Criticize Famous and Powerful Figures, Win Fame and Fortune!

Robyn Blumner, the new CEO of Center For Inquiry, in a podcast interview with Hemant Mehta

I think Richard Dawkins is purposefully misunderstood at times as a way to generate clicks on some bloggers’ page. It’s because his name brings page views and eyes so why not generate a lot of heat around something that is pretty tame if you really unpack it.

Sigh. This again?

Dear Ms. Blumner: Do you really think the way to fame and fortune as a writer is to alienate famous and powerful writers with millions of followers?

Richard Dawkins used to support and publicize my writing. Once I started criticizing him, he stopped. It made a serious dent in my income. And criticizing Dawkins and other powerful atheists for sexism, racism, etc. led to years of harassment, threats of rape and death — which is still ongoing.

People don’t criticize powerful figures for clicks and attention. We do it because we’re trying to make this community better. If you disagree with criticism of Dawkins, address the content. Don’t impugn our motives. This is a hard road, and we don’t take it for fun.

(Amy Roth takes this apart really well, as does PZ Myers and Monette Richards.)

Baby, It’s Consensual Outside

I’m reposting some of my previous holiday posts, as part of my holiday tradition thing. Enjoy!

I’ve been seeing discussion about the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” It’s unsurprising, what with (a) it being the winter holiday season, and (b) there being a lot of discussion of rape culture. Yes, the song is troubling at best and rapey at worst (more on that after the video). And I don’t care that Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon-Levitt reversed the gender roles: men deserve to have their sexual boundaries respected just as much as women, ignoring boundaries and treating it like a flirtatious game is fucked-up no matter what the genders are. But the main thing I want to say right now is this:

Have you heard the consensual version?

There’s a really cute, sweet, funny parody version of the song on YouTube by Chase Gregory, titled “Baby It’s Consensual Outside,” in which the guy respects the woman’s boundaries. I thought some of you might enjoy it.

I’ve transcribed the lyrics, for the deaf and hard of hearing (below the jump). [Read more…]

Why Godless Perverts is Supporting St. James Infirmary for the Holidays

outlaw-poverty-not-prostitutes-st-james-infirmary

This post was written by Chris Hall for Godless Perverts, and originally appeared on the Godless Perverts website.

We may be Godless, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t know how to party. For the last two years, we’ve helped the non-believer community celebrate the winter holidays in a secular fashion by holding the Godless Perverts Holiday Fun Time, a social event complete with icebreaker games, weird songs, and decadent desserts. We’re having it at Borderlands Café this year, a magnificent community space, and we’ve got a lot of great uses planned out for it.

We’ll have our usual silly icebreaker games, goofy but fun holiday songs (Walt Kelly’s “Deck Us All With Boston Charlie” is a perennial favorite), delicious potluck holiday treats (bring your favorite to share – we will!), and the pleasure of connecting with our fellow secularists. And this year, Greta’s going to be giving openly fraudulent Tarot card readings! She’s almost completely guaranteed not to tell your future (except by accident), but it’s just as sure to be a great deal of fun. It’ll be on Saturday, December 12, 8-11 pm, at Borderlands Café, 870 Valencia St. in San Francisco, near the 24th St. & Mission BART station.

This year, as you may know, we’re doing it a little bit differently. The Godless Perverts Holiday Fun Time is not only going to be fun, but it’s going to be a fundraiser for an organization that we’ve admired for a long time: The St. James Infirmary.

To do that, we’re trying to raise $700 to pay for space rental, refreshments, and assorted expenses of this year’s party. We’re almost just over halfway there, thanks to the generosity of some of you. As we get closer to our goal, we thought that it would be a good time to talk about the organization that we’re supporting this year, and why we think that they’re so awesome.

St James Infirmary Ad: Someone You Know is a Sex WorkerWhat is St. James Infirmary?

In a nutshell, the St. James Infirmary is an occupational health clinic run by and for sex workers. Founded in 1999 by members of COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics) and the Exotic Dancers Alliance, they remain the first and only of their kind. They provide sex workers of all genders with health care and counseling of all kinds, including primary care service, gynecological and urological medical care, STI testing and counselling, needle exchanges, and support groups. Trust us when we say that all of this work does much more for sex work communities than any of the various “rescue” operations (i.e. arresting sex workers for their own good), or john-shaming programs that are popular in mainstream politics.

