Irresponsible messaging »« Homicide: life in Seattle

Shooting the messenger

So DJ Grothe says the women who are talking about sexism among the skeptics are scaring away women.

…this year only about 18% of TAM registrants so far are women, a significant and alarming decrease, and judging from dozens of emails we have received from women on our lists, this may be due to the messaging that some women receive from various quarters that going to TAM or other similar conferences means they will be accosted or harassed…I think this misinformation results from irresponsible messaging coming from a small number of prominent and well-meaning women skeptics who, in trying to help correct real problems of sexism in skepticism, actually and rather clumsily themselves help create a climate where women — who otherwise wouldn’t — end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe, and I find that unfortunate.

Very true. I’ve noticed it myself. A woman says something – “don’t call me a cunt,” perhaps; “guys, don’t do that,” perhaps; “don’t shout at me on the street for not smiling,” perhaps. The possibilities are endless. So a woman says something like that, and by saying it, she helps create a climate where women — who otherwise wouldn’t — end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe, because of the torrent of raving bile that erupts all over her when she says one of those things.

And yet – and yet, DJ seems to be blaming the women who say things rather than the people who respond with torrents of raving bile.

I find that unfortunate.

Rebecca was not much pleased either, and she asked DJ for specifics. He replied that she was one.

Rebecca: Off the top of my head, your quote in USA Today might suggest that the freethought or skeptics movements are unsafe for women. This is from the article:

“I thought it was a safe space,” Watson said of the freethought community. “The biggest lesson I have learned over the years is that it is not a safe space. . . ”

(http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2011-09-15/atheist-sexism-women/50416454/1)

If we tell people that our events or our movements are not safe for women, some women are bound to believe that.

Yes, but then they will be believing what is true. Threats. Campaigns of vilification that have been sustained for almost a year now. Demeaning hostile contemptuous sexist language used throughout. That’s not a safe space.

Is DJ saying Rebecca shouldn’t say that? Is he saying she shouldn’t comment on the way she’s been treated?

If so, I find it unfortunate.

Comments

  1. says

    I think he’s saying that TAM and other events are a safe place, and that generalized comments to the contrary are untrue and unhelpful.

  2. julian says

    I think he’s saying that TAM and other events are a safe place, and that generalized comments to the contrary are untrue and unhelpful.

    I think he’s demonstrating the hypocrisy and double standard many atheist hold (yourself among them). Would you not view such a response issued by say a clergyman chastising his parishioners for ‘causing trouble’ with contempt and suspicion?

    I would which is why I’m insulted by Grothe’s behavior. He does not get to remove the skeptical community from criticism however much he may want to. And he does not get to sweep issues under the rug.

  3. says

    This reminds me of the “racism would be over in America but for people like Al Sharpton stirring up trouble and black folks always talking about racism” meme.

  4. MichaelD says

    Although I’ve said this elsewhere he should have focused on the positive aspects of TAM and its anti-harassment policy and promoting TAM. Instead of attacking people focusing on making women feel welcome at convention. Whether it their position is or isn’t hurting TAM (I think it isn’t) don’t see how much of anything can be accomplished this way.

  5. Josh Slocum says

    I think he’s saying that TAM and other events are a safe place,

    Then he’s talking out of his ass because attendees are telling him it doesn’t feel like a safe space to them.

    and that generalized comments to the contrary are untrue and unhelpful.

    “Generalized?” What does that mean? Are you suggesting women should come right out and name names so they can be subject to rape threats like Rebecca has?

    Unhelpful to whom? Unhelpful toward what goal?

  6. says

    I think that women may have a distorted idea of the threat level at these conventions. Perhaps better communication would clear up this distortion. It’s a suggestion from DJ to bring clarity and context to a real issue – not a demand that anyone squelch speech.

  7. says

    Well, he has data from feedback that indicates differently about how safe people felt at TAM. Either they were lying, or you have a distorted opinion of the convention.

    Generalized = “It’s not a safe space.”

    I think perhaps Rebecca was talking about the hateful emails and comments she receives, rather than freethought conventions in general. But, maybe she really feels unsafe. I don’t know.

  8. julian says

    There’s more of that clergyman covering his ass speak that I hate so much.

    I think that women may have a distorted idea of the threat level at these conventions.

    Why do you think that?

    Perhaps better communication would clear up this distortion.

    You mean like honestly discussing issues you’ve had at these events, the hurt they’ve caused you and how one of their big names is now blaming you for causing a decline in attendees for speaking out?

    It’s a suggestion from DJ to bring clarity and context to a real issue – not a demand that anyone squelch speech.

    And how is he doing that, exactly?

  9. says

    I think that women may have a distorted idea of the threat level at these conventions.

    I think maybe the women who go to these conferences have a better idea than you do.

    And DJ’s (and I think yours, Tiktok) obsession with there being no hard data…..seriously, did you see the shit that Rebecca Watson had to do after merely mentioning that she didn’t appreciate the attentions of an anonymous man at a convention? Do you *honestly* expect that women are going to name names, particularly of popular speakers??

  10. says

    I think perhaps Rebecca was talking about the hateful emails and comments she receives, rather than freethought conventions in general.

    ….the hateful emails and comments she receives from atheists who attend these conferences.

    Well, he has data from feedback that indicates differently about how safe people felt at TAM.

    No, he is inferring from the fact that no one mentioned it that it didn’t happen. But harassment is so very frequently never reported, that this is virtually meaningless.

  11. Josh Slocum says

    I think that women may have a distorted idea of the threat level at these conventions.

    Really? And you base this on what? Threat level of what, specifically? Why is it “distorted?” What, exactly, do you think women are afraid of that they shouldn’t be?

    But, maybe she really feels unsafe. I don’t know.

    1. It’s not just Rebecca, which you know. Read better.

    2. “Unsafe” doesn’t just refer to full on physical assault.

    Jesus, do you ever leave your house ?

  12. julian says

    No, he is inferring from the fact that no one mentioned it that it didn’t happen.

    Exactly. Grothe may be a good interviewer but, like Stephanie Zvan pointed out, he’s got some major blind spots.

  13. says

    I think that women have a distorted view of the dangers at TAM because people are saying that DJ has received multiple complaints, despite evidence to the contrary.

    “I think maybe the women who go to these conferences have a better idea than you do.”

    Same goes to you. Have you heard from women who felt like they weren’t protected by the people running the convention? Who felt like they experienced an environment of harassment?

  14. DJGrotheForPresident says

    Julian:

    I would which is why I’m insulted by Grothe’s behavior. He does not get to remove the skeptical community from criticism however much he may want to. And he does not get to sweep issues under the rug.

    Well, I’m insulted by your behaviour, and Ophelia’s. Oh, and you don’t get to remove yourselves from criticism either, despite the fact that those at FTB seem to think they are immune from criticism, and generally censor any criticism they don’t like.

    D.J. has come up with evidence-based responses. Your anecdotes and feelings play second fiddle to that. Got it?

  15. says

    He had responses from 800+ that 8 people felt unwelcome, one of which was an actual complaint of harassment. That doesn’t seem like an unsafe environment. I feel like just commenting about this turns people into targets. Is it ok to feel that skeptical conventions are safe for women? Or does that automatically make me an idiot? I never noticed the type of behavior at these conventions that I’ve seen from anonymous trolls on the internet, but I understand that people would think that behavior would roll over to conventions. It’s just not the experience of my female friends at TAM that convention-goers are harassing them.

  16. Pteryxx says

    Thanks to Jason Thibeault for linking this in Stephanie’s thread.

    And that, as far as he knows, he is unaware of any reports of harassment. Which is weird because I was sexually harassed by a guy last year at the TAM9 speaker’s reception, as were some other women, and the guy was kicked out for it. And I was told that it was DJ himself who made him leave.

    http://ashleyfmiller.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/harassment-at-tam9/

  17. says

    Same goes to you. Have you heard from women who felt like they weren’t protected by the people running the convention? Who felt like they experienced an environment of harassment?

    Um. Isn’t this what this entire thing is about: that women have been saying that they don’t feel that conventions, including TAM, are safe spaces?

    D.J. has come up with evidence-based responses. Your anecdotes and feelings play second fiddle to that. Got it?

    Seriously, do you not even read? I already responded to that. But here goes again: evidence shows that harassment is rarely reported, evidence also shows that false claims of harassment are extraordinarily rare. (Go look it up, if you aren’t already aware of the plethora of evidence for these claims, you really shouldn’t be debating this in the first place.) Therefore, DJ’s evidence is utterly meaningless: the fact that no claims of harassment have been officially reported is consistent with pretty much any level of harassment.

  18. MichaelD says

    Ok we have to coordinate these things a little better pteryxx so you get the next link and I ll take the one after that.

  19. julian says

    I think that women have a distorted view of the dangers at TAM because people are saying that DJ has received multiple complaints, despite evidence to the contrary.

    Same Grothe who can’t remember having kicked people out for sexual harassment?

  20. Pteryxx says

    Thanks MichaelD. I was trying to take a break from this crap tonight, so I’ll just leave these here.

    A GAO report released today criticized the Department of Defense (DOD) for its oversight of sexual harassment, citing new statistics suggesting that the majority of sexual harassment in the military goes unreported.

    According to the report, only 4 of the 82 service members who said they were sexually harassed in the past year reported it formally.

    The study also found that an estimated 41 percent of servicemembers believed that people in their work group would be able to get away with sexual harassment, even if it were reported.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31727_162-20125528-10391695/gao-sexual-harassment-in-the-military-underreported/

    The harrassment ranges from wolf-whistling and lewd comments to physical groping and sexual assault.

    Campaigners say that reported cases represent “the tip of the iceberg” and that authorities can no longer afford to ignore the issue.

