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Atheism has a sexism problem

It’s rather like a case of acne; we’ve got it, people are pointing it out, and we’re trying out denial as a solution. It doesn’t work. I think Victoria Bekiempis is quite right in pointing out that New Atheism is a boys’ club.

But other female atheists are blunt in their assessment of why the face of atheism doesn’t necessarily reflect the gender makeup of its adherents. Annie Laurie Gaylor, who founded the Freedom From Religion Foundation with her mother, Anne Nicol Gaylor, in 1978, sums it up succinctly: “One word – sexism.” Gaylor’s husband, Dan Barker, who helms the organisation along with her, is usually the one invited to speaking engagements, despite her longer tenure as the organisation’s leader and her numerous books on atheism. Doubt author Hecht, too, identifies basic chauvinism in the persistent lower profile of female atheists, stating that in her own experience, the work of female atheists tends to be individualised, rather than contextualised as part of a watershed scholarly movement. “Nobody talked about [Doubt] as a ‘phenomenon’,” she notes. “They just talked about the book.” Finally, when well-known atheists also happen to be just as well known for their misogynist statements – like Hitchens, as well as fellow skeptic Stephen Fry, who once theorised that women “don’t really like sex” – it just adds to atheism’s existing public-relations problem.

Representation matters, and when various media reports combined to create the “New Atheist” meme without mentioning the contributions of the women involved in the movement, the result was that the meme itself became masculinised. And because contemporary atheism has become so synonymous with this initially identified group, women atheists may well continue to be overlooked by the mainstream (or will, as some female skeptics have, reject inclusion on principle). It’s a state of affairs very much in line with the history of women in other fields in which battling continued institutional neglect – as opposed to intrinsic hostility – is an ongoing theme.

I know what happens next. Hackles rise, men get all defensive, and get huffy and angry while simultaneously denying that they have a pimple and how rude of those nasty feminists (said with a sneer) to point it out. But the facts are all there. Women have been activists and leaders in this movement for a long, long time — I blame Susan Jacoby and her book Freethinkers as the catalyst that first really inspired me — and yet, somehow, they always get forgotten when it’s time to give credit or build a list of invited speakers for a conference or when the media, largely ignorant of atheism, tries to name a few atheists. I’ve seen it happen over and over. It’s a very real phenomenon that Bekiempis is describing, and what’s also real is how some people will get very angry if anyone mentions it.

I think that last line is mostly correct, though. It’s not an intrinsic hostility to women (although we’ve encountered a few people who are nasty haters — but they are a fringe minority and definitely not part of the leadership), but a pattern of blindness. The good news is that this is a problem we can easily correct: we have no shortage of talented women in atheism right now, most of the atheists I’ve talked to readily acknowledge atheist women’s existence with a little nudging, and every conference organizer is receptive to the idea of greater inclusion.

It isn’t just atheism, either. I’ve noticed the same phenomenon in my classes: I often put optional, extra-credit questions on my exams, and one I used many times is the simple, “Name a female scientist”…and students are often stumped by it. The most common answer I get is “Marie Curie”; the second most common is no answer at all. And this is in a department where half the faculty are women! There are other famous female scientists besides Marie Curie, and they ought to be at least aware of the local talent.

The solution is relatively easy: more of that consciousness raising. The women are here, the guys just have to notice…and that doesn’t mean noticing that there are breasts around, but that there are good minds without Y chromosomes, and that we can be equals without diminishing the male contribution.

Our one obstacle? The small number of indignant people who will be in denial, and take recognition of a common problem as an insult. Get over it. Appreciating women as partners actually doesn’t hurt, and the only insult here is the bizarrely obtuse attitude of some men and women.

Comments

  1. Mattir says

    Isn’t it just the case that women just don’t give a damn about science/nerd stuff IN GENERAL?

    @The Pint – That’s obviously bullshit, but there’s also the problem that sometimes women nerds are interested in different science/nerd stuff than the stereotype that the speaker had in mind and thus doesn’t count as real.

  2. Algernon says

    I encourage many commenters here to take a long…

    I’ve looked deep into myself. You could say I stared into the abyss I guess.

    I know what I am.

    Still have a recommendation?

  3. Sally Strange, OM says

    I knew it! I knew Mike was going to flounce with his next post–dammit, I should have posted my prediction back when it would have been impressive. Well, you know, not that impressive to predict a flouncing by a concern troll who’s being demolished, but still. I was being too “nice.” Again.

  4. RipleyP says

    Female scientist—first name to mind

    Rachael Dunlop,

    who is not only a scientist but a very talented sceptic and very interesting to listen to.

    Disclosure: I am an Australian so I may have a patriotic bias

  5. says

    FIFY again; stop playing from the creationist handbook. any moment now, you’ll start rambling about macro-sexism vs. micro-sexism

    Indeed… there’s a point at which creationist rhetoric and sexism-denial rhetoric begin to look similar. (I don’t think Mike’s quite reached that point, but it’s better exhibited by the idiot at #130 in this thread.) Compare and contrast:

    “Look, this banana fits so perfectly in my hand! God must have designed it to look that way! There’s no other explanation!”

    “Er… that’s great, Ray, but how about the selective breeding of banana plants in human cultivation for the last several centuries?”

    *Ray sticks fingers in ears* “Lalalala! I can’t hear you!”

    versus

    “Look, there are so few women in science! God Nature must have designed their brains not to be able to deal with hard sciency nerdy stuff like we men can! There’s no other explanation!”

    “Er… that’s great, Christopher, but how about the sexist beliefs, unconscious preconceptions and discriminatory hiring-practices that have kept women out of science for the last several centuries?”

    *Christopher sticks fingers in ears” “Lalalala! I can’t hear you!”

  6. mouthyb, who should have been twins says

    My ears were burning. Name a female scientist? *raises hand*

    I am. I’m a social scientist (currently in grad school) and an MFA. I’m going to leave some social science here, and also remark that sexism in the sciences is such a well-known problem that it was a discussion we had up front in my department. One of my professors, bless him, actually pulled me aside and told me if I were EVER to have problems, to come talk to him. I kind of wanted to make cookies on the spot, as the last program I was in had endemic problems with professors sleeping with and pressuring students.

    And I could fill books with the discouragements aimed at me. Anyone else around here channeled into typing so they could get a secretarial job, or told that they wouldn’t need to know the answers in math or science classes because ‘you’re just going to get married, anyway’? And, in case someone makes that argument, I’m 34.

    This was not ancient history.

    I know a local group of female scientists who literally have a monthly drinking event just to provide support for each other. The story last month was about some jackass in the Engineering Dept who walked up to a new female student and reached out to cup just above her breast, then said to her boyfriend, who was standing next to her, “What are you going to do about it?”

    One of my best friends goes to conferences as the head of her team researching fission to present on their research and is condescended to, has older male engineers and physicists pick fights with her and stare down the front of her shirt. She is easily the smartest person I have ever met, and has to put up with a constant stream of people assuming, because she is female, that she’s the head of the project because she was cute at someone, or because she’s a pretty figurehead.

    I personally don’t know how she hasn’t punched someone. Her self-control is better than mine. I’ve got a big mouth.

    And now, for science:

    http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=92757

    http://www.nber.org/~sewp/events/2005.01.14/Bios+Links/Krieger-rec4-Nelson+Rogers_Report.pdf

    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=TqsVHasTHOYC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=obstacles+facing+women+in+the+sciences&ots=9Maz6GckZ9&sig=o_LbLqkRcyvjxfnS3byimDC_Xtw#v=onepage&q&f=false

    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=7WPkkNYF-i4C&oi=fnd&pg=PA243&dq=obstacles+facing+women+in+the+sciences&ots=y_xdYPXap9&sig=1OEKK5YXuYyi9st9PKG8ClGCoGw#v=onepage&q&f=false

    http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/nwsa/summary/v016/16.1rosser.html

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/job.4030110604/abstract

    http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/general/faculty/reis/External_Barriers.html

    http://schools.caerdydd.ac.uk/jomec/resources/Kitzinger_Report_1.pdf

    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=zgsvXQ4GbfkC&oi=fnd&pg=PR4&dq=obstacles+facing+women+in+the+sciences&ots=24hcSc2rw2&sig=hlrQ9vvr2QxEe4UIjh5ALxEimAs#v=onepage&q&f=false

    I made it a point to use google scholar, instead of the research databases I have access to.

    (I’ve always wanted to say this) Science? I gotcher science right here.

  7. stacy says

    eigenperson at #489 beat me to it. But the point bears repeating, so I shall repeat it:

    There are cases where instead of blaming sexism, conscious or not, a bad policy is to blame. The policy might have been believed to gender neutral and blameless, but turns out not to be….

    We had what I thought (and many others also thought) was a pretty good policy about maternity leave for assistant professors pre-tenure. It took some other professors to highlight shortcomings and motivate a change to a better policy that helped more qualified professors reach tenure without our institutionalized discrimination. They didn’t just claim that our Dean and promotion committee were sexist. They identified a real problem that clearly contributed to a more difficult tenure road for female faculty.

    Yes. And those examples you offered, Mike, are examples of…what, class? SEXISM.

    Mike, you seem to think that “sexism” means an accusation that some individual harbors conscious, overt bigotry towards women. That is not what the word means.

    Sexism is often systemic rather than a matter of personal, deliberate chauvinism. That means, for example, that maternity leave policies will be nonexistent or flawed–because society is set up for men, not women, and men don’t give birth. It means that people will unconsciously feel more comfortable with men being assertive than with women being assertive. It means people will assume greater ability on the part of men, often unconsciously (check out the link offered above on orchestra auditions). It means…hell, it means a lot of things…not just women’s place is in the home!!! style piggetry.

  8. says

    @Mattir -

    there’s also the problem that sometimes women nerds are interested in different science/nerd stuff than the stereotype that the speaker had in mind and thus doesn’t count as real.

    Oh, certainly. It’s constantly shifting the goal posts: “Oh, you like *that* kind of science? Pfst, that’s not *real* science.” Or “You’re interested in physics? Well, have you heard about [obscure theory not likely to be well-known outside of expert circles]? No? Oh, so you’re not really *that* into science then, it’s just a passing hobby.”

    Bleeding Christ on a pogo stick, I’m still slogging through at roughly 270 and getting closer to that Derailing Bingo…

  9. Algernon says

    It’s constantly shifting the goal posts: “Oh, you like *that* kind of science? Pfst, that’s not *real* science.”

    Yep. The important stuff is where the women aren’t… but that’s not sexism. It’s just common sense. I mean, think about it!

    Look, if religion is more than just a white man’s burden, then you’re going to have to accept the reality of those of us who came to it in spite of you.

  10. stacy says

    Doubt author Hecht, too, identifies basic chauvinism in the persistent lower profile of female atheists, stating that in her own experience, the work of female atheists tends to be individualised, rather than contextualised as part of a watershed scholarly movement.

    Women tend to be “individualised” in this way wherever they’ve risen to prominence. Years ago, Sci fi author Joanna Russ wrote a great book about how it happens in literature: How To Suppress Women’s Writing. http://www.tor.com/blogs/2010/12/how-to-suppress-womens-writing-by-joanna-russ

  11. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Mike:

    I used to really like reading comments here, but it’s been downhill for the last few years, at least on certain topics (maybe that’s my own bias [you reckon?]), but I encourage many commenters here to take a long, hard look at themselves and consider how biased and close minded they actually are.

    Yeah, confidence = close-mindedness.

    (I bet you are close-minded regarding the proposition that [1+1=2])

  12. says

    Sigh. Well, at least it took up to 300 comments before we got the “Well, I’VE never experienced anything sexist as an atheist woman, therefore it’s not true!” derail, courtesy of Tabitha at #302.

  13. says

    @Algernon #509 – No problem. FTB occasionally seems to like snacking on comments, in part or in whole. Perhaps yours was extra tasty?

  14. Sally Strange, OM says

    @ stacy

    I never heard of Joanna Russ before, and I’m an avid sci-fi reader, so thanks for pointing me her way! Got any recommendations as to which of her fiction books are best?

  15. says

    @Audley way up at 339:

    Many of us don’t want to be treated with kid-gloves and, as a woman and a feminist, I find this assertion to be spectacularly insulting.

    QFT. And for the record, the “tone” of Pharyngula is exactly why I feel safe in this blog. This is one of the few spaces I know of where arguments are taken on their actual merit, regardless of whether or not there’s a “polite gloss” or the poster in question favors “salty language.” Idiocy, no matter how politely worded, is called out as idiocy. Sexism, racism, homophobia, etc., is all called out for what it is, and statements exhibiting taken-for-granted privilege are not allowed to slide. And because of this, I’m forced to actually stop and THINK before I post instead of spouting off.

    The environment here isn’t for everyone and that’s totally ok – the internet is vast and wide, if this isn’t the place for you, you’re sure to find a space more amiable elsewhere. So every time I see someone here sticking around to continually whine about “the big mean denizens of the Horde,” it starts to look less like an honest criticism from someone unfamiliar with the territory and more like a plea for attention persecution complex from extra special snowflakes.

  16. kristinc says

    Oooh, Sally Strange, “When It Changed” is an excellent, haunting sad story by Joanna Russ. To even summarize the plot for you would be to ruin it some. I think I found it in one of those Dangerous Visions scifi anthologies, but I’m sure that’s not the only place it can be found.

  17. stacy says

    Sally, I very much enjoyed her short story collection The Zanzibar Cat.

    But I haven’t actually read that much sci fi (am considering rectifying that, but, you know, so many books…)–and haven’t read any of Russ’s novels. I hear The Female Man is good, and it has a feminist theme.

    Come to think of it, the only Sci fi novels* I’ve read were The Time Machine and Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. I dearly love The Left Hand of Darkness.

    * Unless you count “speculative fiction” like Oryx and Crake.

  18. Lion IRC says

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/
    says…

    “Women in virtually every society and culture are more religious than men, and the empirical evidence suggests that the reason is not gender socialization.”

    Sexist male atheists? … well duh!

    Listen to how often they prognosticate about male dominated, paternalistic oppressive religion that “force” women into faith against their own (intelligent) free will.

    Have a look at hypocrite Ebonmuse’s “veiled” attack on women’s IQ presuming how few volunteer for religion.

    “…women are denigrated as lesser beings, barred from positions of leadership, commanded to be subservient, and told that they’re weaker or more sinful than men….”

    http://www.daylightatheism.org/2010/08/ensuring-access-to-abortion.html

    Have a look at Mr Hitchens on the book club.
    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/firsttuesday/s2898631.htm

    JENNIFER BYRNE: No, but my point would be that I think, after the ’70s, that is actually not true. That may have been true but I don’t think that is true, that men are so less capable of dealing with children and that it’s better they go off and earn money. Maybe the mother could go an earn some money.

    CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: No. I’m not having any woman of mine go to work.

    What do the evolutionary biologists and Darwinian psychologists have to say about “womens place” in sexual selection and mate competition among primates?

    Gender equality / neutrality? I doubt it!

    I’ll stick with the bible thanks.

    In Genesis God saves the best for last when He created Eve.

  19. says

    Mike’s theory of Hole Digging or whatever.

    Anything. Anything but sexism! All the other things, except sexism! Make something up, so long as it’s not sexism, he’ll consider it! And if you think it’s not worth considering, it’s because you’re not a True Skeptic, like Mike.

    Of course it isn’t sexism, it’s, it’s, it’s um, er, gender inequalities, that’s the ticket, yeah! No, that’s not the same thing and sexism has nothing to do with it! Naturally, us women, well, we wouldn’t know anything at all about sexism, noooo.

    If there’s one thing that’s stood out in this entire thread, it’s the constant refrain from doubters/deniers crying “If sexism is really a problem within atheism, where’s the evidence, huh? HUH?!?” and the covering their ears and going “lalalalalala” when it’s laid out quite simply for them.

    (The whole “Sexism is a problem everywhere, therefore it’s not atheists’ responsibility to address is in our own community” argument makes no sense. It’s like saying that an infection isn’t worth treating locally, it’s only worth treating if it’s everywhere.)

    It really does beg the question – if women TELLING the atheist community that they’ve experienced sexism within atheism and that it’s enough of a problem that they’re made to feel uncomfortable or uneasy with participating within the community isn’t enough to indicate to the doubters/deniers that there really is a problem with sexism within the atheist movement, then what the frak is?!?

  20. Badland, delurking for a bit says

    Stacey @ 506 – point very well made. I hope Mike lurks long enough to read it and (you never know) understand it

  21. says

    Well now that we’ve literally had someone say “This sexism is turning me off, I’m going to believe in the bible and creationism now, JUST BECAUSE OF THIS” I’m sure all the skeptics will address the sexism and demand it be eschewed for hurting the cause.

    You know…like they do with atheism.

  22. says

    Damn it. Just as the nonsensical Bible touting chewtoy shows up, I need to get to bed, but I’ll take a quick nibble:

    Listen to how often they prognosticate about male dominated, paternalistic oppressive religion that “force” women into faith against their own (intelligent) free will.

    1. So how is your religion NOT a male-dominated, paternalistic oppressive religion?

    2. Women can be forced into faith against their will in a variety of ways, such as social pressure, threats of physical violence, mental abuse and repeated shielding from the fact that there is a whole wide world of people out there – some of whom who do not believe in the same god or even in ANY god – who are living quite happy, productive lives.

    The difference between YOUR religion and atheism is that your religion sees sexism and enforced gender roles as a FEATURE, and atheism views it as a bug that is to be eradicated without mercy.

  23. stacy says

    Re–women being more religious than men–

    OK, this is largely speculative on my part (though I’m hardly the first person to have thought of it). But when women are discouraged (or, not so long ago, and still in some parts of the world, outright barred) from participating in professions and other fields where they could make names for themselves, a lot of them are going to try to excel at being good. That’s where religion sucks them (us) in. It’s something women can do without societal disapprobation. And it’s an extra special challenge, you know, because supposedly we’re particularly prone to badness to start with.

    I don’t mean to denigrate women–or other people–trying to be good for goodness’ sake. But religion claims a monopoly on “good”, so no wonder women, in oppressive societies, would glom onto that as the only challenge they can meet and excel at?

  24. azkyroth says

    A slightly tougher & rather different question is to “Name some fictional women scientists?” :

    Dr.(?) Sydney Mobius and Dr. Anna Petrova from the Command and Conquer series jump immediately to mind…the latter, assuming *mad* scientists count.

    Other than that, I think I’ve conceptualized more than I can remember the names of. >.>

  25. azkyroth says

    Perhaps gender theory and feminist approaches to topics are not as obviously easy to insert into a science-based curriculum, but there are always topics and pre-requisite courses that, from a policy standpoint, are deemed to be things that university students absolutely *should* take, no matter what their preferred line of study.

    How about a course or two on “the human factor”? “Scientists as people,” “Engineers as people,” etc. Make it count for GE and weave the gender/race/class/disability status issues throughout rather than making them “units” to be focused on and then forgotten.

  26. says

    Lyin’ Irk, it’s a pity you got parole from the dungeon, it’s really the only place for you. All the time you spent on Pharyngula was with your head firmly lodged up your anus and yelling “god, god, god, god, god, god, god! I can’t hear you, I can’t think because god, god, god, god!” Not one thing has changed, so why in the fuck are you back, inflicting your particular brand of god screeching on us?

    No one is interested in you or your delusions. Kindly take a hike, Sugarbrain. Here’s a nice, decaying porcupine you can take along, if you can find room for it next to your head.

  27. azkyroth says

    I would suggest that atheist men are just as likely to be sexist as non-atheist men. In other words, very.

    This is not an atheist problem. This is a man problem.</blockquote.

    Although the misogynist women, and the women who defend misogyny and misogynist men, don't really help matters with the misogyny thing.

    A brilliant post. That we are perhaps conditioned to act in a sexual way isn’t in any respect an excuse or a mitigating factor.

    It’s actually pretty much orthogonal. Sexual != sexist.

  28. rolfschmidt says

    Considering that Rebecca Watson has been mentioned quite a bit here, with regard to the blindness that seems to be pervasive (at least in the vocal few) about sexism, it may interest people that on the RationalSkepticism forums the discussion of her has descended into a declared ‘consensus’ that Watson is a bitch. It’s really quite vitriolic.

  29. says

    rolfschmidt, discussions centering around Egate have been going on for months, including extremely disgusting ones. We’re more than aware of that sort of shit. This post is not about Ms. Watson or Egate, so thanks, but no thanks.

  30. andrewv69 says

    @Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort says:

    Men’s Rights Advocates. People who argue against and try to twist feminist ideas into a straw-man argument about how we focus on the women only and yet the men are suffering too, without realizing that feminism truly focuses on the problems with the Patriarchy – which is what harms men more than feminism.

    I am pretty sure that the majority of MRAs do not buy the argument about the patriarchy. Some may appear to, but they generally frame it in terms of the elites, who they view as being relativly immune to laws.

    I am reasonably certain that the MRAs really do not buy it that feminism is of any benefit to them at all.

    My impression is that the MRA position is that feminism, having achieved equality in law (in the USA), has managed to get laws passed that place men at a disadvantage, and are now dedicated to passing more laws to make men subservient to women.

    Frequently cited are women such as Catherine Anne McKinnon et. al. and that in fact they have less rights than women, and in the case of reproduction, they have no rights at all.

    Examples cited are the VAWA, divorce and child support laws. Some MRAs also cite rape culture hysteria, and false rape accusations as examples of cultural with infected with misandry. Sex trafficking propaganda, cooked rape statistics etc are viewed as a means of generating income for professional victims industries.

    Many MRAs hate women plain and simple. Most notably I have seen two who claim that they came from a single parent household and their mother was a feminist (I have no idea how the others got this way myself).

    Other MRAs appear to like women (or at least appear to be prepared to). It can be difficult to distinguish between them. I am almost certain that I have never seen overt misognyst refuted.

    Finally some MRAs also identify as also WN (White Nationalist) and are quite often overtly racist. The one thing that the above groups have in common, is that they are all seriously pissed off and are like as not to completely disagree with each other on politics, economics, race, you name it.

    If you think some feminists are as mad as hatters, filled with bile and misandry, you need to visit some of the MRA sites to see their equal, if not surpass them in venom and hatred.

    Finally, I do not know if the MRAs are having much of an impact in the USA. I have however seen a couple of items (I am a bit dubious about any inferred connection with MRAs though)

    a).Texas legislates against paternity fraud
    b).Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that a man does not have to pay lifetime alimony.

    Anyway, that is my current take on it. I can not claim to understand Americans and their politics (apart from it being vicious), but I doubt I am going to be surprised no matter what happens next.

  31. ichthyic says

    it may interest people that on the RationalSkepticism forums the discussion of her has descended into a declared ‘consensus’ that Watson is a bitch. It’s really quite vitriolic.

    I will recall what happened to Rebecca the next time someone asks me why I use a pseudonym on the web.

    the demonization of Watson is quite an interesting media-driven phenomenon, considering she never, EVER said ANYTHING that one could even remotely judge her as being “a bitch” by.

