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Sep 08 2012

Every snowflake

Renee Hendricks has her facts wrong. She has a post on The Women Behind AtheismPlus, and she says there are three, and I’m one.

I’m going to try very hard to make this the last spiel I have on “Atheism Plus”. It’s hard simply because I hate seeing the community I’ve come to love be so divided and actually hampered by the creation of a group intent on co-opting not only the term “atheism” but also a logo (apparently the A+ logo on http://atheismplus.com is from a tee-shirt that has been available on Richard Dawkins site for over 4 years). What is more distressing and pertinent to women is that there are 3 women behind the “movement”: Jen McCreight, Ophelia Benson, and Rebecca Watson.

Nooo, that’s not right at all. It’s wrong on two counts – it counts two who aren’t and omits many who are.

Rebecca has said explicitly she’s not joining. I’ve said explicitly I consider it a description or label rather than a movement. Neither of us had anything at all to do with starting it or setting it up.

Hendricks of course considers her inclusion on the list as blame, while I’m disavowing the credit. Other people have put in considerable effort on the project and I haven’t, so I don’t get credit for doing so.

Normally, I wouldn’t give 2 shits about these women or the movement. But they are actively and divisively stripping apart atheism and attempting to bring together a happy little club of women and sycophantic men under the guise of being more socially responsible. Nothing could be further from the truth. These women are simply angry that they’ve been slighted/harassed/sexed in some way, shape, or form and feel their best course of action is to create a “special snowflake” clique.

We’re stripping apart atheism? Really? I wouldn’t even know how to begin. Also, atheism isn’t stripped apart. And then the “special snowflake” thing – that seems to be very popular with Hendricks’s clique. It’s kind of an ugly concept, at least it is if it’s applied too broadly. Sure, some people are way too quick to take offense. That doesn’t mean everybody is. It depends. There are particulars. Just calling everything “”special snowflake” doesn’t further the discussion.

She goes on to assert a whole bunch of things about all three of us that she can’t possibly (and doesn’t) know. She also says we don’t know what “misogyny” means, then tells us what it means, which I already knew.

Other than that, a valuable intervention.

 

 

61 comments

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  1. 1
    julian

    Not that moronic (Sorry, CammelsWithHammers) troll again. Doesn’t she have anything better do with her time?

  2. 2
    Chris Clarke

    Ironic that the people who accuse others about being “special snowflakes” have spent the last year and a half campaigning to silence people who said something they took as a personal slight.

  3. 3
    Anthony K

    Not that moronic (Sorry, CammelsWithHammers) troll again. Doesn’t she have anything better do with her time?

    I saw her slumming around Kagin’s dump, too. For someone who doesnt like sycophants, she sure likes to skulk in places where she knows the majority are going to agree with her.

    Renee, we haven’t divided any community. We’ve simply declared that we don’t like people like you, and we aren’t going to have anything to do with you anymore. Surely even you can understand something as simple as that.

    I know it’s hard right now, but in time you’ll move on and realise that this is best for all of us.

  4. 4
    Bernard Hurley

    There seem to be a lot of people blogging or tweeting about A+ without bothering to get their facts right.

  5. 5
    Pteryxx

    There seem to be a lot of people blogging or tweeting about A+ without bothering intending to get their facts right.

    more accurate, IMHO

  6. 6
    Sassafras

    They sure love to hammer that idea that the A+ logo is stolen from Dawkins when RDFRS openly encourages people to use it and the “plus” version from the t-shirt isn’t even the same as the AtheismPlus logo.

  7. 7
    Pteryxx

    (random rant) OH the hell with twitter today, #SomeoneIWouldSexuallyDestroy is trending.

    *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

  8. 8
    One Thousand Needles, lumper-splitter

    You’re correct, Sassafras. Thanks for linking to the Out Campaign page!

    Renee Hendricks’ claim:

    It’s hard simply because I hate seeing the community I’ve come to love be so divided and actually hampered by the creation of a group intent on co-opting not only the term “atheism” but also a logo (apparently the A+ logo on http://atheismplus.com is from a tee-shirt that has been available on Richard Dawkins site for over 4 years).

    Just to be absolutely clear:

    The original vector file, from which any other image of the logo is ultimately derived, is available here. Although I employed the classic capital A from the Zapfino typeface, the rest of the logo was drawn from scratch and saved as that vector file. I definitely did not steal the logo wholesale from the RDFRS.

  9. 9
    ck

    Ironic that the people who accuse others about being “special snowflakes”…

    It’s not uncommon. The people who complain loudest about political correctness are the ones upset that someone called out their bigoted statements. The new conservative use of the racist label to apply to anyone who objects to their coded racism is similar, too.

