The Horsewomen of the Feminist Apocalypse

Commenter Pteryxx observed on the guest post by Jacqueline S. Homan a few days ago that there were a total of four identified targets of misogynist sentiment in the original guest post and my in-line observation, and that they could therefore be the four horsewomen of the feminist skeptical apocalypse. Of course, there are much more than four women on the forefront of this fourth-wave feminism, even if you restrict yourself to the secular/atheist movements — there were at least eight identified in those comments at last count, and I could probably rattle off a half dozen more.

The comment thread did what comment threads do, and it eventually became a list of feminist women in the secular movement, and which My Little Pony character they’d be riding into battle astride.

Then embertine decided to draw them.
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Harassment policies campaign – timeline of major events

This is a chronological timeline of major events in the campaign to get major secular and skeptical events to enact harassment policies, to protect convention-goers from needless harassment and encourage women who might otherwise avoid what they perceive as a gender-imbalanced chilly climate to join the community. It is presently a work-in-progress, and a living document. It could be edited at any time.

I’m beginning from an excellent blog comment by Pteryxx that tries to organize this timeline more contextually rather than purely chronologically, and pulls out blockquotes. I’m rearranging everything and summarizing the contents of the links. Please let me know if I’ve misinterpreted the contents or missed any notable events. This is meant to be a companion piece to the 101-level post In Media Res, where I opened the comments to general questions about this campaign. Please direct those questions there.
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In Medias Res: how to find the plot if you’re just tuning in

Have you noticed that the people who tend to engender the most by-volume outrage about the feminist topics that have intersected with our skeptical and atheist communities lately aren’t actually the outright trolls or blatantly bigoted jerks? Okay, they get some ire, but are usually silenced in due course, and the rest of my statement is probably true of a lot of arguments. So I’m going to try to make this general, mostly, as a resource for future conversations, but include specific advice for this specific argument in the process.

The people who really seem to create the longest-term whargarbl — the peak burn for internet conflict — are almost always the folks who think they’re reasonable and just want to know what all the fuss is about, and make snap judgments about or unreasonable demands of the folks trying to drive the discussion — demands like “Explain everything that’s happened to lead up to this point in the conversation. And you both should calm down because both sides are being mean. Also, all those weird words that you’ve used up there, they mean something different in my mind and so you’re probably wrong unless you explain right now. ANNNNND GO.

These people can very often be extremely well-placed in the community, and have a lot of fans and cause a lot of blowback and DEEEEEEP RIIIIIIFTS. The higher up the food chain a supporter or detractor is, the more likely they carry with them any number of adjuncts who will complain bitterly that they’re being “forced to choose sides” or otherwise buy into the slurs and mischaracterizations that their heroes proclaim. When someone near the top jumps in without doing the background research, the splash damage can be absolutely enormous.

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You Must Always Be Nice: why I’m not being nice to DJ Grothe

Women supporting harassment are told they're just recounting "locker room tales" and "sexual exploits"... BUT SOME GUY CALLED ME A DOUCHEBAG SO BOTH SIDES ARE EQUALLY BAD.

If I’ve learned anything over the last week, it’s that there are two opposing factions that slaver at the bit to attack us feminists for different kinds of slip-ups — or perceived slip-ups, rather. There’s the “free speech” crowd who think that freethought means you should be free to use whatever racial, sexual or other slurs you want while making your arguments, who will scream and yell and build controversy over your banning them as disingenuous asses. There is, at the same time, another faction who will taunt and misconstrue and manufacture controversy over any perceived instance of being “mean”.

People like me — people who both condemn folks for using sexist slurs repeatedly and with impunity, but at the same time are willing to call people names when I get emotional — are stuck in the middle of both groups. I look like a tasty target to both sets of people because I appear to be a hypocrite. And surely I am! I mean, how could I possibly advocate not using certain insulting words when I’m willing to use other insulting words?

It’s rather easy to sort this out, of course. Though it does take a bit of intellectual honesty. And probably more patience and empathy than a certain class of reader has to hir credit.
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Sparlock the Warrior Wizard… IS EVIL

So sayeth the Jehovah’s Witnesses. See, Sparlock is a magical toy, and Jehovah hates magical toys. What’s that? Sparlock is a fictional character, and the “magic” is fictional too? Er, um. It’s ABOUT a magical wizard, therefore magic is real.

See? Sparlock is EVIL. THERE WAS A SNAKE IN THIS ANIMATION! That’s proof enough for me!

Remember kids, don’t participate in popular culture if it involves fictional magic, because there’s only one fictional magical creature you’re allowed to talk about, and that’s Jehovah. And Jehovah will not love you very much unless you obey him, and playing with toys is totally disobeying him. (Why am I reminded of the intro to The Binding of Isaac? Next Billy’s clothes get taken away because he’s still too sinful?)

