A missionary »« More things that look like Jesus

Who is more mainstream?

See update at end.

So all the irritated or difficult or especial feminist types think all of atheism is sexist to the core and hostile to all but the most compliant and Hot women, right?

No. Not at all.

Adam Lee has a post on the subject.

He starts with a post by Melissa McEwan that lists a string of rules (in the form of tweets). I’m not all that fond of strings of rules. I think that’s for the same sort of reason I’m not fond of attempts (let alone demands) to discuss complicated philosophical issues on Twitter. I’ve been finding it pretty funny lately to see Richard Dawkins doing exactly that, repeatedly – discuss abortion on Twitter, discuss eugenics on Twitter. If there’s any medium under the sun that’s not ideal for discussing complicated philosophical issues, it’s Twitter! There’s a reason John Rawls and Derek Parfitt and Ronald Dworkin put their thoughts into books as opposed to telegrams.

So I’m not really crazy about McEwan’s string of rules. I can think of exceptions, and complications, and questions…It’s just not really a very rule-ish subject. It’s bigger than that. Yes observance of some minimal rules would help, to be sure…but that’s so very minimal that it’s really not very interesting. Yes ok no name-calling, no photoshops; can we move on now? To something a little more complicated and interesting?

But anyway. Adam balked at McEwan’s implication that sexism (or worse) is mainstream atheism and vice versa.

McEwan posted this:

I started out writing about why I didn’t want to have anything to do with mainstream movement atheism, but, in the end, this entire endeavor has revealed that whether I want anything to do with mainstream movement atheism is irrelevant, because mainstream movement atheism doesn’t want to have anything to do with me.

Although I agreed with just about everything else McEwan was saying, I thought this was unfair. Certainly, I’m not denying that sexism exists. I’ve seen the abuse hurled at some of my female friends, and I’d never tell any woman that they have an obligation to put up with it. I believe it benefits both atheists and feminists for us to have a closer alliance, but if any feminist doesn’t feel safe or comfortable in the atheist community, then that’s entirely her decision to make.

But I think McEwan went farther than that, by saying “mainstream movement atheism doesn’t want to have anything to do with me”. To me, this sounds as if she’s saying that atheism has only one voice, and it’s the voice of the sexists. I just don’t think this is accurate.

I don’t either. I said that there.

No, I don’t either. Definitely not. Which is ironic, because I’m one of the Top Demons of the sexist faction, and one of the most-cited reasons (that I see) for my enviable status is that I’m always saying things like “all atheist men are sexist” or “all of mainstream movement atheism is hostile to women.”

But I don’t think that at all and I’ve never said it. I think mostly the sexist faction is pretty marginal.

I think sexism is somewhat less marginal (and thus more mainstream) in organized movement skepticism, but that’s a different thing, and anyway only somewhat.

Mind you…there is a lot of sexism in “mainstream movement atheism.” There are a lot of sexist guys there, churning out a lot of sexism. But that still doesn’t make the sexism mainstream, because there are a lot of the opposite, too. I have no idea what the actual percentages are, but I see no reason to think the sexism is dominant or the majority.

 

Update March 26

It turns out I was too hasty with this one, and mischaracterized what McEwan said. Here’s what she said –

I started out writing about why I didn’t want to have anything to do with mainstream movement atheism, but, in the end, this entire endeavor has revealed that whether I want anything to do with mainstream movement atheism is irrelevant, because mainstream movement atheism doesn’t want to have anything to do with me.

Message received.  I’ll show myself out, etc.

Of course I don’t actually mean me, per se.  What I mean is people from various marginalized populations, who challenge the kyriarchal structures at work in mainstream movement atheism, despite its claims to aspire to better.

What I mean is that people are watching how this played out, and people watch how every iteration of attempting to have a serious conversation about inclusion plays out, and every time this happens, it’s not just about shouting down one critic, but conveying to everyone following the totally predictable pattern that they still are not welcome, that they still are not safe.

Well, yes, I don’t disagree with that.

My bad.

Comments

  1. rowanvt says

    I believe it benefits both atheists and feminists for us to have a closer alliance, but if any feminist doesn’t feel safe or comfortable in the atheist community, then that’s entirely her decision to make.

    I just wanted to point out how very very poorly worded this was. Because it looks like “if only she wasn’t so sensitive about all the abuse heaped on women, she’d feel comfortable and safe in the atheist community.” It reads as if it’s her *fault* she doesn’t feel safe.

    I know that is not what was intended. Just pointing it out.

  2. rowanvt says

    I was reading it with the recent McEwan upset in mind. With the response ot PZ’s ‘reservations’, I can see how that one sentence can be quotemined to mean something else. I’m not terribly articulate today because I’m battling the flu for use of my brain.

  3. rowanvt says

    They worked things out quickly and smoothly as far as I can (amazing that, no?) but yeah. Meant to include the quote-mining thing. Stupid flu.

  4. Ulysses says

    What is mainstream atheism? Is it Richard Dawkins and his followers? The FTB regulars? The millions of people who sleep late on Sunday mornings?

    We’re seeing a very loud group of atheists who are sexists. But who appointed them the mainstream? Certainly I didn’t and I’m as atheist as any of the Four Horsemen. I’m also trying very hard not to be sexist and to confront sexism when I see it.

  5. great1american1satan says

    The reason McEwan objected to Lee’s tweet seem pretty well justified, if not the larger statement about movement atheism – although that one could be convincingly argued as well. At least three fourths of the Horsemen have proven appallingly bad allies for feminists at best, if at all.

    But for white boys like myself and Lee, it can feel a bit of a no-win situation when the phrasing of every other sentence you say can be subjected to sociological hectoring, and any objection we feel like raising is hard for the critic to distinguish from mansplainin’ and privilege denyin’.

    I’m not sure where the compromise should fall, but with all the crap women have gotten lately, I tend to think dudes like Lee should just “I guess you have a point,” roll over, and shut up about it. And any woman that doesn’t feel safe in movement atheism, ya gotta admit, has a pretty good reason to feel that way right now, and should probably be left alone until we can clean up the house.

  6. Pteryxx says

    There’s a saying… ‘you don’t have to eat the whole apple to know it’s rotten’.

    It’s kind of obvious that not all atheists are like that, some are feminists, women, belong to other marginalized groups and so on. But seriously, how big a percentage does there need to be before people find it unwelcome enough that they stay away? How many bloggers left or took breaks, or haven’t started? Have there been times when you (any of you) really wanted to chuck it all and give up? And if so, what kept you around?

    Newcomers don’t have the community ties and investment that most of us regulars have. They’re going to measure whether they’re better off getting involved, or staying away and doing good in the world somewhere safer.

  7. says

    @ 10 – Well yes but the putative Horsemen aren’t, really, any more. And were they ever? It was ok as a joke but not if we’re supposed to think of them as minor deities or similar.

    And I don’t think anybody should roll over, except possibly on the very few “rules” that are so basic they’re boring.

  8. says

    Hmm. That’s a good point about newcomers. I stubbornly refuse to get out, but you’re right, that’s because I’ve built up ties. Sunk costs. If I hadn’t…Yes, good point.

