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Sep 01 2012

Atheism Plus is just like a religion

Over and over and over again, we’ve heard that the Atheism Plus is driving divisiveness, is tribalistic, and is just like a religion. I’m not really sure how to answer that last one, except to point out that if we didn’t have a point when we say “hey, we have an adoption problem, people are being turned off of atheism by all the douchebags that have entrenched themselves in it”, we wouldn’t be fomenting so much hate from those same self-identified douchebags, would we?

Movement atheism largely organizes and self-arranges via the internet. The internet is a subset of reality — for the most part, the large majority of the content you see, even from trolls, originates directly from a human’s mind. Very little of that content is program-generated, though in many cases the attacks on X idea could be as easily generated by script for its repetitiveness and the patterns by which pushback is developed. For simplicity, we’ll assume that all these trolls are real human beings, and that each instance of a troll actually represents a unique human being rather than multiple sockpuppets employed to “pad out” their side of the argument. If these people are genuine, then they represent some odious philosophies that do need to be expunged from the discourse at hand.

The people are welcome to stay, but the ideas must be repudiated. Ideas like that giving offense to people is its own intrinsic good, and that you should freely talk about everyone and everything you don’t like using as vilifying terms as you can at every turn. Now, I’m not talking about calling individuals asshats or douchebags — some folks think that ANY dip into the language of vilification is awful, and I won’t argue those points of view except to note that I don’t share them. No, I’m talking about those folks who demand the right to come into your space and say terrible things about whole groups of people, either directly or by extension from the slurs they choose to use. Calling women “cunts” and “bitches” and gaslighting them and doubting their every word just because they’re women, calling trans folks “traps” or “trannies”, calling calling gays “homo” or “fag”, using “that’s gay” as an epithet. The war on racist language is largely won, where you rarely hear someone call blacks “niggers”, though ask Crommunist what kinds of coded racist language you see since direct racism is so thoroughly stigmatized! So, at the same time as I’m talking about slurs, I’m also talking about those people who can raze the earth and damage whole classes of folks without using a single uncivil syllable. The important thing to challenge is the ideas that lead to these behaviours. These ideas contribute more to a culture of hatred than individual insults ever could.

And that culture of hatred derives from a culture of privilege. The loudmouth and the bigoted subsets of movement atheism are largely populated by young, white, libertarian males. There are older folks, there are non-whites, there are non-males, but the largest and most vocal defenders of privilege are and will likely always be libertarians. Not economic libertarians or civil libertarians, no — the folks who have internalized Atlas Shrugged and Rand’s atheism and demand that classism and wealth privileges be held sacrosanct. They also hold that privilege on every other axis be upheld, largely because the adherents to this philosophy benefit from those privileges heavily. They are the folks who believe that any attempt to curtail their privileges by leveling the playing field is “fascism” or “socialism” or “naziism” or some other ahistorical use of a political twitch-word. You’d think privilege as a concept wouldn’t be so difficult to grasp, given that they are underprivileged as concerns their religious views, the hatred they get for it, and the theistic stranglehold on government that many countries endure. But apparently recognizing privilege other than religion is “fascist”.

Yes, this sort of Randian libertarianism is a minority, but just being a minority isn’t enough to warrant special protection — the 1% who own 90% of the power and wealth on our continent are a numeric minority but are not an underclass like the 99% who share 10% of the wealth and power. And yes, we’re telling you that parroting the “bitches lie amirite?” attitude is just the sort of institutionalized oppression that has resulted in so many women leaving the movement. And yes, telling you this is actually suggesting that maybe you shouldn’t do that if the end goal is to bring atheism to everyone — especially if you’re telling women that we’re better for them than religion.

The people who balk at the notion that these memes might drive people out are largely the sort of libertarian that thinks THEIR privilege is good, and simultaneously ALL privilege is mythical. They believe that might makes right. That identifying behaviours that do real damage to the movement is equivalent to “drumming them out” — SPECIFICALLY them, even. They decry the divisiveness, the “deep rifts” that we’ve created. Never mind that these rifts have existed since atheism self-arranged around the idea that there are no gods, where this hardly a coherent community makes, and that people differ on all manner of other axes and we can’t all be right about all of them. These same people would prefer to drum US out, but since that’s the sort of thing we’re fighting against, the exclusionism and tribalism that creates factions and rifts and real pain to underprivileged classes, they perform their very best judo on us. They do whatever they can to make the rifts our fault. Because we pointed them out. They’ve fully internalized the Kindergarten meme of “who smelt it, dealt it”.

Since we’re all atheists, and the worst thing in the world is religion, they attack the thing that directly confronts their views of the primacy of their privileged position as “religious”, even though the people who identify as “atheist plus” are generally the following:

1) a subset of movement atheism who therefore also explicitly reject dogmatic religion;
2) a subset specifically made up of people who also hold humanist ideals and want to discuss social justice issues (primarily, at the moment, feminism);
3) consider those humanist and social justice ideals as being informed by their atheism;
4) question behaviours by so-called “leaders” of movement atheism that conflict with their philosophies about humanism and social justice;
5) have no leaders or accepted dogma, given the range of opinions WITHIN the label that conflict with one another;
6) have already had folks cleaning house within the label by demanding changes to behaviours identified as harmful from its own members;
7) have shown themselves open to social justice issues that aren’t necessarily their “pet” issue.

Atheism Plus is a nascent movement, and it’s not a movement at all. It is the result of Jen McCreight managing to light the tinderbox whose flint a number of us, myself included, have been trying to strike for years, by calling for a third wave of atheism where “New Atheism” hasn’t been entirely successful on many fronts as concerns internal coherence. A+ is the inevitable end result of the realization that movement atheism is very largely populated by people who insist that the fact that we have no religion means we must never curtail behaviours no matter how antisocial or harmful. This is, of course, both incorrect as a rule for building cohesive social structures, and as a characterization of the actual purpose and effects of A+.

I’ve said this before — I consider the “atheism plus” label a mere shorthand. It is an optional label that one can employ of you want to indicate to people that not only are you an atheist, but you also care about other things which are informed by your atheism. It means you have had it with those movement atheists who would prefer to keep acting exactly how they’re acting, even if it means trans folk and women generally — the two largest groups presently put off by their bigotries — get marginalized or ostracised, either by design or by accident. Misogyny, cissexism and other forms of overlapping gender-based discrimination are our best-represented, most visible bigotries in our movement. That’s not to discount other problems like ableism, or those hideous “race realists” who mangle science to prove racism, mind you — those must be challenged as well. Adopting the A+ shorthand is a signal that you won’t stand for any of that. It means you are willing to build a safe space where those anti-egalitarian and misanthropic ideas are dismissed for the bigoted and often religiously-derived prejudice that they are.

But while there’s a few people willing to turn this into a “with us (against prejudice) or against us (and for prejudice)”, I’m not.

With every person who by their behaviour embraces bigotry and prejudice whether they’re conscious of it or not, I’d rather tell them the effects of their behaviour, and convince them that to be a better person they need to change their behaviour, because some of these people are simply unaware. If they refuse, then I distance myself from them. If they’re stubborn and intractable and have been uncivil for any length of time, if they show no signs of abating, if they go on the attack, then I distance myself from them. Not “we”. Not unless you choose to judge these people by their behaviours the way I do. And they’re still free to keep acting like the douchenozzles they are — just as I’m free to associate with them or disengage as I see fit. It impinges not one whit on their ability to keep saying ridiculous nasty things about people, that I’ve said “not here”.

Meanwhile, even when they refuse to be corrected on those shitty behaviours, I still have a lot of respect for some of them. Say, for instance, Richard Dawkins’ work on popularizing atheism. And his works on scientific matters are unparalleled. I do think some of his ideas about feminism and social justice are muddled and fuzzy and in some very specific cases completely incorrect and damaging, and he’s said some absolutely terrible things to some people that are damaging to the brand of atheism altogether, so he does not represent me on any label other than “atheist” and “science-booster”.

I have strongly chastised DJ Grothe for some terrible anti-woman and anti-feminist messaging that has tangibly harmed the TAM brand and harmed movement skepticism, and his handling of the idea of implementing harassment policies that are less of a policy and more like a secret police force that nobody knew about until it swung into action and treated harassment into “protect the victim from physical assault” when no assault was in the making. He does not represent my views on feminism, on harassment, or on tribalism, given his “this is our tribe” speech at this last TAM. But he is an unparalleled skeptic in traditional skeptical matters like homeopathy, ghosts, UFOs and other matters. While I wish he would examine the sociological concept of privilege and how his repeated poor messaging has actually hurt his causes, I have immense respect for the man’s scholarship in those other matters.

But that’s not to say that those behaviours are acceptable by virtue of the good they’ve done — you don’t get a free pass for murder by doing charity work for thirty years. Nor is it to say that atheists need a set of laws or moral precepts to follow for adoption of the label “atheist”. You’re an atheist by merely denying the existence of a god or gods… but that’s not enough to build a coherent society around. If you want to build a movement that is accepting of more than cis-gendered men — accepting of any underprivileged person on any axis, in fact — then you need to acknowledge that these people deserve respect. And respecting them means not condoning trollish behaviour that explicitly denigrates the personhood or value of those several underprivileged classes.

So, we’ve taken the advice of those folks who demand that atheists stop talking about feminism by saying “well, we’re not JUST atheists, we give a shit about this other stuff too”. We’re tired of being told we’re splitting up the movement by those tribalists who really would like us to leave the movement altogether, so we’re modifying the label to fit us better. It is only divisive if you find being explicitly told a person’s views on other topics somehow damning of your own views.

It also indicates that when we are told we’ve done something that plays into a privilege that harms a subset of society, we are open to correcting that privilege in ourselves. I often forget to include alt tags or descriptions on my images for the blind or vision-impaired, because I’m fully sighted (though I require corrective lenses). I almost never think to include descriptions of videos or provide transcripts even though they’re available, because I’m not hard of hearing. Well, I suspect I have some hearing loss from my time working through school at a lead refinery, but it’s not enough that turning up the volume a little or asking someone to repeat from time to time doesn’t solve. It very often never occurs to me to do these things until someone corrects me on my privilege. Not once have I said “oh come on, I really doubt anyone who’s in X group really cares enough to know what I’m talking about here”, because at least one person just did so. And if there’s one, there’s more than one.

So, I do my damnedest to include alt tags on images, though I often only remember after publication. And wherever there’s a transcript available for a video, like the recent Google Hangout that Ophelia, Stephanie, Alex, Debbie and I had on A+ that was kindly transcribed by A+ Scribe, I will gladly include it in the post not only because it benefits the hard-of-hearing community, but also the folks who might want to reference a specific section of the video in a post of their own. Not only are we aiding an underprivileged group in enjoying the same content we do, but our community is stronger and better for it.

I am hard pressed to think of a single vector for which correcting our privilege as a community wouldn’t strengthen it, and that includes putting down the kinds of targeted vitriol that women and feminists endure on a daily basis. Privilege as a sociological concept is a powerful one, for its explanatory power and the mountain of evidence that it exists and that we all benefit from fixing the structures that lead to and support it. And whether you want to use the label as a shorthand, or you’re on board with all of the ideals the label is intended to represent and would rather eschew the label, either way’s fine with me. The words used to represent the idea matter less than the actions taken to realize the idea.

Those people who are pushing back against being told that their behaviours are harmful to our movement keep claiming that this is like a religion. What they’re really telling you is that they’d rather never be told to stop doing shitty things to good people. What they’re saying is that only religions tell you what is helpful or harmful, even if the people claiming it are able to provide evidence of harm where religion never does.

That’s a truth claim about the world that I think we can all agree — well, all of us but those privileged jackholes, anyway — is bullshit.

133 comments

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  1. 1
    nohellbelowus

    A+ is the inevitable end result of the realization that movement atheism is very largely populated by people who insist that the fact that we have no religion means we must never curtail behaviours no matter how antisocial or harmful.

    Evidence, please?

  2. 2
    'Tis Himself

    I consider the “atheism plus” label a mere shorthand. It is an optional label that one can employ of you want to indicate to people that not only are you an atheist, but you also care about other things which are informed by your atheism.

    This is the point that, more than anything else, I despair trying to get certain people to understand.

    I’ve seen too many comments saying “you guys have usurped the word ‘atheism’ and now what can I call my disbelief in gods?” These folks glom on the word “atheism” and completely ignore the “plus” following right after it. It’s frustrating explaining for the bazillionth time “atheism plus” is more than just atheism, that’s what the plus denotes.

  3. 3
    Marcus Ranum

    is just like a religion. I’m not really sure how to answer that last one

    In the sense that it’s about social control, and in-group/out-group identification, that’s true. And, so what?

  4. 4
    corey

    Very good. I’ve tried to argue as much with Carrier and a few others around FTB, but they just insist that people need to be outcasted, shamed, have their characters assassinated, etc. It’s pretty ridiculous really. I mean, how can a minority outcast people? Isn’t that what Joseph Smith did by moving to Utah (for example)? I mean, doesn’t that just amount to outcasting themselves? And how can one atheist outcast another atheist? Pretty silly. So, yes, the emphasis should be on the “plus,” on the “optional” component of it, and always upon winning hearts and changing minds, not drawing lines in the sand and talking tough (over the internet, no less, lol). If atheism+ is really what you describe above, count me in. If it’s a way to streamline everyone’s beliefs, create an official dogma, and start outcasting and insulting anyone that has questions about it, then count me out.

    That being said, isn’t misandry something that feminists should seek to disassociate from? Aren’t we pushing for equality, to redefining “gender roles” to not be based upon gender, but upon personal choice and mutual respect? Does my belief in equal pay for equal work, and that this should entail women doing half of the truly odious underpaid labor jobs in our society make me unacceptable to atheism+? That may seem like an anti-feminist quip. It is not. I’m serious about this equal rights thing, and I have seen the resentment “equal rights” stirs in people that have to eat the shit of society (often it really is those frustrated lower class males who are guilty of much of the misogyny) on a regular basis. So should we have a feminism+? One that excludes those who think chivalry is totally awesome, that selective service should not be expanded to women (so long as we have something like that begin with– which I would rather we didn’t), that coal miners and roofers and “garbage men” should just be mostly men, or that only a woman should have a dignified choice about staying home with the kids, but think that no company should ever pay a female less than a male, or hand out the prestigious jobs to primarily males? Shouldn’t we be equal about our push for greater equality? Maybe I seem like an idiot. Be patient with me. These are honest concerns. I believe that female exceptionalism is one of the greatest obstacles to the goals of feminism, just like I also believe that the Cult of Ayn Rand is one great obstacle to humanistic atheism. Thoughts?

  5. 5
    Echidna

    Corey, I don’t agree that men are worse off than women job wise. Women do the bulk of unpaid awful jobs, and most of the caring jobs that involve literally dealing with shit. Men at least tend to get their work valued.

    The jobs you name were forbidden to women for a long time; you can’t expect that to change overnight. Nor is it reasonable to blame women that they are not in these jobs. There aren’t many women in STEM jobs, for the same reason.

    Where do you see misandry in A+? Heck, where do you see misandry in feminism?

  6. 6
    Pteryxx

    corey: Feminists do in fact discuss and debate those honest concerns, but generally they manage to do it without year-long harassment campaigns or ostracizing each other. Feminism even has subsets that disagree with each other.

    The main problem with strict equality-based treatment is that it fails to account for unconscious and systemic bias. For instance it’s not workable to say women and men have overtly equal career opportunities on paper when women disproportionately get punished for having children, unsupportive spouses, or just for being women.

    There are reasons why the underpaid dangerous shit job of coal mining’s mostly done by men, while the underpaid dangerous shit job of nursing’s mostly done by women, and it’s not because of uppity feminists.

  7. 7
    Pteryxx

    corey, for your consideration:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2011/03/31/psychological-innovation-to-improve-oil-rig-safety/

    Here’s a fascinating article by Jess Levins about how removing typical “macho” behaviors led to improvements on two offshore oil rigs.

  8. 8
    Jason Thibeault

    Seconding Pteryxx, corey. The misandry that I’ve noticed in feminism comes largely from the same quarters as transphobia, and there are in fact people who have internalized every “straw feminist” argument from television and movies. And not just antifeminists — people claiming to be feminist.

    As for what you’re talking about with regard to jobs, check out my essay The Disadvantages of Being a Man for some research.

    nohellbelowus: isn’t it enough to recognize that every time we bring up a feminist topic, we get largely booed by even big names in the movement? Seriously. If you want a peer-reviewed study of the exact size of the group adhering to problematic ideas, you’re welcome to do it — but don’t tell me they don’t exist.

  9. 9
    Jacques Cuze

    “Atheism Plus is just like a religion”

    This is my argument. I ask you to assume goodwill.

    I perceive Atheism+ as saying it is a triangle whose legs are Atheism, Skepticism, and Feminism.

    Personally, I am Skeptic first, and from there derives Atheism, Humanism, and a bunch of other stuff.

    As a Skeptic, I assume I can be Skeptical of Atheism ad ask questions what is atheism, what is its boundaries, what is the proof an atheistic view of the world is better than a theistic view.

    I am not sure that within Atheism+, I can be skeptical of contemporary feminism.

    I am Skeptical that the Patriarchy is the dominant factor in the construction and rule of society that contemporary feminism claims it to be.

    The Feminism 101 faq (linked to from the Pharyngula wiki) defines sexism as:

    http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/10/19/sexism-definition/

    sexism = prejudice + power

    And so, dis-empowered groups cannot be sexist.

    I am skeptical of that definition. Skeptical that is a useful definition. Skeptical that definition isn’t divisive, and “convenient”. Skeptical that definition wasn’t created for political reasons to enable the dismissing of valid and important points of view in an argument.

    I am skeptical of the movement that would create such a definition and defend it.

    Can I be Skeptical of Patriarchy Theory or Sexism requires power or Contemporary Feminism and be a member of Atheism+ supportive of atheism, skepticism and social justice?

    If there are basic axioms, principles that cannot be questioned, is the movement really Skeptical?

    If we have to take such axioms on faith, is it really an atheism movement?

    From what I’ve seen Atheism+ is a branch of Feminism and is coopting the Atheism name. Arguably, it is a political, unwanted, intentional cooption of Atheism.

    Of course, if one can be a member of Atheism+ and be openly skeptical of contemporary feminist theory, then I would my perception of Atheism+ would be very mistaken.

  10. 10
    nohellbelowus

    If you want a peer-reviewed study of the exact size of the group adhering to problematic ideas, you’re welcome to do it — but don’t tell me they don’t exist.

