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Oscar Wilde he ain’t

RDF has a plug for the Women in Secularism conference. Elisabeth Cornwell of RDF is one of the speakers.

Naturally the page has filled up with jeering comments from an anonymous bully. Of course it has. It wouldn’t do to miss such an opportunity to express hostility and contempt for women and feminism.

Ho hum.

It’s too bad for him that not all organizations and groups and even conferences are like that. If they were we really might shut up, just to escape the thugs. But they’re not, so we don’t.

Comments

  1. Stacy says

    I tried to leave a comment, but I couldn’t. For some reason I have never been able to leave one at RDF. It says I’m logged in, then tells me I’m not authorized.

    I didn’t address the main idiot, but the [white] dude (I assume–and if so he’s never had a shortage of role models who looked like him) who said “I don’t want my daughter to ever think she has to look at the successes of other women to be inspired. Being inspired by other people should be enough.”

    What does that even mean? She should be inspired by “other people” who are not-women? Or does the existence of this WiS conference suggest she’s only allowed to be inspired by women?

    Funny how threatened some doodz are by the existence of one little bitty ol’ Women in Secularism conference. Gah.

  2. says

    The amusing part, not that any of his comments were funny, is that by similar logic there’s no reason to have atheist conferences either. I mean, those touchy unbelievers who need a helping hand from those who invented conferences! Why not just have human being conventions? Why must we have all of these divisions among us?

    Also, why science fiction conventions? Why not general genre fiction ones? And it’s worse when they’re Star Trek specific!

    OK, I think I am done being sarcastic. Comments like that just make me want to scream or mock, and I don’t want to bother my roommate by screaming.

  3. Arthur says

    I’m encouraged by the Women in Secularism conference, as I am by the rising profiles of women writers here at freethought and elsewhere.

    As women are disproportionately disadvantaged by religion, a mass of women’s voices are vital to the discourse. The emergence of more women in the current secular scene is a sign that the movement must be doing something right, at least.

    And respect to you, Ophelia for your key role in all of this. Thanks.

  4. says

    Nonsense, Ophelia. There are never jeering, hostile, anonymous bullies on RDF, as a number of commenters will appear to explain to you shortly. If you think otherwise, you are obviously a malicious slanderer who is trying to tarnish someone’s reputation. There may be some people on RDF who are ignorant of the importance of Women in Secularism, but what about all those women who don’t see themselves as women, but as human beings? Aren’t you being sexist towards them by forcing labels on them? And besides, you are ignorant of the Asmat People of New Guinea, so there.

  5. =8)-DX says

    Didn’t sound like a bully to me. More like a prat (with a stick up his arse). It’s envigourating how easy it is become to spot actual misogyny, although I guess the main thing is to identify such tendencies within oneself.

  6. Rudi says

    Did the guy HAVE to write it all in that painfully-unfunny mock-Edwardian style? Do you know what, m’boy, methinks thou art a pillock!

  7. sailor1031 says

    Well now we all can see what Mrs Pankhurst (and her daughters) were rebelling against, although I seem to remember that the original, REAL Mr Pankhurst was very supportive of his wife’s efforts. But then I suppose we can’t expect historical realism in the 21st century post-modern society. Ignorance is, after all, just another way of knowing.

  8. Timid Atheist says

    I think I need a bath after reading those condescending comments. What kills me the most is his insistence that women need men to bend over backward to help women do as well as men do. It’s kind of funny how that plays out. I never needed a man to do anything beyond keeping an open mind that I can do things just as well if not better than others around me. It’s when they tell you that you can’t do it at all or stop you from doing something that makes it unfair. But no, according to Mr. Ghost, even giving women a chance to voice their opinions or to work in a field that is predominantly men is bending over backward to give them special treatment. I wonder what he would call real special treatment.

  9. Nathair says

    I don’t want my daughter to ever think she has to look at the successes of other women to be inspired. Being inspired by other people should be enough.”

    What does that even mean?

    It means “I don’t want my daughter to think she’s only allowed to follow where some other woman has led.” How that excellent thought leads to the Women in Secularism conference being negative or pointless or… something, that part escapes me.

  10. says

    Doh!

    The Ghost is winding you all up – with great success.

    Just sayin’.

    Apropos of nothing, the Women in Secularism conference looks excellent. High time and just what is needed – given how so many religions get away with rampant misogyny whilst still managing (magically) to claim the moral high ground. (Could be a miracle).