    Research released today by the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) coalition shows 41 per cent of women under the age of 34 have been on the receiving end of sexual harassment in the street.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/catcalls-whistles-groping-the-everyday-picture-of-sexual-harassment-in-london-7786185.html

    Cited by Ophelia in “Life on the Streets” a few days ago.

  21. says

    “Um. Isn’t this what this entire thing is about: that women have been saying that they don’t feel that conventions, including TAM, are safe spaces?”

    You have a distorted view of these conventions and TAM if you think that harassment is widespread or dismissed. Elyse had an incident recently that was handled appropriately by the people running skepticamp. I would wager to say that she felt safe and protected by the folks who invited her to speak. She has said as much. She did not mention any other type of harassment. I spent a lot of time with her and other female friends at TAM, and they did not feel a general sense of being unsafe. I did witness harassment at TAM, and it was by someone who wasn’t attending the convention. I don’t know whether that matters or not, but I want to be clear in what I’m communicating.

  22. says

    “Same Grothe who can’t remember having kicked people out for sexual harassment?”

    Oh, so now he kicks people out for harassment? I thought he should be fired for condoning it. I get so confused.

  23. Pteryxx says

    You have a distorted view of these conventions and TAM if you think that harassment is widespread

    Underreporting of sexual harassment is such that, since TAM had one reported incident (reported by Ashley, with multiple victims), it’s likely there were ten or more that went unreported. As is normal for any similar venue or gathering.

    or dismissed.

    It’s plainly being dismissed. You’re doing it now.

  24. DJGrotheForPresident says

    Skepticalmath:

    Therefore, DJ’s evidence is utterly meaningless

    No it isn’t. The evidence is factual (get out of the atheism/skepticism movement dude – you don’t belong in it!!!), and it trumps your anecdotes and rumours. The vast majority of women who attend TAM enjoyed themselves and felt safe. That is a fact. DJ is correct to point this out in the face of various bullies trying to undermine TAM as a place where women are not safe.

    However, if a small number of people do feel unsafe, then seps should be taken to tackle this problem. Complaining that he didn’t act last year when no-one mentioned that they felt unsafe is stupid.

    Further, if some eejit like Greg Laden gets his way and forces DJ out, I will bet that whoever took over would not do the kind of job he has work. If it was someone who Greg approves of, it would fail, and women would feel more unsafe.

  25. julian says

    I thought he should be fired for condoning it. I get so confused.

    Probably because you aren’t reading the responses to you. Try it, man. Understanding what people’s complaint is works so much better than assigning them one.

  26. DJGrotheForPresident says

    Pteryxx:

    Underreporting of sexual harassment is such that, since TAM had one reported incident (reported by Ashley, with multiple victims), it’s likely there were ten or more that went unreported.

    First of all, “likely” translates as “don’t know”, and DJ states that nobody was thrown out of TAM last year, contrary to what Ashley says.

    Don’t let these bullies grind you down, DJ!

  27. says

    I was in the room for the instance that Ashley is reporting. I didn’t witness the creepy guy. If I had, I would have asked him to back off.

    However, I did witness harassment from a guy who never wore a TAM badge. And I will tell you that I did not dismiss it.

  28. says

    Am I the only one who saw that post by DJ and thought, “this is exactly like the Republican response to being criticized for attacking women’s rights”?

  29. says

    No it isn’t. The evidence is factual (get out of the atheism/skepticism movement dude – you don’t belong in it!!!), and it trumps your anecdotes and rumours.

    Wait, seriously? Allow me to explain this one more time, a little slower:

    You seem to think that the absence of reports of harassment is evidence that harassment did not occur. However, scientific evidence suggests that that is not the case, in fact, scientific studies have shown that harassment is usually not reported. Therefore, lack of reports of harassment, which Grothe cites, are in fact perfectly consistent, according to the best scientific understanding of reports of harassment, with there being harassment (such as has been alleged) occurring.

    I did not argue, notice, that this means that harassment is occurring. The point is that Grothe’s evidence is insufficient to conclude that, more than that, is irrelevant to the point.

  30. MichaelD says

    “Oh, so now he kicks people out for harassment? I thought he should be fired for condoning it. I get so confused.”

    Apparently you do get confussed you can’t seem to keep straight what people are complaining about or why Laden thinks he should be fired.

    And for grothe for president his harassment stats apparently leave out an incident he is reported to have intervened in at last TAM. See the link Pteryxx and I posted for more details.

    Since this is all skeptically based you may have heard the phrase “absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence” particularly when one would expect little evidence. I think Pteryxx’s links on sexual harassment make it fairly clear that it is fairly common for these things to go unreported even when there are some anti-harassment measures in place.

  31. Pteryxx says

    First of all, “likely” translates as “don’t know”,

    Yep. When DJ says there were NO incidents, based on reporting alone, he doesn’t know either. All the evidence shows that sexual harassment is massively underreported, therefore reporting a low or zero incidence cannot be taken as evidence of a low or zero *actual* incidence.

    and DJ states that nobody was thrown out of TAM last year, contrary to what Ashley says.

    Then one of them is mistaken. Why do you assume it must be Ashley?

  32. says

    Or that it was exactly like the Catholic Church bleating about being criticized for its response to child molestation?

    Seriously, DJ: when someone from a marginalized group you don’t belong to tells you something is a problem, and rather than look for ways to fix the problem, you tell them to shut up, do you really expect a positive result?

    So let’s get this straight, DJ. As the head of major skeptics organization, you think as a skeptic I should shut up about atheism and shut up about feminism?

    …Why should I identify with your organization again?

  33. says

    Laden thinks he should be fired because he is trying to silence women who are saying that events like TAM are unsafe.

    I disagree with the premise of the argument (especially since Laden has never been to TAM), but Ashley’s story is an argument that reinforces the safe environment at TAM. Isn’t there a nirvana fallacy that needs to be invoked here?

  34. John Morales says

    [meta]

    skepticalmath:

    I did not argue, notice, that this means that harassment is occurring. The point is that Grothe’s evidence is insufficient to conclude that, more than that, is irrelevant to the point.

    Indeed.

    (I feel your pain)

    [[meta]]

    Ophelia — I shan’t comment further on this thread (nor on this site) for some time.

  35. MichaelD says

    ok umm examples… ok we’ll go with this.

    No one has directly observed crocodiles breeding and over multiple generations turning into a new species of bird.

    This fact however does not directly impact the theory of evolution however because while it would be nice to see such a transition it takes place over such a long period of time that it is impractical to observe.

    This is an example of a situation where the lack of a piece of direct evidence (time lapse photography of our crocoducks or reports of sexual harassment) is not inconsistent with the supposed events because one is not necessarily expecting to see this kind of evidence (for the long time scale in evolution or the often low reporting of sexual harassment).

  36. says

    Laden thinks he should be fired because he is trying to silence women who are saying that events like TAM are unsafe.

    Read more carefully. Laden calls for him to resign, not be fired, and also for more subtle reasons than you think.

    Ashley’s story is an argument that reinforces the safe environment at TAM. Isn’t there a nirvana fallacy that needs to be invoked here?

    No one, including Ashley, is claiming that her story demonstrates TAM condoning harassment. Obviously not. But it does directly contradict Grothe’s claim to have never received any complaints, and to have never had to deal with them. Which makes all his posturing that much more suspect.

  37. says

    [meta]

    @John Morales

    I assume you’re referring to the fact that you made a similar argument against me just a bit ago on this very site. The situations aren’t analogous (and whether you were still commenting here or not, I’d note derail far enough to debate this point), but trust me, I realized the humor in the situation as I typed.

  38. MichaelD says

    “Ashley’s story is an argument that reinforces the safe environment at TAM. Isn’t there a nirvana fallacy that needs to be invoked here?”

    The nirvana fallacy only applies if we are calling for an unrealistic standard. I think I can safely sum up the position that we just want DJ to take the possibility of sexual harassment seriously and to listen to the input of people who have experienced it at events to minimize and effectively deal with its occurrences. Many things that he has said to day come off as dismissive, of peoples concerns on this matter instead of focusing on strengthening a commitment towards the promotion of a safe environment.

  39. hieropants says

    D.J. has come up with evidence-based responses. Your anecdotes and feelings play second fiddle to that. Got it?

    If women are refusing to attend conventions because of their feelings then maybe you should be trying to understand the rationale for those feelings rather than dismissing the whole thing because they’re only feelings.

    D.J. has come up with evidence, but that evidence does not match the reports of other attendees – he did not remember Ashley Miller’s experience, even though multiple women were harassed and he was given the credit for throwing out the harasser. That indicates that D.J.’s evidence is at least partly inaccurate, and considering the collection of anecdotes that are provided by people who have been to these conferences can help us get an idea of the extent of its inaccuracy. That won’t be completely accurate either, but given the nature of the problem you’re not going to get perfect data to work with.

    Really, if women are avoiding TAM because of the potentially unsafe atmosphere, the best thing you can do is widely publish your anti-harassment policy and make a big deal out of all the things you’re doing to make women feel as safe and comfortable as possible. But you still won’t get back to pre-elevator confidence, because the worst consequence of that whole incident was that a lot of people in the movement made it very clear that they did not care about women’s safety and would not back up women suffering or speaking up about harassment. You can add all the policies in the world to your conference, but you can’t make people forget the attitudes that attendees/speakers/organizers have loudly declared they hold.

  40. DJGrotheForPresident says

    So let us get this straight.

    If Ashley is right, then DJ did his job properly!

    I rest my case.

    DJ – don’t let these bullies undermine all the great work you’ve put in. The FTB gang think THEY ARE the movement. Trust me, people like you are the stars.

  41. Pteryxx says

    Seconding this:

    The nirvana fallacy only applies if we are calling for an unrealistic standard. I think I can safely sum up the position that we just want DJ to take the possibility of sexual harassment seriously and to listen to the input of people who have experienced it at events to minimize and effectively deal with its occurrences.