  10. 10
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    @6 Plus, there is no official logo. People can adopt whatever A and plus sign they want to. As evidenced by Surly Amy’s A+ selection: http://www.etsy.com/shop/surly/search?search_query=atheism+plus&order=date_desc&view_type=gallery&ref=shop_search

    I made my own version too: http://florilegia.wordpress.com/2012/09/08/my-atheism-plus-logo-design/

  11. 11
    bastionofsass

    Come on! It’s all Rebecca Watson’s fault.

  12. 12
    One Thousand Needles, lumper-splitter

    @ 10

    Absolutely. I didn’t mean to sound as if I was making any claims about official-dom. I just wanted to nip that falsehood in the bud.

  13. 13
    bastionofsass

    Those who identify with A+ have “co-opted” atheism?

    AFAIK, those involved with A+ were atheists before they were “+”s. They didn’t take their A’s from anyone else, it was already theirs.

    But why are anti-A+s concerned. I’ve seen posts and tweets announcing that A+ is already dying or dead.

  14. 14
    ck

    bastionofsass, that goes without saying. It’s practically a given at this point.

  15. 15
    julian

    This whole thing is ridiculous. How many splinter atheist groups, orgs and communities are there? Why get worked up over this one?

    And that’s not even getting into some of the hate out here.

    Which, of course, I’m told isn’t everyone, but they certainly spend a lot of retweeted and high fiving each other.

  16. 16
    bastionofsass

    Just trying to imagine atheist conferences/conventions, websites and blogs if atheism were only about not-believing in a god:

    There’s no god.

    I agree, there’s no god.

    Yep, no god.

    I don’t believe in god.

    Me either.

    Me too.

    I couldn’t agree more.

    I feel the same way: no god.

    I also don’t believe in god.

    I’m an atheist because I don’t believe in god.

    Yeah!

    I concur. God is a myth.

    Indeed, there is no god.

    and so on…

    Because what else would there be to say?

  17. 17
    bastionofsass

    This whole thing is ridiculous. How many splinter atheist groups, orgs and communities are there? Why get worked up over this one?

    Oh, but see, all the other groups are just adding stuff onto atheism, they’re not stealing it.

  18. 18
    Ben

    It seems self fulfilling to me. Some people say “Let’s have less sexism / other isms in atheist groups / the world, and the immediate vitriol just proves them right…

  19. 19
    hypatiasdaughter

    #11
    anti-A+s = A- (A Minuses)?

  20. 20
    hypatiasdaughter

    #14 But you silly bastionofsass!! All the other stuff isn’t about political or social or legal points of view. It’s just……neutral.
    Like white skin is neutral to black skin.
    Straight is neutral to gay.
    Male is neutral to female……uh, oh. I may have started something there.

  21. 21
    bastionofsass

    Plus, there is no official logo.

    No official logo.
    No official leaders.
    No official officials.
    No official membership card.

    Next you’ll tell me there’s no official secret handshake.

    This is madness! It’ll never work.

  22. 22
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    There aren’t any silly handshakes.

    I mean, what religion do you know that has secret handshakes?

    (that is what A+ was created for right?)

  23. 23
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Or are we a cult?

    I can’t keep this straight.

  24. 24
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    @12 We’re in total agreement. I was responding to Sassafras’s comment at #6 and you hadn’t posted yet (I got interrupted in the middle of posting and didn’t refresh before submitting). I knew that you had designed your version without reference to the one (used for a different purpose) on Dawkins’ site.

    As a side note for those interested, even the Zapfino A as the “official” atheist A was not original to Richard Dawkins or his Foundation. Apparently, that came out of Pharyngula.

  25. 25
    Ophelia Benson

    Ah so RDF stole it from Pharyngula so that means RDF owes Freethought blogs restitution to the tune of all the dollars.

  26. 26
    Bernard Hurley

    No secret handshakes? Well then, I’m definitely not joining!

  27. 27
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Ophelia:

    It’s kind of an ugly concept, at least it is if it’s applied too broadly.

    Oh, there are definitely special snowflakes. I agree that it gets ugly if it’s used to marginalize people seeking justice. The correct definition, insofar as that ilk of slang can have one true definition, is “people who don’t think the rules apply to them.” I leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine which contingent of atheism this best describes.

    Pteryxx:

    #SomeoneIWouldSexuallyDestroy is trending.

    These people are pathological. You have to wonder how far this shit will escalate… like, into physical violence.

  28. 28
    Rieux

    Didn’t the former staff member whom RDFRS sued, lo those few years ago, claim that he invented the Zapfino A symbol? I coulda sworn.

  29. 29
    Ophelia Benson

    Ms D – oh that. In my circles that’s known as “I’m glad you’re feeling special today.”

    Funny to think that matches us. What rules are we thinking don’t apply to us? The rules that say it’s perfectly fine to call people cunts?

    Rieux – I dunno! Josh Timonen is his name.

