misogynist and so they delude themselves into thinking that they are being abused, when of course, they are just being oversensitive and fluffy-brained.

  11. kbonn says

    =[ I don’t agree with the way Lucy made her point, nor do I agree with the response of some people. Yet, can we talk about the point? Perceived hostility towards a group(privileged or no) will often result in some of that group responding with increased hostility. IE, “You think I am a misogynist, so I will act like one towards you, and/or make rape threats” mentality. I am not suggesting it is justified behavior, but can we at least address the greater point rather than only the specific way one person tried to get it across?

  12. woo_monster says

    Yet, can we talk about the point?

    I guess you are right in that Lucy (and Richard’s, presumably) point hasn’t been discussed that much. I would guess that the reason it hasn’t been addressed that thoroughly is because most of us see it as so obviously abhorrent.

    Look at what the point is, according to you,

    Perceived hostility towards a group(privileged or no) will often result in some of that group responding with increased hostility. IE, “You think I am a misogynist, so I will act like one towards you, and/or make rape threats” mentality. I am not suggesting it is justified behavior, but can we at least address the greater point rather than only the specific way one person tried to get it across?

    And now I will address it. This is a shitty, victim-blaming point. There. Addressed.

    As you yourself said (and I italicized for you for emphasis) this behavior is not justified. Misogyny and rape threats are never justified. Even if someone incorrectly takes you for a misogynist and (in your mind) rudely labels you one, you are never justified in being misogynistic or rapey. Easy peasy.

  13. woo_monster says

    I made a mistake using the nested comments feature. I replied to you, kbonn, at subthread #12. That being said, Drivebyposter made my essential point more efficiently.

  14. says

    The “greater point” appears to be “If you think I’m something I’m not, my response will be to demonstrate that you’re right.” That makes sense…how?

  15. Rey Fox says

    “Women are equal because I say so, and I deserve brownie points for not making them wear burqas.”

    I don’t believe that Dawkins is misogynist (as the shrieking Dawkins fanclub would say we do), but I would characterize him as unbearably paternalist. Frankly, I wonder if Rebecca Watson’s dyed hair freaks him out.

  16. Ze Madmax says

    kbonn, if a person thinks that rape threats (or any other sort of threat for that matter) is a valid response to being called a misogynist by a woman, then that person is behaving in a misogynistic manner, and therefore the label of misogynist is appropriate

  17. woo_monster says

    kbonn is under the impression that the argument,

    “If you think I’m something I’m not, my response will be to demonstrate that you’re right.”

    needs a thorough dissection before we dismiss it

  18. Rey Fox says

    Lucy’s point is that she wants to throw women atheists under the bus because she thinks it will protect herself. If she wanted to make an observation about sexist pushback, she could have just honestly made that observation rather than forming it into a sarcastic, accusatory question.

    And anyway, it’s not always talking about misogyny and rape culture and suchlike that makes one the target of harassment. Jen got it for creating Boobquake. How about that?

  19. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Jen, pretty please would you consider turning off nested comments? I really want to keep up with conversations on your blog but it’s just horrendous and impossible to know which comments are new. I know you probably don’t see it as an admin, but as a user the long threads. . .awful. I give up and leave.

    I wish other FtB bloggers would not use this feature either. It’s very badly implemented.

  20. Rey Fox says

    Perceived hostility towards a group(privileged or no) will often result in some of that group responding with increased hostility.

    And while I’m at it, what group are you referring to here? Men, or assholes?

  21. kbonn says

    Of course, I agree with you 100%, but does that mean we can’t evaluate how the message it getting out and if it is being done in the best way possible with the greatest chance for success?

    Look, privilege is a difficult concept to get used to, particularly if it is introduced to you in a manner that you find to be rude and/or hostile. It seems that there is a large percentage of male atheists that think they are viewed as in the wrong just by being male. For every one of them that becomes a rape-threat misogynist troll, there is at least one more that tunes out of the discussion(I would guess).

    Let me be clear, I do not think that anyone who has had rape threats “deserved it” or “brought it upon themselves”, or that it is ever justified. However, there is clearly a communication breakdown over this, and regardless of the ratios, they are never completely one sided. 50%-50%, 10%-90%, 80%-20%, Whatever it breaks down to, can the message be delivered in a way that is perceived as less hostile towards that group?

    I don’t support what Lucy said or that Dawkins retweeted it, however what I presume Lucy is trying to say is a problem, even if it isn’t due to the reason she thinks.

  22. says

    +1 to Josh’s point about nested threads, which I HATE HATE HATE WITH THE WHITE-HOT PASSION OF A THOUSAND BURNING SUNS!!!

    First, a blog post and subsequent comments are like a group of people (small or large) in a circle talking about something. Whatever one person says is heard equally by everyone in the circle, and what another person says in response to that is also heard by everyone. Everyone hears what everyone else says, and what is said is fair game for everyone to respond to. Nested threads create an impression that the discussion group can be broken up into subgroups talking past each other, which I don’t think is a good form of informal interaction in either cyberspace or meatspace. If you want to respond only to one other member of the group, use email FFS!

    Second, if I want to respond to more than one comment at once, where in a nested thread do I comment? Again, all the branching threads and subthreads serve to break up a conversation that should stay unified.

    Third, the problems of nested threads are made worse by the limited number of subthread levels. I often find myself replying to a comment by hitting “Reply” to the comment above it, which totally defeats what little purpose nested threads serve.

    Fourth, a blog thread can only take so many levels of indentation before the layout looks like crap, there’s way too much white-space, and even the shortest comments can’t fit on a screen because they only have a half-inch of column width.

    Fifth, if I’m lookikng for recent comments in a thread, nested threads mean I have to look EVERYWHERE, not just at the bottom of the page.

    So yeah, I, for one, would really appreciate it if you turned off the nesting feature. Ed doesn’t have nesting, and the arguments are much easier to follow.

  23. kbonn says

    Generally I am talking about people who are new to the discussion, and/or don’t understand the concept of privilege.

    Point is, if a group(of men, women, assholes, martians) perceive a message as hostile towards them, or (more accurately)put forth in a hostile manner, do you think they are going to truly consider it, or even read all of it? What are the chances they will truly read, comprehend and then evaluate it on its own merits. Pretty low I’d say.

    Assholes don’t have to be assholes, but if you start a conversation by telling them they are one, odds are they aren’t going to listen to you.

    If someone thinks that you are calling them an asshole, they might respond like an asshole. This doesn’t mean they are always one or cannot be reached.

  24. Deepak Shetty says

    Im a non-believer and fortunately I have never experienced discrimination by religious people. Maybe Richard will retweet that?

  25. kbonn says

    Alright, I am admittedly new to this community so I am sure I will run into this a lot. It is a lot harder for me to judge how systemic a problem really is having to play catch-up. But I am just trying to make suggestions to better the situation, apologies if it has all been tried already.

    Also, +1 on nested comments, They are great in theory, but given the format of this website, I do not think they work very well.

  26. woo_monster says

    Of course, I agree with you 100%, but does that mean we can’t evaluate how the message it getting out and if it is being done in the best way possible with the greatest chance for success?

    And I find your emphasis on discussing the framing of how we criticize obviously misogynistic, victim-blaming* bullshit to be derailing and insensitive.

    *again, Lucy’s point could either mean 1) the abuse is imagined, or 2) the victim brings on the abuse by their own actions

    Look, privilege is a difficult concept to get used to, particularly if it is introduced to you in a manner that you find to be rude and/or hostile

    Privilege is a difficult concept to grok for many. I am not convinced that rude and/or hostile introductions of the concept necessarily make it harder to grasp. I am also not convinced being overly patient and polite works well for all either. Different approaches work for different people. I am very rude sometimes. And sometimes I am quite civil.

    For every one of them that becomes a rape-threat misogynist troll, there is at least one more that tunes out of the discussion(I would guess).

    If someone were honestly trying to understanding concepts of privilege, but is turned off by the rudeness of some of the people trying to educate, they may find a less rude source. If someone would do misogynistic trolling in response to someone rudely pointing out the concept of privilege, they are not justified. They could go find a 101-level resource, they could educate themselves. Regardless, this point about rude feminists turning people into misogynists is stupid, is effectively a silencing attempt, and reeks of victim blaming (just as Lucy’s point does)

    Let me be clear, I do not think that anyone who has had rape threats “deserved it” or “brought it upon themselves”, or that it is ever justified. However…

    Yes, but…

    Whatever it breaks down to, can the message be delivered in a way that is perceived as less hostile towards that group?

    Until I see good solid evidence (links, please) to substantiate the oft-made claim that rude and hostile reactions actively diminish the effectiveness of the criticism, I will continue to say “pish posh” to your tone-trolling.

    I don’t support what Lucy said or that Dawkins retweeted it, however what I presume Lucy is trying to say is a problem, even if it isn’t due to the reason she thinks.

    The phenomenon Lucy is getting at (under your interpretation) is a problem. But the problem is not with victims being rude and insulting towards the asshat misogynists, as you, Richard, and Lucy seem to be implying.

    Cut it out.

  27. Gus Snarp says

    Dawkins’ Twitter feed has become really infuriating lately. Occasionally dropping these little balls of dung that could vaguely be related to some issue currently being hotly debated in the blogosphere, but maybe they’re not, maybe they’re perfectly reasonable, as they might be if said in a vacuum, or about something else entirely, but then never offering any explanation or context to clarify the actual stance he’s taking… at least here he’s owning up to it. He doesn’t believe that sexism exists in the atheist community or that any woman has ever been harassed by an atheist – which is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, because one cannot make such a sweeping generalization about ANY group. Or wait, maybe he’s still not being honest, after all, it’s just a retweet, maybe he doesn’t agree with it. Maybe he disagrees and is being ironic…

    For someone so willing to be upfront and honest about things when dealing with creationists or Catholicism, he’s being awfully shadowy on sexism.

  28. kbonn says

    Not suggesting it makes sense, but I think it is observable behavior.

    The notion of “If I am going to be punished I will do something worth of punishment” that some children do. Same idea, “If I am going to be labeled XXX, I will earn it.” Of course, in the adult world, that makes you an asshole.

  29. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    For someone so willing to be upfront and honest about things when dealing with creationists or Catholicism, he’s being awfully shadowy on sexism.

    It’s deliberate passive-aggressive taunting and it’s disgusting.

  30. Deepak Shetty says

    Shades of some fundamentalist Muslims react violently to criticisms of Islam. can we acknowledge that criticising Islam may be a problem? I wonder how Richard would react to such arguments (actually I don’t wonder, I know). Does that address your greater point?

  31. ChasCPeterson says

    Why retweet that message, Richard?

    Why indeed? Was he suddenly so struck by the cogent reasoning behind Wainwright’s chill perspective that he thought he should share her wisdom with all of his followers all over the world?

    Bit of interesting context I just noticed:
    The tweet and retweet happened like Sunday and/or Monday, no? I was interested to learn from Wainwright’s blog that she had spent Saturday night drinking, chatting, and “dancing to Russian folk music with Richard Dawkins”.
    Perhaps he thought he was doing a favor to a new acquaintance.

  32. says

    I’m starting to think Dawkins has outlived his usefulness as an atheist icon. I read The God Delusion, and I loved Unweaving the Rainbow and The Greatest Show On Earth, but now…what is there left for him to say? Perhaps we’ve covered enough ground on evolutionary biology, the value of science, and other topics on which he’s an expert, and many of us are headed in a direction in which we don’t need him to lead. One may get the impression that his feelings are hurt because we’re not asking for his input in setting the agenda anymore.

  33. woo_monster says

    It is a lot harder for me to judge how systemic a problem really is having to play catch-up

    I encourage you to do more reading and more catching up. Listen more, assert less.

    But I am just trying to make suggestions to better the situation, apologies if it has all been tried already.

    If you are sincerely trying to help, that is nice. But you are not helping by defending Lucy Wainwright’s point. And the conversation about rude vs. polite discourse has indeed been had many times before. Some blogs here at FtB have concluded that polite is the best option (Dan Fincke at Cammels with Hammers is the loudest opponent of insults/rudeness), others take a more moderate approach, and some take the no-holds barred approach.

    Also, +1 on nested comments, They are great in theory, but given the format of this website, I do not think they work very well.

    Agreed. I’m sure that the bloggers with the nested comments have their reasons for wanting them, and it is all up to them (I am not trying to usurp authority by putting in my two cents, Jen), but I prefer non-nested. It takes a lot more time to follow the thread in semi-real time (checking in and reading all missed comments frequently). Non-nested comments feel more like a conversation. Nested has its own advantages though. Individual subtopics are easy to follow and derails often are confined to subthreads and can be easily scrolled past. Usually, I end up coming back to a nested-comment thread that I want to read a few days later when it is complete-ish.

  34. kbonn says

    Two things. I am not suggesting being patient/tolerant towards a person who is clearly trolling, I haven’t suggested this at all.

    Secondly, I am not trolling you, (and was actually about to try to sum up my point and comment that I didn’t want to take up too much space in this thread.) I think sometimes the tone does turn people off, and it is a more a conversation of gain/loss with dealing with certain people or addressing certain groups in a post.

    Never have I suggested that Lucy or Dawkins was right in what they said/supported, merely that it does underline something I see as a problem. Maybe I am wrong, maybe all options have already been exhausted in this regard before I ever found FtB, I am willing to consider this. I haven’t been rude to anyone here, and I am not trolling you. In any case, I’ll stop taking up real-estate in this thread.

  35. says

    And HOW is that the fault of anybody but the person earning the ire? If I am called a misogynist, I won’t lash out in a misogynistic rage… I will do all I can to disprove that application of the label, to show my support of feminism and equal rights. I will not prove them RIGHT. That’s the last thing I’d want to do. So this “call them X and they will act like X, so it’s YOUR fault” is complete and utter B.S.

  36. Andy Groves says

    I began to wonder about Dawkins’ attitude to women when I read The Blind Watchmaker as a graduate student shortly after it was published. The following section in the Preface jumped out at me at the time:

    I am distressed to find that some women friends (fortunately not many) treat the use of the impersonal masculine pronoun as if it showed intention to exclude them. If there were any excluding to be done (happily there isn’t) I think I would sooner exclude men, but when I once tentatively tried referring to my abstract reader as a ‘she’, a feminist denounced me for patronizing condescension: I ought to say ‘he-or-she’ and ‘his-or-her’. That is easy to do if you don’t care about language, but then if you don’t care about language you don’t deserve readers of either sex. Here, I have returned to the normal conventions of English pronouns. I may refer to the ‘reader’ as ‘he’, but I no more think of my readers as specifically male than a French speaker thinks of a table as female. As a matter of fact I believe I do, more often than not, think of my readers as female, but that is my personal affair and I’d hate to think that such considerations impinged on how I use my native language.

    It struck me, and still strikes me when I re-read it now, that this is protesting waaay too much.
    I may be being over-sensitive, but I was educated in the Oxbridge system where Dawkins has spent most of his career, and to me the passage drips with the gently patronizing, privileged attitudes of the older faculty when they are challenged by people who are not white, male and have a Ph.D. I felt this again when I read his “Dear Muslima” crack last year and saw this re-tweet today.

  37. says

    My comment was in reply to kbonn.

    Jen: It might’ve been better to disable nested comments on future posts instead of the current one. Now it’s a mess! :P

  38. Blueaussi says

    I like nested comments. Well, what I would really like is a proper newsreader so I could view comments in my preferred format, and you could view them in yours; but if there is a blog reader version of Agent out there, I haven’t seen it. So, ya know, I deal. Granted, it’s cranky, whiny, cane-shaking dealing; but still, I deal.

    Maybe if you heathen savage, no-nesting blog monkeys would use better attributes; we mewling nestophiles would quit bellyaching about having to scroll up and down to hunt for complete comments. Or at least, *this* cranky, bleating nestophile would.

  39. redpanda says

    @42 Andy Groves

    I wasn’t educated in the Oxbridge system so I expect that I am probably deaf to the sort of gently patronizing privilege you’re talking about (and I was raised in a fundamentalist private school system, and in fact I’m only recently beginning to become aware of many misogynist/racist/etc. attitudes in our culture), but that passage seems perfectly reasonable to me.

    Would you suggest that the issue in question simply not be addressed and he ignore criticism for his choices or is there a better way he might have done it?

  40. woo_monster says

    Richard Dawkins,

    As a matter of fact I believe I do, more often than not, think of my readers as female, but that is my personal affair and I’d hate to think that such considerations impinged on how I use my native language.

    I know this may be a low-blow and an unfair prediction of someone else’s mental state, but, I can just see Dawkins pondering to himself, I must make this concept simple and easy to comprehend for every lay-man. How would I explain this to a female?

  41. AG says

    Dawkins is an ass munch. I loved Tyson’s rebuke of him during the beyond belief conference. Tyson would be a much better ambassador of secularism than Dawkins ever would.

  42. says

    Thanks for the change, Jen!

    Andy: Dawks was quibbling a bit much there about the language; but I don’t really blame him for trying to keep his use of pronouns simple and conventional. I want to be gender-neutral, but “he/she, his/her” is a pain in the ass sometimes, and no, I really don’t like all that newfangled “hir/ze/xe/hit” stuff. (Blackwater’s new name is gender-neutral?) AT least he’s not writing in Italian or some other language that doesn’t even have a neuter gender and everything is either male or female. (Is the Higgs boson male or female?)

    Seriously, in Italian, a group of a thousand women is refered to as plural-she, but if one newborn baby boy joins the group, suddenly it’s plural-he, because you can’t risk questioning or denying the masculinity of anything male.

  43. GaryU says

    Thank you for this post. I unfollowed RD when I saw that tweet. Are his advanced years affecting his ability to reason? Or is he just another privileged white man who doesn’t get it?

