#mencallmethings: “infantile, stupid, and lame,” “scum,” “Someone should tattoo a giant cock across your face”

Content note: rape trivialization, not-so-veiled threats

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

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 3.46.37 PM

I would not expect a grown ass woman to be so infatile, stupid, and lame. REALLY? Someone should tattoo a giant cock across your face, because you apparently can’t take a fucking joke. Could you be more anal? Do you lose some poop in your pants every time your feminists sense tingles? This A+ pond of scum, is an echo chamber of socially retarded Asperger’s people who have gone undiagnosed an entire life.

You know you are little small Ellliot Rodger clones. He could not take a joke. He was anal. You can’t take a joke. You are anal. So when are you gonna organize a mass shooting of all these Rape Joke people?

Q: Is a Rape Joke ok, if it involves the Holy Virgin Mother Mary? Because thats the only kind of Rape joke that I like. I mean, this woman is basically famous for not having sex before giving birth. Rape is certainly profoundly fun in this scenario… Is it not? Oh, and Remember, if you answer no to my Question, you are all Antisemites. Because you know how Jews like to make Rape jokes about Mary. You don’t want me to send the ADL after your small fish asses. I mean FTB is like a small ADL. Imagine what the big ass full grown ADL could do to your little hairy armpit bloggette?

I challenge you Motherfuckers.

#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 she’s infantile, stupid, lame, scum, with hairy armpits, and socially retarded; that she has Asperger’s; and that someone should tattoo a giant cock across her face

Also, he thinks it’s an insult to say that someone has Asperger’s. (And, for that matter, that they are lame, retarded, and have hairy armpits.) Also, he really does think rape jokes are okay.

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.

Richard Dawkins Apologizes for “Dear Muslima”

Content note: mentions of childhood sexual abuse, trivialization of childhood sexual abuse.

There should be no rivalry in victimhood, and I’m sorry I once said something similar to American women complaining of harassment, inviting them to contemplate the suffering of Muslim women by comparison.
-Richard Dawkins

Richard DawkinsRichard Dawkins has apologized for “Dear Muslima” — his infamous comment belittling American women in general and Rebecca Watson in particular for speaking out about sexist behavior, on the grounds that sexism and misogyny in Islamist theocracies is so much worse.

The apology is easy to miss. I missed it myself the first time. It’s buried in the final paragraph of an otherwise obnoxious piece that once again snidely straw-mans his critics. (No, Professor Dawkins, nobody said that you had to experience your molestation as the worst thing that ever happened to you. Everyone I’ve read who’s criticized your comments on this subject has great compassion for you as a target of childhood sexual abuse; and yes, you absolutely get to assess for yourself how harmful that experience was. We criticized you for belittling OTHER PEOPLE’S sexual abuse. We criticized you for insisting that when it comes to sexual abuse, you personally know what the objective gradation of badness is for OTHER PEOPLE. We criticized you for commenting on this supposed objective gradation of OTHER PEOPLE’S abuse based purely on your own experience and opinions — with no apparent knowledge of the extensive research showing that the factors contributing to the degree of harm caused by sexual abuse are numerous, complicated, and often highly subjective. We criticized you for condemning physical and sexual abuse in religious cultures, while inconsistently rationalizing the physical and sexual abuse of OTHER PEOPLE as well as yourself, saying it was just the culture of the time and place. We criticized you for belittling OTHER PEOPLE’S sexual abuse. OTHER PEOPLE. Citation; citation; citation; citation. Sheesh.)

So. All that being said:

Richard Dawkins has apologized for “Dear Muslima.”

Finally. It took three years, but Richard Dawkins has openly acknowledged that it is reasonable for American feminists to complain about harassment, even though women in many other countries experience sexism and misogyny in far worse forms. He has openly acknowledged that it was wrong for him to say otherwise. It’s sad that this should be news, but it is. And although I’m not thrilled with the fact that he buried this apology at the end of a pile of muck — that’s rather insensitive, given the years of toxic shit feminist women have dealt with since he poured that tanker of gasoline onto a forest fire — I, for one, am nevertheless going to accept the apology. Apologies are hard to make, and people often make them awkwardly, and I don’t like to refuse to accept them just because they’re less than ideal. Y’all, of course, can follow your own consciences on that. (For the record, although the apology was not personally made to Rebecca Watson — the original target of “Dear Muslima” — and did not mention her by name, she has accepted the apology. Her exact words: “Richard Dawkins just did the blog-equivalent of coughing into his hand while mumbling “sorry” to me. Eh I’ll take it”)

I’m not holding my breath for Dawkins to suddenly become super-awesome on the subject of feminism or social justice generally. His recent behavior is not filling me with optimism. But given how much furor was sparked by “Dear Muslima,” and how often the sexist jerks in atheism cite it and the fallacious ideas behind it, I’m happy that Dawkins has finally retracted it. The absurd notions that the only forms of sexism worth fighting are the most extreme forms, that the only valid feminism is the fight against misogyny in Islamist theocracies, that sexism and misogyny in the Western world are trivial or non-existent and anyone speaking out about them is just whining — these are way too commonly held, especially among the sexist douchebros in the atheist community. I’m hoping that Dawkins’ apology, and his acknowledgment that it’s valid for American feminists to talk about American sexism, will trickle down. I’ll echo Rebecca Watson here: I’ll take it.

