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Jul 16 2012

In your face

You know that T shirt that Harriet Hall wore?

This is the back view

pic.twitter.com/poRsm0uI

She wore it three days in a row, at least. My source didn’t see her on the fourth, but it seems likely she wore it then too.

I don’t understand this. I don’t understand people.

926 comments

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  1. 1
    Simon Clare

    What’s not to understand? It looks like she just has a different set of priorities to you and is putting on a kind of protest.

    I’m not trying to be contrary here, I just think it’s OK. Happy to be convinced otherwise, of course.

  2. 2
    Tom Foss

    I remember seeing that back bit online somewhere, twitter maybe. Wonder who coined it. And who made the shirt.

  3. 3
    sambarge

    She seems remarkably proud of the fact that she doesn’t agree with women who feel that they’ve been treated poorly based on their gender. I can’t imagine being proud to not understand the oppression of others. I’m not the most enlightened person in the world but I’ve always assumed that when I failed to understand privilege, it was a failing of my understanding and not the failing of the un-privileged.

    I’m a skeptic too. As I am the centre of my universe, I don’t tend to put qualifiers on my characteristics. I’m a skeptic, an atheist, a feminist, a mixed-market socialist, a trade unionist, an historian, etc. I don’t see my gender impacting any of those characteristics. The problem isn’t that I define myself as a woman first and everything else second; it’s that others see me as a woman first and everything else second. And, most damagingly, they see being a woman as a deprecating qualifier.

    If this was a discussion of how women see ourselves rather than how others see/treat us, then it wouldn’t be nearly as contentious as it’s been.

  4. 4
    Ophelia Benson

    Simon – at the very least, the back is highly personal. That’s not all, but I don’t have the energy to explain right now.

  5. 5
    Ace of Sevens

    Maybe someone should whip up shirts that say “proud not to be Harriet Hall.” That wouldn’t make things any better, but it would be funny.

  6. 6
    1000 Needles

    I get it. It’s how I might have phrased it, before my partner patiently explained the concept of privilege to me. She’s probably trying to say, “we’re not male skeptics or female skeptics, just people skeptics!”

    I’ll bet that’s the angle she was after and she chose a shitty way to phrase it that makes it sound more malicious.

    What Harriet Hall doesn’t understand is that gender-blindness is one of those libertarian delusions that doesn’t exist in the real world. When women are experiencing the majority of harassment at cons, pretending that no gender differences exist ignores, rather than addresses, the harassment.

  7. 7
    callistacat

    Another passive-aggressive jab at The Skepchicks? I have never called myself a skepchick, I thought the only people who use that term are the ones who write for and run the Skepchick website.
    ?

  8. 8
    Magicthighs

    Ignoring the context, wearing the same t-shirt to a conference for 3 days straight (at least) is just nasty. I hope she had multiple shirts made.

  9. 9
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    I don’t understand it either. There’s a difference between not being on board with other people, and going out of your way to insult and attack them. I think Harriet Hall is being an enormous jerk here, but if I were to follow her lead I’d start a “Harriet Hall is an enormous jerk” website or something. Why is she so angry and full of energetic hate towards other women?

  10. 10
    ibelieveindog

    Everything sambarge @3 wrote.

    And I guess she feels she hasn’t been treated poorly because she’s a woman. Good for her. But it’s disingenuous, or insensitive, nay, disHONest of her to pretend that most women aren’t, and to pretend that shirt isn’t a possible slap in the face of any woman she meets.

    (lots of profanity hitting my computer monitor)

    ancora imparo

  11. 11
    Ophelia Benson

    @ 7 – oh yes. It’s a direct slap at the Skepchicks – including Surly Amy, who was there to support her grant recipients. It’s really nasty.

  12. 12
    Geoff

    Shirt translation: I’m a petty and vindictive person.

  13. 13
    Sethra

    Link is borked for me. :(

  14. 14
    Tom Hail

    Harriet Hall didn’t wear it on the panel she was on Sunday morning. I didn’t see her afterward.

    I saw on Surly Amy’s table at 7:30 Sunday morning a pile of catsup packets and one french fry. I wondered if it was some kind of stupid message so I scooped them up and dumped them before she came to set up. I don’t know if she decided to go home early by then or not.

  15. 15
    Geek Goddess

    Anyone who thinks Dr. Hall is oblivious to the shit that women go through should read her biography “Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly” about being the first woman female medical officer in the Air Force, and then STFU. You have no idea.

    Also, I’m the one that took that picture and posted in on Twitter. You do NOT have my permission to use it.

  16. 16
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    What link?

  17. 17
    Nathair

    Anyone who thinks Dr. Hall is oblivious to the shit that women go through should read her biography “Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly” about being the first woman female medical officer in the Air Force, and then STFU. You have no idea.

    So she knows and she’s being a petty asshole about it anyway. Understood, thanks for popping in.

  18. 18
    Sethra

    This is the back view

    There’s no pic or link, and I jumped to the conclusion that it was a link rather than a pic. Was just curious what the back said, and didn’t see a way to find out.

  19. 19
    Beauzeaux

    For many years, major symphonies had very few women members — maybe a harpist now and then. Why? In many cases, the answer was a shrug because the judges declared themselves to be unbiased so it must be because the women weren’t as good.

    Blind auditions (where the musician is behind a screen) began in the 1970s. Researchers found that blind auditions increased the probability that a woman would advance from preliminary rounds by 50 percent. About 10 percent of orchestra members were female around 1970, compared to about 35 percent in the mid-1990s.

    I view the assertion that one is gender blind with the same derision usually saved for people who say “I don’t see race.” It’s a dumb position at best.

  20. 20
    Kels

    Ophelia:

    I heard a couple of comments that Surly Amy was given a hard time at TAM, is there any more to that story besides Hall’s frankly childish T-shirt?

    Geek Goddess:

    If that’s the case then she should damn well know better than to pull a stunt like this. I don’t really buy the “respected elder therefore above criticism” defense, it doesn’t excuse this sort of pettiness.

  21. 21
    Sethra

    Also, I’m the one that took that picture and posted in on Twitter. You do NOT have my permission to use it.

    And I guess I won’t find out today. Ah well.

  22. 22
    Ophelia Benson

    Geek Goddess, which one?

  23. 23
    xtog

    How is it that the term “skepCHICK” is not sexist? Is CHICK one of those words like the N-word, where only whites are not allowed to say it, but in this case only males are not allowed to say it?

    For those trying to understand the shirt,…it is about unity and against the splitters.

  24. 24
    Geek Goddess

    She knows all about sexual harassment. She was in the Air Force in the 60s. And no where did she claim special privilege for being ‘old guard’. I actually talked to her about it, in person, so that I would understand. She said that she has never been bothered at TAM. It’s a problem, but that doesn’t mean that every single female that attends TAM is going to be groped or harassed. Some were giving the impression that nothing *else* goes on.

  25. 25
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    login mess at #22 wrote:

    She felt welcome and safe at TAM…

    And that invalidates all the people saying they can’t go because it’s not safe how, exactly?

    “Well, I haven’t been murdered. Why do we even bother wasting money on homicide detectives?”

    See how stupid that sounds?

  26. 26
    screechymonkey

    “that doesn’t mean that every single female that attends TAM is going to be groped or harassed. Some were giving the impression that nothing *else* goes on.”

    Who?

  27. 27
    Geek Goddess

    Ophelia, the second one. I don’t mind it being used, but I had see Dr. Hall vilified by people who probably didn’t ask her intention, or even know her history.

  28. 28
    Geek Goddess

    That’s “hate” to see…

  29. 29
    acrannymint

    Just wandered in here. I think she is probably came from an era when “chick” was not a complimentary term. I’m probably about her age or maybe a bit younger and my guess (and I know this is pure conjecture) is that she may have had to fight to be seen as more than a chick.

  30. 30
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    Geek Goddess:

    Some were giving the impression that nothing *else* goes on.

    [citation needed]

  31. 31
    Geek Goddess

    xtog, that’s the name of a website, skepchicks.org, and the contributors and followers of that blog. The founder self-selected the name. It’s not sexist when they use it.

  32. 32
    Geek Goddess

    Blogs for the past month?

  33. 33
    The twelfth vote

    The anti-skepchick crowd really seems to have a need to stick in the knife and turn it. Even under the kindest of interpretations of the shirt, Harriet is at the very least saying “take the focus off of gender issues”, as in “shut up, ladies”. Sigh. There’s just nothing good-willed or productive about this.

  34. 34
    Ophelia Benson

    Geek Goddess, so you do want me to take it down, right? I will if you do, of course.

    I can see the loyalty angle of the front part of the shirt – but there’s more to it than that. But it’s quite possible that Dr Hall isn’t aware of the more.

    But the back? That just seems outright mean.

  35. 35
    skeptifem

    She knows all about sexual harassment. She was in the Air Force in the 60s. And no where did she claim special privilege for being ‘old guard’. I actually talked to her about it, in person, so that I would understand. She said that she has never been bothered at TAM. It’s a problem, but that doesn’t mean that every single female that attends TAM is going to be groped or harassed. Some were giving the impression that nothing *else* goes on.

    who was giving the impression that nothing else goes on? When?

    The shirt is a response to some shit that no one ever fucking said, and its spiteful towards people who have experienced problems or witnessed them. If the reasoning is what you say (as if the world revolves around her personally having been harassed or not rather than systemic policies issues being raised) then she is just thinking irrationally and putting it on display for everyone to see.

  36. 36
    Ophelia Benson

    Geek Goddess @ 32 – no. Nobody has said that’s all that goes on there, or anything like that.

  37. 37
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    Blogs for the past month?

    I’ve read more than a few. None of them that I can recall said anything resembling ‘all that goes on at cons is the groping and harassment of every single female there’.

    Which ones, specifically, have said that? I mean, I don’t doubt for a second a lot of dishonest (or wilfully dishonest) people have claimed that’s what’s been written, but that’s very different from it actually having been written.

  38. 38
    Ophelia Benson

    Quite.

    This is a big misconception. Nobody had singled out TAM, it was DJ who accused some of us of doing that, but it wasn’t fucking true. After he did that people did start talking about TAM, but not to say it’s all harassment all the time.

  39. 39
    LeftSidePositive

    Geek Goddess: NO ONE has said that “every single female that attends TAM is going to be groped or harassed.” That is a disgusting strawman used by those who are trying to keep the sexism of the status quo (namely that a PROPORTION of female attendees get groped or harassed and that they don’t like it) acceptable, and to discredit those who are trying to make the Skeptic movement better than the baseline level of harassment in the world. Frankly, you should be ashamed of yourself for using such a flagrantly dishonest, willfully ignorant, fallacious line of reasoning.

    Also, if Harriet Hall does acknowledge that sexism is a problem, why is she wearing such a slap in the face to those who don’t feel safe and welcome at TAM? What is she trying to say? “Ha, ha! You had some creep nearly take upskirt photos of you! Well, that’s never happened to ME, so I’m going to brag about what a great time I’ve had!” Seriously–who the hell DOES something that utterly crass? Who the hell lords it over those who have been less fortunate and publicly minimizes their concerns? What does that say about her as a person that she would parade around her good fortune instead of show empathy for those who have not been so fortunate?!

    As Richard Carrier said, your “impression” is the fault of you as a listener–don’t blame others speaking about their experiences for YOUR cognitive biases.

  40. 40
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    Sethra

    It is still currently on the page. I suggest clearing your browser cache then reloading the page.

    The image source is https://p.twimg.com/AxpvJEsCMAEvwdx.jpg

    If you have twitter blocked in some way, you won’t see it. (Domain blocking, script blocking, whatever may not allow content from a Twitter domain.)

    It reads:
    I’m a skeptic
    Not a “skepchick”
    Not a “woman skeptic”
    Just a skeptic

  41. 41
    skeptifem

    Just wandered in here. I think she is probably came from an era when “chick” was not a complimentary term. I’m probably about her age or maybe a bit younger and my guess (and I know this is pure conjecture) is that she may have had to fight to be seen as more than a chick.

    I’ve always hated the name. That is a fine criticism to make. The context of the shirt and the TAM controversy make it impossible to take that seriously as her main complaint with the group, however.

  42. 42
    Ophelia Benson

    Maybe now you can see why we get pissed off? There are a lot of lies out there about us, and Dr Hall’s T shirt seems to be based on those lies rather than on reality. There was a lot of hostility to us at TAM, thanks to all these lies and accusations. Oddly enough, we find this unfair!

  43. 43
    anthrosciguy

    She’s probably trying to say, “we’re not male skeptics or female skeptics, just people skeptics!”

    If that was what she was trying to say, she would have left out the reference to Skepchicks. So no, that is not all she was trying to say.

  44. 44
    coleslaw

    That’s not the power lifter Harriet Hall with the 600 pound squat, is it?

  45. 45
    jose

    What I read in this message is that she doesn’t want for sexism to exist and she will act as if sexism didn’t exist. But in order for it not to exist, we have to make it disappear first.

    It’s like saying “I’m not a worker, I’m just a person who happens to have a job” (because “worker” has social connotations: unions, labor rights, etc.)

  46. 46
    mythbri

    @Geek Goddess

    The perception that there has been an over-arching stream of posts saying that women absolutely will be harassed and groped and unsafe at TAM and other conventions is in error.

    A conversation was started about the need to put anti-harassment policies in place. It was DJ who was looking at the enrollment numbers for TAM and assumed that such talk was scaring women away from enrolling, instead of entertaining any other possible explanation, such as the probability of people (including women) only being able to afford to go to one con each year. The success of the Women in Secularism con might have contributed to people’s choice in that regard. Or any other conference. Or the fact that women typically have to make more arrangements to attend, such as getting someone to look after their children.

    The conversation quickly led from there to people actually doubting the harassment exists anywhere, let alone at cons. For the record, no one has claimed that the harassment level is worse at cons than anywhere else – but there shouldn’t be such a thing as an “acceptable” level of harassment. That’s why policies are a good idea. They protect the attendees and ensure that their hard-earned money is spent on a good experience, and they protect the cons in the off-chance that something very serious does actually happen.

  47. 47
    jose

    Diane Arbus used to say she was “a photographer”, not “a woman photographer”. During the 60s there was a wave of photographer women who gained notoriety in a very heavily male dominated job, which feminists were happy about, but Arbus didn’t want to have anything to do with them or with feminism and she never showed any interest in social/political issues in general, and never paid attention to them. So in this case it’s understandable.

    Making an analogy, if Dr Hall just wants to focus on alternative medicine and critical thinking and doesn’t want to get involved in other issues, her t-shirt would be the expected response… if she were asked about it. But she wasn’t, the t-shirt was her own initiative. This means she does want to get involved in these issues, and she wants to do so by denying a problem exists. Thus she’s leaving the “Arbus” indifferent position and actively holding a denialist position. This strikes me as very odd coming from a skeptic, because the evidence shows harassment does happen.

    It’s all very strange.

  48. 48
    Lyanna

    I understand it just fine. There are a lot of women who take a lot of misguided pride in NOT standing with other women against sexism. Basically because they don’t want to be associated with “women” as a group. They want to rise “above” it.

    They do this by arguing that gender doesn’t matter, and that only a hysterical “gender feminist” obsessed with identity politics would say it does.

  49. 49
    PZ Myers

    Hmmm. I could legitimately get a t-shirt like this:

    I’m a doctor
    Not a “skepdoc”
    Not a “doctoral skeptic”
    Just a skeptic

    But that would be petty and an obvious snipe at an intelligent and well-spoken person who goes by the name “skepdoc”, so I can’t imagine why I would.

    Unless I really wanted to be an asshole.

  50. 50
    anthrosciguy

    jose can you see that if that was what she was trying to get across, she would have left out the reference to Skepchicks.

  51. 51
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    She seems awfully committed to repeating bullshit and sucking up to teh menz. Such a good skeptic.

  52. 52
    H-Bomb

    Overall, that shirt really is just a shot at people who might actually think all attendees of conventions should feel safe and welcome. Just because you aren’t the typical victim of sexual harassment in no way means that it doesn’t happen.

    As someone who fought against it in the military, one would think that she would know better. Apparently, one would be wrong. Sad, really.

  53. 53
    Eskeptrical Engineer

    There are times when “I’m not a woman XYZ; I’m an XYZ” is a legitimate complaint. You better not refer to me as a woman engineer unless my gender is relevant to the context. But that interpretation has nothing to do with the front of her shirt, doesn’t relate to the conversations about TAM, and certainly doesn’t explain the direct jab at Skepchicks.

  54. 54
    Ophelia Benson

    Hey, looky there, PZ, a comment that didn’t get yanked into the spam folder. Makes a change.

  55. 55
    Ophelia Benson

    True (@ 53). A clueless person I know once, after a book of mine was published, called me an “authoress.” Who does that.

  56. 56
    Bill Dauphin, avec fromage

    1000 Needles (@6):

    She’s probably trying to say, “we’re not male skeptics or female skeptics, just people skeptics!”

    Heh. I can’t help but be reminded of this scene… but then, the Jane character was supposed to be clueless.

    What Harriet Hall doesn’t understand is that gender-blindness is one of those libertarian delusions that doesn’t exist in the real world. When women are experiencing the majority of harassment at cons, pretending that no gender differences exist ignores, rather than addresses, the harassment.

    ^^QFT^^ With all due respect to Dr. Hall’s history and awareness of sexism, it doesn’t mean she can’t be wrong about how to respond to it. Trying to fight endemic sexism with gender-blindness is like trying to fight racism with color-blindness: It may be grand in theory, but it’s useless in real life.

  57. 57
    The Pint

    Trying to fight endemic sexism with gender-blindness is like trying to fight racism with color-blindness: It may be grand in theory, but it’s useless in real life.

    You’d think this wouldn’t be such a difficult concept to grasp…

  58. 58
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    The Pint wrote:

    You’d think this wouldn’t be such a difficult concept to grasp…

    You’re right; it isn’t – it’s wilful obtuseness at its worst. The people involved just don’t want to admit to being able to grasp it, because doing so would mean having to a) agree that things aren’t already perfect, and b) make any changes to try and improve things.

  59. 59
    Utakata

    No, Harriet Hall. You’re just with stupid.

  60. 60
    Skeptic Dude

    Im a dude, with a dick, so if that entitles anyone to tune me out based on lame-ass ad hominen arguments about my status based entirely on my anatomy (black kettles anyone?) I would not be entirely suprised but hopefully people like this very rational lady will steal a bit of your thunder.

    I honestly think the majority of the movement, men and women alike, are sick and fucking tired of our goal being corrupted into petty asinine “politically progressive” gendermonging bullshit that has absolutely nothing at all to do with the seperation of church and state, the advancement of science, and critical thinking.

    Enough really is enough.

  61. 61
    KarenX

    You don’t think that critical thinking would be advanced (or science, or church would separate faster) if more women were involved in skepticism than currently are? Or if skeptics as a group were as capable of ferreting out their own subconscious biases as they implore everyone else to do?

  62. 62
    mythbri

    @Skeptic Dude

    If it comes down to a choice between skepticism and feminism at any point, I will choose feminism every time.

    I live in a really religious community. But it is harder to deal with the crap leveled at me because I’m a woman, than it is to deal with the crap leveled at me because of my atheism. Your priorities are not my priorities.

  63. 63
    KarenX

    Also… SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION AHEAD…

    Are you sure that your thoughts, Skeptic Dude, represent the majority of the movement? Are you sure you aren’t the minority? And do you have evidence to support your supposition either way?

    Identify the fringe.

  64. 64
    The Pint

    petty asinine “politically progressive” gendermonging bullshit that has absolutely nothing at all to do with the seperation of church and state, the advancement of science, and critical thinking.

    Pardon me, but what universe do you live in, because in *this* universe, gender politics sure as hell is related to the separation of church and state, the advancement of science and critical thinking. How? Oh, let’s see here, off the top of my head we have:

    Church & state: many religions have promote sexist, rigid gender roles that limit men and women to a very finite set of acceptable behaviors, with no room for deviation or flexibility, and many adherents of those religious sects would LOVE for their crap to be enshrined into law so it affects EVERYONE and not just the poor saps who belong to said religions.

    Advancement of science: Scientific progress is going to be a lot slower if one’s gender adversely affects how much attention and consideration the scientific community gives to one’s work.

    Critical thinking: Ever tried getting someone to take you seriously when you’re upset and all you’re getting in response are variations of “emotional laydee brainz is emotional and unreliable”? No? Oh wait – you’ve stated that you’re “a dude, with a dick” – so I’m going to hazard a guess that you haven’t bothered straying outside of that comfy privilege bubble in which “gendermondering bullshit” doesn’t mean jack to you as you’re life is just peachy keen with things remaining the way they are now anyway.

  65. 65
    Audra

    I don’t comment often but I had to here. I’m so incredibly disappointed and angry. What a petty, spiteful and childish thing to wear. And to wear it 3 days straight!?

    I’m super new to “the movement” but I’m not new to skepticism or to experiencing sexism. I am saddened but not surprised to see a woman minimize the experiences of others. I used to be a chill girl too but I educated myself and I grew up. This woman should be ashamed of herself.

    I was really excited and looking forward to going to my first TAM this year. I didn’t know about TAM until after it was over last year. The talk of harassment was not a deterrent at all. Like most women, I know that harassment exists and I deal with it. I don’t have the opinion that harassment is worse at skeptic conferences than other sorts of conferences and I didn’t get that impression from anything I’ve read. I attend about 15-20 conferences for work each year that also have high male:female ratios.

    However, I decided not to go TAM because of DJ’s statements. I am only speaking for myself but that’s MY reason for not attending. It is because I am angry and disappointed, not because I am afraid. I’ll spend my money elsewhere and there are lots of other conferences I’ve heard about now. If DJ wants to blame “irresponsible messaging” for the drop in TAM registrations, he has only himself to blame. I’m one little nobody but his statements are the sole reason I didn’t go.

  66. 66
    Beth

    Lyanna @48

    There are a lot of women who take a lot of misguided pride in NOT standing with other women against sexism. Basically because they don’t want to be associated with “women” as a group. They want to rise “above” it.

    Replace in your post with feminists and I’d agree that some women do feel that way and Harriet Hall might be one of them. I doubt she feels that way about all women, just feminists. Given her history of pioneering work in a traditionally male profession, that might be the case.

    I started my professional career in 1984. Like Harriet Hall, I worked in a primarily male profession in a male-dominated field – aerospace engineering and manufacturing. Being seen as a ‘feminist’ was absolutely a career killer IMO. Harassment was much more ubiquitous back then, no doubt even worse for Harriet back in the 60′s.

    For the kind of stuff that is being complained about conferences – i.e. inappropriate propositions, groping, and just generally predatory type behavior was part of the environment such pioneering women had to endure and survive in. It was either that or accept a more traditional place in society. You could either learn to ignore it all and press on, or give up and choose another career path.

    Some women, of course, don’t mind that treatment at all and some enjoy and encourage it. I suspect, to some extent, early female pioneers in male-dominated professions would self-select for women with a natural inclination to ignore or even enjoy that treatment.

    At any rate, I choose to read her sentiment as similar to Obama’s “There is no black America” sentiment in that speech he gave back in 2004. I see those who are taking it as a insult to be, well, I think they are being rather harsh in their judgment of her, but they might be right. I can’t know her actual motivation, but I can give her the benefit of the doubt with extra wide margins given her past history.

  67. 67
    Alyson Miers

    Skeptic Dude, you are going through life thinking that feminist atheists don’t listen to you because you have a dick, but I’m telling you from the bottom of my heart, that isn’t the case.

    It’s because you’re full of shit.

  68. 68
    The Pint

    @ audi #65 – You are not the only one to feel that way. I’m a ciswoman and have actually been rather lucky in that I’ve experienced what feels like less than the average amount of sexual harassment or discrimination in my daily life – but I’m damn well aware that it’s a mixture of luck, environment and social circles, not because this shit doesn’t exist or because it’s not common.

