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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. 1
    burpy

    Perhaps there is a problem of actual harassment and an over-perception of it. Whatever the case, a decline in numbers of women attendees is alarming and will not help the situation.

  2. 2
    marinastrinkovsky

    Much agreement with absolutely everything you say here, PZ. Especially the bit about how it is perfectly possible to be a well meaning egalitarian and still flush concerns down the memory hole – confirmation bias is not your friend! So yeah, write down everything and then do an analysis on the data, duh.

    I’d also like to add my personal perspective on going to conferences (atheist, sceptical, gaming, Sci/Fi – the lot): it is categorically untrue that prominent women speaking out about harassment at conferences has put me off going. What has put me off going is the harassment – but the voices raised in condemnation of it actually allowed me to not go.

    Once it wasn’t just my problem, once I realised that it’s not just me who is unlucky / over-sensitive / under-dressed, it became that much easier to just say to myself “you know what? Fuck it. Why should I put up with that shit?”. And being that I’m not a completely dyed in the wool convention goer, I simply stopped going.

    So in a funny way, DJ is right. But that just means people who organise conventions need to work even harder to make women feel safe, not make fruitless attempts at putting the women’s voices genie back in the denial bottle.

  3. 3
    saramayhew

    DJ brings up the very real problem of the negative impact rumours are having. RUMOURS, not reports. There are people making judgements based on hearsay. Next thing you know, some dude who’s never stepped foot at TAM is calling for him to step down. The president of the org that holds a 50% female speaker program conference which implemented a code of conduct/harassment policy at last year’s event and makes an effort to collect data from attendees in order to improve their experience should step down because he voices concern that rumours are having a negative impact on that org’s efforts?

    And the problem of people basing their info off of gossip and rumours is very real and causing harm. I’ve been the target of the rumour mill, being called an attention whore and having negative comments about my body image, and it came from women attendees. It got to the point where one such woman tracked down info about my family and contacted one of my siblings to regurgitate rumours and make diagnoses about my physical and mental health based off of hearsay and tumblr posts. What makes this more humiliating to me was that it came from a board member of the Women Thinking Free foundation; and while I gave them the benefit of the doubt that they were genuinely concerned, it’s troubling that there’s such a lack of skepticism, to the point where people are making decisions, however well meaning, based off rumours.

    The idea that women aren’t going to TAM because of rumours they’ve heard is the issue that was brought up. Can no one address that? Because there’s a pretty gawdamn big gossip problem that no one talks about.

  4. 4
    PZ Myers

    Yes, the rumors could be addressed…IF TAM had had a strict policy of documenting every report if harassment. If they had a reputation of taking such reports very seriously. The problem is that they haven’t. Ashley describes explicit harassment with multiple witnesses; DJ tries to argue it didn’t happen. That’s the wrong answer. It fuels the perception that DJ is trying to fight that TAM is insensitive to these problems, because he’s being insensitive to them.

    I think DJ wants to do right, but this is a case where he’s being blind to the problem.

  5. 5
    Dabu

    Regardless of whether there’s a greater perceived risk of being harassed at these events than of it actually happening, the harassing scum need to get the message that the holiday is over. A standard contingency plan for incidents is essential, and prominent signs listing behaviors to avoid will also help.

    The environment has been hostile to women for too long. It’s time to make it hostile to the harassers. The consequences for ignoring the fact that women are human beings should fucking hurt.

  6. 6
    rorschach

    saramayhew,

    please point me to those rumours you claim to have heard. It has been pointed out ad nauseam by now that there is underreporting of such harassment cases, in particular but not exclusively when it involves speakers or high-profile individuals. Sexual harassment tends not to create much evidence unless there is video footage, so women are at a disdvantage when they are asked to produce evidence for harassment claims.

    That you choose to call the reports by Elyse or Rebecca or anyone else who has come forward to say they had a bad experience at these conferences rumours, does not speak well for you. And I would be extremely curious as to this ‘gossip problem’ you allege exists.

  7. 7
    Aquaria

    DJ brings up the very real problem of the negative impact rumours are having. RUMOURS, not reports. There are people making judgements based on hearsay. Next thing you know, some dude who’s never stepped foot at TAM is calling for him to step down. The president of the org that holds a 50% female speaker program conference which implemented a code of conduct/harassment policy at last year’s event and makes an effort to collect data from attendees in order to improve their experience should step down because he voices concern that rumours are having a negative impact on that org’s efforts?

    What fucking bulllshit.

    First of all there aren’t rumors of harassment, lying fuckface.

    There are FACTS of it, witnessed by multiple people at the speakers reception. Go to Ashley Miller’s facebook link about how upset she is about DJ gross complaining that there wasn’t harassment, forgetting that she was harassed there. And then make note, if you can stop lying long enough, of the numerous people who witnessed her harassment, or were victims of it themselves, you self-loathing moron. People like Jen McCreight, Jemilla Bey, Jarrett Kauffman and Ingrid Nelsson. Eventually, we’ll hear from Greta Christina about the incident as well–because she apparently witnessed it, too.

    Worse, DJ himself was apparently the person who arranged to have the harasser removed from the reception–and the moron doesn’t even remember it, despite numerous people reminding him that he was thanked and patted on the back for it at the fucking time.

    Sit down and shut up you lying piece of shit.

  8. 8
    DLC

    I think D J Grothe believes he has a solution in place for these things. However, his solution is imperfect, and needs replacing or fixing. Obvious to us, perhaps because we’re at some distance removed from the situation. For what it’s worth, I agree with PZ on this. document every reported case. Further, make those reports public. Name names,give times and dates, make it understood that such behavior shall not be tolerated at future events.

    Finally. People: learn how to act properly in public.

  9. 9
    ashleybell

    And from the male perspective. It’s an insult to those of us who don’t harass women to allow these issues to go unaddressed

  10. 10
    ashleybell

    Oh, and try replacing “black” for “women”. How’s that work?

  11. 11
    saramayhew

    ” Ashley describes explicit harassment with multiple witnesses; DJ tries to argue it didn’t happen.”
    DJ didn’t argue that it didn’t happen. He said they didn’t receive reports of harassment; Ashley didn’t have to report the incident because TAM staff was on the ball and dealt with the situation on the spot. That is much better than having to deal with it yourself and report it because no one stopped it.

    I’ve been to a lot of conferences and conventions outside of skeptic/science themed events; art, comic, manga, cons as well as TED: organizers jobs are to deal with things on-spot, at the time (like throwing people out, revoking badges). If it serious enough that a formal report w/ names and details need to be made, then hotel security or the cops should’ve been called, that’s law inforcement’s job to keep formal records.

    It seems more fair to say DJ was saying any incidents that may have slipped their radar at the time were not later reported to them.

  12. 12
    Aquaria

    And another thing: Dj wants to rely on the “Evidence” of whether or not TAM occurs, but then TAM obviously does not log harassment claims that have happened!

    The dishonesty is appalling.

    His “evidence” is crap, because it doesn’t contain a report about harassment that is known to have happened!

    His data is crap.

  13. 13
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Oh yeah, women, silly little creatures. Spreading rumors while giggling in a really irritating high-pitched voice. That’s us. Don’t trust us on anything unless we have it on paper, signed but at least three witnesses. Male, obviously. Having video proof would be even better, but make sure it’s been handled by someone trustworthy (that is, male), so that there is no suspicion of it being messed with by terrible gossiping women.

  14. 14
    hyperdeath

    People like “Mr. Winebreath” should be publicly humiliated. Very publicly humiliated.

    (Subject, of course, to the wishes of their victims.)

  15. 15
    saramayhew

    6. “That you choose to call the reports by Elyse or Rebecca or anyone else who has come forward to say they had a bad experience at these conferences rumours, does not speak well for you. And I would be extremely curious as to this ‘gossip problem’ you allege exists.”

    Did I say that? No. Those are reports. What DJ referred to was emails the JREF received from people under the impression that the JREF condones sex trafficking and violence against women, based on what they’ve heard from rumours.

    And wow, 7. Aquaria. Nice job on calling me a lying fuckface self-loathing moron in a discussing about harassment towards women.

  16. 16
    elronxenu

    A public incident log with response action details is a very good idea. And publicise it, don’t hide it deep in the menu structure.

    Perhaps what’s needed is a clearing house – a central site which will list all the conferences and the details of any incidents.

  17. 17
    pentatomid

    Nice job on calling me a lying fuckface self-loathing moron in a discussing about harassment towards women.

    Insulting a woman =/= harassing women. Don’t even go there.

  18. 18
    LykeX

    @11

    So, what you’re saying is that DJs actual point is that if the cops aren’t called, it’s not worth talking about.

    Incidentally, I find it ironic that you decry these reports as mere rumors and then immediately proceed to describe a situation in which you were harassed. Not sexually, but harassed nonetheless.

    I’m getting seriously tired of this attitude that people talking about the harassment they experience is a bigger problem than the harassment itself.

  19. 19
    marinastrinkovsky

    Ashley didn’t have to report the incident because TAM staff was on the ball and dealt with the situation on the spot. That is much better than having to deal with it yourself and report it because no one stopped it.

    That really isn’t true, you know. The point of having a harassment policy – the way in which a successful and well implemented harassment policy will eventually help to prevent harassment – is that it is seen to be rigorously implemented by the organisation that put it in place. That means both documenting any events one were witnessed by the organisers and taking seriously reports of incidents that weren’t.

    If it serious enough that a formal report w/ names and details need to be made, then hotel security or the cops should’ve been called, that’s law inforcement’s job to keep formal records.

    This seems to me to contradict what you’ve said above though – you seem to assume that a report is something that only happens when the incident is “serious”? If it was serious enough that the organisers intervened on the spot, then that would imply to me that it passes your seriousness test, no? Because actually the majority of such incidents tend not to really be acknowledged as such by bystanders That is a big part of the problem actually, and the reason that reporting by women is really important and should be encouraged and documented.

    I see no contradiction in keeping a log of incidents between ones that were reported by the victims and ones that were spotted by the staff, do you? Either way, it’s recorded, and there are no arguments about whether it “really-really” happened.

    I just think you argument is a bit circular, or contradictory, or something. Kind of confused and confusing, in any event.

  20. 20
    saramayhew

    So, what you’re saying is that DJs actual point is that if the cops aren’t called, it’s not worth talking about.

    WTF?! Is this a giant game of warp words? I said it’s the responsibility of conferences to deal with attendee safety before it gets to the point where it needs to be officially reported.

    It’s staff responsibility to ask misbehaving attendees to leave or revoke their badge etc.,. If it escalates beyond that it’s time to call security/law enforcement for the safety of both the attendee AND staff; neither of whom are trained in taking statements and handling troublesome individuals safely.

  21. 21
    marinastrinkovsky

    It’s staff responsibility to ask misbehaving attendees to leave or revoke their badge etc.,. If it escalates beyond that it’s time to call security/law enforcement for the safety of both the attendee AND staff; neither of whom are trained in taking statements and handling troublesome individuals safely.

    Ah, I think I understand a bit better where we’ve been talking at cross purposes.

    What PZ is talking about isn’t dealing with harassment when it’s already happened, guaranteeing the physical safety of attendees. Instead what he (and I) would like is to create a situation in which it doesn’t happen at all, and the safety of attendees is not something we even need to worry about. That would make conventions and events more inclusive and inviting for all, right?

    Creating that atmosphere is going to take time, and it does start with having and implementing a strict policy. Once the weight of repercussions starts accumulating, and a discourse is created where it’s acceptable to openly disapprove of harassment and ostracise harassers, then gradually those behaviours will die out and suppress themselves. .

    At the end of the day, men don’t behave that way towards women because they’re uncontrollable animals (that’s the anti feminist argument!) – they behave that way because their environment somewhat encourages it, and they can get away with it for the most part. The ball is in the court of the people who control that environment – the organisers – to take the first decisive steps, with no ifs and no buts.

  22. 22
    astrofiend

    ‘lying fuckface.’
    ‘you self-loathing moron’
    ‘Sit down and shut up you lying piece of shit.’

    Way to go on a proper rant Aquaria. You’re a complete fucking psycho. Maybe you could just track her down and beat the shit out of her instead? That’s the tone you’re using. Or perhaps you are just one of those meek internet cowards who just writes people off from behind a keyboard? Just sayin’.

  23. 23
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Maybe you could just track her down and beat the shit out of her instead? That’s the tone you’re using.

    Tone is now the same as beating someone. Good to know. So, if I tell you that you are a fucking tone trolling idiot it’s exactly the same as punching you in the face?

  24. 24
    rorschach

    saramayhew,

    your insincerity is noted. Your strawmanning is also noted. The topic here is not alleged rumours received by DJG by email about more or less unfounded accusations towards JREF. The topic is DJG alleging that pointing out that some women have felt unsafe at skeptic conferences somehow caused TAM attendences to drop.

    Women aren’t going to TAM or similar events because of “rumours they heard”, but because of real reports of harassment. It’s up to us to make this environment more safe and accomodating for them. My hopes for this task to be achieved do not rest on you.

  25. 25
    marianneoberley digiacomo

    I am an atheist and a woman. My mind hadn’t been opened to the empowering truth of non-theism for long before I discovered that the modern atheist movement is largely a boy’s club. It often demonstrates worse sexism (and even misogyny) than the Christianity I left! And I was so naively sure that I would be welcomed as an equal — finally! Sigh.

    For example, anytime any atheist FB page posts anything remotely feminist, even very basic stuff like “Clothes don’t cause rape, rapists cause rape,” get ready for a pages-long shit storm! “Well, its just men’s nature, so women who dress like that are asking for it, that’s just reality — accept it stupid women!” “Most rape cases are fabricated,” “Oh, I guess you think all sex is rape and all men are rapists” and “Feminism is ruining the movement.”

    Based on the many terrible insults I, a long-married mom of 4, have received while discussing things very civilly online, I wouldn’t go anywhere near organized atheist anything.

    Here’s a little list from memory: You’re a man-hating dyke, you’re a whore, you f***ing dipshit, stupid bitch.

    Then there are the condescending comments: Well, women are naturally more illogical–it’s the hormones, nature/science proves women have lower intellect, here’s how women think…, you just need to understand X about women, it’s very simple….”

    And I just don’t need that kind of discouraging crap in my busy, challenging life.

    However, as an atheist, I still appreciate the few prominent men like PZ who will actually take a stand to call this out and say it’s wrong. Perhaps someday there will be an atheist gathering I would actually want to attend, or maybe someone will start an atheist women’s conference.

  26. 26
    philboidstudge

    DJ is denying it happened.

    You’re not being fair to DJ. I followed the link to Ashley’s blog, and then to her FB page. DJ is hardly “denying” anything, nor is he shying away from the issue. As usual, there’s two sides to the story. Skeptics should be skeptical, not knee-jerk.

  27. 27
    rorschach

    Insert “not” at appropriate spot in previous post, thanks.

  28. 28
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    @ rorschach: Care to repost the relevant sentence instead? In a three paragraphs post, I’d rather not have to guess what you wanted to say.

  29. 29
    skeptifem

    There is a lot of harassment at TAM, and it was brought up on the forums in the years that I posted there. Some of the most egregious shit I can remember was from the year before grothe took over. That was when I decided never to go again, because no one seemed to give a shit about it at all.

    At JREF women have been upgraded from a non-issue to a pack of well-meaning fuck ups who should really let the men explain that harassment is a non-issue. I feel so much more at home now that they are talking about it enough to tell me to shut the fuck up.

  30. 30
    carlie

    I said it’s the responsibility of conferences to deal with attendee safety before it gets to the point where it needs to be officially reported.

    It’s staff responsibility to ask misbehaving attendees to leave or revoke their badge etc.,.

    You’re using “reporting” differently than everyone else. We’re all talking about reporting to conference organizers, about conference organizers keeping their own track of how many incidents there are, not calling in the cops. In the case being discussed, a conference worker seeing an incident of harassment and telling the person doing it to quit should be reported to their own superior.

    If you want to define harassing incidents as only those severe enough to call the police in on, you’ve just opened the door wide and rolled out the red carpet for all the sleazeballs out there to come running in, because if there’s one thing they know how to do, it’s how to harass women in every way possible just shy of being illegal.

  31. 31
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    @ saramayhew: Hope this isn’t your first time on Pharyngula… Looks like something of a hazing, if it is ^^°

    Although, on a more serious note, I think DJ is perfectly capable of coming here and talk to PZ (as he’s done on other occasions).

  32. 32
    unbound

    I think DJ is trying too hard to be nice to both sides (hence a bit of waffling…kind of acknowledging the problem while not fully accepting the issue) when he needs to be more like a good parent. As PZ has stated in the comments, DJ needs to step up with solid, enforced policies. Even if there are some cries of “wolf” that turn out not to be true every now and then, you need to investigate all of the incidents to see what is really going on. The simple act of investigating and kicking out the problem people will do wonders for the reputation of the event.

    Simple phrase applies here…not in my house.

  33. 33
    Nancy New, Queen of your Regulatory Nightmare

    I write policies and programs and am the record keeping for such programs for a test laboratory. A good policy, properly enforced and documented:
    1) defines the problem and the scope of the problem
    2) establishes responsibilities for different aspects of the policy
    3) puts in a place for the steps to take: incident occurs; incident is reported; immediate and then formal response to incident; analysis of incident and response as a whole; record made and log kept of incident.
    4) all parties involved are provided with a voice and with feedback. If the loop isn’t closed, it’s not going to be effective.

    Those harrassed or reporting on something they’ve seen, though, need to be aware that while they think “reporting” is telling someone who appears to be in charge about it doesn’t constitute “reporting,” which typically involves filling out an incident report and submitting it, and getting witness reports from as many folks as they could.

    An incident large enough that folks on staff at the conference responded–the folks who responded should have known / been trained to fill out incident reports / witness reports.

    The idea of a community-wide clearinghouse is a good one, but it would need to have tight controls for use–not for incident reporting, but to control trolling. My guess is that the trolls would hit it hard if they had an opportunity to.

  34. 34
    skeptifem

    Perhaps there is a problem of actual harassment and an over-perception of it. Whatever the case, a decline in numbers of women attendees is alarming and will not help the situation.

    But see, this is bullshit. The majority of women I know who were harassed didn’t report it or even talk about it very much online. Some only discussed it in jref chat. There weren’t any prominent bloggers discussing the harassment that I have seen, and on my own blog I have only discussed the details of one or two of the things I witnessed.

    Does anyone remember the post on pharyngula from long ago about how insensitive the JREF forum was to rape? That was my experience repeatedly. A friend of mine was banned for finally snapping after posters kept posting sexual fantasies about his wife (that was apparently within the rules, while saying “stop that” was not). My nigel has had multiple people message him about what a cunt I am for my feminism, and how he doesn’t really believe that shit, right? The fact is that it is a fucking cesspool of male privilege. Being completely fucking ignored is half the reason I started my own blog. No one gives a shit about feminism there unless you are advocating for the right of women to be prostitutes or pose naked in pictures.

  35. 35
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Maybe declining enrollment of women has less to do with the probability of being harassed than the probability that your fellow conference attendees don’t give a shit about that.

  36. 36
    andrewmarron

    In his FB post DJ implies that the messages he gets from women vowing never to come to TAM often cite blogs about harrassment as their reason.

    If that’s the case it has to be incredibly frustrating, for a guy who has spent his career making atheist conventions more representative and safer for women to be told that it’s not enough.

    If I was in that position my first reaction would be to look for some evidence that what I was doing was working. He says look at this 800+ attending and not a single report of harrassment. Of course, now we know that isn’t true and even one incident of harrassment is too many.

    Grothe’s policy changes have probably done a lot to combat misogny, but if it’s not enough it’s not enough and it’s no good trying to argue that pointing out instances of harrassment hurt the cause. It’s probably true that reporting it discourages women from attending in the short-term, but that’s the way you know when policy changes, that will benefit the cause in the long-term, are needed.

  37. 37
    LykeX

    WTF?! Is this a giant game of warp words? I said it’s the responsibility of conferences to deal with attendee safety before it gets to the point where it needs to be officially reported.

    What do you mean by “officially reported, then?
    If an attendee reports to the conference personnel that they’ve been harassed, as has clearly happened, why doesn’t that count as an “official report”?

    You said:

    DJ didn’t argue that it didn’t happen. He said they didn’t receive reports of harassment

    The fact that the staff didn’t bother to write anything down is completely beside the point and to use that as an argument for why harassment isn’t a big problem and we should stop talking about it, is completely fucked up.

    Next:

    If it serious enough that a formal report w/ names and details need to be made, then hotel security or the cops should’ve been called

    Implying that report = police involvement.

    The reason that there are no reports is not that these things don’t happen, nor even that they aren’t reported. It’s that these reports are neatly forgotten the moment the immediate problem is dealt with.
    That’s a problem, because it allows DJ to then say that there were no reports when there clearly are. And when you start equivocating about what counts as a report, it just adds to the mess.

  38. 38
    rorschach

    andrewmarron,

    which are the atheist conferences that according to you DJG has “helped make more representative and safer for women” ? I don’t seem to recall any.

  39. 39
    Matt Penfold

    One thing is puzzling me.

    JREF must have the contact details of those who attended in previous years, and it seems they are able to identify who amongst those are women, so why not conduct a survey and ask the women ? One question that could be asked is “Were you subject to any form of sexual harassment, or other behaviour that made you feel uncomfortable”, with a follow up asking if they witnessed such behaviour affecting someone else.

  40. 40
    philboidstudge

    Last year Rebecca Watson said, “The biggest lesson I have learned over the years is that [the freethought community] is not a safe space and we have a lot of growing to do.”

    Taking her comment at face value, if I were organizing TAM or any other skeptic function I would temporarily suspend all large conferences, at least until I figured out how to make the space both welcoming and safe. Last year there were 300+ women at TAM; to invite all these people to a fundamentally unsafe environment would be irresponsible.

    If her comments are not to be taking literally (the biggest lesson she’s learned is how unsafe the community is? really?), then DJ has a point. The shoddy messaging doesn’t raise awareness, it raises eyebrows.

    (In fairness to Rebecca and for full[ish] context, see
    here.
    )

  41. 41
    carlie

    Plagiarizing myself from Ophelia’s:

    Even stepping away from sexual harassment itself, and how much it happens at conferences, this points to a broader problem as well that some of the men arguing here seem to be missing. The way that women’s reports of harassment and feelings of being unsafe have been dismissed makes me distrust how my opinion on anything would be taken by people high up in certain organizations. If DJ completely dismisses Rebecca’s opinion and tells her she’s part of the problem, then how does that attitude spill over into other areas? What else will he dismiss her opinion about? What else will he dismiss other women’s opinions about? It’s not just about sexual harassment: it’s about being taken seriously, period. If you don’t take women seriously about one topic, you probably won’t take them seriously about others, either. And why should any woman want to be in the company of those kinds of people?

  42. 42
    skeptifem

    saramayhew

    DJ brings up the very real problem of the negative impact rumours are having. RUMOURS, not reports.

    So women are shittier skeptics than men now? Or do you have an alternative explanation as for why women make such irrational judgments compared to men in the same movement when (according to you) they have the exact same data?

    Was elevatorgate a “rumor”, or did it reveal how many nasty misogynists existed in the movement? Should women ignore what happens when female leaders & speakers, the women with the most pull in the movement, are targeted with rape threats for speaking up?

    Maybe most of us have experienced or witnessed this shit, and men don’t notice because it doesn’t hurt them. Ever think of that?

  43. 43
    Alex M Doubts Your Commitment to Sparkle Motion

    @carlie

    Bravo.

    Honestly, over the last year and a half, given as many first-hand accounts and controversies and the like that I’ve seen? I’ve yet to feel a real, consuming desire to attend conferences. The idea of meeting folks like PZ or Matt or Greta is VERY appealing — but then the thought of potentially being around ANY of the same people who savagely threatened and trolled Rebecca Watson or who downplay rape really takes the polish off the apple.

    I mean, that’s truly the bottom line; I don’t want to be around anti-feminists and people who make light of harassment and rape. And there are so many high-profile examples of this in skeptic/atheist communities lately. Straight from at least one woman’s mouth.

  44. 44
    Kylie Sturgess

    “Lying fuckface.”
    “Sit down and shut up you lying piece of shit”

    Yes, thanks for demonstrating the kind of respect that we have come to expect towards women like Sara Mayhew, who have and will present at an Amazing Meeting, rather than helping with the matter.

    PZ – seriously, this is acceptable to you?

  45. 45
    LykeX

    How about including in every opening address the following:

    Guys, take a moment to read our sexual harassment policy and think about it. Don’t think about ways that you can circumvent it or exploit grey areas. Instead, think about how you, personally, can do better and help ensure a safe and friendly environment for everyone. If in doubt, back off. If you screw up, apologize. If you see someone else acting poorly, speak up.

    And if you don’t like the policy, the exits are marked with the green signs.

  46. 46
    skeptifem

    If that’s the case it has to be incredibly frustrating, for a guy who has spent his career making atheist conventions more representative and safer for women to be told that it’s not enough.

    let’s assume he did all that, for the sake of the argument.

    Why wouldn’t he get angry at men for their behavior instead of at women for trying to avoid it? It makes women the problem instead of harassers. If he does all this shit “for women” like you say he has a damn funny way of measuring if it is actually helping women. refusing to listen to them when they tell him that they don’t feel safe is usually a pretty crappy way to answer the question “has X made women feel safer at TAM?”. Some folks do stuff like this for a good guy badge instead of out of any genuine concern, and others want a pat on the back for doing things that women are entitled to as human beings. We shouldn’t have to be ever so grateful that men took a few minutes to be fair. Fairness is what women deserve.

  47. 47
    skeptifem

    kylie- your concern is noted.

  48. 48
    rorschach

    skeptifem,

    following saramayhew’s logic, from now on, and to prevent any of these “rumours” in the future, every woman who attends a skeptics or atheist conference, or the social functions associated with them, should be equipped with a Marine-style uniform with a camera over their shoulder, that records live footage and beams it straight to headquarters, where DJG and assorted JREF members will record any transgressions and mercilessly hunt down the offenders. That should work. Since the main problem here is evidence.
    Gah.

  49. 49
    Alex M Doubts Your Commitment to Sparkle Motion

    @Skeptifem

    Excellent point. I tend to get really nervous at the “we’re trying to make you people happy, what more do you want?” argument, myself. As if making the effort is SUCH a grand gesture, when honestly, enforcement of harassment policies should truly be as ubiquitous and enforced as any other expected code of conduct within a given setting. This shit should be basic.

  50. 50
    rorschach

    And here’s Kylie Sturgess to lecture us on tone. Why not send a complaint email to PZ, Kylie, you thought that was adequate with regards to those women complaining about Jim Jefferies on your blog after all.

  51. 51
    julietdefarge

    Women shouldn’t run away from places where they may encounter harassment. We didn’t make any headway with civil rights by avoiding situations where we weren’t welcome. Go, and be prepared to meet harassment with swift administrative action or even the effectively implemented knee, if circumstances warrant.

  52. 52
    W. Kevin Vicklund

    So, I followed the link to Ashley’s blog, and from there to the FB page that DJ responded to. Synthesizing what was reported: Winebreath was at a private reception without an invite and was sexually harassing several women. Random Guy reported to DJ that Winebreath was drunk and behaving badly. DJ went around asking if anyone knew who Winebreath was or who invited him. When it became apparent Winebreath was not supposed to be there, DJ had him removed from the reception. Victims of the abuse assumed Winebreath had been removed for his behavior and congratulated DJ.

    Here’s what is wrong about DJ’s actions. The question he should have been asking is not “Who is this guy?” but “What is this guy doing?” Winebreath wasn’t actually kicked out for his behavior, he was kicked out for being at a private party without an invite.

  53. 53
    rorschach

    As an aside, PZ’s “please fix this” approach to me sounds much more reasonable and constructive than Greg Laden’s sensationalist “cull him now”. We may judge DJG by how he reacts to the criticism being voiced now, but it’s just too easy to ask for his head straight away. That said, with comments like the one quoted where he puts the blame for falling attendences on those rabble-rousing females who dare to make public their bad experiences, I do not hold much hope for him staying in that office for too much longer.

  54. 54
    colinthornton

    I was the person who helped try to find the harasser at the tables at TAM. The harasser in question was not a registered Tam attendee (no badge). The incident was not appropriately reported because the individual could not immediately be identified, but there was an effort to catch him.

  55. 55
    skeptifem

    Women shouldn’t run away from places where they may encounter harassment. We didn’t make any headway with civil rights by avoiding situations where we weren’t welcome. Go, and be prepared to meet harassment with swift administrative action or even the effectively implemented knee, if circumstances warrant.

    Depending on who you ask, 1/4 to 1/6 of women are victims of rape. You’re telling all of them to just deal with it when they are confronted with sexual aggression, for the greater good. Maybe you should think more about the kind of advice you’re really giving when you address all women and suggest that they all act the same.

    Then there are the women who are unlikely to be able to knee some dude in the balls, either because of their constitution or disability status. Or women who doubt the effectiveness of knee and ball interaction as an anti-harassment tactic, considering shit like rape still happens often. Not to mention that if no one else sees (or notices) you being harassed, but sees you knee a dude in the balls, guess who is going to get kicked out or charged with assault?

    Then there are women like me, who don’t put up with sexism at work or in social situations, and suffer greatly for it. Nothing really gets done in response and you become socially isolated (you risk getting fired all the time too). Other women fear becoming like you because they enjoy having friends and a pleasant time at work.

    Then there are women who don’t see the value in paying good money to be sexually harassed by men. I don’t know why the fuck they should pay people money who obviously don’t care about an issue that is central to experiences of women’s oppression.

    I don’t know if you noticed, but women have been making their own groups. That is a damn lot better of a solution than throwing more chum in the shark tank. I am not at all convinced the best way to fix things is to fight men for basic consideration. It takes forever, it has an enormous toll on the women who do it, and it doesn’t seem to ever fully transform any institution. After all engineers are still notoriously sexist, so are computer programmers, and so on. Making our own institutions and letting the patriarchal ones die off seems ideal in comparison to what you’re advocating.

