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Jul 16 2012

A voice of reason

Massimo Pigliucci lays out the story of the misogyny wars tearing bloody great rifts in the atheist/skeptic community. I doubt that it will heal anything, though, because the reasonable position he lays out is exactly the one that the freethoughtblogs and skepchick communities have been arguing for since the very beginning.

But one can hope that one more reasonable voice might wake up a few more people.

254 comments

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  1. 1
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    It’s almost impossible to heal an online argument. Someone will always take a reasonable statement wrong and throw more fuel on the fire.

    However, the evidence is on our side, for what that’s worth.

  2. 2
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    That’s a “reasonable” post?

    …we do not want to create a social environment where people are constantly afraid of stepping across invisible, vague and always shifting boundaries.

    …there is a danger in automatically assuming that group X (in this case women, but it could be an ethnic minority, or a religious one — including atheists themselves) is automatically right in every dispute regarding treatment of said group.

    First, let’s tone down the self-righteousness, on both sides. It just doesn’t help.

  3. 3
    Cipher

    First, let’s tone down the self-righteousness, on both sides. It just doesn’t help.

    Must you?

  4. 4
    PZ Myers

    It’s a good step forward.

    We don’t want to just say WOMEN ARE ALWAYS RIGHT, so that’s fair. I don’t think we need to: women have a solid case for institutionalized injustice against them.

    And it’s also true we don’t want vague boundaries. That’s one of the points of these harassment policies: make the boundaries clear and sharp, and let everyone know they must be respected.

    Yeah, the false equivalence in that last sentence is really, really annoying. I didn’t say Pigliucci was perfect.

  5. 5
    Cipher

    (I appreciated a lot of the rest, although it annoys me that he does seem to want to bat at the same moldy strawmen as the obnoxious scum have been, with no apparent attention paid to the fact that people have repeatedly pointed out that they’re strawmen.)

  6. 6
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    This is the reasonable response, where he refuses to take a side and instead pulls the super not-skeptical “both sides do it” thing?

    Not to mention that the bit Ms. Daisy quotes, which has the hint of “bitchez be lyin’, amirite” to it.

  7. 7
    PZ Myers

    I can accept being demonized as just as bad as the “cunt-kicking” misogynists, if it would get people to sit down and recognize the existence of sexism in our culture and start doing something about it.

  8. 8
    Gnumann+, out&proud cultural marxist (just don't ask me about Gramsci)

    And it’s also true we don’t want vague boundaries. That’s one of the points of these harassment policies: make the boundaries clear and sharp, and let everyone know they must be respected.

    Yes and no, as recent discussions have revealed, there’s plenty of small shitstains out there who will read the thing with an inverted telescope and immediately find a shitty thing they can do that’s not covered.

    So, any good policy needs the flexibility to deal with the more creative variant of shitstains.

    On the other hand, for the people not gaming it, it should be concrete enough to be a good guideline – there should always be a “any similar activity deemed inappropriate” or something to that effect though. (and good enough staff training so staff can handle policy standards in a good way.)

  9. 9
    michaeld

    Could be better could be worse I give it a B-.

  10. 10
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    I dunno, PeeZee. The false equivalence can and probably will quickly be turned into “FtB does it too and worse, so they are hypocrites and ultimately the real problem.” Not that they wouldn’t go there anyway, but Pigliucci didn’t have to set them up for the spike quite so well as he did.

  11. 11
    Paul

    (I appreciated a lot of the rest, although it annoys me that he does seem to want to bat at the same moldy strawmen as the obnoxious scum have been, with no apparent attention paid to the fact that people have repeatedly pointed out that they’re strawmen.)

    I read that post beginning to be very predisposed to dislike Pigliucci (owing to various dick moves that have been covered on Pharyngula in the past), and I didn’t read him as batting at any strawmen at all (although I did read after he inserted the PPS, so that helped a bit at the end). The discussion about not “automatically assuming X is right” and “not wanting to create fear of shifting, invisible boundaries” just read as wanting to very clearly state his premises and enumerate his perspective on the underlying issues, which seems like the sort of thing you’d expect from a philosopher.

    One might think those things are obvious enough to not need to be said, but at the same time noting them is a way of bridging the gap to the people on the other side of this issue that want to pretend that the whole issue is about thoughtcrime and reflexively “just letting teh wimmenz have their way”. He’s trying to stake out a clear position for both sides, and that seems fair enough. A post that simply said “I agree with the FtB position” would just represent a change in one person, and by making his position clear in a way untethered to any other opinions probably leaves more room to convince people who want to just pretend that there’s no issue.

    On the other hand, the false equivalence was the polar opposite of class. If I had to, I would postulate that he was aiming more for “let’s focus on the actual issue at hand, and leave personality issues and in-group out-group territorial issues out of it”, but that statement was a major fail.

  12. 12
    A Hermit

    There’s a bit of the old false equivalence going on there I think, but not as as we’ve seen elsewhere, and the conclusion is sound:

    “where do we go from here?…take the issue seriously, develop and clearly enunciate your policies, and be ready to deal with the consequences in a firm, if courteous and hopefully constructive, manner. Lastly, the A-S community needs to take the first step toward solving any problem: admit that there is one. Pretty straightforward, no?”

    Isn’t that all amyone’s been asking for? Yeah, it is pretty straightforward, really…

  13. 13
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    PZ:

    I can accept being demonized as just as bad as the “cunt-kicking” misogynists, if it would get people to sit down and recognize the existence of sexism in our culture and start doing something about it.

    That’s nice.

    But the fact of the matter is, MP’s “both sides are just as bad!” argument does nothing but reinforce to the misogynists that that their beliefs are in the right. They revel in being demonized and they want to see us demonized as well. It does nothing at all to help us, because if we’re “just as bad”, those assholes have no reason to listen to us.

    I mean, come the fuck on. That’s the entire point of the Slime Pit.

  14. 14
    violet

    I agree that it is reasonable. You can disagree with things that someone says or know that they are missing some info, likely due to ignorance, and they can still be reasonable. I think Massimo’s words might not be the absolute best choice for those who have been entrenched in these issues and are used to seeing certain arguments and he is missing some of the perspective that people who think a lot about these issues might have, but overall it is a reasonable post, especially as opposed to many of the quite unreasonable things that have been said on the subject by others.

    In te first statement, I don’t think Massimo is saying “Womenz lie!” but rather saying that every claim must be investigated to find out what happened BEFORE deciding on the appropriate response. Not every claim of sexual harassment may rise to the level where someone be kicked out. In some cases it may just require asking one person to leave another person alone, if it turns out the claimant has a particular sensitivity to some behavior, for example, that does not rise to the event’s level of what constitutes an electable offense. And it is also possible that someone might lie. I don’t believe it is as common as some people seem to think, but it is of course possible. That doesn’t mean we should dismiss every claim, only that we need to evaluate each claim fairly to both parties.

    As to the second statement, he definitely overlooks that minority groups have a special perspective when it comes to their own systemic disadvantages and as such, their opinions/observations should be listened to with that in mind, and similarly, we should always consider privilege when considering non-minority opinions. However, he is also correct that just being in the minority group does not automatically make everything you say correct, even on the subject of oppression. Any person is subject to bias and data interpretation mistakes and other failings of logic and it isn’t wrong to say so or to point those mistakes out if they come up.

  15. 15
    'Tis Himself

    While Pigliucci does say some reasonable, worthwhile things, I get the feeling he’s trying to straddle the fence just a bit too much. Is there self-righteousness on both sides? Unfortunately there is. Is one side going out of its way to be hateful and nasty to the other? Unfortunately this is also the case.

  16. 16
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    ^ What Audley said.

    Also, who the hell has said “Women are always right”? Because that’s a slimepit strawfeminist.

    Paul, I don’t want to “bridge any gaps” with the slimers. I’m more than happy not to associate with men and their female enablers who think it’s OK to threaten to kick women in the cunt, to go around shoving their tongues down the throats of random women, etc. etc. And Pigliucci thinks we’re “just as bad” because we’re “self-righteous” or something? Fuck him.

  17. 17
    =8)-DX

    It’s always kind of odd living in a mostly nonbelieving country (CZ), that there is this “atheist community” thing, where sexism and conferences is something to talk about. The sexism I try to argue against in everyday life is a broad societal problem here with religion really playing a minor part: Christians here reinforce “traditional” sexual stereotypes, yes, but most people in this country are religious by choice, because it represents their opinions of sexuality and a lifestyle that they want to embrace.

    I’m greatful to the US atheists for making me take feminism seriously and its a pity that I can’t really see any single movement in my country that would try to discuss gender issues in a framework of rationalism and scepticism, while at the same time I’m thankful that (of all things) political correctness and progressive attitudes really make the sexism discussion here separate from the religious one.

    Not sure I made a lot of sense, but I quite liked the linked article: it was calm and well expressed and if that were the position of the majority of atheists, these late inter-atheist culture wars would not be happening.

  18. 18
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Violet:

    …but overall it is a reasonable post, especially as opposed to many of the quite unreasonable things that have been said on the subject by others.

    Yeah, there’s a high bar to clear.

  19. 19
    Gaebolga

    Regarding the whole

    First, let’s tone down the self-righteousness, on both sides. It just doesn’t help.

    thing, I think Pigliucci is approaching this from the perspective of an outsider who hasn’t waded through more than a year’s worth of crap on the subject.

    To someone new to the whole mess, some of the reactions here to seemingly innocent questions probably seem a bit extreme…rather like some of the reactions to someone spouting tired and oft-refuted creationist drivel.

    And in truth, every once in a very great while (in both instances) those questions, claims, or arguments actually are made in good faith (ignorant, yes, but also earnest).

  20. 20
    Paul

    Paul, I don’t want to “bridge any gaps” with the slimers.

    Please show me where I hinted that he was trying to get through to the slimers, unless you think everyone that’s not currently on the FtB-train is a slimer (Blackford? Groethe?).

    And Pigliucci thinks we’re “just as bad” because we’re “self-righteous” or something? Fuck him.

    And I called that out as false equivalence. You’re also putting “just as bad” in his mouth, when it wasn’t even implied in his post. I’m not saying I can’t see how people infer it, but that’s because you’re insisting on reading his post in bad faith. If the best you can do is make up words and put them in quotations, you’re probably better off leaving it to the people who at least aren’t actively falsifying things.

    Will slimers take it that way? Quite possibly. But they don’t actually care about building an argument based on facts, and will just troll the hell out of you anyway. And I thought you don’t care what they think or say, anyway? Why not assume that a rational person is reading his post, and progress the discussion from there. As others here are doing.

  21. 21
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    I agree with Audley and Daisy.

    I saw this article, and it pissed me the fuck off. False equivalency, aho!

  22. 22
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    I get the feeling he’s trying to straddle the fence just a bit too much.

    That’s Pigliucci’s shtick.

  23. 23
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    The problem with too much fence-straddling is that the rails ride up your ass.

  24. 24
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    You know, when one side of an issue is right, they tend to recognize that they are righteous… and what’s wrong with that?

    One of the many failings of skepticism that the past year has shown is that too many “skeptics” are opposed to holding strong unequivocal ethical position, calling those positions “dogmatic” and therefore wrong without having to even be examined. They even equate feminism to religion, as though the problem with religion is the passion people have for it, rather than the fact that it is based in nonsense.

  25. 25
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    unless you think everyone that’s not currently on the FtB-train is a slimer (Blackford?

    You haven’t been keeping up, have you?

  26. 26
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    In the comments he says that he thinks that AA policy about hugs is unreasonable.

    My post clearly states that we do need policies, but that such policies need to be reasonable. I don’t think AA’s “no hug” policy is reasonable.

  27. 27
    Paul

    You haven’t been keeping up, have you?

    Does slimer no longer mean “denizen of the slime pit”? I missed Blackford making his way over to the Periodic Table of Swearing.

    If you’re going to rapidly change word meanings, it would be polite to make it more clear what you mean when you use them (or simply come up with words that do not have such confusing or vague meanings).

  28. 28
    mythbri

    @Improbable Joe

    Ophelia has a couple of interesting threads on the subject of strong ethical stances being taken for granted, but mostly this one:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/07/how-something-can-be-a-given/

    I think that people need to flip their thinking. It’s not skeptical to generally doubt claims of harassment when it’s clear that society is entrenched in skepticism. Rather, the skeptical approach should be toward claims of gender or racial superiority. Civil rights and feminism are skeptical responses to those ideas.

  29. 29
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    I went back to look at that part of the policy, just to check if maybe there is something about hugs being bad! forbidden! sexual assault worse than rape! or something. It actually says (unless something has been changed since PZ published that post):

    You are encouraged to ask for unequivocal consent for all activities during the conference. No touching other people without asking. This includes hands on knees, backs, shoulders—and hugs (ask first!). There are folks who do not like to be touched and will respect and like you more if you respect their personal space.

    Seriously, people. Someone is overreacting and it’s not people who support this policy.