Why Sex Workers Need Their Own Health Care Resources

Sometimes when people hear about St James, the first response is to ask why sex workers need health care resources especially for them. The simple answer is that even the most legal sex work – such as stripping or adult modelling – is heavily stigmatized. For that matter, sexual pleasure is heavily stigmatized. Most doctors aren’t trained in how to address human sexuality beyond matters of basic physiology, and certainly not in the day-to-day realities of sex work. Have you ever tried to talk to your doctor or a nurse about discomfort “down there” or problems with how your body feels during sex? For most people it’s an incredibly uncomfortable experience. Imagine the difficulty of doing that if you also add in the problem that your work is, by its nature, either illegal or socially condemned. [Read more…]

Why I Support Foundation Beyond Belief

foundation beyond belief banner

You know about Foundation Beyond Belief, right? It’s the humanist philanthropic organization that channels money and volunteering from humanists, atheists, and other non-believers, into projects that improve this world and this life. As you may know, I’m on their board of directors. So when I ask you to support the organization (and tell you about the fun fundraising competition we’re having, and the fun auction that Be Secular is running for us!), I’m obviously biased. But I’m on their board for a reason.

You know how a bunch of us in the atheist movement keep saying that it isn’t enough to just not believe in gods? You know how we keep saying that organized atheism needs to provide some of what religion provides — including outlets for organized charitable, philanthropic, and social justice work? You know how we keep saying that organized atheism needs be address the interests and channel the energy of a wider variety of people than have traditionally been involved in it? You know how we keep saying that non-belief has implications — and one of those implications is that since there’s no gods and no afterlife, this life is the only one we have, and it’s up to us to make it better for everyone?

Foundation Beyond Belief is actually doing this.

Here are some of the organizations and projects FBB has supported:

transgender law center logoTransgender Law Center, running one-on-one legal clinics for transgender and gender nonconforming people.

Center for Reproductive Rights, using the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right that all governments are legally obligated to protect, respect, and fulfill.

Community Change, Inc., approaching racism, racial relations, and racial responsibility from the perspective that racial inequalities are a white problem.

Global Village Project, an innovative special purpose school for refugee girls and young women with interrupted schooling.

Prison University Project, providing higher education programs to people incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison.

Pure Earth, bringing a scientific approach to pollution reduction meant to benefit extremely poor communities abroad.

DC Central Kitchen, tackling food distribution availability in Washington, DC.

Men Can Stop Rape, mobilizing men to create cultures free from violence, especially men’s violence against women.

Akili Dada, a full-service developmental program aimed at helping Kenyan girls and women build leadership skills.

Modest Needs Foundation, working to meet the needs of the hardworking, low income members of society, who are often left without a safety net when unexpected expenses occur.

innocence project of texas logoInnocence Project of Texas, securing the release of those wrongfully convicted of crimes in Texas, and educating the public about the causes and effects of wrongful convictions.

You see what I’m getting at?

A lot of us are saying, and have been saying for some time, that organized atheism needs to do this sort of work. Foundation Beyond Belief is doing it. And we need your support.

We’re doing a big year-end fundraising drive. Your donations will be matched up to $20,000, thanks to a generous matching donation from the Bella and Stella Foundation. And we’re doing a fun fundraising competition, for both individuals and community groups! Prizes for individuals range from T-shirts, autographed books & other secular swag to trips to conferences or shows by celebrity atheists. For groups, FBB will provide speaker(s) to the group that gets the most mentions and/or raises the most funds using the #HumanistsCare hashtag. Detail are at the link. If your atheist/ humanist/ freethought group is looking for a fun activity that will get your group more involved in community service, this is a great one.

Be Secular is also running an auction to support Foundation Beyond Belief, starting at 11:00 AM Eastern time on December 1, 2015, and running for 36 hours (through 11:00 PM Eastern time on December 2, 2015). Items range from small to high-end, including art, jewelry, vacations, signed celebrity photos, and more.

And if you don’t want to do the auction thing or the fundraising competition thing, you can also just… well, donate. You can make a one-time donation, which will be used to fund FBB operations; or you can make a monthly donation in any amount (as low as $5 a month), which will go to fund the causes you care about. (And yes, you can tell us which areas you’d like your money to go to!)

Foundation Beyond Belief is walking the walk. Please join us, and help pave the way. Thanks.