  56. 56
    LykeX

    @Kylie Sturgess

    None of those were gendered insults, nor were they directed at her for being a woman. They were said because she was minimizing the actual experiences of harassment that some women have reported.

    As such, it was warranted.

  57. 57
    Larry Clapp

    @ #52, W. Kevin Vicklund

    Here’s what is wrong about DJ’s actions. The question he should have been asking is not “Who is this guy?” but “What is this guy doing?” Winebreath wasn’t actually kicked out for his behavior, he was kicked out for being at a private party without an invite.

    I’ve not read the blog or the FB page, and I wasn’t there. Going from your description alone, I’d agree with you, but also point out that sometimes, administratively, it’s easier to go after the “low hanging fruit”. This “Winebreath” guy and/or his friends (if any :) might dispute that he was behaving badly, but he couldn’t dispute that he was at a private function without an invitation.

    It’s easier to kick someone out on a clear cut, objective requirement (“you weren’t invited”) than over behavior (“you’re being a dick”), even if the impetus for the inquiry about the invitation was the behavior in question.

  58. 58
    Pteryxx

    Wow, I didn’t expect a big discussion to break out right after I fell asleep…

    DJ didn’t argue that it didn’t happen. He said they didn’t receive reports of harassment; Ashley didn’t have to report the incident because TAM staff was on the ball and dealt with the situation on the spot. That is much better than having to deal with it yourself and report it because no one stopped it.

    The issue isn’t “report to police” nor is it “report only incidents that were not addressed”. One of the reasons to have a harassment policy in place is to encourage reporting of incidents, AT ALL, for the purposes of collecting the best possible data and monitoring the problem.

    Reports as collected by an organization should include:

    - Incidents that merited an organizational response (i.e. intervention by event staff, reporting to venue security or law enforcement, removal of an attendee, etc)

    - Incidents that were handled by the complainant or bystanders on the spot (i.e. the harasser was rebuffed without event staff intervening). These STILL need to be followed up in case they are part of a pattern of behavior by the same individual.

    - Incidents where no individual harasser could be identified (i.e. anonymous sexually explicit messages, such as notes or photos slipped under a door).

    - Incidents that could not be verified. (i.e. bystander reports where individuals involved could not be identified, reports that don’t match up with conflicting reports, etc) Note: “unverified” does not mean “falsified”.

    - Verified false reports.

    Note to PZ et al: I request again that folks be careful about their use of the word “blind” IF they want to imply incompetence or insensitivity. Blind people aren’t assholes more than anyone else. ~;>

    I already spammed some of this on Ophelia’s and Stephanie’s blogs; my apologies for that. There ARE guidelines out there for how to deal with harassment claims and how to respond to victims and potential victims. Any organization with a harassment policy should ensure that staff know how to implement it properly.

    Here are some basics rules to follow if you receive a complaint of discrimination or harassment:

    Keep an open mind. Many employers have a hard time believing that discrimination or harassment could be happening right under their noses. As a result, they often fail to investigate complaints, assuming that they could not possibly be true. Unfortunately, failing to investigate a complaint is a surefire way to land in court. Investigate every complaint you receive. Don’t come to any conclusions until your investigation is complete.
    Treat the complainer with respect and compassion. Employees often find it extremely difficult to complain about discrimination or harassment. They feel vulnerable and afraid. This can have an impact on the quality of their work, and it can also lead them to seek outside assistance from lawyers. When an employee comes to you with concerns about discrimination or harassment, be understanding. An employee who sees that you are taking the problem seriously is less likely to escalate the issue to a government agency or to court.
    Don’t shoot the messenger. You may be tempted to become angry at the complaining employee for the fact that you must now deal with the specter of discrimination and harassment in your business. But don’t forget that the complaining employee is the victim and not the cause of the problem. If you allow yourself to become angry at the employee, you open yourself up to claims of illegal retaliation (see next tip, below). You also run the risk of polarizing your workplace, damaging morale, and lowering productivity.

    There’s much more. I suggest that anyone interested, definitely anyone on event staff or heading an organization, acquaint themselves with this or a similar resource ASAP.

    http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/guidelines-handling-discrimination-harassment-complaints-29490.html

    Referenced in “What is sexual harassment” here:

    http://www.nhcadsv.org/sexual_harassment.cfm

    See also:

    http://www.aauw.org/act/laf/library/workplaceharassmentstrategies.cfm

  59. 59
    skeptifem

    As an aside, PZ’s “please fix this” approach to me sounds much more reasonable and constructive than Greg Laden’s sensationalist “cull him now”. We may judge DJG by how he reacts to the criticism being voiced now, but it’s just too easy to ask for his head straight away. That said, with comments like the one quoted where he puts the blame for falling attendences on those rabble-rousing females who dare to make public their bad experiences, I do not hold much hope for him staying in that office for too much longer.

    this isn’t the first time DJG has been obliviously sexist, and I doubt it will be the last. People are framing the call to resign as being really sudden, but that isn’t accurate.

    I don’t know what I think about calls asking for him to resign, but I don’t want people to forget the past when discussing it either. Here is a summary of the events I am referring to :

    http://skeptifem.blogspot.com/2012/02/when-men-rule-feminism.html

    this is the dude in charge of implementing the harassment policy. He doesn’t give a fuck.

  60. 60
    scottplumer

    Call me crazy, but isn’t it possible that women could be accosted or harassed at any convention/meeting they go to? What makes TAM unique? I’m not excusing it, but singling out TAM seems unreasonable, and avoiding it because of a few incidents allows the perpetrators to win.

  61. 61
    Timid Atheist

    Women shouldn’t run away from places where they may encounter harassment. We didn’t make any headway with civil rights by avoiding situations where we weren’t welcome. Go, and be prepared to meet harassment with swift administrative action or even the effectively implemented knee, if circumstances warrant.

    You know who gets into trouble when a man harasses a woman and she knees him in the groin? The woman. Assault is taken more seriously than a claim of harassment.

    Added to that is that a knee to the groin tends to bring attention that maybe the woman doesn’t want heaped onto the already unwanted harassment.

    Why should I have to force myself into a situation of harassment for the greater good? Why should I have to put up with harassment at all? Why shouldn’t the people doing the harassing be the ones to be berated for doing the harassment?

  62. 62
    Pteryxx

    Call me crazy, but isn’t it possible that women could be accosted or harassed at any convention/meeting they go to? What makes TAM unique?

    Again, to all, sorry I keep having to spam these resources all over FTB.

    Sexual harassment is extremely common and vastly underreported. There’s nothing special about incidents *happening* at TAM or any other event. What’s going on HERE is an attitude that evinces unwillingness to deal with the problem rather than cover it up. One of the REASONS sexual harassment (and sexual assault) are so rarely reported is that victims know they’re likely to receive no support from whoever’s in charge – they can expect to be dismissed and disbelieved.

    Compare the calling-out DJ is getting with the support expressed for Carl Tracy due to his handling of Elyse’s sex card complaint and willingness to discuss it openly.

    A GAO report released today criticized the Department of Defense (DOD) for its oversight of sexual harassment, citing new statistics suggesting that the majority of sexual harassment in the military goes unreported.

    According to the report, only 4 of the 82 service members who said they were sexually harassed in the past year reported it formally.

    The study also found that an estimated 41 percent of servicemembers believed that people in their work group would be able to get away with sexual harassment, even if it were reported.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31727_162-20125528-10391695/gao-sexual-harassment-in-the-military-underreported/

    The harrassment ranges from wolf-whistling and lewd comments to physical groping and sexual assault.

    Campaigners say that reported cases represent “the tip of the iceberg” and that authorities can no longer afford to ignore the issue.

    Research released today by the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) coalition shows 41 per cent of women under the age of 34 have been on the receiving end of sexual harassment in the street.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/catcalls-whistles-groping-the-everyday-picture-of-sexual-harassment-in-london-7786185.html

  63. 63
    Timid Atheist

    Call me crazy, but isn’t it possible that women could be accosted or harassed at any convention/meeting they go to? What makes TAM unique? I’m not excusing it, but singling out TAM seems unreasonable, and avoiding it because of a few incidents allows the perpetrators to win.

    TAM isn’t unique. But it’s what’s being discussed and it’s, as far as I know, the only convention that has had it’s organizer claim that no harassment has occurred there, despite reports to the contrary.

    We didn’t choose to single out TAM, DJG did when he claimed that attendance for women was down because some skeptics were saying that attending a conference can be a minefield for women.

    Avoiding an event doesn’t allow the perpetrators to win. Not addressing the problems and ignoring them allows the perpetrators to win.

    If harassment is handled properly and is not denied after the fact then there is no problem, in my opinion. It’s the attempt to silence those who would want to make things safer and to make women aware of the possibilities that is most upsetting.

  64. 64
    Timid Atheist

    Again, to all, sorry I keep having to spam these resources all over FTB.

    No need to apologize. I’m glad someone is an ally in this with resources and arguments to help support those of us who don’t have the time or the willingness to deal with the naysayers.

    If anything, I’d like to say thank you Petryxx.

  65. 65
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    this is the dude in charge of implementing the harassment policy. He doesn’t give a fuck.

    THANK YOU. I’m reading this thinking how the fuck did Grothe earn this reputation of being a well-meaning-but-oblivious-ally? Has there ever been a time when he wasn’t completely dismissive about sexism?

  66. 66
    madtom1999

    Is this the way to challenge creationism teaching in schools:
    SMBC

  67. 67
    Greg Laden

    Rorschach: “As an aside, PZ’s “please fix this” approach to me sounds much more reasonable and constructive than Greg Laden’s sensationalist “cull him now”.”

    Indeed. In fact, I suspect PZ is attempting to be more “reasonable.” And I’m perfectly happy to accept that there are many different possible approaches.

    But do keep in mind that PZ is talking here about women’s comfort level and safety and the particular issue of the apparent bleed-off of women from TAM. I am talking about a different issue. I am specifically addressing: “comments like the one quoted where he puts the blame for falling attendences on those rabble-rousing females who dare to make public their bad experiences, I do not hold much hope for him staying in that office for too much longer.”

    Also, we now apparently need to add this whole crazy thing between DJ and Ashley Miller (and others) vis-a-vis the “incident” that happened.

    I think no one can deny that DJ has done a great job. Remember, I started my post out with that idea. However, going to the feminists (mostly but not all women) actively seeking to improve things int the community on a comment-campaign to quiet them down indicates that DJ is better at doing things other than what has to happen in this community right now.

    It has been suggesed that someone be brought in to address these issues for JREF. That could be a good idea as well.

  68. 68
    carlie

    Women shouldn’t run away from places where they may encounter harassment. We didn’t make any headway with civil rights by avoiding situations where we weren’t welcome. Go, and be prepared to meet harassment with swift administrative action or even the effectively implemented knee, if circumstances warrant.

    Women don’t run away from places; the places are everywhere. What is being said that your part about “swift administrative action” needs to actually be in place.

  69. 69
    Greg Laden

    this isn’t the first time DJG has been obliviously sexist, and I doubt it will be the last. People are framing the call to resign as being really sudden, but that isn’t accurate.

    Thank you. I’ve added that link (as well as one to this post) to my OP.

  70. 70
    skeptifem

    thanks greg.

    also-oh my god you guys, grothe has shown up at a different FTB thread and told rebecca watson that she is one of the people scaring off TAMites, not the people threatening her all the time.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/?p=2681

    He is reacting very poorly to this. Its all denials, insisting that he is helping women, and accusations against women who have been harassed for fucking up all his hard work, and so forth.

  71. 71
    bargearse

    Registrations for women at TAM is down? Well colour me surprised. I think it’s about more than just, “do they feel safe at the conference?” After all, most of the women in this community seem very capable of handling a douchebag or two. What’s changed is a prominent female speaker and TAM regular had the temerity to say, “guys, don’t do that”, and the doodz lost their fucking minds. It’s been nearly a year of excuses, mansplaining, insults and some of the most vile threats I’ve ever read. This didn’t come from some fundie church group, these are the guys who identify as skeptics/atheists, these people turn up to conferences. It doesn’t matter if they speak for everyone or they’re just a vocal minority, their voice has been heard (over and fucking over again) and quite frankly what they’ve got to say is disgusting. After listening to just how little at least one segment thinks of them is it any wonder the women have voted with their feet?

  72. 72
    Kylie Sturgess

    NO. This is unacceptable, ill treatment to a woman, Sara Mayhew – who is a respected speaker at skeptical events and completely out-of-place on a post about making women feeling welcome in skepticism. To dismiss it as:

    “None of those were gendered insults, nor were they directed at her for being a woman. They were said because she was minimizing the actual experiences of harassment that some women have reported.”

    with ‘#*&#$ shut up and sit down’ abuse directed at her – is not only wrong but completely misguided as to the point of civility. Her perspective did not warrant that kind of abuse.

    As for the likes of “rorschach” who is NOT privy to private emails between myself and commentators on my blog which sorted out a miscommunication about a completely different event AND led to my taking action about it – your hypocritical support of abusive treatment of women as demonstrated HERE is the reason why you are not welcome on my comments.

  73. 73
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    your hypocritical support of abusive treatment of women as demonstrated HERE is the reason why you are not welcome on my comments.

    Please provide examples that don’t include possibility of you being psychic. I may not have been reading Pharyngula for very long, but I don’t remember rorschach supporting abusive treatment of women.

  74. 74
    ischemgeek

    I’ll second what other commenters have said about good policy design and the need to report everything. I TA. If a student complains to me about a TA, a prof, another student, or anyone else at the university, I report. Full stop. It doesn’t matter if I’m not in the course, or if I’m not in the section, or if they’re not my student or if I’m not in the appropriate chain of reporting. The student has confided in me, and I report. End of discussion.

    E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g gets reported. A student has a crush on me and flirts? I report , and my supervisor and I work out how to deal with it. A student is upset because they feel their TA was unnecessarily rude? I report. A fellow TA complains about a student acting inappropriately towards them? I report. What I think doesn’t matter: The rule is that if someone feels strongly enough to confide in an authority figure or fellow employee, I report. On my end, if I’m worried that something in my class might be seen as inappropriate, I report, to protect myself if nothing else (that way there’s a record that, yes, I recognize this situation is inappropriate and I’m trying to have it addressed even though I would never ask for disciplinary action in such a situation – the report is merely to have a formal record that it’s happening). End of discussion. It’s not my job to act as gatekeeper about what does or does not get reported. It is my job to make sure that stuff gets reported. And it does.

    And in my time here, not one of the things I’ve reported has been found to be frivilous. A few have been found to be a big misunderstanding with no harm intended (a touchy-feely person with interacting with a very shy guy, for example) and/or the product of immaturity rather than ill intent (a student flirting with a TA in class, for example), but none were found to be a false report. I’m sure they exist, but I’m also sure they’re vanishingly rare. And in my time, my workplace has gained a reputation as being one of the safest and most respectful in the city. That is because we have a strict policy that is also effectively implemented. I can’t tell you how many incidents have been reported so far this academic year. But this time next year, I will be able to say there were W reports filed in the academic year of 2012-2013, X were found to be founded of which Y were referred to the disciplinary committee and Z had alternative resolution (probably due to it being a no-fault-intended type of situation, like an overly-flirty student making things awkward for a TA). I will also be able to tell you, in general, what kind of incident they were and, if applicable, what the ruling of the disciplinary committee was (if it’s been resolved already, otherwise I’d be able to tell you when the hearing is scheduled) and what action was taken. I’ll be able to tell you the rulings of stuff from the previous academic year that didn’t get resolved by the end of that year. I could bring up the trend of the past ten or fifteen years, if I wanted to. I’ll be able to tell you all that because my workplace releases public reports on this stuff (and all other alleged infractions of the behavior code) once a year, organized by department. Names are not named, for the victim’s privacy. However, if you look up the record of a given student or employee, you will be able to see any infractions they’ve been found guilty of, and transcripts of disciplinary hearings are available on request (though the committee reserves the right to remove identifying info).

    No workplace is perfect, and I have my issues with this one, but IMHO, that is how you make and apply an effective anti-harrassment policy. We take it seriously, and we do not mess around where reporting is concerned. The rule is that it’s better to report something that maybe could have been dealt with unofficially than to not report something that should have been, so no matter how minor something seems to you, if someone has told you about it, you file your damn report. Because sometimes the person reporting to you feels too awkward to give complete context, or sometimes it’s a straw-that-broke-the-camel’s back scenario and they’re reporting something minor that just pushed them over the edge after a campaign of harrassment, or sometimes… take your pick. Stuff that seems minor at first can be the tip of the iceberg, so it’s always, always, always better to err on the side of reporting. If it’s as minor as it seems, you’re not gonna ruin anyone’s carreer: Give the people whose job it is to investigate these things some credit. On the other hand, if it’s the tip of the iceberg, you just helped make the environment safer.

  75. 75
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    @ Kylie:

    Let me get this straight. Are you saying that people shouldn’t be rude to Sara because she’s a woman? Or because she’s “a respected speaker”? Is it all right to insult men, then? Or to insult peons who are not respected and not invited to speak at conferences?

    As for civility at Pharyngula, er…
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/08/01/pharyngula-standards-practices/

  76. 76
    Anri

    Kylie:

    I’m terribly sorry, but if you can’t tell the difference between being rude to someone because they are a woman and being rude to someone who is a woman, you might wanna bow out of discussions of feminism.

    Agree with it or not, quick-draw snark and harsh language is the way of things around these parts – as noted and endorsed by the host. Stupid opinions will get you clobbered on this blog – almost, but not quite, as fast and hard as using gendered insults will. The folks at Pharyngula are equal-opportunity ass-kickers.

  77. 77
    Matt Penfold

    with ‘#*&#$ shut up and sit down’ abuse directed at her – is not only wrong but completely misguided as to the point of civility. Her perspective did not warrant that kind of abuse.

    What I am having trouble understanding is why you are not condemning Sarah Mayhew for her lack of civility as well. Her claim that there were no reports of harassment are untrue. Now either Sarah know the claim to be untrue, in which case she lied, or she does not, in which case she is speaking from a position of ignorance. Whilst lying might be worse, neither is polite. It should also be noted she has not corrected her claim, which does make one question her honesty is making it.

    Why the double standards ?

  78. 78
    skeptifem

    kylie

    NO. This is unacceptable, ill treatment to a woman, Sara Mayhew – who is a respected speaker at skeptical events and completely out-of-place on a post about making women feeling welcome in skepticism. To dismiss it as:

    Maybe you need to read the standards about posting here. No one gives a fuck if a poster was a speaker somewhere or not. Their post gets treated the same.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/08/01/pharyngula-standards-practices/

    This is a rude blog. We like to argue — heck, we like a loud angry brawl. Don’t waste time whining at anyone that they’re not nice, because this gang will take pride in that and rhetorically hand you a rotting porcupine and tell you to stuff it up your nether orifice. If you intrude here and violate any of the previous three mores, people won’t like you, and they won’t hold back—they’ll tell you so, probably in colorful terms.

    Pharyngulites will get angry and reject you if you use a gendered, racial, abelist, or homophobic insult. Calling someone a lying fuckface when they are lying is the regular treatment of posters here. It is difficult to find an exception. Virtually everyone, including PZ, is subject to such rudeness. I personally like it more than fluffy dishonest bullshit; people mean what they say here. If you don’t like it that is fine, but don’t call it harassment when it is not. You are trivializing harassment when you equate the two. Someone is taking her to task for what she has said, not what she is. The former is important and good. the latter would absolutely be harassment.

    Civility is often the nice way of saying “shut the fuck up”, I hardly find it preferable to sugar coat a message. Genuine communication is much more difficult when people are not free to say what they really think.

  79. 79
    Louis

    So the way to stop making some women feel uncomfortable/unsafe at conferences is to stop talking about how some women feel uncomfortable/unsafe at conferences?

    Why that seems logical! Why didn’t we think of that before?

    I’m going to hide in a corner for a while. I can’t take much more of this without using harsh language and possibly even sarcasm. I mean more sarcasm. Lots more.

    Louis

  80. 80
    bargearse

    Matt @77 no no no, you’ve missed it completely. There wre no REPORTS of harrassment. Since Ashley’s situation was handled on the spot it doesn’t count as an actual report. And those statistics keep looking sooooo much better.

  81. 81
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    I mean more sarcasm. Lots more.

    Louis

    Please, don’t hold it back. It’s not healthy, keeping the sarcasm in.

  82. 82
    situsinversus

    The problem is that so far there is no evidence of systemic harassment of women at TAM as proposed by Rebecca Watson. The data in fact indicates incidents are sporadic and most appear to have been dealt with on the spot. See DJ point (9) http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/05/30/where-are-the-women/#comment-84687

    Those proposing that TAM is unsafe for women have to come up with data that supports this assertion. Data that is not based on sporadic event, rumors, or personal foibles of speakers.

    Organizers can only make the event as safe as possible but not perfectly “safe” considering all the individual variations of what is considered safe and externalities like people crashing the event.

    I for one support DJ and all his efforts in this matter.

    One word about the speakers. If some speakers do have a confirmed history of harassment then they should be warned that will not be tolerated and not invited again if they continue the behavior.

  83. 83
    Ubi Dubium

    @Matt Penfold #39

    I’d agree that asking women who have previously attended TAM about their experiences and plans for future attendance would be a good strategy. Better to find out why the numbers are actually down than to make a bunch of assumptions.

    I’ll provide one data point here:

    I’m female, and attended TAM9 (with financial help from Surly Amy). Loved it. I did not personally experience or witness any harrassment, although the subject of elevatorgate was much discussed. I would love to attend this year, but it’s too expensive an event for me to attend every year. If finances permitted, I would be there.

    Now if we could just get every woman who has attended TAM to give us their info, we might have something useful to work with.

  84. 84
    Pteryxx

    Those proposing that TAM is unsafe for women have to come up with data that supports this assertion. Data that is not based on sporadic event, rumors, or personal foibles of speakers.

    See my post #62. Sexual harassment is pervasive and vastly underreported, thus formal reporting is not good evidence that no harassment exists.

    What is your evidence for suggesting TAM (or any other specific venue) is an exceptionally harassment-free environment?

  85. 85
    Momo Elektra

    @situsinversus

    “The data in fact indicates incidents are sporadic and most appear to have been dealt with on the spot. ”

    The data has been shown to be useless since not every officially known instance of harassment is actually put into that data.

    Much less the not so officially known instances.

  86. 86
    bargearse

    situsinversus@82 At exactly which point did Rebecca Watson say there was systemic harassment of women at TAM?

  87. 87
    situsinversus

    Why the reticence to obtain data that shows harassment at TAM is a systemic problem. Are you arguing the problem is incapable of being proven?

  88. 88
    Matt Penfold

    situsinversus@82 At exactly which point did Rebecca Watson say there was systemic harassment of women at TAM?

    I suspect that point was somewhere in his imagination.

  89. 89
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    @ situsinversus #82:

    The data in fact indicates incidents are sporadic and most appear to have been dealt with on the spot.

    This was addressed. See comment #80 by bargearse, #74 by ischemgeek and #58 by pteryxx…

  90. 90
    Matt Penfold

    Why the reticence to obtain data that shows harassment at TAM is a systemic problem. Are you arguing the problem is incapable of being proven?

    Whhy do you keep going on about “systemic” problem ? Do you think we are impressed by your making shit up ?

  91. 91
    advancedatheist

    Ironically christians helped to create this situation through their inadvertent advertising campaign for the atheist lifestyle. For how many generations have christians claimed that atheists enjoy uninhibited swinging sex, which presumably means that atheist men could meet all these easy women at atheist gatherings who would want to hook up with them? How many young men from christian backgrounds became atheists in part because they believed this propaganda about atheists’ sex lives coming from their pastors and Sunday school teachers?

    Yet atheism doesn’t change human nature. Women find most men sexually unappealing, and a yucky beta male stays a yucky beta male even when he becomes an atheist and goes to social events also attended by “godless bitches” who wouldn’t put out for him under any circumstances. In fact, some christians, like Vox Day, have started to change their characterization of male atheists by calling them socially retarded guys who can’t find girlfriends. Perhaps they realized that the older stereotype backfired by making atheism too appealing to young men, so now they want to portray atheist men as sexual losers.

  92. 92
    situsinversus

    “I thought it was a safe space,” Watson said of the freethought community. “The biggest lesson I have learned over the years is that it is not a safe space. . . ”

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2011-09-15/atheist-sexism-women/50416454/1

  93. 93
    Momo Elektra

    “Women find most men sexually unappealing”

    WTF?

  94. 94
    Matt Penfold

    “I thought it was a safe space,” Watson said of the freethought community. “The biggest lesson I have learned over the years is that it is not a safe space. . . ”

    So no mention of systemic.

    Do you have an explanation as to your lack of honesty ?

  95. 95
    skeptifem

    shorter 82: absence of evidence IS evidence of absence!

    Please continue with your lecture on skeptic cred, I’m sure everyone will take it very seriously.

  96. 96
    situsinversus

    So no systemic problem? What is the issue then? I don’t think any organization can guarantee or provide a 100% safe environment for everyone and the data indicates JREF is doing a good job.

    Again, what is the problem if not perception of a few?

  97. 97
    skeptifem

    91

    I stopped paying attention when you started talking about “beta males” derisively. This is usually a strong indicator that you believe all the bullshit Pick Up Artists say, and it makes me feel sad for you. Things don’t work at all the way you think they do.

  98. 98
    Matt Penfold

    So no systemic problem? What is the issue then? I don’t think any organization can guarantee or provide a 100% safe environment for everyone and the data indicates JREF is doing a good job.

    We know their data is flawed, since even incidents of harassment that were reported to them were not included.

    Care to explain why you did not know that ?

    I suggest you start being a bit more honest.

  99. 99
    anbheal

    The positioning of DJG and his defenders has a familiar ring –

    The Vatican:”our problems are caused by the Jewish-controlled media making a mountain out of a molehill”.

    The Pentagon and their lapdog punditry: “media coverage cost us the Vietnam War”.

    The Romney campaign: “all those stories about horrible things I did are just AD HOMINEM ATTACKS by the Liberal Media, for trivial stuff I don’t even remember!”

    So cut the unwarranted talking about shit, you silly little wimminfolk.

  100. 100
    situsinversus

    Just posted this on the other side:

    A survey is statistical in nature and may not include sporadic events. If the problem was real and systemic at TAM it would have been reflected by the survey regardless of whether it included certain events or not.

  101. 101
    rorschach

    I can’t decide whose post is more bizarre, that of the “advancedatheist”, or the weird and farcical comment by Kylie the good-weather blogger.

  102. 102
    Matt Penfold

    A survey is statistical in nature and may not include sporadic events. If the problem was real and systemic at TAM it would have been reflected by the survey regardless of whether it included certain events or not.

    You seem fixated on the problem being systemic. Since no one has claimed the organisers of TAM are actually behind the problem, but rather just failing to take it seriously enough, I cannot understand what you on about.

    I note though that continue to be less than honest, and still have not apologised for lying about what Rebecca Watson said. Is there any particular reason you are a lying fuckwit ?

  103. 103
    Anthony K

    Registrations for women at TAM is down? Well colour me surprised. I think it’s about more than just, “do they feel safe at the conference?” After all, most of the women in this community seem very capable of handling a douchebag or two. What’s changed is a prominent female speaker and TAM regular had the temerity to say, “guys, don’t do that”, and the doodz lost their fucking minds. It’s been nearly a year of excuses, mansplaining, insults and some of the most vile threats I’ve ever read. This didn’t come from some fundie church group, these are the guys who identify as skeptics/atheists, these people turn up to conferences. It doesn’t matter if they speak for everyone or they’re just a vocal minority, their voice has been heard (over and fucking over again) and quite frankly what they’ve got to say is disgusting. After listening to just how little at least one segment thinks of them is it any wonder the women have voted with their feet?

    Exfuckingactly. The reaction to Rebecca Watson happened. ERV’s slimepit exists. Even if Elevator Guy™ was just a story, or an allegory, or an example, the reaction to a woman having the temerity to express an opinion on what kinds of things makes her feel unsafe is there, in all its vile, sexist, rapey glory for all to see.

    For Sara Mayhew to blather on about RUMOURS is disingenuity of the highest order.

  104. 104
    skeptifem

    96

    So no systemic problem? What is the issue then? I don’t think any organization can guarantee or provide a 100% safe environment for everyone and the data indicates JREF is doing a good job.

    Again, what is the problem if not perception of a few?

    well first off the problem is that you misrepresented someone elses claim. No one knows the exact level of harassment going on. That does not mean that your perception (that only a minority of women are harassed) is correct or even the most reasonable assumption to make. I’ve said previously that the harassment I knew about at TAM was never reported in any official way. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

    If you think a minority of women being harassed is acceptable then the men doing it will harass more women the next year, and so on.

    The reaction to harassment is a big fucking deal that predicts how much of an issue it will be in the future. The organizers have the decision of either making the problem better or worse. Dismissing the gravity of sexual harassment, the toll it has on women, makes it worse.

  105. 105
    Deen

    @situsinversus:

    The problem is that so far there is no evidence of systemic harassment of women at TAM as proposed by Rebecca Watson.

    Please quote where Rebecca Watson has said this or admit that you made it up.

  106. 106
    Anthony K

    and a yucky beta male stays a yucky beta male

    Nothing says “I don’t really understand human behaviour nor non-human biology” like alpha and beta male bullshit.

    Did you grow up somewhere where all the textbooks came stamped with the Hooters logo?

  107. 107
    Deen

    So no mention of systemic.

    No mention of TAM either.

  108. 108
    situsinversus

    “I thought it was a safe space,” Watson said of the freethought community. “The biggest lesson I have learned over the years is that it is not a safe space. . . ”

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2011-09-15/atheist-sexism-women/50416454/1

    If this is not a statement about harassment on the freethought community at large, including TAM, I don’t know what is.