  44. says

    Can a point be made about assuming the best out of people before assuming the worst? That was the point of the tweet. Purple NoiZe read way too much into it.

  45. Andy Groves says

    @47 redpanda: To me it seemed all of a piece with the attitudes I was seeing in Cambridge in the 1980s. Things were changing – more colleges were admitting women, more students were becoming vocal about social issues, and more people were challenging conventions that had been in place – in the case of Cambridge – for centuries. And some dons did not like that one bit.

    I agree that his comment is neither very unreasonable nor insulting. But to me it seemed that he had recently had to deal with gender issues and he felt strongly enough about it to mount a defense to the un-named feminist who had criticized him. As I say, I may have been over-reacting at the time. But he does seem to have issues with being called out on things like this………

    (As to what he should have done, I would have suggested to say nothing, and maybe change his writing style to remove gender assumptions where possible. For example, in the sentence “If you asked an engineer to design a wing, he might come up with something that looked like…..”, you could easily substitute “they” for “he”. But I don’t want this thread to degenerate into an argument about grammar and style, so I will leave it at that!)

  46. woo_monster says

    Nooo my precious levels of indentation!

    Bwahahaha, I fart in the general direction of your levels of indentation.

    But, seriously though, thanks Jen.

  47. SAWells says

    Dawkins is, unfortunately, the sort of writer who would rather spend half a page explaining why “he” isn’t a male pronoun than actually make his writing gender-inclusive. Singular “they” is perfectly good English, people! Even in Oxford!

  48. says

    Maybe if you heathen savage, no-nesting blog monkeys would use better attributes; we mewling nestophiles would quit bellyaching about having to scroll up and down to hunt for complete comments.

    Our main reference tactics are reference to comment numbers (which is a problem because that column is only wide enough for two digits), reference to commenter name, and re-pasting of the comment to which one is responding. They all work better than nesting.

  49. Albatross says

    Are we really inflating Dawkins’ incredibly stupid re-tweet into an assumed abstract stance on women in the atheist community? The criticism is valid and it stands on it’s own, but the comments: “And this is why you shouldn’t have idols, folks” and “Richard Dawkins disappoints me *yet again*” seem misguided. These things suggest some pattern of behavior that McCreight didn’t even start to justify.

    I don’t really think I’ve ever idolized Dawkins and I want to be very clear that I agree with the appraisal of Lucy’s stupid tweet, but the language being employed to shoot Dawkins down seems unjustified (that is not to say that it’s not justifiable, it just really hasn’t been done).

    Ms. McCreight, I think you’ve overplayed your hand when you didn’t need to. Next time, stay on target.

  50. says

    Sure, sometimes people get in an ideological mindset that makes them misinterpret stuff and get offended. Look at the red-pill types of the manosphere. However, that’s not what this tweet is saying. She’s not just saying that this happens. She’s saying this is the explanation for most or all of the perceived abuse female atheist bloggers get. That’s why peoples is mad.

  51. Lindsay says

    @ 53 Jeremy: No, that’s not her point at all; you’ve just managed to magically will away the entire first part of her tweet that says she’s never experienced abuse in the atheist community. You’re making some astounding mental leaps to get to “we shouldn’t assume the worst wrt people” from that tweet. All she’s doing is blaming the recipients of abuse.

  52. Erista (aka Eris) says

    IE, “You think I am a misogynist, so I will act like one towards you, and/or make rape threats” mentality

    This right here? This is complete and utter crap. No one who isn’t a misogynist starts issuing rape threats because of other people’s actions. If a person is issuing rape threats, they have lost any and all standing to say they aren’t misogynists. It’s like how you can’t beat up your wife without being a wife beater. Issuing rape threats is an action that illustrates your character.

    Furthermore, no one would buy this absurdity anywhere else. After all, are atheists (or Dawkins) running around saying that atheists act in immoral ways because society views them as immoral people? No; we point to our actions (actions that are no less moral than the actions of theists) as proof that we are not immoral. We don’t say, “Well, if an atheist does do something wrong, it’s because society views the atheist as immoral.” No, we denounce that atheist as immoral and say that s/he does not represent our movement.

    But for some reason, people can’t seem to apply that to those who make rape threats within the atheist community.

  53. Ze Madmax says

    Jen @ #60:

    Why am I only called “Ms. McCreight” when someone is being incredibly patronizing?

    Because disappointing Albatross is SERIOUS BUSINESS. And it must be pointed out with UTMOST PATRONIZING LANGUAGE. Otherwise people may think that Albatross is some random prat whining that someone has the nerve to try to point out the flaws of his beloved hero

  54. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Oh, and when someone like that writes “Ms. McCreight,” what they’re actually saying missy.

  55. coyotenose says

    God fucking dammit, Richard. You’re making me glad I haven’t yet read your work so I don’t have to care when you go bugshit.

    People were complaining about nested comments? Argh. They’re ugly, but still better than the alternative, especially when the total comment numbers start rising.

  56. Erista (aka Eris) says

    Truth be told, I’m wondering if this isn’t the end of an era, and era where white, upper-middle class, older, highly educated men ruled the atheist movement and the few who wanted to be part of the movement but didn’t fit into this catagory hung on the every word of their idols.

    Then the number of minorities (women, PoC, etc) started increasing. This increase is something that the white, upper-middle class, older, highly educated men helped to make happen in a very major way. For example, many of these men worked really hard to increase women’s access to events, worked to increase women’s presence on panels, instigated policies that would help provide child care for women who wanted to go to events, and in general were in general pretty wonderful (in my opinion).

    But with this increase in minorities lead to women and minorities having more power to bring their own interests into the movement. Just as Dawkins’s big interest was science and evolution, many of these minorities had big interests involving social justice. And when this happened, the minorities stopped hanging on the ever word of their idols and started expecting that their own voices would be heard. They started saying, “This is a problem for minorities, and we need to fix it.”

    For whatever reason*, these men who had been so helpful in bringing in minorities were shaken by the voices of minorities, and they often felt both attacked, minimized, blamed, and unappreciated. This caused them to lash out against people who they perceived to be attacking them. This made the minority groups incredibly unhappy; they had NOT been attacking any of these individuals, either explicitly or by intention, and all of a sudden they found themselves on the receiving end of a great deal of hostility. Initially, many of the minorities bent over backwards** to assure these men that, no, the minorities weren’t talking about those specific men, but this did not make a difference. Everything kept getting ramped up and up and up, and now it seems very possible to me that too much has been said, that reconciliation is not possible.

    I don’t know how to get around this. I don’t know how to get around a truly major atheist leader endorsing the view that women who are harassed experience such because they aren’t acting appropriately (i.e. it’s their fault that people are misogynistic to them), and that it isn’t a problem to anyone who isn’t “treating all men like misogynists.” This declares that anyone who has experienced misogyny or harassment within the atheist community is some kind of oppressor who is causing men to engage in behavior that is against their character and that they would not engage in otherwise The degree to which this is victim blaming cannot be overstated.

    There is also the mentality by some (note: I’ve only seen this in anonymous comments, though it may exist elsewhere) that if an individual does one thing that is perceived to be wrong, then that person will be skinned alive and tossed out of the atheism boat and into the ocean.

    How do we back it up from here? Is that even possible? Will things ever calm down? I don’t know.

    *It is not clear to me why many of these men feel attacked the way they do by what I see as incredibly benign comments that are not directed at them.

    **The degree to which minorities and their allies were willing to go in an effort to sooth hurt feelings amazes me.

  57. A. Noyd says

    Stephanie Zvan (#16)

    The “greater point” appears to be “If you think I’m something I’m not, my response will be to demonstrate that you’re right.” That makes sense…how?

    Well, something like that could make sense if your aim was to show your accuser they’re wrong by demonstrating what it would look like if you really acted in the way they’re accusing you of acting. Like, if a theist insists you’re being insulting to religion, you let the gloves come off and tear religion a new hole. (I do this occasionally with people who make a big deal out of mistaking my bluntness for a lack of civility.) But! It’s not effective if a) your accuser was right about you all along; b) you forget to make clear you’re playing a role; and/or c) you keep at it indefinitely instead of doing it once or twice for effect. (It also tends not to work as well when someone higher up a power/privilege gradient uses it on those below.)

    Disclaimer: I don’t think this actually is what the misogynist fucknuggets are up to, but some might justify their behavior by telling themselves they’re doing this.

  58. A. Noyd says

    kbonn (#24)

    Whatever it breaks down to, can the message be delivered in a way that is perceived as less hostile towards that group?

    No.

    Or rather, “that group” will preserve their ignorance by refusing to maintain a middle ground between failing to notice you for being too polite and writing you off because you’re too hostile. And folks like you enable them in this tactic by perpetuating the idea that angry people don’t need to be listened to.

  59. bjartefoshaug says

    I can no longer be disappointed by Dawkins, since I no longer have any expectations he can fail to live up to. Which is almost an achievement in its own right. As I wrote over at Stephanie Zvan’s blog, of all the big shots out there, Dawkins used to be the one person who really said what I was thinking. I have read all his books and loved them all. I have watched all his videos and TV programs. I have devoured all the online articles, interviews and talks I could find. For a couple of years I donated a monthly pledge to the RDF. I have defended him in debates, both from the accomodationists who though he was too strident, and from the “philosophically sophisticated” crowd who thought the sophistry of people like Craig and Plantinga was actually a lot better than Dawkins gave it credit for. There were days when I felt like he was the only person out there who was speaking for me.

    And he’s a dick.

    I was as appalled as anyone by the whole Bill Maher hubbub, but I could kind of let that one slide. Dawkins wasn’t personally responsible for giving Maher that award. Maher only got the award for Religulous*, and not for his views in general. And to his credit, Dawkins did call Maher’s medical views “crazy”. I still wish he would refuse to have anything to do with the award, but if that was all, it would just be one discordant note in an otherwise impressive symphony.

    However, when Dawkins posted his now infamous “Dear Muslima” comment and subsequent follow-ups, the cognitive dissonance suddenly become unbearable. I had already watched the video that sparked “Elevatorgate” and I still cannot fathom how anyone could find anything Rebecca said in it at all objectionable. It was ridiculously reasonable. I freely confess that for a moment I too felt the temptation to look for something to accuse Rebecca of that would make her deserve the criticism and acquit Dawkins, but somewhere in the back of my mind the voice of Carol Tavris kept telling me “That’s your cognitive dissonance speaking”, and Daniel Kahneman said something about the “Halo Effect” and the human tendency to impose too much consistency on reality (If I think someone is right about religion, (s)he must also be right about women’s issues etc.). Had I been a little less self-critical at that moment and allowed the “spiral of self-justification” to gain momentum, I could very well be part of the current Tsunami of misogyny and thuggery myself, and it freaks me out. I don’t claim to have any telepathic insight into what’s going on in another person’s head, but I strongly suspect that this is exactly what has happened in many cases.

    * I don’t have a very high opinion of the movie either, but that’s another story…

  60. Xuuths says

    When did the use of your actual name — “Ms. McCreight” — become an insult? Perhaps Albatross didn’t feel they know you well enough to use “Jen” — I know that I don’t. (That is when I tend to use titles, as a term of respect.)

    As for someone’s suggestion of using “singular they” — you still must use plural verbs with it, so it can be confusing to some, and it frequently sounds awkward.
    Singular they

    I’m surprised that retweeting something — without comment — is interpreted in such nasty ways. (Or does retweeting always mean “I agree with this 100%”?)

    What I don’t see is the application of Atheism+ guidelines in this thread.

  61. alt+3 says

    Aw poo. I love nested comments. Makes it easy to make sense of a conversation when you’re late to the party, also you can reliably skip over the majority of the “good post” and “I agree” posts.

    Anyway, the reason I came to post.

    @#5, billygutter01

    I think, and after rereading The God Delusion it seems fairly apparent to me, that Dawkins seems to think feminism has already worked. Like “we raised the consciousness about this and now we’re done. Good job team.”

    It’s not an uncommon view in my experience. I’ve met quite a few people who think that women having the right to vote and legislation that pays lip service to notions of equality means we’re now living in a post-sexism society. Hell, I’ve met people who refuse to believe the wage gap exists, like, dismiss it out of hand as a lie. Dawkins seems to be one of these people. He’s all well and fine with equality right up until equality means he has to check his privilege, or modify his behaviour in any way.

  62. mcbender says

    Damnit, Dawkins. Enough is enough already! And to think I used to idolise this man; it’s becoming harder and harder to remember why.

    The really sad thing is that it was Dawkins’ comments about consciousness-raising that were one of the major reasons I started educating myself about feminism in the first place. It’s difficult realising he apparently never actually stood for the things I thought he did in the first place…

  63. says

    @kbonn: “Assholes don’t have to be assholes, but if you start a conversation by telling them they are one, odds are they aren’t going to listen to you.”

    Who starts a conversation that way? Do you think, when you come across a conversation where someone is being an asshole, that this is probably how it started?

  64. says

    Raging Bee @57:

    Our main reference tactics are reference to comment numbers (which is a problem because that column is only wide enough for two digits), reference to commenter name, and re-pasting of the comment to which one is responding. They all work better than nesting.

    If I had a vote, I’d vote for the commenting system they have at Balloon Juice, where each comment has a “Reply” button and clicking it automatically starts your reply with a link to the comment you’re replying to. It works great to keep the conversation easy to follow without using nesting.

  65. says

    @61 Lindsay: “… you’ve just managed to magically will away the entire first part of her tweet that says she’s never experienced abuse in the atheist community.” Is it not a good thing that she hasn’t experienced abuse? Or are you calling her a liar? She doesn’t say anything about the recipients of abuse. You can adopt that interpretation all you want, but it’s not in the text. The point of the message is as I conveyed it.

  66. gmacs says

    I really like Richard Dawkins. I’ll admit that I once looked at him as an idol. The God Delusion ended what was, for me, a long spiritual struggle that exacerbated my then-undiagnosed mental illness. The book spelled it out. There. Is. No. God. And that’s okay. His books on evolution were influential in my decision to change majors. Also, he cared about injustice, abuse, and hinted at the problems with privilege.

    But he appears to enjoy his own privilege, as everyone here has described with his issues with feminism. But also, he can dish out a lot of crap (most of which I agree with), but seems unable to take a joke in return.

    He also doesn’t seem to treat all religion as equally wrong. He still pisses off and criticizes mainstream Christians, but only seems to get as adamant as he used to when talking about Islam. In addition, when PZ recently posted his statement about Romney, I found it startling that he could go after Romney’s Mormonism without going after Obama’s mainstream form of Christianity. It’s as if he’s resting on his laurels in some regards.

  67. A. Noyd says

    Jeremy (#80)

    Is it not a good thing that she hasn’t experienced abuse? Or are you calling her a liar?

    Neither. You presumed to tell us what the point of Lucy Wainwright’s tweet is. Lindsay’s saying your interpretation doesn’t work because it takes the second sentence out of the context of the first.

    She doesn’t say anything about the recipients of abuse.

    She’s differentiating herself from the recipients of abuse. Anyone who’s not a hyper-literal nitwit can see that that’s one way of saying something about them. It’s the same sort of deal as if I were to say, “I’m not bothered by second-hand smoke. Maybe because I don’t get all up smokers’ faces.” The obvious implication that is that people wouldn’t be bothered by smoke if they left smokers alone. That being bothered is something they go out of their way to feel or that they bring on themselves.

    The point of the message is as I conveyed it.

    Oh yeah? Well my Ouija board says, “Nuh uhhh.”

  68. hotshoe says

    Lucy Wainwright definitely meant it in the blame-the-victims sense (not in the abuse-doesn’t-really-happen sense.) Yes, she really is giving herself credit for being so nice that she never attracts any kind of misogyny from fellow atheists, and she really is blaming Rebecca Watson, Ophelia Benson, Greta Christine (etc, but not by name) for the abuse they “cause” by calling assholes, assholes.

    Here is LW at length 27 August 2012 00:31:

    … the fact that so many feminist bloggers have ended up dealing with little but deliberate abuse because they’re women and feminists suggests to me that it might be sensible to pick ones battles. If I went mental at every male atheist who told me I’m good-looking or that I’m “one of the most intelligent women” they’ve encountered, maybe I’d be attracting lunatics and trolls too.

    What it amounts to is this; no one wants to think of themselves as a bad person. If you tell someone the attitude they’ve had for twenty or forty or sixty years makes them a bad person, their instinct – always – will be to defend that attitude because they don’t want to think they’ve spent the last twenty or forty or sixty years being an arsehole. The vast majority of atheists, in my experience, are in favour of equality and progressiveness (why wouldn’t they be?), and that’s how THEY feel like good people. If they do say something a bit eeesh, I think the best way to deal with it is to appeal to their wish to be a good person and then explain – without judgment and vitriol – why they have fallen slightly short of their own high aspirations in this one specific instance. ACKNOWLEDGE THE LAUDABLE ASPIRATIONS, I can’t emphasise that enough – otherwise, you get resistance and digging in, and a reputation for being hypersensitive and judgmental. Not one of us is successful enough in meeting our own criteria for what makes a good person that we can afford to do that.

    Yeah, she’s a shitty blame-the-victim chill girl.

    No wonder Dawkins loves her.

  69. Ze Madmax says

    Jeremy @ #80:

    She doesn’t say anything about the recipients of abuse.

    Bullshit. The tweet explicitly talks about recipients of abuse:

    I’m a woman & an atheist blogger, & never experienced sexist abuse from fellow atheists. Maybe because I don’t assume they’re misogynists?