  30. 30
    karmakin

    I wouldn’t say it was even what people thought but the original way that the stance was communicated, at least in the early upflaring, was that stating that harassment was actions that made someone feel uncomfortable. More or less. That is, putting it entirely in the hands of the women, in the eyes of some people, including Pigliucci. Note. This concept is sexist in and of itself as it assumes that only men harass and only women can be harassed, but it’s not something I’m going to hold anybody down to the fire for, as it’s close enough to accurate to be understandable shorthand.

    But yes, when this whole thing started and the initial discussion started, on the blog posts themselves it was framed as being harassment being that at least in terms of self-judging harassment, the women (the targets) ARE always right. I think that in theory we all know that this could be problematic, but in reality false reports get “filed” and really are not a problem. But still. This framing does give the wrong impression to outsiders.

    This framing fell away quickly of course, as things get clarified in the middle of comments, as they always do, and all was good again and we could talk about real-world best practices for anti-harassment policies. But still. Most people are not going to go that deep and they’re going to see the black and white, overtly moralistic framing and they respond, quite frankly, what they think is in kind. And then you get all these fights.

    Anyway, that’s my reading of the first quote above, and how that comes to pass.

  31. 31
    mythbri

    @ 28

    Whoops. That slip was totally Freudian. I meant to say “when it’s clear that our society is entrenched in sexism.”

    My bad

  32. 32
    michaeld

    @ Beatrice

    I find it a maddening case of frustration, confusion, and yet oddly positive feelings. All because of everything in the policy the part they find objectionable was a suggestion to follow a golden rule when touching people. Was there nothing worse in the policy and we’re just quibbling over what suggestions if any to include? Or are we fundamentally disagreeing on how to treat people? Or have people just taken no time fact checking?

  33. 33
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Was there nothing worse in the policy and we’re just quibbling over what suggestions if any to include? Or are we fundamentally disagreeing on how to treat people? Or have people just taken no time fact checking?

    Yes.

  34. 34
    karmakin

    @Michael: It’s surprisingly a hard sell (although you’re right, it shouldn’t be) because of how much of a culture we prioritize extroverted behavior over introverted behavior. And it goes on both sides as well.

  35. 35
    The Mellow Monkey

    I have a friend who’s on the anti-FtB side. His problem is that he’s anti-confrontation. As a white cis male (who is gay, but homophobia is at least somewhat masked in the circles he frequents), he’s not being treated like shit by MRAs and other misogynists. They (to him) appear to be calm, reasonable people. So he looks over here and he sees (righteous, rightful) anger, and is turned off. He sees that as unreasonable, as unfair, as scary. He’s not even going to read things closely to have his views challenged, because the aggression has already turned him off and he’s clicking on another link. A sexist will treat him nicely because he’s a guy–and not even one who’s competition for women!–and so, hey, this sexist must be a pretty reasonable dude. See how nice he’s being?

    It’s not a rational stance, but I think it may very well be a common one. As effective as being a nuker can be with someone who is confrontational, people like that aren’t even going to read an angry comment. They’re going to walk on by and get a very biased, very one-sided recap of what the argument was from somebody else. And so they don’t have any idea what’s been said over here. They have no idea what stances have been taken, because they shut down and close their eyes.

    I’m really not sure what the answer is with those people. He and I are in pretty much perfect agreement about what should be done regarding codes of conduct, but he has a completely skewed view about what anyone over here is saying and can’t believe what I’m telling him because surely people who are so “hostile” couldn’t also be rational. It’s an internalized tone troll. So to him, there is no false equivalence, but he agrees with us without even knowing it.

    As stupid as it might seem, things like this might actually get through to people like him.

  36. 36
    FluffyTheTerrible

    @ Caerie

    The problem with what you just said is that people – your friend included – should always side with what is right and equitable and non-oppressive and demeaning. People should not side with various causes on the sole criterion that those on that side are nice.

    I got my share of dudes in my professional life who are nice to me. But I see the way they treat other women, not as young, not – in their eyes – attractive, and I know their niceness to me is bullshit. I could play the game, and get advantages from that, and fuck everybody else, but I could never do that. It’s not fair, it’s hurtful, and if we don’t push back, whether we feel the oppression or not, this world is never going to change for the better.

    Your friend needs to learn a thing or two about solidarity and compassion, and siding with people because it’s the right thing to do, not because someone is going to give them cookies for it.

    Think about it this way: the civil rights’ movement was a mixed affair, with plenty of white people supporting the cause. Some were doing this for all the wrong reason, some were suffering from the whole “White saviour complex” but many were guided by the recognition of the simple fact that people are people, no matter the superficial differences, and they deserve equal rights.

    Those people, they could have got a shit ton of advantages for being on the opposite side. They also receive a firestorm of an opposition, and probably, for the first time, got an inkling to what it means to live while being a PoC. Most of them, however, did not abandon the cause, and stuck to their guns.

    Your friend needs to get more compassion. Besides, what kind of a friend is he, if he doesn’t want to do what he can to make sure YOU – I assume you identify as female, apologies if I’m wrong – are safe, and treated as a human being.

  37. 37
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    You know…

    I’m fine with Pigliucci taking a different tack and trying to reach people in a different way. I think the place that he fails is that he thinks he isn’t taking a side by saying “both sides do it.” The problem, and I think it is a problem that people like him fall into on a pretty regular basis, is that when one side is very wrong and you treat them as equal to the side that is mostly right, you’re actually siding with the people who are wrong by giving them much more credit than they deserve. Being REALLY fair is assigning credibility where it is deserved, not pretending that every position is equally credible.

  38. 38
    FluffyTheTerrible

    @ Improbable Joe

    Absolutely everything you said at #37. There are many situations where you just can’t play the moderate, and there is no middle ground: you’re either right or you are horribly wrong.

    I remember reading about author Deborah Lipstad, who wrote Denying the Holocaust, who actually states, at one point in the book, that she refuses to debate or engage Holocaust deniers, since doing so would legitimize their position, and make people believe there are 2 sides to the (his)story.

    When Pigliucci treats both parties as equally guilty, he’s also saying they’re equally legitimate…and they are most definitely not.

  39. 39
    shadowbroke, an entitled gamer who regrets their 'nym

    Massimo seems to believe that a professional manner is morally superior to a flippant one in all circumstances, and that’s why he keeps pissing people off with articles like this one. He made the same “tone down the self righteousness” comment in an article last year about the goals of atheist activism and P.Z. ripped into him something fierce.

    I like Massimo’s writing on science and philosophy, but his writings on social issues leave much to be desired. His temper is clearly not suited for the informal tone that such discussions almost always take.

    I’d also be more impressed with Massimo’s calls for less self-righteousness if he wasn’t also habitually condescending toward atheists/skeptics who aren’t as intellectually or rhetorically skilled as he is.

  40. 40
    michaeld

    @ Karmakin and fellow introverts…

    For too long we have remained silent! We must rise up against the extroverts!!! RISE UP AND BE FREE!!!!!!! ;p

  41. 41
    The Mellow Monkey

    @FluffyTheTerrible, I absolutely agree with everything you said. I’m not excusing his failure to look beyond “hey, teh menz are nice to me, so it must be okay” at all. It’s been very frustrating trying to get through to him.

    He recognizes that codes of conduct are good to have, recognizes the issues with consent when it comes to touching, recognizes sexism is bad and does exist in the community, but then he falls into this mental trap of being unable to admit the people on this side are 100% right. Surely we are wrong and surely the people doing damage to the skeptic community couldn’t possibly also be the ones who are being nice to him (and, it must be said, people exactly like him are a huge part of the problem, too).

    ::mutterswearkicksthings::

  42. 42
    julietdefarge

    Thank you, PZ, so very, very much for continuing to stand up for women. It baffles me that so many men do not see that women suffer far more abuse from religion than men do. How can a man understand that religion is useless, but accept one of the key tenets of most religion, the inferiority of women?

  43. 43
    michaeld

    Because I can’t resist some of MP’s arguments applied to a different topic.

    Obviously the Darwinists and creationists are both wrong. Why can’t people like Maccimo at least compromise a little. Sure the evidence strongly favors evolution but can’t we at least allow some time for scientific views like intelligent design to be given some time in the classroom. Isn’t it infantilizing that high school students aren’t presented with evidence for both sides? And I’m not the only one who thinks like this look at Dr Behe’s writings.

    Ok snark off. Its that kind of well meaning ignorant wandering into a long term debate of policy and trying to appeal to some middle ground that comes off in his post.

  44. 44
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Caerie, try writing your friend a letter. Explain it in as much length as you need. Pull out examples and plop them in your letter. Let him know this is serious, and you want him to understand it because it’s important to you and (yes, make him a little uncomfortable) know he doesn’t want you to think he doesn’t care about issues that involve your safety.

    Walk the line between “I’m concerned that you don’t understand so I want to help” and “Nevertheless we do have to make choices and we do have admit to things we don’t want to sometimes. Especially things we don’t like but that are true. We have to do these things if we’re to be moral people.”

    That’d be what I’d do, anyway.

  45. 45
    Cipher

    So he looks over here and he sees (righteous, rightful) anger, and is turned off. He sees that as unreasonable, as unfair, as scary.

    It is not at all your job to fix your friend. However, since you do seem to be up to trying, have you tried the tack that Jennifer tried with Atheist Powerlifter over at Crommunist’s – asking just what sort of experiences it would take to make it understandable for a person to be as “angry” and “hostile” and “aggressive” as the Nukers are here? (Me and my Emoting – I’m trying so hard to appeal to the empathy of a person who isn’t even here!)

  46. 46
    mythbri

    @michaeld #40

    Would that involve all getting together as introverts? Because that would be exhausting.

  47. 47
    shadowbroke, an entitled gamer who regrets their 'nym

    An addendum to my comment at 39:

    Not that I wanted to shift the discussion in that direction. I really don’t want to do that. My impression of the article is just “meh”, but Massimo’s continued hobby-horsing on tone compelled me to comment on it.

    I don’t know Massimo so I can only assume he means well. I just don’t see this article as contributing much. Are the clueless going to get anything from it? I doubt it; their biases are going to latch onto the “self-righteousness” angle and they’ll feel all smug and superior to the “Watsonists” and “Free Thought Bullies”. I don’t see anything in the article as helping the middle ground either, but maybe I’m wrong.

  48. 48
    FluffyTheTerrible

    @ Caerie

    I hope my tone didn’t come across as too harsh – it was not my intention. I have my share of friends and acquaintances who are lovely people – except for the fact that they espouse racist ideas, and refuse to have them challenged, or believe all sort of other offensive nonsense.

    I guess we have to pick our battles and decide what our deal-breakers are – do we keep the friends who occasionally make unacceptable “jokes” or do we kick them to the curb?

    I suppose your friend is aware of the notion of privilege, and how it blinds him to many things? Also, I don’t understand how he can trust these people who are nice to him, since they are not nice to everyone else, especially those who deviate from the “norm” of white, male, straight. There’s that old thing about paying attention to how people treat the waiting staff at restaurants, because from their treatment of people in a subordinate position you can tell what kind of people they are.

    Maybe your friend should understand that one way to measure a person’s niceness – for lack of a better term – is in the way they treat those in subordinate, or not as powerful positions as them. Maybe then he wouldn’t consider those people so nice anymore.

    One can only hope. (and continue having conversations)

  49. 49
    michaeld

    @mythbri

    Good question! No it will be a diffuse rebellion!

  50. 50
    Cipher

    Good question! No it will be a diffuse rebellion!

    Oh good. Ooh! *raises hand* Do I have to talk to anybody while I’m rebelling?

  51. 51
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    @shadowbroke:

    From what I’ve seen of him over the years, Pigliucci means as well as he can while preserving his self-regard as being “above the fray” and “objective”… even when his statements encourage the very things he claims to be against in principle, because his highest principle is appearing reasonable and calm.

  52. 52
    Paul

    I think the place that he fails is that he thinks he isn’t taking a side by saying “both sides do it.”

    If that’s that some people are taking from his post, that’s disturbing.

    Are people on both sides self-righteous? Yes. Is one side right to do so, and the other mostly being self-righteous about how they should be free to do whatever they want? Sure. Do we want to fight about who is right, or do we want to discuss the necessity of a harassment policy?

    Pigliucci’s post was just discussing the need for harassment policies at atheist events. And from that perspective, recommending removing self-righteousness from the equation is an understandable suggestion. You may think it’s wrong or unnecessary, but at least understand the idea behind the statement. And his post was by no means merely telling both sides that they’re bad people, or merely equivocating them. That was part of the post, and the equivocation as it was was reprehensible. But some people are trying to make out as if that was all there was to the post, and that seems unnecessarily reductive. His post as a whole was nothing like trying to play Golden Mean, or triangulating. He’s done that in the past, but aside from one poorly thought out statement he didn’t do it here*.

    *And telling both sides that in the current situation they’re better stopping a behavior isn’t equivocation per se, although I did read his post that way. For instance, is it equivocation or saying “both sides do it” when someone is fastidiously correcting a troll (knowingly or otherwise) with citations on TET and you say that they’re both wasting time? Are you judging their positions to be equal, or judging them to be equally credible?