    Y’all will note, in the comments at Skepchick reporting the sex-card incident, commenters PRAISING the event organizer Carl Tracy for responding appropriately and for NOT ignoring the incident or pretending it didn’t happen. They are saying they will be more likely to attend his events because they can expect harassment complaints to be taken seriously there.

    http://skepchick.org/2012/05/sex-and-the-keynote/

    (MichaelD, you were supposed to get the next link, wtf?) ~;>

  42. MichaelD says

    Ok Hieropants for president!! ;p

    I’d quote the parts in particular that I’m in violent agreement with you on but that would be the whole post…

  43. DJGrotheForPresident says

    If women are refusing to attend conventions because of their feelings then maybe you should be trying to understand the rationale for those feelings rather than dismissing the whole thing because they’re only feelings.

    You don’t know what the reasons are. Also, nobody is dismissing those feelings that you talk about. TAM is not the only event where men outnumber women. Whites also outnumber other ethnic groups. The vast majority of women who attended TAM felt safe. That is a fact. DJ is currently getting perspectives from a few of the people who felt contrary to that. If one commentor is right, Ashley, then DJ did his job properly, and was making TAM a safer event.

    Chin up, DJ. Don’t get the impression these bullies speak for the atheist/skeptic movement. THEY DON’T.

    Really, if women are avoiding TAM because of the potentially unsafe atmosphere, the best thing you can do is widely publish your anti-harassment policy

    TAM already has an anti-harassment policy. Also, having an anti-harassment policy is not a cast-iron guarentee that everyone can be safe. There may still be people who ignore the guideline. If so, DJ will sort them out, the same as he sorted it ut last year.

  44. says

    This debate is starting to get cartoonish.

    I think I made my point. Stepping in it further will only get me annoyed. I just want to say that the argument that I do understand and accept is that post-elevator reactions and hyperbole (on both sides) created a climate of tension in the community. I just want people to think twice before they automatically assume that this tension has translated into a generalized unsafe atmosphere at conventions. Obviously, if you’ve been to TAM and felt unsafe, that argument will mean much more to me than if you assume it’s unsafe because harassment probably went unreported. That is an empty argument and a logical fallacy.

  45. Pteryxx says

    If one commentor is right, Ashley, then DJ did his job properly, and was making TAM a safer event.

    If DJ is misrepresenting or misunderstanding his own event’s data collection, then no, he’s not doing his job right.

  46. MichaelD says

    Yes TAM does have an anti harassment policy. That’s why republishing it and focusing on your efforts to make TAM a safe space and your comitment to that goal is the prudent move. Instead of blaming your low turn out on people who are trying to draw attention to the problem and get other cons to instigate similar policies.

    (Aww I’m sorry I let us down. In my defense I’m getting quite sleepy. This does not excuse my mistake but hopefully mitigates the error. )

  47. Pteryxx says

    that argument will mean much more to me than if you assume it’s unsafe because harassment probably went unreported. That is an empty argument and a logical fallacy.

    Going by Ashley’s report, harassment DID go unreported. DJ has also called FOR harassment to go unreported, in the form of anecdotes, which at present are the only data that exist.

    Harassment going unreported is a very reasonable assumption, because sexual harassment is extremely common and extremely underreported everywhere it’s been studied. It’s unjustified to assume that skeptic conventions are exempt – in fact, it’s special pleading.

  48. rowanvt says

    “Your … feelings play second fiddle to that. Got it?”

    Let me get this straight. If I, as a woman, felt unsafe at an atheist convention, my feeling unsafe is not important and does not count and is not real because…. people haven’t reported incidents?

    So women reporting that they feel unsafe should not be bandied about…. because it will make other women feel unsafe, and feelings aren’t worth shit?

  49. Butch Pansy says

    I am not,a woman. I do not doubt that women feel justified fear of narrassment at conferences. Do women feel unsafe at atheist/skeptic events to a greater degree than at any other sort of group activity? Is it all conferences that are at issue? This is not an attempt to justify D.J’s request for the silent complicity of women in minimizing the problem of inappropriate behavior, but rather an attempt to contextualize the problem as one systemic to American society generally, and not specifically a skeptic issue.

  50. says

    Ticktock #46:

    This debate is starting to get cartoonish.

    I still don’t get why this sort of faux-confident condescension is taken as appropriate by people who are massively in the wrong. It’s as if they think this is an in-person debate where they can avoid admitting being wrong by making a big show of things and puffing themselves up.

    Not gonna work here =/

    I just want people to think twice before they automatically assume that this tension has translated into a generalized unsafe atmosphere

    Okay, time for some Social Justice 101:

    Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

    Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Now, are we done with this privileged “moderate” foot-dragging?

    …than if you assume it’s unsafe because harassment probably went unreported.

    No. No we’re not.

    I am going to say this once. I am going to say this only once.

    OBSERVATIONS ARE NOT ASSUMPTIONS JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T LIKE THEM.

    Failure to check your privilege and acknowledge this will cause you to forfeit any right to being taken seriously. Have a nice day.

  51. says

    Do DJ, his strange “ForPresident” toady here, Ticktock, et alii actually think they’re going to scold women into wanting to go to conventions? Sweet festering jeebus, is this church?

    “Unsafe” isn’t the half of it. I’d have to feel welcome, interested, dare-I-say attracted to such an event to spend money and time to attend it. Why would I want to? Why would I want to spend time in the company of anyone who’s blowing dogwhistles like “gossip” and “irresponsible talk” on FtB? What are you going to tell me that I don’t already know? How dare you talk down to me as if I need an excuse not to show up anywhere or do anything? Haven’t you figured out that the null hypothesis has a social parallel? Why on earth do you think I (or any other woman) need you or have any obligation to explain it all again?

    As my sweet Grammy Adams used to say: We don’t owe you the steam off our shit. If you were genuinely asking a question, you’d listen awhile for and TO the answers.

  52. Konradius says

    I was actually on the wrong side of this argument on Greg Ladens blog some time ago, the same way that DJ is here.
    When you’re confronted by people who complain that they’re being harassed and that they’re not taken seriously, it is not a good step to not take them seriously.
    No matter what the facts on the ground are, you’re contributing to an atmosphere where people expect they will not be taken seriously.
    And if your organization has a forum that is not policing harassment (See first comments here) Then that is also confirming the idea that people won’t be taken seriously on this issue.

    Yes, discussing this problem will give a more negative impression than what is actually the case. The only thing worse is not discussing this problem.

  53. says

    As a woman, harassment doesn’t surprise me. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it has happened enough that it’s not shocking when it does–and I have had relatively little exposure to it, compared to some women. I have a generalized, low-level expectation of unwanted sexual attention and harassment. When I enter a new environment, I quickly assess it (mostly on an unconscious level) to determine the likelihood of this sort of thing.

    It doesn’t stop me going places.

    What does stop me going places is the knowledge that if harassment occurs, I am completely alone in trying to deal with it.

    Do you get that? For TAM, it’s not the talk about the presence of harassers that is alarming. They are literally everywhere. I’ve been dealing with them since age 14, when I started going to folk music festivals. The alarming part is that the leadership of TAM appears to be more interested in maintaining their public image than they are in dealing with the real concerns that women have raised.

    In short, Mr. Grothe, it appears that YOU are the problem.

  54. maureen.brian says

    Remind me. Where was DJ Grothe when Rebecca and others were being subjected to all that obscene abuse last year?

    Was he showing leadership, insight, anything like that? I don’t remember.

  55. RahXephon, Bouncer of the De Facto Feminist Club says

    The alarming part is that the leadership of TAM appears to be more interested in maintaining their public image than they are in dealing with the real concerns that women have raised.

    I have to wonder why an organization would be presented this these two options:

    1. Try to save face by bullying the people who were harassed into shutting up,

    2. Take the concerns of harassed people seriously and take whatever measures necessary to solve those problems.

    …and pick option 1. Hell, forget it being the right thing to do (that’s obviously never been important), they’d get better PR from option 2 than they would from option 1.

  56. dirigible says

    “I just want to say that the argument that I do understand and accept is that post-elevator reactions and hyperbole (on both sides) created a climate of tension in the community.”

    That isn’t an argument I’ve heard before. It’s dismissive, blinkered, and wrong. And frankly cartoonish. Also, what “sides”? Pro- and anti- harassment? Yeah it’s *really* hard to see which side of that debate you’d want to be on.

    What has changed is there is a willingness in the community to support the changes that are needed to address these issues.

    I welcome this change in culture. I don’t welcome the tribalistic backlash against it that you represent.

  57. RahXephon, Bouncer of the De Facto Feminist Club says

    @58

    I really think the phrase “from both sides” should be retired from usage in discussions like these. It rarely, if ever, is the case that “both sides” in a discussion are equally as right, or wrong, or rude, or whatever. The world simply doesn’t operate that way, and even if that is the case motives are important. If some guy tells me that women are all castrating feminazis, and I call him an asshole and hope he gets hit by a meteor, we’re both being hyperbolic and rude. Difference is he’s using it promote sexism, and I’m using it to defend against sexism. It is incredibly unhelpful in that fight to turn to me and go “BUT YOU’RE BEING R-R-R-RUUUUUUUUDE!“. Fuck yes I’m being rude. Rudeness is exactly what misogynists deserve.

  58. A nym too says

    WRT reporting harassment or abuse – I’ve been harassed, verbally abused, and physically and sexually assaulted. It’s just a fact of life for girls and women. I’ve had nonconsensual sex, friends have suffered rapes involving battery. and several of us have been stalked.

    My point? Despite every woman I know experiencing this, none of us have ever reported anything. There’s just no point. Easier to just get in-group support, and resolve to deal with the fall-out as best we can..

