Skepticon video: Greta Christina – Avoiding Activist Burnout

I absolutely loved the shorter version of this speech that she did at another con a while back, and was pleased to get to see it live. Unfortunately for me, though, Dave Muscato of American Atheists had put out a call to the intertubes asking whether or not anyone had a flash card reader and the ability to transfer a movie file to him by email. I happened to be on my laptop with a flash card reader and an internet connection, so I swept out to be the big damn hero and ended up missing a significant chunk of this speech. I’m happy this video exists so I can fill in the missing bits.

At the moment, I am actively attempting to control my activist burnout by learning Java programming, learning LibGDX, and generally pursuing my pipe dream of building a rogue-like Castlevania-alike platform game with retraversal and RPG stats*. It seems like a more immediately attainable goal, to me, than expunging sexist sentiment from a community whose members often prioritize getting along in a big-tent fashion rather than actually fixing the systematic empathy failures entrenched in some quarters.

* If you don’t get this, and care, ask me. I’ll explain. At length.

Greta has some questions for you. So does Stephanie.

Ever notice that pushback against certain ideas always develops internal themes and memetics that need to be directly countered before we can move on to actually talking about the ideas themselves? Ever notice that pushback tends to cluster around irrational objections to otherwise unobjectionable suggestions or ideas? One of the pushbacks against those of us who primarily identify as atheists who also care about and talk about social justice, humanism and atheism in equal measure, who’ve declared an appropriate label for that nexus of issues “Atheism Plus”, is that we’re somehow “divisive of the movement”. Greta has a few questions for those of you repeating that meme. Well, really, they all boil down to one singular one if you think about it.

Why is Atheism Plus being seen a terrible threat to the cohesion of the movement… and yet a solid year of feminist women being subjected to actions and words that demean us, objectify us, inappropriately sexualize us, and literally threaten us and make us unsafe is not getting called “divisive”?

reddit screenshotA 15 year old girl posted a photo of herself holding a Carl Sagan book to r/atheism, and got a flood of rape jokes in return. Why was that not “divisive”?

A leader of a major skeptical organization speculated on the causes of low female attendance at his conference… and blamed it on women who were speaking out about sexual harassment. Why was that not “divisive”?

A widely respected and beloved atheist celebrity publicly called a woman he disagreed with a cunt. And when this was brought up and criticized in an atheist blog, the comments were flooded with people defending him, and defending his use of the word. Why was that not “divisive”?

As part of a dispute about feminism, an atheist blogger and local atheist organization leader publicly posted Surly Amy’s address, with photos of the building. Why was that not “divisive”?

A popular atheist videoblogger deliberately tried to trigger a rape victim, by posting graphic threats of rape. Why was that not “divisive”?

A thread was posted on an atheist forum posing the question, “Would it be immoral to rape a Skepchick? Not for sexual gratification or power or anything like that, just because they’re so annoying.” Why was that not “divisive”?

Stephanie also has some questions for followers of Christina Hoff Sommers’ strange libertarian conservative definitions of “feminism” (you can tell, because they call themselves “equity feminists”, who believe that everyone else in every feminist movement represents “gender feminism” – a.k.a. misandry). That question is a simple one: what’s your evidence?

Many of the people complaining most insistently about the formation of Atheist+ are also among the number who claim that they are feminists, just “equity feminists”. They claim to be the true advocates for social justice. They claim that the “gender feminists” at FtB, Skepchick, and elsewhere are the oppressive force in this argument. We, of course, disagree. But who is correct? Is there one form of feminism that is based more on real-world data? Is there one that leads to more freedom?

The false dichotomy of “equity feminists” (e.g., libertarians who don’t like trying to fix tilts to the playing field) vs “gender feminists” (e.g., the subset of radical feminists who hate men and want to subjugate them to the Gynocracy) is reductionist to the point of absurdity. Hey, isn’t there a fallacy for that?

Hero worship

Yesterday was a very good day for hero worship in my corner of the world. First, Greta Christina sent me a package filled with delicious chocolate:

A much-too-small token of my gratitude. Enjoy! -Greta

Then my wife, my sister and I went to the James Randi talk in Halifax. We got this picture of Randi looking suitably impressed:

Who's next to Randi? THIS GUY.

Yup, it was a good day yesterday if you happen to consider this Lousy Canuck a personal hero.

Two boats tethered together on a lake (a repost)

The following is a repost from 07/10/2009 on Accomodationism vs New Atheism. Given how well it worked for Stephanie Zvan and Greta Christina as first posts, maybe I should have led with this one. Or maybe I should write something new. I’m sure I have more to say about the nonsense that is the “New Atheist” label, and how “accomodationism” is really just rubbing everyone the wrong way with their crankiness that not everyone’s using their exact tactics of mollycoddling with one hand and slapping with the other.

I’m going to extend Greg Laden’s metaphor proclaiming (rightly, in my opinion) that the so-called “New Atheists” and the so-called “accommodationists” are in the same boat and bickering about what amounts to be the 1% difference between their philosophies. But first I’m going to set the stage for this rant, and I’m also going to do what a number of people in this Internet High Dudgeon have done — define all my terms (favorably to my argument, naturally).

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