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May 21 2012

Women in Secularism conference: a summary, part 1

Daughter-spawn here. I recently got back from CFI’s Women in Secularism conference in Washington, D.C. I’m just going to do some brief summaries/impressions of the talks/panels for those who were not one of the lucky 200-some people in attendance.


The first talk was by Susan Jacoby (author of The Age of American Unreason and Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism), entitled “The Dearth of Women in the Secular Movement: Let’s Look in the Mirror”

I unfortunately missed the first half of Jacoby’s talk, but she seemed all over the place. Jumping from discussing the history of secularism and feminism to the difference between the atheism and skepticism movements (the skeptic movement tending to be more conservative and male-oriented) to the recent case of an Arizona Catholic high school softball team forfeiting because the other team had a girl on it. I was having a hard time finding a cohesive theme in her talk. Rocky start to the conference, IMO.


This was made up for by the next session, a panel moderated by Annie Laurie Gaylor, with Ophelia Benson, Sikivu Hutchinson, Jennifer McCreight, and Rebecca Watson: “The Intersection of Non-theism and Feminism”.

Hutchinson provided a welcome racial minority perspective here. She talked about how disproportionately affected by sexism minority women were and are; how historically black women’s reproduction was strictly controlled by slave owners, how black and Hispanic women are seen as “dangerous breeders” and the recent laws regarding “chemical endangerment” and such are targeting them. I don’t think she really established a link between what she was talking about and secularism, but it was interesting nonetheless.

Hutchinson also criticised the secular movement for promoting scientism, saying that scientism generally excludes racial minorities and women, even throwing out the accusation of white supremacy.

Watson and McCreight discussed their experiences with introducing feminism into atheism/skepticism, and the backlash that results. The complaint when they do so is basically “this is not science/atheism, so it doesn’t belong here”. McCreight made the case that the goals are similar. Religious belief is irrational and not fact-based, and so is sexist belief. If your goal is to promote rational thinking, feminism is an inevitable part of that. But unfortunately, the difference between the two is that giving up religion feels freeing, whereas giving up sexist beliefs often feels more restricting.

Benson talked about how at some point, some of the feminist movement stopped pushing for equality, and embraced a “Okay, we’re not equal, but we’re different in good ways” attitude, which created the common stereotypes of women being more caring, better at emotions, more family-oriented, and so on. This attitude, perpetuated by a lot of women’s studies academics, has been harmful to women in secularism since none of these supposedly “good” stereotypes are advantageous for secular activism, so women are passed over.


The next talk was by the new head of the Secular Coalition for America, Edwina Rogers: “Religiously Motivated Legislation Particularly Harms Women”. Turns out the title was misleading. This 15-minute talk served more as an advertisement for the SCA. Most of it was discussing plans to expand to more states, the staff structure of the organisation, affiliated organisations, and so on. Then she whizzed through lists of the issues that SCA is focused on lobbying about — contraceptive access, violence against women, pharmacist and employer exemptions, and so on. She had to be somewhere else, so she couldn’t do a longer talk, but I’m not convinced that was a bad thing.


Next up was Annie Laurie Gaylor, “The History of Women in Freethought”. Great talk. I had no idea the extent to which women had been involved in the past. It’s sad how many of these women have been forgotten, and it wasn’t due to lack of contribution.

She talked about how the women’s rights movement was founded by female freethinkers. Since the lack of legal rights and lower social standing that women had were of biblical origin, it was the women who left religion who were the first to speak up.

She gave brief bios of a large number of female freethinkers: Anne Hutchinson (the first female heretic in North America, excluding Native Americans), Mary Wollstonecraft (who wrote the first book talking about women’s rights), Frances Wright (“Turn your churches into halls of science, exchange your teachers of faith for expounders of nature”), Ernestine L. Rose (who had a large hand in the Married Women’s Property Act), Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage (who founded the first feminist organisation to advocate separation of church and state).

Josephine K. Henry, Clara Colby, Lillie Devereux Blake, Mathilde Amneke, Ella Elvira Gibson, Helen H. Gardener, Harriet Marineau, Lydia Maria Child, Margaret Fuller, George Eliot (Marian Evans), Ouida (Marie Louise de la Ramée), Sharlot Hall, Elmina D. Slenker, Zona Gale, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Lucy N. Coleman, Etta Semple, Susan H. Wixon, Marilla M. Ricker, Annie Besant, Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner, Voltairine de Cleyre, Emma Goldman, Lucy Parsons, Margret Sanger, Marian Noel Sherman, Dora Russell, Meridel le Sueur, Queen Silver, Margaret Knight, Butterfly McQueen, Vashti Cromwell McCollum, Ruth Hurmence Green, Catherine Fahringer, Barbara Smoker, Meg Bowman, Barbara G. Walker, Madalyn O’Hair, Kay Nolte Smith, Anne Nicol Gaylor, Sherry Matulis, Sonia Johnson, Barbara Ehrenreich, Katha Pollitt, Taslima Nasrin, Alice Walker, Ursula K. LeGuin, Wendy Kaminer, Ann Dryuan, Natalie Angier, Sara Paretsky, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Robin Morgan, Julia Sweeney, Jamila Bey, Susan Jacoby, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Sikivu Hutchinson, Jessica Ahlquist.

So much for the “there haven’t been very many female atheist activists” excuse for not being able to name five. For more on the subject, Gaylor has a book called Women Without Superstition.


So I’ll conclude part 1 here, and have part 2 up shortly, but there was something else I wanted to talk about. During the previously mentioned panel, Jen mentioned getting emails from women warning her about which male speakers at secular conferences that women should avoid. And from my talking with other people at the conference, it sounds like there are quite a few stories of well-known speakers being misogynistic or sleazy.

That’s a problem. It’s a problem that anyone is behaving that way, and it’s a problem that they’re not being called out on it. Several times the importance of calling people out on their actions was discussed at this conference, but this just isn’t being done.

If the issue is that individuals who’ve had these experiences are worried about backlash, or career suicide, I’m sure we could work out a way of anonymously publishing at least some of this information. If the issue is a fear of hurting the secular movement at large, I just don’t think that’s something to be greatly concerned about. So a speaker is called out for his comments or actions — they have the option to admit wrong and apologise, or to defend themselves, or to deny it. But at least there will be some amount of accountability. It might deter future misconduct, and conference organisers and attendees can make an informed choice about who to invite or support. There’s no shortage of good speakers to replace them.

Seriously, we need to do something about this.

191 comments

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  1. 1
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    Hi, Skatje, and thanks for the summary. Looks like it must have been a rich event! Just one minor correction, though: it’s Frances “Fanny” Wright (not Francis) who said “Turn your churches into halls of science, exchange your teachers of faith for expounders of nature”.

  2. 2
    gbjames

    Edwina Rogers had to be somewhere else? I’ll bet she did. This was the single most important face-to-face talk with her new constituency in her new career and she couldn’t find the time to hang around?

    Shall we start an office pool betting on how many weeks she stays on leading the SCA?

  3. 3
    cottonnero

    I’ve gotten that sense from Jacoby both times I’ve heard her speak. Her talks were… interesting, but not precisely on topic. Her recent book read that way too, a mishmash of insightful, well-sourced arguments alongside you-kids-get-off-my-lawn rhetoric.

  4. 4
    Alex

    During the previously mentioned panel, Jen mentioned getting emails from women warning her about which male speakers at secular conferences that women should avoid. And from my talking with other people at the conference, it sounds like there are quite a few stories of well-known speakers being misogynistic or sleazy.

    What the hell?!

    How to attack this problem without commiting either career suicide and/or risking libel charges or false allegations is beyond me. This is such a minefield, but such a pressing problem at the same time. Assuming of course that we still are in the gray area of “sleazy” behavior that is not yet sufficient for a sexual harassment suit, in which case there should be one.

  5. 5
    Thomas Lawson

    With all the women in my book (including JK Henry, Annie Besant, Marilla Ricker, and others), I terribly regret not being able to attend both WIS and Imagine No Religion 2. Thanks for the summary, Skatje.

  6. 6
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    I actually thought Rogers did a better job than I had expected, and no part of her presentation consisted of trying to blow smoke up anyone’s ass about how the Republican party is really pro choice and secular. I credit that performance to her handlers rather than her own talent, but she emphasized at length that SCA is purely an intergroup lobbying effort.

    Hutchinson’s point, I think, is that the religious rhetoric about fetal rights ends up having a severely disproportionate impact on women of color, and thus feminism, non-theism, and anti-racism all intersect in the need to resist fetal endangerment laws.

  7. 7
    Stephanie Zvan

    gbjames, to complete the picture, Rogers was at the convention the evening before. She was at the reception. She didn’t fly in, talk, then fly out.

    Also, Jen’s comment and the talk around it inspired this: http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/05/20/zero-intolerance/ It does have some ideas about how we can attack the problem.

  8. 8
    Ophelia Benson

    You’re right about needing to do something about the men-women-should-avoid problem. We keep talking about this – Stephanie Zvan has an excellent post on the subject today.

  9. 9
    Ophelia Benson

    Whoops! Stephanie got there just ahead of me. Yeah that post.

  10. 10
    Xanthë, Amy of my threads

    Great minds!

  11. 11
    Usernames are smart

    Skatje, thanks for the writeup!

    This is troubling:

    During the previously mentioned panel, Jen mentioned getting emails from women warning her about which male speakers at secular conferences that women should avoid. And from my talking with other people at the conference, it sounds like there are quite a few stories of well-known speakers being misogynistic or sleazy.

    If you have video/transcripts of said individuals, I’d like to see it, as I’m curious as to how they’re being sleazy.

    I’m sorry that folks are having to avoid certain panels because of idiots. I personally do not have a problem calling said idiots out in the middle of their talks (and have done so in the past). As a—unintentional—target of racism, I can empathize: I can pass for caucasian, but I am not. I’ve noticed that tongues loosen when the last “minority” leaves the room and the racists can come out to play.

    It boggles my mind that idiots “know better” than to be overtly racist, but don’t have a problem being overtly sexist.

    Nevertheless, I prefer standing up rather than avoiding—I got your back.

  12. 12
    Jadehawk

    “daughter-spawn” now applies to all female children of pharynguloids?

    shoulda trademarked it when I used it on Mattir’s daughter-spawn :-p

  13. 13
    rudi

    “Religious belief is irrational and not fact-based, and so is sexist belief”

    Merely ASSERTING that sexist belief is irrational (at least in the uncontestable way that religious belief is) does not make it so. There are any number of sexist beliefs that are rational – the belief that men are generally physically stronger than women, or that women are generally better drivers. These beliefs are sexist, but they are from the subset of sexist beliefs that happen to be based on reasonable evidence.

    The assertion that sexist belief “is irrational and not fact-based” is thus not only false, it is itself a dogma, and precisely the kind of thing that rationality exists to combat. Trying to shoehorn this dogma into the toolkit of rationalism is thus to be avoided at all costs. It is perfectly possible to highlight the clear societal benefits of gender equality, and point out how and where these aims align with the rationalist movement, without trying to erect (well-meaning but misguided) absolutist dogmas.

  14. 14
    heatherdalgleish

    Thanks for this, Skatje!

    One thing I would say, with regards to men (or anyone) being sleazy or offputting to women – I do think that sometimes men can completely inadvertently and unintentionally make women uncomfortable in their interactions with them – and also, the subjective reactions of women to these approaches varies from one woman to the next.

    Outside of the realm of stark and unambiguous harassment and abuse – and justified offence – there are a lot of grey areas, where the men involved may at least deserve some benefit of the doubt. I particularly suspect that sometimes a word in private with the person concerned (if possible) might be more productive than going straight to complaining about whatever incident(s) publicly.

    Speaking as a woman, and of non-sexual contexts – I can be oblivious, frank, brutally honest and tactless sometimes – and some people find me offensive (which I can live with). But one thing that really grates me is when people obviously take issue with me, and are harbouring that inside them – but I personally have literally no way of knowing what upset them so much, and whether I would want to address their specific offence or not, if I knew what it was. I would much rather be told personally, than be left wondering – or find myself being anonymously lampooned for some faux-pas I committed in someone else’s eyes.

    So while I agree that it’s an issue that needs to be addressed – I certainly don’t think it’s cut and dry, or that there’s one ‘right’ way to address it. And I daresay the polarisation that comes from the staunch feminists and men’s rights activists of various stripes doesn’t help any…

  15. 15
    Erp

    I’m not sure I would call Anne Hutchinson a freethinker with its implication of at least deism (an independent thinker certainly). Annie Besant is also an odd choice given her later view.

  16. 16
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    Jadehawk – yeah, the DaughterSpawn thought that too, but she’s happy to share her label with Skatje.

  17. 17
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    [ot]
    I refer to me daughter as “The Queen of All Dragons”. Or she’ll eat me.
    [/ot]

  18. 18
    echidna

    Rogers was at the convention the evening before. She was at the reception. She didn’t fly in, talk, then fly out.

    Something doesn’t quite make sense here. Her talk was shortened because she needed to be somewhere else, but she still spent a decent amount of time at the conference. So why wasn’t her talk moved forward, so that she would have had the time?

  19. 19
    Xanthë, Amy of my threads

    Usernames are stupid, get ye to Stephanie Zvan’s thread which might explain this a bit more for you.

    Rudi, that’s a Not All Men Sexist Beliefs Are Like That! derail. Nice of you to point it out, but irrelevant.

  20. 20
    Stephanie Zvan

    echidna, her talk wasn’t shortened because of that. There was a 15-minute slot carved out of a 30-minute break for her when her appointment was announced. She couldn’t stick around to talk to anyone outside her slot because she was due in New York.

  21. 21
    alexshuffell

    Hello Skatje (that’s a cool looking word). Where is your own blog?

    It embarrassing and horrifying that some men are sleazy and misogynistic. They should be called out on their poor behaviour personally. Sometimes men can be rude without realising it. I would certainly appreciate honestly being told off. Excuse my ignorance but I still don’t understand why some women separate themselves like this. I fail to see a difference. Women have a great voice I feel like they’re hiding themselves.

  22. 22
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Heather:

    And I daresay the polarisation that comes from the staunch feminists and men’s rights activists of various stripes doesn’t help any…

    Right, feminists are just as bad as MRAs.

    Also, really, I’m sick of hearing social awkwardness used as an excuse for piggish behavior. These guys by and large know exactly what they’re doing.

    Alex Shuffell:

    They should be called out on their poor behaviour personally. Sometimes men can be rude without realising it… Excuse my ignorance but I still don’t understand why some women separate themselves like this. I fail to see a difference. Women have a great voice I feel like they’re hiding themselves.

    Right, it’s not the responsibility of teh menz to act like decent human beings to women; it’s the responsibility of the women, whose physical safety and/or career prospects might be threatened, to stand up to them, then cope with reams of internet misogyny when the word gets out that they’re accusing some Famous Atheist Dude of anything from sexist remarks to attempted rape.

    Also, it’s not the responsibility of teh menz to make adequate room for women at conferences; it’s the responsibility of the women not to “separate themselves.”

    Fuck off.

  23. 23
    melody

    Skatje, thank you for coming to Women in Secularism and for blogging about the conference. However, I am a bit surprised by your review of Susan Jacoby’s talk. Her talk received an enormous amount of positive feedback. I heard many people say that this was the best talk she’s ever given, and I have to agree. I look forward to your upcoming posts.

  24. 24
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Oh, and yes, by having a secularism conference focused on themselves, women are “hiding themselves.” I mean, a conference about women? Teh menz can’t really be expected to attend such a silly thing, can they? Or even take it seriously?

  25. 25
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    I would certainly appreciate honestly being told off.

    Doesn’t everyone? I mean, I’ve been living in the matrix my whole life, but I assume men just fuck right off when asked to, don’t they?

  26. 26
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    And I daresay the polarisation that comes from the staunch feminists and men’s rights activists of various stripes doesn’t help any…

    Seriously? Most feminists are working for equal opportunities for all genders while MRA’s are out to keep teh doodz on top. What polarization.

    *sigh*

  27. 27
    Louis

    Ms Daisy Cutter,

    Speaking as an occasionally clueless person of generally good intent (MAGIC!), my question always is “When is enough enough?”.

    Sure there are perfectly innocent, product-of-their-environment men out there, I was/am one, I should know. And sure there are just as product-of-their-environment women out there too. But that’s not good enough, as you note.

    If someone is a mild arse once, maybe over look it (or skip to step 2). If someone is a mild arse twice, have a quiet word. If someone is a mild arse a third time…get me my rolled up newspaper, I’m about to play “Whack A Nose”.*

    If someone is a moderate to serious arse, grab earlobe, escort to side of room, administer severe bollocking. Metaphorically speaking o’course.

    I’ve never grasped what is hard about this. If I was at an atheist/sceptic event and someone started making overtly racist jokes/comments about, for example, “Pakis”, I would go ballistic. I don’t see how this doesn’t map entirely onto “bitches” or “faggots”. It’s the same damned thing with a slightly shorter history of being utterly socially abhorrent. I know, I just answered my own incredulous question.