    It could hardly be more explicit. Wainwright is suggesting that the abuse experienced by atheist bloggers such as Jen McCreight, Rebecca Watson and Ophelia Benson is because the “assume [other atheists] are misogynists”

    Not only is she engaged in blatant victim blaming, but she is also making the (completely unsupported) assumption that the abuse is the result of these bloggers claiming that their detractors are misogynists, when more often than not these detractors demonstrate that misogyny with their reactions to feminist issues, and then are enraged when people call them out on their bullshit.

  70. hotshoe says

    Dear Lucy also just tweeted this

    Lucy Wainwright ‏@Whoozley
    @thunderf00t #AtheismPlus; the Tea Party of atheists.
    Collapse Reply Retweet Favorite
    7:08 AM – 28 Aug 12 · Details

    What a fucking winner she is. Why, if people don’t want to join with AtheismPlus (and Lucy specifically says she agrees with every principle of A+, just not with the “joining up” idea) why oh why don’t they fucking shut it and just not join? Why go out of her way to say mean things?

  71. nohellbelowus says

    @Stephanie in #82:

    C’mon… it was a typo! My hands are shaking from all the FtB drama!

    Have some compassion for us sensitive older dudes.

  72. says

    Rightly or wrongly, this “hey guys, wait up! Those women are just making it up! But not me!” mentality of some atheist women always gives me the mental image of someone trying to win over the cool kidz in high school. And that’s before you reach the nonsensical victim blaming.

    Veronica nailed it with “full of shit”.

  73. Pigtail Guy says

    *Sigh*

    I’ll actually be attending a talk of his in Stockholm next week. I’m sure it’ll be good, and I’ll probably enjoy it. But he does seem very intent on making me diminish my regard for him as much as possible.

    Fortunately, there are also other speakers that night that I’ll probably enjoy just as much.

    And just because I quite like pedantic discussions on use of language:
    My answer to the question of using ‘he’ or ‘she’ to refer to hypothetical persons in examples is actually quite simple: If gender matters, it should be clear from the context. In all other cases, just alternate usage. That’s it. If it’s just once, flip a coin. And if you have two actors in the example, two genders can actually be used to help the reader distinguish between the two actors.

    Many questions on how to select gender/race/sexuality for characters in stories (at least for characters where the story doesn’t hinge on it) could be answered in a very similar way.

  74. nohellbelowus says

    Can someone please post a link to Lucy’s blog, if she has one?

    I want to go over there and straighten her out about atheism-pus… er, plus.

    (There’s that damn typo again. Carpal tunnel, maybe. I dunno. Big apologies.)

  75. Marta says

    Alrighty. nohellbellowus, I’ve read your comments across several blogs. Everywhere you go, you make the comment threads a little more noxious, a bit dumber. You’re relentless and you’re awful. You say the same thing wherever you go, and every single one of us is a little less, a little worse off than we were before. That is a hell of a contribution. Can’t you find some new people to bother now?

  76. woo_monster says

    Yeah, she’s a shitty blame-the-victim chill girl.

    No wonder Dawkins loves her.

    Thanks for the clarification, hotshoe.
    ***
    Fuck off, nohellbelowus

  77. JJ says

    “Looks like Dawkins hasn’t learned anything in the last year. And this is why you shouldn’t have idols, folks.”

    Wow, really?

    I have to tell you I’ve been standing in the door for the idea of Atheism + since it has first been proposed, but now I’m wondering where it is going. Dawkins retweets (was it him or an assistant that handles his twitter account?)something and there is an immediate assumption about his implications. Did anyone contact him for comment? Without contacting him for comment, can anyone actually make a rational statement about why that got retweeted?

    Seems like jumping to conclusions to me. Especially when I have attended several lectures he has given where he has explicitly stated the importance of women in science and stood up for the absolute equality of women.

    I suggest that maybe we should follow the advice David Fincke gives:

    “Do not personally attack fellow commenters wherever avoidable. Give people the benefit of the doubt that they argue sincerely. Do not create an environment where dissenters and skeptics feel like they will be treated in a hostile manner simply for posing uncomfortable questions or for deviating from the general political and philosophical atmosphere of the blog and its comments sections. Charitably assume the best of fellow commenters and interpret their arguments in the most plausible and humane light wherever possible.”

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers/2012/07/27/making-my-comments-rules-explicit-dont-bully-people-with-insulting-names-and-make-personal-charges-against-others-only-in-egregious-cases/

    Because really, if A+ is going to become a knee jerk, “You’re either perfectly with me or absolutely against me,” type of movement; Color me a none!

  78. says

    Veronica here. I write all these long blogposts, and this short comment gets all the attention :P

    Anyway, I don’t really know what to make of Dawkins. His biology books have been an important part of my understanding of biology. (I’m a physicist, I generally don’t do squishy science.) God Delusion was also the first atheist book I read after I had taken a good year’s time to reason myself out of religion (6-7 years ago I think). I also have some training in theology from back when, and I found his book a little lacking in some of the arguments, but it was still an important part of my process. So I appreciate Dawkins and what he’s done. But I don’t know. I think he has some bad blind spots and a good deal of unaddressed privilege. There is no doubt, as I see it, that the secularism/skepticism movement suffers from its own internal patriarchy. All the “horsemen” of the new atheist movement are now fallen stars to me to some degree or another. I am disappointed, but still find value in a lot of their (past) writings.

  79. nohellbelowus says

    I’m just stunned, and hurt, that I’m being ostracized for typographical errors. I miss one little letter and now I’m the bad guy.

    Okay, perfect typists, you’ve outed yourselves as discriminatory bigots. I’ll double-down on my spelling checks, but I do it in protest.

  80. kagekiri says

    @93 JJ:

    This stuff isn’t happening in a vacuum with zero precedent: this isn’t the first time Dawkins has chimed in on women complaining about misogyny in the secular/atheist movements.

    People saying “You don’t have enough evidence” need to look for that concern trolling Dear Muslima post from Dawkins, and then note that he never retracted it even when confronted about it. He doubled down on stupid, pointless misogyny, and has continued to do so unapologetically.

    So yeah. It’s funny* that people like you, so very concerned about insufficient evidence or context, DON’T HAVE THE EVIDENCE OR CONTEXT EITHER.

    *And by funny, I mean tremendously hypocritical.

  81. screechy monkey says

    This strikes me as being related to the claim that “it’s not sexist when I call this particular woman a [sexist slur]: because I’m not calling her that because she’s a woman, I’m calling her that because she is a [slur]!”

    It’s all part of an attempt to define sexism (and racism, and other prejudices) downwards: that it doesn’t “count” as sexism (etc.) as long as you exempt “the good ones” from your hatred. Otherwise known as the “but some of my best friends are black!” defense.

  82. Marta says

    You are behaving extremely badly, nohellbelowus, and you behave that way at every blog until the host can take it no more. Your mission, apparently, is to be banned at every blog at FtB, at which point, one assumes, you will run back to the place from which you came, crying all the way that you’re being censored.

    How incredibly unpleasant you are. What a waste.

  83. redpanda says

    Victim blaming seems to stem from the attitude that “we can’t change other people, we can only change ourselves.” I suspect there’s some wisdom in that, but it ignores that we can change other people by creating enough social pressure that they either suppress their behavior or change their minds.

    Lisa seems to basically be saying that we can easily eliminate the unwanted behavior of most of these trolls by not picking so many battles and just trying to get along together, but that’s a short-sighted solution that doesn’t actually address the root of the problem. Doing it the hard way (effecting social change by consistently marginalizing assholes who make rape threats, for instance) still solves the problem, and leaves us all in a better place.

    Am I on the right track here? Just thinking out loud.

  84. JJ says

    Kagekiri,

    “So yeah. It’s funny* that people like you…”

    “People like you?” Do I know you? I don’t believe I do; how do you exactly suppose to know what it means to be “a person like me” from one comment on a blog?

    This is pretty much my point.

  85. A. Noyd says

    JJ (#100)

    “People like you?” Do I know you? I don’t believe I do; how do you exactly suppose to know what it means to be “a person like me” from one comment on a blog?

    Perhaps you don’t realize it, but around these parts, people who jump into a conversation to offer up nothing but their oh-so concerned finger-waggling and doom-saying, all the while flaunting their ignorance about the context behind the discussion, are a type. If you think it’s unfair that someone assumes you fit the type after a mere 200 words of your indulging in exactly that sort of wankery, maybe you should reconsider your approach.

  86. says

    If you are mildly attractive, well endowed, or both…for sure you are going to attract lots of attention from emotionally arrested males.

    At atheist gatherings… that’s probably just about every male there.

    Silly ole Dawkins hails from British high society and his failure to acknowledge obvious harassment occurs, because, he probably just projects his inbred English propriety unto all atheists, the world over, little realizing the actual naked savagery of his American co-religionists who are spawned not from high society… but from the social dregs of YouTube, My Space, Facebook, on-line porn sites, etc.

  87. Fey says

    Ok. Richard Dawkins does not understand/empathize/get what it means to be a woman in the atheist movement. Simple as that. Nobody knows why. He has a blindspot to those realities. It would be better if he did, but he does NOT.

    Luckily, we are not religious fanatics that expect perfection from our leaders. As humanists, we understand that our fellow homosapiens’ personalities are a devilishly complicated combination of nature and environment.

    So now what? I’m reading many posts from people that are negating decades of RD’s contribution to the movement over this blindspot. That seems to be an unhelpful reaction, which reminds of families casting out their gay children and religionist ostracizing their leaders once sin is discovered.

    Can we be different? Please?
    Can we react differently to the failings and shortcomings in each other? Maybe not use the nuclear option?

    As a woman and a humanist I am sad that he is not using his platform to champion for more sensitivity to experiences of minorities. But he is a champion for so many things with which I do agree.

    We need to “police” ourselves. We need to point out areas for growth in each other. I even agree that strong language should be used to express disapproval. But I think RD is sincere in his work to increase secularism in the world. I respect that.

    Can we use our problem solving skills and critical thinking abilities to come up with ways to improve the situation? Not just with Dawkins but with the many atheists with 20th Century mentalities? They don’t need “timeouts.” They need “timeins.” They need to be held close to more progressive thinkers. That is a powerful way to change unconscience biases.

    So in conclusion, please don’t throw baby Dick out with the bathwater.

  88. nohellbelowus says

    Okay. You win, Marta.

    Henceforth I promise, as a proud member of atheism-pus, to be:

    Trustworthy
    Loyal
    Helpful
    Friendly
    Courteous
    Kind
    Obedient
    Cheerful
    Thrifty
    Brave
    Clean
    Reverent

    Wait… reverent? Oh hell, this is the Boy Scouts Law! What blatant misogynists they are. Sorry about that.

    Comment #6 on Jeremy’s thoughtful blog seems apropos, as a final thought for the evening.

    And sorry about that last typo, above. Everybody just please know that there should be another ‘l’ in there, because I’m not sure I have the strength to fix it tonight.

  89. JJ says

    A. Noyd,

    “Perhaps you don’t realize it, but around these parts, people who jump into a conversation to offer up nothing but their oh-so concerned finger-waggling and doom-saying, all the while flaunting their ignorance about the context behind the discussion, are a type.”

    I thought I offered up a skeptical response to a post (if you can point out a “doom-saying” quote from it, I’d be interested to see it).

    And the condescending, “Perhaps you don’t realize it, but around these parts…” Commenter, my atheist, skeptical, and feminist credentials are fully up to date and battle tested in arenas much more difficult to maneuver than here. So, treating my comments as a “concern troll” issue; gives me pause to consider a hypothesis that I previously thought was ridiculous, but now I’m not so sure about.

    And “wankery,” really? How about a refutation of the argument I presented; mainly, contact Dawkins and get the context… or you can continue the Ad hominems (“are a type”) and further make me contemplate the question of the difference between engaging a committed theist and engaging you.

  90. julian says

    Just two quick points.

    First, this is not explicit victim blaming. She isn’t saying verbal and misogynistic abuse is the fault of the women complaining. She’s most definitley implying this and that (from her tweets) seems to be where she’s leaning. But calling this blatant or explicit anything is a reach.

    Secondly, Lucy is making false equivlances to unfairly malign those she disdains. Like with Blackford’s Taliban comment and the million nazi, stasi and totalitarian comparisons from all over the atheist community, these comparisons not only do not hold water, they’re dismissive of what these groups actually do.

    The Tea Party is a right wing group that’s devoted to subverting basic rights, where racism, xenophobia and bigotry are endemic, who’s every third supporter gloats about “defending the Constitution from all threats foreign and domestic” (while brandishing their lovely guns) and I am to believe a group she agrees with on almost every issue is like them?

    If Lucy thinks we’re intolerant of dissent, she should say so. This is just a mean spirited rhetorical trick and a pretty lousy one at that. Shame so many atheists like her are going to defend it because of the misplaced contempt they feel towards Jen and others like her.

  91. julian says

    FORMER Fetus, you are a troll. I doubt anyone here cares for that much misandry.

    Or misinformation for that matter.

  92. julian says

    We need to “police” ourselves. We need to point out areas for growth in each other. I even agree that strong language should be used to express disapproval. But I think RD is sincere in his work to increase secularism in the world. I respect that.

    I agree.

    But the man’s still an ass :p

  93. Patrik Roslund says

    Oh Dawkins. You will always be one of my heroes and i’ll always love the clarity in which you wrote/write about evolution. But on this issue you are simply dead wrong.

  94. Entrained says

    Well, I seem to remember that it was Dawkins that put up the money at several conventions for child care. You wouldn’t think that someone who is so misogynistic would do that or has a woman as the Director of his organization in the states or philanthropically donates thousands to woman in Atheism. All these things probably everyone on the thread is aware of but doesn’t go with the narrative. The complete lack of understanding of the word misogyny and it’s almost synonymous use towards anyone that has a different perspective is heartbreaking.
    If I were Dawkins I would become extremely guarded with where my money and support went if I was treated this was.
    And I still haven’t seen a note from one of the major organizations about their thoughts on A+ , except Dawkins, oh, and the Humanist group that called Jen and is already doing something like this.
    You guys are such heros in the glare of your own video screens.

  95. woo_monster says

    You guys are such heros in the glare of your own video screens.

    Entrained has a glare-proof screen, hirself.

  96. ckitching says

    Can I try my hand at this?

    I’m a male & not a blogger of any kind, & I’ve never been mugged by my fellow human beings. Maybe because I don’t assume they’re thieves?

    Does that work? I’m hoping it does, since it was such a simple substitution. If it does, it’ll be so easy to devalue and ignore anyone’s concerns that I haven’t personally experienced. Think of all the problems I could solve by simply caring about them!

  97. ckitching says

    Oops. I meant, “Think of all the problems I could solve by simply not caring about them!”

  98. Entrained says

    @112
    woo_monster says:
    August 28, 2012 at 6:29 PM
    You guys are such heros in the glare of your own video screens.

    Entrained has a glare-proof screen, hirself.

    Hirself????
    That’s sexist, right. Mysoginistic right. Discriminatory, right.
    Or is that the A+ type response I keep hearing and reading about.
    You better be careful, or they won’t let you in with responses like that.

  99. LeftSidePositive says

    @115, no, “Hirself” is gender-neutral, you willfully ignorant, self-martyring, pompous asshole.

    Thanks for trivializing the concerns people have actually experienced about misogyny and discrimination by literally creating an accusation out of nothing. You are disingenuous, tedious, self-centered, and a general pain in the ass. Now go the fuck away.

  100. julian says

    Obvious troll is obvious.

    @ckitching

    I’m thinking we can start a meme with this. I tweeted a “I’m an atheist and living in the US…” tweet earlier. Anyone else?

  101. LeftSidePositive says

    @110:

    You wouldn’t think that someone who is so misogynistic

    If you would actually get your head out of your own ass for a moment and read what we’re saying, you’d know that we are NOT saying that Dawkins is intentionally misogynistic. We’re saying he has blind spots due to his privilege and unconscious biases. What he ends up doing (likely by prioritizing his own world view and self-image above all and by apparently being constitutionally incapable of listening to dissenting women) results in supporting misogyny and reinforcing misogynist cultural narratives, and it is vitally necessary that we point out the harms that these blind spots do, but this doesn’t mean he does it on purpose. To pretend otherwise is a ridiculous strawman.

    would do that or has a woman as the Director of his organization in the states or philanthropically donates thousands to woman in Atheism.

    You know, just because someone accepts those women who already agree with his general worldview and makes socially-appropriate gestures toward equality does not forever insulate them from possibly fucking up.

    The complete lack of understanding of the word misogyny

    Here is a mirror: {_} I suggest you use it.

    it’s almost synonymous use towards anyone that has a different perspective

    When that perspective is “you only get misogyny when you speak up about it so why are you doing that,” then yes, that “different perspective” is, in fact misogynistic. Do you want to submit a “perspective” that ISN’T misogynistic that has been labeled as such, so we can evaluate your opinion? Try and find me the person whose perspective is “I think we spend too much developing alternative energy” being labeled as “misogynistic” for that opinion, which is what we’d expect to see if you’re right. I don’t hold out much hope for you, but give it a try…

    If I were Dawkins I would become extremely guarded with where my money and support went if I was treated this was.

    If someone claims to give money for the sake of good causes but wants to retract it when they are criticized, that person is less interested in doing good and more interested in fluffing up their own self-image.

  102. Entrained says

    @126
    Did I do that to you?
    You are pretty angry.
    You probably need to get some help with that.
    I see you respond in a similar fashion like this regularly. Consistently angry, consistently cursing and consistently being judgmental, consistently unhappy with any response you don’t agree with.
    So tell you what, you respond however you want and I’ll ignore you.
    You watching the Republican Convention because it sounds an awful lot like the bullshit I’m hearing from angry self delusional assholes on TV. Sounds like you.