    We know we’d never be believed, that constantly reliving the events would deepen the. damage, and we’d almost certainly face push-back, some degree of social ostracism for “making a fuss”, and possible consequences for our employment or education.

    The cost/benefit analysis says “Why bother!”

    Doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, or that we aren’t traumatised. Sadly it’s just so common, such a part of life, that you forget that it isn’t normal. It’s like knowing that you need an umbrella to stop getting wet in the rain, a fact of life.

  59. says

    Ive yet to call someone “feminazi” and never will. I don’t believe my comments have been tribally motivated, but that’s the very rhetoric and distortion that has been silencing people who disagree with the depiction of piggish freethought conferences. Nobody wants to step into this because they’ll end up being put through the ringer as if they were the creep who cornered someone. The perception is that DJ wont help harassed women, but this isn’t reality. The perception is that freethought conferences are an unpleasant environment for women, but this is not consistent with reports from people who attended them. As a skeptic, I’m concerned with the truth.

  60. carlie says

    +1 internet for maureenbrian

    The alarming part is that the leadership of TAM appears to be more interested in maintaining their public image than they are in dealing with the real concerns that women have raised.

    That’s exactly it. I am a woman, but I don’t experience hardly anything in the way of personal harassment (I’m of the “unsexy therefore invisible” type). But the way that women’s reports of harassment and feelings of being unsafe have been dismissed makes me distrust how my opinion on anything would be taken by people high up in certain organizations. If DJ completely dismisses Rebecca’s opinion and tells her she’s part of the problem, then how does that attitude spill over into other areas? What else will he dismiss her opinion about? What else will he dismiss other women’s opinions about? It’s not just about sexual harassment: it’s about being taken seriously, period. If you don’t take women seriously about one topic, you probably won’t take them seriously about others, either.

  61. Pteryxx says

    Reposted from Stephanie’s thread:

    Taken from legal guidelines for handling harassment claims (emphasis mine):

    Treat the complainer with respect and compassion. Employees often find it extremely difficult to complain about discrimination or harassment. They feel vulnerable and afraid. This can have an impact on the quality of their work, and it can also lead them to seek outside assistance from lawyers. When an employee comes to you with concerns about discrimination or harassment, be understanding. An employee who sees that you are taking the problem seriously is less likely to escalate the issue to a government agency or to court.
    Don’t shoot the messenger. You may be tempted to become angry at the complaining employee for the fact that you must now deal with the specter of discrimination and harassment in your business. But don’t forget that the complaining employee is the victim and not the cause of the problem. If you allow yourself to become angry at the employee, you open yourself up to claims of illegal retaliation (see next tip, below). You also run the risk of polarizing your workplace, damaging morale, and lowering productivity.

    Don’t retaliate. It is against the law to punish someone for complaining about discrimination or harassment. The most obvious forms of retaliation are termination, discipline, demotion, pay cuts, or threats to do any of these things. More subtle forms of retaliation may include changing the shift hours or work area of the accuser, changing the accuser’s job responsibilities, or isolating the accuser by leaving her out of meetings and other office functions. To learn more about retaliation, see Preventing Retaliation Claims by Employees.

    http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/guidelines-handling-discrimination-harassment-complaints-29490.html

    Referenced in “What is sexual harassment” here:

    http://www.nhcadsv.org/sexual_harassment.cfm

    Do the homework ASAP.

  62. says

    @Ticktock:

    The perception is that freethought conferences are an unpleasant environment for women, but this is not consistent with reports from people who attended them. As a skeptic, I’m concerned with the truth.

    Maybe if you stopped ignoring and/or dismissing the reports that say otherwise, I might be more inclined to believe your closing statement.

  63. RahXephon, Bouncer of the De Facto Feminist Club says

    Ive yet to call someone “feminazi” and never will.

    Did I say you did? Did you not read my actual comment for content? My point was that you’re comparing the anti-woman nastiness of trolls to the anti-sexism rudeness of someone like me when you say “rudeness and hyperbole come from both sides”. They’re trying to hurt people; I’m trying to stop them. That’s the difference, that’s why “both sides” are not as bad. I was challenging your false equivalence bullcrap.

    Nobody wants to step into this because they’ll end up being put through the ringer as if they were the creep who cornered someone.

    Nobody’s done that. I haven’t compared you to, or treated you as, the people who gave Elyse that card or the elevator dude.

    The perception is that DJ wont help harassed women, but this isn’t reality. The perception is that freethought conferences are an unpleasant environment for women, but this is not consistent with reports from people who attended them.

    The perception isn’t that freethought conferences are an unpleasant environment for women, it’s that they’re not any safer than anywhere else, which I’m sure most women were aware of anyway. The real issue here is that when confronted with the issue of harassment, people like DJ are turning on people like Rebecca Watson for speaking up rather than admitting that OMG the skeptical/atheist community isn’t perfect and we should try to fix these problems.

  64. Timid Atheist says

    Ticktock @ #61

    The perception is that freethought conferences are an unpleasant environment for women, but this is not consistent with reports from people who attended them.

    As RahXephon said at #65, that perception isn’t that freethought/skeptic/atheist conferences are unpleasant in totality, it’s that harassment is a small part of any public gathering of strangers. If those gatherings have harassment policies in place that’s a good start.

    Denying that there is any form of harassment at all, when that has already been refuted by specific examples with multiple witnesses, that is what is upsetting to see.

    Why should I go to a conference where the organizer blames people for making everyone aware that harassment can happen? Why should I go to a conference where the organizer denies anything has happened at their conference even after specific examples have been given? Why should I trust the organizer of an event when he repeatedly tries to tell more than one victim that what they remember didn’t really happen?

    As MichaelD and Pteryxx posted this link above, I’m going to swipe it and post it here too. Here is proof that TAM was not perfect and that DJ still continues to deny anything happened within his memory despite more than three witnesses saying they saw or experienced harassment. http://ashleyfmiller.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/harassment-at-tam9/

  65. Dave says

    Recently, the Prime Minister of Italy was driven to suggest that corruption in Italian football was such that it would be better for the sport if it were simply shut down for several years, and rebuilt from the ground up:

    http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/sport/a/-/soccer/13816722/shut-down-our-football-for-three-years-says-italian-pm/

    There will come a point, as this privilege-enabled, borderline-abusive SHIT goes on and on and on, when people of sense and goodwill will start to think the same about the so-called ‘skeptical/atheist/rationalist community’. The messages of feminism have been developed consistently for decades now; whole generations have grown up who ought to have internalised at least some of the basic moves needed to recognise and resist patriarchy and unacknowledged privilege. There is no excuse for the diminution of the female and pro-female perspective in these discussions – NO excuse. It is shameful and quite literally repellent.

  66. Sastra says

    Interesting. A few years back DJ created a bit of a stir in the humanist community by penning an article for Free Inquiry arguing that atheism was not a civil rights issue. He put forth the thesis that atheists are not, as a group, discriminated against in American society in a way comparable to racial or sexual groups and, because of the fact that atheism is a viewpoint, framing our issue in terms of identity politics ought to be avoided.

    Margaret Downey, head of the Anti-Discrimination Support Network, wrote an article in opposition, and they went back and forth for a while. DJ apparently wasn’t saying that individual atheists weren’t harassed or discriminated against — just that it wasn’t a problem in the way these things are usually problems. Or something like that — it hinged on a philosophical argument, I think.

    “Are atheists misrepresented? Misunderstood? Often. Oppressed? Hardly. The proper remedy is to educate the public about secularism and scientific naturalism. We do have to stand up and fight. However, we are fighting not for our civil rights, but for our intellectual integrity and moral dignity. Incredible analogies with the plight of the truly repressed will further neither cause.”

    For some reason this dispute from the past keeps coming to mind when I consider this dispute. They’re not the same — but I see some parallels. In both cases, the complaint is that DJ is minimizing a real problem and ignoring actual reports, and DJ is saying no, that’s not it.

  67. Gregory in Seattle says

    It is always easier to blame the victim than to work for meaningful change.

  68. karmakin says

    @Dave:Nuke it from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.

    Move the conferences online for a few years. Have them done via Skype or other streaming technologies, with full archives and text transcripts for people to read. Make them fully accessible for people without the resources to get to the conferences.

  69. says

    These atheist conferences sound like dangerous places for women. They get sexually harassed and the organisers pretend they don’t.

  70. hieropants says

    You don’t know what the reasons are.

    There’s a very simple way to find them out.

    If Ashley is right, then DJ did his job properly!

    I rest my case.

    Whether D.J. doesn’t remember that incident or was just mistakenly credited for it, it was the right thing to do in that situation and he did his job properly. In this case, where he blames Rebecca for talking about her personal experiences rather than the thousands of assholes who created that experience, it is the wrong thing to do and he is not doing his job properly.

    This is not a choice between D.J. being a saintly women-protecting skeptic crusader or an evil oppressing misogynist. Everyone makes mistakes, even when they have good intentions, but they are still mistakes and should still be pointed out as such.

  71. Lyanna says

    Does this Grothe want to lure women to the “atheist movement” under false pretenses?

    Does he want women to show up, believing they won’t be treated to sexualized hostility, when in fact they may be?

    Does he think women discussing harassment or other inappropriate behavior is “messaging,” rather than an attempt to actually solve a real problem?

    Like other women on this thread have said, I would avoid “real life” atheist gatherings BECAUSE OF GROTHE’S ATTITUDE. So he’s the problem.

  72. Lyanna says

    And good non-existent god, it’s not unfortunate that people speak about harassment, even if it makes your conferences look bad or makes people.

  73. carlie says

    This is not a choice between D.J. being a saintly women-protecting skeptic crusader or an evil oppressing misogynist. Everyone makes mistakes, even when they have good intentions, but they are still mistakes and should still be pointed out as such.

    This is, however, the latest in a long series of questionable actions by DJ. If it’s a mistake, it’s been happening for a long time.