    I truly feel sorry that the internet has become little more than the next media gossip rag, and that THIS can just as easily happen within self-proclaimed skeptic communities.

    fucking sad.

  32. chigau () says

    I’m gonna catch up here, too.
    .
    Birutė Galdikas
    Why is she always forgotten?
    .
    wait. once, up there.

  33. andrewv69 says

    @Mario says:

    Extra extra credit: name a gay scientist.

    Alan Turing. But that is the only one I know of.

  34. says

    andrewv69:

    having achieved equality in law

    Equality in the law has not been achieved in the U.S. and you fucking know that, because you were told that often enough in the last thread. As for your maundering on about MRAs, shut the fuck up. You showed yourself to be quite the happy expert on MRA behaviour and PUA behaviour as well the last time you were frothing at the brain here.

    The last thing anyone needs is another of your endless, lame-ass, sideways defense of all things MRA and PUA.

  35. azkyroth says

    niftyatheist 40: You make great points, and I also appreciate the tone. I don’t think we have to silence voices. But if PZ took a strong stand, for instance, that “ad hominem attacks are an ineffective and time-wasting form of argumentation, besides being cruel, so cut it out” that would probably help a lot.

    A few specific examples would also help, for the stubbornly clueless.

    That might be useful, except that I suspect that you’re misusing the mangled non-term “ad hominem attacks” to mean “unflattering statements” rather than “using an insult as a premise” which is, to a rough approximation, what it actually means. “He’s an idiot, don’t listen to him” is a fallacious argument ad hominem. “That idiot is wrong because of A, B, and C” is not.

    As far as the tone here, I’m not sure what you’re asking for. I can think of two maxims I’d immediately add to the commenting policies here*, actually, but I doubt they’d satisfy you.

    *1) Ignoring what people are plainly saying and responding to the worst possible thing you could twist their statements into is not even arguing in bad faith – it’s straight-up trolling. And trolling is already prohibited.
    2) The above applies even if it would be much funnier to ignore them or if one or more relatively popular commenters have contravened them.

  36. andrewv69 says

    @separatethread says:

    #58 – No, I believe it’s “Hedy” Lamarr. I know this because she was the co-founder of frequency hopping, an invention that saved innumerable Allied live during WWII. That, plus she was really hot. (Yes I see the irony. I’m kidding.)(But she was really hot).

    I had to look her up. I was astounded as I never associated her with anything other than acting.

    Spread spectrum communications and frequency hopping? That was huge my man. It was the start of wireless communications!

  37. azkyroth says

    Autism is considered to be “male brain”,

    Flat fucking not even wrong.

    This is evidence for the view that women are more interested in careers that entail interpersonal interaction, while men are more interested in careers that deal with “things”: science, engineering, technology, etc.

    Assuming that’s true…

    What have the results from your control group that hasn’t grown up in a male-dominated culture where “thing” things are seen as male and “interpersonal” things are seen as female except when they involve power dynamics in which case they’re usually also seen as male?

    You DO have that control group, right?

    Now, if culture does magnify the differences, than it could also mitigate them, which is a good thing for people who want to increase the number of women in those fields, but it will be an uphill battle for reasons that go beyond sexism, and you better recognize those reasons if you want to succeed.

    Not if we have some smug jackass wandering in every five seconds with an hour’s worth of Googling’s understanding of the subject matter and smarmily asserting that women are just NATURALLY less suited for science.

  38. azkyroth says

    I really don’t mean to belittle – But I am yet to see a single shred of evidence that atheism is any more sexist then any other part of modern society

    I’m suddenly reminded of the whole “America – We’re Not As Bad as Saddam!” thing the Bush administration had going. “We’re ONLY as Sexist in the Aggregate as Everyone Else.” It’s…kinda catchy…

  39. says

    azkyroth:

    This is evidence for the view that women are more interested in careers that entail interpersonal interaction, while men are more interested in careers that deal with “things”: science, engineering, technology, etc.

    Assuming that’s true…

    It isn’t. Things are more complex than our denialist would like. A lot of men go into fields which are all about interpersonal interaction, a lot of women are interested in fields which deal with “things”.

    Personally, I’ve never enjoyed working any job which involved interpersonal interaction. I did it enough, while working my ass off to build up my clientele and get enough gallery shows that I didn’t have to do that sort of thing anymore. Thankfully, that hard work paid off and I’ve been able to work for myself for decades. I still have to deal with clients and shows, and that’s the least favourite part of what I do.

  40. azkyroth says

    I am always amazed how a community supposedly dedicated to reason is so resistive to learning.

    Doesn’t the persistent failure of your attempts to educate the community suggest that there might be something you’re missing?

  41. says

    This is evidence for the view that women are more interested in careers that entail interpersonal interaction, while men are more interested in careers that deal with “things”

    which explains why women are overrepresented in politics, and underrepresented in arts & crafts….

    oh, wait.

  42. St. Exuperantius says

    How about some women from the 17th century:

    Elisabetha Koopman-Hevelius
    Margaret Cavendish
    Maria Sybilla Merian
    Maria Cunitz

  43. azkyroth says

    Also what the fuck is a physics contest?

    Could be a euphemism for warfare, I suppose. In which case having women heavily involved (even if not on the front lines) has historically been critical to making it work.

  44. Indeterminate Me says

    Since no one here seems interested in discussing actual, constructive, practical actions we could take to actually address the issue of sexism in the atheist community and increase gender diversity in our conferences and other gatherings – perhaps a little humor might be in order, apropos “first world problems” comments:

    http://www.dieselsweeties.com/archive/2902

  45. says

    Andrewv69:

    So Wood was famous for “spray-on skin”

    No, Fiona Wood is a doctor (surgeon-intensivist) specialising in burns who developed a method of growing skin cells in a liquid medium which can then be aerosolised, enabling the rebair of burns in patients who don’t have enough normal skin left to use as grafts. It has hugely increased the survival in those with >50% burns, and reduced the additional scarring by reducing the need for aforementioned split-skin grafts.

    Also Australian of the year for the above.

    Also has 2 or 3 children and cycles 30k every day before work.

    Nice try at putting an amazing woman in her place, but complete fail, anyway.

  46. andrewv69 says

    @TonyJ says:

    I’m not sure why someone would be scared of commenting on a mostly anonymous forum anyway.

    Not sure myself but I am convinced it happens.

  47. says

    Indeterminate Me:

    Since no one here seems interested in discussing actual, constructive, practical actions we could take to actually address the issue of sexism in the atheist community

    Which obviously includes you, Cupcake. We have discussed actual, constructive, practical actions which could be taken to actually address the issue of sexism at atheist meetings and venues. Amazingly, these discussions are always invaded by people who would much rather discuss what evil, hysterical bitches we all happen to be or spend ages denying sexism actually takes place and so on. We discuss what’s on the table. That’s how it goes.

    If you do happen to have the most amazing, never, ever brought up before, constructive, practical ideas, by all means, discuss them. Who is stopping you?

  48. chigau () says

    Caine.
    shame
    you are just not appreciating the really verrry speshul wondermusness that is Indeterminate Me.
    I mean, really.
    jeez

  49. azkyroth says

    Although you are an idiot, the point about Asperger’s is non-trivial. Unfortunately for that point, there is no solid data about the cause of Asperger’s. There’s a large presumption that it’s genetic, but that might be a little bit of a PC holdover from the 50′s and the 60′s when people assumed autism was caused by inattentive or unaffectionate mothers.

    I tend to think Asperger’s, autism, and a few others like ADHD are actually developmental disorders with a strong environmental component, and that you only see high incidences of autism spectrum disorder in cognitively rich environments like western civilization.

    Autism spectrum disorders are pervasive patterns of neurological differences, not just differences in attitude or viewpoints. They’re pretty clearly either genetic or epigenetic, though the severity of overt symptoms can be environmentally influenced.

  50. andrewv69 says

    @Indeterminate Me says:

    Why assume bad faith? You expect me to know all about Illuminata, yet you know nothing about me. That doesn’t stop you from prejudging. (Not that knowing all about me should in any way temper your consideration of the merit of the substance of my comments.)

    Note: I am not speaking on behalf of the community here. It is just my take as one outsider to another. They may have a different perspective.

    Have a look at the Pharyngula Wiki – Memes
    http://pharyngula.wikia.com/wiki/Memes

    My conclusion is that these memes were not established overnight, but only after repeated incidents. That is, in my opinion bound to have some affect on any future incidents that appear to match, and that you are now subject to that effect.

    Imagine if you will, arguing in good faith, only to eventually discover that the other party was not? How many iterations would it take for you to take a somewhat jaundiced view of any future proceedings?

  51. says

    Chigau:

    you are just not appreciating the really verrry speshul wondermusness that is Indeterminate Me.

    True, true. It would seem that indeterminate special doesn’t impress me much. Tsk.

  52. John Morales says

    [meta — anectodal datum]

    In my experience, PZ’s posts on sexism in atheism are the ones with the most (and fastest rate) of comments — comparable only to posts on abortion or FGM.

  53. azkyroth says

    Mike:

    We know that sexism exists, and is pervasive, and explains a significant portion of gender inequalities. You’ve been asked a few times to provide an alternative explanation for other gender inequalities where you insist we shouldn’t conclude sexism explains them, even though it’s clearly adequate to explain them. What reason is there for witholding provisional assent to that explanation other than simply not liking the implications?

  54. says

    Impossibly thread bankrupt, and I suspect all the important things (including refutations of the importantly stupid things) about the main topic of sexism have already been said, so I’ll limit myself to the Name a FemaleWoman Scientist stuff:

    starstuff91:

    Not to denigrate their amazing achievements, but don’t Ada Lovelace and Grace Murray Hopper fit better in the “engineer” category?

    I’d say that that’s nit picking. Most people would agree that someone in any STEM field could be considered a “scientist”.

    Hmmm… would you call Steve Wozniak a scientist? Elon Musk?

    I think there are nontrivial distinctions to be made between categories like scientist, engineer, inventor, etc. It’s a bit more than mere nitpicking: There are real differences in the modes of inquiry those categories imply.

    That said, the fact that most of us have to stretch the category of scientist to answer PZ’s question just (IMHO) proves PZ’s original point in asking it.

    I’m not sure I’d call Lovelace an engineer, either: She was a writer, and a mathematician, and arguably the first computer programmer. I suppose you could call her a computer scientist… but she predates the existence of that field by about a century.

    Hedy Lamarr was, I’d say, an inventor (and a part-time one, at that).

    As for some of the women astronomers mentioned, Henrietta Swan Leavitt and the equally important Annie Jump Cannon (what is it with the triple names? Not maiden/married names in either case, BTW) clearly did the work of scientists, and impacted the world of science (Leavitt would’ve likely been nominated for a Nobel if she’d lived a few more years), but weren’t actually employed or credentialed as scientists (for the most part): Both were “computers” (essentially computational clerical workers) at the Harvard Observatory, and were paid (at least initially) less than secretaries.

    Caroline Herschel was essentially her brother William’s (aka Wilhelm Freidrich’s) housekeeper and assistant; astronomy was a hobby for her. It was actually a hobby for William, too (his profession was music), until he became Royal Astronomer (not to be confused with Astronomer Royal, which was a different gig) to George III. The Herschels were certainly astronomers, but at a time when astronomy as a professional science was nascent.

    On a separate note, I suspect people didn’t think of Rachel Carson immediately not because she’s not known, but because most folks think of her first as the founder of a social movement, rather than as the scientist she obviously was. Certainly that was true in my case: I knew her as the author of Silent Spring and a seminal figure in the environmental movement… but I had to look up her scientific discipline. Similarly, I imagine people don’t think of Hedy Lamarr as a scientist (inventor) because she was already hugely famous for something entirely unrelated before she started dabbling in frequency hopping. And the surprise people express when they learn of her technology work stems, IMHO, from a trifecta of prejudice: Not only [a] sexism, but also [b] the notion that actors (movie actors in particular) aren’t intellectual and [c] the reflexive belief that beauty (irrespective of gender) and brains are mutually exclusive.

    Finally, two brief notes: To whoever “corrected” Kat’s comment that “It’s Hedley…,” that was a Blazing Saddles reference. And it’s Dian[no e] Fossey (which I learned from Gorillas in the Mist). Sheesh… don’t you people go to the movies? ;^)

  55. John Morales says

    azkyroth, you’re putting Mike in a bad position, to wit: he must then admit the alternative is that men are superior to women.

    (Who’d want to make that claim here? :) )

  56. says

    Also, Caine: I’m a charter subscriber to MAKE magazine, and it’s very, very cool. I’m ashamed to admit, though, that even though I have every single issue, I’ve never built any of the projects. Savin’ ‘em for retirement (along with the other 10,000 years worth of stuff I’m gonna do then, of course).

  57. says

    Pteryxx @ 316:

    so, is patting Barry on the head and saying “of course it’s not YOUR fault or responsibility or problem poor dear” (and going to read all ‘is stuff too) another constructive suggestion to solve the sexism problem?

    Stripped of the condescension, accepting that “it’s not my fault” would be a useful action if (@ 305) “… you want to identify what can be changed to improve the situation”. As I said there “… to find a cure, first you need to make the right diagnosis, and that isn’t to assume that all men are somehow part of the problem.”

    I will not accept blame for things done in the past by other men, or other white people, or other British people, or other atheists. To do so would be a form of lying, and Sam Harris covered the adverse consequences of lying in his e-book of that name.

    @ 159 I said “I have no doubt that the problem exists”, and asked “But I do wonder what I can do about the topic of this article?”, and I couldn’t identify anything. Neither has anyone else, including you. Perhaps you want me to accept a role of perpetrator playing opposite to your role as victim, but I don’t play games like that. I’m not a therapist, and only close friends and relatives can use me as a wall for them to bang their heads against.

    Think of the wider atheist community as a pyramid, with influential and/or highly-visible people at the top. The evidence here suggests that the problem is near the top of the pyramid, among the speakers and organsisers. Perhaps they in turn are influenced by people attending. I am in none of those categories, and that probably applies to most of the “atheist community”, men and women.

    Here is your opportunity to step back from what you wrote, and to seek, and hopefully find, a “constructive suggestion to solve the sexism problem”. If you suggest something I can help with, I will have something to work with.

  58. andrewv69 says

    @Carlie says:

    For pretty much exactly the same reasons lots of women choose male pseudonyms on the internet now, 150 years later.

    My favorite example is C.J. Cherryh. She outed herself a few years ago though. I recommend her highly having read mostly everything she has written.
    @Sally Strange, OM says:

    Blockquote. It is your friend.
    “This word, “phenotype”… I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    sorry. I’m a geneticist. just part of my vocab.

    Citation needed.

    Well I would not have used it the contex he did but here goes.
    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Phenotype

    A phenotype is an organism’s observable characteristics or traits: such as its morphology, development, biochemical or physiological properties, behavior, and products of behavior (such as a bird’s nest).

  59. Gnumann says

    Barry:

    You’re not blamed for what others have done in the past, you’re blamed for what you’re doing right now. Namely divorcing yourself from the problem and adamantly and aggressively refusing to be a part of the solution. I would not have come on you as strong as others did after your first post, but you’ve definitively earned your vitrol since then.

  60. julian says

    I will not accept blame for things done in the past by other men, or other white people, or other British people, or other atheists.

    sigh

    I wonder how many times you’ll have to be told no one is blaming you for ‘things done in the past by other men’ before it sinks in.

    Considering how comfortable you are with accusing the people here of trying to play victim, I’m gonna guess a while. A long while.

  61. says

    Barry #565:

    If you suggest something I can help with, I will have something to work with.

    How’s about this: Next time one of your friends makes a comment to a woman he doesn’t know about her appearance, tell him not to treat women like objects.

    And the next time someone you know makes a rape joke, tell them that sexual assault is not funny.

    Sound good for a start?

  62. says

    isn’t to assume that all men are somehow part of the problem

    I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but culture rarely embeds itself in only half the population. If a particular pervasive cultural meme is the problem, then everyone exposed to and raised in that culture is part of the problem, not just the people set up to be harmed less/benefit more from said meme.

    I said “I have no doubt that the problem exists”, and asked “But I do wonder what I can do about the topic of this article?”, and I couldn’t identify anything

    really; for over a year now, people have been cataloguing the problems and listing solutions. but you can’t think of anything. well, then why don’t you go search all the other threads at least here on pharyngula (including the sb version), to learn from people with more imagination?

    The evidence here suggests that the problem is near the top of the pyramid, among the speakers and organsisers.

    the evidence suggests that the problem is pervasive, manifesting most visibly at the top. That you claim otherwise suggests that you’ve not actually looked for any of the available evidence except the bleeding obvious. The suggestion to correct this flaw in your argument is same as above.

    I am in none of those categories

    you seem to be in the “commenting on internet blogs” category though; there have been plenty of suggestions for how to get engaged that way, too. as above.

    Here is your opportunity to step back from what you wrote, and to seek, and hopefully find, a “constructive suggestion to solve the sexism problem”

    translation: I don’t actually care how often you’ve had to repeat yourself on this subject over the last year or so. I don’t feel like finding the answers in the archives, I want you do it for me. Because my time is more valuable than yours, you see.

  63. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Barry Pearson responds to Pteryxx:

    I’m not a therapist, and only close friends and relatives can use me as a wall for them to bang their heads against.

    I have no reason to disbelieve your first clause; your second, however, is patently untrue (ironically) by your very response.

    If you suggest something I can help with, I will have something to work with.

    Well, I ain’t Pteryxx, but I do have one suggestion: Listen to the women!

  64. John Morales says

    [OT]

    andrewv69, your little dip into the Pfft is nice, but you should note that phenotype is a neologism derived from genotype — or, as that article you cited says: This genotype-phenotype distinction was proposed by Wilhelm Johannsen in 1911 to make clear the difference between an organism’s heredity and what that heredity produces.

    Cultural influence is not meant to be part of definition, as your quotation (“… and products of behavior (such as a bird’s nest)”) apparently (but misleadingly) implies.

  65. John Morales says

    Barry:

    Think of the wider atheist community as a pyramid, with influential and/or highly-visible people at the top.

    That might be true of some subset of atheists (the sheeple), but for mine I think of it as a cloud.

  66. Bernard Bumner says

    Amusingly, in the OP, PZ anticipated almost every objection raised in the comments to this thread. He also mentioned many of the solutions.

    It’s rather like a case of acne; we’ve got it, people are pointing it out, and we’re trying out denial as a solution…

    …I know what happens next. Hackles rise, men get all defensive, and get huffy and angry while simultaneously denying that they have a pimple and how rude of those nasty feminists (said with a sneer) to point it out…

    …It’s not an intrinsic hostility to women… but a pattern of blindness…

    …It isn’t just atheism, either…

    …The solution is relatively easy: more of that consciousness raising…

    Our one obstacle? The small number of indignant people who will be in denial, and take recognition of a common problem as an insult… the only insult here is the bizarrely obtuse attitude of some men and women.

    It seems that there are few original or plausible arguments being made by those disagreeing with PZ’s assessment. The only question is why they don’t see a need to change, given the utterly painless nature of the changes required. This is a general reform of the organised movement, such as it is, without any negatives. Improving awareness of gender issues causes no harm, increasing access to conferences causes no harm, and lending active support to women in academia causes no harm.

    Even if PZ and the rest of us are wrong about the scale or causes of the problem, then implementing the solutions to achieve equality of oportunity and genuinely meritocratic organisations, can actually only bring positive effects to the community.

    The only thing which may be lost is the undue prominence of white men throughout the community/organisations. Would anyone like to argue that such an outcome is a bad thing?

    Is resistance to these changes nothing more than boring conservatism?

    [OT]

    Well I would not have used it the contex he did but here goes.

    (Expanding upon John’s answer, above.)

    It was an entirely inappropriate use of the word.

    Phenotype is usually applied to behaviour with a primarily genetic basis, but certainly with an inherent organismal basis. Not only is it probably innappropriate to describe the majority of typical human behaviour as phenotypic, since human behaviour is probably primarily culturally derived, the mooted explanation for the behaviour in question was clearly cultural:

    So your idea is that women are forced (that might be too strong) to go to church services by men who themselves dont go.

    Hmm. I like part of it. It does explain the usual phenotypes of many of the atheist women, strong and outspoken and notlikelytotakeshit.

    As someone with a Ph.D. in geneticis, I find this abuse of the terminology by a geneticist like donkane somewhat puzzling.

  67. Carlie says

    Hey Mike, it’s called Google Scholar. Use it. All of those scientific studies on sexism you want? They’ve been done. The information is right there out in the world for you to read to your heart’s content.

    Hey, I have a thought experiment. Let’s say there really isn’t any sexism in the atheist movement (or in science either). Let’s say that all of the problems that have been cataloged are entirely perceived only, and there is no sexism at all, anywhere.

    And let’s say that we go ahead and institute anti-sexism “policies” anyway. We start actively paying attention when women say things. We think twice before making a conference lineup that is 100% white men. We look around for women who are writing and saying really good things, but are acting a bit shy about putting themselves out there, and give them some encouragement and some trackbacks and some recognition. We ask women what kinds of things would make them more likely to participate in atheist activism, and we do them.

    What exactly is the downside that is so terrible that certain people will fight with all their might to ensure that this doesn’t happen?

  68. Carlie says

    NO PHENOTYPE DOES NOT REFER TO BEHAVIOR OR CULTURE.

    One can’t get away with using a Wikipedia definition for a science term on a science blog.

    That’s almost as bad as “it’s just a theory”.

  69. says

    Carlie #575:

    What exactly is the downside that is so terrible that certain people will fight with all their might to ensure that this doesn’t happen?

    No more rape jokes, no more judging women based on their sexuality, no more treating relationships like a game where sex is the goal, no more treating women any differently, or attributing their faults to ‘being a woman’…

    Oh, yeah, and no more ability to put a woman into a double-bind by making a sexual advance in a situation where she is uncomfortable to begin with and forcing her to either make an uncomfortable-at-best and risky-at-worst rejection, or accept regardless of whether she actually wants to. And no more ability to cover up such situations with ‘signals’ or ‘social ineptitude’.

    Wait a second, all those things being true would make it a hell of a lot easier for me to interact with women because then I wouldn’t need to be paranoid about unintentionally being creepy thanks to rape culture…um…uhh…

    Oh, yeah, they’d have to think about things.

    Has a feminist yet modified a Ken doll to say “Thinking is hard“? Because if not, it must be done.

  70. julian says

    What exactly is the downside that is so terrible that certain people will fight with all their might to ensure that this doesn’t happen?

    If I had to guess, I’d say Mike will respond with something closely resembling an accusation of reverse-sexism and that we’re infantalizing women.

  71. says

    I will not accept blame for things done in the past by other men, or other white people, or other British people, or other atheists.