  53. 53
    mythbri

    @caerie

    That’s a tough one. It took me about a year of lurking at Pharyngula to realize the following:

    1. Rudeness and anger isn’t a valid reason – in and of itself – to reject the arguments behind it.

    2. Even though it’s not socially acceptable to just come right out and say “What you’re saying is bullshit”, that doesn’t mean that identifying bullshit as bullshit is wrong. Actually, too often bullshit goes unchallenged, and that’s a problem.

    3. All kinds of harm can be done under the veneer of niceness. This being the case, I will absolutely take rudeness and anger that has my back, than politeness that will stick a knife in me as soon as it’s turned.

  54. 54
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    I’ll just be over here, rebelling quietly.

  55. 55
    michaeld

    @Cipher

    Nope show some self guided initiative! This is one of the advantages of an introvert rebellion there are no leaders or no groupings to focus on! Each piece acting on its own towards the goal! ;p

  56. 56
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    I’d just like to draw attention to this comment (link). If the person who wrote it is reading here, kudos.

  57. 57
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Every bit as annoying as I expected it to be. He’s as free with the strawfeminists as he is with the strawgnus.

    I think Pigliucci is approaching this from the perspective of an outsider who hasn’t waded through more than a year’s worth of crap on the subject.

    And that’s a problem. He hasn’t faced what people, especially women, have faced for the past year for speaking out, and he hasn’t even really witnessed it. (This is shown clearly in the fact that he believes Russell Blackford to be an even-minded voice of reason.) There have been women treated horribly in this simply for speaking out and working for change. They don’t need condescending, both-sides judgments from men on the sidelines.

    These are tendencies people should resist.

  58. 58
    ludicrous

    ” An accusation of sexual harassment can not only get someone thrown out of a meeting or a bar, but can perhaps permanently tarnish his reputation in the relevant community,…” — Mossimo

    This alarmism is counterproductive. Where are all the scary stories that this has happened?

    Women very very seldom make unwarranted accusations. I think they almost never do it intentionally. Their first choice is almost always to say nothing, to make a distraction, to move out of the situation.

    The relative risk for us men of making a mistake and a woman making a big deal out of it and have our reputation ruined is small to nonexistant. Women just don’t do that stuff. There is nothing in these ant-harrassment proposals for us to be afraid of.

    This ‘what if’ worry may be in good faith, then again it may not.

  59. 59
    Sili

    What the fuck happened to ludicrous?

    I know I’m getting kinda buzzed, but they sound actually reasonable all of a sudden. What did I miss?

  60. 60
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Do we want to fight about who is right, or do we want to discuss the necessity of a harassment policy?

    It’s clear that people who’ve engaged in a vicious campaign of harassment for the past year and who’ve supported them or trivialized their actions are wrong to have done that. There’s no fight. That should simply be communicated to them in the plainest terms possible, and they should be condemned, ignored, or banned as needed.

    I’ve seen enough of that crowd to be well aware that there’s no possibility of a productive discussion with them about issues affecting women, and frankly I want nothing to do with them. They’re not part of any community I want to be involved with.

    The necessity of harassment policies is well established already, and anyone who doesn’t recognize that obvious fact is an idiot.

  61. 61
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Paul,

    As much as you might want to yourself rise above the fray, the reality is that who is right is directly tied into how we move forward with the correct policies. This isn’t about being right for the sake of being right, or “winning” stripped of all context. The practical outcome… and I know that the “above the fray” types see everything as academic, intellectual exercises that have no meaningful effect on the real world… of the lie that “both sides are doing it” is that it encourages the idea that “both sides are right to some degree, and the best answer is to split the difference.” That’s not only BS, but it also helps defeat the purpose. Sprinkling some wrong onto the right idea to make it more “balanced” is just stupid, but that’s what false equivalencies lead to in real life.

  62. 62
    kesara

    There have been women treated horribly in this simply for speaking out and working for change. They don’t need condescending, both-sides judgments from men on the sidelines.

    => Try to understand how comments like this one:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/05/31/dj-please-fix-this-genuine-problem/comment-page-1/#comment-350503
    look to people who have not followed the various sexism debates in the atheist community over the last years, then you´ll understand where Pigliucci is coming from.

  63. 63
    sexyjedi

    I really don’t understand where people are getting that Massimo is equivocating in his post. Yes, he said that both sides need to tone down the self righteousness. I don’t get how that is somehow equivocating both sides of the issue. Rather, it is criticizing an approach that some on both sides take in the issue, an approach that doesn’t do much to help, when by “help” I mean actually affect positive change. It may be that one side is more guilty in that regard than the other, but that wasn’t stated in his post. Rather, reading it literally(which you should do in this case, as he is a philosopher and thus takes the time to write what he means) it is just pointing out that self-righteousness is present on both sides, which should be pretty uncontroversial.

    When it comes to creating a safer environment for women, trans, gender-fluid, homosexual, and any other people who don’t fit the white straight cis-male mold in our society, being right about the problem facing them is a necessary part to affecting change, but it is not sufficient. Another necessary part is persuasion. You can be 100% completely right about an issue, but if no one will believe you, or even wants to listen to you, then what have you gained really? In my opinion, nothing. Knowing something, and being able to get people to change their minds about it are two very different things. This is why we have people called science communicators. It’s not good enough to have people over at CERN discovering the Higgs, rather, we need people taking that information, and filtering and presenting it to the public, to get them enthusiastic and involved in the matter.

    I get this sentiment sometimes that people think that it is enough that our side is right about sexism in the atheist-skeptic community, that we just have to present our facts and people will see the light. I think that is giving too much credit to our ability to reason impartially. I agree that we are right about it, but I do think that we have to think strategically. If the end goal is to affect change by making the society safer and equal for everyone involved, than the steps we take need to be with that end goal in mind. This may mean we have to accept some losses here and there, like in his criticism of the AA “no hugs without explicit permission given” policy.

    Not every proposed solution to a problem is the right solution. To give an example, we can all agree that we don’t like terrorists blowing up our buildings. Now, does that mean that we want proposed solutions like the crazy TSA screenings, and the Patriot Act? Of course not! Now, I am not equating the over reaction of the US Government to terrorism to things like the AA policy, but you can see the point, can you not? Sometimes, people over-react to an issue in their response to it. One can agree that there is a large problem, that we need to take steps to solve it, but that sometimes, some steps may be a little too far. That is what I am getting from Massimo’s criticism of the AA policy, that it is in good faith, and has the right goals in mind, but it is a little too far.

    Gosh, long comment :P

  64. 64
    Cipher

    => Try to understand how comments like this one:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/05/31/dj-please-fix-this-genuine-problem/comment-page-1/#comment-350503
    look to people who have not followed the various sexism debates in the atheist community over the last years, then you´ll understand where Pigliucci is coming from.

    Listen, did you not read what SC said? Because that’s not in any way a useful response to what SC said.

  65. 65
    Cipher

    Sometimes, people over-react to an issue in their response to it. One can agree that there is a large problem, that we need to take steps to solve it, but that sometimes, some steps may be a little too far. That is what I am getting from Massimo’s criticism of the AA policy, that it is in good faith, and has the right goals in mind, but it is a little too far.

    And Massimo is wrong about that, and is feeding into some toxic memes by saying it.

  66. 66
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    That is what I am getting from Massimo’s criticism of the AA policy, that it is in good faith, and has the right goals in mind, but it is a little too far.

    I’m getting that.

    He’s also wrong about it.

  67. 67
    FluffyTheTerrible

    @kesara

    Is it telling that I see absolutely nothing wrong with the comment you linked to? Also, this tendency to equate people using strong language to people alienating their audience or -OMG- scaring potential allies and sending them into the slimepiters camp needs to stop.
    The truth is Grothe lied, or lied by omission. That’s what that comment is about. Compare that to the hundreds of comments which include sexist, ableist, anti-LGBT slurs, and everyone’s favourite, rape threats, and tell me again how are the two sides the same?

  68. 68
    kesara

    Is it telling that I see absolutely nothing wrong with the comment you linked to?

    Yes, it tells me that you most likely have followed the various sexism debates in the atheist community over the last years – unlike Pigliucci for example.

    Also, this tendency to equate people using strong language to people alienating their audience or -OMG- scaring potential allies and sending them into the slimepiters camp needs to stop.

    Why does this need to stop ?

    The truth is Grothe lied, or lied by omission.

    Did Sara know that ?

    Compare that to the hundreds of comments which include sexist, ableist, anti-LGBT slurs, and everyone’s favourite, rape threats, and tell me again how are the two sides the same?

    I never said they are the same (and I´m not going to). I was talking about how the sides appear to someone who is new to the whole debate (it is well possible that Pigliucci has never seen the Slimepit for example, most people who are new to the debate have never seen it).

  69. 69
    Paul

    This ‘what if’ worry may be in good faith, then again it may not.

    Considering there was a clear recommendation consistently throughout his piece that anti-harassment policies are needed, it would seem to be bad faith to assume anything other than good faith on his part in what you quoted. You might think he’s a privileged d-bag, but nothing reads like he’s stealthily trying to foment discord. You go from “women very seldom make unwarranted accusations” to “Women just don’t do that stuff”. Before you take him to task, you might want to make up your mind on which it is. I think “alarmism” about false reporting of activities by females is harmful, to be clear. Downright irresponsible. But Pigliucci noted the possibility, and then moved past it to state that we still need to enact clear and firm harassment policies.

    For what it’s worth, falsely reporting is something that really happens. It’s very uncommon, and it’s far more important for anyone fielding complaints to respond as if they are true, as under-reporting is well-documented to be a much bigger problem. I actually have a family member that spent over a decade behind bars due to a false report (her father said to lie or get disinherited). But saying that women don’t falsely report things is a trivial falsehood. Saying that they’re anything more than a very tiny minority (and a small enough case that they shouldn’t even be a consideration when forming harassment policies) is true enough. Probably best of all is not mentioning the issue of false reporting at all, though, since it applies for any type of policy (“We can’t have an evacuation policy since someone might lie about there being a fire”), and talking about women filing false reports plays all sorts of misogynist dog whistles.

    Since I’ve also come across as a Massimo defender here (which wasn’t my original intention, but I was just surprised by the reception the piece got here) reading the actual “no hugs” proposal, I see nothing objectionable. I’m curious if he’s referring to a straw-version that friends referenced to him or the actual proposal.

    The necessity of harassment policies is well established already, and anyone who doesn’t recognize that obvious fact is an idiot.

    And yet, there are plenty of idiots that haven’t been engaging in that vicious harassment for the last year. I would have thought there would be some value in simply laying out a position so that the peanut gallery could follow without getting scared off by the angry people. And he didn’t even try to use Pharyngula as a source of angry people that make his point necessary, this time. It seemed like a huge leap forward for him.

    Thanks for the link, Salty. I’m not going to contribute anymore on this thread. I didn’t intend to write as much as I have, and I don’t think Pigliucci is “in the right” or anything like that, and it’s given me something to think on. I still think that comments like

    of the lie that “both sides are doing it” is that it encourages the idea that “both sides are right to some degree, and the best answer is to split the difference.

    are misrepresenting what he said. There’s no recommendation to split the difference. No statement that both sides are responsible for the sliming. He is unambiguously supporting a harassment policy, although I agree that he’s straddling the fence far too much by not noting why they still haven’t been adopted yet. I was just baffled that that support didn’t seem to be evident by reading this comment thread. However, his way of doing so falls into his normal means of tepid support, so if the community feels they get more benefit by ripping into him, who am I to tell them otherwise.

  70. 70
    barbyau

    The people in the middle are often just the people who care the least. They pay no attention, then when things heat up, they come in with their attitude of being so much better than anyone else PRECISELY because they haven’t been paying attention and haven’t picked a side.

    They are like the “moderates” that come in to the abortion debate and then decide that both sides are unreasonable. Instead of no abortion, why not sometimes abortion? Ignoring the fact that the pro choice people NEVER EVER said mandatory abortions. But it does’t matter if you can present yourself like you are so much more reasonable and thoughtful on the matter than anyone else.

    He just doesn’t want to actually take the side of the oppressed. You don’t separate from the herd when the herd attacks the weak.

  71. 71
    Cipher

    I think “alarmism” about false reporting of activities by females is harmful, to be clear.

    “Women” will do fine, thanks.

    There’s no recommendation to split the difference. No statement that both sides are responsible for the sliming. He is unambiguously supporting a harassment policy, although I agree that he’s straddling the fence far too much by not noting why they still haven’t been adopted yet.

    Right. And his bs about self-righteousness appears, to me, to be the response of a privileged person with little to no stake, latching on to an excuse to shame the people he agrees with for something, anything, just to make it look like he’s not taking sides and act like he’s superior by virtue of being less “emotional” – that is, more privileged. I think that’s an asshole move, and it’s some typical silencing bullshit, and it feeds in to the stupid self-righteous fantasies of the slime while trying to maintain plausible deniability about doing that.

  72. 72
    Cipher

    Also, what barbyau said. ^ (Awesome!)

