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Jan 10 2012

D.J. Grothe Replies… and I Reply Back

JREF President D.J. Grothe has responded in the comments to my previous post, in which I expressed serious concerns about his responses to sexist and misogynistic behavior in the atheist/ skeptical community, and his attitudes towards bloggers who point it out. In that comment, he expressed concern that his comment might be overlooked. So I’m posting it here, with my responses.

But I want to say this first: I fucking hate this. There are about twenty million other topics I’d rather be writing about right now. (I haven’t even done my Project Runway: All-Stars recap, and I haven’t blogged about our kittens in way too long.) And despite the accusations that D.J. has made, I’m not writing this to generate controversy and draw traffic. In fact, I strongly suspect that most people are sick of this now, and that this will be among my less-widely-read pieces.

But I think this is important. I think it’s important to speak out against sexist behavior, and defenses and justifications of sexist behavior — especially when it’s exhibited by a prominent leader. I hope I make it clear throughout this piece why I think it’s important, but I’ll spell the crux of it out right here at the outset:

When people don’t speak out about sexism and misogyny, it creates a climate in which sexism and misogyny flourish. When people do speak out about sexism and misogyny, it creates a climate in which sexism and misogyny wither. Like it or not, D.J. Grothe and other leaders set a tone: if D.J. is setting a tone of excusing and rationalizing misogynistic threats of violence, and of impugning the motivations of people who call him on it, that fosters an environment where it’s seen to be okay. That’s important.

So here we go.

Greta: Some quick answers to your questions, although because of the nature and culture of these sorts of blogs, my comment here will be seen by fewer people than see your I think incorrect take on things, unfortunately. Such is the nature of these sorts of posts (direct responses can get buried in comments), and so I would appreciate if you link to my response here in your original post.

Done. I’m also, obviously, posting it here.

You ask two questions:

Question #1: Do you really think there is any context in which making threats of gender-based, sexualized violence — towards a person of any gender, but especially towards a female writer and her readers — can be justified?

No, of course I don’t. There is no justification for the use of such language, as I think you should know, since I’ve said as much many times already, including in an email exchange that you began with me the same day I made the comment that offended you on your post contra Long.

Actually — you haven’t said this many times already. In all your extensive conversation on this topic before now, you have, by my count, said this exactly twice: once in a comment on Stephanie’s post, buried four comments deep as part of a lengthy discourse about how both you and Ryan had been misjudged, and once in private email to me. You’ve said several moderately critical things about Ryan’s behavior: you’ve called it an “angry and unfortunate reaction,” said Ryan “reacted poorly,” that he “was party to escalating the rhetoric,” that he “reacted completely inappropriately in anger.” But until now, I have only seen two acknowledgements from you that Ryan even made any threats of violence, much less that they were unacceptable: again, once in a comment on Stephanie’s post, buried four comments deep as part of a lengthy discourse about how both you and Ryan had been misjudged, and once in private email to me. If you’ve said so elsewhere, it was someplace I haven’t seen.

And since you mentioned our email exchange, I feel like it’s fair for me to talk about it, too. When I initially emailed you asking you to please back off on the debate about Ryan, since his behavior had escalated to overtly threatening violence and I had concerns for my safety — and when I sent you the screenshots to show you what I was talking about — your initial response was, quote, “I don’t think he has made threats of physical violence.” When I reminded you of the content of the screenshots, and expressed shock and distress that you didn’t see any reason to be concerned, you said, quote, “There are no excuses for threats of physical violence”… and then proceeded to write three paragraphs excusing Ryan’s threats of physical violence, trying to explain what you saw as the proper context for understanding it, saying you thought I didn’t need to worry about it, and arguing that I and my readers were largely to blame for it. (Plus one paragraph telling me all the great things you’ve done to make TAM and JREF more friendly to women.) Very much like what you did in your comments on Stephanie’s post.

I was seriously shocked and upset by this exchange. When I write an email to a leader in the movement — especially one I’ve had a friendly relationship with — saying, “Hey, someone is making threats of violence against me, can we drop whatever differences we’re currently having and make dealing with that a priority,” I expect them to take it seriously. I expect them, at the very least, to express empathy and concern. I don’t expect them to dismiss it, or trivialize it, or try to explain and justify it. And I don’t expect them to blame me for goading the person into it.

If you give me permission, I’ll post those emails, so people know what we’re talking about and can make up their own minds about it. I certainly understand if you don’t want to: people do use a different tone in private emails than they do in public statements, including me, and it’s reasonable to expect that private discussions remain private. I wouldn’t have even brought it up here if you hadn’t, and I’ll respect your decision if you don’t want them posted. But if you’re okay with it, I’ll do so.

I believe what Long said is unjustifiable, and I also believe that you treated him unfairly in your post against him. These two opinions are not incompatible: someone can be unfair to someone else who has done something wrong. I have explained why I hold this opinion in that email exchange you had with me, as well in numerous other comments on this blog network. You and I disagree about if/how you treated him unfairly, and you seem to be unable to allow for that disagreement.

You misunderstand me. My problem is not with you criticizing my behavior if you object to it. I don’t agree with your criticism, but it is not the problem. My problem is with what seem to be your priorities.

My problem is that — when weighing on the one hand, “Greta did something that in my opinion was unfair by quoting someone out of context,” and on the other hand, “Ryan publicly stated that he wanted to ‘slap the bitch’ and ‘kick her readers in the cunt’” — you seem to think that the former is of greater concern than the latter. You have certainly devoted significantly more space to discussing it. In the discussion on Stephanie’s blog, you devoted one sentence to saying that “there is never any defense for real or pretend threats of violence”… and 2,371 words discussing other matters, including 602 words (by a conservative count) justifying Ryan’s behavior, defending it, explaining the context for it, expressed a wish that people have sympathy for it, defending your own reaction to it, and blaming me for having instigated it.

Those priorities are, in my opinion, exactly backwards. If you’d spent one sentence saying, “Yes, I think Greta’s behavior was unfair,” and then spent the rest of your comments on the topic saying that obviously the important issue here was threats of violence, specifically gender-based, sexualized threats of violence against a female writer and her readers… we wouldn’t be having this conversation. And it concerns me greatly that I should have to explain to the president of a major organization in this movement — especially an organizer of one of the largest gatherings in the movement — that threats of violence are of greater concern, and deserve more attention, than who was unfair to whom.

As a professional writer, maybe handling disagreement through public blogging and/or flogging is easiest or most natural for you; but publicly excoriating folks for not assenting to a view I hold is not how I am used to engaging in honest argumentation.

Blogging is not flogging. Disagreement is not excoriation. And if you don’t like publicly disagreeing with/ excoriating people you disagree with, what are you doing in these conversations? How is your public disagreement with me and other bloggers — including your accusation that we deliberately stir divisive controversy in order to drive traffic — different from my public disagreement with you?

You “fervently beg” me to agree with you, and of course I have already stated numerous times that Long’s comments were unjustifiable, but I simply do not agree that you treated him fairly.

See above re: priorities.

You ask what I intend to do about it: well, I certainly don’t intend to write a punishing blog post against Long. But for the record, I wrote Long a message that day and clearly stated, among other things, how out of line I thought he was to use such language, even if he or others felt he was deliberately provoked.

That’s good to know. This is the first I’m hearing of it. I’m glad you did that. I still have huge problems with how you’ve handled this situation — see above, and below — but I’m glad to know that you did this.

I do not believe he disagrees.

What makes you think that? I’m genuinely curious. In Ryan’s comments on Stephanie’s post, he seems to be largely unrepentant. True, he did say, “I do not (I feel silly even having to point this out) condone violence against anyone.” (Given that he did, in fact, say that he wanted to slap me and kick my readers in the cunt, I’m not sure why it’s silly that he has to point out that he doesn’t condone violence.) But he also minimized his actions as a time when “I lost my temper” and “lost my cool.” He wrote, quote, “I encountered the same hostile insults on Greta’s wall, and you’re actually wondering why I lost my temper? Figure it out.” And this, “I erased all of the offending posts from my wall after I cooled down, and if you’re going to freak out over the screen captures of posts I wrote in the heat of anger, well then I can’t stop you. Have fun. But you’re wasting your time.” And to my knowledge, he has yet to even apologize for the threats, much less acknowledge how serious they were. That doesn’t sound like someone who understands that making public threats of gender-based, sexualized violence is out of line.

Please stop defending him. Please stop making your excuses for his actions a higher priority than your repudiation of them. In doing do, you’re setting a tone in which the kind of behavior he exhibited is seen to be tolerable.

But again, and to repeat, threats of violence are unjustifiable, regardless who is making them.

Good. I’m glad to hear it. You’ve said that here more frequently, and more clearly, than you have in all other previous communications about this combined. You’re still prioritizing “Greta was unfair to Ryan” over “Ryan threatened to slap the bitch Greta and kick her readers in the cunt”… but the balance is shifting. I’m glad to see it.

Question #2: Do you really think that feminist bloggers in the atheist/ skeptical movements are writing about sexism and misogyny, and pointing out examples of it in our communities, primarily so we can manufacture controversy and draw traffic?

No, I do not think this, nor did I ever say this. What I do think is precisely what I have said: that I believe some of the controversies in the atheist blogosphere (certainly not limited to topics related to feminism or sexism) appear to me to be fomented for the hits that result.

That wasn’t at all the impression I got from your previous comments. But I’ll accept it as a clarification. And your clarified position is still very much mistaken.

If I am wrong, and blog hits are no motivation in writing such posts, I will happily stand corrected.

You are wrong. It has been explained many times over that you are wrong, and precisely why you are wrong. Please stand corrected.

But I’d certainly hope that these “call-out” posts against various people in skepticism for real or supposed sins do in fact generate a lot of hits, because if they do not, I see little other real-world pay-off.

Several bloggers — including me, in the very post you’re responding to — have already explained why we do this, and what the real-world payoff is. We do it because we care about this issue, and because we care about this movement, and we think speaking out about people in the movement doing fucked-up shit is an important part of preventing said shit from happening again. You may disagree about whether the “sins” in question are real or supposed, or whether publicly calling attention to them is the best strategy for dealing with them (more on that in a moment). But it is flatly untrue — and incredibly insulting of people who have devoted years to this movement — to accuse us of deliberately provoking controversy with the self-serving intent of driving traffic.

I have been told by two people now who have been personally involved with one of the controversialist blogs that there has been explicit direction from that blog’s founder to this effect.

Citation very seriously needed.

Which blog are you talking about? I am unaware of anything like this in any blog I’m familiar with. And this is a serious accusation. You need to name names and back it up with evidence. Otherwise, it’s just going to spark speculation and gossip and controversy about who you’re talking about — exactly the sort of divisive controversy you say you’re opposed to.

Such controversialist posts seem like a pretty ineffective way to work to actually improve any situation, such as for example increasing women’s participation in skepticism, or at least seem to be far less effective than would be making better staffing and programming decisions, so I hope they at least result in an uptick in hits.

And that seems to be the core of our disagreement. One of them, anyway.

Yes, I think speaking out about specific examples of bad behavior among atheists and skeptics is useful and effective. And in particular, I strongly think that speaking out about specific examples of sexism and misogyny among atheists and skeptics — including defenses of sexism and misogyny — is useful and effective.

I can’t count the number of emails and comments I’ve gotten from men who have said that, in the wake of Elevatorgate and other discussions and debates and fights about sexism and misogyny, they now get it. And the same is true for every feminist blogger I know. These fights have been ugly, but it seems clear to me that they have moved the conversation forward. And every time a new argument about sexism and misogyny breaks out, I see more and more men speaking out about it. It isn’t just the women, or mostly the women, who are now fighting this fight. It’s lots of allied men. And I think that in the long run, and even in the medium and short run, that is going to make a huge, huge difference for the better in this movement.

When people don’t speak out about sexism and misogyny, it creates a climate in which sexism and misogyny flourish, since they’re seen to be normal and acceptable. When people do speak out about sexism and misogyny, it creates a climate in which sexism and misogyny wither: people become educated about them, and they’re seen to be stupid and harmful and unacceptable. And when people — especially men — speak out about sexism and misogyny, it creates a climate in which women feel more welcome.

Again: You may disagree, either about whether any specific criticism of any specific incident is fair and accurate, or about whether publicly criticizing other atheists/ skeptics is, on the whole, helpful or harmful. But please do not impugn the motivations of myself and other bloggers when we do it.

I do not deny in the least that you feel passionate about these issues; I also feel passionate about them, and have worked for over a decade to address issues of equality in skepticism, atheism and humanism, and to challenge instances of institutional sexism within these movements.

Thanks for recognizing that. And yes, I recognize that you care about this movement, and that you’ve worked, very successfully, for more gender inclusivity at JREF and TAM. I said so in my original post, and I’ll say so again here. And I have tremendous respect for people who do organizational and in-the-flesh community building work for the movement… since that’s stuff I (a) think is hugely important, and (b) completely suck at.

But I submit that in your passion, Greta, I think you are sometimes just too quick to vilify and make enemies, and to sometimes encourage your fans to engage in such enemy-making. You may do this unintentionally; I think people can sometimes be blinded by their various passions.

Yes, people are often blinded by assorted cognitive errors, including our passions, and including our tendency to increasingly rationalize our behavior once we’ve gone out on a limb with it. If I do this, I want to be made aware of it. So far, however, you haven’t made a very convincing case. Disagreement is not vilification: nor is it a deliberate attempt to make enemies and encourage others to do so.

And besides: This is the skeptical movement. We’re supposed to be questioning and criticizing and pointing out flaws in reasoning: not just in the world at large, but with one another. You’re doing it here, with me. Why should I not do it with you, or with others?

This is the in-group/out-group dynamic that I find unsettling about some of the atheist blogs — disagreement with some bloggers on various topics (not just feminism, to be sure) appears to be not at all well tolerated. It is these blogs by skeptics and atheists attacking others in skepticism that I think is an unfortunate turn in our movement(s) over the last year or so.

What do you mean, “disagreement appears to be not at all well tolerated”? Do you mean, “disagreement is often met with counter- disagreement?” Well, yes. If someone says something in my blog, and I disagree, I’m often going to say so. If other people disagree, they’re going to say so. Again: This is the skeptical movement. We’re supposed to speak up when we disagree with each other. Just like you’re doing here.

But I will speak for my own blog here: Dissent and disagreement is not only tolerated, but encouraged. In just about any comment thread, and especially in the longest and most contentious ones, you’ll see many people expressing views I disagree with passionately and even find repugnant. They are tolerated. Indeed, they are more than tolerated. I have changed my mind more than once based on arguments I’ve had in my blog. Furthermore, I expect criticisms of all commenters, whether they agree or disagree with me, to be directed at ideas and behavior, and I expect people to refrain from personal insults directed at other commenters. (I intervened about this just yesterday, in the original post about you, including with insults aimed at you.) And I have banned supporters of my positions, as well as detractors, for failing to follow this comment policy.

(Note that some of these posts don’t just disagree through reasoned arguments but engage in calls for boycotts, public punishment or public shaming — Zvan’s recent blog post claiming I was a sexist actually engaged in literal ad hominem, stating that I have a problem and the problem is “me,” as a person, as an example.)

Again — what do you mean by “public punishment or public shaming”? You use very strong language here, but you fail to cite any specific examples, and without them, I’m forced to conclude that by “public punishment or public shaming,” you mean “public disagreement.” As for calls for boycotts, I’ve seen those rarely: I often don’t agree with them, but I don’t think they’re automatically and by definition unreasonable. And, as has been pointed out elsewhere (can’t find the link, sorry — does anyone know where it is?), you’re misusing the concept of “ad hominem.”

(And before you could possibly misunderstand: this is not at all to say that I do not also find the vile and reprehensible things some folks have said to women bloggers to be more than unfortunate. One should be able to disagree with an opinion leader on various matters and about various approaches to these and other topics without being ugly, personally insulting, sexist and misogynistic, and it is deeply regrettable than many commenters on all sides of the issues during the various controversies did not do so.)

I appreciate you saying so. Thank you.

As you say, Zvan’s blog post cites three examples as evidence of my “hav[ing] an unfortunate pattern of . . . defending indefensibly sexist behavior by other men in the atheist/ skeptical movements.”

But the claim that I have a history of misogyny or of supporting sexist behavior is unsupportable.

Her three examples include 1) my comments on Watson’s post contra Krauss earlier in the year, 2) my “liking” a Facebook post by CFI Michigan justifying their choice of a speaker when she attacked them online for it, and 3) my comments on your blog post contra Long.

I stand by all of my comments (and “liking” CFI Michigan’s post about their speaker decision), and have never “defended indefensibly sexist behavior by other men in the atheist/ skeptical movements.” And I have seen a lot of such behavior at the organizations I have worked at over the years, and have always worked to change it. But when an author like Zvan recourses to my “liking” things on Facebook to argue that I exhibit sexist patterns of behavior, she seems to be sort of grasping at straws — they are in no sense examples of a pattern of sexist or misogynist behavior.

I think Zvan made her case very well — but I don’t want to rehash it. I will say, though, that your behavior in that comment thread — in which you said that there was no justification for Ryan’s behavior and then proceeded to justify it at length, prioritizing your concern for Ryan over what you thought was my unfair treatment of him over your concern for me over having been threatened with violence — very much supports her thesis.

I submit that such posts by folks like Zvan are focused moreso on whom a blogger might be more rewarded for publicly excoriating rather than for what legitimate reasons they might do so.

And once again, you’re accusing Zvan and other bloggers of deliberately provoking controversy with prominent public figures for their own self-serving ends. Please don’t do that. It’s flatly mistaken, and it’s insulting.

I have worked deliberately for many years to increase the involvement of women and racial minorities in skepticism, and to challenge institutional sexism within these movements. Of course, past performance doesn’t guarantee future results. But when I started working professionally in skepticism, there were almost no women employees other than secretaries. Of the women currently working professionally at the three national skeptics organizations, I have personally hired half of them myself, all of whom were for positions of leadership. I have worked to change, and have changed, various relevant corporate policies. In my programming decisions, I have made TAM more representative of the talents of everyone, not just of white men. (This is not because I believe in quotas — I certainly don’t— but because I think the skeptics movement benefits when it draws from and includes the talents of everyone, and doesn’t ignore the contributions of half of the population.) For contrast, look at the following:

CSICON 2011: 12 women out of 51 speakers on the program. (23.5%)
NECSS 2011: 9 women out of 27 total speakers (33.3%)
Skeptic’s Society Science Symposium 2011: 0 women out of 4 speakers (0%)
Skepticon IV (2011): 4 women out of 12 speakers (25%)

All of these events are fine and worthwhile events, and I think women and everyone else should feel welcome and safe at all of them.

Good for you. I am entirely sincere about that. You have done excellent work in this area, and I appreciate it, as do others. But as you yourself say, past performance doesn’t guarantee future results. And laudable behavior in the past doesn’t get you a free pass from criticism when you do something seriously problematic. If you don’t agree that you did something problematic, by all means say so — but don’t use “Look at all this other wonderful stuff I did” as your argument.

All of these events are fine and worthwhile events, and I think women and everyone else should feel welcome and safe at all of them. I regret that you now fear for your safety at TAM. Call me biased, but I think TAM stands out for the quality of its program, and not only because half of the speakers were women.

The quality of the program at TAM is indeed very high. And it has nothing at all to do with the fact that I don’t feel safe there. I don’t feel safe there because, when you were informed of threats of violence against me, you initially denied that there even was a threat, expressed minimal concern about the matter, went to great lengths to explain and justify the threats, and blamed me for having instigated them. If something like this incident with Ryan Grant Long happens again while I was at TAM, I don’t feel confident that you would take it seriously and act appropriately. The excellence of the speaker lineup is entirely irrelevant.

I want skepticism to flourish probably at least as much as you do, and I believe it is flourishing more now than ever, despite various internet controversies of past months. Some indications include that our organizations’ conferences are bigger than ever, attracting younger attendees than ever and have more racial and sexual minorities attending than ever, and this is not accidental; it is hard work. The press attention we win as we work to educate the public about this point of view is increasing. Our organizations are growing. Our grassroots groups are more active and numerous than ever. Our activism campaigns demonstrate measurable results and help people.

I agree that skepticism is flourishing, and I have no doubt that you want it to flourish. I disagree, however, that it is flourishing despite various internet controversies of past months. I think it is flourishing, at least in part, because of them. As I have said before: As upsetting and difficult as these fights about sexism and misogyny are, I am heartened to see us having them… because I’d rather we have them now than shove them on the back burner and have them bite us on the ass in twenty years. And again: This is skepticism. We’re supposed to speak up when we disagree with each other.

I think it is a confusing turn if you conclude that you want this movement to flourish but that I do not. We merely may disagree that polarizing blog posts that result in enemies-list-making, calls for people to be fired, boycotts, etc. are the best way for our movement to flourish.

Are those my only two options? Either D.J. Grothe doesn’t want skepticism to flourish, or I support polarization and enemies lists?

That’s a classic false dichotomy. I absolutely believe that you want this movement to flourish. And I do not support polarization and enemies lists. I simply disagree that “bloggers speaking out about when we think there’s seriously fucked-up shit in the movement” constitutes “polarization and enemies lists.”

That said, I know that this movement has much more work to do for equality — concerns about misogyny are certainly not misplaced and we must all remain vigilant in addressing them.

Thanks. I very much appreciate that.

I do believe some of the reaction to real problems of sexism in our movement(s) has been hyper-vigilant, unduly polarizing, and a distraction from the actual hard work needed to fix problems.

Again — can you provide specific examples of this hyper-vigilance and undue polarization? Without them, this seems very much like a classic attempt to trivialize sexism, and to have men decide on behalf of women how much vigilance and criticism is the right amount. As for the “distraction from the actual hard work needed to fix problems”: Talking about sexism in our movement is hard work needed to fix problems. I sincerely hope you didn’t intend to say that it isn’t.

Further, I do think it is pretty ineffective way to improve things to try and publicly force assent, to bully or punish people who disagree with various approaches, to misrepresent people’s views to make our arguments seem stronger, or to be too quick to vilify.

Again — those are very serious accusations. And again, you have not provided specific examples. Without them, I can only assume you think that any expressions of serious disagreement within the movement constitute forced assent, bullying, misrepresentation, and vilification.

Some of these atheist blogs are sort of empty on the principle of charity in arguments, and I realize this may be because of past wounds in the blogosphere. But I’m hopeful we can adopt different, better, more effective approaches to address these problems. And just because you favor one approach and I favor another does not mean that we are not both working in common cause. People can take different routes to the same destination, and because you prize this sort of blogging doesn’t mean that I can’t prize other ways of addressing similar problems.

I completely agree with you about different people taking different approaches to activism. I have said so, many times, in my writing and my speaking. I think that in a social change movement, a combination of confrontationalism, diplomacy, and community building is far more effective than any one of these tactics alone. And I have enormous respect for people who are good at things like event organizing and community building… especially since I totally suck at them.

But if you’re going to claim that the “sort of blogging” that I prize involves forced assent, bullying, misrepresentation, and vilification… I can only conclude that you don’t, in fact, extend the same respect to me that I am extending here to you. I can only conclude that you don’t, in fact, think that people can take different routes to the same destination. If you’re going to continue to accuse me and other bloggers of divisiveness, shaming, excoriation, intolerance of dissent, making enemies lists, and insincere shit-stirring to draw traffic, because we point out serious problems we see in the movement — including problems of sexism, misogyny, and troubling defenses of them by movement leaders — then this conversation has reached an impasse, and I’m probably not going to spend much more time on it.