    I don’t know who these “Giants of Atheism” that various people have referred to are, but since I’m not in their thrall or their power, I’d speak up. Hell, I have enough time not speaking up when it gets me into trouble! My PhD supervisor, lo those many years ago, was a frequent utterer of quite staggering sexism and racism. I once confronted him about this….my arse, it did not touch the floor. Wrong as he was, I’d made a diplomatic and political no-no of epic proportions.

    Ah…

    Anyway, I’m glad the conference seemed on balance to be informative and entertaining for Skatje and other attendees. Let’s hope we crack the dam of dumb dudes sometime in the near future.

    Louis

    * I do have the advantage of “Large Ugly Scowly Bloke Syndrome”. It’s useful in some circumstances. Not so much in others…

  28. 28
    Aquaria

    So while I agree that it’s an issue that needs to be addressed – I certainly don’t think it’s cut and dry, or that there’s one ‘right’ way to address it. And I daresay the polarisation that comes from the staunch feminists and men’s rights activists of various stripes doesn’t help any…

    Look, the Pollyanna of self-loathing fucking morons dropped by.

    Don’t you have some groveling to do towards the menz, or some sandwiches to make, or some of their asses to kiss, so that we don’t have to put up with such moronic false equivalence.

  29. 29
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    I’ve been amused at the bizarro world view of the people who seem to think that the fact that the conference was entitled “Women in Secularism” meant that only Teh Wimminz were allowed to attend. One of the questions addressed (I think) to the first panel (the non-theism/feminism one) was about how more men would be attending the conference if there were a man speaking about how to be an ally on the program. The question got shot down really really hard, including some pointing out about how men don’t attend gender-issue programs anywhere, whether at TAM or CFI lecture series or whatever. There were men-type-people at WIS, they seemed quite nice as a general rule, and there weren’t any strident de-genitalization procedures or anything.

    The other bizarro world question, which led me to clutch my spiffy surlyramics necklace featuring a very cute porcupine and the word “INSERT”, was about how we would get more theists to leave their religions if only we were nicer and less confrontational. I’d rather clutch my porcupine INSERT necklace than pearls any day. (This earnest question was answered with a “sure, be as polite as you want, but it won’t necessarily make people think they should agree with you, nor will it prevent people from labelling you as shrill and confrontational. So have fun with that.”)

  30. 30
    mythbri

    To all the commentors who may be wondering “Who?” and “Why not call them out?”: Stephanie Zvan has already linked to her excellent post on the matter, and it’s not as cut-and-dried as you might be thinking.

    In my own experience being one of the few women in a mostly-male work environment, I can tell you that you risk the respect and cooperation of your male colleagues if you dare to point out sexist behavior. It doesn’t make their behavior right, and of course they’re wrong to stop taking a woman seriously as soon as she airs her concerns, but that’s the cold hard truth for a lot of us. In the atheist community, we’ve already seen examples of the backlash against women who do this, which is similar to the backlash that atheistic minorities face whenever they suggest ways to appeal to them (or, at the very least, not actively offend). In many ways it’s a lose-lose situation.

  31. 31
    alexshuffell

    Thank you Ms. Daisy Cutter. That was a great response, even if a little immature. Of course it’s the responsibility of the men to control their behaviour and act responsible, it’s ridiculous to think otherwise. I had no idea that this was a problem for women, I should have been more thoughtful. Also I would feel uncomfortable attending about women in secularism. I am quite interested in this now, I’ve got so much to learn. I’ve never attended any conferences, meetings or rallies about anything. Cheers for the honest telling off.

  32. 32
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I am quite interested in this now, I’ve got so much to learn. I’ve never attended any conferences, meetings or rallies about anything. Cheers for the honest telling off.

    Why Alex, do I feel you are a concern troll, definition one? Maybe if you weren’t so fakely obsequious…

    I doubt you learned anything…

  33. 33
    alexshuffell

    There was nothing fake about my last message. Far too many of the names mentioned in Skatje’s post I have never heard of and they are people I should know. The comments from Ms. Daisy and yourself is why I would feel uncomfortable attending, I would ask a question or say something naive, and I did. It is because of my naivety and ignorance of feminism and women in secularism is why I will make an effort to overcome this. You’re welcome to call me a troll or fake and to doubt I learned anything. You are wrong.

  34. 34
    mythbri

    @alexshuffell #33

    If you’re truly interested in educating yourself, then I recommend taking steps to do so on your own, before joining in a conversation such as this one. This is not to say that people willing to learn are unwelcome, but you have to understand that many of the people here have covered, re-covered, and covered the basics time and again. Here’s a good place for you to start:

    http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/

    And if you’re not from or currently living in the United States, you should probably take a look at the history of the feminist movement here, since that informs a lot of the discussion.

    And just so you know, if you really are not a troll, and are offended that people might mistake you for one, don’t be. It’s a tried and true tactic of sexist trolls to derail an important discussion by forcing them to go over the very basics of feminism, and then quibbling with every attempt to educate. Don’t fall into this trap if you want to be taken seriously.

  35. 35
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I am quite interested in this now, I’ve got so much to learn. I’ve never attended any conferences, meetings or rallies about anything. Cheers for the honest telling off.

    QFT

  36. 36
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    It’s a tried and true tactic of sexist trolls to derail an important discussion by forcing them to go over the very basics of feminism, and then quibbling with every attempt to educate. Don’t fall into this trap if you want to be taken seriously.

    QFT, not #35. I blame #35 on the Toast.

  37. 37
    alexshuffell

    Thank you mythbri.

  38. 38
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    This is a tough place to post, but on the other hand, I’ve generally found that people who will actually Stop Digging™ when they find they’re in a hole do pretty well, as do those who Admit They Were Wrong™.

    There were plenty of men at the conference, and they weren’t all versed in post-doc level feminist theory. All the questions were written and read by the emcee, so asking stupid questions wouldn’t have been a problem since no one would have known who asked it. It’s frankly really depressing that seemingly well-intentioned, non-idiotic men so often express the “oh, that’s not an issue that involves me” or “I won’t be welcome there” nonsense when invited to a talk about gender, non-theism, and skepticism. You know what doesn’t involve me? Geophysical research on chaotic patterns in massive earthquakes. Orchid conservation research. The history of Viking textile techniques. How to say “stupid drunkard” in Sumerian. Methods for constructing one’s own digeridoo from PVC pipe. And yet, miraculously, I’ve attended presentations on these things or read up on them, and the world hasn’t exploded. The geophysicists didn’t throw me out of the room or ask to see a certification or anything. It is fairly unlikely that women secular non-theists will endorse (or accept) gender segregation, so just relax and show up.

    After finding that I’d spent an hour comparing several websites with digeridoo instructions and noting that it was then 4 am,, I decided that I was working quite hard to avoid cleaning my dissertation data and should go to sleep.

  39. 39
    MG Myers

    Thanks for the nice summary, Skatje! I’m definitely going to read Women Without Superstition: “No Gods – No Masters” by Annie Laurie Gaylor now.

  40. 40
    gbjames

    How do you say “”stupid drunkard” in Sumerian?

  41. 41
    bcskeptic

    Hi Skatje,

    Thanks for the informative and honest summary. While this conference was on, I was at INR2 in Kamloops and had the pleasure of chatting a few times with your dad. He’s my moral and intellectual hero.

    Speaking of calling people out in the skeptics/atheist movement, I have to say that a comment made by one of the organizers of INR2 to the effect of, “well, you know those ‘Catholic’ girls”, that left me with the funny (well, not funny) feeling of being sexist and inappropriate. To my knowledge no one called him out on it, including gutless me.

    Even as I sit here I feel stupid and gutless in not letting him know that that was an inappropriate comment (actually a couple of times) that I think left many women present with an uneasy feeling. If it had been a woman in power making those comments about minority men I think the feeling would not have been different.

    I hope he reads this and gets the message and understands that those comments are not appropriate and that maybe he has a blind spot that needs repair. Why is there this internal resistance as a male to say anything to his face about it?!

  42. 42
    madscientist

    Perhaps more of the organized meetings can have rules of conduct such as those imposed on folks attending the Amaz!ng Meeting. James Randi (and many others) simply won’t tolerate bad behavior and aren’t afraid to say so; there are plenty of good speakers out there so there really shouldn’t be any fear of casting out popular speakers; those folks might even change their ways.

  43. 43
    nyarlathotep

    On a note less than related to the comments generally:

    I can’t explain how delighted I am to see Emma Goldman on the list of female freethinkers talked about, even if it was a brief mention. It’s always nice to see political theorists mentioned in these lists (Wollstonecraft is another delightful addition, and while I’m less than certain on the “freethinker” label I would like to note the strides made by Olympe de Gouges in an even earlier response to Rousseau’s blatant misogyny than Wollstonecraft’s better known works, as well as Harriet Taylor and Hannah Arendt in political theory generally). I feature Goldman more prominently than I do Wollstonecraft in my delight because of her propensity towards anarchism and blatant anti-religiosity.

    I can’t rightly consider myself an anarchist (I tend towards a Walzerian communitarianism if truth be told) but I do think that various anarchist thinkers, such as Goldman, have significant contributions to make in regards to human thought, political or otherwise. Anarchist thinkers such as Goldman, and Mikhail Bakunin before her, are important in identifying religion as a corrupting influence on humanity in an explicit manner fairly early on (to my knowledge at least, I’m more than happy to be corrected or have my knowledge updated).

  44. 44
    flatlander100

    Re: this: If the issue is that individuals who’ve had these experiences are worried about backlash, or career suicide, I’m sure we could work out a way of anonymously publishing at least some of this information.

    Calling out creeps, fine. Posting anonymous claims, no. I really do not like anonymous allegations. If you feel strongly enough about what happened to identify someone on line, put your name to the charge.

  45. 45
    Jadehawk

    Calling out creeps, fine. Posting anonymous claims, no. I really do not like anonymous allegations.

    learn the difference between “anonymous” and “undisclosed”, honeycakes.

  46. 46
    Jadehawk

    If you feel strongly enough about what happened to identify someone on line, put your name to the charge.

    worked great for Rebecca, that one. and she didn’t even tell us EG’s name.

    fucking idiot.

  47. 47
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Usernames are stupid:

    As a—unintentional—target of racism, I can empathize: I can pass for caucasian, but I am not. I’ve noticed that tongues loosen when the last “minority” leaves the room and the racists can come out to play.

    I can’t pass for caucasian, but after asking to touch/rub my bald head “what are you?” is the next question I get. I feel you on loose tongues. As if the departure of someone who ‘looks’ like a minority makes racist statements five by five.

    It boggles my mind that idiots “know better” than to be overtly racist, but don’t have a problem being overtly sexist.

    To be honest, I question if they “know better”. Between cognitive dissonance, not wanting to be wrong, and the pervasiveness of religion it doesn’t surprise me that speakers at an atheist convention would be sexist or racist. Especially if they focus more on religion and not on critical thinking, logic or reason. I wonder if the atheist movement has an uphill battle with regard to combating the sexism in the community (and achieving any other goals) precisely because atheism is not a comprehensive world view that encompasses a set of ethics and morality. Unlike humanism, for instance, which can have some overlap with atheism (doesn’t have to though), but also has a coherent worldview that can inform others what exactly an individual believes in. If I went to a humanist conference and heard a speaker make racist or sexist comments, *that* would surprise me (maybe?).
    _______________________________________
    alexshuffell:

    Excuse my ignorance but I still don’t understand why some women separate themselves like this. I fail to see a difference. Women have a great voice I feel like they’re hiding themselves.

    I think you’re starting with a false assumption: that women actually separate themselves like this. Maybe some do. I’m sure many don’t. The problem is not as easy to deal with as you may believe. When women face harassment, discrimination, humiliation, job loss and more, simply speaking out about sexism becomes far less cut and dried. Don’t take this the wrong way as I’m not trying to insult you at all, but you have the benefit of male privilege (as I do), and that can make it hard to see/understand/comprehend the nuances of what women have to deal with. The privilege extends quite deep too, so that men often are blind to the hurtful, sexist comments they make (I’m tired of hearing guys make comments and/or focus disproportionately on the appearance of women, as if that’s all the value they have in the eyes of men; this is me speaking as a bartender).

  48. 48
    kaimatthews

    Tony said: …it doesn’t surprise me that speakers at an atheist convention would be sexist or racist. Especially if they focus more on religion and not on critical thinking, logic or reason. I wonder if the atheist movement has an uphill battle with regard to combating the sexism in the community (and achieving any other goals) precisely because atheism is not a comprehensive world view that encompasses a set of ethics and morality.

    Yes, this! Or as I once put it in a response in another forum a few years ago, “Atheist” is an insufficient delineator. (The full post below.)

    It also bothers me to see fellow males still doing the “why dontcha just speak up, wimmin!” thing. It’s as off the mark as telling women to watch how they dress and don’t go out alone late at night instead of focussing on telling fellow men: DON’T RAPE, or suggesting that women in business meetings who have more thoughtful things to say than the alpha male boss who thinks his every half-assed utterance is golden should just assert themselves in said meetings, rather than suggesting that the boss should shut his trap and listen more. The women aren’t the problem, these men are. This is a job more for those who aren’t going to be penalized as severely as women would be for speaking up: the fellow men of the sexist, racist jerks. They’re our problem, as men, just as much, and our responsibility even more so. May as well use our privilege for some good, turn it back on itself.

    The “insufficient delineator” post:

    “Atheist” is problematic for me as a primary identifier; it’s alright as a secondary attribute. There are divergent points of view which have atheism in common. In the Western world, atheists do tend to be philosophical materialists with a strong emphasis on critical thinking as associated with the scientific method, so that the supernatural is not an option, nor are Platonic/Cartesian dualist notions like souls or minds independent of brains (a category mistake, as Gilbert Ryle pointed out.) This rules out deities, to be sure, but that’s hardly the main focus of a philosophical materialist stance, but rather one of several consequences. In other words, atheism is just one circle in a philosophical materialist Venn diagram. Their atheism is one consequence of their philosophical stance. But there are other atheists who may not be philosophical materialists; as someone in a similar discussion once put it, someone might not believe in God or gods, but believe in unicorns. That’s an extreme example, but there are others.

    Someone may be an atheist because he or she has suffered discrimination at the hands of religion, but not be much of a critical thinker, like the gay guy I know who subscribed to all sorts of wild 9-11 Truther conspiracy theories. (He has since backed down a bit through conversations with various skeptics in a skeptic meetup group I attend occasionally. I initially tried to get him to reconsider by showing him this George Monbiot column on the subject, but, at least at first, he just got more defensive.) It’s one reason I don’t primarily identify as an atheist – not just because it’s defining oneself by a negative, but also because it’s just an inadequate delineator.

    I had the misfortune of being briefly involved with a woman who proudly proclaimed herself an atheist (thus seeming to be potentially compatible with me), but who turned out to be big into astrology (and also a rather doctrinaire Maoist(!), complete with “gotta break eggs for an omelet”-type excuses of the damage Maoism and similar forms of Marxism have done.) She once said she traced her atheism back to a text by Lenin that particularly impressed her. One might think that any Marxist, with Marxism’s having its own flavour of materialism, would not be so wooly as to continue to subscribe to things like astrology, but then again, the philosopher of science Imre Lakatos had a point, I think, when he described Marxism as a pseudo-science, with a deteriorating research programme, and thus the sort of mind that accepts it wholesale may also still be susceptible to other pseudo-sciences. Cognitive dissonance comes in many flavours.

    So, when someone says he or she is an atheist, I don’t immediately assume that I have a great deal in common with him or her; I have to wait and see why he or she says so. It’s much like hearing someone say they’re a skeptic: does he or she just mean he or she doubts what he or she sees as conventional wisdom (like a 9/11 Truther), or is he or she actually a rigorous critical thinker? Skepticism is more than just doubt.

  49. 49
    Amblebury

    Anne Laurie Gaylor was one of the highlights for me at the recent GAC in Melbourne.

  50. 50
    heatherdalgleish

    Ms Daisycutter:

    Right, feminists are just as bad as MRAs.

    Didn’t say that, or mean to imply it – although since you bring it up – SOME feminists are almost as bad, in their own way, as some MRAs

    Also, really, I’m sick of hearing social awkwardness used as an excuse for piggish behavior. These guys by and large know exactly what they’re doing.

    I’ve heard this before. I still don’t quite buy it. Could you explain how you’re so certain of this?

  51. 51
    Amblebury

    I just remembered – there was a comedian, (I missed him) who was part of the entertainment at the commencement of the GAC. He had a history of being sexist and banal.

    How can any rational, progressive individual tolerate this crap? What do they think they’re convening for?

    Anyhow, I’m going to read almost Diamonds, and I haven’t yet sent in my feedback form for Melbourne. I’d like to go next time, and I don’t want any of that idiocy being tacitly accepted.

  52. 52
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Heather:

    SOME feminists are almost as bad, in their own way, as some MRAs.

    Still not even comparable. Women don’t have nearly the societal power that men do. “Misandrists” don’t cause the same societal harm that misogynists do.

    I’ve heard this before. I still don’t quite buy it. Could you explain how you’re so certain of this?