  74. says

    A possibility has occurred to me, which I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned (if you follow me…) – the possibility that some of the emails DJ has been receiving are plants. Fakes. Sock puppet emails. Fakes of the kind that turn up in comments on blogs that talk about this stuff. Fakes sent by people like the “DJ for pres” sock puppet above.

  75. Godless Heathen says

    @rowanvt

    Let me get this straight. If I, as a woman, felt unsafe at an atheist convention, my feeling unsafe is not important and does not count and is not real because…. people haven’t reported incidents?

    Nope, it’s because feelings aren’t valid, period. Plus, you’re a woman.

    Also, men’s feelings are rational and women’s are irrational.

  76. rowanvt says

    @77

    Oh, right. How silly of me. It’s that whole being a blonde female thing, no brains you know. :P

    On to some seriousness:

    I think something that is also passing over Grothe’s head is the fact that I don’t need to be outright propositioned/groped/leered at to feel unsafe. All it would take is me standing somewhere, and a strange man comes over and stands a few inches away while trying to initiate a conversation. Too close. Can’t flee.

    I was stalked when I was 17. When the guy tried to break in, though he was deterred by the two large (and at that point, ANGRY) dogs that were inside the house with me, I hid in a closet for hours with a weapon. I have never been more terrified in my life. After a few hours, I climbed out of my hiding spot, and called 911 to explain what happened. The cop they sent over told me that they wouldn’t follow up on the phone calls or the break in because I waited so long, and how were they to know whether or not I’d just had something of a tizzy with my boyfriend.

    I shit you not. The cop basically told me to my face that he thought I was lying.

    DJ Grothe, YOU are that cop right now.

    The end result of that, combined with a couple emotionally fragile/manipulative men who wanted to date me but ended up creeping me the hell out, is that I do NOT like strange men in close proximity to me. Until I get to know them a little, I want to be able to either kick them, or book it. I’ve learned, thanks to certain authority figures, that reporting it will result in nothing happening, so I have to do what I can to take care of myself.

  77. Utakata says

    @ Ophelia Benson

    I am not sure about the sockpuppet. But with a name like “DJGrotheForPresident” for this topic stongly suggests that this commentor is likely a troll. Or least an obsessive fanboi of DJ Grothe whose trolling…which is kinda creepy in of itself.

    But I think there’s way of checking the source IP, to see if it’s coming from the same place. I suspect this is what PZ does to expose sockpuppets. But again, I am a bit green to how this is all actually done. So if you know of peeps who are knowledgable in this area, perhaps they can help you route out the offending scoundrels if that’s what your looking for.

  78. Pteryxx says

    (off topic)

    Utakata: all the blog owners on FTB do in fact have means of tracking IPs and comparing notes on sockpuppeting behind the scenes. Just FYI.

  79. says

    I shit you not. The cop basically told me to my face that he thought I was lying.

    DJ Grothe, YOU are that cop right now.

    Eg-zactly. I said something to that effect in response to DJ’s demand for “evidence” yesterday (on Stephanie’s thread, I think) – there usually is no “evidence” of harassment. That doesn’t mean all accusations should be automatically believed, but it does mean demands for “evidence” will leave victims totally without recourse.

  80. says

    @Ophelia in #76: I think I’ve seen it mentioned somewhere. I don’t think it matters much. What matters more is that somehow seems to think that entirely reasonable posts by people like Rebecca Watson were responsible for these unhinged emails.

  81. says

    Utakata, I know, that’s why I said the for pres commenter is a sock puppet. :- )

    In general: the bar is going to be higher for posts on this and related subjects. People who comment under nonce-names like “DJ for emperor” are likely to see their comments disappear more quickly than others. I’m deeply tired of people who evade even the accountability of having a familiar nym in order to talk smack about teh ebil feminazis etc etc.

  82. says

    Deen, oh, I think it matters, not least because he’s giving the claims credibility (however inadvertently) by talking about them. If many or all are fake, they don’t deserve credibility.

  83. Utakata says

    @ Ophelia Benson & Pteryxx

    Forgive me then, I am very ignorant in this matter then. But I am glad it’s good hands and the perps are being despensed with.

    Yet I am floored again how these ““DJGrotheForPresident” types demand evidence and yet post in such an unsavory, loathsome manner. This doesn’t help their arguement..it only show’s they’re ones being disingenuous scum. Likely giving us more evidence and reason why we should not except their postion.

    Anyways, thanks for explainging that. And I am sorry if I was off-topic.

  84. ethicalcannibal says

    Yes and no. I am an outsider that has only recently started attending local atheist and skeptic meet ups. I am excited to find folks that are like me. I am a woman. I was going to sink my cash into going to TAM, but decided against it. Why? Because if folks that are well known, like Watson, and a few others, can get dog piled so damned ridiculously for such benign comments, it meant that those trolls are condoned in the community. What would happen if a nobody in the scene, like myself ran into trouble?

    Hell, the very first meet up I went to locally had the typical older white male contingent. When it became known I had attended and rejected some pagan circles because of the woo, the conversation turned unilaterally to whether or not I was in attendance to the naked “skyclad” events. This was with my husband sitting next to me. This was unprompted by myself in any way. We are not talking a point in passing, but a reoccurring set of questions. I was the only woman at the meeting, and it was more a point of interest if I was participating, rather than a generalized discussion of the practice. I almost never went back because of it.

    It’s not a far jump to surmise going to one of the larger events is going to be filled with folks just like that. It’s not that the women decrying this behavior are driving me away, it’s just that I am not sure I want to fight to be there as something other than a possibly previously naked skyclad attendent. The fact that this issue is blowing up so big, just shows me the level of male privilege that is going on. As a woman, I deal with this as part of my life. I don’t know if I want to participate in an “enlightened” group that espouses an ideology where I should be fine, but refuses to acknowledge when it is not fine.

    All that said, I’m looking at going to more women centered events with male husband. Both of us will probably be more comfortable there knowing that kind of behavior isn’t going to be as prevalent.

  85. says

    Ticktock:

    I think that women may have a distorted idea of the threat level at these conventions.

    Silly overreactive wimminz, can’t assess the level of threat for themselves based on their reading of the atheist blogosphere and things that happen at conventions. They need rational d00dz to mansplain it to them.

    Perhaps better communication would clear up this distortion.

    All the women I’ve seen communicate the threats and feelings of unsafety they’ve experienced have been awfully clear in their writing.

    Have you heard from women who felt like they weren’t protected by the people running the convention? Who felt like they experienced an environment of harassment?

    Have you been paying much attention over the past year?

    I never noticed the type of behavior at these conventions that I’ve seen from anonymous trolls on the internet

    Are you male? They wouldn’t be directed at you, then.

    It’s just not the experience of my female friends at TAM that convention-goers are harassing them.

    Your female friends are representative of all female atheist con-goers, eh?

    Oh, so now he kicks people out for harassment? I thought he should be fired for condoning it. I get so confused.
    ***
    post-elevator reactions and hyperbole (on both sides)

    Oh, so you’re a disingenuous concern troll. I get so confused.

    Nobody wants to step into this because they’ll end up being put through the ringer as if they were the creep who cornered someone.

    Awww, poor bb. That’s got to be just as hard as being harassed at a convention.

  86. says

    I think the only comments I’ve actually heard about people not planning on attending TAM fell into 3 categories: Financial, TAM being set at a smoking area, and DJs current comments.

  87. fastlane says

    Wow, the mansplaining going on in this thread is…depressing to say the least.

    Someone smarter and more clever than me needs to make a parody song of Maneater.

  88. says

    I understand now. I’m not allowed to comment because its “mansplaining”, women like Sarah Mayhew are not allowed to disagree because they’re liars (PZ’s bog), and any attempt at conversation will be shouted down with sarcasm and mischaracterizations. I see the pattern. Silence dissent. Its an FTB thing.

  89. Josh Slocum says

    Tictock, you forgot:

    Hivemind
    Groupthink
    Thoughtcrime
    Baboons
    You’re-the-real-sexists
    Misandrists
    Lockstep
    Conformity
    Baboons

  90. says

    91- ticktock wtf are you talking about? Someone calling sarah a liar on pharyngula = “silencing dissent”? What bullshit.

  91. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Ticktock, there’s this thing called Google. Say it with me now GOOGLE. It will do magical things like explain what words mean! For example, you could get a definition of “mansplaining” that would help you understand what it is and how to stop doing it.

    No wait – better to have a temper tantrum, take your toys and run on home. Better hide under the bed too. Those horrible bitchez who just won’t shut up on demand might get you!

    *cue scary music*

  92. says

    Remember TAM 9, when the total lack of nastiness in-person was a surprise after the level of internet trolling that occurred?

    We have no actual statistical evidence that atheist cons are less safe than any other male-majority cons. Just a few anecdotes and innuendos echoing throughout the blogochamber, and misogynist internet trolls. There are zero publicly known instances of a sex crime or any violent crime ever occurring at TAM.

  93. Josh Slocum says

    Shorter #96–Ima pretend I don’t understand that people are talking about harassment other than rape.

    And, Bitchez be lyin’.

  94. says

    I know my friends don’t represent all Tam women. I will settle for any women who attended Tam and felt unsafe (unprotected from management) or that there was a general culture of disrespect or sexist behavior that they witnessed. I’m willing to admit I’m wrong if I’m proven wrong.

  95. rowanvt says

    While TAM may not be *less* safe than other male-majority cons, that’s not something to trumpet about.

    It’s an atheist/freethought convention. It should be SAFER. And sexual assaults don’t need to occur for it to feel ‘unsafe’ to us wimmins.

    Stop pulling a pope: “Oh, but sexual assault occurs just as frequently amongst other groups!”

  96. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    There are zero publicly known instances of a sex crime or any violent crime ever occurring at TAM.