    No, nobody says you should. What you should do instead is grow up, take a critical look at yourself, at what you’ve thought, said or done in the past. And if you claim that you never thought, said or done anything sexist, I’m not going to believe you.
    But this isn’t about blame, it’s about making things better, so look at those things, recognize them for what they are, try to avoid them in the future.
    Accept not the blame, but the responsiblity to change things so that sexism, or racism or whatever become less prevalent, less accepted.
    As others have said, speak up when somebody says something stupid and sexist. If you are truely interested in making a difference, that’s your responsibility. It’s not your fault that this guy just made a rape joke, you’re not to blame for him being a jerk. But you are to blame if you let it pass and thereby give people the impression that you silently agree with them, that there’s nothing bad about a rape joke (or using gay as an insult, or making a racist remark).
    Make the effort to change your ways. No idea how frequently you interact with children, but next time, make the effort to talk to a girl about what she’s doing or what her interests are, not about how pretty she looks or how cute her shirt is. Don’t ever use girly/boyish or anything gender-related for describing their behaviour. Next time somebody uses “boys will be boys” to excuse some rude behaviour, tell them that’s bullshit.
    See, those are a lot of little things you can do easily, there’s no excuse for not doing them.
    You want to change things within the atheist community? Well, go over and read those great blogs written by atheist women here.
    Apply the things I said before, too.
    Most importantly: Listen!
    Don’t take your experience for granted. If the women tell you that they feel uncomfortable or passed, don’t start mansplaining why they’re wrong. Accept that the world you live in is only partly the same as the world women live in.

  72. Gnumann says

    If I had to guess, I’d say Mike will respond with something closely resembling an accusation of reverse-sexism and that we’re infantalizing women.

    Yup, he seems dense enough to be able to sprout those canards.

  73. ChasCPeterson says

    NO PHENOTYPE DOES NOT REFER TO BEHAVIOR

    OH YES IT MOST CERTAINLY DOES

    It’s all very well to sniff at Wikipedia, but you’re unfamiliar with the entire field of ethology/behavioral ecology? Tinbergen’s questions, etc.?

  74. julian says

    No idea how frequently you interact with children, but next time, make the effort to talk to a girl about what she’s doing or what her interests are, not about how pretty she looks or how cute her shirt is. Don’t ever use girly/boyish or anything gender-related for describing their behaviour. Next time somebody uses “boys will be boys” to excuse some rude behaviour, tell them that’s bullshit.

    See that, Mike? That’s not so hard is it? No one’s asking you to make women equal citizens in Saudi Arabia, just that you don’t continue to push the same gender roles and stereotypes past generations did.

    And if you already do all that, good on you! Keep doing what you’re doing. But please next time you encounter this kind of conversation don’t assume everyone hates you because of your genitals or that they blame you for whatever they’ve suffered. I don’t see the women here trying to play the victim, they’re just bringing issues that generally tend to be ignored into light because of how closely those issues impact them.

  75. Bernard Bumner says

    NO PHENOTYPE DOES NOT REFER TO BEHAVIOR

    OH YES IT MOST CERTAINLY DOES

    True enough, but I think it is very difficult to describe typical complex human behaviour as a phenotype. Not because there is no phenotypic effect on human behaviour, but because it seems unlikely that any phenotype could be clearly defined for typical complex behaviour.

    I have a minor aesthetic problem with the co-option of the terminology to describe behavioural phenotypes, simply because I am very much in the school of connecting the concepts of phenotype and genotype, but at least it is an attempt to categorize behaviours with an organismal basis. (See also extended phenotype and endophenotype.)

    What is certain is that phenotype cannot legitimately be used to describe culturally-derived behaviour.

  76. Carlie says

    Everything Bernard just said. I assumed it was clear that I was talking about complex behavior of the type I was directly referencing re: the “women, who can understand ‘em?” comment, but I guess it wasn’t.

  77. says

    @ichthyic #537

    fictional women scientists…

    gotta include:

    Dr. Chistmas Jones

    because, after all, Christmas only comes once a year…

    OH GOD THAT WAS THE FUCKING WORST LINE IN A BOND FILM EVER!

    I am in vehement agreement with this. I wonder how many takes Brosnan had to go through before he could manage that line with a straight face?

    More fictional women scientists:

    - OSC may be batshit crazy, but he had quite a few female scientists in the Speaker for the Dead series: Novinha, her daughters Ella & Quara, the almost daughter-in-law Ouanda.

    - Agent Scully. Yes, yes, primarily a doctor, but she schooled Mulder’s ass in science regularly (at least before that awful final season).

    - Practically every woman in Eureka except for Deputy Joe – and even she gets a chance to show that she can do science with the best of them when she puts her mind to it. Yes, the science is utterly wonky and fictional in the show but I do love how it takes the norm and turns it around so that the average Joe good-guy but not genius cop is the odd duck out in a town full of science nerds.

  78. says

    I will not accept blame for things done in the past by other men, or other white people, or other British people, or other atheists.

    How many times does it have to be repeated that pointing out how you have benefited from various forms of privilege =/= making you take the blame for how said privilege has negatively impacted others? All that pointing how men have benefited from privilege is meant to do is demonstrate* the effects of that privilege and perhaps get you to widen your perspective so that you are aware of it and take that knowledge into account before you go opening your mouth. That’s all. No one is saying it’s your fault for having benefited from structures that were in place long before you were born.

    However, not having been aware of said structures is no excuse for continuing to deny their effect on the world you live in now.

    It’s when you continue to deny that said privilege contributes to societal problems of equality, having had it pointed out to you numerous times, because YOU didn’t start it so it’s not your fault or your problem, that you become part of the problem and so deserve the blame for how your defensive unwillingness to consider or hear what people are saying contributes to the continuation of privilege denial in society.

  79. ChasCPeterson says

    What is certain is that phenotype cannot legitimately be used to describe culturally-derived behaviour.

    Arguing semantics is a waste of time, but even this statement is problematic. Anything observable about an organism is part of its phenotype. Every phenotypic trait–morphological, physiological, biochemical, yes, behavioral–is expressed as the product of some combination of genes and environmental influence. Sometimes it’s all one or all the other, but very often an interesting question is how much nature and how much nurture? (This is the whole subject of phenotypic plasticity, reaction norms, etc.). Even a putatively purely cultural complex behavior (e.g. fishing for termites with a grass stem) is most certainly part of the phenotype, by any coherent definition.
    Unless you have been trained to presuppose all ‘complex’ behavior to be purely cultural in origin, there is no way to draw a bright line dividing ‘culturally derived’ behaviors from ‘phenotypic’ ones a priori. There is also no complexity cutoff.
    So, sorry, holding the line on this one.

  80. says

    Ing: Od Wet Rust #519

    Speaking of Sci-fi Comic Alliance is doing a decent job categorizing why the DC reboot is one big fucking finger to both feminism and good taste.

    Thanks for that. I just read Laura Hutton’s article there and all I can say is holy crap that is depressing.

  81. ChasCPeterson says

    Uh but reading backwards, it’s definitely atypical and a stretch (if not, I would say, entirely ‘wrong’) to use ‘phenotype’ for personality traits.
    I was pouncing on the all-caps assertion out of context.

  82. says

    “What is certain is that phenotype cannot legitimately be used to describe culturally-derived behaviour.”

    Thought I would chime in here.

    I used phenotype correctly, to mean any morphological or behavioral manifestation of the genotype, and it was based on the fact that women in freethought groups tend to be “strong and outspoken and notlikelytotakeshit”. (data not shown) These are traits and they would be expected to have a genetic basis even if their penetrance and expressivity are modulated by culture and other personal experience.

    You know, it’s why you dont buy puppies sired by a dog that bites…?

    And the idea was to ask about that the idea that something more than cultural bias might explain the simple observation that women are in church more than men. What something in the female phenotype is, on average, different from the male phenotype?

    You know, genetic differences between the sexes, like most other animals on the planet.

    and the data not shown, that was a multi level joke.

  83. Pteryxx says

    myeck waters #594, thank you for that link. The word on the DC reboot just keeps getting worse and worse. (Think we’ll have anyone whining about comics being less sexist than [x] so it’s unfair to single them out?)

    (meta) Last night I posted a bunch of evidence links for Mikey (yeah, I’m too kind) and forgot that they’d be held in moderation. They ended up at #400 when the thread was up past 500…

    Ooh, and on looking, I see mouthyb posted a stack too, at #507. “I’ve got yer science RIGHT HERE!”

  84. Bernard Bumner says

    Unless you have been trained to presuppose all ‘complex’ behavior to be purely cultural in origin, there is no way to draw a bright line dividing ‘culturally derived’ behaviors from ‘phenotypic’ ones a priori. There is also no complexity cutoff.

    Without wanting to talk across you, and noting your next comment after that one.

    I think that you are correct that there can be no special exemption for humans from phenotypical behavioural effects. My argument is simply one about the utility of the concept, and therefore the requirement for proper usage. (Semantics, then.) I don’t accept the description of any behaviour as phenotypical unless there is evidence for a link to genetic or organismal type.

    For that reason, I would argue that most complex human behaviour is simply too bound in cultural influences to be described as a phenotype. (Again, I would say that the explicit statement of a cultural origin for the behaviour invalidated the original use of the term in these comments.)

    My failure to distinguish personality trait a subset (as I see it) of culturally-derived behaviour, as the thing I was describing does mean that my general case argument was weakened. (It is perfectly plausible, even likely, to suggest that some culturally-derived behaviours can interact with inherent traits to the point that phenotype is the best description.)

    This is better:

    …it’s definitely atypical and a stretch (if not, I would say, entirely ‘wrong’) to use ‘phenotype’ for personality traits.

    I agree that the semantics of this are a waste of time, other than being an interesting tangent. I’ll try not to drag this out any further than this last (long) comment.

  85. Sally Strange, OM says

    Andrew the fucking dimwit: I was asking for a citation that Donkane is a legit geneticist. I know what the word “phenotype” means, generally speaking, and its usage struck me as inappropriate. But then, I’m not a geneticist myself.

    Donkane may be a geneticist, but he’s also an extremely stupid person, and sexist to boot. He’s perfectly willing to abuse his science for the sake of an offensive “joke.” Shameful. If I were a geneticist, I’d be pissed about that.

    Barry. If you’re paying attention: tell people like Donkane that offensive and degrading generalizations masquerading as harmless jokes are not funny. That’s how you can help. Is that really too much to ask?

  86. Pteryxx says

    donkane:

    I used phenotype correctly, to mean any morphological or behavioral manifestation of the genotype, and it was based on the fact that women in freethought groups tend to be “strong and outspoken and notlikelytotakeshit”. (data not shown) These are traits and they would be expected to have a genetic basis even if their penetrance and expressivity are modulated by culture and other personal experience.

    You know, it’s why you dont buy puppies sired by a dog that bites…?

    …..

    . . . . .

    How the FRICK do you get off calling yourself a “geneticist” while expounding a fallacy covered in introductory genetics? Citation FRICKIN’ needed, creature.

    Chopstick gene fallacy

    A logical fallacy geneticists avoid at all costs. If you look at a large portion of randomly selected people, you’ll find that people with the gene for blue eyes tend to be bad with chopsticks. Of course, this obviously doesn’t mean skill with using chopsticks is determined by the gene for eye color. It’s just that people with blue eyes who are incompetent with chopsticks correlate to a non-oriental origin. This is obviously due to a non-genetic cause called culture.

    I want donkane out of the genetics boat, NOW.

  87. Bernard Bumner says

    I used phenotype correctly, to mean any morphological or behavioral manifestation of the genotype, and it was based on the fact that women in freethought groups tend to be “strong and outspoken and notlikelytotakeshit”. (data not shown) These are traits and they would be expected to have a genetic basis even if their penetrance and expressivity are modulated by culture and other personal experience.

    Okay, just to immediately renege on my last post, because I can’t resist it.

    Unless you’re arguing that essentially any trait of a an organism can be described as a phenotype simply by virtue of the genetic basis of life, then I think you cannot make that statement. (For example, I can see no reason to think that membership of freethought groups acts as a selection for genotype, which is one way that your use of the term could be supported.) I also believe that any such argument represents a departure from convention, and that it renders the very concept of phenotype useless.

    You know, genetic differences between the sexes, like most other animals on the planet.

    This, presumably, also underlies the preference of women for wearing skirts?

  88. says

    This, presumably, also underlies the preference of women for wearing skirts?

    The question isn’t why do women wear skirts, the question is why do men not although this is what they did for most of human history everywhere and for rather large parts of the current human population in non-western cultures.

    You know, it’s why you dont buy puppies sired by a dog that bites…?

    You don’t?
    And I don’t even know anything about our pets’ parents…

    (data not shown)

    Because of nonexistence?

  89. Bernard Bumner says

    The question isn’t why do women wear skirts, the question is why do men not although this is what they did for most of human history everywhere and for rather large parts of the current human population in non-western cultures.

    My guess would be that some pandemic infection led to retroviral modification of the Y chromosome, indirectly silencing the X-linked Skirt gene in the Western population.

    I further postulate that copy number effects may explain the rise and fall of hem lines over the last century.

  90. kerfluffle says

    Practically every woman in Eureka except for Deputy Joe – and even she gets a chance to show that she can do science with the best of them when she puts her mind to it. Yes, the science is utterly wonky and fictional in the show but I do love how it takes the norm and turns it around so that the average Joe good-guy but not genius cop is the odd duck out in a town full of science nerds.

    I love that show. It’s goofy, entertaining, the science is usually pretty darn close (for TV anyway) and the spectrum of attractive/sexy has more than one tone.

    But it kinda bugs me that the super-smart scientists are always messing something up because they are too narcissistic, absent-minded, power-hungry, or apathetic. Then the whole town gets saved by the feelings of the not-genius cop.

    It’s a little thing but the constant “See, science doesn’t know everything. And it’s dangerous!” turned me off after a while.

  91. says

    “Unless you’re arguing that essentially any trait of a an organism can be described as a phenotype simply by virtue of the genetic basis of life, then I think you cannot make that statement.”

    Sorry. Any trait. We sort of gloss it over and call it “wild type” or “normal”, but that is just all the traits together.

    Take someones face for example. Various “traits” were inherited from her mom and dad, like the shape of her nose, her eye brows, the way her forehead wrinkles, the dimple in her chin. but they all are phenotypes that are expressed from semi-dominant genes she inherited from her parents.

    And behaviors are traits too. You can argue that the genetic basis for “temper” is complex, but it is still a trait, just like fruit fly sex-specific mating behaviors.

    But I return to my first question, which has been only criticized on this thread not answered: are there sex specific traits that cause females to like organized religions?

    (And, yes, there are cultural reasons. That is specifically not the question.)

  92. Carlie says

    Sorry Chas – when I’m acting quickly and far downthread of the original comment, I often forget to include the blockquote of the original I’m responding to. That was my fault.

  93. Sally Strange, OM says

    are there sex specific traits that cause females to like organized religions?

    Well, I don’t know, champ.

    As my 11th grade chemistry professor, Mr. Rorschach, would say: “What do you think?”

    Troll tell #348: they always want you to prove their hypothesis for them.

  94. says

    @kerfuffle – Huh. I’d never thought of it as “See, science doesn’t know everything. And it’s dangerous!” I rather thought of it as “Hey, science involves risk, but who ever got anywhere by being safe?” I saw at Carter serving the role traditionally played by the lone nerd in the “average Joe” crowd (a niche which Deputy/Chief of Security Joe also filled) – the nerd is often used to point out that science & academic knowledge have just as much value as “instinct” or strength, so in a dynamic where science and academic knowledge are the norm and someone like Carter is the oddball, I can see how he’d be used to point out that there are “other kinds of knowledge” besides the academic. But they do have a tendency to belabor that point, don’t they?

    I have enjoyed the dynamic between him and Allison, though. While she was initially portrayed as underestimating him because he’s not a science genius, there have been some nice moments this season where she’s called him on his tendency to want to coddle her and not trust that she knows what she’s doing either. She had moved farther into trusting him earlier in the show, even before they were (finally!) coupled up, so it was refreshing to see her tell him to back off and trust her, since just because they were dating now didn’t mean that he suddenly had to protect her all the time.

    Henry’s relationship with his wife has been a pretty awesome equal partnership, but what’s been really surprising is the pairing of Fargo and Holly and some fun “expected gender role” swapping between them. I’m sad it’s the final season next year, but it seems it’s about time for them to wrap things up.

  95. says

    The largest problem in this thread is the belief that change is easy.

    I *know* I have a lot of sexist, racist, homophobic attitudes in my personality and gestalt behavior. I also know that there are a lot of them in my behavior and attitudes that I’m not even aware of.

    Furthermore, being a famous (in my own mind ;-) ) asshole, and generally feeling pretty good about myself, I’m going to say flat out that some of them, being pretty deep in the me who is pretty comfortable (privileged white, now thinly hanging on middle class – though raised trailer park poor – guy) probably would choose *not* to change some of those attitudes even if they were identified (and acknowledged) to me.

    But there are an awful lot of sexist/xism attitudes, expressions and behaviors that we can change with little or no cost to ourselves other than reminding ourselves to do so. And, I find, for a great many of the deeper ones, that they may be ingrained and automatic … but upon introspection they are not who I would choose to be. And so it is worth some effort and discomfort on my part to at least try to keep a check on my thoughts and expressions in that regard.

    To that end, I do need to be *called* on it, and at least after a few minutes of initial indignation, will appreciate having incidents of my voicing such attitudes pointed out to me.

    I also do understand and recognise that those remaining attitudes that are so deeply a part of me that I would refuse to change even if their sexist/racist/xist nature were pointed out are almost certainly a part of me because of my rearing in historically privileged circumstances. I may refuse to change that part of myself, but I can at least admit that in a larger context it is an injustice and should not be a part of society’s baggage going forward. Like Moses, I can point to the promised land even if I know I can never set foot there.

    I think this is where a lot of resistance occurs. The admitting to ourselves that we are privileged. The US in particular has a patently nonsensical “you deserve what you get” view of life. The admission of privilege cuts the pants off such idiocy and leaves its inadequacies dangling unimpressively flaccid in full view.

    On the flip side, yes there are cases and injustices perpetrated on the coattails of society’s attempts to correct the xism injustices. There are always “free riders”. But almost all of us reading or posting here are “free riders” on unjust priviledge of one historical accident or the other. If we’re male, if we’re white, if we’re American, if we’re of Euro ancestry … our predecessors *profited*, and we inherited that wealth and privilege directly or indirectly, from the injustices they committed. That does not deny the very real and frequently laudable accomplishments of them, but the fact is we now have the knowledge going forward to do better. We can try to minimize the unjust free riders on the new norms we hope to establish, but that there will be such does not excuse us from striving to establish new, better ethical and moral standards.

    We now live on a planet. Not in a nation, not in a town, not in a community, but on a planet. Almost everyone can act in ways that affect others on the other side of the world, and almost everyone can be affected by what happens on the other side of the globe (gotten the parts to have your Toyota fixed yet?). We simply cannot afford to be blind to our own ignorance.

    The change is not easy, and will never be easy. It is a necessary adaptation and process of learning. What we learn becomes literally and physically a part of us. To learn is to change. The more important and significant the learning, the more traumatic the change. Learning the depth of our own failings is incredibly traumatic.

    – TWZ

  96. says

    Thanks for that. I just read Laura Hutton’s article there and all I can say is holy crap that is depressing.

    Disturbingly I’ve found the comments to “The comic is fine, shut up” are using very similar argument as to Skeptic sexism debates.

    It’s not just disagreement or polite requests for clarification it’s rancor that the woman raised the issue.

  97. Minority says

    So, would you consider parity for science conferences and other atheist endeavours?

    If so, would you consider parity for left-handed people, fatties or gingers? Would you decline a male paper/attendance because there are too few women?

  98. Sally Strange, OM says

    @ Minority

    How much does it cost a person to consider something?

    I’m considering parity for lefties, fat people, and ginger right now. It’s running through my mind. Yup, I done considered it. What now? (“Fatties”, really? Keep it classy now.)

    What is a male paper? What is a male attendance?

  99. kerfluffle says

    @The Pint, I like your view much better. Some of my thinking is influenced by a uber-Christian filter. A leftover from my family who takes justification-seeking to fantastic depths. To them, Eureka is a pro-creationist argument. Science = bad, therefore unscience = good. (No, that doesn’t really make sense and it won’t.)

    It’s tough to shake off some developmental influences. Sometime you need someone else to point out the saner alternatives. Thanks, you’ve helped me see the duck, not just the bunny.

    tl;dr? TV party tonight!

  100. Pteryxx says

    @minority, have you considered that double-blind evaluations also prevent evaluator bias due to handedness, size, or hair color? As well as other historical sources of bias such as age, institution, race, and reputation? Or were you even intending to make a helpful contribution here?

  101. says

    Pteryxx:

    Or were you even intending to make a helpful contribution here?

    I think Minority was spending too much time figuring out how to use fatties and gingers* in a post and make it look somewhat legit.

    *Never been discriminated against due to being ginger, however, I’ve certainly dealt with sexism most of my life.

  102. says

    @kerfuffle – Sure thing! That goes right back at you, too – I love the show so sometimes I tend to try brushing it off when I get annoyed by the “ordinary Carter saves teh day again!” meme. It does me no good to ignore that it’s there, but it is nice to see how Carter also learns not to be so intimidated or scared of science. It’s not a bad example of learning to accept yourself as you are and to acknowledge your own value, even if you’re not a science genius in a town full of them. 9 times out of 10, disaster is averted when Carter and the science brigade works together (and often it goes very badly when Carter tries to handle it on his own).

    Plus he’s a pretty good POV character for audiences to relate to when he has his own prejudices exposed (most recently by dismissing his deputy’s capability for emotional connection because he’s “just a robot”) because Carter is the “average nice guy” and once he sees where he’s erred, he steps back, re-evaluates, and tries to remember what he’s learned as he goes forward (could think of more than a few posts here who desperately need that lesson).

    But how in the hell does your family interpret the show as being anti-science?!? If they’re paying attention at all, they’d notice that quite often the stuff that almost blew up the town in a previous episode led to positive technological advancements in following episodes, and that they learn from their mistakes, as with the Faster Than Light (FTL) device plotline this past season. I mean, that’s how progress happens – you experiment, possibly have a few mistakes that you learn from, which lead you to a more successful result. Oy.

    It’s too bad that they’re taking away the lesson as “science and scientists are bad!” instead of “scientists are people, too.”

  103. says

    @ Minority – The mere fact that you used the word “fatties” in your ridiculous attempt at a point indicates a frame of mind that isn’t likely to be open for discussion at all. If you have anything actually useful to say, better be out with it quick before it becomes any more obvious that you’ve completely missed the point.

  104. Carlie says

    Would you decline a male paper/attendance because there are too few women?

    Just remember, kids, if there’s a white man out there who has been rejected for anything when a woman or ethnic minority wasn’t, it’s because they were chosen just for parity. No chance in hell that the woman or minority person was just as good as the white man.

  105. Carlie says

    And just in case that my meaning wasn’t clear, you wrote:

    Would you decline a male paper/attendance because there are too few women?

    Assuming all else being equal? Quite possibly. What’s interesting is that the undercurrent of your question implies that if both papers were entirely equal, but one must be chosen over the other, that it would be somehow wrong not to choose the man’s, and that some explanation for that must be given.

