#mencallmethings: “fascists,” “imbeciles”

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

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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.

#mencallmethings: “worthless whiners”

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

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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.

#mencallmethings: “go home make me a sandwich”

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

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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.

#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):

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“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.

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 All 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.

SECOND UPDATE: The influx of comments from TAA fans has died down, so I have re-set my commenting settings. Commenters still have to register to comment, but comments from first-time commenters no longer have to be moderated before they go onto the site. For now.

#mencallmethings: “feminazi”

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Me on Twitter, discussing the Richard Dawkins tweets about rape: Our culture has TERRIBLE ideas about rape. So we should speak about it carefully, clearly, and w/ awareness.

Jerk on Twitter: oh shut up. You completely missed the point with his argument. Jumping the gun feminazi.

#mencallmethings

Really. In answer to the idea that our culture has terrible ideas about rape, so we should speak about it carefully, clearly, and w/ awareness, your response is “shut up, feminazi.”

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.

So You Think You Can Dance Nudity Parity Watch, Season 11, Episode 9

sytycd logoAs regular readers know, I’m watching the current season of So You Think You Can Dance, the mixed-style dance competition show, and am documenting whether the women are generally expected to show more skin than the men. (I give a more detailed explanation of this project, and why I’m doing it, in my first post in the series.)

Before I get into this particular episode, though, I want to address a question that’s been asked a couple of times about this project — namely, whether a lack of nudity parity, even a consistent lack of nudity parity, necessarily implies sexism.

No, the fact that, in any given situation, women are showing more skin than men does not automatically imply that women are expected to show more skin than men — either in general, or in that particular situation. This trope isn’t even universally true: in Islamist theocracies, for instance, women’s subjugation and objectification is marked by the expectation that they cover up, not the expectation that they show skin. And of course, none of this implies that showing skin is bad or wrong.

But when you see a consistent and repeated pattern of women showing more skin than men, it makes you wonder if this isn’t just random chance or a random cultural quirk. That’s even more true given that there are places and situations where this pressure or expectation is made explicit (fashion magazines, dress codes, mothers — other examples welcome in the comments). It’s even more true given all the other evidence we have of the ways that women are routinely expected to be ornamental and to fit conventional standards of attractiveness, and are primarily or largely valued for our value as ornaments and sex objects. And it’s even more true in a situation like SYTYCD, where the dancers’ costume choices are being made for them and are the product of the producers’ and costumers’ conscious choice (influenced by unconscious cultural stuff, of course).

There’s an interesting Catch-22 about talking about sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, etc. If you talk about the phenomenon in general, and talk about broad trends and tropes, people will say, “Give me examples! I don’t see what you’re talking about!” But if you point to specific examples, people will say, “That’s just one example! One example doesn’t prove that there’s a pattern! Besides, that example is special, it’s an exception because (reasons)!”

So no. The fact that on SYTYCD, week after week, the female dancers consistently have more skin shown than the male dancers, with very few instances of nudity parity and virtually no examples (none at all so far this season) of male dancers showing more skin than the women — this does not, by itself, prove that women’s bodies are treated as display objects by our culture.

It’s just one small example of it.

So now, to this week’s data.

so-you-think-you-can-dance-s11-e9 opening group number mandy mooreOpening number, Mandy Moore, jazz (or maybe contemporary — I’m not an expert, and I sometimes have a hard time distinguishing between them)
Women are more naked than men (women have bare legs, bare arms, bare midriffs, mostly bare backs, men have either bare arms or short sleeves, some have scoop necklines).

so-you-think-you-can-dance-s11-e9 valerie rickyValerie & Ricky, Bollywood
Woman is more naked than man (woman has bare arms, bare shins, bare midriff, mostly bare back, V-neck, man is completely covered).

so-you-think-you-can-dance-s11-e9 bridget emilioBridget & Emilio, contemporary
Technically, they have rough nudity parity (woman has bare legs, man has bare forearms and open-necked shirt). However, her upper body is covered by a skin-tight, mostly flesh-toned leotard/ bodysuit thing that’s intended to look like she’s largely nude, with non-flesh-tone just on her skirt and bosom.