    No one’s been violently raped or brutally murdered. So, there’s no problem then!

    I bet everyone feels perfectly safe now.

    I love that they set the bar on the floor and act like it takes the skill of an Olympian to jump over it.

  97. says

    @Ticktock:

    I’m willing to admit I’m wrong if I’m proven wrong.

    What sort of “proof” would you accept then?

  98. Josh Slocum says

    I will settle for any women who attended Tam and felt unsafe (unprotected from management) or that there was a general culture of disrespect or sexist behavior that they witnessed.

    No. You don’t get to move goalposts and set standards for whether a woman’s feelings are legitimate. One does not have to feel unprotected by management (thought that makes it worse) to feel unsafe from harassment. Women’s experiences aren’t contingent on a “general culture” of disrespect.

    You aren’t willing to be wrong so stop pretending.

  99. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    I’m willing to admit I’m wrong if I’m proven wrong.

    So, exactly how many times does Ashley Miller’s post have to be linked to before you climate-change deniers actually read it?

    Oh wait, that’s a chick’s perspective. She was obviously lying/hysterical/irrational/influence by the evil Watson.

  100. hieropants says

    We have no actual statistical evidence that atheist cons are less safe than any other male-majority cons.

    No, I’m going to guess that other cons that women are avoiding because they don’t feel safe there are not more safe than atheist cons that women are avoiding because they don’t feel safe there. Were you trying to meet the status quo of these other male-majority cons or were you trying to include more women in atheist ones?

  101. says

    There are zero publicly known instances of a sex crime or any violent crime ever occurring at TAM.

    skeptics lose their fucking minds when anything privilege related comes up.

    absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. It is just a shitty argument. This crap would never fly in any other discussion (especially not ones about vaccines or evolution or other well discussed issues).

    who mentioned sexual violence? I’m down to discuss it anyway. If someone did experience sexual violence at TAM it probably wouldn’t be reported, because the majority of sexual violence is not reported. It doesn’t prove anything.

  102. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Were you trying to meet the status quo of these other male-majority cons or were you trying to include more women in atheist ones?

    hieropants – the bar is ON THE FLOOR! How insanely high do you want them to set it? They’re only human, after all. One can’t jump over the moon!

  103. says

    I’m obviously not scared of debating sensitive topics with people who defend themselves with more bullying, but there are many people I know who find it toxic enough to avoid this network entirely. The shit storm Ive caused by defending the safety of Tam. It speaks to DJ’s point… the reaction is disproportionate to the offenses. I don’t need to google to know that accusations of mansplaining is a way to shut down the opinion of men. Just like “concern troll” is a way to dismiss anyone who wants a more civil conversation.

  104. Josh Slocum says

    That’s it. You called reasonable pushback against your defensiveness and the fact that you think you can wave the problem away by calling it “bullying.”

    Fuck you, and fuck your organization.

  105. Josh Slocum says

    I don’t need to google to know that accusations of mansplaining is a way to shut down the opinion of men.

    Come on. Say it. “Misandrists.” You know you want to. This is the very first time anyone has ever suggested to your straight white male ass that you’re not perfect on privilege, isn’t it?

  106. says

    If Ashley Miller actually felt unsafe at Tam or unprotected, or if anyone stood up to say that, I would admit I’m wrong. By her account, she was protected and had no plans to avoid Tam in the future. I’m talking about any woman speaking against the general vibe of men at the conference. Sarah defended her experience and was shouted down. But is there anyone who had a bad experience with the conference itself?

  107. Josh Slocum says

    Oh you’re totally being bullied, you in your position of power and influence with the conference organization process. Poor defenseless you!

  108. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    I don’t need to google to know that accusations of mansplaining is a way to shut down the opinion of men.

    So. .. you have no idea what the word means, but you’ve pulled a definition out of your ass that allows you to Dunning-Kruger you way out of having to be actually informed. Great. Thanks for being upfront about being a straight up troll.

  109. Aratina Cage says

    I see the pattern. Silence dissent. Its an FTB thing. –Ticktock

    Close. It’s more of a Pharyngula thing that has bled over, first of all, but also it isn’t silencing just any form of dissent but–and this is key–stupid dissent. Dissent that is uninformed, blinded by privilege, or just plain trolling. Why do I have the feeling that you are still going to have a problem with that.

  110. says

    Ticktock @ 91 –

    I’m not allowed to comment because its “mansplaining”, women like Sarah Mayhew are not allowed to disagree because they’re liars (PZ’s bog), and any attempt at conversation will be shouted down with sarcasm and mischaracterizations. I see the pattern. Silence dissent. Its an FTB thing.

    What does PZ’s blog have to do with my blog? You’re commenting here, not there. Don’t complain here about things that happen there.

  111. A nym too says

    You know what TickTock? You’re right, people are avoiding FTB now.

    Women – for obvious reasons
    .
    Lesbians and gay men – because certain bloggers feel that their self-appointed ‘Ally’ status grants then the right to talk over, condesplain to, and patronise the very people they claim lo be helping. Because they give straight people a mile of space to JAQ-off in, give their targets a two-foot cage set with snares, and then ban the LGB commenters who yelp when another JAQ-arrow hits them.

    Trans people, especially women – who are generally treated like shit. Who are told that a 50% suicide rate (due to abuse from cis people), a 1 in 12 chance of being murdered, daily violence and harassment, rape etc. are not reasons to push back in anger.
    Because certain bloggers refuse to believe the statistics given to them, write posts saying how unconvincing the evidence of endemic rape/violence/murder is, but they’re allies! Honest! It’s all good!

    Women of Colour, especially those not born in the developed world – because they have a target on their backs from the very second they mention the privilege inherent in being a white man from the developed world. Every word is picked apart. Someone who’s ESL posts about rape, mutilation, sex trafficking and brutal repression, and the replies are 1:10 “that’s horrible”:”your grammar/syntax/tone is off, therefore your claims have no worth”.

    Fucking privilege. How does it work? Well apparently by making anyone who isn’t a white, cisstraight, neurotypicalmale feel so unwelcome that they leave.

  112. Godless Heathen says

    rowanvt @78,

    Oh, right. How silly of me. It’s that whole being a blonde female thing, no brains you know.

    glad you figured that out.

    Also with regards to your stalking: WTF?!!! I’m so sorry that happened to you and while it doesn’t surprise me, it does infuriate me!

    This is why women don’t report things! If the large incidences aren’t taken seriously, why would we expect the small or medium-sized cases to be taken seriously?

    All it would take is me standing somewhere, and a strange man comes over and stands a few inches away while trying to initiate a conversation. Too close. Can’t flee.

    Also, I completely agree. I was on the bus the other day and a man walked out of a restaurant just as I got on the bus, followed me on, sat down next to me, and tried to flirt with me.

    From my perspective, it looked like he had been watching me from the window of the restaurant and followed me on the bus. Then, when I gave him short answers to questions and kept looking out the window trying to ignore him, he wouldn’t stop talking to me or touching my elbow.

    When it was time for me to get off, he wouldn’t let me out at first (he was in the aisle seat) because he wanted my number and didn’t take my first “no” as an actual no.

    I was definitely worried that he’d follow me off the bus.

  113. Cassanders says

    @A nym too

    As I have not looked into the real data behind the statistics, I can for the sake of the argument accept your figure ( 50% suicide rate). I have a good friend who is a transperson, I have understood and accepted that the percentage is high.

    But why do you seems to assume that this suicide rate(whatever the real rate really is) solely is caused by “cis”-perople’s abuse(alone)?
    Also excuse me for being somewhat insecure about the terminology. My friend was a man and is now (-well some 90% of the time) a woman. Do you state that men–>women are the ones in particular being trated like shit, or is it women–>men

    Cassanders
    In Cod we trust

  114. Godless Heathen says

    With regards to my post at 119, I meant to add a smiley after “glad you figured that out.” So, here it is: :-)

  115. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Godless Heathen –

    In case you want to be prepared for skeevy ass dudes like that in the future*, consider this

    *I have a LOT of experience dealing with skeevy/creepy/pointlessly persistent dudes. My PT job is one that puts me right in contact with them, and in a situation where I can’t say or do anything in response because it would jeopardize my PT job. And that job is way too awesome to let some butthead screw up for me. I use the NY number all the time.

  116. A nym too says

    Argh sorry Cassanders, wrote a long reply, hit the wrong button, and deleted it.

    Typing starting to hurt, so I’ll just recommend that you read ‘Sincerely, Natalie Reed’ (linked on front page). She’s a trans woman.

    Oh and half of all. trans people *attempt* suicide, I accidentally some words earlier.

    Sorry about your experience. Scary stuff. I’ll probably try and rewrite my deleted comment. tomorrow!

  117. Godless Heathen says

    Illuminata,

    Ha! I completely forgot about that! I’ll have to memorize one of them so I can start using it. Although, I’d still rather just say no and have that respected. Sigh.

  118. sware says

    Wow. Gotta admit I wasn’t following any of this in the bloggosphere a year ago and fairly recently had to research the dreaded elevatorgate. Glad I did too as awful as it has been. Here’s the thing from a relative newcomer, since so much of the commentary has left me utterly nauseated, I’ve decided for myself that I wouldn’t waste my time or money at many, if any, of these conventions though not long ago I had genuine interest. Thing is, I’ve been on the receiving end of sexual assault, and it’s an experience that has never left me completely in spite of the many years since. For all of the people that have vilified such a bland statement as “don’t do that” or “this makes me uncomfortable”, consider for just a moment what all that negative reaction says to other women like me. Can’t even handle a simple statement from a woman simply making her personal boundaries known. (See JT Eberhard’s post about removing skeeze from the movement) If the movement is so ill equipped to deal with such an innocuous statement then I dread to know what happens if something worse occurs. Forgive me If I must always err on the side of caution.