  9. LeftSidePositive says

    I generally like Melissa McEwan, and I respect that her form of outreach is more to women of all faiths (even though she is, herself, an atheist), but I do think that sometimes she sells the atheist movement short in terms of labeling it misogynistic and/or privilege-blind. Now, I completely agree that the Big Name atheists can be very openly misogynistic and douchey (of the Four Horsemen, Dennett is the only one whom I don’t know of saying privilege-blind nonsense on a semi-regular basis), and unfortunately that’s often the face to the outside world. But Adam Lee’s petition to stand for feminism and diversity got over 2,000 signatures. The Slymepitters’ response got barely 50, and many of those were jokes. The kick Rebecca Watson off SGU petition was middling along at 80 signatures until Rebecca aggressively promoted it, and now the most-liked reasons of its 330 signatures are making fun of the men-children who dislike her (and the Support Rebecca petition got 850 signatures). Atheism+ has over 2,500 members. So I do think it’s fair to say that these hateful guys are a small minority, but I understand that just saying that isn’t going to comfort someone who feels put off by them…the message should be more along the lines of “This is a small minority, and here’s what we’re doing to marginalize them, and here is some of the success we’ve had…”

  10. LeftSidePositive says

    Well yes but the putative Horsemen aren’t, really, any more. And were they ever? It was ok as a joke but not if we’re supposed to think of them as minor deities or similar.

    Ophelia, don’t you often think their elevation to that position was not wholly unrelated to their being white, male, and academically well-connected in the first place?

  11. athyco says

    So all the irritated or difficult or especial feminist types think all of atheism is sexist to the core and hostile to all but the most compliant and Hot women, right?

    What is this? I don’t even…I am going to disagree SO strongly about where this is going.

    “My admiration for the women who hang in and stick it out and fight the same fights over and over. That is a valid and commendable choice, even though it’s not mine.”

    Know who wrote that? Melissa McEwan. Where? A paragraph or so below the quote that Adam Lee gave for his reasoning that she’s talking about the mainstream atheist movement as a monolith. That, along with her mention of “Good Ones” and taken with her prior post that he said “struck exactly the right balance,” says to me that he’s done virtually the same as a creationist pulling out Darwin’s eye quote. She said something blunt and then went on to explain it. To ignore the explanation here is like those who want to claim Ophelia made Michael Shermer Witch of the Week based only on “He said exactly that” and ignoring the explanation and quoting that followed it.

    Did you read his comment on that post? If anyone can show me the parts that were more than “we’re not all like that” defensiveness, I need to have it explained.

    With respect, Melissa, I think this is unfair.
    I’m not denying that there’s sexism in the atheist community, including some horrendous and indefensible misogyny. Nor could I blame anyone who chooses not to associate with the atheist community because they don’t want to be subjected to that kind of abuse. But I don’t think it’s accurate to say that “mainstream movement atheism” has expressed a desire to exclude you or any feminist.
    There are terrible people in the atheist community, but there are also a lot of us who are trying our best to make this movement a better place. Please don’t imply that the misogynists speak for atheism as a whole and we don’t. Some of us most certainly do want you here.

    There’s nothing specific there. There’s no mention of A+, Surly Amy’s series on speaking out, anti-harassment policies, his own petition. Even if he (as you, Ophelia) isn’t a big fan of the 18-item “rules” (only done because PZ Myers asked “What can I do better?”), he doesn’t mention her good faith effort. He doesn’t mention the John Brown tweet of “no, fuck off.” It’s “yes, but” and “we’re not all like that.”

    And nowhere does Melissa McEwan say that the sexism is dominant or the majority. A woman who says this about her own area of feminism knows exactly what you’re talking about, Ophelia.

    I get it. I get why someone who is a privileged member of a self-selected identity group feels shitty that there are other privileged members of that group who behave like total fuckheads to non-privileged members. I am a white, cis feminist in a broad feminist community that has deeply entrenched white and cis privilege that manifests in ugly goddamn ways.

    That makes me angry. It also necessitates my vigilance, so that I don’t engage in racism and/or transphobia—and acknowledge when I fuck up (and I have fucked up)—and invites me to practice meaningful inclusion, in key management and content roles; and obliges my participation as a vocal ally, so that no one can imagine my silence is a product of support.

    It doesn’t matter an infinitesimal speck to me how small or large a group of feminists from privileged classes alienate feminists from non-privileged classes. I’m not going to spend my time quantifying how many of us are demonstrably terrible, because that serves literally no purpose but trying to convince someone already hurting that their harm was negligible.

    When some feminist asshole writes some anti-X shit in comments, in direct contravention of the posted commenting policy, my urge isn’t to beg my X readers to reassure me that I’m not like that. My urge is to slam down the banhammer and draw a boundary that renders that shit unwelcome in a space where I want them to feel as safe as possible.

    It’s my job to reassure them that I’m not like that, not the other way around.

    I do that imperfectly, I fuck up, but reassuring others, not myself, has to be the objective.

    So if I have one more piece of advice to atheist men, here it is: Stop obliging me to reassure you that you’re one of the Good Ones, and just start being one of them.

    (Bold mine.) In my first five Twitter adds was Ophelia Benson. In my top ten was Adam Lee. But this slant on the argument is wrong.

  12. theoreticalgrrrl says

    You’re leaving a hell of a lot out Ophelia. She only said movement atheist doesn’t want women like her AFTER giving her suggested list for athest men, which PZ asked her for, and which PZ said he had some reservations about because he thought it’s just a good guide For Decent People in general.

    Then she was slammed at Pharyngula as being obtuse and uncharitable, among many other things, because she didn’t read reservations in the way PZ meant it, a way which most people would read it unless they were aware that, as he clarified, his reservations ‘weren’t really reservations.’ Melissa asked how she was supposed to know that, and her complaint that it seemed to deflect from the specific thing PZ asked, what can atheist men do to be more welcoming, wasn’t an attack. Saying it’s advice for everyone everywhere kind of defeats the purpose. She said she didn’t think it was intentional.

  13. theoreticalgrrrl says

    “But for white boys like myself and Lee, it can feel a bit of a no-win situation when the phrasing of every other sentence you say can be subjected to sociological hectoring…”

    Yes, it sucks to be you. Poor baby.

  14. says

    I’ll get to 16-18. 15 first.

    Ophelia, don’t you often think their elevation to that position was not wholly unrelated to their being white, male, and academically well-connected in the first place?

    No. Or at least…if you go back a step, then yes; their being white, male, and academically well-connected was relevant to their ability to find publishers, and to the fact that two of them had a lot of readers (indeed, fans) already.

    But speaking more broadly, no. It was because they had books that attracted attention. The vast majority of people who are white, male, and academically well-connected still don’t have books that attract attention. Yes they all had a head start in a way, but still, the books are most of the explanation.

    I think now their status is outliving the fame of the books, but in 2006 – no, not really. Or not enough to matter all that much,

  15. says

    16-17 – ok I haven’t read the post or Adam’s comment. I read Adam’s post and went from there. Then I went out. It’s a gorgeous spring day here!

    I’ll read the post.

  16. says

    In regard to the “small but vocal” bit, I said in a comment there that it was a small but vocal number, although I was referring to the Twitter crowd not in general. Melissa replied and said yes it is a small number but that is minimising the problem and deflecting…. She agreed it was a small number who were vocally horrible but a much larger number that say nothing or even worse minimise the harm done by the small but vocal crowd. So the objection was to deflecting and minimising the problem by focussing on the small number who are obviously awful when there is a much larger problem of those that minimise or say nothing.