  106. kerfluffle says

    @ The Pint, This won’t make much sense but here goes. They are trapped by their own banality. Between the flag waving and the bible thumping, there’s no room for original thinking. They aren’t stupid and they are curious about the world. But that’s all channeled down those two ruts.

    So when they get a subject on which they can safely riff, they go all out and you get stuff like Michelle Obama is a satanist, TV shows are secretly trying to get the good/bad word out (depending on that day’s clues)and weird stuff like that. My one cousin won’t play Nancy Drew games any more because she thinks she saw an outline of a Devil’s head in one and then went and re-played all of them to find more devil stuff. Took her months and she was fun to be around while it was going on. Afterward, not so much.

    The battle for our souls is their best intellectual outlet. Btw, intellectually I know that I’m excusing them. Family is weird, too.

  107. says

    Carlie:

    What’s interesting is that the undercurrent of your question implies that if both papers were entirely equal, but one must be chosen over the other, that it would be somehow wrong not to choose the man’s, and that some explanation for that must be given.

    Well, the standard explanation for a long time has been “the man has a family to support”. That unfortunate ‘explanation’ hasn’t exactly gone away yet. Of course, the undercurrent of “men have better brains” hasn’t gone away either.

  108. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Offer an argument instead.

    Your turn. Say, this is what I think, and this is the evidence to back it up. Inane questions are for trolls. Are you a troll, or do you have a point? If you have a point, positively assert it.

  109. says

    Minority:

    I don’t mind that phrase.

    I’m sure this will come as a terrible shock, Cupcake, but you are not everyone. Also, fatties is not a phrase. If this is a further example of your thinking power, best get that crayon sharpened up.

  110. says

    I’m fat, I don’t mind that phrase. Offer an argument instead.

    Oh goodie. I’m guessing this is going to be another one of those “I don’t see it/haven’t experienced it/don’t mind/don’t care, so you must be imagining there’s a problem” arguments. PZ already made his argument in this post – if you disagree with it, please do enlighten us as to why and make your frakking point already. Otherwise, posting inane “questions” like you have is going to trigger “troll!” alarms all over the place and you’ll have no one but yourself to blame for being treated as such.

  111. ChasCPeterson says

    Apologies for ignoring whatever no doubt excellent conversation is actually going on here to reply narcissistically to myself:

    it’s definitely atypical and a stretch (if not, I would say, entirely ‘wrong’) to use ‘phenotype’ for personality traits.

    Although on further reflection I don’t see the problem. Who is to say at this point that ‘personality traits’ of the type originally listed–assertiveness, for example–don’t have significant genetic components?
    As a matter of fact, the concept of ‘personalities’–variation in consistent behavioral proclivities within populations–is gaining currency in studies of animal behavior, and it’s pretty clearly not cultural there.
    goggle schooler search

  112. Sally Strange, OM says

    There probably is a genetic component to personalities, but any non-stupid person can see that churches attract a wide variety of different personalities. Donkupcake was alternately positing and pretending someone else had posited that only meek women go to church. Because he’s apparently too stupid to tell the difference between being brainwashed and having a strong personality.

  113. says

    Giliell:

    Can I chalk that down as some variety of the “I know women who don’t mind” argument in the cupcake bingo?

    I’m pretty sure that exact sentiment is already in one of the Cupcake Bingo cards, so yes, chalk it down.

  114. Minority says

    Parity discriminates more than lack of parity. Setting an artificial threshold based on gender population rather than skills is not smart.

  115. Jefrir says

    Mike, #432

    100% of human mothers are female — is the stork sexist?

    Not quite, actually (assuming by “mothers” you mean “gave birth to the child”; these men would presumably refer to themselves as “fathers”, but by the definition of “a female parent” your point would be a tautology).
    And no, that would be one of the few actual differences in biology. The fact that women to the vast majority of caring for two-year-olds would be an example of systemic sexism, however.

  116. says

    Parity discriminates more than lack of parity. Setting an artificial threshold based on gender population rather than skills is not smart.

    Strawman. No one is arguing that there should be a greater visibility of women in the atheist movement (or in science, or anywhere else) just because they’re women.

    Try again.

  117. maureen.brian says

    But, Minority, we come across artificial thresholds based on gender every day of our lives. We have to shout ever so loud and get really uppity to have our paper, our employability and several other things judged on our skill and not on the imagined properties of our genitalia.

    Or had you not noticed the conversation above and elsewhere?

    As previously diagnosed, an idiot!

  118. says

    Parity discriminates more than lack of parity. Setting an artificial threshold based on gender population rather than skills is not smart.

    Men suffer more discrimination than women

    Tschaka, another one

    Minority, cupcake, you are assuming that:
    A) skills can be objectively assesed without any bias
    B) there’s always one person who’s objectively best and not that there are probably 20 people equally qualified

    But somehow I’m not under the impression that you’re seriously interested in a real discussion.

  119. says

    The most famous and iconic painters of Canada were the Group of Seven. Their equals in the same era, doing the same kind of groundbreaking art, were the Beaver Hall Nine. Anybody heard of them? Any guesses as to why?

    Because they were women.

    And Mary Cassatt? Equal of the male Impressionists, same era… anyone heard of her? No.

    C. J. Cherryh, whose future history would blow Heinlein’s or Asimov’s out of the water? Does anyone breathe her name with the same reverence? No, it’s that blowhard Robert Silverberg or raconteur Spider Robinson. How about James Tiptree, Jr., who invented Cyberpunk with “The Girl Who Was Plugged In”? Once people found out “James Tiptree” was really Alice Sheldon, the incipient lionization mumbled to a stop. I especially appreciated Robert Silverberg’s reaction, which was that women could fake male emotions like courage really well.

    I’m not sure how we can change a tradition so entrenched.

  120. says

    And Mary Cassatt? Equal of the male Impressionists, same era… anyone heard of her? No.

    I’ll bet if you showed most people The Child’s Bath though that they’d recognize the painting. It is rather iconic – which makes it even more sad that most people could probably point out the painting but not the artist’s name.

  121. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Parity discriminates more than lack of parity. Setting an artificial threshold based on gender population rather than skills is not smart.

    Still a strawman argument. Define skills, then show everybody is on the same page juding them, without using any institutionalized sexism against women, which is happening at the moment. The burden of proof is upon you. Lots of luck.

  122. says

    Monado:

    And Mary Cassatt? Equal of the male Impressionists, same era… anyone heard of her? No.

    That’s a big brush you’re painting with. I know who Mary Cassatt is and have known for most of my life. Same with many female artists.

    As for C.J. Cherryh, her books take up a fair amount of space on my bookshelves. Same with many other female authors, including Tiptree, who has been mentioned more than once in this thread. This is where reading all the comments comes in handy.

  123. says

    But I do have a suggestion for acting locally. Every time one of “us” famous male atheists gets an invitation to speak, if we don’t want it, let’s recommend two or three other well qualified speakers–all female.

    By the way, goddists have “theologian”–shouldn’t we promote a loftier-sounding title than atheist? How about “rational philosopher”?

  124. Pteryxx says

    Parity discriminates more than lack of parity. Setting an artificial threshold based on gender population rather than skills is not smart.

    We already have artificial weighting due to gender. It’s called sexism. It causes women to be systemically underrepresented by significant amounts (about 3x in publication, 2x in orchestra auditions, etc. as in sources given in this thread.)

    Ever zero’ed a scale, Cupcake?

    Also, “rather than skills”, seriously? So those non-women who were 50% more likely to advance in the orchestral auditions when they were NOT seated behind a screen, were advancing on pure non-feminine talent which somehow disappeared when the auditors couldn’t see them? Or was musical skill MORE likely to out when the auditors didn’t have imaginary testicles stuffed in their ears?

  125. Gnumann says

    But I do have a suggestion for acting locally. Every time one of “us” famous male atheists gets an invitation to speak, if we don’t want it, let’s recommend two or three other well qualified speakers–all female.

    Good – but of course it would be even better if you occasionally (even when you wanted it, but looked at the list of the same old, same old men that were invited) said: “I would be delighted to, but have you considered [these three or four women]?”

    Most likely you’d get the gig anyhow – but you’d raise awareness a bit methinks.

  126. illuminata says

    Parity discriminates more than lack of parity. Setting an artificial threshold based on gender population rather than skills is not smart.

    What Minority MRA really means: If I can’t have an uneven playing field, I won’t match up! I can’t compete fairly! If I can’t have unearned advantages, I can’t keep telling myself how perfect I am!

    Men suffer more discrimination than women

    What Minority MRA really means: Bitch wouldn’t fuck me.

  127. Gregory Greenwood says

    @ Minority;

    Parity discriminates more than lack of parity. Setting an artificial threshold based on gender population rather than skills is not smart.

    No one is suggesting a forced parity of positions occupied. What I (and I would guess a great many other pharyngulites) am calling for is a parity of opportunity. A woman should never face a disproportionately uphill struggle to gain credibility because of unexamined male privilege and the prejudice it breeds. A society where women have to work twice as hard to be taken half as seriously and receive only 50-75% of the remuneration of a man in the same position is simply not good enough.

    By all means employ the best (by which I mean most qualified and capable) person for the job, so long as your definition of the ‘best person’ doesn’t include an unwritten requirement for the possession of a penis.

    Men suffer more discrimination than women

    I am curious; what planet do you live on? Because it sure as hell doesn’t look anything like Earth.

    Are you even minimally aware of how much discrimination women face in society in terms of everything from employment opportunities and wage disparities to rape culture?

    I don’t think I have ever seen a comment more desperately in need of citation.

  128. Gregory Greenwood says

    I just spotted Giliell, connaiseuse des choses bonnes’s post @ 653.

    Could everyone please discount the second part of my post @ 654.

  129. Matt Penfold says

    Mary Anning, a fossil hunter who discovered the plesiosaur.

    And was supposedly the inspiration for the tongue-twister “She sells seashells by the seashore.

  130. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    The MRA troll has said something that caused me a bit of a brain twitch. I’m a gay, left-handed, red-haired, white male. I don’t see why I, or anyone, should ever expect there to be equal representation of people who fit that description in any organisation.

    What’s reasonably expected is for everyone to be treated as equals regardless of any description that can be applied to them.

    The exact problem is not that women are underrepresented (they are), or that they are not represented equally (not an unreasonable expectation, since half the population is female), it is that they are not treated equally. No one should expect any person of any description to be equally represented in any organisation because how a person is described, be it as a woman or a gay or a red-head, should not have any bearing on their equality compared to anyone of any description.

    What’s being suggested is that women stop being judged by their woman-ness, that they be considered and treated as the equals to men that they are. The problem is that they’re not. One should expect for women to be better represented when people stop treating their contributions as secondary or less important than those of men.

    That the distinction is not obvious is astounding. Not that astounding coming from an MRA troll, but astounding that the obviousness of it whooshed directly over his head.

  131. ichthyic says

    What Minority MRA really means: Bitch wouldn’t fuck me.

    FWIW, I’ve only learned of the “MRAs” in the last few months.

    Never heard of them before at all.

    In that short time span, having reviewed their “literature” and seen them post their various screeds here and elsewhere, what I just quoted above is a fair and accurate summary of where their concerns actually arise from.

    they appear to be a bunch of guys with severe inferiority complexes that find it hard to get laid.

    but, rather than try and address the inferiority complex itself, they blame the women that won’t accept their proposals for dating or sex.

    it’s nothing more than projection.

    the sad thing is, with a little therapy, they might actually be able to gain some confidence in themselves, and stop blaming others for their own sense of inferiority.

    I don’t even blame them, entirely; I blame a general attitude in most societies that tends to eschew any mental issues as somehow not worthy of treatment.

    Even here in NZ, the phrase “harden up!” has been historically used as a generic put down for anything dealing with emotional or mental issues.

    got a problem with depression?

    JUST HARDEN UP

    I really do like how Bob Newhart took a poke at that attitude with the many medically-oriented characters he has played over the years, and I also think it was basically crystalized in a single sketch he did for the old MadTV show:

  132. Gnumann says

    In that short time span, having reviewed their “literature” and seen them post their various screeds here and elsewhere, what I just quoted above is a fair and accurate summary of where their concerns actually arise from.

    This is un-nuanced ichthyic. You mustn’t forget the very large contribution from those whose concerns comes from “The bitch let me fuck her, now I got to pay fucking child support. All men are fooled and fucked by the fucking bitches”

    Or as I’d like to call them: The fuckers.

  133. says

    Gnumann:

    You mustn’t forget the very large contribution from those whose concerns comes from “The bitch let me fuck her, now I got to pay fucking child support. All men are fooled and fucked by the fucking bitches”

    Actually, for the MRAs, PUAs and other assorted douchecakes, it all comes down to the classic Bitches ain’t shit.

  134. Gnumann says

    Actually, for the MRAs, PUAs and other assorted douchecakes, it all comes down to the classic Bitches ain’t shit.

    From my days of handling child support cases, I would claim that there’s a very strong undercurrent of “My kid ain’t shit unless I can claim property rights to him*” – but that might be a specialized subset of the “Bitches ain’t shit” of course.

    *I’m assuming a male kid here to differentiate with the larger “bitches ain’t shit”

  135. says

    Gnumann, I believe it was MAJeff who adapted the succinct Bitches ain’t shit* as the base reasoning of assorted douchecakes some years ago. Through all the threads on abortion, womens’ rights, feminism, FGM, etc., Bitches ain’t shit has been shown to hold up very well. In particular, it describes the actual reasoning of those so cloaked in privilege they can’t see what’s in front of their face. It also does a sterling job of describing the attitude of those who are against womens’ autonomy when it comes to reproductive rights.

    *Bitches Ain’t Shit” is a song by Dr. Dre from his 1992 album The Chronic.

  136. andrewv69 says

    @kristinc
    @stacy

    +521 & 522

    You two may also enjoy “Always Coming Home” also by Ursula Le Guin. I would recommend reading the synopsis first though before you decide, as anthropology may not be your cup of tea right now. I also recommend Sheri S. Tepper as another female author you may enjoy.

    Finally, you may want to check out three books by S.M. Stirling. Some may consider these books “feminist” because the lead protagonist is a black lesbian woman and the bad guy is an evil white man, but I enjoyed them all the same (still do after recently re-reading them).

    Nantucket series
    - Island in the Sea of Time
    - Against the Tide of Years
    - On the Oceans of Eternity

    You probably will not enjoy anything else he has written if I read your current taste in reading correctly.
    His Emberverse series is not as PC as the Nantucket series, although… if the subject of violent superwomen appeals to you (including the rape of some hapless doofus) his earlier Draka series may be of interest.

  137. andrewv69 says

    @John Morales says:

    Cultural influence is not meant to be part of definition, as your quotation (“… and products of behavior (such as a bird’s nest)”) apparently (but misleadingly) implies.

    OK let me be very clear. I would rather wear a bird’s nest than use the word phenotype in the context he used it.

  138. andrewv69 says

    @Caine, Fleur du Mal says:

    Equality in the law has not been achieved in the U.S. and you fucking know that, because you were told that often enough in the last thread.

    Which thread do you mean? I went back and searched on “law” in both of these threads:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/07/two_awful_no-good_terribad_mis.php
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/07/gynofascists_are_invading_the.php

    As for your maundering on about MRAs, shut the fuck up. You showed yourself to be quite the happy expert on MRA behaviour and PUA behaviour as well the last time you were frothing at the brain here.

    What I wrote upthread was my take on things MRA. I certainly did not agree with what was offered up in +70. As for being an expert on PUA behaviour that is laughable (well, I am laughing anyway, much to the alarm of the diners at the next table). Picture an aspie in a bar trying to pick up another aspie, that is pure comedy.

    The last thing anyone needs is another of your endless, lame-ass, sideways defense of all things MRA and PUA.

    [CONCERN TROLL ALERT!] Actually, I think you are doing yourself a disservice by characterizing a description of something as a defense of it. Sideways or otherwise. [/CONCERN TROLL ALERT!]

    Although, to be honest while I agree with some of the MRA points, I am not going to argue them here.

  139. InvincibleIronyMan says

    Yeah, atheism definitely has a sexism problem, I have noticed that. What sickens me most about it, especially in the wake of elevatorgate when it has become painfully noticeable, is the amount of people (mostly male, but not always) who seem to like to pay lip-service to notions of rationality and critical-thinking but who then proceed to demonstrate that they have no idea what either of them are. Makes me wonder if atheism really is just another kind of religion to some people.

    Useful tip: look up “argument from privilege”. I like the notion so much I think I am going to buy a baseball bat and stencil those words down the side.

    To follow that up, I’d like to recommend a rather timely and excellent new podcast: the Godless Bitches, from some of the people who brought us the Atheist Experience TV show: http://godlessbitches.podbean.com/

  140. Lion IRC says

    Lyin’ Irk, it’s a pity you got parole from the dungeon, it’s really the only place for you. All the time you spent on Pharyngula was with your head firmly lodged up your anus and yelling “god, god, god, god, god, god, god! I can’t hear you, I can’t think because god, god, god, god!” Not one thing has changed, so why in the fuck are you back, inflicting your particular brand of god screeching on us?

    No one is interested in you or your delusions. Kindly take a hike, Sugarbrain. Here’s a nice, decaying porcupine you can take along, if you can find room for it next to your head.

    No one is interested in you or your…(how would you know? Mental telepathy?)

    …inflicting your particular brand of god screeching on us…(Which is it? Inflicted or ignored?)

    All the time you spent on Pharyngula was…(You mean you actually read my posts?)

    Lyin’ Irk, it’s a pity you got parole from the dungeon…(a pity for you? So what? Self-pity, whining, A bit out of place here wouldn’t you think?)

    Kindly take a hike…(Wont that just ADD to your boredom? You typed over 100 words @me – none of which were on-topic. Typical.)

    Anyway, thanks to PZ Myers for the compassionate parole.

  141. ichthyic says

    Anyway, thanks to PZ Myers for the compassionate parole.

    is that what it was?

    I thought it was that he just hasn’t had enough time to complete the new dungeon in the new digs yet.

    it’s like a parallel universe you can get yourself tossed from all over again!

    whee!

  142. John Morales says

    Ooh, chew-toy!

    Mental telepathy

    As opposed to the other kinds.

    Which is it? Inflicted or ignored?

    or → yet

    You mean you actually read my posts?

    Cheap amusement.

    Self-pity, whining, A bit out of place here wouldn’t you think?

    You sure don’t.

    You typed over 100 words @me – none of which were on-topic.

    As you note, you’re not on-topic.

    (Thus you inadvertently concede Caine’s point)

  143. ichthyic says

    how would you know? Mental telepathy?

    If you ever had a defender on the old site, I’m unaware of it.

    I’m currently unaware of any defenders of you on the current version.

    doesn’t require telepathy, just simple math skills.

  144. chigau () says

    re 670
    What the fuck was that?
    How long ago was that infestation?
    Some of y’all seem to know it.

  145. says

    Lyin’ Irk:

    (how would you know? Mental telepathy?)

    Nope, just basic math and paying attention, two things you aren’t so good with. You were nothing except a godbot chewtoy at sciblogs, and all one needs is to see your noisome, c&p special which was nothing more than an excuse to godscreech once again, in this thread.

    (Which is it? Inflicted or ignored?)

    Both, Cupcake. You haven’t gotten any sharper, have you?

    (You mean you actually read my posts?)

    Enough of them. I also replied to a fair amount, when I was in the mood for a chew toy.

    (a pity for you? So what? Self-pity, whining, A bit out of place here wouldn’t you think?)

    A pity in the general sense, Cupcake. All you do is proselytize, lie and derail threads. You’re a waste of space. You’d know all about self-pity, Lyin’ Irk, you certainly indulged in it on a regular basis at sciblogs. What’s out of place is your constant god bleating.

    (Wont that just ADD to your boredom? You typed over 100 words @me – none of which were on-topic. Typical.)

    No, it won’t. You aren’t interesting, you’re a simple-minded parrot who is always wrong. Nothing there. You’re impressed by a 100 words? I think fast and type fast, big deal. You weren’t on topic either, Cupcake. Just a c&p full of wrong and you only did that to get your god bleat in. Talk about boring and predictable.

    Anyway, thanks to PZ Myers for the compassionate parole.

    What on earth makes you think it was an act of compassion on PZ’s part? Still such a dull, broken crayon, Lyin’ Irk.

  146. Therrin says

    Lion IRC, could you at least be consistent as to whether you are quoting with bold or responding with bold?

    Or better, stop being so shouty at all.

  147. says

    The author of that piece was awfully negligent by not mentioning surveys of the actual prevalence of atheism among males and females (70% of atheists and 75% of agnostics in the USA are male).

    If you want an objective measurement of sexist attitudes, have two versions of the same story where only the genders of the names are switched, randomly assign people to read one story or the other, and ask them which character is in the right. Or randomly select atheist nonprofit employers to receive fake resume A or fake resume B where the only difference between them is the gender of the job seeker.

    The “four horsemen” (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, and Harris) became the canonical face of “new atheism” because at least three of their books aspired to rid the world of religion (even if it was impossible) and Dennett’s had a title that was suggestive of it. The others from Hecht and Jacoby didn’t have that kind of vibe as far as I can tell from the summaries (haven’t read them).

  148. maureen.brian says

    Not Entirely off Topic -

    The genius – I use the term loosely – whose blog generated 680 has above his comment box the legend

    “By posting here, you agree that the site owner is correct in all aspects. Also, he is better looking than you.”

    I’m tossing a series of coins here to decide whether that’s emotional insecurity or a complete lack of insight. Eiither way, it looks terminal!

  149. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Maureen, without looking, IIRC that’s Michael Hawkins’ site.

    (Prime specimen, but can’t even blog-whore properly)

  150. says

    And before that it was a picture of Rick Perry deep throating a hot dog. And before that it said “Dear Nate, Your mother”. Perhaps with your armchair psychology you can deduce that I love Republicans using phallic objects on Nate’s mother. It makes perfect sense.

    But it is time for me to update.

  151. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Why would anyone here be interested in anything the inane, banal, insipid, and pompous Hawkins has to say? Not anyone I know.

  152. says

    I already know I beat you, NoR, but thanks anyway.

    Incidentally, the excerpt in the pingback (#680) is out of context. I actually support this particular post by PZ. He is making his point effectively and not alienating the people he wishes to convince to be more aware.

  153. says

    Important female scientists besides Marie Curie?

    Well, from my own field: Emmy Noether who formulated Noether’s theorem which is important in Quantum Field Theory. She did some very important work in abstract algebra and theoretical physics.

    Also from astrophysics: Vera Rubin who discovered that the way stars rotate in the galaxy is not consistent with Newtonian mechanics leading to the idea of dark matter.

    I’m glad you bring up these issues PZ. A male dominated world, in whatever field, is boring. Sexism in whatever way, even when it is subtle, needs to be addressed. It is simply just silly and robs everyone from getting to know the other half of the community. Skeptics and atheists should be self-aware enough to move away from such ways of thinking. Rational thought is after all our strength!