  119. Godless Heathen says

    Also, to clarify my earlier story, I never gave my number to the man, but he didn’t let me out of the seat until I’d said “no” several times.

  120. says

    “absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. It is just a shitty argument. This crap would never fly in any other discussion (especially not ones about vaccines or evolution or other well discussed issues).”

    A: There are zero reported cases of adverse reactions to this vaccine.
    B: But I heard so much third-hand FUD about it on the blogosphere, so I’m not going to get that vaccine.
    A: …

    If X implies we would probably see Y, and we don’t see Y, then X is less likely to be true. Absence of evidence is (probabilistic) evidence of absence.

    If you want positive evidence that TAM is probably safer than other cons, look to the gigantic under-representation of atheists among prison populations. http://atheistempire.com/reference/stats/main.html

    In Stephen Pinker’s recent book, Better Angels of Our Nature, he talks about the sources of the common misperception that violence has increased over time when in fact it has massively declined. It is essentially an interaction of the availability heuristic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Availability_heuristic) with media coverage of individual anecdotes, while few people are looking at actual data. Widely-reported events stand out in memory and then the availability heuristic fucks over our estimates of their probability. The atheist blogosphere is susceptible to this like all other humans.

  121. Pteryxx says

    Nice try, skepgineer.

    Since I already addressed the massive prevalence and massive underreporting of sexual harassment (and assault) in general, and because you’re being a douche, I’ll just reply to this:

    If you want positive evidence that TAM is probably safer than other cons, look to the gigantic under-representation of atheists among prison populations.

    – Atheists are also disproportionately white, male, and educated. Thus, unlikely to turn up in prison populations anyway.

    – Most sexual assaults and rapes are committed by undetected repeat predators who use plausibly deniable methods, are aided by the credulity of the general population, and rarely get reported much less imprisoned. Thus, unlikely to turn up in prison populations. (They’re out there racking up victims in social situations.)

    http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2010/03/04/predators-again-npr-cites-lisak/

    and cited research from that link.

  122. says

    Additional positive evidence of the safety of attending TAM includes last year’s attendee survey, in which out of 800+ responses no one reported that they were harassed. Though there was a single incident in which an asshole harassed person(s) in the speaker’s lounge and was promptly kicked out. Could that be the source of Jen McCreight’s third hand innuendo about certain unnamed speaker(s) being womanizer(s)?

    DJ’s followup post:
    “I just wanted to say that I misremembered some of the survey data I posted above (I was going from memory and while we were moving in our new headquarters in L.A.). After reviewing the data this morning, here is a correction. And my original point above remains.

    Of 800+ responses to our survey last year, only *two* people reported feeling “unwelcome” at the event. Both of these respondents were men. One was a conservative who felt several speakers insulted his political beliefs. The other was a retiree who “hates” magic.

    11 respondents to the survey did report a problem with an interaction with someone else that made them feel uncomfortable or unsafe. 3 of them were men who did not elaborate on the interaction and 3 were from women who did not elaborate on the interaction. Another was a woman who reported a speaker was rude to her when she asked for a photo. Another was a woman who was made fun of for not being an atheist. Another was a woman was ridiculed for being a vegetarian. Another was a woman who reported no specific incident but claimed her enjoyment of the event was negatively affected by the “drama surrounding elevator gate” and “having to hear everyone talk about it.” Finally, one women did report feeling uncomfortable around a man, fearing he may harass her in the future, and while we are concerned about such concerns, she didn’t complain of any actual activity that had happened that the hotel or security or law enforcement or others could take action on. Importantly, all 11 of these respondents nonetheless reported feeling welcome at TAM.

    And I repeat that I think there is some irresponsible messaging coming from some quarters claiming that going to TAM or similar events will mean a woman will be harassed or accosted. There is no evidence to support this claim, although we should always be raising our awareness to important issues of sexual harassment and sexism in general, and keep up our efforts to have our events be welcoming.”

    (emphasis mine). I would say the third paragraph is positive evidence against the claim that one is likely to be harassed at TAM.

  123. Pteryxx says

    - Surveys are unreliable; see above.

    – Sexual harassment is extremely common and underreported; see above. Lack of reporting of incidents cannot be taken as evidence that no incidents occurred. See above.

    – Where is your evidence that TAM is extraordinarily exempt from the baseline level of sexual harassment?

    More to the point, why don’t you read the thread you’re posting in? Sheesh.

  124. rowanvt says

    @119, Godless Heathen

    If I had been in your situation on the bus I would likely have been having a panic attack. And I don’t respond well to getting cornered. I basically turn into a mindless animal and will attack with teeth. :/

    @Skepgineer, 131-

    If I got harassed at a con I probably wouldn’t report it. That cop taught me a valuable lesson, and DJ Grothe is confirming it: the people in charge don’t give a fuck if something happens to a woman if it doesn’t involve physical assault/death.

  125. A nym too says

    Skepgineer – see my comment at #60.

    @Cassanders – I’m back, so about cis people:

    The majority of abuse happens to trans women, roughly 97% of people murdered for being trans are women.

    Trans people are murdered for being trans, by cis people.
    Trans people are raped by cis people, for being trans.
    Trans people are beaten, spat at, kicked, verbally abused, outed, silenced, and stalked by cis people, for being trans.

    Cis people deny trans people housing, employment, education, medical care, emergency shelter, the right to a fair trial, bodily integrity, peace and dignity. Sometimes life itself.

    George Zimmerman kills Trayvon Martin, and he is “standing his ground”

    CeCe McDonald, a trans woman of colour, is violently attacked by neo nazis. They hurled racial and transphobic slurs at CeCe and her friends, smashing a glass into her face. The ringleader, tattooed with swastikas, was stabbed during the incident, and died.

    Trans women of colour have a 1 in 8 chance of being murdered. CeCe has been imprisoned for not dying, labelled a murderer, and put in a facility for men.

    That’s why it’s cis people who are to blame for half of all trans people attempting suicide.

    Read Natalie Reed’s blog, ideally from the start. See how pervasive and toxic transphobia is. It makes the homophobia and misogyny I’ve experienced, seem like pigtail pulling.

  126. says

    @Skepgineer:

    And I repeat that I think there is some irresponsible messaging coming from some quarters claiming that going to TAM or similar events will mean a woman will be harassed or accosted.

    As you claim to love evidence so much, I’m sure you’ll have no problem producing evidence of anyone making this claim.

    *crickets*

  127. rowanvt says

    @136-

    Tasty tasty sexism in your blog there. NOMNOMNOM. “The voices of reason? All male of course.”

    Yup. That makes me *totally* want to go to *any* event you’re at.

  128. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Also, to clarify my earlier story, I never gave my number to the man, but he didn’t let me out of the seat until I’d said “no” several times.

    Happens a lot to me too, which is why I have those numbers memorized and stored in my phone. Yes, they should hear a no and accept it, but since that is rarely the case, I personally think its best to be prepare with a quick exit. I always give fake names too. Like Clementine or Colgate.

    ++

    And I repeat that I think there is some irresponsible messaging coming from some quarters claiming that going to TAM or similar events will mean a woman will be harassed or accosted. There is no evidence to support this claim, although we should always be raising our awareness to important issues of sexual harassment and sexism in general, and keep up our efforts to have our events be welcoming.”

    Ignoring the several times low reporting statistics has been explained to you doesn’t make the lip service you pay to awareness at the end sound any less dishonest. You can’t seriously expect anyone to take this seriously, since the pushback against any anti-SH policy has been “people want to hook up!”. There is plenty of evidence that a women are harassed or accosted just by existing. Being at TAM doesn’t magically negate this possibility. And, once again, when you have so many people complaining about how they won’t get to hookup if there’s an anti-SH policy, clearly, there IS EVIDENCE that you are ignoring.

  129. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Yup. That makes me *totally* want to go to *any* event you’re at.

    Tut-tut. Stop your gossiping, woman! Geoff’s misogyny is in your imagination. Let’s get a man in to tell us how to react to it.

  130. says

    Though there was a single incident in which an asshole harassed person(s) in the speaker’s lounge and was promptly kicked out. Could that be the source of Jen McCreight’s third hand innuendo about certain unnamed speaker(s) being womanizer(s)?

    No, it’s not.

  131. says

    Drooling trog is a guy who fixated on me for some unknown reason several years ago, and posted a lot about my reprehensible lack of tits and general ugliness along with my stupidity and feminism and general terribleness.

  132. Lyanna says

    I see, so he’s pissed about harassment policies because he enjoys harassing women. Namely, you. (“Lack of tits!” What a rational argument to make!)

    No wonder “feminism poisons everything” for him. Harassment is the only contact a man like that would ever get from women. Consensual encounters for him would be few and far between.

  133. Godless Heathen says

    @133, rowanvt,
    Ick. I’m so sorry that happens to you. I’ve been lucky (and yes, it’s luck) to not have had to deal with anything much more serious than what happened on the bus, but I imagine my reactions would be much difference if I had.

  134. says

    Going out of your way to report something is different from putting a note in a survey that you already happen to be taking (which can even be as nonspecific as you like). The reporting rate would be significantly higher in the latter case.

    Relying on the unquantified premise that harassment at TAM wouldn’t be reported, to explain away all the evidence, makes your hypothesis that one is likely to be harassed at TAM unfalsifiable. Unfalsifiable hypotheses are crap.

  135. Pteryxx says

    Skepgineer:

    Going out of your way to report something is different from putting a note in a survey that you already happen to be taking (which can even be as nonspecific as you like). The reporting rate would be significantly higher in the latter case.

    Unsubstantiated assumption. Obviously you know nothing about survey design or survey response rates, much less that underreporting is a pervasive problem in ALL sexual harassment and sexual assault data gathering.