  103. julian says

    Funny, I was thinking how people like Entrained sound like te Republicans who banned women representatives for having “temper tantrums” and “hissy fits” while arguing against their sexist policies.

  104. Entrained says

    Interesting, I marched in Selma, got beat up in Chicago and Miami in 68, marched and was jailed in 69 in Atlanta for demonstrating, in an effort to make a better world so assholes like you and that other nitwit can judge me.
    Get out from behind your fucking keyboard and do some fucking thing instead of telling me about how I should be, what I represent or what I have bled for. You don’t have a fucking clue.

  105. ckitching says

    #117:
    Probably could, but I don’t know if it’d catch on beyond FTB. I suspect a lot of people agree with the original statement. I just can’t get over how extremely arrogant it is to assume that you can extrapolate your own personal experiences onto the population at large, or even to large groups of the population. Even at my most privileged I could see that this didn’t make sense (although I may have been guilty of other things like discounting how prevalent these things may have been).

    #119:
    “Why are you so angry? Is it because it’s true?” “Seems like I touched a nerve. I must be right!” Congratulations, Mr SpockEntrained. You’re the only rational one here because emotions are by definition irrational, and that makes you right by default.

    I can’t speak for LeftSidePositive, but I’m not angry. More like… bemused. Since this is also an emotion, I suppose I’m irrational, too.

  106. LeftSidePositive says

    @105:

    I thought I offered up a skeptical response to a post

    You may have thought this is what you were doing, but what you were actually doing was giving an absurd amount of leeway to someone with a lot of privilege, blatantly ignoring abundant past evidence of similar actions on his part (thus dragging your “skepticism” to the same loathesome plane as those who style themselves “climate change skeptics”), refusing to hold him accountable for fucking up, silencing people who were marginalized by his statements and attitude, and generally acting like a douchebag. I suggest you try to be more self-skeptical about what you’re actually doing and remember that intent isn’t magic.

    my atheist, skeptical, and feminist credentials are fully up to date

    You don’t get feminist credentials. Nor do you get skeptical credentials. (Since atheism is just one truth claim, it’s not like the other two, but you can’t have “Atheist+ credentials” for that matter, either.) You can’t just declare them as a fait accompli and move on because these are ONGOING modes of thought and analysis. You can’t just assert that you’ve satisfied the requirements for being feminist, any more than you can just assert that your intelligence credentials are fully up to date and expect that to obviate criticism of some stupid thing you just said. You were behaving in ways that were un-skeptical and supportive of anti-feminist behavior (with really inane justifications too, I might point out!), and so you were called out on it. That is what lively critical inquiry does. People whose commitments to rationality are actually meaningful listen to criticism and use it to improve themselves, rather than just declaring oneself satisfactory. The fact that you think you can just assert your feminism like you don’t need to reflect on it any further means you have a MAJOR deficit in the quality of your thinking.

    And “wankery,” really? How about a refutation of the argument I presented;

    It’s right here, dumbshit, along with several others:

    This stuff isn’t happening in a vacuum with zero precedent: this isn’t the first time Dawkins has chimed in on women complaining about misogyny in the secular/atheist movements.

    People saying “You don’t have enough evidence” need to look for that concern trolling Dear Muslima post from Dawkins, and then note that he never retracted it even when confronted about it. He doubled down on stupid, pointless misogyny, and has continued to do so unapologetically.

    Just because we accurately name your wankery doesn’t mean all the refutations we give to your wankery magically disappear!

    mainly, contact Dawkins and get the context…

    Ah, the classic call of the pseudo-skeptic–an absurd requirement for evidence, way beyond that which would actually be expected to be available! You really think that Dawkins is going to take time out of his busy schedule to answer us? (And even if he did, don’t you realize that people often make self-serving half-truths about “what they really meant” when the get called out on their shit? That’s A Thing, you know.) This is basically an argument in the same form as “You say you were groped? Well, you can’t say anything about it until you provide video!” It doesn’t fool us there, and it doesn’t fool us here.

    Also, SERIOUSLY?! You seriously can’t figure out why someone re-tweets something that is entirely consistent with his past statements, has no criticism attached to it, and is a position known to be held favorable amongst his fans? Great job with the hyperskepticism, there, we’re really SOOOOO impressed (*gag*) by it.

    or you can continue the Ad hominems (“are a type”)

    AAAAAAAARRRRRRGHHGHGHG!!!!!!! THAT IS NOT WHAT AN AD HOMINEM MEANS YOU MOTHERFUCKING IMBECILE!!! RAGE!SPUTTER!GNASHTEETH!HULKSMASH!ROAR!!!!!

    Whew, okay…now that I’ve gotten that out of my system…um…uh, wait–HAVE THE FUCKING DECENCY TO LEARN WHAT LOGICAL FALLACIES MEAN BEFORE YOU VOMIT THEM ALL OVER A FORUM, ASSHOLE!!!!–where was I? Oh, yeah:

    Saying you are “a type” is an ASSESSMENT. It is a description of pattern recognition and refers to a series of well-described and pernicious behaviors in which you have been engaging, and which were already spelled out for you, to wit: offering nothing to the conversation, finger-wagging, having no knowledge of well-known context, and holding forth on your opinions at length without background knowledge. These are all marginalizing behaviors which are harmful to a discussion and deserve to be called out (or are you seriously going to argue that these are good traits?!). No one is saying “You’re wrong because you’re ‘a type’ and being that type makes everything you say automatically wrong.” That would be what an ad-hominem actually means (and don’t fucking make this mistake again, dipshit! We’re fucking sick of it). What we are saying is that it is absurd of you to say “how can you know me from one comment on a blog?!” when you are giving abundant evidence WITHIN THAT COMMENT that fits a very well-established pattern.

    make me contemplate the question of the difference between engaging a committed theist and engaging you.

    Yes, because being passionately outspoken about an issue on which we have abundant experience, numerous sociological studies, an avalanche of evidence over the past year, and easily-searchable blog posts, comments, tweets, and emails documenting the attitudes people have been expressing is TOTALLY JUST THE SAME as believing something passionately because it’s in an old book. And I totally hadn’t heard that exact same whine for almost 24 hours!! Congratulations! And the fact that you would try such a trite, easily-debunked, shopworn false equivalence gambit is prima facie evidence that you are either an idiot or engaging in motivated reasoning, or some combination of both.

  107. hotshoe says

    Interesting, I marched in Selma, got beat up in Chicago and Miami in 68, marched and was jailed in 69 in Atlanta for demonstrating, in an effort to make a better world so assholes like you and that other nitwit can judge me.
    Get out from behind your fucking keyboard and do some fucking thing instead of telling me about how I should be, what I represent or what I have bled for. You don’t have a fucking clue.

    Yeah, but the sum of what you’ve said here sounds like you haven’t grown up one bit since then. Now, how about entering the 21st century and engaging with the rest of the commenters here on an equality basis instead of you assuming that you’re due some kind of deference because you’re – umm – obviously – umm – right about everything! Congratulations, Hero Of 69!

    When you don’t know what “misogyny” means, and you don’t know what “hirself” means … it’s pretty hard to fool people that you’re worth listening to. No matter how much of a hero you once were.

  108. LeftSidePositive says

    Shorter #122: “I did some great stuff in the ’60s, so nothing I am currently doing could possibly be wrong in any way…”

    Look, if you were such a noble soul in the ’60s, I suggest you find yourself a nice little apartment with an avocado refrigerator, some bead curtains, and a shag carpet and FUCKING STAY THERE so the rest of us can do good stuff unencumbered now.

  109. LeftSidePositive says

    @125 re #122:

    Yeah, but the sum of what you’ve said here sounds like you haven’t grown up one bit since then.

    I’ll do you one better–I’ll bet he was one of those sort of activists that made the women also active in those causes realize that second-wave feminism was necessary!

  110. says

    gmacs said:

    I just realized concern trolls and tone trolls overlap a lot.

    I’ve been noticing the same thing lately. The trolls in general are making me much more receptive to the idea of A+ in general. I’ve already been a long-time supporter of the stated ideals, but things like Dawkins’ retweet and the trolls here have opened my eyes wider.

  111. A. Noyd says

    JJ (#105)

    I thought I offered up a skeptical response to a post (if you can point out a “doom-saying” quote from it, I’d be interested to see it).

    What LeftSidePositive said. Also: Skepticism works relative to knowledge. Such skepticism (using the most generous definition) as you’ve shown here doesn’t measure up to the knowledge of the people you’re addressing. That’s why, for it to be valuable, skepticism should be tempered with humility. You have to know when you’re under-informed, otherwise you come off looking like a homeschooled fundie expressing skepticism about evolution to gaggle of biologists. It’s not that the fundie isn’t skeptical (by the same generous definition), it’s that he wrongly assumes his knowledge is equal or superior to that of the biologists. Just as evolutionary explanations sound to the fundie like scientists making stuff up, reading hostility into Dawkins motives seem to you like jumping to conclusions. So, in short, don’t expect pats on the back for pairing ignorance with skepticism and then sliding into denial.

    As for your doom-saying, I was referring to this: “…if A+ is going to become a knee jerk, ‘You’re either perfectly with me or absolutely against me,’ type of movement…”

    Commenter, my atheist, skeptical, and feminist credentials are fully up to date…

    Not here, they ain’t. And anyway, such “credentials” wouldn’t have any bearing on whether you grok FTB culture—which would help you understand why people aren’t going to be patient with you when you come off as Self-Important Concern Troll #20192.

    How about a refutation of the argument I presented; mainly, contact Dawkins and get the context…

    That’s… not an argument, skippy. But if you mean how can we make rational statements about Dawkins’ intentions without asking him directly, the simple answer is that we put this event into the context of his past behavior. (Making yours equivalent of the “But, were you there?” question Ken Ham tells his minions to ask anyone claiming the earth is more than 6000 years old. So, yeah, really: “wankery.”) It’s not like people haven’t been giving Dawkins the benefit of the doubt for ages now, only to watch him put his foot in it over and over again. In other words, there is no “immediate assumption about his implications.” But, hey, thanks for jumping to conclusions!

    or you can continue the Ad hominems (“are a type”)

    And, that’s not an ad hominem. Categorizing people by attributes is not fallacious, nor is inferring someone belongs in a particular category. “People who hold a grudge when told their favorite music sounds like cats mating on top of a guitar” is also a type, and if you, the over-sensitive lover of crappy music, start ranting over such an unflattering opinion, the opinion-giver is perfectly justified in suspecting it might be more productive to avoid you. Anyway, the point remains: If you don’t like people putting you in a category, don’t make it easy for them by exemplifying the all of the category’s defining attributes.

  112. hotshoe says

    Yeah, but the sum of what you’ve said here sounds like you haven’t grown up one bit since then.

    I’ll do you one better–I’ll bet he was one of those sort of activists that made the women also active in those causes realize that second-wave feminism was necessary!

    I hear that!

  113. says

    Luckily, we are not religious fanatics that expect perfection from our leaders.

    Leaders? Who wants leaders? Outspoken individuals are cool. I’m also ok with representatives when needed, but in this case I never even got to vote.

  114. Sally Strange says

    Interesting, I marched in Selma, got beat up in Chicago and Miami in 68, marched and was jailed in 69 in Atlanta for demonstrating, in an effort to make a better world so assholes like you and that other nitwit can judge me.
    Get out from behind your fucking keyboard and do some fucking thing instead of telling me about how I should be, what I represent or what I have bled for. You don’t have a fucking clue.

    Congratufuckinglations on doing a few things right, asshole. It doesn’t mean you get a pass on everything else, forever. I marched against the Iraq War and got pepper sprayed protesting Bush’s “Clean Air” travesty of an environmental policy, and am out registering and educating voters right now. Activism didn’t stop in the 60, even if self-absorbed, self-righteous fossils think it did. Thanks for the work you did back then. But guess what? There’s more work to be done, so join us in the 21st fucking century or get the fuck out of our way.

  115. nohellbelowus says

    @Stephanie Zvan in #82:

    nohellbelowus is apparently both 12 years old and his own biggest fan.

    And, from the bio-blurb on her blog (sorry, alliteration foul, -2 pts):

    Stephanie has been called a science blogger and a sex blogger, but if it means she has to choose just one thing to be or blog about, she’s decided she’s never going to grow up.

    Hypocrite, much?

    You ought to stick with your core values, Stephanie, because I assure you, growing up is indeed very, very overrated.

  116. nohellbelowus says

    Sally:

    LMFAO

    You’re a caricature of yourself.

    I will lull myself to sleep tonight with the happy dream that you were actually saying this to me, in person, and I was armed with a super-soaker.

    ;)

  117. LeftSidePositive says

    Can we just get this insufferable insult to John Lennon lyrics off the fucking blog already? He adds absolutely nothing–not even educational illustrations of common privileged attitudes! Just plain inanity, nonstop.

  118. Rothron says

    @LeftSidePositive there is a lot of typing going on, and while it’s not an ad hominem, it can be poisoning the well.

    After having followed this ongoing debate for quite I while it seems obvious that there are more straw men and women in it than actual debaters.

    A few things seem clear to me. There is a problem with sexism. A lot of people have not seen this problem, and seem to suffer cognitive dissonance. I know I did, and I admit I may not be completely rid of it.

    I also feel that some vocal atheist women run the same risk as people of color do. Having fought an issue for so long they become so primed and adept to look for sexist or racist remarks they start having false positives. It’s a form of pareidolia. When you type someone and start assuming their point of view, it’s a form of prejudice. The worst is assumed, and no-one is given the benefit of the doubt because doubt is in short supply with someone so sure of themselves.

    That said, whenever I spot a person in a thread I think is arguing my point, he will, almost without exception degenerate into a snarling misogynist making rape-comments. It’s saddening and suggests that the problem is larger than I may think.

    Dawkins was a moron not to understand how incindiary his Muslima-comment was. Especially when it came from him. I find myself wishing it had come from Ayaan Hirsi Ali instead, because there was a point there. Old white rich men have their privilege, but white women is not without any. Unfortunately it was a point not against Rebeccas initial comment, but against hearsay and straw men.

    I still do not think this invalidates the good work Dawkins has done in science communication and atheism. He’s said some stupid things, but he’s hardly someone out to keep women in the kitchen.

    I suspect that internet fora is the wrong place for this issue. Things heat up much too quickly. However I’d love to see a panel discussion.

  119. Sally Strange says

    That said, whenever I spot a person in a thread I think is arguing my point, he will, almost without exception degenerate into a snarling misogynist making rape-comments. It’s saddening and suggests that the problem is larger than I may think.

    I’m sure it’s a mere coincidence and the content of your point has no relation to misogyny, snarling or otherwise.

  120. Sally Strange says

    I find myself wishing it had come from Ayaan Hirsi Ali instead, because there was a point there.

    This is actual ad hominem in action. No, the source of the opinion does not make the opinion any more or less true. If Ayaan Hirsi Ali had suggested that women living in industrialized Western countries where feminism has been in action for longer than in Saudi Arabia should suck it up because women elsewhere can’t drive, are victims of FGM, etc., that opinion would still be erroneous and damaging.

  121. says

    If Ayaan Hirsi Ali had suggested that women living in industrialized Western countries where feminism has been in action for longer than in Saudi Arabia should suck it up because women elsewhere can’t drive, are victims of FGM, etc., that opinion would still be erroneous and damaging.

    She pretty much has said that.

  122. opposablethumbs says

    Fey#103

    I’m reading many posts from people that are negating decades of RD’s contribution to the movement over this blindspot.

    Funny, I’m not reading that at all. I’m reading many posts from people saying how disappointed they are that someone who has written such excellent and important books on science and atheism, someone who has achieved so much and become so influential in the atheist movement, someone whom they still admire in that context … should be so blind to his own privilege and to the issues of misogyny and harassment being raised now.

    I’d be one of ‘em; I have the books, love the books, admire the writing, want my kids (and everyone else) to read the books. Doesn’t mean RD isn’t wrong on this issue now. And it’s precisely because he’s an excellent and influential writer that his blindness on this issue is particularly disappointing. Of course, unlike many religionists, we don’t pretend our prominent figures have to be infallible.

    “Negating decades of RD’s contribution”? Utter tosh.

  123. Laurie says

    I laugh at the many absurd posts in this thread that refer to Richard Dawkins as a misogynist. Nothing could be further from the truth. Richard is a gentle, thoughtful man. He is the opposite of a misogynist. By issuing the ‘Muslima’ message, he was pointing out the absence of perspective by some feminists, whining about being propositioned (or even, perhaps, only being offended by an inconsequential experience in an elevator, FFS) whilst women in other parts of the world were threatened with murder, rape, and exile simply for being female.

    You don’t know Richard Dawkins – you are a pack of vultures who have religiously jumped on a bandwagon of ideological hatred, because you don’t have the guts and brains of a Richard Dawkins, and have never, and never will, make the tiniest contribution to either the public understanding of science, or the movement towards a secular world. As someone who has met the man, and put him up in my home, and have had several conversations with him, I can tell you that you are utterly clueless fucktards. A+? You have got to be kidding – you’re simply pathetic dullards.

  124. Rothron says

    No, the source of the opinion does not make the opinion any more or less true.

    I agree communication is tricky business. The same words written by two different people will still be colored by how you know those people. The listener is a factor in how the words will be interpreted.


    If Ayaan Hirsi Ali had suggested that women living in industrialized Western countries where feminism has been in action for longer than in Saudi Arabia should suck it up because women elsewhere can’t drive, are victims of FGM, etc., that opinion would still be erroneous and damaging.