    Harassment happens at places like cons where lots of people congregate and interact, but that’s not what put me off ever attending TAM, it’s DJ’s actions and those of his supporters who have put me off going, because their behavior indicates to me that if I were to have a problem at TAM, the likelihood of it being addressed, much less taken seriously, are pretty low. It’s not the risk of harassment at TAM that scares me – because it exists practically everywhere in our culture – it’s the attitude evinced by DJ and others like him that scares the hell out of me.

  69. 69
    Utakata

    @Skeptic Dude, 60:

    So you want us to stop critically thinking when someone like you blurts out stupid?

    I guess you don’t know this, but skepticism was never founded emotional fueled slogans and sound bites that if you bark out enough times, the issue you have will all magically dissapear. It doesn’t work that way. Instead it requires you produce compelling and convicining evidence in a reasonable manner of why you think there is an issue here. But be warned, none of us so here so far has seen any contrary compelling and convicining evidence that supports your particular beef. So you have your work cut out for you. And again, it ain’t going to be solved by shouting it away. Woo, woo, woo.

    Also, you may want to change you handle to “Maybe a Skeptic Dude” until least you start posting as real sketpic. Just saying.

  70. 70
    interrobang

    I’m really disappointed in Dr. Hall. I’m a big fan of her writing on Science-Based Medicine. However, as someone who has watched “Guys, don’t do that” turn into a massive explosion of boyish butthurt in the service of preferential peen-pandering, I’m a little less sold on her than I was a couple hours ago. With allies like these…

  71. 71
    Pierce R. Butler

    Is there anywhere a statement from Dr Hall about her wardrobe malfunction?

  72. 72
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    Skeptic Dude wrote:

    I honestly think the majority of the movement, men and women alike, are sick and fucking tired of our goal being corrupted into petty asinine “politically progressive” gendermonging bullshit that has absolutely nothing at all to do with the seperation of church and state, the advancement of science, and critical thinking.

    You used ‘our’ when you meant ‘my’. Because, if you haven’t noticed, there are plenty of people who don’t share your views.

    But no-one’s stopping you from hanging out with your atheist buddies, knocking back a few beers and congratulating each other being totes smart enough to know that God doesn’t exist – so, in the spirit of fairness, leave us alone while we aim for something just a little bit higher.

  73. 73
    Skeptic Dude

    The problem is when you guys try and pretend that your bullshit is skepticism. Its not.

  74. 74
    LeftSidePositive

    The problem is when “Skeptic Dudes” try to pretend that their sexism is evidence-based. It’s not.

  75. 75
    Sastra

    Hi; just got back from TAM.

    I wore my “Skepchick” shirt the first night and sought out DJ to express my disappointment that Ophelia was not there — and that TAM apparently didn’t work all that hard to keep her. Also … ahem … he could have handled the issue with feminist bloggers much better than he did.

    His response was warm and sympathetic and properly contrite and very diplomatic and almost certainly nothing more than has already been said and unlikely to change or mollify anything or anyone but well … I did express my disappointment. Along with a probably futile hope that Ophelia would be at TAM “next year.” As I recall, DJ responded with a hearty assurance that he would indeed love that and see what he could do. Make of it what you will.

    As for Harriet … it’s complicated. She isn’t necessarily saying what you think she is saying. At least, not everything you think she’s saying.

    Harriet’s a friend of mine; we always meet up at TAM. Obviously, we had several conversations about the shirt, the original issue, the issue as it evolved, and what the hell her point really was. I’m not sure I’m completely sure I understand.

    First of all, she printed the shirt herself (that is, had it done at a website which does such things.) DJ and TAM had nothing to do with it — and she thinks it amusing and ironic that some people evidently think she would or could have been cluelessly mislead into wearing it like a dumb bunny.

    Second: she likes the Skepchick website, reads it, and was appalled at the vitriol and online attacks aimed at Rebecca and other women over elevatorgate and pretty much everything else. She does not doubt that women are harassed and discriminated against. She considers herself a feminist.

    Third: she applauded Pamela Gay’s talk and (iirc) was part of the standing ovation.

    So wtf?

    The commenters above who suggested that she is making a point that women should aim to eliminate bias by refusing to be minimized into a “woman skeptic” category are correct. Harriet is old school, and she suggested that it’s possibly a generational thing. She doesn’t object to the Skepchicks, mind you. She’s not against them. She was very careful to make sure the back of her shirt had a small “s” on skepchicks.

    I told her I was afraid this fine distinction would be lost.

    My understanding is that she was defending TAM — and responding directly to something Rebecca Watson apparently wrote a day or so before the conference: “I do not feel safe or welcome at TAM” — the implication being that women in general should not feel safe or welcome at TAM. She thinks that’s nonsense.

    I didn’t ask her why she wore the shirt all 3 days, but my guess is that it’s because of the fury it caused on the internet (which she has been following because, unlike me, she had access to a computer over the weekend): in the face of what she feels is unfair criticism, she doubles down. Harriet is feisty. She’s “ornery and crabby and disobliging and (she) bite(s.)”

    It can be an admirable characteristic in a woman. Sometimes.

    Frankly, I didn’t feel sure enough of my ground to spend a lot of time arguing with her. I told her I thought she misunderstood the nuances of the situation: she told me she had on the contrary taken a fair amount of time to read from many sources and understood it all very well, thank you. Harriet feels no animosity towards Ophelia Benson, and was not targeting her. The t-shirt was meant to convey a strong pr-feminism message and was intended to provoke debate among feminists. A friendly debate.

    I still don’t think she understands the nuances of the situation. But I could be wrong.

    I hope I have represented her adequately — and either cleared up some misconceptions or helpfully confused everything. Like I said, it’s complicated.

    I suspect that, under other circumstances, you would have really gotten along well. Of course, under the right circumstances, everybody gets along well. That wasn’t what happened — and it’s a shame.

  76. 76
    Sastra

    Correction: Harriet wore the shirt Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. For her talk on Sunday she wore a sweater she had knitted herself.

    And I meant to write “pro-feminism.” Not “pr-feminism.” I’ve not heard of “‘public-relations’-feminism,’ but there might be such a thing.

  77. 77
    jenniferphillips

    Wow, thanks for the insight Sastra. Can’t say I’m entirely convinced by DJ’s conviviality, but I guess time will tell.

    As for Harriet, your description of her motives is consistent with the personality I’ve gleaned from reading her over the years at SkepDoc & SBM. Regarding this bit:

    My understanding is that she was defending TAM — and responding directly to something Rebecca Watson apparently wrote a day or so before the conference: “I do not feel safe or welcome at TAM” — the implication being that women in general should not feel safe or welcome at TAM. She thinks that’s nonsense.

    Yeah, Geek Goddess already did a few laps with that misconception earlier in the comments here. Honestly, it’s disappointing to think that someone as intelligent as Harriet could read Rebecca’s “Why I won’t be at TAM this year” post (from June 1st) and come away thinking that Rebecca has stated or implied that “women in general should not feel safe or welcome at TAM”. If Harriet is indeed appalled at the vitriol and online attacks against Rebecca and others, I hope at least she understands why Rebecca herself didn’t feel inclined to attend TAM this year, and that some other women might have legitimately wondered if they would be supported in the event of an incident.

    wtf, indeed.

  78. 78
    Eskeptrical Engineer

    Sastra, I really appreciate your explaining what Dr. Hall was trying to do. But I have to say, the gap between her intentions as you describe them and the way that her shirt was naturally interpreted by most people is so vast that I’m having trouble reconciling them. She really thought that this would inspire “friendly debate?” She genuinely believed that a lowercase “s” would make people think that she wasn’t referring to Rebecca Watson or Amy Davis Roth?

  79. 79
    Bill Dauphin, avec fromage

    Sastra:

    I don’t know Dr. Hall, and I’m not nearly as well “read in” on this issue as some (or should I say, pretty much everyone) here, but some of the things you report about her thoughts and motives are hard to reconcile, on their face:

    [Harriet] likes the Skepchick website, reads it, and was appalled at the vitriol and online attacks aimed at Rebecca and other women over elevatorgate and pretty much everything else.

    OK, as far as it goes, but…

    My understanding is that she was defending TAM — and responding directly to something Rebecca Watson apparently wrote a day or so before the conference…

    …if she likes Watson and the Skepchicks and is “appalled” by the backlash they’ve received, why did she choose to couch her defense of TAM specifically in opposition to something Watson wrote? And why poke the Skepchicks in the eye by name? With respect, I don’t believe she thought lowercasing such a particular name would make it generic: That sounds more like premeditated “plausible deniability” to me.

    Of course, what things seem like to me don’t determine what they meant to the people who did them… but if she really thought this would be taken as anything other than an attack, she made a serious miscalculation.

    And speaking of miscalculations…

    …something Rebecca Watson apparently wrote a day or so before the conference: “I do not feel safe or welcome at TAM” — the implication being that women in general should not feel safe or welcome at TAM. She thinks that’s nonsense.

    …it would be nonsense, but it’s not how I read what Watson wrote. Instead, I read it in the context of a whole year of hatred and threats she’s received since Elevatorgate, and in view of the fact that she personally has been a high-profile subject of… shall we say, discussion… related to this recent storm. My guess is that if she’d meant “I do not feel women in general are safe or welcome at TAM,” she could’ve managed to write precisely that.

    ****

    On an unrelated note, can anybody tell me WTF gendermongering could even possibly mean? I mean, seriously….

  80. 80
    Eskeptrical Engineer

    Rereading my comment, I just wanted to say I’m not trying to call on Sastra to personally explain everything. I’m just expressing my utter confusion.

  81. 81
    Trickster Goddess

    Ophelia @ 55: “called me an “authoress.” Who does that.”

    Interestingly, though, “actress” is rarely questioned, even by feminists.

  82. 82
    Bill Dauphin, avec fromage

    Interestingly, though, “actress” is rarely questioned, even by feminists.

    I always (try to) say actor, but actress is so common that I’m always afraid people will just think I’m daft. Same with waiter/waitress. (I hate waitron; it sounds like something out of a bad sci-fi movie.)

  83. 83
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    Skeptic Dude #60:

    …“politically progressive” gendermonging bullshit that has absolutely nothing at all to do with the seperation of church and state, the advancement of science,…

    If you don’t think that those are in and of themselves “politically progressive” goals, you know little to nothing about politics =/

  84. 84
    The twelfth vote

    Oh wait – you’ve stated that you’re “a dude, with a dick” – so I’m going to hazard a guess that you haven’t bothered straying outside of that comfy privilege bubble in which “gendermondering bullshit” doesn’t mean jack to you as you’re life is just peachy keen with things remaining the way they are now anyway.

    ^– THIS.

    It’s just so tiresome, isn’t it Skeptic Dude, when all the hysterical ladeez and their white knight dudes just won’t shut up about this stuff, amirite? Nag, nag, nag! When has the status quo ever been a problem, anyhow?

    I recommend that you join the next mostly male discussion panel on how to get women more involved in the skeptical movement; you really sound like you’ve got the party line memorized. You could lead a discussion on applying PUA techniques to getting women to join–wouldn’t that be a hoot! Just Neg a few ladies, drop that charming “gendermondering bullshit” phrase a few times, and I bet female attendance at TAM would triple next year. Quadruple, even!

  85. 85
    bastionofsass

    The message on Harriet Hall’s t-shirt stunk as much on Day #1 as the entire shirt probably did on Day #3.

  86. 86
    jennygadget

    “The commenters above who suggested that she is making a point that women should aim to eliminate bias by refusing to be minimized into a “woman skeptic” category are correct.”

    Yeah….that’s bullshit.

    I mean, that may be what she meant to say, but people not reading it that way is not merely a matter of “generational differences.” At best it’s her doing a shockingly shitty job of getting her point across.

    It’s not like she made a considered blog post on the topic. She was walking around, in the space that others have said they do not feel safe in, with the equivalent of a billboard that states she feels differently. She choose to sacrifice nuance for volume, and did so in the very space that others have said they feel silenced in – by the kinds of attitudes her shirt could be seen as supporting.

    At that point, it does not matter if she is merely speaking personally and trying to add her own anecdote to the mix, she is quite loudly proclaiming that her opinions deserve a surplus of attention. When many people who are harassed do not speak up because they believe (rightly or wrongly) that others will not want to listen…well, let’s just say I have no words for how arrogant and callous I find her actions to be.

    If this was not about safety and how comfortable people feel speaking up about harm caused to them, that would be one thing. But it is. So, in essence, she is walking around with a shirt that communicates to people that have been made unsafe in her presence that she doesn’t give a shit. (I mean really, how exactly does she think a newbie at TAM is going to feel if they are harassed directly after seeing her shirt? Who could possibly believe that anything of that nature would encourage others to defend themselves?) That may not be what she meant, and she may think that she is merely being honest and fair, but the mere fact that it’s more important to her that she be heard than that others feel safe saying “no” makes a lie of any good intentions.

    And then we get to the back.

    As if the front was not bad enough on it’s own.

    The truth is that either would be better by themselves (although still quite awful) but the back and front together are just horrendous.

    It’s not just that she mentions skepchicks by name (and no, it doesn’t really work to make the “s” lowercase when no one else really calls themselves “Skepchicks”) it’s that she makes it about gender at all. She may think she’s trying to make it gender neutral by disavowing the inclusion of gender in female skeptics identity, but when

    A) one of the main points of discussion is of the gendered nature of most sexual harassment and

    B) how that magnifies the harm each of individual instance, and

    C) when Hall herself is making this call for gender blindness within the middle of a discussion about harassment THAT SHE STARTED (in the immediate sense, if not in the general sense), and then

    D) tops it off with focusing first on language that other women themselves use

    well, then it’s not merely “generational differences” that are causing many to read this as a big “STFU” to women complaining about harassment, especially women complaining about the often gendered nature of harassment. It’s also not merely a misunderstanding that is causing many of us to see it as, in fact, blaming the victim. As if it were women themselves, not the harassers, are the ones making it about the fact that they are women.

    That may not have been her intent, but that doesn’t mean that isn’t what she said.

  87. 87
    fredbloggs

    Isn’t she saying she wants the focus to be on the fact that she’s a skeptic and not a woman? Seems reasonable to me.

  88. 88
    tigtog

    @fredbloggs #87

    Isn’t she saying she wants the focus to be on the fact that she’s a skeptic and not a woman?

    How I read it is that she’s saying “I’m not one of THOSE women”.

    Seems reasonable to me.

    Nope. When THOSE women (the ones pointing out that a problem shared by our whole society has gone overlooked by skeptic orgs for way too long) have already been subjected to a sustained barrage of abuse for months and months and months, just for suggesting that maybe skeptics could be held to a higher standard than non-skeptic groups on the matter of reining in hostile conduct, then choosing to wear a t-shirt message that could hardly have been more perfectly designed to throw fuel on the festering fire does not seem at all reasonable to me.

  89. 89
    Trickster Goddess

    @82

    Like my former acting coach put it, you wouldn’t call a female doctor a “doctress”.

  90. 90
    agenoria

    From the Guardian/Observer Style guide – A

    actor

    Use for both male and female actors; do not use actress except when in name of award, eg Oscar for best actress. The Guardian’s view is that actress comes into the same category as authoress, comedienne, manageress, “lady doctor”, “male nurse” and similar obsolete terms that date from a time when professions were largely the preserve of one sex (usually men). As Whoopi Goldberg put it in an interview with the paper: “An actress can only play a woman. I’m an actor – I can play anything.”

    There is normally no need to differentiate between the sexes – and if there is, the words male and female are perfectly adequate: Lady Gaga won a Brit in 2010 for best international female artist, not artiste, chanteuse, or songstress.

    As always, use common sense: a piece about the late film director Carlo Ponti was edited to say that in his early career he was “already a man with a good eye for pretty actors … ” As the readers’ editor pointed out in the subsequent clarification: “This was one of those occasions when the word ‘actresses’ might have been used”

  91. 91
    William M. London

    Harriet Hall does outstanding work in skeptical inquiry. She just happens to be a woman. But when working with and learning from her, there’s not much impetus to think about her as a “woman skeptic.” I think much more about her personal qualities that make her so admirable as a skeptic: wisdom, knowledge, insight, reasoning, attention to detail, empathy, compassion, respect for persons,thought provoking communication skill, creativity, openness to new ideas including criticisms of her own work, etc., etc.

    In the context of promoting skeptical inquiry, Isn’t it better when people think more about our personal qualities as individuals and our efforts as skeptics than about our genders, races/ethnicities, sexual orientations, etc.?

  92. 92
    tigtog

    In the context of promoting skeptical inquiry, Isn’t it better when people think more about our personal qualities as individuals and our efforts as skeptics than about our genders, races/ethnicities, sexual orientations, etc.?

    As a Platonic ideal, definitely.

    As a way of lalalalalala-can’t-hear-you-ing, pretending what really goes on in terms of women disporoportionately being objectified/sexualised/harassed/sidelined/ignored/talked-over at large gatherings everywhere, including skeptic/atheist gatherings, isn’t really going on? Not so much.

  93. 93
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    Thanks, Sastra, for your illuminating post. We are, of course, in the midst of a Rashomon story and should not be hasty to jump to conclusions. But I cannot help feeling that Hall, with the best of intentions, appears to have made an error of judgement with regards to the content of her shirt. Or at least misread how others might view it.

    I feel we should be generous towards her. However, it is a valid view held by many here that this slogan was at the very least Not Helpful.

  94. 94
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    Geek Goddess @24 says:

    It’s a problem, but that doesn’t mean that every single female that attends TAM is going to be groped or harassed.

    I would be surprised if you could find a quote anywhere on FTB that says or implies that. Indeed, ALL those who have blogged on this subject (with the notable exception of Thunderf00t) have explicitly acknowledged that this is not a universal problem and that personal experiences vary. However, they have also said that it is enough of a problem, that there are enough incidents of groping, touching and inappropriate behaviour, that it should be addressed by conference policies.

    What many here find irritating is when folks such as yourself come to these forums promoting this view that FTBers have said that harassing experiences are universal. They are clearly not and NO-ONE has ever stated such a thing. But this meme, this patent falsehood will not go away.

    Would you kindly do us the favour of not repeating this lie again? In the spirit of skepticism you are more than welcome to dig into the FTB archive and confirm for yourself what I have said. Though of course we will ask you for links should you find any falsifying evidence.

  95. 95
    Trickster Goddess

    Hmmm… Am I being a hypocrite by using “Goddess” in my nym?

  96. 96
    latsot

    @Skeptic Dude:

    “Im a dude, with a dick, so if that entitles anyone to tune me out based on lame-ass ad hominen arguments about my status based entirely on my anatomy (black kettles anyone?) I would not be entirely suprised”

    Congratulations, now you get to pretend that if someone disagrees with you, it’s because you’re male.

  97. 97
    Svlad Cjelli

    Email-subscription, so I’m immune to picture-removal.

    The problem with the shirt is specifically the “skepchick” mention, way I figure.

  98. 98
    bastionofsass

    William M. London said:

    I think much more about her personal qualities that make her so admirable as a skeptic: wisdom, knowledge, insight, reasoning, attention to detail, empathy, compassion, respect for persons,thought provoking communication skill, creativity, openness to new ideas including criticisms of her own work, etc., etc.

    Unfortunately, none of that was in evidence in the message on her t-shirt.

  99. 99
    KellyM

    I don’t buy the story that Dr. Hall likes Rebecca or the Skepchick site. After everything that’s been said post-elevatorgate, Rebecca’s “I don’t feel safe or welcome at TAM” is what Dr. Hall chooses to slam? Dr. Hall is fine with DJ’s claim that discussion of problem speakers was caused by women regretting their “sexual exploits?” She’s fine with DJ’s assertion that feminist bloggers’ discussion of harassment was driving down female TAM attendance?

    Dr. Hall is of course aware that Rebecca was an enthusiastic participant and supporter of TAM who raised money for JREF for years. After having been the recipient of over a year’s worth of harassment and frenzied hatred directed at her, DJ Grothe personally blamed Rebecca, among others, as the reason for the decline in women’s attendance at TAM. (DJ has since apologized.) Dr. Hall’s spite-shirt left off a hell of a lot of context.

    James Randi is a childhood hero of mine. I’ve attended four TAMs, including TAM 1, and had a fantastic time at each one. Dr. Hall has helped me to realize that I’m not welcome there any more.

  100. 100
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    Sastra #75:

    My understanding is that she was defending TAM — and responding directly to something Rebecca Watson apparently wrote a day or so before the conference: “I do not feel safe or welcome at TAM” — the implication being that women in general should not feel safe or welcome at TAM. She thinks that’s nonsense.

    There is only one problem with this: it’s a total non sequitur. Rebecca was making a statement about herself. This is blatantly obvious to anyone with a basic level of reading comprehension.

    There is no possible way to apply that statement to all women. An ‘I’ statement cannot be expanded beyond the speaker. It is a statement about the speaker.

    I’m not giving Hall anything until she speaks for herself and explains where the fuck she’s coming from making that leap.

  101. 101
    vjack

    You said, “I don’t understand this” but then proceed to characterize the act of wearing the shirt as “really nasty” and “outright mean” in your comments. I’d be surprised if it came across that way to most of the attendees. I wonder if it is possible that this is a bit of an overreaction? If you want to understand it, it might be helpful to ask her about it. Just a thought.

  102. 102
    Deen

    @vjack in #101:

    I wonder if it is possible that this is a bit of an overreaction?

    Sure, it’s possible – in about the same way that it is possible that you are ignorant of all the details which would make it an entirely understandable reaction. The question isn’t which one is possible, it is which one is more likely?

  103. 103
    sambarge

    If anything, the explanations/excuses for Dr. Hall’s t-shirt have lessened my opinion of her from my comments up at #3.

  104. 104
    latsot

    @Setár

    There is no possible way to apply that statement to all women.”

    My (entirely speculative) suspicion is that Harriet read this statement (from here: http://skepchick.org/2012/06/why-i-wont-be-at-tam-this-year/):

    So it’s odd for me to be announcing that I will not attend TAM this year, because I do not feel welcomed or safe and I disagree strongly with the recent actions of the JREF president, DJ Grothe.

    ….but not anything above or below it. Rebecca stated very clearly why she wasn’t going to TAM and ignoring the entire substance of her reasoning while focusing on this one, misconstrued sentence, is at best disingenuous.

    As for skepchick with a small s, the front of the shirt clearly refers to a statement Rebecca made, and the back mentions Skepchicks, so I don’t buy at all the idea that she wasn’t referring directly to the organisation.

    I’m willing to believe that the shirt was a poor effort at communication on an issue Harriet didn’t fully understand, but until she clarifies this, I’m going to stick with my original interpretation, which seems more likely: she was being dismissive of a real problem and being a bit of a dick.

  105. 105
    latsot

    @rjack:

    You said, “I don’t understand this” but then proceed to characterize the act of wearing the shirt as “really nasty” and “outright mean” in your comments.

    So? Are you saying there is some inconsistency here? There isn’t. I expect Ophelia is saying that she doesn’t understand this sort of “nasty” and “mean” behaviour. She doesn’t understand why someone would do it. Neither do I.

    I’d be surprised if it came across that way to most of the attendees.

    I don’t understand the point you’re making here. The issue is not what a bunch of random people thought, but what Ophelia thought (you understand that this is her blog, right? She writes about her reactions to stuff). It’s clear that plenty of other people had the same reaction she did, including lots of people in this thread and in many other places. At the very, very best, the shirt was a crappy way of getting across a point but even so the point does not appear to be a valid one.

    I wonder if it is possible that this is a bit of an overreaction? If you want to understand it, it might be helpful to ask her about it. Just a thought.

    You don’t ‘wonder’ that at all, you are saying that it is, so don’t trouble yourself to wrap up your statement in weasel words.