    Relying on the unquantified premise that harassment at TAM wouldn’t be reported, to explain away all the evidence, makes your hypothesis that one is likely to be harassed at TAM unfalsifiable. Unfalsifiable hypotheses are crap.

    Harassment going unreported in general is not a premise. It’s demonstrated fact.

    You’re defending DJ’s premise that sexual harassment is NOT likely to happen at TAM. That’s a highly unlikely claim, supported only by flimsy evidence, which I have criticized above with citations to justify my criticism.

    However, DJ’s own statements suggest that women discussing sexual harassment and recounting experience with it will not be given an unbiased hearing. This has unfortunate implications for his handling of anti-harassment policies.

  136. fastlane says

    skepgineer:

    Additional positive evidence of the safety of attending TAM includes last year’s attendee survey, in which out of 800+ responses no one reported that they were harassed. Though there was a single incident in which an asshole harassed person(s) in the speaker’s lounge and was promptly kicked out. Could that be the source of Jen McCreight’s third hand innuendo about certain unnamed speaker(s) being womanizer(s)?

    Are you married? Do you have a daughter?

    You know what really bothers me about shit like this? Even if one person (regardless of gender) was made to feel unwelcome because of sexual/gender/weight/other harassment, that’s one fucking too many! That’s the bar we need to set. That is the fucking goal we should be aiming for.

    Do ‘we’ (I haven’t been to an atheist/skeptic conference since 2008) expect perfection? No. What we should expect, and have every right to demand, is that the conference organizers have a zero tolerance policy, and vigorously investigate every single fucking claim of harassment. They should also make it very clear that that kind of behavior is absolutely not tolerated. One way not to do that is to dismiss the claims of even one single person.

    DJ’s correct response should have been “We don’t want you or anyone to feel harassed or uncomfortable due to possible harassment. The TAM organizers will do A, B and C to try and ensure that doesn’t happen. We are open to more suggestions, and for sure we will have at least one dedicated person that these reports can be made to.”

    That’s all it would have taken. Given what I’ve seen, I wouldn’t go to TAM if they offered to pay me.

    Also, these kind of conversations need to happen in public, to help prevent things like what Godless Heathen @119 descried from happening while no one does anything. I’ve seen similar instances (at a dance club) where a strange (as in, I didn’t know her) young woman near me had said ‘no’ in increasingly louder voice to a man that probably outweighed her two to one, about 5 times. At that point, I stepped between them, looked (the much larger guy) in the eye and simply said: “She said no several times, would you like me to explain what it means?” To prevent me from becoming creepy guy (because this can happen), I offered to get the bouncer to escort her or the guy out, her choice (I didn’t offer to do it myself). Even being aware of that last seemingly little gesture can make a big difference.

    So think about any of the things these women have described happening to your mom, sister, wife, or daughter. Then ask yourself if you think the TAM organizers’ responses have been appropriate.

  137. says

    My hypothesis (that one is unlikely to be harassed at TAM) could easily be falsified by 1% of attendee survey respondents complaining of harassment. They don’t need to provide any details of the incidents or name names. They don’t need to put their own name on the survey.

    “Harassment going unreported in general is not a premise. It’s demonstrated fact. ”

    Draw a venn diagram with “fact” in one circle and “premise” in the other circle. It’s not a dichotomy. My argument does not rely on any such dichotomy. If you rely on the premise that harassment is unlikely to be reported, without specifically quantifying it, then any specific claim of harassment being likely in a particular circumstance becomes unfalsifiable. OTOH if we quantify how low the reporting rate is, and collect enough data, it may be possible to falsify the hypothesis.

    Reporting rate varies a lot with reporting method. ALL estimates of reporting rates are based on comparing one method to another method that gives a higher rate. There is no epistemic skyhook to tell you what the real rate is. Anonymous surveys tend to give the highest reporting rates for things that people are reluctant to report. If the attendee survey is anonymous, and there are still no attendees complaining of harassment, you’ve got an uphill battle to make any argument that harassment is common at TAM.

  138. fastlane says

    skepgineer

    you’ve got an uphill battle to make any argument that harassment is common at TAM.

    It doesn’t have to be common, dumbass. If it happens once, it’s too much and shouldn’t be tolerated.

    Tell you what, let’s meet up at a conference, and you stand still while I take a baseball bat to your kneecap. I promise, I’ll restrict myself to one knee, and only yours.

    That should make it ok, right?

    Disclaimer: I’m not actually advocating violence here, but it seems like this moron can’t grasp the concept otherwise.

  139. says

    Please don’t call people things like “dumbass.” It Lowers the Tone. (Look at Leslie Winkler. That’s a bit of bad scriptwriting, that is.)

  140. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    You’ve got to admit though – when encountering someone who’s only argument is trying really hard to couch “bitchez lie” within “Unfalsifiable hypotheses” complaints, it eventually gets harder to hold onto good faith.

  141. fastlane says

    Sorry Ophelia, I forgot which blog I was posting on.

    On the other hand, I don’t think using descriptive words ‘lowers’ the tone more than the mansplainers, but I’ll bow out and let ya’ll handle it nicely.

  142. says

    Do ‘we’ (I haven’t been to an atheist/skeptic conference since 2008) expect perfection? No. What we should expect, and have every right to demand, is that the conference organizers have a zero tolerance policy, and vigorously investigate every single fucking claim of harassment. They should also make it very clear that that kind of behavior is absolutely not tolerated. One way not to do that is to dismiss the claims of even one single person.

    By that standard, TAM is batting 1000. They set up a harassment policy post-elevatorgate and pre-TAM 9. Only one case of harassment that was reported to a member of the TAM staff, and the harasser was promptly ejected from the conference (though by some miscommunication DJ never heard about it). No additional harassment cases were reported to TAM staff. If they had been, I have no doubt that the harassers would have been treated similarly.

  143. says

    By that standard, TAM is batting 1000.

    That WOULD be true, if not for the following:

    1. Record-keeping problems. First, incidents that were reported were not recorded. Second, incidents went unreported because attendees were ignorant of the importance of reporting to the success of the policy.

    2. DJ Grothe went on public record as thinking that the drop in attendance from women was specifically due to public discussion of sexual harassment, problems with the policy, ways the policy might be improved, etc. This has strong overtones of urging women to shut up about it for the sake of TAM’s public image, and that has a chilling effect on any future reporting.

    3. The public response from men who are skeptics and sexists, who, just like in the aftermath of Elevatorgate, seem to prioritize their right to be an odious jerk to whomever they want over the comfort of all conference attendees. I realize Grothe has little actual control over this, but the least he could do is make public statements distancing himself from their behavior and urging them to tone it down if they’re sincere about this whole not hating women thing.

    So, no, they’re not batting 1000. And you’re clearly not qualified to figure out if they are or not. You have a lot more learning to do.

  144. ischemgeek says

    @Skepgineer: ~5% of sexual assaults are reported in Canada (Statistics Canada). Roughly 2% of the Canadian population will be subject to sexual assault in a given year (same report). Sexual harrassment, including street harrassment, is on the other hand so common that 15-36% of women report it happening daily. In some areas, 100% of women report at least some street harrassment.

    If it was as commonly reported as sexual assault (which only has about a 5% report rate, remember), our courts would be overflowing with civil and criminal claims of sexual harassment. They’re not.

    Which means that, though stats of police-reported sexual harassment are unavailable in Canada (since it’s covered under other crimes in this country), it’s safe to assume our rate of sexual harassment reporting is much lower than our rate of sexual assault reporting. So, in other words, it’s <<5%

    So, no reports =/= no instances. It could just be that statistically, the sample size was small enough over a short enough time period that no reports were made. Or, just as likely (given the situation with Ashley Millar), the reports that were made were misrecorded and thus not attributed to sexual harassment.

    Given the stats on sexual harassment, it's more than safe to say that DJ's claim that TAM doesn't have a sexual harassment problem is an extraordinary one. Let me ask you, would you consider data collated from demonstrably poor record-keeping and a poorly-designed survey extraordinary evidence?

    If not, you should be thinking that it's still far more likely than not that TAM does have a sexual harassment problem – no worse and no better than the rest of our society, in all likelihood.

    And speaking as someone who’s subject to sexual harassment on an almost-daily basis in my city (thus putting me in the roughly 60% of women who say it happens at least regularly) and who feels less safe as a result (thus putting me in with roughly 80% of Canadan women), what would scare me off TAM isn’t reports of harassment. That’s a given to me. What would scare me off TAM is an attitude of “No problem here, move along now” from up top, which would tell that if I have a problem, they won’t take it seriously and will prefer to sweep it under the rug. And that’s the message DJ is sending me.

  145. Cara says

    The perception is that freethought conferences are an unpleasant environment for women, but this is not consistent with reports from people who attended them. As a skeptic, I’m concerned with the truth.

    It is absolutely, entirely consistent with reports from people who attended them, because they SAID SO. That’s what all the bawwwwwing from the likes of you is about–women talking about their experience at the conference.

    You’re not a skeptic. You’re a garden-variety “bitchez b lyin” fratboy who fancies himself smarter than the religious nuts and likes getting together with others just like him. That’s all.

  146. Stu says

    The perception is that freethought conferences are an unpleasant environment for women, but this is not consistent with reports from people who attended them.

    There is a club in Amsterdam I used to go to. Somewhere in the mid-90s, it got a bad rap for date-rape drugs, bathroom shenanigans, rampant drug use and the likes.

    I never saw any of these things. Why? I wasn’t looking for them. They did not apply to me. Regardless of my own overinflated opinion of my attractiveness, very few people have tried to rape me. I never lingered in bathrooms long enough to witness any encounters and/or drug use.

    I still stopped going there.

    Derp?

  147. Aratina Cage says

    Yeah, Stu. It’s almost like being informed about the climate of a place is empowering or something.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>