Rebecca has a post about the fetish for “dialogue” which starts with some great tweets by Jeff Sharlet pointing out how stupid the fetish is.
What I keep saying. There is no “dialogue” to be had with people who just enjoy harassing people. They’re not confused or uninformed, they’re just people of that type, who have found a safe way to engage in harassy behavior without paying any social costs. That’s all. Normally adults have to give up that kind of thing, or displace it into more covert and disguised forms like office politics. They are very lucky to be alive now when it’s possible to go on acting like a pubescent shit for the rest of your life. Trying to have (let alone force) a “dialogue” with them is futile at best and yet more harassment at worst.
The last Sharlet tweet Rebecca quotes is very apt.
Well-intentioned liberals always ask how we can “educate” haters. Elite haters don’t need “education”; they need to be challenged.
Can I get an a-fucking-men?
Sharlet’s points are relevant to the continued harassment of women in the skeptic and atheist communities and the attempts by some to build bridges with harassers. One prime example is Michael Nugent, whose heart was surely in the right place when he began engaging with MRA harassers and then escalated to organizing a formal dialogue between Stephanie Zvan and a few mostly pseudonymous people who have no apparent objection to representing the “side” that harasses women. This dialogue was at the outset insulting to many of the women who are being harassed and almost immediately became arduous and confusing as well: “This is a response by Stephanie Zvan to the response by Skep Sheik to the first response by Stephanie Zvan to the Strand 1 Opening Statement by Jack Smith.”
If it had been someone like Stephanie herself organizing this “dialogue,” it would be bad enough, but the fact that it was organized by Nugent, a person who is completely unaffected by the actions of the harassers, and that he did it over the repeated objections of many of the women being harassed, is, as Sharlet says, the very definition of paternalistic.
I’m one of the women who repeatedly objected, and whom Nugent ignored. I thought at least the insults on Nugent’s blog had stopped now that the arduous and confusing “dialogue” had begun – but silly me, they hadn’t stopped at all. I just looked at Nugent’s blog for the first time in weeks and the insults were still rolling in as late as May 6. I wouldn’t even call that paternalistic, actually, because it’s so obviously not in any way a good thing for the women being harassed. I don’t see any reason to think Nugent thinks it is a good thing for us; he thinks it’s a good thing for Atheist Ireland and the atheist movement, which are being torn asunder by the deep rifts. He’s trying to bridge the rifts and he’s doing it at our expense and without (ironically) engaging in “dialogue” with us.