    The idea that the poor menz need to be cut some slack because they’re “awkward” (sometimes it’s “OMG they must have Asperger’s!”) is a manifestation of male privilege. “Socially awkward” and “piggish” are two entirely different concepts. There are many socially awkward men, including ones with ASDs, who are yet respectful toward women. There are many men whose social skills are more than adequate in most respects who are rude at best and harassing at worst toward women.

    ElevatorGate provided a prime example. The man who propositioned Rebecca Watson started out by saying, “Don’t take this the wrong way.” He was trying to head off criticism, because he knew that propositioning a woman he had never spoken to before at 4 a.m. in an elevator, when she had spent the entire day talking about inappropriate behavior from men at conventions and announced her engagement to boot, wasn’t cool.

    BTW, plenty of women are socially awkward, and I do not see anywhere near the same level of excuse-making for them, because women are socialized to make everybody else comfortable and disproportionately penalized socially for not doing so.

  53. 53
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Flatlander100, I second Jadehawk’s “fucking idiot.” I suppose you’re going to start JAQing off now about “witch hunts” and “destroying some poor man’s reputation”? Because. what, it’d be better for 100 women to experience harassment and maybe stalking from hundreds of entitled white misogynists than for one man to be called out for gross behavior and be unable to face his accusers?

  54. 54
    Jadehawk

    Could you explain how you’re so certain of this?

    have you ever heard of this essay called “it’s not that they don’t understand, they just don’t like the answer”? it cites research and stuff…

  55. 55
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    I’m having a little trouble with this:

    Hutchinson also criticised the secular movement for promoting scientism, saying that scientism generally excludes racial minorities and women, even throwing out the accusation of white supremacy.

    I certainly don’t mean to imply she’s wrong—or right, for that matter. It’s just that I don’t see how a belief in the usefulness of evidence leads to those things.* Google seems rather unhelpful, and I was hoping someone might expand on it?

    *I realise science can be—has been—manipulated to support sexism and racism, but that’s not the fault of the science/evidence based approach, but of the manipulators.

  56. 56
    Jadehawk

    I don’t see how a belief in the usefulness of evidence leads to those things.

    it doesn’t. but the skeptical/secular movement has a tendency to assume that science is actually wholly objective, rather than remembering that it’s simply the least biased and least inaccurate form of information gathering.

    this leads often to ignoring the possible existence of bias introduced by monocultural/monoethnic/monogendered etc. scientific research fields (and pissiness at having this potential source of severe bias pointed out)

  57. 57
    Nick Gotts

    There are any number of sexist beliefs that are rational – the belief that men are generally physically stronger than women, or that women are generally better drivers. These beliefs are sexist – rudi

    No, they’re not, any more than noting that on average people from Nigeria have darker skin than those from Sweden is racist. Sexist beliefs/words/behaviour are those which reinforce the existing socio-economic and status inequalities between the sexes.

  58. 58
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Jadehawk

    Ah, I get it now. Succinct and well stated, thank you.

  59. 59
    Alex

    Jadehawk,

    I don’t see how a belief in the usefulness of evidence leads to those things.

    it doesn’t. but the skeptical/secular movement has a tendency to assume that science is actually wholly objective, rather than remembering that it’s simply the least biased and least inaccurate form of information gathering.

    this leads often to ignoring the possible existence of bias introduced by monocultural/monoethnic/monogendered etc. scientific research fields (and pissiness at having this potential source of severe bias pointed out)

    So far I agree, and I find what you say uncontroversial, but that is not what Ms Hutchinson says in the statements I read from here. She is usually a brilliant writer, but in this case I simply don’t understand what she means, maybe it’s me, maybe it’s not as succinctly written as her other stuff. I find the labeling of science/scientific skepticism as “white” or “male”, or “western”, deplorable akin to the “postmodern feminist” notion that the idea of science itself is a construct of patriarchical society, because it has the power lock out women who identify themselves as feminists from these subjects of study. In short, I am really confused what SH actually means.

  60. 60
    Alex

    Sure, if you identify “science in atheism = Richard Dawkins lecturing about evindence”, I see the point, but I don’t like it because it is crucial to abstract the idea of science from the sociology that comes with it.

  61. 61
    heatherdalgleish

    The idea that the poor menz need to be cut some slack because they’re “awkward” (sometimes it’s “OMG they must have Asperger’s!”) is a manifestation of male privilege. “Socially awkward” and “piggish” are two entirely different concepts.

    Even setting aside the issue of ‘awkwardness’ – you have to consider the fact that everyone does things to offend others, and that people are not uniformly offended by the same things. What one person may find “piggish”, another person may shrug or laugh off.

    I offend people, and people offend me, all the time. Sometimes it really, seriously matters, sometimes less so. People have different limits. Men have different limits. Women have different limits. I find some approaches from men creepy and irritating, some obnoxious, and some flattering and amusing. Sometimes this varies with my mood. No doubt my personal sensitivities vary a bit from other women – although I think the majority would agree with my views about one particular berk whose response to my anger at his pushiness and obliviousness, was to invite me a few more times to stay and finish my drink… Some men really don’t get it. I’ve experienced this. I know.

    But still – outside of the area of obvious harrassment – there are shades of grey. Some women get offended, and cry, because they are called ‘female’. I’m afraid that I doubt that I’ll ever be able to take that complaint seriously. I have no intent to want to be conciliatory to anyone with that level of irrational sensitivity. I don’t want to discuss how referring to women as ‘female’ might be putting them off attending conventions – and how it’s some example of male privilege, and how the men need to get their act together there. It’s pathetic.

    Conversely – neither do I want to excuse men who may think it’s alright to badger women personally, or approach them physically, after the women have already given plenty of signals that the answer is a clear and unambiguous “no thanks”. 

    I can say that I’ve never knowingly experienced that at any atheist/secularist/science convention – though I’m willing to hear from women who feel that they have – and I would compel women who feel they’ve been seriously harassed, or even assaulted, by anyone in the movement, to speak frankly and forthrightly about it. Because I damn well would – and I wouldn’t give a toss how it affected some aspect of my ‘reputation’. If people think negatively of me for reporting sexual harassment or assault, they never deserved my respect in the first place. Sexual harassment – genuine harassment – is NEVER solved by silence and brushing under the carpet.

    And I’ve not alluded to Elevator Guy in particular, either. I’m quite willing to accept that he was at best a self-unaware chump – even if I don’t swallow the entire feminist party line about his predatory premeditation and conscious male privilege. And I’ll also accept that the initial response Rebecca got for her calm discussion of that event was overblown – and as was some of the subsequent feminist response, unfortunately.

    Like I said – I believe that this is an issue that needs to be addressed – but I don’t think it’s cut and dry…

  62. 62
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    sometimes it’s “OMG they must have Asperger’s!”

    Jesus fuck I hate this argument. Aside from being bullshit and an irrelevant distraction, it either demonizes or infantilizes actual people with ASDs, and further demonizes “awkward” people in general.

  63. 63
    David Marjanović

    “daughter-spawn” now applies to all female children of pharynguloids?

    shoulda trademarked it when I used it on Mattir’s daughter-spawn :-p

    Oh, that was you? :-) I didn’t notice it at the time…

    How do you say “”stupid drunkard” in Sumerian?

    And once you’ve identified the words, how do you pronounce them? Mwa ha haaah…

    In the Western world, atheists do tend to be philosophical materialists with a strong emphasis on critical thinking as associated with the scientific method

    I much prefer “physicalist” over “materialist”. Matter is just another form of energy – where “energy” does not have the meaning it has in newage.

  64. 64
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I’m quite willing to accept that he was at best a self-unaware chump – even if I don’t swallow the entire feminist party line about his predatory premeditation and conscious male privilege.

    Don’t strawmen have an expiration date?

  65. 65
    heatherdalgleish

    Azkyroth – it isn’t a strawman when it genuinely reflects the honest opinions and assumptions from some feminists of Elevator Guy. It won’t turn into a strawman just because you called it one, unfortunately.

  66. 66
    strange gods before me ॐ

    the entire feminist party line about his predatory premeditation and conscious male privilege.

    You should cite this.

    it isn’t a strawman when it genuinely reflects the honest opinions and assumptions from some feminists

    1) If it’s “some feminists” then it’s not “the entire feminist party line”.

    2) You should still cite it regarding “some feminists”.

  67. 67
    Ophelia Benson

    @55 and 59 – I disagreed with Sikivu about that (and for the same reasons) on the panel.

  68. 68
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Heather, since using the Google is probably not one of your strengths, this is the essay to which Jadehawk refers.

    Men have different limits. Women have different limits.

    Citation needed.

    No doubt my personal sensitivities vary a bit from other women…

    Yes, we all know you’re a Cool Chick™ who’s not like those other hypersensitive gurrrrlllzzz.

    Some women get offended, and cry, because they are called ‘female’.

    First of all, there’s a difference between “female” as an adjective and “a female.” Outside of contexts such as medicine or law enforcement, when a man refers to women as “females,” it’s a reliable red flag for all sorts of sexist idiocy because it essentializes women as sexual beings. It also tends to be uttered in a tone of contempt.

    Second, I’ve never heard of a woman actually weeping because of that. Sounds like stereotypical sexist hearsay to me.

    I would compel women who feel they’ve been seriously harassed, or even assaulted, by anyone in the movement, to speak frankly and forthrightly about it. Because I damn well would – and I wouldn’t give a toss how it affected some aspect of my ‘reputation’.

    You would compel them? So that they could get harassed by every damn asshole on the internet? Maybe stalked IRL, too?

    As for “reputation,” in sneer quotes as you have it, the destruction of one’s reputation can affect one’s work prospects. I suppose rent and grocery money will just fall like manna from the skies in such cases?

    …the entire feminist party line

    Feminists, of course, comprise a hive mind. They never disagree on anything.

    …overblown – and as was some of the subsequent feminist response, unfortunately.

    Aquaria had your number upthread. You’re an oblivious, self-satisfied victim blamer. Fuck off.

  69. 69
    kaimatthews

    David Marjanović : I much prefer “physicalist” over “materialist”. Matter is just another form of energy – where “energy” does not have the meaning it has in newage.

    For sure, that, in a general context, is a clearer term. But as you might guess from the various philosophical references I made, I’m a philosopher, and in that instance I was responding to others, including the author of the post that generated the comment thread, who were speaking in a philosophical context, where the term “philosophical materialist” has a specific, widely understood and accepted meaning (and was used as such by the author and other commenters), despite the very different connotation that “materialist” has in society at large, as “shallow and obsessed with possessions”.

    And yes, of course, matter = energy = matter… In the philosophical materialist context, energy is implicit in the term “matter”. (And any competent philosopher understands the significance of Einstein’s work. Well, maybe not some philosophers of religion…) The abuse of the word “energy” by new agers is one of my pet peeves, too. btw, I was amused to see my spell checker attempt to change “newage” to “sewage”.

  70. 70
    mythbri

    @heatherdalgleish #61

    Of course everyone does things that offend others – no one is disputing that. But inadvertently offending others crosses the line into being a complete asshole when the people you’re offending tell you how they feel, and yet you continue to persist in being offensive. That’s a conscious choice.

    There has been lots of discussion about making the atheist community more inclusive and less hostile to women and minorities, and you haven’t been paying attention if you’ve managed not to see the examples of vicious backlash against legitimate complaints of sexism, racism and homophobia.

    To take the example that you referenced, Rebecca Watson made an incredibly minor suggestion without naming names, and the whole misogynist weight of the internet came crashing down on her. She’s received threats of RAPE for daring to speak up about her experience. That’s not a problem of Watson not having a thick skin – that is absolutely a problem of the misogyny that is clearly present in atheism and does not like being challenged. It’s certainly easy to say you would risk all of this in order to name names, if you were in this position, but you’re not. Respect the judgment of the women who are actually involved.

  71. 71
    flatlander100

    To Daisy Cutter @ #53

    Anonymous accusations regarding anything serious are repellent. On this matter, or any other. If you have a serious charge to make, and name names, on this matter or any other, then put your name to the charge. Yes, there opportunities for abuse [of men, of women, of co-workers, of anyone] by means of anonymous charges make public. I don’t know you, Ms. DC, but I suspect if we were discussing a charge made against as woman anonymously, you’d be insisting whoever made the charge was being cowardly, and the woman charged by name with misconduct deserved to know who was accusing her. If you did insist that, you’d be right.

    Enough. Little point I’ve learned discussing differences with people who presume anyone who disagrees with them must therefor be a “fucking idiot.” The only thing I disagreed with in Ms. Myers’ post is her suggestion that ways can [and presumably should] be found to anonymously call out the creeps by name.

  72. 72
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Heather, since using the Google is probably not one of your strengths, this is the essay to which Jadehawk refers.

    Link fix.

    In Firefox this problem can be avoided sometimes by going to about:config and toggling browser.urlbar.trimURLs to false.

  73. 73
    strange gods before me ॐ

    The only thing I disagreed with in Ms. Myers’ post is her suggestion that ways can [and presumably should] be found to anonymously call out the creeps by name.

    If this was a world where men and women have equal power, I might agree with you.

    It’s not, so I don’t.

  74. 74
    kaimatthews

    In defence of speaking anonymously:

    Before blithely suggesting that someone with a grievance should always put their name to their complaint, one should always first take note of the power dynamic involved between the offender (and those who will probably defend or excuse the offender) and the person objecting to the offense. What are the practical consequences for the objector? Will it involve character assassination and threats of physical harm, as with Rebecca Watson’s case, where she didn’t even name the offender? It’s not like we don’t have a long history of precedents of nasty overreactions to mild, reasonable complaints with which to inform our understanding of such dangers for those who speak up, especially women, who are usually on the down side of power relationships. We’ve had nearly two decades of internet comment threads where such scenarios are abundantly documented.

    To disregard this context is naïve at best and disingenuous at worst.

  75. 75
    jeremysnel

    OK, I accept that the risks of “naming and shaming” are potentially significant. But a large part of me CANNOT accept this not being brought out into the open. Perhaps those who have experienced these “well-known speakers being misogynistic or sleazy” should name names as a group, and thereby dilute any backlash? If things really are as bad as is being hinted at, then I want these people to face the consequences (obloquy, shunning from future consequences) that they deserve. Without naming them, however, not much can be done.

  76. 76
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    LILAPBWL, thanks for the link fix.

    Flatlander100:

    Little point I’ve learned discussing differences with people who presume anyone who disagrees with them must therefor be a “fucking idiot.”

    Not only ignorant of power differentials but a fucking tone troll, too.

    In addition to being a fucking idiot.

  77. 77
    mythbri

    To all: Stephanie Zvan has a “What now?” post with a helpful suggestion for future conferences:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/05/22/making-it-safer-in-the-meantime/

  78. 78
    heatherdalgleish

    Heather, since using the Google is probably not one of your strengths, this is the essay to which Jadehawk refers.

    Link broken – although I do believe I’ve read the essay before.

    “Men have different limits. Women have different limits.”

    Citation needed.

    I meant as PEOPLE – but since you do ask if I believe that men and women have different limits – specifically in the context of being ‘harassed’ or approached sexually, I guess I should cite this famous study, titled, appropriately enough ‘Gender Differences to Receptivity to Sexual Offers‘:

    http://www.elainehatfield.com/79.pdf

    They had young female students and young male students go around a university campus, approaching members of the opposite sex and reciting lines – one of which was: “I’ve noticed you around. I find you very attractive. Will you go to bed with me tonight?

    The results were noteable and stark not only in the numbers produced – but in the types of responses given by the individual men and women who were approached. In this particular study, zero women accepted the request for sex – while 75% of the men did. Not only that – but of the women who refused, many actively complained about the advance – calling the guy a creep, and saying they would be telling campus staff – whereas of the men who refused, they generally gave apologetic responses such as “not tonight, but maybe tomorrow”, “sorry, I’m busy all week” or “I’m married”.

    Neither response is necessarily the ‘right’ response – but what is apparent is that, for whatever various complex reasons, men and women can be demonstrated to have starkly different responses to the exact same string of words uttered by a member of the opposite sex. 

    Yes, we all know you’re a Cool Chick™ who’s not like those other hypersensitive gurrrrlllzzz.

    If you mean that I don’t weep when people call me female – then yeah, you’ve got me bang to rights. I’m one of those über-cool, super savvy women who doesn’t get cross when referred to as female. Well, I think I’m actually like the majority of women in that regard – but whatever… It’s not like it matters what I say, anyway, does it? You’re just going to twist my lines to fit the strawman you’ve kindly made for me.

    All I actually meant, at face value, was that that different people have different sensibilities – and what offends me might not offend another person, and vice-versa. Something creepy and obnoxious to me might well be dandy to you, or the person sitting next to you. That is the way of the world. 

    First of all, there’s a difference between “female” as an adjective and “a female.” Outside of contexts such as medicine or law enforcement, when a man refers to women as “females,” it’s a reliable red flag for all sorts of sexist idiocy because it essentializes women as sexual beings. It also tends to be uttered in a tone of contempt.

    Sorry. I just can’t relate to this at all.

    Second, I’ve never heard of a woman actually weeping because of that. Sounds like stereotypical sexist hearsay to me.

