Some #Gamergate Links Hand-Selected for the Curious

A lucky few folks have heard the word GamerGate, but have no idea what it is. If they’re anything like B, they’re getting curious, and would like some links about it. They may even have a feminist friend who’s made their eyebrows rise to their hairline with stories about the shit GamerGaters get up to, like driving women from their homes with death and rape threats.

But, y’know, they may also have heard rumors that it’s actually about ethics in video game journalism.

Image shows Dr. Evil doing air quotes. Caption says "#Gamergate is about 'Ethics in journalism'"

I collected several select links at B’s request. Then I figured B probably wasn’t the only person in the universe who wants said select links. So I offer them to the internets at large, plus some explanatory verbiage, knowing I risk having a bunch of angry GamerGaters appear in my social media. They can howl their lungs out, if they like: that only gives me ammunition.

Right. So, let me let other folks introduce you to the raging bunch of misogynist shitstains who hide behind ethics figleafs in order to viciously attack women.

It’s utterly clear that GamerGate started as a harassment campaign against women in gaming, and all the bullshit about “ethics in video game journalism” is just a smokescreen. Their own fucking IRC logs prove it. Observe:

Do you still think that #GamerGate is a spontaneous movement against game industry corruption? Zoe Quinn has some screenshots to show you.

Zoe Quinn’s screenshots of 4chan’s dirty tricks were just the appetizer. Here’s the first course of the dinner, directly from the IRC log.

Spamming, Doxxing and Sockpuppeting: 4Channers’ dirty tricks, straight from their IRC log.

Let us pause and sum up the story so far with a meme.

Image is a screen shot from Jaws with the shark getting ready to rip a dude's legs off. Caption says, "Actually it's about ethics in videogames journalism. Great white sharks oppose eating boats. I already reported that other shark to the Coast Guard. You probably bit yourself in half."
That’s GamerGate in a nutshell, for those who don’t want to wade through all the linkage.

So, at this point, you’re probably wondering who Zoe Quinn is. She’s the independent game developer whose ex-boyfriend decided to destroy for the crime of sleeping with other men. She might have cheated on him, but I’m not really willing to grant that, considering he complained about her sleeping with other people when they were broken up. I don’t think he understands relationships or boundaries or that it’s okay for women who once dated him to sleep with other people after they’ve discovered he’s a fetid shitcanoe of a boyfriend. Anyway, his manifesto unleashed a howling mob of various assholes who can’t stand the idea that women play video games, and would like some video games to reflect interests outside of the narrow confines of the shoot-kill-fuck-everything storylines beloved of said assholes. They attacked Zoe with vigor, because she had the audacity to create a game called Depression Quest. Because she once slept with a video games reviewer, they decided they could pretend this was all about ethics in games journalism, even though said reviewer never reviewed her game. The whole saga is unfolded in many posts at We Hunted the Mammoth. There are a lot, so you’ll want to be sure to click “Older Posts” down there at the bottom.

It was not enough for GamerGaters to merely attack one woman. Oh, no. They have gone after game developer Brianna Wu, driving her from her home with vicious death and rape threats, for… stuff, I have no idea what. And no, she hasn’t slept with any game reviewers, so no, this isn’t, in fact, about ethics in video games journalism. It’s pretty much about the fact that she retweeted a meme that made fun of them:

Image is a composite of several memes, all with a child in a red shirt grabbing its head and shouting. Captions read: 1. "Gamergate is not about oppressing women." 2. This is about corruption (tweets 500 things attacking women)." 3. "Says 'Go start your own game studio' to woman who owns a game studio." 4. "Lectures women on how to respond to the problems he causes." 5. "Fighting an apocalyptic future where women are 8% of programmers and not 3%." 6. "Bases entire identity in games. Feels like a badass."

The horror. The cruelty. So forth. Yes, I’m sure that threatening a woman and her family with grisly sexual assault and death is a completely reasonable response to such a terrible attack. I mean, the fragile male ego must be defended at all costs. It is so precious. /snark.

Anyway. Brianna is a badass and won’t back down. Definitely read her piece.

Let us now observe the disparate treatment dished out to men who criticize GamerGaters and women who say something quite tentative, mild, and sad.

Chris Kluwe, who is a former Vikings player and one of my favorite people in the universe even though I have no interest in football, ripped GamerGaters a new one. I mean, it is an epic rant, and I bow to a superior ranting power and hope that, after reading his book, I can unlock that achievement. GamerGaters might have mumbled a few things, but they barely responded.

On the other hand, Felicia Day, who is one of the shining stars in the nerd entertainment firmament (Buffy and The Guild, people, nuff said), posted a heartstring-tugging piece talking about how GamerGate has made her afraid of the gamers she used to eagerly approach and schmooze with. She also mentioned that she’s been afraid to say anything for fear of getting doxxed by these assholes. Their response? She was doxxed within an hour. Deliberately. After she’d mentioned she has stalkers who might kill her if they could find her. Some ethics in video games journalism activism, eh?

Chris had a few choice things to say about that. More men like him, please. Fewer GamerGate shitstains.