    I couldn’t really disagree with that. I also suspect I do want to minimise by pointing at the small number of assholes as they are an embarrassment to the “atheist community”…

  17. says

    Ok. I’ve read the post and some of the comments, though not PZ’s posts. I’m not beating anyone up here, I’m just saying I disagree with the factual claim (if that’s what it is) that mainstream movement atheism doesn’t want to have anything to do with [women or McEwan]. I’m not agreeing with Adam that it was unfair, but I am agreeing with him that it’s not entirely accurate. It’s too broad, that’s all.

    But don’t get me wrong. I do agree that that movement has so far done a pretty crappy job of dealing with the misogyny problem. On the other hand I also think it takes way too much time to keep up with that problem so in a way it’s not that surprising that nobody is doing a very good job of dealing with it.

    Anyway this wasn’t meant as a slam at McEwan, just a disagreement with one claim.

  18. Steve A.E. says

    Yeah, Ophelia, your comment at 22 is good, and 16 & 17 above are pretty good, too. I like Adam (internetly, you know, haven’t met him IRL), but that thread isn’t one of his better moments.

  19. says

    Pteryxx

    It’s kind of obvious that not all atheists are like that, some are feminists, women, belong to other marginalized groups and so on. But seriously, how big a percentage does there need to be before people find it unwelcome enough that they stay away?

    That. Exactly that. And who are you, for that matter, who am I, to dictate to others what their tolerance levels (in regards to sexist behaviour and the culture that reinforces it) “should” be?

    If one feels unwelcome, that is a valid feeling. What to do about it, I suspect, varies from person to person, though when the problem is something that’s systemic or cultural, I think it ought to be challenged and changed, by the least-violent means available.

    How many bloggers left or took breaks, or haven’t started? Have there been times when you (any of you) really wanted to chuck it all and give up? And if so, what kept you around?

    Gods, at least once a week I end up whinging about how I don’t want to live on this planet any more! It’s the community, specifically the community here at FTB, that keeps me around.

  20. says

    Yes, feeling unwelcome, that’s one thing. (Although even there, there are some limits. I think it’s a mistake to declare all professed subjective feelings immune. People can just get things wrong; we can be in a bad mood, or coming down with a cold; we can over-react. But within reason, a fairly stable feeling that’s tethered to observations about the world – people get to have their own without being put under the Big Scary Light.) But saying X is unwelcoming is different. We needa be careful not to treat them as the same.

  21. athyco says

    I’m just saying I disagree with the factual claim (if that’s what it is) that mainstream movement atheism doesn’t want to have anything to do with [women or McEwan].

    I disagree with that claim, too.

    But is it an actual claim that has been made within the context of the 5 related Shakesville posts, Pharyngula posts, other FtB posts, and a slew of comments that include clarification by the OP writers?

    The material McEwan wrote directly under Adam Lee’s single-sentence quote means that it is his interpretation that is “too broad.” The material she wrote about understanding a privileged person in a self-selected group–feeling bad about other privileged people crapping on the marginalized–means that she’s showing her understanding of the anger and desire to distance oneself from them. The explanation of making safe spaces without requiring reassurance from allies exemplifies the thinking that will help avoid “we’re not all like that” from a privileged person. When she responds to an atheist man’s “no, fuck off” tweet about her list by referencing “men of good will,” she proves her recognition that such a group exists in the atheist community. Her interaction/explanation with oolon demonstrates that she will explain when something more specific than “yes, but…we’re not all that way” makes it to her comments.

    Yes, I’d disagree with the quoted claim, too. But it has to be made; at this point, I consider it a strawman.

  22. says

    I think Natalie Reed has a point when she says* that a lot of the (generally straight white cis middle-class educated western male) movement atheists identify as such because A) that’s the only intersectional axis where they clearly and distinctly lack privilege (and feel it); B) identify atheism as the most pressing/important/real social justice issue facing society (because it’s the one that most affects them); and/or C) it allows them to semi-legitimately adopt the mantle of an oppressed group without actually confronting their privilege.

    I don’t think that’s necessarily the case for all, or even most, but I think there are definitely those fervent movement-atheists, the ones who have made it such a major part of their identity, for whom that’s distinctly true. And I think a lot of the chafing at this intersectional stuff is because they’d rather not be confronted with the notion that maybe, even in spite of their irreligiosity, they still have it pretty easy compared to others.

    I know I was in a state like that when I first started coming out and identifying as an atheist. Nothing seemed more important than dismantling religion, the source of most/all of the world’s problems. Now? I know a lot more now.

  23. says

    Oops, posted too soon. First, the point about all that was that I don’t think movement atheists are, as a whole, privilege-blind, but I think a lot of them are wearing very dark privilege sunglasses, and are reluctant to take them off.

    And the * was to point out that I was paraphrasing and very probably missing a lot of the nuance of her position, so don’t assume that I’m anything like accurate in my reading.

  24. says

    Well, yeah, I’m trying to say that when there is identifiable behaviour or cultural things that, alone or in combination, are unwelcoming, these things need to be challenged and changed for the better.

    I leave it up to the individual to decide how.

  25. theoreticalgrrrl says

    @great1american1satan

    I get what you’re saying, I feel awkward commenting about racial or GLBQT issues often because I’m afraid I might say something clueless or stupid (I save all that for here;)). I apologize for that snarky comment. It’s just that I don’t complain about my discomfort to the marginalized group I don’t belong to. I know it’s not about my feelings.

  26. great1american1satan says

    @theoreticalgrrl, It’s a fair snark. My household is two people that make up 3/5 of the LGBTQ acronym and I’m bound to step in it. It’s feels sucky for privilege havers like myself who are trying to do things right, because it’s like learning to behave like an adult from scratch. Some words I’ve used my whole life are bad words, much like shitting in your pants is cool until you’re 2 years old. The people correcting our behavior are right to do it, like parents are right to tell their babies to stop crapping themselves, but it feels bad living in the shadow of shame all the time.

    It’s a price I’m willing to pay to do make the world better for everybody. Where’s my cookie? Weh! Weh!

  27. bad Jim says

    The sad problem is that there isn’t anything special about atheism. It’s an intellectual field like any other, despite its lack of institutional gatekeepers, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it resembles academia and business. Sure, we ought to be better than we are, but going godless doesn’t free us from our inherited baggage any more than learning algebra does.

  28. carlie says

    Yes, feeling unwelcome, that’s one thing.[…]But saying X is unwelcoming is different. We needa be careful not to treat them as the same.

    But that’s exactly what Adam did. He specifically said “I certainly don’t think anyone’s claim of hurt feelings should be accepted without question.” Perhaps what he meant was that he doesn’t think a claim of the environment being wholly unwelcoming to all women should be accepted without question, but what he said was that no one’s claim of hurt feelings should be accepted. That’s breathtakingly dismissive, not to mention square one of sexism bingo, to say that you aren’t allowed to have the reactions you have. It was just a joke, stop being upset. It was an oversight, not a deliberate omission, so stop being upset. It was a compliment, stop being upset.

  29. says

    Carlie @33

    I took Adam’s meaning that you don’t just accept every claim of hurt feelings without applying any analysis.
    For example, how accepting should we be when a convicted serial rapist complains it hurts his feelings when he’s labeled a rapist? How accepting should we be of Christian’s claiming it hurts their feelings when separation of church and state is enforced against their wishes? There’s plenty of other examples where we dismiss claims of hurt.

    So I think it was just a reaction to McEwan’s statement that was worded as absolute and overly broad.

    I think we can agree that marginalized people of various sorts deserve quite a bit more attention when they’re claiming to be hurt. But not everyone claiming to be hurt is doing so reasonably.

