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May 31 2012

DJ, please fix this genuine problem

The Amazing Meeting is having some enrollment problems — and strangely, they are going against the overall trend I’ve seen in many skeptic/atheist conferences, as reported by the JREF president, DJ Grothe.

…this year only about 18% of TAM registrants so far are women, a significant and alarming decrease, and judging from dozens of emails we have received from women on our lists, this may be due to the messaging that some women receive from various quarters that going to TAM or other similar conferences means they will be accosted or harassed…I think this misinformation results from irresponsible messaging coming from a small number of prominent and well-meaning women skeptics who, in trying to help correct real problems of sexism in skepticism, actually and rather clumsily themselves help create a climate where women — who otherwise wouldn’t — end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe, and I find that unfortunate.

There it is, in one paragraph: the problem AND the cause. Only it’s not the cause DJ thinks it is.

It’s unfortunate. Years ago, TAM was a leader in getting a wider range of people motivated and attending — it was the meeting with the smallest percentage of old white men like me attending, and I considered it a nice model for getting more diversity in the movement. I also have to give DJ credit; he’s really gone to bat to get more women represented on the stage. I don’t think DJ has a malicious, anti-woman bone in his cheerfully gay body. It’s also good to see that he sees declining female registrations as a serious problem, and feels some urgency in correcting it.

But sometimes, he can be so oblivious.

First of all, when women are talking about harassment problems, listen: don’t try to tell them that they really shouldn’t feel that way, and worst of all, don’t treat it as a mere perception problem. Your concern should be to address the root causes so that their complaints disappear, not merely wave your hands at them to rationalize a stance of ignoring them. Think, “Hmmm. These people have concerns, how can I address them?” not, “Hmmm. These people have concerns, how can I get them to stop expressing them?”

Secondly, don’t blame the reporters. They’re your sensory network, they’re out there experiencing your meeting and coming to you to tell you what they thought. Dismissing unpleasant reports is a good way to blind yourself to what’s going on, and to increase the magnitude of the problems. Good job, DJ, you just discouraged all the women who want your meeting to be successful by telling them it’s their fault if they talk about sexism.

I think TAM was also a leader in some ways: last year, they were very quick to post an official anti-harassment policy. Good work, except now DJ is claiming that it has never been used.

It is true that harassment issues are much discussed in some quarters of the skeptics and atheist and other allied movements (all generally for the better, to the extent the emotionally charged issues are tempered with evidence) but to my knowledge there has never been a report filed of sexual harassment at TAM and there have been zero reports of harassment at the TAMs we’ve put on while I’ve been at JREF.

What? Ashley Miller was harassed and reported it, and now DJ is denying it happened. I heard from another person near the end of the conference that someone had blown through the nearly empty hallways while a session was ongoing to make lewd remarks to someone sitting at the tables; it was reported, I heard, and I joined in with another fellow to look for the “gentleman”…he’d escaped, so it didn’t happen? There was also an incident on twitter in which a prospective attendee threatened to grope Rebecca Watson on an elevator at TAM; I thought his registration was revoked (I also heard that it was restored when he said pretty please, but I’m not sure about that).

So now these incidents didn’t happen? Baffling.

It’s all well and good to have a piece of paper that you can wave around, saying that harassment will not be tolerated…but the next step is effective implementation, and that hasn’t occurred. Document everything: there should be a formal procedure for submitting a report in writing that gets filed away. There should also be an action taken — dismissing the offender from the conference, escorting someone out of the hall, giving a verbal warning, whatever — and that should be written down, too.

Without all that, we get into these ugly situations where the victims experience these events, and then watch them get flushed down the memory hole — their concerns are simply dismissed.

DJ needs to own up to the existence of a real problem, rather than closing his eyes to it and pretending it’s only a PR issue. He’s got to take TAM’s anti-harassment policy seriously, and give it some teeth and engage in some record-keeping. I do think he means well, but good intentions are not enough. There has to be some solid effort beyond drafting a list of dos and don’ts.

