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Jul 30 2014

Comment Settings Update – UPDATED

Note: The Amazing Atheist has apparently put up a video responding to my recent post excoriating his behavior and calling on the atheist community to shun him. (No, I’m not linking to it.) As a result, I am expecting a temporary influx of TAA fans in this blog. I have therefore changed my commenting settings. For now, and until the influx dies down, comments in this blog will automatically go into comment moderation unless someone has commented here before and has had that comment approved. (Translation: Brand-new commenters go into comment moderation.) Thanks for your patience and understanding.

UPDATE: The majority of comments from the influx of fans of The Amazing Atheist are being posted here. I don’t want them to derail the thread they’re primarily being posted on, and most of them violate my comment policy; but since this conversation is garnering a certain amount of attention, I’m posting them here for the purpose of documentation.

Jul 31 2014

Sex-Positive Feminist Icons In Literature: Some Evolving Thoughts on Lydia Bennett

Spoiler alerts for Pride and Prejudice.

Lydia Bennet in P&P 1995 BBCI have been re-thinking Lydia Bennett.

I’m re-reading Pride and Prejudice for the 33,257th time. And I’m finding that my views on Lydia Bennett are changing.

(Quick summary for those who haven’t read P&P: Lydia Bennett is the youngest of five sisters in the Bennett family. Near the end of the book, she runs off with the villain of the piece, George Wickham — she thinks of it as an elopement, but he doesn’t actually intend to marry her at first, and they don’t marry for two weeks. It’s a huge crisis in the family, and only the hasty marriage protects Lydia, and in fact the entire Bennett family, from complete social ruin. Lydia, however, is unashamed about the elopement, and unashamed about having lived with Wickham for a fortnight before their wedding.)

Lydia is presented throughout the book as, to say the least, problematic. She’s not a villain exactly, but she’s presented as not at all a good person: she’s shallow, frivolous, self-absorbed, short-sighted, concerned only with trivialities, and inconsiderate of the feelings of others. Her life is consumed with flirtation, gossip, dancing, fashion, and handsome men in uniforms. (Yeah, I know what you’re thinking — there are worse things, right?) Austen describes her as “self-willed and careless,” “ignorant, idle, and vain.” And yes. She is all of these things.

But she’s also something else.

She is a woman who thinks of her body, and her life, as hers.

She’s a woman who — in defiance of the powerful social pressures of 19th century England — decides that who she marries, and when, and when they do or don’t have sex, is nobody’s business but hers. (Well, hers and her partner’s, obviously.) She’s a woman who — when everyone around her is clutching their pearls and freaking their shit over the fact that she had sex before marriage — doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. (“She was sure they should be married some time or other, and it did not much signify when.”) She’s a woman who — shortly before her wedding, when her aunt is lecturing her about the wickedness of what she did — is ignoring her, and instead is thinking about the man she’s about to marry, and what he’s going to wear. She’s a woman who — after the marriage has been patched together — has the audacity, much to the horror of her father and eldest sisters, to not be ashamed, to take pleasure in her life, and to look forward with excitement to her future.

She’s something of a pioneer. I find myself having a sneaking admiration.

Yes, yes, I know. Different times, different mores. The unfortunate reality of 19th century England, even in the relatively loose (compared to the Victorians) Regency period, was that for a gentlewoman to have sex before marriage probably did mean social ruin, not only for herself but for her family. Part of Austen’s point was that Lydia’s behavior was selfish. She didn’t just have loose sexual morals, which Austen clearly thought of as wicked just in and of itself. She had a lack of concern for how her sexual choices would affect her family.

But — well, actually, that’s sort of my point.

Gay men Kiss Alessandro MarveloosThink about people who brought shame to their families by marrying someone of another race, or another religion. Think about people who brought shame to their families by marrying who they chose, and not who their families chose for them. Think about people who brought shame to their families by coming out as gay. If I’m going to admire these people for deciding that their own sexual happiness was more important than the shame and suffering brought to their families by their breaking of vile and unreasonable rules — for being, as Elizabeth Bennett herself said in her famous confrontation with Lady Catherine de Bourgh, “only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness” — why would I not admire Lydia Bennett for doing the same thing?

It’s not a stretch to say that, for 19th century English aristocracy and gentry, society was, to a great extent, structured for the purpose of protecting unmarried women’s virginity. Unmarried women were rarely left alone; they were even more rarely left alone with men other than their relatives. They were considered “compromised” if they even slept under the same roof as an unrelated man without a chaperone: even having the opportunity to have sex was enough to destroy your reputation.