    I agree, but that’s not how I read his comment. The implication was that Rebecca overreacted, but she simply described a situation she found uncomfortable and asked people not to put her in that situation. I find it hard to imagine that anyone who saw the video can think that’s an overreaction, which is why I believe the comment was a reaction to straw men. If Rebecca had said: “No man should ever talk to a woman in an elevator”, it might have been an apt comment, albeit crass, to provide perspective. But saying that feminism in the west has come so far so that all efforts should be put into feminism elsewhere is like saying NASA shouldn’t exist because poverty exists.

    I think the comment tried to say: This isn’t oppression. There is real oppression happening elsewhere, which is fine except that nobody claimed they were being oppressed. It was just a simple request for more tact.
    Personally, when I go home at night after I’ve been to a pub, I will slow down if I find myself walking behind a woman by herself, because I don’t want her to think I’m following her. The thought that she might makes me uncomfortable. I wish I didn’t feel like I had to, but that’s hardly her fault.

  125. Rothron says

    @Laurie

    I like how you divided your post into one considered paragraph and one vitriolic and shitty one, but do you really think the second one was necessary?

    Do you think Richard Dawkins would appreciate it?

  126. Laurie says

    I don’t give a rat’s, Othron. This idiocy has gone on far too long, and I, and plenty of others, have had a gutful of it.

  127. thetalkingstove says

    I laugh at the many absurd posts in this thread that refer to Richard Dawkins as a misogynist.

    ‘Many’? No, not at all. Dawkins isn’t being called out as a misogynist, he’s being criticised for having blind spots and being generally a bit clueless on this issue.

    If you read the comments properly you can see that the response is more disappointed in tone than angry. It seems you are deliberately seeing something in order to dispense your own wrath.

    Also, ‘Dear Muslima’ was just dreadful and if you can’t see why may I suggest you google some of the deserved criticism it got.

  128. Laurie says

    Piss off, thetalkingstove. The Muslima post was spot on. If you’re unable to see that, then your intellect is waning. Richard was giving you nancys a wake-up call; if you can’t see that, then fuck you. Idiot.

  129. ben says

    Blind spots? FtB is wall to wall peripheral visionaries. How could there possibly be blind spots here?

  130. says

    Piss off, thetalkingstove. The Muslima post was spot on. If you’re unable to see that, then your intellect is waning. Richard was giving you nancys a wake-up call; if you can’t see that, then fuck you. Idiot.

    “Nancys.” Nice.
    Yeah, I’ll take advice on issues of sexism from you. Sure.

  131. Laurie says

    So, a ‘troll’ is anyone who disagrees? Typical. As I said before, if you’re going to impugn Richard Dawkins, then get your facts straight. So far, you miserable wankers have completely failed.

  132. Blitzgal says

    “By issuing the ‘Muslima’ message, he was pointing out the absence of perspective by some feminists, whining about being propositioned (or even, perhaps, only being offended by an inconsequential experience in an elevator, FFS) whilst women in other parts of the world were threatened with murder, rape, and exile simply for being female.”

    Yeah, we got that part, duder. One point you and Dawkins missed is that it is the response that Rebecca Watson got to her very mild and very innocuous statement that revealed the cesspool of misogyny that exists in the community. A woman says, “Hey, this action isn’t likely to be a successful attempt to get laid,” and in response, she gets rape and death threats. It’s THAT RESPONSE that we’re talking about, you dumb asshole.

  133. Blitzgal says

    Also, telling American women that we have to ignore issues that happen in our personal lives (like random rape and death threats in response to our expression of discomfort at someone’s behavior) because other women in the world have it worse is bullshit. That’s why Dawkins’s comment is a bunch of crap, and that’s why he got rightly criticized for it.

  134. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    So, a ‘troll’ is anyone who disagrees?

    its amusing to me how this is the ONLY “argument” these whiny ass bigot trolls ever have.

    Funny how they want everyone to ignore what completely obvious, incompetent liars they are. Cuz, how else can you pretend that you’re being called a troll unfairly if you’re honest about everything ever?

    Pathetically obvious, these whiny ass bigot trolls.

  135. ben says

    Naaa…yer making it up as you go now. No one believes a word FtBloggers say anymore. You’ve lost all credibility worldwide. None of you even has the guts to call Carrier out on his fucktardry. It’s pathetic.

  136. opposablethumbs says

    Richard was giving you nancys a wake-up call

    tsk tsk, Laurie, your prejudices are showing.

    Fortunately RD – a very fine writer on many topics and completely mistaken and/or clueless on this one, as I said above – doesn’t need you to defend him. If he or his rep relied on defenders with your refined sensibility, defenders as eloquent and intellectually rigorous as you are, he would be in deep shit. Don’t worry, he’ll be fine.

    Oh, and ben – since FtBloggers have lost all credibility worldwide (I’m impressed, you must have done some exhaustive research – and so quickly, too – to show that!) you don’t need to waste your valuable time having a tantrum here; run along now and get back to your important business, whatever it is.

  137. Jakie_paper says

    Ben, you wish. In fact many of us are proud of the work these bloggers do and new fans pop up all the time. Trolls like you remind me of the talking walls in Labyrinth. You scream, “Turn back now!”, because you are scared shitless that the status quo is being changed.

  138. Foxblood says

    “Piss off, thetalkingstove. The Muslima post was spot on. If you’re unable to see that, then your intellect is waning. Richard was giving you nancys a wake-up call; if you can’t see that, then fuck you. Idiot.+

    You worship the ground Richard walks on so much you can’t even imagine that a man this great could be…..ohhh….I don’t know…. WRONG! The only thing I ever see from you guys is performing head rectal extractions in public as demonstrated by your post above. I don’t care how much you wish sexist abuse or misogyny away as a problem its STILL A FUCKING PROBLEM!

  139. Sandeep says

    oh give it a rest guys…I mean we all at some point hit “like” to some horrendous tasteless posts that come along in Facebook…Maybe Dawkins did the same thing and re-tweeted it impulsively.
    P.S : The old prof. should stick to science and should be kept away from social networking sites.

  140. gmacs says

    Laurie
    So, a ‘troll’ is anyone who disagrees?

    No, just the ones who troll.

    if you’re going to impugn Richard Dawkins, then get your facts straight.

    “Facts”: “Muslima” was “spot on”; FtB is full of “wankers”; Richard Dawkins is a fuckin’ teddy bear; RW called elevator guy a mysoginist; FtB folks hate Richard Dawkins.

    These are Laurie’s basic points so far. They are actually opinions, with a few lies and misrepresentations sprinkled in.

    Also, I think it’s funny that someone who calls the FtB folk religious seems to treat Dawkins as a messiah who is above criticism. I don’t hate Richard Dawkins; I’m still a fan, and I still read his books. But he has his faults, including blindness to privilege and being just a bit of an asshole.

    Full disclosure: I grew up rather privileged and am also a bit of an asshole at times.

  141. ben says

    This is just a chamberpot of wannabe atheist celebrities pissing all over each other trying to become famous. Sure, you’ll get some support from the gullible: all cults do. But you’re just trying to suborn atheists to your own sociopolitical or feminist agenda. It’s been tried b4. Doesn’t wash with skeps who prefer the truth to dogmatism.

  142. opposablethumbs says

    Oh dear, ben, are you still here? I thought FtB had no credibility anywhere in the world (oops, sorry – except for “some support from the gullible”, I forgot that loophole). So why are you flailing around (so eloquently) in a forum you claim to consider a “chamberpot”? Why aren’t you somewhere more worthy of you, enjoying conversation with interlocutors of your own intellectual level?

  143. says

    Yes, ben, social justices is ‘dogmatism’. Every time in history when the privileged are challenged, you’ll get this tone. “This has been tried before.” “This is not how things are done.” and so on …

    Oh, and yeah, nice try at a truth claim in there. Fundamentalism much?

  144. ben says

    LOL…Well I tried talking to Carrier… but you know what he’s like. I’m waiting for someone to label me a misogynist or privileged or old or white or dude… or something. I’m sure it’s coming.

  145. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Trolls like you remind me of the talking walls in Labyrinth. You scream, “Turn back now!”, because you are scared shitless that the status quo is being changed.

    Bingo. Cowardice is as cowardice does. he’s a terrified little boy, cowering in the corner, scared that everyone in the world will find out his bravado is a coverup for insecurity. That’s why, despite the ever-growing parade of support for A+, etc., he’s trying to convince us FTB has no credibility and that he’s a member of a bigger, stronger group who agrees with him. Just ignore the blatantly obvious fact that he’s wrong.

    of course, no one cares at all about Whiny Ass Bigot Trolls, so I don’t understand why they keep coming back to whiny and throw temper tantrums.

    Stop telling us you want nothing to do with justice, equality, etc. and go away already. You’ll be forgotten in moments.

  146. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Also, I think it’s funny that someone who calls the FtB folk religious seems to treat Dawkins as a messiah who is above criticism.

    Well, to be fair, they think that about themselves as well.

  147. Woo_Monster says

    Boring troll,

    I’m waiting for someone to label me a misogynist or privileged or old or white or dude… or something. I’m sure it’s coming.

    Pathetic. The sense of martyrdom is astounding.

    Keep speaking truth to power, ben! Don’t let the dogmatic feminazis get you down. March onward brave soldier!

  148. Sally Strange says

    In what ways does ‘privilege’ apply to your own lives? What did you do about it?

    I use my white privilege to speak out against racism in the presence of other white people.

    You?

    Oh wait, you don’t believe in privilege. So why are you asking that question? Frankly, you’ve demonstrated a level of intellectual dishonesty that doesn’t deserve even the minimal response I just gave.

  149. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    In what ways does ‘privilege’ apply to your own lives? What did you do about it?

    I don’t think you are sincere; you could change my mind by doing a little bit of reading on your own though. It is easy to google “privilege” and find a 101 level resource. Here, start here, this gets at your specific question.

    Male-privilege checklist:
    http://www.amptoons.com/blog/the-male-privilege-checklist/

  150. Xuuths says

    Ah, what a beginning for “Atheism+” — you should all be proud.

    Well, not the ones who have been making statements that run counter to the Atheism+ stated goals.

    Why not just label this thread “ElevatorGate 2.0″?

  151. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Sorry, Xuuths, I couldn’t quite parse your vague word-salad. Do you have a specific point?

  152. Xuuths says

    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts — Specific point? Well, just looking at a number of your own posts, many of which are insulting, demeaning, sexist, (I could go on), which run counter to the stated goals of “Atheism+” — I would say you would be one of the people who should not be proud of your contribution thus far in helping “Atheism+” start.

    It isn’t trolling to point that out.

    I thought the goal was to create a space where people could communicate with each other without all this… vitriol. And it has thus far been a complete failure. Wonderful idea that I was excited to see offered — but the anger and arguments from ElevatorGate have been revived in all their stinging glory.

    This sniping, flaming, insulting and degrading of each other doesn’t help anyone’s equality, it doesn’t promote understanding, and it certainly doesn’t reflect well upon the people participating in flinging it.

    This is exactly what the theists say always happens in atheist groups — only they think it’s because we don’t have god or a sense of morality. (They’re wrong about the reason, of course, but their prediction tends to be accurate.)

    Which is why I’ll unplug from this. Please don’t flatter yourself into thinking you chased me from here. I walk away shaking my head in sadness at yet another missed opportunity.

  153. Blitzgal says

    “Which is why I’ll unplug from this. Please don’t flatter yourself into thinking you chased me from here. I walk away shaking my head in sadness at yet another missed opportunity.”

    Bye then!

  154. woo_monster says

    I walk away shaking my head in sadness at yet another missed opportunity.

    Your concern is noted. I am glad that you are so passionate to see A+ succeed.

    Also,

    Specific point? Well, just looking at a number of your own posts, many of which are

    You call this specific?

  155. ben says

    Well Sally, I got beat up by the National Front demonstrating against the fascist imbeciles on the streets in the east end of london – brick lane area – while working for the anti-nazi league. But I’m guessing that probably won’t count here, seeing how I’m oh so privileged.

  156. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    It isn’t trolling to point that out.

    Tone trolling isn’t a form of trolling?

  157. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    True, Ben. Conveniently unprovable ancedotes that cast you as the poor victim of mean racists are a little hard to count, after you’ve spent all the rest of your time here telling women to eat shit.

  158. says

    Ben… you DO understand that you can’t actually buy “Bigot Tokens” by doing a good deed in the past, that you can then exchange for a free pass on shitty behavior some time in the future, right?

  159. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Ben… you DO understand that you can’t actually buy “Bigot Tokens” by doing a good deed in the past, that you can then exchange for a free pass on shitty behavior some time in the future, right?

    YOU CAN’T?!?! Nooooooooo! Why have I been trying to understand issues of social justice if they don’t benefit ME, by giving me free passes to be a douche?

  160. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Ben, how about responding to the point that even if your anecdote is true (and I have no reason to doubt it), your past history of doing good things doesn’t give you a free pass in the present?

    It is great that you did some good activism in the past. How is that relevant to this discussion? How does that have any bearing on your point here, that,

    This is just a chamberpot of wannabe atheist celebrities pissing all over each other trying to become famous. Sure, you’ll get some support from the gullible: all cults do. But you’re just trying to suborn atheists to your own sociopolitical or feminist agenda. It’s been tried b4. Doesn’t wash with skeps who prefer the truth to dogmatism.

    If you want your criticisms to be taken seriously, you have to substantiate them. It is not enough to just say you did some good activism in the past.

  161. ben says

    I don’t give 2 hoots what anyone here does or doesn’t believe about me. You are all content to jump all over any critical post with the same accusations like a stuck record: privilege,misogyny, racism, sexism. It’s a cult.

  162. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Still adverse to quoting, specifically, a comment you have a problem with?

    It is hard to take your point seriously, or to even comprehend it, when you are so unclear about what you are complaining about.

  163. says

    Ben, you also understand that words like “cult” have meanings that simply don’t apply because people agree with each other while not agreeing with you? Or did you deeply understand something in the 1960s and therefore think you get a pass from having to understand things now?

  164. says

    Ok, clearly ben isn’t willing or able to have good faith discussions, and intends to serve as an example of why we need Atheism+ in the first place. Joy!

  165. A. Noyd says

    ben (#187)

    You are all content to jump all over any critical post with the same accusations like a stuck record: privilege,misogyny, racism, sexism. It’s a cult.

    Then what should it look like to confront a pervasive problem aggressively acted out by opponents with a similar mindset to one another, displaying a limited set of stereotyped behaviors fitting the definitions of misogyny, racism, sexism, etc.? How does always reacting in the same way to opponents who always act in the same way reflect badly on us?

  166. says

    Then what should it look like to confront a pervasive problem aggressively acted out by opponents with a similar mindset to one another, displaying a limited set of stereotyped behaviors fitting the definitions of misogyny, racism, sexism, etc.? How does always reacting in the same way to opponents who always act in the same way reflect badly on us?

    That’s the question I’ve NEVER seen a good answer to. If I see sexism or racism, why is my response wrong because it is predictable? How is “you always say that” a defense against accusations of sexism or racism, instead of simply a very clear deflection? And since when was “caring about things” the same as “being a cult”, except as another deflecting accusation?

  167. ben says

    Because by politicising atheism you have inadvertently alienated vast numbers of allies. So be it. Hungry family to feed. Off to cook dinna now b4 get attacked by starving teen.

  168. says

    #83. A. Noyd: “hyper-literal nitwit.” Easy there. You might break the A+ canon, whatever that is. As for Dawkins, I agree with Laurie. I don’t know how any of you guys could draw the conclusions you do after reading his work. He can be as scathing as anyone when discussing religion, but the antiquated male-centric goon that he is portrayed as here? Give me a break and put down the Kool-Aid.

  169. says

    What is the difference between agreeing or disagreeing with Dawkins that makes his defenders consider themselves independent thinkers, while painting his critics as a “cult”? One side is defending a charismatic movement leader no matter what he says or does, while the other side is willing to see his flaws as well as his strengths. Just saying.

  170. nohellbelowus says

    To all the young, naive, and idealistic people who are suggesting that us older folks simply need to “get out of the way”:

    1) Please print out your comments onto some good, durable paper.
    2) Frame them.
    3) Store them away in a safe place for twenty-five years.
    4) After twenty-five years or so have elapsed, unpack one of the framed documents, and take it with you to one of the numerous A+++++ conventions that are sure to be occurring with great frequency.

    If you hold it up in front of your face, it will serve as a very effective shield for the copious amounts of spit (and perhaps even projectile vomit) that will be directed at you by all your youthful superiors.

  171. woo_monster says

    ben,

    Because by politicising atheism you have inadvertently alienated vast numbers of allies.

    I disagree with this statement for five reasons.

    1) The concept of alienation of allies is more complex than your statement implies. Some atheists couldn’t give a shit about social justice. They are not my ally on those issues. Those very same atheists may be great activists for secularism. They are my allies in that cause.

    2) There is not a problem with alienating people. We want to alienate sexist, homophobic, transphobic… bigots from the AtheismPlus.

    3) The alienation is not “inadvertent”, in all cases. As stated above, alienation of people who deter valuable minority voices from wanting to identify as, and ally, with big A Atheism, is a positive thing.

    4) While a focus on social justice may alienate some atheists (or potential atheists), others may welcome the change. Some might leave, others might join. A focus on social justice might bring a new, more diverse, passionate, group of people together to work as progressive, intersectional atheists.

    5) What the fuck is it with the insistence that AtheismPlus is politicizing or co-opting atheism. We have created a social activism group, AtheismPlus. We care about secular issues and the intersection of them with other social justice issues, as well as social justice generally. You can participate in A+, if you want to. Or, you could choose not to participate.