574 comments

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  1. 501
    BrianX

    I had a rather fascinating run-in with someone defending evo-psych a week or so ago on a webcomic forum. This person was espousing the idea that people down on evo-psych are thinking like creationists and allowing feminism to cloud their judgement. I pointed out (probably to little or no effect) that evo-psychers are off in their own little world, using bad data and stereotyping (much of which is so shallow it only applies to modern culture), and not listening to evolutionary biologists who are telling them they’re doing it wrong. It occurred to me later that feminism in and of itself was a skeptical reaction to many of the same stereotypes that evo-psychers frame their arguments with. I also could have pointed out the similarities with scientific racism, but I never got around to thinking about that…

  2. 502
    Inaji

    Pteryxx:

    they assume (often rightly) that nothing will be done to address the problem

    This ^ is major. In my years as an advocate and counselor, the amount of victims who believe nothing will be done is overwhelming. This belief is not about short term, either. It tends to be about long term, the final result. As it stands, with so many cases ending up unsatisfactorily for those victimized, there’s damn good reason to hold that belief.

  3. 503
    strange gods before me ॐ

    DJ: Ashley says she didn’t feel like the harassment was worth reporting to JREF staff

    I know we’ve moved well past this and I usually just lurk, but I have to correct this.

    What I ACTUALLY said: I had been told it was already reported, I didn’t feel like a second report was necessary.

    Thanks for clarifying this, Ashley. That’s what I thought, but I was afraid I might have missed something. Unfortunately, DJ was specifically asked to cite his claim and he did not bother to try.

  4. 504
    Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness

    @ echidna #393

    Is “harass” one of those irregular verbs?

    I am harassed, you are made uncomfortable, she is the real problem?

    Another keyboard inundated! Screen has to be cleaned AGAIN! And the far wall? I’m not cleaning that!

    I will so use that, echidna, if that’s OK. Well, will use that unless forcibly restrained. Let’s be honest. But will attribute.

  5. 505
    Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness

    Now, that I have caught up, I would like to thank Ashley for speaking up as well. It clarifies the situation and helps provide a further basis for arguing against what is going on with TAM.

    When I practised law, I dealt with a lot of cases in which women had to deal with violence from their spouses or ex-spouses or whomever. I tried to represent all of them to the utmost of my abilities. I took an oath to do so (standard oath for barristers, by the way). But what I found so hard was to deal with women who had been abused, clearly abused, and who would not accept an offer to settle because “it’s too much money.” It got to the point where if an abused woman said, “I’m not like that” (meaning I’m not the kind of woman who accepts the payment you are describing) I found her another lawyer. I had a limited amount of time to give to legal aid and would take another client for whom I could do something reasonable.

    These women were so conditioned into a role of living in a reduced way and taking blame but never taking anything else, that even when the entire court system told them what was appropriate support, they turned it down. This type of conditioning, thinking “it’s not that important, it’s only me, I’m not dead (or a muslima)” is so deep that there are women who cannot see that they deserve a reasonable standard of living.

    With that kind of social conditioning going on, can anyone think reporting sexual harassment is going to happen all by itself? There must be clear support for reporting and a clear follow through with support for the complainant. If there is not, women will continue to keep away as it is easier than reporting.

  6. 506
    Cipher

    This type of conditioning, thinking “it’s not that important, it’s only me, I’m not dead (or a muslima)” is so deep that there are women who cannot see that they deserve a reasonable standard of living.

    SO MUCH THIS. This hits so horribly close to home that I am honestly a little bit relieved to see it’s not just me, awful as that is.

    From my #ididnotreport (which I wrote last weekend but am not emotionally equipped to share in public yet), on why I never considered reporting either of my rapists an option (I have better reasons now):

    Of course I wouldn’t report – it wasn’t as though he had done anything wrong, he just forced me to stay still and let him fuck me when I didn’t want him to…

    …I loved him. I didn’t want to hurt him. Of course I didn’t report. If anyone believed me, it would ruin his life, and who was I to do that to him?

    …Reporting was completely out of the question. If I told anyone, he’d just explain how I was a crazy bitch, or how I was just trying to get him in trouble – or, worse, how I was a freak, how I asked for it, how I must have liked it. He knew me, and all our friends knew it; he would know how to ruin me if I told anyone. And after all, I loved him. He had gone through so much pain, and yes, he fucked me when I didn’t want him to, but after all, it wasn’t like it was rape, or if it was, not like it was really wrong. It was just me.

  7. 507
    Gnumann+,with no bloody irony at all (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun)

    Ashley: Thank you for speaking up, I’m very sorry you have to go through this.

    If it wasn’t for the fact that violence never solves anything, I would have his ‘nads up on a slow roasting fire in no time (that and certain legal and logistical constraints).