  109. 109
    Greg Laden

    Skeptifem: So women are shittier skeptics than men now? Or do you have an alternative explanation as for why women make such irrational judgments compared to men in the same movement when (according to you) they have the exact same data?

    Let me explain.

    You see, Biology proves that men are selected, by evolution, to be highly intelligent in certain areas and not so much in other areas. Biology makes no such predictions for human females, so they must produce EVIDENCE!!11!!! that they are making sense or know something.

    Glad to have cleared that up.

  110. 110
    skeptifem

    greg@109

    I can’t hear you over my basket weaving

  111. 111
    Gnumann+, out&proud cultural marxist (just don't ask me about Gramsci)

    @Kylie Sturgess:

    I’m usually all for affirmative action where it’s appropriate.

    Not being shouted down on Pharyngula when defending sexist bullshit is not one of those occasions. Either saramayhew is correct, and then you’d better support her on substance – or she is wrong and receives her due.

    You’re using the word “respect”, I’m not so sure you know what it means. Is it respect to treat someone as a child? Except from the social rules of the setting? Personally I find this one of the worst insults imaginable. Why do you feel saramayhew deserves such ill treatment?

  112. 112
    bargearse

    situsinversus@108 So basically you admit that your original claim about, “Rebecca Watson’s claims about sytemic harassment at TAM” was pulled straight out of your arse. Well, we’re off to a flying start aren’t we?

    PS check your opening at 82, you said it mate

  113. 113
    Matt Penfold

    If this is not a statement about harassment on the freethought community at large, including TAM, I don’t know what is.

    It is not a statement about the systemic nature of harassment at TAM, which is what you claimed Watson had made.

    Your evidence does not support your claim, but you already knew this. It seems you are stupid as well as dishonest.

  114. 114
    advancedatheist

    @skeptifem:

    >I stopped paying attention when you started talking about “beta males” derisively. This is usually a strong indicator that you believe all the bullshit Pick Up Artists say, and it makes me feel sad for you. Things don’t work at all the way you think they do.

    How, then, do you explain the fact that we have about twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors? The evidence in the human genome implies that a whole lot of men throughout history probably died as adult virgins:

    Genetic Evidence for Unequal Effective Population Sizes of
    Human Females and Males

    http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/content/21/11/2047.full.pdf+html

  115. 115
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Okay, maybe you all can help me out here:
    Let’s say that these fuckbuckets are correct and there’s either zero harassment or a negligible* amount harassment that has happened at previous TAMs. How is implementing a concrete anti-harassment policy going to harm anything, even in that circumstance?

    Or am I just letting my hormone-addled, fluffy, pink ladybrainz jump to unreasonable conclusions again?

    *I think every instance of harassment is a bad thing, but it appears that not everyone agrees with me on that.

  116. 116
    michaelb

    Seems that membership in other disparaged minorities (gay and/or atheist) is not the curative to the blinders of white male privilege that it ought to be.

  117. 117
    Momo Elektra

    “How, then, do you explain the fact that we have about twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors? ”

    That’s kind of impossible. And also not what the paper says.

    And you’re derailing the thread.

  118. 118
    Anthony K

    Again, what is the problem if not perception of a few?

    That’s just awesome. Because, very clearly stated in the OP, was this quote by DJ Grothe:

    this year only about 18% of TAM registrants so far are women, a significant and alarming decrease,

  119. 119
    jim

    Seems to me as if a lot hinges on missing data, specifically whether (1) this is an issue of sensationalism of isolated incidents causing a very real perception problem or (2) sexual harassment occurs at these conferences at a rate beyond what one would expect to occur in a well-organized and run conference with good sexual harassment policies.

    DJG and supporters are not helping their case by claiming that only incidents rising to the level of police involvement count as “reports”. All incidents reported to staff should be documented and count as reported incidents. There will still be under-reporting problems but that’s not the same as treating incidents as if they didn’t exist because police were not involved, or were “handled” by staff on the scene . . . that’s just wrong. Once you have a good set of data as to incidents actually reported then you can look into some statistical factoring to help make rough adjustments for under-reporting.

  120. 120
    michaelb

    Oops; cut and paste error. Should read:

    Seems that membership in disparaged minorities (gay and/or atheist) is not the curative to the blinders of white male privilege that it ought to be.

  121. 121
    chigau (違う)

    …the fact that we have about twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors…

    Do you know how babies are “made”?

  122. 122
    Anthony K

    Let’s say that these fuckbuckets are correct and there’s either zero harassment or a negligible* amount harassment that has happened at previous TAMs. How is implementing a concrete anti-harassment policy going to harm anything, even in that circumstance?

    Ooh! Ooh! I’ve been paying attention. Pick me!

    1. Feminazis
    2. Sex is natural, and both men and women like it
    3. Groupthink
    4. Women don’t like sex, and have to be encouraged, ifyaknowwhatImean
    5. Feminazis
    6. Alpha, beta, and all the other Greek letter men
    7. ‘Cunt’ doesn’t mean that in the UK
    8. Feminazis
    9. What does this have to do with not believing in gods?
    10. Hive mind
    11. Feminazis

  123. 123
    situsinversus

    A survey was done that should have captured the level of harassment at TAM and the result was that the incidence is very low. At the very least we know that.

    We don’t know if sensationalism is having a negative impact in TAM attendance by women. However, we do know that claims that TAM is an “unsafe” place are not backed by the survey data.

  124. 124
    Momo Elektra

    “Ooh! Ooh! I’ve been paying attention. Pick me!

    1. Feminazis
    2. Sex is natural, and both men and women like it
    3. Groupthink
    4. Women don’t like sex, and have to be encouraged, ifyaknowwhatImean
    5. Feminazis
    6. Alpha, beta, and all the other Greek letter men
    7. ‘Cunt’ doesn’t mean that in the UK
    8. Feminazis
    9. What does this have to do with not believing in gods?
    10. Hive mind
    11. Feminazis”

    Awesome, but you forgot:

    12. Evolution
    13. All of the above

  125. 125
    Momo Elektra

    “A survey was done that should have captured the level of harassment at TAM and the result was that the incidence is very low. At the very least we know that.”

    No, you know that the level of reports is very low.

    Jeezus.

  126. 126
    zoso

    From an outsiders perspective, I can confirm DJ’s fears. From someone who has not attended a Skeptics/Atheists/Freethought/etc conference, they do appear to be populated by total creepsters.

  127. 127
    Matt Penfold

    A survey was done that should have captured the level of harassment at TAM and the result was that the incidence is very low. At the very least we know that.

    Can you provide a link to that survey please.

  128. 128
    kami

    Once again the skeptic community implodes in a knee-jerk and amusing fashion.

    @52

    “Here’s what is wrong about DJ’s actions. The question he should have been asking is not “Who is this guy?” but “What is this guy doing?” Winebreath wasn’t actually kicked out for his behavior, he was kicked out for being at a private party without an invite.”

    From DJ’s comments on Ashley’s facebook:

    Hi Ashley, I was wracking my brains trying to place the incident you are blogging about. So we looked up in our database of last year’s attendees anyone fitting the description and location of the man you mention in your blog post, and I believe we now know who it was: someone who was being asked to leave the private speakers reception (he wasn’t a speaker, nor invited to the reception, and appeared drunk).

    I am mortified to hear through this channel that he backed you into a corner, groped you and otherwise sexually harassed you (did he do this in front of the other people at the reception?), as well as reportedly harassing Jamilla and Jen.

    If I or any of the other TAM staff or hotel staff would had known you had been accosted, we would have contacted security and removed him immediately from TAM, and/or called law enforcement. In your post earlier today on this, it sounded like you were suggesting I had someone removed from TAM. We in fact did not have anyone removed from TAM, and didn’t know you were harassed, but again, had we known, he would have been.

    So it appears that communication errors were really at the heart of thi-

    WAIT, FUCK THAT MISOGYNISTIC FUCKING PIECE OF FUCKING SHIT FUCK.

    Ashley goes on to say:

    My problem is not how it was handled, my problem is of DJs very insistent, oft repeated claim that there has never been a report. This is simply not accurate. His lack of memory on this occasion is very convenient for that claim, but I suspect it has more to do with obliviousness than something sinister. What is problematic is that he then goes around saying nothing has ever happened ever.

    Then one of the people (that I assume was involved with TAM) was alerted to disruptive behaviour posted this:

    At that time, DJ only knew what I told him and he acted immediately and did the right thing. There is a chance that DJ does not remember this because he only knew that the guy was rude, drunk and needed to leave. DJ did not stop to think about it – he just took action. He did not have the details that you elaborated above. If you never gave him the details he would not have known that you were harassed. I was much closer to your side of the room and I did not know all of this information until today.

    So, there was a drunk guy being a nuisance at the reception. This was seemingly reported to the person above, who in turn reported it to DJ, who asked the man to leave. This seems coherent with DJ’s previous comment in on that post where he said,

    But I have to say that I never asked anyone to leave the speakers reception because of harassment…unfortunately, you and I never spoke about the incident, even if you were told inaccurately by others I had him removed for sexual harassment.

    All the while frequently apologising like the misogynistic fuckface he is, he also said,

    So we looked up in our database of last year’s attendees anyone fitting the description and location of the man you mention in your blog post, and I believe we now know who it was: someone who was being asked to leave the private speakers reception (he wasn’t a speaker, nor invited to the reception, and appeared drunk…we in fact did not have anyone removed from TAM, and didn’t know you were harassed, but again, had we known, he would have been.

    So it seems that while DJ was involved in the removal of someone, it appears he thought the person was just a drunken moron, not someone who was sexually harassing Ashley et al.

    As Phil had originally pointed out,

    If you never gave him the details he would not have known that you were harassed. I was much closer to your side of the room and I did not know all of this information until today.

    Another person (Jean) asked Ashley if she had actually filled out a survey/complaint or something that was at least a hard-copy, what I’m assuming DJ et al. would consider a “report”.

    Ashley replied,

    @jean I honestly don’t remember. The situation had been reported to dj and resolved, I wouldn’t have felt like rehashing it was necessary, though I may have thanked dj for his action on the form. DJ has, since this post, asked for and received a written report detailing the incident. Again, he handled it very well, he just thought this and other incidents didn’t happen and complaints of behavior were unfounded because he had no reports.

    So, there was no ‘official’ report filled out at the time. Understandably, if Ashley didn’t want to revisit it she may have thought the issue resolved and ‘taken note of’ by alerting Phil earlier. This, however, does not appear to have been sufficient for DJ to become aware of the sexual harassment as it seems he thought the issue was handled at the time via removal of the drunk guy. Some unfortunate communication errors that could be improved/clarified if an incident like this (unfortunately) occurs again, QED.

    I’m going to make a wild assumption here and say, if DJ had a copy of the report (before now) that Ashley has just recently filled out (happening now because of the miscommunication at the time), this brouhaha would have been largely avoided.

    So for the tl; dr people:
    - Ashley et al. harassed by a drunk guy, verbally and sexually.
    - Ashley lets someone (Phil) know there is a drunk guy causing trouble (I am presuming that something like this was the extent of what she said, Phil stated that he was not aware of the sexual nature of the behaviour until today either).
    - Phil alerts DJ, DJ has the man removed. Problem solved, right?

    WRONG.

    HE’S A MISOGYNIST FUCKFACE FUCKING FUCK.

    BOYCOTT TAM.

    WHAT A SEXIST FUCK.

    RAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

    I think that’s knee-jerk and OUTRAGED enough.

    someone pls let me know

    tl; dr – holy fuckin’ lol at u ppl.

  129. 129
    situsinversus

    @125 How do we know that? We know of probably one incident that wasn’t included in the survey. As I explained surveys are statistical in nature and would have reflected a problem if it was systemic even if you are missing sporadic events.

  130. 130
    Gnumann+, out&proud cultural marxist (just don't ask me about Gramsci)

    A survey was done that should have captured the level of harassment at TAM and the result was that the incidence is very low. At the very least we know that.

    We don’t know if sensationalism is having a negative impact in TAM attendance by women. However, we do know that claims that TAM is an “unsafe” place are not backed by the survey data.

    1: How low is “low”? Keep in mind that one is too many. If you have the data – why not give it. How many instances? How many respondents? How many female respondents? What where the phrasing of the relevant questions?

    2: “Safe” may mean a lot of things to different people, but from the way you, DJ Grote and saramayhew is talking about these things I would say it’s definitely not a safe place. Dismissing complaints lead to a predator-friendly environment.

  131. 131
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Skeptifem #55:

    Thank you. I was trying to read the whole thread before commenting but I had been keeping track of that one as needing a response. You did all I could want and more.

  132. 132
    Matt Penfold

    @125 How do we know that? We know of probably one incident that wasn’t included in the survey. As I explained surveys are statistical in nature and would have reflected a problem if it was systemic even if you are missing sporadic events.

    Why the fuck are you still going about systemic problems.

    As I pointed out to you, but you clearly were unable to comprehend, no one has claimed the TAM organisers are involved in harassment, or even that they condone it, just that they do not seem to be taking the problem seriously enough. The harassment is coming from individuals acting alone. There is nothing organised about, so why the fuck are you claiming there is.

    Also, it is important to note you have not explained why you lied about what Rebecca Watson said. Not have you apologised so lying. Just in case you are really a decent and honest person and it has slipped your mind to own up to your lies.

  133. 133
    skeptifem

    114

    well clearly the rational way to explain it is to make up some story that fits a meme I like, right? Is this a contest of who can be the most creative, or is supposed to be science?

    Even if you were correct it would prove very little about contemporary society and human behavior.

    There are many biologists on FTB (and other places) who have already explained the problems with the way you are attempting to apply evolutionary psychology. Go search for some criticism of evolutionary psychology- they are substantial.

  134. 134
    Amphiox

    How, then, do you explain the fact that we have about twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors? The evidence in the human genome implies that a whole lot of men throughout history probably died as adult virgins:

    Naturalistic fallacy.

    You’d think someone who calls himself “advancedatheist” would no something this simple.

  135. 135
    SallyStrange

    If this is not a statement about harassment on the freethought community at large, including TAM, I don’t know what is.

    “Safe space,” in the traditional parlance, refers not only to physical safety but mental and emotional safety.

    Rebecca was also referring to the outsized misogynist freakout that followed her mild admonishment regarding uninvited propositions.

    So I guess we can conclude that you do not, in fact, know what a statement about harassment in the freethought community at large is.

    Probably because you don’t know the meaning of phrases like “safe space.”

  136. 136
    Cyranothe2nd, there's no such thing as a moderate ally

    Let me tell you some reasons why I, a woman, won’t attend TAM, despite the fact that I’ll be in Las Vegas the very next day to attend another conference:

    1. Penn Gillette’s prominent role in the conference, despite his documented and continuous misogyny

    2. The general unease I feel in the atheist community after Elevatorgate (combine this with the last week, where I spent some time telling a member of the local group here that no, using the word ‘twat’ was not okay, and getting jumped all over by the other ~women~ in the group…that was special) and the certainty I have that it’s not going to be taken seriously or dealt with in a real way.

    3. And now, DJ’s victim-blaming.

    Bottom line: I don’t feel safe. It’s not because of Rebecca. In fact, I’m HAPPY that Rebecca pointed this stuff out, and that she and PZ and several others continue to do so. It’s the attitudes of people like DJ, who want to put the onus on me to just STFU and eat it. It’s the attitude of people like Penn, who thinks that gendered slurs are funny. It’s the continual insults, big and small, to my personhood that I receive in this community on a near daily basis. So no, I’m not eager to have that sort of stuff in my face, in person, where it’s likely to do me actual harm.

    DJ–if you’re reading these comments–I am an actual woman who would like to go to TAM and I’m telling you why I won’t. Please don’t blame Rebecca and others for the misogyny problem–LISTEN to them and then set up better policies for dealing with the problem. If you do that, I’d be happy to attend next year.

  137. 137
    d.j.grothe

    Thanks for the post, PZ. I agree with much of it: that women’s voices need to be taken seriously, that any reports of harassment or assault at atheist and skeptics events need to be taken seriously and recorded, and acted on effectively, and that those who report such harassment shouldn’t ever be blamed for such.

    But one point of clarification, and to correct an important misstatement of fact in your post: no one reported any incident of assault or sexual harassment at our speakers reception last year, and no JREF staff were told about nor knew of the incident until yesterday. All we knew about was that someone was removed from the speaker reception because he wasn’t permitted to be there, and was apparently drunk. In her blog post and in further comments, Ashley says she didn’t feel like the harassment was worth reporting to JREF staff or hotel staff at the time, nor did she nor anyone else mention it in one of the TAM attendee surveys. I find this regrettable.

    Let me be clear: If I or any of the other TAM staff or hotel staff would had known someone had been sexually harassed, or assaulted or otherwise accosted at our speakers reception, we would have contacted security and removed the offender immediately from TAM, and/or called law enforcement.

    Again, I wish such had been reported, so rather than someone being removed from the reception for not belonging there and for seeming drunk and somewhat disruptive, the offender would have instead been removed from TAM for assault or sexual harassment. Additionally, I wish the incident would have been mentioned in one of the TAM surveys which had questions exactly on these sorts of topics, because such information is helpful as we try to get a better handle on the prevalence of such offenses at these sorts of events, and work to combat them.

    A complaint has since been reported and recorded (yesterday), and appropriate action will be taken to make sure the person won’t be able to assault or sexually harass again at one of our events..

    No one should ever have to go through the assault and sexual harassment that was reported to us yesterday. I am absolutely mortified, and I know that is nothing compared to what Ashley must have experienced at the speakers reception, based on her blog posts and Facebook conversations on the matter.

  138. 138
    bargearse

    jim@119

    Seems to me as if a lot hinges on missing data, specifically whether (1) this is an issue of sensationalism of isolated incidents causing a very real perception problem or (2) sexual harassment occurs at these conferences at a rate beyond what one would expect to occur in a well-organized and run conference with good sexual harassment policies
    I want to deal with your second point mostly (entirely now that I think of it). No-one as far as I can tell has said that sexual harassment at skeptic/atheist conferences exists beyond the rate in general society. I’d be willing to bet it’s agood deal better (slimepit notwithstanding). But that’s just not good enough to say hey, “we’re at the norm”. I don’t want to meet the normal standard. I expect better of myself, I expect better of the people I choose to call my peers. We shouldn’t be meeting the bare minimum expectation. We should be leading.

  139. 139
    nooneinparticular

    Kami for the win

  140. 140
    bargearse

    blockquotes, how do they work?

  141. 141
    Gnumann+, out&proud cultural marxist (just don't ask me about Gramsci)

    Great – instead of any comment on the substantial criticism we get more hand-waving from DJ Grothe.

  142. 142
    situsinversus

    Matt,

    I guess I don’t understand your arguments because if there is no systemic problem and is only sporadic individuals I think the evidence shows the TAM organizers are taking it very seriously. In fact I don’t know what else they could do. In fact, I am sure if you had a concrete suggestion they would implement it. (Just realized suggestions for improvements are scant).

    I quoted Rebecca as saying that the “freethought movement” is “unsafe for women”. Doesn’t that imply a movement-wide sexually hazardous environment for women?

    What is “unsafe for women” to you? Isn’t TAM included in the freethought movement?

  143. 143
    SallyStrange

    Shall we have a betting pool? How long do you all think it will be before some Chill Girl™ shows up claiming that she thought TAM would be totally fine until Rebecca Watson spoke up.

    Then Grothe and his supporters will jump on that and use it to dismiss the numerous statements by women (including myself) that it’s not the harassment per se that is off-putting, it’s the feeling we get that if we were harassed, however unlikely that is, we’d be attacked and dismissed for bringing it up.

    I give it until 9pm EST today.

  144. 144
    SallyStrange

    No-one as far as I can tell has said that sexual harassment at skeptic/atheist conferences exists beyond the rate in general society. I’d be willing to bet it’s agood deal better (slimepit notwithstanding). But that’s just not good enough to say hey, “we’re at the norm”. I don’t want to meet the normal standard. I expect better of myself, I expect better of the people I choose to call my peers. We shouldn’t be meeting the bare minimum expectation. We should be leading.

    Repeated for emphasis.

    I quoted Rebecca as saying that the “freethought movement” is “unsafe for women”.

    No you didn’t. You quoted her saying it’s not a “safe space.” There’s a difference. You may not be familiar with it, perhaps because you think feminism, or maybe just social science, is bunkum, but the difference exists nonetheless.

    At this point, you can’t be acting out of ignorance. So: please stop lying.

  145. 145
    Matt Penfold

    I guess I don’t understand your arguments because if there is no systemic problem and is only sporadic individuals I think the evidence shows the TAM organizers are taking it very seriously. In fact I don’t know what else they could do. In fact, I am sure if you had a concrete suggestion they would implement it. (Just realized suggestions for improvements are scant).

    Well they could collect decent data for a start. You mentioned a survey, but when I looked into what this survey involved in turns out that it is not anonymous. That is problem when trying to get good data on sensitive issues such as harassment.

    I note you still have not apologised for lying. Why ?

  146. 146
    skeptifem

    A survey was done that should have captured the level of harassment at TAM and the result was that the incidence is very low. At the very least we know that.

    There is in depth discussion of the survey results at the almost diamonds thread I linked to previously. DJG has been asked if ashley filled out the form and has not responded yet. Either way, the survey failed to detect one known incident of sexual harassment. A dude in the comments (who is siding with DJG) mentioned another that was not reported.

    It also doesn’t seem to address sexual harassment specifically. There are questions like “did you feel welcome at TAM?” which are being used as a surrogate end point for harassment. Anyone with training in statistics and surveys knows that how you ask a question will influence the result, it is even more difficult to understand the meaning of a survey that never directly asks the question that needs to be answered.

    It is worth noting that roughly 3/4 of rapes go unreported. These are the most egregious crimes of sexual aggression, and the reporting for it is still very very low. Only a fool would assume that all rapes are reported.

  147. 147
    strange gods before me ॐ

    d.j.grothe,

    In her blog post and in further comments, Ashley says she didn’t feel like the harassment was worth reporting to JREF staff or hotel staff at the time, nor did she nor anyone else mention it in one of the TAM attendee surveys.

    Can you please cite her saying these things?

    And did she say no one else reported it to JREF staff or hotel staff at the time?

  148. 148
    situsinversus

    “I thought it was a safe space,” Watson said of the freethought community. “The biggest lesson I have learned over the years is that it is not a safe space and we have a lot of growing to do. The good news is there are a lot of people within the community who are interested in making it better and getting rid of our prejudices.”

    Here is the quote for those with a penchant for literalism.

  149. 149
    skeptifem

    look guys, DJG has shown up with some copy pasta to limit his liability. How nice.

  150. 150
    nooneinparticular

    As an outsider, this

    “it’s not the harassment per se that is off-putting, it’s the feeling we get that if we were harassed, however unlikely that is, we’d be attacked and dismissed for bringing it up. “

    is the key issue.

    Also as an outsider it seems to me that DJG ought to address this. Pronto. DJG just do it and much of the heat you are feeling, some of it unwarranted (Kami’s comment illustrates why), will ease. More importantly (MUCH more importantly) than your personal sense of well being, women will feel “safer” going to your conferences.

    DJG? Do something. Like what PZ said. And SallyStrange and Skeptifem and G Laden and….

  151. 151
    realitysarnia

    @#55, skeptifem

    ” After all engineers are still notoriously sexist, so are computer programmers, and so on.”

    I am an engineer and I object to your generalization. I know very few engineers in my generation that can be labelled as such!

    This year is my first time going to TAM and reading all this shit is a little disturbing since I am bringing my wife to the events.

  152. 152
    Matt Penfold

    Here is the quote for those with a penchant for literalism.

    You still have not apologised for lying about what Watson said. Is there someone reason you cannot bring yourself to admit you lied ?

  153. 153
    Cyranothe2nd, there's no such thing as a moderate ally

    @ DJ, 137,

    This still doesn’t answer the question about why, after YOU ejected this guy (and were congratulated across numerous blogs for doing so), you didn’t ask anyone to file a report. Did it never occur to you, as people were discussing it later, that this was an incident of harassment? Even when it was described that way by Skeptic Money and others? I find this to be really incredible. As an event organizer, the onus is on YOU to find out what happened and to make sure that the paperwork is filled out. It’s ridiculous to handwave it away now with a “well, I guess she didn’t want to talk about it…” (despite the fact that she TALKED ABOUT IT IN HER BLOG RIGHT AWAY).

    WTF????

  154. 154
    skeptifem

    realitysarnia

    @#55, skeptifem

    ” After all engineers are still notoriously sexist, so are computer programmers, and so on.”

    I am an engineer and I object to your generalization. I know very few engineers in my generation that can be labelled as such!

    This year is my first time going to TAM and reading all this shit is a little disturbing since I am bringing my wife to the events.

    I am guessing you are a dude (based on your opinion and the comment about your wife). You are not going to be as good at noticing sexism as women who experience it every day. You could go look into what women in STEM careers go through every day, or you can pretend that no one you know is part of the problem. I can’t make you give a shit about this, but I can point you in the right direction in case you start caring. You can use google and look into reasons why so few women choose STEM careers. You are unlikely to find a reason outside of sexism against women.

  155. 155
    Pteryxx

    Re survey design and sexual harassment:

    It also doesn’t seem to address sexual harassment specifically. There are questions like “did you feel welcome at TAM?” which are being used as a surrogate end point for harassment. Anyone with training in statistics and surveys knows that how you ask a question will influence the result, it is even more difficult to understand the meaning of a survey that never directly asks the question that needs to be answered.

    First off, the survey was not anonymous. HUGE red flag for accuracy of sexual harassment reporting.

    Second off, research has shown (I can’t find my citation on this new computer, dangit) that a majority of women who WERE sexually harassed will respond “No” when asked “Were you sexually harassed?” More accurate responses come from questions phrased without the H-word, such as: did anyone follow you into an enclosed space, did anyone touch you inappropriately, did anyone make sexual invitations to you that made you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

    There are ways to survey for sexual harassment incidence, but this is not how it’s done.

  156. 156
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I know very few engineers in my generation that can be labelled as such!

    Are there any women where you work? Ask them what they think.

  157. 157
    Deen

    @situsinversus

    A survey was done that should have captured the level of harassment at TAM and the result was that the incidence is very low.

    How do you know that it “should have captured the level of harassment” if all evidence shows that harassment mostly goes unreported? In light of how the people who mentioned witnessing harassment at TAM events are being treated currently, their experiences being dismissed as “rumors” or “gossip” of “vague anecdotes”, why would women expect that their answers to a survey wouldn’t be similarly dismissed?

  158. 158
    bargearse

    Matt@152 Well I did ask him to defend/apologise for that one a long time back. He’s only ignored me once, I count at 3 times for you so far.

  159. 159
    SallyStrange

    Here is the quote for those with a penchant for literalism truth and precision.

    FIFY

    Since you are apparently too lazy to do basic things like google the meanings of phrases you are quoting: safe space. Merely a starting point. The actual concept is rather complex.

    Now apologize for lying. Unless you prefer to explain why you were ignorant of the meaning of the phrase “safe space” and why you thought it would be okay to remain ignorant after people pointed out that its meaning did not jive with the way you were using it.

  160. 160
    situsinversus

    Because I know the meaning of the words “safe” and “space”.

  161. 161
    situsinversus

    Also err…excuse me. From the definition you quoted:

    In schools and education, “safe-space” is a term used to indicate that a teacher or educator does not tolerate anti-LGBT violence and harassment and is open and accepting, thereby creating a safe place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and all students.

    Did you catch the word “harassment”?

  162. 162
    d.j.grothe

    To correct a bit more misinformation (#155): The survey was anonymous.

    Questions relevant to this issue include: “How welcome did you feel at TAM?” and “Did you experience any interactions with other attendees or speakers that made you feel uncomfortable or unsafe?”

    The survey included dozens of questions on demographics and similar questions, as well.

  163. 163
    SallyStrange

    Because I know the meaning of the words “safe” and “space”.

    I know the meaning of the words “happy” and “hour.”

    Would you say that knowing that “happy” means “content, carefree,” and “hour” means a unit of time would give me enough knowledge I needed to parse the phrase “happy hour”?

  164. 164
    SallyStrange

    Did you catch the word “harassment”?

    Did you catch that that is not the only definition?

    Did you catch that absence of harassment is not the only criterion required for creating a safe space?

    Did you catch when I said that the concept is complex, and the link I offered should be taken as a starting point?

    Seems like you don’t catch a lot of things.

    When will you apologize for your deliberate ignorance (aka dishonesty)?

  165. 165
    Matt Penfold

    To correct a bit more misinformation (#155): The survey was anonymous.

    My understanding is that those completing the survey were entered in a draw for free tickets for the next TAM. Is that not the case ?

  166. 166
    Pteryxx

    Because I know the meaning of the words “safe” and “space”.

    Do you know the meanings of the words “fuck” and “up”? So you know what I’m saying when I say you just fucked up?

  167. 167
    Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff

    Most of this thread is taken up with distractions, mansplaining, reactions to mansplaining, ignoring of data, denial, focussing on individual acts, etc. — all of which is entertaining and somewhat illuminating, but not attending to basic issue, which is a stone-cold, measured, fact: THE DECLINING ATTENDANCE OF WOMEN AT TAM. (Sorry for the shouting, but all the bitching about details and surveys and statistics just obscures that fact?)

    I thank the four or five people in this thread who are concentrating on this essential issue and essential evidence: the registration of women at TAM is at only 18%.

    THIS IS NOT REPRESENTATIVE! This makes the results of TAM and like conferences less relevant, less effective, and less true. Not paying attention to this problem will cripple the atheist/skeptical movement. DJ seems to realize this, but is also clearly completely clueless about what to do.

    JUST LISTEN TO THE WOMEN! (Sorry for shouting again, but it seems that that is what it sometimes takes to get through to the clueless.)

    And to the women who have posted in this thread about their discomfort in going to TAM, in participating in the atheist/skeptical movement, who have shared their frustration and anger and subsequent alienation with not being listened to, you have my thanks for posting your testimony and NOT SHOUTING IN ALL-CAPS WHICH IS WHAT I WOULD DO IF I WERE IGNORED THE WAY YOU ARE.

