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Sep 05 2012

Congratulations to Team Douchebag on their first major victory

It’s war once there’s casualties, right?

Jen McCreight and her commenters dubbed the necessity for a third wave of atheism — a wave that actually gives a shit about people who are getting forced out of the movement by a cloud of vile hatred just because they’re not cis males — as “atheism plus”. A forum is built and a thousand members join within a week. Organizations form to shore up some social justice movement intersections with the atheist community. We built something good. Something energizing. Something that portends a great swamp-draining. A way for movement atheism to heal itself.

Then a whole antifeminist and anti-woman wing of the atheist movement rallies to show us why we can’t have nice things. They amp up the hatred, the vitriol, the vileness. They steal Jen’s resources and leave her drained and incapable of contributing, by making her clean up rivers of bullshit aimed at tarring her personhood, slut-shaming her, and threatening her job by taking the same bullshit to her employers. They make her dread contributing her writings to this movement. This movement which she loved. This movement in which she gathered fans of her writing as easily as some people breathe.

She was a bright shining star in the atheist community when she joined, with all the energy and motivation in the world — but because she was young, not ugly, and made the mistake of mentioning that she has boobs, she started gathering the wrong kind of attention. Then she realized her mistake and started fighting, and the same community that once welcomed her energy and motivation turned on her.

Not everyone, of course. Just the terribly entitled ones who registered her demands that people stop being such assholes as “being divisive”. The people who take “stop being such assholes” as a challenge to prove exactly how big an asshole you can be.

And the irony of it is, this is why a third wave of atheism is entirely necessary. The same people who would bully Jen McCreight out of the community do the same to any female voice that speaks up. Some of them do a victory lap about pushing Jen out of the movement (and yes, this is a shameless bit of self-congratulation on having done damage to the movement!). And they simultaneously ask, “why is atheism plus necessary?”

It’s necessary because of you. It’s necessary because of the colours of Team Douchebag that you so proudly wear while you’re attacking vital new members of the community who dare to talk about issues that might only affect, say, women. It’s necessary especially because there are some among you who won’t wear your colours off the field. It’s necessary because of the divide — the “Great Rift” in our community — between normal, reasonable people, and people who hate as a matter of course. It’s necessary because some people think that if you stomp on sadists who get off on bullying people, then YOU’RE the bully. It’s necessary because some people need to destroy to make themselves feel important.

Some people say you can’t win a war on trollishness.

Maybe not, but you can make the trolls wear their colors off the field. You can show the world exactly what kind of hate-filled monsters some of your supposed “leaders” are. You can prove that the antifeminist and anti-woman factions — our largest single issue for movement cohesion at the moment — are the ones driving the divide and are the ones that make atheism plus a necessity. They are the ones drumming people out of the movement. They are the ones embracing tribalism. They are the ones making atheism plus a divisive idea — because they cling tenaciously to the idea that giving offense is sacrosanct. These people WANT an “us vs them” war, but the reasonable people who recognize that hatred has no place in our movement to be the “them” in the equation. All because they worship offense as its own greatest good, and hold the status quo of privilege as our golden cow.

And here I thought we weren’t supposed to have gods or idols in this community.

So congratulations on your victory, those of you who consider “atheism plus” to be an evil that one must fight. You’ve managed to push out one of our brightest stars.

Know, though, that I’m not going anywhere. And you won’t win the war.

Update: To avoid giving anyone any misperceptions, Jen did not say that she was quitting blogging, or the community. She’s taking a break. But that means she’s taking a break because of the hatred she’s incurring, which amounts to bullying, which amounts to a subset of our community forcing her out. This changes nothing in the above post except that Jen’s taking a breather, not a bow.

110 comments

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  1. 1
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Won a battle NOT the war douchebags.

    Sad to hear, but no retreat, no surrender.

    Internet Hugs to Jen McCreight if she wants them.

  2. 2
    richardwatkins

    Unfortunately, you can’t shame trolls either. They feed off reactions like this. They do not represent atheists or skeptics. They do not speak for any community. They are a product of the internet. They are the loud, abusive minority and are immune to reason.

  3. 3
    mildlymagnificent

    Fuckin’ A+.

    No retreat. No surrender.

    (And into the bargain we’ll find ways to sandbag against the rising tide of filth and vileness that threatens any one of us.)

  4. 4
    BarfSimpson

    Cut the crap. This is staged theater. There will be an avalanche of pity blogs, which you have started; much wailing and gnashing of teeth about poor martyred, soon to be sainted, Jen; then there will be a triumphal comeback and proclamations in the street of “victory over the haters”.

    We’ve all seen your circus antics on FTB for far too long to believe you are capable of anything approaching honesty or sincerity. FTB is a shallow propaganda mill. It’s nauseating to behold.

    Charlatans and frauds. Especially you, Thibedeedoo.

  5. 5
    Jason Thibeault

    Yeah, right. Thanks for the IP, BarfSimpson, I’m storing it in a special place: my moderation list.

  6. 6
    D-Dave

    Well said, Jason.

    A lot of comments on Jen’s blog are calling for a hydra response – Jen might be taking a break, and it hurts to lose her voice and perspective, but if this inspires new voices to speak up and be heard then their mission to silence people who fight against deplorable behaviour is ultimately a loss for them.

    Here’s to a movement where people are treated fairly instead of like second- or third-class members due to accidents of birth!

  7. 7
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Twitter makes me hate people and despair

  8. 8
    see_the_galaxy

    @ddave: amen! I find “barf simpson” on the pathetic side. Somebody who has
    done nothing at all, and feels he (and I’ll bet 10:1 it’s a he) can urinate
    all over the good work of FtB and others who have given a lot to this
    movement. It’s why we need A+. But conservatives just can’t stand the
    fact that a lot of us aren’t conservative and aren’t going to be.

  9. 9
    Me

    I really wish people would stop calling these hateful assholes “trolls”. They really aren’t. Just stop it, ok?

  10. 10
    Jason Thibeault

    I call them “hateful assholes” and people say “they’re just trolls”. I call them “trolls” and people say “they’re not trolls”. I call them hateful trolls, and team douchebag, and I still get people nitpicking what I say about them.

  11. 11
    richardwatkins

    Whatever you call them, they’re not a product of the community. If you label them as your enemy, you would be best served to try to understand why they do what they do. The common response from this new A+ group seems to be “Shut up! They are evil and that’s that!” The harassment is indeed coming from douchebags. Are they atheists? Does it matter? It’s not coming from the community. I’ve been to plenty of community gatherings of equally mixed races and genders and have not once witnessed such drama IRL. We get together, share our stories, and talk about how we can help other atheists be accepted. That’s pretty much the extent to which an atheist, by definition, would participate in any kind of organized event.

    Atheists and skeptics are, for the most part, very rational, thoughtful people. Telling them to “shut up” when they say something you might not agree with will not help your end goal. If there’s an apparent problem in the community, our best bet is to try to find the root of the cause…not splinter off into fringe groups and start attacking windmills.

    I think the weirdest aspect of this A+ movement is that it seems to counter atheist logic. We support open and free thought, not creeds or rule books. We don’t hold beliefs of any sort, nor do we try to influence another person’s behavior. Maybe I have the wrong idea of what it means to be an atheist. I welcome any differing opinions.

  12. 12
    Jason Thibeault

    RichardWatkins: You really need to read the linked “victory lap” from OP. Those tweets catalog people who have been part of movement atheism for in some cases years. And by part I mean they are meatspace participants in conferences and conventions and in at least one case a self-proclaimed “leader” of a minor geographical part of the movement. And that’s not to mention the REAL leaders of the movement, people like Dawkins, calling for boycotts of US.

  13. 13
    Pteryxx

    It’s not coming from the community. I’ve been to plenty of community gatherings of equally mixed races and genders and have not once witnessed such drama IRL.