  30. 30
    Aratina Cage

    As a side note for those interested, even the Zapfino A as the “official” atheist A was not original to Richard Dawkins or his Foundation. Apparently, that came out of Pharyngula.

    Actually, I went through every cached copy of Pharyngula.org on the Wayback Machine and could not find it listed anywhere there. The evidence, which I collected and wrote about on the Pharyngula Wiki under the New Atheism article, points to the scarlet letter of atheism as an idea being created by PZ, and as a symbol being created by Josh Timonen through the RDF.

  31. 31
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    I just checked out that hashtag. It looks like people are, at least in recent Tweets (with one nasty exception), using it as a synonym for “Someone I Would Totally Fuck.” Not as bad as I feared, but…. a really inadvisable tag, to say the least. I’m glad to see other people expressing disgust and shock at it.

  32. 32
    bastionofsass

    I mean, what religion do you know that has secret handshakes?

    Allegedly, the Mormons have a secret handshake.

    But…are they a religion, or a cult?

    And I’ve heard some whispers that Pastafarians have a secret handshake too, but it’s too secret to discuss.

  33. 33
    Aratina Cage

    Here is the link to that section on the history of the scarlet letter of atheism:

    http://pharyngula.wikia.com/wiki/New_Atheists#The_Scarlet_Letter

  34. 34
    Aratina Cage

    And here is the talk page for the New Atheist article on the wiki:

    http://pharyngula.wikia.com/wiki/Talk:New_Atheists

  35. 35
    Ophelia Benson

    Rescued from spam.

  36. 36
    Aratina Cage

    Thank you for rescuing it, Ophelia! And since it is a wiki, anyone can add to it or modify it if they have better information and/or documentation or just want to make it all-around better.

  37. 37
    darkstar

    If the Popes of atheism say you cannot use ‘atheism’ then you sure better listen or they will be really upset.

  38. 38
    Argle Bargle

    I’ve been lurking at FTB for a while now, watching Atheism+ get established and running. I’ve noticed several things about the people objecting to Atheism+. Almost to a man (most of the objectors are men), they say something to the effect of “I’m a genuine anti-misogynist, so much so I’ve won the gold medal in the 100 Liter Anti-misogynist Freestyle, but I don’t like anti-misogyny added to my atheism, therefore I insist that Atheism+ be immediately shut down because that’s what I want. Besides, the theists will not be happy with Atheism+.”

    Don’t these people realize that if they don’t like Atheism+ then there’s no obligation for them to join?

  39. 39
    davidmc

    “and sycophantic men” How dare they, that’s just going too far.

    By the way Ophelia, great blogs today , as always, but how is Cooper doing?

  40. 40
    Ophelia Benson

    I just tweeted about Cooper, as it happens. He’s doing very well. I suspect the paw is pretty much healed and we could be doing a lot more exercising than we are – but I’m waiting until we get the stitches out on Tuesday.

  41. 41
    Sassafras

    Ibis3 @ 10 –
    Yeah, that was sloppy wording on my part. I should have said “that AtheismPlus logo” rather than “the AtheismPlus logo”.

    One Thousand Needles @ 8 -
    I know that not everyone is familiar with the work involved with graphic design, but geez, it’s so obvious that yours isn’t taken from the RDF one. The plus signs are completely different in size, shape, angles, color, and placement.

  42. 42
    Lou Doench at the bar

    “sycophantic men”
    The Approved Male Chorus explicitly supports sychophancy and hopes to spread the reach of our evil mistresses beyond comments on blogs to perhaps the letters pages of mid major newspapers. If that’s ok with you ladies.

  43. 43
    Tom Foss

    I love the “they’re just upset because they had a bad experience or were abused or something” meme. It’s a completely new one that no one in the atheist movement has ever heard used fallaciously before to dismiss concerns or claims.

    /sarcasm, of course

  44. 44
    Beauzeaux

    “sycophantic men ”

    The approved phrase for anyone who agrees with women on one or more feminist issues. Surely they couldn’t have arrived at a decision on their own. Weaker vessel indeed.

  45. 45
    JoeBuddha

    I have it on good authority that the Pastafarians do indeed have a secret hand-shake. However, it’s so secret that no-one actually knows what it is…

  46. 46
    Kirth Gersen

    “Sure, some people are way too quick to take offense. That doesn’t mean everybody is. It depends.”

    These are, in my opinion, quite possibly the three best sentences written on the subject since “Elevatorgate” originally broke. Thank you, Ophelia.

    I always sort of figured that if a problem was both obvious and easy to solve, it would have been solved by now. This one hasn’t, and I think you hit the reason on the head: because it’s not susceptible to a one-size-fits-all band-aid or strict rule. Rather, “it depends.” So a movement to bring everyone’s attention to certain issues, so that a dialogue can begin and some real solutions worked out, depending on what’s what — that’s invaluable. And it doesn’t matter much who founded it, as long as it’s doing that job! (On the other hand, a movement aiming to make a machine-gun approach with blanket proscriptions — which, accurate or not, is unfortunately how many people seem to be viewing A+ — has a better chance of being divisive, regardless of intent.)