  73. 73
    ludicrous

    Paul @69,

    My apologies to Massimo, I see that it appears my remark was aimed at him, not my attention. I was thinking of the complaints from those who seem to think they won’t be able to talk to women anymore.

    I stand by my claim that women do not intentionally make unwarranted complaints.. and they won’t lodge a complaint unless you lean on them so hard they have no choice. What might be their motive for false accusation? They have every reason to avoid a making a scene. Look at the shitstorm they encounter whenever they say anything about harrassment.

  74. 74
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    @Cipher, OM, Fighting Fucktoy #71

    Right. And his bs about self-righteousness appears, to me, to be the response of a privileged person with little to no stake, latching on to an excuse to shame the people he agrees with for something, anything, just to make it look like he’s not taking sides and act like he’s superior by virtue of being less “emotional” – that is, more privileged. I think that’s an asshole move, and it’s some typical silencing bullshit, and it feeds in to the stupid self-righteous fantasies of the slime while trying to maintain plausible deniability about doing that.

    His “stake” seems to be fence sitting, and if he has to invalidate the people who are correct, and thereby validate the slimepit, he’s overjoyed to do it if it maintains his self-image as being squarely in the middle, not emotionally invested, and in practice 100% ethically bankrupt. By preserving his privileged position above all other considerations, he’s shown himself to be free of anything that normal people would consider ethical. He’d rather be consistently amoral rather than take a side no matter how obviously correct.

  75. 75
    FluffyTheTerrible

    @ kesara

    Barbyau has said most of the things I wanted to say much better, and his/her post addresses most of the issues you’re struggling with:

    QFT

    The people in the middle are often just the people who care the least. They pay no attention, then when things heat up, they come in with their attitude of being so much better than anyone else PRECISELY because they haven’t been paying attention and haven’t picked a side.

    They are like the “moderates” that come in to the abortion debate and then decide that both sides are unreasonable. Instead of no abortion, why not sometimes abortion? Ignoring the fact that the pro choice people NEVER EVER said mandatory abortions. But it does’t matter if you can present yourself like you are so much more reasonable and thoughtful on the matter than anyone else.

    He just doesn’t want to actually take the side of the oppressed. You don’t separate from the herd when the herd attacks the weak.

    Regarding

    Also, this tendency to equate people using strong language to people alienating their audience or -OMG- scaring potential allies and sending them into the slimepiters camp needs to stop.

    Why does this need to stop ?

    Are you actually serious with this question? It needs to stop because it’s both wrong and false. You can’t determine the rightness of an argument based on the tone of the argument alone. Just because we’re angry and vocal in the comments, and emotional too, doesn’t invalidate our point of view. Also, if people choose the other camp because OMG our language, they weren’t real allies to begin with. I’ve said it before, you choose a side because it’s the right one, the just, the equitable, the compassionate one. You don’t decide to switch sides because some people were using strong language.

    The truth is Grothe lied, or lied by omission.

    Did Sara know that ?

    I’m assuming Sara is the one whose comment you linked to. Yes, she knew he lied, because he said there were no instances of harassment, and she quoted, in that very same post, that female bloggers had told him about instances of harassment.
    Why are we covering the same topic that has been discussed to death? (not to mention clarified)

  76. 76
    ludicrous

    Well shit, typing to fast in a hurry. Yes, I do object to Massimo’s alarmism in his post, but I don’t include him in the whiners about no fun anymoer

  77. 77
    Cipher

    See, and as I said, I do think he’s spot on for a lot of this. I think he’s playing the Appeaser part fairly well (I HAVE A NEW CONCEPTUAL TOY), but falls victim to the same problem many people who take that role do – being silencing at people he agrees with because he thinks his method is superior to theirs.

  78. 78
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    ludicrous,

    I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but he does consider the part about hugging unreasonable.

  79. 79
    sexyjedi

    And Massimo is wrong about that, and is feeding into some toxic memes by saying it.

    How is he wrong about it? From what I have read of the policy(I have it downloaded right here), it says this:

    Yes means yes; no means no; and maybe means no.

    Agree 100%

    Please take no for an answer for any request or activity.

    Also agree 100%

    You are encouraged to ask for unequivocal consent for all activities during the conference. No touching other people without asking. This includes hands on knees, backs, shoulders—and hugs (ask first!).

    This is where the problem is. Now, I agree that no one should be touching others without permission. That said, permission is not always given verbally, or rescinded verbally. When I go to hug my friends, for example, there is just a kind of body-language thingy that happens that lets me know if it is okay to hug. It’s pretty easy to tell if they don’t want one. One thing I do not do is explicitly ask, “can I hug you?” because, well, that would be really awkward. I really doubt many others explicitly ask for hugs or reassuring touches, or pats on the back, or sympathetic touching. Much of physical communication between people, even strangers, is not negotiated beforehand, is spontaneous, and that is what makes it work.

    In the same way, because the physical communication happens on a non-verbal level, it is pretty easy to tell if the touching is not wanted. Again, I, and most humans, can tell very easily if a hug or whatnot is unwanted, even beforehand. There is no need for the verbal communication beforehand, because with most people, their body-language says it all. And if someone violates the other person by ignoring the body-language, then that is harassment, or assault, or whatever else we can call it. This is why, for example, a woman does not have to say “no” to an attacker for it to be rape. It is enough that the body language communicated that ages ago(or simply just didn’t communicate consent), and that the rapist is going through with it anyway.

    I guess I just think that “encouraging” attendees to ask for unequivocal, verbal consent before what are normally spontaneous, non-verbal, intuitive forms of communicating is going a bit too far, and won’t do much to help make the place safer for anyone.

  80. 80
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Cipher, OM; michaeld, et al

    Introvert rebellion! From the comfort of your own home! (I’m there.)

    Response to Pigliucci text:

    bada-ba bink a-dink a-dink a-bink bwa bwawawawa

    Well, maybe it will reach someone more positively. It ain’t terrible, but the false equivalence bit is lazy and ignorant and could have simply been left out if he didn’t mean anything by it.

  81. 81
    Cipher

    I guess I just think that “encouraging” attendees to ask for unequivocal, verbal consent before what are normally spontaneous, non-verbal, intuitive forms of communicating is going a bit too far, and won’t do much to help make the place safer for anyone.

    Except that the people who ignore body language and violate other people’s boundaries are then just going to claim they misread the body language. Adding this encouragement makes that no longer an excuse you can use.

  82. 82
    eriktrips

    “Objectivity,” especially in social relations, tends to be a function of privilege. Pigliucci can view the dispute “from a distance” because his interests are not involved, but that does not mean he is speaking from a neutral stance–quite the contrary.

    That he is worried about too much political correctness is to me a red herring: in the US, we are nowhere near becoming too tolerant, too anti-racist, too non-misogynistic, too equal, or too compassionate. I think the idea that one can become too firmly planted on the side of social justice is as absurd as it sounds. How much racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, classism, etc (shorthand: kyriarchy) are “just right”?

    And he is being dishonest in outlining the supposed danger in being too careful of boundaries. The no-hugs policy is not a no-hugs policy. It is an “ask before hugging” policy. How can asking before hugging someone not be a reasonable thing to expect? I hang out with people who prefer clear boundaries to foggy ones, and who will ask before assuming that it is ok to take a chance on violating someone’s sense of personal safety. I find it refreshing and, oddly enough, much warmer and more human when people are conscious enough to ask about such things.

    I don’t see his stance a “reasonable” one so much as a conveniently disinterested one. It seems apparent that he can afford not to state the case against sexism too strongly. That doesn’t mean the rest of us can.

  83. 83
    neonsequitur

    First of all, I’m not on anyone’s “side” because I think you’re all a bunch of obnoxious gits. If I want to fight misogyny, I’ll study FtB as an example of how NOT to do it.

    Now, re: Pigliucci. All this talk about “false equivalence” is complete bullshit. He says both sides have been self-righteous, and he’s right; they have. He doesn’t say one side or the other has been worse, nor does he say they’ve been equally bad. It looks to me like you’re all more interested in “keeping score” and arguing about who’s been *more* self-righteous than admitting that just maybe you are being more than a little self-righteous about this shit (even if the other side is worse) and it’s time to take his advice and knock it the fuck off. PZ is right; his column is the first reasonable thing I’ve read in this “debate” and it took all of two posts for you people to start raking him over the coals for it.

  84. 84
    'Tis Himself

    sexyjedi #79

    When I go to hug my friends, for example, there is just a kind of body-language thingy that happens that lets me know if it is okay to hug. It’s pretty easy to tell if they don’t want one.

    Sure, you probably know when your friends want to be hugged or not. How do you know if I want to be hugged right now? You’ve never met me, you know little about me, you can’t see my body language or facial expressions, so how do you know if I’d like to be hugged? It’s really simple, you ask: “Hi, ‘Tis, want a hug?”

  85. 85
    eriktrips

    Sometime around the turn of the millennium, I took the train across the country to Baltimore to attend a meetup of people from alt.support.depression. There were at least sixty of us, most of us introverts, and most of us depressed introverts.

    At many (most?) points absolute silence reigned. We would all look at the floor, at our hands, at the ceiling. And then we would look at each other and laugh because we were all having the same problem. And then we would fall silent again and it would start again. This went on for hours.

    If wi-fi had been available back then we could have all sat with our laptops and had a rousing conversation.

  86. 86
    rodriguez

    sexyjedi when you say this That said, permission is not always given verbally, or rescinded verbally. you are describing the world as it is now. And this loophole is where a lot of problems hide. Because many are conditioned by society to give certain cues, or at least not to resist them. And when I say many, you can read, many women. Again here There is no need for the verbal communication beforehand, because with most people, their body-language says it all. you have said yourself “most”. But who gets to define that most? and what about those not in the most? If you find it inconvenient to ask for a hug or a touch ahead of time, well, that’s just the price we will have to pay to transition. We want to get to a place where these kinds of interactions are not potential traps for people (women, men, all) who don’t want them.

  87. 87
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    First of all, I’m not on anyone’s “side”

    That was a time-saver.

  88. 88
    'Tis Himself

    neonsequitur #83

    First of all, I’m not on anyone’s “side” because I think you’re all a bunch of obnoxious gits. If I want to fight misogyny, I’ll study FtB as an example of how NOT to do it.

    If you’re going to sneer at us as an opening statement, then why should we give a rat’s ass about your other opinions. I suggest you make life easier for all of us, including you. Just shut the fuck up. Thank you and have a nice rest of your life.

  89. 89
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    One thing I do not do is explicitly ask, “can I hug you?” because, well, that would be really awkward. I really doubt many others explicitly ask for hugs or reassuring touches, or pats on the back, or sympathetic touching.

    If it is someone who is a new friend, someone with whom I have not, previously, shared any form of intimacy, I damn well would. What to you is sympathetic touching may be unwanted touching.

    Add to this, this was at an atheist/skeptic conference. For the past year, the subject of personal space and uninvited attempted intimacy have been a subject of intense discussion within the same community. And the conference had a very clear policy (whether the policy was honoured is a different question).

    I guess I just think that “encouraging” attendees to ask for unequivocal, verbal consent before what are normally spontaneous, non-verbal, intuitive forms of communicating is going a bit too far, and won’t do much to help make the place safer for anyone.

    Does it ever occur to anyone out there that sexism and misogyny are, thanks to culture and socialization, ‘spontaneous, [often] non-verbal, intuitive forms of communications’? I am 46 years old and a privileged male. White, middle class, college educated, homeowner, etc. — privileged out the whazoo. And I have always considered myself a proponent of equal rights for all. And the toxic socialization of my normal, boring, middle class upbringing have left my life full of unexamined sexism and misogyny. I try like hell to avoid sexism, ageism, ableism, racism, etc., and once a day, once a week, once a month, I put my foot into a big pile of privilege. These are examples of my very own ‘spontaneous, [often] non-verbal, intuitive forms of communications’.

    So making the claim that personal space issues, harassment, unwanted advances, unwanted touching, should not be considered a big problem because these are ‘spontaneous, [often] non-verbal, intuitive forms of communications’ misses the point as thoroughly as a Mitt Romney answer at a press conference.

  90. 90
    Sili

    Sometime around the turn of the millennium, I took the train across the country to Baltimore to attend a meetup of people from alt.support.depression. There were at least sixty of us, most of us introverts, and most of us depressed introverts.

    At many (most?) points absolute silence reigned. We would all look at the floor, at our hands, at the ceiling. And then we would look at each other and laugh because we were all having the same problem. And then we would fall silent again and it would start again. This went on for hours.

    If wi-fi had been available back then we could have all sat with our laptops and had a rousing conversation.

    Is someone gonnsa bring a jigsaw puzzles to Rh41in9ebeck?

  91. 91
    FluffyTheTerrible

    @neonsequitur

    Ooh, look, a sniny new chewtoy. Lest we should go an entire thread without having some arrogant ignoramus school us on the *PROPER* way to fight sexism.

    So we should totally say thank you to neonsequitur for taking time out of what must be a busy schedule to share some of his/her wisdom with us.

