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Jun 18 2012

Victim Blaming 101

Talk about missing the point — now we’ve got someone declaring the TAM harassment problem solved — why, just call casino security, and they’ll take care of it!

Uh, yes. We know. We can go to a meeting, and if there is a jerk causing problems, we can seek out authorities and maybe get it resolved (although, in the case of women complaining of harassment, we’re more likely to see the problem treated dismissively). That’s always been an option, and it’s really patronizing to bring it up as if no other person on the planet ever even thought of it.

It’s not the issue. What’s wanted is a recognition of the fact that no one has the right to harass others at a public meeting, and that the meeting organizers have a zero tolerance policy towards sexual harassment, to discourage harassment before it happens.

Why is this so hard to understand?

These events are safe: they are well-bounded, contain security staff, and all the organizers want them to proceed with little disruption. Nobody has complained that there was no available recourse to deal with jerkwads.

The problem is that they are not safe spaces, which means a place where women can feel comfortable speaking without risk of unwelcome advances. You can’t just announce that there are security guards outside the door to create a safe space; it takes a bit more effort than that.

The author of that blog actually hit on the real problem by accident in a comment on that thread.

Honestly, if your a woman at an event like TAM, expect to be hit on.

EXACTLY!

You know, there’s a lot of whining that Rebecca Watson or myself have claimed that TAM is unsafe, a claim that we actually haven’t made at all. To the contrary, we’ve both supported TAM and encouraged people to attend. But we’ve also asked that it be better, and I do give DJ credit — it has improved in the representation of women speakers during his tenure.

But if you’re looking to pin the blame on people who have said TAM isn’t a good place for women, who might be spreading the word that women shouldn’t attend, you might want to start with people who declare that women ought to “expect to be hit on”.


Some people seem confused by the phrase “safe space”. They seem to be unaware of the fact that in English, one word in context can modify the meaning of another: like “parkway” is actually a place where cars drive, rather than park. But to help out those poor naive simpletons, here’s an explanation of “safe space”.


As usual, Cuttlefish distills the whole wrangle down nicely.

551 comments

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  1. 501
    Louis

    Amblebury,

    That’s the page I’m on too.

    Louis

  2. 502
    carlie

    This reminds me of karl.

  3. 503
    carlie

    Ok, that looks completely out of context NOW.

  4. 504
    Louis

    I’m listening to “Negro y Azul” from the Breaking Bad series, it’s a bloody funny song. Me likey.

    Louis

  5. 505
    Anthony K

    After all, “there’s always another woman around the corner.”

    And yet, it took him a good part of the day to figure out those of us on this blog weren’t worth his time.

    Methinks karlvonmissedhismark isn’t the debonair lady-killer he’d have us believe.

  6. 506
    feralboy12

    Methinks karlvonmissedhismark isn’t the debonair lady-killer he’d have us believe.

    But he salsa dances!
    Probably gives women roses as well. See! I’m a sensitive, romantic type! I’m into flowers and shit!

  7. 507
  8. 508
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Brownian beat me to it.

    Thanks misogynists and Chill Girls. Thanks DJ Grothe. Your contributions to a “hostile environment” have been invaluable and will be duly recognized.

  9. 509
    PZ Myers

    Yeah, I know who the bullies are.

  10. 510
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Gregory:

    Oh, oh! I know this one – it is bad because of missed opportunities, and without those civilisation will obviously collapse and we will all be reduced to cannabalising one another in a hellish, irradiated post-apoclyptic wasteland, possibly ruled over by Tina Turner…

    Do I get a cookie?

    Only ‘cos you invoked Tina Turner, here are some cookies just for you!

  11. 511
    Jafafa Hots

    I think a lot of the problem is two camps having different opinions of what TAM is for.

    So I hereby propose The Atheist Meatmarket, where skeptics looking primarily to hook up for sex can get together and pursue that.

    I propose that this event be held wherever and whenever those who want that sort of meeting decide it should, because that’s nothing I want to go to personally. Not judging, just, not for me.

    So for those who want to attend The Atheist Meatmarket, I’ve proposed the obvious solution to your complaints, now it’s your turn to do the rest of the work (location, timing, organization, etc.) Take your balls and run with them or whatever the expression is.