    Of course they exist. But is the atheist movement “very largely populated” by individuals of this kind?

    It isn’t my claim, it’s yours. You bear the burden of proof. Or, you could simply edit such inflammatory rhetoric.

  11. 11
    Jacques Cuze

    By the way, when I started to make this argument in Stephanie Zvan’s blog, she banned me from the blog claiming I was derailing.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/08/29/legitimate-differences-of-opinion

    She didn’t ban others who were also, equally, if not more so, off topic.

    It’s this sort of behavior that leads me to believe it is safe to question atheism, safe to question skepticism, and not safe to question contemporary feminism, and hence, not an atheistic nor skeptical movement at all.

  12. 12
    Jacques Cuze

    Should anyone care, Zvan may claim I am only in moderation, but in fact I’ve three comments there that have now been in moderation for over 48 hours, and she has certainly attended her blog in the meantime.

  13. 13
    trinioler

    Jacques, quick point, your use of blockquotes could be seen as deceptive. You have to be clear and format it well, or else it seems like what you have there is what you’re saying exists on the link, which is false, at least not in the form you present it in.

    When eliding large sections of text, you need to use ellipsis, and also use ellipsis when eliding sections of sentences. Anything else is deceptive, and thus, immoral.

  14. 14
    Jacques Cuze

    trinioler,

    “Jacques, quick point, your use of blockquotes could be seen as deceptive.”

    YOU’RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT, I did that poorly. Thank you for bringing that up.

    It should’ve been more like:

    The Feminism 101 faq (linked to from the Pharyngula wiki) defines sexism as:

    http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/10/19/sexism-definition/

    sexism = prejudice + power

    And so, dis-empowered groups cannot be sexist.

    It’s been a long time since I had a course in English, but I don’t think ellipses are required here, for instance, Grammar Girl says:

    Ellipses at the beginning and end of quotations
    Most style guides don’t call for an ellipsis when you omit something at the beginning or end of a quotation, but occasionally you need one. For example, if you leave out something at the beginning of a sentence, but your remaining quotation starts with a capital letter, you need an ellipsis to show the reader that the quotation is beginning in the middle of the original sentence.

    And I don’t think I am being deceptive, here is another quote from the same page.

    Short definition: Sexism is both discrimination based on gender and the attitudes, stereotypes, and the cultural elements that promote this discrimination. Given the historical and continued imbalance of power, where men as a class are privileged over women as a class (see male privilege), an important, but often overlooked, part of the term is that sexism is prejudice plus power. Thus feminists reject the notion that women can be sexist towards men because women lack the institutional power that men have.

  15. 15
    trinioler

    Further elucidation:

    The problem is, yeah sure, you can be skeptical. But you offer no evidence otherwise. No reasoning, no explanation why you are skeptical.

    The thing is, the patriarchy is a power structure, which biases things in favor of men. This doesn’t mean all men have it easy, and in fact, there is a well-known facet that Patriarchy Hurts Men Too.

    The problem is, as an informal system, its very difficult to point to any one thing and say, “That is the patriarchy”, because its a diffuse set of biases, privileges, rules, and structures.

    What we can do is to see the effects of these biases, privileges, and rules.

    So, in short:

    * Gender wage gap
    * Pregnant women are significantly more at risk of dying to violence via their partners than any other means in First World countries.
    * Women are lacking in the power structures of society, everywhere from professional societies, to running companies, to academia, to political power.
    * “Women’s work” is unpaid and unappreciated
    * Jobs that are considered feminine are paid less than similar jobs that are considered masculine: doctor vs nurse. Doctors have been suffering a wage drop as more women become doctors, while nurses’ pay has increased as more men become nurses.
    * Men who do not support these rules and privileges end up harmed and ostracized themselves. Studies found that men that stood up for women’s rights and against harassment in workplaces consequently suffer a lack of promotions and raises.
    * Women are exploited for their bodies worldwide. Sex trafficking is a billion dollar illegal industry, that results in the abuse and eventual murder of millions of women in extremely terrible conditions. Men do not suffer this industry.
    * Street harassment is a problem that disproportionately affects women: http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/resources/statistics/

    Still want to be skeptical of the patriarchy? Offer some reasoning, some evidence, something.

  16. 16
    trinioler

    And so, dis-empowered groups cannot be sexist.

    Wrong. Gay men are known to sometimes be sexist to women.

    Here’s the point you missed, its men being sexist to women. Women can also be sexist to women. Its impossible for women to be sexist in the same way to men. They do not have the enforcement structures or the same privileges men do.

  17. 17
    Jacques Cuze

    trinolier,

    The problem is, yeah sure, you can be skeptical. But you offer no evidence otherwise. No reasoning, no explanation why you are skeptical.

    I don’t believe the question at the moment is “why”, and while each/most of your further points showing evidence of patriarchy can be debated, I don’t think that is the topic of this thread or my comment and would be a hijack.

    My question is not “why”, but “if”, or “how”.

    So far the observational evidence I’ve seen in the discussions of Atheism+ and in the comment threads, the banning, the put downs, the “offensive” language insults, the denials, indicate to me that one cannot be Skeptical of contemporary feminism while identifying as Atheism+.

    (Re: ” Pregnant women are significantly more at risk of dying to violence via their partners than any other means in First World countries.” This is ambiguous, but I believe in the US, the #1 cause of death in pregnant women is pregnancy at roughly 12 per 100,000 live births (support choice), the #2 cause is car accidents, and the #3 cause is sadly, murder. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A45626-2005Feb22.html)

    But again, the question is, does Atheism+ support Skepticism of Contemporary Feminism? Not to debate here in this thread Contemporary Feminism itself.

  18. 18
    Jacques Cuze

    You do seem to agree that
    sexism = prejudice + power

    Here’s the point you missed, its men being sexist to women. Women can also be sexist to women. Its impossible for women to be sexist in the same way to men.

    Thank you for the correction.

    Can I exist within Atheism+ and be skeptical of your beliefs (bolded)?

  19. 19
    Jacques Cuze

    Again, should it matter, re: pregnant women:

    http://barrydeutsch.wordpress.com/2009/01/21/homicide-is-not-the-leading-cause-of-death-among-pregnant-women/

    Ampersand says:

    Pregnant women in the US are about eight times as likely to die of medical causes (such as bleeding during childbirth) than they are of homicide. Car accidents come second, and homicide comes third.

  20. 20
    One Thousand Needles, lumper-splitter

    @nohellbelowus

    But is the atheist movement “very largely populated” by individuals of this kind?

    Nope, you don’t get to pull that shit here. You don’t get to seize on vague language and derail the conversation into navel-gazing about what the definition of “is” is.

    The words “very largely” have such an insignificant effect on the topics being presented that you may as well pretend they don’t exist. If Jason edited them out, the meanings and implications of a single other word would not be affected.

    You wouldn’t even be able to tell me whether “very largely” means “a majority”, “a significant minority”, “20%”, “40%”, whatever. The words are that effectively meaningless.

    They’re tertiary, insignificant, and unworthy of debate. So please, stay on topic.

  21. 21
    flueedo

    For simplicity, we’ll assume that all these trolls are real human beings, and that each instance of a troll actually represents a unique human being rather than multiple sockpuppets employed to “pad out” their side of the argument.

    For simplicity?… The difference between the two options makes a world of difference regarding the assumptions made to substantiate many of claims made by some Atheism+’s proponents. Of course you know that.

    2) a subset specifically made up of people who also hold humanist ideals and want to discuss social justice issues (primarily, at the moment, feminism);

    I think it’s safe to say that the word feminism can mean a number of different ideas to a number of different people. It would be awesome if someone could be more specific about what type of feminism being defended here.

    3) consider those humanist and social justice ideals as being informed by their atheism;

    What does atheism mean in the above statement? What does informed by mean in the above statement? (I just wanna make sure I’m not misunderstanding the above statement as non sequitur)

    A+ is the inevitable end result of the realization that movement atheism is very largely populated by people who insist that the fact that we have no religion means we must never curtail behaviours no matter how antisocial or harmful.

    Would it be possible for you to give us a ballpark percentage the two adverbs very largely are expressing in the above statement?

    All in all, I don’t disagree with your broad stated goals, how could I. I only disagree with some argumentation and declarations made by some individuals spearheading this movement, which I consider antithetical to the rigor with which we scrutinize religious ones (I am not comparing A+ with a religion here, no misunderstandings there I hope). But as long as you guys allow for honest assessment of the validity of such declarations, then it’s possible I might run out of things to be opposed regarding A+.

  22. 22
    trinioler

    Jacques, when its done well, without being sexist, with evidence, yeah.

    People will criticize you, but so what? Just because someone says you’re wrong isn’t the same as someone banning you from the internet.

    The issue though is that these are 101 level discussions, which are often derails for conversations.

    Someone going, “You’re a sexist idiot” isn’t the same as not being allowed to do it. Its fucking criticism.

  23. 23
    Jason Thibeault

    Jacques — I may be wrong on this, but I strongly believe Stephanie Zvan put you in moderation because you repeatedly refused to answer the “why” question. The question here is not “why”. Nor “how”. It is, “don’t we deserve better voices and better representation?”

    Because like it or not (and this is partly to nohellbelowus), there is a perception of this community — both from within and without — that those loudmouths, those disproportionately volumed trolls and actual misogynists and actual antifeminists — make up the bulk of the movement. Just try espousing feminist values online sometime and you’ll see exactly how many random people attack you. Not because you attacked them, but because you spoke up.

  24. 24
    Jim

    “hey, we have an adoption problem, people are being turned off of atheism by all the douchebags that have entrenched themselves in it”

    Can you cite some stats for this adoption problem? Or is it based on anecdotes.

    Also what % of people are being turned off atheism because of all the douchebags and what % are turned off by other factors?

  25. 25
    LeftSidePositive

    I am not sure that within Atheism+, I can be skeptical of contemporary feminism.

    Yeah, you can be skeptical of it, just like a creationist can be skeptical of evolution…however, the freedom to question something does not guarantee that you will be able to question it successfully, and people are going to tell you your objections are wrong when you aren’t familiar with lots of basic evidence. Telling you your attempt at questioning is wrong is not silencing you, it’s just responding to (or being unimpressed with) your points.

    So, YOU don’t think patriarchy is a dominant force in our culture? Well, maybe that’s because it doesn’t seem dominant TO YOU. That’s how privilege works–there are advantages you get in life that make your life just a little bit easier, of which you are completely unaware. Go read the Pharyngula wiki to realize how thoroughly gendered expectations affect women (and men), and how pervasive these assumptions are and how strongly they affect individuals, our economy, our education, and our politics. For goodness’ sake, a major political party has as its main galvanizing force trying to ban abortion–and yet you don’t appreciate the power that patriarchal thinking has on our culture?

    Also, there’s a difference between patriarchy being THE dominant force in culture, as opposed to A dominant force in culture. As PZ has already said:

    2) social interactions are complex and cannot be distilled down to a single factor, and 3) there are multiple levels of interaction — individual, race, sex, class — that affect motives and outcomes. Gosh, I differ because I think human interactions are actually complicated!

    Moreover, discussions of patriarchy are about cultural narratives and implicit attitudes and the way hierarchies are assumed in our society. It is NOT about people consciously conspiring to keep women down or having an end goal of creating a male-dominated society on purpose, any more than evolution posits that all mutations are beneficial. To question along these lines shows that you just don’t understand the concepts yet.

    Yes, sexism is prejudice plus power. And evolution is a theory. Learning what words mean and how they apply in an academic context is an important part of education. The fact that someone doesn’t understand the use of words doesn’t mean the school of thought is wrong, it means the person needs to educate themselves some more.

    Sexism is the SYSTEMIC attitudes that women are inferior to men, and involves the perpetuation of these attitudes among multiple levels of interaction. Sexism is not just one person being mean to another person on the basis of sex (any more than evolution is “just a theory”); sexism is supporting the notion that women as a class are less deserving of social, legal, and political equality, and it affects their ability to get elected to public office, to receive reproductive health care, to get fair pay in jobs, to have juries take seriously the circumstances under which they were raped, to have their competence be assessed free from assessments of their appearance, etc.

    And individual can be prejudiced, or mean, or douchebaggy to another individual for another reason, but being racist or sexist is a reflection of supporting broader social processes. The random political lesbian separatist in some vegan bar in Seattle who hates men (I’m sure these creatures exist, but in very small numbers, and really the VAST majority of claims of hating men are the result of conflating criticizing socially-constructed male privilege with criticizing men themselves) may very well be an asshole, but is not creating any systemic oppression–she is not tapping into any narratives that prevent men as a class from being elected, from getting health care, from getting paid equally, etc. Now, just like “theory” can mean different things in different contexts, there will be some variation in how “sexist” is used in certain contexts, but in that case you can clarify the meaning in that particular context, instead of projecting what you think it means.

    Again, we are not saying YOU CAN’T BE SKEPTICAL OF THIS!!eleventy!1! We’re saying your objection is based on not understanding the meaning of the terms you’re using, and the solution to that is to learn more.

    Skeptical that definition wasn’t created for political reasons to enable the dismissing of valid and important points of view in an argument.

    I think you’re confusing “skepticism” with “poisoning the well” and “spreading completely unsourced allegations.” Moreover, where are these valid and important points of view? For this claim to have any weight, you’ll have to provide something that was dismissed, and provide an argument as to why it was valid and important. Without that, it just sounds like sour grapes.

    If we have to take such axioms on faith,

    No you don’t. We provided you with a wiki with extensive documentation of the underpinnings of our views and the data behind them, and I gave another 12 peer-reviewed studies at comment #147 on Stephanie’s post. To date, you have provided no actual argument against these claims or our evidence, just speculation as to why you don’t like it. If you disagree with something we say, make a coherent argument against it but don’t whine that you have to take this on faith when you simply refuse to engage in meaningful debate.

    And, yes, you were derailing on Stephanie’s blog DISGRACEFULLY. You were asked multiple times to provide evidence for your assertions, and were given multiple opportunities to define your views as you saw fit. You provided NOTHING. and then, you post this question there even though it has nothing to do with the question at hand, and you’re *surprised* that you got sent into moderation? Your whining about how we should simultaneously expect less evidence from you and be more skeptical was pretty hilarious, though. And no, you were by far the most off-topic one there, and PERSISTENTLY so.

  26. 26
    punchdrunk

    #21 is what you get when ‘unique human beings’ (who totally aren’t trolls) derail and obfuscate and then say ‘O:) Y U mad? What’d I do? trolololol’ – they just have to use $5 words to make it look real smart and polite.

    #11 and 12 – you were put in moderation for derailing, and then derail here to talk about your unjust imprisonment for derailing.

  27. 27
    Jacques Cuze

    Jason, I believe I was trying to show Stephanie that the answer to her question was mu. That her question was poorly framed and could not be answered in the way she requested. It is 48 – 72 hours later and no one has answered her in the manner she demands. Does that mean she was correct that there is no data to support equity feminism? Or could it be as I discussed, the premises of her question were erroneous?

    Regardless,

    trinolier,

    The Finally Feminism 101 FAQ for sexism that I quoted is a definition.

    They describe it as a notion (not trying to be pejorative)

    Short definition: Sexism is both discrimination based on gender and the attitudes, stereotypes, and the cultural elements that promote this discrimination. Given the historical and continued imbalance of power, where men as a class are privileged over women as a class (see male privilege), an important, but often overlooked, part of the term is that sexism is prejudice plus power. Thus feminists reject the notion that women can be sexist towards men because women lack the institutional power that men have.

    I don’t believe there is evidence for a definition, or notion, or axiom, of the type you demand in order for a Skeptic to discuss contemporary feminism.

    Jacques, when its done well, without being sexist, with evidence, yeah.

    And clearly, this is a circular argument. I ask can I be skeptical of the contemporary feminist definition of sexism and you respond, without being sexist … year

    My observational evidence, going on what I’ve seen in the discussions at FtB, what I’ve witnessed over the past year in the skeptosphere, leads me to believe that one cannot be skeptical of contemporary feminism and be within the bounds of Atheism+.

  28. 28
    Sascha

    Thank you for taking the time to address that complicated and emotional topic.

  29. 29
    LeftSidePositive

    @Jacques, #27:

    But you were given multiple opportunities to state your beliefs and why you thought them, and you refused and derailed. Just to say that something is a moral issue and then apparently free of needing data is absurd–doesn’t evidence of unfairness lead to some strong moral implications? Isn’t the fact of suffering a moral concern to those who aren’t sociopaths?

    The libertarians there just insisted that they couldn’t possibly offer data, because “you can’t get an ought from an is” and other such bromides. They also failed to note that she was addressing people who claimed to be for social justice but thought their branch of “equity feminism” promoted that goal. What she got were answers from people who actually questioned the whole moral value of social justice at all and said they couldn’t be morally certain that discrimination was really a big enough deal to act on, thus clearly showing they were NOT trying to be pro-social justice but disagreeing about the means, and thus not the people Stephanie was addressing (if indeed the people making those claims actually hold them, or rather retreat to “you can’t get an ought from an is!” when called on their claims that libertarianism promotes social justice).

    And, frankly, I agree with Stephanie that if you can’t pony up some data that even indirectly supports your worldview, you aren’t really be a skeptic.

  30. 30
    Jacques Cuze

    People will criticize you, but so what? Just because someone says you’re wrong isn’t the same as someone banning you from the internet.

    The issue though is that these are 101 level discussions, which are often derails for conversations.

    Someone going, “You’re a sexist idiot” isn’t the same as not being allowed to do it. Its fucking criticism.

    We’re I to comment with my real name, and I said something that I felt was reasonable, but other people in Atheism+ felt was “sexist” or out of bounds, it’s clear that the level of vitriol and nastiness from Atheism+ bloggers and commenters can be extremely high.

    Assuming one could be skeptical of contemporary feminism within Atheism+, there is almost no reward for that, and extremely high punishments, including being called out by name for being a sexist, misogynist, or more by some very leading names on the Internet.

    I guess because of Google, that’s what so what.

    So I remain skeptical of contemporary feminism (CF) skeptical of the CF definition of sexism, and very skeptical that Atheism+ is a movement of Atheism and not a cooption by feminists.