  11. Anri says

    I have to wonder if he actually can’t tell the difference between “Women are weaker and stupider then men and therefore need to be coddled” and “Women are often marginalized and suppressed more than men and therefore should be given a break or two”, or if he’s just pretending that he can’t?

    So: dumb, dishonest or both?

  12. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    The Ghost is winding you all up – with great success.

    Just sayin’.

    So . .. The Ghost is a bigot? Um . . .. okay. Just sayin’

  13. says

    The ghost is winding us up – gee, ya think? But is that a reason not to reply? The ghost is using anonymity to talk smack about the conference and the people organizing it and speaking at it, thus underlining why such a conference is needed.

  14. Anri says

    Doh!

    The Ghost is winding you all up – with great success.

    Just sayin’.

    Hmm… perhaps I’m misunderstanding you, but is there some good reason not to be upset at blatant, obnoxious misogyny? Is ‘keeping your cool’ more important than calling out a bigot?

    Yes, I get that he’s probably trolling, and maybe laughing his hindquarters off at all of the ‘rage’ he’s generating. But everyone reading the back-and-forth is seeing just who is on the feminist side, and how many or us there are, and how passionate about the issue we are, and how little we’re going to take crap like that going forward.
    And if exactly one person says “Heck with it – Ghost is a chump, I don’t want to be counted as his ally,” then our publicly caring about the issue has not been in vain.

  15. bcoppola says

    The “ghost’s” nonsense aside: Damn, that’s a kick-ass lineup of speakers. Looking at that it’s obvious there’s just no excuse for any secular/atheist event not to have a strong female presence in the lineup. Hope videos will be posted.

  16. marcus says

    There is some gold in the comments though:
    “There is a cure for poverty. It is a rudimentary one, it does work, though. It works everywhere, and for the same reason. It’s colloquially called ‘the empowerment of women.’ It’s the only thing that does work. If you allow women control over their cycle of reproduction, so that they are not chained by their husbands or by village custom to annual animal-type pregnancies, early death, disease, and so on. If you will free them from that, give them some basic health of that sort—and if you are generous enough to throw in, perhaps, a handful of seeds and a bit of credit—the whole floor, culturally, socially, medically, economically of that village will rise. It works every time.”
    Christopher Hitchens
    Hadn’t heard this before, great quote.
    I hope you all have a magnificent conference, wish I could be there.

  17. Cassandra Caligaria (Cipher), OM says

    Hmm… perhaps I’m misunderstanding you, but is there some good reason not to be upset at blatant, obnoxious misogyny? Is ‘keeping your cool’ more important than calling out a bigot?

    This, exactly. People who think it’s funny to pretend* to be misogynists because of course they don’t really think women are inferior (jeez, calm down, I love the ladies, otherwise why would I own one, just kidding, just kidding, no offense) are people who don’t care about the harmful effect that acting misogynistic has – and therefore are misogynists themselves. (I apologize for not being able to come up with a less convoluted way to say that.) Anyway, my usual solution to people I think are “trolling” with misogyny is passionate, overtly personal shaming, pointing out that I know it’s trolling, and explaining why it’s still horrible to do. I’m not saying “everybody go do that,” but I think people who think ignoring a troll is the only way to shut them down are lacking in creativity.

    *I don’t mean overt satire, I mean trolling to stir up shit. Distinction.

  18. Josh Slocum says

    I’m so revolted by the endemic misogyny that I wish I could turn in my Gay Card. Men piss me off so badly I don’t want to be attracted to them lately. For rilz.

    And don’t, just don’t, whine about how it’s “not all men.” Just don’t.

  19. says

    Men piss me off so badly I don’t want to be attracted to them lately. For rilz.

    Hey, for rilz, I’m kinda embarrassed just being one, lately, too.

    (/So if anyone asks, me, I’m just a sexless emergent property of the net that somehow gained borderline sentience** sometime ’round the time they started firing up the ipv6 address spaces.)