  154. John Morales says

    Michael, when you thank Nerd for noting you’re inane, banal, insipid, and pompous, you’re show how pathetic you really are.

    (heh — any attention is better than none, eh?)

  155. julian says

    Be nice if one of these threads could go by without the 100+ comment derailments. Ah well, still plenty worth reading.

    I’ve only learned of the “MRAs” in the last few months…

    In that short time span, having reviewed their “literature” and seen them post their various screeds here and elsewhere…

    they appear to be a bunch of guys with severe inferiority complexes that find it hard to get laid. – ichthyic

    Ditto. I’d seen MRA used here a few times (mostly on feminism specific threads) but was kinda confused. When I first heard it I wondered what’s wrong with a men’s right activist? Men do suffer from several biases in our soceity (mostly because of the double edged nature of sexism against women) so what’s wrong with trying to right all that? Then during Egate I got linked to Mala Fide.

    Boy was that a wake up call!

    What really hits me about the whole group is how they’re guilty of almost everything they accuse feminists of. MRA’s frame gender issues as one gender versus the other, they frequently find entirely innocuous things to be offended over, see matriarchal plots in everything and dismiss the suffering of a whole gender as that gender trying to hoard privilege.

    It’s like no one issued them irony meters.

  156. says

    I’m getting attacked, but I don’t think anyone realizes there is probably broad agreement with me. Do you want (at the very least) to curb sexism? Do you want to change people’s view? Do you want to make people aware? Yes, yes, yes? Me too. I just don’t think the way to do that is to polarize the issue. That inevitably causes people to entrench themselves deep into a position, and it could have all been avoided, at least in some people, if people like PZ paid more attention to rhetoric.

    Want to go after the MRA’s? Call them idiots? That might be fine in some cases. People who actually look down on women – consciously – probably will be especially difficult to change, so disparaging them and trying to shame them might be the best tactic. At the very least, it will be less of a waste of time than the alternatives. But for the rest of the population – and remember, even PZ notes that the big obstacle is the obtuse minority – it will not be effective to toss around insults. And I know, I know. Someone is itching to say this is tone-trolling, but it isn’t. I’m talking about the use of rhetoric and reaching real goals with it.

    If we want to make people aware of all these problems, we have to pay attention to how we’re doing it. Imagine if PZ wrote on his exams, “If you can’t name a single female scientist besides Marie Curie, you’re a sexist asshole. Go fuck yourself.” How do you think students would react? Does anyone actually think most of them would realize, ‘Oh, wow. I don’t know any others. I hadn’t even picked up on these biases of mine.’? Of course they won’t. If anything, they may become part of that indignant minority. At the very least they will shut themselves off to the next person who wants to talk about their lack of awareness. And that contributes to sexism and hurts women.

  157. Father Ogvorbis: It's Good for You. It Builds Character says

    Michael Hawkins:

    Yeah, not rocking the boat works every time to curb racism and sexism and other forms of bigotry. Look how well it worked for African Americans. They knew that if they just shut up and took the shit for long enough, eventually they would be rescued, right? Yes? No?

    All forms of bigotry — religious, racial, ethnic, sexual — must be confronted whenever and whereever they are encountered. The only way to break through endemic and unconscious bigotry is to create that light-bulb moment, that instant of time when a person realizes that his or her world view may not be the most appropriate, the most useful, the best, one out there. It hit me about two years ago. Oddly enough, that was about the time that I began reading the in-your-face, take-no-bullshit, confrontational Pharyngula. I discovered concepts such as rape apology (including such gems as, “Oh, whe was raped? What was she wearing?”), gendered insults, and Schroedinger’s rapist. And I realized that, despite the view I had of myself as an enlightened male, that I was rather mysogynist.

    Okay, that is anecdata and thus absolutely useless. All I can say in my defense is that, without the plain writing on this specific blog (well, actually the SciBlog predescessor), I would still be an enlightened asshole. So knock of the fucking tone trolling. What worked for me may work for others. If other bloggers want to take a different tack, that is their perogative, and it may work for other mysogynists, conscious or unconscious. But, without that “AHA!” moment, people generally do not change their worldview.

  158. Gnumann says

    I just don’t think the way to do that is to polarize the issue.

    You don’t want to polarize the issue? First, can you tell me how statements like (from his blog):

    First, it is a blatant, bald lie to say it has been those who disagree with Watson and PZ that have been making this into a big deal.

    isn’t polarizing the issue?

    Secondly: What is not polarizing the issue? Patting the WhaaaManbulance on the head? Bowknowing to those how say that there is no issue and if there were – any effective measure would be wrong? Or those to claim to be on the side of good, but shoot down any realistically effective measure while coming up with no good alternative?

    What’s entrenching the wrong people isn’t extremism. It’s small, polite suggestions for improvement – like a humorous and humble suggestions that guys shouldn’t treat women like slabs of meat that are only there for their amusement.

  159. Vicki says

    Monado @639: To be fair, Silverberg later admitted that he had been mistaken about that whole “ineluctable” masculinity thing.

    FWIW, I like and recommend Tiptree’s work, but a lot of it is in the subset of fiction for which I’d add “but not if you’re already depressed” footnote for.

    Now I’m wondering whether readers in general, or science fiction readers in particular, are less willing to accept and/or admire dark stuff when the writer is female (consider Octavia Butler). This is hopelessly off topic here, but I’m just back from a very small, very book-focused con.

  160. says

    @692 Father,

    That’s a strawman. I did not say to not confront the issue. I said it is ineffective to insult the opposition. MLK didn’t go around calling moderate America racist assholes. He would have been a failure if he did.

    And like I said, the issue here is effectiveness, not tone. If you want to not make people aware of their biases, keep using bad rhetoric. It will only hurt women, though.

    @693 Gnumann,

    Me calling PZ a liar is not “the issue”. In case you’re lost, the issue here is sexism.

    But go ahead. Tell an average guy that he treats women like slabs of meat. See how many people come around to your point of view. Or did you want to change views and actually help women?

  161. Synapse says

    @ Michael Hawkins

    Although I may empathize with the idea that being insulted and called out at the same time sometimes is akin to a double-punch, that’s what’s often necessary to really get the thought-blood flowing. I know that, like 692, I wasn’t as keenly aware of the underlying sexism until all of this Elevatorgate stuff (that isn’t to say that I haven’t been consciously attempting to be actively feminist/humanist and so on in my actions, but rather that my efforts were less directed).

    tl:dr: Kick men out of their throne of comfort, otherwise they’ll take much longer to get up because the seat’s warm.

  162. Father Ogvorbis: It's Good for You. It Builds Character says

    Michael Hawkins:

    Sorry. I’ll go elsewhere and learn how to read.

  163. Father Ogvorbis: It's Good for You. It Builds Character says

    And I hit Submit waaay too early. Lemme try again.

    Michael Hawkins:

    Sorry. I’ll go elsewhere and learn how to read. Because, when I see

    I just don’t think the way to do that is to polarize the issue.

    I read that as tone trolling. Major and important issues, such as racism or sexism, are already polarized and polarizing. Pointing this out is not actually a polarizing act; instead, it is a depolarizing act because it challenges people to rethink their preconcieved notions.

    Additionally, when I read

    And I know, I know. Someone is itching to say this is tone-trolling, but it isn’t. I’m talking about the use of rhetoric and reaching real goals with it.

    If we want to make people aware of all these problems, we have to pay attention to how we’re doing it.

    I read this as a denial followed immediately by, you guessed it, tone trolling.

    So, again, I apologize and bow to your supreme intellect. After all, I am so stupid that I created a nonstrawman by reading what you wrote which is not, in any way, what you wrote. I guess that’s why I was stupid enough to actually rethink my use of language based on the unnecessary invective and useless rhetoric ’round these parts. So, I guess it is back to school as I, apparently, am incapable of reading words on a computer screen.

  164. Gnumann says

    But go ahead. Tell an average guy that he treats women like slabs of meat. See how many people come around to your point of view. Or did you want to change views and actually help women?

    How can you change views if you allow people to treat other people like meat without a slight comment to the fact.

    You might coddle up to the idea that you’re on the right side here, but you’re not. At the best, you’re nothing but an enabler (I can’t tell if you’re worse or not, since I don’t know you and can’t observe you’re actions, but from your ‘tude here I wouldn’t be very surprised if you’re one of the “bitches ain’t shit”-crowd in practical actions.)

    Shutting up while people are doing wrong this is enabling. It always was, it will always be. It’s never proven to be a good strategy. Show me one disprivileged group that got it’s due by quietly sitting down and putting up.

    I’ll agree with you on one thing – most of the guys that are a part of the problem don’t consciously want to be a part of the problem. It’s just that they’ve been brought up and caught up in the ubiquous sexism in human society.

    As for the liar issue: The issue wasn’t you calling PZ a liar (although calling people you disagree with a liar is wrong. Especially when you’re as wrong as you are on this issue.).

    The issue was that you’re supporting the male chauvinist extremist side in that particular discussion. That’s hardly not polarizing the issue – is it?

  165. says

    @696,

    The feminist-created hub-bub over the elevator incident was helpful in some ways because it did raise awareness. What didn’t help was PZ calling those who disagreed “obsessive sexists” (except his pal Richard Dawkins, of course), and people in the comment sections saying that anyone who disagreed must support rape.

    @698,

    You don’t even know what you’re talking about. Tone trolling is when someone talks about tone in lieu of the actual issues. So let me update you: The issue here is how to make people more aware, in turn decreasing sexism. I’m suggesting a tactic that will enable us to engage the unenlightened more effectively. Meanwhile, you’re hurting women by causing people to turn a deaf ear to valid arguments and points.

  166. Father Ogvorbis: It's Good for You. It Builds Character says

    Meanwhile, you’re hurting women by causing people to turn a deaf ear to valid arguments and points

    Right. Gotcha. Calling a mysogynist asshole who is sad that Watson didn’t get raped a mysogynist asshole is hurting women by turning a deaf ear to valid arguments and points. Did you even read the 3d4k insanity? Do you have any idea the arguments and points you are defending? But, according to you, the only reason it became a major issue is because people like me, and many others here, called mysogynist assholes what they are? So we should ignore the sexist and mysogynist insults, the threats, the rape jokes, the jokes about her name, the insane mysogyny which accompanies the 3d4k idiocy, because, calling them out for what they are is somehow making people less aware that there is a problem? Because of the tone in which some of us did so? Damn. I feel like English is a second language and I don’t have a first because suddenly words mean something else.

  167. Father Ogvorbis: It's Good for You. It Builds Character says

    And, in addition to being unable to read and comprehend, I screw up the blockquote. Damn, I’m stupid.

  168. Gnumann says

    Tone trolling is when someone talks about tone in lieu of the actual issues.

    So, what in your mind (but please not in your own words – as short as possible and hashpoints if you can) have you brought to the discussion except that we shouldn’t call out sexism as sexism?

  169. Gnumann says

    And, in addition to being unable to read and comprehend, I screw up the blockquote. Damn, I’m stupid.

    It’s all right. We love you anyway. And it could be worse: You could be a stupid, enabling tone-troll.

  170. Rasmus says

    I’ve been aware of the MRA bloggers for about 10 years now. At first I though the blogs might be some sort of ironic undergraduate/grad student joke, but it soon became clear to me that they were serious.

    Those that are open with their identity tend to be married, or in stable relationships. Infinitely anecdotal of course.

    By now the MRA:s have settled into the right-wing oriented tin-foil hat community of 9/11 conspiracy theorists and people who think that the United Nations is the source of all evil and other anti-government nuts.

    There is overlap with pick-up artists too, but PUA is a hobby/lifestyle, not a political stance or ideology so you can’t really compare them directly.

  171. says

    Do you have any idea the arguments and points you are defending?

    I do. They have nothing to do with the strawmen arguments you want to attach to me.

    @704,

    I am not saying that we shouldn’t call out sexism as sexism. Nor am I saying to hold back when engaging the sort of people with whom Father wants to falsely associate me. I’m saying there is a way to convince people they are ignorant and it starts with effective communication. It happened to me when I started reading Feminsim101, being sure to stay away from the bloggers like Suzanne Franks who aren’t interested in promoting women.

    I’m not against a harsh tone. I’ll be the first one to call God a sky fairy. But that’s because my point in doing that is to demonstrate that I don’t think religion deserves respect. That is, my rhetoric matches my goal. But if the goal here is to raise awareness as PZ wants, then his rhetoric fails except in the eyes of the choir (current post excluded).

  172. Gnumann says

    I’m not against a harsh tone. I’ll be the first one to call God a sky fairy. But that’s because my point in doing that is to demonstrate that I don’t think religion deserves respect. That is, my rhetoric matches my goal. But if the goal here is to raise awareness as PZ wants, then his rhetoric fails except in the eyes of the choir (current post excluded).

    Fuck you, you enabling, tonetrolling misogynic piece of shite.

    I asked for your contribution except tone-trolling, and I see you got nothing but. And a serious attitude problem it seems.

    You translated into plain language: “Yes, I got nothing against strong words, but not on this issue please”.

  173. Bernard Bumner says

    The feminist-created hub-bub over the elevator incident was helpful in some ways because it did raise awareness. What didn’t help was PZ calling those who disagreed “obsessive sexists” (except his pal Richard Dawkins, of course), and people in the comment sections saying that anyone who disagreed must support rape…

    Another accomodationist who is unable to avoid misrepresenting and insulting his opposition in an argument about accomodationism. How unsurprising.

    I’m suggesting a tactic that will enable us to engage the unenlightened more effectively.

    Us? Who is on your team?

    Meanwhile, you’re hurting women by causing people to turn a deaf ear to valid arguments and points.

    Unless you can show that this is actually happening, then your assertion is unmitigated bullshit.

    The feminist-created hub-bub… Patronising dismissiveness.

    You don’t even know what you’re talking about… Confrontational and belittling.

    So let me update you… Condescension.

    Do you try very hard to be a hypocrite?

    I’m not against a harsh tone. I’ll be the first one to call God a sky fairy. But that’s because my point in doing that is to demonstrate that I don’t think religion deserves respect. That is, my rhetoric matches my goal. But if the goal here is to raise awareness as PZ wants, then his rhetoric fails except in the eyes of the choir (current post excluded).

    Oh, I see that you do. Idiot.

  174. Pteryxx says

    So we should ignore the sexist and mysogynist insults, the threats, the rape jokes, the jokes about her name, the insane mysogyny which accompanies the 3d4k idiocy, because, calling them out for what they are is somehow making people less aware that there is a problem? Because of the tone in which some of us did so? Damn. I feel like English is a second language and I don’t have a first because suddenly words mean something else.

    This is called “gaslighting” and it’s a malicious form of lying that abusers use to make their victims doubt their own minds. It’s the same whether coming out of MRA’s, fundies, or predatory pedophiles. Fighting denial is ugly and rude and that’s pretty much how it has to be; if we were merely raising consciousness then education alone would work. But we’re not.

    Brother Og, your instinct is true.

  175. Bernard Bumner says

    Oh, now this is funny.

    If anyone would like to see a good example of Michael Hawkins’ opinion that an angry tone is much worse than dishonest behaviour, then you may be interested in this article.

    A blazingly immature rant about the fact that he was told off for not paying to use a driving range.

    [The owners] being greedy, life-hating misers, the pair objected to me not buying their balls. They chastised my innocent girlfriend, told us we should know better, and even took down my license plate number. I suppose that made Rawn feel like a big man. Goodness knows his ugly, little business doesn’t.

    Now give this all a moment’s thought: these two selfish individuals were angry because I didn’t give them a dollar fifty or so for a few balls. No one is saying they can’t tell people to pay, but what they can’t do is screech at people to pay and then expect to see some sort of uptick in business. Had they been remotely intelligent in their approach, I would have paid the pocket change to whack a few balls a few yards. Instead, they whined and yelled and threw a big hissy fit, thus losing my business forever.

    Yes, Michael Hawkins likes to devote internet space to persuing the real villains in this world, like the owners of T’s Golf:

    …a dumpy little joint run by Rawn and Judy Torrington. The deteriorating mini golf course is absolute junk. Even if I didn’t have a terrible personal interaction with the bitter, little owners, I would still hate their ‘facilities’ – in fact, long before I knew anything about the nasty, old couple I would often reject suggestions of using their business.

    If you’re nasty to Michael, he will stop freeloading off you. Is that what you want?

    Michael, you’re a self-centred idiot, evidently more concerned about being shouted out than about your own bad behaviour. In golf, as in discussions about discussing sexism.

  176. says

    Everyone should send PZ an email demanding he calls his students sexist assholes if they can’t name any female scientists besides Marie Curie. I’m sure UMM will start producing the most open-minded individuals then.

    The bottom line: The more difficult one makes it to communicate the need for awareness, the more it hurts women.

  177. Pteryxx says

    In the helpful suggestions department: Ada Lovelace Day is coming up on October 7. (h/t Shakes)

    http://findingada.com/

    This Ada Lovelace Day on October 7, share your story about a woman — whether an engineer, a scientist, a technologist or mathematician — who has inspired you to become who you are today. Write a blog post, record a podcast, film a video, draw a comic, or pick any other way to talk about the women who have been guiding lights in your life. Give your heroine the credit she deserves!

  178. Father Ogvorbis: It's Good for You. It Builds Character says

    I’m not against a harsh tone. I’ll be the first one to call God a sky fairy. But that’s because my point in doing that is to demonstrate that I don’t think religion deserves respect. That is, my rhetoric matches my goal. But if the goal here is to raise awareness as PZ wants, then his rhetoric fails except in the eyes of the choir (current post excluded).

    So it is perfectly fine for you to infringe on the sensitive beliefs of godbots, but for me, or anyone else, to call out mysogynist behaviour or writings, is a rhetorical fail? Why? Because our tone was insulting? Because our tone was confrontational? Enlighten me. What is the difference between you calling god a skyfairy and me calling a mysogynist a mysogynist?

  179. says

    @713,

    Do you think the point of my rhetoric was to persuade that place to apologize? Or do you think I wanted to prevent as many people as possible from going there? (That article was also published in print and distributed in the area.) Your post suggests you think the former. You’re wrong.

    This is the problem right here with the poor understanding of what I’m saying. I am not against using the harshest rhetoric out there. What I’m against is misusing rhetoric. This is the last time I will explain this point: Rhetoric is effective when it matches and reaches a goal. It is ineffective when it fails to do that. Many posts on here, and certainly every comment section about these issues, fail in that regard. If the goal is to raise awareness, few people here are bothering to do that: You are part of the problem.

  180. says

    @716,

    I have said this a number of times already. The rhetoric used around here will turn people off to the message. It may be true at times, it may even feel great to say, but it is not helping. Answer this (because no one seems to want to even bother thinking about it): Which is more effective, PZ asking students to name a female scientist besides Curie, thereby making them aware of their ignorance or PZ calling his students sexist assholes for not coming up with a name? Which question do you think belongs on the test?

  181. Father Ogvorbis: It's Good for You. It Builds Character says

    Michael Hawkins:

    So it is perfectly fine for you to infringe on the sensitive beliefs of godbots, but for me, or anyone else, to call out mysogynist behaviour or writings, is a rhetorical fail? Why? Because our tone was insulting? Because our tone was confrontational? Enlighten me. What is the difference between you calling god a skyfairy and me calling a mysogynist a mysogynist? Both are, by your argument, rhetorical failures because they are both unlikely to create a light-bulb moment. So why is it okay for you to do it but not others?

  182. Pteryxx says

    Everyone should send PZ an email demanding he calls his students sexist assholes if they can’t name any female scientists besides Marie Curie.

    Raising awareness: Pointing out that you can’t name any female scientists besides Marie Curie.

    Good response: “I’ve never heard of all these female scientists? Crap. I better start fixing that.”

    Bad response: “I don’t need to know about female scientists because they don’t count (and shut up about it.)”

    For extra credit: Which of these hypothetical responders is being a sexist asshole?

  183. illuminata says

    Everyone should send PZ an email demanding he calls his students sexist assholes if they can’t name any female scientists besides Marie Curie. I’m sure UMM will start producing the most open-minded individuals then.

    The bottom line: The more difficult one makes it to communicate the need for awareness, the more it hurts women.

    translation: If I use an intensely stupid strawman, will you all please stop doing what works and use my worthless, spineless bigot-accomodating method instead?

    Don’t you care that not listening to Mikeypoo is HURTING WOMEN!!!!

    LOL useless trolls are useless.

  184. Synapse says

    Usually, tone trolls at least act internally consistent enough not to come off as hypocrites but damn.

  185. says

    So why is it okay for you to do it but not others?

    Because he doesn’t care about the feelings of the religious and doesn’t respect religion, but apparently he does care about offending the tender sensibilities of teh menz. He’s already said as much, he just seems unwilling to acknowledge it.

    If Pharyngula’s “tone” is too rough and tumble for someone to take, if PZ is just too strident for someone to not react defensively, then this obviously isn’t the blog for them. Too bad the internet isn’t a vast place without room for a wide variety of voices or perspectives for people to find one they’re more willing to listen to – oh, wait!

  186. Inane Janine, OM, Conflater Of Arguments says

    The feminist-created hub-bub over the elevator incident was helpful in some ways because it did raise awareness. What didn’t help was PZ calling those who disagreed “obsessive sexists” (except his pal Richard Dawkins, of course), and people in the comment sections saying that anyone who disagreed must support rape.

    Scream that from the fucking roof tops. If Rebecca Watson did not mention a word about the incident on the elevator, MRAs would stop talking about their shit. They would not have argued that the fucking human species would die out if men could not proposition women on elevators.

    Also, your lying sack of shit, PZ did call out his friend. But I do not expect any accuracy from you on this topic.

    Want to know something? If you would stop posting on the topic, this thread would come to an end like all others do. Call it a “Micheal Hawkins created hub-bub”.

  187. andrewv69 says

    @Pteryxx says:

    Calling Nerd! Calling Nerd! The Michael Hawkins betting pool has been activated #685!

    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says:
    23 September 2011 at 6:25 pm

    *Sets up the Paryngula Saloon and Spanking Parlor™, Patricia, Princess of Pullets, Proprietor, betting pool for MH’s next immature and posturing post, which will prove once and for all, that the MRAs are keeping the discussion going, not us.*

    I have long wondered what you people considered an MRA other than a catchall “disagrees with us”. So this is a real live example of a MRA?

    /popcorn

  188. says

    Because he doesn’t care about the feelings of the religious and doesn’t respect religion, but apparently he does care about offending the tender sensibilities of teh menz.

    Not just teh menz, let’s be fair. He’s also sensitive to the feelings of assholes who try to use the facilities offered by a small business without paying for it.

  189. Rey Fox says

    Everyone should send PZ an email demanding he calls his students sexist assholes if they can’t name any female scientists besides Marie Curie. I’m sure UMM will start producing the most open-minded individuals then.

    Desperate attempt to deflect attention from the hilarious driving range story noted.