  12. 512
    cicely

    Based on this am I a harasser of women? Are my wife and I harassers?

    I’d say, in my opinion…no. Not unless there is a sordid underbelly somewhere in there that you aren’t mentioning.
    -

    Don’t make me link to goatse.

    What made me Google that ? How the fuck am I going to get that image out of head ?

    *shaking head*
    Can’t be done. It’s in there forever, now, a giant, sucking black hole from which only bogglement can escape.
    -

    You could totally pitch porcupines at that goatse guy and not even hit the sides. Hah!

    And they won’t be coming back out.
    -

    Someone to walk up, hit on me, ignore my first polite response and, if I’m really lucky, snap at me for being a bitch when that doesn’t work.

    Or “accuse” you of being a lesbian; ’cause it just ain’t possible for a woman to be sexually interested in men, without being interested in him.
    -

  13. 513
    What a Maroon, oblivious

    [Apologies for not having read the whole thread. Please flambé me to an appetizing crisp if this has been addressed.] [Although at my age I'm probably best suited for a very slow cooking stew.]

    First and foremost, I don’t think we should lose sight of the fact that we’re all on the same team.

    Sorry, but you are not on my team. First, because it’s not a matter of choosing teams; people are far too complex, and there are too many issues out there on which we can agree or disagree, to divide the world into two “teams”. But more importantly, as has become especially clear over the past year or so, the mere fact about being right about the non-existence of gods does not make you right about everything. To be clear, the basic issue is about treating people as people, about affording them the respect and autonomy and control over their body they deserve. And what is clear is that there are plenty of people who happen to be right on the narrow issue of the existence of gods and the supernatural, but who are wrong about the more important issue of respecting other humans.

    If it comes down to choosing “teams”, I know plenty of religious people who happen to be wrong about the existence of god(s) and the supernatural, but who treat people with the respect they deserve regardless of their gender or nationality or skin color or what have you, who fight for social justice, and who understand the basic issues and challenges confronting humanity, and I would choose them for my team long before I’d choose someone who happens to be right about religion but who can’t be bothered to treat half of humanity with the respect they deserve.

    Sorry if that hurts your feelings, but you are definitely not on my team.

  14. 514
    No One

    We can say that we want to work toward this. But I think it’s pretty idealistic to create this “safe space” that everyone is talking about. If you want a “safe place,” stay at home. I mean always. Never leave the house.

    Go here and read SEXUAL HARASSMENT SAMPLE (HR boilerplate):

    http://www.elinfonet.com/pickedpol/144

    The very first sentence:

    “The Company prohibits sexual harassment of its employees and applicants for employment by any employee, non-employee or applicant.”

    Sounds like the idea is to set a “safe place” to work in.

    Further down:

    “Widget, Inc. employees are entitled to work in an environment free from sexual harassment and a hostile or offensive working environment. We recognize sexual harassment as unlawful discrimination, just as conduct that belittles or demeans any individual on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sexual preference, age, disability, or other similar characteristics or circumstances.”

    It seems to work for “idealistic” corporate America.

    “Stay at home”? Are you fucking kidding me?

  15. 515
    What a Maroon, oblivious

    An open letter to all the MRAs/PUAs/apologists/whatever:

    Here’s what you’re missing. Women are humans, just like men. Yes, they are humans with an amazing organ, one that can bring joy and laughter and ecstasy when treated with the proper balance of respect and stimulation and titillation, but that can bring tears and pain and havoc and shame when misused or abused.

    I am talking, of course, about the human brain, perhaps the most amazing product of evolution. Unfortunately, too many men seem to forget that women have one, and focus instead on the other organs. What you don’t seem to realize is that unless and until you engage and stimulate the brain, you can’t really share in the other parts. And even if you do engage and stimulate the brain, you aren’t entitled to the rest.

  16. 516
    Jacqueline Homan

    ImprobableJoe:

    Where did this idea come from that men have some sort of absolute right to push their sexual interest on strangers?

    Patriarchy — male privilege and self-entitlement.

    karlvonmarx:

    Basically, this is what I see here: Men, if you’re interested in a girl sexually – too bad.