  31. 31
    Jason Thibeault

    Again, Jacques, one can absolutely be skeptical of feminism within the Atheist Plus community just as one can be skeptical of evolution or the germ theory of disease and be in the atheist community. The question is whether that skepticism is warranted, or a holdover from previous memetic programming from prior to your adopting the label. If you’re “for social justice and humanism” by self-identification, but hold views that hinder the social justice cause of stamping out (as the two major and overlapping examples I gave) misogyny and transphobia, then you don’t represent me or the ideals of the “atheist plus” label. And since misogyny and transphobia are both rooted in privilege and feminism (all but the most radical schools of it anyway) fight both misogyny and transphobia with the side-goal of egalitarianism that ends what little misandry (the “patriarchy hurts men too” thing) there is, then “contemporary feminism” is decidedly in line with atheism plus. What you need to do is show how it is not, in fact, in line with atheism plus. You need to overturn a lot of sociological data showing that there are inequalities supporting let’s call it Privilege Theory (as LeftSidePositive helpfully provided you a list over at that thread where you were moderated from derailing, but not from reading!).

    Be skeptical of the germ theory of disease, too, while you’re at it. But there’s a mountain of evidence for that as well. Us telling you you’re wrong does not prevent you from being wrong, only from representing us.

  32. 32
    Jacques Cuze

    And since misogyny and transphobia are both rooted in privilege and feminism

    Many real world people are actually against bigotry in all of its forms without requiring a need to believe in either privilege or feminism.

  33. 33
    LeftSidePositive

    I said something that I felt was reasonable, but other people in Atheism+ felt was “sexist” or out of bounds, it’s clear that the level of vitriol and nastiness from Atheism+ bloggers and commenters can be extremely high.

    Or, you know, maybe you could be a mature adult and try to understand the reason for their criticism? Are you actually so childish that you think that just because you feel something is reasonable that it actually must be (particularly when making statements about the experiences of marginalized groups of which you are not a part)? Do you actually think that being told you’re doing something sexist is necessarily “vitriolic” or rather an assessment of the underlying assumptions of what you said? Do you really think that you can just declare yourself a good person with magical intent so nothing you say could possibly be sexist?

    And, for my part, I’ll get pretty damned vitriolic with you when you fail to substantiate your viewpoint multiple times over and when asked repeatedly. This is not the behavior of a reasonable person. Issuing blanket denials on a subject on which you are transparently uneducated and ignoring numerous provided reference materials is not the behavior of a reasonable person.

    And what is up with these people who pat themselves on the back for using their real name?! I will never understand that…

    there is almost no reward for that,

    Aaawwww, did we forget to give you your cookie?

    and extremely high punishments, including being called out by name for being a sexist, misogynist, or more by some very leading names on the Internet.

    No, sorry, but being criticized and being held accountable for your statements is not an “extremely high punishment.” Acting like being called out on bad behavior is cause for more concern that PERPETRATING bad behavior is entitled, callous, and incredibly demeaning.

    Guess what? Some people are sexist. Calling them out on that is completely appropriate and necessary to address the problems sexism causes in our society. Issuing blanket denials of abundant evidence of sexism in our society and calling your denialism “skepticism” is a self-serving defense of your privilege, and as such is sexist behavior. If you don’t want to be called out on your sexist behavior, why don’t you try to have a little empathy and understand WHY people are calling you out? You know, you could learn something! Furthermore, you are conflating having someone criticize your behavior with someone labeling the entirety of your person, i.e. “a sexist.”

    So I remain skeptical of contemporary feminism (CF) skeptical of the CF definition of sexism, and very skeptical that Atheism+ is a movement of Atheism and not a cooption by feminists.

    Just like Ben Stein is “skeptical” of evolution. Just like Penn Jillette is “skeptical” of global warming. You can’t just claim yourself to be skeptical of something and expect us to take it seriously. Would you like to actually provide a coherent argument about any of the things you’re “skeptical” of?

  34. 34
    Jason Thibeault

    Imagine a comma here in “privilege, and feminism” if it’s that difficult to parse thanks to the parentheses immediately after it.

  35. 35
    LeftSidePositive

    Many real world people are actually against bigotry in all of its forms without requiring a need to believe in either privilege or feminism.

    Yeah, and many Miss America contestants are for “World Peace.” Just saying you agree with the simple statement of a noble end goal does not mean you understand anything about actually achieving that goal, or about how you might inadvertently be impeding progress to that goal.

    If you were actually against bigotry, I would think you would actually make an effort to learn about models describing bigotry and predicting the patterns of bigotry and its defenses, and would not just declare yourself “skeptical” of something when new ideas apparently made you uncomfortable.

    By the way, feminism is defined as “the position that women deserve full legal, political, and social equality to men.” If you don’t believe that, you are by definition bigoted against women.

  36. 36
    Jacques Cuze

    The “patriarchy hurts men too” (TPHMT) is basically a circular argument used to dismiss, ignore, and silence disagreement.

    We postulate a theory of Patriarchy that oppresses women and corrupts society and when someone questions it by pointing out the ills they perceive men face within society, they are shouted down with a dismissive TPHMT.

    On the one hand it can be made consistent with Patriarchy Theory (PT), on the other hand to do so, the Finally Feminism 101 FAQ had to specifically exclude most men in society from the Patriarchy

    Not all men are Patriarchs. A Patriarch is a man who has special power and influence over not just his family but also in society, due to privileges gathered through intersections of age, wealth, achievement, lineage, patronage and the exploitation of others as these attributes add to his place in the elite social hierarchy.

    while continuing to state all men are capable of sexism and women are not.

    sexism = prejudice + power

    Maybe I have this mistaken. Perhaps it means as a commenter at a blog in Atheism+ where I have no power and am continually belittled and yelled at, it means I cannot be sexist, and so since I cannot be sexist, it is safe for me to be skeptical of contemporary feminism.

    ??

  37. 37
    flueedo

    punchdrunk @26
    I’ll be as clear and simple as possible from now on.

  38. 38
    LeftSidePositive

    Shorter Jacques: BUT WHY ARE THERE STILL MONKEYS????

    Jacques–you are mistaken. Badly, badly mistaken. You need to take some time to educate yourself and ask honest questions and not just try to find flaws in something you don’t like.

    There is nothing inconsistent with Patriarchy overwhelmingly disadvantaging women, while having lesser disadvantages to most men. Women are at much greater risk of being raped, do not have their labor compensated as much as a man would, are perceived as less competent than an equally-competent man, have their sexuality judged, have their value as human beings assessed based on their appearance, and are shamed into adopting a very strict stance of gender performance. Men, on the whole, get more money, political power, and social status RELATIVE TO WOMEN simply by being men, but this comes at a price to them, like they have to behave in a certain way to gain the respect of their peers, the culture that gives them social power glorifies violence and thus endangers them, etc., etc.

    Imagine it thus, in a comically simplified way:

    In a perfect society, everyone gets 10 Social Value Points(TM)

    In a patriarchy, some men get 20 Social Value Points(TM), most men get 8 Social Value Points(TM), and most women get 4 Social Value Points(TM).

    For example, the “patriarchs” get the advantage of an economic system that prioritizes their needs while distracting everybody over abortion, can take advantage of the economic dependence of women to get them to be their trophy wives, etc. Meanwhile, most men have okay wages (but not as high as they would be if the rich patriarchs didn’t use religious sex prudery to get elected and then distract people as they concentrated wealth into the hands of the top 1%), they have the respect of their peers but are constantly in fear of losing it and sometimes have to endanger themselves to maintain it (and as decent people, feel hurt when the women in their lives are hurt). Finally, women are expected to conform to very narrow beauty standards, suffer high rates of rape and abuse and a criminal justice system that does not rigorously enforce laws against these, have reproductive decisions made for them at the state level, get paid less than men, have jobs that they gravitate to become less respected, are treated as contemptible by much of society, especially when they speak up, and are expected to do most childcare and housework unpaid, etc., etc.

    So, while a man may be disempowered in absolute terms by patriarchy, he still has power RELATIVE TO WOMEN. Moreover, sexist behavior is about enforcing the disempowerment of the recipient of your sexism (hence why women can be sexist against other women), so even if someone has relatively little power themselves, if they act in a way as to reinforce broader social power structures that disadvantage women, they are being sexist.

    Also, power exists on many axes and shifts in different contexts, you can’t just make a blanket statement that you either have it or you don’t.

    (Small pet peeve: being criticized does not mean you don’t have power. Barack Obama gets criticized fairly frequently–I’d say he still has power!)

  39. 39
    Jacques Cuze

    Jason,

    If you’re “for social justice and humanism” by self-identification, but hold views that hinder the social justice cause of stamping out (as the two major and overlapping examples I gave) misogyny and transphobia, then you don’t represent me or the ideals of the “atheist plus” label.

    Considering contemporary feminism’s long rich history of anti-gay views and transphobia, I think many of us in LGBTQ community think of contemporary feminists as johnny come late-lies to the social justice movement.

    I would posit once more that many people throughout the ages have fought against bigotry in all forms without knowing a bit of contemporary feminist theory.

    For me, it comes from two propositions:

    P: I think, therefore I am.
    Q: All people are created equal.

    I don’t believe the views I hold hinder any social justice movement — quite the opposite in fact — I believe that views like sexism = prejudice + power are the views that hinder social justice. This is why I am skeptical of those movements that adhere to those views and demand fealty.

  40. 40
    Oppi

    Doctors have been suffering a wage drop as more women become doctors, while nurses’ pay has increased as more men become nurses.

    Source please.

    Anyhow, if this is true, I see this as a positive social justice trend. More women are adopting a male-dominated profession and a female-dominated profession is getting a pay raise :)

  41. 41
    LeftSidePositive

    Considering contemporary feminism’s long rich history of anti-gay views and transphobia

    What exactly do you mean by “contemporary”? 1970?! By the way, feminism is not a monolith, so why are you so intent on tarring us with views that we expressly repudiate?

    I don’t believe the views I hold hinder any social justice movement

    But you are not engaging in any self-skepticism about whether or not your beliefs about the effects of your views are actually true. If anyone communicates to you how you are hindering social justice movements (for instance, by blatant denialism of the claims of social justice advocates), you just get offended and act upset instead of educating yourself to MAKE SURE that your views don’t hinder any social justice movements.

    I believe that views like sexism = prejudice + power are the views that hinder social justice.

    WHY??!?!?!??!! You have made no argument to support this claim. You haven’t even given any indication that you UNDERSTAND what the statement even means!

    This is why I am skeptical of those movements that adhere to those views

    You can’t just say the word “skeptical” and have your denialism count as anything other than denialism. Skepticism implies reasoned examination of evidence, and having good reasons to accept or reject something.

    and demand fealty.

    But they DON’T demand fealty. They just demand that you provide reasonable evidentiary and argumentative support for your claims, which you have CONSISTENTLY FAILED TO DO.

  42. 42
    LeftSidePositive

    @Oppi, #40:

    Anyhow, if this is true, I see this as a positive social justice trend. More women are adopting a male-dominated profession and a female-dominated profession is getting a pay raise :)

    This is some of the most unbelievably boneheaded bullshit I’ve seen in a long time. And it isn’t funny, and it isn’t clever. And it sure as fuck isn’t social justice. The fact that some women in nursing get a pay raise from added male involvement DOES NOT change the fact that women’s labor is still devalued, and their advancement is solely dependent on men’s actions (NOT exactly a feminist ideal!). And women who have worked their asses off to become doctors are finding that the rewards they were promised for their considerable efforts are evaporating because now the profession they worked so hard to achieve is seen as something even a woman can do. Fuck that, man, fuck that.

    Look, if you want to say nurses deserve a pay raise because of the good they do to society, great. But don’t be glib about systemic misogyny, ‘kay?

  43. 43
    Pierce R. Butler

    corey @ # 4 – Joseph Smith never moved to Utah, nor sfaik even considered that. His successors after he was killed by a lynch mob made that decision, in large part for self-defense.

    And you really should read up more on feminism before flinging such uninformed poop at it.

  44. 44
    Ani J. Sharmin

    Excellent post.

    I also forget to include the alt tags and descriptions of videos/pictures in posts, but I’ve been been trying to remember to include them more often. Though it causes guilt to be reminded of one’s own mistakes and oversights, I still think it’s better to be reminded of them in order to improve, rather than making the same mistakes repeatedly.

    Nor is it to say that atheists need a set of laws or moral precepts to follow for adoption of the label “atheist”. You’re an atheist by merely denying the existence of a god or gods… but that’s not enough to build a coherent society around. If you want to build a movement that is accepting of more than cis-gendered men — accepting of any underprivileged person on any axis, in fact — then you need to acknowledge that these people deserve respect. And respecting them means not condoning trollish behaviour that explicitly denigrates the personhood or value of those several underprivileged classes.

    This is perhaps not the best analogy, but I see it kind of like how there are Harry Potter fans who get together to raise money for certain causes (like LGBT equality). There are other Harry Potter fans who would disagree with this and many of my other views, but this does not mean that they are not real fans; it just means that, while I share their love of a particular book series, that is not enough for me to feel that we share values.

    You’d think privilege as a concept wouldn’t be so difficult to grasp, given that they are underprivileged as concerns their religious views, the hatred they get for it, and the theistic stranglehold on government that many countries endure. But apparently recognizing privilege other than religion is “fascist”.

    This, basically. It doesn’t make sense to me why people who are understandably upset when others accuse atheists who speak up about their beliefs of, say, being horrible and immoral and ruining society don’t understand that maybe, just maybe, others similarly feel upset if people say things like that about them or about movements that have helped them gain equal rights.

  45. 45
    Jason Macker

    For me, it comes from two propositions:

    P: I think, therefore I am.
    Q: All people are created equal.

    You do realize that philosophy has evolved since the 17th century, right? Why the hell are you taking anything a pre-enlightment philosopher has said seriously? This guy, Descartes, also present ontological arguments for the existence of God, which start with your P. Pretty much the only thing you can definitively say is “there are thoughts”, you cannot assign person-hood to these thoughts.

    All people are not created equal. That’s a fiction. There’s no evidence for it. There is inequality in the world, people are created unequally. The just world hypothesis is a myth, not based on the evidence. What we do have evidence of is that merit does not necessarily correspond with wealth. There are a lot of cases where someone is wealthy due to circumstance (rich parents/ancestors), or exploitation of others (slavery, theft of land, resources, etc.).

    The humans that are in poverty are not as a result of sin or bad behavior or their actions in a past life, but rather because they have been exploited by others. You speak English? Chances are, you’re living in a place that was built on the ruins of someone who was exploited. Don’t pretend that everyone has a fair chance at life currently. They sure as hell don’t. Why people talk about “achieving equality” in past tense, as though injustice and inequality ended long ago, is ridiculous.

    What should be said is that “All people are created unequal, and the haves must share with the have-nots in order to correct this inequality, because the rich are not more entitled to life than the poor”. Feminism didn’t end with all of its goals accomplished when women got the right to vote. That’s when it began. Antiracism didn’t end with all of its goals accomplished when the slaves were freed. That’s when it began. As for LGBT social movements, they haven’t even really begun yet. We don’t even have marriage equality across the United States, we still have homophobic and transphobic laws on the books. We’re making progress on all of these fronts but it’s not mission accomplished yet.

    And that’s just the United States. How about the rest of the world? Who is fighting for LGBT rights in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Burma, China, Korea, Japan? Or fighting for women’s rights? Or the rights of immigrants? The fight isn’t over, it’s never been over, we don’t have equality in this world.

  46. 46
    Ani J. Sharmin

    @LeftSidePositive:
    Just wanted to say I like some of the points you’ve made, but especially the following.

    from #33:

    Acting like being called out on bad behavior is cause for more concern that PERPETRATING bad behavior is entitled, callous, and incredibly demeaning.

    from #38:

    So, while a man may be disempowered in absolute terms by patriarchy, he still has power RELATIVE TO WOMEN. Moreover, sexist behavior is about enforcing the disempowerment of the recipient of your sexism (hence why women can be sexist against other women), so even if someone has relatively little power themselves, if they act in a way as to reinforce broader social power structures that disadvantage women, they are being sexist.

    @Jacques Cuze (#39):

    Considering contemporary feminism’s long rich history of anti-gay views and transphobia, I think many of us in LGBTQ community think of contemporary feminists as johnny come late-lies to the social justice movement.

    Considering others are already arguing with you, I’ll just address this one point. I could turn this around and point out sexism in the LGBTQIA community. There has been sexism in the anti-racism civil rights movements, racism and anti-LGBTQIA discrimination in the feminist movement, racism and sexism in the LGBTQIA movement, and so on and so forth, for many areas of civil rights. There have been and are, in other words, many people who only care about one civil rights issue (the one that affects them and maybe their family or friends) and not others.

    My impression is that this is exactly what Atheism Plus intends to address, by making the point that atheists should not exclusively focus on how atheists are hurt by religion, but care about other equal rights issue and how they intersect with religion and atheism.

  47. 47
    olivercrangle

    Jason, I don’t think the just world hypothesis is the issue, nor is whether philosophy has developed since the 17th century.

    The issue is if one needs to believe in feminism in order to promote social justice.

    It is clear there have been hundreds, thousands, … of people who clearly have sought and promoted social justice without being feminists.

    It is just as clear that on many occasions the person standing in the way of social justice was a feminist.

    I find your disdain for “all people are created equal” amusing. Enlightening?? Maybe in a scary way.

    Abraham Lincoln:

    Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.[14]

    Elizabeth Cady Stanton:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal.[15]

    Martin Luther King, Jr.:

    I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

    Anyway, thank you for your brief on why Atheism+ does not consider “all men are created equal” to be relevant or accurate and how that helps justify Atheism+ and Current Feminism’s oft mistreatment of others.

  48. 48
    olivercrangle

    It’s this sort of grab that one can only promote social justice IF one is a contemporary feminist, or that contemporary feminists have a monopoly on social justice that justifiably amuses many people with a longer understanding of history.

    We have always been at war with Eastasia.

  49. 49
    Jacques Cuze

    Oops, that Oliver Crangle guy was me, needed so I could comment at Pharyngula. I much prefer the commenting policy here, but I can understand that PZ Myers needs a bit more robustness due to traffic.

  50. 50
    Jafafa Hots

    It’s this sort of grab that one can only promote social justice IF one is a contemporary feminist

    You keep claiming people are saying things that they are not saying, and when they point out that they are not saying this, you ignore them and repeat the claim that they are saying it.

    You state what something is based on your beliefs about it that are shown to be uninformed. When people point this out, you ignore the information they point you toward and then repeat your claim.

    You are not approaching this honestly, or at least appear have little to no interest in what anyone but yourself has to say.