  168. 168
    Gnumann+, out&proud cultural marxist (just don't ask me about Gramsci)

    “Did you experience any interactions with other attendees or speakers that made you feel uncomfortable or unsafe?”

    Yes, that would totally be adequate to examine any sexual harassment. (I’m not that good on this sarcasm thing, how am I doing?)

  169. 169
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @situsinversus:

    but apparently not, “systemic” since it is a synonym of neither “safe” nor “space”.

  170. 170
    realitysarnia

    @156

    “Are there any women where you work? Ask them what they think.”

    Yes there are but we are equal (except when it comes to new hirers where females are given an advantage over males given everything else is equal).

    @154

    Up here in Canada may be significantly different than in the USA. Sorry if I am not in the circles where there are young or attractive females that are being harassed. It probably occurs everywhere to some degree but I don’t see it in my small life. I guess I don’t get out much.

  171. 171
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    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…

    DJ, who said, “women, if you go to TAM, you will be harassed”? I have heard women relate their experiences of being harassed at conventions. I have heard that harassment is a problem, one that many attendees, though not all (maybe not even a majority, I don’t know), encounter. But I have not heard anyone suggest anything along the lines of if you go to TAM you WILL be accosted/harrassed. I have certainly not seen this proposed by any “prominent female skeptics”. Sounds like you are attributing the projected low attendance of women at TAM to a strawman.

    Stop ignoring people telling you harassment is a problem. The people being vocal about this issue aren’t “clumsily” causing women not to attend. They are attempting to make the atmosphere at conventions safer for women and all attendees. They are trying to help you to your job, DJ. Don’t shoot the messenger just because the shitty situation they report makes some people uncomfortable. Fucking address the real issue.

  172. 172
    realitysarnia

    Back to the topic of the OP, I have done my part in bringing my female spouse to this event. I have only one spouse so I can’t do any more………

  173. 173
    Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff

    Look, DJ, you seem to have your heart in the right place, even though your head is firmly packed in your rectum. How about this: instead of rewriting your survey, which contains all of the prejudices and cultural limitations and ethnic/sexual ignorance of the writer, how about asking the women, on this thread here, and on your own blog and other blogs a simple question.

    How can I make TAM and other conferences genuinely welcoming to you?

    AND THEN LISTEN!!

    That’s all.

    That.

    Is.

    All.

    They will tell you, if you listen to them.

  174. 174
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Yes there are but we are equal

    First: how is this in any way a response to what I asked.

    Second: LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL spare me, dude. Seriously.

  175. 175
    skeptifem

    dj grothe @162

    you keep popping into threads to talk about minor issues (was the survey anonymous or not) instead of important questions (can it be used as evidence of the level of harassment at TAM). It shows that you read the responses about the bigger questions posed by all this and choose to ignore it.

    what the fuck?

  176. 176
    skeptifem

    170 realitsarnia

    @154

    Up here in Canada may be significantly different than in the USA. Sorry if I am not in the circles where there are young or attractive females that are being harassed. It probably occurs everywhere to some degree but I don’t see it in my small life. I guess I don’t get out much.

    what you wrote has nothing to do with what I wrote. Being in canada doesn’t matter. I googled “canada women STEM” and got a shit load of hits about the under-representation of women in STEM fields in canada.

    what the hell is with the “young or attractive females being harassed” bit? do you think only young, conventionally attractive women get sexually harassed?

  177. 177
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    First: DJG thinks the problem of lacking a report was caused by attendees. If you have to throw out someone who is being a jerk, as an organizer who has gone to the trouble of creating a survey because you wish to ID the negative events at a conference, **you just might wish to ask around to find people the jerk was jerkish to.

    I think DJG thinks that the essential problem of ElevatorGate was feminists and others’ work bringing attention to sexual harassment.

    Which is totally what was wrong about EGate. Totally. Nothing else about EGate would have caused women to think, “Y’know, I’m not sure I wanna go hang out in person with the people who are writing this dreck,” because “dreck” is a synonym for “feminist whining”.

    Look: if TAM has a problem whose origin isn’t so much in the behavior at TAM itself as in distrust caused by reactions to the JREF forum and EGate, then deal with the JREF forum and EGate. I know it can be discouraging that sexism didn’t start with you and yet left its mess at your door.

    Doesn’t change the fact that it’s laying on your porch now. If the stink is driving women away, it’s not because women are complaining about the smell.

  178. 178
    bargearse

    Sally@164 I’ll figure out the blocktags sometime tonight but in tyh meantime I’ll just quote you “Did you catch that absence of harassment is not the only criterion required for creating a safe space?”

    It’s not the only criterion, “IT’S THE ABSOLUTE LEAST THAT SHOULD BE EXPECTED.”

  179. 179
    Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff

    DJ, I just a had thought. You remind me of someone. You remind me of Baghdad Bob. You know the guy.

    BB: The evil Americans are being repelled by brave Iraqi soldiers as we speak!

    REPORTER: I can see American tanks blowing shit up behind you.

    BB: That is your imagination! Lies for the American populace sitting on their couches!

    REPORTER: No, man, look! Over your left shoulder. They just blew up a bridge!

    BB: Once the Americans have been expelled from Baghdad, you will see your error!

    Don’t you get it, DJ? Women’s attendance is falling at TAM because they don’t want to go there. Ask them why, then implement their suggestions.

  180. 180
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Women who have experienced harassment and who do not consider atheist conventions safe spaces: Sssshhh! If you talk about your experience then you are part of the problem. You are being irresponsible and clumsy. Silly women. Just shut the fuck up already. I’m sure the problem of sexual harassment will take care of itself.

    It is so fucking pathetic that Rebecca Watson, Jen, Greta, Stephanie (I am guessing these are the “prominent women skeptics” DJ is vaguely referring to) are being blamed here. Come on DJ, you have such a fucking tin ear on this issue. The only person I see acting irresponsibly and clumsily is you when you attribute the 18% women attendance figure to unnamed women skeptics making threats that ” going to TAM or other similar conferences means they [women] will be accosted or harassed”.

    Citation fucking needed. Who, specifically, said that?

    If you are unable to show that any prominent women skeptic actually did suggest that, are you going to retract that idiotic comment of yours?

    Even if someone did claim that going to TAM —> harassment, the falsity of this claim does not negate the very real and pervasive harassment that does occur (even if not ubiquitously), so it is a red herring to bring it up in a discussion of harassment anyways.

  181. 181
    SallyStrange

    Sorry if I am not in the circles where there are young or attractive females that are being harassed.

    Did you know that older women and conventionally unattractive women also get harassed? Apparently harassment is more about power than it is about boners. True story.

  182. 182
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    Why I don’t want to attend TAM: E-gate taught me that a whole lot of the people in the skeptics movement are sexist asshats. Other encounters with “skeptics-not-active-in-the-atheist-community” people has led me to expect that such people will spew unexamined sexism/racism/anti-semitism/anti-Muslim/transphobic fuckery and respond poorly to being challenged. I would therefore expect a chilly climate (see Bernice Sandler) at TAM, even though, being of a certain age and appearance, I would probably not receive uninvited sexual advances. Because chilly climates are stressful, I would probably go to TAM planning to hang out with people I already know and meet new people through them. But since (a) TAM costs a fortune, (b) very few people I know and trust go to TAM, (c) I have learned that much of TAM is not smoke free space and would aggravate my asthma considerably, and (d) TAM is in Las Vegas in the summer, which means horrid air quality and blistering temperatures. Like most skeptic events, most of the social time will be alcohol centered, which I can generally deal with just fine, but which can get tedious for a non-drinker and which is made more irritating by the casino environment.

    It’s not just the possibility of harassment, not just Grothe’s bizarre blaming of Watson, it’s the whole package of JREF and skepticism. I’ll go to conventions where I feel like I’ll be welcomed by members of the sponsoring organization, but I’m pretty damn skeptical that the rank-and-file JREF members are going to be fun to spend much time with.

  183. 183
    realitysarnia

    Where is this “official anti-harassment policy”? This thread is the first time I heard about anything like it.

  184. 184
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    I didn’t mean to imply that older or less attractive women don’t get sexually harassed, just that I either don’t attract such bullying clods or am too socially weird to notice it at the time. Other people, other experiences.

  185. 185
    Inaji

    realitysarnia:

    Back to the topic of the OP, I have done my part in bringing my female spouse to this event. I have only one spouse so I can’t do any more………

    That is your idea of doing your part? Jesus fucking Christ. That’s quite the hole your digging.

    First of all, you talk like your wife is your property, you deny sexism among engineers (a notoriously sexist environ) and then suggest that Canada doesn’t suffer endemic sexism. You’re not only digging a hole, you started out in one. FFS, try to fucking learn something, would you? Try learning about endemic sexism and privilege.

  186. 186
    realitysarnia

    @185, Caine, Fleur du mal,

    Fuck! I must be living in a hole and it is time to STFU. I now question if I should have even bothered paying for this TAM conference if PEOPLE like you and others on here are going to be there….. It sure is welcoming.

    ONE last word,

    FUCK OFF!

  187. 187
    Inaji

    Back to the topic of the OP, I have done my part in bringing my female spouse to this event. I have only one spouse so I can’t do any more………

    Back to the topic of the OP, I have done my part in bringing my female Real Doll to this event. I have only one Real Doll so I can’t do any more………

  188. 188
    'Tis Himself

    In the past 18 or so months I’ve been to the JREF forum two or three times. I discovered it was not a woman-friendly place. While not at Slimepit™ levels, the MRAs were given a free ride. If DJG won’t even police his blog, then I have low expectations for him making TAM a safe place for women.

  189. 189
    Inaji

    realitysarnia:

    Fuck! I must be living in a hole and it is time to STFU. I now question if I should have even bothered paying for this TAM conference if PEOPLE like you and others on here are going to be there….. It sure is welcoming.

    Way to learn something, asshat. You seem to have missed the fucking point that most women don’t feel comfortable attending TAM. I’m included in that, being one of those female people.

    Jesus Christ, you had a chance to educate yourself and instead you go with the Privileged Dude Shuffle™.

  190. 190
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I now question if I should have even bothered paying for this TAM conference if PEOPLE like you and others on here are going to be there

    One more reason not to waste money on TAM this dishonest piece of shit will be there.

    Why would I want to spend money to have to hang out with some useless dipshit who can’t answer a simple question?

  191. 191
    d.j.grothe

    Matt (#155): It is apparent that blog threads aren’t the ideal place to discuss such important topics fruitfully, but to answer your question (and to avoid more possible misinformation: The survey was anonymous. There was a separate, clearly labeled “optional” page for folks to tear off after completion if they wanted to enter a raffle (which few people did, as it turns out) and we also gave bumper stickers to those who filled out and returned the survey to the box. These two approaches were with the aim to increase the survey response rate at the event, and as I stated before, there were 800+ surveys returned.

    Just because the survey data we compiled doesn’t include any mentions of harassment, that certainly doesn’t mean such harassment did not occur; as I have stated a number of times now, such harassment may have gone unreported. Thus we encourage people to speak up if they experience assault or harassment or sexism, etc. (In fact, an unreported and reprehensible incident appears to have happened last year, in that JREF just yesterday was informed of a possible assault and sexual harassment at TAM 9.) Because of our concern regarding repeated claims by some that sexual harassment is rampant at such events, we asked specific questions in the survey on the general topic, the only conference to have done so. Of 800+ responses to this comprehensive survey, only two people reported feeling “unwelcome” at the event. (Both of these respondents were men, fwiw. One was a conservative who felt several speakers insulted his political beliefs. The other was a retiree who “hates” magic, and there is typically a lot of magic at TAM.)

    11 respondents to the survey did report a problem with an interaction with someone else that made them feel uncomfortable or unsafe (this was a different question on the survey). 3 of them were men who did not elaborate on the interaction and 3 were from women who did not elaborate on the interaction. Another was a woman who reported a speaker was rude to her when she asked for a photo. Another was a woman who was made fun of for not being an atheist. Another was a woman who was ridiculed for being a vegetarian. Another was a woman who reported no specific incident but claimed her enjoyment of the event was negatively affected by the “drama surrounding elevator gate” and “having to hear everyone talk about it.” Finally, one person did report feeling uncomfortable around an attendee, fearing future possible sexual harassment, and while we are concerned about such concerns, there was no complaint of any actual activity that had happened that the hotel or security or law enforcement or others could take action on. (Tthis person also reported the concerns separately from the survey.) Importantly, every one of these 11 respondents nonetheless reported feeling welcome at TAM. I believe this information should be mentioned at least somewhere in the blog posts concentrating on how unsafe the freethought or skeptic movements and events may be fore women; indeed, this is why I shared the survey data, along with the new numbers on the decline of women’s registrations for this year’s TAM, on a Facebook discussion days ago, that was then blogged about by FtBs.

    I think that in addition to information from blog posts by people, some of whom don’t attend these sorts of events or TAM, and in addition to the comments on said blog posts, that asking the attendees at these events about their experiences provides important information. The information is more helpful in terms of combatting harassment if any incidents are reported, obviously.

    If there is assault or sexual harassment, etc. at these sorts of events, it should be reported, security or law enforcement should become involved, and the necessary action should be taken to prevent such reprehensible behavior in the future. And that is what we endeavor to do because everyone at JREF and TAM take the security and safety of all our attendees very seriously, and are working very hard to address problems that have inexcusably existed for far longer than they have been discussed in the blogs.

  192. 192
    andreasschueler

    @175

    you keep popping into threads to talk about minor issues (was the survey anonymous or not) instead of important questions (can it be used as evidence of the level of harassment at TAM). It shows that you read the responses about the bigger questions posed by all this and choose to ignore it.

    => Right, how dare he corrects misinformation! He should just apologize for every single rumor floating around, even if it is demonstrably untrue.

  193. 193
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Right, how dare he corrects misinformation! He should just apologize for every single rumor floating around, even if it is demonstrably untrue.

    Do you get paid to miss the point and/or deliberately misrepresent what’s actually been posted?

  194. 194
    skeptifem

    SO DJ GROTHE- WHAT SHOULD REBECCA WATSON DO DIFFERENTLY, ACCORDING TO YOU?

    or are you willing to apologize for the bullshit in the almost diamonds thread?

  195. 195
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    ONE last word, …

    Two words.

  196. 196
    bargearse

    realitysarnia@186 I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess you don’t really get the irony in what you just wrote but hey, I got it. No, don’t go back and re-read what you said to try and find hidden meaning where you didn’t really mean it, just accept that you’re a comedic genius. Seriously, the irony wrapped in sarcasm is doing my head in

  197. 197
    Desert Son, OM

    realitysarnia,

    ONE last word,

    FUCK OFF!

    That’s wierd. That’s two words. Did you mean to type “TWO last words?”

    Regardless, there is a great deal to be said for shutting the fuck up. Seriously. It actually is a powerful tool, and it is a powerful action that a person can take.

    We live in a society that is constantly saying, “Speak up!” except the problem is what the society is really very often saying (and news flash: this is true in Canada, too): “Speak up if you are white, male, make a certain salary, express in traditionally “masculine” ways, are heterosexual, able-bodied, not struggling with any mental illness, and if you believe in god, any fucking god at all will do, but extra points if it’s the Christian one.”

    You and I have been speaking up for a long fucking time, and we’ve been doing it for so long and so often that it is very very very hard for us to see that many times what we’ve been doing in speaking up is speaking down, or worse, holding down, and even worse, allowing others to violently hold down.

    So maybe actually shut the fuck up. I’ve been trying to stay quiet on many of these threads not only because so many others – like Caine, and Crip Dyke, and Pteryxx, and Illuminata, and the list goes on and on – are already hitting homerun after homerun on this issue, but also because I’m one of the fucking poster children for alot of privilege.

    So from one privileged fuck to another, join me over here on the bench of shut the fuck up.

    Because it is important to get loud, and it is vitally important that the people who, since time fucking immemorial have not been allowed to get loud or who have been punished for getting loud in ways you and I don’t even understand or aren’t even aware of, get loud.

    realitysarnia, let’s you and I listen. Let’s you and I shut the fuck up and listen.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  198. 198
    Deen

    Thus we encourage people to speak up if they experience assault or harassment or sexism, etc.

    Except that you specifically said that discussing such harassment was counter-productive. Maybe that wasn’t what you meant to say, but it didn’t sound very encouraging to me at all. Or do you mean such discussion is only allowed to happen behind closed doors and not where potential customers can hear it?

  199. 199
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    DJ- Yeah. You really do need to acknowledge the nonsense you said about Rebecca and other complainants being the source of the problem. We’re not going to stop asking you or stop noticing that you’re not responding.

  200. 200
    andreasschueler

    Do you get paid to miss the point and/or deliberately misrepresent what’s actually been posted?

    => No. Do you get paid for asking leading questions ?

  201. 201
    skeptifem

    192-

    You are implying that there are no issues outside of what DJG has decided to address. Do you really think that is true?

  202. 202
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    No. Do you get paid for asking leading questions ?

    Yes. Do you get paid to miss the point and/or deliberately misrepresent what’s actually been posted?

  203. 203
    d.j.grothe

    #198: Ideally, I think it is most helpful to event organizers if people who experience sexual harassment report the incidents. This is what I mean by “speak up.” I think this may be more helpful than blogging or other public messaging about how unsafe the freethought or skeptic movement may be for women, gays or people of color. (Some of the blog posts we have read seem to amount to little more than rumor and gossip: that there is an unnamed list of male speakers at these events whom women need to be warned about? Or that if you get involved in the movement(s) you will not feel welcome or safe?)

    Instead, I think consensus is building that it is better to report any incident so organizers and leaders can work to prevent such from happening again, etc., and so we may continue efforts to be welcoming to all comers, and to be ever more of a safe space for women and racial and sexual minorities.

    By reporting incidents of assault or sexual harassment, it enables organizers to take action and work hard to prevent such incidents in the future.

  204. 204
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    I would therefore expect a chilly climate

    Take a coat. Why are you looking at me like that? I know what “chilly” and “climate” mean.

  205. 205
    Amphiox

    It is apparent that blog threads aren’t the ideal place to discuss such important topics fruitfully

    Bullshit. For some of us blog threads are the ONLY accessible place where we can participate in discussions of such topics.

    The above is functionally no different from saying “shut up, all you little people, and let us big and important people take care of these problems, without your unwanted input, in private discussions behind closed doors”.

    Congratulations, DJ, you have just succeeded in significantly decreasing the likelihood for a potential future TAM attendee to consider attending future meetings. Since I happen to be male, this will help increase your dropping female proportion problem.

    Well done.

  206. 206
    bargearse

    Deen@198 And that really get’s to the heart of the matter doesn’t it? I want to give DJ the benefit of the doubt, I’ve always liked his work and I appreciate what the JREF does. At the moment though he’s letting me down. He’s giving me the impression of a politburo member trying to put the best face on things and blaming the problems on the evil capitalist pigdogs. “We are leading the way to the future, anything you hear otherwise is just the whinings of a few malcontents”

  207. 207
    andreasschueler

    You are implying that there are no issues outside of what DJG has decided to address. Do you really think that is true?

    => No, I´m not implying that. There are issues that he has yet to address. But he has to respond to dozens of questions and accusations in several different threads. And just because he has not yet answered the question that you think is the most important one, does not mean that he is not going to answer it. The stuff he has responded to so far are certainly not minor issues.

  208. 208
    skeptifem

    203

    The list of names is of SPEAKERS, people who have power in the movement and can punish women who speak up (if they would even want to after what happened to rebecca watson). Some of them probably have lawyers too.

    Women should deal with harassment however they want to. They shouldn’t shut up so TAM looks better. I know I felt totally blindsided by the sexism because of how many people said they were anti-sexist and then turned out not to be. Women deserve warning.

  209. 209
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    LOL I say again – how did Grothe ever earn a reputation for being an ally? Rumors and gossip, you that’s all this is! What women SAY happened to them can’t be trusted! Just gloss right over the freaking millions of times its been explained now why people don’t name names or report incidents.

    LOL this is a farce.

  210. 210
    Pteryxx

    DJ Grothe:

    Ideally, I think it is most helpful to event organizers if people who experience sexual harassment report the incidents. This is what I mean by “speak up.” I think this may be more helpful than blogging or other public messaging about how unsafe the freethought or skeptic movement may be for women, gays or people of color.

    I want to point out, part of the problem is that simultaneously with these events, and partly as a result of them, we’re also engaging in a discussion about sexual harassment in general and educating the community about it. To end chilling conditions for women and others, *everyone* needs to be educated about what sexual harassment actually is so they can better protect themselves and their friends and colleagues.

  211. 211
    skeptifem

    207- oh bullshit. If you can’t figure out that accusing rebecca watson of decreasing TAM attendance is a bigger deal than if the survey was anonymous or not I don’t know how to continue this discussion constructively.

  212. 212
    Vall

    I recommend anyone skimming these to read post 71. Well said.

  213. 213
    Inaji

    Desert Son, OM:

    So from one privileged fuck to another, join me over here on the bench of shut the fuck up.

    Because it is important to get loud, and it is vitally important that the people who, since time fucking immemorial have not been allowed to get loud or who have been punished for getting loud in ways you and I don’t even understand or aren’t even aware of, get loud.

    realitysarnia, let’s you and I listen. Let’s you and I shut the fuck up and listen.

    +8 and ♥

  214. 214
    Amphiox

    And it isn’t just necessarily the worry about harassment itself. The most revealing aspect of the various blog threads on this subject are the comments. They expose a major undercurrent of the vilest forms of misogyny among a significant fraction of the population of people that one might expect to be attending future meetings.

    No matter what the organizers might say or do, contemplating the likelihood that some of the people you might meet, the people with whom socializing in person is a major reason for attendance, behind whatever smiling facade they have put on for the sake of social convention, will be the same people who, with the protection of pseudonymity, had previously been spewing out the most odious forms of bigoted and misogynistic insults on blog threads, will doubtless dampen many people’s enthusiasm for attending.

  215. 215
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Take a coat. Why are you looking at me like that? I know what “chilly” and “climate” mean.

    What do you mean “chilly climate”? There has been many rumors going around of a chilly breeze in the air, and there has been reports of splotches of frost starting to form. Many people have reported feeling “less than warm”. But do we really need to spread gossip about it being cold outside? Do we want people to think that if they go outside, they may be uncomfortably cool?

  216. 216
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I think this may be more helpful than blogging or other public messaging about how unsafe the freethought or skeptic movement may be for women, gays or people of color.

    Jesus Christ put down the bizspeak thesaurus and write like a person. Are you seriously going to double down on calling Rebecca and other bloggers the problem? Are you really going to do that DJ? Be quiet and let the system handle it? Really?

  217. 217
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Because I’d be sooooo confident reporting things to you and the other conference organizers. You take it so well and so seriously.

  218. 218
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Way to go on a proper rant Aquaria. You’re a complete fucking psycho.

    Hey, everybody, it’s Assholefiend the Nice Guy™, who thinks misogyny is caused by “sluts” not giving the poor menz the pussy.

    Philboidstudge:

    As usual, there’s two sides to the story.

    As usual, you’re making false equivalences.

    Kylie Sturgess, Chill Girl™:

    Yes, thanks for demonstrating the kind of respect that we have come to expect towards women like Sara Mayhew, who have and will present at an Amazing Meeting, rather than helping with the matter.

    Thanks for demonstrating that you can’t distinguish between plain old insults and oppressive terminology.

    Mayhew doesn’t deserve a pass when she spouts bullshit just because she’s a “respected speaker,” any more than Richard Dawkins deserved a pass on “Dear Muslima.” You seem to have more than a little deference to authority in your makeup.

    HERE is the reason why you are not welcome on my comments.

    No great loss.

    Juliet Defarge, Special Female™:

    Women shouldn’t run away from places where they may encounter harassment.

    RIght, because all women are equipped to deal with it. None of us have PTSD or other psychiatric issues caused by sexual trauma or that could be exacerbated by harassment. None of us are trying to overcome a lifetime of socialization to be meek and subservient. None of us are physically disabled. All of us should totally spend whatever vacation time and money we have on this conference so that we can Fight The Good Fight. Also, this burden is entirely ours and not teh menz’s.

    Fuck you.

    Scott Plumer, who is singling out TAM in particular? Why should TAM get a pass because other conventions might be just as bad?

    Madtom1999, there’s an open thread for off-topic stuff.

    Situsinversus of the Oh So Pompous Latin Handle, you might want to read the comments for comprehension before you start spouting your dismissive, dishonest, and overly literalist horseshit.

    Also, “100% safe space” is a strawman that has also been addressed in this thread.

    Advancedatheist, nobody is buying your blame-shifting to xtians, your evo-psych idiocy, or your apparent ignorance on how babby is formed.

    I’ll note that any d00d who says “Women find most men sexually unappealing” has never really talked to women and taken their opinions seriously. He’s also probably really saying, “Most women find me sexually unappealing.” Try treating women like fellow human beings instead of walking pussy dispensers, losing the mansplaining douchebag attitude, and maybe taking a shower and wearing nice clothes once in a while.

    MichaelB, you’re exactly right.

    Kami misses the point entirely by transferring all responsibility for reportage off DJ onto Ashley. And nooneinparticular continues its track record of being stupidly wrong.

    Realitysarnia, I wouldn’t trust you to judge what is and isn’t sexism, because you’re a sexist douche. First of all, don’t call women “females.” It’s dehumanizing. Second, any “advantage” women may be given over men in your field (and I’m skeptical that they are) would be a corrective against engineering’s historical and current hostility to women in the field. Third, women of all ages and appearances get harassed, because it’s not about men wanting to have sex with us but wanting to put us in “our place.” Fourth, what Caine said about the creepy way you refer to your wife. Fifth, go whine elsewhere about the “honor” of engineering being impugned or Caine being a meanypants to you.

    I’m not even going to read DJ’s walls o’ text, as other people have more patience than I do and are summarizing them sufficiently.

  219. 219
    Inaji

    It is apparent that blog threads aren’t the ideal place to discuss such important topics fruitfully

    Oh no, you aren’t going to get away with that one. This is the place to discuss important topics. Right out in the open, where you can’t easily slide about on your trail of bullshit.

    Your attitude is interesting, though. Is this why JREF is a pit of misogyny and haw haw haw, sexism is funny crap? Is that why you simply don’t care about those who are waving their flags of idiocy there?

    You know, if you can’t even figure out wtf is going on at JREF and why so many people have left, you don’t have a hope in hells of figuring out this whole women are people business.

  220. 220
    ligertwood

    Hi All ! What an unfortunate and disturbing series of events! I recently organized a convention in Kamloops BC Canada. Imagine no religion 2. We had around 40% women attendees out of a total of 240 which was double our first conference. As far as I am aware, there were no such incidents taking place at our event. If there were I was certainly not made aware of them and I was available and visible throughout the event. I find the alleged online comments aimed at women to be outrageous and find it appalling we could have such individuals involved in this movement. TAM, which I have attended, is a huge event. 1600 people is a large number to deal with. The fact that it is that large makes it seem much less personal and that’s why I probably won’t attend this year. Having said that it seems inevitable to me that out of that many people you are going to get a few assholes not to mention the fact that it takes place in Vegas, a monument to misogyny if ever there was one. Not to dismiss the issue at all or minimize it at all. We need to address it and make sure that our events are not only safe for everyone but inspiring and positive in every way possible. I would hate to think that anyone, female or male would come away with anything other than a great experience ! That’s my goal as an organizer and I’m sure it’s DJ’s as well.

  221. 221
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Know what I’ve gotten out of the last year of the raging sexism wars and defensive dudebros? That there are a whole bunch of secular organizations whose work I really like but whom I can’t stomach donating to or supporting. Yep, I know, I’m “punishing” all the recipients of said good work because of a specific issue you disagree on. Can’t be helped.

    Among them? The Secular Student Alliance. Why? JT Eberhard. Who has revealed himself to be a massive asshole who cares more about his own hagiography than he cares about actual bigotry.

    The James Randi Educational Foundation. For obvious D.J-related reasons.

    Anyone else wanna out themselves as a privileged asshat and save me even more of my charitable and conference budget?

  222. 222
    Inaji

    ligertwood:

    I’m sure it’s DJ’s as well.

    You’d be wrong. There’s a history here.

  223. 223
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle,

    Rumors and gossip, you that’s all this is! What women SAY happened to them can’t be trusted! Just gloss right over the freaking millions of times its been explained now why people don’t name names or report incidents.

    QFT.

    DJ pretends that the problem is entirely irrational, clumsy womenz gossiping about a nonexistent problem.

    He doesn’t seem to think much of our prominent women skeptic/atheist bloggers, or the related experiences of many women generally.

  224. 224
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    I’ve had a few things to say about this issue all over the place, but here’s what I have to say in this space, which I guess is the most popular of the blogs on FtB:

    DJ Grothe, these conversations about sexual harassment and assault matter. They matter for the people who attend these gatherings. They matter for the future of any sort of skeptical movement worth being a part of. Ultimately, these conversations matter for the long term prospects for our culture as a whole, slowly and eventually and starting one person at a time. It is going to be uncomfortable and even painful for people on all sides, but it needs to happen.

    These conversations matter, DJ. And they matter a hell of a lot more than your TAM attendance numbers.

  225. 225
    Travis

    realitysarnia,

    Up here in Canada may be significantly different than in the USA. Sorry if I am not in the circles where there are young or attractive females that are being harassed. It probably occurs everywhere to some degree but I don’t see it in my small life. I guess I don’t get out much.

    No, Canada is sadly very similar to the US on this topic. I rather doubt you see it, not because it does not happen but because you are a person of privilege. An impression that has since grown after your angry little posts about people being mean to you. I have a degree in physics and computer science. I know plenty of engineers, I went to school with them, I work with them now. There is plenty of sexism and harassment within these fields. I am living with two prime examples of this, two extremely sexist engineers that really do not seem to like women nor understand why they are not successful with women. These are not the lone examples I have encountered, they are sadly fairly common.