  8. 508
    Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness

    @ Cipher, OM, MQ

    Thank you for commenting as you have done.
    It is hard to accept, first, that it happened. Then to continue to process it and try to understand it, is so difficult. Let me say now, so that my words might not sound like I’m just imagining that process, I have something in my past, too. When I was pregnant, things with my spouse were quite difficult at times. One night, I was trying to get across that I really needed more help to cope, that I was really tired. My spouse said something dismissive and I began to cry. Apparently, I cried “too long” or “too loudly”. He told me to shut up, but I couldn’t. We were in our bedroom which was completely dark, can’t tell if your eyes are open or shut dark. I was sitting up on the end of the bed, when all at once I felt a blow to my face. He had stood up and swung a pillow at me, using both hands, he later pantomimed. He was 6’3″. Next day I had a fat lip. I told my counsellor of the day, and my very closest friend, but no one else. I stayed with him. I was late in pregnancy and just couldn’t leave. Also, it was only a hit with a pillow. He said he didn’t mean it. I only had a fat lip. It barely bled at all.
    He never did it again. I told him I accepted that he made a mistake as he said, but I did manage to mutter that if it happened again, anything like that, I was gone. I sort of accepted what he said, accident, didn’t mean it, but I could never decide what the hell he thought he was doing in the first place.
    I could understand what those clients of mine were going through, but I couldn’t get them out of it. Took me five more years to get out myself. I still find it hard to think he meant to belt me with that pillow, that he meant to nearly knock me off the bed. But intellectually, I know he did.
    I’m saying all this because I admire how you spoke out. Thank you again.

  9. 509
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Thank you, Ashley
    Thank you Cipher and Lyn.
    Your stories are important, they’re not unheard.

  10. 510
    echidna

    I will so use that, echidna, if that’s OK.

    Why, thanks. Of course.

  11. 511
    echidna

    Lyn,
    I was riffing off the brilliant British comedy “Yes, Minister” (1980):

    That’s one of those irregular verbs, isn’t it? I give confidential security briefings. You leak. He has been charged under section 2a of the Official Secrets Act.

  12. 512
    Skepgineer

    “What? Ashley Miller was harassed and reported it, and now DJ is denying it happened.”

    Ignorance or forgetting, not denying. “Denying” implies he was aware of the Ashley Miller case at the time that he made the statement.

  13. 513
    Gnumann+,with no bloody irony at all (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun)

    Ignorance or forgetting, not denying. “Denying” implies he was aware of the Ashley Miller case at the time that he made the statement.

    Sigh!

    And the good reasons for him to forget the incident include..?

    (I can only think of one: Absolutely no real commitment to fixing, and no real understanding of the sexism issues).

  14. 514
    Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness

    @ echidna

    Thanks! Brits are good at that sort of comedy, and you translated it wonderfully into the current context.

  15. 515
    Matt Penfold

    Ignorance or forgetting, not denying. “Denying” implies he was aware of the Ashley Miller case at the time that he made the statement.

    No, denying is perfectly accurate. He knew or should have known that the incident took place. If he really did forget that is no excuse.

  16. 516
    carlie

    Cost of making and enforcing a strict no-harassment policy: absurdly low. Pteryxx has linked to a bunch of already-made ones that can be adapted, and enforcement is just a few minutes of training and then making a paper trail, at most confronting and removing someone from the meeting.

    Benefit of making and enforcing a strict no-harassment policy: very high. It is great PR, because it shows that the group in question really cares about the safety and autonomy of all attendees, it sets the group apart from the ones that don’t have any such policy, and it does make women and men who care more favorably disposed to it.

    So there’s no reason not to do it, even if there were absolutely zero incidents of sexual harassment to date. Arguing over exactly how many incidents there have been and how severe they were and whether or not they constitute a crisis is all irrelevant to the basic fact that instituting something of very low input effort and very high benefit is just a common-sense thing to do.

  17. 517
    Gnumann+,with no bloody irony at all (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun)

    Cost of making and enforcing a strict no-harassment policy: absurdly low.

    Unless (and here I think is the gist of it and the reasons for DJG’s performance) you count in alienating sexist creeps as a cost.

    Personally I think it’s a feature, not a bug – but keep in mind that this is an organisation that harbours Penn Jilette.

  18. 518
    Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness

    Gnumann

    That’s true. I wonder what percentage the sexist assclams actually are. Also, if women really felt safe enough to come to the meetings, how many does that mean? It’s hard to say how it would all play out, but you can estimate what they think will happen.

    And Gilial, thank you. It’s amazing how much that helps, for me at least.