    I forget where I originally heard it, but I heard the analogy again on the Godless Bitches, that complaints such as yours, ben, are like someone creating an atheism knitting group, and a bunch of rush in to exclaim that the knitters are attempting to co-opt atheism!!11rage!!. No they aren’t. They are just fucking atheists that like to knit together. If you like to knit too, come join.

  172. Phil Rimmer says

    Lucy Wainwright’s original tweet was a very useful contribution and I wish all female atheists could contribute their views on the scale of any misogyny problem in the atheist community with the helpful addition of their current attitude on the problem.The accumulation of such anecdotal evidence, qualified thus, may give us a better handle on the actual situation.

    We are all familiar with the problem of confirmation bias and how that colours our acquisition of personal “evidence”. But we must remember it cuts both ways. Lucy gave us good information about her acquisitions too. We are terrible witnesses and it takes an aggregate (of all predispositions) to make a half decent call.

    We may fall into an abused group, cortisol cooked perceptions anxious of any that appear like our abusers or we may fall in to the that lucky group who have escaped malice more or less and have a panglossian view of things.We all sit somewhere between the two. It is not surprising that those at the extremes, though, may be more prone to speak out

    Most of the evidence for misogyny, say, may fall quite easily into either the misogyny or the thoughtless category. We older dogs are particularly prone to the latter being past our training prime even though we are intellectually fully on board.The “anxious” will take that evidence one way, the “panglossian” another.

    We know this. So why this dreadful mess here? Why such a visceral response to information furnished? Why the leap to mind-reading and shit stirring? Why not make the points I made and call her on her confirmation bias and admit to your own?

    We all have a position. An illustration of mine is here- “I have no problem with Richard prioritising his concerns for oppressed women.” So, bin my opinion accordingly.

  173. woo_monster says

    If you hold it up in front of your face, it will serve as a very effective shield for the copious amounts of spit (and perhaps even projectile vomit) that will be directed at you by all your youthful superiors.

    Lol, a little hyperbolic, perhaps? Criticism = spiting in face? .

    I for one welcome my lapses into bigoted ways of thinking and/or speaking being pointed out and ridiculed by a more progressive youth.

  174. A. Noyd says

    ben (#190)

    You use it as a ready slur, amongst many, right? Why?

    Nope. Calling people out on their privilege isn’t a slur. It works like this:

    So there was this nasty fellow over on Butterflies and Wheels a few weeks ago talking about how he runs claims of sexual harassment (or perhaps it as rape) through his “bullshit detector” to determine whether they’re credible. What he doesn’t realize is that bullshit detectors—like all the tools of skepticism—have to be calibrated somehow. Generally we rely on direct experience and the experiences of those closest to us. If we, or those of our inner circle, do not often experience things like sexual harassment, then our bullshit detectors aren’t going to be very accurate.

    Privilege is a term for how the nasty fellow’s position in life (as a man, as a white person, as a straight person, etc.) will largely shield him from the experiences that would improve the accuracy of his bullshit detector. Privilege also lowers his awareness of the experiences of others around him. Identifying his privilege is not blaming him for having it; it’s just an expression of how the world works.

    Calling out privilege is an attempt to direct the nasty fellow’s attention to the fact that, due to his limited experience, his tools aren’t as effective as he supposes they are. It’s a way of telling him to either fix his bullshit detector—that is, to make up for his lack of experience in some way—or to accept that the judgments he makes while using it will necessarily be off the mark and will justifiably be treated as worth less than the judgments of people who didn’t have privilege to shield them.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    (#196)

    Because by politicising atheism you have inadvertently alienated vast numbers of allies.

    We’re politicizing atheism to work towards political goals. (Well, politicizing our own corner of it.) If the mere act of adding politics to atheism alienates people, they weren’t going to be our allies anyway.

  175. A. Noyd says

    Jeremy (#198)

    Easy there. You might break the A+ canon, whatever that is.

    A+ is about being fair, not about being nice. Now, do you have a substantive response to anything I wrote in #83 (or anyone else’s replies to you), or are you going to continue to be an evasive chickenshit?

    As for Dawkins, I agree with Laurie. I don’t know how any of you guys could draw the conclusions you do after reading his work.

    Look, if Dawkins’ “Dear Muslima” was supposed to teach us rotten Western feminists some perspective, it failed horribly for two main reasons. One, Dawkins didn’t understand that the brouhaha at that point was over the disproportionate reaction to Rebecca Watson’s entirely proportionate response to an uncomfortable encounter she’d had in an elevator. Two, if Watson’s experience really was so trivial, Dawkins should have worked to convey that message to Rebecca’s attackers, and not to the feminists joining her in speaking out against their revolting hate campaign. He should have told off the haters for massively overreacting to the mild suggestion of a trivial solution to a trivial problem. As it was, he only succeeded in flaunting his ignorance and further inciting the haters with his misdirected criticism.

  176. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Phil Rimmer,

    Lucy Wainwright’s original tweet was a very useful contribution and I wish all female atheists could contribute their views on the scale of any misogyny problem in the atheist community with the helpful addition of their current attitude on the problem.The accumulation of such anecdotal evidence, qualified thus, may give us a better handle on the actual situation…

    …Most of the evidence for misogyny, say, may fall quite easily into either the misogyny or the thoughtless category. We older dogs are particularly prone to the latter being past our training prime even though we are intellectually fully on board.The “anxious” will take that evidence one way, the “panglossian” another.

    These first four paragraphs (abridged above), all strike me as hyper-skepticism. The null hypothesis, seems to me, to be that rates of sexism and sexual harassment amongst atheists are roughly equal to those in the general population. Those who have been speaking out against these problems haven’t been saying anything more than that these problems exist in the atheist community, and that we should take steps to alleviate them.

    Your request for a survey is problematic because,

    1) we do not need to know the exact frequency of sexual harassment to enact good, pro-active sexual harassment policies. Likewise we do not need to know how atheism’s problem with misogyny scales with society at large to act on, and repudiate, instances of it that we witness and/or experience.

    2) It is very difficult to get accurate statistics with surveys on harassment. Jason Thibeault, at Lousy Canuck, wrote a piece on the hyper-skepticism on the topic of sexism and harassment within the atheist community. In it, he reposts a comment from Pteryxx that explains the reasons why.
    Pteryxx,

    Basically, surveying sexual harassment is difficult *at all* because of pervasive underreporting. As with sexual assault and rape, only a small percentage of incidents are ever reported, for many reasons: the victims are too embarrassed or ashamed, they assume (often rightly) that nothing will be done to address the problem, or they’ve normalized the harm. Fear of retaliation or escalation, while also major factors, probably don’t have much effect on a truly anonymous survey.

    This is from page 32 of a 2005, 72-page report on sexual harassment among US college students (it’s big but quite readable):

    http://www.aauw.org/learn/research/upload/DTLFinal.pdf

    Given the strong reactions to sexual harassment,
    we would expect students to report incidents, yet
    most do not. More than one-third (35 percent)
    tell no one. Almost half (49 percent) confide in
    a friend, but only about 7 percent report the
    incident to a college employee.

    Female students are more likely than male
    students to tell someone about sexual harassment,
    although they, too, have reservations about
    discussing their experiences (see Figure 10).
    A common theme among female students is a
    feeling of nervousness or discomfort at reporting
    something that might not be “a big enough deal.”
    One young woman describes an incident that
    made her feel “horrible” and “helpless,” but
    she didn’t report it because “it didn’t seem to
    be that important.”

    Also, for a victim to report sexual harassment (or sexual assault, or rape), the person has to first admit that what happened to them WAS harassment, assault, or rape.

    From a 2004 U of Iowa report:

    http://www.uiowa.edu/csw/reports/sexual-harassment/2004Sexual-Harassment-Survey-012306-ExecSummary.pdf

    Because research has shown that many people are reluctant or unwilling to label even serious unwelcomed behavior (e.g., physical assault of a sexual nature) as sexual harassment, this survey separated questions about respondents’ experiences with unwelcomed sexual behaviors from the question of whether or not they felt they had experienced sexual harassment. The intent was to capture more accurately the occurrence of behaviors without the stigma of the label.

    This survey asked about eight types of unwelcomed behavior which may constitute sexual harassment. A majority–52%–of respondents indicated that they had experienced one or more of the eight categories of unwelcomed behavior. Yet, when these responders were asked explicitly about whether they had experienced sexual harassment in the past 10 years at UI, most responders (62%) indicated that they had not been sexually harassed, whereas 24% (805 individuals)) indicated that they considered the unwelcome behavior to be sexual harassment. This represented 26% of female and 19% of male responders.

  177. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Unproveable anecdotes!!!

    Yes, that’s what they are. You’ve produce no proof that this happened. You’re a troll who’s been pretty clear about his tremendous disrespect for women. So, yes, I find it very hard to believe you’re a social justice warrior for against racism. Why is this confusing?

    You are all content to jump all over any critical post with the same accusations like a stuck record: privilege,misogyny, racism, sexism. It’s a cult.

    So you don’t understand simple concepts or the definition of ‘cult’. Why not educate yourself about these things instead of ignorantly lashing out at people who do understand them?

    You use it as a ready slur, amongst many, right? Why?

    Saying someone has privilege is not a slur. Everyone has it to some degree. I myself have quite a bit. I’m white, not poor, college educated, healthy, etc etc. Why do you assume it’s an insult?

    Because by politicising atheism you have inadvertently alienated vast numbers of allies

    People who think bitches ain’t shit are not allies. And, since you have no proof that there are “vast numbers” of “allies” being alienated and we have plenty of proof that we’re winning, what’s the point of lying?

  178. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    We older dogs are particularly prone to the latter being past our training prime even though we are intellectually fully on board.

    An interesting point. Perhaps Dawkins’ problem isn’t privilege blindness or unconscious (subconscious?) sexism, but ageism. The whippersnappers don’t have anything to teach him, sort of thing.

  179. smhll says

    While the longer Lucy W. quote was better, her tweet was pretty awful and logically flawed. She appears to have discovered “The Secret” [TM] that if she wishes really hard that misogyny didn’t exist it won’t exist at skeptical conferences.

  180. says

    The fact that he retweeted it makes me feel she is a special case. Sure doesn’t change my mind that sexism is a big problem in the community. I’ve had too much of it directed at me–sexual and violent. And both. So, I envy her, but if she’s going to tell me I made the shit up, bitch is going to have to say it to my face.

  181. nohellbelowus says

    I for one welcome my lapses into bigoted ways of thinking and/or speaking being pointed out and ridiculed by a more progressive youth.

    That’s certainly a keeper. Print it out and send me a copy.

    I’ll probably still be kicking around in a couple decades, and you can buy me a beer in the bar when you’re tired of being misunderstood by young, inexperienced nitwits.

    Of course, this scenario presumes you’ll have the integrity and humility to admit to having any bigoted ways of thinking and/or speaking in the future, and that’s just a silly notion, right, given that your A+ generation has already sorted it all out?

  182. says

    @Hellbound

    Exactly. That was my whole point with that original little blogpost. I mean, if she hasn’t experienced anything like this, then good for her. That is NOT a problem. The problem is of course her dismissal of the problem or however you want to interpret that last sentence. I cannot find any interpretation of it that doesn’t make her a “chill girl” of one type or another.

    I haven’t experienced much sexism online either. The abuse I have gotten has been transphobic. That doesn’t mean I cannot see the abuse others get. It’s everywhere.

  183. nohellbelowus says

    So, I envy her, but if she’s going to tell me I made the shit up, bitch is going to have to say it to my face.

    I’ll say something to your face: the use of the word “bitch” is unacceptable behavior. Stop it now, you snarky piece of shit, or leave this thread immediately.

  184. says

    It’s sad that some worship Dawkins so much that they belittle and disregard the issues raised on the times he has demonstrated quite harmful ignorance.

    He might be a gentle man in the home who has made great contributions to science (contributions which I respect). But that has little bearing on what he is being criticised for here, nor should his prior achievements give him a free ride if he fucks up on something. It’d be easier if people could just grasp that you can simultaneously be a great person in some aspects, but wrong in others, instead of falling back on “but you are wrong because Dawkins is actually great!” arguments.

    Or, you know. *swears a lot to make point*

  185. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    nohellbelowus – you do understand that this is not your blog, right? And, given that you’re a well-known troll, that no one believes even for a second that you care about the use of gendered slurs? You seem to have trouble remembering this, given how frequently you try to dictate what other people do.

    And p.s., you might want to learn WHO you’re talking to before pretending to be an ally.

  186. ben says

    ..teen hunger monster sated…

    No one can, or will, stop you politicising atheism or forming A+ with whatever political goals you decide on.

    I would argue that there is no simple route from atheism to (insert your political or anti woteva positions here) because atheism is the absence of belief in deities. (Just like there is no route from atheism to evil).

    When PZ sais stuff like “I just had a thought: maybe the anti-atheist+ people are sad because they don’t have a cool logo. So I made one for the asshole atheists. A*”

    When Carrier opines “And so I am declaring here and now, that anyone who acts like this, is not one of us, and is to be marginalized and disowned, as not part of our movement, and not anyone we any longer wish to deal with. In fact it is especially important on this point that we prove that these vile pissants are a minority in our movement, by making sure our condemnation of them is vocalized and our numbers seen. We must downvote their bullshit, call it out in comments, blog our outrage.”

    “So speak out wherever you see these two sides at loggerheads, and voice your affiliation, so it’s clear how many of us there are, against them. And this very much is an us vs. them situation. The compassionate vs. the vile. You can’t sit on the fence on this one. In a free society, apathy is an endorsement of villainy.”

    “We must integrate this ideal of personal integrity into our very self-identity. Those who don’t, those who aren’t shamed by being exposed as liars or hypocrits, those who persist in being dishonest or inconsistent even when their dishonesty or inconsistency has been soundly proven, is not one of us, and is to be marginalized and disowned, as not part of our movement, and not anyone we any longer wish to deal with etc etc etc”

    So, you’re insisting that all this is, in the long run, a productive development?

    Isn’t it hard enough already to just BE an atheist in this fucked up world without facing hatred, marginalisation and bigotry from the outside, never mind the inside?

    OK…if you want to fight lots of other battles simultaneously (probably we all do one way or another), why not do it under the political or feminist or ideological banner that you feel is appropriate to that cause and leave the political goal of atheism to getting society to accept that it might just be OK to BE one?

  187. says

    OK…if you want to fight lots of other battles simultaneously (probably we all do one way or another), why not do it under the political or feminist or ideological banner that you feel is appropriate to that cause and leave the political goal of atheism to getting society to accept that it might just be OK to BE one?

    Ah, just what was missing. US-centrism. Where I live, being an atheist is a non-issue. I of course understand that is not the case everywhere, but you fail to see that this issue is also an issue of social justice. You cannot fight for social justice in one area and ignore other forms of bigotry going on in the same ranks. That seems to me to be rather hypocritical.

  188. nohellbelowus says

    Illuminata, please take your unevidenced assertions and shove them up your arse, okay?

  189. says

    Rebecca W:

    It’s sad that some worship Dawkins so much that they belittle and disregard the issues raised on the times he has demonstrated quite harmful ignorance.

    And super ironic that they accuse those of us who don’t consider him to be the infallible messiah of atheism, of cult-like behaviour when we dare to criticize him.

  190. Deepak Shetty says

    @Laurie
    Piss off, thetalkingstove. The Muslima post was spot on.
    other than the glaring logical problems you mean? Like Dear Richard why do you spend your time fighting for evolution when children are starving/being killed/raped?

    And now he retweets a message which has a similar logical problem (it doesn’t happen to me so all is right with an implied fault is yours?)

    You see part of the problem is most of us believe Richard is a smart person. Most of us liked him . You can even see it in Jen’s post – she says disappoints her (in other words she had higher expectations of Richard Dawkins).
    is some reaction over the top? – sure. But we are left to guess at why someone as smart as Dawkins is indulging in such obvious logical fallacies.

  191. julian says

    This is why I’m growing increasingly disgusted with atheists. It’s impossible to criticize Dawkins in this community without jerks like bellowus and ben coming out to troll and derail your thread.

    For fuck’s sake. He’s a man. A fallible man that’s been growing increasingly passive aggressive since he told a forum full of sexual assault survivors if they were ever worried on an elevator they should just hit the stop button. Stop derailing wit the good he’s done. Stop derailing with the good you’ve done. Stop derailing all together.

    Argue why his point is right (or the person who he retweeted) or just shut up. Jesus!

  192. Phil Rimmer says

    @208

    Enacting measures above and beyond “standard practice” is an effort and requires resources that may be best applied elsewhere. “Laws” to be good must be enforceable and resourced accordingly.

    Acting in ignorance of the scale of a problem is an inexcusable waste of effort. Is it a massive problem? Do we need to set up committees? Is it trivial and a one sentence reminder to be thoughtful of others tacked on the back of the program nails it?

    I certainly didn’t ask for a survey though (besides which it wouldn’t serve the purpose I outlined)I asked for an accumulation of more annecdotes from atheist women about their experiences in atheist groups with the added qualification of whether they expect sexual harrasment in atheist groups or not. (There will be people both pleasantly and unpleasantly surprised.)

    The papers you excerpt are of no relevance to informal reporting, where annecdotes can be supplied anonymously or reports “passed on” and ascribed to others known to the writer, if needed.

    Presently, I haven’t the faintest idea of the scale of any problem. Not the faintest. Of the five or so atheist women I know with whom I discuss these matters and who have attended atheist gatherings none have reported problems. For completeness I think it is fair to say they wouldn’t expect there to be problems.

    Having offered this excellent stick to religious apologists to beat us, we’d darn well better get a more rational handle on the scale of “our problem” and snatch it back (as a false alarm or fixed) at the earliest opportunity.