  226. 226
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    There’s something interesting here to note:
    While DJ Groethe complains at length about those female skeptics who just won’t shut up about harassment, he’s very polite and nice at the blog of the one guy who has blogged probably as extensively about the sexism problem in atheist/skeptic community as any of those women and who probably has the widest readership.
    Very interesting

  227. 227
    Louis

    Ah excellent! I have learned something very important from Realitysarnia. Because I am married to a woman, my wife coincidentally, and because she has come along to sceptical events with me…or was I going along with her? Anyway…I’ve done my bit.

    Watch out ladies, now that I’ve done my bit, officially, I fully intend to leer at ladies’ jubblies (Rajkumar tells me this proves god exists) and offer them my sex card in elevators. I may even pat a few bottoms, grope a few thighs, tickle a few tonsils and motorboat the odd exposed cleavage.

    First of all it is my right as a man, and as I am an official Ally™ who has Done His Part™ I am free to do as I wish. And if you don’t let me, why that is just misandrist oppression of men. How else am I going to get laid without telling women they look fat then motorboating their titties? All you feminazis with your “women are people” shit. Well if women are people why don’t they have the vote?

    Get out of that one castrating man hating bitches!

    Don’t you oppress me!

    Louis

    P.S. For the uninitiated, the above is satire. I realise that ironic sexism and sexism look identical, but at least in this case, THAT’S THE FUCKING POINT!

  228. 228
    Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff

    ligertwood:

    I find the alleged online comments aimed at women to be outrageous . . .

    Alleged? ALLEGED!!! *repeat with bigger fonts/bolding, etc.)

    Look, ligertwood, there are THOUSANDS (again with the shouting, oh well) of posts of vomitous, sexist bilge sitting there on the atheist/skeptic blogs, even if you don’t visit the notorious ERV slimepit.

    You have just given a perfect example of the bullshit that women have to put up with. Thousands of evil, gag-inducing posts, including threats of rape dismemberment, and death, up there for all the world to see, and you refer to them as “alleged”.

    Since you’ve made only one post here that’s I’ve seen, I’ll hold back on the “insert porcupine” references, the scatological insults, and the browbeating . . . but, Jesus Christ on a Fucking Pogo Stick . . . I’m not going to give you even ONE more chance.

    And I’ll try this yet another time: DJ, listen. Shut up. Don’t give surveys. Don’t make up new bureaucratic rules. Ask. Shut up. Listen.

  229. 229
    Louis

    Giliell, #226,

    Please do not be inappropriately sceptical about Our Glorious Leader (May He Live A Thousand Years) who assures us he is an Ally™ and Has It All Under Control™.

    It’s important that female sceptics and atheists like yourself sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up unless you spread rumours. The only time you are permitted not to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up is if you go through Official Channels™. Which are Official™ and have Men™ in them.

    If you fail to do this you are Not Helping™ and may be punishable.

    Louis

  230. 230
    Inaji

    Louis:

    Because I am married to a woman, my wife coincidentally, and because she has come along to sceptical events with me…or was I going along with her? Anyway…I’ve done my bit.

    Now that this is settled, may I aks a question? If I call up my former girlfriend and take her to a meeting, I will have done my bit in the fight against sexism, right? I mean, it wouldn’t count if I take Mister, now would it?

  231. 231
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    There’s something interesting here to note:
    While DJ Groethe complains at length about those female skeptics who just won’t shut up about harassment, he’s very polite and nice at the blog of the one guy who has blogged probably as extensively about the sexism problem in atheist/skeptic community as any of those women and who probably has the widest readership.
    Very interesting

    Not so much “interesting” as “sadly predictable.”

  232. 232
    Greg Laden

    As some others have said “Kami” makes a good point about that one particular issue (though that is not perfectly worked out, do see Ashley’s latest updates and posting on that for more), that thing … that particular event … is not the key or sole point of PZ’s post requesting that certain problems be dealt with or of my post calling for a particular admittedly strident solution.

    It does not mater what happened in that bar at TAM if over the last couple of days DJ has shown up to tell us all that a 50% drop in female attendance at TAM is due to bad messaging by women and their supporters talking about this sort of problem.

    It could have been done so differently, DJ. You could have gotten right involved with the messaging from the beginning, you could have brought up these alarming numbers publicly as a question or a discussion point rather than as evidence that certain people should really shut up. And so on.

  233. 233
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Caine, you ignorant slut. As a woman you can’t “take” Mister with you. Only men can “bring their wives.” The verb is only transitive from M to F. When a woman goes to a conference her man “goes with” her. Please make a note of this important subject/object distinction.

  234. 234
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    But thanks for aksing just the same.

  235. 235
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Louis
    I’m sorry *hangs head*
    Can I go onto the Spanking Couch™ this time?

  236. 236
    Louis

    Caine, (Love the new title btw)

    That is a very good question, which is a surprise coming from a woman. Since you already are a Possessor Of Lady Parts™ (I am SO up with modern feminist language) your presence counts on its own. If you bring a former girlfriend, making you both Lesboshony Activists™ that will not only tick the Lady Box™ but also the Queer Box™. So you two will in fact count for four.

    If you could both work in Being A Bit Ethnic™ you could count for eight in total. Because this is totally how it works. So if you can go in a wheelchair or, ya know, be a bit mad on the left side, you could up that to 16 or even 32.

    As I am only a man I only count for one. This is why men are so oppressed.

    Quod Erat Doofustrandum.

    Louis

    P.S. I realise there was maths in this post and I hope I haven’t over taxed your lady brain. If you feel a bit faint, please lie down in a darkened room and then get your nearest man to explain it to you. After you have patiently listened to his patronising explanation and made him a sammich, reply with the only correct phrase “Oh I don’t understand all that complicated stuff, I’ll just leave it to you dear. Blow job?”.

  237. 237
    Louis

    Giliell,

    Have you been very naughty?

    If so…okay, but budge up a bit, Josh needs to get on there too.

    Louis

  238. 238
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Josh needs to get on there too.

    Oh yes. Yes, he does, Papi.

  239. 239
    nooneinparticular

    Daisy Cutter @218

    Wait, you’re not even going to read what DJG wrote? LOL! Jesus you’re a piece of work. You’re just throwin poo as usual.

  240. 240
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    You forgot Baboon!@!!11, nooneinparticular.

  241. 241
    Louis

    Josh,

    You promised not to call me Papi in public….

    ….ooooooh you! I can’t stay mad at you! Now assume the position whilst I set up the Whack-o-matic 5000.

    Don’t complain. I’m catering a birthday party for 9 on Saturday, a barbecue for 16 on Sunday, swearing drunkenly at Her Majesty on Monday and having a hangover that could kill an ox on Tuesday. And I have tomorrow to prepare for the lot.

    My problems are SO first world!

    Louis

  242. 242
    ltft

    PZ quoted:
    “…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.”

    A less edited version of the same comment:
    “We have gotten emails over the last few months from women vowing never to attend TAM because they heard that JREF is purported to condone child-sex-trafficking, and emails in response to various blog posts about JREF or me that seem to suggest I or others at the JREF promote the objectification of women, or that we condone violence or threats of violence against women, or that they believe that women would be unsafe because we feature this or that man on the program. 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.”

    Grothe has a significant problem (fewer women registering for TAM), a possible cause (bad and mistaken ideas about TAM or JREF), and evidence for that cause as contributing to the problem (letters from women who will not be attending TAM). I have no idea if those letters exist, if Grothe’s summarization of them is correct, or if well-meaning bloggers ever implied that JREF condoned child-sex-trafficking. However, assuming the letters exist and Grothe has summarized them accurately, he has a point.

    Read Grothe’s list of what people are citing as a problem. Child sex trafficking. Active promotion of the objectification of women. Condoning violence or threats of violence against women… JREF/TAM has been fairly progressive (though not perfect) on those issues. IF women are reporting those issues as reasons for not attending then Grothe is right- misinformation is spreading (and please note that I left aside the speaker issue; I cannot defend that).

    Other portions of Grothe’s comments are clearly wrong and PZ (and others) are right that firm reporting and consequences need to be added to the harassment policy. Grothe’s eyes-wide-shut bit is wrong, as well. And everyone is right that asking women to be quiet about harassment is NOT a solution to anything.

    But being responsible? Not blogging that JREF sanctions child-sex-trafficking? That doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

  243. 243
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Clearly, y’all just hate sex and want to ban it. That’s why you talk to each other this way, neatly showing the distinction between harassment and actually joking with friends. Its because you hate sex, sexy-ness, sexually suggestive language and you’re just total prudes.

    ++

    Wait, you’re not even going to read what DJG wrote? LOL! Jesus you’re a piece of work. You’re just throwin poo as usual.

    Yeah, DAISY! how dare you not read for the 17th time the same exact thing he’s posted on 17 blogs. It said nothing the first 16 times, but THIS TIME it will totally be differnt.

    Silly GURL!

  244. 244
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Daisy:

    I’ll note that any d00d who says “Women find most men sexually unappealing” has never really talked to women and taken their opinions seriously. He’s also probably really saying, “Most women find me sexually unappealing.” Try treating women like fellow human beings instead of walking pussy dispensers, losing the mansplaining douchebag attitude, and maybe taking a shower and wearing nice clothes once in a while.

    NoNoNo! You misunderstand. We should totally cop to this:

    I, for one, have utterly failed to sexually proposition at least 51% of the men I’ve met in my life. And since I haven’t been sexually propositioned by a number of men sufficient to add to the number I have and reach 51%, I have been unable to sexually gratify enough men to make up the difference.

    I think it’s totes fair on the evidence to say that I find most men “sexually unappealing.” THIS IS AN URGENT PROBLEM!!!

    Please, men: sexually proposition me at every turn. It’s the only way I can solve this horrible, horrible crisis of men’s self confidence crashing because I haven’t expressed sexual interest and availability to at least a majority of you!

  245. 245
    Louis

    Actually, to be briefly serious, I think DJGrothe has said is good in places. Sadly, he doesn’t (yet) seem to get the fact that the problem is NOT the women speaking about their experiences but the people who caused them to have those experiences. Trusting officialdom to get the job done just isn’t enough. People get to both trust to officialdom by reporting matters AND speak out on their own. That’s part of holding officialdom to account.

    The attempted silencing of, or at least lack of support for, people voicing their concerns is a big problem.

    Louis

  246. 246
    Pteryxx

    ltft:

    You quoting DJ:

    “We have gotten emails over the last few months from women vowing never to attend TAM because they heard that JREF is purported to condone child-sex-trafficking…

    What you then claim:

    I have no idea if those letters exist, if Grothe’s summarization of them is correct, or if well-meaning bloggers ever implied that JREF condoned child-sex-trafficking.

    and

    But being responsible? Not blogging that JREF sanctions child-sex-trafficking? That doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

    (emphasis mine)

    Biiiig goal post shift there. Biiig difference.

  247. 247
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    +1 What Amphiox said at #214. Just go re-read it.

    DJ, go read about Active Listening. You must demonstrate that you listen and understand or people will keep trying to make you hear and the conversation won’t move on to what to do about the situation. I was impressed that TAM quickly put in place an anti-harassment policy and is providing some childcare services so that families can attend. But you need to gather the data as Pteryxx outlined above at #58 and demonstrate that harassers are dealt with. The outraged response to Rebecca Watson was very off-putting.

    It occurs to me that attendance might be down simply because the Women in Secularism conference was a better draw and a safer place this year.

    RealitySarnia, ask the women. Seriously. Ask female colleagues who don’t work for your employer, so they don’t have to worry about repercussions.

  248. 248
    nooneinparticular

    Josh @240

    ??? What you talkin’ bout shermin?

  249. 249
    ltft

    As I read more written about DJ Grothe here on FtB it seems there’s a bit of a history. Not sure the literal reading of that portion of his post and the benefit of the doubt I gave him @242 is a good idea…

  250. 250
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    However, assuming the letters exist and Grothe has summarized them accurately, he has a point.

    assuming the letters exist, can you or Groethe please point to any blogposts or comments from the well-meaning women bloggers* which actually do claim or allude to the JREF participating in child-trafficking?
    Because it’s interesting that while all the True Skeptics™ scream EVIDENCE! DNA-SAMPLES! whenever there’s a claim of harassment, so far there has been no evidence provided of the alleged bloggers (we all know who they are, even though, as I notice, Groethe doesn’t name names either) actually spreading such serious allegation or demonstrated a causal relationship between those bloggers “exagerating” and women not going to TAM.

    The other option, that women aren’t going there because they feel that DJ Groethe would be more interested in the image of TAM (an than their wellbeing, seems to be impossible.
    Seems like TAM is the only con with that problem so far and this might be due to the way DJ Groethe has behaved in the past.

    *Ain’t they cute, the womenz? Always well-meaning but totes incapable.

  251. 251
    ltft

    @ Pteryxx #246

    Largely unintentional goalpost shift; I did try to pick the most dramatic example but did not intend to assume that whatever emails on child sex trafficking Grothe received were ginned up by the blogosphere. My apologies.

  252. 252
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Josh #233:

    Caine, you ignorant slut.

    FTW.

    What would we do without the internet to make all old references new again…

    Of course, that brings up another problem.

  253. 253
    ltft

    @ Giliel 250,

    I’ve been looking and no, I can’t find anyone who has accused JREF of condoning child sex trafficking. I should have hoped my skepticism came through with the need to assume they exist and were summarized accurately.

  254. 254
    Louis

    Illuminata, #243,

    I have just checked with my wife whether or not I like sex. She says I am allowed to like it. Therefore can all you evil feminazis stop trying to legalise gay marriage because that will force me to lose wood and stop looking at ladies’ tatas.

    Or something.

    Louis

  255. 255
    Inaji

    Josh:

    Please make a note of this important subject/object distinction.

    Yes, fake husband. :scuffs toes:

    Louis:

    If you could both work in Being A Bit Ethnic™ you could count for eight in total. Because this is totally how it works. So if you can go in a wheelchair or, ya know, be a bit mad on the left side, you could up that to 16 or even 32.

    Well, I’m half Oglala Lakota and I often use a cane. How am I doin’?

  256. 256
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    Desert Son #197…+ 100

    Because it is important to get loud, and it is vitally important that the people who, since time fucking immemorial have not been allowed to get loud or who have been punished for getting loud in ways you and I don’t even understand or aren’t even aware of, get loud.

    Yes. (and you brought me to tears.)

    Josh,

    Caine, you ignorant slut. As a woman you can’t “take” Mister with you. Only men can “bring their wives.” The verb is only transitive from M to F. When a woman goes to a conference her man “goes with” her. Please make a note of this important subject/object distinction.

    This is so it in a nutshell. But thanks for the ironic lol/frown wordplay on SNL Ackroyd/Curtain. You stopped my stupid weepy moment cold!

  257. 257
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    ltft
    See, that’s the obvious problem, the elephand herde in the room:
    Women make very ordinary claims. Most women don’t report such incidences because they’re so fucking commonplace. And they get treated like they claimed they just had tea with a yeti.
    And DJ Groethe make some serious accusations, the “child- trafficking accusations” only being the most obvious one, and they are accepted at face value.
    That’s the reason women feel unsafe, not because there might be creeps.

  258. 258
    Louis

    Caine,

    Hmmmm I will consult with the other Men.

    {whispering}

    NO WAY!

    {more whispering}

    IN A WARDROBE?

    {more whispering}

    BANANA?

    {more urgent whispering}

    Okay.

    You can count as 24 people for demographic purposes. And your companion…

    Basically, for you to be Doing Your Bit™ she needs to be a one eyed, schizophrenic, black, hump backed, lesbian lay preacher who used to be known as “Large Bob” back when she was a man. For given values of “was” and “man”.

    If she is also tone deaf, colour blind, dyslexic, innumerate and a tap dancer this will come in handy. This should get you as a couple up to 64.

    Louis

  259. 259
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    THe essential point I’m getting from DJG is that the problem is women speaking up about harrassment – therefore, we should speak up! Er, only in private, behind closed doors to him/official channels. Oh and STFU otherwise.

    And…if “speaking up” behind those very silent closed doors (provided we can get away from a harasser to do that – should be no problem, “Er, excuse me, I relaly need to go find DJG and report what you are doing, I’m sure you don’t mind. Can I take your picture?”) results in DJG and co managing to take action quickly, silently and you know in a way that won’t alarm other people unduly, and quietly evict the rare offender, then it never happened!

    In other words, let’s just go right back to how it has been all along. Shut up women; there is no problem; women are the problem; blah blah blah.

    When is the next Women in Secularism conference? Seriously, I want to volunteer to work on it.

  260. 260
    'Tis Himself

    DJG wrote:

    Some of the blog posts we have read seem to amount to little more than rumor and gossip

    I noticed how DJ managed to ignore the large number of blog posts discussing specific problems with TAM and JREF.

    DJ, instead of blaming “rumor and gossip” for the large number of women who don’t want to attend TAM, how about saying something along the lines of:

    ● Women, what are your concerns about TAM and JREF?

    ● Women, how can we make TAM more woman-friendly?

    ● Women, what can we do to make it obvious we are working to make TAM more woman-friendly?

  261. 261
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    Louis. LOL!!! 227, 236, 258…oh hell, I can’t even find them all! Seriously laughing out loud!

  262. 262
    Anthony K

    Women make very ordinary claims. Most women don’t report such incidences because they’re so fucking commonplace. And they get treated like they claimed they just had tea with a yeti.
    And DJ Groethe make some serious accusations, the “child- trafficking accusations” only being the most obvious one, and they are accepted at face value.

    Pretty much this.

    I mean, really: Grothe thinks that women’s attendance is down because there’s a rumour that JREF condones child sex trafficking that’s doing the rounds in the secretarial pool?

    That’s the kind of thing Grothe thinks women think is going on at a skeptics’ conference?

    What the fucking fuck?!

  263. 263
    cyberCMDR

    @DJ Groethe
    One of the phrases that comes back to me from some officer’s training classes is, “Where you stand often depends on where you sit.” In other words, people tend to take positions that favor their current position. This seems to apply to you.

    May I make a suggestion? Instead of blaming women bloggers for the declining female attendance numbers at TAM, ENLIST THEIR HELP! Find one of these bloggers with the time to commit and the trust of the community, and put her in charge of addressing this problem. You’ve already lost the trust, so find someone who can credibly bring it back to TAM. It’s a win-win. TAM will have greater credibility, and you will have solved the problem. Defer this long enough and the community will find someone else to solve the problem. Without you.

  264. 264
    caycearnett

    As a woman, I would LOVE, f-in LOVE, to go to TAM. Except I live 2,000 miles away. And the registration fee is too high for someone who hasn’t had a job in months. So if someone wants to send me freely and pay for everything, I’ll help rack up that percentage.

    The potential for harassment isn’t what’s stopping me from going…it’s the cost and the distance.

  265. 265
    screechymonkey

    DJ, I asked this question in the thread at Token Skeptic, but perhaps it got lost amid the many conversations:

    Is the drop in JREF registration by women due solely (or mostly) to (1) a drop in first-time women attendees, (2) a drop in the rate of returning women attendees, or is it (3) roughly the same in both categories?

    I ask because it seems to me that your “misinformation” hypothesis would predict (1). After all, if TAM has been a wonderful, harassment-free, safe space for women, then surely women who attended them will not be deterred by “gossip” that runs counter to their own experiences? On the other hand, if women are less likely than men to return to TAM, then perhaps your survey results are missing something.

    On a separate note, while I’m not suggesting that it’s a reasonable charge for people to make, is it possible that those “the JREF condones child trafficking” complaints are a reference to the controversy regarding Lawrence Krauss (a speaker at TAM) defending his friend who exploited underage prostitutes?

  266. 266
    situsinversus

    Is there a list somewhere of the changes that should be made to TAM and the freethought movement in general that will promote women attendance? Sure this list exists somewhere.

  267. 267
    Anthony K

    Women, what are your concerns about TAM and JREF?

    Child sex trafficking, for one, duh. And my best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with the girl who saw some sexism.

    I guess it’s pretty serious.

  268. 268
    KarenX

    Is there a list somewhere of the changes that should be made to TAM and the freethought movement in general that will promote women attendance? Sure this list exists somewhere.

    It’s like we’re working as a team and you set this up for me, or else all my wildest dreams have come true. I am going to be so bold as to link to a Handy Guide:

    More Women in Skepticism: A Handy Guide

    To answer your question, yes, there is a list. It does exist.

  269. 269
    Cyranothe2nd, there's no such thing as a moderate ally

    I am just so pissed at DJ’s continual dodge of questions.

    HEY DJ,
    1. WHY ARE YOU BLAMING WOMEN FOR SPEAKING UP?

    2. WHY IS THE ONUS ON ASHLEY TO FILL OUT THE PAPERWORK, AND NOT THE EVENT ORGANIZERS THAT KICKED THE DRUNK GUY OUT TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED?

  270. 270
    Anthony K

    Is there a list somewhere of the changes that should be made to TAM and the freethought movement in general that will promote women attendance? Sure this list exists somewhere.

    There’s a whole thread—this one, in fact—in which women have been describing their issues with the community. Your attitude was specifically brought up.

    Why don’t you get off your fucking condescending ass and create this list, you fucking asshole?

    Or at the least, shut the fuck up.

  271. 271
    skeptifem

    I think I found the information that may have caused some to think the JREF condones underage sex trafficking.The origin wasn’t crazy feminist bloggers, it was a comment DJG made on skepchick.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/01/03/dammit-dj/

    I think in general that:

    1) age of consent laws should be looked at more skeptically,

    2) prostitution is not necessarily a bad thing, and

    [...]

    Age 13 is below the age of consent in my book, but 16 or 17 isn’t necessarily so. But I don’t read Krauss as in any way defending sex with a 13 or 14 year old girl.

    I don’t know how he can blame the impression on other people, these are DJG’s words regarding a scandal with underage prostituted girls, involving the friend of a TAM speaker. If you think prostitution is ok and that the age of consent should be lowered, but do not specifically say that you think those younger women shouldn’t be prostituted, then it would be easy to get such an impression.

  272. 272
    'Tis Himself

    Brownian #262

    I mean, really: Grothe thinks that women’s attendance is down because there’s a rumour that JREF condones child sex trafficking that’s doing the rounds in the secretarial pool?

    That’s the kind of thing Grothe thinks women think is going on at a skeptics’ conference?

    What the fucking fuck?!

    This is a citation need situation that DJG needs to explain further. How many people think JREF condones child sex trafficing, what evidence are those people providing to support their contention, and why should anyone take this conspiracy-mongering seriously?

    WTFF indeed!

  273. 273
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Is there a list somewhere of the changes that should be made to TAM and the freethought movement in general that will promote women attendance? Sure this list exists somewhere.

    1. Don’t tell women to stfu and stop gossiping when they say why they don’t feel comfortable at the conferences. Instead listen and learn.
    2. Various douches stop asking for point by point instructions on how to be a decent human being and start treating women as actual, equal human beings
    3. The rest will kind come to you once you apply 2. It’s not that difficult

  274. 274
    Inaji

    Louis:

    Basically, for you to be Doing Your Bit™ she needs to be a one eyed, schizophrenic, black, hump backed, lesbian lay preacher who used to be known as “Large Bob” back when she was a man. For given values of “was” and “man”.

    :Sigh:

    DJ Grothe, every. single. word. ‘Tis. said. in. post. #260.

  275. 275
    'Tis Himself

    skeptifem #271

    Thank you for giving a reasonable explanation to Brownian and my comments about child sex trafficing.

    DJG needs to get his feet out of his mouth and his head out of his ass. Either that, or hire a competent PR flack.

  276. 276
    Inaji

    cayce:

    The potential for harassment isn’t what’s stopping me from going…it’s the cost and the distance.

    There are a *lot* of meetings, much better ones. Ones where women are considered to be people, there are strict harassment policies, they cost less and they don’t make a habit out of inviting notoriously sexist assholes as speakers.

  277. 277
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    skeptifem @#271:

    Wow… while “child trafficking” might not have been the explicit intent, that certainly isn’t an unreasonable interpretation. It also gives DJ a personal motive to be a sexist ass on this issue, since it gives him a rationale to go after the people who caught his seriously disgusting attitudes in defending a sexual predator.

  278. 278
    ligertwood

    Dear Hairhead,
    Definition of alleged “asserted to be true or to exist “. I may have misused the word but I think in the context of my post one would have to agree that I do accept that these posts take place and that I am disgusted by that. I just haven’t seen them myself. I guess I don’t spend nearly enough time on the sites where they do take place, me bad. I don’t see how immediately jumping to the wrong conclusion about a post that 100% agrees with you is very productive. I understand your frustration with some on here but really, you felt the need to react to one word? And I don’t get more than one chance?

  279. 279
    skeptifem

    @tis

    no problem. I am kind of weirded out that the comments about forced prostitution were sorta overshadowed by some comments from some other dude about greta christina on FB. Almost all the comments are about facebook crap.

  280. 280
    andreasschueler

    There are a *lot* of meetings, much better ones. Ones where women are considered to be people, there are strict harassment policies, they cost less and they don’t make a habit out of inviting notoriously sexist assholes as speakers.

    => Actually, TAM does have a harassment policy, but why let the facts get in the way of a nice rant ? Care to explain which sexist assholes they invite as speakers ? (don´t provide any evidence for them being sexist assholes – just make it up, like you did with the claim that TAM has no harassment policy. It´s way easier and more fun to rant if you don´t have to stick to the facts)

  281. 281
    Travis

    they don’t make a habit out of inviting notoriously sexist assholes as speakers.

    Indeed. My mind immediately went to Penn Gillette when I read this. I have never really understood why so many people love him as they do and feel the need to defend what he says at all cost. I enjoy Penn and Teller’s act, I liked that long before I was involved with skepticism, and find Teller’s writing to often be interesting, but I feel no need to come to their rescue whenever they say something stupid.

  282. 282
    robro

    I’m surprised no one has commented on the fact that the TAM conference is being held in Las Vegas. I can’t think of any place so overtly sexist has that town. It’s a major part of the scheme to dislodge $$$ from the drooling Neanderthals crawling the place. As a man, I don’t find it particularly comfortable to be there. I can imagine women are even less inclined to subject themselves to it. Perhaps that has something to do with the decline in women going.

  283. 283
    Inaji

    andreasschueler:

    like you did with the claim that TAM has no harassment policy.

    Learn to read, asshole. Nowhere did I say TAM had no policy.

    ligertwood:

    I understand your frustration with some on here but really, you felt the need to react to one word? And I don’t get more than one chance?

    You were given another chance. Hairhead deliberately held back because of three strikes. Before you go talking again, try a little reading, first: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/08/01/pharyngula-standards-practices/

  284. 284
    Inaji

    Travis:

    Indeed. My mind immediately went to Penn Gillette when I read this.

    Yep. He’s often touted as a symbol of the things JREF and TAM stand for – not a good thing in my opinion. But hey, what do I know, walking around with my fuzzy pink lady brainz.

  285. 285
    skeptifem

    277

    I don’t think he was defending that guy, he just saw the thread as a good time to bring up his ideas about prostitution and age of consent. it was a really inappropriate time to talk about lowering the age of consent and could easily be interpreted as defense. It was not that much different than the actual defense of a predator by klauss.

  286. 286
    andreasschueler

    Learn to read, asshole. Nowhere did I say TAM had no policy.

    => Oh right, sorry, you said that TAM has no strict harassment policy. So what´s not strict enough about their harassment policy ?

  287. 287
    Travis

    Caine,
    They should listen to my big manly brain then. Nothing fuzzy about me except my sweet handlebar moustache. They have to listen to me when they see that. I guess they only like men that agree with them. It pains me to read these threads. Back before EG I actually thought the skeptical community might be a tiny bit better than everywhere else. Now I know better and simply feel disappointed each time this gets discussed.

  288. 288
    nooneinparticular

    Skeptifem @285

    In the quote referenced you’re right he wasn’t defending the guy. But I followed the links and it turns out, after a little digging, that he did defend Krauss. Who defended the sexual predator.

    In the quote referenced in this thread, DJG said “Age 13 is below the age of consent in my book, but 16 or 17 isn’t necessarily so.”

    All of Canada and 30 US states have the age of consent at 16, 9 others are at 17. I suppose he might be accused of suggesting lowering the age of consent in the remaining 11 states.

    His defense of prostitution, presumably also for young people over the age of consent, is very troubling.

  289. 289
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Some corpse just got wheeled out of the house directly across the street from me, making me mostly incapable of responding to anything directed at my last couple of comments. Just assume I agree with you, unless you’re a sexist douchenozzle in which case I curse you to exactly whatever it is you deserve.

  290. 290
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Joe—natural causes or something heinous?

  291. 291
    Gnumann+, out&proud cultural marxist (just don't ask me about Gramsci)

    Yep. He’s often touted as a symbol of the things JREF and TAM stand for – not a good thing in my opinion.

    Depends on the goal I guess. If their goal is to chase away any sensible person who’s also a decent human being (and make more room for the he-man bigfoot hunter brigade to bro around)- it’s definitely a good thing.

  292. 292
    Louis

    Caine, #274,

    :Sigh:

    I has done a bad?

    Louis

  293. 293
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    @Josh: possibly both?

    I get ranty about my 2nd Amendment rights in this neighborhood, because it is actually really scary. I’ve lived here since October, and the cops are out here every week, occasionally to warn us about armed robbers. There’s been cops and paramedics and fire trucks in front of the flophouse across the street once a month since I’ve lived here, and there’s also a guy who may or may not live there who may or may not be selling/buying drugs on the corner on a semi-regular basis. So there are old and unhealthy people there, and possible drug addicts/dealers, and there’s a certain amount of probable overlap with me having to run people off who park in front of my house drinking and doing drugs, and I have to pick up beer bottles off my yard regularly. Some of the people in cars drinking/drugging in front of my house include the old guy who lives (lived?) across the street.