    But I’m going to argue with Deen here: I don’t think it’s possible that Ophelia was overreacting. It might turn out that she’s wrong about Harriet’s motivation, but her reaction to how she interpreted it would still be appropriate.

  106. 106
    Deen

    @latsot: we’re not really arguing – for the record, I don’t think Ophelia is overreacting at all. Even with the clarifications that Sastra passed on to us in #75, that shirt just seems in such poor taste. Out of all the issues she could have chosen to wear on her shirt in protest, out of all the issues she says she noticed, including the vitriol, she chose this one as the most important to print on her shirt? I still don’t get it.

  107. 107
    Marta

    Reasonable people reasonably disagree. I appreciate what Sastra says upthread. It’s a decent defense/explanation of Dr. Hall’s intentions, and I have it mind to give Dr. Hall some benefit of the doubt. I assume that Dr. Hall is technically literate, and I’d like to see what she says about it.

    All of the above notwithstanding, does Dr. Hall not understand that wearing that t-shirt (three days in a row) (that she had created herself) is perceived by many as an intentional thump on the head? She does not get this? Or she is does, but is indifferent?

    It’s just so unnecessarily provocative. I don’t get that part.

  108. 108
    latsot

    @Deen,

    Yeah, I know. It seemed pretty obvious that we were on the same page but I couldn’t resist a bit of pedantry ;)

    Awesome takedown of @rjack by the way.

  109. 109
    Jadzia626

    Whatever Hall’s reasons for wearing that t-shirt were, the t-shirt itself is doing the exact opposite of trying to solve the issue.

    1. It implies gender-blindness is the solution to the problem. Well, gender-blindness is as much bullshit as colour-blindness is when it comes to racism.

    2. Pretending that harassment doesn’t occur because someone have not experienced such harassment (the “I feel safe”-bit) is an attempt to “mansplain” the issue away.

    3. It is a direct and unambiguous attack on Skepchicks and Rebecca Watson. This direct harassment of a group of people led to people leaving early. This is vicious. Nothing less.

  110. 110
    echidna

    Sastra,
    I have read your comments for years, and marvelled at your insight. When you say that you don’t understand Harriet’s point of view, that is like a clarion call to me. If I’m reading you correctly, you are saying that there is something inconsistent that you cannot resolve.

    I agree with eskeptrical engineer that her background as a female in a male-dominated field is playing into this somehow. I disagree that pioneering women put up with gropes etc because that was how you stayed in the game. I certainly didn’t. When men opened doors for me, I opened doors for them. If they asked me to make coffee for them, I agreed to do it once. After that they had to make me a coffee first. I responded to being called “Darling” by calling them “Sweetheart”. And I would not put up with blatant powerplays or groping in any circumstances, not even by the CEO. The strategy worked, but timing was a crucial element, and it wouldn’t have worked for everybody.

    I do understand the way that pioneering women need to block out the signals from everyone about how they should behave. It is a strength, but it’s easy to be insensitive.

  111. 111
    sawells

    Hang on a second.

    I’ve worked out who’s been giving the impression that TAM is nothing but a constant sea of sexual harrassment.

    It was Paula Kirby.

    On page 4 of her “Sisterhood of the Oppressed”, she said this:

    “In my experience (and I’ve attended and organized a lot of conferences in my time) there’s a sexualized atmosphere at all conferences involving an overnight stay: people are away from home, probably drinking more heavily than they would at
    home, *cough* networking, surrounded by people who share a common interest, whether that’s in secularism or buttercups or ball bearings, and who are equally letting their hair down and out for a bit of fun, and, moreover, with hotel rooms conveniently located right above their heads. Absolutely anyone can find themselves being sexually propositioned at any conference at all if they hang out in the bar long enough, and late enough at night. And please don’t try to tell me it’s never instigated
    by women and certainly don’t try to tell me it’s unique to secularist/skeptical conferences. It’s just life. For those who engage in the propositioning and those who respond positively to it (and many do), it is presumably one of the fun bits of life. I
    simply do not accept that any reasonably mature, rational adult does not know exactly how to avoid getting into this kind of situation if he or she would prefer not to, or how to deal with it if it occurs.”

    So that’s us told. At TAM and all other conferences, there’s a sexualised atmosphere, people will be doing a lot of propositioning, and if you didn’t want to get propositioned, you apparently did something wrong and/or are not a reasonably mature rational adult.

    Mm. Yes. Well then. At least we were warned.

  112. 112
    Eskeptrical Engineer

    vjack, did you realize that some of us commenting here were attendees? I and the people I was hanging out with absolutely interpreted it as an attack on Skepchicks and marginalizing of women who had discussed their experiences with harassment.

  113. 113
    Ophelia Benson

    Thanks for your comment, Sastra – and thanks especially for your conversation with DJ.

    I actually understand the “leave off the ‘woman’ part” objection…but I guess that’s already clear via the “authoress” comment. I understand it, but I think a slogan on an in your face for three days T shirt directed at a despised attacked othered demonized group is a terrible way and place and time to make the objection. I mean fucking hell. Amy was there. Amy had to be there, to support the women who got grants. Dr Hall knew Amy was not happy about the T shirt. She went on wearing it despite knowing that.

    So, like you, I still don’t get it.

  114. 114
    Godless Heathen

    I’ve always hated the name. That is a fine criticism to make. The context of the shirt and the TAM controversy make it impossible to take that seriously as her main complaint with the group, however.

    Agreed. I hate being called a chick or using the word chick, except in very rare circumstances, but that’s not Harriet’s main complaint.

  115. 115
    latsot

    @sawells:

    So that’s us told. At TAM and all other conferences, there’s a sexualised atmosphere, people will be doing a lot of propositioning, and if you didn’t want to get propositioned, you apparently did something wrong and/or are not a reasonably mature rational adult.

    Yes, it does seem like she’s saying that the thing you did wrong is going to the conference in the first place, doesn’t it? Sounds a bit like “shut up, you’re spoiling my fun with all your reality”.

    She neglects to explain *why* anyone should have to put up with unwanted attention when it’s perfectly easy for people to just not harass other people.

  116. 116
    sawells

    @115: apparently “putting up with people trying to get into your pants” is something you just have to do, whereas “not hitting on people unless you’re really sure they’re up for it, so maybe at least make eye contact first, is that too much to ask?” is too much to ask.

  117. 117
    Deen

    @latsot in #108: thanks :) And if you want to be pedantic, I’m sure we can find something to argue about ;)

  118. 118
    latsot

    @sawells, 116

    Yeah, that’s what Paula really seems to be saying. It’s incomprehensible. And I haven’t yet really begun to process Russell’s surprising behaviour regarding this issue.

    I reckon this thing has caused me to question my bias more than any other Great Rift(tm)in freethought movement history. So many people I formerly respected have said what seems to be such idiotic nonsense that I started to think I must be the one at fault. That maybe there really was some kind of entity called FtB that was going around bullying people for reasons that nobody has yet been able to satisfactorily explain.

    But I’ve never seen a single one of the FtBullies people give an actual example of bullying. A few fairly high profile people have made claims of bullying in places like Twitter and when I’ve asked for specifics they’ve either blocked or ignored me.

    Has *anyone* seen an actual claim of bullying locked down to a particular statement or trace of activity?

  119. 119
    Sastra

    I think Harriet’s position is very similar to Paula Kirby’s, actually. My confusion is mostly based on the conflict I feel between the parts which they get right — and the parts that they get wrong. I suspect both feminists would agree that Skepchick is associated with many valuable things, and Pamela Gray’s talk was excellent. They’re not unreasonable across the board and are probably somewhat mischaracterized even as they mischaracterize others.

    Yes, Harriet knew Amy was not happy about the t-shirt. Amy directly told her — but in a way that Harriet thought was way over-the-top and indicative of the problem she was trying to address. Uh … oh.

    As I see it, this isn’t feminism vs. misogyny: it’s feminism vs. feminism, on approach and tactics. Dr. Hall was a full colonel in the Air Force way back when and she blew through a massive amount of male prejudice with skill and courage. She formed her strategy by reasoning from her experience. She is meticulous by habit, but passionate.

    At this point I’m more on the side of the Skepchicks than the Guts ‘n Glory battalion — but I’m cautious. My first impulse from temperament is to support the seize-things-in-our-hands-and-just-be-more-assertive method… but I go slowly, I read, I rethink, and I discover there are some real problems with this as a blanket solution. It doesn’t always address the problem, for one. I still feel I’m learning from both sides — and can’t get over the vague feeling that hey, if people only just talked about it calmly enough in a congenial atmosphere then we’d all find enough common ground blah blah blah harmony blah blah blah Big Tent Feminism.

    Which, I think, is a very annoying bit of blah and I wouldn’t suggest it. Maybe it’s useful as a hypothetical, though. I propose we fantasize it all taking place on a really amazing cruise through somewhere spectacular, so that when we need a break we come back in good cheer and generous mood.

    Or maybe just the cruise anyway, come to think of it.

  120. 120
    Ophelia Benson

    Yes, Harriet knew Amy was not happy about the t-shirt. Amy directly told her — but in a way that Harriet thought was way over-the-top and indicative of the problem she was trying to address. Uh … oh.

    Oh my god – with a T shirt!

    Come on – if you want to address a problem, you do it with reason and argument and persuasion, not with a fucking T shirt.

    If you do it with a T shirt, or a cartoon or a satirical song or any other short punchy declarative piece of mockery, you’re rejecting something (or someone), not addressing a problem. You can do that; often it’s just the ticket; but it’s not the way to try to address a problem – unless the problem is “we’re too friendly.”

  121. 121
    Ophelia Benson

    (I’m not shouting at you, Sastra, just shouting. At Dr Hall, I suppose, but anyway not at you.)

    I get the Guts and Glory thing. I’m in awe of what Dr Hall did. In awe. And I understand wanting women to be tough; so do I. I frequently grind my teeth at some of the (cough) sisters on the WMST list because they seem to buy into the whole different-way-of-knowing bullshit and talk woolly nonsense as a result. I get all that. I just fail to see how it applies here.

  122. 122
    Dianne

    I’m struck by the similarity between Hall’s decision and that of the woman who decided to wear a hijab. Both framed it as an individual decision, a way of addressing a social issue, a better decision than that of the “typical feminist”. Both also ignore the social context of their decisions and the larger implications. Hall can claim she’s just a skeptic, not a woman skeptic, all she wants, but that’s not what the rest of the world sees. The rest of the world sees a woman skeptic. Maybe even a woman trying to be a skeptic and isn’t it so cute when women think they can be equals to men, hum? And pretending that the problem is already gone isn’t going to help anything. (Compare to, for example, “I’m colorblind” as an answer to a discussion of racial prejudice.)

  123. 123
    Sastra

    Ophelia Benson #120 wrote:

    Oh my god – with a T shirt!

    That was Harriet’s take: it was just a t-shirt!

    I probably used the wrong term when I said she wore it to “address” a problem. As you point out, that implies she was trying to fix something. She was trying to say something and, from what I can tell, was happy enough to expand if anyone asked her.

    Since this has blown up over the internet, it would be nice if she addressed her critics on the internet. She’s more than capable, and she obviously feels strongly. I don’t feel up to the task … particularly since I don’t agree with her. I’d be interested in seeing her response to jennygadget at #86, for instance.

  124. 124
    Ophelia Benson

    Dianne – I know. I just don’t get how people can think it’s possible to resist prejudice and stereotypes and barriers all by themselves. It seems like magical thinking. If I burst through, somehow magically that will make all the bad things fade away?

    Or is it just selfish? I can’t worry about the whole culture, I’m trying to survive here. Is that it? But even then – that’s still just making it harder for yourself. As someone said above, I think, or on an earlier thread – think Union. Collective action works, people!

    Or is it a preference for a star system? To do it on their own because that makes them more heroic and impressive?

    I hope not.

  125. 125
    Ophelia Benson

    Sastra – Yes, I wish she would. I’ve considered asking her, but…I don’t know her, I’ve never had any communication with her, I don’t want to…er…harass her.

    But “just a T shirt” – just a T shirt worn by a speaker, on the podium. No. There is no “just” in that “just a T shirt.”

  126. 126
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    To break out the old broken record:

    I’ve never heard of Harriet Hall before and now I have no desire to know anything more about her. If she was trying to divert people from being interested in her work, she succeeded.

    So, you know, way to go Ms. HalL!

  127. 127
    InfraredEyes

    I’m only about seven years younger than Harriet Hall, and I do think there is a real generational divide here. I don’t know which side right, but there’s a definite divide.

    For example, it used to be that most pubs, bars, and student unions in the UK had a separate “lounge” area where women were permitted to sit. The universal rationalization was that “ladies” would be “more comfortable” in the lounge. And this would be explained by the barman to the man who was accompanying you, because of course you would never go into any bar alone (i.e. without a man). So, for myself, when I hear language about women feeling comfortable in one or another environment, my first instinct is to ask “OK, who’s trying to get rid of us this time?” Because it was an exclusionary term, and the men in the main bar would make damn sure that any woman who ventured in there would indeed be uncomfortable (at best).

    By the same token, terms like “woman scientist”, “woman doctor”, or inversely “male nurse” were routinely used to identify those who went into professions where they were regarded as oddities based solely on their sex. Terms like “chick” were simply used as a put-down. They had no other purpose or meaning and this continued well into the 1980s. I’m not talking about the Middle Ages here.

    Now, it’s all very well to say that things have changed. I know they have, and I expect Harriet Hall does too. BUT, all this talk about whether or not people feel comfortable, and the use of terms like “chick”, ironic or not, does open old wounds–or at least make them itch–and those wounds were come by honourably.

    Just to be clear, I absolutely support strong anti-harassment policies. But do please indulge us old farts if we squirm when we hear words like “comfortable” and “chick”.

  128. 128
    onion girl, OM; social workers do it with paperwork

    Amy was there. Amy had to be there, to support the women who got grants. Dr Hall knew Amy was not happy about the T shirt. She went on wearing it despite knowing that.

    THIS. This is what kills me. And I literally just sat here with my mouth hanging open after seeing the back of the t-shirt. Aside from the sheer pettiness and meanness, the idea that you would directly make a snide comment about someone (or group of someones) metaphorically right in front of said person or group…WHY?

    But “just a T shirt” – just a T shirt worn by a speaker, on the podium. No. There is no “just” in that “just a T shirt.”

    Exactly. I’m getting ready to train my volunteers tonight, and one of the topics we’ll be discussing is verbal vs. non-verbal communication. I train them to monitor visits between non-custodial parents and their children, and 90% of the dangers they are to look for are non-verbal.

    Wearing a t-shirt with that kind of message is direct non-verbal communication. It’s not “just” anything. And to send that message to a woman who was helping people attend that very event–AY!

    As my mother would have said, “She’s cutting off her nose to spite her face.”

  129. 129
    Eskeptrical Engineer

    Furthermore, if it were “just a T shirt,” she wouldn’t have worn it three days in a row. That clearly indicates trying to send a message to as many people as possible.

  130. 130
    Raging Bee

    I’m gonna try to be merciful (for awhile at least), and say that maybe she was trying to say “Treat and respect me as a skeptic, without trying to label or marginalize me.” Or maybe “I’m a skeptic based on objective reality and reason, not personal identity.” Or maybe “Speak to what I say and know, not to who or what you may think I am.” It may not have been intended as a slap in anyone’s face, just a way of saying she wanted to deal with larger issues than her own identity.

    OTOH, the fact that I’m speculating like this, without much certainty either way, kinda indicates she failed to get her real message (whataver it was) across in a coherent manner. So whatever her intent, good or bad, she seems to have made a mess of it. (Oh, and putting your main message on the BACK of your T-shirt isn’t the best form, as the people who see it, see it when you’re turning your back on them. Kinda adds insult to (real or perceived) insult).

  131. 131
    Godless Heathen

    I just don’t get how people can think it’s possible to resist prejudice and stereotypes and barriers all by themselves.

    Or is it just selfish? I can’t worry about the whole culture, I’m trying to survive here.

    Well, for the people who are truly pioneers, like Harriet Hall, it’s a little bit of both. She (I assume) succeeded in her role as first female medical officer in the Air Force. So, she did break a barrier by herself (mostly).

    Plus, I’d imagine she often didn’t have time to think about the whole culture because she was just trying to survive in her role.

  132. 132
    Ophelia Benson

    She was the first ever female medical officer in the Air Force? Wow. I’m in even more awe.

    Well I suppose it could be a bit of Dear Muslima, then, too – she took on a huge challenge so she finds worries about interpersonal sexism a bit precious, or something.

    Ok. Again, I can see that. But taunting people? Not so much.

  133. 133
    Ophelia Benson

    Amy’s given me permission to quote her, so here’s her account of what all that was like:

    I think one of the most hurtful things I experienced while attending TAM was Harriet Hall’s Tshirt that she wore three days in a row. I told her through tears, in the speakers’ lounge, that it was dehumanizing and gender/color blind and very hurtful to me specifically as a person who does have to deal with harassment regularly. I said I was glad she felt safe and that I wouldn’t have sent 22 women to the event if I didn’t think it was safe for them either. So who was she talking to?

    I felt that it was a personal attack (whether or not intended as such) since I was the main public representative of Skepchick at the event and it said ‘skepchick’ on her shirt and I told her that. I know she had a right to wear that shirt even though it was hurtful. But one day would have been enough when she was at the podium to send her message. To continue wearing it every single day, especially after I had expressed how upset I was with it, was cruel and shortsighted to say the least. That was very, very disappointing since I used to have a lot of respect for her. But there were so many detractors there that I’m sure she was getting a lot of love for slamming “skepchicks” everyday, and so my feelings were the minority and so became irrelevant.

    It’s this kind of dehumanizing and angry sports-fan mentality that is driving people like me away from this group of skeptics. And I am one of the people actually doing something quantifiable with the grants (which I plan on continuing to do btw.) Seriously, imagine if half the energy used to make angry shirts and fake websites were dedicated to helping me send women to science events or to do any sort of good in this movement. We could change the world. Skeptics are supposed to fight back against psychics and scam artists, they aren’t supposed to make people like me cry and leave events early. We need to stop the harassment and hate and this sort of instigating should not be tolerated by a group of rationalists. It is certainly not going to be tolerated by me.

    There was definitely an us against them feeling that I personally experienced at the event, with groups of people who wouldn’t get within 10 feet of my table. Many identifiable online FtB- and Skepchick-detractors and their friends. Oh and there were undercover harassment people, which just seemed so strange and creepy to me. I was told there were 19 people secretly monitoring the event for harassment but no public policy or message on how to report incidents other than some info hidden on the JREF website under FAQs that I never saw. I only found out about this after I was in tears in the speakers’ lounge with a few people and suddenly a super-secret harassment specialist team was brought in to talk with me. After I reported to them that the TAM twitter feed with the anonymous blogging from the event and Harriet’s shirt had upset me to the point of wanting to leave, I had security cameras trained on me and my table where I sat with my mother the entire time. A security/harassment person checked on me regularly. They said I was being monitored and recorded. It was intended, I was told, to help me feel safe but instead it just exacerbated the stress I felt. I changed my flight and left a day early.

  134. 134
    Josh Slocum

    My God. Hateful mob mentality. Even ordinarily good people who don’t think they’re on anything but the side of right and good. You’re responsible.

    Training a camera on Amy and her mom in a restaurant? What the living fuck is wrong with you people? No, you weren’t trying to “make her feel secure.” You were trying to cover your asses and disprove any claim she might make and you didn’t give a shit how much she felt like a zoo animal on display because of it.

    The only purpose of keeping the harassment detail secret is because it was all about giving yourselves deniability and liability protection. If you gave a shit about how the attendees—and the GODDAMNED SPONSORS—felt in terms of safety you would have point out SOMETHING publicly.

    Sorry for the screaming but this is so far beyond the pale I’ve got rage tears in the corners of my eyes.

  135. 135
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    Oh oh… they had secret security/anti-harassment people there?

    I can see how this narrative is going to play out amongst the anti-policy Resistance:

    (1) A harassment policy was in place.
    (2) Personnel were detailed to monitor the situation and protect against incidents.
    (3) Security even took care of Amy, to the point of putting surveillance on her.
    (4) And yet this was not enough and Amy left the conference.
    (5) We cannot please the skepchicks and FTB bullies, amirite?

    Oh, please don’t tell me this becomes the dominant narrative? Sometimes you just can’t win.

  136. 136
    Dcg1

    For those in the US Atheist movement who don’t understand Skeptic Dude’s point. I offer the following sad tale of
    what became of the UK Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; “CND”.

    The CND started out in the 1950′s as an effective organisation, with broad public support for its noble aim. Its members encompassed the whole political spectrum from right to left, included in its ranks were members of parliament (equivalent to a senator) and other senior establishment figures.

    During the 1960′s and 70′s, control of the organisation was gradually hijacked by those of a radical left-wing/feminist persuasion. CND supporters who still wished to get rid of nuclear weapons but who didn’t share the new progressive dream (“douchebags, perverts, enemies of the people etc”) left or were forced out.

    The CND achieved nothing!!! it became a ludicrous ineffective joke,with little or no credibility or support. To illustrate how ludicrous, one should read the account of a Labour Party MP who wrote about his experiences on a CND protest march. He recollects being verbally and physically abused; for the heinous crime of straying into the “Wimmins” section of the march LOL.

    It is a bitter irony, that the most effective and vocal campaigners for Nuclear disarmament in the UK today,are former Chiefs of the Defence staff and ex senior officers in the Armed Forces.

    This is just an example of what can happen, when some members of a single issue campaign, have the arrogance to believe that the campaigns other supporters share their political agenda/viewpoint.

  137. 137
    Raging Bee

    “Secret harassment teams,” repeatedly checking on one person? Cameras trained on one particular participant? What kind of lunacy is this? If this is DJ’s idea of a “harassment policy,” he’s doing it even wronger than I thought he could.

  138. 138
    Kels

    I mentioned this on Twitter, but I’ll post about it here as well.

    How is it that Rebecca Watson criticising Steph McGraw’s words on a podium (as academics are wont to do) such a heinous sin that she deserves harassment, death/rape threats, dedicated attack sites, etc., while the only real outcry of Ms. Hall making this rather pointed and gratuitous statement on a podium given a pass by those on the other side of the DEEP RIFTS?

  139. 139
    hyperdeath

    If my experience with conferences is anything to go by, a t-shirt is going to feel well worn by the end of the day. (It is possible that she was wearing it over something, but it doesn’t look that way from the photos.) Even if it were the best t-shirt in the world, I certainly wouldn’t want to wear it for a second day, let alone a third day. Assuming that she exhibits rudimentary personal hygiene, then she either had multiple t-shirts, or she went to the trouble of washing it. Both options come across as petty and obsessive.

  140. 140
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Wow… TAM had a professional harassment team there to professionally harass Surly Amy? That’s seriously messed up, but sort of par for the course.

  141. 141
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Women like Harriet Hall deserve appreciation for breaking down barriers in their day. They don’t get to dictate how younger women “do” feminism. Times change and language changes, and in any case reclaiming isn’t a new phenomenon.

    William M. London:

    Isn’t it better when people think more about our personal qualities as individuals and our efforts as skeptics than about our genders, races/ethnicities, sexual orientations, etc.?

    Must be nice, being the unmarked class in all those categories, as I’m guessing you are. Then you can pretend they don’t matter in society and that you don’t “see” them.

    Josh and Lee, I’d go one step further and agree with Joe: Sounds like JREF was deliberately trying to discomfit Amy. It’s one of those situations where malice seems much more likely at this point than incompetence.

  142. 142
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    Wow… TAM had a professional harassment team there to professionally harass Surly Amy?

    Well, let’s be generous enough to ascribe good intentions to this. It is important that we publicly acknowledge a good-faith attempt to address the issue, however wrongheaded we feel the execution to be.

    However, this was not the policy we were looking for. A public policy, a statement of expected behaviour, with clear procedures for reporting harassment, was what was hoped for. What we appear to have been given is no public statement and a covert security detail, which at best is a hamhanded approach, and at worst sent a TAM supporter home in tears.