so-you-think-you-can-dance-s11-e9 tanisha rudyTanisha & Rudy, hip-hop
Woman is more naked than man (woman has bare back, sheer netting on sides down to sides of calves, midriff, sternum, man is completely covered). Also, her outfit is skin-tight, while his is a regular-fitting suit, maybe somewhat more snug than usual.

so-you-think-you-can-dance-s11-e9 jessica marcquetJessica & Marcquet, foxtrot
Woman is more naked than man (woman has bare back, bare sides, arms covered on top and bare on bottom, long skirt that twirls up to show legs, man is completely covered).

so-you-think-you-can-dance-s11-e9 carly sergeCarly & Serge, contemporary
Woman is more naked than man (woman has bare legs, bare arms, deep scoop neckline, man has bare forearms (wrists, really) and slightly dipped neckline).

so-you-think-you-can-dance-s11-e9 emily teddyEmily & Teddy, salsa
Woman is more naked than man (woman has bare legs, bare arms, bare midriff, bare sternum, largely bare back, man has bare forearms, shirt open to deep V-neck).

so-you-think-you-can-dance-s11-e9 jacque zackJacque & Zack, jazz
Woman is more naked than man (woman has mostly bare legs decorated with stockings and garters, bare arms, deep scoop neckline, bare back, man has bare arms, V-neck).

so-you-think-you-can-dance-s11-e9 brooklyn caseyBrooklyn & Casey, hip-hop
Woman is more naked than man, but not much (woman has bare arms, slightly bare midriff, slightly open neckline (more open than his), man has bare arms). However, she has skin-tight leggings, while he has skin-tight leggings covered by loose long shorts.

so-you-think-you-can-dance-s11-e9 group routine 1 sonjaGroup routine 1, contemporary (Sonja)
Women are more naked than men (women have bare legs, bare arms, men have bare arms).

so-you-think-you-can-dance-s11-e9 group routine 2 travisGroup routine 2, contemporary (Travis)
Women are slightly more naked than men (women have wide, deep scoop necklines, men have somewhat deep V-necklines). However, women have skin-tight leggings, while men have looser dance slacks.

Summary:
Just as was the case last week, in all routines but one, the women are more naked than the men. In most cases, that difference is significant. And even in the cases of rough nudity parity or the cases where nudity imbalance is not dramatic, the woman’s body is revealed more than the man’s, with more skin-tight outfits.

Joint statement by Ophelia Benson and Richard Dawkins on threats, bullying, bigotry, and harassment

Joint statement by Ophelia Benson and Richard Dawkins:

It’s not news that allies can’t always agree on everything. People who rely on reason rather than dogma to think about the world are bound to disagree about some things.

Disagreement is inevitable, but bullying and harassment are not. If we want secularism and atheism to gain respect, we have to be able to disagree with each other without trying to destroy each other.

In other words we have to be able to manage disagreement ethically, like reasonable adults, as opposed to brawling like enraged children who need a nap. It should go without saying, but this means no death threats, rape threats, attacks on people’s appearance, age, race, sex, size, haircut; no photoshopping people into demeaning images, no vulgar epithets.

Richard adds: I’m told that some people think I tacitly endorse such things even if I don’t indulge in them. Needless to say, I’m horrified by that suggestion. Any person who tries to intimidate members of our community with threats or harassment is in no way my ally and is only weakening the atheist movement by silencing its voices and driving away support.

I am pleased, and cautiously optimistic. This doesn’t erase years of sexist and racist behavior from Dawkins, of course. And it makes me sad that “no death threats, rape threats, attacks on people’s appearance, age, race, sex, size, haircut; no photoshopping people into demeaning images, no vulgar epithets” should be such a controversial issue that a prominent leader has to speak out against it. (Also, I’m not so sure about the “vulgar epithets” part — I reserve the right to call people assholes if I think they’re being assholes.) But I am nevertheless pleased, and cautiously optimistic. I doubt that this will get the worst of the harassers to change their behavior — but I hope that it will get the people saying “There’s wrong on both sides” and “Why do we have to be divisive?” and “I don’t agree with everything they say, but…” to stop and think about what they’re really saying, and to knock it off. And I hope this will get Dawkins himself to speak more carefully about these issues, and to be more careful about whose work he praises and promotes.

Is There Any Line You Think Should Not Be Crossed? The Amazing Atheist, and What the Atheist Community Apparently Is Okay With

Content note: rape threats, rape denial, trivialization of rape and rape threats.