  30. carlie says

    John-Henry – remember, the entire thing by Melissa was a response to a direct question about why there weren’t more people like her in the atheist movement. The answer “because these things make me feel awful” is a completely legitimate answer. In that context, it doesn’t matter how legitimate anyone else thinks it is; if you want that person/group involved, and thing X is keeping that person from being involved, then you take that information and if you want that person involved, you change thing X. What you don’t do is analyze their reaction to thing X to death and tell them it’s not a valid reaction, not if your goal is to make them want to be involved in this thing with you. If, however, your goal is to be Right with a capital R even at the expense of them continuing to feel more unwelcome, well, then fine, but then you’ll be putting off the signal that obviously you don’t want her there as much as you want to be sure that you always get to think that you’re right.And that’s what Melissa then responded to.

  31. 'dirigible says

    “what he said was that no one’s claim of hurt feelings should be accepted.”

    That is not true. The quote that you provide reads “I certainly don’t think anyone’s claim of hurt feelings should be accepted without question.”

  32. carlie says

    Yes, just as I directly quoted in my comment. I didn’t bother to provide the entire thing the second time, because it was just a single sentence later, and was a parallel structure with the first part of that sentence so I assumed any usual reader would see that as redundant. What is your point, exactly?

  33. says

    I usually agree with you a great many things, Ophelia, but I’m going to disagree in this instance.

    I’m not beating anyone up here, I’m just saying I disagree with the factual claim (if that’s what it is) that mainstream movement atheism doesn’t want to have anything to do with [women or McEwan]. I’m not agreeing with Adam that it was unfair, but I am agreeing with him that it’s not entirely accurate. It’s too broad, that’s all.

    Melissa stated that for her mainstream movement atheism doesn’t want anything to do with her. That is her impression. It doesn’t matter how broad or accurate her statement is. It’s a statement of opinion. An opinion she was asked for.

    For Melissa to have a safe place to engage and to discuss issues she follows the rules she listed. She has stated in subsequent posts that she doesn’t think every place needs to be a clone of Shakesville.

    I disagree very strongly with Adam Lee. His doubling down on the fact that Melissa doesn’t feel welcome and how that’s unfair to the atheists who aren’t like that was entirely out of line in my opinion. Melissa has every right to say that she feels unwelcome and as Pteryxx said earlier, how much or little of the movement has to be unwelcoming for a person to decide they don’t feel welcome at all?

    I still read and comment on FTB and other blogs that deal with atheism, but because of the constant pushback regarding harassment and sexism, I honestly do not feel welcome in the atheist community at large.

  34. says

    Yes it does matter how broad or accurate her statement is, because no she didn’t make it as a statement of how she feels, she made it as a statement of external fact. Read the quoted passage again. She didn’t say “for her” – she explicitly said she’d moved on from “for her.”

    I started out writing about why I didn’t want to have anything to do with mainstream movement atheism, but, in the end, this entire endeavor has revealed that whether I want anything to do with mainstream movement atheism is irrelevant, because mainstream movement atheism doesn’t want to have anything to do with me.

    I completely understand someone saying she does not feel welcome in the atheist community at large, as you just did. But when that becomes “mainstream movement atheism doesn’t want to have anything to do with me/us” it’s a claim of an external fact, and the claim is much too broad to have a hope of being true. It’s like saying the people of New York want nothing to do with me.

    Maybe it was just hyperbolic rhetoric. But it wasn’t an obviously subjective “for me” claim. It wasn’t a “these days it feels as if” claim.

  35. says

    If we want to dice it even smaller – I do think it was a little silly for Adam to call it “unfair” – if only because that takes it from epistemology to ethics and I’m not sure it’s a big enough deal for that. But I don’t think it was silly for him to say it was inaccurate.

  36. Pteryxx says

    John-Henry Beck @34:

    For example, how accepting should we be when a convicted serial rapist complains it hurts his feelings when he’s labeled a rapist? How accepting should we be of Christian’s claiming it hurts their feelings when separation of church and state is enforced against their wishes? There’s plenty of other examples where we dismiss claims of hurt.

    Actually, no. It’s entirely appropriate to accept that the rapist really feels bad when they’re called a rapist, for instance. (Unless you’re accusing them of faking their emotions as a ploy, which is possible.) However the greater damage done to their victims and potential victims outweighs the blow to their ego. A lot of Christians really are terrified of the gays, believe in saving the unborn, pushing Christianity at everyone and so forth, but those hurts aren’t sufficient to justify indulging them at the expense of the rights of other people. It doesn’t matter that the rapist really feels hurt because stopping rape is more important than whatever they feel about it.

    So what’s the goal that justifies saying to someone who doesn’t feel welcome in atheism, ‘I understand you feel that way but it doesn’t matter’? Letting atheists who do stick around without noticing the slights feel better about it?

  37. says

    But it doesn’t work to make a big sweeping exceptionless rule that you can’t question any statement of hurt feelings. Sometimes there is just misunderstanding; sometimes there is petulance; sometimes there is vindictiveness. It depends.

  38. Pteryxx says

    Right, but making a judgement call always entails the cost of dismissing the objecting person’s feelings. Questioning their feelings is not a neutral act, is the only point I’m trying to make.

    For a really obvious example, it’s reasonable to question the feelings of the Steubenville boys at their verdict; it’s even more reasonable in my opinion to question the feelings of their lawyer who cried with them. Generally, presuming vindictiveness or petulance or dishonesty isn’t done lightly… there’s got to be really good reason to dismiss their feelings, and in this case, there definitely was.

  39. athyco says

    I completely understand someone saying she does not feel welcome in the atheist community at large, as you just did. But when that becomes “mainstream movement atheism doesn’t want to have anything to do with me/us” it’s a claim of an external fact, and the claim is much too broad to have a hope of being true. It’s like saying the people of New York want nothing to do with me.

    A claim of external fact? Not even possibly a literary device to parallel the beginning “…why I didn’t want to have anything to do with mainstream movement atheism…”? Like…I am stuck on Band-aids ’cause Band-aids stuck on me. And even if you want to keep it out of literary device category, why isn’t it logical parallel construction to “I don’t want to have anything to do with the larger community of New York because the larger community of New York doesn’t want anything to do with me?” Please explain the intellectual honesty in changing to the people of New York only for the second half of that construction.

    If we want to dice it even smaller – I do think it was a little silly for Adam to call it “unfair” – if only because that takes it from epistemology to ethics and I’m not sure it’s a big enough deal for that. But I don’t think it was silly for him to say it was inaccurate.

    What is the minimizing word “silly” doing in there? I contend that his claim was inaccurate because he–and you–continue to ignore the paragraphs that follow that single sentence! Please, Ophelia…why are you doing that? To justify doing that means you must discard what you’ve denounced (with my wholehearted agreement) as the weak, the focused on harming you outcry that you were witch-hunting Michael Shermer with the single sentence “He said exactly that.”

    Who makes up this–to use Adam Lee’s termmonolith of “mainstream movement atheism”? DOES IT CONTAIN NO FEMINIST WOMEN? That is not a ridiculous question (even here, of all places)–IF Adam is accurate, he disappears feminist women as agents (yeah, keeps them as victims) because he still said monolith after reading this just seconds after reading the one sentence that is his focus.

    My admiration for the women who hang in and stick it out and fight the same fights over and over. That is a valid and commendable choice, even though it’s not mine.”