    I’ll say it again: any complaint about this on our part will be met with indignation and claims that anything that TAM does is never good enough. If we do not tread carefully we will be cudgelled over this.

    That said, I really am hitting my head against my desk at the moment. What on Earth were they thinking?

  143. 143
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    It’s one of those situations where malice seems much more likely at this point than incompetence.

    Sorry, gotta strongly disagree. To my mind malice assumes premeditation and there’s no evidence of that.

    Yes, it’s hamfisted and wrongheaded. But malice? No, until I hear evidence to the contrary I assume this is a good-faith attempt to address harassment done in a very unfortunate manner.

    I feel it is vital to positively acknowledge that Something Was Done by TAM, even if the specifics were unsound. If we wish to move the discussion away from ‘should we have policies?’ to ‘what policies should we have?’, this is an important message to send.

  144. 144
    Josh Slocum

    If we do not tread carefully we will be cudgelled over this.

    We’ll be cudgelled anyway Lee. Really. I don’t see how it could be any different. We’re so far through the looking glass we’ll never get back.

  145. 145
    proxer

    Wow, I really feel for Amy; that must have been a miserable experience.

    As for this latest ‘fiasco’, it really crystalizes something for me: We (feminists) need to stop eviscerating each other so readily.

    Really.

    Over and over again we report on an incident, erupt in vitriol and excoriation of one of our long-time crusaders/allies/what-have-you, and then slowly as more information comes out we back off to “oh, well that wasn’t very well thought out.” or even “oh, well I misunderstood.”

    How many of us are on the right side of everything all the time? How many of us are mind-readers that can accurately intuit circumstance and intention for the acts of others?

    Can we please cut ourselves and each other some slack? Look at this nonsense:

    Illuminata: I’ve never heard of Harriet Hall before and now I have no desire to know anything more about her.

    Really? because you’d be missing out on a hell of a lot of feminist history, which, by the way, is critical for understanding the current state of affairs and for driving this movement forward.

  146. 146
    screechymonkey

    Josh Slocum @134: “Training a camera on Amy and her mom in a restaurant?”

    I could be wrong, but I interpreted the “table” that Amy (as quoted by Ophelia) mentioned as being the table at TAM where she sold her Surlyramics products, not a table in a restaurant.

    I don’t know that I think it’s particularly creepy to do that — in a Las Vegas casino, there are cameras in a lot of the public areas, not just on the gaming floor. But I agree that it’s a poor “solution” to harassment issues. Contrary to what some people seem to think, disciplinary action against convention attendees is the second-to-last thing we want (behind only “doing nothing.” Ok, maybe third behind “doing nothing” and “cheering them on.”) The primary goal should always be deterrence, and you don’t accomplish that by having a secret (not just undercover, but their very existence secret) harassment police and hidden cameras.

    Oh, and could someone who knows clarify what the issue was with the TAM twitter feed and anonymous blogging? If people were tweeting or blogging crappy things about Amy from TAM, that is crappy behavior and something we can all speak out against, but I’m not sure it’s something the JREF can or should handle. But if JREF personnel were retweeting or promoting these, that’s a different matter.

  147. 147
    Josh Slocum

    We (feminists) need to stop eviscerating each other so readily.

    Lord. I assume you’re making this same observation—but even more strongly—to the alleged allies that have been so callous, resistant, dishonest, and only begrudgingly pushed along?

  148. 148
    onion girl, OM; social workers do it with paperwork

    Skeptics are supposed to fight back against psychics and scam artists, they aren’t supposed to make people like me cry and leave events early.

    I really can’t stay on very long, but I caught this and I can’t even properly express how angry and disappointed I feel. And feeling this so much from a distance, I can only imagine how Amy must, particularly given the enormous work and time she’s dedicated to TAM.

    I will be emailing her with a note of support as soon as I can cease wanting to throw the computer against another cubicle.

  149. 149
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    We’ll be cudgelled anyway Lee. Really. I don’t see how it could be any different. We’re so far through the looking glass we’ll never get back.

    I don’t disagree with you. I’m wondering how the hell we navigate out of this without creating an utter shitstorm.

    This is why I recommend a generous acknowledgement that TAM ‘Did Something’, while focussing discussion on the inadequacies of the execution.

  150. 150
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    … and at this point, this late in the proceedings, why in the world would anyone give JREF the benefit of the doubt, or assume anything but the worst intentions. They haven’t made a mistake or two, they have engaged in a pattern of behavior that leads logically from their starting point to the current happenings, and it cannot be reasonable seen as accidental.

  151. 151
    Godless Heathen

    Well, she was this: “was the first female graduate of the Air Force family practice residency at Eglin Air Force Base” according to Wikipedia.

    Anywho, I can understand why she (and possibly other) pioneering women feel that way.

    BUT

    Feminism isn’t only for the pioneering women who have the guts and opportunity to be the first – it’s for all of us. Our concerns are valid, too.

  152. 152
    Stephanie Soressi

    Absolutely idiotic whining. I find it hard to believe how few people seem to understand the point of the t-shirt!

    I am not a lesbian writer. I am a writer.

    SAME POINT! This was not insensitive, it was very intelligent. She wasn’t putting Skepchicks down personally, she was making a very valid feminist point.

    Comparing it with the Muslima comment of Dawkins is totally out of line. Surly Amy needs a remedial Women’s Studies class.

    I will not continue to read or listen to anyone who “pulls the personal offense card” instead of keeping the argument on reason’s ground.

    I know when something is offensive; you can’t fool me by waving the card the way you can fool theists by yelling out “Lord Almighty!”

  153. 153
    tigzy

    So Amy was left in tears because of some words on a t-shirt that she disagreed with.

    Okay, call me a wicked old victim-blamer if you will, but couldn’t she, like, get the fuck over herself?

    I mean, words on a fuckin t-shirt, people. C’mon…

  154. 154
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    How many of us are on the right side of everything all the time? How many of us are mind-readers that can accurately intuit circumstance and intention for the acts of others?

    Can we please cut ourselves and each other some slack? Look at this nonsense:

    Illuminata: I’ve never heard of Harriet Hall before and now I have no desire to know anything more about her.

    Really? because you’d be missing out on a hell of a lot of feminist history, which, by the way, is critical for understanding the current state of affairs and for driving this movement forward.

    LOL. Well so much for cutting each other some slack, huh. Cuz, if I don’t love Ms. Hall as much as you think I should I’m nonsense and obviously stupid because without her there’s no way of understanding “the current state of affairs”.

    Your big argument is that, because this woman does Good Thing A, we should just ignore the Shitty Thing B. And, my choosing to continue not giving a fuck about her is “nonsense” because . . . uh . . .. it’s mean, or something, to think wearing the same t-shirt with a childishly taunting and dishonest message is the behavior of someone worthy of attention. You win the nonsense award.

    Somehow, I think I’ll survive avoiding Ms. Hall and her t-shirt in the future. No matter how stupid I magically become because of it.

    or did you mean that only those of us who don’t wear childish t-shirts with dishonest slogans have to cut t-shirt wearers some slack? The slack that, of course, YOU don’t have to cut anyone else.

  155. 155
    screechymonkey

    tigzy, it’s disingenuous to claim that she “left in tears because of some words on a t-shirt that she disagreed with.” First, you make it sound like it was a shirt that said “vote Romney” and she’s an Obama supporter, or some other “difference of opinion.” As Amy explained above, Hall’s message was interpreted as a personal attack. Second, as Amy explained above, the T-shirt was just one of several incidents in a weekend that was filled with tension and stress for her.

  156. 156
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    So Amy was left in tears because of some words on a t-shirt that she disagreed with.

    Yes.

    Okay, call me a wicked old victim-blamer if you will, but couldn’t she, like, get the fuck over herself?

    Well, Amy is someone who is invested heavily in both Skepchick and TAM and has made a mighty contribution to both. If she views this as a slight, we have to accept that this is the honest response of someone who deserves a little consideration. Can we not extend a little empathy towards her?

    I mean, words on a fuckin t-shirt, people. C’mon

    Because words can never be hurtful? C’mon, we know thats not true.

  157. 157
    charles

    I love the t-shirt, Dr Hall! Looks like you’re going to be “Witch of the Week”, though!

  158. 158
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I will not continue to read or listen to anyone who “pulls the personal offense card” instead of keeping the argument on reason’s ground.

    So Amy was left in tears because of some words on a t-shirt that she disagreed with.

    Okay, call me a wicked old victim-blamer if you will, but couldn’t she, like, get the fuck over herself?

    I mean, words on a fuckin t-shirt, people. C’mon…

    Yeah, you two Chill Chicks are totally right. There’s ABSOLUTELY no background here that would cast a different light on this situation. Nope! It’s all magically pure and perfect and anyone who says anything is wrong deserves to be insulted, lied about and ignored.

    Chill Chick Power!

  159. 159
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    I love the t-shirt, Dr Hall! Looks like you’re going to be “Witch of the Week”, though!

    A witch? No.

    An idol with feet of clay? More likely.

  160. 160
    Simon

    @Ophelia:

    Dianne – I know. I just don’t get how people can think it’s possible to resist prejudice and stereotypes and barriers all by themselves. It seems like magical thinking. If I burst through, somehow magically that will make all the bad things fade away?

    It’s a combination of a few things that I’ve seen with many academics and intellectuals 1) Many academics and intellectuals tend to overestimate the power of having the facts on their side 2)They’re often used to addressing a captive audience with existing knowledge in the field.

    On the other hand, organizers and managers know that there much more to the business of getting people to change their attitudes and behaviors.

  161. 161
    tigzy

    @Screechymonkey

    No, I didn’t claim Amy ‘left in tears’, I said she ‘was left in tears’. In other words, the t-shirt made her cry. As she said herself, according to Ophelia’s quote.

    If Amy interpreted ‘not a skepchick’ as a personal attack, that’s clearly her problem, no-one else’s.

  162. 162
    proxer

    @Josh Slocum: Absolutely.

  163. 163
    tigzy

    @Illuminata

    I’m not a ‘chick’, chill or otherwise, as you put it.

  164. 164
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    An idol with feet of clay? More likely.

    Oh, c’mon, Lee. This is FTB. Of course, since we didn’t love the t-shirt and dared to say so, CLEARLY we are calling for her to be drawn and quartered.

    EVERYONE knows that disagreeing with TAM people is the worst thing you can do. Disagreeing is worse than genocide!

  165. 165
    screechymonkey

    tigzy@160: “If Amy interpreted ‘not a skepchick’ as a personal attack, that’s clearly her problem, no-one else’s.”

    Except, of course, for those of us with empathy.

  166. 166
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    tigzy – congrats on dodging the point to focus on an irrelevant detail. Way to totally fail to make an argument. LOL

    If Amy interpreted ‘not a skepchick’ as a personal attack, that’s clearly her problem, no-one else’s.

    LOL yeah. Cuz that’s not the name of her blog or anything. Nope. It’s just magically pure and perfect, because you want it to be.

  167. 167
    tigzy

    Okay, if it comes down to empathy, then ya got me, because I’m clearly not as empathic you, screechymonkey.

    Presumably, your empathy is such that you would never wear a t-shirt with an atheist symbol or slogan on it for fear of distressing religious folk, right?

    @illuminata

    I didn’t dodge your point. It was just so vacuous I couldn’t be arsed to answer it.

  168. 168
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    Oh, c’mon, Lee. This is FTB.

    Sorry, I forgot the FTB creed:

    WAR IS PEACE.
    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY.
    DISAGREEMENT IS BULLYING.

  169. 169
    Bob

    Hey, folks. I was actually there before during the Harriet Hall incident, and tried to be there for Amy because she was quite distressed. My name is likely in the report, since they took it down

    Within about 3 minutes of a trained staffer hearing that Amy felt singled out and targeted by attendees (and non-attendees on the hash tag), the anti-harassment person was in the speakers room, interviewing, gathering facts and formulating a response. Once statements had been taken, not 15 minutes later, he was on the phone with the head of the casino’s security to make sure that Amy was physically safe. And this wasn’t sexual harassment, but feeling singled out was enough trigger a MASSIVE response from the JREF.

    The volunteers were trained to have the consultant’s phone number on them at all times. When he was called, he did everything that he could to keep the situation from escalating and make sure that their guest was safe. I thought that real progress had been made, since Amy had decided to stay–I was really worried that she was going to leave.

    As far as I can tell, Josh is living a rabies-induced fairy tale that has precisely nothing to do with the conference I was at or the incident I witnessed, and he certainly feels free to invent all sorts of diabolical motivations on the part of the supervillains in his story. I saw JREF take the issue seriously and act with consideration. Based on what I and others saw, it seems rather a stretch to use this incident as evidence that JREF/DJ does not care.

    If you have any questions, please let me know.

    Bob

  170. 170
    Bob

    That should read “before and during the Harriet Hall incident.”

  171. 171
    The Pint

    @ tigzy and Stephanie Soressi – Because ‘sticks and stones’ and all that jazz about words never hurting it totally true unless you’re just a weak, over emotional hysterical bitchez, right? Grow the fuck up. That t-shirt doesn’t exist in a vacuum, there’s a shit ton of history and context behind the words on it, regardless of whatever Hall’s intent was. Amy (and Skepchick in general) have worked damn hard to support JREF and TAM before this fuckwittery and she has every right to be upset about what she perceived to be a personal attack at an event that she’s supported. I don’t know why this needs to be explained over and over again, but WORDS HAVE POWER AND THEY HURT, so it’s all the more reason for someone of Hall’s stature to take care and consideration when choosing them!

  172. 172
    Ophelia Benson

    @ 156 –

    Looks like you’re going to be “Witch of the Week”, though!

    That’s cute. Did you get that from Jeremy? He tweeted the same thing after I posted this yesterday.

  173. 173
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    Based on what I and others saw, it seems rather a stretch to use this incident as evidence that JREF/DJ does not care.

    Thanks, Bob. I feel that the problem here is not that JREF/DJ does not care–as I stated above I believe a good faith effort has been made–but there remain questions about the policy. The lack of a clearly stated public policy and procedure does, at a remove, make the response look a little hamhanded.

    Though I’ll freely admit to be working with very little information, so my first impressions might be faulty.

  174. 174
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    So, now its “vacuous” to be able to easily defeat your useless bullshit posts? You know, the posts where you made up some shit and erased a year’s worth of backstory in order to be a “big old victim-blamer”.

    Huh. That’s a whole new definition of “vacuous”. Oh wait – I get it – you have no idea what that word means!

    that’s okay, tigzy. I’m sure everyone is convinced of your supreriority based on your totally not transparent attempts at evasion.

  175. 175
    tigzy

    LOL – ah well, I’ll leave you to it. But your point is taken about striving to be more empathic to those who work hard and diligently in their chosen spheres. Presumably, we can look forward to, say, PZ Myers being gentle in the language he uses for fear of distressing that tireless campaigner Ken Ham, right?

  176. 176
    Ophelia Benson

    Thanks, Bob. That’s good to know.

    You said ask questions, so I’ll ask one. You call this the Harriet Hall incident, so – was there any attempt to suggest to Dr Hall that she’d made her point and could perhaps leave it at that?

    Maybe that seems like an unreasonable or bossy or high-handed suggestion, but honestly – a speaker wearing a shirt with a slogan that targets a participant-and-benefactor, who is under siege already – I think they could have asked her to give Amy a break. Do you know if that was part of the response?

  177. 177
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    LOL – ah well, I’ll leave you to it. But your point is taken about striving to be more empathic to those who work hard and diligently in their chosen spheres. Presumably, we can look forward to, say, PZ Myers being gentle in the language he uses for fear of distressing that tireless campaigner Ken Ham, right?

    Tigsy, is the snark necessary? Is that impulse to launch a swift kick at folks not what has kicked off this thread in the first place?

  178. 178
    Bob

    You know, again, based on what I saw, there was staff everywhere, including full-time staffing at the registration desk and people wearing TAMbassador buttons and “volunteer” shirts. There was always someone there to plug you right into the high level of attention that Amy’s concerns immediately received. If you couldn’t find someone, well, you were probably at the wrong casino! :) I strongly suspect that, given the SWAT team approach that I saw, that the real prize, actual security for people at the event has been won. A formal statement at this point seems a sort of trophy that has little to do with the real battle. I’m in a strange place where I really see that both sides have stepped up and gotten something important done. That leaves me hopeful.

  179. 179
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Lee, tigzy’s snark is necessary since he has been 100% wrong from his very first post and then cowered away from owning up to that.

    Tigzy and people like him are the Ken Ham in this instance, so naturally, he’s got to make a completely idiotic statement that has fuck-all to do with the topic, since he’s utterly failed several times already to make a single coherent, cogent post ABOUT the topic.

    And then tuck tail and run, you know, with machismo!

  180. 180
    Bob

    I should also say that one worker went off to find and personally tell someone at the conference to stop being a jerk on the hash tag. The response was really as comprehensive as it could be.

  181. 181
    screechymonkey

    tigzy @167: “Presumably, your empathy is such that you would never wear a t-shirt with an atheist symbol or slogan on it for fear of distressing religious folk, right?”

    The situations are not at all comparable. Since you either know that and are just trolling, or you’re too thick to be worth speaking to, we’re done here.

  182. 182
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Proxer:

    We (feminists) need to stop eviscerating each other so readily.

    Really.

    Over and over again we report on an incident, erupt in vitriol and excoriation of one of our long-time crusaders/allies/what-have-you, and then slowly as more information comes out we back off to “oh, well that wasn’t very well thought out.” or even “oh, well I misunderstood.”

    I haven’t seen much of that, myself. But thanks for your concern, and of course for taking the focus off the anti-feminists.

    Stephanie Soressi:

    Surly Amy needs a remedial Women’s Studies class.

    Are you offering to let her sit in on your Chill Girls 301 class?

    Tigzy, did punching that strawman do wonders for your upper-arm muscle definition?

  183. 183
    Stephanie Zvan

    Bob, how were the attendees meant to find out that the volunteers were there for them? Where were people told what to do if they experienced harassment?

  184. 184
    Bob

    Hi, Ophelia. Good to talk to you.

    Amy made that point rather forcefully, and when the anti-harassment team arrived, they admitted that there really was not much they could do about the shirt. It was my impression that Amy understood this.

    Bob

  185. 185
    SAWells

    @184: so the elite anti-harassment team were unable to do anything about harassment. That’s good to know, in the sense of not at all good.

  186. 186
    Bob

    Stephanie,

    Well, workers were clearly identifiable, so if there was a problem that anyone thought merited the attention of the JREF, one only needed raise a hand.

  187. 187
    Bob

    I mean, they already had people there on the floor when no harassment was taking place, and as we saw in the incident above, they were on site in the barest of seconds. So it seems to have worked.

  188. 188
    N_J

    so the elite anti-harassment team were unable to do anything about harassment. That’s good to know, in the sense of not at all good.

    What harassment? There was no harassment, unless harassment to the FtB/Skepchick crowd means “anything we don’t like or anything that doesn’t agree completely with us”. Good luck getting that harassment policy posted at any cons.

    You mewling crybabies need to grow the fuck up.

  189. 189
    Bob

    SAWells, don’t conflate sexual harassment with public disagreement. That’s equivocating.

    Bob

  190. 190
    hyperdeath

    bob:

    admitted that there really was not much they could do about the shirt.

    They could have asked her to change it.

  191. 191
    Ophelia Benson

    Well it is understandable that they couldn’t do much about this particular harassment! Or at least that it must have presented a hell of a puzzler.

    But in a way that just makes it even more unpleasant for Dr Hall to have insisted on continuing to wear it. Taking advantage of her status. (As people have noted – doing exactly what Rebecca was so noisily blamed for having done.)

    Dear oh dear. A little generosity would have come in handy at that point.

  192. 192
    Ophelia Benson

    Bob, do you think wearing that T shirt is [just] public disagreement and not [at all] harassment?

    I don’t. It’s hostile environment type stuff. It’s not sexual, certainly, but I don’t agree that it’s not harassment.

  193. 193
    SAWells

    @189: learn to read. You hallucinated the word “sexual”.

  194. 194
    Bob

    If I may open myself up to withering criticism, what was missing from the conference was Amy’s own support network. I think that the sense of feeling alone was a symptom of actually being alone out there. It was brave of her to come. I don’t think that the JREF could possibly be the support network that she needed, even if they tried.

  195. 195
    Ophelia Benson

    Everybody be cool. It’s good to have Bob’s input. Don’t bark at him.

  196. 196
    Ophelia Benson

    Yes – it was incredibly brave of her to go. It sounds, frankly, hellish.

  197. 197
    hyperdeath

    N_J says:

    You mewling crybabies need to grow the fuck up.

    So if you were at a conference, where one of the speakers wore a t-shirt snarking at you, and you ended up being constantly filmed, you would be perfectly OK with it? You angry little men need to grow the fuck up.

  198. 198
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    So now we know the JREF harassment loophole, and we can feel good knowing that at next year’s TAM the pitizens will all have custom shirts “disagreeing” with people who they hate. That is exactly the atmosphere that JREF is seeking, and that’s exactly what they’re going to get.

  199. 199
    N_J

    So if you were at a conference, where one of the speakers wore a t-shirt snarking at you, and you ended up being constantly filmed, you would be perfectly OK with it?

    I would be absolutely fine with it, and would get a chuckle out of it. I certainly wouldn’t take offense at something so completely mild.

    That’s because I don’t act like a self-important, privileged, whiny, angst-ridden mope who starts tearing up at the slightest bit of criticism.

    You guys are rapidly becoming a rather large internet laughingstock.

  200. 200
    hyperdeath

    Dcg1, you may want to read up on the fallacy of false equivalence. If Amy had attempted to set up a “Wimmins” section of JREF, to be enforced by violence, then you would have had a point. Not wanting to be sexually harassed is very slightly different.

  201. 201
    Bob

    PhD in rhetoric and argument. Can read. You’re equivocating. It doesn’t help your point. Nobody at any point was calling for a “no disagreeing” policy, they have been asking for a sexual harassment policy. There are several orders of magnitude between threatening behavior and shunning and disagreement. One conflates them at the expense of their own credibility. I merely mention it. Now we saw a friend in distress, and we were with her to help her. When we are face to face, it is very hard to not have sympathy for people who are clearly hurt. I even think that Harriet might really have meant it when she said she felt sorry that Amy felt that way about the shirt. Really. I do.

  202. 202
    N_J

    Yes – it was incredibly brave of her to go. It sounds, frankly, hellish.

    Yes, because as we all know, there is no hell like someone wearing a T-shirt to a meeting.

    You guys are reeeeealllly reaching in your attempts to make yourselves out to be “victimized” and “harassed”. This is fucking hilarious.

    I hope Richard Dawkins reads this thread. It completely vindicates “Dear Muslima”, not that you over-dramatic conjurers of harassment fantasies haven’t already vindicated it long ago.

  203. 203
    SAWells

    Let us all bow in worship to N_J’s totally non-fictional courage and badassery, which is not in any way based on total lack of common human empathy and decency, no sirree.

  204. 204
    Bob

    Or you could take the high road, Joe.

  205. 205
    Ophelia Benson

    Bob – but CFI, at least, does include hostile behavior (I forget the exact wording) in its harassment policy. That would include shunning, I should think. Certainly a personal attacky Tshirt.

  206. 206
    Robert B

    A lack of a written and public policy was a trophy for the pro-harassment, back to the kitchen group. Having secret anti-harassment monitors can only help people feel secure after they have been harassed, at which point, it is too late. (Secret police monitoring behavior also happens to be what the pro-harassment team claims we are in fact in support of.)

    While not sexual harassment, it contributed to a hostile environment at the convention, and was, in fact, harassment.