An open letter to anyone in the atheist community who takes an attitude of “We don’t have to agree about everything to work together” towards people in the community who make rape threats — or who assault women, harass women in person, or harass women online.

atheist scarlet letterDear Atheist,

“He may not be an ally of feminism but he’s still a cool entertainer.”

“Why is agreeing with people always an all or nothing game? There’s a lot of people I hate that I can sometimes find myself agreeing with.”

“The Amazing Atheist usually pisses me off… but this was, as his moniker says, amazing.”

“Long story short: he’s an asshole, to be sure, but, IMO, a harmless one.”

“Aside from being an ass at times (can’t say that I am exempt), has he done anything else since the incident in question?”

That’s what some of you said. When Hemant Mehta of the Friendly Atheist blog recently posted a link to a video by The Amazing Atheist — and when it was pointed out that he had made graphic, brutal rape threats in multiple public forums, including in his book — that’s what some of you said. (Note: Hemant has since said that he didn’t know about the rape threats, and that if he had, he wouldn’t have posted the video.)

In case you missed it, here are some of the things Amazing Atheist has said.

“I will make you a rape victim if you don’t fuck off.”

“I think we should give the guy who raped you a medal. I hope you fucking drown in rape semen, you ugly, mean-spirited cow.”

“BTW, you have to admit, when I told you that I hope you drown in rape semen, you got a little wet, didn’t you?”

“Well, you deserved it. So, fuck you. I hope it happens again soon.”

“Is that kind of like the way that rapists dick went in your pussy? Or did he use your asshole? Or was it both? Maybe you should think about it really hard for the next few hours. Relive it as much as possible. You know? Try to recall: was it my pussy or my ass?”

“Rape isn’t fatal. So imagine my indignation when I saw a chatroom called ‘Rape Survivors.’ Is this supposed to impress me? Someone fucked you when you didn’t want to be fucked and you’re amazed that you survived? Unless he used a chainsaw instead of his dick, what’s the big deal?”

“Just because you got raped, you have to rape the English language? You vindictive bitch! Also, don’t you ever get tired of being the victim? How many failed relationships are you going to blame on a single violation of your personal space?”

“Actually, I don’t believe you were ever raped! What man would be tasteless enough to stick his dick into a human cesspool like you?”

“I told her, ‘You’re lucky it wasn’t me. I’d have busted your fucking nose and raped you.’”

“Go get raped in whatever orifice you have to get fucking raped in.”

“I’m going to rape you with my fist.”

This is what you called “being an ass at times.” This is what you called being “an asshole…but IMO, a harmless one.” This is what you called “not be[ing] an ally of feminism.”

Atheists, I need to ask you: Is there any line that you think should not be crossed?

Is there any line that someone could cross that would make you unwilling to support them or work with them? Is there any line that someone could cross that would make you not link to their videos, not share their blog posts, not upvote them, not post admiring comments about them in public forums, not buy or promote their books? Will you really support the work of absolutely anyone, regardless of how vile their behavior has been, as long as they say one thing you happen to agree with?

Would you support the work of an avowed racist, who has publicly and unapologetically stated their opinion that black people are not fully human? Would you support the work of an avowed homophobe, who has publicly and unapologetically stated their opinion that LGBT people are mentally ill and should be locked into mental hospitals?

If you would — why?

And if you wouldn’t — why would you support the work of an avowed misogynist, who has publicly and unapologetically stated his opinion that women he disagrees with should be raped, and who makes public rape threats against them (visible to other rape victims, I’ll point out), in brutal, graphic detail?

Back_view_of_teen_boys_headShunning is an extreme measure. It is a last resort. We are a social species, we need other people, and deliberately pushing someone out of a community is a strong and harsh response to bad behavior. Accepting human imperfection, accepting that everyone screws up and does things we have serious problems with, and being willing to move forward from that, is absolutely necessary if we’re going to live and work together.

Shunning is an extreme measure. But if we are never willing to do it, even in the face of the most despicable behavior, we are saying that we will tolerate anything. Literally anything. We are saying that there is no line that cannot be crossed.

Now, reasonable people can certainly disagree about where that line should be drawn. We can disagree about how bad someone has to be before we’re unwilling to work with them; how consistently bad they have to be; how many times we try to reason with them before we give up.