    Melissa McEwan admires women active in “mainstream movement atheism.” She finds their agency through choice to be valid and commendable. Adam Lee feels that she’s “unfair” because she doesn’t mention allies? That is totally untrue! He does not mention women’s agency in either his comment or his post. Yes, he links to actions and organizations and a Salty Current comment on Pharyngula, but those not already in the know who don’t click through and do some extensive reading know nothing about the women involved). He reproduces his Twitter interaction with a man who agrees with him but reproduces none of the interactions (made up of women and at least one man) that disagree with him.

    Women as agents disappeared aside (huh), why still ignore the paragraphs immediately preceding and following that single sentence making it clear that she’s still talking about the “larger atheist community” through its systems, the gatekeepers, the predictable patterns? I didn’t think I’d have to quote the entire context from the post Adam Lee found a catalyst for comments and tweets (and now a post) before, but I’ve changed my mind. It starts from the point in the chronological list in which she responds to an oolon comment with a full post.

    6. I wrote a follow-up that outlined why it is, exactly, that telling me it’s just—just!—a “small but vocal group” is not useful, why “Hey, the rest of us aren’t like those knuckleheads!” is not a comfort, why silence is not good enough, and why people who are keen to make movement atheism more inclusive have to get louder than the “small but vocal group.” [“[P]eople who are keen to make movement atheism move inclusive” doesn’t sound like she sees a “monolith” to me, and it definitely sounds like Adam Lee didn’t give it a second thought before writing a comment that said “Hey, the rest of us aren’t like those knuckleheads!”]

    7. I got the usual pushback—I’m a big meanie poopyhead for wondering why PZ would have “reservations” about my advice because it isn’t tailored specifically to atheist men; I’m “uncharitable”; my tone is THE WORST and I am terrible; Shakesville is totes garbage; and the always-popular Hey, I think you’re totally wrong, but feel free to explain basic feminism to me and try to change my mind. [Is there a feminist atheist woman who doesn’t recognize this pattern? And feminist atheist women solidly disagree with the requirement that they have to list all the good responses in order to talk about the bad, so detailing the “usual pushback” is still not “monolith.”]

    I started out writing about why I didn’t want to have anything to do with mainstream movement atheism, but, in the end, this entire endeavor has revealed that whether I want anything to do with mainstream movement atheism is irrelevant, because mainstream movement atheism doesn’t want to have anything to do with me. [There you have it…the 53/600+ words that are supposed to prove “monolith.” But look at what you had to ignore beforehand to do that!]

    Message received. I’ll show myself out, etc.

    Of course I don’t actually mean me, per se. What I mean is people from various marginalized populations, who challenge the kyriarchal structures at work in mainstream movement atheism, despite its claims to aspire to better. [Look at these “people”! They’re challenging the structure! How not monolithic!]

    What I mean is that people are watching how this played out, and people watch how every iteration of attempting to have a serious conversation about inclusion plays out, and every time this happens, it’s not just about shouting down one critic, but conveying to everyone following the totally predictable pattern that they still are not welcome, that they still are not safe. [“iteration,” “totally predictable pattern” = This is a system, not “the people of”.]

    This type of alienation has been a constant refrain of my life, as I have sought meaningful inclusion in male-dominated spaces: Geekdom is for boys; gaming is for boys; music superfandom is for boys; political blogging is for boys; god is for boys; not-god is for boys. [“type of alienation” and “male-dominated” are accurate; still not a “monolith.”]

    And across each area of interest, there are the cyclical wonderments from the gatekeepers about where all the women are and how do we—the Good Ones—make our space more inclusive for women. [Do cyclical wonderments and “Good Ones” make for a monolith?]

    The answer starts with this: You’ve actually got to want us there.

    My admiration for the women who hang in and stick it out and fight the same fights over and over. That is a valid and commendable choice, even though it’s not mine. [Here are, specifically, women with agency in mainstream movement atheism. Not a monolith.]

    I’ll be over here carving out my own space, in the shape of a fat cunt.

    Adam Lee is a feminist ally, but even feminist allies fuck up. PZ–in recognition of fucking up–removed a photo of Michelle Bachmann eating a corndog from a post. There was backing and filling and hemming and hawing about it not being sexist because HEHEHE, this looks like a reptilian unhinged jaw–perfect for a reptilian unhinged “person”! But he realized that most would see and promote society’s primary “woman putting penis-shaped objected in mouth” while hiding behind his secondary, superficial, “snake-like” analogy. Is Adam Lee capable of realizing an “I was wrong” through unconscious privilege? Will he admit an embarrassing incident (which could have been smaller) through the role of being a feminist ally? I’m pretty damned sure that most of those who confronted PZ on the Michelle Bachmann photo did not like her one little bit. Feminism is the reason that the dislike doesn’t matter–in that case or this one.

    If we don’t admit when we’ve fucked up, if we don’t require allies to admit to fucking up–even one single, minor time!– then we play right into the hands of those who are arguing that certain women just want to be right by fiat in all feminist discussions. We can’t move forward and build if “our” feminist allies marginalize “outside” feminists who say something our allies interpret as an attack on “their” movement. We can’t be incapable of saying to Adam Lee, “The evidence is against you; you spoke out of privilege. It happens. Let’s learn from it, clean it up, and move forward.”

  40. theoreticalgrrrl says

    The quote-mining being done by Adam Lee and both here and Pharyngula is surreal.

  41. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    I feel unwelcome in movement atheism a lot of the time (and shit, I was actively involved as an organizer and officer of an atheist group for years). Want to know why? Because of shit like what Adam posted. Because when I say, “Dude, I feel a little unwelcome here” that is immediately met with, “NUH-UH, YOU DON’T HAVE A RIGHT TO FEEL THAT WAY WE ARE NOT ALL LIKE THAT HOW DARE YOU???” Because I am gaslighted and told that my feelings aren’t valid and that I am expecting too much or being unfair.

    It’s fucking *exhausting* to hear this, day after day. And I know that Adam likes to think of himself as an ally, but know what? He’s not. If he questions my experiences, and believes that I have to hector and qualify every word I say and act correctly 100% of time in the face of enormous abuse? If he believes, as he said on Skepchick, that the misogynists are just a vocal minority and that they are mostly trolls who just want to piss people off and not “rea”l atheists? If he cherry-picks quotes to make other feminists look bad and reactionary? Then he is NOT MY ALLY. He is, at best, well-meaning and clueless. And I am FUCKING TIRED OF THAT BEING GOOD ENOUGH. I’m fucking tired of having to be content with men that won’t out-and-out call me a cunt, or harass me on Twitter, or outright say I don’t belong.

    Because the quiet misogyny? The denial? The derailing? The not-getting-it and mansplaining that Adam is doing? It might not be as viscous as what the outright misogynists do, but its still not right. It still isn’t the behavior of an ally. Failing to be an outright misogynist doesn’t make him a good feminist.

  42. says

    But…Cyrano, I would agree with you if you’d actually said that and he’d actually replied that. But that’s the heightened version. (Like the way I led up to what Shermer said, which has so many people purple with rage at me for lying about what he said, except that I immediately gave the actual quote, in quotation marks, so that it was obvious that the introductory part wasn’t literal.)

    On the other hand people say he’s been quotemining, and I haven’t been following that, so maybe I shouldn’t argue.

  43. says

    Urf, I never wanted to get into this level of detail, I didn’t know it was going to be this detailed. Maybe I got it wrong. I take athyco’s point about the literary device.