    Why do you think your personal experience, i.e. argument from ignorance, justifies that claim? Harassers in real life usually make sure that nobody is going to witness their aggression, at least nobody who’s going to care.

    There’s extensive research and posts on this, from “Hyperskepticism” on this very blog to “Why I Did Not Report” on Almost Diamonds and “This is why women don’t report harassment” on Ashley Miller’s.

  14. 14
    Graham Shevlin

    Frankly, as somebody who has only occasionally read the postings and vitriol recently on this issue, I think FTB is approaching the point where some contributors will need to be tossed out of the whole platform. This will lead to the usal whining about “censorship” etc. but if somebody is poisoning the well, you don’t stand by and let them kill the village.
    A lot of the blogs have become forums for toxic exchanges and drive-by trolling and other forms of wankery. If no action is taken, FTB will slowly (or possibly more quickly) cease to be relevant as an aggregation point for discussion and debate. People will vote with their clicks, just like they did when FTB came into existence and a lot of people bailed from ScienceBlogs to start up here.

  15. 15
    Philip

    I’m finally signing up to Atheism+ as well. If nothing else, I suspect less people will sit on the sides after this.

    @11, A+ as I see it is quite simply atheists treating people like people – which means showing some empathy and compassion, instead of bigotry and harassment. What’s wrong with that?

    Just because you haven’t seen abuse, that doesn’t mean it occurs. By your logic, since I’ve never seen anyone having sex (I’m asexual), it doesn’t occur.

  16. 16
    trinioler

    It most certainly does come from the “movement”.

    In the early days of the “New Atheists”, the most outspoken critics of religion were libertarians, like Penn Gillette.

    The problem is, Libertarians tend to believe their beliefs are logical and reasonable, and so, never examine them, despite significant historical and scientific evidence contradicting said beliefs.

    To prevent such beliefs from being examined, they planted this idea that atheism should not be involved with social justice efforts. Its a defensive meme, which unfortunately, leads to a significant amount of pushback.

  17. 17
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    I think the weirdest aspect of this A+ movement is that it seems to counter atheist logic. We support open and free thought, not creeds or rule books. We don’t hold beliefs of any sort, nor do we try to influence another person’s behavior. Maybe I have the wrong idea of what it means to be an atheist. I welcome any differing opinions.

    What do you mean “we”? The “we” that I belong to supports open and free thought, but doesn’t childishly stomp their feet when someone suggests basic rules of civility and decency. We are human beings that have beliefs about all sorts of things including social justice, not cardboard cutouts that are magically above and apart from the realities of living in society. We damn well want to influence people, change their minds, because we think the world is better when people are better to each other.

    Being an “atheist” is completely meaningless if it doesn’t lead anywhere other than masturbatory self-satisfaction over being “smarter” than theists.

  18. 18
    PG

    STOP. PLAYING. THE VICTIM. JASON.

    Are you so eager to play the blame game? So eager to make yourself out to be the victim? The harassment that Jen has endured IS NOT THE NORM. IT IS NOT THE NORM OF THE COMMUNITY. Stop making it out to be such, because it’s PISSING ME OFF. For a year, Jennifer McCreight has made unfounded accusations of misogyny and sexism of atheists, within the atheist community, within TAM, within JREF. Does she expect making broad accusations like that will fly without a hitch? Without criticism?

    Not to mention she has a tendency to conflate legitimate criticism with her harassment, and more often than not conclude that the legitimate criticism (of feminism, of atheism+) *is* harassment. That’s called bullshitting, Jason. I trust you know of it? STILL, there’s plenty of atheists — plenty more than the loud minority who fling abuse — who’ve supported her, who’ve decried the harassment she’s received (including me). Her blog posts contain more support than abuse, and yet the latter is the one being touted. Ridiculous.

    I mean, is your wish to promote modern feminists as fragile and weakwilled, or strong and independent? If the latter, maybe it’s time to grow up? Or should we expect more unfounded generalisations on atheists and men, slurs like ‘gender traitor’ and ‘rape enabler’, calls for bans on fake jewellery, requests for people to change their article of clothing if the text on it is offensive (to you), implications that men in elevators are rapists, and so on and so forth?

    And don’t exploit this incident to confirm your aspirations on a “third wave of atheism.” Are you seriously going to stand by McCreight and Reed in their complete generalisation of the entire atheist community? Then to call it A+, to make you feel morally superior to anyone who didn’t — or doesn’t — join your new clique? Fuck you. As you’re so keen to point out, feminists are not a monolith, and neither are atheists, as well you should know, Jason, you dishonest snake.

  19. 19
    trinioler

    PG: Your concern has been noted.

  20. 20
    Jason Thibeault

    PG:

    *very slow clap*

    If your response to someone getting pushed out of the movement is to call people deploring that action a “snake” and “playing the victim”, maybe you’re part of the fucking problem.

  21. 21
    Jason Thibeault

    From OP:

    Then she realized her mistake and started fighting, and the same community that once welcomed her energy and motivation turned on her.

    Not everyone, of course. Just the terribly entitled ones who registered her demands that people stop being such assholes as “being divisive”. The people who take “stop being such assholes” as a challenge to prove exactly how big an asshole you can be.

    Your cries of “STOP TARRING THE WHOLE COMMUNITY” are fucking useless here. Either start screaming at the people doing bullshit like this to good people like Jen, or stop screaming at the people who are pointing out those assholes. You materially aid the assholes when you attack the people who point them out. And you are helping damage the movement as a whole. Ergo, part of the problem.

  22. 22
    PG

    @20

    I call you a snake for dishonestly exploiting this situation to affirm your aspirations for Atheism+, when that aspiration originates from generalising the entire atheist community. And did she get pushed out? Did she get pushed out by the community at large? Don’t bullshit, Jason.

  23. 23
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Fuck off PG. You’re wrong and you’re actively lying. No one is “tarring” any “whole community.” That’s stupid. And it’s the eternal complaint of anyone who hates having bad behavior anywhere pointed out. It’s bullshit. You’re bullshit. And I conclude you approve of the crap being thrown at Jen. There’s no other explanation for your motivation. You’re the problem.

  24. 24
    Jason Thibeault

    If the only thing that motivates you to action is people tarring the community by complaining about its worst members, without actually doing anything about those terrible people, then yes, you are part of the problem — that problem being the conflation of our community with those terrible people. We shall not want for your point of view here, PG. See ya!

  25. 25
    PG

    @21

    Her contention — and yours — is that was she “pushed out” by the movement. Bullshit. Her blog post consists of blaming the overarching atheist community for her grievances, and yours is to use this grievance to reaffirm this “third wave of atheism.” I’m more than happy to tell the assholes to go fuck themselves, in fact I have, but I’m not exactly jumping for joy to have Jen misappropriate the entire atheist community for her childish campaign.

    It’s just not true that she was “pushed out” and it’s especially not true that the majority of the community is sexist and misogynist.

  26. 26
    Jason Thibeault

    This is the last comment of yours I’ll approve, PG, because I need to make this point. Exactly what percentage of the community has to be haters before we’re willing to do something about it? If this were medicine, and the trolls, haters and people who just need to destroy anything good were, say, a tumor on the body of movement atheism, when are we allowed to cut that tumor out? At what point is it okay to give chemotherapy and stop worrying that the doctors are complaining that “most of the body is cancer” when nobody’s saying anything even remotely like that?

  27. 27
    Abbey

    @22

    Atheism+ is not based on generalizing ‘plusless’ atheists at all, but about being another more meaningful banner under which people can rally for causes above and beyond ‘GOD NOT EXIST’ by itself.

    You want to talk about playing the victim? Try the nearest mirror.

  28. 28
    nohellbelowus

    You can prove that the antifeminist and anti-woman factions — our largest single issue for movement cohesion at the moment — are the ones driving the divide and are the ones that make atheism plus a necessity.

    You can prove it? Then surely you wouldn’t mind sharing some evidence for peer review. (I won’t hold my breath, however.)

