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Nov 03 2012

On the ground again

In Los Angeles. I took a group shuttle from the airport and it took FOREVER but that was actually good, because I got a tour.

Gonna go have a bite to eat with STACY and ALICE.

Doesn’t suck to be me.

16 comments

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  1. 1
    sceptinurse

    Ah, but do they have cat food for you? ;)

  2. 2
    Ophelia Benson

    The very best in cat food, I assure you!

  3. 3
    Argle Bargle

    Doesn’t suck to be me.

    You sound happy. We’ll have to do something about that.

  4. 4
    Bruce Everett

    If you see Snake Plissken, it may be worth asking for theocracy-fighting tips. Also, travel tips for when you leave.

  5. 5
    Emily Isalwaysright

    Ah, I am relieved to find cat food references in the comments. I was getting worried! :)

  6. 6
    601

    Ophelia gave a great talk at CFI-LA, but she was playing to a tough crowd.

    Many went to lunch afterward for fancy Thai cat food across the street, and I discovered ElevatorGate is alive and well. And discussing it in person was no simpler than online, they just don’t seem to get the key issue (privilege blindness?). For instance, I argued that what actually happened in any particular elevator was irrelevant.

    @Ophelia – I’m looking forward to your next book on radical atheist feminism, and I apologize in advance if this is an unfounded rumor.

  7. 7
    Ophelia Benson

    Hey, 601, it was good to meet you. Thanks for saying hi.

    So there was elevator conversation at the other end of that table?! I didn’t realize. I was talking to Louise, so I had a good time.

    The tough crowd didn’t heckle me, at least. There was just that one question about feminism, an “ideology,” and what’s it got to do with skepticism. (My talk wasn’t about skepticism.) It’s funny that people don’t think anti-feminism is an ideology.

  8. 8
    601

    As this was my first CFI-LA event, I didn’t know what the mood of the crowd would be.

    I only mustered the courage for the trek to Hollywood to see you speak (and to try to provide support somehow). Naively, I have historically assumed atheism implied feminism (and social justice generally), i.e. that Atheism equals A+. Combined with my position on free will (it’s another religious myth), I’m having the feeling of being in a small minority.

    I also asked (at my end of that long table) several times about the source of secular values. The religious have their pre-fab magic book, but what are the rest of us doing? I’m probably in Sam’s camp on this (yet a further minority?), but I didn’t get any answers.

    Anyway, thanks for a wonderful talk.

  9. 9
    Ophelia Benson

    I naively assumed that at least most atheists would be above the ridiculous kind of namecalling and harassment that…many are not above at all.

  10. 10
    601

    Yes, the poor manners in the atheist community is quite an embarrassment. And it is not so much the outliers (as there will always be the extreme players), but rather the tolerance of mischief (aka “free speech”) generally. I blame the Libertarian skeptics, but I may be misguided.

    Another topic at my end of the table was the reckless use of the term “misogynist” (the recent Australian redefinition notwithstanding). I defended its usage, even in cases where it might be an exaggeration, as a valid way to emphasize an important point; or to expose unconscious bias. But I heard “both sides are unreasonable,” and that strong language and such was just distracting.

  11. 11
    Ophelia Benson

    Oy. Right, because “misogynist” is “strong language” in just the same sense that “fucking cunt” is “strong language.”

    This idea is useful to them, because they get to do both: they get to call us fucking cunts, and they get to pretend to be victmized because we say that’s misogynist.

    The issue isn’t strong language at all. It isn’t swearing. It isn’t Naughty Words. It’s loaded epithets, such as nigger, kike, faggot…and cunt.

    The last one is not the same! they shout. Bullshit.

  12. 12
    601

    Yes, I certainly agree.

    As I don’t get out much, this was my first opportunity to discuss feminism amongst atheists since ElevatorGate. And to be clear, the small group I was talking with seemed like nice guys, in that I wouldn’t expect any of them to initiate the sort of harsh rhetoric you often cite. However, passively tolerating sexism is still a serious problem, but I suspect they have a low level of awareness. Dare I use the M-word, but this could be the result of latent misogyny.

    [It occurs to me now that you probably already know all of this, but as a proud member of the Chorus I want to offer a field report anyway.]

  13. 13
    Ophelia Benson

    No, I don’t already know it, and I’m interested.

    Honestly, I can see finding the whole subject utterly boring; it’s the hating it but obsessively pursuing it that I find bizarre. “Oh god are we still talking about elevatorgate let’s see what Rebecca has tweeted today.” It’s that coherent and sane.

  14. 14
    601

    Oh, I would say exactly the opposite (subject to the usual gross generalization caveat).

    The only people that I have spoken with about feminism who are bored with the topic are already feminists (or at least significantly so). Although I would exclude activists such as yourself, who might only be bored with feminism as one would be who has been talking shop all day, and just wants a break.

    I think equality in general, and feminism in particular feel like an existential threat to the privileged group (just like an Ernest Becker worldview challenge). And this is what accounts for the rapid and enthusiastic response. The anti-feminists are very interested (albeit largely unconsciously) in feminism, just not in a good way.

    I argue that sans privilege, one gets to live in a better world. So I think it’s a net gain, but there is still a narrow loss, which will be resisted.

  15. 15
    Ophelia Benson

    I think the biggest threat is to assholery. They enjoy being assholes, and don’t want us messing that up.

    Which is at least shortsighted, unless they actually want secularism to be a tiny powerless minority.

  16. 16
    601

    I regard the assholery more as a symptom of an underlying fear of change. Of course, those at the sociopathic end of the empathy spectrum may well sincerely enjoy being assholes.

    I’m concerned that secularism may also suffer from the atheist/A+ problem. I naively (once again) thought secularism implied social justice. But capitalism, for example, is secular yet it tends toward inequality. And I was surprised by how much trouble you faced (during the Q+A) with confusion surrounding skeptical vs. secular.

    But back to the lunch table, there was one other item I wanted to mention. When discussing the recent implementation of official harassment policies, the tone was one of resignation. Although everyone agreed harassment was a bad thing (so far so good), having a published policy was unnecessary.

    I argued that publishing our normative values would, at the very least, have a chilling effect on bad behaviour. So it’s all good right? No response, but the body language was awkward.

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