    Why are you bothering? Nobody is making you sign a pledge.

  51. 51
    Jacques Cuze

    You keep claiming people are saying things that they are not saying, and when they point out that they are not saying this, you ignore them and repeat the claim that they are saying it.

    I apologize but that seems precisely the correct interpretation of the many things said in this thread and other Atheism+ threads.

    And it’s not just me saying that, but clearly many people are saying that which is why there have been so many threads in the past days to address this.

    You state what something is based on your beliefs about it that are shown to be uninformed. When people point this out, you ignore the information they point you toward and then repeat your claim.

    You are not approaching this honestly, or at least appear have little to no interest in what anyone but yourself has to say.

    Perhaps this is true, but perhaps because so many people have made an issue over this, it is not I that is uninformed, or ignoring others, or approaching it dishonestly, but perhaps it is … who?

    In fact, I believe I have responded to everyone in this thread who has addressed me with the exception of LSP who couldn’t do anything other than scream at me in other threads at other blogs and so I have told LSP that I will no longer respond to his or her comments. Frankly since I told this to LSP, I find it creepy that LSP continues to stalk me and try to gain my attention. I find it almost threatening. I do not want LSP’s anger or attentions directed at me and I have made that abundantly clear. Anyway, other than that I believe I have tried to carefully read through to the other points of view and responded on topic (and politely and respectfully).

  52. 52
    Jafafa Hots

    Perhaps this is true, but perhaps because so many people have made an issue over this, it is not I that is uninformed, or ignoring others, or approaching it dishonestly, but perhaps it is … who?

    So many people making an issue of it? You mean so many people objecting to the idea of atheism+?
    I have seen much more support for the idea than objection to it. Of those objecting, some just make their position known and realize (correctly) that they can simply not identify themselves that way, and will not.

    Those vociferously objecting and not simply opting to not use the term themselves but objecting to OTHERS doing so? A small but persistent number of people.

    At least two of whom appear to be you.

    So let’s talk more about honesty.

  53. 53
    Jason Macker

    Anyway, thank you for your brief on why Atheism+ does not consider “all men are created equal” to be relevant or accurate and how that helps justify Atheism+ and Current Feminism’s oft mistreatment of others.

    I looked through my whole post and I didn’t see any mention of atheism plus or atheism. I simply saw something that I personally disagreed with and responded. Others are free to critique what I wrote as well.

    I was simply expressing my opinion that simply saying the mantra “All men are created equal” doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s a nice thing to say, I guess, but it’s just a catchphrase or buzz words, said by people who have been racists, sexists, and otherwise bigots. So simply saying “all men are created equal” obviously isn’t the end-all be-all that can solve all our problems.

    By the way, men weren’t “created”. We evolved from other life forms. Also not just men, but all humans.

    Anyway, thank you for your brief on why Atheism+ does not consider “all men are created equal” to be relevant or accurate and how that helps justify Atheism+ and Current Feminism’s oft mistreatment of others.

    I never said anything about atheism+.

    As for “Current Feminism’s oft mistreatment of others”, lol.

    It’s this sort of grab that one can only promote social justice IF one is a contemporary feminist, or that contemporary feminists have a monopoly on social justice that justifiably amuses many people with a longer understanding of history.

    Where are you getting any of this from what I wrote?

    In any case, whether or not you’re interested in feminism simply does not matter. Atheism+ is specifically for people who support feminist theory and want to promote it. If you don’t support feminist theory, why would you want to join? Why would you want to join an atheist knitting club if you hate knitting or think it’s a waste of time?

    Atheism+ is simply an aggregate of people who are interested in progessivism, of which feminism, antiracism, social justice, etc. are a subset of. If you’re not interested in that, you’re free to make your own group!

    You can call it “Atheism plus antifeminism” and you can talk all day about how privilege isn’t real and how feminists are degrading and insulting men, and how spending 5 minutes out of your whole life on the selective service’s website is a terrible affront to your gender, how not being allowed to call people “cunts” and “bitches” is a violation of your first amendment rights, and so on. You’re more than welcome to do that. I promise I won’t come in there and shove feminism down your throat.

    :)

  54. 54
    Jacques Cuze

    Jafafa Hots

    At least two of whom appear to be you.

    So let’s talk more about honesty.

    Yeah, that’s a nice slur. I’ve been commenting here in the canonical manner typing a nym and email address in. Over at PZ’s blog where he was NOT discussing A+, I wanted to comment as well, but he requires a facebook/yahoo/google/aol id, so I gave him one too.

    Come on, no slurs please.

  55. 55
    Jacques Cuze

    Jason,

    Atheism+ is specifically for people who support feminist theory and want to promote it. If you don’t support feminist theory, why would you want to join?

    Where do you get that I don’t support feminism?

    As I have said from my first post,

    I am skeptical of contemporary feminism, and I have given details. That does not mean I do not support feminism. It doesn’t even mean I don’t support much of contemporary feminism. But I am skeptical of it and see a lot in it that is troubling.

    And I see A+’s demand of fealty to contemporary feminism an act that makes A+ more like a religion or feminist movement than it does an atheist movement.

    It’s not a question of whether I want to join A+, it’s a question of whether A+ is Atheism, Feminism, or Religion.

    I have tried to be clear about this from the beginning.

  56. 56
    LeftSidePositive

    I apologize but that seems precisely the correct interpretation of the many things said in this thread and other Atheism+ threads.

    Citation fucking needed.

    Perhaps this is true, but perhaps because so many people have made an issue over this,

    So the fact that other people are willfully misrepresenting our arguments and ignoring multiple corrections makes it okay for you to do it too?!

    with the exception of LSP who couldn’t do anything other than scream at me in other threads at other blogs

    Not true–I asked you multiple times to simply state what you believed and why. It was a really simple question, and then you got super evasive and derailing about it.

    and so I have told LSP that I will no longer respond to his or her comments.

    Well, that’s grand of you. It seems to me that you could have just substantiated your claims and have had done with it, but whatever. I guess the cognitive dissonance between strongly holding a view and having nothing to back it up must get pretty heavy.

    Frankly since I told this to LSP, I find it creepy that LSP continues to stalk me

    Yes, how dare I reply to publicly-available comments on an open forum!!!! How devious! How invasive! How totally not like finding where you live or even finding any other platforms on which you communicate or trying to find your contact information or trying to find anything about who you are or anything that actually constitutes the harm that people mean when they talk about “stalking.”

    and try to gain my attention.

    What makes you think I care about your attention? I am posting to correct your misconceptions for the benefits of other readers who might not know enough about the topic to see why you’re wrong.

    I find it almost threatening.

    This is a grotesque insult to those who actually face internet threats. Stop using the rhetoric of marginalization to prop up your own privilege denial. It is selfish, dishonest, intellectually lazy, and trivializing of the experiences of others.

    I do not want LSP’s anger or attentions directed at me and I have made that abundantly clear.

    I’m sorry, this is not your blog, and you are not in charge of banning people. Moreover, you do not get to simply exempt your ideas from criticism from members of the community whose criticisms you have been unable to answer, simply by fiat. That is pure intellectual cowardice.

  57. 57
    corey

    Echidna, I never said that “men are worse off than women job wise.” Never said it, never implied it, never thought it. The truth is that demeaning piss down your back labor jobs are in fact performed by men. I have a hard time explaining feminism to those guys when their response is something like “why do I dig all day while some chick gets to hold the traffic sign.” My response is usually something like “I think that’s wrong. I think a ‘real’ feminist would insist upon doing everything that is expected of guys.” Your contention that “women do the bulk of unpaid awful jobs, and most of the caring jobs involve literally dealing with shit” is not only at least somewhat false, it also misrepresents what it is that I said. I never said anything about “unpaid” jobs or “caring” jobs. I was talking about the odious jobs that must be done for society to work. Do women do most of these jobs? I really don’t think so. But, yes, women get the short end of the stick overall, and I agree that this needs to be mitigated. Then you say “men at least tend to get their work valued.” That is misandry. You are just assuming that as a way of minimizing the awful existence many men must endure. Most men are readily called “losers” by other men, women, and society in general if they work these jobs. Does a “garbage man” have a hard time getting a date? Hmmmm. Does a “nurse” have such a hard time? Who gets paid more? Garbage men or nurses? I highly doubt—maybe I’m wrong—that women are lining up around the block to mine coal (for example). So your point in the 2nd paragraph there is just way off the mark. Then, you remind me that it’s not “reasonable to blame women that they are not in these jobs.” Who is blaming women here? Not me. I only asked if we should push for there to be equality—not only in those nice six figure prestigious jobs—but also in those poverty level, dirty, unappreciated “loser” jobs as well. That’s an honest question and you responded with snarkiness and embedded accusations. I think more women should be in STEM jobs. I think women should have every right, privilege, and opportunity that men have. I don’t see misandry in feminism; I see misandrists posing as feminists and I think it is counterproductive, as I said, in the same way that Ayn Rand-ers are counterproductive to humanist atheism. Have you dealt with what I said? Please stop trying to frame me as something I’m not and just deal with what I have asked.
    Pteryxx, I understand these things are debated, but one side often debates it dishonestly, by making tacit accusations and throwing straw men at the other side. I’m not sure what the “year-long harassment campaigns or ostracizing each other” refers to. Is that directed at me? I just have no idea what you’re talking about there.
    Your next paragraph seems to me to be a very good point, that “equality-based treatment . . . fails to account for unconscious and systemic bias.” I agree. Measures should be taken to give women a head start of sorts in some areas. I agree that women are often punished for having children, and I agree that this should be mitigated in the name of a more gender equal society. But it still really doesn’t address my question, which everyone wants to avoid, about whether equality means doing the odious dirty undignified “loser” jobs in gender-equal numbers. I often have this question posed to me by people I try to reason with and the only response I can feel good about is to reject any kind of feminism that doesn’t advocate for equality in that respect. You say “there are reasons why the underpaid dangerous shit job of coal mining’s mostly done by men.” I don’t dispute that. My question was that if we should be even about this kind of equality. Then you add “while the underpaid dangerous shit job of nursing’s mostly done by women.” I know nurses. They make between 40-80K per year. That’s not the type of shit job I’m talking about. Nursing is a skilled job with dignity. It pays better than average. People go to school for it and it is competitive. No one I know calls a nurse a “loser.” So that’s not a good comparison. I would have used “hotel room maid,” which I think is a better comparison. Even so, most of the shit labor seems to fall on men. Should we advocate for a more even split in the odious jobs upon which society depends? That’s an honest question. Getting in your little dig about “and it’s not because of uppity feminists” is not. I don’t think feminists are uppity. And I don’t like the accusation. I never said or implied any such thing. It’s snarky and angry and dishonest. Be honest.
    I enjoyed the article you posted. I don’t dispute any of it. Thanks.

    Jason, You said “the misandry that I’ve noticed in feminism comes largely from the same quarters as transphobia,” and I’ve noticed that too! I don’t agree with transphobia. I admire some of the transgender people I’ve met and seen in the media. I don’t have any problem with anybody for what they choose to be, or were born to be, or whatever, in that respect. So I’m not sure what your point is there. Then you say, “and there are in fact people who have internalized every ‘straw feminist’ argument from television and movies. And not just antifeminists — people claiming to be feminist.” What is this? More passive-aggression like from the other two posters? What I asked does take the form of a common “straw feminist” argument, which is why I was careful to point out that it was an honest serious question to which I wanted an honest answer. The difference between me asking that question and a “straw feminist” argument is that I wasn’t using it to say anything remotely to the effect of “feminism is bullshit,” and that means I wasn’t using a straw man, because I wasn’t arguing against the position of feminism. Next, I’m not some person claiming to be feminist. I am fully supportive of women’s rights and put my money and my efforts where my mouth is. You won’t find me disagreeing with anyone’s efforts to have equal rights to anybody else, and that means anyone. I dislike your tacit accusation, and I believe I’m getting an answer to a question I had about this atheism+, in regards to it being an attempt to push unquestionable dogma on people and punish those who don’t fall immediately in line. I asked an honest question that is often posed to me. I’m seeking an honest answer, or at least to see that I have some support from this atheism+ on the topic of being “equal” about the short end of the male stick, the lower-class male stick, and not just the upper-middle class male privilege that is so well regarded and revered in our society. I’m not saying lower class women do not suffer unjustly because of domestic violence, or the sex trade, or whatever (I can just anticipate the straw men coming back at me, and can you blame me at this point?) I won’t respond the way some of the people here respond because I think fairness, truth, and logic actually matter— not just blindly fitting in with who I think “the good people” are.
    Based upon reading your essay, I can’t believe you and others responded the way you have. Did I not choose my words carefully enough? Can I choose my words carefully enough.

    Sincerely,
    Walking on Eggshells

  58. 58
    fwtbc

    Jesus Fucking Christ.

    Jacques: you keep talking about “being a member of atheism+” like there’s some kind of application process. There isn’t. It’s a community. COMMUNITY. It’s an important word.

    I’m tired of all the sexism and other shit in the broader atheism community, too, and I’ve had a fucking gutfull of people like you who go “blah blah, whine whine, evidence! whine, sulk, statistics! blah fart but I’m skeptical blah whine sulk”.

    It’s a COMMUNITY. A defining trait of communities is that you feel welcome, you feel included, and one doesn’t feel either of those things when shitheads like you can’t, just for a fucking second, consider that what they’re saying actually does, actually has, actually will happen again, and the people telling you that aren’t lying and need to provide peer-review studies.

    The reason you’re getting such a negative reception here isn’t because you’re wondering whether certain points can be debated. It’s because you come across like you’re going to debate them regardless of what you find out, and that you’ve elevated being skeptical of absolutely fucking everything to be more important than showing some fucking empathy, and that’s a seriously loathesome character trait.

  59. 59
    SubMor

    I totally agree with Jason’s OP. Various thoughts from reading the comments:

    “Women can’t be sexist because they lack power.”
    This claim is absurd in the absence of an explanatory context. Women can certainly hold sexist attitudes–the kind sexism may be different (which I suspect is what the referenced source material was getting at), but it’s certainly possible.

    “All [people] are created equal”
    This is trivially true from a biological perspective. All people bear the same basic rights under law, but the social reality creates a situation of radical inequality through the existence of differening opportunities depending on where someone lies on the socioeconomic scale.

    “Atheism+ is a religion.”
    If your definition of “religion” does not require belief in supernatural claims, your definition of religion is absurd, and I’ll challenge you to explain exactly why sports fans aren’t members of explicitly religious cults. If your definition of “religion” is so broad that it includes people who merely have similar opinions, you’re not very good at coming up with definitions; please stop trying.

  60. 60
    Sheesh

    Hey Corey,

    Why do you think more women aren’t trash collectors? What can be done about it?

  61. 61
    Sheesh

    And since we’ve gone straight off topic (as every post that mentions feminism must, amirite?)

    Anyone interested in spit-balling this question: Who do you think cleans up more human shit — actual poop from butts — men or women? Why?

  62. 62
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    And since we’ve gone straight off topic
    Anyone interested in spit-balling this question

    Great. Now I’ve got an urge to google bidets.

    … Two wikipedia links later …

    Chūgi, sometimes called kusobera (lit. “shit spatula”), was a special type of stick used by the Japanese people from ancient times to clean the anus after defecation. The word chūgi is composed of the kanji for skewer and tree which gives it the meaning of “wooden skewer”.

    Delighted to learn something new; recoiling from the translation.

  63. 63
    Sally Strange

    Jaques:

    Given that A+ is composed primarily of people who self-identify as being sympathetic to “contemporary feminism” (as you deceptively put it, without acknowledging the existence of multiple contemporary feminisms), why would you want to join?

    If it is because you sincerely want to promote social justice but think that “contemporary feminism” has mechanisms that hinder the achievement of social justice, then you are welcome to present evidence and arguments that clearly show what about contemporary feminism hinders social justice.

    You have been asked repeatedly to do so.

    You have repeatedly failed to do so.

    Personally, if it were my blog, I’d ban you right about now. If it were my house, I’d be asking you to leave. You are rude. And your claim to care about social justice seems dishonest, because if you really did care about it, you’d be able to articulate what methods move us towards it, and contrast those methods to the ones allegedly used by contemporary feminism which hinder us from moving towards that goal.

    You appear to be mostly an anti-feminist gadfly.

    Anti-feminist gadflies are a dime a dozen, and are exceedingly boring and predictable. So far your posts have followed that pattern quite well.

    If you depart from that pattern, by, say, presenting some examples, some evidence, and a well-reasoned argument, I’ll start taking you seriously.

  64. 64
    Jason Thibeault

    Actually, I’d prefer a certain order to demands for information here:

    First, that Jacques Cuze tell us what he’s “j’accuse”-ing. The name is just bugging me.

    Then, I’d like him to define “contemporary feminism” *specifically*.

    Then a definition of “social justice” in his mind, since he seems to think we have to “swear fealty” to feminism to be part of atheism plus, but doesn’t realize that feminism is one of the most contentious and immediate social justice causes there is presently.

    Then after all that, once we’ve found him on the map, THEN he can tell us what evidence leads him to believe his particular definition of feminism / social justice / et cetera should be considered canon.

  65. 65
    Ani J. Sharmin

    @corey (#57): I’m going to try to address some of your points.

    Concerning the focus on education for women, this has been considered an important issue because lack of education has been and continues to be one of the main ways in which women are denied power in society and in their own lives. And I don’t just mean not being able to get a PhD or something, but sometimes even being denied a very basic education. Even today, there are people who consider education for boys more important than education for girls.

    Concerning jobs and gender imbalances in certain jobs, there are several points. First, I disagree with your statement, “I was talking about the odious jobs that must be done for society to work. Do women do most of these jobs? I really don’t think so.” I don’t claim to speak for others, but I think this is related to the previous comment by Echidina about men’s work being valued. Men get praised for contributing to society and working hard, while women’s jobs are considered just what women should be doing anyway. Additionally, you say that men who do certain jobs are considered losers by society. Women doing certain jobs face similar attitudes. Society couldn’t function without many of the jobs that are predominantly made up of women, either, and yet they get accused of not contributing as much to society.

    Second, I expect the reason women aren’t encouraged to go into low-paying, difficult, stereotypically-male jobs for the same reason men aren’t encouraged to go into low-paying, difficult, stereotypically-female jobs. There are people in our society who think that equality for women just means being allowed to vote and get some education, but who still believe in gender roles and certain things being women’s work and certain things being men’s work. They accuse feminists who disagree with this of being too extreme.