    1) Demonize a certain faction of the population.
    2) Offer yourselves as the solution to the problem.
    3) Round-up dissenters and clean house.

    Sorry for the analogy, but the Aryan Nation couldn’t have done it better.

  29. 29
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Shut the fuck up troll. Your multiple personas and false flags on various blogs are noted.

  30. 30
    Jason Thibeault

    We have all been talking about specific people, specific actions, and trends toward misogyny and antifeminism in our movement for at least a year, probably more. You want to tell me it’s NOT the most visible problem movement atheism has? It’s time for you to start offering alternatives with evidence, nohellbelowus. Because you’re saying “what evidence” in front of a mountain of it.

  31. 31
    Jason Thibeault

    Srsly? What else does he post under, Josh?

  32. 32
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Jason, nohellbelowus is the only identity I know him as. But he shows up in threads pretending to be sympathetic then lobs some disgusting misogynist or sexist slur. He’s trash and an expert derailer.

  33. 33
    leftwingfox

    It’s just not true that she was “pushed out” and it’s especially not true that the majority of the community is sexist and misogynist.

    Right. The community as a whole is just more willing to whine about being called sexist and misogynist than to actually DO anything about those who actually ARE sexist or misogynistic.

    Jen pointed out the existence of the “backchannel” of guys to watch out for in the community, and the result was the implementation of a better system of dealing with harassment. Most atheist groups adopted this. JREF, Thunderfoot and the others decided that these policies were worth fighting agains. And yet they claim themselves the victims of “bullying”, and you defend them.

    You’ve made your position clear to everyone. The only person you’re fooling is yourself, and the rest of the assholes who think their position of privilege is the rational point of neutrality.

  34. 34
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Wow, that was quick for a Godwin.

    So, nohell, I suppose you take that stand with any social justice cause, then? A+: fascists ‘cos we don’t like misogynists! The marriage equality movement: evil for demonizing “Christian values”! The labor movement: Musslinis! All of them!

    *spit!*

  35. 35
    Jason Thibeault

    Gotcha, misinterpreted “personas” to mean sockpuppets. Thanks Josh.

  36. 36
    birdterrifier

    A less contentious way of framing PG’s point may be that the same people who interact perfectly reasonable and contribute much to the movement in real life are some of the same people that unleash a torrent of hate under pseudonyms. Maybe that means they are misogynists at heart and it’s great to shine a light on it or maybe it would be better to stop allowing people to post under pseudonyms and using FTBs as a way to unleash their demons on others.

    I am Chas Stewart, and I approve this message.

  37. 37
    birdterrifier

    @LeftWingFox

    If you are talking about Anti Harassment Policies then you are wrong to say that JREF opposed them. They were the first skeptical conferences to think about implementing an AHP now whether it was effective is a different and more substantive subject.

  38. 38
    Pteryxx

    It’s telling that so many clueless demi-haters want to complain about demonizing “the entire atheist community”. Because Jen’s also part of the atheist community. So are Greta, Stephanie, Surly Amy, Jason, PZ, Carrier, all the frustrated women and lurkers coming forward and all of us commenters who’ve been learning and getting angry about this shit for years. But it’s telling that in a hater’s mind, “the community” includes misogynists and misogynist-enablers, but not the targets. The targets are not worthy of inclusion.

  39. 39
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    It’s telling that so many clueless demi-haters want to complain about demonizing “the entire atheist community”. Because Jen’s also part of the atheist community. So are Greta, Stephanie, Surly Amy, Jason, PZ, Carrier, all the frustrated women and lurkers coming forward and all of us commenters who’ve been learning and getting angry about this shit for years. But it’s telling that in a hater’s mind, “the community” includes misogynists and misogynist-enablers, but not the targets. The targets are not worthy of inclusion.

    QFT

  40. 40
    Jason Thibeault

    birdterrifier: No. Emphatically. Pseudonymity might be a double-edged sword but it’s too important to sacrifice.

  41. 41
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    The harassment that Jen has endured IS NOT THE NORM. IT IS NOT THE NORM OF THE COMMUNITY. Stop making it out to be such, because it’s PISSING ME OFF.

    Rebecca Watson, Amy Davies Roth, Jen McCreigh, Greta Christina, Stephanie Zvan, Ophelia Benson, all just exceptions. There’s tons of outspoken feminist women in the movement who don’t get that abuse.
    Too bad Jason blocked you or else you could tell us about them…

  42. 42
    EmbraceYourInnerCrone

    birdterrifier @36: If someone can unleash a torrent of misogyny and hate under a pseudonym then they are a misogynist in “real life” too, just better at hiding it. Kind of like if someone unleashes a torrent of racist or misogynist speech while they are drunk, the alcohol did not turn them into a racist or misogynist, it just took the filters off and let them say what they were already thinking.

  43. 43
    hyperdeath

    see_the_galaxy says:

    amen! I find “barf simpson” on the pathetic side.

    I know what you mean. He comes across like a slightly simple school child, who’s found his place in the school hierarchy by sucking up to a gang of bullies, and echoing their taunts. He takes other hater’s arguments, and regurgitates them in that ridiculous turgid writing style of his.

  44. 44
    artnut

    if A+ allows people to express themselves and not get bogged down reading and responding to trolls, then hurray. I’m not sure it’s the THIRD WAVE and from now on all atheists that are good atheists will drop where ever they are “(Humanist group, Unitarian church, hunting for Big Foot…trust me I’ve heard more than one A+ member lament the atheist foray into skepticism and derision of any atheist that does not work for the end to social injustice,and I’m always “hey it’s just a hobby, and they like doing it. Chill.”…or say working on keeping homeopathic medications from being paid for by the government thus sucking money out of real medical care) and join up as not being REAL atheists doing good front line work. I think there is room for all, and if you don’t join up, because you are busy or simply you are an atheist and are busy with other things in your life to join ANYTHING, you are still a “good atheist”. You are still on the “front line” simply because coming out as an atheist is something that puts you between the targeting sights of so many groups. I have had nice white rich well educated men break down in tears at how they are hurt by the prejudice they encountered once they came out. How parents, grandparents, and even in one case a loved fiancee who was soon an ex fiancee, broke their hearts with their prejudice. Some of course choose to follow a path of “I now understand better, and it makes me go out of my way to be kinder and more understanding to women, minorities and others that have a far worse time with prejudice than I do.” But to say that the white male gets a pass from prejudice in the world of atheism is untrue. I don’t think A+ is saying that. I think they are saying “We want to do some good work HERE, and we aren’t going to fuss, fight or defend our stand. Join if you want and ignore what that one guy blogger wrote…Jenn did point out he did NOT represent us.” It’s the whole NEW WAVE, and NEW GENERATION…no, you earn that, you don’t declare that. Time will show, and I wish them the best and am happy with their first few projects. Sometimes you need to stop wasting time replying to the idiots to actually have time to do something. Let’s see what you can do A+!!! Then, say give it a year or two, we’ll know if you ARE the “WAVE” or if you are just another part of a community of different people…and some have decided that working on your projects is perfect for them.

  45. 45
    richardwatkins

    @12 – I’ve seen the arguments/complaints from both sides. There’s gross exaggeration and misrepresentation occurring equally on both fronts.

    @13 – In no way did I claim it’s not occurring. I claimed it’s not a product of the community.

    @15 – The atheists I know and respect already treat people with compassion. I think it’s silly to have to form a group to tell people to do that. If you behave rationally, there’s no reason one wouldn’t treat others with compassion and respect…it’s inherent in our species. Human beings evolved a sense of community through evolution to protect the species. We act “good” because we’re wired to. Those who act “bad” do so under the influence of external belief systems and/or neurological defects. It’s more productive to try to understanding why than to point fingers and alienate.