    Jesus Harold Christ, somebody call the wahmbulence! Karlvonmarx’s boner is in a state of distress! All is not well in Viagraland! Women aren’t willing to risk pregnancies they don’t want/can’t tolerate just to satisfy some self-entitled wank-sack’s “needs” because….wait for it…it’s OUR bodies, health, wellbeing, and lives that are 100% at risk in being on the receiving end of some man’s orgasm. Of course, these man-children don’t give a shit that it’s OUR lives on the line in even a “good” pregnancy that was planned and wanted under the best of circumstances.

    For all the self-entitled tantrum-throwing bellyaching about their “right” to get laid, I don’t recall seeing a single one of these self-centered over-privileged comfortably off morons in the trenches with me and other women activists fighting against the Tea Pottyers, the Vatican, the USCCB and the fascist Christian Right to keep Planned Parenthood from going the way of the dodo bird, fighting against mandatory medical rape (those lovely invasive and painful TVU’s that women must now get by law pay for as a condition of getting an abortion), and fighting against the state-level criminalization of birth control as well as abortion in the name of “freedom of religion.” Their loud mouths and manly presence was notoriously absent.

    And such “enlightened” men claim a rational high ground based on “reason.” What a crock of shit!

    Pardon me for not singing praises for an overpriced event that seems to be centered on women being deliberately put at risk for getting stalked, harassed, assaulted, raped and impregnated by self-aggrandizing, poo-flinging penis-owning primates that can’t exercise the least little bit of restraint and maturity to grasp that he’s not entitled to women’s bodies for his gratification no matter the cost to her because that’s what he wants.

    I can’t speak for other women but if that’s the kind of social atmosphere I was interested in I’d go to a dating service, NOT an atheist/skeptics conference.

    Let these MRA/PUA creeps go to Match Makers — AFTER they’ve all gotten vasectomies, since there is no Constitutional right to force one’s bed victims into gestating their genetic material without a choice and without just compensation. Better yet, let them invest in blow-up dolls since all they care about is having a sperm receptacle whose rights, needs and feelings they won’t be obligated to consider or respect.

    carlie:

    What on earth reason would there be to go to a conference if not to score with chicks you don’t have to bother with calling again because you’re both from out of town?

    And of course, none of these cads would be the ones having to suffer the ramifications of an unwanted and/or medically risky pregnancy as a consequence of satisfying some male’s “needs” under these conditions — it’s the women that are left holding the bag, literally. And this is the argument being advanced by “reasonable” men from the “better” social classes in the affluent white male-dominated atheist community. Real fuckin’ cute. NOT!

    I am left with the impression that, after reading through the endless MRA/PUA screeds on this site from all these comfortably off men who live in the “better” neighborhoods that maybe upper-middle class suburbia is more dangerous for women than my own impoverished ghetto neighborhood — a poor area that the more privileged people never stop and never look at those of us that were unwillingly cast down to the bottom of the social heap, while they drive through with their windows up and doors locked to get to their “important” jobs in their cushy office. Yet I can walk to the Wal-Mart down the street with less risk of assault even at night, it seems, than at some pricy conference at a five-star hotel. Go figure.

  17. 517
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    f it comes down to choosing “teams”, I know plenty of religious people who happen to be wrong about the existence of god(s) and the supernatural, but who treat people with the respect they deserve regardless of their gender or nationality or skin color or what have you, who fight for social justice, and who understand the basic issues and challenges confronting humanity, and I would choose them for my team long before I’d choose someone who happens to be right about religion but who can’t be bothered to treat half of humanity with the respect they deserve.

    Sorry if that hurts your feelings, but you are definitely not on my team.

    QF Motherfuckin’ T.

  18. 518
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Men, if you’re interested in a girl

    .

    They always tell on themselves.

  19. 519
    Jacqueline Homan

    I agree with this poster’s comment 100%:

    If it comes down to choosing “teams”, I know plenty of religious people who happen to be wrong about the existence of god(s) and the supernatural, but who treat people with the respect they deserve regardless of their gender or nationality or skin color or what have you, who fight for social justice, and who understand the basic issues and challenges confronting humanity, and I would choose them for my team long before I’d choose someone who happens to be right about religion but who can’t be bothered to treat half of humanity with the respect they deserve.