    I feel Cipher has a lot more on her plate to deal with than I, but if women were willing to talk, as she did, then more of us might feel we can talk, too. And if it all came out, I think there would be a greater chance of fixing this shit. Or at least getting some of it shovelled out of the way.

  19. 519
    pf

    Lyn M, Purveyor of Fine Aphorisms of Death,

    Thank you for DOING something, and for prioritizing the ones who are ready to get out of that mess.

  20. 520
    Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness

    @ pf

    I really appreciate that. Thank you.

    I decided it was like triage. You go by the ones you can’t help. You don’t put resources into the ones who are not in real trouble, and you pour it on for the remaining people. I did legal aid when it paid about 1/3 of the cost of running the office per hour, but damn it, everyone deserves decent help.

    Usually I just got crap handed me from other lawyers for not having a “real” practise. You know, with corporate clients. One guy said he was handling a shareholders’ dispute worth millions. What was it I did? I said I play for lives and limbs, not cash. I like it to mean something. He backed off, but sheeeeee-it.

    Sorry to go on there, but really, that thanks makes my day. Possibly the whole week.

  21. 521
    Weed(less) Monkey

    Thank you ashleymiller, Cipher, Lyn M for coming forward. I have very little to contribute but I’m learning by reading.

  22. 522
    pf

    @Lyn M, Purveyor of Fine Aphorisms of Death

    I was aiming to give you a good 5 minutes of warm fuzzies. Glad to know I’m more efficient than I thought.

    I’ve seen that kind of situation a lot, and that there’s people out there who help them out of that mess at personal expense, that’s very good to know.

  23. 523
    carlie

    Unless (and here I think is the gist of it and the reasons for DJG’s performance) you count in alienating sexist creeps as a cost.

    Aw, fuck. I didn’t even think of that, but you’re right.

  24. 524
    Weed(less) Monkey

    This probably isn’t news any more, but I don’t see it linked here so here goes: FtB:s Chris Hallquist stepped right to the dark side.

    I support DJ Grothe

  25. 525
    Pteryxx

    Lyn M, as a recipient of legal aid while dealing with my abuse situation, THANK YOU.

    I decided it was like triage. You go by the ones you can’t help. You don’t put resources into the ones who are not in real trouble, and you pour it on for the remaining people. I did legal aid when it paid about 1/3 of the cost of running the office per hour, but damn it, everyone deserves decent help.

    And thank you for this. I had only brief contact with the abuse survivor support system, but I remember being in a room with one lawyer and half a dozen abused women who had never accessed their own paychecks and were incredulous when told that they had an equal right to marriage property, or to stay in the home their work had paid for. That lawyer was visibly relieved when I ONLY had questions about a property transfer. I’m resolved to donate to these people forever.

  26. 526
    Pteryxx

    Also, I screwed up the last sentence of my 1 AM research post.

    CORRECTION:

    Thus, the low reporting rate at TAM may be largely a RESULT, not a cause, of DJ’s (publicly articulated) perception that sexual assault harassment is not a problem under his purview.

    The two overlap, but that’s not the claim DJ made. My mistake.

  27. 527
    Weed(less) Monkey

    This probably isn’t news any more, but I don’t see it linked here so here goes: FtB:s Chris Hallquist stepped right to the dark side.

    And that fucking thread is suddenly Slimepit v2.0 >.<

  28. 528
    Pteryxx

    FtB:s Chris Hallquist stepped right to the dark side.

    I support DJ Grothe

    Argh… I looked into comments. It turned toxic almost immediately, of course.

    (Hateful shit warning)

    This is doubling down on “FTB bloggers just do it for the drama”:

    Yes. They love this. The love the stress, the strain on their nerves, the nasty comments, they’re all just masochists. They don’t honestly hold any of the opinions they do.

    If all this drama exacts the strain on them that you say it does, then it’s time to turn up the heat.

    PeeZus in particular, who has already had a bypass surgery, is the fat force multiplier for his own trolls. It’s not inconceivable that they could put him in an early grave.

    HE DIED TO CLEANSE US OF OUR PRIVILEGE

    Link to comment

  29. 529
    Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness

    Pteryxx

    I’m glad you were able to access some legal help. It’s great to hear from someone who was there and got out. By supporting that system, it is as if you are turning around and extending a hand to those coming up the slope behind you. Way to go.

    We are all in this together, if we give a damn.