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

#mencallmethings: “hideous,” “ugly,” “cunt”

Content note: misogyny

On Twitter:

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 5.51.01 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 5.51.13 PM

Transcription:

Me:

#Mizzou event at #skepticon was just a PR event for white videographer. Totally inappropriate and fucked-up use of platform. [For those who weren’t following it, this was in reference to this incident, for which Skepticon has apologized.]

Asshole on Twitter:

Man, this is one stupid feminist-because-she’s-ugly cunt!

It’s almost magical how women named “Greta” are invariably hideous!

#mencallmethings, Intersectional Edition! It’s weird how speaking about racism got me hit with misogynist slurs and hate-trolled about being an ugly feminist. No, actually, it’s not weird. It’s entirely predictable.

Also, can I just say: hate-trolling about my name? That is deeply weird, so irrelevant as to be incoherent. It’s like saying, “It’s almost magical how women born in Chicago are invariably hideous,” or “It’s almost magical how women with mild asthma are invariably hideous.”

[Read more…]

Sexual Ethics in “Steven Universe”

Spoiler alert: This post contains mild Steven Universe spoilers. I’m mostly avoiding more specific spoilers, although I’m fine with spoilers in the comments.

garnet amethyst fusion

So Ingrid and I have been binge-watching/ obsessing over the animated TV show “Steven Universe.” And I noticed something the other day that I wanted to share.

I was thinking about “fusion” (a process by which the Gems, magical superheroes, fuse together into a larger, more powerful being). Let’s assume that fusion is some kind of metaphor for sex. It’s not much of a leap (although I don’t think sex is the only thing fusion is supposed to be referencing).

So in the “Steven Universe” universe, what are the ethics about fusion?

Fusing with more than one person is fine. Fusing with more than one person at a time is fine. Sometimes people get jealous — or envious, I guess might be more accurate — if other people are fusing and they wanted to be in on it. But there’s never any suggestion that there’s anything wrong with having more than one person that you fuse with.

It isn’t, however, right to be dishonest about fusion: to fuse under false pretenses, or in any way to deceive someone into fusing.

It isn’t right to fuse with no concern for the consequences.

And it’s seriously, profoundly not right to force fusion on anyone.

Thoughts?

Skepticism, and Emotional Responses to Terrible Ideas

This piece was originally published in Free Inquiry.

(Content note: passing mentions of spousal abuse, rape, intense racism, homophobia, transphobia)

earDoes being a good skeptic mean listening calmly and patiently to every idea, and considering every idea with a completely open mind?

Strike that. Let me phrase that question in a more honest way, a way that makes my position clear: Where on Earth did we come up with the cockamamie notion that being a good skeptic means not having an emotional response to terrible, harmful ideas, and not treating those ideas with the contempt they deserve? Where did we get the notion that being a good skeptic means treating every idea, no matter how ridiculous or toxic, as equally worthy of consideration? Where did we get the notion that bad, harmful ideas should not make us angry, and that we should never get angry at anyone who brings them up?

Ron Lindsay recently wrote a piece, “Questioning Humanist Orthodoxy: Introduction to a Series” (No Faith Value blog, May 18, 2015), in which he criticized, among other things, humanists who respond angrily and emotionally to supporters of the death penalty, and who don’t calmly make what Lindsay considers to be good, rational arguments against it. PZ Myers has already responded to the core content of Lindsay’s essay (“Brave Ron Lindsay,” Pharyngula blog, May 19, 2015), so I’m not going to do that here. And in any case, I don’t want to pick on Lindsay: he is very far from the only person to put forth this idea. Several prominent atheists and skeptics have chided progressives for expressing anger over debates about abortion (citations collected at “Having a Reasonable Debate About Abortion,” Greta Christina’s Blog, March 13, 2014), and Massimo Pigliucci described these debates about abortion as “a tempest in a teapot” (“David Silverman and the scope of atheism,” Rationally Speaking blog, March 14, 2014).

This is a very common idea in the skeptical world: the idea that being a skeptic means being willing to entertain and discuss any and all ideas, with a completely open mind, with no attachment to any particular outcome — and with no emotional response.

And it’s an idea that should be taken out into the street and shot.

homosexuality can be cured newspaperLet’s set aside abortion and the death penalty for a moment. Let’s use some different examples, ones that will make my point more clear. Let’s imagine that someone shows up at your dinner party, or comes into your online forum, and says that husbands should be allowed to beat and rape their wives. Or that homosexuality is a serious and dangerous mental illness, and gay people should be locked up in mental institutions. Or that black people aren’t fully human.