    Maybe I’m naively optimistic, but I like to think that as long as we keep actually talking about things, and remembering that blanket fixes have been tried since at least ancient Greece and haven’t worked yet — then maybe we can all work to improve the situation for everyone — women, atheists, and everyone else. When we start getting eager to stop listening, it seems like we’re all a lot worse off.

    Here’s hoping for dialogue, and working solutions.

  47. 47
    bastionofsass

    I love the “they’re just upset because they had a bad experience or were abused or something” meme.

    “I don’t understand why they’re leaving us.”

  48. 48
    Nadai

    Rebecca has said explicitly she’s not joining. I’ve said explicitly I consider it a description or label rather than a movement. Neither of us had anything at all to do with starting it or setting it up.

    Well, I’m sure Hendricks got everything else right. You’re just being all picky about facts and stuff. So unskeptical of you.

  49. 49
    tigtog

    What I don’t get about the angst on the anti-side is why they even care? They don’t want the A+ types talking about the stuff the social justice things they want to talk about, and the A+ types don’t want to be limited to talking about only the “purist” stuff the anti-types want to talk about, so why aren’t the anti-types just seeing the Deep Rift as a win-win?

  50. 50
    tigtog

    BTW has everybody seen the io9 round-up about Deep Rifts along the same lines elsewhere? The Great Geek Sexism Debate

  51. 51
    ck

    The approved phrase for anyone who agrees with women on one or more feminist issues.

    It’s one of them. “White Knight” is another. Most of them are an insinuation that the only reason they would agree with a woman is that they want to get in her pants. And the rest use various terms for women (or parts of their anatomy).

  52. 52
    Chris

    tigtog @48,

    Exactly what I’ve been wondering.

    I have theories:

    1. A lot of the antis’ comments have references to A+ people somehow thinking they’re better than everyone else, or variations on that claim. People can get into this thing where they imagine they’re being looked down on and then get angry at things no one is even saying (or go into troll mode to be exactly what they believe they are being accused of).

    2. A lot of them are MRA’s, who just can’t stand women having an opinion, unless it’s about hating feminists.

    3. They are worried they won’t be able to bite women’s legs at atheist conventions.

  53. 53
    Didaktylos

    One thing I’ve noticed is that phrases like “divisive” and “not a team player” and the like really mean “won’t do as they’re told by their betters”.

  54. 54
    george.w

    “But they are actively and divisively stripping apart atheism and attempting to bring together a happy little club of women and sycophantic men under the guise of being more socially responsible.”

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I not happy. I invested a big chunk of my life, a college major and my career track in Christianity. Now that I have painfully disentangled myself from that religion, I hear that focusing on social issues that played a big part in my deconversion would be divisive, and a “guise”? And now, sycophantic? Seriously? What an ass.

    Here’s a news bulletin: having a thinking brain at all is divisive, but we’re allowed to meet on specific issues we agree about. This is not a “special snowflake” thing; it is a unique privilege of all sentient beings. No one’s forcing Hendricks to agree.

  55. 55
    Ophelia Benson

    Hey, that io9 piece is good. What’s io9, anyway?

  56. 56
    phil zombi

    Apparently for some there can be only one True Atheism. Some criticism of A+ seems to be “atheism = no god/gods.” There can no addition/subtraction or attribution of other qualities to the one True Atheism. Maybe I am reaching but I feel like A+ is just a way for those of us who want to identify as atheists can easily demonstrate concurrent commitments to feminism/anti-racism/etc. This isn’t a zero sum game. There is plenty of atheism to go around.

  57. 57
    anne mariehovgaard

    Chris @52:
    “1. A lot of the antis’ comments have references to A+ people somehow thinking they’re better than everyone else, or variations on that claim. People can get into this thing where they imagine they’re being looked down on and then get angry at things no one is even saying (or go into troll mode to be exactly what they believe they are being accused of).”

    This is very common in people who know they are in the wrong/behaving badly, but don’t want to change. They’re really saying “I think you’re better than me and I hate it, so I’ll force you to shut up/go away so I can go back to ignoring the problem”

  58. 58
    NiOg

    no secret handshakes or silly hats?

    ..so this A+ decoder ring I found in my cereal box this morning won’t – Awww. :(

  59. 59
    bronwyncaveney

    io9 is great. I’m glad Annalee did this piece.

  60. 60
    dirigible

    io9 is a science fiction news website.

  61. 61
    Julie

    Well I’m not joining if Rebecca isn’t. I mean, I only do the things she tells me to do. //end sarcasm//

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