    I have said asserted this a number of times already. The rhetoric used around here will turn people off to the message.

    Yes, we’ve heard, we’ve heard. We’ve heard.

  190. Pteryxx says

    I’m still reading the crits of the DC reboot and came across this cogent and relevant article:

    http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/09/22/no-more-mutants-52-problems-by-andrew-wheeler/

    To be absolutely fair, the DC reboot was thrown together in such a hurry that they can’t possibly have had time to pull together a misogynistic conspiracy to alienate and exclude female readers. It all just happened by accident! Imagine what they could have achieved if they had been trying!

    The shockingly low number of female creators on the relaunch must be a major factor in this unhappy accident, and it’s a problem that DC promised to address after the PR disaster at San Diego where a fan asked, “Where are the women?” and Dan DiDio replied with a series of barks and growls.

    But it’s not the sole responsibility of women to somehow get themselves hired so they can write books that their nieces might buy. Men – yes, even straight ones – will have to make an actual effort to establish that diverse landscape in which some of the female characters do wear pants for 20 whole pages.

    Diversity doesn’t happen because you think it should. Diversity happens when you make it happen. DC has said several times that one of its aims with the reboot was “to diversify as much as possible”. The question we have to ask is, what stopped you?

  191. Father Ogvorbis: It's Good for You. It Builds Character says

    So this is a real live example of a MRA?

    This is an unusual MRA. Rather than directly insulting women, or telling women how to feel, or telling women that they deserve whatever happened to them, he feels that some of us are being insufficiently polite to mysogynists and sexists. See, he has no problem at all being impolite to a small business owner who has the weird idea that people should pay to use the services he provides. He has no problem using confrontational language when dealing with the religious. He does have a real problem with anyone calling out sexist and mysogynistic behaviour for what it is. See, it is the tone of the argument, not the argument itself, with which he disagrees. Apparently, if we cuddle with Male Rights Activists, they will see that women actually are human beings, not slabs of meat with convenient appurtenances. This coddling behaviour will work with sexists, but apparently not with small business owners or the faithful. So yes, he is an MRA, but an unusual one.

  192. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Calling Nerd! Calling Nerd! The Michael Hawkins betting pool has been activated #685!

    Yep, it has.
    *checks betting pool list twice, checks time of post and converts to CT, does some more calculations*
    Looks like a tie between Caine and Sally Strange. The winners get the half the e-ducats in the pot added to their respective tabs.

  193. Rey Fox says

    Do you think the point of my rhetoric was to persuade that place to apologize? Or do you think I wanted to prevent as many people as possible from going there?

    Or maybe people read it and decided to give more business to the driving range owners victimized by a spiteful freeloader. Sure, it’s just speculation on my part, but I’ll bet it’s as much as you have on the matter.

  194. says

    @720,

    What is your point?

    @721,

    I’m not convinced you know what a strawman is.

    @722,

    This isn’t about tone. It’s about the effectiveness of rhetoric. In fact, if you want to be consistent, effectiveness ought to be of high concern to you since feminism is a philosophy of consequence in the first place.

    @723,

    I care about the feeling of neither, but I have already made it clear: Rhetoric needs to match goals.

    @724,

    You have created a strawman and gotten your facts wrong. I did not say PZ failed to call out Dawkins. We all know he criticized him. What I said was he did not call Dawkins an “obsessive sexist”. If you do a slight amount of research, you’ll see that PZ explicitly said he does not think Dawkins is sexist. He did not grant the same arbitrary exemption to anyone else holding the exact same position.

    I am posting about rhetoric and peripheral issues, not Egate. I consider that a dead topic.

    @725,

    I haven’t said anything about any issues faced by men. The advantage of being male over female, in cultural terms such as employment and other areas, is obvious and it is wrong. What I am arguing is that if the goal is to raise awareness, then everyone who throws insults instead of something worthwhile is falling short. That will only serve to shut people off.

  195. Inane Janine, OM, Conflater Of Arguments says

    So, Egate is over. And you are arguing that bitches should shut the fuck up.

    Got it.

  196. Sally Strange, OM says

    Micheal Hawkins, it’s impossible to take you seriously because you keep contradicting yourself.

    For example:

    1. I am not saying that we shouldn’t call out sexism as sexism.

    2. But go ahead. Tell an average guy that he treats women like slabs of meat. See how many people come around to your point of view. Or did you want to change views and actually help women?

    3. I’m not against a harsh tone.

    4. What didn’t help was PZ calling those who disagreed “obsessive sexists” (except his pal Richard Dawkins, of course), and people in the comment sections saying that anyone who disagreed must support rape.

    Are you lying to yourself? Or do you really think everyone here is just that stupid that we don’t notice these things?

  197. Rey Fox says

    No Janine, he’s saying they need to be nice to the sexists and give them cookies and handjobs, and then maybe, maybe they’ll pay to play on our driving range.

  198. says

    @731,

    I have not addressed the golf article because it’s an attempt at an invalid ad hom, but if you insist on bringing it up, at least be honest. If you bothered to pay attention, I take pains to explain that the issue was not with the owners wanting me to use their particular equipment but rather with the way they reacted. It is a lie to claim my article is based upon a desire to use facilities for free.

  199. Sally Strange, OM says

    So this is a real live example of a MRA?

    Eh, not quite. Michael Hawkins can spell and write whole paragraphs that appear to make sense, at least at first glance. That sets him apart from the majority of MRAs on the net. Also, he appears reluctant to appear as an out-and-out misogynist. Many MRAs are actually proud of hating women; they view people who, by default, treat women as human beings who are just as capable as love or hate or genius or stupidity as anyone else, as hopelessly naive, because they know the truth: bitches ain’t shit.

  200. says

    @734,

    I have not once said not to call out sexism. I said it should be called out effectively and in a way that brings about positive change. Insulting people is fine if the goal is to attack someone – and that’s the goal with everyone here towards me, which makes for perfectly valid rhetoric – but if the goal is to bring about change, few people are doing it right. Of course, you can recount to me all the times, “Fuck you” made you more open-minded to what someone was saying.

    I’m still not against a harsh tone. It just needs to be used in the correct way. Rhetoric needs to match goals.

    I’m not sure how you think 4 contradicts anything.

    Ask yourself this: What is my ultimate goal when talking about sexism? If your answer is to open people up to your position, making them aware of their ignorance, then good. Now you need to make your rhetoric match. (Of course, if you aren’t concerned with actually reaching your goal, don’t bother changing anything.)

  201. Sally Strange, OM says

    That will only serve to shut people Micheal Hawkins off.

    FIFY.

    Who cares if Michael Hawkins gets shut off? Or other men just like him? What are we losing, really? A faux ally? A manly manners nanny? I don’t see any benefit to trying to keep Michael Hawkins, or guys like him, as a community member or an ally. He doesn’t have much to offer. Hey Michael, do you think we need someone around to remind us that sexist men get defensive when called out about being sexist? Golly, who could have guessed that one. I think we’ll get along fine without a full-time counselor on men’s propensity to get, as PZ put it, “all defensive… huffy and angry.” I can’t imagine why you think this is news, and that your approach hasn’t been tried. I mean, Planned Parenthood has been taking your approach and now they have members of Congress demanding to see ALL of their paperwork and accounting. People like you, and advice like yours, has been holding the women’s movement back for the past few decades. The times when we saw the most rapid advances in actual rights–the suffragette movement of the 20s, and the 2nd Wave of educational and economic equality of the 60s and 70s–were also the times when women and their supporters were vocal, raucous, and uncompromising in their demands. History has shown your half-baked hypothesis to be false already. Now that you know you’ve been peddling bullshit, you have no more excuse for offering it, and any further attempts to convince us to accept your empirically false ideas will be read, as was already noted before, as gaslighting, trolling, and attempting to undermine the cause. In other words, fair warning: you’re about to be accused of sexism. Change your behavior so that it doesn’t resemble the behavior of a sexist, and perhaps you will escape this dire fate.

  202. says

    Since everyone wants to associate me with the worst of the worst, let me point out that when someone comes by who actually says women aren’t as smart or capable or whatever as men, then the most effective rhetoric at that point will probably be a harsh tone. I imagine the goal there is to ignore the troll/stupid arguments while demeaning the person, taking him down a few pegs. Harsh rhetoric matches that goal.

    But a difference comes when we’re talking about event organizers, group leaders, and the common person. It is better to engage relatively civilly then if doing so will result in 10 female speakers being booked instead of 5, or if it results in a person attending 10 speeches by women instead of 5.

  203. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Now I’m wondering whether readers in general, or science fiction readers in particular, are less willing to accept and/or admire dark stuff when the writer is female (consider Octavia Butler).

    The mystery genre has a whole host of women author dealing with dark stuff. I’ll just name 10:

    Agatha Christie
    J. A. Jance
    Marcia Muller
    Sue Grafton
    Faye Kellerman
    Sarah Paretsky
    Dana Stabenow
    P. D. James
    Elizabeth George
    Nevada Barr

  204. Sally Strange, OM says

    Ask yourself this: What is my ultimate goal when talking about sexism?

    To change the culture so that it’s no longer socially acceptable to be misogynist.

    As I’ve already demonstrated, uncompromising confrontation is the best way to accomplish this.

    You mentioned MLK before. Without the contrast of Malcolm X’s uncompromising confrontational stance towards the white establishment, MLK’s message would not have been as effective. If you want to play MLK, and play off the more confrontational tactics of the radicals of the movement, that’s fine. But if you insist that Malcolm X must shut up, then you’re not playing MLK, you’re playing the white establishment.

  205. Sally Strange, OM says

    But a difference comes when we’re talking about event organizers, group leaders, and the common person. It is better to engage relatively civilly then if doing so will result in 10 female speakers being booked instead of 5, or if it results in a person attending 10 speeches by women instead of 5.

    Do tell. It’s good to be polite to someone if they are organizing a conference, and you want to convince them to invite certain people to speak at it?

    See, ladies, it would have been impossible for us to figure this out with our fussy pink emotion-clouded brains. We really can’t afford to alienate Michael Hawkins, otherwise who would provide us with these startling, crucial insights?

  206. Sally Strange, OM says

    Notice also that Michael Hawkins has a hard time using the word “misogynist,” so fraught with dire meaning and tension is it for him! And it’s also adorably naive, how he thinks that “someone comes by who actually says women aren’t as smart or capable or whatever as men” (that is, a misogynist) is part of a separate, non-overlapping set from “event organizers, group leaders, and the common person.”

    Gaslighting again, aren’t you, Michael? Clever try, but we still are aware that event organizers, group leaders, and the common person are all capable of being people who “actually says women aren’t as smart or capable or whatever as men.”

  207. Bernard Bumner says

    I have not addressed the golf article because it’s an attempt at an invalid ad hom…

    You wrote the article and placed it in the public domain. I merely drew attention to it. The damning words are all your own.

    It is further evidence that you are happy to lecture about tone, but fail to consisently apply your own standards. Actually it was an egregious example of you complaining about language rather than honestly examining (in that case, your own) bad behaviour.

    It might be ad hominem, were it not entirely relevent to this argument. The fact that you own words also make you seem like an unapologetic, selfish wanker is just funny.

    It is a lie to claim my article is based upon a desire to use facilities for free.

    Then why didn’t you pay? And why did you attempt to justify not paying? You moocher.

    Anyway, I was very clear that it was your self-serving hypocritical argument about tone that I was highlighting.

  208. says

    Michael Hawkins has one simple, single goal: attention. He wants it. No sale, Hawkins. You’re a douchecake supreme and I have better things to do than oil your idiotic grudge against PZ. You’d get people to pay attention to you if you actually wrote anything worth reading. That’s not our problem, it’s yours.

    Have a nicely decaying porcupine, you asspimple. You know what to do.

  209. says

    @739,

    I have no doubt you’re more knowledgeable than I am about the history of the women’s movement and feminism. I mean that (and I’m sure you’re saying, “duh”). But every great movement for freedom in the U.S. has been waged with incremental wins which eventually culminate in big payoffs. It never happens all at once.

    But I’m not advocating for holding back and only going for the small victories. I’m putting simple if/then scenarios out there: If you want to raise awareness, then you need people to listen. If you start out being a jerk, then people will shut you out.

    When I first encountered my biases and ignorance as illuminated by feminists, I went and read up on Feminism101. I hope others will take the same idea and go read up on rhetoric, especially as the Greeks practiced it. This stuff isn’t something that can be simply dismissed. Words matter. (There are a number of YouTube videos available.)

  210. Pteryxx says

    “For rhetoric to work, each participant has to honestly want to find the answer by an efficient and thorough discussion.”

    We’re not dealing with honest participants in a discussion here. We have unconscious bias. We have institutionalized sexism. We have stereotype threat. We have widespread apologetics and denial. We have constant, systemic silencing attempts using every tactic from harassment to shaming to tone-trolling to death threats. And we have evidence that a large subset of sexism-apologetics have as their goal the continued oppression of women.

    And they pretend their oppression is actually rational discussion, SO THEY DON’T GET CALLED ON IT. They need the guise of social acceptance for freedom to operate. Rhetoric WILL NOT WORK here – in fact, it’s ceding the point at the outset.

  211. Sally Strange, OM says

    If you want to raise awareness, then you need people to listen. If you start out being a jerk, then people will shut you out.

    I’m being a jerk, to you, specifically, right not, because I want you to shut me out. You’re worse than useless, you’re an enemy masquerading as an ally. You’re a gaslighter. I don’t know if you’re conscious of what you’re doing, but it doesn’t matter. Either way, it’s wrong. If you want to own up to your perfidy then stick around and apologize (not least for deliberately ignoring my stated preference that you address me by my ‘nym, Sally Strange, rather than by the number of the post I wrote. It’s disrespectful AND confusing, and it takes so little effort to copy-paste a ‘nym rather than a number–there’s really no reason for this idiocy except deliberate disrespect). Otherwise, fuck off. You have alienated your audience here completely; why should anyone listen to your advice on how not to alienate people?

  212. Inane Janine, OM, Conflater Of Arguments says

    Rey Fox, you are right. I misunderstood the argument. It is the “Shut the fuck up, bitch, and make me a sammich and bring me a beer!” argument.

    Oh, the joy of submitting just so one might be considered a human by menz.

  213. Sally Strange, OM says

    I have no doubt you’re more knowledgeable than I am about the history of the women’s movement and feminism.

    Translation: Why yes, I am talking out of my ass! But you should pay attention to my opinion anyway! Because I know all about men getting defensive, and I’m sure you little ladies have never encountered and angry man before, now have you? They are scary, those angry men–but don’t worry, Michael Hawkins is here to instruct you on how to never make a Real Man (read: not one of those rare, dastardly, villainous creatures known as misogynists) angry.

  214. says

    @743,

    That’s a great goal (though you haven’t demonstrated anything whatsoever). How are you going to accomplish it if people won’t listen to you? I don’t mean MRAs. I mean the average man or woman you encounter every day who is unaware of these issues. How will you go about getting them to listen?

    The Malcolm X point is a good one. But his rhetoric didn’t serve to change the minds of all that many white people. What he did was get blacks to rise up and unite. People took notice of that. So if you’re goal is to get people like the majority who frequent sites like this to stand up, then keep up the rhetoric. It’s fine for a place like this. But if you want to convince someone who has never even heard of Pharyngula, then I think you’re going to not only want to immediately use a different tactic, but you will. (But I don’t know you. Maybe you would call someone an asshole or whathaveyou for saying something ignorant that was intended to be innocent.

    @744,

    I’m glad you agree with me, even if you are now arguing that what I’ve said is right, but it just doesn’t need to be said.

    @745,

    I wasn’t avoiding any words or terms. I was describing a particular type of person based upon what others have said they’ve read here and in other threads.

    @746,

    It is a logical fallacy to attempt to discredit me by 1) presenting irrelevant views I have on entirely separate issues and 2) misrepresenting what I actually said on those issues.

    This is the last time I will explain this: A harsh tone is fine when it matches a goal. My goal was to cast the most negative possible light on that business as possible. I did that. But if the goal is to get people to listen, then a harsh goal is the wrong tactic. To put it another way, if my goal was to get that business to just listen to me, then I failed spectacularly. But if my goal was to disparage it and dissuade people from going there, then I succeeded. Rhetoric needs to match goals.

    If you want to ask me specific questions about the article, go comment on it. All I will say here is that my writing was based upon how I was treated at that business. If you say otherwise, you are lying.

    @747,

    I like PZ.

  215. Father Ogvorbis: It's Good for You. It Builds Character says

    I take pains to explain that the issue was not with the owners wanting me to use their particular equipment but rather with the way they reacted.

    Your problem was not with the substance, but the tone. You keep denying being a tone troll and then write things like this. Do you even read what you write?

  216. Sally Strange, OM says

    Names, Michael Hawkins. Pseudonyms. Handles. Tags. Whatever you want to call them, obviously you have a problem using them. What is your problem, seriously.

  217. Sally Strange, OM says

    Your problem was not with the substance, but the tone. You keep denying being a tone troll and then write things like this.

    See, Michael Hawkins has a special, super-secret definition of “tone troll”. He won’t share it with us of course, but according to HIS definition, telling PZ it’s a bad idea to label “obsessive sexists” as “obsessive sexists” is a completely different thing from tone trolling.

  218. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But a difference comes when we’re talking about event organizers, group leaders, and the common person. It is better to engage relatively civilly

    Obviously you haven’t studied the dynamics of success civil rights movements. The first thing that one must do, is to get peoples attention. Having a group or groups that are loud, vocal, and in-your-face is what is needed to get peoples attention. That is what we do at Pharyngula, we try to get peoples attention by being rewd, lewd, and crewd.

    After that, quieter folks like Hawkins the tone troll need to step forward, and show how by making small changes, the vocal an impolite people will move on. That is for another blog Hawkins, not here. We don’t try to do both sides. Now, you still haven’t shown anything other than your inane opinion that being nice and civil really causes people to change their minds. In fact, no tone troll has done so. All they have is opinions, and we have historical data from various civil rights movements. Time to move along.

  219. ichthyic says

    The Malcolm X point is a good one. But his rhetoric didn’t serve to change the minds of all that many white people.

    are you aware of the concept formally known as the “Overton Window”?

    Malcom had tremendous influence on all sections of american culture.

    just not necessarily in the way you might think.

  220. Pteryxx says

    Since MH is addicted to the sound of his own name, yet must deny that courtesy to others, I suggest referring to him henceforth as MRA #755.

  221. says

    @750,

    You know how you get irritated when people comment on feminist posts without being familiar with it? Like if someone pulls out the, “But I love my mom and sister!” argument, it gets at you? Well, that’s what it’s like right now with you talking about rhetoric. For you to claim that rhetoric will not work would be risible if it wasn’t so ignorant. What you mean is that you don’t want to use the rhetoric I think will be most effective. You’re still advocating for rhetoric, just of a different stripe.

    @Sally Strange

    I did not notice your post requesting the name. But no bother. You aren’t even trying to get at anything now, instead resorting to games where you put words in my mouth. I know it’s a common tactic on the blogosphere, but you know damn well I haven’t said anything remotely close, in word or meaning, to anything you’re creating. If you want a seat at the adult table – even if you want to continue with the current tone (because it actually makes sense in this context) – then there’s a chair open for you. But I don’t know. Maybe that last sentence just means I think rape is for the lulz.

  222. ichthyic says

    fine for a place like this

    uh, you do realize that proportional to the traffic this blog gets, that would be analogous to something like saying New York City is “a place like this”, right?

    you appear to be projecting your own sense of “average” onto the world.

  223. ichthyic says

    What you mean is that you don’t want to use the rhetoric I think will be most effective.

    and there’s your problem.

    that you somehow think that your personal rhetoric is a solution to all ills.

    hubris, dude, get yourself some.

    you really aren’t that wise.

  224. says

    @756,

    My problem was with what they said and how they treated me. There is another article which goes on all about their bad behavior (http://withoutapologyinmaine.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/bad-behavior-and-ts-golf/). But you’re free to think it’s okay to treat people like shit.

    @760,

    I am not familiar with that, but I would be interested in learning about it. I will look into it.

    @everyone whining about names,

    Would you like some cheese with that?

  225. Sally Strange, OM says

    Since MH is addicted to the sound of his own name, yet must deny that courtesy to others, I suggest referring to him henceforth as MRA #755.

    I concur. I find MRA #755′s refusal to even address the fact that I stated a preference, and he ignored it, to be very telling. Behavior like that is exactly the sort of behavior we have to change if we’re going to change the culture. It’s simply unacceptable. But since MRA #755 seems incapable of, or unwilling to change his behavior, even to copy-paste pseudonyms instead of post numbers, it’s obviously not worth our time to try to convince him. The only use he has now is as a pedagogical chew toy for onlookers. Observe, here is how not to behave if you want to create an equitable society. MRA #755 is not a welcome member of this community. Why he continues showing up to try to convince people to stop fighting inequality so vigorously is a mystery, but at least his presence may prove edifying for a few lurkers.

  226. says

    On the T’s Golf thing in general: I’m done addressing that here. I hate these invalid arguments getting put out there. Even if I’m the biggest hypocrite that has ever existed, you have not somehow addressed any of my points by saying so. Do NOT bother arguing otherwise: If you don’t recognize the glaring logical fallacy here, you don’t deserve a response anyway.

  227. Sally Strange, OM says

    Maybe that last sentence just means I think rape is for the lulz.

    Get off your crucifix, MRA #755. Playing the martyr doesn’t suit you; you’re too stuffy.

  228. julian says

    @andrewv69

    If you’re interested in talking to an MRA, there’s one by the name of Tom Martin annoying the hell out of everyone at Butterflies and Wheels.

  229. ichthyic says

    @everyone whining about names,

    Would you like some cheese with that?

    This is why I have come to prefer the term “whinging”.

    ah, the advantages of learning new things in an old society.

  230. says

    @763 and 764,

    Pharyngula has a particular audience. The majority agree with what PZ says and his style. That won’t always fly out in non-Internet public.

    The ideas about rhetoric I am expressing pre-date me by a few thousand years. I’m going to go with the Cicero on this one and say it is more effective to speak in a way which gives one an audience than to speak one’s mind to an empty theater.

  231. Sally Strange, OM says

    @everyone whining about names,

    Would you like some cheese with that?

    See, this is what happens when you make a polite request–or even a not-so-polite reques–of MRA #755.

    Asking for MRA #755 to go through the motions of showing other people respect is apparently not enough for MRA #755 to see the value of showing other people respect.

    And yet he wants to teach the world about how to get people to show you respect.

  232. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Failure to mention Dorothy L. Sayers in this context is a hanging offence.

    I’ve only read one of her short stories. My list is from the authors on my shelves.

  233. Sally Strange, OM says

    The ideas about rhetoric I am expressing pre-date me by a few thousand years. I’m going to go with the Cicero on this one and say it is more effective to speak in a way which gives one an audience than to speak one’s mind to an empty theater.

    Argument from authority Cicero, eh, MRA #755?

    But still no actual facts to counter the evidence provided by history that you are wrong.