  193. julian says

    Isn’t it hard enough already to just BE an atheist in this fucked up world without facing hatred, marginalisation and bigotry from the outside, never mind the inside?

    Yes. We’re the ones making atheism less welcoming for atheists. We (and we alone) are the ones making it more and more difficult to identify as atheist within the atheist community.

    No, not as you might think the gentlemen groping Watson at cons.

    No, not the rape threats.

    No, not that fuck who laughed at masturbating to Greta Christina and citing that as why he cannot take her seriously.

    No, not Whoozely implying the reason Jen and others get harassed is because they assume all men are misogynists.

    All of it is us. Yeah. Totally.

    This is why I don’t like the atheist community.

  194. Rhodes says

    Wow first time here and I just can’t believe how riled up the feminists get on this board over such small things, shitting over a legend like Dawkins. It’s like some of them have been protected little princesses their whole lives and aren’t used to random people being assholes. Look ladies if someones being abusive to you it’s got nothing to do with your sex, men get abused far worse with statistically many more males in prison and having drug addictions, getting into fights etc. Seriously how does this become a feminist issue? What does atheism have to do with feminism? As far as I know no atheist in these little rallies has been convicted of any sex crimes, clearly overly sensitive feminists are easy troll targets that waste everyone’s time (except the people laughing at them) with their petty attempts at relevance instead of seeing the bigger picture as a whole.

    Hey, so I told my girlfriend I wanted to fuck her between the tits, she said, “How’re you gonna make that feel good for me?”, I said, “Right before I cum I’ll stop punching you in the face.”

    I like that Doug Stanhope joke, I’m also for Women’s rights and Men’s rights, but choose not to waste my time on trivial things that will get you no where like incessant self-entitled whining that only makes people hate you even more.

  195. says

    shitting over a legend like Dawkins.

    Wow, next thing you know you’ll be complaining about how PZ desecrated a copy of The God Delusion, you crazy idolater you!

    BTW, being a sexist asshole while defending Dawkins from charges of acting like a sexist asshole? You just lost the argument.

  196. says

    And how dare people criticize Cardinal Law for allowing a few dozen altar boys to get raped. Don;t they know how many poor people the church fed under his leadership? Doing good things doesn’t place you above criticism.

  197. Rhodes says

    “Wow, next thing you know you’ll be complaining about how PZ desecrated a copy of The God Delusion, you crazy idolater you!

    BTW, being a sexist asshole while defending Dawkins from charges of acting like a sexist asshole? You just lost the argument.”

    I’ve never read the God Delusion, I prefer his earlier works where he educates about evolution and has contributed so much to the scientific field, something you will never achieve.

    Not a sexist, I want women to have equal rights. Dawkins isn’t sexist either, you are just incredibly over sensitive and delusional. Jokes aren’t meant to be taken seriously. How come in a group of lads and girls maybe some I don’t even know we can have banter and chat shit to each other, even saying sexual jokes and we all get along fine yet if I try to do it with a feminist the shit hits the fan. You must be a really fun person to hang around with……………… NOT!

  198. A. Noyd says

    @ben

    Care to answer my questions in #194 or respond to the explanation of privilege I gave you in #204—if only to retract your accusation about using privilege as a slur?

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    Deepak Shetty (#221)

    Like Dear Richard why do you spend your time fighting for evolution when children are starving/being killed/raped?

    Oh yeah, I forgot about that. I guess I should have said there are three main reasons “Dear Muslima” failed horribly.

  199. says

    I’ve never read the God Delusion, I prefer his earlier works where he educates about evolution and has contributed so much to the scientific field, something you will never achieve.

    You totally missed the part where Bigot Coins don’t exist, and that you can’t do something good enough to excuse being an asshole later? Or that hero worship is sad and pathetic, and should be avoided by people who are actually rational and skeptical? I guess reading for comprehension is something YOU will never achieve.

  200. julian says

    Dawkins isn’t sexist either, you are just incredibly over sensitive and delusional.

    I don’t think Dawkins is sexist either. I also think he’s genuinely motivated by the oppression of women under religion. He really wants to see good done.

    But how does that make it impossible for him to do or say sexist things?

  201. Rhodes says

    “You totally missed the part where Bigot Coins don’t exist, and that you can’t do something good enough to excuse being an asshole later? Or that hero worship is sad and pathetic, and should be avoided by people who are actually rational and skeptical? I guess reading for comprehension is something YOU will never achieve.”

    You totally missed the part of giving an example of Dawkins being bigoted and no that tweet isn’t bigoted, he’s just happy that a female atheist blogger hasn’t fallen prey to this poor excuse for ‘feminism’. Hero worship? I guess caricatures are a common tool for rational skeptics such as yourself? I respect the guy like a respect a lot of people I meet.

    How about you address my point on how I can have banter with normal emotionally stable people and not feminists. What is a night out for you like?

  202. julian says

    How’s about you actually make a point, Rhodes? No one here has said everyone has to find everything sexist. That’s a strawman you came up with. It’s a common one used against feminist like Jen and it’s dishonest.

    Jen is pro-porn, jokes about sexuality with the people she knows and is comfortable with and certainly doesn’t need some ass like you coming along to tell her she doesn’t do any of those things. So please, be relevant or be quiet.

  203. Rhodes says

    Spot on julian why make Dawkins a focus of a blog or any other person who is clearly not against women for maybe saying something a tiny bit out of touch(if he even has?). It’s not impossible for me to act against my own moral judgement sometimes, we are all irrevocably human emotional creatures and I’m sure even the most liberal feminist has done bad things. The fact of the matter is criticizing Richard Dawkins for trivial remarks will only be another skidmark on the underpants of the feminist movement.

  204. nohellbelowus says

    I know, I know, I shouldn’t have said that. But that kind of person just really pisses me off.

    This common statement explains Elevatorgate, and nearly everything that has transpired since, in the world of atheism.

    Including most rape threats.

    When people are angry, they say and do stupid things.

    Most people who live in reality (and hence are obligated to work productively alongside individuals they don’t agree with politically) understand this simple idea.

  205. Forbidden Snowflake says

    When people are angry, they say and do stupid things.

    Most people who live in reality (and hence are obligated to work productively alongside individuals they don’t agree with politically) understand this simple idea.

    Most people who live in reality also understand that bigoted/violent things said out of anger are still bigoted/violent, and that bias that displays itself only when angry/hurt (i.e., less able to keep up a facade) is in fact one of the major ways in which bias manifests itself in “civilized people”.

  206. nohellbelowus says

    Most people who live in reality also understand that bigoted/violent things said out of anger are still bigoted/violent, and that bias that displays itself only when angry/hurt (i.e., less able to keep up a facade) is in fact one of the major ways in which bias manifests itself in “civilized people”.

    Wrong, Einstein. People can say things they don’t mean or believe. It happens every fucking day.

    But even given your gloomy, negative view of humanity, numerous individuals on both sides of this particular schizm are equally culpable, and have demonstrated equal capacity for anger and abuse.

    So what’s your fucking point?

  207. julian says

    ???

    nohellbellowus, what are you babbling about? So what if “people say things they don’t mean” (which isn’t true. they say things they later regret) if the things they’re saying are misogynistic, sexist or rape threats. They don’t suddenly become ok because the person was angry. It takes a particularly warped mind to believe something like that.

  208. hieropants says

    We all have a position. An illustration of mine is here- “I have no problem with Richard prioritising his concerns for oppressed women.” So, bin my opinion accordingly.

    I have no problem with Richard prioritising his concerns for oppressed women either. What I do have a problem with is Richard attacking others for not sharing his prioritised concerns, on the basis that genital mutilation is the base level of oppression women must endure before it is okay to care about women’s rights, concerns, and experiences.

    There are a whole host of issues out there that I don’t personally find compelling enough to care about, because I am only human and I can’t spend my attention on every single injustice everywhere, but I don’t go into those spaces and tell the people who care about them that they are incorrect because they prioritize different concerns than I do.

    No one can, or will, stop you politicising atheism or forming A+ with whatever political goals you decide on.

    Well, obviously not, because acknowledging that politics are inseparable from atheist goals is the main reason why people feel the need to stick that “+” onto their atheism movement. If you want to get pissy about the purity of the dictionary definition of atheism go right ahead, but this movement isn’t for you and doesn’t have to care about your irrelevant semantics.

  209. nohellbelowus says

    If I’m going to be called young and naive for fighting for social justice…

    I’m certainly not questioning your motives, because nearly everybody is for social justice, but your methods are clumsy, immature, and divisive.

    Atheism has no dogma. Atheism-Pus is another matter entirely.

    Everybody is learning as we go. Blogs, and online interaction between commenters, is a relatively new phenomenon, although to a young person it may seem like they’ve been around forever. They haven’t, and there are still plenty of people who continue to need time, and the helpful indulgence of others, to digest what they’ve seen, and read online, so that they can interact on a level where someone like yourself already is, for instance.

    It’s inherently sad that the promulgators of Atheism-Pus want to “freeze” the frame here in August of 2012, and conduct the witch hunt now, instead of taking a mature, pedagogical approach, and watching the garden grow.

    And speaking of gardens… take a lesson from me, a man who in the early eighties would have bet his life that marijuana would long be legal by now, and that intelligent, progressive liberals (like my college professors) would be in charge of America’s foreign policy.

    I hope I don’t sound too patronizing, because I truly hate that role, but things (read that people’s minds) simply don’t (and won’t!) change as fast as you think.

    Let’s help people learn, and not be so impulsive and reckless and dramatic and childish and vindictive and…. and…

  210. nohellbelowus says

    It takes a particularly warped mind to believe something like that.

    No, it just takes compassion, and the experience of age. Things you may not believe in, yet. And that’s your choice.

  211. static says

    Do people deny that it is possible to perceive social situations differently based on their expectations? Surely that is one cause of detecting less of a behavior than others. Or did people skip over the “maybe” but and treat the statement as an absolute?

  212. hotshoe says

    nohellbelowus –

    It takes a particularly warped mind to believe something like that.

    No, it just takes compassion, and the experience of age. Things you may not believe in, yet. And that’s your choice.

    You’re a filthy troll, nohell, and you have no right talking to anyone about “compassion”. Go get one of your favorite prostitutes to felate you while the other one tells you how much she loves a man with “experience”.

  213. says

    @205 A. Noyd: OK first, as I mentioned, all of the principles of Atheism+ have not been clearly defined so neither you or anyone else, save maybe Jan McCreight – since she likes creating new movements so much – can say what it is or isn’t about. I was under the impression that it was, in fact, about being nice and not about calling people names like third graders, but hell, maybe I was wrong and gave it more credit than it deserved. My bad.

    As for the original Tweet, I’ve already dealt with the original text and said what I thought it meant … twice … without bringing in extra-textual baggage about abuse victims that simply is not in the text.

  214. says

    To all the young, naive, and idealistic people who are suggesting that us older folks simply need to “get out of the way”:

    I’m guessing that this means that 60 is the new 20…or something.

    I’m not young. I’m not naive. But I am idealistic and so I have supported and continued to support the quest for equal rights for all.

    I think anyone who does not support social justice should indeed get out of the way of those who do, no matter what their age.

    And as for Dawkins: I can’t help but note that his reasoning ability seems to wane when the issue is women’s harassment by others who call themselves atheists and/or skeptics.

  215. LeftSidePositive says

    I was under the impression that it was, in fact, about being nice and not about calling people names like third graders, but hell, maybe I was wrong and gave it more credit than it deserved. My bad.

    So, have you read a goddamned thing about it? Do you even UNDERSTAND that tone and content are not the same thing?! Do you understand the difference between insults and slurs? Do you understand the difference between anger at someone for who they are versus for actions that cause demonstrable harm to others? Do you understand that a requirement of being nice all the time just gives cover to people who pretend to be nice?

    Read this, several times, and hopefully you’ll learn something: http://www.socialjusticeleague.net/2012/04/the-revolution-will-not-be-polite-the-issue-of-nice-versus-good/

    Do you get it now?

  216. says

    I was under the impression that it was, in fact, about being nice and not about calling people names like third graders, but hell, maybe I was wrong and gave it more credit than it deserved. My bad.

    I was under the impression that atheism+ was, in fact, about building a community of people who you didn’t need to call names because they weren’t adverse to social justice.

    I didn’t see any one say those who support atheist+ were going to be nice to those opposed to social justice issues. But maybe I missed something. So perhaps you might want to cite the post that gave you your impression.

  217. Sally Strange says

    Including most rape threats.

    When people are angry, they say and do stupid things.

    Most people who live in reality (and hence are obligated to work productively alongside individuals they don’t agree with politically) understand this simple idea.

    Misogyny is not stupidity.

  218. says

    nohellbelowus said:

    This common statement explains Elevatorgate, and nearly everything that has transpired since, in the world of atheism.

    Including most rape threats.

    When people are angry, they say and do stupid things.

    Most people who live in reality (and hence are obligated to work productively alongside individuals they don’t agree with politically) understand this simple idea.

    What is stupid is arguing that when people who are not misogynists get angry, they threaten to rape and, for over a year, harass, insult, and abuse, not only specific individuals, but entire groups of people.

  219. xowarsxo says

    5000 whining atheists vs the Great Prophet

    how the divine pen of Michel N. crushed the international atheist movement

    skepticforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=18660

    youtube.com/watch?v=s3lwG4MytSI

    one applicant right here…

    get the POINT, Randi….

    for lies on top of lies

    youtube.com/watch?v=bbmXpNEFipE

    do you think you can threaten my right to FREE SPEECH?

    what if I told you that I am not who you think I am….

    Not Dennis Markuze – but a FAN!

    youtube.com/watch?v=nvatDdOWcLw&lc

    you’re not the center of the universe!

    youtube.com/watch?v=3yRpSNIOwA4

    a dishonest liar

  220. says

    @233:

    Presently, I haven’t the faintest idea of the scale of any problem. Not the faintest. Of the five or so atheist women I know with whom I discuss these matters and who have attended atheist gatherings none have reported problems. For completeness I think it is fair to say they wouldn’t expect there to be problems.

    Perhaps you should do some reading, then. The scale and scope of sexual harassment, assault, and oppression in general society is well-studied: feminist and other sociologists have been studying the phenomenon for decades.

    Now, does general society translate specifically to the atheist/skeptical subculture? Interesting question. However, the null hypothesis is that said subculture is not significantly different from the larger culture it occupies. If you wish to present evidence to the contrary (and asking five atheist women is NOT sufficient evidence), by all means feel free to organize a study. But so far the evidence based on simple observation is that the null hypothesis is correct.

    Regardless, speaking out of ignorance, and further out of ignorance that you even lack knowledge, is not a good way to start. Please, do some studying. The blog Finally Feminism 101 exists as a clearinghouse for resources you can use to educate yourself.

  221. A. Noyd says

    Jeremy (#247)

    first, as I mentioned, all of the principles of Atheism+ have not been clearly defined so neither you or anyone else, save maybe Jan McCreight – since she likes creating new movements so much – can say what it is or isn’t about.

    The details haven’t been hashed out, so nobody can have a correct idea of what A+ is about in general? Well, that’s a completely stupid argument. A+ is about adding social justice to atheism. Mixing the two isn’t like some chemistry experiment where a whole different state of matter might await us on the other side of the arrow. Since social justice is about being fair, not about being nice, it’s safe to say A+ will be the same.

    …without bringing in extra-textual baggage about abuse victims that simply is not in the text.

    Right, and you’re being a hyper-literal nitwit. Your low opinion of name-calling doesn’t make your idiocy less of a fact. You’re treating the tweet in a way that ignores how language actually works in order to preserve your sycophantic opinion of Dawkins. And you’re asserting your interpretation without any actual argument or evidence for it. Others in this thread, on the other hand, have excerpted and linked to Wainwright’s blog where she makes it clear that her philosophy isn’t anything so innocuous as “assume the best before assuming the worst.” (See hotshoe’s reply at #84.)

    You’re arrogantly, catastrophically wrong—about A+, about the tweet, and about Dawkins. You should look into fixing that.

  222. says

    It’s interesting to see the people most concerned about “division” amongst atheists working so feverishly and to point out to other atheists on those other atheists’ blogs just how much they are not at all one of your kind of atheist.

    It’s also interesting that those who claim most loudly that there is no problem can’t even refrain for just the amount of time it takes to type a comment from proving that there not only is a problem but that they themselves are a major part of it.

    It’s like listening to conservatives complain about liberals “always playing the race card” because a liberal happened to dislike their “Obama/Watermelons on the White House Lawn” Photoshop “satire.”

    (apologies for the amount of scare quotes but I saw no way of avoiding them.)

  223. Phil Rimmer says

    @240

    ” I am only human and I can’t spend my attention on every single injustice everywhere, but I don’t go into those spaces and tell the people who care about them that they are incorrect ”

    If those people attacked you for your seeming indifference you would, especially if they seemed in return comparatively indifferent to your priorities.

    Your FGM jibe is contemptible (baseline of noticing). You know that his particular concerns are for the oppression of women everywhere, universally licensed by religions. Disenfranchised, cheated of education, used and abused.

    When someone can put up evidence of the scale of the problem being promoted here and weigh it in the balance with the billions of women affected by the issues I have mentioned, then we can proceed rationally.

  224. woo_monster says

    Phil Rimmer,

    [1]When someone can put up evidence of the scale of the problem being promoted here and [2]weigh it in the balance with the billions of women affected by the issues I have mentioned, then we can proceed rationally.

    [1] How do you perceive the scale of the problem being promoted here? A few people, myself included, have suggested that the null hypothesis is that instances of sexism and sexual harassment in the atheist community are approximately as frequent as they are in the surrounding culture. Any assumption that there are no problems of sexism and harassment within atheism requires support, as there, in fact, are problems of sexism and harassment in the general culture. Do you agree?