In that world — where the cage around unmarried women’s virginity was locked tight, and the social penalties for breaking out were severe — Lydia Bennett decided, “Fuck that noise. The rules are fucked up, and I’m going to ignore them. My body, my right to decide.” And she snuck out of the cage, and ran off into the night.

Good for her.

I’m tempted to write an erotica story about her, from her perspective. Probably not as a simple account of her elopement and defloration: I mostly don’t find “virgin’s first time” stories interesting, and given that she’s fifteen, it’d also be somewhat creepy. I’m thinking of her a couple of decades later: a married woman, not in a particularly happy marriage, but merrily screwing around with other libertines in the “if we do it behind closed doors everyone will pretend it isn’t happening” brigade, mooching off relatives and flirting with handsome men at parties and running in and out of bedrooms. (Think Dangerous Liaisons, but less Machiavellian and more of a romp.) I’m thinking of her, older, not very wise but certainly more experienced, looking back on her bawdy life, and looking back on her elopement and defloration — and seeing it as a moment of liberation, the moment when her new life began. I’m imagining her looking at her disappointing and difficult marriage (there’s no way that’s going to turn out well, George Wickham is vile) — and looking at the life she’s had, versus the life she would have had — and deciding that, on the whole, she made a good bargain.

There’s a line in Chapter 9 that kind of sums up what I’m getting at; a line that sums up how Austen saw Lydia when she wrote her in 1812, versus how I’m seeing her today. It’s when Lydia and George have come back to the Bennett home right after their marriage, and her elder sisters (Jane and Elizabeth) are appalled at her shameless attitude. “Lydia was Lydia still; untamed, unabashed, wild, noisy, and fearless.”

Untamed, unabashed, wild, noisy, and fearless.

Sounds like my kind of woman.

(Alessandro_+_Marveloos kissing photo by See-ming Lee, via Wikimedia Commons)

Jul 30 2014

#mencallmethings: “idiots,” “stupid,”

Jerk on my blog, in response to my recent post on The Amazing Atheist:

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 4.28.17 PM

It’s funny how people get upset over mere words. Does Amazing Atheist joke about rape? Yes. Will he ever rape anyone? No. That’s all. People who don’t get jokes are idiots. People who understand that those are jokes, but think that those jokes are unacceptable, are also idiots, and I am personally sick of social justice warriors like those.
And Amazing Atheist like to makes those jokes because modern feminism in first world countries is mostly bullshit. It’s mostly about sense of entitlement of stupid women. Actual feminism is about fighting for rights of women in countries where women actually don’t have equal rights, like Pakistan. Bitching about jokes is not.

#mencallmethings

I see. So in an effort to persuade people that The Amazing Atheist isn’t really sexist or misogynist and we should give him a chance to explain himself, this person goes onto a woman’s blog and tells her that feminists are stupid idiots.

Also, this guy is an expert on who is and is not a real feminist — and feminism only and entirely means fighting for women’s rights in countries like Pakistan. (Ask some ex-Muslim women — Heina Dadabhoy, Hiba Krisht, Taslima Nasrin — what they think of this idea. Go ahead. Ask.)

I’m reminded once again of Lewis’s Law: “Comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.”

Note: The #mencallmethings hashtag does not say #allmencallmethings, or #mostmencallmethings. If you want to learn more about the history of this hashtag and why people started using it, please read But How Do You Know It’s Sexist? The #MenCallMeThings Round-Up and Why Are You In Such A Bad Mood? #MenCallMeThings Responds! on Tiger Beatdown, where the hashtag originated. And please do not start a “but not all men are like that, so the #mencallmethings hashtag is reverse sexism!” argument. That has been addressed, at length, in the comments in the #mencallmethings: “FUCKIN HOE,” “FUCKIN FEMINAZI SLUT” post, as well as elsewhere. Please read Why “Yes, But” Is the Wrong Response to Misogyny if you’re wondering why I will not take kindly that that particular line of conversation.

Jul 30 2014

Some Comments From Fans of The Amazing Atheist

As regular readers may know, I recently put up a post excoriating The Amazing Atheist for making brutal, graphic rape threats, and calling on the atheist community to shun him. As a result, there’s been an influx of comments here from his fans. Some of those comments have been approved; many of those comments have been posted with the commenters then banned (do a search on this blog on “#mencallmethings” if you want to know why). And many have been held in comment moderation. These comments push the boundaries of my comment policy: among other things, they re-state points that have already been made and addressed multiple times (you didn’t understand the context that the rape threats were made in, freeze peach, you’re horrible and hateful, freeze peach, don’t take it so seriously, freeze peach, and shut up), they don’t show respect for my basic right to moderate my blog, I suspect many of them come from people who behave atrociously in other blogs (I don’t know that for sure, but some of the names seem familiar), and they’re acting like assholes.