  234. Father Ogvorbis: It's Good for You. It Builds Character says

    Michael Hawkins;

    I agree. The behaviour was execreble:

    I recently went to T’s Golf in Manchester to try out a new club. I wanted to literally hit 4 balls into an empty field, using an empty tee, at a business that had literally no other customers. It didn’t take long for the owners to come out an give me an earful.

    For you to walk into someone’s business. onto their private property, and steal from them is way out of line. This business is in it, like all businesses, to make money. For you to walk in and hit one or a hundred balls, without paying them, is stealing. So you are right. It is not okay to treat people, even business people, like shit.

    First of all, these people charge for use of their buckets of balls, not their range.

    So they don’t own the range? They don’t pay taxes or a mortgage on the property? The bucket-of-balls fee pays for the use of the range. Yeah, you are still treating them like shit and that is wrong.

    That sort of behavior is unacceptable. It’s a demonstration of selfishness, greed, bad behavior, horrible business sense, and immaturity. We should never accept any part of that list.

    Expecting customers to actually pay for the service provided is now horrible business sense? It is greedy to expect to make money from your investment?

    You really don’t see a pattern here, do you? You walked into their business establishment and stole money from them; a small amount of money, but money nevertheless. When they objected to your theft, your response is that

    Okay, they aren’t giving things away for free.

    And then you rip into them about tone. You steal from them, you use their facilities for no charge, and then have the nerve to call them out about their tone.

    Now, here you are, ripping into PZ and some of the regulars on this site about tone. While, at the same time, loudly complaining that it is not an issue of tone, but one of rhetoric.

    Rhetoric is the use of language to persuade. Did it ever occur to you that you do not have the only possible method of persuasion in the world? That it is possible to be verbally brutal, to use invective and sarcasm, and still have an effective persuassive argument? Do you really want me, and others, to take up your version of rhetoric? Stealing from a small business and then complaining that their tone was improper?

    If I thought you would take the advice, I would suggest that you go back to the small business, pay for some balls, and apologize. As I suspect, quite strongly, that you will not do that, I suggest, as an alternative, a decayed porcupine transversely inserted in the proper orifice.

    =============

    And you, who complain that our tone is not proper, have the nerve to suggest that asking that ‘nyms be used in your response is whining? Either use the ‘nym or use a quote so that we know who you are responding to without having to go upthread. This is a normal convention on this blog. It is not whining, it is a way to keep the arguments (and insults) straight.

  235. Brownian says

    The ideas about rhetoric I am expressing pre-date me by a few thousand years. I’m going to go with the Cicero on this one and say it is more effective to speak in a way which gives one an audience than to speak one’s mind to an empty theater.

    Isn’t this the apologist’s favourite argument? “Why won’t you all agree with me that I’m right about what sort of rhetoric is most compelling?”

    Cicero’s dead, ain’t he? The problem with people like you is that you always say you’ll go, but then, here you are, still alive, not going with Cicero.

  236. Brownian says

    And then you rip into them about tone. You steal from them, you use their facilities for no charge, and then have the nerve to call them out about their tone.

    If their goal was to stop Michael Hawkins from using their services for free like a common thief, then I suppose a pitching wedge across the face would have worked just as well as the blowjob he thinks he deserves for some fucking reason (moreso, I suppose, because they’d have to pry his own lips off his cock first to get to it).

    What a fucking entitled piece of shit this self-centred asshole is.

  237. Pteryxx says

    Oh, I think the Pharyngula answer to “rhetoric” does attract an audience. I for one quite enjoy watching random MRA’s getting their hypocrisy shredded and disintegrating into froth.

    Remind us again why the sexism threads run to hundreds or thousands of comments? Obviously it’s because they’re so polite.

  238. hotshoe says

    If you’re interested in talking to an MRA, there’s one by the name of Tom Martin annoying the hell out of everyone at Butterflies and Wheels.

    Tom Martin is a psycho creepster.

    Ophelia is being far too nice by not banning him, but in fairness to her, she hopes that LSE can use some of his raging misogynistic replies to defend themselves re Martin’s suit against them.

  239. Gnumann says

    Wow, MRA #755 really isn’t good with holes.

    He should really learn the first rule (and apply it of course).

  240. Hurin, Nattering Nabob of Negativism says

    Micheal Hawkins

    For you to claim that rhetoric will not work would be risible if it wasn’t so ignorant. What you mean is that you don’t want to use the rhetoric I think will be most effective. You’re still advocating for rhetoric, just of a different stripe.

    Ignorant? Really? First of all you might be imagining that this is the first time we have heard the exact argument you are making and that would be, uh, ignorant. Just go do a fucking google search of the word “tone troll” at the old pharyngula and if you can find the exact paragraph of impassioned bleating that you are about to post within five min. of looking, then don’t fucking post it.

    Second, on what grounds to you assert that your rhetorical strategy is superior? Do you have focus group results to draw on or something? I’m guessing you don’t, and I’d be really surprised if there is a straightforward method of calling out sexism that you would like.

    Your posts here are really only explicable as a derailing attempt, and I for one would appreciate it if you would shove it. If your rhetoric is so convincing then go start your own blog about feminism, and spare us the mansplaining lesson about your assumptions.

  241. pelamun says

    I’m with Father Ogvorbis on this one. Without the blunt, confrontational approach taken here I would have missed some very important issues that do not necessarily affect me personally, in a variety of ways.

    I think Michael Hawkins is talking about what I call the “silent majority” who is allegedly disgusted by too much controversy. This may or may not be, I wouldn’t say without any data that suggests one way or the other, but how can you raise awareness if you keep tip-toeing around the issue. Worse yet, you could even end up signalling to that majority that the issues aren’t that bad after all. There is probably a place for accommodationist approaches, for instance when you are lobbying decision-makers which would otherwise be indifferent to the issue (undecided votes on a bill before Congress for instance), but I fail to see why you would need to become accommoationist within a movement. If skepticism is part of being an atheist, why would you need to try not to offend people who have been unwittingly sexist/racist/homophobic/what have you? If you truly are a skepticist, shouldn’t a confrontation like this one lead to you reflecting your own stance critically?

  242. andrewv69 says

    @729 Father Ogvorbis: It’s Good for You. It Builds Character says:

    This is an unusual MRA. Rather than directly insulting women, or telling women how to feel, or telling women that they deserve whatever happened to them

    OK.

    @737 Sally Strange, OM says:

    Also, he appears reluctant to appear as an out-and-out misogynist. Many MRAs are actually proud of hating women; they view people who, by default, treat women as human beings who are just as capable as love or hate or genius or stupidity as anyone else, as hopelessly naive, because they know the truth: bitches ain’t shit.

    OK.

    I think I am begining to get a better perspective on what you guys consider a MRA. I think it is pretty broad, and confusing to people like myself, but I think I see a reason for using it that way.

    (I also think you should use a different term, but I suspect the likelyhood of that happening is somewhere between zero and none).

  243. Pteryxx says

    …Frick, I’m sorry that this is so ironically well timed and so relevant to the “rhetoric” lie, but it is.

    That’s what this is really about: silencing. No one starts an entire site like the “elevatorgate” blog in the hopes of having a debate. No one comes up with a nickname using a word like cunt because he wants to resolve differences. No one tells a woman she would be lucky to get raped because he wants to offer solid evidence to contradict her point that misogyny is just as bad amongst skeptics and atheists as it is elsewhere.

    Skepchick – Mom, Don’t Read This

    Does anyone think PZ is going to acquire a dedicated wave of stalkers because he just posted about atheism having a sexism problem?

    Tone trolling? Faugh. Pharyngula commentors are puppies and kittens compared to the following Rebecca Watson now endures.

  244. Gnumann says

    I also think you should use a different term, but I suspect the likelyhood of that happening is somewhere between zero and none.

    The term didn’t originate here (AFIAK). And I suspect it partly originated through self-styling. I agree with you that it’s not ideal as it can lead to some misunderstanding, but it’s very well established.

  245. andrewv69 says

    +771 @julian says:

    If you’re interested in talking to an MRA, there’s one by the name of Tom Martin annoying the hell out of everyone at Butterflies and Wheels.

    OK thanks.

    I have to caution you though, that a lot of people right here consider me a MRA. Just so you know.

  246. Anri says

    That’s a great goal (though you haven’t demonstrated anything whatsoever). How are you going to accomplish it if people won’t listen to you? I don’t mean MRAs. I mean the average man or woman you encounter every day who is unaware of these issues. How will you go about getting them to listen?

    Calling an asshole an asshole alerts the nearby non-assholes that assholery is not well tolerated.
    It also alerts the nearby non-assholes that calling an asshole an asshole is well-tolerated.

    In many arguments, you’re not trying to convince the person you’re arguing with, you’re trying to convince the onlookers. If you call your opponent an asshole when they’re being an asshole, and spell out for the onlookers just why your opponent’s being an asshole, they will be much less likely to be swayed by your opponenet’s position.

    This can also work in reverse – if you call someone an asshole, and they are able to demonstrate why they’re not being one, you might just have to adjust your thinking. Making an error, copping to it, and understanding it not only makes you a better person, it can impress those around you.

    When a lot of people are calling you an asshole, it’s either because all of those people are wrong about you in the same way, or because they’re smart and you really are being an asshole. Sometimes, even assholes realize this.

  247. opposablethumbs, que le pouce enragé mette les pouces says

    Pharyngula has a particular audience. The majority agree with what PZ says and his style. That won’t always fly out in non-Internet public.

    It’s funny, then, to complain about the style here. Because, you know, we’re talking here right now – in this forum, not in “non-Internet public”.

    Pure coincidence, of course, but I remember one of the goddists saying something very similar yesterday – that we wouldn’t use such naughty language at a job interview, or something like that, if we wanted to be respected. And oddly enough, none of us were at a job interview right that second – we were commenting on Pharyngula.

    Do people imagine that everyone has only one style of utterance, and that they use the same style in every forum, all the time? Do they think that if you make a face and the wind changes it will stick like that too?

  248. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Michael Hawking, your concern is noted. Now fuck off, you MRA asshole. Or was that rhetoric too uncouth for you? Should I have said “fornicate yourself, you sexist rectum” instead?

  249. says

    @785,

    Yes, ignorant. And you aren’t staying on topic, so you’re creating a red herring. To say that rhetoric will not work is a stupid statement. You’re all still using it, even if it is not of the effective variety.

    I say this strategy is superior on the fact that people don’t open up to insults.

    Take the recent thread PZ posted titled “Haters gotta hate”. Reading over the Watson link, yes, those people are awful. She has done nothing to deserve that treatment. No one has. She and everyone else is right to point out that what is being said is all bad – and it isn’t bad because people’s tones are harsh. It’s bad because it’s sexist. I do not think my tactic would be effective in the least against those people. But those are the ones I think anyone wants to use time on to make aware.

    @786,

    When you talk about people who have “unwittingly” been sexist or whathaveyou, you get at my point. It will not serve to treat these people like shit. Take a student in one of my past courses. It was a modern history course and we were addressing women’s issues. He spoke up and said how surprised he was to hear about the plights of women in our reading, and how “they used to be discriminated against”. I immediately looked around the small room at every woman there because I knew there was going to be a reaction. First, the female professor said it’s still happening. Then a female student spoke to that fact. But at no point did they call the male student (who must have been only about 20) sexist or a woman-hater or any other insult. He would have shut off, probably just inputting unneeded tension to the room.

    Now take someone who says “make me a sandwich” to a woman as a joke. That’s a different story. Let’s not say he’s a proponent of rape-culture because, well, that’s just bad hyperbole, but he should be chastised and brought down a peg; the approach to this guy should be pretty different than the approach to the kid in my class.

    @788,

    I’m finding it utterly ridiculous that anyone can possibly think that I’m advocating using less harsh rhetoric towards the people about whom Watson recently wrote. As I said above, calling those people out with all the slurs and insults in the world will probably be the better tactic there. And do you know why? Because rhetoric needs to match goals. Since it would be dumb to merely have the goal of making those people aware, making them feel like assholes is likely the way to go.

    @791,

    In many arguments, you’re not trying to convince the person you’re arguing with, you’re trying to convince the onlookers. If you call your opponent an asshole when they’re being an asshole, and spell out for the onlookers just why your opponent’s being an asshole, they will be much less likely to be swayed by your opponenet’s position.

    That works because your rhetoric matches your goals. You have the goal of making someone look like an asshole, so treating him as such is the way to go about it. That is effective. But I’m not talking about how we should go about addressing the assholes. It seems as though not a single person has understood this. Look, the people PZ references above – the small minority of obtuse men and women – are not the ones with which we want to avoid insults. Yes, I fully agree: Make them look like the assholes they are. The people calling Watson gendered slurs should not be engaged with a bit of kindness. Not a single person here disagrees with me on this.

    @793,

    I’m not complaining about his style. I’m advocating for effective communication. Do you want to help women? Then don’t paint everyone who dissents on a given topic as a misogynistic asshole who wants to rape, rape, rape. Do you not want to help women? Then stay the course.

    ~~~

    This stuff isn’t that hard. Do you want ignorant men to listen to you? Do you want to raise awareness? Go ahead, attack and insult the sort of people who make entire blogs devoted to attacking Watson. Hold them up as examples of real assholes. That’s a good thing. But don’t do that to the people who hear about something like Egate and say, “I don’t see the problem. What is it?” or to the people who take a libertarian or utilitarian or Kantian point of view and see things differently. You may not like any of those philosophies, but none of them are premised in woman hating. That means it is entirely possible to persuade people holding those views. You just won’t do it if you start out by calling people assholes for not immediately sharing your perspective.

    But again, this has zero to do with tone. Tone trolling is when someone says to be respectful because respect is a good thing, or when someone rails against a harsh tone for the reason that a harsh tone is mean. That is not my point here. The only thing that matters – especially for a philosophy of consequence like feminism – is whether what is being said is effective or not.

    I’m interested though, who here is willing to advocate that PZ change his test from asking his students to name a female scientist to instead calling his students woman hating assholes if they can’t name someone besides Curie?

  250. The Lone Coyote says

    I’ve been reading but not commenting, since every point has been made better than I possibly could, but I had to pop in to say,

    You’re a real shitheel, Michael Hawkins. You smugly act like you’re doing this small golf range a huge favor by taking a break from telling your friends how shitty they are to come and use their facility for basically free. You even admit that they’re a struggling small business, and you admit that it’s not like you couldn’t afford to, you just didn’t like their tone.

    We don’t like YOUR tone. Eat shit.

  251. says

    If people want to address the issue with the business, go comment on my blog, not here. (I won’t link spam, but there are links above to a secondary blog I do not particularly use. The article also appears on my regular blog, For the Sake of Science, under the title “It seemed to innocent”.)

  252. The Lone Coyote says

    I don’t have anything really more to say about the incident, Michael Hawkins. It just reflects on the worthlessness of your tone trolling here is all.

    After all, you basically used your issue with their tone as a thin pretext for screwing them over…. notice a similarity here?

  253. says

    Tone trolling is criticizing tone based on the idea that a harsh/mean tone is in and of itself bad. I have never once said that. A harsh tone is called for quite often. That just isn’t the case if the goal – the very goal PZ stated – is to open people up in order to make them aware.

    Turning people off to expelling their ignorance about their biases only serves to hurt women. Stop it.

  254. The Lone Coyote says

    Because if we fail to coddle the viewpoints we fight directly against, just as that little golf range failed to coddle your little bumbum and give you a few free shots (it’s not like a small struggling business like, needs the money or anything), they might not like it?

    Because, you know, when struggling against the oppressive, priviledged, overpowered douchecakes of the world, we must ensure they’re not made uncomfortable.

    You’re still failing to see the irony here. You used your issues with the little golf range’s tone as a pretext and excuse for screwing them over (by not paying for the use of their property.) Just like the MRAs and tone trolls that always pop up in these discussions use their issues with our rude tone as an excuse and/or pretext to continue screwing women over.

    Lookit that, you went and made me ruin the joke by overexplaining it. I hope you’re happy, Michael Hawkins.

  255. says

    I’ve made myself abundantly clear. If the goal is to disparage people, then a harsh tone is fine. If the goal is to open people up, a harsh tone will fail. This is advocating for effective rhetoric, rhetoric which will help women.

    At this point anyone who says this is tone trolling – that is, the criticism of harsh tones in and of themselves – is lying. I am not doing that, nor have I ever. If you think a harsh tone matches a goal, then use it. But if the goal is to open people up and you think a harsh tone will do that, you’re wrong. And by persisting in such obvious wrongness, people are not being made aware – and that hurts women.

  256. amphiox says

    If the goal is to open people up, a harsh tone will fail.

    Depends on who your intended target is – the recipient of your tone, or a third party observing the conversation.

  257. Just_A_Lurker says

    If the goal is to open people up, a harsh tone will fail. This is advocating for effective rhetoric, rhetoric which will help women.

    This is not always true. How hard is that for you to understand? This has helped women. Have you not read all the fucking comments? There are plenty of other place that use the tactic you describe, and theres places like this which choses a different route. They both have their area and their uses. Fuck are you dense or what?

  258. chigau () says

    and another thing
    Michael Hawkins

    But if the goal is to open people up and you think a harsh tone will do that, you’re wrong.

    If by “people” you mean pinch-faced, tight-orificed, pearl-clutching swooners, well, we’ve already given up on them.
    If by “people” you mean the other 99% of the population, then there is still hope.

  259. Hurin, Nattering Nabob of Negativism says

    Yes, ignorant. And you aren’t staying on topic, so you’re creating a red herring. To say that rhetoric will not work is a stupid statement. You’re all still using it, even if it is not of the effective variety.

    I say this strategy is superior on the fact that people don’t open up to insults.

    Yes, Micheal please explain to all of us benighted pharyngulites what effective rhetoric is. You and your superior mansplaining abilities will surely reach us eventually. Hey – you ever wonder why none of the people on this blog are giving you the time of day… Oh forget about it, I’m sure that its totally irrelevant to the issue.

    Take the recent thread PZ posted titled “Haters gotta hate”. Reading over the Watson link, yes, those people are awful. She has done nothing to deserve that treatment. No one has. She and everyone else is right to point out that what is being said is all bad – and it isn’t bad because people’s tones are harsh. It’s bad because it’s sexist. I do not think my tactic would be effective in the least against those people. But those are the ones I think anyone wants to use time on to make aware

    I think it is very difficult to reach someone who lacks the facilities to breath through their nose, and/or sustain an internal monologue. I don’t think anyone here would tell you that the anti-Watson cultists are the “target demographic”. I do think that smacking those assholes down and illustrating their deficiencies can make for entertaining and sometimes informative reading though. Moreover, fence sitters can read the firestorm, locate thoughts that they themselves have considered, and read the response, all without being confronted themselves. This sort of dynamic has been instrumental in facilitating my consideration of my own sexism, and bad behavior towards women.

    A second point is that this is a community of people who talk to each other and interlopers, not a movement. Part of the reason we post the way we do is that we relish the flavor of each others’ comments and enjoy contributing our own. If you think a particular poster or posters are not handling themselves well, you can provide your own counterpoint by acting differently. We all have our own styles, and what makes one poster react angrily might draw a more measured response from another poster. Obviously you can feel free to employ your own favorite rhetorical strategies if you actually care about an issue. Don’t think you can come in here and establish new standards of behavior, though. Its extremely presumptuous, and its not going to get you the response you want.

  260. The Lone Coyote says

    Moreover, fence sitters can read the firestorm, locate thoughts that they themselves have considered, and read the response, all without being confronted themselves. This sort of dynamic has been instrumental in facilitating my consideration of my own sexism, and bad behavior towards women.

    This was kinda like the pebble rolling down the hill that started the rockslide in my mind too. And much like a fallen mountainside can’t un-erode itself, I can never really view women the same way again.

  261. Hurin, Nattering Nabob of Negativism says

    At this point anyone who says this is tone trolling – that is, the criticism of harsh tones in and of themselves – is lying.

    Micheal, I feel that this rhetoric is too harsh. You are not going to reach anyone on this blog by calling them a liar. You need to ask yourself, do you want to disparage the pharyngulites, or do you want to help them. I am sincerely concerned for your efficacy here, and I hope that your future posts will be more satisfactory.

  262. ichthyic says

    Michael Hawkins

    …go comment on my blog, not here.

    Fine idea.
    You first.

    seconded.

    fuck off already, Hawkins, you’re boring.

  263. chigau () says

    Hurin
    @ 11
    Yes, I feel I must agree.
    .
    .
    .
    (my statement accompanied by snorting, giggling and ROTFLMAO)
    irony cannot be conveyed in text-only

  264. says

    @4,

    Absolutely. Someone raised that point and I agreed that if the idea is to hold up the sort of people who have been targeting Watson, then go for it. That will be effective. But if we’re talking about one on one conversations with the average person, then insults won’t open people up. That ultimately hurts women and I wish people would stop.

    @9,

    I do think that smacking those assholes down and illustrating their deficiencies can make for entertaining and sometimes informative reading though. Moreover, fence sitters can read the firestorm, locate thoughts that they themselves have considered, and read the response, all without being confronted themselves. This sort of dynamic has been instrumental in facilitating my consideration of my own sexism, and bad behavior towards women.

    Good. I have been agreeing this entire time that using harsh rhetoric to hold up people like that as examples is effective to third parties. You experience supports that. But don’t you agree that very few, if any, of those people that were held up are likely to change their minds?

  265. says

    I’m still waiting on something, though, from everyone who supports using harsh rhetoric towards people who they do not see as assholes: Do you think PZ should change his test question from asking students to name a female scientist to saying “If you can’t name a female scientist besides Marie Curie, go fuck yourself, you sexist piece of shit. -20 points.”

  266. John Morales says

    Michael Hawkins, you really are struggling to try for a point. :)

    Wrap your head around the bleeding obvious:
    *When PZ wears his Professorial hat, he’s standing on his at his lectern, teaching — he represents his institution.
    *When PZ wears his Blogger’s hat, he’s standing on his soap-box, opining, venting and teaching — he represents himself.

    (Your ostensible inability to distinguish between job and hobby could be due to deliberate obtuseness, I grant; I do find that unlikely, though)

  267. John Morales says

    BTW, Michael, do you remember writing this?

    I’m going to go with the Cicero on this one and say it is more effective to speak in a way which gives one an audience than to speak one’s mind to an empty theater.

    (No wonder you churn out comments on PZ’s blog, rather than your own blog!)

  268. The Lone Coyote says

    Fuck you, Michael. You’ve already proven yourself to be an asshole with the golf range incident, and if I want to hear from an asshole, all I have to do is fart.

    Why would we support using harsh rhetoric against people we don’t consider assholes? How is that internally consistent with anything we’ve said? I’ve literally read your post ten times now trying to figure out what you’re driving at.

  269. Bernard Bumner says

    That ultimately hurts women and I wish people would stop.

    You keep on saying this, and I keep waiting for any evidence that it is true.