How are you going to respond? Are you going to say, “Hm, that’s an interesting idea — I don’t agree, but I’m curious why you think that, let’s calmly look at the evidence and examine the pros and cons”?

Or are you going to say some version of, “That is vile. That is despicable. The fact that you’re even proposing that is morally repulsive. Apologize, or get the hell out”?

And assuming that you did call the idea vile and toss the person out — how would you respond to someone telling you, “You’re a bad skeptic! You shouldn’t be so emotional! If someone is questioning black people’s basic humanity, you should be willing to debate that dispassionately, and with an open mind!”? [Read more…]

#mencallmethings: “mentally compromised,” “should be removed from society,” “it”

Content note: misogyny, ableism

Jerk on my blog, in response to my year-old post on The Amazing Atheist:

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 10.52.01 PM

The author of this article is an uneducated and mentally compromised, it should be removed from society and made into an example of how not to live.

#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 feminist’s blog and tells her that she’s mentally compromised and should be removed from society. Also, he (the online handle doesn’t give clues about gender, but the email address did, so I’m assuming the commenter is male) literally dehumanizes me, referring to me as “it.”

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

And I’d like to point out: That post came out over a year ago. I’m reminded of the sexist atheistbros who are still — STILL — dredging up wildly distorted versions of Elevatorgate and arguing with them. It’s funny — almost — in the light of how often feminists get accused of hanging on to old injuries and dredging up old muck.

[Read more…]

“The lion’s share of what is on Facebook”: Some Thoughts on Online Politics

In response to my earlier post, Some Notes to Progressives on Criticizing Conservatives, I got this comment:

Greta, what you are citing is not issue advocacy. It is mindless and immature ranting, which is the lion’s share of what is on Facebook. I have almost given up trying to have anything resembling an exchange of ideas on Facebook. It is just not the type of forum that is conducive to a rational discourse, without heavy moderation and a commitment among participants to keep it at a sensible level. Too much ignorance for me.

It’s a commonly expressed sentiment, so I wanted to amplify my reply. Thus, this blog post.

Facebook thumbs upSorry, but I don’t buy the idea that “oh, that’s just Facebook.” For one thing, it’s not true (or it’s often not true). I’ve seen, and participated in, many very good political conversations on Facebook and other social media. Yes, it requires heavy moderation and a commitment among participants. That’s true of any online forum.

For another: Interaction on social media is human interaction. [Read more…]

Some Notes to Progressives on Criticizing Conservatives

Ahem.

Based on some Facebook interactions (I won’t post them here, but you can see the interactions in this thread), I have a couple of notes to progressives on criticizing conservatives.

Note 1: Can you please not criticize Ann Coulter by talking about her prominent Adam’s apple, or saying she looks like a man? It’s sexist, and it’s transphobic. It’s sexist because you’re criticizing a woman in the public sphere by insulting her appearance, when that shouldn’t be relevant. And it’s both sexist and transphobic to insult women by saying they look like men: it reinforces the rigid gender binary, and reinforces the gender policing of trans people. There are approximately 879,500,403 legitimately negative things you can say about Ann Coulter. There’s no need to resort to sexism and transphobia. Thanks.

Aaaaaaaaaaand, Note 2: When someone says, “Hey, when you criticize conservatives, can you please not do it in this sexist and transphobic way,” and you reply (paraphrasing here, but not by much), “I’M NOT BEING TRANSPHOBIC OR SEXIST, THEY’RE A TERRIBLE PERSON SO I SHOULD BE ABLE TO SAY ANYTHING I WANT ABOUT THEM INCLUDING INSULTING WOMEN FOR LOOKING UGLY AND TRANS, AND I’M GOING TO THROW IN SOME HOMOPHOBIC INSULTS AT A CONSERVATIVE I THINK IS GAY WHILE I’M AT IT, YOU’RE BEING PC AND UNDERMINING FREEZE PEACH, DON’T TELL ME TO STOP I WILL DO WHATEVER I WANT FOREVER” — you have 100% failed at being an ally. In fact, you’ve 100% failed at being progressive. You are more interested in rooting for Team Progressive and dissing Team Conservative than you are in actually advocating for the issues that progressives supposedly care about.

I’m just sayin’, is all.


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.