    I dunno. The whole thing is so horrible that I don’t even know how to deal with it. Dead body close enough to hit with a rock from my front porch kind of throws me off a little. Sorry for the hijack, but considering the neighborhood I’m sure you’ll understand that I’ve got zero friends here.

  294. 294
    Inaji

    Gnumann @ 291, very true.

    Louis, no! It’s just I’ll never meet the automatic privilege level, darnitall.

  295. 295
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Oh, that sounds plenty unpleasant all right, Joe. Here’s to you finding your way out of that neighborhood when you can.

  296. 296
    Louis

    Caine,

    Oh it’s easy. Go to a tack shop and buy yourself some horse blinkers. Fix them to your head then sew them in place around your eyes. Pierce a small hole in the centre of each and hang a little piece of paper in front of each hole on some sort of wire gantry. On the paper should be one word: ME.

    That should do it. I spent ~30 years like that, it’s quite fun to take the blinkers off.

    Louis

  297. 297
    Inaji

    Joe, I know the stress of living in that kind of neighbourhood. The stress goes from acute to chronic and it can wreak havoc on a person. I hope you can get out soon.

  298. 298
    Louis

    Joe,

    Nasty! I hope your situation improves so you can get the fuck out of there.

    Louis

  299. 299
    Inaji

    Louis:

    Go to a tack shop and buy yourself some horse blinkers. Fix them to your head then sew them in place around your eyes. Pierce a small hole in the centre of each and hang a little piece of paper in front of each hole on some sort of wire gantry. On the paper should be one word: ME.

    Uurrgh, no. Too much work. Besides, my brainz! My fluffy pink lady brainz has already seen!

  300. 300
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    Louis:

    Basically, for you to be Doing Your Bit™ she needs to be a one eyed, schizophrenic, black, hump backed, lesbian lay preacher who used to be known as “Large Bob” back when she was a man. For given values of “was” and “man”.

    Yikes…missed this! I don’t find this as funny as the earlier bits, Louis. But I am assuming this is dripping with sarcasm.

  301. 301
    Inaji

    Nifty, considering the wider context of what we were talking about, I found it funny as it raised the ‘automatic privilege bar’ to impossible heights! :D

  302. 302
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    Joe, that sounds unnerving. I ‘ll add my wishes to the rest that you can soon be out of there (or find decent neighbors to make friends).

  303. 303
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    301, Caine, I do see that – and I was howling at Louis’s posts all along here (thank goodness, considering the quality of many of the other posts and the vexing topic!), but I guess the bald truth of that paragraph struck a jarring note when I got back (rushed through before going to collect two of the niftiest boys from school! :))
    I am constantly threadrupt!

  304. 304
    Ichthyic

    I am assuming this is dripping with sarcasm.</i<

    assumption affirmed, having known Louis for years now.

  305. 305
    Ichthyic

    Oh it’s easy.

    easy?

    I’d hate to think what you consider to actually be difficult!

    :P

  306. 306
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    Ichthyic, got it, thanks! My fault!

  307. 307
    Louis

    Niftyatheist, #300,

    That was a deliberately….risky….paragraph, and yes, OHHHHH yes was it dripping with a good deal of sarcasm and indeed irony.

    I was mocking a couple of things, not least the caricature that “political correctness” has of being some quota driven process as opposed to a maximally inclusive process. I.e. people think quotas are the goal, not a means to an end. Hence why I took the “box ticking” route. I was also mocking the organisational tendency to box tick.

    After all what has got JREF and DJG so up in arms? Low sign up by women. What’s the problem? Too many women talking too much in the wrong places. Not the harassers, but the harassees talking about it wrong. Wanna bet that if the percentage of women signing up was 50% and harassment was still occurring we’d be getting different dismissive arguments…

    But do pick me up if you think I’ve crossed a line. So thanks for doing it. I do fuck up, and I have no problem being called on it. I might argue my corner…but I’m happy to be wrong! :-)

    Louis

  308. 308
    Louis

    Oh and by the way, I know DJG and the JREF etc are not monsters, I know they care about the harassment, and want the harassers to GTFO. They’re decent human beings from what I can tell.

    What I can’t for the life of me fathom, actually scratch that…

    …What I understand only too damned well, and have no sympathy for even though I’ve been in their shoes, is the desire to defend an organisation and an organisational error at the expense of people. Sometimes vulnerable people.

    That I find…baffling is the wrong word, as is annoying, let’s go with “interesting” and everything I can spin into that word in terms of tone and delivery.

    Louis

  309. 309
    Louis

    Niftyatheist, #306,

    Nope, wasn’t your fault. I was deliberately being close to the bone and trusting context to save my arse!

    As noted in a recent short discussion with LILAPWL about such humour, ironic sexism (for example) is indistinguishable from actual sexism, especially in plain text, without a slew of contextual data.

    Can you imagine a first time poster making that post? The words “ripped to bloody shreds” would apply to their verbal fate here! People would get the irony perhaps, but not have the relationship, the knowledge of their humour, the trust in that person’s bona fides. It’s a big social mess! And like I said, easy to fuck up, and fuck up I do. So really, no worries, always call me on stuff if you see it.

    Louis

  310. 310
    Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff

    ligertwood, thank you for responding to my post. I’m responding politely because you responded to me intelligently, addressing both the subject of my post, and specifics within it. Consider now that I’m not going to jump all over you. Instead, I’m just going to give you a little polite nudge or two.

    I have two points to make about your use of the word “alleged”.

    1) I would have accepted the “alleged” from you if you had posted so within a month of Elevatorgate; after all, one cannot be expected to read everything on the Internet instantly, nor to accept large claims instantly. But the volcano of sexism, racism, abuse, threats, and general stinky-ass vileness over Elevatorgate and the state of sexism in atheism/skepticism has been going on for over a year now. Calling such things “alleged” now is just as much of a red flag for me as making a remark about the “alleged” Holocaust, because you hadn’t personally read anything about it. Allegations are made early on in the history of an incident; as evidence accumulates, allegations turn to accusations, to indictments, etc. and so on.

    2) “Alleged” has become a dirty word and a real trigger for me and others. I’ll tell you why. Every time there is a prominent incidence of racism, sexism, prejudice, xenophobia, religious craziness, violence, or psychopathy, a bunch of douchebags rush to the defense of the bigot/hypocrite in the in the midst of it all by saying, “Look man, these are just (pause for emphasis) ALLEGATIONS!” So, though “allegations” has a very neat, clean denotation, its connotation has been warped and twisted so that it has become a de facto defense for atrocious behaviour.

    Just to put a point on that, I agreed with virtually all of your first post, until I read “alleged”, and immediately the rest of what you wrote was stained by the dirty associations of the word.

    Thank you for responding, and all the best. I live in Vancouver, and I hope to get to the next Kamloops meeting.

    Final note: see how perfectly NICE we can be if you answer questions directly?

  311. 311
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Louis,

    As noted in a recent short discussion with LILAPWL about such humour, ironic sexism (for example) is indistinguishable from actual sexism, especially in plain text, without a slew of contextual data.

    You may have read me as being too charitable. What I tried to communicate is that to the degree that it normalizes sexist chatter — which is a function of the audience, not easily measured by the speaker, and certainly has fuck-all to do with the speaker’s “bona fides” — ironic sexism is actual sexism.

  312. 312
    chigau (違う)

    Remember this guy?
    “I have a black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple. And we have talent.”
    - James G. Watt
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_G._Watt

  313. 313
    'Tis Himself

    ironic sexism is actual sexism.

    And, as we all know, LILAPWL is the expert at detecting the slightest hint of any -ism, even when it doesn’t fucking exist except in her head.

  314. 314
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Do note that I haven’t made any comment one way or the other about Louis’s #258. All I’m doing is clarifying what may have been a misunderstanding about an earlier conversation.

    I’m always glad to see you in the mood for a fight, ‘Tis. You’re cute when you’re angry.

  315. 315
    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    I’ll assume that input is asked for and say that I’d think a helpful solution would be offering administration, speakers and conference security persons training in the legal definition of harassment and the personal impact of being harassed, because the affect of the person whom a complainer might go to (for instance, sneering at someone trying to complain or ignoring them) will prevent complaints from happening in general.

    Also, if there’s a spanking couch, I’m hopping in the queue. It’s okay, I’ll wait (and enjoy the view, if offered).

  316. 316
    Inaji

    ‘Tis:

    even when it doesn’t fucking exist except in her head.

    Ooops.

  317. 317
    Louis

    LILAPWL,

    Fair play, I unintentionally misrepresented you there. My bad, my bad!

    Point re-taken.

    Louis

  318. 318
    elronxenu

    A clearing house would be used by conference organisers to publicise their issue details, not for attendees to report issues. And the site itself would have to be promoted – to women, to show them that reports of sexual and other harassment are taken seriously and properly dealt with, and to potential harassers, to show them the same thing and discourage them from trying anything.

  319. 319
    Ichthyic

    And, as we all know, LILAPWL is the expert at detecting the slightest hint of any -ism, even when it doesn’t fucking exist

    exist or not, LILAPWL can be counted on to significantly and permanently derail any thread it appears in, and spend endless posts JUSTIFYING to itself its right, nay *SOCIETAL NEED* to do so.

  320. 320
    Louis

    ‘Tis,

    LILAPWL does make a very good point, not a billion miles distant from one I made in that thread he links about the comedian Al Murray. The same material plays differently to different audiences, something I neglected to mention here. LILAPWL was right to bring me up on that.

    Louis

  321. 321
    'Tis Himself

    Caine,

    I thought LILAPWL is a woman. If I’m wrong, then I’m wrong. Apologies to all and sundry.

    That doesn’t change my perception that LILAPWL went out of hir way to proclaim everyone drawing Mohammed as an Islamophobe and just now claimed that Louis’ sarcasm was sexist even though it quite obviously parodied sexism.

  322. 322
    'Tis Himself

    I will not derail this thread anymore. If anyone wants to talk about it, we can go to TET.

  323. 323
    Inaji

    ‘Tis:

    SG (LILAPWL) is a gay man.

    That doesn’t change my perception that LILAPWL went out of hir way to proclaim everyone drawing Mohammed as an Islamophobe and just now claimed that Louis’ sarcasm was sexist even though it quite obviously parodied sexism.

    True enough. I’ve had my fair share of outright fights with SG, I do not care for many of his ideas and tactics, to say the least. His history is a long and contentious on at Pharyngula.

    It doesn’t matter how often he changes his nym, SG still seems to fit best. Sorry about that, life is like.

  324. 324
    Ichthyic

    LILAPWL was right to bring me up on that.

    believe what you want, Louis, but I’m gonna disagree with you on that.

    you’ve repeatedly demonstrated here, over many years, that you are NOT insensitive to sexist issues.

    you don’t need to keep doing so, IMO.

  325. 325
    drbunsen, le savant fous

    ischemgeek #74

    but IMHO, that is how you make and apply an effective anti-harrassment policy

    Seriously. It’s almost as if, at some time in human history, people have actually written and implemented anti-harassment policies before or something.

  326. 326
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    FYI ‘Tis, LILAWL is a gay man and that’s something you should know. He is also the commenter formerly knows as Strange Gods Before Me.

  327. 327
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Hello Ichthyic. Good to see you itching for a fight too.

    +++++

    That doesn’t change my perception that LILAPWL went out of hir way to proclaim everyone drawing Mohammed as an Islamophobe

    Who cares about accuracy?

    and just now claimed that Louis’ sarcasm was sexist

    Certainly not ‘Tis Himself.

  328. 328
    Ichthyic

    He is also the commenter formerly knows as Strange Gods Before Me.

    ah, that explains a lot.

  329. 329
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Caine,

    True enough.

    True enough even though I said neither of those things?

    It doesn’t matter how often he changes his nym, SG still seems to fit best. Sorry about that, life is like.

    No problem. Somebody asked me if SG was still okay and I said yes.

    +++++
    Ichthyic,

    you’ve repeatedly demonstrated here, over many years, that you are NOT insensitive to sexist issues.

    Could you point out where I said otherwise?

  330. 330
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    TAM is “not a safe space” does not mean what DJ Grothe (and some others) here seem to think it means. The world is not a safe space for women. “Not a safe space” is the default setting. To make TAM or any other skeptic/atheist meeting into a safe space takes concerted and deliberate effort. We’re not seeing that effort.

    Instead we’re seeing denial, minimisation, and a remarkably horrible and protracted series of cases of shooting the messenger. And from a group known to have a stinky misogynist forum, so I’m not inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. I have not ever been to TAM, but reading the forums for a bit put me off very solidly. Even when they did one in Australia. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that the forum is at least *somewhat* representative of the likely attendees.

    Oh, BTW, about that safety of women in engineering in Canada.

    And props to bargearse. I haven’t noticed you around here before, are you new?

  331. 331
    Ichthyic

    if SG is responding to me, please recall it is killfiled.

    if not, ignore.

  332. 332
    Louis

    Ichthyic,

    you don’t need to keep doing so, IMO.

    Perhaps not, in fact I hope not, but that’s not the point. The point is anyone, myself included, can fuck up, and there’s no great drama about being called on it.

    And to be fair to SGBM/LILAPWL he didn’t actually say a thing about my joke, he merely corrected my (unintentional) misrepresentation of a previous conversation.

    As for loving/hating LILAPWL and his every act, I find it sublimely irrelevant. Especially when he makes a good point.

    Everyone’s MMV, but that’s just me.

    Louis

  333. 333
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Thank you, Louis.

    As for loving/hating LILAPWL and his every act, I find it sublimely irrelevant. Especially when he makes a good point.

    That’s how I feel about everybody here.

  334. 334
    Cipher

    I’m just going to explain why I will make no effort to go to atheist conferences or local atheist meetings even when they are not costly or far out of my way. Meetings are difficult for me in the first place, but I would consider attempting to be brave and go to such a thing if it weren’t for: Elevatorgate, the Slimepit, the never-ending trickle of morons who apparently need it patiently explained to them why they need to not harass women, and the constant shitty treatment of women who have the nerve to talk about their experiences and about feeling unsafe. (That’s you, Grothe.)

    Oh, and to julietdefarge, who informs us it’s our job to face harassment, you can have a shiny new “fuck you” from me to put next to the excellent responses from everyone else (e.g. skeptifem and Daisy).

  335. 335
    ladyh42

    ligertwood
    “Hi All ! What an unfortunate and disturbing series of events! I recently organized a convention in Kamloops BC Canada. Imagine no religion 2. We had around 40% women attendees out of a total of 240 which was double our first conference. As far as I am aware, there were no such incidents taking place at our event. If there were I was certainly not made aware of them and I was available and visible throughout the event.”

    I was at the INR2 event and I have to say it was wonderful and most everyone as far as I was concerned was well behaved and respectful. . .except, and it was the only instance that really bugged me, when Bill let us go for the book signing on Saturday letting us know that there were “Catholic schoolgirls” sharing the facility in kind of a wink wink, nudge nudge kind of way. I know he was joking, but as a former catholic schoolgirl, one of possibly many in that audience, I was disappointed by it. I won’t stop going to that event, barring finances, but I’m not going to let stuff like that go either. We can do better. I am surprised at your ‘alleged’ comment tho, you had a speaker who talked a lot about EG and was roundly applauded. Do you think she was lying about it?

  336. 336
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    LILAPWL is like a number of things in life – often aggravating and annoying, but always highly educational, whether as a teacher or as a good or bad example. He’s never neutral, which is actually sort of refreshing.

    Alethea – that is exactly right. JREF should be trying to explain why TAM is a better space for women than the Amway convention at the next casino over. But no, they’re busily chastizing women for gossiping. Amazing how much this criticism of gossip has in common with traditional fundamentalist teachings on the speech of women. Privilege is challenged when those without privilege can share information among themselves.

  337. 337
    Cipher

    P.S. The argument isn’t about whether Louis or any particular person being ironically sexist is sensitive to gender issues, it’s about whether the ironic sexism has sexist effects. Which is going to depend on the context. If the same person made the same joke but it was read by an audience consisting primarily of anti-affirmative-action conservatives, it’d have different effects, and likely more sexist ones. So the fact that Louis is sensitive to feminist issues, while both true and useful, doesn’t have much to do with that argument.

  338. 338
    Inaji

    Cipher:

    Oh, and to julietdefarge, who informs us it’s our job to face harassment, you can have a shiny new “fuck you” from me

    Add one from me, too. I’ve noticed that every time julietdefarge posts, it’s to say something on the stupid and very unhelpful side. She seems to specialize in missing the point.

  339. 339
    strange gods before me ॐ

    whether as a teacher or as a good or bad example.

    I lol’d.

    He’s never neutral, which is actually sort of refreshing.

    I am sometimes, but then I usually don’t say anything, for fear of further promoting the golden mean fallacy.

  340. 340
    Nepenthe

    OT but will bother me forever:

    How, then, do you explain the fact that we have about twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors?

    That’s kind of impossible. And also not what the paper says.

    It’s completely possible. The simplest illustration: imagine that your paternal grandfather and your maternal grandfather are the same person (i.e. your parents are half-siblings). Then you have twice as many grandmothers as you have grandfathers (and you may have twice as many fingers as you ought).

    Given the prevalence of polygyny in humans, it’s unsurprising that the effective population of men is greater than the effective population of women. The stupidity of the concept of “beta male” and the stupidity of the cupcake’s conclusion that this disparity is due to 40-year-old, socially inept virgins, as opposed to any number of other hypotheses, doesn’t obtain.

  341. 341
    drbunsen, le savant fous

    DJ Grothe – serious question here:

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

    Given the fucking egregious nature and length of the harassment Ashley describes, and the fact that it happened to more than one woman in the same space and approximate time -

    doesn’t the fact that she didn’t feel that reporting it to JREF was even worth bothering with indicate a huge fucking problem?

    Hint: the problem isn’t with Ashley.

  342. 342
    Valindrius

    1) Receive communications detailing opposition to TAM based on various factors.

    2) Assume a causative chain that began with the words of ‘well-meaning women’ and culminated in the communications.

    3) Explain the lower quantity of women by presuming that said communications are representative of the whole, thus establishing a chain of causation between the ‘well-meaning women’ and lower attendance.

    4) Criticise those ‘well-meaning women’ and misrepresent or dismiss their legitimate views whilst claiming to note ‘problems of sexism in scepticism.’

    I am astounded by the overwhelming irrationality of this process. Regrettably, I cannot help but agree with others that have concluded a pre-existing bias or ulterior motive facilitated such wild, unfounded leaps of reasoning. Above all, I fail to see the goal of the unjustified criticism as such an action will not restore the attendee figures and it will most assuredly not resolve the ‘problems of sexism in scepticism.’ It is a pointless act of alienation.

    Finally, I appreciate all of this will have been expressed previously. I merely wanted to add my vociferous support to those highlighting the mindboggling nature of the assertions and apologise for taking time by stating the obvious. I just don’t like offering unexplained backing.

  343. 343
    SallyStrange

    Receive communications detailing opposition to TAM based on various factors.

    One thing–I haven’t seen that these communications have been in “opposition” to TAM. Rather, they are efforts to improve it. One generally doesn’t try to improve things that one opposes.

  344. 344
    Emptyell

    I’m a bit of a noob around these parts and late to the party so I haven’t read the whole thread in detail. So please excuse any redundancy.

    This thread seems an awful lot like a long drawn out circular firing squad. From what I can see there is general agreement that:

    - Mr Grothe and TAM do take sexual harassment issues seriously and are doing something about it.

    - There is room and need for improvement (as will be true until we achieve the humanist utopia ;-) )

    - Some women have pointed out this need (setting off various shit storms all over FTB, but that is beside the point).

    The main problem, which is the primary point of this topic, is that Mr Grothe unwisely and unfairly blamed the women who have pointed to the problem of sexual harassment for the declining enrollment of women at TAM. This is inappropriate and needs to be corrected if any real progress is to be made. Blaming the messenger and denying the problem is no solution.

    The other part that struck me is the bit about rumors that TAM supports</i

  345. 345
    Inaji

    Emptyell:

    I’m a bit of a noob around these parts and late to the party so I haven’t read the whole thread in detail.

    You might want to do that first. Prevents hole digging. Just a tip. Here’s another one: there’s a fucktonne of history behind all this.

  346. 346
    Valindrius

    One generally doesn’t try to improve things that one opposes.

    I should have finished the thought by including ‘opposition to the present form’ or something that more appropriately focused on dissatisfaction with certain arrangements and actions. I didn’t mean to suggest that they weren’t trying to improve things by highlighting problems, my apologies.

  347. 347
    xtog42

    Is there ever a situation when the victim does deserve some blame — not for being the victim, but in their response to the victimization?

  348. 348
    Cipher

    I’m a bit of a noob around these parts and late to the party so I haven’t read the whole thread in detail.

    Yeah, as Caine pointed out, generally not a good idea. Sometimes it turns out okay, but especially on threads like this one, it’s usually best to read thoroughly and think before posting.

    Blaming the messenger and denying the problem is no solution.

    I’d go further: Blaming the messenger and denying the problem is part of the problem.

  349. 349
    Cipher

    Is there ever a situation when the victim does deserve some blame — not for being the victim, but in their response to the victimization?

    You want abstract wankery, take it to TZT.

  350. 350
    SallyStrange

    Is there ever a situation when the victim does deserve some blame — not for being the victim, but in their response to the victimization?

    Why don’t you tell us.

  351. 351
    Inaji

    xtog42:

    Is there ever a situation when the victim does deserve some blame — not for being the victim, but in their response to the victimization?

    Why don’t you spare us all a tedious time and just come out with whatever sort of bullshit you’d like to try and justify, okay?

  352. 352
    Ichthyic

    As for loving/hating LILAPWL and his every act, I find it sublimely irrelevant.

    you’re missing the point.

    it’s not each act, it’s the ENDLESS REPETITION AND INEVITABLE EGO DERAILMENT that are at issue.

    not whether he has one point, but that his ego simply will not allow him NOT do derail a thread for the sake of his own sense of right and wrong.

    sorry, I don’t accept that.

    I find it extremely useless behavior.

  353. 353
    Cipher

    Here’s a link to TZT.
    Unless you’re willing to do what Caine and Sally have suggested and just make whatever point you’re vaguely gesturing at, why don’t you leave us to our impending nausea and head over there?

  354. 354
    Inaji

    Cipher:

    why don’t you leave us to our impending nausea and head over there?

    Oh gods, please, yes. I don’t think I can stand yet another clueless philosophiwanker, droning on and on and on and on, terribly impressed with their yanking and wanking and navel gazing. Bleargh.

  355. 355
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Would someone who’s not in Ichthyic’s killfile please remind Ichthyic that Louis brought me up by nym at #309, so I responded to clarify Louis’s understanding of what I had said to him previously.

    Copying and pasting this comment would be sufficient, thanks.

  356. 356
    Cipher

    Ichthyic, I get that you’d rather see the off-topic conversations taken someplace more appropriate, but the complaint about SGBM’s “ego derailing” doesn’t really apply here. As SG just pointed out but you can’t see it cos of killfile, Louis mentioned in 309 an argument SGBM had made and attributed to him, but inadvertently mischaracterized the argument, so SG was correcting that.

    (As an aside, I’m not super upset about derails, as you’ve probably noticed from my constantly engaging in them, but I find the posts about how bad SGBM is for derailing everything… just as distracting and less educational than the conversations that SGBM derails into.)

  357. 357
    echidna

    And then you have twits like reality sarnia, saying

    ”After all engineers are still notoriously sexist, so are computer programmers, and so on.”

    I am an engineer and I object to your generalization. I know very few engineers in my generation that can be labelled as such!

    Most of the engineers I’ve worked with are nice guys, but “normal” for engineers includes a lot of entrenched sexism. Take it from an engineer who is also a woman. As for a bias towards new hires being women, it might even be policy, but I do know this: women don’t drift into engineering. Women engineers are almost self-selected to be independent thinkers. Of course, this will only be true as long as women are such a minority in the field; once being a woman in engineering is normal the situation will reflect the general population.

    On topic: I’m confident that I can deal with harassment as long as I know that the top brass has my back. As far as TAM goes, DJ Grothe, this means you. If I think that what I say about my own experiences is going to be dismissed as petty gossip, then the game is already lost as far as I’m concerned. You need to be listening, and noting that stuff was happening on your watch, that you had interactions with, and you were unaware of the true situation. Instead of dismissing “gossip” (do men gossip as well, or is this term applied only to women?), you should be actively pursuing why you weren’t made aware, and fixing the perception that reporting incidents is more trouble than it is worth.

  358. 358
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Cipher, thank you for your clarity.

  359. 359
    Inaji

    Echidna:

    do men gossip as well

    Yes, they do, like you would not believe.

  360. 360
    echidna

    I know, Caine, I know. But “gossip” seems to be a term applied more to women, or am I wrong?

  361. 361
    xtog42

    One could make the case, that the response of the victim to the sexism actually made the environment worse for female attendance. And that the victim’s response was more responsible for the lowering of female attendance than the victimization itself. After all that is pretty much what DJ was saying, was he not?

    And why should we be censored from criticizing the victim’s response. Sometimes the victim deserves to be blamed for their response when it is way out of proportion to the original offense (One might think of the Travon Martin thing with Zimmerman as the victim).

    In this case, let’s face it, the person victimized proceeded to cast blame on the entire community and their leaders over the actions of a few individuals.

    And as far as I have seen the people making all of these complaints have offered no real solutions, except to bash DJ for not solving the issue of sexism.

    Oh, except that we really need to make a list of Do’s and Do Nots.

    Brilliant.

  362. 362
    Inaji

    Echidna, oh, no, you aren’t wrong.

  363. 363
    Inaji

    Sometimes the victim deserves to be blamed for their response when it is way out of proportion to the original offense

    You’re a bit of an idiot, aren’t you?

    And as far as I have seen the people making all of these complaints have offered no real solutions, except to bash DJ for not solving the issue of sexism.

    Yep, you are. One with a reading comprehension problem. Not one person expects DJ to solve the issue of sexism. We expect him to stop ignoring it, handwaving it away and blaming it on the people who are discussing it.

    Please, take your ignorant density away from here. Ta.

  364. 364
    Pteryxx

    xtog42:

    “One could make the case…” = Just Asking Questions

    “censorship” = strawperson, bingo square

    “from criticizing the victim’s response” = victim-blaming

    “casting blame on the entire community” = strawperson, universalizing

    “offered no real solutions” = blatant lie and dismissal

    Tell you what, when we get to a society where 80% or so of victims FEEL SAFE reporting, instead of the other way around, then we’ll talk. Disgusting little shit cupcake.

  365. 365
    echidna

    xtog42:

    One could make the case, that the response of the victim to the sexism actually made the environment worse for female attendance.

    One could make the case, but one hasn’t. One would find that if one tried to make the case, it wouldn’t stand up.

  366. 366
    Amphiox

    And as far as I have seen the people making all of these complaints have offered no real solutions, except to bash DJ for not solving the issue of sexism.

    It never fails. ALL of these various mansplaining apologists, ALL of them, ALWAYS end up doing the same thing – twisting reasonable arguments into completely unrecognizable caricatures of their own imagining, and then wasting their time arguing against these caricatures of their own devising, and ignoring the REAL issues and arguments, against which they have nothing.

    They did it back in Egate. They did it again on the last harassment thread. They do it again now.

    It’s like the only thing they know how to do, whenever any subject peripherally related to women is raised.

  367. 367
    chigau (違う)

    In the mining exploration camps in which I spend my summers they have wildlife reporting cards.
    Usually a short check-list thing:
    —-
    DATE
    I saw a:
    __moose; __caribou; __fox; __grizzly
    ___ km N E S W of camp (or GPS reading)
    __eating; __sleeping; __walking

    fill it out drop it in a box.
    It works really well to supplement the biologists work.
    —-
    Would this work for reporting assholes or is it just too open to abuse?

  368. 368
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    xtog42 – Oh, FFS, you really are an idiot, aren’t you? How many women need to receive rape threats from self-identified “skeptics” who attend TAM for mild statements like “guys, don’t do that” for you to think there’s actually a problem?

    Bonus advice – you’re actually part of the problem.

  369. 369
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    xtog42:

    One could make the case, that the response of the victim to the sexism actually made the environment worse for female attendance.

    Wow. A “blame the victim” right out of the gate. This should be an enlightening read.

    And that the victim’s response was more responsible for the lowering of female attendance than the victimization itself.

    Nice. Accuse the victim of actually causing more harm. Not just blaming the victim, but increasing the crime of the victim. Damn, but you’re good.

    And why should we be censored from criticizing the victim’s response.

    Excellent! Conflate being held accountable with censorship. That’s like awesomecake with a side of awesomesauce right there.

    In this case, let’s face it, the person victimized proceeded to cast blame on the entire community and their leaders over the actions of a few individuals.

    Really? At which point did the victim blame the entire community?

    The blame of the general community (not the entire community) is in providing an environment in which shit like this is allowed to happen unchallenged. Our blame is in not calling out bad behavior, for not holding those who behave badly accountable, in making excuses for bad behavior.

    Like you’re doing now.

    And as far as I have seen the people making all of these complaints have offered no real solutions, except to bash DJ for not solving the issue of sexism.

    DJ isn’t being held responsible for solving sexism. He’s just being held accountable for not responding to specific instances of sexism that occurred contrary to policy at events under his management.

    There’s a big difference there, Sweet Pea.

    Oh, except that we really need to make a list of Do’s and Do Nots.

    Uhm, no. There was already a list of dos and do nots. The problem was, offenders were never held liable for their actions.

    Brilliant.

    It’s a helluva lot better than going around defending sexist fuckwads like you’re doing.

  370. 370
    Cipher

    One could make the case,

    Stop with this shit. Say what you want to say and stop playing around. It’s not like you’re pulling one over on us here.
    If you want to make the fucking case, try and make it, but I warn you, it’s a shitty and stupid fucking case that ignores a number of posts in this thread among other things.

    After all that is pretty much what DJ was saying, was he not?

    Yeah! And that was fucking stupid of him.