Anitia Sarkeesian, who has been relentlessly harassed ever since she started her Tropes Versus Women in Video Games series, has had the harassment reach a crescendo with GamerGate assholes. She ended up having to cancel a talk at the University of Utah due to a very specific threat to massacre her and the students. She’s the kind of badass who wouldn’t cancel a talk even for that, but Utah is a bright-red state that loves its guns sooooo much it will allow people to run around with them concealed on campus, and even a very specific, credible threat to shoot up lots of people won’t make them disarm people going to a talk. Oh, but you can’t carry a backpack in, because that will help. GamerGaters love to claim this threat didn’t come from one of them. Sorry, dudes, but it came from one of your dudebros, a fellow hater, and you don’t get to disown him just because he didn’t use the right hashtag in his email. When you unleash torrents of harassment, you give murderous fuckwads cover to unleash their inner Elliot Roger. You own him.

Arthur Chu has particular insight into the minds of these assclowns, having been a reclusive gamer type himself once, and having met Felicia Day in the days before GamerGaters came along to make her leery of weird fans. I hope that many GamerGaters read his words, and that they eventually sink in, and make them realize they’re being horrible human beings and stop. They should be more like Arthur Chu, who is a gamer and a decent person, too.

Finally, our own Tauriq Moosa has written several excellent pieces on GamerGate. I recommend them all.

On Gamergate: Loose thoughts.

Gamergate: Two faced bullies, suicide and general hatred.

An actual journalist gives gamergate a parental talking to.

#Gamergate is giving a voice to voiceless? Your voice is better elsewhere.

But she’s wrong though…

And, finally, the definitive takedown of the idea these ignorant gits even know what ethics are, much less are all about ethics:

#Gamergate and the failure of ethics.

That’s not all the excellent stuff I’ve read about GamerGate, but it’s a start. For those who may have become addicted to reading about this inanity in the course of following these links, search GamerGate and Ophelia Benson, Amanda Marcotte, and PZ Myers, for a start.

And remember, it’s all about ethics in video game journalism or something. Even when they’re launching propaganda campaigns on Tumblr, in which they are advised to hide their misogyny and homophobia and avoid using sexist slurs because people are starting to catch on that people comfortable using that language and attacking women for basically being unapologetically female in their vicinity aren’t, actually, about ethics at all.

Image shows an adorable white kitten tumbled on its back on a red velvet background. Caption says, "I are cute kitten and I support #gamergate. I totally r not part of a cynical 8chan plot 2 take over tumblr with cute cat pics."

Thank you, Dave Futrelle.

Yeah, Not So Nice and Complimentary, Is It? #DudesGreetingDudes Hashtag Unmasks Catcalls

This is one of the most hilarious consciousness-raising exercises I’ve seen in a while. One of the reasons I love Twitter is because it’s the perfect medium for this sort of thing. Sometimes, like with the #iftheygunnedmedown hashtag, it’s heartbreaking and intense. Other times, like with  #DudesGreetingDudes, it’s pointed and satirical.

Screen shot of a tweet from Elon James White. Tweet says, "You see a dude looking all hard & shit. Roll up on him like "Aye yo, smile, son. Damn." BRING SUNSHINE TO HIS DAY. #dudesgreetingdudes."Elon James White started the hashtag after getting into a Twitter discussion about street harassment. “I’m surprised women don’t just tweet “go fuck yourself” every hour on the hour. It would be a really reasonable response to this bullshit,” he tweeted. Shannon Miller suggested, “Since there’s such a wealth of these ‘nice men’ who just want conversation, why can’t they just strike up one with each other?” Elon took her suggestion and ran with it, birthing the #DudesGreetingDudes hashtag.

Screenshot of a tweet from Elon James White. Text reads, "Dudes. If you feel society has lost it's decency, let's bring it back. Let's start the #DudesGreetingDudes movement! Say hi to each other!" There’s absolutely no better way to prove that catcalling and street harassment aren’t about merely saying hello or complimenting people like telling dudes to do it to other dudes.

Image shows profile of a cat looking at something off-camera. Caption says, "Excuse me, but... WTF?"

Like Amanda Marcotte said, if it was all intended just to be “nice,” men would stop once they realized the majority of women don’t think what they’re doing is nice at all.

The point was made extremely clear: Men aren’t “just” saying hi. They are being extremely selective at who they say hi to and it’s based primarily on who they think owes them attention. If, in fact, we actually lived in a culture where everyone was chattering at strangers all day, it would be miserable, especially in pedestrian-heavy cities like New York. Only women have to put up with this bullshit. That is why it is sexist, even if you take the weird sexual bullshit out of the equation.

And again, if you were just saying hi, the fact that your targets don’t like it would cause you to reconsider your behavior. If you’re trying to be nice to people, the first rule is to do things they like instead of constantly badger them with behaviors they have indicated they don’t like.

You can see that these so-called compliments aren’t complimentary at all by the fact that straight white dudes, seeing them aimed at their own precious selves, suddenly feel like it’s all homophobic. Nope. Alyson Miers explains:

Screenshot of a tweet by Alyson Miers. Text reads, "If #DudesGreetingDudes elicits homophobic anxiety, then cat-calling behavior is clearly not JUST friendly."Another tweet by Alyson reads, "If cat-calling were strictly non-sexual, pro-social behavior, then homophobia wouldn't even be a factor in discussion. #DudesGreetingDudes"And in case that wasn’t exquisitely clear, Elizabeth Plank explains further,

To be clear, this is not about men hitting on men, a subject with deeply-ingrained stigmas of its own. The #DudesGreetingDudes hashtag was designed to highlight why exactly its disingenuous for apologists to argue that a catcall is somehow a normal form of discourse between two strangers, and not a specific form of harassment designed to bolster a gendered power hierarchy.