However, this post and the conversation it’s generated has gotten a certain amount of attention. So for anyone who is interested in what TAA’s defenders have to say for him, I am posting those comments here in this space. (No, I’m not letting them go through as comments in the original post, as I don’t want to derail that conversation with the flood that would almost certainly derail it.)

To make it very clear: I think the “freeze peach” argument is laughable. To recap what has been said on this subject many many many MANY times: This is my blog; commenters are guests in it; you don’t have the right to speak in my space; your right to free speech doesn’t include the right to force my to listen; unmoderated blogs and forums almost inevitably devolve into venom pits; and I am not obligated to give a platform for ideas I find reprehensible. And cries of “You’re censoring us!” without being accompanied by any actual content are particularly laughable. But since some people might have legitimate reasons to see the responses from the opposition, I’m posting them here. These are in chronological order (CORRECTION — these are being posted in rough chronological order, as they’re going into different comment folders which makes it difficult to keep track of the precise order they were posted in); new ones will be added to the bottom.

For those who don’t particularly want to see the responses from the opposition, here is a picture of a bunny.

Bunny

Responses are below the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 30 2014

#mencallmethings: “fascists,” “imbeciles”

Jerk on my blog, in response to my recent post on The Amazing Atheist:

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 12.48.36 PM

Clearly none of you militant fake feminists have ever watched his channel. His intellect and morality surpass most of yours in either field. His vitriol is very understandable. You internet fascists are devoid of any ability to process reason, logic or reasonable debate. You are almost identical to hard line religious nut cases when it comes to these facets of thought. When one attempts proper intellectual discourse with you and nothing but inane garbage is thrown back at you then the only recourse is to try and shock and offend your deluded minds into sanity. I find myself doing this to fundamentalist “feminists” and Christians just as a way of channelling my frustrations. You people are destroying the real feminist movement with your ignorance and giving real intellectual and intelligent women a bad name. More and more people are finding it increasingly difficult to differentiate feminism from you imbeciles with your “rape culture” nonsense. You are the Westboro Baptist Church of Feminism.

#mencallmethings

I see. So in an effort to persuade people that The Amazing Atheist isn’t really sexist or misogynist and we should give him a chance to explain himself, this person goes onto a woman’s blog and tells her that feminists are fascists.

Also, this guy is an expert on who is and is not a real feminist.

I’m reminded once again of Lewis’s Law: “Comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.”

Note: The #mencallmethings hashtag does not say #allmencallmethings, or #mostmencallmethings. If you want to learn more about the history of this hashtag and why people started using it, please read But How Do You Know It’s Sexist? The #MenCallMeThings Round-Up and Why Are You In Such A Bad Mood? #MenCallMeThings Responds! on Tiger Beatdown, where the hashtag originated. And please do not start a “but not all men are like that, so the #mencallmethings hashtag is reverse sexism!” argument. That has been addressed, at length, in the comments in the #mencallmethings: “FUCKIN HOE,” “FUCKIN FEMINAZI SLUT” post, as well as elsewhere. Please read Why “Yes, But” Is the Wrong Response to Misogyny if you’re wondering why I will not take kindly that that particular line of conversation.

Jul 30 2014

Greta on “Atheist Analysis” Today, 11pm Eastern!

atheist analysis promo

I’m going to be interviewed live on the “Atheist Analysis” show today! That’s Wednesday, July 30. It’ll be on Google+ Hangouts at 11pm Eastern time. Here’s the link where you can watch it live. Here’s a link to the Google+ hangout event thing. And here’s their Website with more general information about how to follow them, participate, etc. Check it out!

Jul 30 2014

#mencallmethings: “worthless whiners”

Jerk on my blog, in response to my recent post on The Amazing Atheist:

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 10.57.06 AM

GOD, feminists and liberals are so goddamn WORTHLESS.

I wish everyone could just ignore these worthless whiners.

#mencallmethings

I see. So in an effort to persuade people that The Amazing Atheist isn’t really sexist or misogynist and we should give him a chance to explain himself, this person goes onto a woman’s blog and tells her that feminists are worthless whiners.

I’m reminded once again of Lewis’s Law: “Comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.”