  30. 530
    Inaji

    [About the quoted comments]

    Jesus Christ. Nice, really nice. So half of FTB is going to go full court slimepit and we’re supposed to…what? Dive in? Ignore it?

    Personally, I’m not going anywhere near that vile crap again, considering the amount of abuse I garnered from the denizens of Slimepit 1.0 and I cannot say I’m happy about so much of FTB willingly harbouring such utter crap while banning people left and right.

    I have a bad taste in my brain.

  31. 531
    Pteryxx

    Lyn M, thanks… I’m still too broke to do much, but damn. Domestic abuse is such a HUGE problem, so inadequately addressed, and the shelter network by its nature has to operate with a very low profile. I was abused, raped, and broken, sure, but even with my scars I’m much better off than most. (For instance, I’ve only lived out of my car for a week or less at a time.)

    Random plug: if anyone out there wants to find a local place (in the US) to help, whether donor, volunteer, or client, start with the Hotline. Those folks saved my life, no question.

    http://www.thehotline.org/

  32. 532
    pf

    @Caine,

    I don’t mind them banning people, but I DO VERY MUCH mind them banning the wrong ones.

  33. 533
    Inaji

    pf:

    I don’t mind them banning people, but I DO VERY MUCH mind them banning the wrong ones.

    That’s not my problem at all. Every blogger’s banhammer is their own business. However, the hypocrisy on display is monumental.

  34. 534
    pf

    Well, I’m not that neutral about the use of bans.

    Banning the usual allies and supporters of the things I believe are right and true, makes me feel very much against the one doing the banning.

  35. 535
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    If all this drama exacts the strain on them that you say it does, then it’s time to turn up the heat.

    PeeZus in particular, who has already had a bypass surgery, is the fat force multiplier for his own trolls. It’s not inconceivable that they could put him in an early grave.

    HE DIED TO CLEANSE US OF OUR PRIVILEGE

    Uhhgh.

    Just uuuuuuhhhhhhggggg.

    I wonder if xe knows how very xian xe sounds.

    I’m certainly not dirtying my brain arguing with such a vile specimen.

  36. 536
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Well, I’m not that neutral about the use of bans.

    Banning the usual allies and supporters of the things I believe are right and true, makes me feel very much against the one doing the banning.

    Banning is the purview of all blog writers. The ‘owner’ of the blog gets to decide who can, and cannot, comment.

    Who they ban, however, shows a great deal about the blogger.

  37. 537
    Inaji

    Kemist:

    I wonder if xe knows how very xian xe sounds.

    That was intentional. Their idea of humour.

  38. 538
    Weed(less) Monkey

    PeeZus in particular, who has already had a bypass surgery, is the fat force multiplier for his own trolls. It’s not inconceivable that they could put him in an early grave.

    It certainly was intentional.

  39. 539
    Inaji

    Unsurprisingly, one thing the Slimepitters don’t grok is just how laid back PZ is most of the time.

  40. 540
    Deen

    @Pteryxx in #28: unfortunately your warning came too late. Ugh.

  41. 541
    pentatomid

    Jesus Babiroussa Christ! why did I even check the comments on that thread?! Quickly, I must wash my eyes (and probably my brain) before the rotting starts!

  42. 542
    Pteryxx

    *wince* Sorry, everybody, I was distracted by my reflexive need to provide citations for everything!

  43. 543
    Louis

    Urgh at those quotes Pteryxx found.

    I’m off to a weekend of Jubilee/birthday parties with my wife the cell biology PhD and head of department, my wife’s cousin the female senior consultant geriatric medical doctor (who also has a PhD in addition to her medical doctorate), her other cousin the female economics professor at a Russell group Uni, her other cousin the young female biomedical sciences student at Oxford, and her younger sister the very soon to be first class law grad from LSE. And indeed other members of her family, some of whom have proper Man Jobs.

    I’ll be sure to tell all these women to get me a sammich and a beer because they are all thick as shit and have dumb little lady brains.

    I may also pay them the compliment of talking only to their tits, because they are all beautiful women and, as we know, that’s all that’s important about them. Let’s face it, if I want to get laid this weekend I’ve got to play the odds, right? Perhaps I’ll just hand out some pictures of my cock or wait until they need to go to the toilet or something and corner them and ask them for “coffee”.

    And of course when I do any of this, none of these women have any right to complain about it because, well I was just joking, right? Unless, you know, they’re up for it. Then I’m not joking.

    Oh wait, I’m just being overly dramatic. Silly me, maybe it’s because I’m a mangina. I’m just pretending to be a feminist to get laid or because I’m a beta male or something.