Why Secular Hedonism Needs Social Justice

silhouette dancing for joyI’m going to go out on a limb here. If we want to create and maintain a secular society that values pleasure? If we want to create and maintain a society that recognizes that this life is the only one we have, so we should experience it and enjoy it as richly as we can? If we want to create and maintain a society that understands that our bodies are all we have, and that values those bodies? If we want to create and maintain a society that that recognizes pleasure, not as the only part of life worth working towards, but as one part of that life, and an important one?

We need to fight for social justice.

Hear me out. At the Godless Perverts Social Club last night, we were talking about the mysterious appeal of religious asceticism, and why anyone would think the deliberate denial of pleasure was an awesome way to live. And several people pointed out that asceticism often rises as a reaction, not necessarily to a hedonistic and pleasure-based society, but to a society in which sensual pleasure is primarily available to a few rich and powerful people at the top.

One person pointed out that in a society with both (a) liberated sexual values AND (b) a great deal of social stratification, with a few wealthy and powerful people at the top and a whole passel of poor and powerless people at the bottom, it creates a recipe for sexual exploitation — which, obviously, isn’t going to make people very happy with those supposedly liberated sexual values. Someone else pointed out that if a society’s rich and powerful leaders are openly hedonistic, it creates a situation where more ascetic leaders will become very appealing: the hedonistic leaders will be seen as entirely in it for themselves and their own pleasures, while the ascetic leaders will be seen as more authentic, high-minded and self-sacrificing, seeking leadership purely for the greater good. (This perception will often be dead wrong, of course — there are plenty of selfish but non-hedonistic goodies to be gained from power and authority, and of course many supposedly ascetic leaders have gotten plenty of hedonistic goodies on the sly — but it’s still a very seductive image, and people will be fooled by it again and again and again.)

And of course, in a culture where most people are sick, miserable, exhausted with over-work, with no time or energy to pursue pleasure, with no resources to pursue pleasure, just generally ground down by life, and with little or no hope for anything better, a religion that promises bliss in the next life as a reward for sacrifice in this one will have tremendous appeal.

So it occurred to me: If we want to create and maintain a secular society that values pleasure, we need to fight for social justice. We need to fight for a world in which sensual pleasure is not just a privilege available to the 1% at the top who can afford the pleasures and aren’t working themselves to exhaustion merely to survive. We need to fight for a world in which sensual pleasure — good food, comfortable homes, sex education, reproductive control, art and entertainment, pleasant and beautiful public spaces, time to enjoy our bodies, physical health care so our bodies can be enjoyed, mental health care so enjoyment is possible — is available to everyone.

society without god coverWe should do this anyway, just because it’s right — because bodies are something we all have, and basic enjoyment of those bodies should not be a special privilege accorded to the lucky few. But we should also do it because it will be a whole lot more sustainable. A culture that values pleasure — not as the only value of course, but as an important one and one worth pursuing — and that makes pleasure available to pretty much everyone… that’s a culture with a good chance of lasting. (I’m thinking, as I so often do, of Phil Zuckerman’s research in Society without God, showing that societies with high rates of atheism tend be ones with high rates of stability, egalitarianism, access to basic social services, and general happiness.)

A culture that values pleasure, but only lets a few people have it, is not going to stick around.

Related piece:
Atheism and Sensuality

Please Welcome Aoife O’Riordan to Freethought Blogs!

And please welcome yet another new blogger to the Freethought Blogs network — Aoife O’Riordan, of Consider the Tea Cosy!

Aoife O’Riordan

Aoife is located in a small town in Ireland, and she won’t let you forget it. She gets paid to teach, but will default to roller derby and social theory if given half a chance. She’s quite likely (but not guaranteed) to be writing about: feminism, queerness, wheelyshoes, Ireland, what she cooked last week, or any combination of the above.

She will tell you how to pronounce her name, but only if you ask very nicely.

We’re so excited to be adding this wonderful blogger to our network!

Please Welcome Hiba Krisht and Heina Dadabhoy to Freethought Blogs!