    You may read about it here: http://www.blaghag.com/2011/02/when-gender-goes-pear-shaped.html#disqus_thread?m=1

    Admittedly, it was more complex than the woman simply crying in response to being termed ‘female’ – but I think it’s hysterical that it was even the issue that catalysed a furore.

    You would compel them? So that they could get harassed by every damn asshole on the internet? Maybe stalked IRL, too?

    I would compel them in the same sense that I would compel atheists and gays to come out of the closet. Perhaps ‘compel’ was the wrong choice of word – perhaps ‘urge’ would be better. And yes, perhaps anonymous reporting might work out better, at first.

    As I said – if there are genuine cases of sexual harassment happening – silence isn’t the cure.

    As for “reputation,” in sneer quotes as you have it, the destruction of one’s reputation can affect one’s work prospects. I suppose rent and grocery money will just fall like manna from the skies in such cases?

    They weren’t ‘sneer’ quotes. I wasn’t sneering. I said quite clearly that I think that anyone who stopped respecting me because I reported sexual harassment or assault would show that they were never worth my time in the first place. Perhaps that’s too quixotic.

    But it really does make me wonder – why WOULD women lose any reputation for reporting genuine, unambiguous harassment, in the freethought community? I may be being naive – but I really can’t fathom that happening. If it ever does happen – feel free to send me back here, and I’ll duly eat my words.

    Feminists, of course, comprise a hive mind. Theynever disagree on anything.

    I meant I didn’t buy a particular feminist line, in its entirety. Of course I don’t believe feminists have a hive mind. Neither do women, of course – and plenty of feminists (perhaps not yourself) need to be versed on that particular fact: that they aren’t spokeswomen for women.

    You’re an oblivious, self-satisfied victim blamer.

    Oh, obviously

    Even though I said very clearly that men shouldn’t be excused if they badger women after it’s already been made clear to them that the answer’s “no”. 

    Even though I said that women should speak out if they’ve been harassed – since, if there is a problem, silence from victims isn’t the cure.

    Fuck off.

    Nah. I’m enjoying being quotemined and made into a strawman a bit too much right now…

  79. 79
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    [In general, my long rambling feelings. Teal deer, beware and skip]
    There’s the thing, we want the sleazy bags to be identified and to be called out. The problem comes in with that if your accusation is specific enough i.e “avoid soandso because they did this..” then the sleazy bad can usually know who it is. They can then call out this person who they think accused them and it goes down here from there. This problem doesn’t come up
    (usually) if there is a secret list or word of mouth going around. But if you do that, then the behavior doesn’t get called out to be shouted down on. How do you shout them down in behavior and names without backlash? You can not name the person accusing them, that’s just stupid. But there is always a good chance the sleaze bag knows who it was by the accusation or they have a list of people it could be because they are serial offenders. With the serious backlash of jobs etc etc I don’t see how to fix this.

    I’m not going to lie, I’m dead fucking scared to make any reports in real life. Been there done that and it was fucking horrible for me. There’s another problem, how do you get people to call them out when they have every right to fucking scared?

    Maybe I’m just over thinking it. Maybe we just need a list of people and very generic charges on it to start. I just see huge problems every which way with the response/results of calling people out being bad and the effects of not calling out people being bad. If people wouldn’t respond so fucking horribly/stupidly and double down on being sexist/sleazy (and of course their staunch defenders) then it wouldn’t be a problem. But we’ve all fucking seen those results.

    I don’t know how anyone could be as fucking stupid to suggest making people identify themselves when accusing someone, especially with what happened to Rebecca Watson. If you didn’t realize how stupid that would be before Rebecca Watson you are extremely privileged and count your lucky fucking starts. If you still don’t realize how stupid that is, you can go fuck yourself stupid privileged asshat.

    flatlander100

    I don’t know you, Ms. DC, but I suspect if we were discussing a charge made against as woman anonymously, you’d be insisting whoever made the charge was being cowardly, and the woman charged by name with misconduct deserved to know who was accusing her. If you did insist that, you’d be right.

    This is goddamn bullshit. You are not even fucking close to being correct. Firstly, if the power dynamic is in favor of the person being accused then you better make fucking sure it’s anonymous. Honestly, it should be anonymous otherwise there is usually something bad to happen against those making the accusations. Hence the reason why it’s usually anonymous for everyone in work situations. I’m in favor of it always been anonymous on default except for rare cases. This includes women. But you also need to keep in mind women have had to deal with rumors of being a slut/bitch/transgender as a way to silence and shame them. Same thing with minorities/transgender/asexual etc. So if a woman is being charged w misconduct over being a “hard core ball busting bitch” or something to that degree, I’m taking that shit with a grain of salt. Because women have faced accusations of that whenever they are not “feminine” enough and it’s used to silence/shame them. The whole men get their lives ruined over false accusations is bullfuckingshit. It’s been shone that the women making the accusations face far worse consequences and the the false reporting is the same rate as every other crime. It doesn’t happen more than other crimes, because women are targeted for making the accusation. The men get believed and defended no matter fucking what.

    I fucking hate you and the other dumbfucks for bringing the same bullshit up. Every. fucking. time. I’m fucking tired. I salute and thank everyone for their hard work. I’m going to go get buzzed.

  80. 80
    consciousness razor

    But it really does make me wonder – why WOULD women lose any reputation for reporting genuine, unambiguous harassment, in the freethought community? I may be being naive – but I really can’t fathom that happening. If it ever does happen – feel free to send me back here, and I’ll duly eat my words.

    Not just naive, but not even consistent. You were just talking about how “different people have different sensibilities.” So what counts as “genuine, unambiguous harassment” to all these different people? Can you really not fathom the possibility that people can dismiss genuine harassment as non-genuine because they have different sensibilities, and that those dismissing it can be treated more credibly than the victims themselves, because of their relationship in the power dynamic?

  81. 81
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    heatherdalgleish

    Sorry. I just can’t relate to this at all.

    Admittedly, it was more complex than the woman simply crying in response to being termed ‘female’ – but I think it’s hysterical that it was even the issue that catalysed a furore.

    Wow, really? You are so a chill girl. Not like those other hysterical wimmez oh no not you. Go hang out with Jen and the other chill girlz.We will be here working for equality for everyone without shitstaind like you dragging us down.

    I would compel them in the same sense that I would compel atheists and gays to come out of the closet. Perhaps ‘compel’ was the wrong choice of word – perhaps ‘urge’ would be better. And yes, perhaps anonymous reporting might work out better, at first.

    Yes, because you know whats best for them, no matter the situation. No matter that it really could be the end of their job/lives, or be stalked, get rape/death threats if they came out. Shaming them into coming forward then there is no solution to protect them and make sure they don’t suffer for it, is fuckign stupid and not helping. Thank you for making me feel worse! You’re such a great ally.

    Also, why do you say at first? Fuck you for that qualifier. I won’t be fucking reporting for fear of past and present bullshit and I bet you plenty of other women won’t be as well. That’s the problem with it not being anoymous. It needs to stay anonymous.

    But it really does make me wonder – why WOULD women lose any reputation for reporting genuine, unambiguous harassment, in the freethought community? I may be being naive – but I really can’t fathom that happening. If it ever does happen – feel free to send me back here, and I’ll duly eat my words.

    Even though I said very clearly that men shouldn’t be excused if they badger women after it’s already been made clear to them that the answer’s “no”.

    Why must it be harassment? Why must it be they didn’t take the first no as a no? Generally, women get touch on the back, shoulder, hair and elbow without anyone thinking it’s wrong. Calling that out, will result in the “calm down, it was a misunderstanding” bullshit when that is a common occurrence. Women’s rights, bodies and personal space is not valued and seen as open game. Why do women have to accept being approached or touched and then have say no? The fucking default should be not to do shit like that. I’m all for calling out instances where it was a single thing, like with what happened to Rebecca Watson. Why do you insist on qualifies like badger? Seriously?

    Also, unambiguous? Did you see the backlash Rebecca got? People will defend and pull out this “coffee didn’t mean sex”, “he was just being awkward” bullshit. Instances like Elevator gate needs to be called out too. Your qualified of unambiguous will be abused, and slanted against women. It would result in rape or no report. That’s bullshit. Start listening and believing women calling out sexist/sleazy behavior. They aren’t doing it because they are believed, treated fairly or benefiting from it.

    Also, yes it does fucking happen. See every rape case every. Harassment, stalking and domestic violence against women cases as well. If you don’t fucking see it you are wearing blinders. Glad this shit has never happened to you (because I don’t want it to happen to anyone) but you are burying us victims under with your bullshit. You are bringing down everyone with this bullshit.

    Even though I said that women should speak out if they’ve been harassed – since, if there is a problem, silence from victims isn’t the cure.

    Then stop fucking silencing them. Stop fucking blaming them. Shut the fuck up and listen.

    Godfuckingdamn. Fuck you too.

  82. 82
    mythbri

    @heatherdalgleish #78

    The freethought community does not exist in a vacuum outside the rest of society. The same social problems that afflict society afflict atheism as well. Not believing in gods or the supernatural doesn’t automatically make one enlightened in all aspects of life, unfortunately, and as I said in my comment you have not yet responded to, misogynists do not like to be challenged. Calling sexist male speakers out by name would hurt female speakers for the exact same reason that calling out sexist men in the workplace hurts the reputation of women, when there is not a consistent system committed to taking these claims seriously. Your use of the words “genuine” and “unambiguous” are telling, because it only underscores the impression you’ve already given of thinking that it is common for women/feminists to blow things out of proportion.

    The freethought community is not currently a safe place to call things out, as I think you know (you’ve agreed that starting anonymously would be best). Silence is not the answer in these situations, but going public is not an easy or quick fix, and most likely WILL damage the reputations of the people willing to speak out.

  83. 83
    Pteryxx

    heatherdalgleish: I wanted to point something out that you just said.

    But it really does make me wonder – why WOULD women lose any reputation for reporting genuine, unambiguous harassment, in the freethought community?

    You just got through a long spiel on how women and men aren’t all going to respond the same way to everything. Can you see why it’s disingenuous to say women should bear the burden of reporting “genuine, unambiguous” harassment when there is no such thing? The harasser is ALWAYS going to say he (or she) was simply misunderstood, and it’s indisputable fact that a large segment of the population will not consider ANY sexual harassment “genuine” up to and including rape. That’s why there have to be harassment guidelines that specifically take the targeted person’s interpretation into account; because the default is to side with the harasser (or abuser) and doubt the victims.

    What you probably mean by “genuine, unambiguous” harassment is harassment that YOU would accept at face value. That’s not good enough.

    I may be being naive…

    I definitely think so.

  84. 84
    markkernes

    I’m saddened that the list of early feminists doesn’t include Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, partners in business and life in the late 1800s/early 1900s, and publishers of The Little Review, which triggered one of the nation’s first obscenity cases for having published excerpts from James Joyce’s “Ulysses.”

    Their story is well-chronicled in the book “Girls Lean Back Everywhere” by Edward De Grazia. Its title comes from the prosecution’s having made a big deal about how, in “Ulysses,” Joyce allows his protagonist Bloom to see the uncovered legs of a young girl named Gertie McDowell. In her testimony, Jane Heap responded, “Mr. Joyce was not teaching early Egyptian perversions nor inventing new ones. Girls lean back everywhere, showing lace and silk stockings; wear low-cut sleveless blouses, breathless bathing suits; men think thoughts and have emotions about these things everywhere–seldom as delicately and imaginatively as Mr. Bloom — and no one is corrupted.”

  85. 85
    David Marjanović

    The results were noteable and stark not only in the numbers produced – but in the types of responses given by the individual men and women who were approached. In this particular study, zero women accepted the request for sex – while 75% of the men did. Not only that – but of the women who refused, many actively complained about the advance – calling the guy a creep, and saying they would be telling campus staff – whereas of the men who refused, they generally gave apologetic responses such as “not tonight, but maybe tomorrow”, “sorry, I’m busy all week” or “I’m married”.

    Neither response is necessarily the ‘right’ response – but what is apparent is that, for whatever various complex reasons, men and women can be demonstrated to have starkly different responses to the exact same string of words uttered by a member of the opposite sex.

    That’s not “men and women”.

    It’s “college students in a still patriarchal society” – a society where rape is scarily common and almost always free of consequences for the rapist, “slut” is an insult and lacks a male equivalent – indeed, there’s the fratboy subculture, made up of guys who brag about sex –, and so on and so forth.

    I bet you’d find quite different responses in an egalitarian culture.

  86. 86
    heatherdalgleish

    Of course everyone does things that offend others – no one is disputing that. But inadvertently offending others crosses the line into being a complete asshole when the people you’re offending tell you how they feel, and yet you continue to persist in being offensive. That’s a conscious choice.

    So PZ is a ‘complete asshole’ for desecrating communion wafers and holy books – since he’d been informed how much it would offend people?

    To take the example that you referenced, Rebecca Watson made an incredibly minor suggestion without naming names, and the whole misogynist weight of the internet came crashing down on her.

    I saw something more complex happen. A few tactless guys said “what’s the big deal?”, to Rebecca. Then the feminists charged in and breathed fire at those guys. Then the really obnoxious MRAs swooped down and started insulting and threatening Rebecca and the feminists. Then the feminists turned purple. Then the bastard children started threatening rape and violence to Rebecca.

    Then the rest of us caught wind of it and were left a bit bemused about what all the Sturm und Drang was about – and why people were shrieking ‘rape culture’ over a woman relating a situation, quite calmly, about how she was very awkwardly and tactlessly propositioned in an elevator.

    And Richard Dawkins made a terribly misguided comment – which for the record I URGED HIM TO APOLOGISE FOR, via his personal email. He replied to a couple of those emails, but sadly never apologised. What can you do?

    She’s received threats of RAPE for daring to speak up about her experience. That’s not a problem of Watson not having a thick skin – that is absolutely a problem of the misogyny that is clearly present in atheism and does not like being challenged.

    PZ has received threats of DEATH for desecrating crackers. 

    And though I appreciate that there’s something more insidiously gender-specific about threatening rape – and more worrying that it comes from inside the atheist community at large – it doesn’t change my general view that these, like death threats, are generally uttered by deranged kooks on the fringe as a kind of elaborate way, in their minds, of saying ‘fuck you’. They should be reported to the police for harassment, but I genuinely wouldn’t behave as though I actually took them seriously.

     It’s certainly easy to say you would risk all of this in order to name names, if you were in this position, but you’re not. Respect the judgment of the women who are actually involved

    This is true. What is also true is that genuine sexual predators generally pick on vulnerable women – and those same vulnerable women tend to be the ones fearful of speaking out about their experiences. 

    I am well aware of one particular incident involving a guy that used to be a member of a forum I’m on. He was fairly credible and decent to most people – with a few signs of slight oddness – but he used to pick away at women behind the scenes, and with one vulnerable woman in particular, he stalked, harassed, bullied and manipulated her awfully, through various media. We would have loved her to involve the police – but she just didn’t want the stress. 

    If he’d tried the same game with me, I would have documented everything, dragged him through court and got a restraining order against him. Sincerely. I guess this may be why I manage to avoid being in that situation. I think these guys pick their victims well.

  87. 87
    David Marjanović

    indeed, there’s the fratboy subculture, made up of guys who brag about sex

    That may actually count as peer pressure towards accepting offers of sex, provided the man can later get away with claiming he was the one who offered. 75 % accepted sex from a random woman around their age? Srsly?

    Additionally, I think many of them were joking – and that’s something women in this culture cannot afford.

  88. 88
    David Marjanović

    So PZ is a ‘complete asshole’ for desecrating communion wafers and holy books – since he’d been informed how much it would offend people?

    *facepalm* This is not about offending. It’s about perpetuating or challenging existing power structures in society.

    Are you new here? I’ve seen your name on Pharyngula before… is it possible you’ve never paid attention?

  89. 89
    consciousness razor

    PZ has received threats of DEATH for desecrating crackers.

    People are not like crackers. This comparison shows just how seriously you’re taking the issue: not at all, which is despicable.

  90. 90
    heatherdalgleish

    That’s not “men and women”.

    I think you’ll find that it is.

    It’s “college students in a still patriarchal society”

    It may be that, too.

    … – a society where rape is scarily common and almost always free of consequences for the rapist, “slut” is an insult and lacks a male equivalent – indeed, there’s the fratboy subculture, made up of guys who brag about sex –, and so on and so forth.

    I bet you’d find quite different responses in an egalitarian culture.

    I agree.

    But it’s still worth noting the interplay of that culture in what men and women will view as threatening or harassing, versus flattering or kind. Perhaps one hurdle that has to be overcome with some men is that they don’t view their actions as harassing – since they themselves, as (privileged) males – wouldn’t feel harassed if they themselves were approached in the same way.

  91. 91
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Heather, are you really quoting that POS ev-psych study? Even though there are very, very valid reasons for women not to go home with strange men that have nothing to do with sexual reticence? You know, fears of violence, socialization to suppress one’s sexuality, slut-shaming, fears of pregnancy and STIs?

    Plus, of course, the fact that PIV sex is nearly guaranteed to get a heterosexual man off, but not a woman, so why should she run those risks for what might turn out to be a lousy lay?

    You’re just going to twist my lines to fit the strawman you’ve kindly made for me.