And dude, that discomfort you’re feeling? Not a patch on what women feel every day as they try to navigate public spaces. So think about it. If you’re this uncomfortable thinking of some random dude coming up to you and complimenting you on how those jeans really show off your ass and thighs, hey, do you work out, bro? – don’t you think, maybe-possibly, a lot of women may be feeling just as uncomfortable? Think maybe that means you shouldn’t invade their space, demand their attention, even if all you want to do is tell them they look nice?

Feeling squirmy because some random stranger dude joked about demanding you have a burger with him because you look American? Think of how a woman of color feels when you approach her on the street and suggest you go out for Chinese because lol she’s Chinese.

That’s the point of this hashtag, straight white men. Maybe you really do think those are nice jeans, maybe you really would just like to talk to an interesting-looking person about their culture or your shared interests or whatever, but if you wouldn’t want some guy on the street to ask you to compliment your clothing or ask you to do stuff with them, now you know how the vast majority of women feel. Congratulations! Put your new insight to good use.

And if you’re wondering why, if there’s nothing sexual about it, you may still feel uncomfortable being a dude talking to a dude, check out what Miri Mogilevsky has to say about it. A lot of it’s to do with how different genders are socialized in this culture. But there’s some other, fundamental stuff going on:

Men who approach women in this way may or may not be consciously aware of that gendered difference. It may be simple social learning—throughout the course of their lives, women have tended to pay attention to them in this way and other men haven’t, so they’ve learned to approach women and not men. A more cynical (but still probably accurate) explanation is that men know quite well that women are taught to indulge them, and so they choose women as the targets of their attempts to make conversation with strangers.

There’s also the rarely-spoken fact that many men are almost as afraid, if not as afraid, of other men as women are. If a man pesters a woman on the street, she is very unlikely to respond with physical violence. Other men are more likely to.

So here’s another golden opportunity to put yourself in women’s headspaces. Think back to a time when you said something offhand to some big dude, and he gave you a look that made you suddenly worry you were about to get the snot beaten out of you. Remember that fear? Remember that uncertainty? Yep. Women feel that around men all the time.

Does this mean you’ll never ever be able to strike up a conversation with a female stranger? Nope! There are social settings where doing so is totally appropriate. Say we’re standing in line together waiting to see a show or meet an author, and I look your way and smile. You can say something like, “This is exciting, huh?” And if I say, “Yeah, it is!” we might even get to talking enthusiastically about our shared interest. Wow, right? (If I give you a death-glare, though, go talk to someone else and assess what about you may have set off the ZOMG CREEP alarm.)

Maybe you can ponder other appropriate settings. But start with three simple rules:

  • When in doubt, STFU
  • Don’t bother women who are walking or taking public transit, especially not when they’re studiously ignoring you.
  • If a woman tells you to fuck off, then off you should fuck. Graciously. (Hell, if you’re All That Plus The Potato Chips, fucking off when told to do so might just change her opinion of you, dude.)

And I think the #DudesGreetingDudes hashtag has taught us the Golden Rule of Male/Female Stranger Interaction: if you wouldn’t do it to a strange dude, definitely don’t do it to a strange woman.

Image shows a perplexed dude in the middle of a group of partiers. Caption says, "It's called a cat call because it's as effective as trying to call a cat and get its attention."

Dear Atheist Leaders: If You Sound As Sexist As William Lane Craig, Ur Doin It Rong

Adam Lee at Daylight Atheism has read William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith column so we don’t have to. In the process, he found something that sounds almost exactly like some of our supposed leaders. Craig is responding to a woman who’s concerned about the sexist stereotyping Craig had been spewing. See who this response of his reminds you of:

First, Craig says in response, he’s noticed that the audiences for his lectures are nearly all men:

First is my observation that apologetics seems to have far more interest for men than for women. That observation is based upon an enormous amount of experience in speaking on university campuses, at apologetics conferences, and in classroom teaching… It became very evident to me not only that the audiences which came to these events were largely male but that in event after event only the men stood up to ask a question.

And why should apologetics classes appeal predominantly to men? To explain this, Craig dusts off the old saw, “women don’t do thinky“:

Second is my hypothesis that this disparity is to be explained by the fact that men respond more readily to a rational approach, whereas women tend to respond more to relational approaches.

You know, I’m torn. On the one hand, that sounded very much like Michael “A Lot of Women Have Accused Me of Sexual Assault and/or Rape” Shermer, who said “it’s more of a guy thing” when confronted with the dearth of women in atheism. But it’s also got a strong whiff of Sam “I’m Not a Sexist – My Wife and Editor (whom I pay) Love Me!” Harris, who babbled about an “estrogen vibe” when confronted with same.

Image shows a shocked-looking cat. Caption says, "I can't believe you said that"

I’m sure there are plenty of atheist bigshots who’ve mumbled similar around the feet in their mouths, so do feel free to quote them in the comments.

Adam brings up the same point that struck me the very instant I read Craig’s words and correlated them with what our ol’ atheist “thought leaders” have said.

It’s striking how much Craig, a staunch Christian apologist, sounds like some of our male atheist “leaders”. They, too, have fielded questions about the gender imbalance in their audiences; and they, too, have often responded with clueless, patronizing, armchair answers about how they’re just too unimpeachably rational to appeal to women – that is, when they’re not snarling about “social justice warriors”, or pining for the good old days before political correctness when men could grope women with no repercussions.