We have two new bloggers in the Freethought Blogs network! Please welcome Hiba Krisht, of A Veil and a Dark Place: Missives of an Ex-Muslim Woman:

Hiba Kirsht before-after

Hiba Krisht is a writer and professional translator from Beirut. An apostate from Islam, she grew up between an international expatriate community in Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah guerrilla warfare culture in Lebanon. Her literary work appears in or is forthcoming from The Kenyon Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, 580 Split, Mizna, and the Evergreen Review among others. She is a recipient of the 2012 Jane Foulkes Malone Fellowship from Indiana Univeristy and the 2013 JoAnn Athanas Memorial Award in literature from the National Society of Arts and Letters. She received her BA in English literature and her MA in philosophy from the American University of Beirut. In her blog, she explores womanhood and politics post-Islam, with a recurring focus on the residual effects of 15 years of wearing the Muslim veil. She is working on a memoir expansion of her blog in book form.

And please welcome Heina Dadabhoy, of Heinous Dealings:

Heina Dadabhoy

Heina Dadabhoy spent her childhood as a practicing Muslim who never in her right mind would have believed that she would grow up to be an atheist feminist secular humanist. She has been an active participant in atheist organizations and events in and around Orange County, CA since 2007, and on the national stage since 2011. She is currently writing A Skeptic’s Guide to Islam. You can follow her on Twitter at @heinousdealings, Tumblr, or Facebook.

We’re so excited to be adding these wonderful bloggers to our network!

Why You Can’t Reconcile God and Evolution

4 reasons that “God made evolution happen” makes no sense.

human skull evolution“Of course I believe in evolution. And I believe in God, too. I believe that evolution is how God created life.”

You hear this a lot from progressive and moderate religious believers. They believe in some sort of creator god, but they heartily reject the extreme, fundamentalist, science-rejecting versions of their religions (as well they should). They want their beliefs to reflect reality – including the reality of the confirmed fact of evolution. So they try to reconcile the two by saying that that evolution is real, exactly as the scientists describe it — and that God made it happen. They insist that you don’t have to deny evolution to believe in God.

In the narrowest, most literal sense, of course this is true. It’s true that there are people who believe in God, and who also accept science in general and evolution in particular. This is an observably true fact: it would be absurd to deny it, and I don’t. I’m not saying these people don’t exist.

I’m saying that this position is untenable. I’m saying that the “God made evolution happen” position is rife with both internal contradictions and denial of the evidence. You don’t have to deny as much reality as young earth creationists do to take this position — but you still have to deny a fair amount. Here are four reasons that “God made evolution happen” makes no sense.

*****

Thus begins my latest piece for AlterNet, Why You Can’t Reconcile God and Evolution. To read more about why this well-meaning attempt to reconcile science and religion makes no sense, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!

The “Coming Out Atheist” Donation Recipient for July 2014: Black Skeptics of Los Angeles “First in the Family” Humanist Scholarship Fund

Coming Out Atheist coverAs some of you may already know, I’ve pledged to donate 10% of my income from my new book, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, to atheist organizations, charities, and projects.

Here’s why. I got lots of help with this book, and working on it felt very much like a collaboration, a community effort. (To some extent that’s true with any book, but it was even more true with this one.) Because coming out is really different for different atheists, it was hugely important to get detailed feedback on the book, so my personal perspective wasn’t completely skewing my depiction of other people’s experiences. So I asked lots of friends and colleagues to give me detailed feedback on the book: either on the book as a whole, or on particular chapters about atheists with very different experiences from mine (such as the chapters on parents, students, clergy, people in the U.S. military, and people in theocracies). Many people were very generous with their time helping out: they put a whole lot of time and work and thought into a project that wasn’t theirs, because they thought it would benefit the community. And, of course, I had the help of the hundreds of people who wrote in with their coming-out story, or who told their coming-out story in one of the books or websites I cited, or who just told me your coming-out story in person.

I want to give some of that back. So I’m donating 10% of my income from this book to atheist organizations, charities, and projects: a different one each month. Each month, one of the people who helped with the book gets to pick the recipient, and this month it was chosen by Alex Gabriel. (Who ended up polling his readers for suggestions.)

black_skeptics_la_banner

The recipient for July 2014, chosen by Alex Gabriel (and his blog readers): Black Skeptics of Los Angeles “First in the Family” Humanist Scholarship Fund, awarding scholarships to South Los Angeles LAUSD students who are going to be the first in their immediate families to go to college, giving preference to students who are (or have been) in foster care, homeless, undocumented and/ or LGBTQ. If you want to support them too, here’s their donation page!

