It boggles my mind how haters of A+ (which simply means atheism+humanism+skepticism, nothing more…despite lies and disinformation to the contrary) think we are the ones campaigning against sex. Like this guy. Who falsely claims:
(1) “[T]he in-groupers at FtB have been attempting to redefine flirting as sexual harassment and sexual intercourse as rape.” No, we never did any such thing. To the contrary, we have actually been making the point (repeatedly) that “actual acts of sexual predation” must not be confused with “criminalizing very healthy sex-positive human interaction” (the exact opposite of what this guy says). Indeed, I specifically made this point myself in my discussions of sexual harassment policies (see here and here; I have also talked about the difference, and promoted positive and liberated sexuality, here and here).
(2) “The A+ folks have demanded that convention organizers add to their harassment policies, that no speaker be allowed to engage in sexual contact with any convention attendees.” No, “we” did not. To the contrary, several of us opposed any such suggestion. Including me, one of the patron saints of Atheism Plus (according to a popular anti-A+ meme). No, seriously. I wrote at length against what he claims we have been demanding. Only a few people suggested or discussed it long ago, but the rest of us argued them out of it. Us. The advocates of A+.
This from Emery of the Ardent Atheist podcast.
As to the first of these lies:
It’s amusing (as Stephanie Zvan has already pointed out) to see this guy think this–but disturbing to see him tell people this, and thus misinform the public about us and our movement–when the leading proponents of Atheism+ are people like Greta Christina, who has written fondly of her work as a stripper and porn star and writes and publishes porn herself, and writes extensively in defense of alternative sex culture and sex-positive feminism. Or Alex Gabriel and Miri Mogilevsky, who are openly polyamorous. Or Jen McCreight, who is a public connoisseur of pornography. And on and on. Indeed, many of my friends in the atheist community are polyamorous, or actively participate in the BDSM or swinging communities, some even have orgies and sex parties…at atheist conferences! And you know what? All of them tend to be the most enthusiastic supporters of Atheism+. And of sound sexual harassment policies.
The people who hate and attack (and, like this guy, basically lie about) Atheism+ tend not to be in these crowds. Of all the people I know and have ever met who are polyamorous or get invited to sex parties or go to BDSM clubs or anything of the kind, not a one is a hater of A+. Strangely, the haters tend to be people who don’t get invited to those parties and aren’t in open relationships or marriages [though Emery is reportedly]. Which is not to say they are synonymous. I’m not poly [or wasn’t when I wrote this] and [would up to the time of writing] politely decline invitations to sex parties, and plenty of vanilla and monogamous folk are A+ supporters. But the haters certainly aren’t much in evidence among the poly and alt sex crowd I know. Possibly because they don’t understand compassion and consent and thus would not understand how ethical alternative sex cultures actually are. Polyamory and swinging and even the attending of orgies requires more ethical behavior and more careful attention to boundaries and consent than traditional sexual relationships do. And people who are ethical enough to be accepted in those communities are the very people who get Atheism+ and why it is needed.
The bottom line is, we are already enthusiastically in favor of people pursuing all kinds of sexual activities, even at atheist events. Many of our most avid supports are wholeheartedly doing this. The only thing we are concerned about is that people do this ethically, that people don’t use their sex drives as an excuse to harass, harm, or cross boundaries.
As to the second of these lies:
The only policy I know of that prohibits speakers from having sex with attendees is the SSA Speaker’s Bureau policy, which was not composed at the behest of A+. They have a particular interest in avoiding the scandal of inviting people onto a campus who then pursue relationships with students or staff (I assume they think that as a guest on university campuses, and as recipients of parents’ support, the SSA could be made to look bad by such behavior). And yet I wrote at length and repeatedly against even that policy, and against such policies generally (and, gasp!, even Ophelia Benson agrees…another of us patron saints of A+…who in turn notes that, double gasp!, Rebecca Watson agrees with us, too; even PZ Myers has only said speakers should be more circumspect about pursuing such activities, not that it should be banned by policy–he has explicitly rejected the latter proposal).
I’ll quote my lengthier remarks, which anyone who actually reads what A+ advocates say might already have read by now:
Stiefel included among “unwelcome” advances [to prohibit] those “directed towards a subordinate in a hierarchical organization,” which perhaps indirectly criticizes some policies that aim to prohibit all intra-organizational sex. Such as, currently, the policy mandated within the Secular Student Alliance Speaker’s Bureau, which says “speakers should not engage in sexual behavior with students with respect to Speakers Bureau events.” On the one hand, in law and in standard bylaw practice, the term “should” does not have the force of “shall” (it means expected but not required … ), but it’s entirely possible the drafters of the SSA policy didn’t know that. And whether or not they did, some people have called for policies to prohibit all sexual activity between speakers and event staff and attendees.
I have already noted before that I believe this is overbearing and unrealistic. There is no relevant difference between a college venue sponsored by the SSA and one not, and college kids are not really kids, and the policy would make no sense if I were married to one, which gets us into “why is it okay if we’re married and not if we’re not?” That kind of distinction is for religious prudes, not freethinking humanists. …
I personally have no problem abiding by the SSA policy when they are sponsoring me as a speaker (except when it makes no sense, e.g. if my wife became a student at a venue). But I don’t think it’s a good policy and I don’t encourage it being adopted by other organizations. If I were ever keen to violate it (that is, if I were single and wanted to fool around), I’d just withdraw from the SSA Speaker’s Bureau. But I have no reason to, since I’m married, making it a non-issue for me. But that can be unfair to single or polyamorous speakers, and thus the SSA policy is in my opinion discriminatory (it will result in the loss or turning away of speakers for unfair reasons), unless their use of the word “should” is intended to mean not prohibited but only discouraged (but in that case it should perhaps be clarified).
Either way, I believe a better policy would be: “Speakers are not to solicit sexual behavior from students or staff.” If necessary, “and any sexual behavior with students or staff is discouraged” could be added on. That covers what they actually want to prevent (harassment and horndogging, which is unprofessional) and minimize (romantic complications, and the attendant problems they can cause the organization), without prohibiting mutually consensual behavior among adults (which can certainly adhere to workplace etiquette), as that can then be initiated by a willing subordinate, without having been pressured or made uncomfortable by any advances from the speaker. The existence of power imbalances often calls for an etiquette of deferring decisions to a subordinate that require an exercise of their own free will. It does not require placing restraints on even a subordinate’s free will. That is excessive and unwarranted.
So much for “the A+ folks have demanded that convention organizers add to their harassment policies, that no speaker be allowed to engage in sexual contact with any convention attendees.” Myth busted. Bullshit smelled. Augean stables flushed.
Now let’s move on to discussing reality, rather than mythology. Please.