Here’s a novel suggestion for both atheists and Christians: if you want to know why women aren’t showing up at your classes or your lectures, try asking some women. Don’t just assume, with no evidence, that there are inherent biological reasons for it, or that women are instinctively repelled by logic and reason. Of course, I don’t expect Craig to heed this advice, from me or from anyone else – his lamentations over the increasing influence of women shows that he’s thoroughly absorbed the sexism intrinsic to fundamentalist Christianity. The only question is whether we in the atheist community aspire to be better than him.

And really, let’s be brutally honest, here: if you can’t manage to be a better human being than William Lane “Genocide is Peachy As Long As God Tells You to Murder Everybody” Craig, you’ve got absolutely no fucking business whatsoever leading a movement of any kind. Ever. Step down and enjoy some obscurity until you can manage to treat women and minorities with more respect than that jackass, at the very least.

Image shows a tortoiseshell kitten with its paw pointing off-camera. Caption says, "OUT."

Disgusting Little Cowards

So the #gamergate fuckwads have taken to threatening universities with massacres for allowing women to give talks. If I didn’t already know they were pure scum, this would have informed me that their opinions need to be treated the same way I deal with nasty shit adhering to the bottom of my shoe.

I know quite a few of these shrieking shits think they are big-time heroes for managing to throw tantrums and threaten people for so long. They’re not. They’re the kind of people that every society has disavowed and discarded as it became more civilized. They have the same social value as contagious disease. They mistake small-minded spite for courage. They think that threats make them big, important men. They have to think that, because they’re shallow little personalities with nasty, small-minded ideas. They’re too terrified to fight fair in the court of public opinion, because deep down, they know they’re losers and will fail. So they have to send out death and rape threats, and rely on other cowards to give them cover.

unacceptable

Guess what? They’re still losers, and they will fail.

They managed to get this talk canceled only because their fellow cowards in the NRA have convinced Utah politicians that carrying guns around campus is what strong, independent people do, rather than the act of pathetic little assholes whose delusions of heroism allow them to ignore their innate cowardice.They don’t know what real courage is. They don’t know what everyday heroism is. They can’t know, because they’ve withdrawn into the fearful little bunkers of their minds, where they can pretend they’re important, rather than doing the hard and scary work of being out there in the world actually doing something important, without relying on the false security of a weapon to make them feel strong.

I’m ashamed to be sharing a planet with them.

They’re probably celebrating what they believe is a victory right now. That’s what people like them do: throw feces and howl in triumph when they hit something. Their fellow shit-throwers tell them they’ve accomplished something.

Meanwhile, the creative and innovative people keep creating and innovating, even if sometimes they have to dodge the shit, or pause to clean it up. The shit-flinging cowards who have to resort to death and rape threats to feel special may deceive a few folks into believing they’re important, but as time goes on, the stench gives them away, and they’ll find themselves pushed further and further away, walled off from the rest. The more shit they throw, the faster they make everyone else realize what disgusting little cowards they actually are.

Those of you who don’t have to hurl rape and death threats to make it sound like you’ve got a point, those of you who aren’t so terrified of women and minorities getting a seat at the table that you feel like you have to burn the house down, those of you who are tired of the stench and just want all of these violent little cowards to go fucking Galt already, you may feel helpless. You may be looking at the piles of shit and wondering how the fuck this is ever going to stop.

It stops when we keep rubbing noses in it. A lot of people – especially law enforcement and politicians, it seems – have just held their breath and stepped around the mess while other people quietly clean it up. Don’t let them. Enough of us writing to universities and legislatures and law enforcement, ensuring they have no choice but to smell the shit we’re dealing with, will eventually get through to them.

Don’t clean up these messes quietly with some misguided idea that we shouldn’t feed trolls or give them the time of day. Point to the piles they’re crapping out and complain about the smell. Show it to people who otherwise would’ve walked quietly around, saying “Can you believe this shit?” Make it impossible to avoid.

When you see people flinging shit, or making excuses for the cowards who fling shit, call them out. Pile on with the condemnation. Make people own their shit. Shame them for it. Demand better behavior of them.

Support the people like Anita Sarkeesian who get shit flung at them constantly. Watch their videos. Listen to their talks. Read their work. Donate to them, buy their work, speak up about how awesome they are.

And never, ever accept this shit as just the way things are. It’s bad, it’s disgusting, and it’s hard to clean up, but we don’t have to live with it forever.

We won’t.

Image shows a very determined My Little Pony with the caption, "Let's Do This."

Why I Won’t Be Sporting a Scarlet A Any Longer

The Out Campaign’s scarlet A no longer graces my blog or my social media feeds. I’m still an out and proud atheist, mind you. I still think atheism is important and can do the world some good. But the scarlet A, that doesn’t do enough. And I could put up the A+ logo derived from it, but while I support the idea of Atheism Plus, I want a different and better symbol, one that suitably reflects the fact that no one on the other side of the rift is interested in bridging any divides, and so those of us who want a heaping helping of social justice to go with their atheism are going it alone. Perhaps one of you here will design it, or point me to it.

Image shows me leaning against an a-shaped sea stack at Ruby Beach, WA. The Scarlet A has been superposed over the rock. A red X is drawn through the whole picture.

My former Facebook profile pic. Fuggedaboutit. Time to replace this sucka.