    I sincerely hoped that JREF getting a new communications director would help, but it clearly hasn’t. Perhaps seeing a smaller budget caused by a 25% decrease in TAM attendance will convince the JREF to turn things around and work towards fixing this issue.

  207. 207
    SAWells

    @201: in a discussion about Amy feeling personally harassed by the message on Hall’s T-shirt, you don’t understand the term “harassment” to mean what Amy was experiencing? Hmmm. I’m sure your PhD makes you very authoritative about what I said and meant. I have one of those too, but I didn’t realise I could use it to make myself right all the time!

  208. 208
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Bob, what are you talking about? I’m not suggesting that anyone here would consider being bullies the way Harriet Hall insisted on being to Amy, I’m saying that the people who have been against an anti-harassment policy from the start now know that they can get away with snarking at other people as long as it is on a shirt instead of them actually saying it out loud. The low road is what JREF encourages.

  209. 209
    hyperdeath

    N_J says:

    I would be absolutely fine with it, and would get a chuckle out of it. I certainly wouldn’t take offense at something so completely mild.

    That’s because I don’t act like a self-important, privileged, whiny, angst-ridden mope who starts tearing up at the slightest bit of criticism

    Empathy really isn’t your strong point is it? You may be completely immune to provocation. (Or more likely, you imagine yourself to be; it’s easy to be resolute in the face of hypothetical challenges.) However that doesn’t mean that everyone is immune to provocation, and more to the point, it doesn’t mean that they should have to be.

    You guys are rapidly becoming a rather large internet laughingstock.

    I thought we were the big bad bullies? Make your mind up.

  210. 210
    julian

    N_J

    That’s because I don’t act like a self-important, privileged, whiny, angst-ridden mope who starts tearing up at the slightest bit of criticism.

    Anyone who says shit like that is an angst-ridden, self-important, whiny little fuck. Go home, listen to My Chemical Romance, paint your nails black or whatever it is you do to.

    Just stop pestering other people. Every word you’ve written has been an eye sore and preachy condescending shit. However much you may have convinced yourself, you are in fact not better than anyone else. Your callousness and malice signal you are in fact worse than the average human.

  211. 211
    hyperdeath

    N_J says:

    Yes, because as we all know, there is no hell like someone wearing a T-shirt to a meeting.

    Context. Who needs it?

  212. 212
    screechymonkey

    It’s interesting how insistent the FTB-haters are on telling us that we’re a “laughingstock,” that nobody takes us seriously, etc. etc. It’s so very reminiscent of schoolchildren who want to make sure another child knows that she’s ugly and smelly and nobody else likes her, either. Now what do we call people who behave like that?

  213. 213
    julian

    I’m against shirts like that in general (I’m reminded of how Alqhuist’s classmates tried to bully her) but you can’t really make Hall take it off. It may be an obvious attempt at othering but Hall is free to wear it.

    And in doing so confirm the stereotype of military women being nothing but vindictive, hateful and out to tear each other down.

    Yeah, I’m going there. Not like she didn’t.

  214. 214
    hyperdeath

    Improbable Joe says:

    I’m sure your PhD makes you very authoritative about what I said and meant. I have one of those too, but I didn’t realise I could use it to make myself right all the time!

    I should check mine as well… Let’s see… No… There’s something about physics, but I can’t find anything about trump cards in online arguments.

  215. 215
    Bob

    Sigh.

  216. 216
    julian

    Anyway, glad to hear TAM is taking this seriously. Happy to see them doing their best to resolve and diffuse problem situations.

  217. 217
    Ophelia Benson

    I said everybody be cool! It’s good to have Bob’s input.

  218. 218
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    hyperdeath… not me with a PhD. But if you could put in a word with someone who can make that happen? :)

  219. 219
    hyperdeath

    screechymonkey says:

    It’s interesting how insistent the FTB-haters are on telling us that we’re a “laughingstock,” that nobody takes us seriously, etc. etc. It’s so very reminiscent of schoolchildren who want to make sure another child knows that she’s ugly and smelly and nobody else likes her, either. Now what do we call people who behave like that?

    But FTB are the bullies. Haven’t you seen the hashtag?

  220. 220
    julian

    The low road is what JREF encourages.

    Obviously not. Going off Bob’s description, this was something they took very seriously. They told the offenders off and tried to comfort the person who felt harassed. It sounds like they did what they could with the situation.

  221. 221
    Bob

    Shunning is a way of showing disagreement or displeasure and even utter disinterest. It’s not threatening or hostile. I’m just saying that I’m not comfortable with a definition of harassment that includes shunning, because sometimes just not engaging is effective. And it’s totally nonviolent.

    At any rate, it was good to talk to you, Ophelia. I have to find a place to live (literally). :)

    Bob

  222. 222
    hyperdeath

    Improbable Joe says:

    hyperdeath… not me with a PhD.

    Damn it to Hoggle. I looked at the name below rather than above. I meant “SAWells”.

    But if you could put in a word with someone who can make that happen?

    If you’re willing to settle for theology, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

  223. 223
    julian

    I have to find a place to live (literally).

    Stay away from trailer lots in the middle of the woods. Spiders (the none good kinds) abound.

    Unless, of course, you like bugs in which lots of fun critters crawling around!

    Also, good luck!

  224. 224
    SAWells

    @217: sorry Ophelia, but I’m touchy about people telling me I meant Z when I clearly said A, and I thought the argumentum ad PhD was too funny not to riff on it a little. Anyway, bedtime now.

  225. 225
    julian

    hyperdeath… not me with a PhD

    But I bet you could outplay any PhD in a game of spades!

  226. 226
    hyperdeath

    bob:

    I’m not comfortable with a definition of harassment that includes shunning

    It depends on what you mean by shunning. If a group quietly avoids someone, then that’s justifiable. If, however, they ostentatiously shun someone with stage-whispered insults, flamboyant walking away and the like, then that’s clear bullying.

    Where a t-shirt lies on this spectrum is open to interpretation, but it is far from simple avoidance.

  227. 227
    julian

    If, however, they ostentatiously shun someone with stage-whispered insults, flamboyant walking away and the like, then that’s clear bullying.

    That isn’t shunning, not really anyway but yeah if that’s what’s going on it is definitely harassment.

    It’s also incredibly petty bullshit. If that’s going to be happening at TAM every year from now it probably would be better if the skeptics not in TAM’s good graces stay away. If the con is going to be fostering that type of environment the best response would be to cut off all strings with it.

  228. 228
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Why yes, I do have mad spades-playing skills.

    And julian, Amy’s account of the issue sort of precludes a “high road” approach from JREF.

  229. 229
    John

    Wow. There certainly are a lot hurt feelings over the tone of that t-shirt. Would you guys say maybe JREF has a tone problem? That maybe you guys feel alienated by the tone? Tone sure can be upsetting. Guess words hurt people. Hunh. Know I certainly won’t be egregiously piling on abuse at other people simply for *disagreeing* with me. I for one will be more sensitive about my tone in the future, even if I *know* I’m right. Can’t speak for anyone else, though.

  230. 230
    hyperdeath

    julian says:

    That isn’t shunning, not really anyway but yeah if that’s what’s going on it is definitely harassment.

    I didn’t mean to imply that that was going on at TAM. (Then again, I’m not insisting that it hasn’t.) I was just using it as an example to show that the word “shun” has more nuance than simple avoidance.

  231. 231
    julian

    I will not continue to read or listen to anyone who “pulls the personal offense card” instead of keeping the argument on reason’s ground.

    Good. Honestly you seem like a wretched person. Hopefully no one has to put up with your high school clique bullshit.

  232. 232
    julian

    @hyperdeath

    I know. I’m sure things haven’t gotten that bad yet and from the sounds of it, TAM is actively trying to keep such an environment from sprouting. So… good on them!

  233. 233
    hyperdeath

    John, I’m sure you imagine that you’re making some immensely clever point. It would be helpful, however, to explain what that point is.

  234. 234
    screechymonkey

    Yeah, I don’t really expect the JREF to do anything about Hall’s shirt, other than perhaps politely ask her to voluntarily wear something else out of consideration for a fellow attendee (who, incidentally, helped sponsor 22 other attendees).

    That’s not to say that I can’t imagine a T-shirt ever falling afoul of a proper harassment policy (certainly one that contained threats would, to give but one example).

    And that’s also not to let the JREF off the hook for letting the situation get to this point. It was D.J. who sent the message that “certain women bloggers” were enemies of the JREF and, as Ophelia said about herself, failed to take the target off. When that results in Amy being treated shabbily, the JREF bears some of the blame.

    What’s so frustrating about this is that, according to Bob, the JREF really did take action. Why they chose to keep that a secret is beyond me. There surely should have been a way for D.J. to say something like “I am relieved to hear [certain women bloggers] say that they do not believe that TAM is particularly unsafe. Of course, we at the JREF agree that harassment is a societal problem to which skeptics are not immune. We have prided ourselves on making TAM a leader in the skeptical community [insert justifiable bragging about increasing women speakers and being one of the first to adopt a policy]. But we agree that we should do more, and we are. TAM will again have a harassment policy [link]. Also, this year our staff is getting additional training on how to handle harassment complaints, and [etc. etc. depending on what exactly they did]. I hope that this will reassure any concerns that anyone may have, and [let's all have a great time at TAM, etc. etc.]”

    I mean, that’s just off the top of my head, but I think that would have defused a lot of the controversy as to the JREF. (The broader “misogyny war” would of course continue.) And yet nothing in what I just wrote has the JREF grovelling or admitting defeat or even error. Basically: retract the accusation that people are going around saying TAM is particularly dangerous, adopt a harassment policy, reassure everyone that you take the problem seriously, and announce those additional steps that you apparently did anyway (might as well get credit for it).

  235. 235
    Za-zen

    I had to do a double check, for a moment i thought i was on the parody site, but reality is often stranger than fiction.

    This is not a case of harassment. The arguments put forth here to present it as such are nonsense. It was not a personal attack. If a t-shirt had amy’s name on it, then you could talk about it being personal, it’s a category error to place this nonsense in the same realm as Rw trashing mcGraw from a podium.

    SurlyAmy was offended that someone thought a group she is a part of is full of shit, and that person wanted to make clear in no uncertain terms that she does not have any sympathy for their political positions. To make very clear that she is a human, not a gender tag. Surly amy being offended isn’t Dr Hall’s problem, it’s Surly Amy’s.

    As for the dreaming up of victimisation, and bs about TAM being a horror show for women that is only to be expected, but it is unsubstantiated bullshit dreampt up by those who wish to push an agenda.

  236. 236
    John

    @hyperdeath

    I just thought it was rude for her to adopt such a tone with people who disagree with her. She should have known she was going to alienate them when she did so. Oh well, I guess she only has herself to blame if she won’t watch her tone when engaging with others.

  237. 237
    julian

    TAM is actively trying to keep such an environment from sprouting. So… good on them!

    But I still hope Skepchick ditches the TAM support thing. Other events they could easily back where they won’t have people like Hall trying to cut them down.

  238. 238
    Josh Slocum

    As far as I can tell, Josh is living a rabies-induced fairy tale that has precisely

    Thank you for the explanation Bob. I’m perfectly happy to be wrong, and to be corrected. I’d rather this were more positive in fact than it first appeared to me!

    I am not mad, crazy, irrational, or unreasonable. On a hair trigger? Yes, absolutely. Prone to assume the worst? Yes, yes, yes. I don’t think it’s hard to understand why those of us with a lot invested in the nastiness of the past year would feel provoked. We’re human, just like you, not “rabid.”

  239. 239
    hyperdeath

    Za-zen, I don’t think that “category error” means what you think it means.

  240. 240
    julian

    Hey, John. Hold your breath until you pass out. That’s a great way to get attention.

    As for the dreaming up of victimisation, and bs about TAM being a horror show for women that is only to be expected, but it is unsubstantiated bullshit dreampt up by those who wish to push an agenda.

    She sponsored 22 other women to attend. Repeat that to yourself. She said outright she would not have done that if she thought the event dangerous. Repeat that to yourself.

    And then go fuck yourself. Off a bridge or something.

  241. 241
    John

    @Julian

    Hey, wait, what? What did I do? All I said was that Ms. Hall should be careful about the tone she uses when disagreeing with others. Otherwise they might be alienated by the tone and show less respect towards her in the future. Seems like any decent human being would think this is pretty obvious? You know, tone can hurt sometimes.

  242. 242
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    screechymonkey wrote:

    What’s so frustrating about this is that, according to Bob, the JREF really did take action. Why they chose to keep that a secret is beyond me.

    Because admitting they have this in place would mean admitting there is a problem, and that Rebecca and Ophelia and Stephanie and PZ and everyone else who have been clamouring for them to acknowledge that were right all along.

    And they can’t do that. It’s like trying to get Republicans to admit that Obama has done good things for the US economy; the spin is more important than the facts.

  243. 243
    Ophelia Benson

    I’ll add to the suggested script just a little…

    There surely should have been a way for D.J. to say something like “I am relieved to hear [certain women bloggers] say that they do not believe that TAM is particularly unsafe, and I apologize for implying that they were talking about TAM in particular when in fact they weren’t.”

    That’s better.

  244. 244
    Za-zen

    @hyperdeath no i’m sure i understand it, and i’m sure it applies, as i demonstrated. I’m very sure therefore you haven’t a clue.

  245. 245
    tigtog

    I see while I was out that Ophelia made the point I was mentally composting regarding the CFI Code of Conduct and the hostile behaviour section of its anti-harassment portion. I imagine that a pointed T-shirt calling out a convention sponsor would absolutely contravene their hostile behaviour code, and that they would be within policy guidelines to ask somebody wearing that to take it off or face having their convention ticket/badge rescinded, speaker or not.
    ——————-
    I see exactly the same “logic” going on with the “rationalists” here as JoshinDallas noted last year during the Penny Arcade Dickwolves debacle:

    1. People who speak up about their own feelings and their personal experience of being hurt in response to an issue are overreacting, oversensitive, and just don’t get it.

    2. Declaring that no harm has been done and no hurt has been experienced is helpful, useful, and mature.

  246. 246
    hyperdeath

    Za-zen:

    hyperdeath no i’m sure i understand it

    There’s your problem. “Category error” isn’t a grown-up way of saying very very wrong. It’s a specific type of ontological error.

    It wouldn’t be a category error to say that what happened to Amy was a trillion times worse than the Holocaust. It would be a category error to say that what happened to Amy was equal to the square root of five, or smelled like the colour purple.

    I’m very sure therefore you haven’t a clue.

    Dunning and Kruger had a lot to say on that topic.

  247. 247
    tigtog

    “composting” s/b “composing” dammit.

  248. 248
    John

    @tigtog

    If I could just add to what you’re saying about the “rationalists,” I would also like to point out that they only seem to think that words are hurtful when they apply to them. For instance: they started that whole FTBullies thing, alleging that they were being mistreated and abused, but when Ms. Hall crosses the line, they don’t take *our* feelings seriously.

    Double standard, I would say.

  249. 249
    julian

    @tigtog

    It’s a bit more complicated here. Hall was wearing a T-shit and repeating a common declaration among minorities and traditionally disenfranchised group. That they are not just an X whatever. They are a scientist/mathematician/american/bleagh.

    I think the proble comes in with the rest of the community and the contempt/disdain they been hurling at skepchicks online and elsewhere hoping to push the away from the movement.

    ((Not to say Hall doesn’t look down contemptuously at them. She very well might especially if SurlyAmy approached her as honestly and sincerely as she says she did.))

  250. 250
    screechymonkey

    John, as with most tone trolls, you miss the point. I don’t think anyone has been under the delusion that tone doesn’t matter, or that tone can’t turn people off. Your kind always thinks that you’re contributing some astonishing insight by saying so, but you’re not.

    The reason tone trolls are shot down is that bringing up tone is usually a derail, unless the specific issue under discussion is “how do we present this in a persuasive way.” (And even in discussions where it is on-topic, it’s not always the case that the “nice” tone is the best for all purposes in all situations.)

    So while you’re patting yourself on the back for vanquishing the evil forces of Tone Doesn’t Affect People, be sure to brush all the straw away.

  251. 251
    echidna

    Bob:

    I even think that Harriet might really have meant it when she said she felt sorry that Amy felt that way about the shirt. Really. I do.

    Perhaps, for a moment. But she wore the T-shirt for three days. That’s hard to reconcile.

  252. 252
    Utakata

    @Dcg1, 136:

    That arguement cuts many ways my friend. As an example, that is precisley the reason why Thunderf00t was let go from FtB. And well argued this is what ERV ‘pitters are doing within the skeptic movement. That is, hijacking it for their own nefarious single issue purposes. So point is taken…

    …however, Maybe Skeptic Dude seems to becoming across as an individual with his own “single issue campaign” to replace that which he claims exists within FtB, rather than being an actual skeptic by making this point, IMO. Therefore, my strong doubts of his integrity and reasoning still holds.

    —–
    Back on topic though…

    I am not sure I like this idea of making shunning apart of a harrassment policiy. Since I shun certain entities all the time, I don’t consider it a form of harrassment (mostly because they don’t know about it). However, I can see how this can be used to abuse people. Thus is can be harassment under certain conditions. This one of those thorny issues of “What the hell to do about that one”, so I am completely devided on it. /sigh

    I am also not sure what Dr. Hall was doing was shunning or harrasment per say. But being benignly stupid in her actions, (especially being in a postion from her past where she should of known better as many verified here) that was causing some obvious greif. However, she should of least clarified she was targetting “skepchic” as a supposed meme as opposed to “Skepchic” the organization. This was cluelessly careless of her. And I understand why this would upset Surely Amy and others the way it did…even if wasn’t Dr. Hall’s intention (so she seems to be indicating).

  253. 253
    John

    @screchymonkey

    Woah, woah, again, you guys are misunderstanding me. I’ve got no problem with calling people who criticize my position “rape apologists.” That’s perfectly justified, and if they get upset, or think it’s unfair, well too bad. What I’m saying is that Ms. Hall should have been concerned about *my* feelings, even if I’ve never remotely shown the same consideration to other people. That’s all.

  254. 254
    Ryan Grant Long

    Ophelia, are you really surprised she wore the shirt? Maybe you should have thought about the inevitable backlash you and your friends would receive after spending more than a year attacking your fellow liberals and feminists in your own movement: spreading misinformation about TAM and basically accusing DJ Grothe of condoning sexual harassment at his organization’s events; and generally trying to shove a bizarre, twisted (almost completely inverted) version of “feminism” down everybody’s throats.

    Remember when you tried to put me in the position of wanting to defend the idea of “kicking all women in the cunts”? That was one of the most off-base and obnoxious things anybody has ever written about me. And yet when I angrily and facetiously responded to that, and stupid FTB bloggers tried to make me own those words as if I said them first and not you, you took no responsibility whatsoever for your own part in it. For weeks I tried to ignore that drama, but I kept getting e-mails about it, telling me I was being blogged about on this website, by people who don’t know a single thing about me. Accusing me of being a sexist, relentlessly insulting me, insinuating that I genuinely threatened people. I even discovered that FBT bloggers were printing comments I made in anger (screen caps of my private facebook page in fact), without any of the preceding context leading up to them, and even making it look as if DJ Grothe (whom I have never even met btw) said some of them, which resulted in JREF getting complaints.

    The whole thing was ridiculous, and to everyone who knows even the slightest bit about me and my values, it was utterly crazy. And for all that, I would happily wear a shirt denouncing you and your friends. In fact, I plan on making my own version for feminist, skeptic males who want to distance themselves from the crazy. Would that surprise you? It shouldn’t. You shouldn’t be surprised when you treat people horribly and then it comes back to haunt you.

    Maybe Hall, like many people, is just sick of your divisive tactics, the needless flame wars this website provokes, the way you go after people and try to assassinate their characters for blog hits, the way you make gender issues into a complete joke and lower the discourse surrounding them to subterranean levels; the petty gossip and drama that you obsess over in place of real issues or news… (“Oh waaah someone said something mean to me on twitter or facebook, I’m so oppressed!!”)

    And meanwhile, since I’ve actually studied gender issues before, I have been in constant damage control mode, because I keep meeting atheists and skeptics on-line whose first impression of feminism or gender studies is from being exposed to you and your drama – and (surprise!) they now have an incredibly negative view of the entire subject. I have to insist to them that Women’s Studies is a genuinely valid social science; that a lot of the terms you FTB bloggers throw around as insults (like “privileged”) are actually valid concepts when used academically. I have to reassure people that I was never insulted or screamed at by my Women’s Studies professors, or accused of “misogyny” for merely disagreeing or not fully understanding a concept; and that credible feminists would never use such egregiously sexist terms as “mansplaining” in order to dismiss someone’s point of view based on their gender.

    I stayed away from you people for months because I thought it would all die down, but it didn’t. Your list of enemies grew, as did your list of insane demands on everyone else. You don’t speak for all women, you don’t speak for all feminists, and you don’t speak for all skeptics. And you can expect more and more mocking and criticism if you continue to insult and attack people, and spread hatred, misinformation and division.

    And to Surly Amy: Really? A t-shirt reduced you to tears? What are you, a toddler??

  255. 255
    julian

    Perhaps, for a moment. But she wore the T-shirt for three days. That’s hard to reconcile.

    Well… maybe she didn’t have any other clean shirts. C’mon, use your skepticism, people!

  256. 256
    Za-zen

    It has been categorised as a personal attack… And a comparison drawn between this and the time RW attacked by name someone from the podium.

    The T-shirt is not a personal attack, as i have explained above, therefore to categorise it as such is to put it in the wrong category. Therefore it is a category error.

    A category mistake, or category error, is a semantic or ontological error in which “things of one kind are presented as if they belonged to another”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category_mistake

  257. 257
    tigtog

    John: No matter how much you try to conflate “calling out” with “tone”, it’s not going to fly.

    The “tone” of Hall’s t-shirt would pass a “civility” test anywhere that values the absence of “bad words” above substance. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t directly calling attention to a critic’s words with clearly indicated disdain for those critical words.

    Expressing disdain on a blog where people can close the browser to avoid seeing it is a very different thing from a public meatspace expression of disdain from a Conference Program Speaker directed towards a Conference Sponsor with an easily identifiable merch table with the Sponsor’s name on it. The t-shirt message is a flag of encouragement to other attendees to join in creating a hostile/chilly climate directed at anybody associated with the Skepchick name. How could anybody honestly expect it to do anything else?

  258. 258
    julian

    Oh for fuck’s sake.

    Go away, you transphobic twit. You just made me scroll through a teal dear with nothing in it. No one wants to read another rant about how wretched everyone has been to you. Seriously, Long, just piss off. Go high five Hall, Sturgess and Grothe for a job well done or something.

    But piss off. Seriously.

  259. 259
    julian

    That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t directly calling attention to a critic’s words with clearly indicated disdain for those critical words.

    There’s multiple ways to look at it. The shirt’s message could be a number of things even if it was prompted by recent arguments. It really isn’t a clear cut case.

    But yeah, she should have taken it off. Honestly she’d sent her message (whatever it was) and was just pouring salt on the wound after that (even if it wasn’t her intention).

  260. 260
    Dianne

    Hall was wearing a T-shit and repeating a common declaration among minorities and traditionally disenfranchised group. That they are not just an X whatever. They are a scientist/mathematician/american/bleagh.

    Some do. Others are acutely aware that their position as members of group X make them different, whatever everyone would like to pretend. Neil de Grasse Tyson, for example, has sometimes commented on the fact that he is one of the few black people in the US who is regularly called upon by popular journalists to comment on something other than being black.

    Yet other people from vulnerable groups affect the “I’m not a (disadvantaged group) scientist/etc, just a scientist/etc” in order to survive. When I was in medical school, I was specifically told not to make a big deal of my gender, because that would make harassment worse. Note that this was in the 1990s. Not yesterday, but not exactly 100 years ago either and significantly after medicine became a field with nearly as many women as men in it (aka when one could first pretend that the problem was solved.)

