May 28 2012

The Taliban comes to Foggy Bottom

Is sexual harassment a thing? Is it just a fantasy of whack-job feminists (who of course are all way too ugly to be sexually harassed)? What about the military, for example? Lots of discipline there; probably there’s no sexual harassment in among all that discipline, right?

Well, one third of women in the military reported being sexually harassed in 2008. That seems like a thing. Maybe they were all whack-job feminists, but given the bad press feminism gets, I kind of doubt it.

The ACLU considers it a thing.

While it is estimated that over 19,000 sexual assaults occurred in the military in 2010, a rate far higher than among civilians, the government has failed systematically to investigate complaints, appropriately punish perpetrators, and treat trauma and other health conditions suffered by survivors. The profound personal and social consequences that arise from the government’s systemic failures are powerfully profiled in the new film, The Invisible War. Turning a blind eye to these crimes has allowed them to continue, imperiling the lives of victims and degrading their service.

Is it Talibanesque to think that’s a bad situation?

The US State Department has a sexual harassment policy. Is that Talibanesque? Should the State Department allow sexual harassment to go on its merry way, as one of our precious freedoms that we don’t want the Taliban to destroy?

You be the judge.



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  1. 1
    Jason Thibeault

    Yes, it’s very Taliban-esque to protect women from predation. Only there, they do it because they’re chattel. Here, we do it because they’re human beings with self-determination and sentience. And the harassment policy has the added bonus of protecting all human beings from all sorts of harassment. So, you know, fuck whomever’s making this complaint for being disingenuous asses.

  2. 2

    Perhaps some additional context about where the term ‘Talibanesque’ is coming from in this conversation might help?

  3. 3
    Silly The Kid

    Nobody is referring to the anti-harassment policies as Talibanic. That is just a massive straw man created by Ophelia.

    The complaint refers to the dress code which states that it should be “non-sexualised”. This description IS “Talibanic”.

    So, just to reiterate, Ophelia’s straw man is an insult. Somebody should call Steven Novella to get his ass round here because of all the fucking logical fallacies Ophelia keeps coming up with.

    The irony that a Western atheist who criticises the ENFORCED “non-sexualised” dress of Muslim women, and SUPPORTS the “non-sexualised” dress code at conventions in the West, is truly fucking hilarious.

  4. 4
    Jason Thibeault

    Wait. The “dress code”? What dress code? If you’re talking about the template one from GeekFeminism, nobody damn well said we need to use it in its entirety, nor that it was perfect.

  5. 5

    Silly is as Silly says. Anyway…

    A dress code calling for “non-sexualized” clothing is placing the burden on women to somehow ensure that they are not sexually attractive to men so that said men are not unduly tempted to do or say untoward things in a woman’s presence — and that is very, very, much like the Taliban.

    “Talibanesque,” to me, would include indifference to sexual harrasment of women.

  6. 6
    Silly The Kid


    You might want to have a word with Stephanie Svan since she is pretty clued up about the kind of “non-sexualised” dress code that conventions need. Although she will struggle to define what exactly she means by “non-sexualised” since sexualisation is a subjective thing.

    Keep up, old boy.

  7. 7
    Silly The Kid

    For feck’s sake.

    Jennifer, I am not calling for a “non-sexualised” dress code.

    Ophelia is, and Stephanie is.

    So you will agree that they are the SILLY ones.

    “Talibanesque,” to me, would include indifference to sexual harrasment of women.

    Yes it would, and it would also include the ENFORCING “non-sexualised” dress codes for people, just like the Taliban do for women.

  8. 8
    Jason Thibeault

    The same Stephanie who approved whole-heartedly the “Costumes are not consent” CONvergence posters? Color me skeptical.

  9. 9
    Jason Thibeault

    And it’s Zvan. Why can’t you naysayers get that right?

  10. 10
    Stephanie Zvan

    Oh, for fuck’s sake. Silly here is talking about the part of the suggested harassment policy that basically says, “No booth babes”.

    Exhibitors in the expo hall, sponsor or vendor booths, or similar activities are also subject to the anti-harassment policy. In particular, exhibitors should not use sexualized images, activities, or other material. Booth staff (including volunteers) should not use sexualized clothing/uniforms/costumes, or otherwise create a sexualized environment.

    Ooh, eek. I as an attendee am entirely unaffected except in that it is no longer assumed that I’m a heterosexual man who will only do business with someone if enticed by sexuality. Funny that Silly’s acting as though he wasn’t told that here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/05/one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other/#comment-178580

    Silly, you know other people can and do read for themselves, right? And you know how that makes you look when you say stupid shit like this?

  11. 11
    Jason Thibeault

    So con employees aren’t allowed to wear ridiculously sexual costumes, but con-goers can wear anything that won’t get them arrested? ZOMG TALIBAN

  12. 12
    K Crow

    I feel like there is something I am missing. Like this post is a response to something I haven’t seen.

  13. 13

    Now that I see what this post is in response to, it makes a whole lot more sense. It makes an enormous difference that the “non-sexualized” portion is aimed at “booth babes,” who are not freely choosing to wear what they want but are being instructed by their employers to wear a sexy getup as a condition of the job. I see nothing wrong with a policy against allowing exhibitors at a conference to use human sex-kitten billboards.

  14. 14
    Ophelia Benson

    Silly the Kid @ 3 – There’s no strawman; I have seen the “Talibanesque” accusation.

    There’s no insult, because I haven’t named anyone.