Hank_Says has a succinct summary of the fuckery of the past few years, when we went from superficially-cohesive movement to Deep Rifts™. It’s what made me decide it was time to retire that particular atheist symbol:

The transition was relatively rapid, too: one minute everyone’s apparently (I’ll get to that) on the same page and looking in the same direction, the next – as soon as women identify problematic behaviour and request that we guys not do that then start talking about harassment policies – there’s an instant rift dug by people who for some reason viciously resent being told that some behaviour makes others uncomfortable. Then a few visible “leaders” say some thoughtless or petulant things, one blogger wonders if atheism can be about a little more than debunking myths and is vilified at length for the mere suggestion, a blogger or ‘tuber or two reveal themselves to be unapologetic misogynists, a parallel atheist community is born for the sole purpose of harassing and obsessively monitoring two blog networks and before you know it, women are being threatened with rape and death. With rape and death. And others are laughing at it. Including other women.

[snip]

Finally, I find it highly ironic that the leadership/s that brought us the scarlet letter “A” logo, a repurposing or “taking back” of the old tactic of publicly humiliating women who dared step out of the social boundaries prescribed by the men who essentially owned them, would be so solidly behind enabling and defending a sexist status quo, and in some cases being openly hostile to all women who challenge them, whether they’re accusing accuse “leaders” of assault or inappropriate sexual behaviour or of simply saying things that are mildly (but no less thoughtlessly) sexist. In light of the last three years of harassment, obsessive monitoring, threats, both mild casual sexism and unapologetic misogyny, all with nary a disapproving look from the leaders over the tops of their spectacles, followed by wagon-circling and dismissive responses to allegations of assault and rape (some going back years), that scarlet letter is more appropriate than ever.

Yes, it is – for them. They can have their narrow-minded dictionary atheism with its old-boys club mentality, its libertarian bullshit, and its sexual assaulter protection program. I’ve got different ideas for atheism. And there are other ways to go. Let them cling to scarlet letters and smug senses of (false) superiority. We have better things to do.

Their brand of atheism is too limited to be of much use to anyone outside the newly deconverted. For those of us ready to move on, it’s useless.

To paraphrase very wise and angry feminist Flavia Dzodan: My atheism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit. Those atheists who don’t think working on social justice issues is important for atheism can fuck right off. A world without gods won’t be any less of a shithole if we don’t confront the oppressions that obviously remain when gods are swept into the dust bin. And yes, as much as I happen to hate religion, I’ll take a world with religion and true equality over a world simply without religion. Because, as our scarlet-A atheist douches have demonstrated, giving up god is only the first step in becoming a better human being.

Those who aren’t willing to take the next step can bugger off to the other side of the Deep Rift™ and stay there.

Image is a late 19th century photograph of a woman sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon, getting ready to hurl a rock over. Caption says, "Taking a sounding to see if the deep rifts are deep enough yet."

“Paths Out of a Childhood Misogyny”

Ludicrous asked an excellent set of questions on a post here a bit ago, and I thought I’d take it out of comment-section obscurity and upgrade it to a post of its own:

How is it that some boys growing up in a culture that turns females into ‘the other’ are able to overcome the estrangement and others not? How did the these guys and especially the mra’s get boxed in?

I think there are many men, talented writers, who could describe their paths out of a childhood misogyny. There are many inspiring stories of folks escaping religion. What are the experiences that help men get over whatever blocks their ability to apprehend the experience of women. Women describe over and over and over what misogyny is and does and yet to these men it is somehow not real, a minor inconvenience at worst.

Several commenters answered in that thread, which tells me this is striking a chord, and more stories are out there. I’m throwing this open to everyone who found a path out of childhood misogyny, keeping in mind that any gender growing up surrounded by misogyny and sexism in their cultures can internalize this crap, even if it harms them directly. I know I did. I know I still do, and have to fight that internalized misogyny on a daily basis. So tell me your stories, and don’t worry if you’re still a work in progress: if you’ve managed to make your way to this side of the Deep Rifts™, you’ve made a good start on that journey.

I’ll include the responses from the previous thread to get the conversation started:

Patrick G:

Can’t speak for others, but for me it took repeated (figurative) smacks to the head. Eventually I realized that ‘wait, maybe there’s something I’m missing’.

After that, I was perfect, of course. *cough*

raymoscow:

My path away from the misogyny I grew up with was mostly about listening to women, trying to understand some of their concerns, and exercising some basic empathy. It’s not rocket surgery.

I won’t say that I’ve completely escaped it yet, because some of the worst stuff lingers unconsciously, but I’m working on it.

(Same for racism and other forms of bigotry)

John Horstman:

In my own case, while I identified as a strong feminist in high school, looking back I can see a lot of sexist attitudes that I held (and I’m sure there are others I haven’t yet recognized nor begun to dismantle). Some of the things I see e.g. MRAs say have come out of my mouth. Despite being reasonably smart and definitely feminist-oriented, my own experience in a society that treated me in a particular way because people read me as White and male and heterosexual led me to a certain set of conclusions about how people interact, how social systems work, what “fair” is, etc. And while I had any number of friends who are not White and plenty who are female, that alone isn’t enough to give one a good knowledge base of the experiences of people unlike oneself – friends don’t often relate the totalities of their experiences to each other, one’s personal group of friends is still going to be a small sample, and one’s group of friends is also going to be biased to particular kinds of experiences, as one is unlikely to wind up with friends who travel in very different social environments (becasue if you’re traveling in entirely different circles, you’re unlikely to ever meet or have enough in common to be friends in the first place). Hence non-White friends or female friends not actually being any sort of defense against charges of sexism or racism (and actually attempting to use them as such is a rather insidious appropriation of their identities).