    So tell us, dear neonsequitur, what exactly have we been doing so tremendously wrong in dealing with sexism? Were we too loud? Too argumentative? Too uncompromising with the assholes who don’t want to see their privilege to hit on anyone, at anytime, infringed?

    Please tell us. Inquiring minds need to know.

  92. 92
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Sili,

    I wish I could go to Rhinebeck and assemble jigsaw puzzles with you all.

  93. 93
    Cipher

    First of all, I’m not on anyone’s “side” because I think you’re all a bunch of obnoxious gits

    Bored now!

  94. 94
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    As an aside, and to mention again, I physically NEED to have advance warnings for hugs, especially from behind or unexpectedly. I have seriously uncomfortable muscle spasms when I’m touched the wrong way and especially by surprise. Since my wife needs to ask for a hug, sure as hell the rest of you need to.

  95. 95
    Kalliope

    Beatrice,

    I made that comment you linked to. Thanks for the kudos. The entire argument is freakin’ bizarre, if you ask me.

  96. 96
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I guess I just think that “encouraging” attendees to ask for unequivocal, verbal consent before what are normally spontaneous, non-verbal, intuitive forms of communicating is going a bit too far, and won’t do much to help make the place safer for anyone.

    Remember, nothing is going to reach the “fuzz” unless somebody complains. Now, two people mutually hugging with appropriate verbal clues? Neither will complain, nor likely would a third party claim a foul. But someone who’s space is encroached and is clearly uncomfortable, and she or a third party reports it? Fair to complain about. Some latitude must be allowed within guidelines, which are set for a hair trigger.

  97. 97
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    As an aside, and to mention again, I physically NEED to have advance warnings for hugs, especially from behind or unexpectedly.

    Anyone hugging me from behind shouldn’t be surprised if they end up limping. I get startled, I kick.

  98. 98
    julian

    If I want to fight misogyny, I’ll study FtB as an example of how NOT to do it.

    So you’re never going to bring up the issue? Insist it be given the consideration it deserves? Offer drafts of policies and highlight organizations that have drafted their own? You’re never going to explain again and again in detail what is wrong with a certain policy?

    You’re why I don’t care for M.P.’s piece. But whatever. He gets to seem centrists and above the “pettiness” of other bloggers and you get to feel superior. Everyone wins or something.

  99. 99
    Kalliope

    sexijedi,

    Now, I am not equating the over reaction of the US Government to terrorism to things like the AA policy, but you can see the point, can you not?

    If you are not equating, then your comparison falls apart. “I’m not equating drowning your toddler to her crying while you wash her hair, but you can see the point, can you not?”

    Are you really prepared to hang the whole question of whether there ought to be protective policies in place to a non-starter about hugging?

  100. 100
    sexyjedi

    ‘Tis Himself


    How do you know if I want to be hugged right now? You’ve never met me, you know little about me, you can’t see my body language or facial expressions, so how do you know if I’d like to be hugged?

    Honestly, as you are not here in person, I do not know if you do. If you were here in person(which would be the only way I would be able to hug you anyway), I would know whether or not you did, unless you were being purposefully deceitful. At the very worst, I would know if there was a lack of consent to the hug(as opposed to an outright body-language “no”). My policy is that if someone is not actively consenting to it, I just don’t do it. That means, even if their body-language isn’t saying outright “NO” but is a little uncomfortable looking and whatnot, I just don’t do it. Plus, I said “friends” because I just don’t hug strangers as a general rule. Seems weird :P

  101. 101
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    My policy is that if someone is not actively consenting to it, I just don’t do it. That means, even if their body-language isn’t saying outright “NO” but is a little uncomfortable looking and whatnot, I just don’t do it. Plus, I said “friends” because I just don’t hug strangers as a general rule. Seems weird :P

    Yeah, so what the fuck is your problem with the AA policy again? If you follow these rules you will never have a problem with it.

  102. 102
    sexyjedi

    Kalliope

    “I’m not equating drowning your toddler to her crying while you wash her hair, but you can see the point, can you not?”

    Unrelated, but my daughter totally cries when when I wash her hair. She hates it :P

    Are you really prepared to hang the whole question of whether there ought to be protective policies in place to a non-starter about hugging?

    Um, no. That’s because, if you had read anything more of that comment of mine, you’d know that I am all for “protective policies”. I am just not for every proposed protective policy. There is a huge problem, and it needs to be dealt with. I am just for dealing with it responsibly.

  103. 103
    mythbri

    @sexyjedi

    The thing is that you don’t need to ask the policy, or the event organizers, or anyone but the person you want to hug. The policy only comes into play when someone is touched when they don’t want to be, and are bothered enough by it that they decide to talk to the even organizers. I seriously doubt that anyone hugging people they already know to be open to it from you will raise any eyebrows. But as you can read here, there are people who don’t like to be touched by pretty much anyone, so I think it’s absolutely appropriate to verbally ask before hugging someone with whom you’re not familiar.

  104. 104
    carlie

    How many words have to be expended on “no touching unless it’s mutually wanted”?

  105. 105
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    How many words have to be expended on “no touching unless it’s mutually wanted”?

    Apparently, lots.

    Some people treasure their own personal right to invade someone else’s space over the right of a person to not have his or her space invaded?

  106. 106
    Cipher

    As an aside, and to mention again, I physically NEED to have advance warnings for hugs, especially from behind or unexpectedly.

    Oh yes.

    People who get in my space without warning me have mostly been lucky so far. But – jesus, did you see what I did there? I’m leaving that in because LOOK AT IT. I just framed the question of me being touched unexpectedly as centered on the well-being of the person doing the touching! That’s bullshit.

    Anyway. When I am touched unexpectedly, even in an affectionate way, it is often horrid for me. There is sometimes, depending on the situation, the instant of vulnerability/submissive reflex (which by the way makes everything worse), but always the painful full-body defensive tensing, with the heart jolt, followed by me having to consciously relax myself, often despite feeling trapped, and control the rage that follows the fear and pretend it’s not there because who gets angry at that, that’s crazy, then eventually the guilt for being angry and for the moment when I was almost violent. I need warning and a choice in the matter. And yes, the “hug?” gesture counts as warning and an offer, but I need to see it!

    So yeah, having that spelled out in the harassment policy is like, a giant sigh of relief moment for me. Or it would be, if I were still willing to go to any environment where “skeptics” congregate.

  107. 107
    karmakin

    The problem is that people want to assume that everybody wants a hug from them…why wouldn’t they? I’m awesome!

    This breaks that illusion and is an attack on the ego.

  108. 108
    Kalliope

    Um, no. That’s because, if you had read anything more of that comment of mine, you’d know that I am all for “protective policies”. I am just not for every proposed protective policy.

    I should have phrased that better. Do you really think the hugging policy warrants a detour from the larger goal or installing a protective policy? Is it really that important?

    It’s being used as a wedge, and if it was the hugging thing, it would be something else. “TOO FAR!” AKA, “Bitches be crazy!”

    It’s a distraction, and I’m curious about whether you really think that it’s such a large and foundational error which requires our serious and considered attention.

  109. 109
    joed

    women are in charge of the touch department.
    under ordinary circumstance a man will not touch a woman unless she gives the consent.
    if a person wants a hug opening the arms in the gesture of “how’bout a hug” is all the
    “asking” that is needed. If the hug is denied then too bad.
    seems guys have a problem with this because they don’t want the woman to be in charge.
    there are myriad “just-so stories” to show how far off i am.
    ordinarily the woman is in charge of the touch department.

  110. 110
    michaeld

    As long as we’re talking about hugs….

    http://i732.photobucket.com/albums/ww329/KraziJack/funny-pictures-bunny-wants-hug.jpg

    ^.^

  111. 111
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    joed:

    You’ve never hugged a man?

    I agree, though, with your assertion that what really pisses some men off is the idea that a mere woman can say, “No.”

  112. 112
    shadowbroke, an entitled gamer who regrets their 'nym

    Men are in charge of culture and most of the rule books.

    Try again.

  113. 113
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    shadowbroke:

    I may be wrong (I frequently am), but I think that joed was pointing out that men are in charge, men do make the rules, and the idea that a woman can say no upsets the the little hamster-on-the-wheel between the ears of the man.

  114. 114
    'Tis Himself

    . If you were here in person(which would be the only way I would be able to hug you anyway), I would know whether or not you did,

    Are you absolutely, positively sure about that? You’re making a pretty big assumption about someone you don’t know.

    As it happens, I hate to be hugged by strangers. But I’ll be cheerful and pleasant to you right up to the time you try to hug me without asking first. And don’t try to bullshit with “I’d know.” No, you wouldn’t. You’d be guessing.

  115. 115
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Dang, the “rules” aren’t hard. When I learned about shaking hands, the lesson was with a woman, always let her extend the hand first. I do the same with hugs. Unless the woman gives the open arms gesture, no hugging. Not hard at all to be polite.

    The other way is to be a predator and ignore their space for my ego.

  116. 116
    sexyjedi

    Kalliope,

    I should have phrased that better. Do you really think the hugging policy warrants a detour from the larger goal or installing a protective policy? Is it really that important?

    It’s being used as a wedge, and if it was the hugging thing, it would be something else. “TOO FAR!” AKA, “Bitches be crazy!”

    It’s a distraction, and I’m curious about whether you really think that it’s such a large and foundational error which requires our serious and considered attention.

    Honestly, I do not think it is a huge deal that will break the community or whatnot, as in, I do not think the policy will have really adverse affects at conferences. That said, I do think that over-reactive policies like these can give ammunition to detractors because they are a bit over-reaching, even if in reality they will result in nothing really. In other words, my gripe is not so much with the policy itself(also because I will probably never go to an AA event, as I live in Portland, and stuff just doesn’t happen all that often out here for some reason), but rather with the overall picture, with strategy. Looking at this thing strategically, as in, looking at it from the perspective of trying to change the minds of people who think otherwise about the issue, I just don’t think it was done right.

    I know there is a whole strain in social justice circles about, “it is not our job to educate people, or to modulate our tone/message, etc”, but I have to disagree to some extent. Sure, it is not the job of every individual to educate the ignorant on these issues or to overly moderate their message, but I do think it is best for those with big platforms to do so if they are at all concerned with the big picture, with actually changing people’s minds. In that sense, the AA, as an organization with a big platform, I believe has a sort of obligation to make sure things are right, from a strategic perspective. That’s my only real gripe I guess.

  117. 117
    carlie

    It’s not even a woman/man thing. It’s a person thing. I have male friends who have had to remind me that they have larger personal space needs than I do, and please back the hell off because I’m too close. It’s basic theory of mind – other people don’t have all the same things going through their heads that you have going through yours, so default to finding out what’s in their heads before you try to do anything to them.

  118. 118
    Cipher

    That said, I do think that over-reactive policies like these can give ammunition to detractors because they are a bit over-reaching, even if in reality they will result in nothing really.

    Except, you know, people like me feeling more comfortable because our needs are taken into account by the policy.
    NOTHING REALLY

  119. 119
    mythbri

    @sexyjedi

    Asking someone you don’t know before giving them a hug, even if their body language indicates they’d be open to one, isn’t an over-reactive stipulation. As I said in my previous comment, it will never become an issue if the hug is wanted. The potential price to pay for asking someone is a small amount of awkwardness if they do not accept. The potential price to pay for NOT asking someone is encroaching on their personal space, and making them severely uncomfortable. If you don’t know where that other person is coming from, ASK FIRST. It’s not too much to ask.

  120. 120
    sexyjedi

    ‘Tis Himself

    Are you absolutely, positively sure about that? You’re making a pretty big assumption about someone you don’t know.

    As it happens, I hate to be hugged by strangers. But I’ll be cheerful and pleasant to you right up to the time you try to hug me without asking first. And don’t try to bullshit with “I’d know.” No, you wouldn’t. You’d be guessing.

    So, you’re saying that if I did the whole “let’s hug!” body language gesture(not moving in for a hug, but just kinda non-verbally asking for one) you would still be pleasant and display assent, and only until I actually moved in you’d get unpleasant? If that were the case, I would say you were being decietful, which I covered above.

    In other words, one just doesn’t move in for a hug. There is a process to it, just not explicit and all. Or, are you saying that the whole, “let’s hug!” part in the beginning is super offensive?

  121. 121
    Cipher


    In other words, one just doesn’t move in for a hug.

    Sigh.

  122. 122
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Sigh.

    Yep, typical MRA blindness and having the point go way over their head.

  123. 123
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    Honestly, anyone who thinks Pigliucci’s piece is the first ‘reasonable’ post on the issue really needs to work on their understanding of what ‘reasonable’ actually is.

    There are not two sides working to reduce misogyny, there is one side working to reduce it, and one side working to resist it. Yes, there is a proportion of those working to resist it who aren’t necessarily against it per se, but the fact is they’ve been working to resist it because of their personal grudges against one or more of PZ, Rebecca Watson, Ophelia, Stephanie Svan and the rest of the FtBloggers.

    There are also those who are just ignorant and resent the implication that despite being atheists and skeptics they aren’t perfect, and don’t want to agree to change because it would be evidence of that.