Note: The #mencallmethings hashtag does not say #allmencallmethings, or #mostmencallmethings. If you want to learn more about the history of this hashtag and why people started using it, please read But How Do You Know It’s Sexist? The #MenCallMeThings Round-Up and Why Are You In Such A Bad Mood? #MenCallMeThings Responds! on Tiger Beatdown, where the hashtag originated. And please do not start a “but not all men are like that, so the #mencallmethings hashtag is reverse sexism!” argument. That has been addressed, at length, in the comments in the #mencallmethings: “FUCKIN HOE,” “FUCKIN FEMINAZI SLUT” post, as well as elsewhere. Please read Why “Yes, But” Is the Wrong Response to Misogyny if you’re wondering why I will not take kindly that that particular line of conversation.

Jul 30 2014

#mencallmethings: “go home make me a sandwich”

Jerk on my blog, in response to my recent post on The Amazing Atheist:

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 10.48.42 AM

1st off im a big fan of the amazing atheist what you got to do it dont let other peoples opinions bother you as they do not concern you at all i am a atheist myself and i know how the word rape is spread about but remember dont mess with other people that you dont even know just cos you got butthurt from something they said i know how real rape is and i hate when someone is raped but remember TJ was using words just words

so go home make me a sandwich and stop making good people look bad

Thank You

#mencallmethings

I see. So in an effort to persuade people that The Amazing Atheist isn’t really sexist or misogynist and we should give him a chance to explain himself, this person goes onto a woman’s blog and tells her to go home and make him a sandwich.

I’m reminded once again of Lewis’s Law: “Comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.”

Also, words don’t matter — including brutal, graphic rape threats — and other people’s opinions shouldn’t bother people. Which is why they’re going onto a blog post to express their disagreement with it. Using words. m-/

(And yes, I know “make me a sandwich” isn’t calling me a thing. It’s telling me to do a thing. As far as I know, there’s not a #mentellmetodothingshashtag.)

Note: The #mencallmethings hashtag does not say #allmencallmethings, or #mostmencallmethings. If you want to learn more about the history of this hashtag and why people started using it, please read But How Do You Know It’s Sexist? The #MenCallMeThings Round-Up and Why Are You In Such A Bad Mood? #MenCallMeThings Responds! on Tiger Beatdown, where the hashtag originated. And please do not start a “but not all men are like that, so the #mencallmethings hashtag is reverse sexism!” argument. That has been addressed, at length, in the comments in the #mencallmethings: “FUCKIN HOE,” “FUCKIN FEMINAZI SLUT” post, as well as elsewhere. Please read Why “Yes, But” Is the Wrong Response to Misogyny if you’re wondering why I will not take kindly that that particular line of conversation.

Jul 30 2014

“I’m angry that the Catholic Church…”: Cartoon by Angelo Madrid

Content note: rape, child molestation

Comic artist Angelo Madrid, of the Freedom to Offend Tumblr/ blog, has been doing a series of cartoons criticizing religion. He’s done one based on my Why Are You Atheists So Angry? book (actually, I think it was based on the Skepticon talk on YouTube):

why are you atheists so angry cartoon 01

(Caption: “I’m angry that the Catholic Church (and other religious organizations) consciously, deliberately and repeatedly, placed the reputation of their church as a higher priority than children not being raped.”)

And yes, he did this with my permission. He plans to do more comics in the Why Are You Atheists So Angry? series If you’re interested in his work, check out more of it!

Jul 30 2014

#mencallmethings: “cunt”

Jerk on my Facebook, in response to someone expressing surprise over a link in my Facebook page to a video by The Amazing Atheist (context):

screen shot 2014-07-30 at 12.39.54 am

“I can, I just agree with everything in this video. I can say the same about you liking this cunts page as well”

#mencallmethings

I see. So in an effort to persuade people that The Amazing Atheist isn’t really so bad and we should give him a chance to explain himself, this person goes onto a woman’s Facebook page and calls her a cunt.

I’m reminded once again of Lewis’s Law: “Comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.”

Note: The #mencallmethings hashtag does not say #allmencallmethings, or #mostmencallmethings. If you want to learn more about the history of this hashtag and why people started using it, please read But How Do You Know It’s Sexist? The #MenCallMeThings Round-Up and Why Are You In Such A Bad Mood? #MenCallMeThings Responds! on Tiger Beatdown, where the hashtag originated. And please do not start a “but not all men are like that, so the #mencallmethings hashtag is reverse sexism!” argument. That has been addressed, at length, in the comments in the #mencallmethings: “FUCKIN HOE,” “FUCKIN FEMINAZI SLUT” post, as well as elsewhere. Please read Why “Yes, But” Is the Wrong Response to Misogyny if you’re wondering why I will not take kindly that that particular line of conversation.

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