  44. says

    Yes much too detailed. (I took a look at that post.) I didn’t mean to get into a whole huge thing. I thought it was a relatively small detachable point, and I found it interesting, so I said about it. Maybe I’m all wrong. I’m sure as hell not saying “movement atheism is just fine and I feel totes welcome inside of it.”

    But I’m interested in things like overgeneralization. I always have been. It’s what got me into this, more than ten years ago. Sometimes I really am just thinking about that, and not making some larger political point, let alone a gotcha.

  45. Pteryxx says

    But…Cyrano, I would agree with you if you’d actually said that and he’d actually replied that. But that’s the heightened version.

    Hm. Ophelia, have you read the (horrible) Adria Richards threads on Pharyngula about how one little forking joke shouldn’t count as harassment?

    The overt, vicious crap at least gets believed. The emotional damage can be as bad or worse when nobody comprehends that a problem exists, especially people one considers friends.

  46. says

    Nope, I haven’t.

    I know that. I’ve been dealing with it for decades. But I didn’t intend to make a big general claim, I was just looking at one (what I took to be) overstatement. It wasn’t meant to translate to “the feminnnistz exaggerate all the bad things.” I mean come on – is it likely?!

  47. athyco says

    I’ve been doing some modest commenting on Adam Lee’s post. (<—That is a wildly sarcastic statement.)

    And after Melissa made the latest post that you read, Ophelia, some folks showed up who hadn't been involved before. They didn't have much to add about the "monolith" point that was my focus, but there was one by TheLetterD about the tweet convo that was included in Adam's post. It made me stop and think about improving myself so that I don't come across as accusing someone of saying “the feminnnistz exaggerate all the bad things.”

    Unfortunately, in this case the overstatement and generalization that you find interesting as general questions came from Adam Lee and about a specific person. His complaint began as a strawman built from a quotemine. The only way that he had to support his argument is to gaslight her feelings as “unfair” and say “yes, but…we’re not all like that” (in the comment section of a post that states outright how unhelpful such a response is, I must remind you). He fleshes it out with a later attack (?!?) on him. You see, Melissa chose to execrate one of his tweets by commenting on it in her own blog’s comment section after someone she follows retweeted it with a #mentellmethings hashtag. Yeah. His words. Not his looks or gender or even his personality. His words.

    If your work were unknown to me, Ophelia, I must painfully admit that I would be cutting you very little, if any, slack now. The reason that I am is that I hope to see you step entirely away from Adam Lee in this case. This case. Not forever. (Willing to step away again if necessary in the future, too, but not forever.)

    You see, holding your thinky ability well above mine, I’m gobsmacked that you don’t see the parallels of Adam Lee’s responses to Melissa McEwan in the things that have been recently happening to you.

    Adam Lee is first of all Melissa’s Anton Hill: coming out of nowhere with his first comment at Shakesville, expecting something without presenting a valid reason to put him outside the category of Another Tiresome Detractor. She’s not in movement atheism–should she go hunting up his bona fides to know how to respond to a gaslighting “yes, but…we’re not all like that” atheist male-nym? No. You called Anton Hill a creep, and he merited it. It doesn’t matter a whit that Justin Vacula thinks he’s one who didn’t appear out of thin air or that Hill’s response to you was your fault because of the way you present yourself on the internet.

    Speaking of JV, Adam Lee is Melissa’s Justin Vacula & Co, discussing her afterwards on Twitter, getting huffy when his words get back to her (Hmmph! I didn’t @ her! Look how cruel she is to this honestly questioning guy just asking me questions! Look how my sensible tweet in response to him is execrated!)

    And Adam Lee is a “He said exactly that” quoteminer, like the many who won’t let it go regarding you. Does Melissa McEwan deserve to go through months of “She said we’re a MISOGYNIST MONOLITH” when she never EVER did?

    Great FSM, that all sounds harsh typed out, but it does so because it includes what happens after someone gets by with gaslighting and “yes but…we’re not all like that.” With the littlest spark does the fire grow. You know that.

  48. Pteryxx says

    (Ophelia: To be clear, this isn’t about the ‘mainstream atheism’ remark. I’m responding to “But that’s the heightened version” @48.)

    Any given instance of judging someone’s interpretation to be wrong happens in a context of women, specifically, not being taken seriously as the default response, over and over and over again. Dismissing women is part of a pattern that contributes to chilly climate, just like innuendoes. So, for the same reason we should double-check our words to guard against saying something offensive, we should double-check the inclination to ignore someone’s stated feelings. Generally it takes a really compelling reason beyond just disagreement to say ‘I don’t think you really feel that way’ – again, see Steubenville. Once the verdict was in, those teens had every reason to make as compelling a show of remorse as possible, and still most people took it seriously.

    As far as it being an overstatement, does this version make more sense? (quoting and rewriting Cyranothe2nd at 47)

    Because when I say, “Dude, I feel a little unwelcome here” that is immediately met with: ‘Why should you feel unwelcome? That doesn’t make any sense given the facts. Most of us treat you well, don’t we? How is this a problem?” Because I am gaslighted and told that I shouldn’t be so upset over such a small thing, I am expecting too much, or I’m being unfair to them.

    If that sounds like reasonable cause to feel unwelcome when talking about forking remarks, it should also sound reasonable when talking about the act of dismissal itself. Dismissal is a microaggression just like innuendo is. (Specifically, it’s a microinvalidation.)

  49. fannie says

    “So all the irritated or difficult or especial feminist types think all of atheism is sexist to the core and hostile to all but the most compliant and Hot women, right?”

    Given that you admittedly didn’t bother to look up the facts and details of this situation, Ophelia, that was a really condescending, inaccurate, and unfair way to preface your post. By following this statement with what’s been going on with Melissa McEwan, you’ve implied, whether intentionally or not, is precisely the sort of “irritated or difficult or especial” feminist types who thinks “all of atheism” is completely “hostile to all but the most compliant and Hot women,” and well, as someone who has actually been following this situation, that’s a way over-the-top strawman of McEwan’s position.

    You say you didn’t want this post to turn into some big thing, but wow, would it have been too much to ask for you to maybe read McEwan’s posts before writing about it.

  50. says

    As I said at Shakesville an hour or two ago, I’m irritated and difficult and especial. That was a bit of irony. I do that. Ok I write mostly for regular readers, who will probably get that. Sometimes that’s a mistake, because not everyone does get it. I wasn’t separating Melissa out, I was invoking the way women like us are talked about, as a minor in-joke.

    At this point I don’t know what you want. I thought I was doing a minor post on a minor disagreement about one part of a larger discussion. That’s all. I had no idea it was a huge thing. Several people yesterday told me it was, so I said ok, I didn’t know enough about it, maybe I got it wrong. I tried to tell Melissa more or less the same thing, but last I looked that didn’t work either.

    I may have gotten it wrong. I don’t know enough about it. I don’t have time right now to read all the relevant posts and comments and tweets.

    I’m not Anton A Hill because I have NO INTENTION of now going on to talk shit about Melissa here and on Twitter from this moment until the end of time. Ok?

    Beyond that, I don’t know what you want. (“You” is kind of general – you who made the latest comments, you perhaps who are reading and fuming but not commenting.)

  51. pixelfish says

    I’m often irritated. As both a feminist and an atheist. I don’t think I’m especially irritated, but that’s just me. However, if your opening sentence was intended as irony, I’d say it fell a little short in terms of what I (and other folks) interpreted it as.