    Hmmmmm I seem to be in a mood. Maybe it’s this hangover. I’ve come to terms with the haircut. Maybe it’s the legion of utter fuckwads who trivialise the lived experience of women and when women who have suffered even minor harassment dare to speak up reasonably and tactfully treat it as if these women are crying rape and making some enormous drama about it.

    My tolerance is at an all time low for this happy horseshit.

    Louis

  44. 544
  45. 545
    Inaji

    ‘S okay, Pteryxx. I’d really much rather believe the Slimepitters weren’t infesting FTB and being given free reign, however, there’s no point shoving in my head in the sand.

  46. 546
    Inaji

    Aaaand I can’t type today. :sigh:

  47. 547
    Inaji

    Beatrice, thanks for that link. At least it isn’t yet more garbage about ‘supporting DJ’. I do like hyper-skeptics, describes the JREF crew nicely.

  48. 548
    Pteryxx

    Caine: …This doesn’t help the situation at all, but I don’t think those are literal Slimepitters. I suspect they’re home grown.

  49. 549
    pentatomid

    Louis,

    mangina

    Old Greg?

    Sorry, I just had to.

  50. 550
    pf

    @Caine #39,

    That just made me picture PZ lying back and drinking something Icelandic with a lot of syllables, next to one of those volcanic ponds to have a warm bath in.

    It’s like tropical, except subarctic.

  51. 551
    Louis

    Pentatomid,

    I wish mine could do that.

    Louis

  52. 552
    Inaji

    pf:

    lying back and drinking something Icelandic with a lot of syllables, next to one of those volcanic ponds to have a warm bath in.

    That would certainly mellow me out!

  53. 553
    zeekthegeek

    Thanks! This post is right on the money.

  54. 554
    Kristjan Wager

    FtB:s Chris Hallquist stepped right to the dark side.

    I support DJ Grothe

    That’s par the course for him, so that should come as a surprise.

  55. 555
    Kristjan Wager

    “that should come as a surprise.” -> “that shouldn’t come as a surprise.”

  56. 556
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @pentatomid #49:

    WTFBBQZOMGBubbleGum?

  57. 557
    marlorocci

    ALL I’m asking for is that official methods of reporting misconduct be utilized and we not resort to the “watson method” of internet flamewar. It’s not because we regard these matters as trivial, but because we regard these matters seriously and from both sides of the fence. Women need to be protected from harrassment and men need to be protected from false accusations. The only way this can happen is if the process is used.

  58. 558
    Dhorvath, OM

    Err, what? I fail to see how protecting men from being accused can happen while protecting women from being harrassed. False accusations will happen, but until they outnumber the actual events, some care can be given merely by accepting that fact. It costs me little to be called a problem, most especially when all I need do is go somewhere else and/or talk to someone else.

  59. 559
    Cipher

    ALL I’m asking for is that official methods of reporting misconduct be utilized and we not resort to the “watson method” of internet flamewar.

    Elaborate.

  60. 560
    Weed(less) Monkey

    ALL I’m asking for is that official methods of reporting misconduct be utilized and we not resort to the “watson method” of internet flamewar.

    The flamewar where Watson received threats of rape and murder for daring to say “Guys, don’t do that.” And it’s still on.

    It’s not because we regard these matters as trivial, but because we regard these matters seriously and from both sides of the fence.

    Both sides of the fence: the victims and perpetrators. You’re forgetting the third party: enablers.

    Women need to be protected from harrassment and men need to be protected from false accusations.

    Show that some men have been falsely accused for this to become a point.

    The only way this can happen is if the process is used.

    Agreed.

  61. 561
    Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness

    Waits for elaboration, grabs bowl of popcorn

    Share-sies if anyone wants.

    Pours some of popcorn into USB port

  62. 562
    RH

    It is time for DJ Grothe to go. This kind of comment would result in a dismissal from any decent company and JREF should hold itself to even higher standards.

    As for the person who commented “…and we not resort to the “watson method” of internet flamewar.”. You owe Rebecca Watson an apology. I can only assume you are under the false impression that she started an internet flame war. I suggest you read what she has actually written. I think you may find it a bit like reading the real facts after watching a Faux News broadcast.

    Honestly I don’t see any way for JREF/TAM to even look like they are taking this seriously without dismissing DJ as quickly as possible.