Not all the JWs agree though. There’s actually a DEEEP RIIIIFT forming in the JW community over this, believe it or not. They’re TEARING THEMSELVES APART.

Hat tip sinned34. Who doesn’t seem to blog any more. Everyone shame him now.

The GrotheBot 5000 meme

So one of our commenters who shall not be named unless xe comes forward used memegenerator.net to create a meme generator to parody DJ Grothe’s latest bout of intractability.

It’s crude, it’s crass, it’s even gross mischaracterization in many cases, and I’m willing to admit that I’ve participated in creating at least one. I’m honestly hoping it’s enough of a slap in the face to wake DJ the hell up to the fact that he’s running around being a douchebag to those women who are identifying the problem and working to solve it, instead of actually fixing the problems people are having with harassment.

He can start by listening to the recommendations of the community and implementing a strong harassment policy that covers this year and all future years. Because there’s a lot of questions floating about regarding his, and JREF’s, willingness to do either. The fact that they haven’t yet is telling.

Update: Before you get all up in arms about “douchebag”, read this.

Conventions are workplaces for some people: how to move this conversation forward

Speakers, staff, and even people looking to increase their credibility in a particular field by networking and socializing all have very good reason to consider a convention to be a “workplace environment”. Even if they’re volunteering, even if they’re there only semi-professionally or as a hobbyist, the existence of a solid harassment policy that includes reporting mechanisms and collection of data for future improvement can be nothing but a good thing for their ability to carry out their work.

Conventions are not unique among workplaces — very many workplaces involve the dissemination of ideas, social components where “customers” can interact with one another and with the “employees” alike, and might even have an “overtime” component where people who are otherwise co-workers can fraternize outside of the purview of the actual “workplace environment”, often with those aforementioned “customers”. Most workplaces already have very solid harassment policies, and HR departments to enforce those policies. So why all the pushback against these policies when presented in context of trying to improve the situation for women who have apparently increasingly abandoning certain skeptical events despite leaders’ efforts to improve the situation?

My best guess is, because the people pushing back against these policies are the first ones who will be impacted by them.
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Not one of us is a token

On my own blog, an argument came up — while I was so slammed with work as to be all but totally disengaged from the greater blogohedron — that just happened to become extraordinarily timely through a coincidental confluence that bears mentioning. Liam, on an older post, defended the idea that people encouraging diversity were in fact engaging in “reverse racism”, serving as an excellent foil for my argument that diversity is itself a laudable goal.

This happened concurrently with John Loftus’ rather abrupt departure from Freethought Blogs, and his slamming the door on the way out hard enough to rattle the china on the walls — he intended to do damage on the way out by picking several fights with so-called “mean atheists” when his chief concern was that the commentariat, not the bloggers, were mean to him when he launched on our network and that he’d therefore have a harder time reaching out to Christians. He was invited expressly because he had a perspective that was, while not totally unique, certainly underrepresented in our blogging group, with the hope that when people move their blogs to our network it grows the network readership overall. That doesn’t make him the “token ex-Christian” not even the “token ex-Protestant minister”, so when he suggested that Natalie Reed was only brought on for diversity’s sake rather than her personal qualifications, many of us bloggers rightly rankled.
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So let’s hear you out then, John Greg.

Over on my post about the UK rape survivor campaign, John Greg threadjacked the entire comments thread to be about the ongoing so-called Great Rift between various factions in the skeptic and atheist blogosphere over Rebecca Watson’s trip to Ireland and into the “right to flirt” rabbithole, which I’ve covered extensively in the past. Part of this fight is about feminism, about the inclusion of feminist ideals in the skeptical and atheist communities, and about splash damage that some ostensible supporters of these ideals are taking during fights with various trolls.

I sympathize that good people might be getting hurt by the pushback against misogyny in our community when they point out that some folks are being emotional rather than rational, but I empathize (which is significantly stronger than sympathy) with the people who are getting emotional because I get emotional when I see my friends and allies getting shit on over nonsense, and other friends and allies not even lifting a finger to rebut.

So this stuff needs to be talked about. Yet again. And yet again, at the explicit demand of the people who claim that we’re the ones stirring the pot.

However, it was cluttering up a perfectly good thread about helping rape victims get the help they need, so I’ve moved it here.
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Why is Rebecca Watson so damned polarizing?

How is it that when Rebecca Watson says something essentially unobjectionable and otherwise a no-brainer, like that when people make misogynist jokes at a fifteen year old girl, and others reward same with upvotes, they might just be creating a chilling atmosphere for women in general, a total fucking shitstorm ensues?
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