    Third, feminists have tried to gain equality in different jobs. You say that there are men who say things along the lines of, “why do I dig all day while some chick gets to hold the traffic sign”. I’d suggest you ask them how they think women would be treated if she was doing the same job as them. (Or how they or their sons would be seen if they were doing a stereotypically-female job.) I’m serious. When women try to do anything that is considered for men (anything from a life-threatening job like being in the military to just something like playing football in school) they’re met with harassment. Feminists who do talk about being against gender roles and say they don’t want special treatment, who don’t want to be exempt from doing physically difficult jobs, get met with accusations of feminizing men, being too “radical”, and ruining the family. And when women are doing some kind of job that is predominantly made up of men and are being harassed, and then complain about the harassment, they get treated as though that’s just a price they have to pay for having that job. Again, while I don’t claim to speak for others, I think this is related to Pteryxx’s comment the differences in jobs that are predominantly done by men vs. jobs predominantly done by women is “not because of uppity feminists”. Because feminists try to address the problem, get accused of being too radical — and then when that problem still exists, the issue gets brought up as not being addressed adequately by feminism, even though it’s a problem that they try to address but receive much criticism for.

    Concerning the “year long-harassment campaigns or ostracizing each other”, that refers to something that’s been going on in the atheist community. There were many people who felt that they were being excluded and discriminated against, and when they would bring it up, they’d be met with dismissal and sometimes even threats. Atheism Plus was, in large part, a response to this. (See Jen McCreight’s “How I Unwittingly Infiltrated the Boy’s Club & Why It’s Time for a New Wave of Atheism” for some more details. Also relevant are Greta Christina’s “Atheism Plus, and Some Thoughts on Divisiveness” and Natalie Reed’s “All In”.)

  66. 66
    karmakin

    Knock off the gender generalizing folks.

    @Submor: One of problems with talking about sexism/privilege is that often we frame it as something that people usually or even sometimes always claim actively for themselves, when this isn’t really true at all. A majority of the privilege out there is about how other people treat us, and has relatively little to do with how the privileged person themselves is acting.

    We don’t expect men to quit their jobs, as an example to open them up for women. We don’t expect women to quit their jobs to open them up for racial minorities, and so on.

    The point of all this, is that less privileged groups can and do act in ways that sustain privilege as well. We all buy into these cultural tropes and mores to some degree, and we act on them reflexively. Which is why we need systems in place to counteract this cultural bias, while we work on changing the culture to eliminate them.

    What people mean when they say that they think that A+ is a “religion” is that they think (and this goes long before A+) that the people they are criticizing are not interested in eliminating these sorts of cultural biases, only changing them to be more advantageous. They might be right, they might be wrong. But that’s what they’re saying, and that’s what you have to argue against.

    Protip: There are examples of people using those sorts of cultural biases in this very thread.

  67. 67
    Sally Strange

    What people mean when they say that they think that A+ is a “religion” is that they think (and this goes long before A+) that the people they are criticizing are not interested in eliminating these sorts of cultural biases, only changing them to be more advantageous. They might be right, they might be wrong. But that’s what they’re saying, and that’s what you have to argue against.

    How on earth did you figure THAT out? You are literally the first person I’ve seen to suggest that.

  68. 68
    James Croft

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. It seems that to a subset of the atheist community any strong statement of positive values looks like a religion. Those working with organized Humanist organizations have for a long time heard from FTBloggers how similar to a “religion” some of their work is. Now a set of FTBloggers makes a strong and welcome statement of positive values they get the same treatment. It’s a fascinating process to watch unfold.

    I say forge ahead.

  69. 69
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    @karmakin #66:

    Which is why we need systems in place to counteract this cultural bias, while we work on changing the culture to eliminate them.
    [...]
    they think that the people they are criticizing are not interested in eliminating these sorts of cultural biases, only changing them to be more advantageous.

    What is this imagined position even supposed to mean?

    Changing misogyny to misandry in enough minds until the net effect of both on society balance out, and leaving it at that?

    Reassociating machismo and femininity with less harmful but still asymmetric lifestyles?

  70. 70
    corey

    Sheesh, ideally I think we should advocate for a society in which hard labor will no longer be a “man’s job,” and receptionist and nurse will no longer be a “woman’s job.” I don’t like anyone to do hard labor; I don’t like anyone to be drafted into a war. But so long as we are living in a society that systematically forces people into those undesirable positions, I think we (humanists, liberals, whatever) should ADVOCATE for this type of equality. Chivalry should also be a thing of the past. We are supposed to be advocating and working towards the spreading around of power in society: spreading more of it to women, non-whites, various systemically disadvantaged groups, etc. I guess the difference is that I don’t think all white-males are privileged; I think people born into the lower classes get the short end in general, and I’m just as worried about them as about any other disadvantaged group. When it comes to the lower class, they are all disadvantaged, and I think equality should apply there as well. So your question “Who do you think cleans up more human shit — actual poop from butts — men or women? Why?” is kind of beside the point, isn’t it? I mean, I’ll take 40K to wipe up poop over 16K to break my back in the hot sun.

    How about you? Do you agree with quips in our media that say “women are more intelligent than men” or “women are the fairer sex” or “women are more moral and trustworthy than men” or “men are pigs” or “men are dogs,” etc, etc, etc. I ask because I’d like to see if you are actually into equality and against hatred of genders, races, and groups. Like the Lou Reed song says, “does you common ground include me too?” Are we talking about equality or are we talking about exceptionalism? And should atheism+ also seek to root out exceptionalists posing as equal-rights advocates?

    Ani, I don’t think I said anything disputing the importance of educational access for women. I certainly agree with you on that, so I’m not sure why you are saying it to me as a way of addressing my points, which was really just a question about equality and misandry that I wanted a genuine answer to (so that I can have and use that answer). Getting snarky and mean towards people who ask me that question (as a few here have, but not you so far as I can tell) is just not a rational response, and is just not an option for me. I would like to have a rational response or at least to see if my response, that I think equality should apply at the short end of the stick as well, is supported by a community of humanists that I have enjoyed reading for some time now, and whether it fits in with this atheism+. That’s all.

    Then you contradict yourself: “Men get praised for contributing to society and working hard, while women’s jobs are considered just what women should be doing anyway. Additionally, you say that men who do certain jobs are considered losers by society. Women doing certain jobs face similar attitudes.”

    Not only is this an unfair generalization that seems to say “men have it good even when they have it bad,” but it contradicts itself! To explain, you say that “men get praised” and then you agree that men are called losers—does that sound like praise for a contribution??

    Then you state my concern exactly (thank you): “There are people in our society who think that equality for women just means being allowed to vote and get some education, but who still believe in gender roles and certain things being women’s work and certain things being men’s work. They accuse feminists who disagree with this of being too extreme.”

    Yes! Finally we are getting somewhere! I am one of those people who disagree and get accused of being (not too extreme) but not even a feminist! See posts above. My question is whether we should stop having men’s jobs and women’s jobs and seek to have everybody working all types of jobs. Thank you. Maybe those are the words I needed to express this in a way that doesn’t trigger blind irrational negativity from people I consider to be political allies.

    Also, thanks for explaining the “year long campaign” quote; that makes more sense now. I think I’ll quit there.

  71. 71
    jenny6833a

    Blogger Jason says

    Now, I’m not talking about calling individuals asshats or douchebags — some folks think that ANY dip into the language of vilification is awful, and I won’t argue those points of view except to note that I don’t share them.

    Douchebag sounds thoroughly sexist to me. Well, perhaps it would only be thoroughly juvenile if you also called people ‘ejaculate filled condoms’ while noting that the sperm therein is either dead or seriously deformed. The thing is, though, I haven’t noticed you tossing out any insults that are clearly male-oriented.

    Perhaps you could convert to gender-neutral insults, like ‘enema-bag.’

    Or maybe the solution is to just to skip all the meaningless third grade playground shouts. You could say, for example, I disagree with that person, because ….

    The good old comma followed by that ‘because’ word is too little used around here.

  72. 72
    nohellbelowus

    You wouldn’t even be able to tell me whether “very largely” means “a majority”, “a significant minority”, “20%”, “40%”, whatever. The words are that effectively meaningless.

    This argument is very largely incoherent.

    World English Dictionary
    largely (ˈlɑːdʒlɪ)

    — adv
    1. principally; to a great extent
    2. on a large scale or in a large manner

  73. 73
    karmakin

    @SkyCaptain:While I HAVE seen that argument made, that’s not really what I’m talking about.

    I’m more talking about what is said in #70. There’s a whole laundry list of gender, racial, class, religious, etc. stereotypes in our society. Both positive and negative. And both are destructive, in that the positive stereotype is often a negative stereotype for everybody else. For example, that religious people are seen as being automatically more moral results in non-religious people being seen as less moral by comparison.

    In the abstract, most reasonable people agree that getting rid of those stereotypes is a good thing. It’s just harder than that in reality. We still use patterns and tropes in the way we talk, as seen in this thread. It’s almost a natural thing (which doesn’t make it right).

    The problem sometimes, is that people believe that their intent is magic. They believe that it’s ok if I’m a sexist/racist/classist ass because the people who are not like that will recognize that and not take what I’m saying to heart. And all that does is normalizes such behavior.

    @Jenny:The point given to that is that a “douchebag” is thus as it’s something worthless to women. I’m not sure if that’s any better or worse, but that’s the usage of the term.

  74. 74
    jenny6833a

    karmakin says:

    @Jenny:The point given to that is that a “douchebag” is thus as it’s something worthless to women.

    I can’t parse that.

  75. 75
    Sally Strange

    Douchebag (for the 1,000th time): a word that literally refers to an item that was and still is used for “douching,” i.e. cleaning the vagina out with water and possibly some other cleaning agent (in the past, things as harsh as lysol were used, because OMG ladybits are dirty!). Now it is understood that douching is not helpful and indeed often harmful and can promote infections, and that the vagina is self-cleaning.

    Therefore, douchebag: a thing that was once thought essential to women’s health but is now understood to be irritating and perhaps even harmful.

    Fantastic insult, if you ask me. People who think it’s sexist can bite me. Or try to explain why they think it’s sexist, whichever they think will be more productive.

  76. 76
    Lance Armstrong

    LeftSidePostive:

    I love your posts. Thank you for putting out the effort; I learn stuff when you write.

    James Croft @ 68

    I say forge ahead.

    Fuckin’ A.

  77. 77
    Jacques Cuze

    Jason,

    I apologize, I am terribly busy today, very quickly, and inadequately,

    Actually, I’d prefer a certain order to demands for information here:

    First, that Jacques Cuze tell us what he’s “j’accuse”-ing. The name is just bugging me.

    Well, I’m glad you got the name, it’s from an old science fiction story. Of all the names of all the blogs, this name is the one that bugs you?

    Then, I’d like him to define “contemporary feminism” *specifically*.

    Again, briefly, and inadequately, the amalgam and mish mosh of feminism today as seen and described in the union of feminist blogs and feminist webzines and feminist conferences, with portions stretching back to the 70s, with portions arising after the idiot defeat of the ERA, and with portions developed after the porn era.

    One problem I have with contemporary feminists, is that there is no pinning them down.

    Earlier today, Stephanie Svan wrote a comment to someone else (very rough paraphrase) “Oh I get it, you think we are this branch of feminism, but we are not, atheism+ is more beyond 3rd wave feminism, so you should take up your argument with those other guys”

    I kind of sort of understand this.

    Walt Whitman said “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

    And I agree with that.

    However, the history of feminism is very problematic from a human rights standpoint.

    If I were, terrible analogy, I know, but I am very pressed for time, a member of the new KKK, and people were telling me of my old lynching ways and I said, “well that was the old KKK, now we are all about lobbying and separate but equal but we certainly condemn lynching”, most people would not let me get away with that.

    It’s one thing to distance yourself, but a common feminist debating tactic is known as NAFALT (Not all feminists are like that!)

    There are now so many different branches of feminism that you and I both know that for any given topic we can trivially find feminist blogs that say, X SEXIST SEXIST SEXIST! and find feminist blogs that say X EMPOWERS WOMEN! WOOHOO!

    It’s intellectually dishonest for feminists to present this face where NAFALT when the observational evidence is 180 degrees from that.

    Last week at Zinnia Jones’ blog, Heather put forth the argument that true radical feminism is not transphobic. Meaning it’s all of our lying eyes that says, yes it is.

    Is radical feminism part of contemporary feminism? Is radical feminism’s history part of contemporary feminism? Considering that the Michigan Womyn’s festival STILL excludes the transgendered and that RADFEM hub still has many links to it, AND THAT CATHERINE MACKINNON’S LEGAL THEORIES have largely been implemented in workplace sexual equality law and hostile environment law, than YES, YES, radical feminism from the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, 10s, must be considered part of contemporary feminism, and NAFALT arguments must be seen as distancing, dancing, avoiding, intellectually dishonest arguments.

    I’ll put it another way, I have identified as feminist since 1972 when a course I took first discussed the issue.

    Since then, I have also been through a terribly bitter divorce, and so now, I support many fathers rights issues.

    When people say FRA!!! That means you’re a misogynistic, rape apologizing, child abusing, MEN’S RIGHTSERS!!!!!

    Will you let me say, NAMALT!?

    Will you let me ignore some very real misogny that goes on at certain MRA blogs?

    Or will you hear me out without the dismissive insults and the insistence I cannot genuinely support social justice and equality for all?

    Then a definition of “social justice” in his mind, since he seems to think we have to “swear fealty” to feminism to be part of atheism plus, but doesn’t realize that feminism is one of the most contentious and immediate social justice causes there is presently.

    I don’t believe a hill of beans about contemporary feminism. From what I’ve seen most of the statistics are bullshit once people dig deeper into them. The science is putrid and a farce.

    But I have been fighting for equal rights for everyone since the late 60s. Absolutely including women, gays, and the transgendered.

    I have two daughters and I encourage them to take any lifepath, career, or whatever they wish. I tutor them when needed in math and the sciences, I take them to science and technology museums, I teach them how to program computers.

    It’s total bullshit, and you should examine your assumptions, to think that humanity never discovered or fought for social justice until feminism came along. Or to imagine that people cannot find for women’s rights unless they identify as feminists.

    What it probably means is that you are historically ignorant, AND YOUR PERCEPTION OF SOCIAL JUSTICE only came about after an introduction to feminism.

    Then after all that, once we’ve found him on the map, THEN he can tell us what evidence leads him to believe his particular definition of feminism / social justice / et cetera should be considered canon.

    Actually, I think we should flip this, and if Stephanie Svan and others can just say “We’re somewhere beyond 3rd Wave” and other people can say “If you dislike A+ you’re an asshole and a douchebag” and PZ can say, “I’ve got a logo for people that reject A+, it’s A*”, then what we really need is what people have been asking for for weeks:

    WHAT IS A+’s position: Is it humanism? Is it a demand for a certain set of feminism? If so, WHICH SET? What does A+ stand for? Are there principles that can be laid out? Position papers? Which is primary for A+, Skepticism, Atheism or Feminism?

    And A+ needs to do that without weaseling NAFALT, “somewhere beyond 3rd wave” answers.

    Hope that helps, I need to run.

    “Jacques Cuze” — may I just ask, what twigged you to the name? Heritage? French classes? History classes? As a kid, I loved the science fiction story it came from, but there it’s not until the final page (IIRC) that the pun in the hero’s name is revealed.

    You all may flame me now.

  78. 78
    Jacques Cuze

    Two more things,

    one: it’s incredibly dishonest for A+ people in 2012, surrounded by the gamification of society, brought up in a world of grades, to claim how shocked, shocked they are that people that disagree with A+ tenets would take offense at the name, because golly gee whilikers, it’s just an optional, non-judgmental name, and is not intended to imply superiority of any sort.

    two: decide what’s primary, atheism, skepticism, or feminism. I think the evidence is there that A+ is a feminist movement and it’s an intentional cooption of atheism. If it’s a feminist movement, fine, make that clear in the name, and most of these arguments will vanish overnight. If it’s not a feminist movement, make it clear and obvious a member of A+ can fundamentally disagree with many or most tenets of contemporary feminism while still supporting social justice.

    The behavior of A+ bloggers at FtB in name calling people who disagree with them is very telling. Own it.

  79. 79
    XinXin

    I’m a radical feminist and I’m not a transphobe. A group of people tried to slander me with that, unsuccessfully, although the trolls still come around to accuse me of that.

    A radical feminist sees things from the root. Patriarchy is that root of women’s oppression.

    I am a Jewish woman who is thrilled about A+ after reading Jen’s post and seeing all the women come out and say ‘I wanted to be part of this community for so long but the misogynists…’

    Don’t be afraid to call yourselves feminist. There will be a lot of pressure for you to NOT use that word. In fact, I’ve heard that A+ is now some religion. LOL

    I am not surprised at the reaction. The reaction is coming mainly from anti-feminists. Not surprised at all.

    Here’s a hint for anyone wanting to join A+: look up feminism on the net and understand it before commenting about it. This would surely help. Otherwise, all of these threads are going to be feminism lessons and people who consider themselves rational and logical should look this stuff up prior to making a peep about it.

    Good Luck Everyone!
    L’chaim!

  80. 80
    smhll

    Two more things,

    one: it’s incredibly dishonest for A+ people in 2012, surrounded by the gamification of society, brought up in a world of grades, to claim how shocked, shocked they are that people that disagree with A+ tenets would take offense at the name, because golly gee whilikers, it’s just an optional, non-judgmental name, and is not intended to imply superiority of any sort.

    It’s not on a report card!

    The letter A has more meanings than just the best grade you can get in a class in some cultures. The “A” has also been used as a shorthand symbol for atheism for some time.

    “Plus” has meanings like “in addition to”.

    I’ve read Jane MacGonigal’s book about the gamification of everything, but none of the games I play have grades. (I think some of the mission-based war games my husband plays do flash a report card on the screen.)

    Honestly, though, what does gamification have to do with atheism or the topic of this post. It seems to me an odd direction to reach in.

    (I haven’t read the Sci Fi story that was references. The French phrase “j’accuse” would be pronounced like the nym. It means “I accuse (you)”. It’s a historical reference to the Dreyfus affair. So some people might read that into your name. (Maybe you already knew that.)

  81. 81
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    @karmakin #73:

    The problem sometimes, is that people believe that their intent is magic. They believe that it’s ok if I’m a sexist/racist/classist ass because the people who are not like that will recognize that and not take what I’m saying to heart. And all that does is normalizes such behavior.