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  1. 1
    carlie

    Thank you for going through it in so much detail. There simply isn’t any way for him (or anyone else) to claim to misunderstand your point; all that’s left is for him to respond to your actual statements. I would be interested in what he has to say, as any dissembling or vagueness at this point would render any claims of critical thinking skills on his part to be moot.

  2. 2
    andrea

    I will be “shocked, shocked” if Mr. Grothe can actually produce this mysterious conspiracy. It does get tiresome to deal with those who would tell what appear to be outright lies.

    now, can we have more kitten photos?

  3. 3
    HerbieTheBeagle

    Thank you Greta. I can appreciate how tiresome it must be to pick this issue apart yet again. I expect DJ doesn’t even realise that he’s doing a “yes, but…”. That “yes, but…” post of yours is brilliant, because it explains why – even though the “but” is often correct in itself (ie “yes, but not all men are evil” is a correct statement) – focusing on the “but” and not the sexism problem is facilitating the sexism problem.

  4. 4
    Janee

    I think it’s worth pointing out that those with privilege (Grothe) shouldn’t try to silence those actually suffering the injustices of misogyny and sexism (you) and this seems to be exactly what he’s doing. The idea is that because he has more privilege, his voice should be heard over yours. His opinion is somehow more valuable than you, or any of those actually being hurt by the sexism in the skeptic/atheist community.
    By saying that “disagreement with some bloggers on various topics (not just feminism, to be sure) appears to be not at all well tolerated.” what it actually seems to mean is “By disagreeing with me and saying so, you’re stepping out of line.” He seems to think disagreeing with you is perfectly acceptable, but counter-disagreements against him are uncalled for or only made to “vilify” him.
    He’s placing you and Long’s transgressions on an equal level (although, I don’t see how threats of violence are even remotely on the same level of you “provoking” him?) After putting them on an equal level, he seems to have more of a problem, on a personal level, with your provocation. As you said, he has his priorities out of line.

  5. 5
    Grimalkin

    It’s almost funny that people think that there are motivations as silly as hit counts for continuing to talk about these things.

    Posts on misogyny give me a headache, and I’m pretty damn sure that most commenters and blog writers alike feel the same. I don’t think anyone here thinks that having to dissect another assholes ideas about women is worth it because of something as silly as hit counts. It’s worth it because it’s important, and because it has to be said despite all of the headache and heartache it causes. Hell, I bet that any of the people who have been writing about the rampant misogyny lately would trade all of the page views in the world to not have rampant misogyny to write about.

  6. 6
    Pierce R. Butler

    Grothe needs to read (particularly) Greta Christina’s and Ophelia Benson’s blogs every day: not only for education about sexism in the freethought movement, but to learn how to express himself more succinctly.

    He might also benefit from following the Digital Cuttlefish – not that DJG needs to versify, but to see how concealing oneself behind a cloud of virtual ink can be done in ways people want (not, force themselves) to read.

  7. 7
    Somite

    The problem I see with posts on misogyny is that they are all essentially ad hominem attacks. Instead of focusing on a person (that is ultimately on your side, BTW) try to focus on the problem. Even better write as if the study of gender roles and sexism is a discipline and treat it scientifically.

    I find hard to take drama seriously. These tabloid efforts that target individuals are unseemly and should not be part of skepticism. The only result I have seen is a toxic environment and degradation of discourse.

    Have people that care so much about gender roles studied even its incidence and severity in the skeptical community? All I see are anecdotes and misinterpretations.

    Also have seen the entirely opposite point of view expressed elsewhere and immediately derided by the same small group of people instead of engaging in discussion. All of this indicates that this topic is a matter of opinion and should probably be elevated from this level.

  8. 8
    infinity

    @7

    The problem I see with posts on misogyny is that they are all essentially ad hominem attacks.

    I don’t think you understand what an ad hominem is. There is a definition of misogyny, and when someone engages in misogynist actions, there’s nothing ad hominem about pointing that out.

    Even better write as if the study of gender roles and sexism is a discipline and treat it scientifically.

    Also, you write as if there isn’t a large scientific literature on gender roles and sexism and their effect on women, communities, etc. There is. And it isn’t Greta’s job to rehash the entire field every time something like this comes up.

  9. 9
    Crommunist

    When a discussion focuses on how people think of and react to things, then divorcing human context (what you mistakenly call “drama”) from consideration is foolhardy. This entire debacle has not been about “DJ Grothe is a bad person”, it has been about “DJ Grothe did something insensitive and stupid”. That’s not ad hominem. Do you understand what an ad homenm is? Many people misunderstand this concept and use the phrase every time there’s some kind of personal disagreement.

    And the fact that the only thing you’ve seen from the discussion of sexism and misogyny in the skeptical community is a “toxic environment” suggests to me that you’ve simply looked for things that confirm your a priori biases. Greta points out, as have several people, the flood of people who, after major discussions of misogynist behaviour, express their gratitude because they finally “get it”. While it might be convenient to your “talking about sexism is bad” thesis to ignore these experiences, it is certainly inaccurate.

    Also LOL at showing up on the blog of someone who is considered one of the strongest and clearest voices in the skeptical/freethought movement and try and tell her how she’s doing it wrong. Please, bwana, enlighten us with how we should run our blogs to your personal satisfaction.

  10. 10
    michaeld

    Yeah I started reading this but couldn’t make it more then a couple paragraphs. Boo drama yay cookies and cute animals. Here’s hoping you can blog about something else soon Greta.

    ps I know sexism etc are important topics to discuss I’m just personally introverted and don’t deal well with this kind of drama.

  11. 11
    Blueaussi

    I suppose if Greta’s responses to this Ryan character had included lots of weasel words and ego stroking – you know, like a woman is supposed to talk to a man; we would have avoided the conflict, enlightened Ryan, and could have all held hands and sung the skeptical equivalent of kumbaya.

    *rolls eyes*

    In my experience, when a woman responds strongly and directly to an issue, she is often accused of being a bully, a bitch, a troll, creating drama, spewing vitriol, and generally being a big old meaniehead. And it can be exhausting and discouraging to face that over and over again. So, thank you Greta, for facing it over and over again.

    And, more kittens!

  12. 12
    Josh Benton

    @7

    The problem I see with posts on misogyny is that they are all essentially ad hominem attacks. Instead of focusing on a person (that is ultimately on your side, BTW) try to focus on the problem. Even better write as if the study of gender roles and sexism is a discipline and treat it scientifically.

    As was pointed out in the comment immediately following yours, you are wrong. An ad hominem attack is when one avoids the actual content of an argument, and instead makes an argument against the person.

    “D.J. Grothe is a bad person/does this bad thing, so we shouldn’t listen to what he has to say about X.”

    Would be an ad hominem argument. For that matter, insulting someone, which isn’t the case here, but even if it were, does not move an argument into the realm of the ad hominem unless the insult is the substance of the argument. It might be bad form, such as it is, but it would do nothing to make the argument less valid.

    tl;dr version; Critiquing someone’s behavior is neither insult nor ad hominem attack, and even if it were an insult, an insult is not in and of itself an ad hominem.

  13. 13
    Jason Thibeault

    DJ Grothe is, and I’ve said this from the beginning, a good and valuable member of the skeptical movement. He has blind spots big enough to drive a truck through, though. That was the point of Stephanie’s post, not to vilify him, but to point out his cognitive biases in hopes that he would examine them skeptically.

  14. 14
    eltee

    i guess this is a pretty good (extreme or maybe not so extreme?) example of where unchecked misogyny can lead…

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/world/middleeast/egyptian-women-confront-restrictions-of-patriarchy.html?hp

  15. 15
    Lauren

    Pierce Butler @6, that’s the first time I’ve seen Greta accused of expressing herself “succinctly.” I read her for clarity of thought and thoroughness – I pick up so much nuance here because she is NOT succinct.

  16. 16
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    I have worked to change, and have changed, various relevant corporate policies. In my programming decisions, I have made TAM more representative of the talents of everyone, not just of white men. (This is not because I believe in quotas — I certainly don’t— but because I think the skeptics movement benefits when it draws from and includes the talents of everyone, and doesn’t ignore the contributions of half of the population.) For contrast, look at the following:…

    This actually makes me rather angry. I appreciate that you’ve made an effort in his programming decisions to address inequalities. But I resent that you don’t recognize that this would not likely have been on the agenda were it not for years of women pointing out the imbalance in speaker lists at these events. TAMs 7 and 8 had a very low percentage of women speakers, and I’m sure I commented about it at the time on Pharyngula. Every time I did, if memory serves without a single exception, I then faced hours or days or arguing with condescending people repeating the same justifications (it’s not a sexist conspiracy!, there aren’t qualified women, there are no women who would be a draw, women by nature aren’t that skeptical, evolutionary psychology,…) and expressing annoyance that I was raising the subject yet again. To the point that I hesitatated to remark upon a speaker list even with single-digit representation of women or non-white people because I dreaded having that fight again.

    The discussions are easy enough to find. I, like Ophelia Benson and others, put up with that because we believed we could lead people to see the problem and maybe themselves be more vocal about it, and this would lead to positive change. I think we’ve been successful to some extent, but as you show the struggle continues and we need to remain vigilant and outspoken. I’m pleased your organization has changed on that front,* but you should not fail to recognize that our efforts on the blogs have played a big role in raising the matter in people’s consciousness.

    *Though unfortunately other actions of yours are putting the larger progress in jeopardy.

    ***

    …how out of line I thought he was to use such language, even if he or others felt he was deliberately provoked.

    Do you understand how wrong this language of provocation is? Someone is claiming he was provoked into making violent threats, and you’re going along with that? Someone who can be provoked into gender-based sexually violent threats by an internet argument is not someone we want in the movement. The out-group is people who make gender-based sexually violent threats, and they should be excluded from any community of decent people.

    How could anyone need to point that out to you?

  17. 17
    Somite

    Fine. Instead of ad hominen make it personal attacks on DJ Grothe, Lawrence Krauss and other random people in the internet.

  18. 18
    karmakin

    Reading the OP, there is one thing that kind of sticks out for me. It’s not that I think that Grothe is right in terms of what happened here, it’s just that I think that the post-hoc diplomatic stance that I feel Greta is taking just doesn’t feel right. There’s a huge emotional disconnect in the letter and the response. The irony is that it’s the same emotional disconnect, just reversed, that spawned the entire problem.

    Grothe started by downplaying the force behind Long’s Facebook comments, which were completely and totally beyond the pale, even if done “in anger”.

    On the other side, I do think that the feminist skeptic community, including this post, downplays the force, the strength behind our arguments. Now I don’t mean strength in terms of influence, or even in terms of quality of argument (although please note I’m not saying they’re not quality arguments in any way shape or form). I’m talking about moral force, moral strength. We make VERY moralistic statements.

    This is not a criticism. I definitely think that there’s a time and a place for these types of statements (in fact, I kinda fought with people over Elevatorgate that the common statements didn’t go far enough), and to be frank, I do think that this is one of those times.

    However, I do think that in terms of this particular communication it definitely creates a certain disconnect. Grothe is responding by and large (Minus the whole “posts for hits” part…quite frankly that’s just way out in left field) to the moral force behind our words.

    Strong moral statements really do result in polarization. Again, this isn’t a complaint or a criticism. Simply reality..a necessary reality in my mind. Strong moral statements generally do come with the desire to see people punished for such immoralities or strong actions such as boycotts to force moral improvement, etc.

    Again, this isn’t about restricting or eliminating said moral force, but to own it, and that’s something I feel that in these circles something that isn’t really done, for understandable, probably necessary reasons to be honest. But still. It makes conversations like these read very weird, like both parties are whistling past each other.

    Yes, we attack and run off people who have immoral points of view. What the hell is wrong with that?

  19. 19
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    I’m so confused by the illogic of Grothe’s reasoning that it is making my head hurt. He’s not taking sides… but you’re guilty of “forced assent, bullying, misrepresentation, and vilification” while Long “reacted poorly.” He’s not trying to put the blame on feminists or dismiss the claims of sexism… he’s just accusing you and other bloggers of divisiveness, shaming, excoriation, intolerance of dissent, making enemies lists, and insincere shit-stirring to draw traffic.

    He’s not a leader, he’s a politician. As a politician, he’s engaged in an amoral sort of calculus. Is it more beneficial to him as a politician to hold onto the numbers he has even if his group is filled with sexists and other bigots, or should he risk alienating guaranteed butts in seats in the hope of maybe attracting some feminists who may or may not send him checks? Should we stick to Bigfoot and ghosts and other subjects where we can all agree all the time and have fun and keep the membership numbers high, or should we engage social issues where some dues-paying members might feel uncomfortable enough to withdraw their support?

    Yeah, positive change is hard, and some people will take their ball and go home. The question for Grothe is whether padding his numbers with whoever he can get is more important than filling organizations with a diverse crowd of decent, non-bigoted people. And the question for everyone else is whether or not we want to support organizations that don’t care who you are as long as your check clears, and you’re on your own if you face attacks and threats from within the community.

  20. 20
    Kaoru Negisa

    This was very well said and argued, Greta (may I call you that?), but I have a very serious question: Can we please see more pictures of cats now?

    Seriously, I know this is an important issue and I’m glad to get it out of the way, but I think I need an adorable cat break for a little bit. Not to say we shouldn’t discuss these issues, and I can see in your diction and syntax (and direct statements) how tired you are of this particular battle, so maybe we can take a moment to get some cat pictures, just a few, to cleanse the mental palate before D.J. Grothe responds to you and you respond to him ad infinitum? Please? Just a few cat pics?

    Thank you in advance.

  21. 21
    Marta

    michaeld@10:

    a) It has long been understood that the blog’s proprietor writes anything they like, on any topic they like, at any time they find it convenient. We (and you) are guests. If we don’t care for the topic that the host is serving, we exit, silently, without telling the host what they can write about on their own blog. Seems obvious, yes?

    2) There is no #2.

  22. 22
    carlie

    Somite: how would you phrase telling someone that they did something wrong without it being a “personal attack” in your opinion? Or, at least, point to where you think Greta is making such personal attacks. Because I see a lot of criticism, but no personal attacks.

  23. 23
    Alex H

    I am interested in the point of privilege vs prejudice. Is the problem a) Mistreatment of out-groups by particular in-groups or is the problem b) Privilege which elevates the impact of the mistreatment of one group by another to a more harmful level?

    These are two separate issues and I think most contributors conflate them.

    Personally I’d like to get rid of both, I think the some of the rhetoric in this debate just entrenches the prejudice.

    DJGrothe is wrong to defend outrageous, hideous language and the perpetrator, Ryan Long is utterly wrong to have used it – and he has been shown to be a thinly veiled disgusting misogynist.

    As part of this debate there are negative generalisations and prejudice shown against the male sex (and that means all the individuals within that group) as a whole and they are excused because male privilege apparently means it’s ok.

    I don’t think it is ok. I don’t think all men are sexists and misogynists. I don’t think you can say anything true about the character of all men and I don’t think doing it adds anything to the debate except confusion and more prejudice. Why fight one injustice with another – no matter how minor?

  24. 24
    Somite

    @22 In private it is criticism. In public it is an attack when dealing with personal behavior.

  25. 25
    Bernard Bumner

    @Somite

    Fine. Instead of ad hominen make it personal attacks on DJ Grothe, Lawrence Krauss and other random people in the internet.

    These aren’t random people on the internet, are they?

    D.J. Grothe takes direct responsibility for increasing the participation of females in the organised community. When he fails to show leadership, when he does something counterproductive or regressive, it needs to be noted and addressed.

    @Alex H

    As part of this debate there are negative generalisations and prejudice shown against the male sex (and that means all the individuals within that group) as a whole… I don’t think it is ok. I don’t think all men are sexists and misogynists. I don’t think you can say anything true about the character of all men…

    Who did this and when?

    Why fight one injustice with another – no matter how minor?

    I can see nobody making demands other than for proper and fair treatment of all participants in the community.

  26. 26
    Jason Thibeault

    Somite: then allow me to “attack” you by saying that’s pure nonsense. Criticism is criticism. Ad hominems are attacks.

  27. 27
    Jason Thibeault

    Somite: there is nothing intrinsic to men that requires they be misogynists. When attacking misogynists, if you are not one, then you are not being attacked. If you think anyone’s attacking all men, it could be because you actually fall into the subset of men who ARE being attacked.

  28. 28
    The Pint

    I don’t think all men are sexists and misogynists. I don’t think you can say anything true about the character of all men and I don’t think doing it adds anything to the debate except confusion and more prejudice.

    Please do point out where Greta said this because nowhere in any of her posts has she implied that all men are misogynists and sexists.

    Pointing out how men are often benefit from male privilege is not the same thing as saying all men are sexists and misogynists. A man does not have to be a sexist or misogynist to benefit from male privilege because that privilege is already built into the system. How a man reacts to having that privilege pointed out to him, however, can be a damned good indication of whether or not he has sexist or misogynistic attitudes.

    Similarly, pointing out that there’s a problem in the skeptic community with sexism and misogyny does not = all men in the skeptic community are misogynists and sexists. If you’re not exhibiting the kind of behavior that gets called out in posts like this by Greta, Jen, Rebecca, Amanda or any other skeptic blogger, then you are not part of the problem and those criticisms are not aimed at you. If on the other hand, you do feel like it’s aimed at you, how about stepping back and examining your own behavior and attitudes before crying about how those mean, strident feminists are painting all men with the same generalized brush?

  29. 29
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    This was very well said and argued, Greta (may I call you that?), but I have a very serious question: Can we please see more pictures of cats now?

    Seriously, I know this is an important issue and I’m glad to get it out of the way, but I think I need an adorable cat break for a little bit. Not to say we shouldn’t discuss these issues, and I can see in your diction and syntax (and direct statements) how tired you are of this particular battle, so maybe we can take a moment to get some cat pictures, just a few, to cleanse the mental palate before D.J. Grothe responds to you and you respond to him ad infinitum? Please? Just a few cat pics?

    If you insist!

    (I spent an hour yesterday making that, and I’ll be damned if I don’t link to it!)

  30. 30
    ibbica

    [ /quiet lurking ]
    Just wanted to pop in quick with a link to the ‘ad hominem fallacy fallacy’… it’s a logical fallacy, not necessarily an ‘attack’, and of course not what most people seem to think.

    http://plover.net/~bonds/adhominem.html

    Also, an interesting note from the Wiki page on “ad hominem”:

    “Doug Walton has argued that ad hominem reasoning is not always fallacious, and that in some instances, questions of personal conduct, character, motives, etc., are legitimate and relevant to the issue, as when it directly involves hypocrisy, or actions contradicting the subject’s words.”

    Hm…

    Finally, I don’t think it’s bad at all to publically comment on the behaviour of individuals who publically* exhibit (or encourage) misogynistic or sexist behaviour. If that constitutes an ‘attack’, well, attack away!

    *Ooh, a footnote! What was I…? oh yeah: IMO, yes, private exhibition of misogynistic or sexist behaviour should be publically called out, too. However, the ability of others to verify information presented about private behaviour is typically lacking. I’d personally stick to publically-accessible information to avoid libel suits without some damned-near incontrovertible evidence, it’s not like there’s not enough public displays of misogyny/sexism to go around :(

    [ quiet lurking ]

  31. 31
    Elly

    “But he also minimized his actions as a time when “I lost my temper” and “lost my cool.” He wrote, quote, “I encountered the same hostile insults on Greta’s wall, and you’re actually wondering why I lost my temper? Figure it out.””

    I’ve been married for over 30 years, so it’s perhaps not too surprising that friends/colleagues air their relationship issues with me. And one of the things I often say (or write) is this: “you never really know someone until you fight with them.”

    Point being, the words and tactics you use when you’re angry and stressed aren’t simply grabbed out of thin air. Rather, they’re like reflections in a funhouse mirror: they may be distorted in some way, but they’re still a reflection of YOU.

    This is why explanations of “I lost my temper” or “I lost my cool” simply don’t cut it with me. That may be true, but what was said in the alleged “heat of the moment” was ugly… so ugly that they would make a truly honest person take a long, searching look in a (regular) mirror.

    And this is why Grothe’s “both sides do it” type rationalizations ring hollow. I agree with Improbable Joe (#19) – he’s doing it because he feels it’s in his (and his organization’s) best interest. As the saying goes: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” His mistake, unfortunately, is in trying to justify it.

  32. 32
    Hertta

    As part of this debate there are negative generalisations and prejudice shown against the male sex (and that means all the individuals within that group) as a whole and they are excused because male privilege apparently means it’s ok.
    I don’t think it is ok. I don’t think all men are sexists and misogynists. I don’t think you can say anything true about the character of all men and I don’t think doing it adds anything to the debate except confusion and more prejudice. Why fight one injustice with another – no matter how minor?

    Would we win more people to feminism if feminists were more careful not to offend mens’ feelings? Are we in danger of losing potential allies because somebody has used the term “gender traitor” or been too quick to generalize? I don’t think so. I don’t think so because there is nothing a gay or trans person can do or say that would make not support gay rights or think that LGBTQ issues aren’t important. Black supremacy organizations do not make me rethink my position on racism. PETA can’t come up with a campaign so outrageous and offensive that it would result in my being less concerned about animal welfare. And when an incidence of gross racism or homophobic bigotry comes up, my first reaction is not to scold anti-racist or gay rights activists who are not doing everything the way I would or complain about how I’m being treated unfairly.

    That makes me think that people whose contributions in these conversations are the “yes, but” kind are not very committed to equality in the first place.

  33. 33
    karmakin

    @Elly I agree with you 100% except for one thing (so maybe that’s 99%?), I think that mirrored version isn’t a distorted reflection. It’s the view of our “pure” self. That we all wear masks to hide said pure self is a necessary function of how we get along, more or less.

    Yeah I’m WAY too cynical.

  34. 34
    carlie

    In private it is criticism. In public it is an attack when dealing with personal behavior.

    So someone makes an indefensible, sexist comment in public, but they’re only supposed to be criticized for it in private. Convenient, that. Not only is the person then not publicly accountable for their own public statements, but no one else sees anything but indefensible sexist comments that are allowed to stand with no opposition whatsoever.

    Sorry, but no.

  35. 35
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    To expand a bit on Elly’s and Hertta’s points @#31&32:

    Even when someone identifying as a feminist says something to me that is completely out of line and makes me want to lash out at them, that’s just a reflection of the fact that the person in question is being an asshole. I don’t think that gives me licence to make threats AND it doesn’t mean that feminism itself is invalid. And truth be told, my feelings are hurt rather easily, and it makes me prickly and prone to lashing out and what-not.

    So when someone suggests that being too quick on the trigger to call people sexist or misogynistic is a problem, they probably have a point. But how much of a problem can it really be? No one was turned into a misogynist because someone called them “cupcake” on the Internet, no matter how much some people might want to hide behind that. A reasonable person would just say “well… not hanging out with THAT person at TAM this year!” and move on. If someone jumps to horrible and threatening language over Internet squabbles, it is because they were looking for an excuse, not because they were provoked.

  36. 36
    Munkhaus

    Utterly disingenuous. “Threats” to kick men in the nuts on Skepchick slip by without even an mention, yet this Long persons posts must be taken super-literally? What kind of binary world is this, and what hypocrisy!

  37. 37
    carlie

    Utterly disingenuous. “Threats” to kick men in the nuts on Skepchick slip by without even an mention,

    Citation needed.

  38. 38
    karmakin

    @Hertta As someone who kinda comes from a bit of an animal welfare background (my wife’s family was active in that particular movement), I actually have seen people leave the movement/change their minds negatively because of things PETA has done. That may be just my experience, and it may not be widespread, but to be honest, I doubt it.