    But don’t you agree that very few, if any, of those people that were held up are likely to change their minds?

    a) Who cares? If was can simply marginalise those people out of existence, then good.

    b) What is the effective alternative? Show evidence that active misogynists and women oppressors are swayed by any tone of argument or debate.

    I’m still waiting on something, though, from everyone who supports using harsh rhetoric towards people who they do not see as assholes…

    Is that meant to resemble an intelligent request?

    Do you think PZ should change his test question from asking students to name a female scientist to saying “If you can’t name a female scientist besides Marie Curie, go fuck yourself, you sexist piece of shit. -20 points.”

    Do you think that people who say fuck in response to idiotic commenters on Pharyngula always say fuck and treat everyone like the idiotic commenters on Pharyngula?

    Presumably, as an intelligent professional communicator, PZ understands context and is able to select the correct tool for the job.

    You are the only person arguing for a one-size-fits-all approach.

  270. says

    @16 Morales,

    I’m glad you used a smiley face. I do that when I wish to communicate poorly, too.

    Okay, let’s throw in another stipulation. PZ has been promised he won’t get in any trouble whatsoever. In fact, let’s say UMM condones absolutely anything he puts on a test. So he has free range. Should he be more harsh? Will that raise awareness and open the minds of his students?

    And even if I take out that stipulation, think about it. Why do you think his university would not allow him to speak/write to students like that? He would undermine his ability to teach effectively – especially on raising awareness of female scientists.

    @19 Bernard,

    a) Who cares? If was can simply marginalise those people out of existence, then good.

    You missed my point. What I’m saying is that when those people are held up as examples, being presented to third parties, the goal is to change the mind of the third parties. Good, that can be effective. But we know the people being held up as examples are not going to change their minds based upon what has been said. Even if there was a chance they would – and, in most people, of course there is – they aren’t going to do it because someone called them assholes. So why does anyone think calling others assholes will be effective. If someone says, “What’s the problem with Egate?”, saying “Go fuck yourself with [enter poorly constructed animal meme]” is not going to tell that person anything.

    But I’ve agreed about 8 times now that the horde is effective when it comes to third parties. I never said otherwise, though I could have been more clear. What I’m talking about are the interactions we all have with more reasonable people and/or people who haven’t really thought about these issues much.

  271. says

    Submitted early. @19 Bernard again,

    Presumably, as an intelligent professional communicator, PZ understands context and is able to select the correct tool for the job.

    You are the only person arguing for a one-size-fits-all approach.

    Have you even read the thread? I have said that harsh tones work when they match the goal. I have said they can work with third parties. I have also said that with one-on-one interactions with the average person, being an asshole is ineffective. People will shut down. That is not a single approach whatsoever. It’s a strawman you’re either creating or parroting.

    It’s amazing. Virtually every single objection to what I’m saying has actually had zero to do with what I’ve actually said. And when I parse things out and reiterate points I’ve made again and again, there is really broad agreement. Yes, let’s use a multitude of approaches. Yes, let’s absolutely pay attention to context. Because as I’ve been saying over and over, rhetoric must match goals.

  272. trianglethief says

    But if we’re talking about one on one conversations with the average person, then insults won’t open people up. That ultimately hurts women and I wish people would stop.”

    One on one conversations with ‘the average person’ (GAAAHH) aren’t the point. As has been said approximately six zillion times (I am sorry, I am not a mathematician) by about ninety-three different people who by now must all have some serious bruising to the frontal bone, the harsh tones here are a feature of the damned blog.

    I also strongly suspect, based on the assumed fact that you don’t consider yourself an asshole that ‘the average person’ may or may not be an asshole in the eyes of different people, at different times. In this context that subjectivity is probably strongly influenced by how much fucking ennui has been accumulated in a person’s soul over the course of reading nine hundred thousand gajillion comments from the Michael Hawkinses of the world.

    To use one of your own examples – if clueless 20-year-old student dude is the first student in the class to express amazement over what appears obvious to a good chunk of the rest of the group then I would be far more accomodating than if he was the sixth clueless student dude to ask the same question, apparently having been checking his googlemail or napping during previous classes. At that point I might attempt to restate the point in.. firmer language, or I might simply start screaming, burst into flames and rip his head from his shoulders in a gloriously graphic display of what might hapen when you walk up to a group of overburdened and cantankerous camels and try to add just one more stick.

  273. John Morales says

    Michael Hawkins:

    I’m glad you used a smiley face. I do that when I wish to communicate poorly, too.

    Funny, I do it when I want to indicate my facial expression as I write.

    (But it’s duly noted you at times self-admittedly wish to communicate poorly)

    Okay, let’s throw in another stipulation.
    [ad hoc hypothetical here]

    Why? You proposed a specific course of action; why would not the consideration be to specify the goal, and then to specify (and justify) some metric from which to evaluate said course of action ceteris paribus, rather than assuming a whole bunch of changes from the status quo?

    I have also said that with one-on-one interactions with the average person, being an asshole is ineffective. People will shut down.

    Yeah, but that’s but another of your universally-quantified generalisations ad culo (aka ‘naked assertions’).

    (You haven’t shut down, have ya? ;) )

    That is not a single approach whatsoever.

    Duh.

    It’s your straw-dummy, and a pretty piss-poor one, at that.

    It’s a strawman you’re either creating or parroting.

    Heh.

    (Your naked assertion paraphilic fetish is showing)

  274. says

    MH:

    That ultimately hurts women and I wish people would stop.

    Your ceaseless blathering makes my head hurt. I wish you’d stop. You know who tends to be really good at knowing what ultimately hurts women, Michael? Women. A whole lot of them have been telling you that you’re wrong and you happen to be incredibly self-absorbed and ignorant. I’m one of them. You act as though there are no women on Pharyngula and of course, no woman would say you’re a narcissistic fuckwit! :eyeroll:

    trianglethief, that was a fabulous post. Post more, please.

  275. says

    @22 triangle,

    One on one conversations with ‘the average person’ (GAAAHH) aren’t the point. As has been said approximately six zillion times (I am sorry, I am not a mathematician) by about ninety-three different people who by now must all have some serious bruising to the frontal bone, the harsh tones here are a feature of the damned blog.

    At what point do you think I’ve been talking about how people should speak about this issue here? I haven’t said to stop chiding people in these threads. No one comes here for a productive education anyway. I’m talking about actual interactions – the sort where 90% of the people here wouldn’t dare speak how they write here.

    @Morales

    (But it’s duly noted you at times self-admittedly wish to communicate poorly)

    See? You can use rhetorical tools effectively. Intentionally interpreting my words in a way they were not intended is a classic tactic.

    Why?

    Stop dancing. Would it be effective for PZ to tell his students to go fuck themselves because they can’t name any female scientists? Would it be more effective than his current course of action? In fact, don’t answer. You damn well know the answer is “no”. You just don’t want to admit it.

    Yeah, but that’s but another of your universally-quantified generalisations ad culo (aka ‘naked assertions’).

    No, it isn’t. This is based upon what thousands of years of study of rhetoric has determined to be effective. Go read a book about it before you respond again.

  276. Annie says

    For what it’s worth, Michael, I get your point. I don’t know that it’s that hard to understand. What I see you saying is that it’s all in the delivery. I get much farther and usually get my way depending on how I present my thoughts or requests to someone. That’s all I think you’re saying but everyone forgive me since I skimmed a bit. I don’t see it having anything to do with the blog comments or whatnot specifically so I’m not sure why people are getting up in arms. Or this might just be the irony of your point.

    I’m not here for a fight; I’m just commenting that I get his point and I’m not quite sure why people are getting so angry. This became nothing about the subject (again, irony?) and all about what Michael pointed out and what, as I see it at least, is a valid point. If someone called me an asshole or any number of names (and I have been called that plenty on conservative blogs), that’s where my listening would end and that doesn’t seem very effective. That’s not to say people can’t do or say what they’d like; I just see his suggested method as being a bit more likely to engage in dialog rather than shut everything down at square one.

    :shrug:

  277. Rey Fox says

    Oh for the love of FUCK. Fine, Michael, I won’t call my poor ol’ grannie an asshole if she says something sexist. Are you happy now?

  278. says

    Thank you, Annie.

    On that note, I’m going to stop reading and responding here. (That’s fair notice – anyone can feel free to get the last word, but if the point is to tell me something, it will be a waste of time since I will not come back to this space.)

  279. Hurin, Nattering Nabob of Negativism says

    Michael

    Good. I have been agreeing this entire time that using harsh rhetoric to hold up people like that as examples is effective to third parties. You experience supports that. But don’t you agree that very few, if any, of those people that were held up are likely to change their minds?

    No, and there are multiple reasons why this is stupid. For one thing, people who post on this site often want the approval of other people who post at this site. I’ve actually seen people change directions and acknowledge wrongheadedness after being confronted about something. I’ve even been confronted before and decided that I was being stupid. Harshness in confrontation can convey a level of urgency, or indicate a level of offense that isn’t as accessible to an even tone. When someone goes out of their way to blast you, it can give you pause if you actually respect them or want civil discourse with them.

    Some people come to this site with no intention of mutual respect, and I don’t have any reason to consider whether I can change those minds. I don’t have any reason to think that the minds of people who already hate us (or just want to preach, play stupid games, etc.) are going to be accessible to me. In this case your point is completely moot.

    Going back to the initial case, if the people on this site think someone is worth trying to reach, they often don’t immediately escalate to really harsh rhetoric. That often comes when they don’t seem to be engaging or listening to other posters. Its disingenuous to carry on this discussion as though everyone who inadvertently offends is going to be mercilessly shouted down.

    The further you carry this, the more I think you are arguing with a straw man.

    It’s amazing. Virtually every single objection to what I’m saying has actually had zero to do with what I’ve actually said. And when I parse things out and reiterate points I’ve made again and again, there is really broad agreement. Yes, let’s use a multitude of approaches. Yes, let’s absolutely pay attention to context. Because as I’ve been saying over and over, rhetoric must match goals.

    Its not amazing. Its a straightforward consequence of the fact that you started off with generic tone trolling, and have gradually morphed your position over the course of like 9000 words so that it seems to agree with a lot of the criticisms you have gotten. At this point your position is so bloated and tortuous that no one can keep track of it. And if it was something other than our fucking tone that we were having a 300 comment post war about someone might give enough of a shit to try.

    If everything you have to say is something obvious like “lets use a multitude of approaches” than just do us all a favor and shut up. If you still have some kind of point maybe you can restate it.

  280. Matt Penfold says

    Annie,

    So we should not get angry with lying dishonest misogynists like Hawkins ?

    Well all I can say is fuck your sense of values. If you do not get angry at such people you are part of the problem.

  281. Gnumann says

    On that note, I’m going to stop reading and responding here. (That’s fair notice – anyone can feel free to get the last word, but if the point is to tell me something, it will be a waste of time since I will not come back to this space.)

    If I knew that you were going away as soon as you got support from one person, I would have paid lip service to your “ideas” long ago.

    Just remember that the “sticking to it” is the most important part of any flounce. (Why I still hope that they’ll manage that one, I don’t know. Just hopelessly optimistic I guess)

  282. Matt Penfold says

    If I knew that you were going away as soon as you got support from one person, I would have paid lip service to your “ideas” long ago.

    It is just a pity that the one person who seems to agree with Hawkins also seems to be minus everything picnic wise.

  283. trianglethief says

    You know who tends to be really good at knowing what ultimately hurts women, Michael? Women.

    Well, this is the problem with treating women as pieces of meat an abstract intellectual exercise in conversational techniques instead of individual people, innit? Some people have held more honest and productive discussions with my tits, frankly.

    Also, thanks! :D

    —–

    Okay, Michael. So tell me — at what point are you going to grasp the reality that everyone here fully understands what you’re saying and thinks that the point you are making is useless to the point of absurdity?

    To recap: You came in here to tell everyone that PZ’s approach in a blog post on his blog that is going to be read by people who read his blog ON HIS BLOG (EMPHASIS) would not, and should not, be the same as his approach to the same issue in — let us cast about and choose a scenario entirely at random here — a classroom context. Lo and behold, in THE VERY SAME POST he actually mentions a way in which he opens the discussion with his students! Namely, a quick and dirty thought experiment in the form of a challenge to name some female scientists. You have, several times now, asked if he would word the question in a pre-emptively confrontational manner. The answer is not just ‘no, he wouldn’t’ it is ‘no, he didn’t, no one would, and why, by all that is unholy and pestilent, would you imagine they might?’

    Notice also that a number of people have said here in comments that they had a hard time thinking of many female scientists. And yet, while you have busily swaggered in to school all us mere mortal plebs on complicated subjects like ‘context’ and ‘rhetoric’, and tailoring our approach to fit the audience, none of those people have been told to go fuck themselves. It’s almost as if you are very, very stupid.

  284. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I see MH still hasn’t presenteed one iota of evidnece that his inane idea works. Just his inane opinion that it does. Which is why the tone troll is getting nowhere. His opinion is worthless. He isn’t the authority.

    Yes Annie is likely a sockpuppet.

  285. Gnumann says

    Oh, and he’s flounced. Why am I late to all the parties >:(

    If you want to stick a tenner in the “he’ll be back”-side of the flounce-pool – I’ll give you odds of say….

    1:1

    (I may be optimistic, but my mama didn’t raise no fool)

  286. firefoxx says

    PZ, would you have given the extra credit if I’d written my own name? (And pretending I was in your class.) I hope so! : D Big dreams, big dreams!

    (I mean, it’s been a few years now, so I actually am beyond a doubt a scientist, but I would have loved to write this during my undergrad!)

  287. Pteryxx says

    I’m not here for a fight; I’m just commenting that I get his point and I’m not quite sure why people are getting so angry.

    And that, unfortunately, shows the success of MH’s gaslighting technique. After all this time spent subtly shifting his assertions and redefining what he actually said or didn’t say, he’s managed to slip back behind the shield of respectability. Why should any of us be angry with him, after all? It’s not like he’s been condescending and arrogant for the last three days straight while declaring himself victor in his own blog posts. That while blaming PZ, other bloggers, and us commentors for causing the shitstorm and hurting women with our outspokenness. And make no mistake, there’s a reason why victims of oppression get pressured to be polite and calm and well-behaved… to demonstrate by conforming that they’re not a threat.

    Heck, I’m seriously considering adding more swearing to my language just in solidarity. Here at least, people are still human regardless of the language they choose; and that’s a point worth defending.

  288. Hurin, Nattering Nabob of Negativism says

    Chigau

    re Annie
    I vote for sockpuppet.
    There’s something about the timing.

    Yeah, the style of that prose is suspiciously familiar as well.

    And then there is the fact that I’ve never seen Annie before and the best reason she can find for de-lurking is to agree 100% with Michael the asshole.

    Bah. I guess if she starts posting more regularly to whore his blog out and admonish us for our poor treatment of him, then we will know what’s up.

  289. Rey Fox says

    On that note, I’m going to stop reading and responding here.

    I wish I could believe that.

    And make no mistake, there’s a reason why victims of oppression get pressured to be polite and calm and well-behaved

    Exactly. It’s no surprise that oppressors always want docility from their victims.

    Have any of the tone-trolls ever heard the expression: “Well-behaved women seldom make history”?

  290. chigau () says

    Pteryxx

    Heck, I’m seriously considering adding more swearing to my language just in solidarity.

    It is Blasphemy Day ;)

  291. trianglethief says

    myeck waters: Oh, don’t knock it – the driving range is where he does some of his best thinking. (ps. DRIVING RANGE AHAHAHAHAHA)

    Gnumann: I will put in a tenner and also pledge to bring nibbles to the next round.

  292. The Lone Coyote says

    (That’s fair notice – anyone can feel free to get the last word, but if the point is to tell me something, it will be a waste of time since I will not come back to this space.)

    Fuck you michael, you’ll be back.

    After all this time spent subtly shifting his assertions and redefining what he actually said or didn’t say, he’s managed to slip back behind the shield of respectability.

    Not for me he hasn’t, Pteryxx. This is the guy who ripped off a small struggling business, and decided he didn’t like their tone when they took exception to his douchebaggery. And now he’s lecturing us on OUR tone?

    Isn’t it telling that it’s always absolute shitheads like Michael who tell people like us to ‘watch our tone’?

    I have more respect for the dump I took this morning.

  293. abb3w says

    @717, Michael Hawkins:

    The rhetoric used around here will turn people off to the message.

    Potentially including some of those who at the outset were largely in agreement. Of course, this leaves open the question of how the impact of that fractional turn-off will compare to the impact of encouraging more women to more readily and openly challenge sexism when they perceive it.

  294. says

    I’m jumping in after having read the first 800 comments, so if somebody else has already brought this up I apologise for chopping your liver, but regarding just one of Michael Hawkins’ preposterosities:

    The ideas about rhetoric I am expressing pre-date me by a few thousand years. I’m going to go with the Cicero on this one and say it is more effective to speak in a way which gives one an audience than to speak one’s mind to an empty theater.

    Using this quote as if Cicero thus obviously advocated politely rational rhetoric is so hilariously ignorant about how Cicero actually used rhetoric in practice to garner an audience and persuade them to his will! Nobody who was actually familiar with Cicero’s most famous successes as an orator could possibly imagine that he was recommending civil argumentation.

    The trial which first brought Cicero fame in 70BCE succeeded because of his monumentally thorough character assassination of the defendant. History’s acceptance that Gaius Verres was an unscrupulously vile and brutally corrupt scoundrel rests almost entirely on Cicero’s rhetoric in this case. His second most famous court oration, defending Milo against a charge of murder (52BCE), is stuffed with invective against the victim which paints Clodius as so malevolently villainous a political enemy that Milo was justified in having him killed in self-defence (Milo was convicted in the end, but Clodius’ reputation was forever blackened).

    The political orations of Cicero’s which were the most famous and popular with the Roman public during his own lifeime were his denunciation of the conspiracy of Catiline (63BCE) and his Philippics, a series of 14 separate vituperations against the grandiose ambitions of Mark Antony (44BCE). Cicero was the polar opposite of polite or moderate in his insults against either man during these orations, but again because both Catiline and Antony ended up engaging in civil war against the Roman Senate (and both lost), history has largely accepted Cicero’s judgement of both men.

    Are you seeing a pattern yet? In the cases where Cicero won the most public recognition for the power of his oratory, he persuaded even the historians over the centuries by the energy with which he brutally denounced the opposition’s character and arguments. In all four cases, too, he was not trying to make the supporters of the subjects of those speeches (Verres, Clodius, Catiline, Antony) agree with him – he was working to persuade the larger audience that those people needed to be stopped, and at that he thoroughly succeeded.

  295. Ing says

    I’ve made myself abundantly clear. If the goal is to disparage people, then a harsh tone is fine. If the goal is to open people up, a harsh tone will fail. This is advocating for effective rhetoric, rhetoric which will help women.

    The way I see it there are four categories of errors (Type A, Type B, Data based and Metholodogy based)

    Type A, B are well known and over lap on a 4 pt axis with the others

    Data based is an error due to having incorrect information.

    Methodology based is an error due to having an inconsistent or erroneous process for arriving at opinions/evidence etc.

    Data based errors are easy to correct. When there is someone who I believe is making a data based error I can politely correct them and engage in a dialogue.

    Methodology based errors are difficult to correct. At this point the only thing I see I can do is to point out the errors and mock them for the benefit of others who may take the conclusions they go to from methodology errors and thus form data errors.

    I don’t think I can convince you to not be an asshole, I just think it’s useful to other people to point out that you’re an asshole and illustrate the reasons for others who may better learn.

  296. Allie says

    @ 47 Tigtog,

    THANK YOU for pointing out how ignorant Michael is of the history of rhetoric, especially in trying to use Cicero as an example of conciliatory rhetoric (I literally snorted water up my nose at that). At the least, Cicero’s actual practice of rhetoric did not begin nor end with ‘De Oratore’ and Michael is vastly mistaken if he thinks Cicero practiced what he preached to students. Further, Michael’s misunderstanding, perhaps deliberate, of how people construct ethos based on changing audiences makes his views on what constitutes “effective rhetoric” simplistic at best (my guess is he’s taken an intro course in ancient rhetoric and now thinks he knows everything he needs to know to lecture ppl endlessly on the internet). So Michael, if you are still reading (and let’s face it, flouncers LOOOOOOOOVE drama so you likely are)–read some Chaim Perelmen and some Kenneth Burke (you know, something about rhetorical theory from THIS CENTURY). Maybe come to the understanding, which most people here already have, that rhetoric is DISCURSIVE and SPECIFIC–audiences aren’t universal. PZ wisely changes his rhetoric based on the task and the audience. That’s exactly how effective rhetoric operates.

    ~Allie

  297. AMM says

    To get back to the original post:

    It’s interesting that when I think of famous atheists, I first think of Madalyn O’Hare, Annie Laurie Gaylor, and Dan Barker. (Actually, that’s partly cheating — the only reason I know about the last two is that I’m personally acquainted with them, and not through their atheism.)

    I’ll admit I’ve heard of Richard Dawkins, but mostly from people who are complaining that he’s an arrogant jerk, and who may or may not also mention that he’s an atheist. I have no idea what he believes or does, besides (apparently) piss people off.

  298. says

    AMM:

    I have no idea what he believes or does

    There’s this thing which could help you, it’s called a search engine. Ya know, something like google. Taking the enormous trouble to type Richard Dawkins in a search engine would yield many a link, with the first one most likely being RDnet, Richard’s own site.

  299. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I have no idea what he believes or does, besides (apparently) piss people off.

    A link to Dawkins web site is under the atheist category on the right side near the top of all pages under PZ’s profile.

  300. Waffler, Dunwich MA says

    read some Chaim Perelmen and some Kenneth Burke (you know, something about rhetorical theory from THIS CENTURY)

    Note: you may want to buy a new calendar…

  301. AMM says

    Caine, Fleur du Mal says:
    3 October 2011 at 9:43 pm

    AMM:

    I have no idea what he believes or does

    There’s this thing which could help you, it’s called a search engine.

    I’m sure I could use it — if I actually wanted to know. (What I’ve heard so far has not convinced me that my life is so much poorer for not knowing.)

    My point (small as it was) was that even though I’ve never bothered to spend much time researching Teh Atheism, of the prominent atheists I’ve heard of, roughly half are women.

  302. says

    Using this quote as if Cicero thus obviously advocated politely rational rhetoric is so hilariously ignorant about how Cicero actually used rhetoric in practice to garner an audience and persuade them to his will! Nobody who was actually familiar with Cicero’s most famous successes as an orator could possibly imagine that he was recommending civil argumentation.

    It’s very funny. I was flipping Cicero at them in 2008. They’ll never learn.

  303. John Morales says

    [meta]

    AMM:

    I’m sure I could use it — if I actually wanted to know.

    Well you obviously wanted us to know you had no idea, and we’re very helpful, as you can see.

    But now you’ve clarified that you don’t care to know, which makes me wonder why you thought we needed to know about your lack of knowledge in the first instance.

    (I doubt anyone missed your major point, which though admittedly small, was actually relevant — thus, it was your other point that was addressed)

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