    @17 – Trying to convince others to subscribe to your beliefs is the very core of religion. I’m not stomping my feet at all. I’m offering my thoughts on the issue and you can consume them however you please. As an atheist, I take pride that I have the freedom to think without influence of beliefs. I have good ideas about how the world works, but all I can do is try to present my ideas in a clear and rational manner. Whether or not someone agrees is up to them. I’m in no position to try to influence the beliefs or actions of other people.

    BTW, the majority of these comments involve emotional responses and name-calling. Rule #1 in dealing with a “douchebag” is not to insult him, it only makes things worse. That’s Human Behavior 101.

  46. 46
    birdterrifier

    @Jason Thibeault
    I understand and have had to deal with people who were unwilling or too scared to reveal their real names in order to join my local atheist’s secret FaceBook group because of the possible repercussions of being outed but our group is far less flamey now that we don’t allow pseudonyms. But, if pseudonyms are so important then what do you think can help stop the madness?

    Maybe the comments should be heavily moderated so that the fora don’t turn in to shouting matches? Of course, there’s nothing we can do about twitter but do you think that naming and shaming pseudonyms on the internet (they could be misogynists, trolls or asshole trolls) is helping stem the tide of hatred being spewed that ends up tormenting those who are willing to stand out in the community (Greta Christina, Stephanie Zvan, Jen McCreight et al.)? Is creating a separate group like A+ going to stop the creeps from attacking you all?

  47. 47
    Sally Strange

    Gawd, teh stupid burns so bad!

    I’ve seen the arguments/complaints from both sides. There’s gross exaggeration and misrepresentation occurring equally on both fronts.

    That’s a dirty fucking lie.

    @13 – In no way did I claim it’s not occurring. I claimed it’s not a product of the community.

    Well, you’re wrong.

    @15 – The atheists I know and respect already treat people with compassion. I think it’s silly to have to form a group to tell people to do that.

    HURR DURR IF I DON’T SEE IT THEN THAT MEANS IT DOESN’T EXIST. HURR DURR.

    If you behave rationally, there’s no reason one wouldn’t treat others with compassion and respect…it’s inherent in our species.

    What. The. Fuck. Someone fire your biology professor. Or psychology professor. Probably both. Damn, that was just painfully ignorant.

    Human beings evolved a sense of community through evolution to protect the species. We act “good” because we’re wired to.

    Wow, the first true thing you wrote. How did it feel?

    Those who act “bad” do so under the influence of external belief systems and/or neurological defects.

    NOPE WRONG AGAIN. Damn you are stupid.

    It’s more productive to try to understanding why than to point fingers and alienate.

    The question must always be asked: productive of what?? So far the main concern seems to be producing happy feelings on the part of oppressive sexist douchebags.

    @17 – Trying to convince others to subscribe to your beliefs is the very core of religion.

    Nope, subscribing to unfalsifiable or obviously falsified supernatural beliefs is the core of religion. Trying to convince people of the rightness of your beliefs is universal human behavior.

    I’m not stomping my feet at all. I’m offering my thoughts on the issue and you can consume them however you please.

    *gag* *barf* Syrup of ipecac, please!

    As an atheist, I take pride that I have the freedom to think without influence of beliefs.

    BWAHAHAHAH

    “think without the influence of beliefs,” man that is hilariously nonsensical and meaningless. You MUST be a Poe.

    I have good ideas about how the world works, but all I can do is try to present my ideas in a clear and rational manner.

    You’ve tried and failed. You are unclear and irrational.

    Whether or not someone agrees is up to them. I’m in no position to try to influence the beliefs or actions of other people.

    You are in the position of expressing your somehow belief-free thoughts on a public forum. You just said that you think that you have good ideas about how the world works; by characterizing your ideas (which magically contain zero beliefs!) as “good” you are implicitly stating that you think there are other ideas which rational human being should reject in favor of yours.

    BTW, the majority of these comments involve emotional responses and name-calling.

    Damn straight they do! Emotions are a complicated system of thinking that inform everything we human beings do! Only idiots and assholes claim that it’s desirable, or even possible, to act without emotion. Name-calling is what happens when stupid idiots like yourself spout their idiocy. Name-calling serves the useful purpose of making it clear that there is a social cost to being so unbearably, insufferably arrogant and painfully dense.

    Rule #1 in dealing with a “douchebag” is not to insult him, it only makes things worse.

    This rule sounds like it was made up by a douchebag.

    That’s Human Behavior 101.

    Nope, just Douchebag behavior 101. Fuck you, asshole.

    ———————————–

    *aahhhhh*

    That was cathartic. Thanks for posting something so utterly asinine that there were literally zero moments when I had to stop to check whether you were actually making a valid point.

  48. 48
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    richardwatkins,

    I can’t tell if you are trolling or delusional, and I really don’t care because in either case you’re WRONG. Pretending that you don’t react emotionally and that you don’t have beliefs is scary irrational on your part, and it obviously leads you to a bunch of incorrect conclusions.

  49. 49
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    The atheists I know and respect already treat people with compassion. I think it’s silly to have to form a group to tell people to do that. If you behave rationally, there’s no reason one wouldn’t treat others with compassion and respect…it’s inherent in our species

    What species would that be? Something extraterrestrial?

    And here’s a clue: there are things that exist whether personally experience them or not.

    Like, for example uterine cancer. That exists, whether you suffer it or not.

    And here’s a followup shocker: bigotry exists too. Whether privileged white dude notices it or not.

  50. 50
    Sally Strange

    Is creating a separate group like A+ going to stop the creeps from attacking you all?

    Who knows? But clearly we have to try, since you and your pals aren’t going to lift a finger to try to stop them.

  51. 51
    birdterrifier

    I don’t know how to respond to vicious people in real life. I usually just shy away from them so I’m not sure what I would do with that finger once I lifted it and decided I was going to stop the attacks. Maybe you have some advice?

  52. 52
    see_the_galaxy

    @PG:

    Not to mention she has a tendency to conflate legitimate criticism with her harassment, and more often than not conclude that the legitimate criticism (of feminism, of atheism+) *is* harassment.

    Citation, please.

  53. 53
    Badland

    Just an observation – nohellbelowus sounds very similar to Franc Hoggle. Any chance to do an IP comparison?

    Great response Jason. I wish these filthy bastards were just an extinction burst I don’t believe they are. The only way we can win is by being as loud and prominent as them and making our position the default one. We will win but it won’t be easy

  54. 54
    Jason Thibeault

    Badland: unlikely. He’s never posted here, but it’s not within his style. He goes for scatological rather than obtuse trolling.

  55. 55
    nohellbelowus

    I’m not Franc Hoggle, dimwit.

    Hoggle writes very well, even if you don’t agree with his views, so I’ll take your comment as a backhanded compliment.

  56. 56
    Silentbob

    This is directed to PG and like minds:

    The comparison my be odious, but I suggest an analogy with the paedophilia problem in the catholic church.

    Atheists, of course, strongly condemn this behaviour, but are we not almost as appalled by the church’s response, which is typically to trivialise, dismiss or conceal the problem? How do we react when the church says, “Oh, but this is just a few isolated incidents! You shouldn’t condemn the whole church. Most priests aren’t paedophiles. Why make such a fuss? Focus on the good, not on the bad!”. Aren’t we especially disgusted when they resort to blaming the victim? When someone within speaks out and acknowledges the problem, don’t we praise them?

    There is a misogyny problem within the atheist movement. It is well documented. Let us not trivialise, or dismiss, or sweep the problem under the carpet. Nor complain that is it isn’t representative of the atheist movement as a whole. And most of all, let us not blame the victim. We must do just what we would expect of the church – focus on the problem, highlight the problem, condemn the problem in the strongest possible terms, and set about fixing it. The people who have been doing this should not be attacked for exaggerating the problem, or for calling the movement into disrepute. They should be thanked for the courage to take a stand.

    We must hold ourselves to a higher standard than we would hold those we oppose.

  57. 57
    Amarantha

    PG:

    Her blog posts contain more support than abuse, and yet the latter is the one being touted. Ridiculous.