    That said there are very few groups that are divisive as PETA in this world, and in the feminism world, IMO they’re virtually non-existent.

    I don’t think there’s a risk of losing allies directly. What I do think is that there’s a very real risk of intensifying opposition, and increasing the social cost of being an ally. Now, in the end this might be a good thing, as it’s also increasing the social cost of NOT being an ally (in fact I’d say it probably is) But it’s going to come with increasing the intensity of the opposition.

  39. 39
    The Pint
    Utterly disingenuous. “Threats” to kick men in the nuts on Skepchick slip by without even an mention,

    Citation needed.

    Don’t hold your breath.

  40. 40
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Utterly disingenuous. “Threats” to kick men in the nuts on Skepchick slip by without even an mention, yet this Long persons posts must be taken super-literally? What kind of binary world is this, and what hypocrisy!

    Tu quoque fallacy, 15 yard penalty, 4th down.

  41. 41
    Munkhaus

    Carlie/Pint

    Crtl F “nuts” http://skepchick.org/2011/12/reddit-makes-me-hate-atheists/

    Compare this to Hoggle’s original cunt comment, then factor in Benson’s rather too gleeful, distorted regurgitations thrown at anyone who disagrees with her, and Long’s posts.
    It is disingenuous to suggest that this was a legitimate threat of violence and that it be considered in isolation. This is literalism taken to extremes to “win” puerile internet arguments.
    Or perhaps I should have had my mother arrested for murder threats when she said she was going to kill me for not tidying my room, all those years ago.

  42. 42
    Utakata

    From this lurker’s point of view…

    It’s funny how two questions that where asked, that could be answered in two or three very short paragraphs at most turns into a seemingly multi-paragraph dissertation that likely makes many heads hurt to read. This strongly suggests that D.J. Groth threw in a lot of qualifiers and exceptions after the intial answer in both first paragraphs. Thus also suggesting that he wasn’t really sincere about those answers to begin with. I am not sure this a sign he’s selling out or playing public relations politics or both.

    But it does seem that Mr. Groth has a blind spot affection for this Ryan that naughty Greta has called out. Thus she must be publically told off in doing so. And word it in away not to further offend this Ryan despite of his mysogynist hissyfit even if Mr. Groth aknowledged his behavior is a bit wrong. This all seems misplaced and turgid on Mr. Groths part, IMO. And therefore, the the response is not of someone who want’s to lead a profound organization such as JREF, but one who wants to save some political bacon. /shrug

  43. 43
    Dr. Pablito

    Greta: add me to the “heartily sick of this topic” column as well, but I want to express admiration at your patience. Really, you’ve devoted what in the analog world would be gallons of ink and reams of paper to the topic, and you’ve presented nuanced, more-or-less calm, reasoned arguments on your position. Seriously. Impressive. Can we please put you in charge of fixing the generally odious level of debate on teh webs?

  44. 44
    Carlie

    Munkhaus – so it was a single comment, that wasn’t directed at a specific person. That was, in fact, objected to. Not as strongly as I would hope, but it was 3/4 of the way down a very long thread, and if you notice the commenter names most people had stopped paying attention by then.

  45. 45
    A. Noyd

    For those who don’t want to click Munkhaus’ link, here’s what he’s referring to. A fellow nym’d deadcom on the Reddit Makes Me Hate Atheists thread acted like a belligerent moron, got shit for it, and then started playing the “I was being civil, why are you all insulting me?” waah-waah card and spouting such gems as “get back in the kitchen, you man-fairy.” So marilove emphasized the reality of deadcom’s incivility by commenting that, “If this was a real life conversation, you would have already been kicked in the nuts for being a condescending, rude asshole.”

    And it didn’t “slip by without even an mention” because mantecanaut later picked it up. Granted, mantecanaut is another “you feminists are ruining feminism” sort of MRA troll, so maybe Munkhaus doesn’t think that counts.

  46. 46
    The Pint

    But Carlie, that commenter wasn’t excoriated and flogged across numerous blogs, ergo feminists don’t really care about teh menz.

  47. 47
    Utakata

    Another lurking observation…

    …and trolls are disingenuous by the nature of being trolls, Munkhaus. They’re are not here to bring reasonable, rational or logical discourse. Their only goal is to bring further contention to inflame the issues regardless of their standing on the issues.

    This is hardly skepticism as you have indicated. It’s more of an exercise of insulting intelligence to jerk-off over inflamed reactions. Just saying.

    PS: My mother never threatened to “kick me in the cunt” when I didn’t clean my room. And this Ryan isn’t anyones’ mother I gather.

  48. 48
    Hertta

    karmakin:

    I actually have seen people leave the movement/change their minds negatively because of things PETA has done. That may be just my experience, and it may not be widespread, but to be honest, I doubt it.

    It’s very illogical for someone to stop speaking out against cruelty to animals because some humans do stupid things. It also makes me wonder if they were really in it because they truly cared about animal welfare. But if you say that’s happened, I believe you.

    The munkhaus of the animal rights movement would spend time on animal rights blogs and complain how a cat once scratched him. :D

  49. 49
    Ophelia Benson

    @ 41 -

    Compare this to Hoggle’s original cunt comment, then factor in Benson’s rather too gleeful, distorted regurgitations thrown at anyone who disagrees with her, and Long’s posts.

    Gleeful? About hoggle’s saying “if I were a girl I would kick her [meaning me] in the cunt”? And then repeating variations on it ad infinitum? Gleeful?

    Fuck you.

  50. 50
    Munkhaus

    @ A.Noyd
    “maybe Munkhaus doesn’t think that counts.”

    Yes, you’re right. But my point was that the comment from Marilove was obviously *not* a threat, it is rhetoric. To be consistent, Hoggle’s and Long’s comments must be taken in the same way. Either that, or the threat of nut kicking must be severely condemned and is making atheism less safe for men. Cue the “what about teh menz” type comments. But no, this is about consistency and intellectual honesty.

    Further, if I were to take the same attitude as yourselves I would point to you A.Noyd in your comment as making excuses for threats of violence, and claiming that context makes it alright. Obviously this would be disingenuous, yet it is precisely what you are all doing here.

  51. 51
    witless chum

    Utterly disingenuous. “Threats” to kick men in the nuts on Skepchick slip by without even an mention, yet this Long persons posts must be taken super-literally? What kind of binary world is this, and what hypocrisy!

    Gretta Christian is almost certainly in no danger from these particular threats to violence made by this particular gentleman. Just like the vast, vast majority of the threats that she and almost every publicly female blogger say they receivie. But is sure is easy for me to say that dispassionately, because I’m not receiving the threats and I’m not publicly identifiable the way she is.

    What seems more plausible a scenario to you? Someone gets very angry at a blogger over an internet disagreement and tracks them down and tries to do them harm? Or (assuming they exist) Skepchick commenters go on a real-world nut kicking rampage? I’ll retire to my deep thinking corner and puzzle that one.

    Also a better complaint to air at Skepchick, no?

    Similarly, pointing out that there’s a problem in the skeptic community with sexism and misogyny does not = all men in the skeptic community are misogynists and sexists. If you’re not exhibiting the kind of behavior that gets called out in posts like this by Greta, Jen, Rebecca, Amanda or any other skeptic blogger, then you are not part of the problem and those criticisms are not aimed at you. If on the other hand, you do feel like it’s aimed at you, how about stepping back and examining your own behavior and attitudes before crying about how those mean, strident feminists are painting all men with the same generalized brush?”

    Exactly. If Gretta or some other woman on internet pisses me off, I’m not going to respond with a string of misogyny and expletives. Just expletives. I guess my mom (who innagurated the family’s flight from the Catholic Church by saying “That G.D. (appreviation in the original) old sexist!” at some pronouncement of John Paul II) would be proud in one way, but not the other.

  52. 52
    witless chum

    Oops, probably should spell the blog owner’s name wrong in what I think is my first comment here. Shit.

  53. 53
    witless chum

    Oops, probably should not spell the blog owner’s name wrong in what I think is my first comment here. Shit.

  54. 54
    Munkhaus

    @49
    “Fuck you.”

    Well, sorry Benson, but it’s noticable that you don’t contest that you distorted the comment and threw it accusingly at someone else, successfully goading Long into using it himself abusively.

  55. 55
    Crommunist

    Also known as the “the big kids made me do it” excuse. Didn’t anybody ever use the cliché about jumping off a bridge if all your friends do? It’s not acceptable to threaten someone just because someone else used threatening language (as an exemplar). It’s CERTAINLY not acceptable to double down on it afterward. No matter how much you’ve been “goaded”.

    Your dimwittery is second only to your dogged perseverance at being dimwitted.

  56. 56
    julian

    Regarding kicking a man in a balls vs kicking a woman in the cunt.

    I’ve always viewed the former as sort of a last ditch effort for a fight. Balls are sensitive and a good kick or knee will stun an attacker leaving them open to a stronger more damaging blow or giving the kicker a few seconds to escape the fight. It’s also a location that isn’t protected by muscle, fat or bone so they lack the protection of other sensitive and vulnerable regions.

    I guess what I’m saying is that kicking you in the balls isn’t so much sexual violence as it is just violence. Possibly dirty (if you’re into the whole not below the belt thing) but nothing overtly sexual about it. Your genitalia is not being fondled nor is this done to denigrate you.

    (I will say that among many guys I know hitting each other in the nuts was a way of humiliating someone but I’ve never seen a group of women who thought this way. I am not saying no woman does or that it is rare. Just pointing out my experiences so whatever biases or gaps in knowledge are upfront.)

    It’s done to weaken you, to give someone an advantage over you. Plus it hurts.

    Cunt kicking, on the other hand, (and those in the know please correct me if I am mistaken) does nothing but humiliate the person being kicked. It’s like tea bagging in that way. The denigration of the person being attacked is what’s important. You wouldn’t kick someone’s vagina in a hope to stun them to create a window for escape. (again, those in the know, feel free to correct me) The only time you would do it is o someone who can’t fight back or is incapacitated somehow.

    It’s a showing of superiority and almost a ‘Ha! I can even do this to you.’ Of course striking someone’s testicles can do the same thing but ‘cunt kicking’ seems to only do that.

    Anyway, just some random thoughts.

    PS I am not saying threats of normal violence are ok. I’m just tossing some ideas out and seeing where they land.

  57. 57
    julian

    that you distorted the comment and threw it accusingly at someone else, successfully goading Long into using it himself abusively.

    No she didn’t, ass monkey. Even Grothe conceded that.

  58. 58
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Munkhaus,
    It seems you were not inclined to click on that handily provided link to the fallacy you are employing (and employing incorrectly at that*).

    From Wikipedia,

    Tu quoque ( /tuːˈkwoʊkwiː/),[1] or the appeal to hypocrisy, is a kind of logical fallacy. It is a Latin term for “you, too” or “you, also”. A tu quoque argument attempts to discredit the opponent’s position by asserting his failure to act consistently in accordance with that position; it attempts to show that a criticism or objection applies equally to the person making it. This dismisses someone’s point of view on an issue on the argument that the person is inconsistent in that very thing.[2] It is considered an ad hominem argument, since it focuses on the party itself, rather than its positions.[3]

    If a murderer argues that murder is harmful to society, the fact that xe is a murderer doesn’t discredit hir argument.

    *your example of hypocrisy is from a random commenter on another person’s blog.

  59. 59
    Ophelia Benson

    No I didn’t. DJ and Long both misread what I said – in fact they’re the ones who “distorted” words on the screen.

  60. 60
    karmakin

    @Hertta:Not disagreeing that it’s irrational and illogical. It most certainly is. It’s a bit of a bizzaro-authoritarian fallacy. Person/Group believes in X, they also say wacky or crazy, or even just plain wrong things, and as such, X is now discredited in their eyes.

    But it’s also, I think, a natural human reaction. Meaning that to some degree it probably should be taken into account even if it is the result of fallacy thinking.

  61. 61
    Ophelia Benson

    And munkhaus, fuck you again for “gleefully.”

    Fuck anybody who thinks that. Fuck anybody who thinks we’re thinking “oh goody, there are people fantasizing about kicking us in the cunt and slapping the bitches, hooray hooray, what fun, what a great way to get attention and blog hits” has a mind like a festering boil.

  62. 62
    Ophelia Benson

    Ending the sentence as it began fail. What I meant was:

    Fuck anybody who thinks we’re thinking “oh goody, there are people fantasizing about kicking us in the cunt and slapping the bitches, hooray hooray, what fun, what a great way to get attention and blog hits.” Anyone who thinks that has a mind like a festering boil.

  63. 63
    jackrawlinson

    @Janee: The idea is that because he has more privilege, his voice should be heard over yours. His opinion is somehow more valuable than you, or any of those actually being hurt by the sexism in the skeptic/atheist community.

    Where does he claim this? I see nothing that suggests he doesn’t think both he and Greta have an equal right to have their voices heard and to discuss the points raised.

    I have to say that it is precisely this sort of thing that has caused some of us – and not only the “privileged white males” – to have become extremely uncomfortable with (and rather ashamed of) the way the “atheist community” is behaving in these recent disputes. We’re hurling around blatantly fallacious statements, ad homs, unsupported accusations and assumptions… and we’re making inflammatory statements like the above, which seem to be based more on stating and reinforcing a personal prejudice than a fair assessment of reality. And it’s sad.

  64. 64
    Laura-Ray

    @ophelia, I think this may be Munkhaus’ own personal kink. I can only hope he gets off on being wrong, he does it so much it makes a person wonder. Maybe joining thr atheist community fulfills his ‘punish myglaring logical fallacies’ fantasies.
    All joking aside, don’t let that guy get to you. He won’t stop commenting and saying blatantly wrong things, even after being corrected numerous times. He has nothing to contribute, and though my ‘munkhaus gets his jollies from having people tell him he’s wrong’ is pure speculation, I hope you don’t take his illogical shit talking to heart :( just started reading your blog, good stuff

  65. 65
    carlie

    To be consistent, Hoggle’s and Long’s comments must be taken in the same way.

    Nope, because 1)theirs were directed at specific real people, while hers was not, and 2) because women have a statistically much, much, much higher risk of being physically hurt by men trying to “teach them a lesson” than men do of being physically hurt by women. They don’t need to be taken as exact equivalents because they are not exact equivalents, either in their actual wording to begin with or in their cultural contexts.

  66. 66
    Munkhaus

    @62 OpheliaBenson

    But do you think that either comment is a *genuine* threat of violence?

    @Laura-ray
    “he gets off on being wrong”
    It is merely your assertion that I’m wrong. You haven’t shown it in the least.

    Tu Qu

  67. 67
    Munkhaus

    @62 OpheliaBenson

    But do you think that either comment is a *genuine* threat of violence?

    @Laura-ray
    “he gets off on being wrong”
    It is merely your assertion that I’m wrong. You haven’t shown it in the least.

    Tu Quoque does not apply as I am not dismissing someone’s point of view on an issue on the argument, I am saying that the point of view is disingenuous and only superficially held.

  68. 68
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Tu Quoque does not apply as I am not dismissing someone’s point of view on an issue on the argument, I am saying that the point of view is disingenuous and only superficially held.

    I’m not dismissing their points, I’m just saying their points are superficial and disingenuous.

    I personally think some of the threats were genuine. See: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/12/09/victor-ivanoff-is-a-slimy-stalker/

    Even if only one person was serious, they were still being egged on and encouraged in it.

  69. 69
    carlie

    But do you think that either comment is a *genuine* threat of violence?

    The likelihood of it being a genuine threat is orders of magnitude higher going in the male to female direction than it is the other way around. That’s not an opinion, it’s verifiable, statistical reality.

  70. 70
    Laura-Ray

    Also, I’ve been reading these comments and it’s teaching me something: that my conclusions seem to be the right ones. The other side has used every logical fallacy and irrefutable argument (by this I mean based on unquantifiable evidence, rather than correct) and I’ve seen them almost consistantly double down and stop being skeptics. Not a seaworthy argument from the lot of them, even a leader of the skeptic movement. Then I’ve seen the arguments that Greta has given, that her commenters have given (btw, how is DJ’s ‘ditto-heads’ argument not unneccessarily divisive? How are we not being egged on? Is the evidence for us being bullies that we don’t act like Ryan did when we’re treated the same way?), and I can see such a clear difference. Maybe I’m in an echo chamber, and the people who disagree are just trolls, and the real argument is out there where I can’t see it… But from what I see, if DJ wants to make this about choosing sides (which he seems to from his dismissal of Greta and Stephanie), at least he’s given me confidence that I chose the right one.

  71. 71
    LeftSidePositive

    @jackrawlinson63,

    I think you fail to understand the basic concept of privilege (and, as such, your complaints about it become rather ridiculous). NO ONE has ever stated that DJ explicitly *claimed* that his privilege meant that his own voice had more value. The whole POINT of privilege is that induces cognitive biases and presumptions, and that one feels entitled to ACT in ways that are dismissive, belittling, unethical, prejudiced, etc., etc. (and here’s the important part) OFTEN WITHOUT REALIZING ONE IS ENGAGING IN THESE BEHAVIORS. The commenter you quote is (to my understanding) illustrating how his actions convey that meaning to others, and speak volumes to an unexamined presumption in his mind that is leading him to excuse some and excoriate others for acts that have no comparability in any coherent ethical sense. No one is saying he is outright *stating* that he doesn’t have to take what she says seriously, and anyone with even the most basic knowledge of the concept of privilege knows that’s not how privilege works. (Moreover, no serious claim can be made that people with biases against others always declare their prejudices or bad faith, nor that these prejudices must be stated explicitly for others to correctly interpret them.) Privilege is, in very large part, the culturally constructed set of blinders that allow people to be blissfully ignorant of the inequalities around them and how their actions reinforce those inequalities, and it is these very blinders that allow the privileged person to go on assuming they are a good and deserving person without having to confront the way they actually act towards others.

    Moreover, the reason *you* see nothing that suggests that he doesn’t view Greta’s voice as equal is the result of your ignorance of the concept of privilege and how it works, your ignorance of the patterns and effects of sexist and dismissive attitudes regarding how and why they are used, and your refusal to understand how Greta and other commenters have described why DJ’s statements are fallacious, minimizing, distracting, tolerant of unacceptable behavior, and logically incoherent (all of which indicate, at least on an unconscious level, that DJ is not respecting her views, her right to be free from harassment, her right to express herself, her right to value her priorities, etc., and is creating absurd–and absurdly long–rationalizations for his privilege-based disinclination to take her concerns seriously).

    Finally, your absurd statement that we who are objecting to sexism and privileged minimization of concerns are engaging in “unsupported accusations and assumptions” is pretty rich considering how much digital ink Greta and others have expended explaining exactly what is wrong with this treatment of women, why this happens, how prevalent it is, and what its effects are. The fact that you can apparently ignore all of this speaks volumes about your point of view and I suggest you educate yourself about these topics to correct your own knowledge deficits rather than dismiss out-of-hand the experience of those more familiar with these issues and their consequences than you.

  72. 72
    Ms Anthropy

    I find it funny that he accuses you of “being quick to… make enemies.” when you’re the one who got threatened with violence.

    How is threatening someone not “Making enemies”?

  73. 73
    Laura-Ray

    Munkhaus, it ain’t my job to repeat the people who’ve refuted you. I happens, as I’ve said, way too often for me to do it succinctly. So go read the comments again. I’ve already dismissed you as a troll, if I thought it was worth my time to logic your butt out the window, believe me, I’d have done it. As it so happens, it’s NOT worth my time to feed trolls, and I just wanted Ophelia to know it’s not worth hers.
    Oh gog fuck this phone so hard. It’s becoming less and less worthwhile to comment when I have to use this interface to do it.

  74. 74
    qbsmd

    “You misunderstand me. My problem is not with you criticizing my behavior if you object to it. I don’t agree with your criticism, but it is not the problem. My problem is with what seem to be your priorities…
    In the discussion on Stephanie’s blog, you devoted one sentence to saying that “there is never any defense for real or pretend threats of violence”… and 2,371 words discussing other matters, including 602 words (by a conservative count) justifying Ryan’s behavior, defending it, explaining the context for it, expressed a wish that people have sympathy for it, defending your own reaction to it, and blaming me for having instigated it.”

    Where did this idea come from: that the priority a person places on an idea is proportional to the number of words used? It seems self evidently false to me.

    As a quick example, imagine a politician telling audience A about all the things he\she agrees with audience A about, and then telling audience B about all the things he\she agrees with them about. What have you learned about the politician’s priorities?

    In the case of an honest exchange of ideas, doesn’t it make more sense that people would spend more time discussing the areas they disagree about than rehashing things they agree about? Doesn’t it make more sense that people would spend more words clarifying complex ideas than repeating something that can be reduced to a sound-bite? Should I now copy-paste the sentence “Violence and threats of violence are bad” 100 times so you don’t conclude that my priorities are off as well?

  75. 75
    The Pint

    LeftSidePositive #71 – Nicely stated.

  76. 76
    Munkhaus

    @Laura ray

    It seems a little absurd to reply just to tell me that *could* reply if you wanted to, and the reply would be a “doozy”, yet you’re not going to. That’s the stuff of playgrounds.You’ve already dismissed me for having asking some questions, so, fair enough. So much for you.

  77. 77
    carlie

    @jackrawlinson63,

    I think you fail to understand the basic concept of privilege (and, as such, your complaints about it become rather ridiculous).

    Oh yeah, he does. I hate cross-contaminating threads, but he just proved as much by equating the term “privileged” with “slut” and “gay agenda”. He thinks it’s some kind of dog whistle, not an actual term.

  78. 78
    carlie

    (“He does” meaning “he does indeed fail to understand the concept”, not meaning he does understand the concept)

  79. 79
    Vicki, duly vaccinated tool of the feminist conspiracy

    qbsmd @74: What I’ve learned about that hypothetical politician’s priorities is that the politician wants to be elected. I hope you aren’t defending Grothe by claiming that he is saying what he thinks will get him liked, or hired, rather than what he actually thinks.

    Also, if the hypothetical politician talks to one group and says (for example) “It’s important to have good schools and a competent police force” and then goes to a second group and tells them “We need good schools that do not teach our children about ‘the homosexual lifestyle,’” what I’ve learned is that the politician is my enemy.

    I don’t think Grothe is doing the equivalent of this, but again, if I thought he was, it wouldn’t be an argument in his favor. This situation isn’t “group A and group B have different, unrelated priorities” (as if I was concerned about gay rights and someone else wanted money spent on road repair). A person cannot simultaneously believe that threats of violence are unimportant and that those same threats should be taken seriously.

  80. 80
    SallyStrange

    Privilege: it’s a real thing, with evidence and everything.

    Deal with it, “skeptics.”

  81. 81
    Hertta

    karmakin:

    But it’s also, I think, a natural human reaction. Meaning that to some degree it probably should be taken into account even if it is the result of fallacy thinking.

    Perhaps point out the fallacy have done with it? In most cases it’s a disingenuous deflection tactic used by people who were never allies to begin with.

  82. 82
    Ophelia Benson

    No, I don’t think it was a genuine threat of violence. That’s not the issue. Use of the word “nigger” wasn’t always a threat of violence in Mississippi in 1964, either.

  83. 83
    ChrisC

    There is something very simple here that hasn’t been pointed out yet, so I’m going to add it for posterity if nothing else.