    And given that Melissa’s list was an admittedly incomplete set of touchstones for discussion originally solicited from PZed’s post, I think the light in which you cast it is unfair. As is Adam’s interpretation of what Melissa describes as her lived experience. Does it matter that we’re having a somewhat different experience if many women are being driven away and having their experience policed? It’s great to tell me that the statistics are one thing when my experience is another entirely.

    Over at PZed’s site, we did have a discussion how we didn’t feel that two of the suggestions in particular were useful for the goals and experiences of the Pharyngula commentariat–specifically the zero tolerance ones–as we relied on seeing the evisceration of crappy arguments on Pharyngula to give us ammo for meatspace arguments or to have some cartharsis. Folks like Carlie were instrumental in dissecting the rules and applying the ones we felt achieved the point without building strawmen about the suggestions.

  52. athyco says

    First, this is for me to start in a calm place because of the esteem in which I hold you: I’ve read your work for years and years. I’d be all squeee to meet you at a conference. I’ve hit your tip jar. I’ve been cupcakeless for a long time, but I grinned and bought a couple of my favorite carrot cupcakes recently in sync with Skepchick sending you special surprise ones in the mail. If I lived next door, I’d mow your lawn (well, that’s partly because I love mowing; I’ve got this great 54″ zero-turn with triple mulching blades…nevermind).

    As I said at Shakesville an hour or two ago, I’m irritated and difficult and especial. That was a bit of irony. I do that. Ok I write mostly for regular readers, who will probably get that. Sometimes that’s a mistake, because not everyone does get it. I wasn’t separating Melissa out, I was invoking the way women like us are talked about, as a minor in-joke.

    You’ve just said that sometimes it’s a mistake, and you know that why it’s a mistake doesn’t really matter. This is a “sometime” when it was a mistake; you stepped on a toe. Pitchguest doesn’t make you feel any better by saying that he was technically in the right because you misremembered the spelling of “Rebitchka” by adding a “k”. Saying more like that is not better. Telling others that they’re misread you is not the solution.

    At this point I don’t know what you want. I thought I was doing a minor post on a minor disagreement about one part of a larger discussion. That’s all. I had no idea it was a huge thing. Several people yesterday told me it was, so I said ok, I didn’t know enough about it, maybe I got it wrong. I tried to tell Melissa more or less the same thing, but last I looked that didn’t work either.

    I may have gotten it wrong. I don’t know enough about it. I don’t have time right now to read all the relevant posts and comments and tweets.

    You know you got it wrong precisely because you didn’t know enough about it. You know that folks who say “He just asked her for a cup of coffee!” are wrong because they don’t know enough. It doesn’t matter one whit if they’re wrong through being full-on MRAs, ‘pitters, Tf00t fanbois, or simply ignorant–the result is the same. You know the scientist who first proposed plate tectonics was “wrong” because he didn’t have the evidence. Please recognize that “ok” and “maybe” are not the terms to use. Would you accept a maybe about “Go home, pineapple!” from Justin Vacula?

    I’m not Anton A Hill because I have NO INTENTION of now going on to talk shit about Melissa here and on Twitter from this moment until the end of time. Ok?

    You are 100% correct. I never ever expected you to be Anton A Hill nor did I ever say you were Anton A Hill. I’ve spilled plenty of virtual ink here, on Twitter, on his blog, at Lee Moore’s blog, at Justin Vacula’s blog, and on three YouTube channels (as Dixie6256) telling Anton A Hill and those who call him Brave Hero how deserving he is of “creep” at the very least. I said that Adam Lee was following in his footsteps because Adam Lee went on Melissa’s blog, went to Twitter about her, has had email conversations about her, wrote a post about her, and has made comments on that post about her–with his last one being that he was going to write another post before the week is out. Anton A Hill had his behavior enabled to the point that Lee Moore contacted you to go on his radio show with the resultant unpleasantness of your finding Anton’s video and podcast–all because he was “interpreting” three of your tweets. Irritation at Anton Hill’s enablers should stop any “maybe” from you that could possibly enable Adam Lee’s starting down this similar path in this one case.

    Beyond that, I don’t know what you want. (“You” is kind of general – you who made the latest comments, you perhaps who are reading and fuming but not commenting.)

    Ophelia, you have quoted this in “Understanding understanding harassment”:

    Harassment involved repeated, unsolicited behavior in which the target is demeaned, threatened, or offended in such a manner that a hostile environment is created for the target.

    Does it matter that you didn’t mean to contribute to dismissing Melissa McEwan, demeaning her message unsolicited because you were unconscious of its growth toward a huge deal? Does it matter that “repeated” is coming from two different people, but only sourced from the first person? Does it matter that you missed the diminishing of a person via a quotemined strawman because you were focused on an idea? While you were still unconscious of it, yes. You didn’t know you were adding weight to someone else stepping on a toe. But you are aware now, so what matters is your intent now.

    You would not accept statements of “ok” and “maybe” and “minor in-joke” and “irony” and “more or less” from Anton Hill, Justin Vacula, Reap Paden, CommanderTuvok, Pitchguest, etc. in response to making a hostile environment for you. They’d be leaving the field open for other angles of attack–the way Anton Hill did with his fucking definition of “truce.” You’re justly unhappy that they’re trying to make themselves look reasonable with minimizing talk like that on Michael Nugent’s threads.

    You asked, and I thank you–even through your frustration of this going beyond your expectations–for being open enough to ask. You asked, and I hope that I won’t give you an answer that you think is too much. I want you to be 180 degrees opposite of the reaction you’re getting from people who don’t care what they’ve written about you. I’d want from you (in Melissa’s shoes) exactly what you’d want (from ‘pitters and their hangers-on): a simple (no “maybe” or “sometimes” justifications) statement that you were wrong about going in without adequate information. You were wrong to enable someone else’s invalidation through ignorance. You were less wrong than the principal, but wrong to minimize in your own defense.

    Biggest one? Maybe let Adam Lee know that in defending his atheism turf, he was not acting as a feminist ally.

    Are you sure I couldn’t mow your lawn? I also have this great heavy brush attachment for my weedeater….

  53. says

    > Characterizes feminists as “irritated or difficult or especial”

    > “But I’m interested in things like overgeneralization.”

    The Irony. It is like water.

  54. says

    Athyco –

    I didn’t know all that had happened. I’m sorry it did. I’m sorry I contributed to it.

    You would not accept statements of “ok” and “maybe” and “minor in-joke” and “irony” and “more or less” from Anton Hill, Justin Vacula, Reap Paden, CommanderTuvok, Pitchguest, etc. in response to making a hostile environment for you.

    No, I certainly wouldn’t, but I would accept them from PZ or Stephanie or Amy or Stacy etc. Why? Because of long history, because I know them, because I would accept that it was accidental, because I would believe that it wasn’t intentional. I wouldn’t start with the assumption that they were malicious and relentless the way Hill and Vacula and Paden and Tuvok and Pitchguest are.

    Melissa McEwan doesn’t know me, so I’m not the equivalent of those people to her – but I’m also not the equivalent of Hill and Vacula and Paden and Tuvok and Pitchguest to her.

    It makes a difference. I do (I think) try to give people I don’t know some benefit of the doubt, if they don’t persist in being truculent or sneery or whatever annoyed me in the first place. I don’t see McEwan doing that. I don’t see what I did in this post as anything remotely equivalent to the sustained activities of Hill-Vacula-Paden-Tuvok-Pitchguest. I don’t think I did anything that merits the full-rage treatment.