    #66, retry:

    they think that the people they are criticizing are not interested in eliminating these sorts of cultural biases, only changing them to be more advantageous.

    You mean a variant of the hypocracy complaint (campaigning for equality, yet using slurs and negative tropes in rhetoric, rather than expunging them)? Except concluding that it’s so widespread and severe it renders whole group ineffective – instead of a tu quoque excuse to stop listening?

  82. 82
    LeftSidePositive

    @Jacques, pt. I

    Then, I’d like him to define “contemporary feminism” *specifically*.

    Again, briefly, and inadequately, the amalgam and mish mosh of feminism today as seen and described in the union of feminist blogs and feminist webzines and feminist conferences, with portions stretching back to the 70s, with portions arising after the idiot defeat of the ERA,

    So, basically you’re trying to pretend that feminism is a monolith, and squeezing a lot of disparate and contradictory philosophies, strategies, and focuses under one label and then declare you distrust it all.

    Wow, that just sounds sooo intellectually rigorous and totally not like you’re trying to discredit a whole movement by its most distasteful/misguided elements!

    and with portions developed after the porn era.

    When the fuck was “the porn era”?! Hasn’t porn existed for, like, ALL OF RECORDED HUMAN HISTORY?

    One problem I have with contemporary feminists, is that there is no pinning them down.

    Yes, I’m really, really sorry that you can’t condense millions of people and forty+ years worth of thought and controversy into a single soundbite. Also, you were the one who dragged all sorts of disparate ideologies together into one label “contemporary feminism” and then whined that the people who had nothing to do with being lumped into that label don’t agree with each other!

    Walt Whitman said “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

    Where exactly did Stephanie contradict herself? You do realize don’t you, that belonging to one school of thought that is not quite the same as another related school of thought is not “contradicting oneself”? It’s “disagreeing with those people in that other school of thought”! Also, if you actually WANTED to understand what Stephanie was saying (and I’m pretty sure you don’t!), you could at least look up the tenets of third wave feminism and ask about THOSE.


    However, the history of feminism is very problematic from a human rights standpoint.

    Yeah, the history of DEMOCRACY is very problematic from a human rights standpoint. There has been no movement in the history of ever that has gotten everything right for all people at the very beginning. Human beings are complicated, and fallible. Some of us try to make our thinking and our actions better. Others just get in the way by whining at a bunch of progressive activists in 2012 for all the mistakes made in 1978.

    If I were, terrible analogy, I know, but I am very pressed for time, a member of the new KKK, and people were telling me of my old lynching ways and I said, “well that was the old KKK, now we are all about lobbying and separate but equal but we certainly condemn lynching”, most people would not let me get away with that.

    So, are you trying to claim that feminism was initially formed for the express purpose of slapping down gays and minorities?!

    How about, instead: women wanted to better their lot in life, but they still had all the other baggage from their culture that AT BASELINE was homophobic, racist, and transphobic. They deserve criticism along with just about everyone else in the mid-20th century for failing to fix that, but this does not invalidate their other goals.

    Also, your analogy fails because “separate but equal” is still cruel, racist, and wrong (and was used as a justification to lynch people who didn’t want to be separate). “Women deserve equality” is not. Furthermore, the behavior you’re criticizing in the KKK was its central purpose, and was even MORE racist and violent than was standard at the time. You’re conflating intentionally doing harm with not paying enough attention to others.

    It’s one thing to distance yourself, but a common feminist debating tactic is known as NAFALT (Not all feminists are like that!)

    I think we’ve said–if you want to quibble with the feminists active in A+, address what they actually believe, and if you don’t know, ASK.

  83. 83
    LeftSidePositive

    @Jacques, pt II

    There are now so many different branches of feminism that you and I both know that for any given topic we can trivially find feminist blogs that say, X SEXIST SEXIST SEXIST! and find feminist blogs that say X EMPOWERS WOMEN! WOOHOO!

    Yeah, it’s almost as though it’s a vibrant and evolving discipline with rigorous debate and a variety of contributing viewpoints, where you don’t have to take anything on faith!

    Instead of finding this threatening or confusing, you could evaluate the merits of each argument and decide what you support, rather than irrationally expecting people with different life experiences, goals, and perspectives to act like a hivemind. You could maybe respect the fact that the point of their intellectual inquiry is to optimize the lives of women (and men), not to generate facile soundbites for you.

    It’s intellectually dishonest for feminists to present this face

    What face? You haven’t defined what exactly you’re objecting to or how you think feminists are presenting themselves.

    where NAFALT when the observational evidence is 180 degrees from that.

    What observational evidence? You haven’t provided any, much less enough to justify the word “all” in your acronym.

    Last week at Zinnia Jones’ blog, Heather put forth the argument that true radical feminism is not transphobic. Meaning it’s all of our lying eyes that says, yes it is.

    There are lots of different tenets of radical feminism–it did not form with the specific intent of excluding trans people. Some of the people who ascribe to radfem tenets are transphobic, and others are thoroughly opposed to that. Do the good people have to give up the label that works for them simply because some assholes also adopted it? Can you blame them for trying to stand up for what they believe in and objecting to harmful permutations of it?

    Is radical feminism part of contemporary feminism?

    Well, since you defined “contemporary feminism” as all feminist theory since 1970, and radical feminism has come about since 1970, I guess the answer would be “yes,” but much like “gender feminism” you haven’t established that “contemporary feminism” is even a useful term that refers to anything that someone could actually subscribe to, or is in any way relevant to post-third-wave skeptical feminism advocated by Atheism Plus.

    Considering that the Michigan Womyn’s festival STILL excludes the transgendered and that RADFEM hub still has many links to it,

    But do Atheism+ or any of the feminists here endorse this in any way? All you’ve got is deranged guilt-by-association nonsense. Look, feminists are human beings. Human beings have an amazing capacity to get things wrong and be shitheads. The fact that SOME human beings are shitheads does not invalidate any and every goal for which they’ve ever worked, and the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate the shitheadedness OF THE PARTICULAR GOAL OR IDEA under discussion.

    AND THAT CATHERINE MACKINNON’S LEGAL THEORIES have largely been implemented in workplace sexual equality law and hostile environment law,

    So what problem, exactly, do you have with Catherine MacKinnon’s legal theories with regard to sexual equality law? You do realize, don’t you, that someone can be really insightful in some ways, and a total fuck-up in others? For instance: I think Richard Dawkins is a pompous, privilege-denying ass when it comes to women’s issues. Does that mean I act shocked and say “RICHARD DAWKINS’S EVOLUTIONARY THEORIES have largely been implemented in academic discourse!! (Oh noez!)” Of course not. Because I know better than to commit an elementary genetic fallacy, and I also know that theories stand on their own merits and do not get tarnished by every other wrongheaded idea the person proposing them has ever been involved with.

    NAFALT arguments must be seen as distancing, dancing, avoiding, intellectually dishonest arguments.

    Why, because you lumped us all together and now you’re entitled to say that because some groups fucked up you get to derail every thoughtful feminist discussion forevermore?!

    Since then, I have also been through a terribly bitter divorce, and so now, I support many fathers rights issues.

    Oooohhhhboy, this explains SO much…

    Or will you hear me out without the dismissive insults and the insistence I cannot genuinely support social justice and equality for all?

    We HAVE heard you out. You have not substantiated ONE FUCKING DOG-DAMN THING about your worldview, and you have just taken every single chance you could to misrepresent and derail feminists working for causes to which you have not put forth a single coherent objection. We are not deciding a priori that you’re sexist; you are SHOWING US sexist behavior by being incredibly dishonest and derailing, which is hostile to women and their allies trying to carve out a safe space.

  84. 84
    LeftSidePositive

    @Jacques, pt. III

    From what I’ve seen most of the statistics are bullshit once people dig deeper into them.  The science is putrid and a farce.

    Care to actually provide any evidence for this assertion?

    But I have been fighting for equal rights for everyone since the late 60s. Absolutely including women, gays, and the transgendered.

    Then why are you investing so much time derailing every thread about feminism here? Why are you so insistent on not learning about what people are saying? Why do you reflexively deny any idea that challenges you?

    I have two daughters and I encourage them to take any lifepath, career, or whatever they wish. I tutor them when needed in math and the sciences, I take them to science and technology museums, I teach them how to program computers.

    None of this changes the fact that you’re being willfully derailing whenever feminist issues come up, and you seem absolutely determined not to understand them. You may have good intentions, but intent is not magic. Also, most biases are unconscious, so doing some things well in your life doesn’t mean you have good philosophies about everything.

    to think that humanity never discovered or fought for social justice until feminism came along.

    No one ever said this.

    Or to imagine that people cannot find for women’s rights unless they identify as feminists.

    You’re strawmanning “you must accept feminism’s core principle that women are entitled to political, legal, and social equality” to “you must identify with the label ‘feminist.’” Come to think of it, this is exactly the same trick you’re trying to pull in acting like A+ people are too with-us-or-against-us…

    (It’s also not a question of just “identifying as feminist”–it’s also about completely fucking losing your shit whenever feminism comes up, and a demonstrated refusal to care about what the people in the conversation are actually saying, that shows you’re not doing very well on that whole fight-for-women’s-rights front!)

    and other people can say “If you dislike A+ you’re an asshole and a douchebag”

    I think you’re confusing disliking the moniker or the group with disliking the PRINCIPLES behind A+. And yes, if you dislike social justice, the idea that women/gays/lesbians/transgendered persons/racial minorities/etc. deserve equal opportunity and treatment with basic human decency, compassion, integrity, and a commitment to thoroughly evaluate the reasons for our beliefs and the effects they have on others–then you are in fact a douchebag by definition, and if you actively oppose people speaking up for making strides in all these important areas (no matter what label they use to do it), then you are most definitely an A*.

    Is it humanism?

    This has been written about at great length, so why don’t you go read those blog posts?! The long and short of it is that the general principles of A+ are broadly similar to those of humanism, but that we come to that through a specifically atheist background, and in general we tend to be a bit more outspoken, and most (not all) aren’t big on ritual or warm-fuzziness for its own sake (aka Harvard Humanists). They also like that Atheism Plus is a strong statement and in-your-face about reclaiming “atheists” whereas many people feel the label “Humanist” is not well understood by the lay public and seems to shy away from the fact of our atheism (although by no means do all individual humanists do so).

    Is it a demand for a certain set of feminism? If so, WHICH SET?

    No. Anyone who seeks to advocate for the social, legal, and political equality of women is welcome, provided they are actually thinking critically about whether or not the way they want to go about this goal actually MAKES SENSE. That’s why Stephanie challenged those who claimed to be “equity feminists” as to whether or not there was any reason to believe their philosophy would actually be beneficial to women’s equality. They have failed to substantiate it.

    In contrast, both Greta Christina and Taslima Nasreen can consider themselves A+ if they want to (no idea if Taslima’s jumped on this particular bandwagon?), even though they have very different ideas: because they are intellectually rigorous, honest, thoughtful, and make a good-faith effort to support their views. Such people, though they disagree, can have a productive and honest debate about the strengths of their respective positions, and may learn from each other.

    What does A+ stand for? Are there principles that can be laid out?

    Hasn’t Jen McCreight already done this? Why don’t you start from there and ask specific questions, to show you’ve done your homework?

    Position papers?

    For you to expect position papers out of a movement that has been around for about two weeks is pretty damn rich!

    Which is primary for A+, Skepticism, Atheism or Feminism?

    Why should one be primary? Atheism is simple–we don’t believe in God, and that’s that. I would say that skepticism is next, because our feminism is a result of our being skeptical of gender stereotypes and rules. Ian Cromwell has some excellent stuff on how feminism is the most evidence-based approach to gender, and he considers himself a “gender skeptic.”

    You all may flame me now.

    Ooooh, I love how you’re pulling on the victim mantle now! How about we strenuously disagree with you? How about we ask you to provide any evidence for what you’re saying? How about we point out that you’re being willfully dishonest and derailing? How about acknowledging that you’re not some brave soul getting “flamed,” but a dedicated troll who refuses to educate himself, has on privilege blinders the size of a Buick, and repeatedly distorts arguments made by others?

  85. 85
    LeftSidePositive

    @Jacques, pt IV

    And A+ needs to do that without weaseling NAFALT, “somewhere beyond 3rd wave” answers.

    Here’s a rough stab at it, at least from my point of view:

    *I think religion has been a huge detriment to the status of women worldwide and throughout history.
    *I consider irrational thinking to be dangerous and detrimental to all humans, including women.
    *I believe that magical thinking that flatters women or womanhood is still irrational, and devalues the necessity of women achieving real political, legal, and social equality.
    *I expect law enforcement and the judiciary to take all sexual violence seriously, and be pro-active against victim-blaming.
    *I think expression of gender identity and sexual orientation are fundamental human rights and deserving of medical and legal support when necessary.
    *I support the right of any individual to perform zir gender and engage in consensual sex as feels right to zem.
    *I support questioning our culture’s expectations of gender performance and sexual activity, but do not consider this a denunciation of the individuals who prefer these behaviors (unless they are promoting marginalizing/gender essentializing tropes publicly or advocating others adopting system-reinforcing behavior as “empowerment”).
    *I support those who have nontraditional or non-conforming styles of self-expression.
    *I do not tolerate sexual harassment or gender-based intimidation on any level, and I believe normalization of small levels of harassment enables and empowers larger violations.
    *I am opposed to legal interference with the sexual behavior of consenting adults.
    *I demand a culture where we respect individual’s preferences about their own bodies and value consent, from small social interactions all the way to sexual intercourse.
    *I believe no one ever deserves having zir preferences about zir body and privacy overridden.
    *I respect that by being sexual in one aspect of one’s life or public image, one is not consenting to be sexualized in all aspects of one’s life or without one’s consent.
    *I think “benign sexism” is still sexism, and contributes to unconscious biases and pernicious social norms against women.
    *I seek women’s parity in education and the workforce, and wish to dismantle the social norms leading to the “chilly climate” against women.
    *I believe all human beings deserve bodily autonomy and access to medical care, including comprehensive reproductive health.
    *I support teaching comprehensive sex education in schools and oppose reinforcing sex-negative gender stereotypes in the classroom.
    *I expect any claim about how men and women are supposedly different to be backed up by evidence.
    *I am opposed to the social constructs perpetuated by advertising, film, TV, magazines, advice columns, etc., that expect women to focus on beauty and caregiving and that position rationality, practicality, aggression, strength, and courage as male attributes.
    *I am opposed to social norms that give men implicit permission to treat women’s bodies as public property, to be ogled, judged, mocked, and sexualized.
    *I am opposed to sexualization–treating someone as a sexual object, trivializing them, and robbing them of their own agency and individuality–but very much in favor of sexuality–the authentic expression of autonomous individuals communicating their sexual identities and desires.
    *I am opposed to narratives that frame women’s sexuality exclusively in terms of being pleasing to and admired by men.
    *While I may criticize cultural assumptions of the commodification of women’s bodies in the vast majority of sex work, I feel it vitally necessary that people have the legal freedom to engage in sex work and legal protection to do so safely.
    *I applaud sex work that educates, demonstrates consensual and mutually-fulfilling sexual encounters, is sex-positive, promotes gender-equality, and embraces all appearances and body types.
    *I think we need to be pro-active about including women’s voices in our culture, since the entrenched cultural inertia is male-dominated and male-reinforcing.
    *I believe injustice against one person or group is injustice against everyone.

    I’m sure this list is by no means complete. Also, while this list focuses on gender (since that seems to be what you’re asking about), many analogous statements may be made with regard to race, disability, class, etc.

  86. 86
    karmakin

    Eh maybe. That said, I personally think the hypocrisy argument is way overused, so I’m not trying to make that argument.

    What I’m saying flat out is that people think that feminism is sexist. They’re wrong of course…some self-described feminists are, of course, but by and large the ideology itself isn’t sexist.

    The problem is that sexist behaviors and attitudes reinforce that incorrect belief, and that’s why it’s problematic. (There’s also the meta-issue that I don’t think that a community that doesn’t combat othering can last very long before it starts othering itself, but that’s a different issue)

  87. 87
    LeftSidePositive

    @karmakin, but there are abundant people who will go to great lengths to conflate any criticism of male privilege with being “sexist against men”–am I supposed to completely give up on criticizing male privilege and all the harms it does just because it will incorrectly reinforce a false belief that those who hold it are determined to hold anyway?

    For further reading:

    http://www.shakesville.com/2009/08/terrible-bargain-we-have-regretfully.html

  88. 88
    Ani J. Sharmin

    @corey (#70):

    Then you contradict yourself

    The perhaps ironic part of this is that I was responding to what I think was a contradiction on your part in comment #57, in which you claim it is misandry to say that “men at least tend to get their work valued” even though you yourself provided an example of valuing men’s work and not women’s when you wrote, “I was talking about the odious jobs that must be done for society to work. Do women do these jobs? I really don’t think so.” I see your statement as a perfect example of what Echidna was pointing out.

    To clarify what I wrote: Yes, I do think that people, especially some in the upper classes, look down on those who do hard labor work and/or make very little money. And there are also people who think that these hard-labor, low paying jobs are important to society, who praise people who do this work (some genuinely, some perhaps condescendingly). At the same time, I’ve come across the argument that men have built society, do much of the hard work to keep it running, while women don’t contribute much and just live off of men, and it often comes from people who are hateful against women. That’s (an extreme example of) what I mean by women’s work not being valued and not considered real work; it’s just considered something women are supposed to do and not acknowledged as a necessary part of society or difficult. Meanwhile, men get praised for running society. No, not from the same people who are looking down on them (except perhaps for pandering politicians), but from certain segments of society.

    Maybe those are the words I needed to express this in a way that doesn’t trigger blind irrational negativity from people I consider to be political allies.

    In my view, one of the causes of this negativity is that these complaints often get brought up as a point against feminism when feminists have been among the very people fighting against gender roles that limit people of all genders. But, of course (as I think was pointed out by Sally Strange in comment #63, in response to Jaques), there are many different people who identify themselves as feminists. And I think we live in a society where there there’s a certain limited version of feminism that, as already stated, supports tradition gender roles — sometimes, but not always, linked to religious beliefs that state that it’s okay for women to vote and things like that, but that there are certain areas of life that should still be “traditional” (e.g. home, religious institutions). Remembering back to history class, this type of divide has been in feminism from the very beginning, with some women focusing specifically on things like right to vote while others wanted to change all parts of society.