    Part of a healthy functional human society is behavior amelioration through just exactly this process. In the bad old days –the ones that we skeptics are attempting to course correct– change in human behavior was driven by religious edict and other authoritarian mechanisms. Unless we wish to return to said mechanisms, then we are required to go through the much slower, yet much more permanent methods, of lengthy discussion and public– yes public!– shaming, or “calling out”, of said behaviors.

    How do we know what behaviors to choose to ameliorate? The criteria is pretty simple: anything that either directly or indirectly causes harm to other human beings. Direct harms should be fairly clear. Indirect harms include things like contributing to a climate that discourages a segment of the population from equal access to resources.

    It’s very easy to create a chilling climate. Odds are that there are a fair number of people in the skeptic community who were bullied in some way. Failing to stand up for persons being bullied, failing to point out bullying behavior to a teacher or parent, “soft” encouragement to a bully (e.g. trying to curry their favor because you’re afraid of them by discounting the bully’s target), all of these things are behaviors that contribute indirectly to the person who is being harmed.

    That there are still men (and women) in the skeptic community who have failed to make this connection is somewhat discouraging, even with the progress that has been made, because we are talking about quite literally billions of human beings, humans who happen not to have penises, who are being harmed. So why shouldn’t we put a little extra effort into creating a climate that seeks to give all its participants equal footing, where they can feel safe to express their views, engage in true discourse, and grow our community larger?

    Isn’t that the goal? Because it’s not from the handful of leaders and celebrities that solutions arise, but from the community itself–from us. And without a great deal of diversity, we’re not going to get any real innovation. That’s how natural selection works, doesn’t it? Adaptation picks and chooses from a really broad menu of options.

    So do we want to evolve, or do we want to maintain the old modalities? If the former, you’d better be working your ass off to improve women’s access. We’ve still got a long way to go, and such a lot of work to do.

  84. 84
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Jack, stop whining about being called privileged. It’s not an insult. It’s a sociological assessment. Read this comment and read the linked posts, too.

  85. 85
    ChrisC

    I should have written “eliminate or ameliorate” since some bad behavior is just bad behavior.

  86. 86
    The Pint

    Part of a healthy functional human society is behavior amelioration through just exactly this process. In the bad old days –the ones that we skeptics are attempting to course correct– change in human behavior was driven by religious edict and other authoritarian mechanisms. Unless we wish to return to said mechanisms, then we are required to go through the much slower, yet much more permanent methods, of lengthy discussion and public– yes public!– shaming, or “calling out”, of said behaviors.

    This. While it may not be possible to change the minds of everyone about sexism, misogyny, racism, etc., what we can do is make said bad behaviors unacceptable to be displayed in public. At the very least, it creates a greater safe space for everyone and more opportunities for voices to be heard without fear of being marginalized. We can’t erase those bad behaviors completely, but we can erase their power to silence others.

  87. 87
    Greta Christina

    Gleeful? About hoggle’s saying “if I were a girl I would kick her [meaning me] in the cunt”? And then repeating variations on it ad infinitum? Gleeful?

    Fuck you.

    And munkhaus, fuck you again for “gleefully.”

    Your dimwittery is second only to your dogged perseverance at being dimwitted.

    No she didn’t, ass monkey.

    Ophelia Benson @ #49 and #61, Crommunist @ #55, julian @ #57: I hugely appreciate your support… but please remember my comment policy, and don’t engage in personal insults aimed at other commenters here. Please keep your criticisms aimed at ideas and behavior. (Ophelia, in particular I want to say that I completely understand your anger and frustration… but again, please respect my comment policy.) Thanks.

    And everyone, I’ll repeat what I said in yesterday’s thread: My understanding is that Munkhaus is a known troll from other blogs. He hasn’t yet said or done anything here to merit being blocked; but unless you genuinely think he’s being sincere and/or think his comments merit response, I’d appreciate it if you just ignored him. Thanks.

  88. 88
    Greta Christina

    And regarding the comment in another blog where someone said, “If this was a real life conversation, you would have already been kicked in the nuts for being a condescending, rude asshole.”: I am now going to state, unequivocally, that this is unacceptable. I am not going to “yes, but…” it in any way, or engage in a discussion of whether it’s comparable to what we’re discussing here. That is unacceptable. Period.

  89. 89
    screechy monkey

    By the way, there’s some amusing irony in Grothe’s posts in this JREF Forum thread.

    Particularly post#69, where he writes:

    The forum is important for the reasons I stated, but paid staff involvement with the forum is really a matter of limited staff resources. I can imagine that for people who invest a lot of their personal time in this online community, this seems sort of backward, since they spend so much time on it, and they believe the nonprofit professionals at the JREF ought to, as well. But after reorganizing, we have decided that we advance our mission more effectively by focusing on communications and media relations, creating educational modules and digital publishing, doing web videos and podcasts, putting on local events and speaking tours, conducting the MDC, etc etc than we would by spending large amounts of time in discussions on skeptical and other topics with those of like mind on online discussion forums, as some JREF staffers had done in the past.

    This really just makes it sadder that Grothe has decided that it’s important for him to use his precious scarce online time to wade into a discussion and chastise Greta for being “unfair” while largely ignoring the sexism to which she was responding.

    So, to review:
    Discussing skepticism online? Poor use of JREF staff time.
    Taking a blogger to task for being “unfair” in her response to sexist language? IMPORTANT.
    Actually criticizing the sexism? Well, I’ll get around to it if you press me hard enough.

    And this part I’m quoting just for irony:

    I’ll also note that what little promotion of the JREF’s activities we have done on the forum so far has often been met with criticism and sometimes impressive hostility, since forumites “don’t come here to see ads for the JREF.”

    Guess he wishes there were more “dittoheads” at the JREF Forum.

  90. 90
    A. Noyd

    carlie (#65)

    because 1)theirs were directed at specific real people, while hers was not

    Actually, marilov’s comment was directed at a specific person. And if one wished to make a case (elsewhere) for what she said having crossed a line, I’d be fine with that. I’d even be fine with erring on the side of caution and telling people to avoid similar nut-kicking comments. But that’s clearly not what Munkhaus is up to. He’s just using the whole thing as a way to derail and to equivocate where the situation isn’t equivalent in order to dismiss feminist criticisms.

    Disclaimer: I’ve got Munkhaus killfiled and consider him too dishonest to merit a direct response.

  91. 91
    Freemage

    qbsmd: When the amount of verbiage spent on one point is vastly outweighed by the amount spent on posts undercutting the other position, that’s significant.

    A politician who insists he isn’t racist–but then spends the next several minutes indulging in race-baiting tactics–is obviously being disingenuous. And when Mr. Grothe opts to say, “This is inexcusable, now here’s fifty-seven posts excusing this,” that suggests that his real opinion is not the inexcusability of the language.

    ********

    I am wondering, though, if this conversation has gone as far as it can in this format, Greta. I’m wondering if more progress might be made with some sort of face-to-face with a moderator of some sort. A transcript could be kept and posted, and with a preliminary agreement to that, you wouldn’t have the concerns you raise about publishing the private emails that the two of you have been sending.

  92. 92
    Munkhaus

    OpheliaBenson “No, I don’t think it was a genuine threat of violence. That’s not the issue”

    Thank you for that at least. (seriously, I appreciate the honesty)

    It is at least part of the issue though if Greta is saying she doesnt feel safe at TAM, and others are threatening to boycott it.
    It seems that rude language is the problem here.

  93. 93
    qbsmd

    Vicki @79:

    “What I’ve learned about that hypothetical politician’s priorities is that the politician wants to be elected.”

    Exactly. Note that he\she probably did not spend the majority of words talking about that.

    “I hope you aren’t defending Grothe by claiming that he is saying what he thinks will get him liked, or hired, rather than what he actually thinks…I don’t think Grothe is doing the equivalent of this, but again, if I thought he was, it wouldn’t be an argument in his favor.”

    I was not. In fact, I don’t believe I was defending Mr. Grothe at all. I posed a thought experiment demonstrating the lack of correlation between a person’s priorities and their numbers of words used. I believe the series of rhetorical questions posed in my last paragraph is more relevant to Mr. Grothe’s case in that I believe that he focused on areas of disagreement or clarifying misunderstandings.

    “A person cannot simultaneously believe that threats of violence are unimportant and that those same threats should be taken seriously.”

    I dislike semantics, so I’ll interpret that as a tautology.

    In case it remains unclear, the only point I wanted to make is that people should respond to the points people make, not to the points they don’t make, or which points they spend more time with.

  94. 94
    Justicar

    A. Noyd @ 90 writes

    He’s just using the whole thing as a way to derail and to equivocate where the situation isn’t equivalent in order to dismiss feminist criticisms.

    Sorry, am I reading you correctly or did you just say that gender based threats of violence towards men aren’t equivalent to gender based threats of violence towards women?

    What is that makes one somehow less important than the other? It seems to me that if one is going to claim that gender based threats of sexual violence are unacceptable, then they’re unacceptable across the board for the precise same reasons, and are equivalently so. I note that Greta has commented saying it’s unacceptable. I appreciate that she’s starting to get gender based threats of sexual violence aimed at people not of her gender identity are, you know, equally bad.

    But using her word count metric for determining what one thinks on a given issue, I note that it’s only a brief blurb making its appearance at comment 87, a tiny, tiny fraction of the overall word count in this one issue alone. But it’s progress of a kind.

  95. 95
    Stephanie Zvan

    Where does he claim this? I see nothing that suggests he doesn’t think both he and Greta have an equal right to have their voices heard and to discuss the points raised.

    That would be where he decided he should be able to criticize Greta’s behavior in a comment on her blog but I should have come to him privately if I had a criticism of his behavior. Additionally, as others have pointed out, where his criticism is about a “real problem” in the community but mine or Greta’s is simply a troll for pageviews.

    Is that so hard to see?

  96. 96
    A. Noyd

    Justicar (#94)

    Sorry, am I reading you correctly…

    No, you’re not. And since you’re another derailing, misogynistic troll, you’re going into the killfile as well. Buh bye.

  97. 97
    Alukonis, metal ninja

    @Justicar #94

    Google “false equivalence”

    It’s not that gendered threats of violence against men aren’t bad, but because gendered violence against men happens much less often than gendered violence against women, gendered threats against women are more likely to be serious threats and are therefore more of a problem.

    Greta is spot on in her refusal to “yes, but” the condemnation of nut-kicking, and I wholeheartedly agree. However, that doesn’t make gendered threats against men exactly equivalent to gendered threats against women. I’m not saying it’s fair, but that’s how it is in reality. You cannot point at those threats and say they are exactly as bad.

    Of course, a goal of feminism IS to make them exactly as bad – to one day have no gendered violence at all, so any gendered threat is equally as serious, because all genders are equal. Once again, needs more feminism.

  98. 98
    Alukonis, metal ninja

    Also I just wanted to say, Greta, I for one appreciate you putting up with all this crap and taking the time to eloquently lay out your rational arguments against sexism, misogyny, and blind privilege. You are awesome.

    Also I hope your cats are doing well. I hope you’re getting in some therapeutic cuddling with them and Ingrid!

  99. 99
    Vicki, duly vaccinated tool of the feminist conspiracy

    qbsmd: With regard to the actual situation, rather than the contentless hypothetical, you’re still in the position of arguing that if someone says “It’s wrong to do X, unless you’re provoked by Y, Z, or Q,” they mean “it’s always wrong to do X” rather than “there are acceptable reasons to do X.” If someone actually meant “X is always wrong,” they might say “even if you’re provoked by Y, Z, or Q.” They might even say “so here are some ways to calm yourself if you’re provoked.” But “unless you’re provoked” means that it’s sometimes okay to do X.

    Suppose someone says “Of course it’s wrong to beat up people who haven’t attacked you first, but if you make a pass at someone of the same gender, they can’t be expected to control themselves.” If the speaker is the cop on the beat, the queer-bashers won’t even be arrested; if they’re in the DA’s office, there will be no indictment; and if they’re on the jury, the thugs will walk away scot-free. It’s very different from “it’s wrong and illegal to beat people up, regardless of their sexual orientation, and we will prosecute all assaults.”

  100. 100
    Justicar

    @96: way to address the argument with a pile of ad hominem invective. Your exclusive argument has been that a troll and a misogynist. What’s that about the commenting policy here again?

    @ 97: I needn’t google the term as my education and knowledge of logic and its fallacies isn’t a product of the kind professors of Google University. That said, you write

    It’s not that gendered threats of violence against men aren’t bad, but because gendered violence against men happens much less often than gendered violence against women, gendered threats against women are more likely to be serious threats and are therefore more of a problem.

    Well, no one knows this. What is known is that said violence is reported less frequently; this says nothing whatever about the numbers beyond the fact that your made-up guesses are just as good as anyone else’s. The data simply aren’t there to make a conclusion that isn’t overtly speculative.

    You say more likely to be to real against women than men. You say this with the confidence of what data? The known to be not accurate reporting data?

    To the extent that Greta didn’t add an ‘yeah, but’, I agree that within her context, she’s being consistent on that point. As I said, it’s progress of a sort.

    I fail to see how violence exacted against one group isn’t perfectly equivalent when the only material fact that changes is the geometry of that group’s genitals. If attacking someone’s genitals because of the possession of those genitals is bad, then I see no reason whatever to suppose that one is worse than the other. That just sounds to me like a case of it’s-bad-but-this-kind-is-a-special-kind-of-bad-only-because-of-the-gender-of-the-victim.

  101. 101
    strange gods before me ॐ

    There’s a lot here to think about, but what sticks with me is how Grothe suggests that blocking someone on the internet constitutes bullying.

    Huh. I just don’t even understand how it could be.

  102. 102
    Jason Thibeault

    love moderately: conveniently, I just wrote a long post about how we have the right to moderate our personal spaces.

  103. 103
    Pteryxx

    It’s not that gendered threats of violence against men aren’t bad, but because gendered violence against men happens much less often than gendered violence against women, gendered threats against women are more likely to be serious threats and are therefore more of a problem.

    Also, stereotype threat research shows that similar statements have disproportionate consequences on disadvantaged groups. Simply asking students to indicate their gender on a math test causes worse performance from women but has no effect on men. So it’s reasonable to infer that gendered threats against women have greater chilling effects than gendered threats agains men; and some chilly-climate research on sexist language and harassment also supports that interpretation.

  104. 104
    Aerik

    The privileged. They are like a goldfish with an 8 second memory (yes this is untrue, but we can imagine it’s a made up individual goldfish). If it’s hungry, it’s been hungry it’s whole life. If it’s scared, it’s been scared it’s whole life. If it’s happy, it’s been happy it’s whole life. So on and so forth. When it’s curious, it’ll ask the same question and assume the same answer over and over and over until you smack it away to look at something else.

    Youtuber “proportionalresponse” used this analogy to talk about a creationist (jezuzfreek777) who, year after year, asks all of youtube, “why do atheists celebrate christmas,” and acts like it’s the 1st time he’s asked, and repetitive answers are the 1st time he’s ever heard them.

    The thing about privileged folk — especially racists, and especiallier sexists — is that they feel no need at all to remember people’s answers to their questions and rebuttals to their claims.

    It’ll take some serious re-wiring of Grothe’s privileged thinking until any of our words and image stick in his brain, but we should still keep trying, and stay persistent.

    But if he ever tries to use his position as president of JREF against those who call out his male privilege, then it’s time to smack the goldfish. Swirl his bowl around, wreck his whole world, flick him off his throne. Yeah, he’ll be upset. For 8 seconds. But then he’ll get used to it, find some happy thought, and he’ll have been happy his whole life.

    Let’s choose leaders who have actually memories and empathy for women and non-whites in the atheist/skeptic movements, shall we? This whole schpiel with dealing with their privilege is a lot like letting a dumb dog in and out the back door.

  105. 105
    Smith Powell

    I need to get out more as I am shocked by some of the comments–including many made by Grothe.

    Greta, please do not be discouraged and please keep up the good work. Your blog has been invaluable to me in a number of ways, so I do hope the burdens imposed by issues such as this one do not silence your voice. From the tone of this point, it would seem that there is little danger of that.

    Many thanks.

  106. 106
    SallyStrange

    Oh but Pteryxx, you’re forgetting that “nobody” knows those things!

  107. 107
    Tristan

    Your complaint about DJ Grothe’s priorities reminds me of an all too common argument I have with my wife.

    Her: But they did [insert bad act a here]. Why are you spending all your time criticizing my [insert bad act b]? Do you care about them more than me?

    Me: No, of course not. It’s because I care more about you that I’m focusing my attention on you. Fuckheads come and go, but I’m with you for life – so it’s important to me that if I perceive you to be wrong about something, we can discuss it until we come to an agreement. I only hope that you’ll pay me the same respect.

    Or, from an Internet taxonomist’s perspective, what’s more interesting: yet another example of the most prolific species on the web, the Greater Internet Fuckwad, or an apparent specimen of the relatively rare but growing population of Crimson-Faced False Skeptics?

  108. 108
    SallyStrange

    So you’re married to a Crimson-Faced False Skeptic, Tristan?

  109. 109
    Alukonis, metal ninja

    @ Justicar #100

    Well, no one knows this

    You are wrong.
    Women accounted for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence, men for approximately 15%.
    (Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003)


    Rates of women experiencing physical violence at least once in their lifetime vary from several per cent to over 59 per cent depending on where they live.

    A study by Interpol estimates that, in South Africa, a woman is raped every 17 seconds and one in four South African women suffers domestic violence.

    “Images of military and police who strip, grope, and beat protesters have horrified the world and brought into sharp focus the sexual brutality Egyptian women face in public life,” said Nadya Khalife, Middle East and North Africa women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The military and civilian authorities need to put a halt to criminal attacks on demonstrators once and for all.” (this also includes sexual violence against men, but it is still predominantly women who are assaulted)

    I could link to more, but hopefully you get the idea.

    Many studies and reams of data point to the reality that gendered violence, harassment, cat-calling, rape, abuse, etc. happen more to women than to men, and also, that many of the men that is does happen to are transgender, genderqueer, gay, or bisexual, i.e. that the violence against them is for not being “manly enough” or a “proper man” or some such crap.

    Perhaps you should try using google to find interesting things with which to educate yourself.

  110. 110
    Jason Thibeault

    Alukonis, wonderful set of links. I suspect it’s wasted on Justicar though. I don’t think he actually meant “nobody knows”, so much as “Nobody Knows” accompanied by the Jedi mind trick hand motion.

  111. 111
    Jason Thibeault

    By “wonderful” I of course mean “horrific, but very useful for the task at hand, which is reinforming the woefully misinformed”.

  112. 112
    Stephanie Zvan

    In the U.S., we don’t rely on reports to police for crime data, although that is collected as well. We survey the population at large, which is how we know that various crimes are underreported in the first place.

    Feel free to take the NCVS data and carve out the violent crimes we know are gendered, such as sexual assault and intimate partner violence, and for which we have supplementary data on the gender of both perpetrator and victim, using a source like the most recent NISVS survey. Then let us know where the rest of that gendered violence of women against men is located in the general crime data. Once you’ve done that, we can talk about how equal the situation is.

  113. 113
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    After the reading the great OP and comments, all I wanna say is:
    “Controversialist”. Eyeroll, please.

  114. 114
    Munkhaus

    Alukonis ” You cannot point at those threats and say they are exactly as bad.”

    You miss the point, which is that neither were genuine threats as Benson (in a moment of clarity) now admits. They were insults.Therefore the problem is that “cunt” is a very rude word. Granted.

    This doesn’t explain why people are saying that they are now in fear of going to TAM. It seems to be a trend in the Ffb community to try to boycott people into agreeing with you. It didn’t work last time.

  115. 115
    Justicar

    Alu @ 199: I’ve read the DOJ stats, which you didn’t link despite calling the link that. The link you provided isn’t to the DOJ statistics; it’s to a third-party website citing various statistics. But without taking much issue with why you’d link to a secondary source instead of the primary source, I’ll just point out that the selfsame site to which you linked says this, in bold print, “Between 600,000 and 6 million women are victims of domestic violence each year, and between 100,000 and 6 million men, depending on the type of survey used to obtain the data.”

    As I said, which you’ve done nothing to refute, no one knows. Having a range between 1k and 6 million does not in any fashion argue for good data on the number of people who are victims, male or female.

    The second is similarly unimpressive. There’s a section on ‘violence towards women’, with one key discussion being on FGM. That study doesn’t even have a header for ‘violence towards men’, and by extension no discussion on MGM. As I said, no one knows; the data are simply unavailable, and what is available is known to be inaccurate – wildly (hence the order of magnitude space between the low and the high for the US alone).

    The third link is comedic as a ‘source’. Paragraph 1, sentence 1: “There is an escalating pattern of physical attacks by Egyptian military and police officers against women and male protesters, journalists, and activists in Cairo, some of which are sexual in nature, Human Rights Watch said today”

    Then this article follows up by noting that males and females are both being abused (but no indication on the spread there!). So they state upfront that both men and women are being abused, sometimes subset of whom are subjected to sexual violence), they immediately write, “Images of military and police who strip, grope, and beat protesters have horrified the world and brought into sharp focus the sexual brutality Egyptian women face in public life[.]”

    One notes that this conclusion focuses on the women being abused but other than noting the men who are similarly being abused makes no mention of how this is also an example of the brutality to which some men are subjected.

    As I said, and as you’ve done nothing to disturb, the data are conspicuously inaccurate or just not collected at all – at least with respect to men who are being sexually abused.

  116. 116
    Justicar

    Jason @ 110; your psychic powers have failed you – again. I do not say no one knows as a jedi mind trick; rather, I mean it quite literally. No one actually knows. We don’t even have roughly good approximations, which is one reason that the estimates come in with a huge range of variance.

  117. 117
    Tom Foss

    @Aerik (104):

    The privileged. They are like a goldfish with an 8 second memory (yes this is untrue, but we can imagine it’s a made up individual goldfish).

    I noticed this as well, and commented on it elsewhere. It seems like the “what’s the big deal?” crowd wants to see every one of these situations as an isolated incident. It’s like reverse pareidolia, failing to recognize an obviously extant pattern.

    I’m still most interested to see DJ’s response to the “who’s giving explicit directions to foment controversy” question and claim. One aspect of that claim that I haven’t seen addressed yet is this: what blogs are run that way? I can count two blogs in my feed reader that have a “blog founder” and a staff of writers/content creators, who may or may not actually be subordinate. I blogged at some length about the claim (apologies for the shameless plugging), and I really can’t see any way that it works out positively for Grothe.

  118. 118
    Tristan

    SallyStrange @ 108:

    Strange, indeed. And particularly venomous.

  119. 119
    SallyStrange

    At what point would you consider the data sound enough to support the point that violence by men against women is a far more serious problem than violence by women against men, Justicar?

    How much data do you need to convince you that sexism is a thing that exists and needs to be changed?

  120. 120
    Jadehawk

    personal pet-peeve unrelated to anything else:

    I submit that such posts by folks like Zvan are focused moreso on whom a blogger might be

    people who don’t know the grammatical function of the word “whom” should not use it to make themselves look more educated/erudite. It generally backfires, and Jesus Fuck, does it grate on my nerves.

    Now, back to the regularly scheduled conversation.

  121. 121
    SallyStrange

    Strange, indeed. And particularly venomous.

    Oh, you poor, poor dear.

    I take that to mean that you’re married to a Greater Internet Fuckwad then?

  122. 122
    miller

    I think I disagree with Greta on a technical issue: word count is not necessarily indicative of prioritization of issues. Some people just say what they think is missing from a conversation, even if the missing thing is not the most important thing. We want to make an original contribution, see.

    I think this is only a minor point though, which I bring up because I feel it is a new point.