  55. says

    Also…I think you should look at the post again. It’s not a rude or hostile or aggressive or outrageous post. It’s just not. It just lays out a slight disagreement about one thing. Given that I had no idea the disagreement was or would become a major one, I’m having a very hard time seeing why it merits quite so much fury – I don’t mean from you, but from Shakesville.

    We do have to be able to disagree with each other, you know. If we can’t…well you know how that goes.

    The irony is heavy on this one. I’m playing the sp role and McEwan is playing mine. I’m afraid I can’t help finding that a little bit funny.

    (But I am sorry I’ve upset you so much. I know you’ve given me a lot of support.)

  56. ChapMason says

    It’s not a rude or hostile or aggressive or outrageous post. It’s just not. It just lays out a slight disagreement about one thing. Given that I had no idea the disagreement was or would become a major one, I’m having a very hard time seeing why it merits quite so much fury

    Because it misrepresents what McEwan said. And because you seem unwilling to acknowledge that.

    I don’t think you mean to seriously argue that it’s OK to misrepresent someone as long as you do it politely.

  57. says

    I’m not willing to acknowledge that I misrepresented what McEwan said because I don’t know that I did. I quoted what Adam Lee posted, as opposed to quoting McEwan directly. I don’t know what the misrepresentation is.

  58. ChapMason says

    1. You characterized McEwan’s list as “a string of rules,” leaving the impression that she took it upon herself to admonish the athiest community out of the blue. In fact, she was answering a question that PZ Myers asked.

    2. You suggested that she is an especial feminist type who thinks that “all of athiesm is sexist to the core,” when in fact she acknowledged and applauded the people who work hard to make the athiest community more accepting.

    3. You noted McEwans “implication that sexism (or worse) is mainstream atheism and vice versa,” when she implied no such thing.

    4. You dismissed her report of how mainstream athiesm has made her feel; you tried to invalidate her experience. You should know better.

  59. athyco says

    We do have to be able to disagree with each other, you know. If we can’t…well you know how that goes.

    Yes. I’ll mourn a loss. I’ll continue to read your work for the gems I’ve found in it before, but there will be occasions in which you write about hostilities towards you and those who chime in without full understanding. You’ll write that they (like Michael Nugent, perhaps) will be pursuing their own goals so that they don’t block that hostility or think that it’s a minor point no matter how you express your complaints. They might even come to call your reaction “fury.” And when I read those posts, I’ll agree with you. When I feel I have a point to make, I’ll write it. But there will be a voice in my head asking why you–after being told you’d unwittingly enabled another’s hostile environment–wouldn’t admit a wrong in that “small” thing.

    Is the type of response really what determines getting the facts on the table? Aratina Cage has, on Michael Nugent’s threads, linked to a comment made in ignorance that was held up as transphobic. Also linked to is an Aratina’s apology, a statement that transphobia is wrong, an assurance that extra care will be taken to listen and not to make such statements in the future. Now Aratina argues with clear conscience and an is example of how to combat the claim of double standards and to gain strength for future arguments. Fewer and fewer ‘pitters care to bring that “Yeah, but you said this!” to the table.

    It makes a difference. I do (I think) try to give people I don’t know some benefit of the doubt, if they don’t persist in being truculent or sneery or whatever annoyed me in the first place. I don’t see McEwan doing that. I don’t see what I did in this post as anything remotely equivalent to the sustained activities of Hill-Vacula-Paden-Tuvok-Pitchguest. I don’t think I did anything that merits the full-rage treatment.

    You never expected Anton Hill to become sustained. He did so because he was enabled. No one in the circle he wanted to be in (you know oolon tried at the time on Twitter, but he wasn’t in the circle) told him that he should be ashamed of building a ridiculous strawman to set ablaze. No one at the ‘pit tells that peewee league YouTuber comslave that his arguments are embarrassing. People on the outside get ignored. People on the inside enable–even by falling silent.

    I do extend you benefit of the doubt. Are you extending Shakesville benefit of the doubt? At this point, I extend NO benefit of the doubt for the ‘pitters: if you made an admission of almost anything towards them, there’d be whoops of exultation while still holding you up for more badgering. They gotcha! Now, can they getcha again…and again…and again?

    I don’t think Shakesville will do the same.

  60. athyco says

    Thank you, yazikus. I neglected to refresh and check; then some duties called.

    And thank you, Ophelia, for the update and the comment at Shakesville. Very much.

  61. carlie says

    Thank you for the update, Ophelia. For all the back-and-forth at Pharyngula raked me over the metaphorical coals, this post ripped me apart even more. There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding going on, and I thank you for taking some time out to dig deeper into this one to find the root of it.

  62. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    Ophelia @ 57,

    I don’t know what you want. (“You” is kind of general – you who made the latest comments, you perhaps who are reading and fuming but not commenting.)

    This is what I want. I want you to clearly and unequivocally say that you were wrong for posting this without first doing the research necessary. (It seems you’ve done this first part with your ETA.) Then, I want you to apologize to Melissa for misrepresenting her. Your intent DOESN’T MATTER. The fact that you took Adam’s word for it and wrote an entire blog post against the figment Adam made up in his own head matters. What you did matters. You have an ethical duty to check your sources. If you don’t have the time or energy to research a topic, then guess what? Maybe you shouldn’t write about that topic! (Come on, this is English 101 stuff! My students know better than to do this crap!)

    This is the BARE MINIMUM of ethical standard I would expect from someone, Ophelia. I am really disappointed that we are going on 3 days now, and you’ve still failed to do this.

  63. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    To my #71– Aaaaand, it looks like you did that 2 hours ago at Shakesville.

    Ok, I see how I misrpresented what you said. I did an update to the post quoting you more fully. I apologize.

    http://www.shakesville.com/2013/03/this-also-happened.html#comment-843409247

    Ophelia–sorry about not knowing this. Can you please update the post with this info? Also–I really do appreciate your apology. I can’t speak for Liss or any other person on Shakesville (I am not a frequent commenter there, and couldn’t even if I were) but I think its great that we can discuss this stuff, even in a heated way, and still make progress.

  64. pixelfish says

    Thank you for the update. And thanks to Athyco, ChapMason, and Carlie for more clearly articulating where I was coming from as well.

  65. lymie says

    “Well, yes, I don’t disagree with that. My bad.” That is the lamest excuse for an update.

    SUCH a grudging apology. “My bad” is for trivia, but you caused real angst amongst the readers of both blogs, much wasted time hashing out the problems that resulted from your casual, lazy, approach to blogging about something (at least) second hand. I don’t get it, you usually are so rigorous.

    “My bad” doesn’t cut it, I trusted you to be a good one, and now, now that I have seen your approach to Melissa, I will not trust you so much. Which I guess is what skeptism is about.

    I would be happier if your apology was less cavalier. You didn’t just loose my lipstick, you attacked someone I respect.

    Fine and Fin

  66. Aratina Cage says

    What the hell is it with people reading so much malice into your every word? I’m really getting sick of this!

  67. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    Aratina Cage wrote:

    What the hell is it with people reading so much malice into your every word? I’m really getting sick of this!

    It’s the only option they have.

  68. athyco says

    lymie, you don’t speak for Melissa McEwan. She said for herself what she wanted in reply to Ophelia’s update here and her comment at Shakesville. One thing she said is that she doesn’t want anyone–and she included Ophelia specifically–treated the way you just did. Read it for yourself.

    You don’t get to imbue a settled interaction with your venom.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

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

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