    [2] How many online rape threats equal one instance of FGM? If we are doing Oppression Olympics, I need to know how the scoring system works. Why can we atheists proceed rationally* about problems of sexism (and other forms of oppression/bigotry) within our community only if we first weigh them against other forms of oppression/bigotry occurring elsewhere? And, it shouldn’t need to be said, but no one is stopping you from caring about both horrific and more subtle forms of bigotry.

    *Psh, you talk as if you dictate when this conversation can move forward.

  225. says

    If those people attacked you for your seeming indifference you would, especially if they seemed in return comparatively indifferent to your priorities.

    If Dawkins had made no mention of elevatorgate that would have been indifference.
    If people had criticized him for making no mention of it that would have been criticizing him for indifference.

    That is not what happened.

    Dawkins DID mention elevatorgate.
    Unprompted by anyone.

    The way he mentioned it was to condescendingly admonish those concerned about sexism that is more subtle than the extremes of it for being concerned about forms of sexism that are more subtle than the extremes of it.

    THAT is what he is being criticized for.

    Your comment merely serves up the same dessert of condescending belittlement and dismissal of the experiences of others that Dawkins offered, only now with your special whipped topping of blatant misrepresentation and dishonesty.

  226. Phil Rimmer says

    @259 Woo

    1)I have no idea and only a handful of anecdotes/reports to go by. My expectation is that atheists are moved by the issue of female oppression and I would imagine harassment no worse than the general population, possibly better. Within a sensitised population I would also expect more diligent reporting. (c.f. the encouragingly high[!] rape statistics from Sweden. Encouraging because it is probably closer to reflecting the truth of the situation.)

    2) Both could traumatise for life…. lets say one for one.

  227. Forbidden Snowflake says

    nohellbelowPus:

    Wrong, Einstein. People can say things they don’t mean or believe. It happens every fucking day.

    Yes, and that takes more effort than saying things they do believe. That is why people tend to reveal their implicit biases when they are tired, hungry, angry, etc. Anyway, this might explain away a brief slip, but not a year-long harassment campaign.

    But even given your gloomy, negative view of humanity,

    My “gloomy, negative view of humanity”? What does that mean? The belief that some people, in fact, have biases? That a bias that only manifest itself in certain situation and not 24/7 is still a bias? It’s cute how a malignant troll like you tries to play an idealist scolding others for their cynical views.

    numerous individuals on both sides of this particular schizm are equally culpable, and have demonstrated equal capacity for anger and abuse.

    Anger and abuse? Yes. Bigotry and rape threats? Those seem to be mostly concentrated on just one side.
    As Sally said, misogyny=/=stupidity. Likewise, misogyny=/=anger.

    So what’s your fucking point?

    My fucking point is that your pitiful attempt to excuse rape threats as just something people do when they are pissed off doesn’t fucking fly.

  228. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    please take your unevidenced assertions and shove them up your arse, okay?

    Well, diddums, the evidence is the fact that you get banned from blogs you troll because of your behavior.

    And stop thinking about my ass. Not if you were the last whiny ass bigot on the planet.

  229. tiny says

    I used to find Dawkins really really sexy. He became a guilty pleasure after his Elevatorgate faux-pas. Now I lost all respect for him and I noticed that he looks pretty pasty.
    BRB, mourning.

  230. says

    I’m certainly not questioning your motives, because nearly everybody is for social justice, but your methods are clumsy, immature, and divisive.

    nohellbelowus, given how you showed up in this thread and your behavior elsewhere, I think you haven’t got the tiniest clue what you’re talking about.

  231. Phil Rimmer says

    @259 Woo @261

    2.) read that wrong (I mentally had it as rape attempts). Online threats of rape, except in unfortunate circumstances, I suspect not to be, so often, traumatizing for life.

  232. Justan says

    @justanatheist

    Could someone please point to a post where these allegations are shown, with evidence of what was said or written?

    All I see are arguments from both sides. As skeptics, are we not allowed to question exactly what happened?

    Let facts speak for themselves, instead of someone’s interpretation?

    Thanks

  233. plutosdad says

    How come when it comes to our favorite forms of discrimination (ones against “people like us”) we readily recognize it and call it bigotry, and point out to the people doing it that they don’t NEED to hate, or feel have negative feelings towards a class of people, that is needed for bigotry. We say “even if you meant it as a joke, even if you are just being cruel for cruelness’ sake like the rest of the internet, and you don’t have personal hate towards this group, that doesn’t mean your actions are not bigoted, and you should not be checking yourself and your motives”.

    Most atheists readily agree with this when it comes to discrimination against non theists, or against gays and lesbians.

    But when we point out the same things about other forms of bigotry, against people they don’t identify with, they say it doesn’t exist. “I don’t hate women, therefore I’m not a misogynist”, or “I don’t hate black people, therefore I’m not racist” The same old tropes they refuse to accept from others, they readily trot out to excuse their own behavior.

  234. plutosdad says

    ugh personal hate is NOT needed for it to be bigotry, i meant. i’ve been up all night working

  235. says

    Jen McCreight, is she a new moron as rebecca “elvator” watson is?

    You morons are really a nice crew here. Sometimes I am really ashamed I have anything in common with imbeciles such as you, even if it is an insignificant matter as (non)-religious affiliation.

    Oh what a bunch of feminist morons. Glad to live in Europe.

  236. KG says

    Including most rape threats.

    When people are angry, they say and do stupid things.

    Most people who live in reality (and hence are obligated to work productively alongside individuals they don’t agree with politically) understand this simple idea. – nohellbelowus

    Misogyny is not stupidity. – SallyStrange

    But as nohellbelowus repeatedly demonstrates, they are by no means incompatible.

  237. KG says

    It’s inherently sad that the promulgators of Atheism-Pus want to “freeze” the frame here in August of 2012, and conduct the witch hunt now, instead of taking a mature, pedagogical approach, and watching the garden grow. – nohellbelowus

    It really does take a remarkable lack of self-awareness to couple a reference to “Atheism-Pus” with a call for a “mature, pedagogical approach”.

    I’m certainly not questioning your motives, because nearly everybody is for social justice – nohellbelowus

    From the man who has (when he does anything other than troll, and repeat the same stupid “joke” across multiple blogs) been complaining that those supporting Atheism+ are naive.

  238. nohellbelowus says

    Not even 300 comments?

    *sigh*

    What evidence would falsify the claim that someone was a misogynist?

    Does the absence of misogynistic remarks comprise evidence of the absence of misogyny?

    (And please be gentle. The bearings on my scroll-wheel are starting to squeak.)

  239. says

    Not for a second do I believe you’re arguing in good faith, nohellbelowus, but for the audience, I’ll bite:

    The claim isn’t that someone is a misogynist. The claim is that someone did something misogynist. To quote Jay Smooth of Illdoctrine*, “This isn’t about who you are, this is about that thing you did.” He was speaking of racism, but the point applies to other bigotries equally well.

    You’re right; we can’t directly measure or judge the nature of a person’s inner mentality. Saying someone is a misogynist is a claim that, in isolation, isn’t something we can judge for certain. We can judge a person’s actions, but we can’t judge what’s in their “heart of hearts”, if you will.

    However, we’re not doing that. We’re talking about someone (in this case, two someones: Lucy Wainwright and Richard Dawkins) doing something which is rather misogynist. And evidence of someone DOING something misogynist is easy to come by. You just have to examine the person’s actions. And these actions were misogynist in nature.

    Now it is possible to take stock of a person’s observed actions over time, and conclude that statistically, that person is likely to say or do misogynist things when the question comes up. Then it’s reasonable to say “that person is a misogynist”, because then the statement means “that person has a history of saying and doing misogynist things”.

    If you reify misogyny as a thing you either have, or don’t have, you’re not going to be able to understand what’s going on. Which, given your commenting history, is likely as not what you’re used to already.

    * From the fantastic “How To Tell People They Sound Racist” video, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Ti-gkJiXc

  240. KG says

    If anyone’s in any doubt that nohellbelowus is indeed a misogynist, they should check out his exchanges with Anne C. Hanna on this thread at Pharyngula (I tried posting with links to some choice examples, but I think I included too many links):

    and his performance on this thread on Greta Christina’s blog (which got him banned) (there’s a comment there from Anne with links to the choice examples mentioned above.

    Anyone who’s in any doubt that he’s stupid will surely be convinced by his pretense here not to be a misogynist troll, while leaving a trail of his droppings across several FtB blogs.

  241. Tenebras says

    Dawkins lost his “idol” status with me years ago, when he decided to blindly trust the blatant lies of his precious protege over the swarm of people who busted their asses on a daily basis (for free!) to make his website and forums worth going to. And then refused to apologize in any meaningful way when it was obvious he had been wrong. (This from a man who said “we clapped our hands raw” when his professor admitted to being wrong and thanked the person who corrected him. Hypocrite.)

    And then his protege turned out to be stealing money from him, and I keeled over from the sheer amount of “Told ya so”. At this point, I wish he would just shut up and stick to science/religion, I’m actually getting tired of feeling totally unsurprised by the privileged, ignorant shit coming from his keyboard.

  242. julian says

    @Tenebras

    I see nothing funny about that situation. If I’m reading you wrong, I apologize but it seems like you’re having a laugh at Dawkins over it.

    P.S.Yeah, I got suckered in by that speech to. Had I given it a moment’s thought I would have realized humans generally don’t behave that way whatever the field.

  243. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Phil Rimmer,

    Pity you didn’t progress your argument.

    Huh? I was responding to enzo’s comment,

    Jen McCreight, is she a new moron as rebecca “elvator” watson is?

    You morons are really a nice crew here. Sometimes I am really ashamed I have anything in common with imbeciles such as you, even if it is an insignificant matter as (non)-religious affiliation.

    Oh what a bunch of feminist morons. Glad to live in Europe.

    Enzo used “feminist” as a pejorative, and was clearly trolling. You think that my dismissive response to this person was a missed opportunity to progress my argument? Do you think I need to do a thorough dissection of his points? Which ones, that Jen is a moron, or that Rebecca is, or that the commentariat here are “imbeciles”?

  244. nohellbelowus says

    The claim is that someone did something misogynist.

    Okay, so how could this claim be falsified?

  245. hotshoe says

    nohellbelowpus –

    The claim is that someone did something misogynist.

    Okay, so how could this claim be falsified?

    KG said (#279)

    If anyone’s in any doubt that nohellbelowus is indeed a misogynist, they should check out his exchanges with Anne C. Hanna on this thread at Pharyngula (I tried posting with links to some choice examples, but I think I included too many links):

    and his performance on this thread on Greta Christina’s blog (which got him banned) (there’s a comment there from Anne with links to the choice examples mentioned above.

    Anyone who’s in any doubt that he’s stupid will surely be convinced by his pretense here not to be a misogynist troll, while leaving a trail of his droppings across several FtB blogs.

    That’s the only answer nohellbelowpus deserves.

  246. Tenebras says

    @julian More a feeling of validation than schadenfreude. We told Dawkins, or tried to, that he wasn’t trustworthy, and for our trouble we were all kicked out onto the sidewalk and told to go get stuffed. Then Dawkins found out we were right in the worst possible way… and still didn’t learn from his mistakes (except maybe to not make legal contracts with handshakes.) *shrug* I’m just saying that Dawkins’ apparent inability to learn from his past screw-ups is not especially new.

  247. nohellbelowus says

    Okay. I can take a hint. I need to contribute something more substantial to Atheism-Pus than mere words.

    How about a new logo

    Yer welcome.

  248. nohellbelowus says

    I don’t know anyone named “bannable“.

    This is just some random dude with a boil on his arse.

    Later, promulgators!

  249. gouchout says

    “Obama’s mainstream form of Christianity. ”
    I think Obama & wife are just pretending to be Christian. In US politics, do you have any chance at power if you say you’re atheist/agnostic? No, I would think.

  250. says

    @256 A. Noyd: “A+ is about adding social justice to atheism.” What the hell does that mean? Social justice to atheism? Social justice is all well and good, but what does atheism have to do with it? And thanks for calling me a “twit” for a second time. If I cared, I would call in the Atheism+ police.

    “You’re arrogantly, catastrophically wrong—about A+, about the tweet, and about Dawkins.”

    That would be your opinion since the folks supporting FTB and A+ can’t seem to agree about the general maxims of Atheism+. Since it was hatched inside the mind of McCreight, no one can speak on its true precepts except her, not you nor anyone else. And when Carrier tried, he apparently failed. So you guys mill around, brainstorm. Think great thoughts. And when you are done, the conclusion will be this: the world will be as it always as been: filled with millions of loving people, filled with some contemptible people, filled with a handful of dangerous people. Nothing is new under the sun.

  251. julian says

    A handful of dangerous people?

    That’s how the world has always been?

    Yeah, I’m kinda glad you don’t wanna work with me.

  252. says

    I very much enjoy Dawkins’s books. The God Delusion convinced me to consider myself an atheist after doubting religion for a while. His writing about evolution is really wonderful to read and I do plan on reading more of his books. However, on feminism and gender, he just keeps saying things that make him seem clueless. It comes across as even more ridiculous, because he’s someone who criticizes both really extreme and minor (but still wrong) actions on the part of religious people. But when it comes to sexism, he seems to have this standard where only certain types really count.

    @Laurie (#143):

    By issuing the ‘Muslima’ message, he was pointing out the absence of perspective by some feminists, whining about being propositioned (or even, perhaps, only being offended by an inconsequential experience in an elevator, FFS) whilst women in other parts of the world were threatened with murder, rape, and exile simply for being female.

    I’m from a Muslim family, and quite frankly, I’m sick and tired of hearing all the time about how Western feminists shouldn’t complain because other women have it worse. The fact that I would be treated worse in a Muslim country like Saudi Arabia doesn’t mean that people who do other, less bad, things to women should get away with it. Yes, there are people who do not pay attention to what is happening to women in other countries; there are others who talk about what is happening in their own country and also talk about what is happening in other countries. And there are those who take any mention of anything bad happening to women in the West as an opportunity to change the topic to other countries (especially Islamic countries) and brag about how much better the West is, so they don’t have to address any of the issues in their own community. The person who was at the center of all that controversy (Rebecca Watson) has spoken about women in other countries. (See her talk talk “Why Chicks Matter” at Skepticon from a few years ago, where she talked about genital mutilation and violence against women in Africa due to belief in witchcraft)

  253. says

    I am waaay late, but this is so egregious:

    Because by politicising atheism you have inadvertently alienated vast numbers of allies.

    this statement implies that failing to politicize atheism wasn’t alienating anyone, despite a shit ton of people saying otherwise. It just seems that when you speak up about feeling alienated on the basis of sex it doesn’t count as alienation?

    Its another case of the default position being inherently biased against women, people of color, trans people, etc but never being recognized for what it is. It is nice to believe that there is such a thing as an apolitical group but its a fucking fairy tale when you’re subject to discrimination for simply being what you are.

  254. supernorbert says

    Is there no one that can communicate with RD directly?

    Richard, would have all the means and opportunities to communicate about these issues. He could e.g. post an article on his website where he would be able to explain his position on the misogyny topic in a calm and polite way and we could have a civilized discussion on it.

    He has chosen not to do so, and that’s the most disappointing thing on his behavior.

  255. says

    how can you say that you hate most men?

    They are socialized to be masculine, and most dudes comply. A big part of masculine socialization is devaluing women. I hate people who devalue me and expect me to be nice to them anyway. Part of what really exposed the cruelty of the majority of men was exploring male dominated cultures (gaming, pornography, comedy, religion, etc). They hate you back, really, and women in general. Dudes just say it in different words. I have zero patience for it anymore. Some dudes get it (like robert jensen and jackson katz), but I don’t have any reason to expect men in general to care.

  256. Montesino says

    I think the blogger at IBTP was right when she said it’s rare the liberal westerner who doesn’t think they have already liberated their women so now sexism only is a problem in the third world.

  257. says

    /:D

    Maybe you shouldn’t look to evolutionary biologists for feminist idols, Veronica. Nature doesn’t particularly care about sexism.

    You’d do best to appreciate that such a sheltered, privileged and pampered human being (all the ingredients of an oppressive conservative thinker) has taken a liberal, reality-based stance at all; instead, you’d rather alienate a potential ally because he liked a pro-atheism message and retweeted it. An ally known for engaging is discourse, and for allowing himself to be corrected.

    (Dawkins would also reject the position of idolatry in general ).

    As a complete aside…

    I’m afraid I’m not going to be reading this blog in the future. I’m a male feminist (that is, an equality feminist), and there’s entirely too much anti-male (and anti-masculine) diatribe in the comments for anyone to be claiming a correct feminist ideology. There’s nothing wrong with males or ‘masculinism’ – there’s a problem with misogyny.

    Misandry is every bit as ignorant and off-putting as it’s counterpart, and I think my daily blog readings could use less of each.

  258. says

    Maybe you shouldn’t look to evolutionary biologists for feminist idols, Veronica. Nature doesn’t particularly care about sexism.

    Oh, I’m not looking to him to be a feminist idol. I have plenty of those already. However I do expect a rational and intelligent human being to at least realise that when an issue lays far outside of his field of experience, it may not be his place to lecture people about it like he tried with Rebecca Watson when this whole shitstorm started.

    As for stopping to read the blog, you may have noticed that the mentioned shitstorm already have caused Jen to stop blogging. I don’t think Jen is misandrist anyway, so no reason to stop reading the blog in the first place just because you don’t like the comments. If that was an issue, there wouldn’t be much left to read on the internet these days.

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