  123. 123
    Justicar

    Sally writes

    At what point would you consider the data sound enough to support the point that violence by men against women is a far more serious problem than violence by women against men, Justicar?

    I don’t recall ever having implied that I’m looking for a quantity of data. I said that data aren’t available, and to the extent that we do have data available, we know that it’s wildly inaccurate. In other words, I’m uninterested in quantities of data; I’m interested in quality of data.

    This hand-waving away tactic about the violence done against men as being not important enough, or at least unimportant in the same respect probably goes along way towards reducing our chances of getting reliable data.

    As I said, and have said for a long while, I’m not concerned with who the victim of a given type of violence is based on the geometry of the victim’s genitals; my issue in reducing violence isn’t so myopic.

    How much data do you need to convince you that sexism is a thing that exists and needs to be changed?

    Why do you ask such improper questions; where have I ever once said that sexism doesn’t exist? This is a complete fabrication on your part, for it bears no relationship to any words which have ever left my mouth.

  124. 124
    Tristan

    Sallystrange @121:

    This comment makes me sad. Not because it has any bearing whatsoever on me or my relationship with my wife, but because I’m sure you actually think you’re being clever.

  125. 125
    Stephanie Zvan

    Munkhaus, Greta already explained that in the original post. Perhaps you should address her argument instead of saying no one has made one.

  126. 126
    SallyStrange

    My mistake, Justicar, for never once have you acted in a way that suggests that you take sexism as a serious problem that needs to be dealt with. Care to rectify that state of affairs?

    As for you, Tristan–your analogy was silly and pointless. And rather insulting to your wife.

  127. 127
    Justicar

    Sally writes

    My mistake, Justicar, for never once have you acted in a way that suggests that you take sexism as a serious problem that needs to be dealt with. Care to rectify that state of affairs?

    Your ignorance of what I’ve said actually, as it happens, does not determine what I’ve said. It does, however, indicate that even in conversations to which both you and I’ve been party, directly addressing one another at that, you’ve failed to read what I’ve written. But, again, the failure on your part to read what I’ve written in conversations to which we’re both a party doesn’t constitute a failure on my part with respect to stating my views. Care to rectify that state of affairs? Well, even if I were in the mood of remedying that, I do not determine how much or how little you choose to read (and given this response from you, it’s readily apparent that even saying the words in your presence will do no work towards getting you to notice them.) So, the remedy to that particular problem lies in your previous inattention, faulty memory, poor comprehension skills or a willful misrepresentation of my position.

  128. 128
    rebecca

    Very well said; I appreciate this is something you’ll have spent a lot of time and energy on. I’m grateful you have addressed this in words and the firm but fair articulation that not many others can do as well as you.

    It is true that people cling to their views more strongly once they are challenged, but if he *still* doesn’t get it following your above reply, I will be dumfounded. I’ve been very disappointed lately in several people who promote “rationality” but fall short.

    In other news, does anyone ever wait for the “but”? I.e., yes it was terrible what he said, “but”? Damn I wish I didn’t have to expect buts.

  129. 129
    rebecca

    Very well said; I appreciate this is something you’ll have spent a lot of time and energy on. I’m grateful you have addressed this in words and the firm but fair articulation that not many others can do as well as you.

    It is true that people cling to their views more strongly once they are challenged, but if he *still* doesn’t get it following your above reply, I will be dumbfounded. I’ve been very disappointed lately in several people who promote “rationality” but fall short.

    In other news, does anyone ever wait for the “but”? I.e., yes it was terrible what he said, “but”? Damn I wish I didn’t have to expect buts.

  130. 130
    Tristan

    As for you, Tristan–your analogy was silly and pointless. And rather insulting to your wife.

    Since you’re saying it this must, of course, be true. Therefore I offer my humblest apologies.

  131. 131
    Pteryxx

    I notice Justicar didn’t link to any comparable studies that DO address sexual violence against men, though several such studies exist. They might weaken his supposed premises.

    Stephanie Zvan has discussed male victims, and so has the blog No Seriously What About Teh Menz; and there have been media discussions about military rape.

  132. 132
    Greta Christina

    A question has been raised of whether I genuinely felt threatened by Ryan’s threats, and genuinely felt concerned that they might escalate into real physical violence. It was raised in a trollish and derailing way; but it’s being addressed in a serious way by people who are being serious, so I’m going to address those people.

    Did I genuinely think Ryan’s threats might escalate into real physical violence? The honest answer: I didn’t know. On the one hand: Yes, people on the Internet do sometimes toss around violent language, either jokingly or in real anger, without meaning it. I don’t like it, I have serious problems with it, but I don’t reflexively see all of it as a real threat. And even seriously unbalanced people do often make threats without following up on them.

    On the other hand: This particular incident was significantly different in many ways from most other “violent language” incidents I’ve seen on the ‘Net. It was directed at me, personally and individually, rather than just being random machine-gun-esque fire at (say) all atheists, or all women, or whatever. It was clearly motivated by very real, hostile, venomous anger — again, aimed at me personally. It expressed a personal desire to do violence, not just a general wish that violence be done. It came out of an ongoing conflict that was not showing signs of going away. And it was the latest in a consistent pattern of escalation of this person’s venomous, hostile, personal anger.

    So yes, I had genuine concerns about my safety. I didn’t know, but I was seriously concerned. I think those concerns were justified. They obviously wouldn’t merit an arrest — but I certainly think they merited an heads-up to a colleague saying that I was concerned and requesting that they help me defuse the situation. And I think they merited serious attention, compassion, and concern from that colleague – not trivialization, excuses, prioritization of the perpetrator’s concerns over mine, requests for sympathy for the perpetrator, and accusations that I was to blame for having been targeted.

  133. 133
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    It seems like the “what’s the big deal?” crowd wants to see every one of these situations as an isolated incident. It’s like reverse pareidolia, failing to recognize an obviously extant pattern.

    I thought this comment was spot on. This came up repeatedly in discussion of the sexist, violent comments being directed at the 15 yr old redditer on r/atheism. People wanted to dismiss it by saying it was just a joke, not a real threat, and thus no big deal.

    This completely fails to see the problem inherent in such “jokes” being consistently made whenever a women posts a picture of herself on a thread in r/atheism.

  134. 134
    Greta Christina

    On an unrelated topic: My understanding is that Justicar is a known troll from other blogs. He hasn’t yet said or done anything here to merit being blocked; but unless you genuinely think he’s being sincere and/or think his comments merit response, I’d appreciate it if you just ignored him. Thanks.

  135. 135
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Greta, for what it’s worth, there are certain trolls who will infest your blog. They won’t just swing by occasionally, they’ll infest it. And they will drive reasonable people berserk (people aren’t going to ignore Justicars and Munkhaus no matter how nicely you ask). They will de-rail threads and ruin them. Over and over and over. And you’ll spend a lot more of your time dealing with people violating your comment policy.

  136. 136
    Justicar

    I notice Justicar didn’t link to any comparable studies that DO address sexual violence against men, though several such studies exist. They might weaken his supposed premises.

    Yeah, I have a bad habit of not citing inaccurate data. I’m terribly sorry about that. But let me just stew a moment to see if there’s anything that might possibly skew data. Let’s see. Let me think. Say, while I’m thinking about that, was it this year or 80 years ago that our government reporting statistics finally recognized that it’s possible for men to raped – something that would necessarily be excluded in reporting because it was by definition not possible to rape a male.

    As I said, progress. It’s now possible for a male rape victim to be counted as a rape victim in a way that he couldn’t have been counted only a month ago. At least for statistical purposes, it’s been possible to have a box called ‘rape’ to tick next to a box called ‘female’. That is to say that there was a problem that was taken seriously so we started studying and collecting information. Until this very month, at least federally, there clearly wasn’t a problem with that species of sexual violence against men because had there have been it would indicate that it was happening, was a problem and needed to be studied and reported.

    As I said – hand-waving away of an actual problem by speaking as though it’s not really a problem, or to the extent that it is a problem it’s one that wasn’t/isn’t on par with an equivalent act exclusively because of the gender of its victims. I think there’s a word for that . . . sexism isn’t it?

  137. 137
    Maria

    And I think they merited serious attention, compassion, and concern from that colleague – not trivialization, excuses, prioritization of the perpetrator’s concerns over mine, requests for sympathy for the perpetrator, and accusations that I was to blame for having been targeted.

    I well recognize the disappointment.

    I once had a man behave in a rather creepy behavior towards to me that made me more and more uncomfortable and in the end started to scare me. I voiced this concern to a male friend, who basically laughed it off and joked that I was surely secretely in love with the man since I “talked so much about him”.

    No understanding to expect from that front!

  138. 138
    Alukonis, metal ninja

    Justicar, you are being deliberately obtuse. I noted that the last link I posted discussed sexual violence against men as well, yet you seem to have not noticed this qualifier, or deliberately ignored it. In the first link, I lined to a page that cited several studies, because that was more evidence. Further, apparently NO available data AT ALL meets your standards, so, what, there is not problem? Finally, I linked to examples from more places than the United States, because a) not all readers are USian, and b) there are entire countries where violence against women is specifically condoned.

    Incidentally, FGM/MGM comparison is a red herring, unless you can point to proliferation of cutting off the glans of the penis, rather than the foreskin. Because that is the analogy to cutting off the clitoris.

    Finally, when looking at threats of violence and how likely they are to be carried out, domestic violence is not actually the best place to look, since the OP is discussing threats against strangers. How likely is it for a woman to be stalked and threatened, and have those threats carried out? Evidence of corrective rape of women occurring in African and Middle Eastern countries is out there. Strangely, however, I haven’t heard any reports of roving gangs of nut-kicking women.

    Again, the ideal is, elimination of all gendered violence and equality of all genders. I’d prefer to live in a world where there is little to no domestic violence, and victims of DV, whether men, women, or other, do not feel too afraid or ashamed to come forward, and are not blamed for being victims. But in the current reality we live in, evidence consistently points to things being worse for women.

    Anyway, this is more for spectators at this point, because I’m not interested in hitting my head against the wall of willful obtuseness.

    Also, thanks for the compliment, Jason!

  139. 139
    The Ys

    Greta:

    Thank you many times over for being willing to confront sexist and bigoted attitudes. You exhibit an incredible amount of style and grace, and I am continually astonished by your patience with even the most obtuse people. It’s a true pleasure to read your blog – even when you post about something as mundane as kittens, I always learn something here.

    MOAR KITTENZ PLZ!

  140. 140
    Munkhaus

    Zvan, please stop contacting me. I don’t appreciate you constantly following me around blogs and attempting bait/switch me into an exchange that you will later misrepresent.
    Stop harassing me.

  141. 141
    Justicar

    My understanding is that Justicar is a known troll from other blogs.

    You do not seem to understand what constitutes a troll. Someone not agreeing with your dogma doesn’t, alas, make a troll. A troll is someone speaks exclusively to get a rise out of people. But nice way to diminish someone who doesn’t submit to a given dogma.

    Josh writes

    . And they will drive reasonable people berserk (people aren’t going to ignore Justicars and Munkhaus no matter how nicely you ask). They will de-rail threads and ruin them. Over and over and over.

    Josh, let me introduce you to Greta from earlier today addressing an issue bearing on your very point:

    Ophelia Benson @ #49 and #61, Crommunist @ #55, julian @ #57: I hugely appreciate your support… but please remember my comment policy, and don’t engage in personal insults aimed at other commenters here. Please keep your criticisms aimed at ideas and behavior. (Ophelia, in particular I want to say that I completely understand your anger and frustration… but again, please respect my comment policy.)

    Darn those pesky trolls infesting her blog and making her spend time moderating her comment section to keep them from derailing the threads and stuff, right? Oh wait – nevermind.

  142. 142
    Ophelia Benson

    To clarify: when I said no, I didn’t think it was a genuine threat of violence, I meant only the hoggle one with my name on it. (I missed the fact that Munkhaus said “either comment”). I wasn’t addressing the one with Greta’s name on it.

    Also, saying I don’t think it is doesn’t mean I think it isn’t. I’m not sure I do think it isn’t. But I don’t affirmatively think it is.

    On the other hand – a question that wasn’t asked – do I think it could inspire some hoggle fanboi to get aggressive with me in one way or another – name-calling, spitting, shouting, a slap? Sure I do.

  143. 143
    qbsmd

    Freemage @ 91
    “When the amount of verbiage spent on one point is vastly outweighed by the amount spent on posts undercutting the other position, that’s significant.

    A politician who insists he isn’t racist–but then spends the next several minutes indulging in race-baiting tactics–is obviously being disingenuous. And when Mr. Grothe opts to say, “This is inexcusable, now here’s fifty-seven posts excusing this,” that suggests that his real opinion is not the inexcusability of the language.”

    So if he’d copied the phrase “This is inexcusable” 57 times you’d believe he really meant that and not the other points? If the politician says he isn’t a racist twice before each sentence, is that enough words for you to believe it?

    Vicki @ 99 I don’t recognize any of that as a response to anything I said.

  144. 144
    Justicar

    Justicar, you are being deliberately obtuse. I noted that the last link I posted discussed sexual violence against men as well, yet you seem to have not noticed this qualifier, or deliberately ignored it. In the first link, I lined to a page that cited several studies, because that was more evidence. Further, apparently NO available data AT ALL meets your standards, so, what, there is not problem? Finally, I linked to examples from more places than the United States, because a) not all readers are USian, and b) there are entire countries where violence against women is specifically condoned.

    There is nothing obtuse about saying that the data simply aren’t good, wildly inaccurate and little better than guesswork. Pointing to a website that cites to other places, but right at the beginning states that the estimated upper range on victims of sexual violence against men is the same number as that against women is interesting – particularly when your proposition is that the latter are dramatically more often subjected to it than former. The only difference in the numbers they saw fit to post in that section was in the lower bound, 100k (male) and 500k (female).

    The other two links are infirm for reasons I’ve already mentioned. I see little reason to restate my objection to those again here.

    Incidentally, FGM/MGM comparison is a red herring, unless you can point to proliferation of cutting off the glans of the penis, rather than the foreskin. Because that is the analogy to cutting off the clitoris.

    The issue was acts of gender based sexual violence done to men versus women (and how one is difficult to get good numbers on because so many people just marginalize gender based sexual violence done to one group and not the other). It isn’t a herring of any color, let alone red. After all, I’d hate not to take MGM just as seriously FGM lest I be accused of ignoring a problem that’s not ‘zero bad’ because there’s a problem elsewhere that might be more severe. That tends to lead to controversy in these parts I’m told.

    Amputating part of one’s genitals is an act of gender based violence (whether sexual or not I’ll leave open).

    Finally, when looking at threats of violence and how likely they are to be carried out, domestic violence is not actually the best place to look, since the OP is discussing threats against strangers.

    They were your sources, not mine. I’m sorry that in hindsight you think the subject matter of your sources was, after all, not actually the best place to look. However, I do not that you’re willing to constrain what can count as gender based sexual violence, instead of just looking at all instances of it as being equally useful information to collect, study and understand.

    Perhaps it’s the case that women have more to fear from strangers than men do. Perhaps it’s the case that men have more to fear from women once in an intimate relationship. I do not know, and certainly just excluding a study the relative rates of gender based violence in intimate relationships won’t help answer that. It’s something we should know, and if it works out that my ‘perhaps’ statements are correct, then so be it. We’ll at least then operate from good information instead of bad, which is what we have now.

    In any event, you want to simultaneously take this argument out of relavant populations (western ones largely) while simultaneously using data about violence incidents against women in, say, Egypt. If you’re going to restrict data, then do so with integrity. Since the relevant population is ‘strangers’ in the way you describe, we should keep it closer still: internet strangers, bloggers, and people attending TAM events (which is where OP is indicating she now feels unsafe). This isn’t an exclusively American crowd, but it is a large proportion thereof. It is almost entirely, however, a western population. So why you decided to use stats from Egypt, Turkey and Afghanistan, given your wanting to restrict things to a close(ish) analogy here, isn’t at all obvious.

    Again, the ideal is, elimination of all gendered violence and equality of all genders. I’d prefer to live in a world where there is little to no domestic violence, and victims of DV, whether men, women, or other, do not feel too afraid or ashamed to come forward, and are not blamed for being victims. But in the current reality we live in, evidence consistently points to things being worse for women.

    Yes, I said that I’m not as myopic on this issue as others here are myopic on this issue. Notably, dismissing the violence to one group because of their association to that group, or the minimization of those who suffer at its whim as being not equivalently worth taking on does no work in setting out a civilization, whose contours you roughly painted a moment ago.

    Evidence does not consistently point to things for women in the countries where this conversation is relevant. Information indicates that some subset of women have it horribly bad. Evidence also indicates that some subset of men have it horribly bad. We just don’t know enough about the relative sizes of these groups to the population to determine which, if either, has it worse than the other. That’s the rub about having shitty data; it makes conclusions precariously hard to draw.

  145. 145
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    qbsmd 134

    So if he’d copied the phrase “This is inexcusable” 57 times you’d believe he really meant that and not the other points?

    What he did was to say “This is inexcusable,” and then expend an enormous amount of verbiage on explaining why it was excusable.

    If he’d spent half the wordage on explaining why it was inexcusable, you might have a point.

  146. 146
    'Tis Himself

    Shorter Justicar: What about the menz?

  147. 147
    Greta Christina

    Greta, for what it’s worth, there are certain trolls who will infest your blog. They won’t just swing by occasionally, they’ll infest it. And they will drive reasonable people berserk (people aren’t going to ignore Justicars and Munkhaus no matter how nicely you ask). They will de-rail threads and ruin them. Over and over and over. And you’ll spend a lot more of your time dealing with people violating your comment policy.

    Josh, Official SpokesGay @ #135: You know what? You’re absolutely right. You’ve convinced me. I don’t normally ban people just because I think they’re being assholes — but I reserve the right to do so, and I am doing so now. Justicar and Munkhaus have been banned.

    And for anyone who thinks, “Oh, she’s just banning people who disagree with her”; There are plenty of people who comment on this blog, and indeed who are commenting in this thread, who express opinions that disagree with mine and that I even find reprehensible. I do not ban them. I ban people who are sucking the air out of the room. And I am entirely within my rights to do so. Hell, if I wanted to ban everyone whose name ended in the letter Z and who posted at 6:32 pm on a Tuesday, I would be within my rights to do so. What with this being my blog and all. I don’t do that — but I will ban people who are sucking the air out of the room.

    Note to everyone: If Munkhaus and Justicar come back under different IP addresses, please do not engage with them. Please alert me, and let me re-ban them. If you have good evidence that they’re back under different handles, please let me know — and again, please do not engage with them. Thanks.

  148. 148
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Justicar demands studies, and then arm waves them all away as ‘wildly inaccurate’. It seems to be predictable as clockwork.

  149. 149
    Pandademic

    I can’t count the number of emails and comments I’ve gotten from men who have said that, in the wake of Elevatorgate and other discussions and debates and fights about sexism and misogyny, they now get it.

    I’d like to add another. I came into this right in the middle of Elevatorgate, and before that, I knew next to nothing about feminism. I wasn’t hostile to the movement, but I basically saw it as something that was important a couple of decades ago, now reduced to just mopping up a few limited issues. And I admit, when I first started reading the comments, I was a bit incredulous – “Jeez, what’re all these people so angry about?”

    So I looked back and read up. And I learned why this was worth getting upset about.

    But you know what the simplest and yet most important “real-world pay-off” was for me, personally? Before all this, feminism was something I never gave any serious thought to. That’s changed now, and I’m grateful to Greta, PZ, Stephanie, Ophelia, and the rest for that.

    And DJ, I respect the work you’ve done to increase the representation of women in the skeptical movement. But all on its own, that isn’t enough. To raise awareness, people need to be vocal in describing the problem, and yes, calling out specific offenders for bad behavior or a lack of sensitivity to certain issues. Without that, you’ll have a bunch of clueless people like me who have no idea that there’s a problem to begin with.

  150. 150
    carlie

    Information indicates that some subset of women have it horribly bad. Evidence also indicates that some subset of men have it horribly bad. We just don’t know enough about the relative sizes of these groups to the population to determine which, if either, has it worse than the other.

    Because orders of magnitude of difference in even shitty data couldn’t possibly indicate that one group might be bigger than another.

    Because one group being legally allowed to beat the other and the other not being legally allowed any recourse for a few hundred years can’t possibly indicate that one group might be bigger than another.

    Because the number of people who run away to safe houses in one group vs. the other can’t possibly indicate which one actually has more problem being abused by the other.

    Right?

  151. 151
    carlie

    I’m sorry, Greta. I had the page up for a long time while I was writing and didn’t refresh on a new page to see your comment.

  152. 152
    Ophelia Benson

    Longer Justicar (and less polite Justican), at ERV, a little earlier today:

    http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2011/11/periodic_table_of_swearing.php#comment-6209789

    2121

    Oh shit. That Greta 2.0 post on D.J. is, um, interesting. She’s saying on the one hand that D.J. hasn’t said the magic words in quite the right way with respect to violent threats, particularly gender-based, sexual violence threats. So, a short digression here to say that I am still of the opinion threats of violence aren’t kosher. In case anyone was wondering.

    However, I don’t make distinctions between arbitrary and tangential issues of political correctness. That said, Greta writes in her response to his response that she’s dismayed at what she supposes are D.J.’s priorities. Note, she claims that gender-based, sexual violence threats are among the more important issues to be taken up, so one could expect she’d equally react to all perceived threats of violence involving the genitals of all people, and to all threats made against a person by reference to their gender.

    You’d be wrong.

    Her issue is not with gender based, sexual violence threats; rather, not entirely. It’s only when one considers her restriction

    Those priorities are, in my opinion, exactly backwards. If you’d spent one sentence saying, “Yes, I think Greta’s behavior was unfair,” and then spent the rest of your comments on the topic saying that obviously the important issue here was threats of violence, specifically gender-based, sexualized threats of violence against a female writer and her readers…(emphasis added)

    Why is this relevant? Because the exchange in question includes the slap the bitch and kick her in the cunt phrase, but so too does it include: and her male supporters should take a boot to the balls; and, and her intersex readers can enjoy a good mallet to the micropenis. I’m all inclusive.

    Note the readers comment I emphasized earlier. This gives her wiggle room to say she didn’t exclude intersexed and males from her concern. But since she’s reading into word count as an indication of one’s care about a topic, and since she’s demanding specific, piecewise explications on what is precisely at issue I think it fair to return the courtesy. Why do trans people and men get shrift? Why is it of special to a ‘female blogger’ with those ‘and her readers’ being an afterthought?

    Why isn’t the boot to the balls equally as offensive to her as the kick to the cunt? Whether one thinks this is a threat, or is kosher or is otherwise, they were part of the same exchange and roughly entail the same kind of situation: a foot being swiftly applied to the nether regions of the target (notably specific mechanism for particular genitals, but still a statement to include all people as being the recipient of said fancy footwork). If I were of the mind of taking those as a threat, they would be equally repugnant in all respects at all times. If I thought they were joke, they’d be equally funny in all respects.

    See how that works, Greta? If you say the issue is gender-based, sexually violent threats, and you don’t equally respond to them all, what you’re saying is that you really don’t care so much about the gender-based, sexually violent threat bit. You care about portraying yourself as being singled out and persecuted. It is quite clear that Long applied his sentiment to all people with equanimity. Why the double standard?

    She wrote yesterday, which I discussed earlier, about how many times and precisely how D.J. is supposed to address her issue. She continues today

    Actually — you haven’t said this many times already. In all your extensive conversation on this topic before now, you have, by my count, said this exactly twice: once in a comment on Stephanie’s post, buried four comments deep as part of a lengthy discourse about how both you and Ryan had been misjudged, and once in private email to me.