    Indeed. Because support and abuse are like matter and anti-matter and totally cancel each other out. On days when I get 30 fluffy snuggles and 10 punches in the nose, it all adds up to 20 wonderful fluffy snuggles and the nose-punchers don’t even register.

    Arsehole.

  58. 58
    Utakata

    @nohellbelowus, 55:

    “Hoggle writes very well, even if you don’t agree with his views, so I’ll take your comment as a backhanded compliment.”

    …since most of us would likely disagree with that assessment, I would take it as a backhanded insult if I was you.

  59. 59
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    There is a misogyny problem within the atheist movement. It is well documented. Let us not trivialise, or dismiss, or sweep the problem under the carpet. Nor complain that is it isn’t representative of the atheist movement as a whole. And most of all, let us not blame the victim. We must do just what we would expect of the church – focus on the problem, highlight the problem, condemn the problem in the strongest possible terms, and set about fixing it. The people who have been doing this should not be attacked for exaggerating the problem, or for calling the movement into disrepute. They should be thanked for the courage to take a stand.

    This. Right here. THIS.

    I can understand honestly not recognizing that this is a problem. (And then doing what you can to help fix it once you’ve been clued in, of course.)

    I can NOT understand deliberately dismissing it out of hand because it doesn’t affect you personally.

  60. 60
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    A little retrograde action != a battle lost.

    Also,

  61. 61
    Dunc

    We don’t hold beliefs of any sort, nor do we try to influence another person’s behavior.

    Wow. That’s possibly the single most foolish thing I’ve seen in this whole mess, which has been a riot of weapons-grade foolishness.

  62. 62
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Silentbob:

    There is a misogyny problem within the atheist movement.

    Yes. There is. This cannot be stated enough. It’s become terribly apparent since ElevatorGate.

    I think this cuts to the heart of the problem. There are some atheists that just don’t believe this.

    I don’t know why they don’t believe women when they say they’ve been harassed.

    I don’t know why they don’t believe women when they say they’ve gotten rape threats.

    I don’t know why they blame the women who are being targeted with harassment.

    I don’t know why some of these people choose to step up the harassment by spewing venom to bloggers on their blogs, on Twitter, or through their email.

    I don’t know why these people are perfectly comfortable accepting the sexism within the atheist community.

    I don’t know why some people are so worried that A+ wants to create a space where they don’t have to deal with the above scumbags.

    I don’t know why these people come to FtB when all they want to do is harass, dismiss, demean, antagonize, and berate bloggers who are speaking up about issues of sexism or harassment. I don’t wander over to the Slymepit because that’s not a community I want to associate with. So *why* are they coming here?

    What I do know:
    These unconscionable scumbags who drove Jen away…who harass, dismiss, demean, antagonize and berate people

    NEED
    TO
    STOP.

  63. 63
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    PG:

    I’m more than happy to tell the assholes to go fuck themselves, in fact I have, but I’m not exactly jumping for joy to have Jen misappropriate the entire atheist community for her childish campaign.

    If you’re more than happy to do so, then please tell the asshole that is you to go fuck hirself.

    STOP. PLAYING. THE VICTIM. JASON.

    How is he playing the victim when he’s got you to coming here and harassing him? You’re part of the problem in this community.

    Are you so eager to play the blame game? So eager to make yourself out to be the victim?

    The people who are being harassed by people like you *are* victims. You’re doing the harassment by coming here and spewing your bile.

    The harassment that Jen has endured IS NOT THE NORM. IT IS NOT THE NORM OF THE COMMUNITY. Stop making it out to be such, because it’s PISSING ME OFF.

    It. Doesn’t. Matter.
    Why the fuck are you getting pissed off at this strawman you’ve set up? None of the bloggers at FtB have said that this harassment is the NORM for the community. You pulled that out of your ass. They’ve said there is a problem with harassment. Whether it’s the norm or not is besides the point. It’s wrong. Period.

    For a year, Jennifer McCreight has made unfounded accusations of misogyny and sexism of atheists, within the atheist community, within TAM, within JREF. Does she expect making broad accusations like that will fly without a hitch? Without criticism?

    Really? She has? I guess you have some links to back this up? Cite. Now. Or STFU.
    Moreover, it doesn’t matter. Even if she did everything you said, it still does not justify the shit that’s being thrown her way.

    Not to mention she has a tendency to conflate legitimate criticism with her harassment, and more often than not conclude that the legitimate criticism (of feminism, of atheism+) *is* harassment.

    Cite. Now. Or STFU.

    That’s called bullshitting, Jason. I trust you know of it?

    I’m sure he does. You’re demonstrating that you passed Bullshitting 101 with an A+.

    STILL, there’s plenty of atheists — plenty more than the loud minority who fling abuse — who’ve supported her, who’ve decried the harassment she’s received (including me). Her blog posts contain more support than abuse, and yet the latter is the one being touted. Ridiculous.

    Let me get this straight: Since she’s gotten more support than abuse, that’s supposed to magically negate all the abuse? It’s not ridiculous. She’s frequently thanked the people who have supported her. Did you want a cookie for decrying the harassment she’s faced? Here’s a nice Slymey cookie for you.

    I mean, is your wish to promote modern feminists as fragile and weakwilled, or strong and independent? If the latter, maybe it’s time to grow up?

    Says the person who dismisses what Jen is going through. Grab a mirror. Look at it. Tell yourself to grow up.
    After you do that, take a refresher course on how to be human. People…all of us can be strong, independent, fragile and weakwilled. Jen displayed amazing strength to endure the venom as long as she did. I’m surprised more bloggers haven’t already taken a break, what with people like you coming here spitting on them.

    And don’t exploit this incident to confirm your aspirations on a “third wave of atheism.” Are you seriously going to stand by McCreight and Reed in their complete generalisation of the entire atheist community?

    Do you really not know how to argue honestly?
    Where have any of the bloggers made a generalization about the *entire* atheist community?
    How do you get from “there’s a problem with sexism and harassment in the atheist community” to “the entire atheist community is a bunch of harassing sexists” ?

    Then to call it A+, to make you feel morally superior to anyone who didn’t — or doesn’t — join your new clique? Fuck you. As you’re so keen to point out, feminists are not a monolith, and neither are atheists, as well you should know, Jason, you dishonest snake.

    Yes, it’s called A+. Perhaps it’s difficult for you to comprehend, but there are atheists who are concerned with social justice. Clearly you have a comprehension problem.
    Once again:
    Atheist+ is a subset of the Atheist Movement concerned with addressing not just the pernicious influence of religion around the world, but with advancing social justice .
    If you don’t want to join, then don’t. It doesn’t automatically make you a piece of shit.
    If you’re an atheist who works *against* social justice, then you *ARE* a piece of shit.
    Since comprehension is so difficult for people like you, let me spell it out:
    The people who choose not to join A+ are NOT misogynist scumbags for not joining. You’re a misogynist scumbag if you act like a misogynist scumbag.

  64. 64
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    richardwatkins:

    Maybe I have the wrong idea of what it means to be an atheist.

    No.
    You just have a problem understanding what the PLUS sign in A+ denotes.
    To wit:
    The “A” means ATHEISM.
    The “+” means plus social justice.

    Is this really that incomprehensible for you? A group of atheists come together because they have similar goals beyond just fighting against religious beliefs and you cannot understand that?

    Would you have a problem understanding a group of atheists who wanted to climb mountains together and fight against religion?

    Would you understand if a group of atheists decided to form a group that fights religion PLUS like to sky dive?

    I’m still waiting for someone to explain the difficulty in grasping that A+ =/= Atheism.

  65. 65
    Pteryxx

    Is this really that incomprehensible for you? A group of atheists come together because they have similar goals beyond just fighting against religious beliefs and you cannot understand that?

    But those aren’t REAL atheists. They’re just WOMEN. Women stealing the A-word that rightly belongs to men.