Help Alex Gabriel Give Away My Money!

Alex GabrielAs regular readers may know, I’m doing this tithing thing with my income from Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why. In many ways, writing this book felt like a community effort, even more so then writing a book usually is — I got loads of help on it from lots of people in the community. So to pay some of that forward, I’m donating 10% of my income from the book to atheist organizations, charities, and projects – a different organization each month (although I may occasionally repeat) — and the people who helped me with the book get to pick one of the recipients.

This month, it’s Alex Gabriel’s turn. Alex helped enormously with the book — he did two full rounds of major copy editing, with excellent suggestions on content, structure, and style. (If you’re looking to hire a copy editor for your book, I can’t recommend him highly enough.) But Alex isn’t familiar with godless organizations in the U.S. (the recipients have to be 501(c)3 non-profits — I can’t afford to do this if I can’t write it off on my taxes). So he’s asking for suggestions. If you have an opinion on where Alex should tell me to donate my money, please go help him out!

Please make your suggestions TO ALEX, AT HIS BLOG, ON HIS BLOG POST. Please don’t make them here (or if you do, please cross-post there). His post sets out the parameters, both mine and his. Thanks!

LGBT Atheists — Creating Change is Seeking Workshop Proposals! UPDATED

creating change logo

Heads up, LGBT atheists!

Creating Change, the ginormous and mega-awesome LGBT conference, is soliciting workshop proposals (PDF) for 2015. Let’s submit ours! There’s lots of ways that atheism intersects with queerness, lots of particular issues for LGBT atheists, and lots of opportunities for alliance building between the two communities/ movement. Let’s get a good strong atheist presence at the con!

Creating Change will be in Denver, CO, February 4-8, 2015. The deadline to submit workshop proposals (PDF) is September 30, 2014. Hope to see you there!

UPDATE: It’s been pointed out that conference registration for presenters is $225, plus you have to pay for your own travel. If that’s out of your range — I don’t know this for sure, but I would bet that some atheist organizations might be willing to help with funding for atheist presenters at an LGBT conference. Worth asking, anyway.

Godless Perverts Social Clubs — Tuesday August 5 and Thursday August 21!

Godless Perverts Banner

The Godless Perverts are so excited! The Godless Perverts Social Club is now meeting twice a month — first Tuesdays, and third Thursdays. In August, we’ll be meeting Tuesday August 5, and Thursday August 21.

The Godless Perverts Social Club is the socializing/ hanging out branch of Godless Perverts. Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever- you- want- to- call- it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers. So please join us — on Tuesday August 5, and/or on Thursday August 21!

We’re doing slightly different formats for the two clubs. The first Tuesday Social Clubs have been loosely-structured casual affairs: we typically start with a check-in question and do a little moderating to make sure everyone gets to talk who wants to, but mostly we just nosh and sit around schmoozing about whatever topics happen to come up. On First Tuesdays, we’ll keep doing that. In August, that’ll be Tuesday August 5.

Our Third Thursday Social Clubs are a little more structured — we’ll pick a topic, let people know what it is ahead of time, have a moderator/ host who leads the discussion, maybe even get in special guests to guide discussions on particular topics. In August, that’ll be Thursday August 21.

The topic for August’s Topical Thursday: How necessary is repression to kink? Imagine a world in which there are no boundaries on what is considered normal consensual sexual expression, a world in which sexual practices are openly discussed and fully accepted as personal preference without shame or recrimination. In this imaginary utopia, would kink exist? Is kink a response to repression and, if so, how has repression formed the current ideas of what is or is not kink? Would we always find a path to kink, regardless of the enforced societal standards? We’ll discuss how repression, whether societal or religious, has shaped the idea of kink and how our personal experiences have defined our understanding of and preferences for kink. Come talk about religion’s role in shaping your kinky (or non-kinky) choices.

All Social Clubs are at Wicked Grounds, San Francisco’s renowned BDSM-themed coffee house — 289 8th St in San Francisco, near Civic Center BART — for an evening of conversation and socializing. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) welcome. 7:00 – 9:00 pm. There’s no admission, but we ask that you buy food and drink at the counter, and/or make a donation to the venue. (Their food is quite yummy, with both full dinners and lighter snacks/ beverages, and they have the best milkshakes in town.)

If you want to be notified about all our Godless Perverts events, sign up for our email mailing list, or follow us on Twitter at @GodlessPerverts. You can also sign up for the Bay Area Atheists/ Agnostics/ Humanists/ Freethinkers/ Skeptics Meetup page, and be notified of all sorts of godless Bay Area events — including the Godless Perverts. And of course, you can always visit our Website to find out what we’re up to, godlessperverts.com. Hope to see you soon!