    So he has said it publicly and privately to you, Greta, and you’re aware of this. Yet you go on to tell D.J. to “Please stop defending him.”

    D.J. has told you three specific times of which you confess awareness that he is not doing as much.

    He is making the following two points:
    1.) Long was wrong and his words are unacceptable, and unjustifiable
    2.) you were also wrong

    As he said, neither of those two points stand in contradiction; it’s entirely possible to think that person A was wrong for reason x and person B was wrong for reason y. He thinks you’re both wrong.

    Then Greta goes on to complain that D.J. is spending more time discussing Greta’s actions than Long’s actions. Well, this is hardly surprising since he’s having a conversation with her about her actions. He’s already said he thinks Long was wrong, and he thinks that Long agrees with him. Why would he keep arguing to convince someone he’s under the impression agrees with him?

    Enter the conversation with Greta. She doesn’t agree that she was in anyway at all possibly wrong in any respect at any time in any context. She was perfectly correct. D.J. disagrees with that and has spent some effort to explain why.

    So then she turns that back and says that Long’s issue is more important, and she deserved, perhaps, a line and the rest of it should have been devoted to bashing Long.

    A few times it’s come up in response to D.J. that his response is “Dear Muslima”.

    Since we’re going there, it’s worth noting that Greta’s response is a perfect embodiment of what Dawkins was wrong decried for: saying that because someone is doing or did do something worse than she did, her wrongness should be looked over. In other words: just because women are being beaten, tortured and raped elsewhere in the world doesn’t mean we should ignore coffee invitations in elevators – it’s bad too!

    D.J. seems to be taking that advice: what Long did was wrong, perhaps worse than Greta. But Greta was wrong too, and unlike Long, she can’t imagine how this could possibly be possible.

    What. A. Joke. She. Is.

  153. 153
    Lefi

    Greta,

    I appreciate that you write on this topic and agree with your reasons for why it should be written about. If you can write it, I will read it, and I will spread it along.

    xoxo

  154. 154
    Alukonis, metal ninja

    Sigh. Okay, let’s do this, Justicar.

    Well, we’re talking about violence being disproportionately against women, yes? I guess you could say “in X country things are terrible for women, but there is no way that will ever affect women in Y country, so why should the women in Y country feel threatened in any way?” I guess you could say that because I linked a bunch of things showing an overall pattern, but didn’t link to a specific study showing specifically gendered violence/harassment at TAM (because no such study exists, obviously) that all of that is irrelevant. I guess you could say that because I touched on several points in an informal blog comment rather than spending several hours collating data and writing a fully-cited paper, that I went from general populations and specific ones, that I’m somehow “restricting” data, whatever that means. I guess you could perceive that as cherry picking, rather than a tacit admission that the ideal statistics would be something that didn’t pop up in a quick internet search and it’s not like I’m getting paid to look at this in-depth when you presumably have the capability of doing so yourself, except that you seem to have decided that all data is crap, so why even bother.

    I guess you could say that since the upper limit for domestic violence (in the United States, anyway) is the same, then even though the lower limit is different, it’s probably exactly the same.

    I guess you could say that even though women are more likely to be raped in their lifetime, because it’s usually by someone they know, stranger threats are equally intimidating to women and men.

    However, since we were discussing how Greta Christina was threatened with violence, as were her readers, and DJ Grothe dismissed this, which does fall into a pattern of sexism and a chilling environment, I fail to see how saying “nope violence against women and violence against men is EXACTLY as bad!” accomplishes anything. You can say that all the available data isn’t good enough for you, fine. But you agree that sexism exists. So I don’t really see what you’re driving at. Everything is exactly as bad as everything else? If a man gets punched in the face it’s exactly as bad as punching a five year old boy in the face? Who even said “zero bad”? When have I done anything but condemn violence against men? All I said was that a threat made to a man does not have the same impact as a threat made against a woman. Does that make such threats trivial? Of course not. But this isn’t the oppression olympics, this is about a man in a position of privilege (DJ Grothe) dismissing the concerns and opinions of a woman (Greta Christina) using classic sexist tropes, and defending a statement of gendered violence.

    You want to say that gendered violence is equally bad, no matter what gender makes it against whatever gender? Fine, have it your way. There’s your cookie. Everything is black and white, and everything is equally bad, there are no shades of gray. Now, what are you going to DO about it?

  155. 155
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I hope I didn’t sound bossy or presumptuous, Greta. I just figured you might not be aware of just how bad those two are, and how much ugly havoc they’ve wreaked for months now.

  156. 156
    A. Noyd

    Greta Christina (#147)

    I ban people who are sucking the air out of the room.

    Thank you. I can choose not to engage them, but it’s irritating seeing people try, in good faith, to educate them when I know that both of them have been told the same things over and over and are feigning ignorance.

  157. 157
    Adam_Ant

    I was going to start this with a snarky comment about the people quoted below, but decided that I’d rather be allowed to continue posting and let the words speak their own truth.

    Rey Fox says: 28 November 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Once again, the Onion lays it all out.

    Nation’s 10-Year-Old Boys: ‘If You See Someone Raping Us, Please Call The Police’

    SallyStrange, Spawn of Cthulhu says:
    28 November 2011 at 10:41 pm

    The Onion is the only place where I’ve seen rape jokes that were actually funny.

    Then:

    illuminata says:
    29 November 2011 at 11:37 am

    Whomever posted that Onion article thank you. That was the first honestly funny joke about that situation.

    That last quote may annoy Jadehawk for other reasons LOL! http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/01/10/d-j-grothe-replies-and-i-reply-back/#comment-52111

  158. 158
    Ysanne

    I’m amazed how some of the “but it was not a literal threat” crowd fail to understand that the misogyny lies exactly in using threats of violence as a very standard way of insulting women.
    Normal insults are fine: They just display how some people try to label their opponent as the loser of the dispute in a very irrational way, once they run out of arguments. But threat-insults also include the assumption of being entitled to slap or cunt-kick the woman that one’s insulting — as a way of punishing her, the inferior, and putting her in her place. Threats of physical violence (particularly ones assuming superior strength) are not the way one would try to insult an equal.
    (Btw, this explanantion also applies to nut-kick threats: It’s all about the entitlement to physically punish one’s opponent. But this discussion is about a specific threat-insult to Greta and not about sexualized threats of violence in general.)

    Sexualized threats of violence, metaphorical or not, clearly say: “I’m superior due to my sex (and/or sexual orientation) and this gives me the right to shut you up by force if you don’t obey!”
    Greta is damn right to call the guy out on this attitude. I’m really sad to see how Grothe seems to be blind to the blatant and unacceptable sexism of the threat-insult, and continues to defend the guy.

  159. 159
    SallyStrange

    Why would the Onion’s success in finding ways to mock people who hesitate to report rapes, as in the story about the young boys, or people who blame rape victims for their own attacks, be annoying to Jadehawk? I believe I’ve actually brought these same stories up with her before, and she also thought they were a good (rare) example of rape being used in a humorous way that wasn’t also demeaning and degrading to rape victims.

  160. 160
    Ysanne

    It’s the incorrectly used “whom”. :-)

  161. 161
    Tristan

    And so those nasty voices drowning out the sweet, sweet sound of echoes fall silent once again.

    *** slow clap ***

  162. 162
    Jurjen S.

    Quoth Somite @7:

    The problem I see with posts on misogyny is that they are all essentially ad hominem attacks. Instead of focusing on a person (that is ultimately on your side, BTW) try to focus on the problem.

    Maybe you should try familiarizing yourself with the background material. This particular schemozzle stems in no small part from Ryan Long responding to an attempt to focus on the problem by making it about himself, and continuing to do so at every point in the (what for want of a better word I shall call) discussion. And, in point of fact, it turned out in very little time that he was part of the problem, in more ways than one.

    And that creates another problem. Regardless of how many people do try to “focus on the problem” (which, contrary to your rather condescending advice, bloggers like Greta, Jen, Ophelia, etc. do in fact try to do), it only takes one person behaving like a dick to derail the conversation. And before you make some comment about how it takes people taking the bait to derail the conversation, I’ll not that in that particular discussion, I compared Ryan’s behavior to a locomotive pulling a bunch of carriages off the track and then claiming it the carriages’ fault that the train derailed.

  163. 163
    Rebecca

    I don’t often comment here (though read just about every post), but I’d like to thank you Greta for your hard work on arguing this, even though it must be completely exhausting.

    I agre with the problematic issues and language you’ve demonstrated that DJ Grothe has demonstrated. I agree that misogynistic violence is completely and utterly wrong. No, “yes, buts…”.

  164. 164
    Jurjen S.

    Returning to the original topic at hand, I have to join others in seeing Mr. Grothe approach to this topic as a lengthening string of “yes, but…” responses. Every attempt at making a simple, unambiguous statement on his part is undermined by his subsequently writing several paragraphs, ostensibly intended to clarify his position but in fact weaseling out of the previous statement.

    A statement that “there is no excuse for threats of violence” is followed by what can only be interpreted as an attempt to excuse precisely that. A statement that “if I am wrong, and blog hits are no motivation in writing such posts, I will happily stand corrected” is followed by what can only be interpreted as a statement of intention not to stand corrected in the slightest.

    In short, this is just not good enough.

  165. 165
    SallyStrange

    Well, Munkhaus’ main point of contention was that FTB is an echo chamber, and Tristan is still here to promote that content-free meme, so no worries on that front, dear Tristan.

    And Justicar’s main thing was basically that we have to prove that sexism is a thing that affects women more than men. You know, evidence of the entire world and all of history notwithstanding. He’s another of those who likes to abuse the idea of skepticism by raising the bar of evidence unreasonably high when it comes to issues of gender and sexism. The null hypothesis is not that sexism does not exist.

  166. 166
    Tristan

    What else is there to call it?

    I note that there was a lot of discussion in the DJ threads here and at Almost Diamonds about “chilly climates”. Know what will chill conversation faster than pretty much anything else? Banning from that conversation opposing people who even you admit aren’t breaking any of the ground rules – particularly when people on your side who do break those self-same rules get nothing but a metaphorical slap on the wrist. Those two commenters aren’t all that you lose.

    Sure, as she said Greta’s entirely within her right to do so – after all, it is her fiefdomblog to rule as she sees fit. By the same token, others are perfectly within their rights to point out these actions, and to talk…

  167. 167
    Tristan

    Damned html. I’ll leave it to the reader to work out where the strikethrough should go.

  168. 168
    Aerik

    Ah, the Justicar, eh? Greta, ban this guy. He was one of the first people to start *constantly* saying “rebecca twatson.” (in fact he refuses to call her by anything else) At his blog integralmath.blogspot.com, which supposedly was about calculus, but he rarely talked about it, instead choosing to go on for months (especially july) making stuff up about Watson and defends sexism to the extreme. Does the same on his youtube channel /user/integralmath. He is not here to contribute to conversation. He is here to hate on women. This whole conversation — indeed the whole website — would be much better off without him. He’s banned at scienceblogs.com (ask them all about his special comments), and he should be banned here. He will not bend, he will not admit mistakes, and his patience always runs out. It’s only a matter of time until Justicar starts saying something like “kicked in the cunt” himself. Then when you criticize it, he’ll claim he’s being “fempecked” or something.

    On top of attacking Watson in a most misogynist manner, he does it to ophelia benson, too! Screams in his title “HAHAHA DISREGARD THAT, ORWELLPHIA SUCKS COCKS! ” Also calls her “wicked bitch of the west.”

    And if you’re a man standing up to this crap, he’ll call you a ‘gender traitor’ at some point.

    Here’s what he thinks of you, greta: http://integralmath.blogspot.com/2011/08/greta-christinas-trifuckta.html

    Swing the ban hammer hard. He’s sure to take everything that’s said to him here, and spin it somewhere else.

  169. 169
    SallyStrange

    Yes, it’s such a tragedy when misogynists like Justicar experience what a chilly climate is like. Such a tragedy. Weep for the poor, oppressed sexist, banned from abusing skepticism on a skepticism blog. Who else will step up to the plate and point out that one should really be more skeptical of feminism. You never know, perhaps this whole global, millennia-long oppression of women thing is a giant hoax. Like AGW.

  170. 170
    SallyStrange

    Justicar leaves some big shoes, Tristan. Think you’re up to filling in for him? Please explain what viewpoints we’re losing by not having him comment here.

  171. 171
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    I was gonna ask if Justicar was the same guy I saw on my one visit to ‘the monument’ making rape jokes and yukking it up with Ivanoff/Hoggle. But I didn’t want to risk being wrong. I know he was there, I just can’t specifically remember if he was the one making the jokes or defending them.

    Whatever. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  172. 172
    julian

    Not to pile on someone who’s been banned but, where the fuck does someone get off dismissing every study ever conducted regarding a subject? Seriously, you’re not even going to provide a model or a standard to be met before you’re willing to consider the evidence?

    That’s denialist think at it’s worst. It’s as bad as Creationist dismissal of fossils. It’s as arrogant as AGW denialists dismissal of climate science. It’s as wretched as alt-medders insistence we need to do more research.

    The research has been done, the studies point to a real issue and you do not get to dismiss all evidence with a wave of your hand. Skepticism does not work that way.

  173. 173
    julian

    Gah!

    This just pisses me off, more and more. I’m identifying with a group that considers ‘studies that examine the prevalence of rape are flawed’ a priori knowledge. And that’s considered a properly skeptical view. One that needs to be heard and represented more through out the community.

    Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

  174. 174
    Cynthia

    Greta, you said you felt this post would be one of your less read; I wanted to tell you it won’t be. You take on the issue with your usual grace, style and accurate citations. It was a beautiful thing to read. And I feel hopeful that we may finally make some progress on the sexism issue.

    So thanks for being patient and know that it’s appreciated. And now, can we get the Project Runway recap or some kitty photos? I’ve missed seeing them the past few days.

  175. 175
    SallyStrange

    You’re identifying with them, julian? How do you mean–demographically? Or psychologically?

  176. 176
    SallyStrange

    Shamelessly OT

    Oh yeah – how about that All Star Project Runway reboot with all new judges? Did anyone else see it?

  177. 177
    Zerotarian

    I almost never comment here, but the following made my mouth gape and I just have to say “DJ, you’re wrong”:

    Such controversialist posts seem like a pretty ineffective way to work to actually improve any situation, such as for example increasing women’s participation in skepticism, or at least seem to be far less effective than would be making better staffing and programming decisions, so I hope they at least result in an uptick in hits.

    W…T…F? Add me to the long, long list of dudes in the atheist movement who have really had our eyes opened by Elevatorgate — well, more accurately, by the shitstorm of misogyny that came out of the woodwork in the aftermath of Elevatorgate — and the many other examples of misogyny in our movement that Rebecca, and Greta, and Ophelia, and Stephanie, among others, have called out. It is exactly posts like these that raise awareness among those of us who probably matter most in creating the overall environment of the atheist movement — not the leaders and staff of organizations, but the multitudes of non-leaders who interact with other atheists and skeptics locally, behind the scenes, at every event, on Facebook and other online forums, and so on. And I was reading all of these women before and for other reasons than Elevatorgate, so they’re not getting any web hits from me that they wouldn’t have been getting anyway.

    So, thank you Greta, and others, for calling these things out. Yes, it is effective. You already knew that, but apparently some people don’t.

  178. 178
    The Pint

    I note that there was a lot of discussion in the DJ threads here and at Almost Diamonds about “chilly climates”. Know what will chill conversation faster than pretty much anything else? Banning from that conversation opposing people who even you admit aren’t breaking any of the ground rules – particularly when people on your side who do break those self-same rules get nothing but a metaphorical slap on the wrist. Those two commenters aren’t all that you lose.

    You’re right, we’ll lose more. We’ll lose more stupid “show me proof!” demands like Justicar’s endless repeated loops that completely ignore when proof is given. We’ll lose more attempts at derailing tactics like “If you really cared about feminism, you’d educate me” and “yes, sexism is bad, but…” We’ll be left bereft of mansplaining and condescending pats on the head about how we’re just so passionate but can’t we just tone it down and be more rational than shrill, because we’ll attract more allies by playing nice, isn’t that right, sweetheart? We’ll no longer have to deal with all these sorts of distracting idiocy that saps the will of people like Greta attempting to do her part to stamp out misogyny and sexism and erodes our faith in the basic decency of humanity.

    Damn straight trollish behavior like Munkhaus’s and Justicar’s should be met with a “chilly climate.” Perhaps if sexist and misogynist behavior was no longer met with tacit approval or indifference and instead resulted in triggering a bone-chilling, tongue-freezing cold, we’ll have gotten somewhere in making a truly equal society possible. Until then – bring on the freeze-rays, I say.

  179. 179
    LeftSidePositive

    @Julian, 173:

    Well, to be extremely pedantic, studies of EVERYTHING are flawed–that’s the whole point of science, that there are biases and limitations to measurement and observer-induced effects to, quite frankly, everything that has ever been studied or will ever be studied. There has never been, nor will never be, a perfect study about anything–the knowledge of this lets us continually refine our methods and our understanding, but of course to conclude that the inherent imperfections of a study (and of science itself) mean that we can in no way meaningfully inform our understanding of the world around us is utter codswallop. There is, technically, the possibility that we could be radically wrong about gravity, and the most scrupulous scientific posture (quite rightly) accepts that we could be wrong about some of our most basic understandings of our worldview. HOWEVER, “scientifically” doubting things to the point that you seriously consider that maybe all our data is so consistent because of a Noodly Appendage manipulating measurements or that our reality is constructed for us by evil cyborgs harnessing our brains to a matrix, means you’ve jumped the shark. Funnily enough, the theoretical possibility of the utter wrongness of a massively-supported scientific claim only seems to crop up with these sorts of people in regards to things like women’s rights, evolution, climate science, alt-med rackets, and other places where there are seriously vested interests and prejudices. I can’t imagine why that is.

    In essence, it is not possible to be more skeptical of some things without being proportionately more believing of other things. To be overly (scarequotes) “skeptical” (/scarequotes) about evolution means that you are overly gullible about creationism (either Christian or other woo). To be overly “skeptical” of climate change is to be overly gullible that carbon emissions are safe. To be overly “skeptical” of feminism is to be overly gullible that either our society is already fair (ha!), gullible that women are inherently inferior, or gullible that women’s concerns are trivial/misguided/insincere. To be overly “skeptical” of rape data is to be overly gullible that the world is just and/or that women lie about rape.

    Richard Carrier said it well in his Bayes talk that if you are persistently applying a lower value of probability than is warranted by the evidence available, you are not actually being a good skeptic, and not actually using valid reasoning.

  180. 180
    bluharmony

    Rebecca seems to disagree with Greta on this issue. She admits that she’s doing it for the traffic in this tweet: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Wjj_ITWyxss/ThVsPAelGOI/AAAAAAAAABI/-lletKkeRBg/s1600/twatson3.PNG

    So which is it?

  181. 181
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Bluharmony: I’m a freaking aspie, and even I know not to take that so literally.

    Christ.

  182. 182
    bluharmony

    Oh, so whenever she says something that’s really messed up it’s not to be taken literally? Then I suggest not taking anything she says literally, because she constantly screws up the facts in her blog posts and presentations. But I do believe she meant this. More fans, more traffic, more merch sales. She monetized her video, too.

  183. 183
    TooManyJens

    Of course studies that examine the prevalence of rape are flawed. It does not follow, as Justicar suggested, that we ought to act on the presumption that the conclusions of those studies are outright false, and that it’s indicative of bias against men if we don’t.

  184. 184
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    You’re demented. Go back to the slimepit.

  185. 185
    bluharmony

    Note: She didn’t monetize all of them, just the controversial ones that get the most hits.

    Also, in Dublin, she stayed on the first floor. Just a handy bit of info for those who are blissfully caught up in their new religion.

  186. 186
    TooManyJens

    bluharmony: All that tweet proves is that Rebecca observed an upswing in her followers, not that she deliberately manipulated events to bring that upswing about.

  187. 187
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Don’t bother, TooManyJens. The thinking is so thoroughly dysfunctional there is no point in engaging with her anymore than there is with Justicar. They’ve all been at this obsessively for months on end; it’s lunacy.

  188. 188
    TooManyJens

    You’re probably right.

  189. 189
    julian

    @SallyStrange

    Psychologically, I guess. I know it’s a complete gibberish worldview but for some reason I still find myself sympathetic to it.

    @LeftSidePositive

    if you are persistently applying a lower value of probability than is warranted by the evidence available, you are not actually being a good skeptic, and not actually using valid reasoning.

    yup. I’m considering having something similar tattooed across my forehead if I ever visit a skeptic convention.

    @bluharmony

    understand what it means to be speaking sardonically.

  190. 190
    bluharmony

    Actually, Josh, you’re the ones who have been at this for months on end, vilifying one person after another, after another, after another. You do it daily. You actually live for hurting others, as far as I can tell. I just pop back in every once in a while when someone I really admire gets attacked for no other reason than that they disagree w/your crazy dogma (and I get a bunch of emails about it). Further, please stop using a common sexist tactic to dismiss a woman’s opinion (crazy, deranged, demented). If anyone is a misogynistic, creepy bully it’s you. Your comments make it obvious. Check your privilege and stop attacking women online for expressing their views, (please look up the concept of privilege, since you obviously don’t understand what that means, either). Not in an online blog recommended by Watson, BTW, but in an actual textbook. (If you know how to read.)

    I guess the fact that Rebecca monetized the video AFTER she realized it was getting so many hits was “sardonic” too. It doesn’t prove DJ’s point, nope, not at all.

    Do you guys even own a dictionary? Or hell, who cares what words mean anyway.

  191. 191
    bluharmony

    Greta: “[I]t’s reasonable to expect that private discussions remain private.” I couldn’t agree with you more. Please tell this to “leaders” in the movement such as Laden and Myers, who not only share private Facebook/Twitter exchanges w/out permission, but also edit and misrepresent the text.

  192. 192
    Aerik

    @The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa) says: (171)

    What is ‘the monument’?

    also in your comment #181

    “Bluharmony: I’m a freaking aspie, and even I know not to take that so literally.

    Christ.”

    Exactly WHAT THE FUCK is with online atheists/skeptics and this “aspie” or “aspergers” bullshit in the last several months? You might as well be saying “retard” or “rere” as is popular with radio personalities. Twice myself I’ve been called “an asperger’s kid” for not letting a subject drop when somebody else just wanted to evade it. And I’ve seen many, many people who’ve never met a person with asperger’s in their life (that they know of) using the term as a slur like that.

    @bluharmony: come on now you are trying to fill justicar’s shoes in terms of being deliberately obtuse, aren’t you? Because it’s pretty damn obvious that Watson was being facetious in that tweet. She was only remarking on the ridiculousness of how quickly online atheists will flock to a single place on the internet if Dawkins is involved personally. It’s like commenting on the old Slashdot effect.

    I don’t know if you can’t figure this out or not, so I must inform the thread at large: Rebecca Watson is not a youtube partner. She does not make money from her videos. She doesn’t have the power to monetize them. She can’t do it. She doesn’t have the permission or even the options in her youtube profile manager. If ads started showing up after some arbitrary point in time, it’s because youtube itself reacts to spikes in pageviews by activating ads. Youtube makes the money, and youtube makes that decision. Not the channel owner, if said channel owner is not a Partner. You are speaking from a place of pure negligence.