    I’ve got a challenge for y’all who claim A+ is harming or misappropriating atheism. Name an atheist woman. That’s it. I dare you to write the sentence “[Woman] is an atheist.” I bet the cognitive dissonance gets to you.

    I’m also betting on a lot of cop-out mentions of Paula Kirby or Abbie Smith because those are the Right Sort of woman, safely arrayed against the uppity feminists.

  66. 66
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Pteryxx:

    I wonder the dissonance it would cause them if I mentioned that I’m a guy, and I proudly embrace A+…

  67. 67
    hyperdeath

    Graham Shevlin, your concern is noted. Then again, you are an expert on unread blogs.

  68. 68
    sbh

    Ever since I was a kid, growing up in the fifties and sixties, I’ve run into self-described “atheists” who were loud-mouthed assholes, misogynist jerks, opinionated right-wing free-marketeers and the like–people, in other words, whose one virtue was that they hadn’t fallen for one particular popular misconception out of many. I would have felt the same respect for them as I would for a group of supposed adults who patted themselves on the back for not believing in the tooth fairy while still putting out milk and cookies for Santa.

    On the other hand I’ve been enjoying weblogs by such self-described atheists as Jason Thibeault, Jen McCreight, and Stephanie Zvan for years, long before they came to Freethoughtblogs. This is not because I have the slightest interest in atheism as a concept–I don’t even know what that would mean (how many different ways can you write there is no tooth fairy?)–but because they have interesting things to say, and generally come at them from a rational perspective.

    There’s no particular virtue to being atheist–look at Ayn Rand and the Marquis de Sade, as well as certain commenters in this and related threads. And I sure as hell didn’t need Jen McCreight to tell me there is “a whole antifeminist and anti-woman wing of the atheist movement”. I got that straight from various atheist misogynists themselves. I see no virtue whatever to their atheism minus; they’re welcome to keep it, and I would suggest they keep it to themselves.

  69. 69
    stakkalee

    Jason, I agree with you on the need for pseudonymity, but I wonder if there might be other ways to discourage trolls, or at least minimize their impact. Have you guys discussed things like sharing your ban lists, or implementing some sort of Like/Dislike comment reputation system?

  70. 70
    bradfeaker

    Wow…just wow.

    A few thoughts. I joined the A+ forum yesterday because it aligns with my personal philosophy. To me it seems that the ideals being espoused by A+ are nothing more than simple human decency.

    That out of the way…I am appalled by the vitriol being directed at Jen, Surly Amy, etc… by people who claim to embrace reason and rational discourse. I have been guilty of retreating to insults and ad hominem attacks with people I have disagreed with in the past and I cringe with embarrassment when I recall said remarks. I cringe because I am trying to hold myself to a higher standard.

    A+ is there, whether people agree with it’s goals or not. No one is being held at gunpoint or threatened with eternal hellfire if the don’t want to join. Not affiliating with A+ doesn’t de-value others thought and opinions. To me, however, it does speak volumes about the people who are slinging mud at the people who support A+, and not in a positive way.

    This is not to say that the A+ bloggers are totally without blame. Richard Carrier made some comments that made me cringe again (sorry for repeated use of ‘cringe’, but that is the best word for how I felt), but to his credit, he realized he was a little over the top and stated so publicly. That to me exemplifies how reason can overcome emotion and I have much more respect for Richard as a result.

    Let’s attack bad ideas – not the person behind them. Ad Hominem is still a logical fallacy and we embrace it at our peril. And attacking spite, vitriol, misogyny and hatred IS attacking a very bad idea.

  71. 71
    joel

    Why is ‘douchbag’ a term of derison? What are the connotations that make it so awful? It’s just an appliance, what is the problem with it? Is its usual function disgusting or what? Disgusting to whom?

  72. 72
    smhll

    None of the bloggers at FtB have said that this harassment is the NORM for the community. You pulled that out of your ass.

    Yes! There has been a very large amount of reading comprehension failure.

  73. 73
    bradfeaker

    @joel,

    ‘Douchebag’ is a term of derision because of common usage like other terms have been adopted into the common vernacular.

    Cheers…

  74. 74
    Jason Thibeault

    One more time: “douchebag” largely became an insult thanks to body shame originally, but the word has been retaken because douching generally employs caustic chemicals and is harmful to the orifices it’s used on (which includes anal). It’s a product sold to women (generally, by society, targeted at women but not sold exclusively to them mind you) to shame them for having orifices that don’t smell like petunias, that aren’t dry as a bone. And it empirically harms them to convince them of those memes, as well as employing the “fix” for those supposed issues. It was sold to women as necessary but turns out to actually be harmful.

    See the parallels yet?

  75. 75
    bradfeaker

    @Jason,

    Well said. But it does make me wonder why you, as one who obviously strongly supports gender equality, used the term.

    This is not meant as criticism – you may have sub-text here that I am missing.

    Cheers…

  76. 76
    Jason Thibeault

    Because, as I said, douching is harmful to any orifice, and most of us have assholes. I also sort of prefer it to “asshole” generally, because of the body shame issue that brings up — some people enjoy their assholes and I don’t want to stigmatize that either.

    I AM, however, perfectly willing to shame people / ideas sold as beneficial but are empirically harmful.

  77. 77
    bradfeaker

    @Jason,

    Ha! Thanks…

  78. 78
    joel

    I don’t think the fact that regular douching with commercial agents or even water is generally discouraged by gynecologists account for the popularity of the term. I doubt if most users of the term, who incidentally seem to be usually men, even are aware of relevant medical opinion.

    No this pejorative has to do with the vagina. For its effect, it uses conscious or unconscious negative feelings about female anatomy.

    Perhaps there are other examples where an unhealthy personal appliance has become a common object of derision, but I can’t think of any.

  79. 79
    Stephanie Zvan

    joel, why did you ask for an explanation if you weren’t even going to read it? Jason covered that already.

  80. 80
    Binjabreel

    The argument my feminist sister offers for why she uses “douchebag” as an insult:

    “It’s a useless thing foisted onto women by the patriarchy that no woman should allow anywhere near her vagina.”

  81. 81
    joel

    Stephanie,

    I did read it. I disagreed with his analysis, I think it’s a stretch to justify the term. I find it hard to believe that merely the medical assessment that douching is harmful accounts for the wide popularity of its usage as a pejorative.

    It seems to me the term is most often used by those who could care less about that fact even if they knew it.

    It seem to me my position offers a fair argument.

    If you were to encounter the term as a disparagement for the very first time today what would you think?

    Also I think the notion that it is an invention by men foisted on women by the patriarchy would be hard to fact check. Don’t you think it likely sheep’s bladders were used thousands of years ago? How would we know at whose instigattion?

    Who are these “foisting” men? Doctors, have been against douching for a long time now.

  82. 82
    stakkalee

    joel, if you were really interested you could do a Google search on the history of douching and educate yourself. If you did, you’d find that, while douching has been around for a long time, it was originally intended as a type of birth control, but as marketing culture overtook America in the early- and mid-20th Century Madison Avenue started selling douches as a “personal hygenie” issue by shaming women over their “womanly odors.” As more effective means of birth control became available the relative value of douching as birth control, already low, sank to virtually nil. In the late 1970s a series of tests showed that douching, especially with the most common consumer products, was actively harmful and their use has been discouraged for several decades now except in very specific cases. So to answer your final question, the advertising agencies were the ones “foisting” douching on women by using female body-shaming to get women to purchase a harmful product.

    Of course, you may be obliquely trying to work the conversation around to a ‘gotcha’ moment where you can accuse Jason of misogyny for using a sexist term. If that’s the case, I can assure you, we’ve ALL heard it before, so why don’t you go play your game someplace else?