    Sorry if that hurts your feelings, but you are definitely not on my team.

    Word. ^-^

  20. 520
    Louis

    Cicely,

    Thanks for that. There’s no sinister underbelly, all belly is over, overt, and whilst it’s still a bit sinister, it’s working on it!

    Did you only answer that question that way out of Horde loyalty? Because we are members of some echo chamber groupthink feminazi lockstep thought police?

    I think the answer to that is “no”, I could be wrong of course. If it is “no” this means that neither you, nor I, nor Amblebury are man hating prudes. Hmmmm I wonder if Karl can grok that.

    Louis

  21. 521
    Louis

    And also, I triple, quadruple second What A Maroon’s “team speech”.

    Louis

  22. 522
    Louis

    Here’s a really interesting answer to “Worried Male Feminist” from The F Word blog.

    It’s pretty relevant to the theme of the thread, I wonder what people think.

    Louis

  23. 523
    rorschach

    I note that the blogger Reed censored a comment I wrote there yesterday in response to Abbie Smith. Censored, as in, deleted. And seeing that she is now riding the wave of publicity, it may be worth pointing out that she has referred to those who would disagree with her as “baboons” in her latest post.

    A blogger censoring comments and calling dissenting voices “Baboons”, excuse me while I ignore, dismiss and delete this one.

  24. 524
    rorschach

    Redd, even.

  25. 525
    No One

    What is needed for these conferences is…

    Stickers!

    Green for those interested in Tsiki-Tsiki, red for those that are not.

    that or…

    Big honking buttons that read “No I won’t fuck you”.

  26. 526
    No One

    … Even better…

    A big honking button with a dead porcupine on it.

  27. 527
    No One

    …with the words;”no means porcupine”

  28. 528
    Louis

    No One,

    Why do the targets have to wear the buttons? Why is the burden theirs?

    Louis

  29. 529
    No One

    “Why do the targets have to wear the buttons? Why is the burden theirs?”

    Good point…

    Button with a pair of blue balls with “I’m with asshole” ?

  30. 530
    Louis

    Lawl!

    Louis

  31. 531
    No One

    …or just “Stud”…

  32. 532
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Have the men who are there just for sex wear it loud and proud as a badge. They don’t seem very shy while defending their rights to search for available women while here. So, wearing a badge would make life easier for them. They wouldn’t have to search for willing women, those women could approach them. And the rest could easily avoid them. It’s a win-win.

    But I realize that this suggestion is ridiculous. I mean, skeptic and atheist conferences obviously have the primary function of being places for picking up people. Those who are not there for sex should identify themselves, being the odd ones out.

  33. 533
    No One

    Beatrice @ 31

    All the Badge wearers would end up getting drunk together in a corner. No one in their right mind would approach them.

  34. 534
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    All the Badge wearers would end up getting drunk together in a corner. No one in their right mind would approach them.

    I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be a downside…

    Anyway, these men assure us that there are women who would hook up with them, that badgering all those other women is being done so that they could find the interested one. I’m just trying to make it easier for them. No need to waste their efforts on others, the interested ones could approach them directly.

  35. 535
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    The buttons should say “Ask me about my pee-pee!”

  36. 536
    Louis

    Improbable Joe,

    The All buttons should say “Ask me about my pee-pee!”

    FIFY

    ;-)

    Louis

  37. 537
    No One

    Beatrice @ 33

    How about an “MRA charity auction”? Invite the public for that portion of the conference (advertise it) and give the proceeds to the local women’s shelter. Put ‘em up on stage and let the bidding begin. Of course the bidders would be able to demand whichever type of intimacy they fancy, like shopping together for shoes.

  38. 538
    cicely

    Did you only answer that question that way out of Horde loyalty? Because we are members of some echo chamber groupthink feminazi lockstep thought police?

    Louis,

    Of course not! There is no “Horde loyalty”! The Pharyngula Commentariat is no lockstep thought police, but a herd of yowling, clawing, fighting cats, who just happen to share a common interest in playing with and disemboweling trolls, MRAs, religiots, and similar crawly things.

    Then we abandon the rotting, porcupine-stuffed corpses on PZ’s doorstep.