So, to given an answer to your question, those guys who get boxed in are those who never have anyone or any event push them to expand their perspectives. They stay locked in their narrow worldviews and never see any reason to look for information outside their own experiences. That’s one of the things that social privilege allows one to do, because one’s perspective is treated as the normative default, so one is unlikely to encounter any push-back about the validity (or, at least, generalizability) of one’s own perspective and experiences (as one does when one’s experiences or perspectives are contra-normative). This also explains the intense defensive reactions to challenges to privilege (it may be the first time the person has ever had that perspective or interpretation of experiences challenged), and it’s one of the ways privilege self-perpetuates, by being invisible to the people who benefit most. Even with e.g. many women loudly and publicly sharing their experiences of street harassment and denouncing it, it is shockingly easy to remain unaware of phenomena like that unless one is actively seeking out perspectives and experiences of dissimilar people. Scientists ought to know better, but even they (like most people) are prone to universalizing/projecting our own perspectives and experiences – this is, of course, why the scientific method requires repeated testing by different researchers (and ideally researchers in very different cultural contexts) to verify results. While the preceding may not accurately describe everyone in the group we’re discussing, I have noted it as a common pattern. The default state is tribalist ignorance, and it takes active effort to start to overcome that, so even in cases where pushing past that is the normative (or simply preferred) course, people will wind up in the default state by default.

I could add that perhaps a willingness to question oneself and one’s experiences (or interpretations of them) is a necessary precursor to a broader worldview. In my case, my history of mental illness led me to recognize that my perceptions were not necessarily the only possible ones or even those most reflective of reality. A depressed brain lies to itself, so successfully coping with a depressed brain can mean learning methods of self-questioning and external validation of one’s interpretations of events, which are valuable skills for questioning normative assumptions.

Uncle Ebeneezer:

On the topic of escaping misogyny: I’m a white. male, upper-middle class and I played sports and music, so I was privilaged to the Nth degree and spent most of my life in environments where casual misogyny was the norm. Until only a few years ago I was pretty damn misogynistic in my attitude and approach to dating. And I would have probably gotten defensive if I was ever really called out on it or was confronted by one of those Feminazis I had heard tales about. Nowadays I find myself spending more time reading feminist articles and nodding along as new light bulbs continue to flash on. My turn-about has been so marked that a FB friend (who moved away about 7 years ago) saw one of my posts recently about Anita Sarkesian, I believe, and remarked that she almost didn’t recognize me from the wanna-be-womanizer who loved to defend the C-word, that she used to know. She asked what prompted the change and I told her that witnessing the fights in the atheist movement, listening to/reading/absorbing the concepts of actual feminism (rather than the stereotypes) and just questioning my own assumptions was all it took to see how clueless and wrong I was. Maturing, getting married and losing my Mom probably also played a role, but it was mainly just shutting up and listening. Anyways, I’m not looking for a cookie here, just wanted to illustrate that as others have noted above it really comes down to a simple flick of the switch and willingness to examine oneself that can get the ball rolling. And a little effort going forward to try and be better. IE- it doesn’t really take much. And for people like me who had all the privilege to comfortably keep our heads in the misogynist sand, just witnessing the Freethoughtblogs Wars of 2009-? can be all that is needed to wake us up.

Image shows a chipmunk with a walnut shell on its head, looking out a window. Caption says, "I start my journey today and I walnut fail."

A Rant Against the Dual Nature of Marketing Towards Men and Women

In which our own RQ riffs off my Fifty Shades of Fucking Abuse post. (say something about the gender binary) The floor is hers:

I got to thinking about your post during the day, and on what it means regarding who is reading what, and what kind of reading is marketed to whom. Especially romance and/or sex-related stuff, or, hell, just books that might have sex in them somewhere.

Because all those tired housewives? What’s marketed to them? Insipid romance where the man saves the day (or is horribly abusively ‘romantic,’ right, because what woman doesn’t love a good stalker?), magazines on housewifery and how-to-keep-your-man-interested… What else? Not much – I read a pretty decent science magazine (GEO, not to be confused with NatGeo) that explicitly states in its subscription description that it is geared towards middle-income, successful men. And what is in this magazine? Well, it’s not women in any state of undress – it’s very interesting science and geography articles, with nary a nod towards ‘typical’ male interests (except in advertising, and even that – alcohol, watches, suits…). Why can this kind of stuff not be geared towards women, too? Those bored housewives who are so uninteresting to their husbands – wouldn’t this kind of thing be perfect for them? Educate themselves while gaining a broader perspective on the world (they’ve had some neat articles on transgender children and non-traditional relationships, plus a very feminist one on the role of fathers from a scientific perspective), while acquiring information useful in ordinary, daily conversation with their far more worldly husbands. Sounds great to me, so why not market it as such?

Then there are the women’s magazines, which are… well, cooking, interior design, and, on occasion, nicely dressed and fully clothed men (there was that one comparison of Hugh Jackman on the cover of men’s and women’s magazines a while back). And that’s all fine, until it’s the only thing ‘appropriate’ for married women with children, and the thought of showing a bare-chested man in a housewife magazine (YUMM) is considered racy and borderline non-permissible… Where’s the women’s equivalent to FHM and Playboy? And I don’t mean just erotic shots, I mean the intelligent interviews with the interviewee posing in his underwear as eye-candy. I can think of a few local candidate athletes who would be perfect for this.

But no.