    So I’d be wary of assuming that 1. all or most people from disadvantaged groups aren’t aware of their position in society and the cognitive dissonance of being a Respected Person AND one of “them” or 2. that those that adopt the position that their background should be ignored are doing so because they want to. Hall’s t-shirt didn’t happen in a vacuum. Neither did Hall’s attitude.

  261. 261
    John

    @tigtog

    Lawls, you guys keep putting words in my mouth. All I’m saying is that Ms. Hall could have chosen a *much* better way of showing her disagreement. It’s the inconsiderateness of her actions towards other people that’s the problem. It’s alienating – I’m sure you’ll agree, and it makes people who disagree with her see her in a different light. I don’t understand why Ms. Hall wouldn’t understand that basic fact of human interaction.

  262. 262
    julian

    Za-zen, you really should quit. You’re wrong. You’re not even accurately representing what was wrong with Watson’s signaling out someone (what McGraw herself cited as why she felt it was wrong)

  263. 263
    echidna

    Utakata

    But being benignly stupid in her actions, (especially being in a postion from her past where she should of known better as many verified here) that was causing some obvious greif.

    “She should have known better” – well, sort of, not really. Harriet is certainly aware of the existence of sexism, and the hostile environment it creates. To survive in that environment, I assume, from my own experience, that she also would have had to adopt an attitude of not being bothered by constant little barbs, and probably considers that giving those barbs any attention is a bad thing. Just by her presence, Harriet will have been changing the environment towards accepting women.

    However, to change the environment further from tolerating women to women being seen as full participants, the little barbs have to be seen as a significant contributing factor to creating a hostile environment. I think Harriet does not get that: she got through by pushing through and ignoring those barbs.

    This construction leaves Harriet feeling that she is right, and that the skepchicks are focusing on nonsense. She isn’t seeing the the skepchicks as building on the change that she was a part of.

  264. 264
    Robert B

    Ryan @254, Any credibility you might have had in that long and, ahem, privileged masplanation, was completely eliminated with your last sentence.

    In the most tone friendly and academically proper way, I extend to you these words. Fuck you.

  265. 265
    hyperdeath

    Za-zen says:

    …to categorise it as such is to put it in the wrong category. Therefore it is a category error.

    Just because two concepts contain the word “category” doesn’t mean that they’re equivalent. For example, saying that octopuses are mammals is a miscategorization, but it is not a category error.

  266. 266
    julian

    @Dianne

    I’m not making either assumption (at least I hope not) but I’ll defer to others here as you all are definitely more informed on this subject than me.

  267. 267
    Ophelia Benson

    Ryan Grant Long –

    That’s a lot to tackle all at once.

    after spending more than a year attacking your fellow liberals and feminists in your own movement

    That’s not an accurate description. I’ve been disagreeing with various people.

    spreading misinformation about TAM and basically accusing DJ Grothe of condoning sexual harassment at his organization’s events

    No. That’s completely wrong. You have it backward. It was DJ who accused me along with other women of saying bad things about TAM when we hadn’t been talking about TAM at all.

    Remember when you tried to put me in the position of wanting to defend the idea of “kicking all women in the cunts”? That was one of the most off-base and obnoxious things anybody has ever written about me.

    That’s not exactly what I did – I sarcastically suggested you would be doing that next, after you had unloaded a huge amount of blame-Rebecca nonsense on Greta’s Facebook post. However, I did mean to explain what I was referring to, but you blocked me before I had the chance. I did realize it was unfair to say that when you wouldn’t necessarily know the reference, so I meant to try to undo that part.

    The rest is a jumble. I can’t tell if you’re talking about me or a bunch of people or a phantom or what. Anyway, thanks for sharing.

  268. 268
    Dianne

    @Julian: My apologies for misreading you. I hope the comment still has some utility in helping framing the debate and what the underlying issues might be.

  269. 269
    tigtog

    John, I can certainly agree with you that the t-shirt was alienating. It would have been somewhat less alienating if the back had not included the clause “not a skepchick”, because then it wouldn’t have made a direct connection to Amy’s presence there, but it would still come across as rather combative, which really seems to be the point – in her reported conversation with Sastra, Hall claimed that her goal was to provoke feminist discussion. If I’d been there and seen that shirt walking towards me I would have read it as a clear indication that my viewpoint had already been rejected and that discussion would be pointless. I don’t read it as “talk to me about this”, I read it as “STFU about this”.

  270. 270
    John

    @tigtog

    Right, and if Ms. Hall continues to take that attitude toward disagreement, she shouldn’t be surprised if next year the people at TAM treat her like she’s not exactly welcome.

  271. 271
    julian

    No. That’s completely wrong. You have it backward. It was DJ who accused me along with other women of saying bad things about TAM when we hadn’t been talking about TAM at all.

    People were complimenting TAM and using it as an example of how to start dealing with this problem. The were complimentary and have been throughout. They’ve been critical of Grothe’s conduct and rightly angry at how he ignored and dismissed calls for more to be done (as well as several other hiccups) but they’ve

    1)never denied TAM was ahead of the curve
    2)never said TAM was a den of villainy
    3)denied the work Grothe has done

    So it’d be nice if people stopped making shit up.

  272. 272
    Robert B

    echidna, thank you for saying what I was about to write next.

    In another setting, in the absence of the last two years, the shirt would have been fine, in fact, it would have been a positive message.

    In the light of the hate directed towards women who are skeptics, it was not a positive message, but one that minimizes their contributions and treats their experience as less than worthy of the standard that she set.

  273. 273
    julian

    In the light of the hate directed towards women who are skeptics, it was not a positive message, but one that minimizes their contributions and treats their experience as less than worthy of the standard that she set.

    I don’t think that’s fair. The shirt specifically singles out a type of skeptic (a skepchick) so I don’t think it minimizes the contribution of all women skeptics. Just the ones that identify with skepchick.

    That’s what makes it problematic for me. It seems like a near deliberate attempt at exclusion and othering. SurlyAmy is the wrong type of woman skeptic so she has to be pushed out.

  274. 274
    Stephanie Zvan

    …if Ms. Hall continues to take that attitude toward disagreement…

    Can you describe that “attitude” in your own words?

  275. 275
    tigtog

    Right, and if Ms. Hall continues to take that attitude toward disagreement, she shouldn’t be surprised if next year the people at TAM treat her like she’s not exactly welcome.

    Gotta say I still feel like you’re playing some word games here.

    It would be grossly premature to judge what Hall’s position regarding this particular Deep Rift will be next year. Given the trouble that she went to getting the shirt printed, it would be utterly bizarre for her not to blog about this – her intentions, views, predictions and current conclusions as to how effectively her purpose re the t-shirt was achieved.

    When/if Hall does blog about it, the following discussion on her and other online forums should be clarifying at least. Then we shall see where that takes us.

  276. 276
    Robert B

    Very fair, Julian.

  277. 277
    artnut

    I asked Harriet about her tshirt. She said it had a smiley face on the front for a reason. Also, Amy had complained about people that might harass her at TAM. I hope she also will acknowledge people like Naomi Baker that went to her and THANKED her for “all her work” and sending so many women to TAM. Also, she was thanked several times from the stage by various people for sending women to TAM (including Pamela Gay)… and by various JREF staff. There was also a protective element there for Amy. Please, so many women, and men, went up to Amy and were “thank you” and “You are doing great work”…and her table was always crowded with people buying her artwork. In fact, one woman when I was buying my $70 worth of necklaces said “I love your artwork and I love what you do”. It seemed a very very positive experience to me. A few jerks, whatever. And Harriet Hall has the freedom to express herself. Skepchick exsisted LONG before the web site. TAM 2 first Skepchick party with tshirts I’m told. Name was invented not by the professional skepchicks. Harriet was simply giving her opinion. And as she said, “The smiley face is there for a reason.” Agree or not, like someone wearing an atheist tshirt in downtown Salt Lake City, freedom of speech is what she was engaged in. Don’t just count the “misses” Amy, count the HITS… Naomi Baker is “older” and she was VERY VERY supportive. She dropped at least $100, and was very clear in her thanks. Give her a heads up, rather than just bash Harriet!

  278. 278
    tigtog

    artnut, Amy has been tweeting positive responses on the TAM hashtag and retweeting compliments for herself and others on the TAM hashtag. The communication above which Ophelia quoted is so far as I can see the only place where Amy has described her feelings regarding the “misses” as you call them. So perhaps your view of this is not especially balanced?

  279. 279
    artnut

    or I don’t have twitter? I don’t! (I know I’m a Luddite!) I’m glad this is her only negative post, but honestly it’s VERY negative and non reflective of what seemed to be a crowded happy booth with people galore enjoying buying her art and supportive. So sorry, no twitter here! This is all I’ve seen, and if it was so supportive, why did she leave? There were SPEAKERS like Pamela Gay, giving such moving talks about how they had been groped and how we all needed to be strong and make change. Probably the BEST speech ever on the subject. Pamela was CHEERED by an audience that STOOD UP! I’m not saying Amy didn’t feel all the positive going on around her, but it is sad to read it wasn’t enough.
    And yes, life without real time twitter updates does happen. My thought was Amy is going to come away from this going “Wow, I sold more than every before and the support and love I received was amazing!” One tshirt and over zelous security…I am sorry. But I am glad she DID have some positive. To read the above, it was “What TAM was she at? Did she not hear the people over and over giving her support and see their support through her sales?” I never heard anyone be thanked so much over and over (I was helping man a nearby atheist table, we kept laughing that people would come to the table and get seduced by her jewelry and not even look at our freebies!)

  280. 280
    Amanda

    Well artnut now she has you to instruct on her how she is meant to feel about things perhaps she will correct herself and be more suitably grateful.

  281. 281
    tigtog

    artnut, I realise people without twitter don’t necessarily know this, but it’s very easy to see what people are tweeting on their public Twitter page – they’re totally searchable.

    A web search on “Surly Amy Twitter” would have found it for you. You’ll have to go back a few days to see the TAM tweets though.

  282. 282
    Steve Schuler

    I’ve got to wonder if Elevator Guy had known of the weirdness that would be generated or unleashed by his now infamous (albeit ambiguous) invitation offered about a year ago aboard an elevator in Dublin would have suppressed his desire for company in those wee-morning hours of Ireland.

    I suppose that the answer to that question might depend upon how keen a sense of humour he had. Had he a fully developed sense of humour, allowing sanctity to nothing, I think he may very well have stayed with his course of action as is now recorded in history. Perhaps someone with a more somber outlook on life, and consideration for the consequences of his words on others and the widespread emotional upset that would ensue, he might well have opted to maintain a cordial but silent role in that brief vertical journey aboard that ill-fated elevator carriage.

    For my part, I am of a mixed mind as to what might have been his best course of action. Alas, history cannot now be undone, but through this I think that I have discovered the answer to the question, “Can the flutter of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil spawn a tornadoe in Texas?”

  283. 283
    artnut

    No that wasn’t my point, because this isn’t a reply to Amy. But it seemed insulting until I was kindly directed to where and how to view her twitter posts. I thought an “old school feminist” like Naomi Baker dropping $100 and saying to Amy how proud she was of her and thanking her…had been totally ignored. To read the above without the positive twitter comments sounds like people avoided her booth, and there were not women and men being SO supportive. I’m glad Amy saw the amount of real support there was. I’m sorry she left early and I’m sorry she felt badly. The loss is that of the JREF, as she paid for 22 people at attend! So, their loss indeed!

    But please, those that buy from Amy and support her need a shout out too! I’m glad Amy did state that in her twitter posts. Old school feminists, that’s just lumping every woman over 40 into a pile with Harriet Hall. Old women at TAM supported Amy!

  284. 284
    artnut

    whoa! Just read the posts. Amy complains when people use HER content without her permission…and yet here people are using Naomi Baker’s photographs without her permission? Dare I say double standard? I think Amy herself would totally agree in your NOT using those photographs without permission. She has written on this subject! As an artist myself, SHAME! Take it down there are LOTS of others you can use. Now this WILL have me emailing Amy.

  285. 285
    Utakata

    @echidna, 263:

    That’s a very good point. Thanks for sharing that.

    @Ryan Grant Long, 254:

    “…and to everyone who knows even the slightest bit about me and my values…”

    And from somebody that doesn’t know you from squat, that came across as a very long winded, finger wagging, tone troll with an axe to grind. I really hope you’re not like that in real life. And no that’s not evidence against any position here at FtB; it’s just whining.

  286. 286
    tigtog

    artnut, Naomi Baker commented here (as “Geek Goddess”)at #15 to say that Ophelia did not have her permission to use her photo in the post, but then at #27 she had changed her position to say that she didn’t mind it being used.

  287. 287
    artnut

    so we take away freedom of speech?
    And the shirt did not say “I HATE AMY” it was “I am not a skepchick” and “I feel safe”

    Yeah, snarky, but where do you draw the line? As several agnostics and believers attend TAM and boy oh boy does it feel HORRIBLE when Dawkins sits up there and says no one is a skeptic that is not an atheist (and this year it was said on a panel by the Head of the American Atheists, who puts up billboard in PUBLIC about how great atheism is and if you believe in God you are believing in fairy tales)…we cant’ complain and say “hey, can you make those guys SHUT UP?” Free speech, is something sacred and yes I am not for a shirt with the N word on it. I agree with Bob, despite the real support and love toward Amy, the JREF loses but I think without the support of the other skepchicks that chose not to go…Amy was in a difficult situation. Never should anyone be told “tough it out kiddo”. I know many agnostics that choose not to attend TAM because of the firm atheist leanings and talks. But some do. You can’t know if someone can or can’t take it…nor should those that can’t be taunted. It would have been wonderful if she had her “buddies” there. I guess this means no more TAMs for Amy ever. I will miss her, her panel was excellent. I will miss stocking up on her goodies and bringing gifts home for the family. I will miss hearing her speak about these very issues, and I know the people she sends to TAM will also be missed. Goodbye Amy…you were such a supporter of TAM, and very brave to have tried to come and I know I will see you at other skeptic events in the future. In a way, maybe Rebecca had the lead she should have followed, but she was brave to come and give it a shot. Sounds like the JREF and TAM did improve and give it a great response. But asking people not to wear a tshirt and then demanding they take it off, seems, a place of oppression we do not want to go to as a people in America. I will still also attend TAM, because I wore a “Atheist does not mean skeptic” tshirt and no one asked me to take it off. I would have been quite upset if someone had. And that is what will happen if we include “tshirts” that in any way offend people on the list. (And people were offended enough to tell me they didn’t like it).

  288. 288
    echidna

    And that is what will happen if we include “tshirts” that in any way offend people on the list.

    Now you are being ridiculous. A t-shirt is a medium, and offence is caused by the message.

  289. 289
    KiwiInOz

    echidna said – “Now you are being ridiculous. A t-shirt is a medium, and offence is caused by the message.”

    This leaves me confused. Are we at war with Eurasia this week or not?

    I thought that one of the maxims of this august body was that no one has the right to not be offended (particularly if they are some colour of theist).

  290. 290
    tigtog

    Criticism is not censorship, artnut. Go ahead and criticise Dawkins all you like, I doubt anybody here will mind you having a disagreement with him.

    Where should private organisations holding events in commercial (i.e. not public) venues draw the line on t-shirts with messages? Wherever they choose – nobody has a right to “free speech” once they’re no longer in the public square. Obviously, whatever line an organisations draw will have an array of consequences planned/unplanned, positive/negative etc and so will have to drawn after careful consideration and reserving the potential for modification in light of results/feedback, but the right to draw the line is entirely down to the organisation involved.

    So far as I can see, potentially the CFI Code of Conduct’s has the best ideas:

    To ensure that everyone attending our conferences is able to participate in them fully, CFI and its affiliates are committed to providing a safe and hospitable environment at our conferences. Accordingly, CFI and its affiliates prohibit intimidating, threatening, or harassing conduct during our conferences. This policy applies to speakers, staff, volunteers, and attendees.

    As I argued above, the reference to not a “skepchick” on the t-shirt is arguably hostile conduct against another TAM attendee (and sponsor), and at a conference with a policy explicitly prohibiting hostile conduct would and should be liable for reporting to and investigation by the conference staff, and evaluated as to the appropriate remedial action required.

    Now, without that specific “skepchick” reference, the message probably wouldn’t quite rise to “hostile” because it would be sufficiently generalised (as per your own ““Atheist does not mean skeptic” shirt (although I suggest that perhaps a 3-circle Venn intersecting diagram of Atheists/Agnostics/Skeptics might make your point clearer)).

    However, it’s not up to attendees to judge whether their messages are appropriate/acceptable. It’s up to the event organisers to clearly lay out their own standards and enforce them consistently and transparently.

  291. 291
    julian

    I thought that one of the maxims of this august body was that no one has the right to not be offended.

    Call me a spic and I’ll snap your damn neck.

  292. 292
    julian

    As I argued above, the reference to not a “skepchick” on the t-shirt is arguably hostile conduct against another TAM attendee (and sponsor),

    It isn’t hostile. It, itself, is not encouraging or condoning any level of harassment towards anyone. Even as a rebuke it stops short of any condemnation or call for action. The contempt for SurlyAmy and the like came about from people’s already existing disdain for skepchick and Hall’s indifference to how her shirt was received.

  293. 293
    KiwiInOz

    Julian – wtf is a spic? We have a show on tv here called Spicks and Specks. Similar? Different? Neck-breakingly worthy?

    You come across as a person who is either very violent or with violent tendencies/fantasies.

    You internet warrior, you.

  294. 294
    tigtog

    I thought that one of the maxims of this august body was that no one has the right to not be offended.

    “no one has the right to not be offended” =/= “so no one who gets insulted has any right to criticise the insulter”

  295. 295
    tigtog

    julian, obviously opinions will vary on this, that’s why I used the word “arguably”. I see the inclusion of the “not a “skepchick”" clause as wording that can be reasonably construed as disdainful and contemptuous, and therefore hostile.

    But hey, TAM doesn’t have a policy against hostile conduct – so it’s all in the realm of hypothetical anyway, isn’t it?

  296. 296
    julian

    spic, KiwiInOz, is a slur for someone of Hispanic decent. Call me that and I’ll snap your damn neck.

  297. 297
    KiwiInOz

    Why would I call you a spic, Julian? I might call you a lot of other things, but that one is not in my lexicon.

  298. 298
    Ophelia Benson

    Stop, both of you. Stop provoking, stop promising to break necks.

  299. 299
    marlo rocci

    I think it’s perfectly okay for skeptics of the female gender to distance themselves publicly from views with which they do not agree.

    To say otherwise would be to treat them as children.

  300. 300
    tigtog

    BTW #KiwiInOz, this Aussie is giving you extreme side-eye on the credibility of your claim that somebody in Oz netwise enough to call somebody an “internet warrior” wouldn’t already know quite clearly that the word “spic” is a slur in the USA.

    Damn that virtually unavoidable US-cultural-hegemonisation!

  301. 301
    tigtog

    Sorry Ophelia – didn’t see your message. Didn’t mean to add fuel to the fire.

  302. 302
    KiwiInOz

    Actually, Ophelia and tigtog, I had never heard the word/use of spic before Julian brought it up. Call me naive or whatever, but there it is.

    But, yes, I will stop provoking Julian now that I know what his trigger is, and Ophelia has asked.

  303. 303
    julian

    To say otherwise would be to treat them as children.

    In what way? We often tell people not to do things that might unfairly or disproportionately impact others. How is telling a woman ‘don’t signal so and so out’ treating them as children?

    I see the inclusion of the “not a “skepchick”” clause as wording that can be reasonably construed as disdainful and contemptuous, and therefore hostile.

    But hostility carries many more implications than just disdainful. Hostile speech encourages others to action (often physically), doesn’t it? Or am I just reading the word differently than you?

  304. 304
    Ophelia Benson

    Thank you.

    And it’s ok, tigtog – that was an amusing observation.

    (“Spic” may be very archaic now, I really don’t know. I’m not sure I’ve heard it since “West Side Story,” which was, like, 150 years ago.)

  305. 305
    tigtog

    marlo rocci #299

    Distancing oneself from views with which one disagrees is something nobody has suggested that any skeptic should not have the right to do.

    Making oneself a walking billboard for a pointed barb directed at persons with whom one disagrees is quite another thing, and the point/purpose/wisdom of doing that (not the *right* to do that) is what people are questioning.

  306. 306
    The Barefoot Skeptic

    First let me be clear, I am a woman. Secondly, this was my first TAM so I can only base on what I experienced.

    I did not find Harriet Hall’s shirt offensive in the least. What I got out of it what an attempt at unity in the realm of skepticism. To indicate that it doesn’t matter what you have in your pants-it matters how you use your brain.

    I also want to say I did not experience even the slightest bit of sexism in any of the conversations I had or quietly observed. I found it enlightening to have conversations with men and women that were so engaging and not once was I made to feel like my opinion was less than important due to my gender.

    I have no doubt some women were offended-as were some men I imagine. This happens in many different instances. And yes, it sucks! And yes, its wrong! But don’t you think working so very hard to find offense in a t-shirt is a bit ridiculous? I mean, if we work hard enough we can find offense in almost anything-and I don’t even believe she was working that hard to be nasty.

    I understand hurt feelings. I also know how easy it is to take something personally when it relates to the cause of you being hurt. But one thing I learned this weekend is that much of how we perceive something is vastly incorrect. And without supporting data, well……I think rather than taking this so personally just on perception why don’t you ASK HER WHAT SHE MEANT! Gather your supporting data. Then make your decision. Otherwise you are no better off than the shut-eyes and religious fanatics.

  307. 307
    Jadehawk

    I was trying to come up with something clever to say about the “side” calling us the Femistasi instituting a secret security that was policing behavior without spelling out clearly for everyone which behaviors would be targeted, without transparency into their process (or even their existence), and with electronic surveillance of the possible victims…

    …but quite frankly, I just can’t.

  308. 308
    Josh Slocum

    1. I don’t even know why you’re entertaining Ryan Grant Long for the time it takes to answer him, Ophelia. Your blog, your call. But it seems wasted.

    2. Ryan, you’re gutsy, I’ll give you that:

    Remember when you tried to put me in the position of wanting to defend the idea of “kicking all women in the cunts”? That was one of the most off-base and obnoxious things anybody has ever written about me.

    Oh?

    Ryan:

    Greta Christina’s insane followers accused me of being an evil sexist man and wanting to “kick women in the cunt every day.” Let me be clear. I don’t want that for all women. Just them.

    That’s OK then. You don’t want all women kicked in the cunt, just some.

    Ryan:

    And her make supporters should take a boot to the balls as well.

    See everyone? Both sides get a kicking. It’s fair and balanced.

    Ryan:

    And her Intersex readers can enjoy a good mallet to the micropenis. I’m all inclusive.

    And that rounds it out. Intersexed folks (whether they have micropenises or not) can expect a good old-fashioned kickin’ too.

    You’re a scumbag, Ryan, whether Ophelia or any of her other commenters want to go there or not. You picked your side and staked your flag on Mount Disgusting.

    Fuck you, and fuck your whiny woundedness. You’d be ashamed of yourself if you had anything resembling empathy or a moral compass.

    But you’re a shitbag .

  309. 309
    Robert B

    Further, “no one has the right to not be offended” =/= we have a responsibility to be fair towards one another.

  310. 310
    markpursey

    So as a trailblazer she’s probably of the “You think you got it bad, that’s nothing!” school of old-timey thought. Gosh how awesome the world would be if everyone had that attitude.

    Just because a person never had to remove their own appendix with a rusty spoon it does not follow that they shouldn’t demand better access to healthcare.

  311. 311
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    The Barefoot Skeptic #307:

    First let me be clear, I am a woman.

    Why do you feel the need to say this to the people who explicitly don’t care what your gender identity is?

    I did not find Harriet Hall’s shirt offensive in the least. What I got out of it what an attempt at unity in the realm of skepticism.