    IME, people who complain that others are “putting words in my mouth” or “quotemining” them don’t want to examine the words they actually speak or write.

    Sorry. I just can’t relate to this at all.

    Your “relation” to it isn’t necessary for it to be an issue. It is discussed regularly on feminist blogs, and even on language blogs.

    You may read about it here…

    Unsurprisingly, there’s a shit-ton of context you chose to leave out: the panelists making excuses for piggish behavior in general (“just STFU and get over it”), the disingenuous question about how women in the audience felt about “flirting,” and the panel “viciously [tearing] apart and [ridiculing the woman] for even bringing it up.”

    Admittedly, it was more complex than the woman simply crying in response to being termed ‘female’

    Well, there’s a disingenuous understatement.

    but I think it’s hysterical that it was even the issue that catalysed a furore.

    Telling word choice is telling. And I wouldn’t say that the “female” issue was the catalyst, myself.

    I would compel them in the same sense that I would compel atheists and gays to come out of the closet.

    You’re straight, aren’t you? And you’re in the UK, where coming out of the atheist closet is highly unlikely to harm you at all.

    Privileged git.

    why WOULD women lose any reputation for reporting genuine, unambiguous harassment, in the freethought community?

    Leaving aside what’s already been said about “unambiguity” after you’ve written many words about harassment meaning different things to different people… If you have to ask this question, you haven’t been paying attention, and you don’t deserve the compliment of respectful argument on this point.

    PZ has received threats of DEATH for desecrating crackers.

    Death threats are taken much more seriously than rape threats are. Including by law enforcement. Hell, much more seriously than actual rape is.

    If he’d tried the same game with me, I would have documented everything, dragged him through court and got a restraining order against him.

    Sure. If the judge wasn’t a misogynist victim blamer who believed you.

    Given the low conviction rates for all sorts of sexual violence against women and girls, plus the public harassment and shaming they get for going to the cops, I don’t blame women for not “wanting the stress.”

    J_A_L, great comments, but:

    Go hang out with Jen and the other chill girlz.

    Did you mean Abbie or Miranda? Because Jen’s not like that.

    Pteryxx:

    I may be being naive…

    I definitely think so.

    I think you’re being overly charitable in this case.

  92. 92
    heatherdalgleish

    People are not like crackers. This comparison shows just how seriously you’re taking the issue: not at all, which is despicable.

    PZ is a person. He has received death threats – for something very innocuous. There are some seriously fucked up kooks out there.

    Rebecca Watson is a person. She has received threats of rape and physical violence – for something very innocuous. There are some SERIOUSLY fucked up kooks out there.

    That was my comparison.

  93. 93
    mythbri

    @heatherdalgleish #86

    Thanks for responding. Yes, PZ can be considered an asshole by that definition – he was making a conscious choice to offend people by doing so. Now, we can argue about whether the assholishiness is equally reprehensible when applied UP the power dynamic, or DOWN (atheists are a minority, have little representation in government while churches and religious folk are a majority, have great influence in people’s lives and enjoy a niche in government that they shouldn’t). But that would be a derail, so let’s stick a pin in it. If a person is part of a privileged group and repeatedly says/does things that offend people outside of that group after being told that those things are offensive, then I see that quite differently.

    I disagree with you on your interpretation of ElevatorGate in that “the feminists” were attempting to explain privilege and perception in the context of that situation – something that they should not have had to do. Rebecca said that she was approached by someone in a way that made her uncomfortable, after specifically stating that it made her uncomfortable and the person who approached her was present to hear that (but did it anyway). I agree with you that it blew up much bigger than it should have, but it highlighted some issues present in the freethought movement that inform the ones that we’re discussing now.

    Threats of death are no more acceptable than threats of rape, but when threatening a woman with rape, the people doing that are trying to hurt her specifically in a way that women are greatly hurt, whereas death is non-gendered and happens to everybody.

    I’m glad that you would take steps to protect yourself and bring any of your harassers to justice, but not being able to do so doesn’t make someone a bad or a weak person – and even if it did, no one ever deserves that, and it’s not their fault for being victimized. What’s being discussed here is trying to stop the behavior in the first place, before it gets to the point where those being harassed NEED to seek out protection.

  94. 94
    leonpeyre

    Seriously, we need to do something about this.

    +1

  95. 95
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    “…who disbelieved you,” rather.

  96. 96
    consciousness razor

    PZ is a person. He has received death threats – for something very innocuous. There are some seriously fucked up kooks out there.

    Rebecca Watson is a person. She has received threats of rape and physical violence – for something very innocuous. There are some SERIOUSLY fucked up kooks out there.

    That was my comparison.

    Your comparison is between how crackers are treated and how people are treated. Like I said, doing that is fucking despicable you fucking kook.

  97. 97
    heatherdalgleish

    *facepalm* This is not about offending. It’s about perpetuating or challenging existing power structures in society.

    I know – but that doesn’t mean that every instance where a woman is offended or feels aggrieved by a man, is an example of the longterm struggle against patriarchy. I don’t feel compelled to take ALL claims of offence and sexism seriously.

  98. 98
    heatherdalgleish

    Your comparison is between how crackers are treated and how people are treated. Like I said, doing that is fucking despicable you fucking kook.

    No – I explained my comparison in plain English. You simply fail at understanding, and you’re hysterical. Have a nice day…

  99. 99
    Pteryxx

    What is also true is that genuine sexual predators generally pick on vulnerable women – and those same vulnerable women tend to be the ones fearful of speaking out about their experiences.

    GENUINE sexual predators? Who GENUINELY harass people? The ones with flashing signs on their heads to distinguish them from those swarms and swarms of completely harmless and clueless harassing men who deserve the benefit of the doubt?

    Or the 10% or so repeat, predatory rapists who pretend to be clueless and misunderstood so they can maneuver their victims into situations where no-one will believe them?

    If you even read “Mythcommunication” or “Predator Redux” you didn’t understand them. You’re dangerously close to saying those victimized women deserved it by not being the right sort like you.

    And that’s not even going into the research showing that outspoken women get targeted for the most sexual harassment, to silence them and put them in their place. In workplace situations where there’s no way to escape after a few days, quiet subdued women get harassed LESS.

    Ms Daisy Cutter: I’m willing to go with obstreperously naive. Lots of people really do believe this bullshit.

  100. 100
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Who opened the Pretty Princess of Perfection troll cage?

  101. 101
    carlie

    Or the 10% or so repeat, predatory rapists who pretend to be clueless and misunderstood so they can maneuver their victims into situations where no-one will believe them?

    And to follow up on that more, the guys who are not, in heather’s mind, “genuine” predators ought to be grateful that someone has pointed out “hey idiot, you’re acting like a genuine sexual predator here” so that they can, you know, stop doing that. Instead of, you know, getting mad and calling the woman cluing them in a hysterical feminazi.

  102. 102
    consciousness razor

    No – I explained my comparison in plain English. You simply fail at understanding, and you’re hysterical. Have a nice day…

    It’s right there in the pseudo-logic of your fucking analogy that the two “very innocuous” events are comparable. Did you think I was calling PZ a cracker? How fucking stupid are you?

  103. 103
    Pteryxx

    I don’t feel compelled to take ALL claims of offence and sexism seriously.

    False dichotomy. If you considered claims of offense 90% reliable, then you’d be in line with false reporting rates generally. Would you even do THAT much? How about 75%? When there are four independent, anonymous reports of bad behavior by an individual, is that enough for you to admit the claims might be credible? How much evidence WOULD you need to consider a claim “genuine”?

  104. 104
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Did you think I was calling PZ a cracker?

    Nah, chicks are just less important than crackers, silly. Esp hysterical chicks.

  105. 105
    heatherdalgleish

    Unsurprisingly, there’s a shit-ton of context you chose to leave out: the panelists making excuses for piggish behavior in general (“just STFU and get over it”), the disingenuous question about how women in the audience felt about “flirting,” and the panel “viciously [tearing] apart and [ridiculing the woman] for even bringing it up.”

     

    Except that I maybe am not sure I agree very strongly with that reported ‘context’ in the first place – and neither do some of the OTHER WOMEN who were present at the time, and who have also commented in that thread should you wish to read it…

    You’re straight, aren’t you? And you’re in the UK, where coming out of the atheist closet is highly unlikely to harm you at all.
    Privileged git.

    Bisexual – and yes, to the rest…

    I should also mention that, in the UK, ALL contraception is free, including emergency contraception – which can be picked up at pretty much any pharmacy on-the-spot. And legal abortion is also free, and easily accessible on the National Health Service. I mention this for greater context.

    I’m more than willing to acknowledge that I have that privilege, living in the UK – that I live in less misogynistic culture – that I may be oblivious to some things that I’ve just never experienced myself.

    Leaving aside what’s already been said about “unambiguity” after you’ve written many words about harassment meaning different things to different people… If you have to ask this question, you haven’t been paying attention, and you don’t deserve the compliment of respectful argument on this point.

    Look – I’m sure this is all very wearyingly familiar to you – but there are people like myself everywhere, who have been busy doing other stuff, and only dipping lightly into some of the blow-ups that have occurred over this issue in the past few years – while still not really swallowing some of the feminist rhetoric.This has been a driving passion of yours. It hasn’t been a particular passion of mine, or many other people out there. 

    Now that you have my attention, what would you like to do with it? Insult me? Mischaracterise me? Misrepresent me? Quote every word of mine in Comic Sans? Tell me that I haven’t been paying attention and don’t deserve reasonable argument now that I am engaging in some way?

    As it suits you, I suppose. I’m quite big enough to take it – but might I suggest that your approach perhaps isn’t always the best way to win people over to your side?

  106. 106
    consciousness razor

    Nah, chicks are just less important than crackers, silly. Esp hysterical chicks.

    Right. My bad. As a dude, I agree of course.

  107. 107
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    Go hang out with Jen and the other chill girlz.

    Did you mean Abbie or Miranda? Because Jen’s not like that.

    FUCK! You are absolutely correct. I’m so sorry I messed that up. I definitely meant Abbie. I did not mean Jen. I don’t know how that happened, I know she isn’t like that. I shall proof read better next time.

  108. 108
    heatherdalgleish

    And that’s not even going into the research showing that outspoken women get targeted for the most sexual harassment, to silence them and put them in their place. In workplace situations where there’s no way to escape after a few days, quiet subdued women get harassed LESS.

    I’ve never experienced or knowingly witnessed this, and I’m in possession of a vagina and am no shrinking violet myself. Sorry. I’m willing to look at the evidence, though. Evidence stronger than anecdotes, if there is any.

  109. 109
    Forbidden Snowflake

    consciousness razor:

    Your comparison is between how crackers are treated and how people are treated. Like I said, doing that is fucking despicable you fucking kook.

    Actually, I think the comparison might be valid, but not in a way that strengthens Heather’s case. In one case, some Catholics went nuts when their feelings of entitlement to having their religious faith respected were challenged. In the other case, some men went nuts when their feelings of entitlement to women’s benevolent attention were challenged. In the latter case, the defense of privilege took place along lines of gender, and so the expression of aggression had a gendered tone.

  110. 110
    Pteryxx

    Evidence stronger than anecdotes, if there is any.

    How magnanimous of you.

    Berdahl 2007, Journal of Applied Psychology, “The sexual harassment of uppity women”

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/55650053/The-sexual-harassment-of-uppity-women

    Abstract:

    In 3 studies, the author tested 2 competing views of sexual harassment: (a) It is motivated primarily by sexual desire and, therefore, is directed at women who meet feminine ideals, and (b) it is motivated primarily by a desire to punish gender-role deviants and, therefore, is directed at women who violate feminine ideals. Study 1 included male and female college students ( N = 175) and showed that women with relatively masculine personalities (e.g., assertive, dominant, and independent) experienced the most sexual harassment. Study 2 (N = 134) showed that this effect was not because women with relativelymasculine personalities were more likely than others to negatively evaluate potentially harassing scenarios. Study 3 included male and female employees at 5 organizations ( N = 238) and showed that women in male-dominated organizations were harassed more than women in female-dominated organi-zations, and that women in male-dominated organizations who had relatively masculine personalities were sexually harassed the most.

  111. 111
    heatherdalgleish

    Actually, I think the comparison might be valid, but not in a way that strengthens Heather’s case. In one case, some Catholics went nuts when their feelings of entitlement to having their religious faith respected were challenged. In the other case, some men went nuts when their feelings of entitlement to women’s benevolent attention were challenged. In the latter case, the defense of privilege took place along lines of gender, and so the expression of aggression had a gendered tone.

    Errrrrrrr… I agree with you?

  112. 112
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Pteryxx – you mean to tell me that not being oh-so-tough and superior to all those hysterical chicks WON’T magically protect me from sexual harrassment?

    I guess i’ll just keep turning a blind eye to it then. That means it doesn’t exist, right?

  113. 113
    SallyStrange

    Ah, Heather Dagleish–

    I remember you from your accusation that the Richard Dawkins Foundation hired Dawkins’ girlfriend out of favoritism.

    You are undermining your credibility here.

    You are speaking from a position of ignorance and privilege.

    I have also experienced relatively little sexual harassment, but I am not so foolish as to think that this means that the other women who report that they have are “hysterical”. Peer-reviewed studies are helpful, no doubt, but not necessary to recognize reality.

    “Hysterical” indeed. Yes, all of our uteri have come unmoored in our bodies.

    Please stop being such a jerk.

  114. 114
    heatherdalgleish

    Berdahl 2007, Journal of Applied Psychology, “The sexual harassment of uppity women”

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/55650053/The-sexual-harassment-of-uppity-women

    Abstract:

    In 3 studies, the author tested 2 competing views of sexual harassment: (a) It is motivated primarily by sexual desire and, therefore, is directed at women who meet feminine ideals, and (b) it is motivated primarily by a desire to punish gender-role deviants and, therefore, is directed at women who violate feminine ideals. Study 1 included male and female college students ( N = 175) and showed that women with relatively masculine personalities (e.g., assertive, dominant, and independent) experienced the most sexual harassment. Study 2 (N = 134) showed that this effect was not because women with relativelymasculine personalities were more likely than others to negatively evaluate potentially harassing scenarios. Study 3 included male and female employees at 5 organizations ( N = 238) and showed that women in male-dominated organizations were harassed more than women in female-dominated organi-zations, and that women in male-dominated organizations who had relatively masculine personalities were sexually harassed the most.

  115. 115
    heatherdalgleish

    Oops – meant to say, thanks for that paper. ^^^^

  116. 116
    heatherdalgleish

    Ah, Heather Dalgleish–

    I remember you from your accusation that the Richard Dawkins Foundation hired Dawkins’ girlfriend out of favoritism.

    But not from the essay I wrote for this blog a few months ago? 

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/10/09/why-i-am-an-atheist/

    And yes – I’m sure it’s sheer coincidence that both branches of Dawkins’ Foundation are being run by women who were or are in very close – very suggestively sexual – personal relationships with Richard. But I’m not going to have that particular discussion, here…

    You are undermining your credibility here.

    No I am not.

    You are speaking from a position of ignorance and privilege.

    Which I’ve freely admitted to…

    I have also experienced relatively little sexual harassment, but I am not so foolish as to think that this means that the other women who report that they have are “hysterical”.

     

    Neither am I. I think I made SEVERAL comments suggesting that I’m willing to take complaints of sexual harassment seriously.

    Peer-reviewed studies are helpful, no doubt, but not necessary to recognize reality.

    I agree – but if I’m starting from a position of scepticism, a string of anecdotes aren’t going to shift me off the fence.

    Please stop being such a jerk.</

    Tell me about it…

  117. 117
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    OK, I accept that the risks of “naming and shaming” are potentially significant.

    How about explicit threats of rape and murder, asshole? Do you accept those as significant too?

  118. 118
    mythbri

    @heatherdalgleish, in general

    Your claim that you will take complaints of sexual harassment seriously is qualified by your use of the words “genuine” and “unambiguous”, which to me speaks of a pre-disposition to disbelieve people whose complaints do not reach YOUR standards of “genuine” and “unambiguous”. You are not the final arbiter of what constitutes a valid claim. You’ve already admitted that you speak from a place of privilege and ignorance, both of which by definition go a long way toward blinding you to real problems that real people face. Therefore, your “skepticism” regarding other people’s individual experiences is tiresome. This is a discussion about furthering efforts to change BEHAVIOR, not to reinforce a “get out, put up, or shut up” attitude.

  119. 119
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Azkyroth – it isn’t a strawman when it genuinely reflects the honest opinions and assumptions from some feminists of Elevator Guy. It won’t turn into a strawman just because you called it one, unfortunately.

    But it doesn’t, and between your comments here and on Greta Christina’s threads, you wouldn’t know honest if it walked up and bit you on the nose.

    I am unaware of a single argument by any feminist which hinges on

    predatory premeditation and conscious male privilege

    . In fact, the unconscious nature of privilege has been consistently emphasized, far beyond the scope of honest misunderstanding.