    “The complaint refers to the dress code” – what complaint? I haven’t seen any complaint that refers to “the dress code,” nor have I seen “the dress code.” You seem to be assuming I’ve seen what you’ve seen, I’ve read what you’ve read (or perhaps what you’ve written); that’s a stupid assumption. I don’t know who you are or what you’ve read, and you don’t know everything I’ve read. (You may know a few things I’ve read because I mention them in public, under my name as opposed to some random nym. I have no such access to what you’ve read.)

  15. 15
    Ophelia Benson

    S the K @ 7 – no I’m not calling for any dress code. I haven’t said a word about any dress code. Don’t tell whoppers.

  16. 16

    “I see nothing wrong with a policy against allowing exhibitors at a conference to use human sex-kitten billboards.”


    And yet some of my fellow mens are very exercised about this.

    Why is that, mens?

  17. 17
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]


    Why is that, mens?

    What. How dare you imply that women feeling welcome at an event is more important than men feeling sexually gratified?

    There is a pattern I’m noticing:
    (1) Conference happens. Low female attendance is noted.
    (2) Organizers/community says, “How can we get more women to attend?”
    (3) Women say, “Maybe if we didn’t feel hit on/objectified?”
    (4) Men say, “OMG. PRUDE! TALIBAN!”

  18. 18

    I see nothing wrong with a policy against allowing exhibitors at a conference to use human sex-kitten billboards.

    You evil, anti-sex feminazi! How dare do you deny my right to have random half-naked women paraded in front of me? You’re no better than the Taliban.

    Seriously though, I can’t believe that’s a point of contention. But I can believe so many are trying to misrepresent it as a ban on all but formal attire.

  19. 19

    man, I was thinking about liking him on facebook. Not any more! Not after hereing about all this horrible stuff about hurting women.
    And im suprized at Jason above, saying women are cattle. Im having second thoughts about him too! now!

  20. 20
    Jason Thibeault


    U trollin’?

  21. 21

    Sorry Jason! I misread that! What an idiot!

    Still though, I think the poster talking about straw man has a point though? I mean, look at post #17

  22. 22
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    Wow, what a tool.

    “Not sexualized” ≠ non-sexualized.

    The former refers to a person’s (usually) deliberate intent to sexually provoke with their dress or actions. (While this CAN be done accidentally, hopefully whoever is running the show will be hiring professionals.)
    The latter describes a point of view where gender is equated with sexuality, so any outward show of gender is also considered a sexual display.

    If you can’t tell the difference between these two very obvious and basic concepts, than there’s little wonder you are being called names on the internet.

    I suspect, however, that either you know exactly what they mean, and you are just being needlessly tedious about stupid details just to cause trouble and piss people off – or you, like many MRA scumbags, genuinely equate gender with sexuality in your mind.

    Either way, MRA troll is boring.

  23. 23
    Ophelia Benson

    MRA troll is gone – until the next time it tweaks its email address while I’m offline.

    MRA troll tells untruths about me. It says I support the dress code or rather the anti-booth-babe clause, when I haven’t even seen it, let alone read it or said anything about it. I told it that hours ago but that made no difference.

  24. 24
    Ophelia Benson

    Well that was quick.

    There’s going to be a real mess here overnight, that’s obvious.

  25. 25
    Ophelia Benson

    To repeat, for the record, I haven’t seen the dress code, which apparently isn’t a dress code but an anti-booth-babe clause. Whatever it is I haven’t seen it or read it or said anywhere that I support it. This troll obviously plans to say I did a squillion times here, but that will be a falsehood.

  26. 26

    “Your lies are going to be published on YouTube.”

    I think that needs to be a meme. It’s like “I must blog about this” for the sub-normal mentally ill.

  27. 27

    And with respect to booth babes — recall that exhibitors have not only encouraged booth babes, exhibitors have encouraged people to harass them.

  28. 28

    I haven’t heard of any dress code but here’s the “booth-babe clause” from the Geek Feminism Wiki.

    Exhibitors in the expo hall, sponsor or vendor booths, or similar activities are also subject to the anti-harassment policy. In particular, exhibitors should not use sexualized images, activities, or other material. Booth staff (including volunteers) should not use sexualized clothing/uniforms/costumes, or otherwise create a sexualized environment.

    There’s no dress code mentioned anywhere that I can find. If someone has a link to it I’d very much like to read it.

  29. 29
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    I’d make a small change to the vendor section.

    I would absolutely ban sexualized employee costumes and clothing.

    I would ban the sexualized selling as above…

    …**except** I would put in a caveat for those selling explicitly sexual wares. If it’s related to your product, sure. If it’s not related to your product but you’re throwing in sex anyway, no.

    Some similar exception might be necessary for speakers that are explicitly addressing sexual topics that are central to the theme of the talk to the point where the description makes clear such things will be discussed. [Given that another part of the suggested policy reads as banning sexualized speech.]

  30. 30
    Ophelia Benson

    If we make it a hashtag will it become a meme? #yourliesaregoingtobepublishedonYouTube

    I know, way too long, but I like making up stupid hashtags.

  31. 31
    Ophelia Benson

    Ok, now I’ve read it. (Jesus, that’s what all the fuss is about? These peeps don’t get out much, do they.) I hadn’t read it until now.

  32. 32

    Yes, sexual harassment is a thing. Who among prominent skeptics is saying it never occurs? What DJ said was that there were no *reports* of it occurring *at TAM*. And he was wrong. That doesn’t absolve you of arguing with a straw man (though you have the dubious defense of not explicitly addressing the argument to anyone in particular). You should have cited the facebook thread where idiots compared harassment policies to the taliban and cited who exactly you are arguing against in the effort to establish that sexual harassment exists.

  33. 33


    I’m glad you think Russell Blackford an idiot. I keep trying to persuade people of that… Ah well, less work for me to do.

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