  63. 563
    Inaji

    ALL I’m asking for is that official methods of reporting misconduct be utilized and we not resort to the “watson method” of internet flamewar.

    Oh FFS. What a Cupcake you are. If you took what women were saying seriously, you wouldn’t use something like “Watson method”.

    You’re full of shit. Amazing that, considering where your head is lodged. Rebecca Watson said a mild “Guys, don’t do that”. As a result, the guyz™ have indulged in rape threats and all manner of nastiness. Let me guess, you’re yet another one who hasn’t a clue about the Slimepit and exactly who it happens to be who is causing the problems.

    Yes, yes, of course it’s the silly women who are the problem, having the nerve to discuss how we’re treated. :eyeroll:

  64. 564
    Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness

    Nods seriously.

    Yup. Gettin’ good.

  65. 565
    Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness

    If a tad slow.

  66. 566
    Kristjan Wager

    ALL I’m asking for is that official methods of reporting misconduct be utilized and we not resort to the “watson method” of internet flamewar.

    First of all, who are you, and why should we care what you ask for? Are you in some kind of official position related to TAM/JREF? If not, how do you know that official methods of reporting misconduct has not been utilized?

    Going by the stories we’ve heard so far, the official methods have been utilized – in the case of TAM it was simply to report it to voluneteers or staff, which happened on several occasions (inlcuding directly to DJ Grothe).

    And regarding your “watson method” of flamewar: I think Rebecca has been extremely polite all the way through. E.g. when Grothe started posting on multiple blogs about how women reporting on sexism was the cause of the decline of women attending TAM, she asked for him to elaborate on what he meant. He then singled her out as an example, which led her to decided that she didn’t want to go to TAM this year, and that Skepchick would not provide support for TAM in the future. A very reasonable response to a very rude behavior by the head of JREF.

    It’s not because we regard these matters as trivial, but because we regard these matters seriously and from both sides of the fence.

    Who is this “we” you’re talking about? A lot of people, including Grothe, obviously don’t regard these matters as trivial, but other do. Some of those who regard these matters as non-trivial, including Grothe, behaves in ways that clearly show that they want people to not talk about the problem, but rather pretend it doesn’t exist.

    Oh, and you can take your “both sides of the fence” and stick it where the sun never shines. There are multiple sides, including (as Weed Monkey mentioned) victims, perpetrators and enablers. Among the enablers are those too blinded by privilege to take the problem serious, and those who just want everyone to pretend it is not a problem.

    Women need to be protected from harrassment and men need to be protected from false accusations.

    Oh, and there is a third kind of enables – those who make claims about “false accusations” being a problem on equal level as sexual harassment.

    The only way this can happen is if the process is used.

    This is only true if the process works as it should. In the case of TAM, there was a process in case which on the surface seemed to work, but where there obviously was no following up on incidents.

  67. 567
    ischemgeek

    On the off-chance that Grothe is still reading this comment thread, I’ll say the same thing here that I’ve said in others:

    I’m one of those potential first-time female attendees you’re trying to court.

    Let me spell this out for you: Women talking about sexual harassment does not scare me off. I’m one of the ~60% of women who get harassed regularly in my day-to-lay life. I’m one of the ~80% of Canadian women who feels this has a significant and detrimental effect to my perceived safety in public. If I let harassment scare me off stuff, I’d be a shut in.

    What would scare me off? Is a conference with leadership that pretends there’s no harassment problem and provides no extraordinary evidence to back up the extraordinary claim (in light of the fact that, depending on the study, between 15-36% of women are harassed on a daily basis – and that the social scientists studying such things feel that underreporting is still a systemic issue so these numbers are likely underestimates). Your poorly-designed survey that did not ask about specific acts, but only a general feeling of welcomeness (which ignores the fact that women are so used to harassment that it doesn’t impact how welcome we’d report ourselves as being) and your single reported instance in light of the huge amount of underreporting that takes place? Not extraordinary. At all. Everywhere has a harassment problem,a nd women know this.

    It’s your implication that women who talk about their experiences are dishonest by talking in weasel words about how people are exaggerating the problem and spreading misinformation that would scare me off. Know why? Because your insistance that TAM doesn’t have a harassment problem when every other environment in North America that has been studied does sends me the message that you don’t really care whether or not there’s a problem, so long as you have good PR. Which in turn sends the message that you won’t take claims seriously.

    And do I think that’s the message you mean to send? No. But that’s the message that’s being sent.