    And then there are bunch of truly sickening misogynist assholes who oppose it and are working hard against it – and both the anti-Ftb/Skepchick crowd and the stubborn resentful idiots are, willingly or not, helping them out.

  124. 124
    sexyjedi

    Yep, typical MRA blindness and having the point go way over their head.

    I don’t know if you are referring to me or the other person, but I am in no way a “MRA”. I am all about equality, about safety for everyone. I wouldn’t be so quick to label any who disagree with specific details as being MRA’s, or whatnot. That is akin to any other group that forces agreement to every single one of their ideas, and demonizes any who disagree with even a little bit of “the platform”. We aren’t just another, “you are either with us in every way, or against us” type of group, at least I hope so.

  125. 125
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    So, you’re saying that if I did the whole “let’s hug!” body language gesture(not moving in for a hug, but just kinda non-verbally asking for one)

    I once watched a man (college student) walk up to a woman (also a college student) who was in tears. He knew her name and little else. She was an acquaintance. He approached her and, while approaching her, opened is arms in a ‘let’s hug’ gesture, and she declined. He ignored the shake of her head and hugged her and she collapsed in tears. Turned out she had just been sexually assaulted. He thought she needed a hug. He assumed, even when she declined, that he knew better. So there is an example of a non-verbal response to a non-verbal invitation being ignored. It really does happen.

    Opening your arms in the nearly universal ‘let’s hug’ gesture, without moving towards the person, without invading that person’s space, and being willing to back off if the other person does not open his or her arms to welcome the hug? Hmm. If I did that to a new acquaintance, and added the word, “Hug?”, with an upward inflection at the end of the word, to me that would be a request to enter someone else’s personal space, I would consider that to be asking before hugging. And a verbal acceptance, or a verbal declination, would be perfectly acceptable. As would a nonverbal assumption of the nearly universal ‘let’s hug’ gesture.

    For me.

    I can not, and will not, speak for other people.

    Entering someone’s personal space without permission says that you do not see that other person as a human being. Asking permission — human. Not asking permission — thing. Being treated as a thing with no rights to my own personal space is something that I have experienced and not only will I not do that, but I will stand up for others where and when possible.

  126. 126
    ludicrous

    Beatrice @78

    I did not note that, thanks. I would not have apologized.

  127. 127
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Entering someone’s personal space without permission says that you do not see that other person as a human being. Asking permission — human. Not asking permission — thing.

    QFMFT

  128. 128
    sexyjedi

    Ogvorbis: Dogmaticus sycophantus,

    So there is an example of a non-verbal response to a non-verbal invitation being ignored. It really does happen.

    I agree that it happens. I never said that it doesn’t. But honestly, do you think that someone who is going to ignore the pretty obvious “no” body-language communication will choose to heed the verbal “no”? I really don’t think so, to be honest. People who choose to ignore consent will ignore both verbal and non-verbal forms of it.

    That’s why I think the “you must get verbal consent” to the hug thing is a bit over-reactionary. It is pretty unnecessary to get verbal consent for one, because non-verbal ques cover it, and those who would just choose to ignore non-verbal ques will also ignore the verbal ones too.

  129. 129
    mythbri

    @sexyjedi

    I think that you mean “cues”. And as Ogvorbis illustrated, sometimes it is necessary to get verbal consent. And not just with respect to the other person’s emotional health, but their physical health as well. My brother broke his collarbone once, and it was still painful for him even after he didn’t have to wear the sling anymore. He had no visible signs of injury, but people who didn’t know him or weren’t aware of the broken bone caused a lot of unintentional pain for him when they touched him without asking.

    Emphasizing the importance of consent makes it clear to people who would willfully misunderstand non-verbal consent will contribute to reducing the amount of unwanted touching. They will know that if the person they’re touching objects, then that person is backed by the event organizers. It helps. Just because you don’t see a use for it doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

  130. 130
    marilove

    If you don’t know someone very well, just get verbal consent. A simple, “Hug?” is all that’s needed, for heaven’s sake.

    If it’s a friend, then fine, rely on non-verbal cues. But for acquaintances, business and professional contacts, co-workers, and strangers, get verbal consent first.

  131. 131
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    But honestly, do you think that someone who is going to ignore the pretty obvious “no” body-language communication will choose to heed the verbal “no”?

    Which is why it should be spelled out in a non-harassment policy. That way, when one of those assholes does ignore the body language, or the spoken no, or anything else and does invade someone else’s space, they can be booted from the conference and, when they go on some blog and start complaining about being kicked out when “I didn’t know she didn’t want to hug/kiss/fuck!”, 101 different people can point to the published policy and say “That is why you were thrown out/asked to leave/booted.” It is because some people will ignore common decency and treat human being like things that these policies are needed.

  132. 132
    'Tis Himself

    sexyjedi #124

    I am all about equality, about safety for everyone.

    Sure you’re all about safety…except when you’re not happy about a standard or might feel embarrassed because your friendly gesture is declined or feeling otherwise imposed upon.

    Is it really so hard for you to ask someone if they want to be hugged? Is it that too difficult to realize that there are people who don’t like to be touched, no matter how much you want to touch them? The people who came up with the “don’t hug without asking first” standard were not thinking “what can we do to annoy sexyjedi?” Instead they were concerned with everyone. You may love passing out hugs to all and sundry. There are those of us who don’t share that particular enthusiasm.

  133. 133
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    That’s why I think the “you must get verbal consent” to the hug thing is a bit over-reactionary.

    Who cares what you think? Or rather want to impose on other people, like unwanted touching. Any policy should err on the side of no-touching, verbal-consent required. Makes it easier on the organizers, protects the organization from lawsuits, and is consistent to enforce. You want a say, you organize a convention. Or shut the fuck up.

  134. 134
    sexyjedi

    Cipher, OM, Fighting Fucktoy,

    Except, you know, people like me feeling more comfortable because our needs are taken into account by the policy.
    NOTHING REALLY

    So, you are really naive enough to believe that such a policy will somehow magically protect you at conferences, that the predators who decide to ignore non-verbal consent will now decide to follow the policy, and get verbal consent? People who are bent on offending will continue to offend, no matter what policies an organization puts in place. It doesn’t matter how specific the policy states what constitutes harassment, how specific it states how one should go about social interactions, etc. People know what harassment is, what consent is and what it looks like when it is rescinded. No amount of policies defining things will enlighten anyone.

    So, yeah, NOTHING REALLY, besides false security, I guess.

    The important policies are the ones which are there to deal with the incidents that happen, in a manner which respects the victim, keeps records, and is completely zero-tolerance toward offenders. These are the ones we should be really focused on, and getting all specific about, in my opinion.

  135. 135
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    That’s why I think the “you must get verbal consent” to the hug thing is a bit over-reactionary.

    Well it’s a good thing that none of the policies say that you disingenuous little fuck. The AA policy encourages explicit verbal consent, it doesn’t require it. As has been explained to you countless fucking times if you know someone well enough to hug without asking that is fucking fine. If you engage in a mutually agreeable hug that with a new acquaintance negotiated through body language rather than words that is also fucking fine.

    What the fuck is wrong with you that you can’t get this through your fucking head? Oh, that’s right: you’re a trolling fucking troll. Fuck the fuck off already.

  136. 136
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    So, you are really naive enough to believe that such a policy will somehow magically protect you at conferences, that the predators who decide to ignore non-verbal consent will now decide to follow the policy, and get verbal consent?

    No. It will not stop all the predators. But it will do two things: first, all will know what the expected behaviour is so that bystanders will have some idea of when to step in and, second, even the predators will know that they are on notice and that failure to treat others as human beings will be dealt with. THAT is why conferences need a policy.

    Why are you so invested with being able to hug acquaintances and new friends without asking permission?

  137. 137
    marilove

    Also, sexyjedi? It’s as if we’re always between a rock and a hard place. You’re saying that we shouldn’t rely on non-verbal cues, but then we regularly have people(mostly MRA’s and their supporters) insisting that we’re not clear enough about consent. Did we wear a short skirt? Did we walk alone in the wrong place at the wrong time? Did we not say no enough? Etc.

    But then we have people like you, who insist that if we prefer verbal cues when it comes to touching people you don’t know very well, that we’re just being prudish or obnoxious.

    How difficult is it just to ASK? Really?

    Not to mention, we’re always given the excuse that maybe these people are just socially awkward! Maybe even on the Autism spectrum. Maybe they just don’t know what is appropriate. We need to communicate more, and make sure these awkward assholes know that we don’t like being harassed!

    But now, according to you, if someone is unable to read certain non-verbal social cures, then, well, we should just accept it. Because they’d “probably” not listen anyway, right?

    Is this so when the verbal consent is ignored, it can just be continued to be blamed on the socially awkward Autistic Hero, rather than a sexist asshole who doesn’t respect the boundaries of others? And that we just weren’t vocal enough? But then when we ARE vocal about our boundaries, we’re still doing it wrong!

  138. 138
    carlie

    As I said in my previous comment, it will never become an issue if the hug is wanted. The potential price to pay for asking someone is a small amount of awkwardness if they do not accept. The potential price to pay for NOT asking someone is encroaching on their personal space, and making them severely uncomfortable.

    QFFT.

  139. 139
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    So, sexyjedi, is your argument (and this is my interpretation of your argument based on your writings) that we cannot have rules about hugging or personal space because some people might ignore the rules? So because people do 70 to 75mph on the highway on which I commute, we should do away with the speed limit? Some people run stop signs. Get rid of them? Some men rape women even though there are rules against that. Some scoutmasters rape their scouts and that is against the rules, so we should eliminate the rules?

  140. 140
    sexyjedi

    dysomniak, darwinian socialist,

    wow, no need for the harsh language. I’m not being disingenuous, or trolling. Not everyone who disagrees with your position is trolling, just so you know. If you find the debate so upsetting, maybe you should lay off for a little?

    You may be right about the “encourage” part of the policy though. I guess maybe I read that as stronger than you do? I dunno. This isn’t that important anyway, and it is not what I came in here to discuss really(well, partially, but more about Massimo not being the asshole that some here have been asserting). Either way, I have stated my points, most other have stated theirs. Not much headway to make so I am out for now.

  141. 141
    'Tis Himself

    I’ve never stolen a car nor had a car stolen from me. So laws about car theft are completely unnecessary for me. Therefore, according to sexyjedi, I should be writing my state legislator to have car theft laws stricken from the books. Besides, even with the laws, people steal cars, which shows just how ineffective the laws are.

  142. 142
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    So, you are really naive enough to believe that such a policy will somehow magically protect you at conferences, that the predators who decide to ignore non-verbal consent will now decide to follow the policy, and get verbal consent?

    If they don’t want to lose their badge for events, their registration money, and access to whatall, yes. What part of that don’t you comprehend? Funny how enforcing policies tends to drive off the bad actors. And we have evidence, unlike you, as all you have is your bad OPINION. That is why the MRA fuckwits make no headway. Lack of third party evidence, and their OPINION isn’t evidence.

  143. 143
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Not much headway to make so I am out for now.

    Translation, all I have is OPINION, no EVIDENCE to back up my assertions. I lost.

  144. 144
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    There isn’t anyone who doesn’t ‘get’ how the policy works or what it sets out to achieve in terms of discouraging certain behaviours and giving people recourse if they get harassed.

    There are, however, people who will pretend they don’t get it, or insist that it won’t make any difference – and we call these people ‘assholes’.

  145. 145
    'Tis Himself

    wow, no need for the harsh language.

    I make a strong suggestion that you not tone troll. Here at Pharyngula we’re concerned with what is said rather than how it’s said. Occasionally we use naughty words and even express displeasure at someone, especially when they’re being willfully obtuse.

  146. 146
    marilove

    And the tone trolling begins! Calm down, little ladies! Take a chill pill! Stop being so MEAN!

  147. 147
    'Tis Himself

    Calm down, little ladies!

    Nope! I won’t and you can’t make me! So there! NYAHHH!!!1! :-þ

  148. 148
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Tone trolling, the last refuge of the evidenceless egotitistical fuckwitted fool while losing the argument. Typical ploy. Translation: I lost! *sob*

  149. 149
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    I am so fucking sick of the “Well, not everyone will obey the rule/suggestion/law, so what’s the point of having it?”

    And yes, I used the word”fucking.” But I used it in a sentence, so that is okay, right? Fuck.

  150. 150
    Kalliope

    sexyjedi,

    According to the policy, for action to be taken, there must a complainant reporting harassment.

    Therefore, if you, and others, only give hugs to those who want them, there will never be a complainant.

    So what exactly is the problem?

  151. 151
    marilove

    My eyes, they are rolling back SO FAR in my head, right now.