  371. 371
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    xtog42:

    And why should we be censored from criticizing the victim’s response. Sometimes the victim deserves to be blamed for their response when it is way out of proportion to the original offense (One might think of the Travon Martin thing with Zimmerman as the victim).

    Also, too, this is a fucking shitty analogy. Zimmerman went looking for bad guys. He was not approached by Martin. Zimmerman was no victim.

    The various women who have come out with their stories are victims on two levels: the first is the victim of sexual advances, and in some cases, full-on sexual harassment and threats of rape. Then they’re a victim a second time when chrome-plated idiots like you try to fucking cast them as the bad guy. (I mean, comparing them to Zimmerman? Seriously!)

    Y’know, I don’t think I’ve said this to another poster before, even complete and total doucheborgs. But you can fuck right the fuck off. Comparing the victims of sexual harassment to a fucking murderer is beyond the pale.

  372. 372
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Stog42:

    One could make the case that cupcakes make the thread environment worse for the subset of people with brains. And that the cupcake’s responses will lower the average intelligence of the discussion. After all, that’s pretty much what PZ has been saying for years, is it not?

    And why should overconfident cupcakes be censored from criticizing things we don’t understand? Sometimes those who lack a conscience deserve rights of conscience way out of proportion to their ability to craft intelligent responses. (I’m thinking here about Mel Gibson v. the rest of the world, where Gibson thought of himself as the victim).

    In this case, let’s face it. Cupcake decided to cast ignorance and bullshit at the entire community based on the workings of a few measly neurons.

    And as far as I can tell, the cupcake writing this drivel has offered nothing of intelligence, except, well…

    nothing.

    Brilliant.

  373. 373
    xtog42

    No wonder intelligent people simply write blogs on their own as opposed to swearing at strangers on bulletin boards. See you all on my own blog, where I will marshal some real debate as opposed to verbal harassment on issues that are actually important to FTB as opposed to unsolvable societal issues that have nothing in particular to do with free-thought.

    When DJ puts out a solution to this and the female numbers increase I’ll expect that you will all find reasons to attack him and swear unnecessarily. Losers, go back to touching yourselves, I’ll leave you all alone with your rage at allies.

  374. 374
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Losers, go back to touching yourselves,

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…

    It thinks my time is more valuably spent reading its comments than getting snuggly with my Hitachi! That’s got to be the funniest statement out of a cupcake in months.

  375. 375
    YOB - Ye Olde Blacksmith

    I haven’t even read the whole thread and I know this

    Oh, except that we really need to make a list of Do’s and Do Nots.

    Is complete bullshit, you ass whistle! A policy is useless unless unless it is backed up by actions.

    Also, how sweet of you to characterize a harassment policy as a “list of dos and do nots”. Condescending little ass whistle.

  376. 376
    Cipher

    See you all on my own blog, where I will marshal some real debate as opposed to verbal harassment on issues that are actually important to FTB as opposed to unsolvable societal issues that have nothing in particular to do with free-thought.

    Uh, I really, really doubt that you will. See us or marshal real debate.

    When DJ puts out a solution to this and the female numbers increase I’ll expect that you will all find reasons to attack him and swear unnecessarily.

    Alas! The horror! Naughty words!

  377. 377
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    xtog42:

    No wonder intelligent people simply write blogs on their own as opposed to swearing at strangers on bulletin boards.

    That’s right, xtog. You are sooooo much smarter than us. Why, you could even muster a defense of all of your assertions, all your very rational victim-blaming, your inability to read through some actual discussion of the issues, if only you were on your own blog.

  378. 378
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Xtog42, one could make the case that you ought to insert yourself feet-first into a woodchipper and flip the switch. Feet first because we want to watch your expression.

    I’ll leave you all alone with your rage at allies.

    Nah, you’ll be back, at least as soon as you’ve gone to the drugstore and picked up some more Jerkin’s Lotion and Kleenex.

  379. 379
    Pteryxx

    Wow. That one didn’t even last three comments.

    …I think we leveled up!

  380. 380
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    xtog42:

    …as opposed to unsolvable societal issues that have nothing in particular to do with free-thought.

    Here’s the problem, gram-wit. We’re not trying to solve sexism. As you point out, that’s probably insoluble.

    But you know what? We can sure as fuck try to reduce sexism to the point where it’s no longer acceptable among polite society. We can especially try to do that within the free-thought community, a group that ought to know better, by our own claims.

    That is, after all, what these discussions are about — reducing the amount of sexism experienced by women at free-thought events.

    Now, if that has nothing in particular to do with free-thought, then what does, Sweet Pea?

  381. 381
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    xtog42, from the last half of a comma splice:

    …, I’ll leave you all alone with your rage at allies.

    This didn’t start off as rage, Sweet Pea. It started off as criticism. And if you can’t stand a little criticism, especially of ideas and actions, especially when backed by evidence, then you’re not very good at the whole Free Thought thing.

  382. 382
    Inaji

    Losers, go back to touching yourselves,

    Hmmm…super dense Cupcake or a flaky crust, hot air filling Puff Tart?

    You have this wrong (no surprise), Puff Tart. You’re the wanker. You showed up here, attempted a slimy tactic first and when that didn’t fly, you spilled your shit all over our floor. Nasty hoggling.

    I’ll leave you all alone with your rage at allies.

    Aaaaand back to dense Cupcake! No, no. You have this wrong as well. You don’t get to call yourself an ally and be all proud while being a sexist asshole. DJ doesn’t get to do that, either.

    The internet awaits your outrage, Cupcake. Go forth and blog! Change the World!

  383. 383
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    Hey, DJ Grothe, if you’re reading this thread…

    I was a victim of bullying in school until I pretty much stopped socializing. Whenever I reported it, it was treated more like an annoyance than a problem, and the ‘solution’ was generally to put the onus on me to “ignore them” or something else that simply got me out of the staff’s hair.

    For your insinuation that the problem is those who report rather than those who use their privilege to harass and bully women…

    FUCK YOU.

  384. 384
    Inaji

    …as opposed to unsolvable societal issues that have nothing in particular to do with free-thought.

    Oh dear, you’re one of those lack-witted, hard of thinking types. Tsk.

    Endemic, toxic sexism is rampant everywhere. We are all sexist. We are all privileged. Here’s the trick: it is on us, especially those of us who value free thought, education, truth, and critical thinking, to be aware of our own sexism and privilege, and change the way we think and the way we view society and people. This is how change is achieved. This is the ever evolving revolution.

    As we grow, as we learn, we adjust. We adapt. We decide this type of behaviour is unacceptable. We start talking. We speak out, even at work, even among friends, even at an evening hanging out at the bar. We say things like “no, rape jokes are never acceptable”, etc. We educate. We spread the word.

    Has nothing to do with free thought, eh? Seems to me the only thing which has zero relation to free thought is you, Cupcake.

  385. 385
    YOB - Ye Olde Blacksmith

    $50 bucks and a shiny new Internet says that IF xe starts a blog and IF that blog draws commenters xe will ban hammer anyone that disagrees or uses naughty words or actually thinks freely and responsibly.

    Now it’s off to touch myself and the Spocktopus.

    Oh, a fiver on not sticking the flounce.

  386. 386
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    xtog42 wrote:

    See you all on my own blog, where I will marshal some real debate as opposed to verbal harassment on issues that are actually important to FTB as opposed to unsolvable societal issues that have nothing in particular to do with free-thought.

    Wow, what a pissant.

  387. 387
    Inaji

    Blacksmith:

    Now it’s off to touch myself and the Spocktopus.

    Naughty. Give the Spocktopus a lovin’ fondle from me.

  388. 388
    echidna

    And as far as I have seen the people making all of these complaints have offered no real solutions, except to bash DJ for not solving the issue of sexism.

    Then you haven’t been paying attention. The solutions, offered multiple times, generally involve listening, and making sure that everybody knows that the conference organisers aren’t going to dismiss reports of incidents, or indulge in any victim-blaming.

  389. 389
    Inaji

    Wowbagger:

    Wow, what a pissant.

    Did you note that it was all of a sudden harassment when xe received replies they did not like? Hahahahahahahahahaha.

  390. 390
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    echidna:

    The solutions, offered multiple times, generally involve listening

    Hey, everyone! I think I just found the problem.

  391. 391
    Pteryxx

    Did you note that it was all of a sudden harassment when xe received replies they did not like? Hahahahahahahahahaha.

    INDEED. There’s a new word striking fear in the hearts of self-centered creepy dudes everywhere.

  392. 392
    Amphiox

    I’ll leave you all alone with your rage at allies.

    You are NOT an ally.

  393. 393
    echidna

    Caine:

    Did you note that it was all of a sudden harassment when xe received replies they did not like? Hahahahahahahahahaha.

    Is “harass” one of those irregular verbs?

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

  394. 394
    Inaji

    Pteryxx:

    There’s a new word striking fear in the hearts of self-centered creepy dudes everywhere.

    More like there’s a new word that slimeball douchehats will work to co-opt into meaningless drivel in their latest attempt to silence others.

    Echidna, I find it interesting that xwhatever adopted harassment, even though it was the wrong word, while being one of those idiots who deny that repeated rape threats and things like “if I were a woman, I’d kick her in the cunt” to be non-harassing.

  395. 395
    Pteryxx

    Caine:

    More like there’s a new word that slimeball douchehats will work to co-opt into meaningless drivel in their latest attempt to silence others.

    Well, yeah. They’re not mutually exclusive. This word is getting taken seriously by the enemy, therefore they’d better grab it and poison the crap out of it.

  396. 396
    YOB - Ye Olde Blacksmith

    echidna:

    The solutions, offered multiple times, generally involve listening…

    and actually caring.

  397. 397
    Pteryxx

    (meta) Aha… xtog came here after getting handled at Stephanie’s blog. Frying pan, fire…

  398. 398
    YOB - Ye Olde Blacksmith

    Well, yeah. They’re not mutually exclusive. This word is getting taken seriously by the enemy, therefore they’d better grab it and poison the crap out of it.

    Well, it seems to be an effective tactic for religion and politics, so yeah.

  399. 399
    Ichthyic

    I find the posts about how bad SGBM is for derailing everything… just as distracting and less educational than the conversations that SGBM derails into

    …which wouldn’t exist without the derails…

    glad you get my point then, since that’s exactly why I posted those responses.

    hell, it was my social responsibility to do so.

  400. 400
    echidna

    Caine:
    Yes, very interesting. I will refer to xwhatever as The Clueless One from here on in. And Blacksmith is probably right, in that what seems to be missing from these people is that they don’t care for people who they perceive (rightly or wrongly) as further down the power gradient.

  401. 401
    Inaji

    Pteryxx:

    Frying pan, fire…

    Xe thought Pharyngula would be easier than Zvan’s blog? Bwhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Oh, that’s rich.

  402. 402
    strange gods before me ॐ

    …which wouldn’t exist without the derails…

    glad you get my point then, since that’s exactly why I posted those responses.

    hell, it was my social responsibility to do so.

    Ichthyic, Louis brought me up by nym at #309, so I responded to clarify Louis’s understanding of what I had said to him previously.

  403. 403
    cyberCMDR

    Several times here I’ve seen references to engineers and programmers tending to be douchebags regarding how they treat women. I’ll probably get schwacked for something I say here, but then I’ve always found that I learn far more by taking a class than by auditing it. Here goes:
    I am a male, middle aged engineer. In the course of working on my PhD I’m also doing a hell of a lot of programming. Now I can’t speak for all programmers/engineers, but this is my experience.
    When I was far younger I loved science and math (still do!), and figuring out things. Unfortunately, the thing I usually could not figure out was people. I just could not get inside other people’s heads. My wife always said I was missing a tact gene, because I could not foresee the potential reaction of others to my words/actions until after the fact. Girls were a double mystery, because they were, well, GIRLS. Later on in life as I came to better recognize this problem, I sometimes wondered if I had an undiagnosed case of mild Aspergers.
    I can think of a number of occasions (although I prefer not to) where I did truly act the part of being a privileged male douchebag. Through lots of love from my wife and raising some incredibly capable daughters, that little underpowered part of my brain responsible for empathy grew. I wouldn’t say that I am now perfect by any means, but I am better than I was.
    The thrust of this story is that I doubt I am alone. In fact, the atheist community may have more problems with male privilege than society at large, because people like me tend to gravitate to science, and through science gravitate to atheism. There is a selection process at work; at least that is my hypothesis.
    So yes, engineers and programmers may be likely to act like privileged assholes. If they are like me, it will take some time to grow that capability to empathize with that double mystery part of the species, and to see that they are at a minimum equal in capability and capacity for life. It took me a long time, but then I tend to be slow at some things, especially relating to social interaction.

  404. 404
    echidna

    cybrcmdr, brave admission (and yes, you could have been any number of my colleagues)

    In fact, the atheist community may have more problems with male privilege than society at large, because people like me tend to gravitate to science, and through science gravitate to atheism. There is a selection process at work; at least that is my hypothesis.

    Consider also that atheists (at least in the US) also have to be independent of the crowd to some extent. They need to not care about being ostracised/looked-down-upon for non-religiousity. It means that you learn to ignore social cues that keep you as part of the herd.

    We are all vulnerable to this mechanism to some extent. To be able to ignore the crowd around you, consciously or unconsciously, is very powerful, but can sometimes backfire.

  405. 405
    ronsullivan

    I’m feeling vain; I’ll spamify what I said at Ophelia’s place, since I’m seeing a lot of point-missing here too:

    Do DJ, his strange “ForPresident” toady here, Ticktock, et alii actually think they’re going to scold women into wanting to go to conventions? Sweet festering jeebus, is this church?

    “Unsafe” isn’t the half of it. I’d have to feel welcome, interested, dare-I-say attracted to such an event to spend money and time to attend it. Why would I want to? Why would I want to spend time in the company of anyone who’s blowing dogwhistles like “gossip” and “irresponsible talk” on FtB? What are you going to tell me that I don’t already know? How dare you talk down to me as if I need an excuse not to show up anywhere or do anything? Haven’t you figured out that the null hypothesis has a social parallel? Why on earth do you think I (or any other woman) need you or have any obligation to explain it all again?

    As my sweet Grammy Adams used to say: We don’t owe you the steam off our shit. If you were genuinely asking a question, you’d listen awhile for and TO the answers.

  406. 406
    Inaji

    Beautifully said, Ron. Drop into TET, you’ve been missed!

  407. 407
    Anthony K

    Ronsullivan:
    + however many internets you want.

  408. 408
    Jadehawk

    I know, Caine, I know. But “gossip” seems to be a term applied more to women, or am I wrong?

    of course.

    when men talk, it’s “shooting the shit with the guys”; or even “networking”.

    when women talk, it’s “gossiping”.

  409. 409
    Inaji

    I’ll add that when the word gossip is used, there’s generally an implication of malice, as in malicious gossip.

  410. 410
    Momo Elektra

    @Nepenthe 130

    “OT but will bother me forever:

    How, then, do you explain the fact that we have about twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors?

    That’s kind of impossible. And also not what the paper says.

    It’s completely possible. The simplest illustration: imagine that your paternal grandfather and your maternal grandfather are the same person (i.e. your parents are half-siblings). Then you have twice as many grandmothers as you have grandfathers (and you may have twice as many fingers as you ought). ”

    Yeah, but to have “about twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors” this inbreeding has to have happened quite often.

    Considering there are mechanism that make inbreeding on that scale unlikely I stand by the “kind of impossible”.

  411. 411
    Momo Elektra

    Sorry, #340

  412. 412
    Nick Gotts

    Yeah, but to have “about twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors” this inbreeding has to have happened quite often. – Momo Elektra

    No, inbreeding between half-siblings, or even close cousins, does not have to have happened often at all in order for people to have twice as many female as male ancestors once you go a few centruies back. As Nepenthe says, polygyny will account for it quite easily.

  413. 413
    Jadehawk

    Yeah, but to have “about twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors” this inbreeding has to have happened quite often.

    Considering there are mechanism that make inbreeding on that scale unlikely I stand by the “kind of impossible”.

    it’s probably not so much “inbreeding”, as a handful of very… let’s say “productive”… conquerors. For example Genghis Khan

  414. 414
    Momo Elektra

    “No, inbreeding between half-siblings, or even close cousins, does not have to have happened often at all in order for people to have twice as many female as male ancestors once you go a few centruies back. As Nepenthe says, polygyny will account for it quite easily.”

    OK, that’s a point.

    The original comment was “that we have twice as many female ancestors as male”.

    We, as in, everyone. Polygyny to my knowledge was and isn’t practiced everywhere exclusively, or just in many places exclusively. So one would have to include the cases where a woman has several children by different fathers as well.

    I do not object to the notion that it’s possible to have more female ancestors than males.

    I object to the notion that “we” have “twice as many as male”. We as in “every one of us has, at this time, twice as many female ancestors than male ancestors”.

    I wasn’t very clear on that, sorry.

    I consider that highly unlikely. Is it proven that it’s true?

  415. 415
    grung0r

    Momo Elektra:

    Considering there are mechanism that make inbreeding on that scale unlikely I stand by the “kind of impossible”.

    It depends on what you define as inbreeding.

    Look at it this way:

    you had 2 parents
    you had 4 grandparents
    you had 8 great-grandparents
    you had 16 great-great grandparents

    And so on. Using the rather conservative figure of 3 generations per century, how many great-x-grandparents did you have in 1000 A.D? The answer is 1,077,936,128, or more than twice the estimated population of 400 million occupying planet earth at that time. if you were to go back another thousand years, you would have 1.157425104234217e+18 great-grandparents, or orders of magnitude more people than have walked the earth in all of human history.

    Your maternal and paternal grandmother(s) are probably not the same person. But quite a few of your maternal and paternal great-x27-grandmothers are. I have no idea if humans really have more female ancestors then male ones. But mathematically, it is entirely possible, and none of it requires what we traditionally call inbreeding.

  416. 416
    Jadehawk

    We, as in, everyone.

    we, as in humans, on average. at least that’s how I remember that paper.

  417. 417
    Momo Elektra

    Jadehawk:

    “we, as in humans, on average. at least that’s how I remember that paper.”

    Ah, OK.
    Learned something.

  418. 418
    Nick Gotts

    One could make the case that whenever one sees “Let’s face it”, there’s some thoroughly stinky privilege about to be dropped on one’s head.

  419. 419
    earwig

    Jadehawk, this article seems to refer to the paper you’re thinking of, and has a link to it The Missing Men in Your Family Tree

  420. 420
    Nick Gotts

    Momo Elektra,

    I don’t know. It would clearly depend on how far back you go; but until quite recently, even in non-polygynous (or not officially polygynous) societies, women had lower life expectancy than men, as they frequently died in childbirth, and I’d think it was quite common for a widower to remarry and father more children – which would in turn mean quite a few men would not have anyone to marry. Of course, some women would have children with more than one man, but I’d guess it would be considerably less common than the reverse; and conversely, considerably fewer women than men would be childless.

  421. 421
    Momo Elektra

    KG:

    Yeah, sounds reasonable. I guess what threw me off was the “twice”. Seems so neat. I didn’t consider that it might be an average.

    Thanks everyone for taking the time.

  422. 422
    Nick Gotts

    Having read the paper linked to from earwig’s link, I’m rather more sceptical of the “2 to 1″ claim: it seems to be based on a rather small sample (72 people from populations in southern Africa, Mongolia and New Guinea), and quite a few assumptions. But in any case, it’s clear that the 2 to 1 ratio would refer to fairly remote times – thousands or tens of thousands of years ago.

  423. 423
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Oh, wait, the Lawrence Kraus story is DJ’s “child sex trafficking”.
    So, no, DJ would not understand why women might feel unsafe or uncomfortable (more than usual) around Lawrence Kraus who saw nothing wrong with his friend using girls as toys and pulling the good all “they looked all adult to me” excuse.
    And he can’t understand why people might get furious when he enters a conversation about an actual case of underage sex trafficking to explain his views about underage sex and prositution combined, leaving people unclear to what his position to an actual sensible age limit for sex would be and whether or not that should be extended to prositution.*
    It’s the core and heart of the problem, DJ Groethe: You can’t understand that those problems have something to do with the actual way you and your organisation behave. Especially you. People here read more than this blog, we notice that your behaviour towards PZ Myers is very different from your behaviour towards Stephanie Zwan and Greta Christina.

    *Here’s a hint: Make clear that you’re talking about different things. Make clear that, in case you’re not opposed to prostitution as such, you are concerned about non-coerced and less exploited forms of prostituion. If not, you inadvertedly come off as giving shit about prostitutes of any age or gender and very concerned about the fate of poor Johns who didn’t know she was an underage girl from Eastern Europe who had been brought into the country under false pretenses and who had her passport taken away.

  424. 424
    rorschach

    Gilliel,
    who is this Groethe you keep referring to ?

    :-)

  425. 425
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Gilliel,
    who is this Groethe you keep referring to ?

    I bought a generous supply of E’s cheap and now need to insert them randomly before their use by date.
    Thanks, I really had his name wrong in my head, I must have used “Groethe” several dozen times all over the place

  426. 426
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Oh, rorschach, who’s this Gilliel you’re talking to ;)

  427. 427
    Jadehawk

    Having read the paper linked to from earwig’s link, I’m rather more sceptical of the “2 to 1″ claim

    I don’t think that’s the paper the “twice as many” claim comes from. there was another, something about 40% vs. 80% of… something. these two numbers are pretty much the only part of the paper I remember :-p I’d look for that other paper, but doing so would require wading though a lot of manboobs material before getting to the original source.

    and quite frankly, I don’t wanna.

  428. 428
    rorschach

    “who’s this Gilliel you’re talking to”

    There is an internet law for this, I think…:-)

  429. 429
    echidna

    FWIW, I did read the paper at the time it was linked. The authors are quite clear that there are several possible mechanisms, of which polygamy may be one. A smaller pool of men surviving to adulthood with more than one partner would be enough to account for the discrepancy. They looked at three quite different populations, and found the same results.

  430. 430
    pf

    Assuming for argument’s sake that women are actually unhappy about something, wouldn’t the most logical solution be asking them what the problem is, and what a solution would look like?

    Why is this so hard?

    And when they spontaneously start publishing explanations of the problem and its solution, why is the standard reaction to tell them they are wrong about how they feel, and should shut up?

    It’s really pitiful how utterly predictable this is. Basic hospitality should make you try to please the people you’re trying to attract. Not tell them to stop having a problem.

    Also what Setar said in #383. Victim blaming deserves nothing but contempt.

  431. 431
    hyperdeath

    I’ve had an idea. Perhaps there should be some kind of creepout version of a safeword, which is used as a universal signal for leave me alone.

    If a woman (or indeed a man) says “creepout creepout creepout”, then this is a universal signal meaning:

    * I find your behavior obnoxious and distressing. Leave me alone.
    * I have no desire to talk to you. You will not say another word to me.
    * I have no desire to have any further contact with you. You are not to phone, email or write to me. You are not to send messages via other people.
    * You will not stare at me, or make any kind of gesture.
    * I have no desire to be near you. When I walk away, you are not to follow. You are not to approach me again.
    * The above is final. It is not a warning, or a request to tone down behavior. It is an order to end all interaction now.
    * The above is nonnegotiable. You are not to make any attempt to change my mind.
    * The reasons are mine and mine alone. If you cannot see the reason, then that is your problem.
    * If I wish to end these restrictions, I will make it clearly known to you. You are not to ask, or to get anyone else to intervene on your behalf.
    * If you wish to apologize, then the apology should be delivered via a conference organizer. An apology in no way signals an end to the above restrictions.

    The policy should be made clear at the start of the conference. Anyone breaking a creepout ban should be thrown out onto the street, and added to a universal blacklist for skeptical conferences.

  432. 432
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    hyperdeath
    That’s a nice idea, but there are problems:
    It doesn’t solve many of the problems we actually have
    -Women are conditioned not to be frank and impolite. It would cost many women a lot to use such a strong code (and afterwards they’d possibly blamed for not using it.

    -Women are used to having such requests ignored.

    -Many women are very wary to be direct, because of possible danger. Some guys will take rejection badly and you can never know until you said no.

    -I can already hear the Dudez whining how the cruel wommenz shame poor awkward guys and paint them as evul rapists just for wanting a friendly chat.

  433. 433
    jackrawlinson

    saramayhew:

    WTF?! Is this a giant game of warp words?

    Welcome to the current Pharyngula comment section. There’s a gang of abusive individuals here who will be damned sure to only read what they want to read and shamelessly spin words so that anyone who has the temerity to question their righteous take on things will be straw-manned to death. As you have discovered. It’s gone beyond a joke at this site; it’s spreading more widely too, and it’s certainly damaging any atheist “movement” we might have had going. Ideologues have a tiresomely predictable habit of doing this sort of thing.

    It seems to me perfectly possible that fewer women are registering for atheist conferences because of actual harassment and the fear of it. It also seems possible that fewer people of all genders will be registering for these events because they’re sick to death of the doctrinaire tubthumpers who are increasingly shouting down any and all criticism and who are quite prepared to dominate the agenda at all costs, including – as we repeatedly see here – abuse, knee-jerk reaction, word-twisting and brazen misrepresentation.

  434. 434
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Giliell:

    That’s a nice idea, but there are problems:

    So, basically, it wouldn’t change anything at all.

    I thought maybe we could make some serious progress on this problem, but xtog’s “The problem isn’t that women are getting hit on, the problem is that women are talking about being hit on, and that reduces female participation at TAM!” post really took the piss outta me.

    I probably should’ve been more polite and followed the 3 Post Rule, but, fuck, that was some high-grade enabling of sexism.

    I can’t believe their only solution to the problem is, “Women, please be quiet about your experiences. It just hurts TAM!”

  435. 435
    Momo Elektra

    “I can’t believe their only solution to the problem is, “Women, please be quiet about your experiences. It just hurts TAM!””

    Why not. I’ve heard men silence women with “Women, please be quiet about your experiences which I do not have but know better than you. It hurts ME!”.

  436. 436
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @nigel

    I can’t believe their only solution to the problem is, “Women, please be quiet about your experiences. It just hurts TehMenz!”

    FIFY

    @jack
    if that’s the way you think, you don’t understand pharyngula. It’s a different space. I wouldn’t have jumped on Sara that way – in fact, you’ll see that I didn’t. But it’s also true that **this is pharyngula**. No one is forced to come here. It’s a different place with different cultural norms.

    I have said in the past that it has a

    “bizarrely welcoming intellectual hostility”.

    The point of this line is that the hostility is absolutely real, but it is also primarily for ideas, not people. To the extent that hostility exists towards individuals, it is only toward individuals who persist in saying things that are contrary to established pharyngula norms over and over.

    One might hope that if someone came to your house for a meal and spouted bigoted nonsense that you would be offended by such nonsense. If you strongly condemned such nonsense and the person came back for a meal a week later and spouted more bigoted nonsense directly related to if not the same as the nonsense spouted the first week, you might begin to transfer your hostility to the nonsense to that person.

    This doesn’t mean that you don’t accept a friendly hello from the person. It does, however, mean that you have absolutely no patience when that person starts to go off the rails.

    So that’s how hostility *can* get transferred. But in point of fact, it *does* get transferred in only a minority of cases – a small minority, actually.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been or seen others be badly wrong on something, have the ideas demolished in the most aggressive way possible, and then had or seen the original (bad idea) author have quite a friendly interaction with those who demolished those ideas.

    The ideas were bad ideas. It wasn’t that the people were bad people. We make that distinction here. If you read for awhile before you post, you know that. If you don’t read, I’m not sure how you would even know your worst ideas are getting sledgehammered. It’s only those who drop into a conversation on an unfamiliar blog, assume that their words are valuable even in this unknown context, and then wait around to experience the expected praise for their brilliant ideas/writing that really get knocked for a loop.

    And I’m not saying that’s fun or easy. I’m just saying that if I go to someone else’s house, interrupt dinner to put in my 2 cents, then sit down at the table and smile, waiting for someone to say, “Thanks so much! Please, have some tofurky you genius, you!” it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise when that doesn’t work out well.

    To the extent that I agree with you, it’s when this wonderful ability to separate ideas from people (and then adopt the good ones while savaging the bad ones) is carried to other blogs on the FtB site. I think JT’s actions, for instance, were pretty crappy over the last week. I thought Christina’s were better, but I thought she responded pretty badly to me. It got to the point where she was clearly just JAQing off, ignoring what I was saying to repeat the same questions again as if I hadn’t answered it.

    And so I walked away: I don’t have to have insults to have a good debate, and I don’t have to have a debate (it’s okay if everyone agrees with my opinion, I mean, has the correct opinion), but if we’re going to have a debate, insults don’t shut things down any quicker than coded misogyny does. JAQing off takes longer, but it doesn’t accomplish anything in the meantime and is ultimately more painful. To the extent that participating in WWJTD? is useful at all, it’s only for the lurkers.

    But, clearly, they care about tone over there. Also clearly, you care more about the style than the substance. I don’t and I won’t.

  437. 437
    hyperdeath

    Giliell:

    Women are used to having such requests ignored.

    Agreed. However, if it was backed by the threat of being thrown out and blacklisted, it would carry a lot of weight. It would also counteract the “oh it was just a little misunderstanding” and “we were just joking around” excuses.

    Many women are very wary to be direct, because of possible danger. Some guys will take rejection badly and you can never know until you said no.

    I agree this is a problem, but that fact that a sanction exists isn’t an obligation to use it. Also, the fact that “bad reaction” means automatically being thrown out, would act as a deterrent.

    I can already hear the Dudez whining how the cruel wommenz shame poor awkward guys and paint them as evul rapists just for wanting a friendly chat.

    Let them whine. Hopefully they’ll boycott the conferences as well.

    It would cost many women a lot to use such a strong code (and afterwards they’d possibly blamed for not using it.

    That’s a good point, and in my opinion, that’s the primary worry. There’d have to be an additional policy, making clear that the absence of such warnings were in no way an indication of consent. There would also have to be some degree of privacy, with identification on either side being banned.