    (/**Or, hey, at least became sentient enough to pass some Turing tests. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

  20. marcus says

    @26 & 27 It certainly is embarrassing being a man some days. I have say, however, that most of these idiots are so beyond the pale that I feel no relationship to them whatsoever. I would call them neanderthals except that it would imply that I have some antipathy to neanderthals. Hence, I will save my embarrassment for my own stupid mistakes with respect to women, there have been many and I’m sure there will be many more, but it won’t be because they don’t have my love, respect and real admiration for the way they fight the battles that society forces on them every fucking day, just to be treated equally and fairly. The condescension and disrespect with which these assholes treat women is the very epitome of evil. I repudiate all the privileges I receive just for being hetero-chromosomal. If I could end all of that bullshit today, I would in a heartbeat.

  21. hotshoe says

    Five bucks says the troll is the Justicar from the slimepit.

    I’m not going in there to find out if he’s bragging.

  22. Fin says

    @Josh

    I’ve been thinking along the same lines, recently, too (well, parts of it, I’m heterosexual). I’m actively embarrassed to share a gender with these idiots.

    What is worse, is that I’ve noticed – compared to, say, a decade ago – that there seems to be a resurgence of these ideas/opinions/bullshittery in the Real World, and most of my female friends agree.

    I have a theory that in opposition to what folk psychology might say, the fact that these guys are venting online and getting validated instead of reducing their misogyny in the Real World, actually makes them more inclined to act it out there, too.

  23. says

    Does Yahweh know that having black Grade 9 students take twenty minutes to write one short essay about a black person they admire results in better marks throughout high school?

    Markita, that’s a cool tidbit. I’d be curious to see more detail. Do you have a source ready to hand?

    Of course, I suppose the obvious obnoxious question, in light of this thread’s subject, is, did they determine that the essay has to be specifically about a black person the student admires, or can it just be about any arbitrary person they admire? My intuition would be that the implicit inversion of the usual stereotype threat is the critical component of the intervention, but having the data to back up such intuitions is always nice when you’re arguing with idjits.

  24. says

    Fin:

    I have a theory that in opposition to what folk psychology might say, the fact that these guys are venting online and getting validated instead of reducing their misogyny in the Real World, actually makes them more inclined to act it out there, too.

    I’d also throw in a corporate media that is happy to reinforce old bigotries and whip up divisions among the peons if it helps them achieve their goals.

  25. says

    Anne

    Of course, I suppose the obvious obnoxious question, in light of this thread’s subject, is, did they determine that the essay has to be specifically about a black person the student admires, or can it just be about any arbitrary person they admire? My intuition would be that the implicit inversion of the usual stereotype threat is the critical component of the intervention, but having the data to back up such intuitions is always nice when you’re arguing with idjits.

    There’s an interesting part in “Delusions of Gender”* on those situations. Female students who went to co-ed colleges and those who went to women-only colleges were tested about their views on women in leadership and personal ambition when they started and some time later. With similar results when they started, the women in the women’s only college had much higher aspirations and attitudes than those in co-ed colleges. Because they constantly saw women in those positions.
    If you belong to a group and that group is not represented in another group, people subconsciously internalize that message: I don’t belong there. Even if they actually are there.

    *Well, there’s no uninteresting part in that book, this is the bit that’s the interesting part on this issue

  26. says

    Thanks for the book recommendations, Gilliel and Ophelia.

    Gilliel, when I referred to inverting the stereotype threat, the effects you mention are the kind of thing I was thinking of — focusing the students on an example of someone “like them” who’s successful and admirable, in order to make it easier for them to think of academic/professional success as something that’s attainable for them as well, as opposed to a stereotype threat, which focuses their attention on examples which indicates that the success in question is not achievable by people like them. I was just hoping to see that established as the mechanism operating in this particular study, because if true it would make a really nice and clear-cut example to use in discussions.

    On the other hand, I’ve always had very mixed feelings about using something like all-female schools as a positive example, because I really don’t like that model of schooling in general. I’d like to think that we can find another way to achieve the positive effects attributed to those environments without having to segregate women off into a little protective women-only cocoon. I don’t think I have a really well-argued objection to these schools right now, but there’s just something about keeping men away from women and vice versa that gives me the heebie-jeebies, even when it’s something the women are choosing for themselves. I start thinking about all of my male friends from school, and all of the male professors I’ve learned from and admired, and I imaginine them being subtracted from the experience. Even under the assumption that they’d be replaced by equally appealing female friends and professors, the image I’m able to form of the experience feels so impoverished that I don’t know why anyone would want that. (Certainly there were also plenty of men whom I would have gladly subtracted from my school experiences, but there were plenty of women like that too.)