Women, especially women in long-term, childed relationships, don’t have sexuality. Not one worth talking about, at least, except as a ‘haha I bet you never have sex’ joke. This is something that needs to die a very, very painful and quick death (I’d say slow, but I’ve had enough of slow).

And that leaves me to wonder, from whence do women get their ideas about their own sexuality, in a fairly puritanical society that deems them worthy only of having children and being satisfied only under the wing of a man?

And that is what leaves them wide open for books like 50 Shades – because, unfortunately, with all the abusive aspects of it, and the childish language (they can’t even talk dirty enough because it will hurt the sensitivities of women? what?), it does speak plainly and openly about sexual love within the bounds of a relationship. I mean, I read a lot when I was young, and my first awakenings into sexuality came through SF/Fantasy novels (Hel-lo, Lions of Al-Rassan). And then for a while I made sure that all the books I read had at least one sex scene in them, because that shit was awesome! Masturbation material! (Sorry if it’s TMI.) And it was in all kinds of books!

Which leaves me to wonder, are people really so limited in their reading choices (and more specifically, are housewives really so limited in their reading material) that they have to resort to such ridiculous trash as 50 Shades to re-awaken those feelings? To allow them to feel like sexual beings again, to let them know that it’s perfectly normal to want sex and love your body and have someone do wonderful, touchy-feely, hot things to it? Is it just the marketing this time around? Is it a lack of resources to know that, hey, having kids doesn’t automatically turn the pleasure-centres in your vagina and environs off? Because there’s so much literature out there that can get people hot and bothered – if they bothered to look at it that way. But I think I’m slowly discovering that, indeed, there’s a very narrow lane you have to walk when you’re set in a certain role, a very narrow set of interests you’re supposed to cultivate in order to be the right kind of wife/mother/girlfriend. Because the gods forbid you start having fantasies about imaginary characters or unattainable athletes or actors on-screen… Because Hugh Jackman would set a bad precedent by taking his shirt off in a women’s magazine, while being all bare-chested and manily aggressive is perfectly fine for the men to see (because that’s how they should be, too!), but there’s no reciprocating audience to accept him as such, from a sexual point of view (I feel like there’s some underlying homophobia here, too, because sexy pictures of men might be looked at by gay men, and ew, right???).

I suppose this is a rant against the dual nature of marketing towards men and women (and never mind those who aren’t straight and cis, because… well, because, right?), how men are allowed to be sexual, women are too nurturing to understand, and women who want sex for the sake of sex and pleasure are sluts and shouldn’t be treated with respect… Yes, that’s rape culture. But is it really so ingrained that it subtly limits everyone’s reading choices? That it denies such self-examination and acceptance of all of one’s self?

I’m sad to think that the answer is yes – that the only way to awaken women’s ‘lost’ sexuality is through aggressive marketing piggy-backing on the coattails of an already-terrible romance. That there’s so much beautiful, sexy stuff written out there, that would appeal to both men and women without resorting to silly cliches and harmful stereotypes of romance that doesn’t get a single note of attention because… because it doesn’t fall neatly into a box. Because it doesn’t fall under the definition of ‘housewife’ or ‘husband’ or ‘sex after marriage’ (I’m pretty sure there isn’t even a box for that last one). And this is only in the context of plain, vanilla relationships (which can be pretty hot too).

The Lions of Al-Rassan isn’t marketed or ever described as a romance novel – even though, in essence, that’s what it is. No? And it’s not the only book that avoids the ‘romance’ label even though it is chock-full of romance.

Anyway. I’m not sure how to end this in a good way, because it’s saddening and slightly angering that this is what women have to resort to – that this is what is pushed at men as a model – because society is too afraid to acknowledge sex and sexuality as a real, living aspect of all adults, whether single, married, with or without kids, of any orientation or sexual proclivity. Sex is too awesome to be demeaned and swept under the rug like that – why does it happen?

(And yes, I have some idea… I just wish there was a better way to stand against it and make a change.)

*sigh*

Sigh indeed.

This “Anti-Rape” App Horrifies Me

Amanda Marcotte brought this horrific bit of fuckery to my attention: an app called Good2Go, which ostensibly is there to ensure both parties are enthusiastically consenting to sex, but really isn’t doing that job. Observe:

Worse, I feel this app could be seized upon by rapists as a way to rape women and get away with it.

In fact, Good2Go could contribute a dangerous new element to those he-said she-said rape cases. What Good2Go doesn’t tell users is that it keeps a private record of every “I’m Good2Go” agreement logged in its system, tied to both users’ personal phone numbers and Good2Go accounts. (Records of interactions where users say “No” or just want to talk are not logged in this way.) Allman says that regular users aren’t permitted access to those records, but a government official with a subpoena could. “It wouldn’t be released except under legal circumstances,” Allman told me. “But it does create a data point that there was an occasion where one party asked the other for affirmative consent, that could be useful in the future … there are cases, of course, as we know, where the accused is an innocent party, so in that case, it could be beneficial to him.”

So, in other words, if you’re a rapist, all you need to do is convince your victim that you’re having a legitimate hook-up. Get her to log in her “consent” on this app. Once the record of her saying she wants sex is created, you then rape her, by say, forcing her to do a bunch of stuff she didn’t want to do. If she says no, who cares? You created a record of her saying yes. It’s basically a way for rapists to give themselves blanket permission to rape someone by creating a point in time she said “yes”, and then saying everything that happened after that was covered by it. Sure, the app says that you can withdraw consent at any time, but if you’re going to court with this and she says, “Well, yes, I said yes to sex on the app, but I didn’t think he meant he would hold me down and anally rape me,” odds are that little disclaimer will not offer much protection to the victim. It’s already hard enough for victims of rape who were tricked into thinking they were on a real date only to have rape sprung on them to convince juries they weren’t consenting. This would make it a nightmare.

