There’s yet another misapprehension about language in the present ongoing discussion about sexism and harassment in our respective communities lately. I say yet another because they seem to comprise vast majority of the most jarring moments in these conversations — when people don’t understand one word or another, and fight for days about whether this parsing or another is more correct.

The entirety of the “witch-hunt” trolling that the pro-harassment-policies folks have endured stems from some misapprehension that the informal “watch out for this guy” network that Jen brought up in the original incident meant that there was actually a written list and that we were planning on trying to make conventions blackball these folks based on “rumors and innuendo”.

The “Taliban” accusations with regard to “dress codes” could be attributable to a perfectly honest misunderstanding about whether or not the proposed sample policy from the Geek Feminism wiki meant by the so-called “no booth babes” clauses. Of course, one would have to be quite charitable to presume the specific people initiating that meme had an honest misunderstanding, since they’ve done so much for so long to fight against the idea of feminism intersecting the skeptical or atheist movements. But one could attribute the meme’s spread to legitimate misunderstandings from people who weren’t skeptical enough to check the source materials and took the words of those authoritative voices.

And then there’s “safe spaces”.

Even DJ Grothe got that one wrong. Which, frankly, surprises the living hell out of me.
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Prominent CFI member advocates castration

By which I mean, Ronald A. Lindsay advocates losing the use of the word “balls” to mean “courage” in everyday conversation. And I couldn’t agree more.

Many people, including many skeptics, atheists, and humanists, use the term “balls” or its myriad equivalents as a metaphor for courage, determination, resolve or similar attributes. I suggest we should stop using such terms, for a pretty obvious reason: one doesn’t need testicles to be courageous, determined, or resolute.

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Clue this dude in.

I often label myself as a feminist. I have a strong distaste for the patriarchy, and the gender roles today’s society has in place, and I hate all the myriad ways that those gender roles hurt men and women. I’d like to think I’m pretty savvy when it comes to gender issues, and that my approach to achieving egalitarianism is the most rational and achievable course of action — that being, recognizing privilege, owning up to it, and working to break it down and replace it with a better and more equal system.

So with my self-perceptions being what they are, am I wrong in thinking the use of the word “lady” at the end of a suggestion or angry comment has less to do with the gender of the recipient, and more to do with the lack of familiarity between them?
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