But whatever our disagreements might be about where that line should be drawn, I would think that “I will make you a rape victim if you don’t fuck off,” “I hope you fucking drown in rape semen,” “I think we should give the guy who raped you a medal,” “I’d have busted your fucking nose and raped you,” and “I’m going to rape you with my fist,” would clearly and unquestionably place someone on the far side of it. The very, very far side.

And it is deeply distressing to realize that this isn’t the case. It is deeply distressing to realize just how many people in the atheist movement don’t consider that to be flatly unacceptable. It is deeply distressing that I have to calmly spell out why we should not accept people into our community who mockingly trivialize rape and make brutal, graphic, public rape threats. It is deeply distressing that this is a controversial issue in our community. It is deeply distressing that we even have to have this conversation.

Is there any line you think should not be crossed?

If you don’t — why not?

And if you do — why not this one? Why does “I hope you fucking drown in rape semen” fall into the category of “Well, I don’t agree with everything he says, but…”

In many instances, of course we can agree about some things while disagreeing about others, and agreeing when someone says (X) doesn’t automatically mean you agree when they say (Y). But when someone crosses a clear line into vile and unacceptable behavior, the community needs to make it clear that this behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. We need to show that some lines absolutely should not be crossed, and that if people cross them there will be consequences. Supporting someone’s work when they’ve acted abhorrently means there are no consequences.

And that’s especially true in the case of rape threats, persistent harassment of women, and other misogynist behavior — because in the atheist community, we don’t, unfortunately, currently have a clear ethical standard that this is unacceptable. We have a culture in which it’s depressingly common for people to engage in this behavior, and for other people to defend, rationalize, trivialize, dismiss, or victim-blame it — without consequences, or without serious consequences. Leaders in the movement do this, and remain leaders. We need to change that culture. We need to make it unmistakably clear that we do not tolerate this behavior. Promoting people’s work who engage in this behavior is tolerating it. And tolerating this behavior helps perpetuate it.

I’m sure that you, personally, don’t like rape threats, or approve of them. But the way you personally feel about rape threats is irrelevant. What’s relevant is how you behave when they happen. When you support and promote the work of someone who makes rape threats, you are tolerating rape threats. I agree that with some words and actions, we can agree on some things and disagree on others, and set aside disagreements to work together. Someone who says and does what The Amazing Atheist did does not fall into that category.

I understand that when it comes to the divisions and hostilities in the atheist movement about feminism and sexism, many people want to remain neutral. But there is no way to remain neutral. You cannot welcome people of color into our community, and also welcome racists. You cannot welcome LGBT people, and also welcome homophobes. And you cannot welcome women, and also welcome hateful misogynists who want to rape us.

Emoticon_Face_NeutraNeutrality is not neutral. Neutrality supports the status quo. And the status quo, apparently, is one in which people who publicly make brutal graphic rape threats, and who express joy over the fact that someone was raped, still get to be respected members of the community with thousands hundreds of thousands of followers — because they sometimes say clever things about creationists.

Is that the community standard you want to support?

I keep thinking about something Juan Mendez said at the last American Atheists conference (paraphrasing here): “The atheist community is becoming more and more visible. In a few years, the whole world will be watching us. What do we want them to see?”

When the world looks at atheists, is this what you want them to see?

(Back view of teen boys head image by Alex Neman, via Wikimedia Commons)

“Had I known about them ahead of time, I wouldn’t have posted his video”: Hemant Mehta on The Amazing Atheist

Content note: rape threats, rape trivialization

There’s been some discussion and debate over the fact that Hemant Mehta at the Friendly Atheist blog promoted a video by The Amazing Atheist, a persistent and well-known misogynist who has repeatedly made rape threats and trivialized rape. (There’s info about the rape threats and rape trivialization at Dispatches from the Culture Wars and Pharyngula.)

Just so y’all know: Hemant has now said in the comment thread on that post:

To be perfectly honest, I was unaware of the threats he had made online until last night. Whether he was serious or not, I don’t tolerate them. Had I known about them ahead of time, I wouldn’t have posted his video. Sorry, all.

I do wish he would say it more publicly: it doesn’t do a huge amount of good buried in a comment thread where very few people will see it. But further discussion of this issue should continue with an awareness of this fact. So — well, be aware.