    @.@

  152. 152
    theef

    I thought I might add my thoughts on this debacle, however redundant and repetitive it may be.
    I’m a male and when the infighting about this issue first broke out at ground zero (the elevator), I immediately took sides. No surprise to anyone I took my side, the purple head throbbing, cock waving, dick side of the argument. I was incensed by RW and P.Z. trying to censor “my freedom of speech” and afraid that the S-A movement (adopting Massimo’s abbreviation) was being “high jacked by radical feminists.” I did say I took the dick side of the argument, didn’t I?
    My arguments for the dick side, unbeknownst to myself at the time, were identical in quality to those of ID proponents who argue for “freedom of discussion,” and make transparent appeals to “freedom of speech.” It was all about me, my rights, my sexuality, and my cock. A women expressing fear of being approached in an elevator triggered the most irrational, selfish tribal dick dance in myself that I’ve ever been so ashamed to recall.
    I know I’m preaching to the choir on FTB, but for the lurkers who are still in mid cock swing, listen to me for a second. Many women are afraid to come to these events. Whether you think that fear is justified or not it doesn’t change the fact that they ARE afraid. We need to let go of our turgid MRA throbbing shaft and actually listen to the gender that we supposedly want to have relationships with. Stop engaging in hyperbole and taking things to logical extremes every time women wants to lay down some ground rules at a god damned convention. Most of the complaints about drafting a harassment plan at conventions are in a veiled form of “how will I get laid then?” Trust me, there is more than a harassment plan standing in your way of seeing a women naked in person. If that was the only reason you went to A-S conventions, then you may want to do some soul (and by ‘soul ‘I mean the organic matter which makes up the anatomy of the brain) searching. If you do meet someone at an A-S convention that you find attractive and interesting, where that goes is equally on his/her terms just as much as it is yours. Equality, right? Mad Men is a fun show to watch, but let’s not let the writers draw their source material from A-S conventions.

  153. 153
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    wow, no need for the harsh language.
    Fuck you.

    I’m not being disingenuous,

    Then you are stupid beyond belief.

    or trolling.

    being willfully obtuse is still trolling. So is complaining about naughty words.

    Not everyone who disagrees with your position is trolling, just so you know.

    See above. If you had a reasonable and well reasoned disagreement you would have been treated rather differently.

    If you find the debate so upsetting, maybe you should lay off for a little?

    That’s cute, that you think you’ve upset me. As it happens I like telling stupid fucking trolls to fuck off.

    You may be right about the “encourage” part of the policy though. I guess maybe I read that as stronger than you do? I dunno.

    Only a troll who was being deliberately fucking obtuse would have any problem understanding the word “encourage.”

    This isn’t that important anyway, and it is not what I came in here to discuss really(well, partially, but more about Massimo not being the asshole that some here have been asserting).

    He’s an asshole for the same reason you are, as we’ve already established.

    Either way, I have stated my points, most other have stated theirs. Not much headway to make so I am out for now.

    So, you’re out of bullshit for the moment and you can’t seem to find anywhere else to put those goalposts? Great, fuck off. Don’t let the door hit you in the cliche.

  154. 154
    joed

    where i come from it is the women folk what determine who gets touched, who gets hugged!
    often the men folk want to be in charge of the touching but that seems to turn into a bar fight amongst everone–men and women. all the growd-ups learnt early on about touching other folk. that is why the women folk gotta be in charge of touching.
    where i come from any grown-up man can try to fetch a hug just by holding out his arms but it is always up to the woman to accept. it sure is different when a man wants to hug another man–seems there is a lot of thinking going on in that case. but women are in charge of the man-woman huggin’

  155. 155
    KarenX

    @joed

    where i come from it is the women folk what determine who gets touched, who gets hugged!

    That sounds like a very nice place to be from, where women are always able to say no without repercussions and where no one ever crosses a woman’s physical boundaries and where people who do cross boundaries are fought with instead of the woman whose boundaries are crossed being fought with! Where are you from?

  156. 156
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    *checks totals* I think jedifuckwit was the thirtyfifth MRA troll to try that very same argument. All have failed since their argument comes down to their authority. Which we don’t recognize, because it is simple OPINION. After all, if the troll won’t listen to us, why should we listen to him? And that is why a smart MRA troll would avoid that problem, and find their evidence from legitimate sources outside of themselves. Not one has tried that route. Must be a character defect.

  157. 157
    theef

    @ joed

    Honestly (and perhaps ironically) , you are describing the boundaries set in most upscale strip clubs. Women set the boundaries in these [ironic quotation marks are mine] “gentleman’s clubs.” They are allowed to touch you but the minute you take the initiative, you are face down on the sidewalk outside the “gentleman’s club.” Not a bad system to apply to A-S conventions. Obligatory disclaimer: I’ve never been in a strip club before nor am I necessarily endorsing them.

    Now let the “you hypocrite” bullets fly from the MRA lurkers.

  158. 158
    joed

    @157 theef
    if’n ya’ get in a pissin’ contest with a skunk
    you will not win.

  159. 159
    The Mellow Monkey

    …the most irrational, selfish tribal dick dance…

    This is a truly evocative description.

  160. 160
    Jadehawk

    In other words, one just doesn’t move in for a hug.

    what bullshit. people hug, touch, give massages and all other touchy stuff without warning all the fucking time. and they probably don’t even notice, because to them it’s automatic and not a big deal. Those being thusly touched, if they’re not people who like physical contact with strangers, DO notice; or how else do you think someone would have even come up with the idea that consent had to be given before touching? Why else would there be so many people thankful for such policies?

  161. 161
    theef

    @ joed

    if’n ya’ get in a pissin’ contest with a skunk
    you will not win.

    Indeed sir. Anyway, I think you made a good point @ #154. Men, that is us, don’t like to observe the imbalance in expressing affection. It’s tempting to blindly apply the same standard to both sexes in a misguided bid for “fairness.” The reality is, however, that men are generally the aggressors and seek out the attention of women far more than the inverse. It is only natural, and civil, that women have the right to lay down the terms and conditions. Especially if they are made to feel threatened and/or uncomfortable. It is simple economics.

  162. 162
    Jadehawk

    But honestly, do you think that someone who is going to ignore the pretty obvious “no” body-language communication will choose to heed the verbal “no”? I really don’t think so, to be honest.

    irrelevant, since unless they get verbal consent*, they can now be removed from a conference if they pull shit like that.

    *interesting that the question of getting verbal consent has been turned into getting a verbal “no”, which is the exact opposite of what the policy demands.

  163. 163
    Jadehawk

    People who are bent on offending will continue to offend, no matter what policies an organization puts in place.

    and when they do, even once, they’ll be removed, to not bother anyone else! That’s the point! Plus, despite mewling about how law doesn’t change mores, a rigorous enforcement of such policies would actually lead to changing mores, since harassers would become more publicly shamed and shunned.

    Seriously, people have posted links to research showing how harassment policies make people safer. why are we still having to have conversations as if this was some sort of clever, original thought no one has ever had before?

  164. 164
    Ing

    where i come from it is the women folk what determine who gets touched, who gets hugged!

    Where I come from people make an effort to use proper capitalization

  165. 165
    theef

    Dear Plan Haters,

    You most likely work in a place with a plan, you patronize businesse’s with a plan, you got your education [not using at moment] at an institution with a plan, the federal institutions that regulate your life have a plan, but once the A-S conventions adopt a plan suddenly Big Brother [Sister?] has gone too far?!

    From Hell

  166. 166
    Cipher

    So, you are really naive enough to believe that such a policy will somehow magically protect you at conferences, that the predators who decide to ignore non-verbal consent will now decide to follow the policy, and get verbal consent?


    So, yeah, NOTHING REALLY, besides false security, I guess.

    wow, no need for the harsh language.

    Fucking bite me, you condescending, slimy little shit.
    Harsh enough for you?
    Douche.

  167. 167
    Cipher

    Here you go, dumbass. Let me just hand this shit to you on a silver platter despite the fact that you ignored it every other fucking time anyone said it. If the conference organizers put “don’t do this” in the rules, that’s like saying they’ll be on my side when someone does it. I am a woman who has put up with some serious bullshit in my life, which I don’t feel the need to recount at this particular moment (I know, y’all! weird as fuck, I must be sick), but one of the most important reasons I have learned to feel unsafe everywhere I go is that I now know that no matter what happens to me, no matter how clear-cut, I cannot count on the people around me to have my back. A statement from the organizers that they know people like me exist and care enough to take our existence into account in their policies? Your life must be awfully pleasant if you don’t understand why that matters.

  168. 168
    Pteryxx

    also, by *having* rules, a conference has made itself responsible for enforcing those rules. Policies don’t exist in a vacuum, however much anti-policy trolls wish it to be so. If and when an organization *ignores* its own stated policy, it WILL be called to account for its noncompliance, as we’ve seen several times in the very recent past…

  169. 169
    theef

    So, you are really naive enough to believe that such a policy will somehow magically protect you at conferences, that the predators who decide to ignore non-verbal consent will now decide to follow the policy, and get verbal consent?

    I know that responding to this is like throwing bread crumbs into a covey of swarming seagulls….

    Policies, laws, regulations, and codes of conduct all serve as deterrents. No one is under the delusion that laws stop crime from happening. This isn’t fucking Minority Report where we have a bunch of skeptic precrogs in the basement predicting when the next ass-grab is going to take place.

    The policy says(I’m paraphrasing):

    here’s what we expect from you. If you fall short of our expectations, consequences will be created and enforced. If you meet our expectations you’ll never hear from us at all. If you exceed our expectations, pull the science rod out of your ass and relax.

  170. 170
    Cipher

    Policies, laws, regulations, and codes of conduct all serve as deterrents.

    And reminders! I mean, well-meaning, physically affectionate people may, in fact, sometimes forget that other people are not the same way they are, especially if they are used to a touchy social circle. For them, “There are folks who do not like to be touched and will respect and like you more if you respect their personal space” may help somewhat. They’re still responsible if they ignore someone’s boundaries, and their good intentions aren’t an excuse, but I’d rather have such people reminded than not.

  171. 171
    SallyStrange

    Here are my main issues with Mr. Pigliucci:

    First, he is overly credulous towards common straw feminists created by those seeking to discredit feminism. For example:

    given the current climate of sexism and automatically treating women’s testimony as suspect, we have a long way to go before “assuming women are automatically right” is the most important problem on our plate. –me

    It most certainly isn’t *the* most important problem on our plate. But then one could argue the same about women’s issues themselves, since, you know, there are things like slavery and starvation in the world. It’s another false dichotomy: not only it is not the case that we can be preoccupied by only one problem at a time, it is also the case that improving women issues has to go through a process of education of the men (and women) who are not so educated yet. That process includes engaging in dialog and in admitting that nobody is automatically right just because he or she belongs to a threatened group. –Massimo

    My response (cross-posted to his blog): You’re right. I should have said that I think that I think that the problem of not believing women’s claims about sexual harassment and sexual assault is a much bigger problem than the problem of people automatically assuming women are right. It was clumsy phrasing on my part. Now that the dichotomy is no longer there, I hope you can see where I’m coming from.

    The number of people out there who do assume that women are automatically right is quite tiny compared to those who have “women are lying” as the default setting. In fact, this “women are automatically right” is a common straw feminist propagated by those who would like to discredit feminism, much like the false claim that you were in danger of being accused of being a rapist or a rape apologist.

    I find your credulity vis-a-vis these common attempts to discredit feminists to be quite disheartening.

    ————————————————

    Then there’s the way he privileges his abstract preferences for “minimum social regulation” over the real life concerns of people–women mostly–who have to worry about unwanted touching, or indeed having various unpleasant psychological reactions, among them PTSD, triggered by such unwanted touching. It is a position that could only spring from un-examined privilege.

    SallyStrange,

    > Massimo says he objects to [the policy that encourages getting verbal consent before hugging]. I don’t understand why, unless he really has a thing about hugging people he doesn’t know well, without checking first that it’s okay.< –me

    Massimo has no such fetish. But Massimo would prefer it that regulations of social behavior be kept to a minimum, lest they interfere with the joys of being human and spontaneous. Most normal human beings *do* check before hugging, verbally or otherwise. –Massimo

    It’s weird how he talks about himself in the third person here. But anyway, here is what I said on his blog:

    This makes your objection doubly baffling. If most people do check, then most people will not have a problem. And those who make a practice of not checking will either learn to do better, or be excluded. Your abstract distaste for an arbitrary standard of minimal or maximal social regulation is not a compelling counterweight to the concerns of those who have to worry about being touched without their permission on a regular basis.

    So. Make of that what you will.

    I think Pigliucci is getting called “reasonable” because the bar for “reasonable” has fallen so very, very far, thanks to the malicious antics of a vocal minority of he-man woman-haters. I didn’t think that initially, but his response in comments to criticisms has lowered my opinion of the reasonableness of his position.

  172. 172
    Kalliope

    Sally,

    I’ve been reading you on that blog (I’m posting as “…”). You’re putting up a good fight.

    The thing is, he doesn’t seem prepared to admit that he made some false steps, but I suspect he is listening, as are maybe a few others.