  438. 438
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Jackrawlinson,
    Still nothing of substance to say, only whining about the rude, “abusive” feminizes at Pharyngula.

    Criticism is not abuse, shithead. And it is far better than the alternative: letting a chilly climate (to put it lightly) persist in the movement and at conferences.

  439. 439
    Dhorvath, OM

    Hyperdeath, I am unclear on how precisely this works out. People who don’t care how they are viewed by their targets don’t seem liable to be concerned with sanction, they will just learn to single out those who are least likely to raise the signal.

  440. 440
    pentatomid

    if that’s the way you think, you don’t understand pharyngula. It’s a different space. I wouldn’t have jumped on Sara that way – in fact, you’ll see that I didn’t. But it’s also true that **this is pharyngula**. No one is forced to come here. It’s a different place with different cultural norms.

    I have said in the past that it has a

    “bizarrely welcoming intellectual hostility”.

    The point of this line is that the hostility is absolutely real, but it is also primarily for ideas, not people. To the extent that hostility exists towards individuals, it is only toward individuals who persist in saying things that are contrary to established pharyngula norms over and over.

    Agreed, though I personnally think Saramayhew was jumped upon a bit too harshly after her initial comment. It would have probably been better to ask for clarification before going all ‘Sit down and shut up you lying piece of shit’ on her. I think that might have been a bit over the top (at least at that point in the conversation. I’m not saying such language should never be used.). But hey, that’s just how I felt about that instance.

  441. 441
    Anthony K

    It also seems possible that fewer people of all genders will be registering for these events

    Let’s hope its mostly the dishonest ones who use weasel words like “it seems possible” before inserting their unevidenced opinions who stay home, eh Jack?

    But it also seems possible that you’re just as full of shit on this as you are on other issues.

    I do look forward to seeing you the next time you piggyback on someone else’s comment as an excuse to shoehorn your little gripes. Do let us know how the spine transplant goes, big guy.

  442. 442
    Deen

    @d.j.grothe all the way back in #203 (not my fault that you guys are so chatty while I’m asleep or working):
    First of all, why do you think I am arguing against recording incident reports? Or anyone else here, for that matter?

    And second, why does your answer suggest that you indeed endorse the idea that complaints should be made behind closed doors only, and should not be discussed in public for the sake of TAM or the movement or whatever? I was hoping that there was enough dripping sarcasm behind my question for you to understand that that was not the desired answer – I mean, I know that tone is hard to transfer in writing, but did I really have to spell it out? OK, I will. You are not encouraging anyone to speak up when you tell them they can only do it in private, not in public. It’s really that simple. If you are asking women to keep their experiences hidden from people for your sake, what reason are you giving them to believe that their reports won’t end up forgotten in a file drawer somewhere, never to see the light of day again?

  443. 443
    Anthony K

    If you are asking women to keep their experiences hidden from people for your sake, what reason are you giving them to believe that their reports won’t end up forgotten in a file drawer somewhere, never to see the light of day again?

    “We have top men working on it right now.

    Top. Men.”

  444. 444
    Louis

    I would now like warn readers that there is an incoming very obvious bad joke:

    Losers, go back to touching yourselves,

    I am very offended by this remark. What made you think any of us had stopped?

    Louis

    P.S. Apologies. I have a problem etc.

  445. 445
    carlie

    Rebecca makes this whole situation crystal-clear.

    If anybody doesn’t get the problem after reading this, I don’t know what could make them.

  446. 446
    Anthony K

    If anybody doesn’t get the problem after reading this, I don’t know what could make them.

    I think we’ve investigated stupidity as a possible explanation, and found it inadequate. It’s time to consider malice.

    From Rebecca’s article:

    Over the past several years, I’ve been groped, grabbed, touched in other nonconsensual ways, told I can expect to be raped, told I’m a whore, a slut, a bitch, a prude, a dyke, a cunt, a twat, told I should watch my back at conferences, told I’m too ugly to be raped, told I don’t have a say in my own treatment because I’ve posed for sexy photos, told I should get a better headshot because that one doesn’t convey how sexy I am in person, told I deserve to be raped – by skeptics and atheists. All by skeptics and atheists. Constantly.

    This is quite obviously not a safe space for me or for other women who want to be free of the gendered slurs and sexual threats and come-ons we experience in our day-to-day lives. But apparently, DJ thinks I am lying about that, since apparently my feeling that the freethought community is not a safe space is “misinformation.” I should apparently put on a smile and pretend it doesn’t happen, because by reporting on my treatment, I am creating “a climate where women — who otherwise wouldn’t — end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe.”

    DJ says I am the one doing that. Me, who has never discouraged people from attending TAM and in fact has given thousands of dollars to the JREF in order to send more and more women to the event. Me, who has never said that TAM is a dangerous place for women. I’m the problem.

    Well, DJ Grothe’s supporters?

    Why is he attacking an ally?

  447. 447
    Louis

    Carlie, #445,

    Yeah that was pretty clear now wasn’t it.

    I expect “ZOMG UR TRYING TO KILL JAMES RANDI!” or equivalent in 5…4…3…2…

    What has amazed me about all of this since Elevatorgate is even I “get it”. I was partly educated at an all boys boarding school, I played rugby for years and years and self admittedly was not exactly what anyone would call a feminist for the vast majority of my life.

    If someone like me, with every possible privilege and reason in the world to be utterly blind to the problem, and who definitely did not “get it” in the past, “gets it” now, how can this be hard for other people? My sympathy gland, she is shrivelling for them!

    It is a hurdle a micron high. It is a tiny intellectual gulf to cross. What annoys me the most is I see good people trying very, very, VERY hard not to leap that hurdle or cross that gulf.

    Louis

  448. 448
    Louis

    Brownian,

    Good question.

    Makes an excellent point too. When did we stop being their allies in scepticism? Oh right we didn’t. Oops.

    Louis

  449. 449
    Deen

    @carlie in #445: a spontaneous sex change?

  450. 450
    Deen

    @Louis in #447:

    I expect “ZOMG UR TRYING TO KILL JAMES RANDI!” or equivalent in 5…4…3…2…

    My money is on “boycott is a form of bullying”.

  451. 451
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Deen, you’re leading with your chin! They haven’t even gotten there yet. But just you wait; there will REBEKAHS NOT GOING MEANS SHES KALING FOR BOYCOTT PERSECUTE!!111! within 10 minutes.

  452. 452
    Louis

    Deen, #450,

    Ooooooh that’s a strong one!

    After all Rebecca Watson has her own blog and thus is like SUPER POWERFUL and everything. Her saying she won’t go to TAM but will still help others to go (with cash/organisation etc) is totally bullying…

    …erm everyone. Except those people who aren’t being bullied and who probably have Vaginas Without Permission™. Or something.

    I’m not sure how it works.

    What’s really bad is PZ will probably say something supportive of RW and thus she will have the backing of The Most Important Atheist Blogger In The World Who Has POWEERRRRRR, and then she will be wielding her feminazi club to beat poor menz who only want a little game of grabass.

    I look forward to the joy that will be forthcoming.

    Louis

  453. 453
    Deen

    @Josh, Official SpokesTuna in #451: thanks for teaching me a new expression :)

  454. 454
    weldonribeye

    I think I’ve learned quite a bit reading this and related threads over the last several months. I would genuinely welcome any advice from some of the women on here on how best to handle what I hope is considered a mostly on-topic situation I’ve encountered several times.

    I’m male. I travel often for work and it’s not uncommon to find myself in a hotel elevator late at night with an unaccompanied woman that I don’t know. It’s normally not an issue. I stand in a neutral corner and keep my mouth shut. The problem is when we are both going to the same floor, leaving me with a dilemma.

    Do I follow societal norms and wait for her to exit the elevator before me? This would leave her in the surely uncomfortable position of having some guy who smells like fine Trappist ale walking behind her down the hall.

    Do I cut in front of her when the doors open, hoping it will make her feel more at ease, while looking like an impatient ass?

    Do I say something like “Oh, same floor? You’ll probably feel more comfortable if I get off first. Would you take offense if I did?”

    The problem I see with the last approach is that for at least a brief second (possibly much longer) she’ll perceive this as one last attempt to get laid by a guy who obviously struck out wherever he was prior to going back to his room. The perception would be wrong. I’d never try it, but she doesn’t know that.

    In the past I’ve always let her go first, but found being behind made even me uncomfortable. Thanks in advance for any advice I may receive.

  455. 455
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    weldonribeye:

    Do I cut in front of her when the doors open, hoping it will make her feel more at ease, while looking like an impatient ass?

    I’m not female, but I love to give bad advice, so here’s mine:

    I’d say it’s better to look like an impatient ass for a moment than everyone suffer being uncomfortable for the 60 seconds it takes to walk down the hall.

    But that’s just me.

  456. 456
    dogeared, spotted and foxed

    weldonribeye @454, Try a subtle bladder-distress foot shuffle. As the elevator door opens, leap forward, apologize quickly “Sorry, I really gotta go.” and jog to your room. Extra points for adding hints of GI issues during the jog.

    or you could just acknowledge her and say something like “This is awkward. I’ll go first.” Funny what a little honest friendly camaraderie can do.

  457. 457
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    weldonribeye , I don’t think you’re an idiot yet …but seriously?

    Just get off the god damned elevator. Someone will make their move first. Be it you or the woman you’re sharing the car with. And then walk to your room.

    Walk to your room feeling as uncomfortable or tore-up about whatever choice you made as much as you like.

    Or take the bloody stairs.

    Really? This is your problem? I have a very hard time even considering it sincere. Get some bloody perspective!

  458. 458
    kami

    @jackrawlinson

    +1

  459. 459
    Louis

    Weldonribeye,

    I don’t there is a right answer, but I do some variant of this if the situation is appropriate:

    Do I say something like “Oh, same floor? You’ll probably feel more comfortable if I get off first. Would you take offense if I did?”

    I don’t say “you’ll probably feel more comfortable” I ask if the woman in question would like me to get off first. I confess I only do this if I pick up a nervous vibe, which I frequently don’t.

    Louis

  460. 460
    Pteryxx

    weldonribeye:

    I suggest just saying “May I get out first?” or just “Excuse me.” and then cut in front of her. You’re MUCH less of a threat if you’re willing to turn your back on her, and then go to your room in her full view, than the reverse.

    Honestly, I think “let the woman go through doors first” should be disavowed as a supposedly polite gesture. It’s practically an excuse to walk behind someone else’s back.

  461. 461
    jacklewis

    Over the past several years, I’ve been groped, grabbed, touched in other nonconsensual ways, told I can expect to be raped, told I’m a whore, a slut, a bitch, a prude, a dyke, a cunt, a twat, told I should watch my back at conferences, told I’m too ugly to be raped, told I don’t have a say in my own treatment because I’ve posed for sexy photos, told I should get a better headshot because that one doesn’t convey how sexy I am in person, told I deserve to be raped – by skeptics and atheists.

    TAM sure sounds like a real nasty place. You have to admire the courage of women that actually still venture to that event!

    Still we all have to agree that DJ is a pig and that he shouldn’t have tried to pretend that certain kinds of comments could cause women not to show up at these sort of events. It is clearly an offense of the worst kind. On top of it we all know that he is a liar and only pretends not to remember that one incident where he unfortunately did the write thing and escorted the guy out. He probably didn’t really feel deep in his heart that the drunkard should be escorted out…

    @weldonribeye

    It’s a trick question, take the stairs, it’s also more healthy.

  462. 462
    carlie

    <blockquote<a spontaneous sex change?

    *high-five*

    Except those people who aren’t being bullied and who probably have Vaginas Without Permission™.

    Oh dear, I just remembered my license expired last month. Where do I go to get it renewed again?

  463. 463
    Anthony K

    Still we all have to agree that DJ is a pig and that he shouldn’t have tried to pretend that certain kinds of comments could cause women not to show up at these sort of events. It is clearly an offense of the worst kind. On top of it we all know that he is a liar and only pretends not to remember that one incident where he unfortunately did the write thing and escorted the guy out. He probably didn’t really feel deep in his heart that the drunkard should be escorted out…

    Jesus jack, if reading is that fucking hard for you, enrol in a goddamn class.

  464. 464
    Travis

    Woo_Monster

    Still nothing of substance to say, only whining about the rude, “abusive” feminizes at Pharyngula.

    Criticism is not abuse, shithead. And it is far better than the alternative: letting a chilly climate (to put it lightly) persist in the movement and at conferences.

    It is amazing how many of these men are actually delicate little flowers that cannot take a few mean words without whinging and having a tantrum. They are Real Menz (TM) until someone swears at them, that just makes them fall apart.

  465. 465
    carlie

    weldonribeye – there’s still a 50/50 shot that you’ll be going opposite directions when you get off, depending on the layout of the floor. If so, and you’re still going the same way, you could always walk the wrong way for a bit, then obviously curse or whatnot and switch direction as if you’d accidentally started out wrong. That would give enough distance between the two of you to not worry about.

    Thomathy – read this and maybe think about someone else besides yourself for a damned change. Or at least don’t berate other people who aren’t as selfish as you.

  466. 466
    Travis

    weldonribeye

    Do I cut in front of her when the doors open, hoping it will make her feel more at ease, while looking like an impatient ass?

    I am a fast walker and usually like to get in front of others as walking slowly sort of drives me insane and it is very difficult to do it comfortably. Usually I just say a quick “Excuse Me”, perhaps do a sort of half side shuffle type move if there is not space and I am gone.

  467. 467
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Jack, diddums, learn to read, and maybe – just maybe – you can stop humiliating yourself.

  468. 468
    Anthony K

    I’ve a solution for the jacks and the kamis:

    If you don’t like what’s going on at this blog, send PZ a private message via email. Comments like yours aren’t helping.

    After all, this whole discussion is about how terrible it is that people like Rebecca Watson and you are airing dirty laundry in public. You’re welcome to follow DJ Grothe’s advice too, if you agree with it.

  469. 469
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    jacklewis:

    TAM sure sounds like a real nasty place. You have to admire the courage of women that actually still venture to that event!

    Meh. It’s not reportedly much nastier than many job sites, or any other non-free-thought event.

    The problem is really, you’d expect skeptics to be a little better-behaved than the average gathering, wouldn’t you?

    Still we all have to agree that DJ is a pig and that he shouldn’t have tried to pretend that certain kinds of comments could cause women not to show up at these sort of events.

    His offense is in thinking that the actual problem is event attendance, and telling women they should shut up about their experience because they might harm attendance.

    But you would’ve known that, had you fucking bothered to read.

  470. 470
    carlie

    If you don’t like what’s going on at this blog, send PZ a private message via email. Comments like yours aren’t helping.

    After all, this whole discussion is about how terrible it is that people like Rebecca Watson and you are airing dirty laundry in public. You’re welcome to follow DJ Grothe’s advice too, if you agree with it.

    *looks at ticket number for Brownian line*

    *sees that the “Now serving” sign is still set at 0*

    *sighs*

  471. 471
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Jack will never stop humiliating himself, Illuminata. He went straight out DEFCON 4 over the original elevatorgate. It was bizarre to watch.

  472. 472
    Anthony K

    Jack will never stop humiliating himself, Illuminata. He went straight out DEFCON 4 over the original elevatorgate. It was bizarre to watch.

    He also shit the bed over how terrible it was that people dared disagree with Sam Harris on how all those terrible Muslims are identifiable by looks, and then was conspicuously absent from the threads about how Schneier similarly demolished Harris.

    He only shows up to take potshots at PZ and Pharyngula.

    Still let’s keep bashing Pharyngula it is probably good for one’s inferiority complex, jack.

  473. 473
    Inaji

    weldonribeye, even though I won’t get in an elevator with a man I don’t know, if I did, I’d much prefer a quick “excuse me” accompanied by a fast exit ahead of me. Thanks for being thoughtful about this, it’s more than a lot of people do.

  474. 474
    Anthony K

    The problem is really, you’d expect skeptics to be a little better-behaved than the average gathering, wouldn’t you?

    I had this conversation last night with a local member of the skeptics community, in a pub where we could have such a conversation specifically because it wasn’t like every bar everywhere else.

  475. 475
    weldonribeye

    Regarding my (sincere) elevator question: Thanks all. That helps.

  476. 476
    Inaji

    Oh my, the Jacking off and screedy whinging – shut up, guys. It’s the same damn shtick over and over and over. We’ve read it before.

  477. 477
    sparky_ca

    @weldonribeye

    As a female business traveler, I would really rather you excused yourself and got off the elevator first.

    I stay in a hotel about once a week, and I have had RW’s experience with creepy guy alone in an elevator more than once. Even though I am 5’10 and trained in martial arts, why should I feel the need to know that I can fight back in a situation as simple as taking my elevator to my hotel room after a long day of work at a customer site far from home? The mental checklist I go through regularly because I travel alone around the country all the time just floors some of my friends.

    Thank you for at least realizing that women do analyze these situations all the time, and doing your best to minimize our discomfort.

  478. 478
    Anthony K

    Data from the American Secular Census, via Almost Diamonds.

    For women, mistreatment at secular events linked to problematic groups

    Highlights
    Women are 26% more likely to feel unwelcome, discriminated against, or harmed.
    Participants get the most blame from women for problematic behavior and unwanted advances. Still, unwanted advances by group leaders and employees are claimed by more than 15% of the women who indicate they’ve had negative experiences.
    When asked about the disadvantages of participating in secular organizations, “problems within the group itself” are cited 157% more often by women than overall.

    Boy, doesn’t the American Secular Census know that they’re hurting the cause with all their public data?

  479. 479
    What a Maroon, oblivious

    weldonribeye – there’s still a 50/50 shot that you’ll be going opposite directions when you get off, depending on the layout of the floor. If so, and you’re still going the same way, you could always walk the wrong way for a bit, then obviously curse or whatnot and switch direction as if you’d accidentally started out wrong. That would give enough distance between the two of you to not worry about.

    Two other things you can do:

    Have your key out (so she knows you’re a hotel guest).
    Hit your floor button before she hits hers (so she knows that if you’re going to the same floor it’s just coincidence).
    Don’t rush into the elevator if there’s a woman in it alone–just wait for the next one.

    OK, that’s three things.

  480. 480
    dogeared, spotted and foxed

    TAM sure sounds like a real nasty place. You have to admire the courage of women that actually still venture to that event!

    TAM would cost me about $2000 after tickets, airfare, hotel, etc. Forget safe. Why would I pay that if there’s no guarantee that I’ll be treated like a fellow attendee? I read the comments on a lot of blogs. Its obvious I’d have to watch what I say and watch out for myself. Relaxing wouldn’t be an option. That $2000 would be better spent on a real vacation.

  481. 481
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    weldonrideye
    Thank you for caring
    To all the things the others said:
    I don’t think women think as much about “women should be let out first” as much as you do.
    For everything else: Ask yourself the question: what would I do if I wanted to follow/attack her. Don’t do those things.
    Be very quick “Excuse me”, or very slow “stupid shoe laces”.
    If she’s already in the elevator, don’t dash into it.

  482. 482
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    “stupid shoe laces”.

    Ah! Good one. I’ll keep that in mind.

  483. 483
    leebrimmicombe-wood

    It is amazing how many of these men are actually delicate little flowers that cannot take a few mean words without whinging and having a tantrum.

    Eggshells armed with hammers.

  484. 484
    Inaji

    leebrimmicombe-wood:

    Eggshells armed with hammers.

    +8 and a tentacle hug.

  485. 485
    Cipher

    Oh Rawlinson, your disingenuousness never ceases to annoy me.
    Weldon, I dunno if this is normal, but it never really bothers me or strikes me as rude when other people get off the elevator first.
    kami, I’d like to point out that you were the first and last person in this thread to call DJ a misogynist. The worst I saw said about him was that he was dismissive. Funny, huh? Looks like people are generally more interested in correcting his stupid behavior here (blaming people who talk about their experiences for the drop in attendance? calling discussion of sexual harassment “gossip” about “sexual exploits”? bad, bad form) than in calling him names. But, you know, carry on with the complete mischaracterization, I know it’s fun for you.

  486. 486
    Anthony K

    Weldon, I dunno if this is normal, but it never really bothers me or strikes me as rude when other people get off the elevator first.

    That’s good to know. I always wonder if people suspect I’m in such a hurry to get off because I’ve just farted.

    Before the doors close again and they’re sure of it, I mean.

    [Goes back to eating his six bean salad.]

  487. 487
    cyberCMDR

    Man, talk about Brownian motion!

  488. 488
    Kalliope

    Can we just cut to the chase here?

    From DJ’s point of view:

    1) Men make up the lion-share of his organization’s customers. They are the base.

    2) The base appears to have some intractable qualities, such as rampant defense of misogyny.

    3) DJ would like to increase his customer base. He wants to include women. His reasons for this might be entirely altruistic: I will assume they are.

    4) However, when this new, secondary client base interacts with the base, they discover a course of treatment and attitude they won’t put up with.

    5) So now there is an oil and vinegar situation. Intractable elements of the base and a new group of customers. The women simply will not stand for, under any circumstance being mistreated.

    6) What DJ doesn’t see as an option is this: saying fuck you, knock it off, thereby shrinking his base. He doesn’t want to alienate them.

    7) Instead, the solution is for women to stop drawing a strong border about how they will be treated.

    The message is this: Those dudes are here to stay. It’s their party. We might do a few things around the edges, but when push comes to shove you ladies are the interlopers.

    DJ, et al: Until you have the where with all to look at those dudes and say, “You know what? I don’t care if you never come back. This is more important,” the women won’t come. You should consider yourself lucky to be dealing with women who have such high standards for their own treatment.

  489. 489
    Akira MacKenzie

    I just finished reading about another slimeball harassing Rebecca Watson via tweet over at The Crommunist. Oh for Imaginary Christ sake! The leaders of the atheist/skeptics movement (the ones who aren’t themselves aiding and abetting this shit) have to do something about this garbage and fast. We need to advocate a Zero Tolerance policy against misogyny with harsh social penalties for violators. (e.g. Banned from attending conferences. Boycott of speech and other media appearances, etc.) No one should be immune. (Yes, that includes even Prof. Dawkins if he pulls that “Dear Muslima” crap again.) This policy should also be enacted on those who IGNORE complaints about sexual harassment. (You listening Grothe?)

    With religion being one of the primary sources of discrimnation against women in this, the side of reason can not afford to be dominated by bunch frat boys who treat female atheists like shit and drive them away from the movement, especially those who blow the whistle on misbehavior. You can be sure the the theists–especially the right-wing ones who love to point out alleged “hypocrisy”–are drooling over this.

  490. 490
    Akira MacKenzie

    Kallopie:

    That does seem to be JREF’s modus operandi ever since Randi steeped down as president, and not just in the area of misogyny. Over the past few years, Plait, and Grothe have presided over TAMs where attendees where asked that they not bring up the topic of religion, lest they offend skeptics who happen to be theists. Apparently, since the existence of “God” is not a testable claim, it’s outside of the boundaries of skeptical examination.

    JREF may not have a problem with pissing off psychic scam-artists and (non-religious) woo-mongers, but anything that might affect their donor list? Ooooooh no, we have to keep them happy.

  491. 491
    Inaji

    Kalliope:

    The message is this: Those dudes are here to stay. It’s their party. We might do a few things around the edges, but when push comes to shove you ladies are the interlopers.

    Yep, right on the head, along with what Akira pointed out, in regard to their notions of what can be approached skeptically and what cannot. It’s a clusterfuck, all said.

  492. 492
    cyberCMDR

    Akira, I agree, but the theists will probably do worse than drool. They will point to this as “proof” that you need the Buybull to be a moral person. It won’t matter that they have a long, long list of supposedly religious people who have committed heinous acts, or that the fact that we are actively debating the issue shows we are working hard to improve ourselves. It also won’t matter that the very issue we are debating, pervasive male privilege, is a core tenet of their religion. They will only tell their followers that atheists as a group are incapable of morality.

  493. 493
    Ashley F. Miller

    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. Had DJ himself not been the one who handled the issue initially and if I had thought that he’d totally forget or would think that being alerted to a man bothering women translated to just a guy who wasn’t invited, I would have immediately made an additional report.

    Furthermore, I did not think that DJ would ever be going around saying that no harassment was ever documented at TAM. I didn’t think DJ would be saying that the low attendance problems at TAM were from women talking about how they were treated. I didn’t think that DJ would ever be saying that the only problem that TAM needs to correct is that victims just don’t officially report enough. I am extremely lucky that there were other witnesses, I hate to think what other women who’ve been harassed are thinking right now. What would people be saying about me right now if I hadn’t had half a dozen other people there? I mean, considering what they’re already saying.

    I hate posting about this stuff. I absolutely despise it, because it’s hard to deal with the comments and it’s hard to relive all the harassment — and not just that one incident, but the lifetime of cultural shame and guilt and horror and anger that comes with every incident. I think what some people are missing is how much that can hurt and how difficult it is to expose yourself like that. And what do you do if they ask about other incidents you really don’t want to or can’t talk about? What about things that if you talk about them you have to relive them? Do people really think that everyone who has been harassed wants to open that can of worms?

    I’ll end this rant here and fade back into the lurkdom.

  494. 494
    Inaji

    Ashley, thank you.

  495. 495
    Cipher

    Seconding Caine. Thanks very much for posting, Ashley. I’m sorry you had to go through that experience, and I’m sorry you had to watch it be treated as if it hadn’t happened by people you thought had your back, and I’m sorry you had to keep talking about it considering that it’s understandably painful for you.

    What would people be saying about me right now if I hadn’t had half a dozen other people there?

    This. I had a huge sigh of relief when I saw that you had witnesses who remembered and were willing to speak up. I know what they’d be saying.

  496. 496
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Ashley:

    I add my thanks as well. I don’t do FB and was told your discussion was there, so I didn’t follow over there. I was perfectly willing to believe that you didn’t want to go through a formal reporting process but even without this info, I was saying to myself, “Wouldn’t the fact that she saw the guy kicked out make her think that it *was* reported? Wouldn’t that affect her thinking?”

    And yet that factor was nowhere in what DJG said. While it could theoretically be accurate, it sounded doubtful. BUt I didn’t have the back-up to say he was just wrong.

    Now I do.

    This is very, very valuable to me. Thanks so much for delurking.

  497. 497
    Ichthyic

    @488,

    thanks, for those of us who don’t regularly attend these things, I think that was a good overview of the group dynamics involved.

  498. 498
    Louis

    Ashley, I’ll add my thanks.

    Kalliope, I’ll add my thanks to you too!

    Good work everybody.

    Bar?

    Louis

  499. 499
    Ichthyic

    Bar?

    *kicks rock*

    naw, gotta work.

    proposal due and all.

    *sigh*

  500. 500
    Pteryxx

    All righty… I did some research into the problems with using surveys to determine the prevalence of sexual harassment. Much of what I found was paywalled research. It’s not something that can be done with a general survey not designed for the purpose.

    Basically, surveying sexual harassment is difficult *at all* because of pervasive underreporting. As with sexual assault and rape, only a small percentage of incidents are ever reported, for many reasons: the victims are too embarrassed or ashamed, they assume (often rightly) that nothing will be done to address the problem, or they’ve normalized the harm. Fear of retaliation or escalation, while also major factors, probably don’t have much effect on a truly anonymous survey.

    This is from page 32 of a 2005, 72-page report on sexual harassment among US college students (it’s big but quite readable):

    http://www.aauw.org/learn/research/upload/DTLFinal.pdf

    Given the strong reactions to sexual harassment,
    we would expect students to report incidents, yet
    most do not. More than one-third (35 percent)
    tell no one. Almost half (49 percent) confide in
    a friend, but only about 7 percent report the
    incident to a college employee.

    Female students are more likely than male
    students to tell someone about sexual harassment,
    although they, too, have reservations about
    discussing their experiences (see Figure 10).
    A common theme among female students is a
    feeling of nervousness or discomfort at reporting
    something that might not be “a big enough deal.”
    One young woman describes an incident that
    made her feel “horrible” and “helpless,” but
    she didn’t report it because “it didn’t seem to
    be that important.”

    Also, for a victim to report sexual harassment (or sexual assault, or rape), the person has to first admit that what happened to them WAS harassment, assault, or rape.

    From a 2004 U of Iowa report:

    http://www.uiowa.edu/csw/reports/sexual-harassment/2004Sexual-Harassment-Survey-012306-ExecSummary.pdf

    Because research has shown that many people are reluctant or unwilling to label even serious unwelcomed behavior (e.g., physical assault of a sexual nature) as sexual harassment, this survey separated questions about respondents’ experiences with unwelcomed sexual behaviors from the question of whether or not they felt they had experienced sexual harassment. The intent was to capture more accurately the occurrence of behaviors without the stigma of the label.

    This survey asked about eight types of unwelcomed behavior which may constitute sexual harassment. A majority–52%–of respondents indicated that they had experienced one or more of the eight categories of unwelcomed behavior. Yet, when these responders were asked explicitly about whether they had experienced sexual harassment in the past 10 years at UI, most responders (62%) indicated that they had not been sexually harassed, whereas 24% (805 individuals)) indicated that they considered the unwelcome behavior to be sexual harassment. This represented 26% of female and 19% of male responders.

    It’s not just that DJ Grothe’s survey fails to capture the incidence of sexual harassment. ANY form of self-reporting will fail to do so, as long as sexual aggression combined with victim-blaming is culturally normal, particularly when internalized so that the victims blame themselves. Sexual harassment and violence can only be addressed in a supportive environment – otherwise, the vast majority of harassed persons will simply remain silent.

    If a culture exists at DJ Grothe’s organization that is not supportive of victims, as may be indicated by his recent remarks, then that culture could have DIRECTLY contributed to the observed low reporting rate. One instance of a witnessed, publicly reported incident has already been shown to have gone unrecorded within TAM’s harassment reporting system.

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

    *note: I decided (with reservations) to stay with the term “victim” throughout to keep focus on the concept of victim-blaming. Not all recipients of sexual harassment consider themselves victimized by it.

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