    The argument has always been as follows:

    1) the man in question was in a position where it is implausible that he did not hear Rebecca *repeatedly* express her dissatisfaction with being hit on at events, and
    2) even had he not heard, he would have had no rational reason for expecting her to be receptive, and yet
    3) he chose to hit on her anyway, which was inappropriate and inconsiderate, and
    4) this is illustrative of a pervasive sense among men that they are *entitled* to women’s attention in general and sexual attention in particular, which is actively inculcated and promoted by culture (including disingenuous shitheads who insist that it’s totally fine to hit on women whether or not they want to be hit on, and lie like rugs about the statements and motives of women and women’s allies when they object), and most importantly,
    5) the absolutely fucking DERANGED response to her statement of “guys, don’t do that” reflects a deep-seated, smoldering hostility towards the prospect of women asserting any control over social or sexual interactions with men whatsoever.

    And you damn well know it.

  120. 120
    SallyStrange

    starting from a position of scepticism

    You’re not. At least, not as skepticism is properly defined. Given the ambient conditions of this sexist society, you appear to be setting the bar of evidence far too high vis-a-vis claims of sexual harassment.

    I don’t usually read the WIAAA essays. I vaguely recall seeing your name, yes, but it did not make as much of an impression as your allegations about RDF’s hiring practices. It seemed odd that it mattered that much to you.

    Now that you’ve revealed yourself to be a Chill Girl, I understand better.

    As far as your credibility goes, it’s not something you get to define for other people. You might think that your anti-feminist sentiments OUGHT not undermine your credibility. Nevertheless, they DO, at least in my mind.

  121. 121
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    starting from a position of scepticism

    Skepticism doesn’t mean “bending over backwards to dismiss anything that conflicts with what I’m already inclined to believe.”

    On the other hand, since your spelling would be pronounced “septicism,” it might be appropriate.

  122. 122
    Pteryxx

    Heather: Since you’re arguing that women who don’t speak out get targeted, and women who DO speak out should suffer less harassment, you should also research the incidence of retaliation after claims of sexual harassment. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 30% of EEOC sexual harassment claims also involved a retaliation claim.

    While many laws exist to protect employee victims from retaliation for exercising their rights, retaliation is a very real problem. For example, over 30% of all recent sexual harassment claims made to the EEOC incorporated a retaliation claim.19 Given the reality of retaliation, many farmworkers are afraid to exercise rights afforded them by law. Lawyers must educate themselves about retaliation and be prepared to defend farmworker victims who suffer adverse effects of retaliation.

    http://www.splcenter.org/sexual-violence-against-farmworkers-a-guidebook-for-legal-providers/what-are-the-potential-employmen

    As far as I can tell, they’re citing the EEOC’s own data from 2009.

    Another article on reporting sexual harassment in the military (bolds mine):

    The (un)reasonableness of reporting: Antecedents and consequences of reporting sexual harassment.
    Bergman, Mindy E.; Langhout, Regina Day; Palmieri, Patrick A.; Cortina, Lilia M.; Fitzgerald, Louise F.
    Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 87(2), Apr 2002, 230-242. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.87.2.230

    This study places the reporting of sexual harassment within an integrated model of the sexual harassment process. Two structural models were developed and tested in a sample ( N=6,417) of male and female military personnel. The 1st model identifies determinants and effects of reporting; reporting did not improve–and at times worsened–job, psychological, and health outcomes. The authors argue that organizational responses to reports (i.e., organizational remedies, organizational minimization, and retaliation) as well as procedural satisfaction can account for these negative effects. The 2nd model examines these mediating mechanisms; results suggest that these mediators, and not reporting itself, are the source of the negative effects of reporting. Organizational and legal implications of these findings are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

    (I don’t have access to that full article, unfortunately.)

    I agree – but if I’m starting from a position of scepticism, a string of anecdotes aren’t going to shift me off the fence.

    It’s disingenuous to apply skepticism to the claim “sexually harassing behavior is common”. One of your counterarguments has been that YOU haven’t experienced or witnessed harassment. Your personal experience is just as much an anecdote as the ones you’re dismissing – in fact, you’re outnumbered.

    Similarly, it’s unreasonable to be disproportionately skeptical of WOMEN, and only women, when they say they have experienced an incident of harassment, but to accept uncritically the word of men who say nothing happened. Unreasonable, but well established as the social norm. Going by false reporting rates alone, odds would be roughly 9 to 1 that the victim’s telling the truth.

    In order to disbelieve the reports of sexual harassment at secular/freethinker/skepticism conferences in general, you would have to explain how this particular community does NOT exhibit a similar level of misogyny and harassment to that of the general population.

  123. 123
    Pteryxx

    nb: “scepticism” is a correct, mainly British spelling of “skepticism”.

  124. 124
    Pteryxx

    And just in case (bolds mine):

    Sexual harassment: Violence against women in the workplace.
    Fitzgerald, Louise F.
    American Psychologist, Vol 48(10), Oct 1993, 1070-1076. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.48.10.1070

    Sexual harassment has been a fixture of the workplace since women first began to work outside the home. Although true epidemiological studies do not exist, large-scale surveys of working women suggest that approximately 1 of every 2 women will be harassed at some point during their academic or working lives. The data indicate that harassment is degrading, frightening, and sometimes physically violent; frequently extends over a considerable period of time; and can result in profound job-related, psychological, and health-related consequences. This article provides a brief review of the prevalence and consequences of sexual harassment and outlines social policy implications for research, legislation, and primary prevention. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

    http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1994-11711-001

    That’s from 1993. Seriously, at this point, there’s no excuse for doubting that sexual harassment is common or that it’s damaging.

  125. 125
    heatherdalgleish

    4) this is illustrative of a pervasive sense among men that they are *entitled* to women’s attention in general and sexual attention in particular, which is actively inculcated and promoted by culture (including disingenuous shitheads who insist that it’s totally fine to hit on women whether or not they want to be hit on, and lie like rugs about the statements and motives of women and women’s allies when they object), and most importantly,

    Perhaps what I am most dubious about is that this problem is PERVASIVE, rather than a minority issue, of men being oblivious or wilful in pushing women’s boundaries, and disrespecting them as human beings – and that all of these smaller offences are genuinely part of that broader picture – rather than isolated, separate issues with their own particular nuances, involving individual men and women.

    5) the absolutely fucking DERANGED response to her statement of “guys, don’t do that” reflects a deep-seated, smoldering hostility towards the prospect of women asserting any control over social or sexual interactions with men whatsoever.

    And you damn well know it.

    Absolutely. For the men who responded with threats of rape and violence – especially to that tepid remark of Rebecca’s. Fucking deranged. All of the above. No doubt about it.

    Conversely – the loud feminist cries that followed, divorced of their context (threats and insults towards Rebecca for an innocent remark) looked pretty deranged to uninitiated outsiders – including Richard Dawkins himself, and me, at the time…

    I’ve conceded that I come from a position of ignorance and privilege on this issue – quite possibly culturally inured blindness – and I’ve asked for evidence of various things. I don’t know what else I could offer. You tell me that I’m overly sceptical and ready to dismiss ideas that don’t match my existing biases. I’ve no way of evaluating that. 

    I suppose the best I can do is to watch these things a little closer. Though I’ve been around the Western gender issues mulberry bush a few times now – being dismissed both as a feminist ball-buster and a shill of the patriarchy – such that I find it a little wearying. 

    As far as ‘credibility’ goes – Richard Feynman said some seriously galling things about women in his time (as well as some very touching things: he was a complicated character) – but he was still a very credible and honest man and scientist, and someone I would have been honoured to meet, and to try to set straight on that account.

  126. 126
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Perhaps what I am most dubious about is that this problem is PERVASIVE

    For what conceivable reason?

  127. 127
    Jadehawk

    Anonymous accusations regarding anything serious are repellent.

    translation: whistleblowers are repellent

  128. 128
    heatherdalgleish

    Thanks Pteryxx – this is genuinely quite a shock to me. As a woman in a science degree. As someone who sat in a maths class that was probably around 90% male, and was one of the most vocal in the class, last semester…

  129. 129
    SallyStrange

    Conversely – the loud feminist cries that followed, divorced of their context (threats and insults towards Rebecca for an innocent remark) looked pretty deranged to uninitiated outsiders – including Richard Dawkins himself, and me, at the time…

    Who was removing these “loud feminist cries” from their context?

    Why is it that, now that you are allegedly initiated, you continue to insist that it’s legitimate to characterize these responses as equivalently deranged?

  130. 130
    heatherdalgleish

    For what conceivable reason?

    That I hadn’t, until this point, encountered any experience or other evidence that strongly suggested to me that it is pervasive.

  131. 131
    Jadehawk

    That I hadn’t, until this point, encountered any experience or other evidence that strongly suggested to me that it is pervasive.

    I have to admit this level of ignorance, especially for someone who wades into discussions on this topic, is fucking impressive. So impressive in fact I can only blame it on Morton’s Demon.

    right up there with Ryan not knowing what the Southern Strategy is (at he had the excuse of being young and non-American)

  132. 132
    Pteryxx

    Perhaps what I am most dubious about is that this problem is PERVASIVE, rather than a minority issue, of men being oblivious or wilful in pushing women’s boundaries, and disrespecting them as human beings – and that all of these smaller offences are genuinely part of that broader picture – rather than isolated, separate issues with their own particular nuances, involving individual men and women.

    You need to refine your definitions of “pervasive” and “minority”. Do you actually think there’s no problem until 51% of men are doing the harassing, or 51% of women report being harassed? (Hint: for women, 50% may be an underestimate of the extent of harassment.)

    Research shows that roughly 10% of men self-report having raped someone, and that subset are disproportionately more misogynistic and use boundary-pushing behavior as a predatory technique. That’s already a serious, significant problem, even though they are in the minority.

    See Predator Redux and Lisak’s paper linked from there:

    http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/predator-redux/

    http://www2.ucsc.edu/rape-prevention/pdfs/PredatoryNature.pdf

    As to whether small offenses such as careless language by the non-predatory majority contribute: see the research on stereotype threat, subconscious association of gender cues with quality as seen in job applications and orchestra auditions, and chilly climate in workplace discussion. All of this is well documented.

    For instance:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2010/11/25/15-minute-writing-exercise-closes-the-gender-gap-in-university-level-physics/

  133. 133
    carlie

    People who like to claim skepticism on things like sexual harassment seem to think that the null hypothesis is “no sexual harassment happened”. But the thing is, it doesn’t work like that. You’re thinking of the alternate explanation the wrong way. It’s an interaction between two people, each of whom has an experience from it. The only null in people and interactions is simply “there was no interaction at all”. Once an interaction occurs, it isn’t a binary between sexual harassment happened Y/N, it’s an interpretation on both sides. One side says sexual harassment happened, the other side may say a friendly interaction happened. But there is no “no sexual harassment happened”.

  134. 134
    mythbri

    (Scratches head) Well, shoot, folks. I sure as hell can’t see this misogyny forest y’all keep talking about. There’s too many misunderstood, socially awkward trees in the way.

  135. 135
    carlie

    heatherdalgleish, I think I may have a background similar to yours. I’ve only experienced direct sexual harassment once in my life, and that was in high school from an asshole jock who was that way to everyone. Other than that, I’ve literally never experienced it overtly; either I’m simply under the radar as a nonattractive woman or I’ve always been the right combination of socially unaware and forceful enough to both not notice and not let it impede my progress or attention-grabbing (Ooo!Oooo! I know the answer! CHOOSE ME WAVING MY HAND RIGHT NOW!).

    But I do know a lot of attractive women, and I started to pay attention to them. I heard stories of how they were treated. I watched them get talked over in meetings. I see how students interact in the hallways. I’ve looked into sociological studies of how women and men are treated differently. And, what really cemented it all into place, I’ve seen time after time after time of simple, basic concepts of treating people the same way come up and women get shouted down on the internet with rape and death threats. It’s hard to believe how ubiquitous it is, but if you watch for the patterns, you will see it.

  136. 136
    Jadehawk

    People who like to claim skepticism on things like sexual harassment seem to think that the null hypothesis is “no sexual harassment happened”.

    then there’s also the issue of threading in place.

    papers in Evolutionary Biology, as well as discussions thereof, don’t ever start from the Null Hypothesis of “evolution doesn’t happen”*. at some point, you just accept that a concept is established as existing, and you move on from there.

    sexism is the same: it’s pervasive existence in culture is extremely well documented. why insist that it needs to be shown to be so every time? it’s much more useful to accept this well-established phenomenon, and, if you think it’s incorrectly established, poke holes at it by presenting an alternative explanation for the well-established observations in question that explains them better than sexism, the same way you would with any other well-established phenomenon/theory.

    - – - – - -
    *except with creationists. figure it out.

  137. 137
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    TRIGGER WARNING:

    heatherdalgleish:

    I would compel them in the same sense that I would compel atheists and gays to come out of the closet.

    The amount of privilege you display is staggering.
    Before you decide to start compelling gay to come out of the closet, I hope you’ve taken the time to survey a tremendous number of individuals who are out of the closet. That way you can learn the horror stories that exist for many people who choose to slam the door behind them. Every story is different and coming out for one person can be relatively easy, but for others, it could literally be the difference between life and death**.
    I don’t anger easily, especially not when dealing with people I don’t know.
    You however, have really pissed me off with this statement. It’s offensive and hurtful.

    YOU

    want to compel people to come out of the closet? As if it’s a good thing? As if your standards should be applied in all situations? As if everyone has the benefit of your background? As if your gold standard for good means fuck-all to anyone struggling with these very real issues.
    Let me tell you something. Coming out of the closet was NOT easy for me. I didn’t have it anywhere near as horrible as others, but it wasn’t a walk in the park. The first time I even realized something was different with me was in the 8th grade. I remember looking at my gym coach and thinking strange thoughts. I’d never looked at girls in the way I was looking at him. I had no idea what I was feeling. I had no resources. This was pre Internet, around 1987 and I hadn’t even heard the words “gay”, “homosexual” or any terms related to them. I *did* know that the feeling I had was different than what was expected of me, so I went and shoved those feelings deep down and tried to suppress them. When I finally decided around the age of 18 to come out of the closet, I didn’t even know how to do it.
    I didn’t know where to do it.
    I didn’t know who to tell first.
    I didn’t know if I should only tell a few people or proclaim it to the world.
    I didn’t know how people would react (this would have been 92 or 93 and I’d started hearing “gay” tossed around but it sure wasn’t in a pleasant manner).
    Would I be fired from my job if I told my boss?
    Would my parents kick me out of the house? If they did, where would I go?
    These are just *some* of the questions I had to deal with
    ALL BY MYSELF.
    To make matters worse, I was living in Alabama at the time, which is sooooooooooo well known for being a progressive state.
    When I did come out, I told my best friend at the time and his response was absolutely vital in helping determine any future revelations on my part. He didn’t care that I was gay. I was his friend and he was glad I shared that with him. He acknowledged the courage I had to muster to tell him. That selfsame courage grew because he accepted me unconditionally when everything around him screamed “gays are evil”. I told my boss at work and her reply was the same (when I told her that I had only found white men attractive up to that point, *that* freaked her out). I told my parents last.
    My mom said “so much for grandchildren”.
    My dad replied with the standard “butt sex hurts” and near horror. I fled the house before they could even say much.
    There’s only been one time in my life that I contemplated suicide to any degree.
    That was the time.
    I was rejected by my parents and deeply saddened.
    Thankfully, the suicidal thought I had didn’t last long. I thought of all the people that would be hurt by me taking my life. Somehow in the midst of a life changing experience, I was able to stop thinking about myself and consider the impact my actions would have on the world around me.
    There are people across the planet that face discrimination in the workplace or church, bigotry, hatred, rape threats, death threats, violence, public humiliation, shaming and more *because* they came out of the closet (I’m speaking here only of people who chose to come out of the closet; being forced out is a different story and one I’m happy to have little knowledge of because the thought of it pisses me off).
    It’s great that you would compel gays to come out of the closet without first considering the impact it might have on them.
    You’ve just told a lot of people that your opinion is more important than theirs. Take your self righteous, arrogant, condescending shit somewhere else.

    **There are many uplifting stories out there as well. I love reading about people who come out of the closet and their parents don’t care one way or the other because they just want their child to be happy. Or the people who come out at work and their coworkers are supportive of them. Yes, those stories exist, but that actually underscores my point even further.

  138. 138
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    I’m sorry for the threadrupt there folks. I just couldn’t contain it. I’m going off to buy some vodka.

  139. 139
    Jadehawk

    I would compel them in the same sense that I would compel atheists and gays to come out of the closet.

    holy fuck. I totally missed that.

    what the fucking fuck? who gave you the right to “compel” people to risk their lives?!

    spoiled brat

  140. 140
    Jadehawk

    also, one oven-fresh internet for tony

  141. 141
    Weedless Monkey

    Tony, thank you for sharing. That was very powerful. And have fun with the vodka!

  142. 142
    carlie

    Jadehawk – she did later change “compel” to “urge”.

  143. 143
    Jadehawk

    Jadehawk – she did later change “compel” to “urge”.

    which makes it marginally less horrible.

    if she wants people to come out of their closet more, she should “help” and “support”, not “compel” and “urge”. it’s not like people stay in the closet because it’s soooo much fun, ffs. you weaken/ compensate for the massive danger that comes with coming out, more people will come out.

