Why, Despite the Incredibly Discouraging Crap That’s Been Going On in Recent Weeks and Months and Years, I Still Have Hope for Organized Atheism

Cologne_Germany_Cologne-Gay-Pride-cheerleadersI know. Here comes Greta, the eternal optimist, the relentless Pollyanna cheerleader, always holding out for hope. Stay with me. I really think I’m right about this.

Yes, the recent weeks in organized atheism have been incredibly discouraging, disheartening, disillusioning, demoralizing, dis- and de- just about every good thing that keeps people engaged in activism. Heck, the recent months and years in organized atheism have often been discouraging. Our most visible representatives are saying and doing horrible things: they’re perpetuating horrible sexist and racist ideas, they’re trivializing rape and making excuses for it and blaming the victims of it, they’re apparently committing sexual assault. The online hatred and harassment squad has been in full force. The defenses, denials, rationalizations, trivializations, and victim-blaming about all of this have been in full force. And in the last few weeks, all of this has been in overdrive. I can totally understand why some people, even people who have been in organized atheism for years — strike that, especially people who have been in organized atheism for years — would be losing hope. I’m feeling it, too.

And I’m not going to say for a second that the awful shit isn’t awful. I’m certainly not going to say that we shouldn’t talk about it just because it’s giving people a sad. I’m not going to tell anyone else that they’re bad or wrong for being disheartened — or even that they have any obligation to stay in organized atheism.

What I’m going to say is that I have hope. And I’m going to explain why. [Read more…]

5 Stupid, Unfair and Sexist Things Expected of Men

If you have a scrap of progressive politics in your bones, it’s no surprise to you that sexism hurts women. Like, duh. That’s kind of the definition of the word.

But we don’t talk as much about how sexism hurts men. Understandably. When you look at the grotesque ways women are damaged by sexism—from economic inequality to political disenfranchisement to literal, physical abuse—it makes perfect sense that we’d care more about how sexism, patriarchy and rigid gender roles affect women than we do about how they affect men.

But men undoubtedly get screwed up by this stuff, too. Not screwed up as badly as women, to be sure… but not trivially, either. I care about it. And I think other feminists—and other women and men who may not see themselves as feminists—ought to care about it, too.

I care about this stuff for a lot of reasons. I care because I have men and boys in my life, men and boys who matter to me; I see how they get twisted into knots by gender roles that are not only insanely rigid but impossibly contradictory, and it makes me sick and sad and seriously pissed off. I care because I care about justice: fair is fair, and I don’t want to solve the problem of gender inequality by making things suck worse for men.

And I care for entirely pragmatic, even Machiavellian reasons. I care because I care about feminism… and I think one of the best things we can do to advance feminism is to get more men on board. If we can convince more men that sexism screws up their lives, too—and that life shared with free and equal women is a whole lot more fun—we’re going to get a lot more men on our side. (Like the bumpersticker a friend once had on her truck: “Feminists Fuck Better.”)

So I’ve been looking more carefully at the specific ways sexism hurts men. In particular, I’ve been looking at our society’s expectations of men, our very definitions of maleness. I’ve been looking at how rigid and narrow many of these expectations are, creating a razor-thin window of acceptable manly behavior that you’d have to be a professional tightrope walker to navigate. (Which would be a problem, since “professional tightrope walker” is definitely outside the parameters of acceptable manliness.) I’ve been looking at how so many of these expectations are not only rigid, but totally contradictory, creating a vision of idealized manhood that’s not just ridiculous but literally unattainable. And I’ve been asking the men in my life—friends, colleagues, family members, community members, guys I know on the Internet—what kinds of expectations they get about Being A Man and how those expectations affect them.

Here is a list of five.

*****

Thus begins my latest piece for AlterNet and Salon, 5 Stupid, Unfair and Sexist Things Expected of Men. This is actually an older piece that they’re reprinting: if I’d known, I probably would have revised it, and I definitely would have cleaned up the broken links. :-p But I’m glad they’re reprinting it: one of the most common MRA tropes is that feminists don’t care about the ways that gender roles and rigid gender expectations hurt men, and that’s just flatly not true. Anyway. To read more, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!

Godless Perverts Social Club, October 16! Discussion Topic: “Being Godless During the Holidays”

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The next Godless Perverts Social Club is this Thursday October 16 — and the discussion topic is “Being Godless During the Holidays”!

The Godless Perverts presents and promotes a positive view of sexuality without religion, by and for sex-positive atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other non-believers — and the Godless Perverts Social Club is our socializing/ hanging out branch. 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 — we meet at Wicked Grounds, 289 8th Street in San Francisco (near Civic Center BART), the first Tuesday and third Thursday of every month. Our next meeting is this Thursday October 16!

Road sign that says "Holiday season just ahead" on blue sky backgroundWe’re doing slightly different formats for the two clubs. 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 October, that’ll be Thursday October 16. The topic for this Thursday: Being Godless During the Holidays. As the year draws to a close, we can look forward to taking a double-barrelled hit of good cheer from all directions, whether we want it or not. The holidays can be a lot of fun, but they can also be scary, lonely times. For nonbelievers, or people with alternative sexualities or genders, the holidays can be that time when our communities or families remind us that we just don’t fit. How do you handle the holidays? Love them or hate them? Do you start to clash with friends, lovers, or family members who just wish you’d join in and be “normal”? Or do you just find your own way to go along and enjoy the party? [Read more…]

Columbus Day

Found on Facebook:

Columbus Day ecard

Let’s celebrate Columbus Day by walking into someone’s house and telling them we live there now.