    Skepticism precludes unity. Skepticism is the ideology that the scientific method is the best method for drawing an accurate picture of reality and should be applied more or less universally. It does not merely welcome dissent, it demands it when prevailing opinion is not supported by evidence.

    If you’re putting agreement and ‘unity’ over facts, you’re not being a very good skeptic.

    To indicate that it doesn’t matter what you have in your pants-it matters how you use your brain.

    I here refer back to where you went out of your way to mention that you were a woman. If you really thought that, and furthermore if you trust other skeptics to think that, you would not have found it necessary to mention your gender identity because it doesn’t matter.

    Your words and actions appear to be quite…disconnected from one another. You should probably change that; it’s not honest to say one thing and do the opposite.

    I have no doubt some women were offended

    Damn straight they’re going to be offended when their problems are dismissed and their defenders are unfairly disparaged.

    But…

    But don’t you think working so very hard to find offense in a t-shirt is a bit ridiculous? I mean, if we work hard enough we can find offense in almost anything-and I don’t even believe she was working that hard to be nasty.

    …you…

    I understand hurt feelings.

    …pretty damn…

    I also know how easy it is to take something personally when it relates to the cause of you being hurt.

    …obviously…

    But one thing I learned this weekend is that much of how we perceive something is vastly incorrect.

    …don’t fucking get it.

    And without supporting data, well……I think rather than taking this so personally just on perception why don’t you ASK HER WHAT SHE MEANT!

    Sastra did that and posted the results in comment #75. Hall’s reasoning was found very wanting by the commenters. It would do you well to try reading through the thread before making sweeping pronouncements of Ophelia and the commenters. Here’s my response, from comment #100, where I selected the part that I felt illustrated Hall’s issue:

    My understanding is that she was defending TAM — and responding directly to something Rebecca Watson apparently wrote a day or so before the conference: “I do not feel safe or welcome at TAM” — the implication being that women in general should not feel safe or welcome at TAM. She thinks that’s nonsense.

    There is only one problem with this: it’s a total non sequitur. Rebecca was making a statement about herself. This is blatantly obvious to anyone with a basic level of reading comprehension.

    There is no possible way to apply that statement to all women. An ‘I’ statement cannot be expanded beyond the speaker. It is a statement about the speaker.

    I’m not giving Hall anything until she speaks for herself and explains where the fuck she’s coming from making that leap.

    Gather your supporting data. Then make your decision. Otherwise you are no better off than the shut-eyes and religious fanatics.

    So says the person who jumps into a discussion spanning 300 comments without reading any of it in order to go on about how the commenters are all just as stupid as those religious people.

    But, I guess the important thing is that you’ve found a way to feel superior to both.

  312. 312
    marlo rocci

    The inability of the women of FTB to handle civil disagreements with thier positions reinforces the worst stereotypes of women.

  313. 313
    echidna

    So as a trailblazer she’s probably of the “You think you got it bad, that’s nothing!” school of old-timey thought.

    No, not really. I think it’s more a case of as a trailblazer, she probably doesn’t even see the small stuff. That’s what it takes to be a trailblazer. Not everyone can, or should, ignore the small stuff, because the small stuff sets the scene in the first place.

  314. 314
    echidna

    I think rather than taking this so personally just on perception why don’t you ASK HER WHAT SHE MEANT!

    Yeah, well, see Sastra’s post #75.

  315. 315
    echidna

    Making oneself a walking billboard for a pointed barb directed at persons with whom one disagrees is quite another thing, and the point/purpose/wisdom of doing that (not the *right* to do that) is what people are questioning.

    I suggest that Harriet probably barely registers that this is a pointed barb. Reading through Sastra’s post at #75 again, there is a disjunction here:

    “I do not feel safe or welcome at TAM” — the implication being that women in general should not feel safe or welcome at TAM.

    That implication is bogus, in my view.

  316. 316
    tigtog

    Echidna, I agree that the implication is bogus, and it’s from there that I extrapolate the pointed barb (as others have pointed out, it’s not like Rebecca didn’t make it very clear that her reasons were very personal and pretty much unique to her in the post to which the front of the shirt refers). It’s pretty clear that for at least some of those who were already disposed to be anti-skepchick that they took the skepchick clause on the back of the shirt to be a vindication of their stance.

    However, perhaps your idea that it just doesn’t seem like such to her is more correct. I hope so, because any of us can be obtuse sometimes, and any of us should be able to get over that once it sinks in.

  317. 317
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    I shredded The Barefoot Skeptic’s crap, but at the end felt that I had to link to xkcd: Atheists and that likely tossed my comment into moderation after my two links to More Women In Skepticism.

  318. 318
    Stacy

    I think rather than taking this so personally just on perception why don’t you ASK HER WHAT SHE MEANT! Gather your supporting data. Then make your decision

    You haven’t read the thread. You should do that before you presume to lecture the commenters here. Hall was asked and her answer is described in the comments.

    The inability of the women of FTB to handle civil disagreements with thier positions reinforces the worst stereotypes of women

    Leaving aside your problems with confirmation bias, can you provide an example, of Ophelia, say, or Greta Christina, or any of the other “women of FTB,” being uncivil? I’m no model of civility, myself, but seems to me the women bloggers here are pretty goldarn civil. Does PZ’s use of proud and deliberate incivility reinforce any stereotypes about men, do you think?

  319. 319
    fredbloggs

    318 posts over a t-shirt. Sorry, 319 now.

  320. 320
    mildlymagnificent

    Okaaaay.

    I realise that Skepchicks aren’t by any dictionary or other reading a JREF sponsor. But anyone with a calculator could work out that 22 TAM conference fees in the kitty adds up to more than the cost of that shirt.

    JREF wouldn’t have hesitated to ask HH to wear a jacket or a different shirt if it had been bad-mouthing a major sponsor. When they’re faced with someone in tears who’s brought in umpty $$$ (and they’re hoping for more in the future) they could have found a way. On the grounds of value to the organisation if no other.

  321. 321
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    Okay, finally managed to get to Ophelia’s comment #133.

    I expected it to be horrible. I did not expect it to be Orwellian.

  322. 322
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    318 posts over a t-shirt.

    I’m of the opinion that this shirt was ill-judged and insensitive and I can see how some folks might view it as a jerk move, particularly when worn on consecutive days.

    Is it harassing? I’d say not and we should be cautious of edging the conversation in that direction lest it open a can of worms. (Please, just contemplate the rabbit hole that argument could draw us down.) But the short was certainly mean-spirited in my view.

    As for Amy, it’s up to her and no-one else to decide how upset she’s going to be. For someone who has put such effort into organising TAM attendees and who has been a stalwart in this brouhaha, of course she’s going to earn the sympathy of many of us. There is pettiness and meanness aimed at her, not coming from her. If you take this opportunity to chuck catcalls at her, we shall mark your card accordingly.

    One good bit of news from this is that TAM appears to have had an anti-harassment policy and procedure in place. It’s important we give them credit for that. However, serious questions remain on what the policy was, what the procedures were and why all this needed to be kept super-secret.

    A simple declaration of a policy could have been broadcast many weeks ago and would have been a salve on a very sore issue. I suspect, though I may be wrong, it may have been kept quiet more out of pride than due to any operational requirement.

  323. 323
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    But the short was certainly mean-spirited in my view.

    I meant ‘the shirt’. Proofing FAIL.

  324. 324
    tigtog

    leebrimmicombe-wood,

    I too see the shirt as at the very least mean-spirited*.

    It appears to deliberately set herself on one side of a tribal divide, and to make an extra strong point of this divide by wearing the shirt every day until the day where Amy wasn’t there any more.

    Part of me really wants to believe echidna’s hypothesis that Hall’s just not seeing it this way, because of her past history as a trailblazer, and that this was all largely down to obtuseness rather than malice, because I really don’t want to believe someone with her stature in the community could be so malicious. But I keep on coming back to her wearing it for those 3 whole days and it’s harder and harder to see it as anything other than staking out the divide, unless she’s really very, very, very obtuse indeed on this. Is she *really* that obtuse?

    * and don’t argue the smiley-face – that seems to me only to add salt to the wounds with an extra dollop of insincere plausible-deniability with a gaslight cherry on top

  325. 325
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    Is she *really* that obtuse?

    I know I can be. I’ve done some fairly spiteful things in my day.

  326. 326
    rixu

    What does it matter if it is mean-spirited? What does it matter if it is not something you agree with. This is the real world and in the real world people disagree with each other, if she doesn’t support a movement why can’t she voice that opinion?

    If her view on something upsets someone to the point of crying, I am sorry but the upset person might be the one with the issue. Religious folk tell you you’re going to burn for eternity! Why is someone not wanting to be associated with you such a problem then?
    And “the skeptical community” certainly isn’t the place for someone who is afraid to be challenged on something, isn’t that the whole point?

    This sort of crazy over sensitivity about such tame things, and the belief by people that their ideals are so sound as to be unquestionable, those are the only outrageous and inexplicable thing in the whole story.
    Grow a backbone, stand up for what you believe in, and let others do the damn same.

  327. 327
    tigtog

    That’s a very good reminder. I’ve certainly done things I’m not at all proud of when feeling all self-righteously indignant.

    I wrote up above that we really need some clarification from HH herself on her very own blog. I’m just finding the spin on this from third parties is already so aggravating that the waiting is becoming more and more aggravating, which lead to ungenerosity.

  328. 328
    tigtog

    My last comment was in reply to leebrimmicombe-wood.

    rixu

    What does it matter if it is mean-spirited?

    Gratuitous spite is a character failing worthy of criticism, if that is indeed what has happened here.

    Anybody has the right to be spiteful, sure. Doesn’t mean that the choice to display one’s spite cannot be criticised.

  329. 329
    echidna

    Part of me really wants to believe echidna’s hypothesis that Hall’s just not seeing it this way, because of her past history as a trailblazer, and that this was all largely down to obtuseness rather than malice, because I really don’t want to believe someone with her stature in the community could be so malicious. But I keep on coming back to her wearing it for those 3 whole days and it’s harder and harder to see it as anything other than staking out the divide, unless she’s really very, very, very obtuse indeed on this. Is she *really* that obtuse?

    The two aren’t mutually exclusive. I’m just trying to reconcile all of the data: the great admiration that people have for HH, her history, Sastra’s comments, the conversation between HH and Amy, and the t-shirt. Like others here, I can offer insight into the trailblazing part. But I really can’t speak to her motivations, and even if I could, intent isn’t magic.

  330. 330
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    Grow a backbone, stand up for what you believe in, and let others do the damn same.

    I’m not sure I hold with this ‘grow a spine’ stuff. Do we really want a community in which everyone needs to be pugnacious and thick-skinned every day of the week, 24/7?

    I can do it for a while, but I can only sustain the effort for so long before I exhaust myself. And there are certainly others who have less stamina than I do. Furthermore, we have to recognise that there are some with little stomach for it at all.

    If the only people of worth in this community are considered to be the roughest, toughest, rootin’est, tootin’est brawlers, and everyone else is a wet milquetoast who must ‘grow a spine’ before they can be heard, then it’s really not much of a community, is it? Certainly not a diverse one. It would be unsurprising to me if that turned into a community of trolls.

  331. 331
    echidna

    This sort of crazy over sensitivity about such tame things….Grow a backbone, stand up for what you believe in, and let others do the damn same.

    I’ve got a back-bone, thanks very much. You don’t seem to realise that the tame things are part of the picture too, and set the scene for the bigger things.

  332. 332
    mildlymagnificent

    I really can’t speak to her motivations, and even if I could, intent isn’t magic.

    Motivation is inescapable here, though, isn’t it. Wear it one day or one event to make a joke or a point. You’re inviting speculation about taste or your sense of humour, or maybe just conversation on your own terms.

    Wear it three days straight. You’re provoking speculation about spite or grudge or obsession.

  333. 333
    carlie

    I have so much admiration for early-wave feminists, but I don’t understand why they can’t see that it’s possible to change the environment itself rather than just deal with it as it is. Once there is a critical mass of women, it’s posible to look at it and say no, an environment rife with sexism isn’t just a natural phenomenon you have to “grow thicker skin” to deal with, it’s something created by people and therefore something that can be changed by people. They had to get to the top by forging individually through the brambles and not thinking about all the scrapes and gouges they got along the way, but now we can work together to cut the damned brambles down altogether.

  334. 334
    carlie

    …Because it’s not the ability to withstand cuts and scrapes that should be the measure of one’s worth, any more than which genitals one has should be. I’ve seen the attitude that if you can’t cut it , you shouldn’t be here, but that’s just as much of a stupidly false weeding strategy as anything else. Why should any field rob itself of huge amounts of talent just because any of those people don’t like harassment? It’s a really stupid criterion to use to cut people out.

  335. 335
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    Carlie, I wholeheartedly agree.

  336. 336
    echidna

    I have so much admiration for early-wave feminists, but I don’t understand why they can’t see that it’s possible to change the environment itself rather than just deal with it as it is.

    Carlie, I think it’s that in order to have done something drastically opposed to the options that society would ordinarily allow, a certain tone-deafness is required, and there is a lot of toughness(?) that gets internalised. One of the hardest things to deal with was the opposition regarding my career choices that I had received from other women, who saw me as proclaiming their choices were inadequate (much as Christians are affronted by the mere existence of atheists). The only group that seemed to back me up were the women who had done technical work in WWII and been forced out of the workforce afterwards. It’s not easy when both men and women consider you “other”.

    To get the situation that you are describing, Carlie, where the pioneers can work on those brambles, there are a lot of early defence mechanisms to dismantle, most of them buried quite deeply.

  337. 337
    A Hermit

    All of th efolks making the “grow a backbone, stiff upper lip and all that” type comments need to read Crommunist’s excellent post on attitudes, allies and letting your guard down (he’s talking from his experience dealing with racism but the parallels are obvious) http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/07/16/talking-the-tightrope/

    Most of the time, hearing unschooled opinions are simply a part of living among other humans. The problem arises when these statements come at a time when our shields are down and we’re particularly susceptible to the harm they can cause. We end up getting knocked for a loop, hit much harder than we expected to – certainly harder than we’re used to. Our reactions are therefore coming from a place of acute hurt, coloured by more than a little betrayal. From an outside perspective, the anger evident in our responses are bafflingly disproportionate – all ze said was that I must be good at basketball, why am I losing my temper like this? This is especially true when the outsider is similarly unschooled about the relevant issue (i.e., ze has never had to think carefully about racism before).

    The other side of this, of course, is that the more we know about these topics – about how insidious racism can be, about how seemingly-innocuous statements often mask destructive attitudes, about how deeply-ingrained racism is into our history and psychology – the less it takes to trip our defences. We begin to become (justifiably) paranoid about what people ‘really’ mean when they use certain words or phrases. Every conversation turns into an exercise akin to licking a bunch of supposedly-dead 9V batteries – eventually you’re going to get shocked.

    Of course it’s even worse when the betrayal is coming from someone who SHOULD understand the problem…

  338. 338
    SAWells

    Distressing levels of irony, number 1367: The front of Hall’s T-shirt says “I feel safe and welcome at TAM…”; the back makes Amy, qua Skepchick, feel unwelcome at TAM; Hall continues to wear the shirt. Does not compute…

  339. 339
    SunlessNick

    And “the skeptical community” certainly isn’t the place for someone who is afraid to be challenged on something, isn’t that the whole point?

    Just think how different things would be now if “Guys don’t do that” hadn’t been met with so much fear from the challenged.

  340. 340
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I really don’t have time to comment in detail, but let me just say, if I’d drunk a whiskey for every person here who suggested that the real problem was Amy being over-sensitive (those emotional, over-sensitive, hysterical, irrational women), I’d be dead by now.

  341. 341
    reasonabel

    A t-shirt made one of the organisers cry? Is she 5 years old?

  342. 342
    dianne

    if I’d drunk a whiskey for every person here who suggested that the real problem was Amy being over-sensitive (those emotional, over-sensitive, hysterical, irrational women), I’d be dead by now.

    Heck, if you drank a shot of water for every time said the real problem was Amy being over-sensitive, etc., you’d be dead of hyponatremia/water toxicity. It seems to be the standard reaction to any woman complaining about…anything really. But especially people making derogatory comments about women.

  343. 343
    Dr. Thunder

    I know how Amy feels. I went to a Cola Convention. I was representing the Dr. Thunder people. I saw someone wearing an “I’m A Pepper” T-Shirt. I never felt more attacked and harassed in my whole life. I left Cola-Con that very day.

  344. 344
    Sili

    Distressing levels of irony, number 1367: The front of Hall’s T-shirt says “I feel safe and welcome at TAM…”; the back makes Amy, qua Skepchick, feel unwelcome at TAM; Hall continues to wear the shirt. Does not compute…

    Not at all.

    The front says “I feel safe and welcome at TAM.”

    The back says “Fuck you, I got mine.”

  345. 345
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    But Sili, it had a smiley on, so that’s okay.

  346. 346
    Robin Lionheart

    To me, Harriet Hall’s shirt came off like, “No men talked about shooting me to death at TAM. I prefer to not see gender or misogyny.”

  347. 347
    Philip

    I am staggered at this level of hysteria

    It’s just a T Shirt.

    So Harriet isn’t a Skepchick? Ok, surely you’d not be too worried about that. She doesn’t support your views so she said so on a T Shirt – is that really something to get so positively frantic about?

    Does PZ worry, for example, about who he hurts when he wears his Crocoduck Tie? I’m positively sure if there were howls of protest from the likes of Kurt and Ray you’d all back PZ to the hilt and make light of the hilarity of them being upset of an item of clothing.

    I wear religiously offensive clothing – even got a hoody that says Atheist in big letters on it for one thing – love the stares I get off of that one.

    Harriet, as well as PZ, is entitled to her point of view whether you like it or not – she is even allowed to wear what she likes.

    Are you lot really going to keep playing the “hurt” and “offended” cards like this? I thought the religious were strange every time their precious Jebus or Mohammed was picked on by us nasty evil atheists. I’m seeing a lot of similarity in reactions here.

    You guys and girls are better than this.

    Ophelia, I seriously doubt if you remember any of my postings on RD.net (When it wasn’t a PC mess of censorship) but I am the poster who used to be known as Philip1978, if you do remember me and what I used to post, think about this:

    Do I or have I ever opposed women’s rights? Absolutely not, never have, never will.

    Did I ever support sexism? I’ve done nothing but ridicule and oppose anyone who would dare pick on someone because of their gender

    So with that in mind, understand I’m not being an arsehole here.

    Do I want people to work out a better system so any number of women and men are seen publicly speaking at events such as this? You got it, I’m all for it. This is definitely a valuable use of our time and resources as a group of people who share the same goal in promoting reason, rationalism, science, atheism – you name it, I want more women speaking out, I want to see men speaking out and nobody shat upon due to their gender be they male or female.

    Howzat?

    Or are we just going to have a massive slanging match over a T-Shirt with some words on it?

  348. 348
    bastionofsass

    Grow a backbone, stand up for what you believe in, and let others do the damn same.

    I tend to choose not to socialize with people if I’m required to butt heads and stand up for myself all the time I’m with them. Ugh, why would I do that?

    This is what I believe in:

    - Women have the right to be free from sexual harassment everywhere, at all times.

    - Women should not have to fight for the right to be free from sexual harassment.

    - Women should not be attacked, threatened, and hounded because they say they don’t want to be sexually harassed.

    - Women should not need to fight for a non-harassment policy at events.

    - Women who ask for a non-harassment policy should not be mocked, attacked, vilified, or threatened.

    ^ ^ ^
    How is it this even needs to be said to people who attend skeptic, freethinkers, atheist events?!

    I am also an older feminist who entered what was then a predominately male profession after attending a predominately male university as an undergrad. I had to have a strong backbone. I fought many battles, endured a lot, and I have scars to prove it.

    I’m mad as all hell that after all these years of fighting to be taken seriously and treated with respect, we women must continue to fight the same battles. And with people who I thought would be allies.

    I don’t get people like Harriet Hall who apparently thinks she’s now beyond the fray.

  349. 349
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    So, Dr. Thunder, what you’re saying is that harrassment, is as meaningless and trivial as pop rivalry?

    Just trying to gauge how deep in the “Bitchez Ain’t Shit” bag you are.

  350. 350
    SAWells

    @347: Yes, dear, history and context do not exist, there is no backstory here, the T-shirt is just a T-shirt. Keep telling yourself that.

  351. 351
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Shorter Philip: Bitchez are irrational. So, I’ll just ignore everything about the reality of the situation and make up some lies and strawmen to attack. Y’all won’t notice, right? You’re just hyterical bitches.

    Context, Philly, CONTEXT. Learn what the word means, and apply it to your daily life. It will do wonders for your severe dishonesty problem.

  352. 352
    Josh

    #343 Dr. Thunder

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve read today, and I just finished reading about how conservatives think the new Batman movie is a leftist conspiracy against Romney.

  353. 353
    bastionofsass

    Philip said:

    Does PZ worry, for example, about who he hurts when he wears his Crocoduck Tie? I’m positively sure if there were howls of protest from the likes of Kurt and Ray you’d all back PZ to the hilt and make light of the hilarity of them being upset of an item of clothing.

    I wear religiously offensive clothing – even got a hoody that says Atheist in big letters on it for one thing – love the stares I get off of that one.

    So, you apparently agree that Harriet Hall was deliberately intending to insult, mock, offend, upset, and poke at Amy and any women who complained or were concerned about not feeling safe at events. Got it.

  354. 354
    dianne

    Do I or have I ever opposed women’s rights?

    Of course you do. You just prefer to believe that you don’t and therefore ignore evidence that you are sexist. The easiest way to do that is to pretend that the women who object to sexism are just “overly sensitive” or “hysterical.”

    Let me give you one little clue: If a t-shirt is just a t-shirt, it is not worn to a convention where one is a speaker 3 days in a row. If nothing else, the smell will start to make that a bad idea. It is therefore next to impossible that this is “just” a t-shirt. Use your brains! Really, it won’t hurt. Well, maybe just a little when you look at your prejudice and see how ugly it truly is, but it’ll get better.

  355. 355
    Dr. Thunder

    Not at all. I think harassment is a very serious issue. I do not think a t-shirt that has a statement about the person wearing said shirt, and no one else, is harassment.

    It’s like having a shirt that says “I’m an atheist.” The a religious person goes up to the wearer and says “I find your shirt offensive. I believe in God and your shirt implies there isn’t one.”

    Ms. Hall wore a shirt that made a statement about herself. No one else. If anyone took offense at that, I would say it’s very narcissistic.

  356. 356
    Emburii

    While I do feel for Surly Amy and I think she was completely justified in her response, I’m not sure what TAM staff could have done about this T-shirt. Even asking Harriet Hall not to wear it because of corporate sponsor issues could have been seen to violate freethinking principles in the sense that freethought is not supposed to be bound by appeals to authority or higher influence or money.

    This makes it even more poor form on Harriet Hall, though. She placed both Surly Amy AND TAM staff (for three straight days, even) in an awkward position; Surly Amy in dealing with what reasonably looked like an attack from someone she wanted to count as a friend, and TAM staff in having to censor another guest in squicky and slippery-slope terms.

    This isn’t Surly Amy’s fault, or even (to my mind at least) TAM staffs’ in any sense of malice. Harriet Hall made the situation bad for everyone, even the conference I thought she wanted to support. I don’t blame anyone else but her.

  357. 357
    Philip

    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I told no lies as far as I see

    I do understand the situation and that the message on Harriet’s T Shirt carries a bit of drama with it but I am questioning why people are getting so out of hand.

    I don’t see that as dishonest, I see that as disagreeing.

    I also said I’d be happy to discuss better ways to sort the situation out.

    Please, don’t turn this into a slanging match, it is not why I posted.

  358. 358
    dianne

    I’m not sure what TAM staff could have done about this T-shirt.