    Often, the people who still believe in traditional gender roles and things like that portray themselves as the “reasonable” feminists, while portraying those who want to change society at large as being too “radical”. (Since we’re on a website with discussion about religion and atheism, see, for example, the religious apologetic arguments that try to claim that the “separate but equal” role demanded by religious beliefs is really not discriminatory against women, but is real equality.)

    There are, as stated above, feminists who believe in challenging sexism throughout society. They even criticize other feminists who they disagree with, instead of making excuses for them. And yet, these feminists get accused of not doing enough to combat gender roles, even though whenever they try, they receive much pushback. It would be one thing to criticize, say, a feminist who believes in challenging gender roles but does not criticize other feminists who speak up in favor of those roles, but if a feminist does criticize other feminists on this topic, she’s certainly not ignoring the problem. So, when something that’s being done by feminists who have brought into this idea of gender roles is brought up in an argument with other feminists, there’s negativity because people are being blamed for what other people are doing and being blamed for not being able to change society quickly enough. It’s like going up to a feminist who, for example, does talk about equal rights for LGBT people and who does criticize feminists who don’t believe in equal rights for these groups, and telling her there’s a problem. She knows about the problem already and is trying to address it. So, complaining to her comes across as going to the people who are trying to solve the problem and asking them why they’re not doing enough, while that group that’s trying to solve the problem is vilified by a great deal of society. Add to that the often-stated claim (not something you’ve said, but which often comes up) that feminism has “gone too far” in only helping women and is now hurting men, it comes across as blaming feminism for pre-existing problems in society and seeing equality as zero-sum game.

  89. 89
    jenny6833a

    In #71, Sally Strange says

    Therefore, douchebag: a thing that was once thought essential to women’s health but is now understood to be irritating and perhaps even harmful.

    You did say ‘thing’ you know, not ‘person.’ And even if one were to accept the illogical leap to ‘person,’ the term is seldom used as you describe.

    Fantastic insult, if you ask me. People who think it’s sexist can bite me. Or try to explain why they think it’s sexist, whichever they think will be more productive.

    You missed my last two paragraphs. I’m asking why such 3rd grade insults are necessary. I have been under the distinct impression all these many years that atheists were rational, grown up people who made their points via facts, reason, and logic. If that’s what atheists are, I’m not seeing many atheists around here.

    Bite you where? Why?

    Are you asking me to hurt you? Or do you want me to pick up some disease you have?

  90. 90
    Sally Strange

    Hi Jenny. Your name is familiar, and that’s not a good thing.

    Therefore, douchebag: a thing that was once thought essential to women’s health but is now understood to be irritating and perhaps even harmful.

    You did say ‘thing’ you know, not ‘person.’

    Indeed. It is a Metaphor. I’m sure your high school English teacher told you about metaphors. Were you not paying attention?

    And even if one were to accept the illogical leap to ‘person,’ the term is seldom used as you describe.

    You mean, seldom used in a very logical manner, to describe a person who probably thinks of himself (or sometimes herself) as being a great boon to women, but is in reality an irritant and possibly even actively harmful? I assert that you are wrong. I frequently see the word used in that sense, and since we are just doing bare assertions here, I assert that you are wrong and I am right. That’s all I need to do, going by your example.

    Fantastic insult, if you ask me. People who think it’s sexist can bite me. Or try to explain why they think it’s sexist, whichever they think will be more productive.

    You missed my last two paragraphs.

    Which paragraphs? The ones you wrote after I wrote what I wrote?

    I’m asking why such 3rd grade insults are necessary.

    I don’t recall asserting that they are strictly necessary. I was just explaining (again) the etymology of “douchebag” and the reasons why I and others are fond of it as an insult word.

    I have been under the distinct impression all these many years that atheists were rational, grown up people who made their points via facts, reason, and logic.

    “Grown up people” know that facts, reason, and logic exist independently of insults. If insults are used in lieu of facts, reason, and logic, then “grown up people” recognize that the argument must fail. However, if insults are used in addition to facts, reason, and logic, then “grown up people” are capable of parsing the facts from the insults. I’m sorry you haven’t reached the “grown up people” stage of development.

    If that’s what atheists are, I’m not seeing many atheists around here.

    Somebody misinformed you. Atheists are just people who don’t buy claims of the existence of god or gods. Facts, reason, and logic only occasionally enter into the equation.

    Bite you where? Why?

    That would be another one of those tricky metaphors! You maybe ought to absent yourself from “grown up people” websites until you can get the hang of using non-literal language.

    Are you asking me to hurt you? Or do you want me to pick up some disease you have?

    Well, that’s not very nice–saying that I might have a nasty disease and want you to catch it. I guess that, by the standards you set out yourself, you are neither a “grown up person” nor an atheists, since you have also descended into crass and puerile insults.

    Happily for you, your definitions of “grown up person” and “atheist” are both shite.

  91. 91
    thegambler

    I have only one real issue with Atheism+ myself.

    My understanding is that one of the (for lack of a better word) tenets of Atheism+ is that equality between the sexes and races and cultures is believed to always be good in all cases, at all times, for all people.

    Maybe that’s true, but we all know the nature of science is knowledge is provisional.

    what would happen if Atheism+ runs into scientific evidence that runs counter to one of the tenets of Atheism+?

    Would Atheism+ accept reality and attempt to deal with it while maintaining the spirit of the former idea

    or would Atheism+ deny reality and denounce any and all who disagree?

    I understand now that the tenets and ideas behind Atheism+ are still pretty new and flexible, but what about in 5 years, or 10?

    provisional tenets and have nasty habit of becoming doctrine over time.

  92. 92
    jenny6833a

    Jacques Cuse says

    First, that Jacques Cuze tell us what he’s “j’accuse”-ing. The name is just bugging me.

    Well, I’m glad you got the name, it’s from an old science fiction story.

    It’s cute if you’re from Paris, but it doesn’t fly in the south of France.

    It comes out with an extra syllables as J’acc-que-cuse-uh

  93. 93
    Bernard Bumner

    Maybe that’s true, but we all know the nature of science is knowledge is provisional.

    That may be trivially true, but it is clearly possible to assess the weight of evidence.

    Would Atheism+ accept reality and attempt to deal with it while maintaining the spirit of the former idea

    or would Atheism+ deny reality and denounce any and all who disagree?

    So… er, you want to know whether, in the case of the highly implausible scenario that science somehow demonstrates that inequality is good, useful, and ethical, Atheism+ would adapt to incorporate that information?

    I’m guessing the first thing anyone identifying as Atheist+ would do is to check the references.

    I’m not sure that Atheism+ needs a contingency plan just in case social injustice turns out to be great, after all.

    Why would you even feel a need to ask that question? (Introspection may be more useful to you in this case than the question you actually felt moved to ask.)

  94. 94
    LeftSidePositive

    what would happen if Atheism+ runs into scientific evidence that runs counter to one of the tenets of Atheism+?

    We would modify our worldview, just like we would if the sun were to rise in the west tomorrow. However, in both cases, we don’t consider the possibility likely enough to invest time or effort into worrying about it.

    Do you HAVE any such evidence, or are you just JAQing off?

  95. 95
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    @thegambler #91:

    I have only one real issue with Atheism+ myself.
    [...]
    I understand now that the tenets and ideas behind Atheism+ are still pretty new and flexible, but what about in 5 years, or 10?

    You don’t have a real issue.
     
    Lots of people do a thing and use a common label to recognize each other. If that thing later becomes, or is shown to have been, counterproductive:
    – They stop doing it, and the group dissolves, aside from some residual denialists.
    – The group debates how best to change its goals, forking to new labels/things if there’s not agreement. Some members lose interest and leave.
     

    would Atheism+ deny reality and denounce any and all who disagree?

    Atheism+ is not a top-down organization with decrees. It’s only capable of being attributed unified traits insofar as most of the people associating with it agree with each other. What you’re doing is accusing everyone in favor of the label of being latent denialists despite their having already agreed that skepticism’s adherence to reality is important (and there’s no reason to expect self-deception or noble lies to be more beneficial to society).

  96. 96
    karmakin

    @LSP: You can talk about privilege without being sexist you know. The difference, of course is that one recognizes that privilege is more about society-wide tropes, patterns and “conventional wisdoms” and less about individual active decisions. Further-more, this does mean that people who are even part of said minority groups can act in ways that sustain privilege. Not that this justifies privilege, of course, but it means that hoisting people up onto petards isn’t the right way to talk about it.

    You’re the one that’s trying to minimize the problem of privilege here, not me.

  97. 97
    LeftSidePositive

    @karmakin

    @LSP: You can talk about privilege without being sexist you know.

    Of course you can–that was my POINT in the first place. What I’m saying is that a lot of the accusations of “sexism” that get flung at feminists are from people who hear criticisms of privilege and assume either 1) the way men are socialized to behave are their true natures and as such we’re “discriminating” against them by saying, e.g., “don’t stare at my breasts when I’m trying to talk to you,” or 2) that any discussion of men as a group must be “sexist” rather than an assessment of privilege and socialized harmful behavior. So, to say:

    The problem is that sexist behaviors and attitudes reinforce that incorrect belief, and that’s why it’s problematic.

    ignores the fact that even valid criticisms of male privilege will reinforce the belief that feminists are "sexist" for people who are highly motivated not to address their privilege. As such, what you've said is unhelpful.

    The difference, of course is that one recognizes that privilege is more about society-wide tropes, patterns and “conventional wisdoms” and less about individual active decisions.

    Sure, but that in no way means that we have to ignore individual decisions (active or unconscious) when they sustain privilege, and refrain from holding those people accountable and expecting them to behave better. Otherwise, how exactly are we to tackle society-wide tropes? Indeed, without specific individual examples, how are people even going to get a toehold to understand how these tropes are operating?

    it means that hoisting people up onto petards isn’t the right way to talk about it.

    Citation needed. Also a definition of “hoisting people up onto petards.” Also an acknowledgement that many people CLAIM they would listen if only you were nicer as a way to defang your criticism and deflect any introspection. Also consider that no single approach/criticism is going to change behaviors overnight.

    You’re the one that’s trying to minimize the problem of privilege here, not me.

    HOW?!

  98. 98
    LeftSidePositive

    dammit.

  99. 99
    Jason Thibeault

    FIFY.

  100. 100
    LeftSidePositive

    FIFY.

    Thanks!

  101. 101
    DW

    The whole A+ thing seems oddly ahistorical to me.

    As if atheists hadn’t – in the past – wrangled with these issues. Notwithstanding its religious roots, European existentialism is the attempt to see where atheism (most notably as the proposal of metaphysical emptiness)leads us: particularly in the field of ethics.. A+ seems to act as if that never happened..

    Also, there seems to me something really vague about ‘Social Justice’. What is that? Is anyone actually against it?

    There is also a disconnect in feeling that feminism, equality, etc needs to be ADDED to atheism. Some of us would argue that these notions are implicit in atheism itself- whether or not individuals recognise them as being so. Feminism, for example is an outworking of the idea of atheism – not an addition to it..

    more (of this) at http://dispirited.org/2012/08/30/atheism-plus-or-not-or-something-else/

  102. 102
    Jacques Cuze

    @jenny6833a, thank you, that’s interesting. I didn’t make it up as I’ve said, I only borrowed it. I wish I spoke French, and I wish I spoke it well enough to understand regional differences.

    @Jason Thibeault, enjoy your labor day, but I specifically wrote a long response to answer your questions, ….

  103. 103
    Paul

    “Those people who are pushing back against being told that their behaviours are harmful to our movement keep claiming that this is like a religion. What they’re really telling you is that they’d rather never be told to stop doing shitty things to good people.”

    This kind of reminds me of theists who say “you don’t believe in God because you just wanna run around and sin!”

  104. 104
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Paul,

    This kind of reminds me of theists who say “you don’t believe in God because you just wanna run around and sin!”

    And it turns out that for a certain type of atheist, that isn’t actually far from the truth. It runs more along the libertarian line of “…because you just wanna run around without anyone imposing rules on you!” for some people. They don’t see religion as being wrong just because there’s no reason to believe it, but also because there’s rules involved and rules are bad! That’s where we get the “AtheismPlus is just like a religion, because those people want to tell me what to do based on their values. Values are BAD, rules are BAD, freedom to enjoy my privilege is GOOD!”

  105. 105
    Jacques Cuze

    Hey, has anyone been lulzing at all the banninations being hammered out by Greta? A+!!

  106. 106
    Jason Thibeault

    Jacques: I’m still swamped with coding, so I don’t have time to rebut every point that’s gone unanswered as-yet. But you may want to reread the original post, especially where I said:

    With every person who by their behaviour embraces bigotry and prejudice whether they’re conscious of it or not, I’d rather tell them the effects of their behaviour, and convince them that to be a better person they need to change their behaviour, because some of these people are simply unaware. If they refuse, then I distance myself from them. If they’re stubborn and intractable and have been uncivil for any length of time, if they show no signs of abating, if they go on the attack, then I distance myself from them. Not “we”. Not unless you choose to judge these people by their behaviours the way I do. And they’re still free to keep acting like the douchenozzles they are — just as I’m free to associate with them or disengage as I see fit. It impinges not one whit on their ability to keep saying ridiculous nasty things about people, that I’ve said “not here”.

    It sounds to me like Greta’s saying “not here”.

    You have a problem with people curating their spaces and ousting people who’ve been shown to be abusive or derailing? Because in every forum you go to — even horrible forums like 4chan or Stormfront — you have exactly one rule for escaping the banhammer. Don’t piss off the admin. In this case, as I’ve said above, it is not contra Atheism Plus to remove from the conversation voices that are on the attack. It’s actually the POINT of the label — that we will protect the space for social justice ideals (including but not limited to feminism). People who attack those ideals without evidence or reason or logic, with nothing but a fomented hatred and an intractable inability to simply listen to the others’ viewpoints openly, get removed from the space because they aren’t helping.

    This isn’t “silencing dissent”. It’s silencing trolls. There’s a huge difference.

    You’ve dissented quite a bit here. You’ve completely boggled several of us, myself included, with your inability to simply get the fucking point. Atheism Plus is a way of stating “let’s take all these evidenced positions as given, and let’s stop getting derailed by 101-level or JAQ-off questions by intentional trolls and skip all that from now on.” I might be more lenient than most others, in trying to convince you first, but you’re rapidly approaching my own breaking point. It is only by the grace of the fact that I haven’t answered what you’ve provided me today that I am not already at that point.

  107. 107
    Sheesh

    Been a while since I could get back.

    Corey, you said you’d love cleaning up human shit for 40k, how about for $0, as the traditional rate has been for millennia. That said, I agree that the media is shitty and reinforces shitty tropes about gender (and if anyone cares, race, and a host of other topics). Duh.

    LSP touched on this:

    but it means that hoisting people up onto petards isn’t the right way to talk about it.

    I feel like I kinda have to comment on this since I slammed some slimepit commenter for the same mistake! A petard is sort of a bomb, and you aren’t usually hoisted onto it, the hoisting happens when it goes off when you are near it and it hoists you and your guts into the air. “Hoist by one’s own petard” is a long way of saying the more colloquial “backfire”.

  108. 108
    Jacques Cuze

    Oh Puh-leaze.

    It’s clearly not just me who doesn’t get your point. If it was just me, there wouldn’t be all these blog posts about why is it that there is so many questions about atheism+ being divisive.

    You wouldn’t have the Guardian writing this:

    Those of us who do not wish to extend our atheism into someone else’s definition of progressive politics may take rather unkindly to being described as immoral scum, useful but unsavoury body parts, and outdated contraceptive devices. In the week when American atheism made its appearance in the Economist’s editorial pages, it seems to have been sowing the seeds of that most religious of events – a schism.

    St Paul would be laughing his head off, had a Roman soldier not already deprived him of it. “See,” he might now write after reading those modern epistles, the blogs, comments and tweets around the birth of Atheism+, “how these atheists love one another.”

    Instead Jason you ask me questions, I take the time to respond, you blow me off, and then threaten bannination.

    As I said, Puh-leaze.

    Richard Feynman once remarked that unless one is able to make one’s ideas understandable to college freshmen, one doesn’t really understand them. On the other hand, when asked by a reporter to explain why he was awarded the Nobel Prize, Feynman remarked, “Listen buddy, if I could explain it in fifty words or less, it wouldn’t be worth a Nobel Prize.”

    There are two truths here: (1) Important ideas can be made accessible without dumbing them down; (2) The details of a scientific theory are important and typically inaccessible except to individuals with the requisite training. The hallmark of good science writing–the Feynman Test, let’s call it–is the ability to heed both of these truths at the same time.

    You have a two week old nascent movement that the Guardian describes as a schism. Instead of victim blaming people that understandably are confused and seeking clarification, why not own your shit and realize the need on your part to be clear and why not listen to people raising questions and consider those questions valid and not reasons for you to delegitimatize them and dismiss them.

  109. 109
    Jason Thibeault

    One more “oh puh-leaze” and you can forget any larger answer and expect the termination of this discussion by force. Read for fucking comprehension what I just posted.

  110. 110
    Jacques Cuze

    Oh puh-leaze, whatever dude. It’s pretty clear that I have been on topic and relevant.

    Do what you want, but own it, don’t blame it on mysterious outside forces.

  111. 111
    Jacques Cuze

    But it is a very convenient way for you to disregard my questions.

    So I guess you win when it comes to deflection and ignoring the hard questions, Mr. Skeptic.

  112. 112
    Sally Strange

    Right, cuz the Guardian always got EVERYTHING it ever wrote about Gnu Atheists 100% correct…

  113. 113
    LeftSidePositive

    You know, Jacques, I gave you a full, 4-part answer to your recent post. How’s that disregarding, deflecting, and ignoring questions?

  114. 114
    B-Lar

    Jacques, you are being woefully disingenious. The flaws in your thought process have been exposed. You have been offered many opportunities to inspect these processes and declined each time.

    I posit that you have no interest in challenging your misconceptions and you hide behind skepticism in order to avoid your obligations as a human being.

    You are dishonest. You do not seek Truth. You are the seed of the rot.

  115. 115
    jenny6833a

    102. Jacques Cuze says:

    @jenny6833a, thank you, that’s interesting. I didn’t make it up as I’ve said, I only borrowed it. I wish I spoke French, and I wish I spoke it well enough to understand regional differences.

    Like the United States and the UK, France has regional differences, but unlike in the USA/UK and between the USA and UK, they don’t impede communication.