Let’s celebrate Columbus Day by walking into someone’s house and telling them we live there now. And shooting them when they don’t leave. And giving them small-pox infested blankets. And giving them new, crappy houses — which we then move into at gunpoint. And doing that again. And again.

Sigh.

“Keep up the good work”: Fighting sexism helps

I got this email a few days ago from Shane, which I’m quoting with permission, responding to my post, A Woman’s Room Online: Misogyny, and the Idea That the Internet Isn’t Real.

Ouch and thanks.

I’ve been reading your blog for a long time. You have opened my eyes on a lot of issues, especially LGBT and women’s issues. I have room to grow. The Woman’s Room Online post hit me in the gut and then I realized, that’s what it feels like for a white straight male. Holy shit. For me, it’s terrible. For a woman, it’s got to be terror. How fucking awful we people manage to be. Anyway, thanks.

Keep up the good work.

Keep up the good work.

I get emails and comments like this every week. I used to get emails and comments every week saying, “I am now an atheist, in part, because of you.” I do still get those, although not quite as often, since I’m not spending as much time writing about 13 More Reasons God Doesn’t Exist. Now I get emails and comments every week saying, “I am now a feminist, in part, because of you.” And every feminist writer, speaker, podcaster, organizer, activist of any stripe that I know gets these comments as well.

So keep up the good work. All of us. All of us who are working to change people’s minds about sexism, about racism, about all the awful shit that happens in the world. Keep up the good work. It’s working.

We Take Feedback From Our Misogynist Customers Seriously: Intel Issues Pseudo-Apology for Gamasutra/ Gamergate Debacle

Intel-logoSo last week, misogynist gamer advocates GamerGate convinced Intel to pull its advertising from the gaming website Gamasutra, in order to punish Gamasutra for publishing a feminist opinion piece about gaming culture that they didn’t like. An entirely predictable Internet firestorm ensued.

Intel has issued a pseudo-apology for the debacle. Here’s what they said — and here’s what it sure as heck looks like they were really saying.

We take feedback from customers seriously.

Translation: We hate losing money.

For the time being, Intel has decided not to continue with our current ad campaign on the gaming site Gamasutra.

Translation: We hate losing money, and we have decided that misogynist dudebros spend more money on our products than the people who are fighting misogyny. This week, anyway. We are incredibly short-sighted, and have no clue about how public opinion on this issue is shifting, or how bad the word “Intel” is going to taste in people’s mouths a year from now, or two years, or five.

However, we recognize that our action inadvertently created a perception that we are somehow taking sides in an increasingly bitter debate in the gaming community. That was not our intent, and that is not the case.

Translation: We put our foot into something we had no clue about and didn’t do our homework about. Now that we’ve done it, though, we’re not willing to undo it, since we don’t want to anger the misogynist dudebros. (We have also never heard the phrase “intention is not magic,” and we think that not meaning to take sides with misogynist dudebros magically absolves of of responsibility for the fact that we did exactly that.) We don’t understand that it is literally impossible to not take sides in this debate. We don’t understand that refusing to act is supporting the status quo.

Alternate translation: We made a calculated decision to prioritize misogynist dudebros over the women who are harmed by them and their allies. That was totally our intent. We just hoped that nobody would notice. We completely understand that it is literally impossible to not take sides in this debate — we’re just trying to take those sides quietly, and without pissing anybody off. We completely understand that refusing to act is supporting the status quo. The status quo has been working pretty well for us, and we’re okay with it. We just don’t want to take responsibility for that choice. [Read more…]

#mencallmethings: “filthy looking beast,” “cunt”

Content note: misogynist harassment

On Twitter:

Asshole on Twitter, who didn’t like the fact that their Tweets wound up in Amy Roth’s art installation about online misogyny, and who I blocked:

Blocked by @GretaChristina So that’s how it works, you take my comments out of context (The Glue God) then turn your back like a coward? LOL

Second asshole on Twitter, replying to first asshole:

@SteveOortcloud @GretaChristina It’s not much of a lost. She is a filthy looking beast! I would welcome the block from that cunt!

#mencallmethings

I’m reminded once again of Lewis’s Law: “Comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.” In particular, it’s fascinating how “It wasn’t fair to include my Tweets in the art show about misogyny” got replied to with, “Don’t worry, she’s an ugly cunt.” Because that’s really going to convince me that online misogyny isn’t an issue. And it’s fascinating to see someone spell out, in words, that there’s no point following a woman on Twitter if she’s not pretty. m-/

[Read more…]

A Woman’s Room Online: Misogyny, and the Idea That the Internet Isn’t Real

Content note: misogyny, harassment, threats of violence and rape and death, images of same

Here’s the thing. For hundreds of millions of people, the Internet is our workplace: we go there to collaborate, to do research, to promote our work. The Internet is the place where we meet our friends. It’s where we get our news. It’s where we organize charity activity, or political activity. For hundreds of millions of people, the Internet is a central hub of human activity.

Now. Think about what it would be like if every time you went to work, every time you went out with friends, every time you went out to get a newspaper, every time you went on a charity walkathon, every time you went to a neighborhood meeting to plan the new public park, you had people screaming at you how worthless you are, how ugly you are, how much they hate you, how much they want to torture and rape and kill you.

Think about showing up to work at 8:30 in the morning, and sitting down in this room.

A Woman's Room Online 23 [Read more…]

Godless Perverts Social Club, October 7 and October 16!

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The Godless Perverts Social Club is now meeting in San Francisco twice a month — first Tuesdays, and third Thursdays! In October, we’ll be meeting Tuesday October 7, and Thursday October 16.

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 October 7, and/or on Thursday October 16! [Read more…]