    :D
    -

    Have the men who are there just for sex wear it loud and proud as a badge. They don’t seem very shy while defending their rights to search for available women while here. So, wearing a badge would make life easier for them. They wouldn’t have to search for willing women, those women could approach them. And the rest could easily avoid them. It’s a win-win.

    And they wouldn’t have to waste any time on idle chitter-chatter. Up against the wall, 5 minutes, done and move on to the next “opportunity”. ‘Cause there’s nothing worse than a “lost opportunity”.
    -

  39. 539
    Amphiox

    Basically, this is what I see here: Men, if you’re interested in a girl sexually – too bad

    Is karlievonmaxie getting paid to miss the point on a fee for service basis, or is it just this dense?

  40. 540
    Ing

    @Amphiox

    Let’s be honest. These threads have shown me that there are some men that honestly should just never talk to women.

  41. 541
    cplcam

    Have the men who are there just for sex wear it loud and proud as a badge. They don’t seem very shy while defending their rights to search for available women while here. So, wearing a badge would make life easier for them. They wouldn’t have to search for willing women, those women could approach them. And the rest could easily avoid them. It’s a win-win.

    Why worry about what others are wearing? If you are a woman who is going but not interested in having sex while there just wear your own t-shirt that says “NO, I do not want to sleep with you.”
    Boom, whole problem solved. You’re welcome, ladies.

  42. 542
    cplcam

    Hmm. Well, I f’d that all up. With enough work hopefully I’ll be able to make my posts pretty and uniform like all yours. Some tips would be nice, how do I block what I’m quoting and not what I’m saying?

  43. 543
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Well, I f’d that all up.

    I agree. And I’m not talking about quoting.

    —–

    Now I’m talking about quoting. See below:
    <blockquote>Insert text</blockquote>

  44. 544
    Nightjar

    If you are a woman who is going but not interested in having sex while there just wear your own t-shirt that says “NO, I do not want to sleep with you.”

    So, what if she’s open to the possibility of meeting someone there she perhaps wouldn’t mind sleeping with, but still doesn’t particularly enjoy being constantly harassed?

  45. 545
    Louis

    Cicely,

    Oh dear. You know what that means don’t you? At least two of us independently think that what I’ve done is not terrible harassment. This means that men can “chat up” women in the right context and thus can be interested in women sexually…

    …gosh…who knew?

    ;-)

    Louis

    P.S. Okay so that was the longest and most unnecessary set up for a trivially obvious point ever, but hey, we are dealing with Karl and MRAs, they’re not exactly, ya know, perceptive.

  46. 546
    Louis

    Nightjar,

    Longer T-shirts with more caveats and perhaps some photos of suggested Man Types™?

    ;-)

    Louis

  47. 547
    caseygaspari

    rorschach
    20 June 2012 at 5:26 am
    I note that the blogger Reed censored a comment I wrote there yesterday in response to Abbie Smith. Censored, as in, deleted. And seeing that she is now riding the wave of publicity, it may be worth pointing out that she has referred to those who would disagree with her as “baboons” in her latest post.

    A blogger censoring comments and calling dissenting voices “Baboons”, excuse me while I ignore, dismiss and delete this one.

    just an FYI– When you shit through your mouth, you get ignored–

  48. 548
    julian

    just an FYI– When you shit through your mouth, you get ignored–

    *looks pointedly at you*

    I really hope you remember that if you plan to comment around FtB.

  49. 549
    Ing

    The codify of Baboon is humorous in lights of all the cries of “echo chamber” and “tribalism” I’m sure come from slime pit.

  50. 550
    julian

    The codify of Baboon is humorous in lights of all the cries of “echo chamber” and “tribalism” I’m sure come from slime pit.

    And censoring comments given their hatred for Ophelia and her total nazi-ness in deleting harassing comments calling her every vile thing under the sun.

  51. 551
    rorschach

    just an FYI– When you shit through your mouth, you get ignored–

    Oh hello Redd ! Sorry, but I won’t be having a poo poo fling discussion with you, I’ll pass. Your friend Hoggle however, who I see is free to comment on your so-called blog, is the resident scatologist over at ERV, so you may want to exchange words, recipes or body fluids(or solids)with him.

    Kind Regards.

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