I have bolded the bits that screamed, “We don’t give a shit about consent, we just want to shelter rapists!” to me.

I’ll tell you right now, anybody trying to get me to use this app with them is getting nothing. I will not touch the app or them. They will be required to exit my presence immediately.

And if I end up on a jury, and some dumbshit wants to claim xe didn’t rape this person because look! the app recorded they consented! – well, let’s just say that fucker’s going down hard, because I will end them. I’ll know they’re playing silly buggers. I’ll know all they cared about was covering their ass, not making sure their partner was having safe, consensual fun with them.

Image is a drawing of a young woman talking to a young man. Both are holding books and look as if they're students. The caption reads, "Your box of condoms says you're in to safe sex. Your Tap-Out shirt says you don't care if it's consensual."

If you’re having trouble seeing the problem, imagine an app called Good2Tattoo, which your tattoo artist made you use, and which only recorded you saying yes to getting a tattoo – but didn’t record if you said “no” or “yes, but not that Boy Bands Rule! tattoo you’re offering.” Imagine the tattoo artist stamped you permanently with the boy bands ink anyway, over your objections, and used your initial yes, recorded by the app, to argue in court that you agreed to the whole thing – and increased their chances of getting away with violating you because of it. That’s basically what this app is doing. And rapists will see it as a spiffy new tool in their getting-away-with-rape arsenal, whether they admit what they’re doing is rape or not.

As for those who genuinely think this app is a great idea and they should use it to protect themselves from false accusations of rape: I think you should probably not have sex with other people. Sex toys have gotten very good over the years. Please avail yourself of them instead, at least until you are educated enough to have consensual, safe sex with an enthusiastically consenting partner, sans awful app.

Lest We Forget: Dawkins Wanted to Silence People On Shermer

Ophelia mentioned this before in one of her comments. Now she has a post up on the wall of silence that’s gone up round Shermer, and has included this jaw-dropping bit of fuckery:

Another datum on that: before all this, before the Oppenheimer article, even before the “let’s rank kinds of rape and if you don’t like it go away and learn how to think” tweets – at the end of our email conversation that resulted in the joint statement, Dawkins asked me to dissuade people from spreading the “libellous allegation that Michael Shermer is a rapist or a sexual predator.”

I must say, I stared at the screen in shocked disbelief for quite awhile when that came in. What was I supposed to do, tell people who reported their own experiences to stop doing that? On what authority? On the basis of what knowledge? I don’t know that they are not telling the truth, do I.

I so badly wanted to reply with something along the lines of “How would that be different from what the bishops have been doing for decades?” But that would have been a bad beginning to the post-joint-statement situation, so I didn’t…quite. I pointed out that these were first-person accounts and that I didn’t know they weren’t true, so I couldn’t dismiss them. I did conclude with “It’s too reminiscent of the Catholic church and the rapey priests.” I haven’t heard from him since.

Keep in mind, this was about a year after various unconnected sources came forward and said that Shermer had harassed and/or assaulted them. And he’s still busy covering Shermer’s ass. Even after so many women have come forward under their own names, he still won’t admit there may be something to this. And the little hyperskeptic lickspittles he’s got crowded round his feet are happy to help out, demanding evidence well beyond what they’d require to denounce a homeopath.

I used to get rather upset with smarmy religious assholes calling Dawkins our pope, but that’s exactly what he’s acting like – right down to covering for sexual abusers.

no-game-no-life-anime

Some Helpful Tips for Those Institutions Wishing to Avoid Sexism and/or Racism

My dear friend and fellow science blogger Anne Jefferson has an excellent post up about sexism and racism in the scientific community. It deserves to be read in its entirety. However, I know many of you movers and shakers are quite busy, so here are her helpful tips, which you might wish to put somewhere easy to find for those times when you might be close to injecting more sexist and/or racist dreck into the community.

So here’s a few simple tips for publishers, funders, and other institutions that have megaphones and amplifiers in the scientific community. If you are part of an organization that’s been caught out on issues of sexism and racism in the past, or you think there’s a possibility it could happen in the future, you might consider printing these tips out and pinning them to your colleague’s cubicles.

1) If you receive racist or sexist material for publication, DON’T PUBLISH IT. Throw it out. Shake your head, laugh about the backwardness of the writer with your colleagues, but DON’T PUBLISH IT. It doesn’t deserve your printed or virtual space, and it’s not “contributing to the conversation.”

2) If you woman and/or person of color is describing problems with racism, sexism, or harassment, assume that what they are saying is true and do not attempt to silence or gaslight them. This is a general rule, but because apparently it needs to be said. Even if, especially if, the women and/or people of color are part of your organization or are accusing your organization of racism, sexism, or harassment, you should let their voices be heard.

3) If your organization is responsible in any way for selecting which voices get heard in science (you know, like publishers, funders, and think tanks do), make sure that women and people of color get representation, and that when you do, that you don’t do with a side helping of victim blaming or condescension.

There you go. All you need to begin the process of keeping sexist and racist dreck out of our spaces. This is how you make the community better.

And now, you have absolutely no excuse for getting it wrong.

Originally published at Rosetta Stones.