    Not invite her back. Quietly suggest that the t-shirt is not in the best form and explain why. Ask her to change on the third day when people start complaining of the smell. Not great solutions, but at least it would get the message across that they don’t appreciate her form of “support”. If, indeed, they don’t.

  359. 359
    dianne

    I do understand the situation and that the message on Harriet’s T Shirt carries a bit of drama with it but I am questioning why people are getting so out of hand.

    If you see this as an argument over nothing, why do you feel the urge to post on it? I’ve seen internet arguments I thought were kind of ridiculous and responded to them by ignoring the related posts or, in extreme cases, reading other blogs until things calmed down. The very fact that you feel the need to say again and again that you think that women are overreacting is evidence that you don’t believe this argument is about nothing and that you want to win it for men who like to harass women. Sorry if that doesn’t match your self image very well, but it does fit with what you’re posting here.

  360. 360
    emburii

    dianne,

    I don’t know if they could have canceled the invitation once she got to the conference, but you’re right that they could have had a discussion with her even if they didn’t take more binding actions. Harriet also could have had multiple T-Shirts made, though, thus not giving them the excuse to talk to her about hygiene.

    There might be discussion in the works on whether or not to invite her back over this, though. I’m hoping time will tell us more on why this went down the way it did.

  361. 361
    Philip

    dianne

    Of course you do.

    So when I say I don’t, that automatically means I do just because I disagree with you?

    You just prefer to believe that you don’t and therefore ignore evidence that you are sexist.

    Looks like you have already made your mind up about that and that your definition of the word is different from mine.

    The easiest way to do that is to pretend that the women who object to sexism are just “overly sensitive” or “hysterical.”

    My use and reason to using the word hysterical were back up by examples – PZ and his tie for one thing. This has nothing to do with with my attitudes towards sexism and everything to do with people and their taking offence at something as illogical as to what someone is wearing on an item of clothing.

    Let me give you one little clue: If a t-shirt is just a t-shirt, it is not worn to a convention where one is a speaker 3 days in a row. If nothing else, the smell will start to make that a bad idea.

    Do you have evidence that she hadn’t made copies? But then again, I really do not see how bringing up the way Harriet smells is of any relevance

    It is therefore next to impossible that this is “just” a t-shirt. Use your brains! Really, it won’t hurt. Well, maybe just a little when you look at your prejudice and see how ugly it truly is, but it’ll get better.

    As far as I can see in the photo, yes, it is just a T-Shirt, just like PZ’s Tie is just a tie and my Atheist hoody remains a hoody.

    Prejudice? What have I done to deserve that? Since when is asking for rationality and calm over a message on a T-Shirt anything to do with prejudice?

    If I am to be accused of things, please at least find something that I’ve openly said or done.

  362. 362
    Philip

    Dianne – sorry, I would like to make it clear – I am saying people are being hysterical and irrational over this, at no point have I singled out women on this accusation.

  363. 363
    emburii

    Philip, do you know where the root of the word ‘hysterical’ comes from? And how it’s been historically used? Using it against a woman for feeling upset is pretty much another way of telling her she’s wrong just for being a woman. Must be that ‘wandering womb’ making her cry, amirite?

  364. 364
    MyaR

    but at least it would get the message across that they don’t appreciate her form of “support”. If, indeed, they don’t.

    I doubt it, given that I witnessed DJ fawning over HH and her t-shirt, taking out his phone and making sure he got good pictures of it, front and back.

  365. 365
    SAWells

    If you think you’re looking at an “overreaction” to “just a T-shirt”, you should stop to ask yourself if maybe the reaction is to something more than just this T-shirt. But no, it’s simpler to default to “weepy women” stereotyping.

  366. 366
    dianne

    Do you have evidence that she hadn’t made copies?

    No, I’ll give you that. She could have had multiple copies. But how you can possibly claim that a purpose made T-shirt with multiple copies made which specifically takes a side in a controversy is “just a T-shirt”? If it’s “just a T-shirt” why did she feel the need to wear it 3 days in a row?

    Your crocoduck example refutes rather than supports your premise. The crocoduck tie is specifically and overtly designed to make fun of creationists. If PZ Myers wore it to a creationist convention, there would be no question in anyone’s mind that he meant to offend and telling, say, Ray Comfort that he was being overly sensitive by objecting to it would be just silly. Either you agree that Hall meant to offend Amy, Benson, et al or you are lousy at analogies. Which is it?

  367. 367
    Ophelia Benson

    Mya – thanks for the datum.

    More of DJ’s brilliant management. Sigh.

  368. 368
    Philip

    bastionofsass

    So, you apparently agree that Harriet Hall was deliberately intending to insult, mock, offend, upset, and poke at Amy and any women who complained or were concerned about not feeling safe at events. Got it.

    She was certainly out to make a point that is for sure – I don’t want to speak for the lady but she disagrees with the way things have been handled over the furor that is the treatment of women at conventions etc

    I disagree with the way things have been handled too.

    This was her saying she isn’t on the side of the Skepchick’s and those who support them, her T-Shirt says she doesn’t want to support their conclusions on the subject this is associated with.

  369. 369
    dianne

    I don’t know if they could have canceled the invitation once she got to the conference

    I doubt it, not without more overt misbehavior. But they can take her behavior into account when deciding whether to ask her back next year.

  370. 370
    Ophelia Benson

    One small factual item – Carlie @ 334 -

    I have so much admiration for early-wave feminists, but I don’t understand why they can’t see that it’s possible to change the environment itself rather than just deal with it as it is.

    Oh well if second-wave feminists count as early-wave, we certainly can and always did see that it’s possible to change the environment itself. I mean, that’s what it was about! It was about looking at the environment and finding it shitty and getting together to change it.

  371. 371
    emburii

    dianne:

    And I hope they do. And I hope that someone other than DJ Grothe is responsible for the decision.

  372. 372
    Ophelia Benson

    Philip, no, I don’t remember you from RDF. Your language does sound familiar though, it sounds like the clueless male-normal language of a lot of the men who commented there (which is why I stopped commenting there). “Hysterical” is that; “you guys and girls” is that.

  373. 373
    dianne

    Since when is asking for rationality and calm over a message on a T-Shirt anything to do with prejudice?

    You haven’t asked for “rationality and calm” over the message. You’ve asked everyone who disagrees with you to sit down and shut up. A few specific examples: People who want to have a rational dialogue with people they disagree with don’t accuse them of hysteria as an opening gambit. People of a privileged group interested in having a rational discussion of prejudice do not automatically and instantly tell people who are members of a less privileged group to stop complaining and “grow thicker skin” when they bring up an example of prejudice.

    What you’re doing is playing the Nice Guy. You’re the guy in the cartoon saying, “Shut up, kitten. If I say I’m a feminist then I am.” Try taking a deep breath, stopping for a minute and actually considering what is really going on here and what is being said by the people living through it, instead of what the lords of creation think should be happening.

  374. 374
    Sammi

    Wow! What a deep well of bile you all dip your buckets into!

    What is the rule for argumentation here: “I disagree with what I have decided you meant therefore you are a fucking sexist shitbag?”

    How enduring is a movement built on this torrent of vicious invective going to be? I’m in favor of both feminist and skeptical movements but it is not a cause of regret that I won’t meet most of you, as a community you come across as a bunch of obnoxious self-obsessed idiots.

    Go on, call me a tone troll, and stuff some swear words round it. If you want a movement, you need some tolerance and cohesion. This ain’t it.

    Oh yes, to pre-empt the “why are your here you shitbag?” question: I bumped into the link and followed it, and was curious to see what this argument was. Now I know.

  375. 375
    Christopher Hülsbeck

    ‘through tears’? ‘dehumanizing’? ‘gender/color blind’?

    Please! Give me a break…

    I am all with you if you say that wearing this shirt may have been a little passive-aggressive seeing that you are the only ‘skepchick’. But that’s all there is to it. Let’s face it: many of the recent FTB and particularly skepchick activities have been very highly unhelpful and obstructive to the secular/rationalist cause. Skeptics should be able to take criticism without getting upset about it, even passive-aggressive shirt-slogan criticism.

  376. 376
    MyaR

    vicious invective

    Quotes, please?

  377. 377
    MyaR

    many of the recent FTB and particularly skepchick activities have been very highly unhelpful and obstructive to the secular/rationalist cause

    Quotes or links, please?

  378. 378
    Matt Penfold

    Let’s face it: many of the recent FTB and particularly skepchick activities have been very highly unhelpful and obstructive to the secular/rationalist cause

    Only if you do not give a shit about women.

  379. 379
    bastionofsass

    Christopher Hülsbeck said:

    Let’s face it: many of the recent FTB and particularly skepchick activities have been very highly unhelpful and obstructive to the secular/rationalist cause.

    Examples and evidence in support of your statement needed.

    Skeptics should be able to take criticism without getting upset about it, even passive-aggressive shirt-slogan criticism.

    I suppose you said the very same thing to everyone upset about the very idea of sexual harassment policies, right?

  380. 380
    dianne

    @375: Sammie, the “I’m a free speech martyr” thing has been debunked here approximately an avogadro’s number of times. Please come up with a new way to make yourself feel like you have the moral high ground while you belittle a woman who has had direct death threats lobbed at her.

  381. 381
    Steve Schuler

    “…clueless male-normal language…”

    Ophelia Benson a dogmatic feminist ideologue?

    Not a chance!

  382. 382
    bastionofsass

    Sammi said:

    How enduring is a movement built on this torrent of vicious invective going to be?

    I wonder myself. But maybe you need to confront those providing the torrent of vicious invective: those objecting to the very idea of sexual harassment policies who have abused, hounded, and threatened those who support them. After all, they’re the ones undermining the unity of “the movement.”

  383. 383
    dianne

    Skeptics should be able to take criticism without getting upset about it, even passive-aggressive shirt-slogan criticism.

    Because saying, “I don’t understand this”, which is the entirety of Benson’s criticism of Hall, is definitely the equivalent of calling someone a Nazi and is clearly an attempt to destroy the first amendment.

    Seriously, if there is any excess upset to be seen here it’s the people responding to Benson’s and the skeptichick’s criticisms. Starting with Watson’s statement “guys don’t do that” being interpreted as her demanding neutering of all men to Benson’s desire not to go to a con after she received a threat being seen as evidence that she believed that all atheists are insane sexists to Kirby’s “femistasi” statement to, well, Hall’s need to wear the same t-shirt for THREE DAYS to make a point criticizing one member of the con. Do you really not find anything excessive about these responses to simple and reasonable criticism?

  384. 384
    Steve Schuler

    “Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building. Thank you and goodnight.”

  385. 385
  386. 386
    georgebean

    As long as TAM’s willing to surveil attendees, maybe they should be monitoring known and suspected offenders rather than the targets.

    But oh noes…that would make too much sense.

  387. 387
    Christopher Hülsbeck

    @ bastionofsass – oh, I don’t know where to start. The interminable panel discussions and speeches about internet trolls? The pseudo-scientific drivel uttered by non-scientists on the panel (‘the male brain is a human brain that is damaged by testosterone at various stages of its life’)? The complete and utter lack of scientific thought and scientific method, which, after all, ought to be the foundation of any rationalist movement? The fact that the steady increase of this nonsense at the expense of our movement being inspired by pscientists like Dawkins and Harris is beginning to make us look like idiots? Like the intellectual analogue of a Jerry Springer show?

    All this is making us look like blithering idiots. The faith-heads are laughing at us, and justifiably so.

    I do not understand your second point about sexual harassment policies. I do, however, find it noteworthy that you seem to think that criticism and sexual harassment policies are equivalent. What are they critical of?

    @ dianne – I was not referring to the caption under Ophelia Benson’s photos, but to a comment she left in the comment section.

  388. 388
    Sastra

    As I recall (and my memory is somewhat vague here), Harriet mentioned to me on Thursday (first day of TAM) that her t-shirt was apparently causing a ruckus on twitter and she joked that maybe she should wear the shirt for the whole convention now. I laughed and said that if she did then none of the women — and none of the men — would feel safe at TAM and next year the JREF would have to put out a TAM policy saying “please, please, please remember to change your shirt.” She thought that was funny.

    I was focusing on the hygiene aspect there, not the message. I’d already told her I didn’t care for the message. I was wearing a “Skepchick” shirt that day, and Harriet told me she was glad to see it. Her complaint wasn’t specifically about the Skepchicks, per se — and she liked seeing a diversity of views. We had our picture taken together that night, grinning and wearing our respective shirts. I briefly thought about sending it to Ophelia … and then thought no. Maybe not a good idea.

    So I was surprised to see that Harriet did wear the shirt the next day … and the day after that. I didn’t specifically ask her why, but I assumed it was a reaction to what she thought was an over-reaction from others. Defiance in the face of mass attack. I don’t think she originally planned to wear it more than once. And I really don’t think she expected quite the reaction she got. Certainly not from Surly Amy, or any Skepchick in attendence. Iirc she told me she likes the Skepchicks, in general, and feels no personal animosity to any of them. This is about ideas. Not individuals.

    The word “skepchick” on the back had a lower-case “s” for a reason: it was so people wouldn’t think she was targeting the website. The back of her shirt was making the point that women should strive to eventually throw off the feminine modifier and just become people. Which is of course reasonable … except that the rest of the shirt rather distracts from this reasonable point.

    I told her she didn’t understand all the implications of the message on her shirt. She reassured me that she did — though I still have my doubts. I also remember warning her that the skepchick/Skepchick distinction WAS going to be missed and she was going to be criticized for meaning something she didn’t mean. She obviously expected to be attacked on her Paula Kirby-style stance. I don’t think she thought she would be seen as personally insulting the Skepchicks in general or bullying Surly Amy in particular. That last one in particular.

    I bring this up as background information which may be useful to understanding the situation.

    I’m not an official “Skepchick,” by the way — and was careful not to represent myself as one. I admire Rebecca, like the website, and bought the shirt last year to show my support for them after Elevatorgate. Rebecca jokingly told me that I would be ‘allowed’ to join in whatever they were doing whenever I wore it and yes, I could wear it with my Dawkins’ “A” Surlyramics necklace. I’d warned Ophelia I was going to wear it to TAM to make a (small) statement. TAM owes the Skepchicks.

    The fact that I’m not embroiled deeply in this as a Skepchick probably accounts for my ability to disagree with Harriet with such good cheer. I’m a bit afraid she may have thought this was the model most would (or should) follow. She’s also, as I mentioned above, a friend of mine.

    At some point (on Saturday?) she told me she was being vilified by the people in comments on Butterflies & Wheels, and was astonished at the anger. I reminded her that I was a regular reader and commenter myself. Beware: I’m Ophelia’s minion. So she asked me to say — if I went in to one of the Harriet Hall threads — that what she would really like is for everybody to get along.

    Told her I’d say that. Consider it said.

    I don’t expect it will help. I hope it doesn’t make it worse, but it may.

    Harriet doesn’t have a personal blog. She writes for Science-Based Medicine and this issue is off topic there. Not sure if she will enter the fray or not. But look, if you wear a shirt for 3 days to make a point, I think you ought to clarify the point. A t-shirt is too ambiguous, and everyone is deriving volumes of text and sub-text from it. That’s problematic.

  389. 389
    Utakata

    Lol at the clueless “It’s just a T-shirt” trolls.

  390. 390
    Ophelia Benson

    Thanks Sastra.

    Ok, so, she really didn’t mean what she seemed to mean. That does change my thinking about the apparent malice (about what seemd to be malice).

    But – I would think it would be possible to realize that a T shirt slogan can’t express a complicated thought, and thus if it’s being widely misunderstood, it makes more sense to stop wearing it than to double down.

    (The same applies to billboards. That’s why atheist billboards and bus ads get so damn tricky.)

    There are some people I don’t much want to get along with, but Harriet Hall isn’t one of them.

  391. 391
    SimpleComments

    I think its clear she is not happy that Atheism is being lumbered with feminism when clearly they are two different topics, equality should be something to strive for but the community is corrupt in a negative direction and clearly she stood up and spoke out, people will throw jibes at her but she made a stand against the oppression currently faced by the Atheist community !

  392. 392
    The Pint

    I think its clear she is not happy that Atheism is being lumbered with feminism when clearly they are two different topics

    Because clearly the two shall never meet and have nothing to do with each other. *face palm* Intersectionality. Please look it up and educate yourself.

    community is corrupt in a negative direction

    We know, sexism and misogyny are making the community uncomfortable for a lot of people – oh wait, you mean acknowledging the problems caused by sexism and misogyny in the community is “negative.” So we’ll just blindfold ourselves and stick our fingers in our ears going LALALALALALA. That’ll make it all better.

    she made a stand against the oppression currently faced by the Atheist community !

    LOL WUT??

  393. 393
    Stephanie Zvan

    The interminable panel discussions and speeches about internet trolls?

    You mean the single, hour-long discussion of the treatment women receive online during SkepchickCon?

    The pseudo-scientific drivel uttered by non-scientists on the panel (‘the male brain is a human brain that is damaged by testosterone at various stages of its life’)?

    Greg is a scientist, and that statement is a rather funny turning on its head of the idea–frequently put forth in “skeptical” circles–that the male brain develops to be superior to the female brain. To the extent there are changes in the brain caused by androgenizing hormones, there are gains and losses. The funny part comes from the discrepancies in reactions between mentions of gains and mentions of losses. In other words, you’re very funny right now.

    The complete and utter lack of scientific thought and scientific method, which, after all, ought to be the foundation of any rationalist movement?

    If you haven’t seen the heaps of citations Pteryxx and mouthyb have brought to this discussion, you’re not paying enough attention to make informed statements about it.

    The fact that the steady increase of this nonsense at the expense of our movement being inspired by pscientists like Dawkins and Harris is beginning to make us look like idiots? Like the intellectual analogue of a Jerry Springer show?

    When scientists make pronouncements outside their fields, they are at least as prone to error as anyone else. Scientist =/= infallible. Feel free to encourage them to stop, particularly in the middle of existing debates. I assure you that it will cut down on the volume of the debate.

  394. 394
    MyaR

    Um, TAM is not an atheist con, it is a (very, very explicitly) skeptic one. Lots of atheists there, no official endorsement of atheism by JREF.

  395. 395
    Matt Penfold

    I think its clear she is not happy that Atheism is being lumbered with feminism when clearly they are two different topics, equality should be something to strive for but the community is corrupt in a negative direction and clearly she stood up and spoke out, people will throw jibes at her but she made a stand against the oppression currently faced by the Atheist community !

    Atheism may not require a commitment to treating people fairly, but scepticism most certainly does.

  396. 396
    male voice

    The main cognitive dissonance in feminism is the dogma that men and women have to be treated equally while at the same time advocating to treat women differently. I guess a t-shirt like this then bound to stir up some emotions. If you did not have to be dogmatic like this you could rationally justify treating men and women differently where necessary on the way to a more or less post-gender society. Then skepchicks.org would be justified as a way to attract more women to skepticism.

    First the skepchicks cheekily ask why so few men attend the “women in secularism” conference and then they complain about that t-shirt. Go figure.

  397. 397
    Surly Amy

    Just some facts: I was an official sponsor of TAM, you can even see my business name printed in the sponsor list in the program. That should not even matter but I noticed some comments had that information incorrect. I was also a speaker on a panel about skepticism and the humanities.

    This was not the only incident that happened to me at TAM where people were targeting me with personalized items meant to mock or diminish my presence. I only bring up the Harriet Hall instance because she is already in the spotlight as a leader in our community and because she was someone I looked up to. The other people who targeted me don’t deserve our attention at this point. So know that just a ‘silly tshirt’ did not reduce me to tears. Sadly, there was a lot more going on.

    I have a lot of respect for Harriet, I hope that at some point she will realize that she could have sent the message she wanted without using the name of the blog I write for in the wording and that it was unnecessary. I think that gender/sex/color blindness etc is not the road to enlightenment but I respect the fact that that view was necessary for some to overcome certain obstacles in the past. It’s an outdated view, but I understand where it comes from. I hope that Harriet will realize why it was so hurtful and why I was offended by both the front and the back. Some of us have been harassed at events and do not feel safe. The shirt was also hurtful to those in that context as well.

    As for people being supportive, yes many were. I am a longtime attendee of TAM. I am a public skeptic. I have many fans of my art and writing that collect my work there. I am very grateful for that. Those people are absolutely wonderful. I personally thanked every single one of them. It is because of those people and my grant winners that I went to the event and why I stayed as long as I did. This does not diminish the fact that there was an extreme undercurrent of ‘othering’ and angry divisiveness swirling about me the entire time. It was very, very stressful.

    I am still very upset by the events that transpired last weekend. All I know is that we should as a community strive to be better than all this. I will continue to try to be a better person and I will continue to try to help other people get involved and to set an example of kind, productive, proactive behavior in hopes that more people will follow my lead than the those who want to mock and belittle.

  398. 398
    SimpleComments

    Thanks “The Pint” for getting back, as usual there is a condescending attitude of know it all from certain members of community which gives the community a bad name,

    Just because you have a subjective belief that both should be put together does not mean yelling it from the trees within an Atheism forum is a good idea, Atheism is about open minded thinking, Feminism is about relieving oppression, just because previous members have attempted to bring the two together does not mean they are a good idea,

    Should we also add every other religious oppression to the idea of open minded thinking to make you happy.

    When I go to an Atheism convention I expect to hear about the Atheism movement and what is being done to help both Atheists and religious people to think more open minded, not sure if your aware of this but have set ideas and pushing them on everyone is not very open minded and yes Atheists do this to.

    Currently the Feminist community is pushing on all Atheists to make Feminism a bigger thing to atheists that open minded thinking, one will eventually lead to the other but making feminism a dogmatic system for atheists is not a good form of thinking. Trying to force and idea on someone who may not agree with something is ridiculous compared to showing them all sides and letting them make a free decision.

  399. 399
    Matt Penfold

    Currently the Feminist community is pushing on all Atheists to make Feminism a bigger thing to atheists that open minded thinking, one will eventually lead to the other but making feminism a dogmatic system for atheists is not a good form of thinking. Trying to force and idea on someone who may not agree with something is ridiculous compared to showing them all sides and letting them make a free decision.

    Feminism is simply the idea that women are people too. If you think that is dogmatic, tough.

  400. 400
    Christopher Hülsbeck

    ‘Greg is a scientist’ – no he is not. He is merely a layman. I think it is fantastic when laypeople get involved in scientific discussions. But it is statements like that that demonstrate how utterly impossible it is for many outsider to twist and mangle scientific findings to fit into their political ideology.

    I am a scientist. It is fairly easy to tell a real scientist from a layman. For instance, we do not speak of ‘gains’ and ‘losses’ when we examine the various effects hormones have on living tissue. To a scientist, science will always come first and politics second. He/she will never bastardise science in ordler to promote feminism/anti-feminism, democracy, republicanism, etc…

    I must admit, I am not aware of the two contributors you mentionedre: the scientific method.

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  1. 401
    TAM’s harassment policy was secret. Why? | Lousy Canuck

    [...] though that wasn’t enough, Surly Amy provided Ophelia with the following quote, with the relevant details bolded by me: I think one of the most hurtful things I experienced while [...]

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  3. 403
    WTF, TAM? | The Atheist Conspiracy

    [...] First Harriet Hall showed up wearing a T-shirt that effectively took a very cheap shot at the Skepch… When Skepchick Surly Amy took issue, she found herself accosted by some anti-harassment con staff who could far more accurately be described as the thought police from Oceania even though Amy was treated rather tamely. Then we find out that she wasn’t the only one, and regular attendees didn’t get the Good Cops. This all comes after the debacle where DJ Grothe said that the problem was complaints of harassment, not harassment itself. Chew on it. Personally, I think this reeks. Share this:FacebookStumbleUponRedditEmailTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. ← Spot the difference [...]

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    Feminist reduced to tears by T-shirt « Thunderf00t

    [...] the actual text of her describing the event, but if you can’t be bothered to read it, here is the video [...]

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