  83. 83
    hoary puccoon

    joel @71, 78, 81–

    You just keep repeating the same argument over and over again. We all get that you don’t like the term douchebag. Okay, you don’t like it. But please get this through your head– you don’t have any power here to change it. You can keep reading and posting about it until Jason gets tired and puts you in moderation. OR You can keep reading and stop posting. OR you can go do something else entirely. BUT– you cannot bully everyone else into dropping the term.

    What you’re doing here is a good example of what people mean when they talk about privilege. Somehow you seem to think that if you’re just adamant enough everyone will do things your way. Well, sorry about that, but no, they won’t. That doesn’t mean you’re being picked on. It just means you’ve developed an exaggerated idea of your own entitlement. Welcome to the real world. It’s not such a bad place, as long as you remember it doesn’t revolve around you.

  84. 84
    joel

    stakkalee;

    I appreciate your google search (could do without the ad hominem and mindreading)

    What do you think of my question? Does the term douchbag as an insult primarily owe it’s popularity to the fact that it is an unhealthy procedure foisted on women by marketers?

    Or is it likely popular mainly as thinly disguised projection of archaic fears of the mysteries of female bodies (menstruation, childbirth)

    Is that a stretch? I don’t think any more stretchy than what appears to be the consensus here on FtB

  85. 85
    stakkalee

    joel, I think your question is very interesting. Since you’re the one primarily expressing that interest in this thread, why don’t you conduct some research into the etymology of the term and its history as a derisive slur? You could report back here with what you discover. I can assure you, we’ll all await your return with bated breath.

  86. 86
    Stephanie Zvan

    Or, you know, joel, you could pay attention to Jason, who covered that already.

    One more time: “douchebag” largely became an insult thanks to body shame originally, but the word has been retaken because douching generally employs caustic chemicals and is harmful to the orifices it’s used on (which includes anal).

    Gosh. Look. Jason said what you then said–as though he hadn’t said it–then continued to act as though he hadn’t said after being told he had said it.

    Confused by that sentence? I’m confused by your behavior.

  87. 87
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Another fool who thinks “ad hominem” is a synonym for snark.

  88. 88
    Jason Thibeault

    Coincidentally enough, I wrote a post about that:

    What is an ad hominem? What isn’t?

  89. 89
    Jason Thibeault

    I guess I also need to write a post about the etymology of “douchebag” as an insult. And when feminists appropriated it. You know, to keep people from going “you’re a misogynist for using a term that feminists reappropriated!” every damn time the word is used.

  90. 90
    callistacat

    What’s this whole business about not having beliefs, therefore if you support feminism/women’s rights issues you are just like a religion spouting dogma?

    Someone please clarify?
    Thank you :)

  91. 91
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    joel:

    What do you think of my question? Does the term douchbag as an insult primarily owe it’s popularity to the fact that it is an unhealthy procedure foisted on women by marketers?

    Or is it likely popular mainly as thinly disguised projection of archaic fears of the mysteries of female bodies (menstruation, childbirth)

    If douching was necessary, was *just* for women, and used as an insult, calling someone a ‘douchebag’ would be a sexist insult.

    Douching is *not* necessary.
    Douching is not just done by women*.
    It is an insult used against men and women.

    *I’m a gay man. Without going into detail, I have some experiences with douching (prior to knowing the harmful effects).

  92. 92
    Forbidden Snowflake

    some people enjoy their assholes and I don’t want to stigmatize that either.

    All people enjoy their assholes*. Some people just enjoy them in more than one way.

    *Fun fact: Jews in their morning prayer thank their god for creating humans with assholes.

  93. 93
    Badland

    @55 nohellbelowus

    My apologies. To my reading you have a distinctive whiff of Felch about you. Glad to know I’m wrong

  94. 94
    left0ver1under

    The insults and verbal assault upon McCreight (and many others, especially women atheists) needs to be confronted and challenged in the same way that racist insults and sexist jokes are confronted everywhere else.

    This is a rare case where “If you’re not with us, you’re against us,” is actually true because silence equates to consent for the trolls. Speaking out against the abuse is the only acceptable response. Our actions tell the victims and victimizers whose side we’re on.

  95. 95
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    Douchebag: Want some older perspective? Read Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. Published & cult-to-popular fictional use reference inside. Villain makes douches and other “hygiene” products for against women.

  96. 96
    bradfeaker

    @leftover1under

    You make a good point. While I am generally against the whole in group, out group – us vs. them thing, in this case it is pretty plain and simple. This behavior is unacceptable and I agree with you that silence implies assent.

    I do not tolerate this type of behavior IRL and I will not tolerate it in my online life either. Once again, I do not understand how someone can claim to embrace reason and harbor these attitudes. Apparently some atheists are nowhere as enlightened as they think they are.

    @Jason, @Stephanie, @joel, etc…

    As to the ‘douchebag’ argument. While it is a term I do not deploy, I see Jason’s point and understand his reasoning. Just because I am uncomfortable with it is no reason to criticize anyone else for using it – especially when they understand the etymology of the term far better than I.

  97. 97
    carlie

    I find it hard to believe that merely the medical assessment that douching is harmful accounts for the wide popularity of its usage as a pejorative.

    So what you find “hard to believe” is the fantastic sociological and historical support for your opinion? The vast majority of the times I’ve seen someone use the word “douchebag”, it’s come from feminists (female or male) who are using it from exactly that etymology.

  98. 98
    joel

    Carlie writes: ” The vast majority of the times I’ve seen someone use the word “douchebag”, it’s come from feminists (female or male) who are using it from exactly that etymology.”

    Granted some of the in-folks use it that way, but however it is used, the basic point is that they are “using” it. The are using women’s bodies to emphasize their points. They drag an aspect of women’s bodies and their care into a discussion that is usually unrelated. Can’t we leave women’s bodies out of it when it is not pertinent? (an anal douche is commonly referred to as an enema, let’s not pretend douchebag refers to that)

    You may have noticed, I have, that the most interesting bloggers on FtB and elsewhere are able to communicate very well without resorting to ‘douchbag’ to get your attention and/or your feelings up. If you don’t know who they are, watch for it.

  99. 99
    Stephanie Zvan

    joel, stop focusing on women’s bodies. Start focusing on the behavior of people being called “douchebag”. That should sort all out for you in a jiff.

  100. 100
    Jason Thibeault

    Amazing that joel was told by several women what the context is, and he keeps telling those women that the word is all about women’s body shame (even though that body shame is entirely manufactured by the people selling the product!).

    Let me tell you something, joel. You’re pretty uninteresting yourself, not for your hatred of a term used here exclusively to shame people for being terrible to women, but for repeating your memes ad nauseum despite nuanced argumentation to the contrary.

  101. 101
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    joel:

    (an anal douche is commonly referred to as an enema, let’s not pretend douchebag refers to that)

    You can pretend that’s the case, but it’s simply NOT true.

  102. 102
    godless feminist

    Jason, thanks for this post. I stand with Jen, though I’ve been a lurker up til now. I’m going to start making a voice. Very well put.

  103. 103
    joel

    The Skeptics Dictionary (skepdic.com) is good reading. Here is a sample:

    ” One of the more common tactics of those who can’t provide a good refutation of an argument is to divert attention away from the argument by calling attention to something about the person who made the argument.”

    Quite a lot of that in this thread, none of it by me by the way.

    Is there something about atheism/skepticism that draws this sort of behavior?

    There is also a lot of ‘authority’ dramatized here, which also seems to me out of character for a blog dedicated to skepticism.

  104. 104
    Stephanie Zvan

    Soooo close. C’mon, joel. I just need one more square for a bingo.

  105. 105
    Jason Thibeault

    So since “ad hominem” didn’t work as a club, you’re going for “authority”? Perhaps you could elucidate on what authority, exactly, is being claimed by whom?

    Pointing out that you repeated the same argument despite being refuted and even PRE-futed multiple times is not, in fact, distracting. It is pointing out a disingenuous argumentation tactic that does not facilitate dialog (which involves a two-way interaction — not a repeating of one side of the argument without any acknowledgment that the other side said anything!).