  144. 144
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    heatherdalgleish:

    No – I explained my comparison in plain English. You simply fail at understanding, and you’re hysterical. Have a nice day…

    So much for that bottle of liquor.
    How dense are you, exactly?
    At this point, I want to give you some benefit of the doubt and go with ‘dense as coal’ (which allows for your privileged positions to be chipped away at), but I’m still a bit too pissed at you, so we’re going with diamond.
    Let’s spell out exactly what you said, and see if you can’t understand it like the rest of us normal folks who at least are aware of the privilege they do or do not have.

    Of course everyone does things that offend others – no one is disputing that. But inadvertently offending others crosses the line into being a complete asshole when the people you’re offending tell you how they feel, and yet you continue to persist in being offensive. That’s a conscious choice.

    So PZ is a ‘complete asshole’ for desecrating communion wafers and holy books – since he’d been informed how much it would offend people?

    PZ is a person. He has received death threats – for something very innocuous. There are some seriously fucked up kooks out there.

    Rebecca Watson is a person. She has received threats of rape and physical violence – for something very innocuous. There are some SERIOUSLY fucked up kooks out there.

    That was my comparison.

    Of the many differences between them, Rebecca Watson wasn’t the source of offensive statements while PZ was.
    Still don’t understand?
    Hows this:
    PZ=attacker*
    Rebecca=attacked
    The vile threats they both received were from seriously fucked up kooks, yes. I’m glad you figured that out.
    However:
    Comparison Fail.

    *I hate even using this as an example. As if communion wafers or a damn bible mean anything. Ooooh, someone got their pants in a tizzy because the mean professor said things about their morally depraved book.

  145. 145
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Jadehawk:

    if she wants people to come out of their closet more, she should “help” and “support”, not “compel” and “urge”. it’s not like people stay in the closet because it’s soooo much fun, ffs. you weaken/ compensate for the massive danger that comes with coming out, more people will come out.

    Yes to the infinite power.
    Help and support are what gay people need, just as the women in the atheist community who have been the targets of sexism and misogyny need help and support (and I certainly don’t mean in a swoop in and save the day kind of way; I’m referring to helping to reduce/eliminate the problem). The last thing either needs is someone minimizing the extent of their problems.

  146. 146
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    You rock, Tony. Seriously.

  147. 147
    Xanthë, Amy of my threads

    Tony, I had pretty much the same feelings you did, the same year too (1987, but I was in Grade 10). There are big costs in coming out, just as there are in whistle-blowing, and the denialism in this thread is staggering: harassment has to be provably “genuine harassment” before we can take it seriously?

    What the fuck? As usual, that is putting a monstrously unfair burden on the victim – which might be appropriate if we were considering, like ya know, putting people on trial for acts which had reached the level of criminal prosecution, except we’re not: the discussion is about trying to get a minimum level of treating other people with respect, and stop problematic behaviour.

  148. 148
    David Marjanović

    Heather, two things:

    1) The USA is a much worse place than you imagine;
    2) everywhere is a worse place than you imagine.

    That’s not “men and women”.

    I think you’ll find that it is.

    Show me.

    Perhaps one hurdle that has to be overcome with some men is that they don’t view their actions as harassing – since they themselves, as (privileged) males – wouldn’t feel harassed if they themselves were approached in the same way.

    That’s part of what I’m saying.

    also, one oven-fresh internet for tony

    Made from lavender cookies. *nodnod*

  149. 149
    Weedless Monkey

    Tony, I don’t really know what you’re going through at the moment, but just want to wish you good luck, thumbs up and all the other things that go with that.

  150. 150
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    heatherdalgleish:

    Perhaps what I am most dubious about is that this problem is PERVASIVE, rather than a minority issue, of men being oblivious or wilful in pushing women’s boundaries, and disrespecting them as human beings – and that all of these smaller offences are genuinely part of that broader picture – rather than isolated, separate issues with their own particular nuances, involving individual men and women.

    The situations can be isolated and separate, but the attitudes of the men are indicative of a deeper, pervasive problem.
    Dig Deeper.
    Why did Elevatorguy think it was ok to approach Rebecca Watson in the first place?
    What messages and signals did he learn growing up that formed the bedrock of his attitudes towards women?
    Where did those messages and signals come from?
    Who else got them?
    Why was Jessica Ahlquist threatened with gang rape?
    Why aren’t men threatened with rape?
    What does that imply?
    Once the blinders come off your eyes, it will become more apparent.
    But first you have to be willing to admit you’re wrong. Then you have to be willing to do the research.
    What country do you live in where sexism and misogyny are not pervasive?
    I live in the United States and sexism and misogyny are…what’s a stronger word than pervasive?
    Here sexism is everywhere. It is pervasive.
    1-the music industry and it’s insistence that women are nothing more than sexual objects for the gratification of men
    2-the government where men make up the vast majority of political officials
    3-churches. Nuff said. This also applies across the world. Christianity, Islam and Judaism are {by and large} systems of oppression for women, not freedom.
    4-nightlife. I’ve seen far too many men who think they have the right to touch a woman however and whenever they want to. Or the attitude of “here’s a drink, let’s fuck”.
    5-television. women in commercials handling babies or doing the dishes or shopping for groceries.
    I (and likely anyone else here not sitting on a Privilege Perch) could go on and on and on but I hope you get my point.
    If you can’t see sexism and misogyny, maybe your first problem is that you don’t understand the terms to begin with. It’s rather similar to creationists criticizing evolution. If you can’t even understand the basic definition of words, any argument you have using said faulty definitions is going to suffer.
    ________________________________________________________
    BTW: if you don’t know who Matthew Shepard was, look him up. You’ll see the tragic consequences he faced simply because he was out.

  151. 151
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Weed Monkey @149:
    Thank you.
    I’m not going through anything, though I can see how one might get that impression from reading my response to “she who sits upon a perch of privilege with rose colored glasses”.

  152. 152
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I have rarely seen anyone so offensively obtuse and stubbornly resisting listening to anyone else (or even crediting them with knowing what they’re talking about) as Heather. You actually made my jaw open several times. Congratulations. You are a nasty piece of work.

  153. 153
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    David Marjanović:

    Made from lavender cookies. *nodnod*

    not only have I never eaten a lavender cookie, I’ve near *heard* of them. Hmmm.

    ______________________________
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, Gynofascist in a Spiffy Hugo Boss Uniform

    You rock, Tony. Seriously.

    Thanks.
    It’s funny you say that, b/c you are among some of the posters here at FtB that I’ve learned a lot from. In the near two years I’ve been coming here, I’ve had a lot of my personal assumptions challenged and overturned simply by reading what many of you have said and holding my beliefs up to the light and looking at them with a critical eye. Five years ago, I was somewhat ignorant of the very subject matter of this thread. Having been awakened to it by some of the wonderful people here (and I’m happy for that, btw), I can’t and won’t close my eyes to the injustices of the world.
    I’ve learned about religious privilege, tone trolling, sexism, misogyny, male privilege, heterosexual privilege, non gendered pronouns (as well as WHY using them is good; I increasingly find myself stopping in the midst of using the phrase “you guys” when speaking to groups of people; it’s hard to stop using, but I catch myself more and more and opt to go with “ya’ll or “you folks”), and so much more. These are things that I frequently chat with friends about.
    Then there’s the cool fun stuff I’ve discovered, usually by following someone’s link (Project Reason, The Atheist Experience, Qualia Soup, Betty Bowers, Talk.Origins, AlterNet). I discovered humanism and found that to be a philosophical world view that I completely embrace. I’ve been awakened to logical fallacies and so many of the poor forms of argumentation. I’ve learned to stop assuming I know anything about someone else when I don’t, and now take the time to actually read for comprehension.
    I don’t want to forget anyone, so I won’t even bother trying to name names.
    I’ll just say thank you.
    (and no, this isn’t a giant farewell letter)

  154. 154
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Xanthe:

    There are big costs in coming out, just as there are in whistle-blowing, and the denialism in this thread is staggering: harassment has to be provably “genuine harassment” before we can take it seriously?

    The “not so funny thing” in my case is that I used to think that way. I used to wonder why people didn’t just come out of the closet. Then I grew up and realized that it’s easy to sit back and judge the actions of others as if they’re living their lives by my standards. I realized I wasn’t looking for “easy”. I realized that if I wanted to be of assistance to others, I had to stop assuming others lived their lives by my standards.
    So too is it easy to tell women they should just speak up about being sexually harassed. It takes more effort to take the time to listen to women faced with that crap and actually pay attention to their circumstances before offering an opinion (assuming its even solicited).
    ______________________________________________

    carlie:

    I heard stories of how they were treated. I watched them get talked over in meetings. I see how students interact in the hallways. I’ve looked into sociological studies of how women and men are treated differently. And, what really cemented it all into place, I’ve seen time after time after time of simple, basic concepts of treating people the same way come up and women get shouted down on the internet with rape and death threats. It’s hard to believe how ubiquitous it is, but if you watch for the patterns, you will see it.

    If I may, was there an incident that prompted you to start watching and listening?
    I ask because I wonder if maybe heatherdalgleish hasn’t been in a situation that could cause her bubble to burst (by that, I don’t mean something bad happening to her, just an event that could force her to look differently at her beliefs).

  155. 155
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Pteryxx:

    You need to refine your definitions of “pervasive” and “minority”. Do you actually think there’s no problem until 51% of men are doing the harassing, or 51% of women report being harassed? (Hint: for women, 50% may be an underestimate of the extent of harassment.)

    The more I read, the more I see that language comprehension is a huge stumbling block in so many walks of life. Heather’s idea of “pervasive” and “minority” don’t seem to be in line with many of the commenters here.
    __________________________________
    On a separate note, the problem with sexism and misogyny runs so deep that sometimes it manifests in ways that people think are good.
    In my time slinging drinks, I’ve seen too many cases where a woman was hired as a bartender and then went on to not be a very good employee. When talking to management, I’ve frequently heard something along the lines of “I thought she’d work out. She seemed so nice” or some other comment that’s not remotely reflective of her skills. I’ve heard owners of restaurants comment that they only wanted the pretty girls working the hostess stand. I’ve seen and worked with women that didn’t belong behind a bar (it helps to have customer service skills and some ability to make drinks), yet got away with all manner of activities; all because they were pretty. I was told when I was being interviewed for my current bartending job that they preferred having women behind the bar.

    I’m sick and tired of that crap.

    I want good employees behind the bar. I don’t give a crap if they’re women or men. But to single women out and hire largely based on their appearance is insulting to women. It helps perpetuate the idea that a woman’s value is
    A: tied into her appearance
    and
    B: is determined by men.

  156. 156
    Jadehawk

    not only have I never eaten a lavender cookie, I’ve near *heard* of them. Hmmm.

    A href=”http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Lavender-Cookies”>Lavender Cookies

  157. 157
    Jadehawk

    loot at that linkfail. lol
    Lavender Cookies

  158. 158
    Jadehawk

    loot

    O.o

    I give up

  159. 159
    flatlander100

    To Jadevhawk @ 127:

    Nonsense. I neither said nor implied anything of the kind.

  160. 160
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    @Tony: awesome post!

  161. 161
    SallyStrange

    Lavender cookies. Yum!

  162. 162
    kaimatthews

    I add my voice to the admiration here of Tony’s articulate observations. (I was going to write the standard “If I may, I’d like to add…”, but it seems more honest just to say directly that I admire both the observations and their articulateness.)

    And articulateness is one of the issues here, with Heather’s (and probably others’) posts – articulateness as a measure of one’s emotional investment in an issue under discussion.

    At times, trying to parse her meaning, her intent, I’ve tried to bend over backwards to give her the benefit of the doubt, to be able to say, oh, well, she really didn’t mean X, she meant to say Y, but didn’t phrase it carefully enough.

    But, dammit, when someone really cares enough, and thus has spent enough enough time thinking about an issue, because it gnaws at them and they want to get it right, they will take the time, they will have taken the time, to work it out to the point where they can articulate what they really mean.

    It doesn’t mean they have to be in possession of an impressive vocabulary or anything, just that they don’t want to be misunderstood on something that is of critical importance to them, that they care enough about the people the issue involves to value both understanding them and being understood by them, that they want to be able to demonstrate that they sincerely want to help, by listening to what the others themselves say needs to be understood, which will lead to understanding the others (to the degree that it’s possible – it being impossible, for instance, for a man – like me – to understand completely what it’s like to be a woman, or for a woman to understand completely what it’s like to be a man, or for a straight person – like me – to understand completely what it’s like to be gay, or vice-versa, or for white people – like me – to understand what it’s like to be a person of colour. or vice-versa, although in all power imbalances the people on the bottom end of the imbalance generally have a better understanding of those on the top end, from sheer survival necessity.*)

    Those others will have been highly motivated by the pain of their experiences to have worked out quite well what’s going on, what the issues are. They are the first and best resource to turn to if one truly wants to understand. Listen first, person of privilege and/or sheltered existence – and ask questions from an open, un-preconceived POV – and then synthesize your understanding from that input. You’ll probably find aspects of your own experience somewhere that correspond at least somewhat to theirs once you’ve taken the time to consider their stories of their experiences, since we all do have certain human attributes in common, fortunately, and that will help you build a sympathetic bridge – but first you have to care enough to listen and learn.

    An issue that involves what happens to some other people not necessarily similar to oneself involves being keenly aware of one’s own ignorance of what it’s like to be those other people, and thus being humble enough to shut up and listen first. Read what’s available, etc. There’s plenty. (I myself have barely gotten started on it.) In fact, that’s probably better than pestering someone in an oppressed group to be your personal privilege-enlightenment tutor. That’s just another form of privileged-group entitlement. But if the issues come up in conversation, listen and then maybe ask questions that themselves demonstrate you actually care what they think and how they feel about the issues, especially the latter. Sympathy is primarily an emotional exercise, not an intellectual one. I shouldn’t have to point that out, but I see too many people approach understanding as just a dry, logical matter.

    So I can’t cut Heather any more slack, ’cause I just don’t see the evidence of motivation in her, evidence of caring enough.

    (*I’ve come to realize that, as a straight white male of some privilege, I like living in places where I’m a minority, which force me out of my comfortable bubble. Thus, I benefitted from living in a mostly gay neighbourhood (Duboce Triangle) in San Francisco, and here in Montreal I live in a neighbourhood of mostly recent (and “Third World”) immigrants and foreign students, not to mention being an anglo in a French nation. (Yes, Quebec is a nation. Within another nation.))

  163. 163
    Louis

    I have a lot I want to say, but I’m going to summarise all of it as:

    Tony. You get the Awesome Badge for the day. Please report to the front desk for your shades and badge.

    Louis

  164. 164
    carlie

    You get the Awesome Badge for the day. Please report to the front desk for your shades and badge.

    Tony – just be careful when you report to the desk what line you get in. There is also an orgy with Louis line and a ghey sex with Brownian line, and you want to be sure not to get in the wrong one.*

    If I may, was there an incident that prompted you to start watching and listening?

    I wish there was, so it would be somewhat replicable. But I think it was more slow general osmosis. I started reading several feminist blogs at approximately the same time, and the same kind of MRAs rushing in whenever there was talk they didn’t like thing happened at all of them. There are some instances that stand out, like the Fat Princess post that was followed up by this brouhaha, and Zuska’s mansplaining threads (and of course the original story that spawned them), and every thread about female genital mutilation, ever, and of course the elevatorgate.
    Those are just the ones that come first to mind. I’ve had a lot more opportunity to watch adults interact with each other on a professional level, too, and seen the ways that happens (more experiences because of aging, it works for perspective!)

    *there is no wrong one

  165. 165
    carlie

    I know the examples I just gave were more sexism than sexual harassment, but the comment threads brought out just how much some men hate women, and how much they think of women as simply toys to be played with. As for sexual harassment directly, I can’t point to one or two places, but there were just so many times when women started sharing that they had been raped, and suddenly it turned out half of the commenters I had known for years had all been raped or groped or harassed. And I’ve found out things later in life from my own youth, that close friends had been harassed or manipulated or raped and I hadn’t known about it at the time even though I was there, which made it clear that just because a person doesn’t see it doesn’t mean nothing happened.

    And again, once I started looking, there it all was.

  166. 166
    JesseW, the Juggling Janitor

    Thank you all — good thread. (Particularly Tony). Pterryxx mentioned Mythcommunication which I hadn’t read before (thank you), but didn’t link it, so I’m doing so here. It’s by Thomas, at YesMeansYesBlog, from March 21, 2011.

    Also, although it was linked above, here’s Predator Redux from the same blog, back in 2009.

  167. 167
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Tony:

    It’s funny you say that, b/c you are among some of the posters here at FtB that I’ve learned a lot from.

    Thanks. I’m genuinely flattered.

    Then I grew up and realized that it’s easy to sit back and judge the actions of others as if they’re living their lives by my standards.

    I’ve had to do that as well. I’ve found a variety of websites to be useful in helping me get over that, as well as friends I made over the ‘net whose circumstances were very different from mine.