    Finally, bluharmony, if there is no request that an email be private, than the contract of privacy does not exist. Same goes for tweets and facebook messages, even if they are so called PMs.

  193. 193
    Aerik

    Oh, and as a followup: being as you just linked an image that in the URL calls her “twatson” you should already have earned yourself an automatic ban, IMO.

  194. 194
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    bluharmony #191:

    … such as Laden and Myers, who not only share private Facebook/Twitter exchanges w/out permission, but also edit and misrepresent the text.

    Why do people think it acceptable to make such claims without immediately providing evidence, as though evidence is something that is asked for rather than demanded?

  195. 195
    The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa)

    Aerik: I actually have asperger’s syndrome. And for me, a part of it is a tendency towards excessive literalism. I was simply pointing out that even a literalist like me could tell that the tweet was meant to be sarcastic and not literal.

    I’m sorry if I offended you, and I try to avoid ableist slurs, but I’m not sure how what I said was ableist.

    I’m sure others will be able to fill you in better regarding ‘The Monument’, I only popped in once or twice. Tis not that good of a place.

  196. 196
    hotshoe, now with more boltcutters

    Oh, and as a followup: being as you just linked an image that in the URL calls her “twatson” you should already have earned yourself an automatic ban, IMO.

    Did she name her png “twatson” ?
    * checks bluharmony’s link just upthread *
    Yes, she did.
    Damn her eyes.

  197. 197
    Pteryxx

    Did she name her png “twatson” ?
    * checks bluharmony’s link just upthread *
    Yes, she did.

    Elevated discourse, opposing viewpoints, reasoned consideration of evidence, yadda yadda.

  198. 198
    Jafafa Hots

    What the fuck is a private twitter exchange?

    Did someone encrypt their tweet?

    Facebook? Private?

    Someone misunderstands the innertubes.

  199. 199
    crowepps

    bluharmony @ #185 – in Dublin, the bottom floor is called the ground floor, and the first floor is one floor up and requires an elevator ride.

  200. 200
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    What do you think, how much evidence for evolution domestic violence against women would Justicar need to convince him?

    bluharmony
    Everybody who is not a discworld-dwarf gets that the statement Rebecca made is irony, not only because of the hyperbole, but also because of the factual evidence.
    Because whatever you can accuse Rebecca of (and I know that you and your friends are very creative in that department), I’d like you to make your case how Rebecca baited Richard Dawkins into making comments about her.
    Because what she said and did had absolutely nothing to say about, or do with, or was directed at Richard Dawkins.
    She would really have to be an evil genius mastermind if she could actually plan things to happen the way they did.

  201. 201
    witless chum

    Let’s assume the extremely unlikely premise that Watson fabricated the whole elevator thing for the purpose of tricking Richard Dawkins into saying whacky things about her, thus to monetizing her online videos.

    So what? If the response to her complaints about sexism wasn’t enough to convince you that the skeptic/atheist bunch isn’t exactly immune to patriarchy poisoning, I don’t know what would.

  202. 202
    doodlespook

    I know I’m late to this thread, but I wanted to de-lurk to thank Greta (and Ophelia, and Rebecca, and, and, and) for their courage and perseverance.

    I’ve been following many of the sexism in atheism threads and controversies, silently rooting for all of you. I thought it was about time to let you know.

    Even though it’s painful (and crazy-making) to have to deal with this stuff in fucking 2012, it’s clear that it’s necessary. That you, and so many of the commenters on this blog and others, do it with grace and humor and intelligence gives me hope that one day we’ll get over this shit already.

  203. 203
    Caravelle

    And when people — especially men — speak out about sexism and misogyny, it creates a climate in which women feel more welcome.

    And the thing is it’s hard for men to speak out about sexism and misogyny. If I go by my own experience of a woman with little real-life experience with the matter, as you learn about the issues you reach a point where you know it’s important to speak up, but you also know it’s important not to talk nonsense about what you don’t understand – and at that point you’re acutely aware of how much you don’t understand.

    The only way to get past that point, to a state where you can recognize sexism or misogyny and you know exactly how to respond to it, is to be exposed to lots and lots and lots of writings on the question. And for most people, who don’t really seek that stuff out, the way to get that exposure is to see lots and lots of arguments on sexism and misogyny, enough that you actually start to see emerging patterns and you start internalizing the arguments involved.

    So I’d say that having frequent, large arguments on sexism in spaces that men pay attention to is ultimately the best way to get men to speak out against sexism.

  204. 204
    Tim Groc

    bluharmony, I worry about you popping up here. You have taken a lot of abuse from a lot of people in the past. Don’t give them the ammo.

    They will go after you in the same way they went after Stef and Miranda. They will regard you as easy prey.

  205. 205
    Tim Groc

    Julian:

    Not to pile on someone who’s been banned but

    Don’t worry, that is a standard tactic on FTB.

  206. 206
    Marta

    Tim Groc@205

    “Don’t worry, that is a standard tactic on FTB.”

    This is completely absurd, and at the very least, a galactic hypocrisy fail.

    For months, members of the Slimepit have written thousands of posts that target Rebecca Watson and Ophelia Benson.

    Please crawl back under your rock and take bluharmony with you.

  207. 207
    davesmith

    To D.J. Grothe,

    For what it’s worth, I read the public correspondence, and I think Greta’s mostly in the right on this one. I hope you’ll take a few days before trying to defend to save face — you might lose more than you would gain by writing a different kind of response describing what you’ve learned. Whatever you meant to do or say, the effect of what you actually did and said was, perhaps, not what you had intended.

    To dudes,

    As a dude (“… a name no one would self-apply where I come from”) who married a feminist more than 20 years ago, and who now has three young girls, I’ve learned some basic lessons that I hope other dudes will follow. I’m fighting for a world I want my daughters to live in these days:

    1. It’s not OK to tell a woman what she thinks, or what she should think. Any jackass man who thinks this advice is bad and that “they do it all the time to men so why shouldn’t they do it to women” should kick themselves in the head and think about it. Do you really do that to everyone, or do you do it mostly to subordinates? If you really do it to everyone, you’re an asshole and maybe it’s time to stop. If you only do it to subordinates, then it means you’re treating women as subordinates. In either case, stop. As a father, I don’t want boys to do that to my girls.

    2. When a woman says something about her experiences and feelings about being a woman, shut up and listen. Now, you don’t have to like what she says, but why try and talk her out of it (see #1). BTW, this advice goes for pretty much every kind of person you can imagine, except one. There is usually a class of people with certain privileges who are, by and large, not aware of having those privileges. More specifically, most white males can talk about the experience of being a white male, but they’re usually not fully aware of that experience. If you don’t believe me, then shut up and listen.

    3. Don’t ask a woman to tolerate behavior that you wouldn’t tolerate. You might not get this, so let me tell a story. There was an attempted rape in broad daylight on a little used corner of campus, and the campus police did the usual thing of warning women to not walk alone, etc. The women’s group on campus pulled a brilliant prank — they put up posters (using a purposefully badly copied official looking logo) announcing a new campus wide policy saying that men would not be allowed to walk alone at night. You should have heard the men complain about it. A dude says he’s going to kick a dude’s ass, and maybe the dude sees it as an empty threat. But a man says he’s going to kick a woman’s ass or kick her in the cunt, and it doesn’t feel empty to the woman. And even if the threat feels empty to you, she’s probably going to take it seriously. Why the fuck shouldn’t she take it seriously? If they take a rational look at the statistics, they must take it seriously. Now I ask you dudes, would you live with that?

    4. Call out sexism by men. When men act badly, don’t come to their defense. If you’re going to take sides, take sides against the bad behavior. And if a woman calls out bad behavior and doesn’t do it perfectly, don’t call her out. Call out the bad behavior by men. And please please please don’t try to make it a she said he said argument. Yes, men get raped by women. Yes, there are real men’s issues. Yes, men get abused by women. There is a real time and place to discuss these issues, but to raise them in the context of a discussion about women’s issues creates a false equivalency. For a raped or abused man, it is equivalent, but as a policy issue, it is not. Men need to help move the overton window by calling out men.

    5. Please do promote women’s causes, but don’t call yourself a feminist. My male neighbor had a shirt that said, “This is what a radical feminist looks like.” Then, about a year ago, his wife took refuge from him in our home. He was a feminist for convenience, until his alcoholism took over, and then he took it out on her. When women become feminists, it happens for different reasons. There’s something that gets internalized in some women when a woman sees a woman beat or raped or looked over for a job promotion — it could be her — and until men really get what that feels like, they should just shut up and fight for women. To put it in very real terms, a friend of mine showed me a photo she snapped in Rwanda after the atrocities: the bowlegged corpse of a woman in the position she was in while she was raped to death. I was horrified — I still don’t know how to understand that photo. My wife crossed her legs. White people marched for civil rights, sure, but it’s not the same thing as feeling what it’s like to be black. We all need to call out and fight for equality, but it’s different when you’re the potential victim. Or to put it in other terms, it’s a great thing that DJ has hired lots of women and promoted woman in public forums. It’s good policy and a good idea, but it doesn’t earn him a free pass. Men just don’t get to say, “Hey, I’m not sexist, I’m a feminist.” It just doesn’t fly.

    There’s lots more advice to dudes from this dude, but the main thing to say is that the inequalities are still real. You may be doing things, even without realizing it, that reinforce the status quo. We can make the world better. At least, I hope so, for the sake of my daughters.

  208. 208
    Ophelia Benson

    Damn. I posted #152 without having seen Greta’s #147. (I thought I had refreshed and read, but I must not have. Bad; no cookie.) If I had seen Greta’s #147 I wouldn’t have posted #152. Sorry.

  209. 209
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    witless chum

    So what? If the response to her complaints about sexism wasn’t enough to convince you that the skeptic/atheist bunch isn’t exactly immune to patriarchy poisoning, I don’t know what would.

    But don’t you understand, that was a manufactroversy. Actually, all those misogynists that show up are sockpuppets from the evil overlords and ladies at FTB and Skepchick, tricking us femisheep into writing angry posts and visiting their websites.
    Unless, of course, you’re one of the misogynists, in which case all the feminists are sockpuppets.
    Probably I’m the only real person around here and I’m flabbergasted that they’re making such a fuss about me…
    And why am I talking to you, you probably don’t even exist…

    Oh, and Tim Groc acts as if he actually cared about somebody. Or he’s afraid that bluharmony would embarass them a bit more.

  210. 210
    PZ Myers

    Twitter and Facebook are private communications media? Amazing.

    And please, I keep hearing that these radical man-hating feminists were on a crusade against Stef and Miranda and Bluharmony. Could someone show us the festering “monuments” to hate aimed at them that are in any way comparable to ERV or greylining or that Elevatorgate site or the hundreds of ranty YouTube videos and reddit screeds aimed at Rebecca Watson? Show some self-awareness when levying your bitter complaints, please.

  211. 211
    davesmith

    As a quick follow-up to that long message, I have one more request to Ryan and all the men out there, as a father of daughters.

    Before you hit “send” on something you’ve written to a woman about sexism (or most anything else), why not ask yourself how you would feel if you had a daughter and someone sent the message to her?

    I’m not asking in a macho way, as in “I’d want to go kick the shit out of them.”

    I’m asking as someone who is trying to raise daughters to become women, as in “How do you explain why someone would behave that way?”

  212. 212
    Tim Groc

    Marta

    This is completely absurd, and at the very least, a galactic hypocrisy fail.

    Absurd? Why? You are guilty of “piling on someone who’s been banned” by using that statement yourself. Then you have the temerity to say it is absurd. Liar.

    For months, members of the Slimepit have written thousands of posts that target Rebecca Watson and Ophelia Benson.

    I’m aware of that, but that does not justify anything, does it? It does not justify “piling on someone who’s been banned”, and then acting as though that does not happen. You should at least be honest and admit that is a common tactic at FTB. Enough of the cognitive dissonance reduction!

  213. 213
    The Pint

    @ davesmith #207 – Your daughters are lucky to have you for a father.

  214. 214
    Ophelia Benson

    What PZ said @210. Ditto, and a bit more – as far as I know Stef isn’t in the same category as Miranda and Bluharmony. I certainly don’t think of her as in the same category, not least because I’ve seen her sharply reject misogynist name-calling and explicitly say that however strongly one disagrees with Rebecca Watson she does not deserve misogynist name-calling. Miranda and Bluharmony don’t say things like that, and they ally themselves with misogynist name-callers. Miranda and Justicar are BFFs.

  215. 215
    The Pint

    Show some self-awareness when levying your bitter complaints, please.

    Assuming they’re capable of self-awareness in the first place.

  216. 216
    Marta

    Tim Groc@212

    For months, members of the Slimepit have written thousands of posts that target Rebecca Watson and Ophelia Benson.

    “I’m aware of that, but that does not justify anything, does it?”

    You are saying that it’s OK to post comments that vilify the same women, over and over and over again, but because they didn’t do it in this thread, they should not be banned here?

  217. 217
    Bernard Bumner

    How predictable that this thread has been derailed to the point that yet another defence of Rebecca Watson is forced.

    a) Any defence of Rebecca Watson’s role in these so-called internet controversies is irrelevant, given the level and persistence of personal attacks sustained against her. Even if her story was a work of pure contrived fiction, then she could in no way deserve the reaction since.

    b) If there was any doubt that the anecdote as initially reported by Rebecca Watson served to highlight an existing problem within the community, then the reaction since then should be enough to convince any sane observer that suc ha problem does exist.

    c) These unreliable narrators who make constant reference to the history of these arguments tend to do so in order to distract from present mistakes, misdemeanors, and offences. These derails are mere smokescreens. If that isn’t their intention, then such arguments still prevent proper discussion of the state of the community and the required action.

    D.J.’s poor response was the topic of the OP, and yet we are left here discussing Rebecca and her tormentors.

    How can anyone argue that the concerns and requirements of females are not being neglected and marginalised when every discussion of the issue inevitably becomes an examination of Rebecca Watson? As though the complaints articulated by female contributors at every level and reach of the community are a house of cards that falls or stands on the veracity of a single report of an incident.

    D.J. needs to see that his conspiracy rhetoric and lack of concern forments exactly this type of atmosphere; where any complaint can be dismissed as trivial and overblown, or worse calculated or imaginary.

    One of the most constructive exercises I have seen was when PZ told all of his male contributors to stop opining and to listen to other genders for a single thread. If that is something which is necessary again, and perhaps on a wider scale of outlets, then it should be done. If some males need to be convinced of the state of the community, then let others have an uninterrupted platform to discuss it. I’m willing to listen, whether or not the answer is as I think it will be.

    Why has the question not moved beyond is there a problem?

    We can taste the smoke and feel the heat, but here we find ourselves being forced to look for a fire.

  218. 218
    John Horstman

    @Munkhaus (re: #50): Context matters. Threatening to kick women “in the cunt” is different than threatening to kick men “in the nuts”, because the contexts of those two statements are different. There is not a discourse that pervades our culture that marginalizes, oppresses, and inflicts violence against men on the basis of their maleness, so the comment about men takes place in a different context than the comment about women (which does take place in the context of a discourse that pervades our culture that marginalizes, oppresses, and inflicts violence against women on the basis of their femaleness). Identical action is not the same thing as equal treatment, because one action can have different meanings or effects based on context. This is the failure of the Classical Liberal position, that it didn’t recognize the influence of extant cultural discourses (and why the postmodern movement in academic discourse has shifted Liberal thought toward focusing on equalizing agency as opposed to equalizing rights). This is also why anti-male sentiment cannot be “sexist”: sexism is a cultural discourse, not an isolated incident. A single comment or action against men CAN be bigoted, prejudiced, and misandrist, but not sexist, because there is no corresponding cultural discourse that marginalizes men on the basis of maleness of which the particular misandrist action/statement can function as a part.

    I think marilove has a tendency to project a little more than is reasonable, and I think Rebecca sometimes makes the mistake of assuming positional hegemony (she unfairly universalizes her experiences or opinions to all women, all atheists, etc. on occasion – not that others don’t), but they are both generally right, and Skepchick isn’t a toxic environment for men so much as it’s a toxic environment for people who make misogynist statements.

    (No longer @Munkhaus) Now, as a man who was raised from a Second Wave, Liberal Feminist perspective, I still wound up with a bunch of unexamined privilege and any number of institutionally-sexist views, even though I very much believed in the rightness of female equality. I literally did not have the cognitive tools to understand my privilege; I was completely blind to it. (It’s right there. Where? RIGHT THERE! I don’t see anything there.) After years of classes dealing with new(er) models of how power operates within culture and particularly the privilege model, I was able to understand why granting everyone the same privileged position I enjoyed (and assuming that equal treatment would result in such) was not really possible. Having gone through that experience, I suggest that the instantly-hostile tone sometimes (I reiterate: SOMETIMES – Greta is usually very good about this; I see it more at Skepchick) taken with men approaching debates on sexism from a position of friendship/alliance with women can be a harmful tactic. Ideally, we shouldn’t have to worry about being deferential to men, cutting them some slack or the benefit of the doubt, or soft-peddling anti-sexist arguments. The fact that this SHOULDN’T be the case does not mean that a confrontational demeanor will necessarily be more effective than a collaborative one, though. I do not mean to suggest that we should not call people (men, and sometimes women) out who refuse to be self-critical or acknowledge that there’s any potential whatsoever that some of their behaviors might be problematic (Grothe et al.). I do mean to suggest that conscious moderation of demeanor/framing when initially addressing people could be a highly effective strategy in many cases. Had I experienced open hostility as a result of my unexamined privilege in the first Women’s Studies course I took, I likely would have abandoned the field instead of finding my new home.

    Again, I’m certainly not arguing that everyone should be “polite”, “respectful”, etc. irrespective of context, just that an attitude of charity towards people (lacking any other knowledge of their behaviors on which to make informed judgements about their intents) may be the best starting place for actually convincing sympathetic men to take up the cause of feminism and combat misogyny.

    @LeftSidePositive: Well put.

  219. 219
    RW Ahrens

    Once again, you step into the breach!

    At the risk of being boringly repetitious, thank you, Greta, for being here, for talking about this once again and not just letting this topic die without trying to be clear about what it really is all about.

    As a guy, I will point out here that I find the kind of attitudes expressed by those you are talking about and to to be wrong, badly biased, sadly out of place and sickening in a movement that is supposed to be all about humanity and reason.

    I know that this is near the bottom (or maybe the middle eventually) of a long line of comments, and isn’t likely to be read, but well, here it is.

    Keep fighting the good fight, Greta, you are doing a magnificent job!

  220. 220
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Aw, how sweet, Tristan (#107) gaslights us because he cares!

  221. 221
    Greta Christina

    If anyone is having any doubts as to why I banned Justicar:

    Misogyny? What misogyny?

  222. 222
    Leon

    DJ’s reaction here has puzzled me, especially in light of the good work he’s done in the movement. His insistence on missing the point and deflecting your concerns has been just weird…but, it’s starting to remind me of calls I occasionally get on the help desk. There are times when I could swear the person calling is thinking “I’ll just act clueless until he decides to come down here and do it himself.”

    Basically, I’m thinking he may be just hoping that he can evade the issue until it runs out of steam. He must be unaware that the “ignore it and it will go away” method doesn’t work with you.

  223. 223
    Leon

    Having read Justicar’s comments above, Greta, I can say you were definitely justified in doing so.

  224. 224
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    @John Horstman, nice comment on the whole, but I disagree on a couple of points. Chiefly that we need to offer a gentle feminism 101 to the clueless. Obviously in an introduction to women’s studies, that’s necessary – people are explicitly there to learn. But all too often on these threads they are not, it’s nothing but a derail. And a deliberate and disingenuous derail – as can be seen by their refusal to accept evidence or education when it’s offerred. (Or in some cases, as demonstrated by their behaviour on other sites.)

    Also, I don’t agree that nothing aimed at men can be sexist. I’m thinking of the patriarchy-enforcing remarks here. Things that try to push traditional gender roles on men, or belittle them for not conforming. You run like a girl. Stop that, boys don’t play with dolls. Man up, grow some balls.

  225. 225
    Tim Groc

    Marta:

    You are saying that it’s OK to post comments that vilify the same women

    No, I’m not. I never said that.

    but because they didn’t do it in this thread, they should not be banned here?

    I didn’t say anything about banning. I merely mentioned the use of this tactic on FTB. It is a very useful tactic, but at least be honest and accept it goes on here.

  226. 226
    Tim Groc

    Ophelia:

    as far as I know Stef isn’t in the same category as Miranda and Bluharmony.

    What ‘categories’ are those, Ophelia?

  227. 227
    Tristan

    OK, one last try:

    You misunderstand me. My problem is not with you criticizing my behavior if you object to it. I don’t agree with your criticism, but it is not the problem. My problem is with what seem to be your priorities.

    My problem is that — when weighing on the one hand, “Greta did something that in my opinion was unfair by quoting someone out of context,” and on the other hand, “Ryan publicly stated that he wanted to ‘slap the bitch’ and ‘kick her readers in the cunt’” — you seem to think that the former is of greater concern than the latter.

    Shorter Greta: I am a respected, important leader in the skeptical community, and this nobody attacked me! So why are you turning on me rather than piling on him?

    The answer, of course, is that it is because you are (or aspire to be) a leader in the skeptic community that you are subject to greater scrutiny. To deserve to be a leader requires, first and foremost, that you walk the talk – you need to scrutinize your own behaviour far more harshly than you scrutinize others, and if you fail to do so you must expect that others will do it for you.

    Yet another random person that nobody has ever heard of losing his cool and spouting off something nasty is a “dog bites man” level of news. An aspiring skeptical/freethought leader using selective quoting, displaying enormous blind spots with respect to supporters’ behaviour, and in general acting in ways that are antithetical to freethought, is something far more important.

  228. 228
    smhlle

    For months, members of the Slimepit have written thousands of posts that target Rebecca Watson and Ophelia Benson.

    “I’m aware of that, but that does not justify anything, does it?”

    I think what it justifies is a strong desire among people who care about the same issues Ms. Watson does to defend her and quite strenuously because of the huge amount of abuse she has taken for making a reasonable request.

    I haven’t met her personally, but my POV is “if you want to pound on Rebecca Watson, you have to go through me first”. I suspect many regular readers here share my sentiments.

  229. 229
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    Tristan, are you genuinely unable to see the difference between criticism and the threat of violence?

  230. 230
    Daniel Schealler

    @Tristan #228

    Shorter Greta: I am a respected, important leader in the skeptical community, and this nobody attacked me! So why are you turning on me rather than piling on him?

    Actually, no.

    I think Greta was very clear.

    Shorter Greta: I am concerned about what seem to be your priorities. You are spending more words on the subject of why you think I was unfair to Ryan than you are spending on the fact that Ryan engaged in violent language. This sets a tone that I find to be very concerning.

    Your following two paragraphs exhibit an actual criticism. I’m not sure if I agree or disagree with you as I’ve only just realized that this is going on – I’ve been away from the internet for a few weeks, so this is all new to me.

    But your first paragraph is a problem. A dispassionate reader barely have to contrast the section of Greta’s article that you quoted with your attempt to paraphrase it to see that your mischaracterizing the shape of Greta’s argument and concerns.

    That’s character assassination.

    Don’t do that.

  231. 231
    Tristan

    Tristan, are you genuinely unable to see the difference between criticism and the threat of violence?

    DJ threatened Greta with violence? What? Where?

    … seriously, how the fuck did you get that from what I wrote?