    In the south of France, the whole word is pronounced; they don’t ‘swallow’ (or totally drop) the final syllable. Put another way, the trailing ‘e’ is pronounced, and pronounced ‘uh.’ Thus ‘Jacques’ is Jacq-uh (not Jacq) and ‘accuse’ is accus-uh (not accus).

    Way way back, long before the euro, on my first trip to Paris, a French engineer helpfully told me that something (I forget what) would cost me ‘quatre francs’ but actually said ‘qua fra’ (as in ‘kah frah’). I didn’t get it. My language consultant, from Beziers, explained and dismissively said, “They don’t speak real French here.” Parisians, predictably, regard full-word pronounciation as a provincial oddity. But they do understand each other.

    [This comment has been brught to y'all in an attempt to divert y'all from the acrimonious topic at hand.]

  116. 116
    SayNoMore

    “You are dishonest. You do not seek Truth. You are the seed of the rot.”

    And Verily I Cast Thee Into the Outer Darkness!

    Are you sure you’re not a slymepit troll trying to blacken the image of Atheism+ B-Lar? Because it certainly sounds like you are. Try more to make A+ sound like a religion, it’s not going to work.

  117. 117
    Jason Thibeault

    “Slymepit”, SayNoMore? That’s a bit of a tell, don’t you think? No? Don’t know what I’m talking about? Good. Keep your twitches so I can tell who’s coming from where.

    Jacques: the only things I can tell haven’t been adequately answered are the following.

    Jason,

    I apologize, I am terribly busy today, very quickly, and inadequately,

    Oh nice, blow me off!

    Oh wait, sorry, that’s what you accused ME of, for being terribly busy yesterday.

    Well, I’m glad you got the name, it’s from an old science fiction story. Of all the names of all the blogs, this name is the one that bugs you?

    Because it’s not that at all. There’s more history to the word than that. via Wiki:

    “J’accuse” (French pronunciation: [ʒaˈkyz], “I accuse”, or, in context, “I accuse you”) was an open letter published on January 13, 1898, in the newspaper L’Aurore by the influential writer Émile Zola.

    In the letter, Zola addressed President of France Félix Faure, and accused the government of anti-Semitism and the unlawful jailing of Alfred Dreyfus, a French Army General Staff officer sentenced to penal servitude for life for espionage. Zola pointed out judicial errors and lack of serious evidence. The letter was printed on the front page of the newspaper, and caused a stir in France and abroad. Zola was prosecuted and found guilty of libel on 23 February 1898. To avoid imprisonment, he fled to England, returning home in June 1899.

    Do you think you’re fighting a corrupt government and worry that you’re being unfairly prosecuted? I don’t know if the context of the sci-fi story has those same undertones, but I wouldn’t be surprised. And as Jenny points out, it’s only a clever name depending on where you live. Other places, it takes some squinting to catch it. As with me, living in the rural Maritimes in a mostly-English area.

    It’s total bullshit, and you should examine your assumptions, to think that humanity never discovered or fought for social justice until feminism came along. Or to imagine that people cannot find for women’s rights unless they identify as feminists.

    What it probably means is that you are historically ignorant, AND YOUR PERCEPTION OF SOCIAL JUSTICE only came about after an introduction to feminism.

    Others have answered this well enough, but I need to speak for myself: I came to social justice through atheism. Movement atheism is a social justice cause — overturning religious privilege in areas where religious majorities screw with laws and rights such that they benefit the religious and disadvantage the irreligious or those of the wrong religion. I found parallels with the gay rights movements first. Then with feminism later. This is all detailed in my essay Mission Creep. It still suggests to me you have little idea what “social justice” means.

    Actually, I think we should flip this, and if Stephanie Svan and others can just say “We’re somewhere beyond 3rd Wave” and other people can say “If you dislike A+ you’re an asshole and a douchebag” and PZ can say, “I’ve got a logo for people that reject A+, it’s A*”, then what we really need is what people have been asking for for weeks:

    WHAT IS A+’s position: Is it humanism? Is it a demand for a certain set of feminism? If so, WHICH SET? What does A+ stand for? Are there principles that can be laid out? Position papers? Which is primary for A+, Skepticism, Atheism or Feminism?

    It is an adjective describing the nexus of self-identified social justice advocates and humanists who identify primarily as atheists. It’s not a movement with set standards, or goals, though by our common grounds we’ve already come to a few ideals and positive actions, which I’ve largely identified in the original post. Go read it again.

    Feminism is ONE social justice cause, but it’s a very large and contentious one, where some people (like yourself) are skeptical of scientific sociological terms like “privilege” (for which we have a large body of evidence). There are also people like yourself who think that the disadvantages of being a man are terrible, but that the disadvantages of being a woman apparently either don’t exist or aren’t problematic enough to build into trends as opposed to individual micro-aggressions. Your fight for equality elides vast swathes of both scientific data and personal experiences.

    And your dismissive reductionism of several waves of feminist thought into one monolith so that you can complain that feminists often say “not all feminists are like that!” when you complain about something that one school of radical feminist (of which there are still multiple of those, don’t forget!) might do. You’re complaining that feminism is too nebulous to pin down to being only the most odious parts of itself as though the 0.0001% of feminism that believes that men are evil and must be subjugated, and that transsexuals are evil and not “real women”, et cetera, et cetera, is supposed to be representative of the whole. The “not all feminists are like that” argument is valid when the overwhelming majority of feminists aren’t like that. Likewise, the overwhelming majority of people aren’t 7 feet tall, so complaining “NAPASFT” (Not All People Are Seven Feet Tall) is a stupid thing to build an acronym around.

    Beyond all that, yes, people have explained a number of things a number of times and you repeat those tired tropes regardless. LSP has done a bang-up job of fisking your posts — I agree with everything (EVERYTHING!) she’s had to say on the matter both here and at Stephanie Zvan’s.

    Especially all the F-bombs.

    So when I throw you into moderation for being a disingenuous arguer, for being stubborn and intractable, for getting whole schools of thought completely wrong (seriously — go read about the three waves of feminism and understand that there are people, myself included, building a fourth wave of feminism that includes the kind of intersectionality that Atheism Plus embodies!), and for thinking my time is free for the taking while your own is sacrosanct, it’s not “magical outside forces”. It’s me putting a troll to bed.

  118. 118
    Jason Thibeault

    Or maybe the solution is to just to skip all the meaningless third grade playground shouts. You could say, for example, I disagree with that person, because ….

    The good old comma followed by that ‘because’ word is too little used around here.

    But when it’s used in a construction like “I disagree with that douchebag, because…” people just shut down at the first insult? No, the existence of an insult does not remove all the arguments contra that person’s views. It is a judgment call. And it can be done in exactly the same way without a swear word and pass some people’s “profanity filter”:

    “I disagree with the bigotry and dishonesty evinced by this person, because…”

    Both of them are judgment calls about a person’s character that moves into “defamation” territory if used incorrectly. “Douchebag” does not amount to defamation. It is exactly as emotive, and as long as it is not used in isolation (e.g. as long as there IS a because), it does not change the argument to ad hominem. And it is most assuredly not a playground insult to make emotive judgments alongside logical and rational arguments.

    Ethos, logos, pathos.

  119. 119
    Jason Thibeault

    Oh, and Jacques, speaking of avoiding questions:

    Actually, I think we should flip this

    You don’t get to ignore my question to ask me the same thing, when my answer is not only present in other writings of mine but also in this very post. I still want an answer. What evidence brings you to the conclusions that your particular definition of feminism and social justice should be considered canon? To answer that, you’ll also have to provide a definition of “contemporary feminism” that consists of more than “a mish-mosh of feminisms since 1970′s porn war” (???). Something a little more grounded in reality, please.

    You’re in moderation until you provide exactly that answer.

  120. 120
    B-Lar

    Are you sure you’re not a slymepit troll trying to blacken the image of Atheism+ B-Lar? Because it certainly sounds like you are. Try more to make A+ sound like a religion, it’s not going to work.

    No matter how hard I try, I couldn’t make A+ sound like a religion. Accusations of dogmaticism cannot stick to those who pursue Truth wherever it goes. My choices of phrase are only my own and mine alone. Today I chose to choose poetry, and whatever it sounds like to you is fine by me.

    “The seed and the rot” in apocryphal parlance refers to “the beginning and the end”. I tweaked it for my own amusement and took some poetic license with it so that it could become “the beginning of the end” and also “that with which the rot propogates itself”.

    If Jacques wants to claim that he is a skeptic without applying its principles to himself, and by being otherwise willfully disingenious and dishonest, then he is contributing to our collective misery and bringing the good name of skepticism into disrepute. Thusly, he is the seed of the rot.

    Skepticism requires humility as well as tenacity. We must all study this principle deeply.

  121. 121
    Jacques Cuze

    Jason,

    We’re pretty much done here. A dialogue is two part, not one person responding to the demands of another. Skepticism allows for, and demands, the questioning of premises.

    Atheism+, through the behavior of its founders, and you, shows time and again fealty to contemporary feminism while rejecting questions about that.

    Atheism+ is a feminist movement and has little to do with Atheism itself.

    I would like to add one more thing to LSP.

    LSP, you are abusive of people. This is not a tone argument. A tone argument is, “I will not listen to feminists because they are too shrill”.

    Not a tone argument is, “LSP, all you can do is curse at people and never assume good will”. LSP, I owe you no reading, and no response until you can stop your ugly, abusive, derailing, threatening behavior.

    It is not deflecting to ignore you. It’s common sense.

    I have been polite and on topic throughout, your need to ban me Jason is imaginary.

  122. 122
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    @Sheesh #107:

    Corey, you said you’d love cleaning up human shit for 40k, how about for $0, as the traditional rate has been for millennia.

    Eh… Demand can be higher when there aren’t sewers.
     
    Article: Wikipedia – Gong Farmer

    a term that entered use in Tudor England to describe someone who dug out and removed human excrement from privies and cesspits; the word “gong” was used for both a privy and its contents. Gong farmers were only allowed to work at night, hence they were sometimes known as nightmen. The waste they collected, known as night soil, had to be taken outside the city or town boundary or to official dumps for disposal, from where it might be taken to be spread as fertiliser on fields or market gardens.

    Those employed at Hampton Court during the time of Queen Elizabeth I, for instance, were paid sixpence a day, a good living for the period, but the working life of a gong farmer was “spent up to his knees, waist, even neck in human ordure”.

    Article: Wikipedia – Night Soil Examples
    On the other hand, there are the Indian Untouchables who have been indoctrinated to believe it their birthright to be poor and exploited, thanks to Hinduism’s caste system and its ostracism of ritualy impure occupations.

  123. 123
    SayNoMore

    ““Slymepit”, SayNoMore? That’s a bit of a tell, don’t you think? No? Don’t know what I’m talking about? Good. Keep your twitches so I can tell who’s coming from where.”

    Nope, I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I can hazard a guess, only people from the Slimepit spell it Slymepit? My bad.

    “Accusations of dogmaticism cannot stick to those who pursue Truth wherever it goes”

    Well that’s simply not true. Melodramatic and romantic in a naive starry-eyed way. But definitely not true. Nor what a person who really pursued truth rather than romantic notions would believe.

    ““The seed and the rot” in apocryphal parlance…

    Yes. In apocryphal parlance… I thought you said that you couldn’t make this sound religious?

    It’s highly suspicious to me that you deliberately use religious terminology and vague religious sounding pronouncements to deny that this smacks of religion. You may be honestly ‘poetic’ but it sounds a lot like someone trying to make us sound religious.

    “Skepticism requires humility as well as tenacity. We must all study this principle deeply.”

    More than that skepticism requires precision, accuracy, and only accepting truthful evidenced statements that are actually correct – not starry-eyed and clearly false slogans about “those in pursuit of Truth” and definitely no ‘apocryphal parlance’ and ‘vaguely sounding like a religion just when people are accusing us of being a crypto-religion’

  124. 124
    B-Lar

    More than that skepticism requires precision, accuracy, and only accepting truthful evidenced statements that are actually correct – not starry-eyed and clearly false slogans about “those in pursuit of Truth” and definitely no ‘apocryphal parlance’ and ‘vaguely sounding like a religion just when people are accusing us of being a crypto-religion’

    My turns of phrase are my own, and if the enemy choose to use them as ammunition, then it will be low calibre ammunition indeed. They are simply wrong. The whole point of A+ is that we recognise that there are those who actively work against principles of social justice, and dismiss their defamations and egotistical rationalisations because we can see them for what they are by virtue of our adherence to the truth.

    What is a skeptic if not one who is pursuing truth? I am happy to continue asserting that if you base your decisions on Truth and integrity, then defeat is only possible if you give up. Even if there are ten thousand deluded people against you, the truth will be borne out in reality. If I am ever shown to be wrong (and I have been) then invariably it is a result of a deviation from truth and integrity demands that I re-fix my position back to reality. I dont have a choice in the matter. Being wrong is a position from which no strategy will lead to success, and above all else, I consider myself a strategist. This might sound starry-eyed to you, but I have never been let down by this principle, and I will only abandon it if it can be shown to be false. Can you show it to be false, or is this an objection to tone and presentation?

    Here is a evidentially baseless quote from a chap who did some stuff in India awhile back: “There is no god greater than truth”. It is direct, inspiring, elegant, relevant, and sweet in its simplicity. It implies that Truth is a kind of god, and I am sure that there are some people who would paint it that way. To me it says: “Truth surpasses god” and playfully paints god as a cheap deception by comparison. Precision is important, but when your words will be taken out of context regardless how precise they are, why not express yourself as you wish to?

    A concession: I will endeavour to stop capitalising truth in future. Truth might be the most important thing there is, but it doesnt demand to be honoured and doesnt care about my fawning over it. I will not object if others do not agree however.

  125. 125
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    @B-Lar #123:

    I will endeavour to stop capitalising truth in future. Truth might be the most important thing there is, but it doesnt demand to be honoured

    I don’t know how much of your posts were performance, but capitalizing Truth can be interpreted by readers in ways other than fawning (like “Him”).
     
    Another common distinction between the two is that “truth” is correlated observations tied together with models, and “Truth” is how things really objectively are.

    “truth” may only superficially resemble “Truth” due to assumptions, faulty information, misunderstanding, etc. For practical purposes, a useful “truth” is attainable and indistinguishable until it fails.

    There are many metaphysical theories that attempt to relate the two, but often when someone brings up “Truth” in conversation, it’s to presume their own understanding of reality superceeds everyone else’s “truth”, regardless of evidence or lack thereof.

  126. 126
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    * how much of your posts were was

  127. 127
    Jason Thibeault

    Jacques Cuze: I just released your “parting shot” @121 from moderation to show everyone exactly why you need to be tossed into moderation — because you resist any attempt to keep you from derailing. Which is actually abusive of discourse, unlike LSP who is “abusive” only insofar as she swears.

    Either answer the questions you’ve been dodging, or take back your accusations that others are dodging. Or stay silent here forevermore. I care not.

  128. 128
    see_the_galaxy

    For simplicity, weâ

  129. 129
    B-Lar

    There are many metaphysical theories that attempt to relate the two, but often when someone brings up “Truth” in conversation, it’s to presume their own understanding of reality superceeds everyone else’s “truth”, regardless of evidence or lack thereof.

    Absolutely. That is an impression that I dont want to give, and furthermore I realised that I had not been judicious in my use of the capitalised version recently. I understand the distinction and used to be careful with it, but somewhere along the line I started waving the capital t around like I owned it and the line was becoming blurred.

    Its a minor quibble, but with a concept like Truth, fucking around is not allowed.

    I don’t know how much of your posts was performance

    Maybe a little. I tend to use flamboyant speech in meatspace too, and I am used to being looked at askance because of it which has resulted me embracing a “think what you like” attitude. It is not a dishonest performance though, and I hope that makes sense.

  130. 130
    see_the_galaxy

    Well, so much for that attempted post; anyway. How can a person get a full dump of what has
    happened, say, since tf00t’s self-disgrace starting in June? Would reddit, this place, and twitter
    capture it all?

  131. 131
    Jason Thibeault

    Not by a long shot, see_the_galaxy. You’d need to sample pretty well every blog at every community to see the whole scope, and to see the ribbons of hatred running through it.

    I don’t pretend the hate comes from a disproportionately large quarter of our community. It comes from a disproportionately VOCAL quarter, which damages us internally and externally.

  132. 132
    RG

    “Heck, where do you see misandry in feminism?”

    Great joke.

  133. 133
    RG

    “She didn’t ban others who were also, equally, if not more so, off topic.

    It’s this sort of behavior that leads me to believe it is safe to question atheism, safe to question skepticism, and not safe to question contemporary feminism, and hence, not an atheistic nor skeptical movement at all.”

    I continue to hear this type of response.

    I have an inherent suspicion in both directions.

    I would not be surprised if a number of atheist men (since not all atheists arrive at that position from reasonable thought or logical deconstruction of presumption) do have some aggressive views that infer some kind of negativity towards women.

    However, I’m also continually disturbed by the modern feminist machine (particularly, with this new fetish of “privilege”, which really only means “specific random ways I can correlate as being relevant to why my life isn’t as comfortable as yours”), and know from experience that many people (men and women) talking about woman-related hot topics have little-to-no capacity to discuss said topics rationally, devolve to the a priori resentment we’re all “supposed to feel” (if we’re not barbarians, we’re told) about them, and then get booted or publicly hushed if offering any view that may even remotely seem not 100% positive odd whatever position they are defending.

    My final best guess would be that there are honest, skeptical, reasonable people in both groups who, if they alone were the champions of engaging in the discussions, could arrive at a sensible meeting of minds…but that both factions are, largely, populated by the flag-wavers.

    It really is a disheartening realization to see people being able to treat anything as a new personal dogma, rather than consistently analyzing everything we think must be so just because we “feel” it is.

  1. 134
    The Atheist Movement is Full of Misogynists » Oolon's Dumping Ground

    [...] So close with this one… http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/09/01/atheism-plus-is-just-like-a-religion/ [...]

  2. 135
    Atheism is not enough (pt. 3) » Lousy Canuck

    [...] you. Especially those of you who already think that FtB is a pack of bullies, or that Atheism Plus is a religion, or that feminism is unskeptical misandry. Every one of you — especially the anti-FtB, [...]

  3. 136
    The 2012 Lousy Year In Review » Lousy Canuck

    [...] I proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Atheism Plus is just like a religion (because both of them dare deign to tell you that certain actions are objectively nasty). Trolls [...]

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