    One of the worst examples I’ve seen of someone else doing it was a person wondering why the girls and women on geographically isolated FLDS compounds — who have been raised with little to no education and barely any knowledge of the outside world, and therefore no outside-world survival or marketable work skills (and no money, not even “pocket money”) — don’t just up and leave.

    I wonder if maybe heatherdalgleish hasn’t been in a situation that could cause her bubble to burst

    Possibly. Then again, Abbie Smith was the victim of an attempted rape. Sometimes it’s denial, because admitting that one can’t control whether one is the victim of sexual violence is terrifying.

    BTW, while your questions at #150 are mostly right on target, I did want to “tweak” one of them:

    Why aren’t men threatened with rape?

    They are, in some circumstances. Prison, most notably. Hazing by fraternities and similar groups. Gay or bi men standing up for their human rights. But, notably, these threats employ misogynist language and tropes, such as “make you my bitch.”

  168. 168
    Pteryxx

    Why aren’t men threatened with rape?

    ^ Adding to what Ms Daisy Cutter just said. Also, one of the misogynist tropes applied to raped men is that nobody will believe THEM either, because ‘real men don’t get raped, real men do the raping’.

    For instance, see this article on military rape (warning for graphic descriptions):

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/04/03/the-military-s-secret-shame.html

  169. 169
    supernova

    I have rarely seen anyone so offensively obtuse and stubbornly resisting listening to anyone else (or even crediting them with knowing what they’re talking about) as Heather. You actually made my jaw open several times. Congratulations. You are a nasty piece of work.

    I really don’t understand how you could possibly think this. Without getting into the argument in detail, Heather has acknowledged others points, tried to explain her position as honestly as possible and has in return had many negative qualities implied about her that others could not possibly know. I resolved not to get involved but your comment that she is a “nasty piece of work” was really the last straw. A lot of the argument is anecdotes and experience, and the fact that people think they can know all these things based on a few comments doesn’t speak volumes about their own impartiality. I wonder how can people who claim others are blinded by privilege make so many assumptions themselves?

  170. 170
    supernova

    Oops forgot to attribute my last quote, it’s Josh, Official SpokesGay @#152

  171. 171
    Nick Gotts

    I wouldn’t mind betting that supernova is a sock-puppet of heatherdalgleish.

  172. 172
    Pteryxx

    Heather has acknowledged others points, tried to explain her position as honestly as possible…

    Except for presuming that her own experience is representative of reality, and using that assumption as an argument. While that may be personal honesty on her part, it fails as intellectual honesty.

  173. 173
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    supernova

    Without getting into the argument in detail, Heather has acknowledged others points, tried to explain her position as honestly as possible and has in return had many negative qualities implied about her that others could not possibly know.

    The only thing we know about Heather is her posts here. And from what she has written calling her “I have rarely seen anyone so offensively obtuse and stubbornly resisting listening to anyone else (or even crediting them with knowing what they’re talking about) as Heather. You actually made my jaw open several times. Congratulations. You are a nasty piece of work.” as Josh said is perfectly reasonable. The defense of sexism is reprehensible, the privileged she shows is astounding. For those of us fighting against the bullshit she is spouting, she is indeed a nasty piece of work. Those that don’t think that are accommodation or the sexist asshats, either way not my allies in this fight.

    Nobody gives a fuck about you. Nobody needs more people defending Heather and this sexist shit. It’s down right infuriating and tiring. So no, I have no patience to hold anyone’s hand through this argument. I call an douchebag a douchebag, it does help some people wake up. If they don’t wake up, it saves me from burn out.

    TL;DR = Fuck off tone troll.

  174. 174
    supernova

    @#173 Just_A_Lurker None of what you’ve wrote makes any sense. You say her “defence of sexism” is reprehensible, but all she did in her initial post and after is to say there is an issue but it’s not as clear-cut as it’s made out to be. I don’t know if I agree with that, but really I’m not defending Heather’s position but pointing out that a reasonable position “there is an issue but it may not always be clear-cut” has caused many people to leap to assumptions. I don’t really see how less offensive she could have been short of just agreeing, what your post amounts too is that you’re infuriated merely by disagreement on this issue (and it shows!). And as for “tone troll” if you look at my initial post what I was criticizing were the fact that the nasty things said about Heather could not possibly be known, not that they were nasty.

    @# 171 KG:

    I wouldn’t mind betting that supernova is a sock-puppet of heatherdalgleish.

    Well I don’t know how I would go about disproving that, I have left a few comments on FtB as Supernova, and on ScienceBlogs Pharyngula as Nova.

    @# 172 Pteryxx:

    Except for presuming that her own experience is representative of reality, and using that assumption as an argument. While that may be personal honesty on her part, it fails as intellectual honesty.

    Well everyone brings their personal experience to the table, but I don’t see her at any point asserting her’s was superior or more representative of reality than other peoples – indeed, it seemed quite the opposite, she conceded that she came from a privileged position.

  175. 175
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Supernova:

    I resolved not to get involved but your comment that she is a “nasty piece of work” was really the last straw.

    None of us is obliged to respect Heather’s position, because it’s horseshit, and it’s harmful. Not every opinion deserves respect. Fuck you and fuck your tone trolling.

  176. 176
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    but all she did in her initial post and after is to say there is an issue but it’s not as clear-cut as it’s made out to be.

    Gawd I’m fucking sick of this excuse.

    Rape culture isn’t clear cut because … tiny percentage of false accusations.

    Racism isn’t clear cut because … some [instert ethnicity] are criminals.

    Abortion isn’t clear cut because … hypothetical extremely late term abortions.

    Predatory behaviour isn’t clear cut because … women are too fucking dumb to tell a faux pas or other social ineptness from actual sleazy predatory behaviour.

    Fucks sake.

  177. 177
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Must. Remember. To. Preview.

  178. 178
    Pteryxx

    supernova:

    but I don’t see her at any point asserting her’s was superior or more representative of reality than other peoples –

    Heather at post #61:

    I can say that I’ve never knowingly experienced that at any atheist/secularist/science convention – though I’m willing to hear from women who feel that they have – and I would compel women who feel they’ve been seriously harassed, or even assaulted, by anyone in the movement, to speak frankly and forthrightly about it. Because I damn well would – and I wouldn’t give a toss how it affected some aspect of my ‘reputation’.

    and I specifically took issue with her #108:

    I’ve never experienced or knowingly witnessed this, and I’m in possession of a vagina and am no shrinking violet myself. Sorry. I’m willing to look at the evidence, though. Evidence stronger than anecdotes, if there is any.

    One individual’s lack of personal experience does not in and of itself justify doubting the personal experience of other individuals. I’m willing to provide research that the phenomenon does in fact exist; but research shouldn’t be required to verify that someone else’s experience is as likely to be valid as your own is.

  179. 179
    supernova

    @#175 Ms. Daisy Cutter:

    None of us is obliged to respect Heather’s position, because it’s horseshit, and it’s harmful. Not every opinion deserves respect. Fuck you and fuck your tone trolling.

    Yes and so what? It wasn’t Heather’s opinions being attacked I had a problem with, it was the assumptions being made about what she must be like. And as I have already said, it’s isn’t “tone trolling” since my problem was that these character attacks were not justifiable, not simply that they were nasty. So you’ve completely misread my comments.

    @#176 Daz:

    That’s a strawman, none of those arguments were made.

  180. 180
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    supernova

    The relevant part of Heather’s post you referred to:

    One thing I would say, with regards to men (or anyone) being sleazy or offputting to women – I do think that sometimes men can completely inadvertently and unintentionally make women uncomfortable in their interactions with them – and also, the subjective reactions of women to these approaches varies from one woman to the next.

    Allowing for my early snark/annoyance, I think that means exactly what I characterised it as meaning—that the issue is not clear cut because some men might merely be socially inept, and that women (apart from Heather of course) are too dumb to tell ineptness from predatory behaviour.

  181. 181
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Supernova, certain opinions speak volumes about their holders’ characters.

  182. 182
    Daz, when the wind's called Mariah I know a hawk from a handsaw

    Supernova, I suggest you read this, paying close attention to the second paragraph in particular, to see what Heather’s apparently suggesting might be mistaken for “inadvertent and unintentional”.

  183. 183
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Y’all have said everything I would about why I think my comment is justified. Thank you. If you can’t see what’s wrong with Heather’s approach, supernova, then I can’t help you. You wanna talk about the last straw? I’ll tell you about the fuckin’ last straw. It’s having to justify uncontroversial and common sexism, racism, and homophobia to smug and naive commenters like Heather. Every day. My entire life. So screw you.

  184. 184
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    I can say that I’ve never knowingly experienced that at any atheist/secularist/science convention – though I’m willing to hear from women who feel that they have – and I would compel women who feel they’ve been seriously harassed, or even assaulted, by anyone in the movement, to speak frankly and forthrightly about it.

    Yeah. We have all seen just how well that worked out. Rebecca Watson was placed in an uncomfortable situation by a male who was exercising his male privilege and, for the past year or more (however long ago that was) I have seen an endless stream of attackers and defenders. The attackers have gone after Watson. The defenders have supported whoever it was in the elevator.

    . . . all she did in her initial post and after is to say there is an issue but it’s not as clear-cut as it’s made out to be.

    Come at that from another angle. Child rape is not as clear-cut as it’s made out to be (children tell lies). Murder is not as clear-cut as it’s made out to be (people who are murdered have put themselves in dangerous situations). Spousal abuse is not as clear-cut as it’s made out to be (man is placed over woman by gods). Yet all of these, including sexual harrassment, marginalize certain segments of the population.

    Sexual harrassment sounds really minor compared to child abuse, murder and spousal abuse. I view them as different facets of the same thing — treating human beings as things. And when women are treated as things it hurts all women (even the ones not being treated that way) by making them second-class citizens.

    One individual’s lack of personal experience does not in and of itself justify doubting the personal experience of other individuals. I’m willing to provide research that the phenomenon does in fact exist; but research shouldn’t be required to verify that someone else’s experience is as likely to be valid as your own is.

    Seconded. Not all children are abused. Does that mean that those who were not abused can assume that no children are abused? (For the record, I ran into that. Smack damn dab into the middle of it. (But that’s just an anecdote, right, supernova?))

  185. 185
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Coincidentally, I’ve just read this post (TW: rape and other physical abuse). It deals with creepy and abusive behavior in BDSM communities, but these paragraphs, on how the criminal justice system deals with abusers, are pertinent to any community:

    At every level, the criminal justice system is a machine operated by people, and those people have more or less the prejudices of the wider culture, as well as the interests and biases of the institutions themselves. Just as there are plenty of people in the population who don’t like and won’t listen to women, people of color, trans folks, queer folks, sex workers, disabled people … so too there are cops and prosecutors and judges like that. Experiences with the cops vary widely. I’ve seen the NYPD deal with a stalking complaint by a sex worker, and I’ve seen a detective be wonderful and professional. But it goes the other way, too. Telling a survivor they have to report is a lot easier if you’re someone who has a lot of privilege and makes the comfortable assumption that the cops serve and protect everyone equally. But the survivor may not have the same social position and may not be able to count on the system and shouldn’t be pressured to take that chance.

    But even assuming that everyone in the system was perfectly professional no matter who the victim is, in the US the criminal justice system comes down ultimately to the jury trial, even though in the vast majority of cases, no such thing ever actually happens. If the police and prosecutors and the judge are all entirely fair to victims of abuse who might be queer and/or trans and/or kinky and/or people of color and/or undocumented and/or doing sex work, it doesn’t mean a jury would. The jury is drawn from the general population, and we all know they’re always perfectly progressive, right?

  186. 186
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    So, yeah, Heather. “Just go to the police” isn’t helpful.

  187. 187
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Damn. My last paragraph should have been:

    Seconded. Not all children are abused. Does that mean that those who were not abused can assume that no children are abused? (For the record, I ran into that. Smack damn dab into the middle of it. (But that’s just an anecdote, right, Heather?))

    Sorry about that.

  188. 188
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Ms Daisy Cutter:

    One of the worst examples I’ve seen of someone else doing it was a person wondering why the girls and women on geographically isolated FLDS compounds — who have been raised with little to no education and barely any knowledge of the outside world, and therefore no outside-world survival or marketable work skills (and no money, not even “pocket money”) — don’t just up and leave.

    I can’t wrap my brain around how people think that’s a reasonable response. Let’s see how that works with other minorities:
    “Gays, if you don’t like not being able to get married and have the 1001 benefits afforded to heterosexual married couples, you can just leave.”
    “Blacks, if you don’t like drinking out of the other water fountains or sitting in the back of the bus, you can move somewhere else.”
    “Women, your best option if you don’t like dealing with sexism would be to move elsewhere.”

    Who would be left in a country where minority groups fled in droves to avoid being discriminated against?
    Why do they think the burden rests on those being marginalized?

    BTW, while your questions at #150 are mostly right on target, I did want to “tweak” one of them:
    Why aren’t men threatened with rape?
    They are, in some circumstances. Prison, most notably. Hazing by fraternities and similar groups. Gay or bi men standing up for their human rights. But, notably, these threats employ misogynist language and tropes, such as “make you my bitch.”

    Very good point.
    “Women and men have to deal with threats of rape and violence of a sexual nature. However, women have to deal with it significantly more than men do. Why is that?”
    _______________________________

    supernova:

    I really don’t understand how you could possibly think this. Without getting into the argument in detail, Heather has acknowledged others points, tried to explain her position as honestly as possible and has in return had many negative qualities implied about her that others could not possibly know. I resolved not to get involved but your comment that she is a “nasty piece of work” was really the last straw.

    Are you really going to go there?
    Did you even read the response I gave her about ‘compelling’ or ‘urging’ atheists and gays to come out?
    Heather treats her experiences as universal. “I haven’t had to deal with that” or “I haven’t seen that very much” does not equal “it doesn’t happen” or “its a small, isolated problem”. Nor does she comprehend the many problems facing people in the closet. Her minimization of the problems faced by atheists and gays shows a deeper lack of understanding on her part of the challenges faced by minority groups. I’m glad she hasn’t had to deal with much of the crap others have had to. But to treat her lack of exposure as if that’s the norm, giving her experiences more weight than anyone else’s is indeed messed up.

  189. 189
    koliedrus

    I’ve actually read through all the comments on this one!

    I’ve learned a lot. Rally! I didn’t know there was a Pharyngula Wiki until today. Sneer Quotes and Tone Trolls… that’s awesome stuff!

    Before someone points out that I’m a clueless idiot, yes. I am. I’m trying to get better.

    What’s happened, though, is that I’ve discovered that I can look at all these perspectives and characterize my past behavior.

    That’s good, right? I mean, I’m a middle-aged, American, white male who’s only come to grips with admitting to myself that I’m atheist gradually over the last decade. I honestly didn’t realize that I’ve been a sexist for most of my life!

    If it means anything to any of the contributors of this thread, my perceptions regarding gender/race relations were shot in the ass once I realized that divisions were the problem to begin with. Again, don’t expect me to be eloquent. I’m just some guy.

    I’m an Atheist.

    Feel free to define me further if it pleases you. You’ll be correct when you categorize me but you may find yourself profiling me as well.

    I suppose I could have just ignored this conversation but as it turns out, it’s a lot more enlightening than anything shoved in my direction.

    I’m raising two children of each gender.
    They both realize that they should observe first and make decisions based on their observations. Church was the first thing to go. My son has noticed, on his own, the unfair treatment of girls by other children his age. I’m proud of that.

    What bothers me is that when I introduce them to the secular environment, this problem of sexism will still be an issue.

    I’m more comfortable with simply letting them continue to be blind to racial and sexual differences (can I put quotes around “differences” without it being a Sneer?) while they work out the ways humans can treat each other unfairly.

    Enough of my rambling opinion.

    I assume everyone here is familiar with TOR, VPN’s, TrueCrypt and DropBox-ish services.

    By all means, keep your info as underground (Note: not using quotes for fear of the Sneer Thing) as needed.

    I’m an Atheist.

    Let’s meet from that acknowledgement and go from there.

  190. 190
    Jadehawk

    I’m more comfortable with simply letting them continue to be blind to racial and sexual differences

    that can and often does backfire, because such blindness to differences can and often does blind one to the differential results of systemic discrimination, and you end up with kids who say things like “I am not hurt by male gendered slurs, so you have no reason to be offended by female gendered slurs”, or “well, I worked hard and overcame adversity, so surely they all could have too if they’d tried hard enough.”

    just FYI.

  191. 191
    koliedrus

    Thanks, Jadehawk.

    I suck at picking the right words sometimes but I get your meaning.

    I don’t know how to describe taking a kid on a picnic and watching them describe the shapes they see in the clouds. I called it “blind”. Maybe I should have used some fancy stuff like “preconception” or something.

    All I know is that I’m letting my kids do their best with what they see in front of them. I realize that influences abound but I’m ok with that. Hell, I made up my own mind about stuff presented to me and am still in the process. I don’t see an end to that and I absolutely LOVE that realization.

    Sure, I’ll present my opinions to them. They both know that it’s okay to change one’s perception of how the world works.

    I’m really goddam happy that my parents didn’t force be to think one way or another.

    I’m passing that along to my munchkins.

    Still learning….

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