    Threats of violence are wrong. All the major players in this fiasco – even the guy who sarcastically made them – agree on that, and so it can be dealt with in a single, one-sentence statement. Because everyone agrees with it, it’s un-interesting and not really worth spending much time on. A leader behaving badly (or being perceived to be behaving badly) is far more worthy of detailed discussion.

    How is that point of view so difficult to grasp?

  232. 232
    Tristan

    Daniel @231: call it character assassination if you like – but that’s the way I read it, and I’d bet good money that a fair bit of the disagreement here is because others read it the same way.

  233. 233
    Daniel Schealler

    @Tristan #233

    To be clear: I am not accusing you of insincerity.

    I’m pointing out that your reading demonstrably does not match against what Greta actually said or even how she said it.

    There’s no real excuse for that, because (as usual) Greta has been meticulously clear about her argument.

    You took a few paragraphs that Greta used to summarize her argument and attempted to reduce it down to a motive.

    I don’t call this character assassination because I like. I call it character assassination because that’s what you’re actually doing.

    Don’t do that.

  234. 234
    Tristan

    @234: OK, I’ll own that. My apologies to Greta.

    But, going back to her own words:

    You misunderstand me. My problem is not with you criticizing my behavior if you object to it. I don’t agree with your criticism, but it is not the problem. My problem is with what seem to be your priorities.

    My problem is that — when weighing on the one hand, “Greta did something that in my opinion was unfair by quoting someone out of context,” and on the other hand, “Ryan publicly stated that he wanted to ‘slap the bitch’ and ‘kick her readers in the cunt’” — you seem to think that the former is of greater concern than the latter.

    The former is of greater concern than the latter – to someone whose priority is furthering the spread of skeptical freethought. It’s of greater concern because the behaviour of Greta, as a role model, has far greater impact than the behaviour of some random guy most everyone here has never heard of before and will probably never hear of again.

    I know I’m going to get flamed to a crisp for this, but as far as I’m concerned DJ focusing his attention on Greta was a compliment, in that it implicitly noted her higher importance.

  235. 235
    Daniel Schealler

    @Tristan #235

    OK, I’ll own that. My apologies to Greta.

    I… wasn’t expecting that.

    Good work. I’m impressed.

    As for the rest of what you’ve said here… My knee-jerk reaction right now is to stick up for Greta, but I haven’t actually read the full history of this exchange yet. I’m still playing catch-up on the issue, and I don’t want to start hacking away at people rhetorically while I’m still in a position of ignorance.

    I’ll have more time to read up on this over the weekend (hopefully).

  236. 236
    carlie

    Threats of violence are wrong. All the major players in this fiasco – even the guy who sarcastically made them – agree on that, and so it can be dealt with in a single, one-sentence statement.

    But their actions suggest that they don’t. If threats of violence are wrong and Ryan knows it, then why did he make them? If they’re wrong, then why did DJ spend so much time defending Ryan? You are assuming something not in evidence.

  237. 237
    Pteryxx

    It’s of greater concern because the behaviour of Greta, as a role model, has far greater impact than the behaviour of some random guy most everyone here has never heard of before and will probably never hear of again.

    I know I’m going to get flamed to a crisp for this, but as far as I’m concerned DJ focusing his attention on Greta was a compliment, in that it implicitly noted her higher importance.

    I’d be more impressed with your suggested interpretation if said complimentary attention had not consisted of defense after defense of the aforementioned random guy we’ll never hear of again.

    If DJ paying attention to her AT ALL was a compliment, in and of itself… well we’ve been over that, these many months.

  238. 238
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    I know I’m going to get flamed to a crisp for this, but as far as I’m concerned DJ focusing his attention on Greta was a compliment, in that it implicitly noted her higher importance.

    And Bill O’Reilly telling victims of child abuse that it wasn’t really rape, rather than trying to get his own church hierarchy cleaned up, is a compliment because it shows how important the victims are.

  239. 239
    Tristan

    @239: holy crap, that was obtuse. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    @237,238: explanation and analysis does not equal defense. It’s a subtle but important difference.

    @237: so you’ve never, ever in your life said something in the heat of the moment (whether sarcastically or really meaning it) that you later realised was wrong and regretted saying? If so, you either have the patience of Buddha, the self-reflection of a flea, or you’ve led an incredibly sheltered life.

    Having done things that I regretted in the past, when I see someone rethink their words and apologise, I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. Your mileage may vary.

  240. 240
    Pteryxx

    @237,238: explanation and analysis does not equal defense. It’s a subtle but important difference.

    Yep. And what DJ was doing was defense.

  241. 241
    Tristan

    I guess we’ll have to continue to disagree on that.

  242. 242
    julian

    I know I’m going to get flamed to a crisp for this, but as far as I’m concerned DJ focusing his attention on Greta was a compliment, in that it implicitly noted her higher importance.

    These may very well be the warped priorities alluded to in the blog post.

    A threat of (sexual) violence (one likely made because the speaker knew it would cause more hurt than other threats) was made against someone who, at worst, could be characterized as not being wholly fair. But it’s the possible mischaracterization that DJ Grothe feels more concerned about.

    If it were something he wanted to address, that’d be fine. Why wouldn’t it be? A public figure in skepticism having a track record of holding double standards is a problem (won’t mention names here). But DJ Grothe approached this by doubling down on Greta having been the one at fault for the exchange and everything that came after.

    It was her fault (and apparently her commenters for saying things they never said) that riled up Long to the point where he made his ‘slap the bitch’ comment.

    Then there’s everything else about feminist and atheist blogs writing about sexism just to get blog hits but that’s another story.

  243. 243
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Bill O’Reilly: “I abhor child-rape. Child-rape is wrong. But most of them weren’t really raped at all, and I choose to spend most of the time I devote to this subject defending the ‘rapists’ and telling the victim’s they’re harming the Church by carrying on so.”

    D.J. Grothe: “I abhor threats of misogynistic violence. Threatening misogynistic violence is wrong. But I choose to spend most of the time I devote to this subject explaining why it wasn’t really all that bad, and how the ‘victims’ are harming the cause by carrying on so.”

    Obtuse? I think not. If it’s wrong for Billy to do it, it’s wrong for DJ to do it.

  244. 244
    julian

    Having done things that I regretted in the past, when I see someone rethink their words and apologise, I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    When did he apologize? I remember him saying that he felt embarrassed to so much as have to point it out but he doesn’t support violence against women. It wasn’t even a not apology.

  245. 245
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Me @244

    Excuse my greengrocer’s a apo’strophe in Paragraph 1. I meant to enclose the whole word in quotes. Not sure how that happened.

  246. 246
    julian

    Daz I was gonna call you an idiot but that’s actually not a half bad juxtaposition. Although I need to point out the last half of the comment seems unfair to DJ Grothe. He has spent considerable time to trying to make skepticism a more welcoming place (although his use of that to deflect criticism is probably among the most irritating things he’s done in this exchange.)

  247. 247
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    julian.

    Fair enough (and thanks for the rethink) but I dare say, from the point of view of a Catholic, Bill’s also done many things over the years that they’d agree with and thank him for, even if they think he’s an arse on this particular subject.

    Yeah, I know, I’m stretching… Analogies, by nature, are never perfect.

  248. 248
    Jason

    It seems that the only argument Greta has to backup the notion that this kind of posting isn’t self-aggrandizing or for the sake of hits is that the people who are making these posts deny these claims.

    How is that evidence? Human beings are a notoriously poor judge of their own motivations. Who would even admit such a thing if it was true?

  249. 249
    Pteryxx

    It seems that the only argument Greta has to backup the notion that this kind of posting isn’t self-aggrandizing or for the sake of hits is that the people who are making these posts deny these claims.

    How is that evidence?

    You mean, as opposed to all the evidence DJ didn’t present to backup the notion that the posting IS for attention and hits? After he made that claim in the first place?

  250. 250
    julian

    Hush, Pteryxx, you can’t possibly judge DJ Grothe by the same standards you would others. He is, after all, DJ Grothe.

  251. 251
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Jason

    See the paragraph (and click the links it contains) beginning “Several bloggers — including me, in the very post you’re responding to,” in the OP.

    See a good number of the comments in this and the previous thread on the subject.

    Think. FTB is already one of, if not the, most heavily trafficked atheist/sceptic sites on the web. Just how desperate for page-hits do you think they are?

    Do you have any actual evidence that this is the reason for ‘this kind of posting,’ or are you merely projecting?

  252. 252
    Greta Christina

    It seems that the only argument Greta has to backup the notion that this kind of posting isn’t self-aggrandizing or for the sake of hits is that the people who are making these posts deny these claims.

    Jason @ #249: No. As Daz @ #252 suggested: See the paragraph (and click the links it contains) beginning “Several bloggers — including me, in the very post you’re responding to,” in the OP.

    The argument being made is not, “The people making these posts deny these claims.” The argument being made is, “These kinds of posts do not, in fact, tend to result in lots of hits, any more or any more reliably than posts on other topics. Plus they often result in alienating readers, burning useful bridges, and making the blogger the target of a lot of ugly abuse. And the people making these posts know it.”

  253. 253
    Jason

    I stand completely corrected then and DJ should admit there’s no basis for his claim.

  254. 254
    carlie

    @237: so you’ve never, ever in your life said something in the heat of the moment (whether sarcastically or really meaning it) that you later realised was wrong and regretted saying?

    Sure I have. what I haven’t done is spend paragraph after paragraph defending why I said it and explaining how someone else made me say it without ever actually apologizing for saying it.

  255. 255
    SallyStrange

    Greta is criticizing DJ’s priorities, and Tristan is trying to justify those priorities.

    But there’s really nothing anyone could say that could merit the type of sexist, violent rhetoric Ryan aimed at Greta.

    To posit that Greta’s behavior could be at fault here is essentially to say that there ARE some things a woman can do to deserve having such sexist, violent rhetoric aimed at her.

    Please do explain, Tristan. Why is Greta’s behavior more of a problem again? Because she’s got more visibility than this Ryan guy? What are her offenses again, and why does that justify spending more time criticizing her than criticizing the man who used sexist, violent rhetoric?

  256. 256
    Marie-Thérèse O'Loughlin

    Misogyny? What misogyny? > http://t.co/3O2avotn

  257. 257
    Tristan

    To posit that Greta’s behavior could be at fault here is essentially to say that there ARE some things a woman can do to deserve having such sexist, violent rhetoric aimed at her.

    No.

  258. 258
    SallyStrange

    Flat-out denial. How terribly convincing.

  259. 259
    jdup

    I’m kind of new to the whole skeptical movement…and I’m really disappointed that the sexism seems to be so pervasive, and that the discourse is so overheated.

    Aside from Skepchick and here, can anyone provide a list of female-only skeptical sites? I’d prefer to learn my skeptical skills in a friendly environment.

  260. 260
    Silus

    I’m not sure about female-only sites, but here are some sites where misogyny is very much not liked:
    Skepchick, Almost Diamonds, Blag Hag.

    Another one of note is Pharyngula, though I must put out warning that it can attract some very heated debate in the comments at times, since they are mostly unregulated.

  261. 261
    Stacy

    jdup, also, Butterflies and Wheels.

  262. 262
    The Ys

    jdup – also check out We Are SkeptiXX.

  263. 263
    actinomyces

    As a result of this, I will be donating the funds I had earmarked for JREF to Planned Parenthood. I don’t recall them ever saying a woman asked for it.

  264. 264
    Pteryxx

    As a result of this, I will be donating the funds I had earmarked for JREF to Planned Parenthood. I don’t recall them ever saying a woman asked for it.

    *applause*

  265. 265
    Tristan

    To posit that Greta’s behavior could be at fault here is essentially to say that there ARE some things a woman can do to deserve having such sexist, violent rhetoric aimed at her.

    So I’ve been watching curiously over the last couple of days, wondering if any of the regulars here – or the host herself – would call SallyStrange out on this blatantly ridiculous (dare I say insane?) statement. I’m disappointed, but not terribly surprised, to see that it has not happened.

    Being the target of an attack, no matter how vile, does not make a person magically 100% correct and above all criticism. Criticising a person’s actions surrounding said attack does not constitute claiming that the deserve it.

    Seriously, SallyStrange, if you actually believe the quoted statement, then you have effectively shut down all avenues towards constructive communication.

  266. 266
    Steve Schuler

    For anyone interested in reading the screen capture of Greta’s now infamous conversation with Ryan in much more detail than Greta has chosen to present it go to:

    http://www.uncrediblehallq.net/2012/01/11/screen-cap-dum/

    Since this exchange is at the heart of this ongoing debacle, it may be worth your while to read it, if you have not already.

  267. 267
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Tristan

    Taken in conjunction with the two paragraphs which Sally put above it, I see nothing wrong with it. ‘Greta’s behaviour’ was to point out that DJ has his priorities wrong. He has.

  268. 268
    Tristan

    @269: that seems to me like an extraordinarily generous reading of SallyStrange’s comment. Can’t follow you there, sorry.

    @268: I’m very interested (and amused) to see in the middle of that thread Greta doing to RGL precisely what I was called out for doing to Greta here.

  269. 269
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Tristan

    It’s really quite simple. If, in the face of blatant misogyny, someone chooses to make it their priority to upbraid people complaining about such behaviour for ‘shrillness,’ rather than address ways and means of educating people out of that misogyny, then they are saying that the misogyny is okay in comparison to the perceived shrillness.

    Short answer: victim blaming.

    Isn’t it usually the religious who point the shrillness finger at atheists, just for speaking their minds? The misogyny is public, just like the religion. Calling it out in private—or not calling it out at all—so as to not rock the boat or make a scene, is not productive, with religion or with misogyny. Or any other human rights issue.

    What’s more, his despicable and frankly ludicrously barrel-scraping ‘they’re doing it for the page-hits’ suggests that he’s bending over backwards to excuse the behaviour.

  270. 270
    Tristan

    Daz: I didn’t see DJ calling Greta out for ‘shrillness’ – is that a direct quote? I saw him calling her out for what he perceived as hypocrisy and generally poor form.

  271. 271
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Tristan

    Oh, come on.

    “As a professional writer, handling disagreement through public blogging and/or flogging is easiest.” “I believe some of the controversies in the atheist blogosphere … appear to me to be fomented …” “controversialist blogs” “I think you are sometimes just too quick to vilify and make enemies” “Note that some of these posts don’t just disagree through reasoned arguments but engage in calls for boycotts, public punishment or public shaming” “hyper-vigilant, unduly polarizing, and a distraction from the actual hard work needed to fix problems.” “to bully or punish people who disagree with various approaches, to misrepresent people’s views to make our arguments seem stronger, or to be too quick to vilify.

    Those are all complaints about tone. I used one, apt I think, word to represent them: ‘shrill.’

  272. 272
    julian

    I used one, apt I think, word to represent them: ‘shrill.’

    heh

    Reminds me of the gnu-feminist joke at B&W.

  273. 273
    Anonymous

    I’m a woman and I’ve been sexually assaulted. Of course, that doesn’t give me any more authority than anyone else, but I am certainly sensitive to the issue of sexual assault, and the fear of it happening.

    That said, NOTHING Mr. Grothe has said has made me feel like he doesn’t care about the safety of women. I am going to feel completely safe at TAM, and I would not hesitate to tell him and his staff if someone made me feel less than safe. I believe he’s shown over and over again that he cares about women’s issues, and while he clearly spoke out of turn the first time he replied to this Ryan person (something he said he apologized for), nothing else here seems sexist to me. It makes Greta feel threatened– fine– but I want to be at least one vote saying I completely trust D.J. and the JREF to respond appropriately if my safety were ever threatened. I also trust them to continuing hiring women, inviting women to speak, and increasing female attendance at TAM.

    I am pleased with Mr. Grothe’s leadership, and this long, tedious fight hasn’t changed that.

  274. 274
    Cory Brunson

    Zerotarian@177: Thank you, and seconded.

    Furthermore, it’s only after reading this post (the “Citation very seriously needed.” bit) that i understand PZ Myers’ “name names” post enough to agree with Rebecca Watson over what struck me as the only interesting question over Elevatorgate (whether Watson was unprofessional or unfair to name Stef McGraw). I’d been wrestling with this one off-and-on since the student conference. Much obliged, Greta Christina.

    Daz@271: Well-put, thanks.

  275. 275
    Switchhttr

    Here’s a good definition of argumentum ad hominem:

    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mathew/logic.html#hominem

  276. 276
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Well, has DJ come forth with his evidence for people manufactoring a controversy as advised by blogowners yet?
    No?
    Quelle surprise….

  277. 277
    stripey_cat

    Well, that whole letter felt like a pat on the head and a “there, there little woman; don’t be so emotional”. Classy.

  278. 278
    ben

    If you’d spent one sentence saying, “Yes, I think Greta’s behavior was unfair,” and then spent the rest of your comments on the topic saying that obviously the important issue here was threats of violence, specifically gender-based, sexualized threats of violence against a female writer and her readers… we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    If you say something I agree with completely, expressing that takes all of one sentence. Sure I can spend more time on it, but that’s often just parroting. If you say something that’s just mostly right but dodges an important issue, it will take a lot more space to express that. Nuanced disagreement takes many words! Moreover, you’re doing the same “Yes, but…” thing you’re accusing Ryan of: D.J. wants to talk about how you misrepresented what Ryan said, and you want to bring the conversation back around to a different issue. I think that makes the accusation of opportunism somewhat legitimate.

    Also, accusing someone of seeking attention is not sexist. Accusing someone of seeking attention because she’s a woman is sexist. Just because some argument is used frequently by men against women does not make the argument itself wrong. Not that I think the accusation is correct in this case, but calling it sexist just by association is sloppy.

  279. 279
    carlie

    Well, has DJ come forth with his evidence for people manufactoring a controversy as advised by blogowners yet?

    He doesn’t seem to have said anything at all about the entire situation, which seems to indicate that he really doesn’t think any of it is important enough to bother with. It’s nice when you can completely ignore the problems you cause for other people, isn’t it?

  280. 280
    tamaratemple

    In reading through this, it strikes me that there are different and conflicting roles going on in this, as would occur in many other situations. There is a great breakdown of these, their necessity, their dangers, and such at: http://genderbitch.wordpress.com/2009/10/03/a-m-o-communication/

  281. 281
    Raging Bee

    Somite blithered thusly in the “yes, but…” vein:

    The problem I see with posts on misogyny is that they are all essentially ad hominem attacks.

    Misogyny is a CHARACTER issue, an issue of personal conduct. How can we focus on the issue without talking about the misogynists’ personal character and conduct?

    Instead of focusing on a person (that is ultimately on your side, BTW) try to focus on the problem.

    The problem, dumbass, is how certain people are behaving toward others. You can’t focus on one but not the other because they’re both the same thing. (Oh, and DJ has pretty clearly proven that he’s really NOT on Greta’s side here.)

    Even better write as if the study of gender roles and sexism is a discipline and treat it scientifically.

    It’s not just a scientific issue, moron, it’s a social, political, and personal-conduct issue. When your mom tried to teach you manners, did you tell her to treat that issue “scientifically” too?

    Somite is basically a coward who doesn’t want to deal seriously with a serious issue.

  282. 282
    Raging Bee

    It seems that the only argument Greta has to backup the notion that this kind of posting isn’t self-aggrandizing or for the sake of hits is that the people who are making these posts deny these claims.

    If it “seems” that way to you, Jason, that’s probably because you’re flat-out ignoring what Greta has actually said. And since you’re clearly not paying attention, there’s no reason for us to pay attention to you.

  283. 283
    SallyStrange

    Okay Tristan, let me explain it for you. I read the FB exchange. What Greta was doing was pointing out that Ryan’s comments fit within a well-established pattern of misogynist behavior. Ryan disagreed. Okay, fine. It’s a heated discussion and emotions are high. So far, so good. But then Ryan defaults to the kicking of various genitalia and smacking bitches. That pretty much negates any previous objection he had about being characterized as a misogynist. Fantasizing about smacking bitches and kicking cunts (and balls and micro-penises (like, WTF)): That’s what misogynists do.* To suggest that something Greta did led Ryan to make the comments he did suggests two things: first, Ryan isn’t in full control of his actions, and second, that sometimes comments about bitch-slapping and cunt-kicking are not only to be expected, they might even be justified.

    That’s just wrong.

    *Empirically verifiable statement. Research available upon request

  284. 284
    TK

    oy, yes, distracting. Well tell you what. No more misogynu and we’ll move on to the important stuff, okay?

  285. 285
    Tristan

    To suggest that something Greta did led Ryan to make the comments he did suggests two things:

    Who did that? Certainly not DJ, who’s been very, very explicit in his multiple statements that that wasn’t what he was doing. It’s perfectly possible to criticise one or both sides of an argument without blaming either for the actions of the other.

    What DJ said is that Greta and her supporters did certain things wrong. What you and others seem to be doing is automatically adding “… and therefore you caused/deserved what happened next.”

    That last bit is all in your head, and is rewriting history.

    Don’t do that.

  286. 286
    Daniel Schealler

    @Tristan #289

    You’re stealing my format.

    ^_^

  287. 287
    Tristan

    But then Ryan defaults to the kicking of various genitalia and smacking bitches. That pretty much negates any previous objection he had about being characterized as a misogynist. Fantasizing about smacking bitches and kicking cunts (and balls and micro-penises (like, WTF)):

    While I’m at it this, too, is rewriting history. A reading of that thread shows that it was those arrayed against him that first reverted to repeatedly accusing him of supporting “kick in the cunt” style statements.

    As for fantasizing… well, no. Those were posts on his private page as meta-commentary on the discussion, and seem to me to be quite clearly an attempt at black humour, with an unspoken “I suppose they expect me to say…” out in the front of each one. Your mileage might vary, but RGL himself said it was sarcasm (which he soon regretted and removed).

    Fantasizing? That’s character assassination.

    Don’t do that.

  288. 288
    Tristan

    “Don’t do that” meme Copyright Daniel Schealler, 2012.

  289. 289
    Daniel Schealler

    @Tristan #292

    Ha!

  290. 290
    SallyStrange

    I still can’t figure out what it is that Greta did wrong.

    And, with regards to Ryan’s comments, and his intentions: like I’ve said before, if you don’t want to be mistaken for a misogynist, then don’t act like one. Especially when in a discussion with feminists, and the topic is sexism.

  291. 291
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    I still can’t figure out what it is that Greta did wrong.

    Well, obviously, she didn’t ‘man up and grow a pair.’

  292. 292
    Tristan

    If you don’t want to be mistaken for a misogynist, don’t get into an argument with people who will deliberately and repeatedly quote your words out of context to make you look like one.

    Seriously, #287 was a Creation Ministries International level of quote-mining.

  293. 293
    Raging Bee

    If you don’t want to be mistaken for a misogynist, don’t get into an argument with people who will deliberately and repeatedly quote your words out of context to make you look like one.

    Examples, please?

  294. 294
    Tristan

    Uuuuummmm… #287?

    I’m not even saying that RGL isn’t a misogynist. But, if he is, then it should be possible to show it using fair tactics. Dishonest quote-mining and other rhetorical sleight-of-hand only diminishes your own case in the end.

  295. 295
    Raging Bee

    Tristan: what’s so “unfair” about Sally Strange’s comment #287? Seems to me she was pointing out that Ryan had said some distasteful and uncalled-for things, and that as a responsible adult, he couldn’t blame others for his own choice of words. Where’s the misrepresentation?

  296. 296
    Tristan

    What’s wrong with #287?

    Let me see if I’ve got this straight: If, in an argument about sexism, someone uses a word or phrase that, stripped of context, could be construed as being misogynist, that person deserves everything that follows?

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that to you, “blaming the victim” is just a catchphrase used to win arguments.

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