    So stop insisting there’s no problem, and put on your skeptic hat. Look at the evidence that has been presented on this blog thread and others about the extent of the problem in North American society and how poor survey design (including general questions phrased in vague terms) can lead to a lack of reporting, and ask yourself, “What is the better conclusion? That we don’t have a problem, or that my policy as implemented and survey as written systemically overlook and misreport the problem?”

    And then stop telling women who point to their experiences to illustrate points in the larger discussion that we’re part of the problem. We’re not. If you haven’t been paying attention, we’re trying to make it better. By effectively telling us to sit down and shut up about it in public because you’ve totes got things under control, you’re making it worse.

  68. 568
    mythbri

    DJ has responded to Rebecca Watson’s post about why she won’t be attending TAM. It doesn’t seem as though he understands.

    http://skepchick.org/2012/06/why-i-wont-be-at-tam-this-year/#comment-151263

  69. 569
    Gnumann+,with no bloody irony at all (just an anti-essentialist feminist with a shotgun)

    DJG not getting it?

    Well colour me surprised in all the seven colours of the rainbow (this sentence might contain trace amounts of sarcasm)

    Btw: Excellent post Ischemgeek!

  70. 570
    Deen

    @mythbri: I read the first paragraph of DJ’s comment, and before reading the rest of that wall of text, I thought to myself that he probably should have stopped writing right there. I was right, but it was even worse than I thought = cursing at the screen worse. The last paragraph was OK-ish too, but he really shouldn’t have written anything of the stuff in between.

    General tip for people who want to apologize: don’t use more than one or two paragraphs. If you need more than that, you’re probably no longer apologizing, you’re justifying yourself. Or worse, doubling down and digging in deeper.

  71. 571
    Cipher

    And I was so impressed with the beginning of that statement :( Oh DJ. Well, at least he’s starting to back out of the hole he dug, although still clinging to a couple of mistakes.

  72. 572
    'Tis Himself

    It seems that DJ is not only trying to be nice to Rebecca but he’s also playing to the misogynists and libertarians at the JREF blog.

  73. 573
    GeekMelange (formerly thepint)

    ischemgeek #67 – THANK YOU. I’m also a woman who’s never been to a skeptics con for various reasons, NONE of which are because I’ve been “scared off” by women like Rebecca Watson speaking out. You eloquently and succinctly stated my own thoughts on the matter, but especially this:

    It’s your implication that women who talk about their experiences are dishonest by talking in weasel words about how people are exaggerating the problem and spreading misinformation that would scare me off. Know why? Because your insistance that TAM doesn’t have a harassment problem when every other environment in North America that has been studied does sends me the message that you don’t really care whether or not there’s a problem, so long as you have good PR. Which in turn sends the message that you won’t take claims seriously.

    DJ, if you’re still reading any of this at all, please, please read this paragraph over until you get it, because THIS is the real problem and why women like me are going to choose another skeptic convention over TAM. This sort of behavior is not what makes a convention a “safe space” for women and until you and the JREF fix this fundamental flaw in how harassment is treated, TAM is not going to be a “safe space” for us at all.

  74. 574
    skeptifem

    jesus christ I wish DJG would talk like a normal human being instead of some kind of PR robot. Just read through the non apology to RW at skepchick. Its fucking tedious to read his responses. I think the dude uses some kind of asshole form letter:

    Thank you for raising this Very Important Issue. I totally agree that it is very important and am so glad you decided to bring this to my attention (insert paragraphs of vague generic ass kissing)

    I myself have worked very hard to help with this problem, and so has everyone else at the JREF. (insert half assed resume about what an awesome anti-sexist DJG is)

    However, it is also important to consider the issue of (framing, but called something else). (insert paragraphs of PR speak about how appearing to do something good is really important). (Insert actual point of view, which is completely fucking insulting, and boils down to “I know how to solve this problem, women don’t, and if they would just do what I say I could help more”).

    I hope in the future we can all work together to tackle this Very Important Issue, which I am so grateful you brought to my attention. (more sorta ass-kissing).Best of luck in the future (and other cliches).

    -DJG

    Its fucking maddening. JUST SAY WHAT THE FUCK YOU MEAN DUDE! Its a big waste of my time to scroll through so much shit to find out what he actually meant. Do you all think it shocks him when people zero in on the only relevant parts of his responses, or does he really expect all the padding to trip up skeptics?

    I don’t think its surprising that his preferred response is the one that keeps everything quiet and keeps the JREF looking great, he is dishonest as fuck.

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