    So while I know that there are a lot of women who’ve gone to women-only schools and loved it, it’s just not something that I’m really able to grok at the moment. I don’t know if this is merely an emotional reaction to my own life experiences that doesn’t really translate to anything else, or if there’s some fundamental and important principle here that I’m not really able to articulate, but whatever it is, I just get a very strong feeling of wrongness from the whole concept of single-gender education, so it’s difficult for me to applaud it as a net positive for women. Maybe someone else has some more organized thoughts on this?

  27. says

    Anne
    I definetly agree with you on the issue of single-sex schools (also, who are we kidding? Which schools would be seen as more prestigious? Now having “Harvard” on your degrees means, more or less, the same for everybody, but we can be absolutely sure that the top male university would always outstrip the top female one).
    I only thought it convincing evidence that in spite of the lip service people may pay, the deed speaks much louder.
    There is a plain contradiction between the way people say the world works “men and women are equal, women can become everything they want” and the way the world is in which few women advance to higher positions. And who are we to believe, our eyes or what some people say?
    I think that co-ed is the way to go, because we actually share this planet. I have no sympathies for “a room of their own” radfems.
    Gender segregation only enforces and enlarges gender differences (again, there’s interesting research on how children segregate gender in kindergarten and preschool and how through that segregation small differences become big differences).
    I don’t want boys and young men to have spaces where they can cultivate their toxic masculinity, I don’t want young women to meet a harsh contrast when they finally get out of college and then have to make their way in a world that is in sharp contrast to the one they know and are adapted to.
    When I did my study abroad I went to Ireland for a year. I took some classes that were for first years and lots of them came from single sex schools. It was awkward. The teachers tried their best to get the girls and boys to speak with each other snd work with each other, but gosh I can tell you it was annoying.

  28. says

    Gilliel,

    Yeah, I think those are definitely some of the potential problems. I do wonder whether it could be argued that at the college level students might already be sufficiently well established in their capability to interact in a mixed-gender world that going to an all-women’s school wouldn’t cause them to develop too many pathologies, but might just give them a bit of space to grow past any internalized sexism. The problem that’s bugging me here is that I don’t really know how to square the kinds of very real problems you describe with the reported benefits of all-female universities — are the studies which report those benefits just failing to recognize/report the downsides, or is there really some effect going on which avoids these downsides somehow?

    In any case, for myself, I work in a heavily male-dominated area of science, and the reality is that choosing to go to an all-female college (given the present offerings) would’ve excluded me from essentially all of the best programs in that field, and would most likely have relegated me to a school with much more of a liberal arts focus, a much less rigorous science program, far fewer role models of either gender in the sciences, and far fewer research opportunities than the school I actually attended.

    But even if this hadn’t been the case, my interest in math and science had already caused me to spend essentially my entire life pushing my way into male-dominated environments, and going somewhere where all these people who had been my friends and companions for so long were completely unwelcome would have just seemed wrong and creepy. I wanted to be learning science in the environment where I’d eventually be doing science, not in some kind of artificially protected bubble. (And it worked out okay for me, at least. I went to one of the best science schools in the country, one which definitely had an abnormally high male-to-female ratio, and it was a fucking awesome place to be a woman, in my experience. It was the first place I’d ever been where the combination of math skills and XX chromosomes didn’t make me stand out as some kind of incomprehensible freak, because despite the skewed ratio, there were still plenty of other women there who were just as “freakish”. But perhaps it was only positive for me because I’d already survived an earlier and far more severe gauntlet of gender imbalance…)

    My gut feeling is that in the long run the best way to resolve this issue is going to be to simply have more gender balance in every profession at every level, but because we’re so far behind in some areas right now there’s so much negative reinforcement in place that it’s going to take a lot of bootstrapping to do it. I should note, though, that things are already a hell of a lot better than they were when I was a kid — the dumb brain teaser where a little boy is brought into a hospital needing emergency surgery and the surgeon says “I can’t operate on this kid, he’s my son!” but the surgeon is not the boy’s father, how can this be? mostly doesn’t work on people any more, even though it sure as hell caught me out when I was a kid (all of twenty years ago), despite the fact that I myself wanted to enter a non-traditionally-female profession. So I think we’ll get this sorted eventually, as long as we keep working at it.

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