  106. 106
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    joel:
    Your argument has *already* been refuted. That you don’t accept it, preferring to continue believing your unsupported opinion doesn’t change that fact.
    This is what you said originally:

    Why is ‘douchbag’ a term of derison? What are the connotations that make it so awful? It’s just an appliance, what is the problem with it? Is its usual function disgusting or what? Disgusting to whom?

    Jason does the refuting @74:

    One more time: “douchebag” largely became an insult thanks to body shame originally, but the word has been retaken because douching generally employs caustic chemicals and is harmful to the orifices it’s used on (which includes anal). It’s a product sold to women (generally, by society, targeted at women but not sold exclusively to them mind you) to shame them for having orifices that don’t smell like petunias, that aren’t dry as a bone. And it empirically harms them to convince them of those memes, as well as employing the “fix” for those supposed issues. It was sold to women as necessary but turns out to actually be harmful.

    See the parallels yet?

    He also follows up with:

    Because, as I said, douching is harmful to any orifice, and most of us have assholes. I also sort of prefer it to “asshole” generally, because of the body shame issue that brings up — some people enjoy their assholes and I don’t want to stigmatize that either.

    I AM, however, perfectly willing to shame people / ideas sold as beneficial but are empirically harmful.

    So, between the two posts, Jason explains why it’s a term of derision (you asked why), he explains why the connotations are awful (another of your questions), and he explains why a douche bag-despite being an appliance-is bad (another of your questions).
    [I don't bother with your questions about disgusting, b/c they aren't relevant. Using a douche is not beneficial, so disgusting or not, it's not necessary.]
    Do you see the similarities between a device sold to women as beneficial (but is actually harmful), and a guy who tries to inject his opinion as if it’s beneficial (but it’s actually harmful/wrong)?

    You might have a point IF:
    1-douching were a beneficial procedure
    and
    2-a douche was used just by women.

    Douching is *NOT* a beneficial procedure. In fact, it can have a detrimental impact.
    That detrimental impact is felt by women *&* men.
    As I mentioned, I’ve douched before (and I don’t intend to do so again, as I now know that doing so has detrimental effects).

    A douche /ˈduːʃ/ is a device used to introduce a stream of water into the body for medical or hygienic reasons, or the stream of water itself.
    Douche usually refers to vaginal irrigation, the rinsing of the vagina, but it can also refer to the rinsing of any body cavity. A douche bag is a piece of equipment for douching—a bag for holding the fluid used in douching. To avoid transferring intestinal bacteria into the vagina, the same bag must not be used for an enema and a vaginal douche.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douche

    [emphasis mine]

    An enema (/ˈɛnəmə/; plural enemata or enemas) is the procedure of introducing liquids into the rectum and colon via the anus.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enema

    Do you understand now?
    A douche is a device.
    A douche bag is used to hold the fluids used in douching.
    An enema is a procedure.
    A douche can be used on the vagina *or* the rectum.
    Douching is unnecessary and can have negative effects on women and men.
    To continue spelling it out:
    I’ve used a douche to give myself an enema. Got it?

    Good.

  107. 107
    Dorothy

    If I do as I should do, I would judge this whole thread by its result, not by what the individuals say within it.
    The result – a commentary on misogyny, mostly bullying, and how this action has persuaded (and will continue to persuade) certain writers to remove themselves from the ongoing discussion, has been derailed by one (or more) persons insisting upon concentrating on one term of opprobrium and their alledged distaste for the term being used .
    Anyone who has studied rhetoric will spot this. And it worked. Reasonable people have left the discussion, in disgust.
    Jason, your commentary has been mugged. And I am disgusted.
    I think the mysogynists within the discussion group (Could we call them Jerks?) have found a successful ploy. I also think that their attitude of entitlement is because they have figured out one of society’s lies. It was hard work, for that they get credit. But they do not have the stamina or ability to work on the rest of the societal lies – so they will do anything to prevent anyone working on the matter, because it makes them feel badly because they aren’t working on it.
    Entirely too many years ago, in the playground, I encountered bullies, as did others. I found that the second best way to deal with them was to be where they weren’t.
    I have also been guilty of using the second best way. From the first time I read TF (I will not gratify the individual by writing out his handle in full) I simply decided that that was one blogger I simply need not read. He could never have written anything of interest to me.
    Certain commenters on all these blogs are doing the same thing. I have only recently found this group, and I do not wish to deprive myself of intelligent companionship. I really wish they would stop. I have, however, added Skepchik and Secular Women to my favourites.
    I always read your blog. I appreciate your writing.
    I am unable to properly wind up this comment – I also apologize for the length. I simply felt that perhaps one more reader should let you know that your outlook is appreciated.

  108. 108
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Dorothy:

    The result – a commentary on misogyny, mostly bullying, and how this action has persuaded (and will continue to persuade) certain writers to remove themselves from the ongoing discussion, has been derailed by one (or more) persons insisting upon concentrating on one term of opprobrium and their alledged distaste for the term being used .

    Sometimes it takes someone hitting me across the head with a clue by four.
    You’re right about the derailing and no matter how I feel about it [the derailing topic], I have helped contributed to derailing Jason’s post.

    Thanks Dorothy.

    Sorry about my contribution Jason.

  109. 109
    Entrained

    These conversations always keep returning to the Rebecca Watson elevator issue and the simple utterance of, “guys don’t do that” and the declarative statement from Jen about the “list” of male speakers and their inappropriate conduct. The conversation has grown and/ or deteriorated from there depending on your beliefs.
    My concern is Rebecca Watson told a story in her own narrative that I believed at first blush, right up until the time she said a guy called her a “cunt” on a tweet which did not happen. She then tried to tap dance her way out of it but never really explained her deviation from being truthful. More about this in a second.
    Jen got distressed after cut and pasting a note off a Facebook page where Penn called a woman a “cunt” even though Jen has called people asshats or douchebags or other use of invective. Her argument is her invective is not as bad as the other folks invective. It’s hypocritical but I understand her reasoning. Then she makes a statement without any offering of proof of speakers making inappropriate conversation or groping or propositions. To date as far as I know there has not been the offer of one piece of evidence to support this claim and yet we are in the midst of a huge upheaval because of this mysoginist conversation.
    As far as I can tell, the documented claims are a couple of instances at TAM and what else? Did someone lose a job, a speaking assignment, an opportunity, what? Where is the proof there is rampant anything that is different as a percent of the atheist community than has occurred anywhere in society? He anecdotes of unsafe space issues are again societal.
    These fallacious arguments have been built on smoke and mirrors because …….well you fill in the blank. Don’t tell me about some statistical argument on the web, tell me about instances in the atheist community where something other than 3 instances out of thousands of interactions rises to some level of gross mysoginy.
    As for the harassment on line, yes, absolutely. I can see it but you have no idea who these folks are. For all you know these are the religious right eating you up.
    The absolute lack of a anyone being able to take an opposing viewpoint without being called a name or put down is an embarrassment.
    I am in agreement about treating all folks with dignity and respect, that cuts both ways.

  110. 110
    Jason Thibeault

    I just released @110 from a moderation trap, which got modded because it included some twitch words. This I suspect explains why Entrained later changed his name to Eliott1 (thinking he got put in moderation and trying to avoid it). It indicates to me I should probably put him in moderation for trying to avoid a ban I didn’t implement.

  1. 111
    Comparing movement atheism and Catholicism on matters of misogyny | Lousy Canuck

    [...] posted an excellent comment on one of the last threads that I think really cuts through a lot of the pushback with regard to [...]

  2. 112
    The 2012 Lousy Year In Review » Lousy Canuck

    [...] though, proving how irreligious and undogmatic they are by constantly harassing Jen McCreight until she decided to stop blogging altogether. Said trolls continued to harass other bloggers by pretending to be them and saying ridiculous and [...]

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