  173. 173
    DLC

    It’s not the rules that are the problem. The social conventions we’re talking about have been established for so long that they have largely gone unnoticed or unwritten. The problem is that there is a small subset of people who do not wish to be held to the rules of common courtesy. If the rest of society is any guide, these people comprise less than 1% of any public outing, yet they ruin it for as much as 10%, if not more, simply by being crass assholes. (Crassholes? )There’s no way to tell at the gate who’s going to turn into a jerk. (instant asshole, just add alcohol) It’s not tattooed on their forehead. So, in order to make it clear that assholery is not tolerated, there needs to be a policy in place, written down and prominently displayed and widely disseminated. This way, no one can say “oh, but I didn’t know I shouldn’t have walked her into a corner so she couldn’t get away without making a scene and then licked her neck.”
    Hey, dickweed. I’m an asocial loner whom most people turn away from and hope I don’t try to talk to them in public, and even I know what’s not acceptable in a public space. Don’t motherfucking tell me you don’t know any better, you learned this shit in kindergarten.
    Okay, I’ve had my fill of this topic. Put the policy in place, post it prominently, and include copies in everybody’s convention (or meeting or picnic or wtf-ever) program or schedule. Do it now.

  174. 174
    Cipher

    Okay, I’ve had my fill of this topic. Put the policy in place, post it prominently, and include copies in everybody’s convention (or meeting or picnic or wtf-ever) program or schedule. Do it now.

    Hahaha. That’s funny. I mean, I’m sick of it too, I just appreciate the, um, blunt approach.

    (Although, dickweed is surely a gendered insult of some variety. Sadface.)

  175. 175
    sexyjedi

    So, after thinking about it a bit(had to step away from it and focus less on defending my initial assertions and more on what is actually right), and I have to admit that I was wrong about the policy. I can see the benefit of it.

  176. 176
    Cipher

    So, after thinking about it a bit(had to step away from it and focus less on defending my initial assertions and more on what is actually right), and I have to admit that I was wrong about the policy. I can see the benefit of it.

    Yay! *applause*

  177. 177
    mythbri

    @sexyjedi

    That’s good of you to admit – really. No snark here. It’s hard to re-examine your arguments and find them wanting, and it’s even harder to admit it sometimes. So good for you.

    @DLC

    “Crassholes” – I like it. Can I borrow it?

  178. 178
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    If the rest of society is any guide, these people comprise less than 1% of any public outing, yet they ruin it for as much as 10%, if not more, simply by being crass assholes.

    Considering 6% of male college students admitted to rape or attempted rape and 20% of women have been victims of such assaults I think you may need to redo your math. It seems safe to assume that sub-rape form of abuse and harassment are rather more common.

    So, after thinking about it a bit(had to step away from it and focus less on defending my initial assertions and more on what is actually right), and I have to admit that I was wrong about the policy. I can see the benefit of it.

    Well color me pleasantly surprised. Maybe you’re not quite as much of a lying trolly troll as I thought. ;)

  179. 179
    ChasCPeterson

    issues with Mr. Pigliucci

    Please. Show some respect. That’s Dr. Dr. Dr. Pigliucci, to you.

  180. 180
    DLC

    mythbri @ 177 :

    @DLC

    “Crassholes” – I like it. Can I borrow it?

    Sure, have at it. :-)

  181. 181
    theef

    This topic is beginning to sound like an episode of Skeptoid (don’t get me wrong I love Dunning) where forgone conclusions are reexamined over and over again.

    Does the Loch Ness Monster exist?
    No.

    Are the Protocols of Zion real?
    No.

    Do we have common ancesstors?
    Yes.

    Do we need a harassment policy for conventions?
    Yes.

    Now back to the science…

  182. 182
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    theef wrote:

    Do we need a harassment policy for conventions?
    Yes.

    If only. Between the assholes who know it’s true but who oppose it because it’s Rebecca Watson and PZ pointing out why it’s needed; the assholes who don’t want to admit the skeptic movement has a misogyny problem because they believe it’s already above such things; the assholes who are too stupid and/or ignorant to realise that it is true and are in denial; and the actual genuine misogynists who don’t want it because they might have to change their behaviour, getting that ‘yes’ is proving very difficult indeed.

  183. 183
    Loqi

    If you find the debate so upsetting, maybe you should lay off for a little?

    When the sexism debate started within the skeptic/atheist community started, that’s what I’d do. I’d get frustrated and walk away. Now that I’ve been around Pharyngula for a while, I’ve realized how nice it is – nay, how much of a privledge it is – to be able to walk away when things get heated. Not everyone can. Women have to deal with it all the time, whether they like it or not. These debates have real consequences for real people. They can’t just lay off. For a straight, white, cisgendered male like myself, it’s easy to treat arguing about sexism (or gay rights, or trans rights, or minority rights…) as something of a hobby. I believe in it and I’m willing to fight for it, but at the end of the day, I have the ability to just walk away.

    I’ve decided I’m not walking away anymore.

    At the risk of putting words in the other Pharyngulans’ mouths, they probably feel the same about walking away. And chances are good that they resent when someone, even innocently, suggests that they should. I don’t get the feeling you were trying to be condescending (or anything other than surprised at the reaction you got), but for future reference, the commentary here is likely to react negatively to something like this.

  184. 184
    theef

    @Wowbagger, Deputy Vice-President (Silencing)

    Indeed. We have a large digital vault of “skeptic” trolls which log into FTB in order to see how many time they can type the words “cunt,” and “bitch.”

    If the opposition (the Maggie Gallagers of the A-S movement) want to maintain any semblance of credibility, they may want to bring these trolls to heel or distance themselves from them. What really brought things home for me was at Reason Rally when my girl friend didn’t want to walk around without me because one of the attendees followed her to the restroom and asked “are you here with anyone?”. Now granted that isn’t quite the same as a Con(s), it is a wake up call (oh god what a cliche) that this shit needs to be addressed and fixed.

  185. 185
    DLC

    dysomniak, darwinian socialist @ # 178 : The numbers I used were based on my own observations, as I said. Of course they are subject to revision or correction given real data. Also, I was speaking about people who act poorly in public settings, not about those who commit sexual assaults or rapes. An overlapping but not necessarily equal subset.

  186. 186
    Loqi

    Realized I cut a paragraph out of that post. Minus one coherency.

  187. 187
    bastionofsass

    joed wrote:

    where i come from it is the women folk what determine who gets touched, who gets hugged!

    often the men folk want to be in charge of the touching but that seems to turn into a bar fight amongst everone–men and women. all the growd-ups learnt early on about touching other folk. that is why the women folk gotta be in charge of touching.

    We have a similar social policy where I come from, but things don’t seem to be going as smoothly for us as for the folks where you come from. We’ve been trying to work out some of the little complications for several centuries now.

    First, there was always some confusion about whether all the women and men had to go to the bar every night, just in case they were needed for a fight, or whether only the involved women and men had to go to the bar when they wanted to fight.

    Even in the latter case, there were always a few folks who just didn’t want to show up for one reason or another.

    “Bar fight? Tonight? Oh, I’d love to, but I have to wash my cat.”

    “What time is that bar fight again? 10? Gosh, that’s when I call my sick Great Aunt Gytha every night. She’d worry if I didn’t call. And we talk for hours. Sorry.”

    “Did I miss the fight? Was it tonight?! I had it on the calendar for a week from Tuesday! My bad.”

    Some folks just didn’t like to fight in bars, didn’t care for all the broken glass embedded in their scalp and spilled beer stinking up their bar-going clothes, you know? They wanted to fight somewhere else. What were they thinking?! Can you imagine the chaos that resulted from fighting outside a bar?

    Then we had the issue of how a man wanting to touch a girl or underage young woman without her consent should be handled. Should the girl or young woman go to a bar to fight, or should some adult fight in the bar for her, and if so, who?

    And then, oddly, not all the folks thought bar fighting was an appropriate way to deal with sexual harassment and unwanted touching.

    Some of the folks didn’t like it because the aggrieved woman didn’t always win the fight which didn’t really seem fair to her.

    Other folks just thought fighting was a bad idea in general. Weird, I know.

    And the bar owners didn’t like cleaning up the mess all the time, and having to repair the bar and replace all the broken bottles and glasses, especially after their insurance was canceled because of too many “bar fight” claims.

    So we keep having discussions of alternatives to bar fighting to deal with unwanted touching. Someone suggested writing some rules or laws or something. I dunno how that would work.

  188. 188
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    He falls for the “it’s all subjective and what one woman hates another one likes” fallacy, ignoring the fact that actual harassment policies allow for feedback and only kick in if the flirter, hugger, or propositioner fails to stop when requested.

  189. 189
    redgreen

    Little late to the party, but: Pigliucci is obviously an accommodationist and an apologist. WHY the FUCK didn’t PZ blast his mansplaining ass with both barrels?

    “Rationally speaking”? More like “MRAtionally speaking.”

  190. 190
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    Little late to the party, but: Pigliucci is obviously an accommodationist and an apologist. WHY the FUCK didn’t PZ blast his mansplaining ass with both barrels?

    “Rationally speaking”? More like “MRAtionally speaking.”

    I think that “apologist” may be a bit strong, and accomodationism is a valid strategy IF one does not silence anyone who does not practice it and believe that it’s the only method.

    It seems that the bar for “rational” has just fallen so low that only someone who is uninterested, uninvolved and thus uncommitted and able to maintain a facade of impartiality and “(self-righteous) anger is baaaaad” type “inclusivity” can be seen and accepted as “rational”, quality of arguments and reality be damned.

  191. 191
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ Markita Lynda

    “it’s all subjective and what one woman hates another one likes”

    Dan Savage had an article in the local rag about a guy who liked to be kicked in the balls. Apparently this is not as uncommon as one (well, myself at least) might assume.

    “it’s all subjective and what one man hates another one likes”

    One is perfectly justified to kick random menz in the nuts by this logic.

  192. 192
    'Tis Himself

    bastionofsass #187

    Some folks just didn’t like to fight in bars, didn’t care for all the broken glass embedded in their scalp and spilled beer stinking up their bar-going clothes

    I cannot believe such people exist. Who could possibly not want to indulge in a nice, sprightly bar fight? It’s good exercise (and we all can use more exercise) and there’s nothing like a shot of adrenaline to keep the mind in good working order.

    </snark>

    Seriously, I cannot understand why anyone, other than randoid libertarians and MRAs, would object to a policy which basically says, “guys, don’t do that.”

  193. 193
    Koshka

    Seriously, I cannot understand why anyone, other than randoid libertarians and MRAs, would object to a policy which basically says, “guys, don’t do that.”

    Probably because they have done such a thing before and by telling them that it is wrong is equivalent to saying they are wrong. Some people can’t accept being wrong and will spout all sorts of bullshit to prove to themselves they are not wrong.

    I mean, what is more important? A women or an asshole’s ego.

  194. 194
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Massimo Pigliucci is an idiot. From comments there:

    JediBear,

    > “Seek enthusiastic consent before you touch someone” isn’t just a good rule for a conference, it’s a good rule for LIFE. <

    [Massimo Pigliucci answers:] That's right, and most people have no trouble following it. So why impose a formal regulation concerning it?

    *facepalm*

  195. 195
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    ‘Tis Himself wrote:

    Seriously, I cannot understand why anyone, other than randoid libertarians and MRAs, would object to a policy which basically says, “guys, don’t do that.”

    Having spent way too much time on this – mostly on Twitter – I’ve encountered a few different kinds of folks, and pretty much narrowed it down to the options I listed upthread, though I have realised I missed a couple:

    1) Because Rebecca Watson and PZ support it, so they’re against it.
    2) Because they’re skeptics and therefore infallible; if there was anything wrong they’d already know and have dealt with it.
    3) Because they don’t really understand and/or empathise, and are rejecting it out of hand.
    4) They’re libertarians.
    5) They’re MRAs (since I imagine it’s possible to be one without being a libertarian.
    6) They think it’s actually going to get in the way of them scoring.

    Obviously, someone who opposes it may tick one or more of those boxes. Some are also serious attention seekers with no particular problem with the concept, but there’s really only one of those.

  196. 196
    Matt Penfold

    6) They think it’s actually going to get in the way of them scoring.

    We had an example of one these only a couple of weeks. He seemed horrified by the idea that he might miss an opportunity, no matter how remote, to get his leg over and saw nothing wrong with harassing women just in case.

  197. 197
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    There seems to be no shortage of 2 – and these are the sort engaging in the worst, most uncharitable, dishonest readings of everything anyone says, and engaging in greedy reductionist philosophising, ‘rules lawyering’ and hyperskeptical demands for evidence; Blackford would be a good example of this (though he’s also a 1, given his bitterness toward PZ and RW) – there’s at least one on the Pigliucci post that I’ve seen so far, and I’m sure there’ll be more.

  198. 198
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    What I think is a major issue is that, for so many of the people involved, the whole thing is an abstract concept, rather than a real-life issue. They’re either men, or women who don’t go to cons, or women who go to cons and are lucky enough to not experience what people have said are problematic about them.

    Because they can’t engage with the issue beyond that level, they have no idea why those who are fighting for change are so (in many cases) angry and confrontational about it; they just want to talk about it the same cold, impersonal way they might discuss literature.

    It’s horrifying in a way, since it indicates more than anything else a profound lack of empathy.

  199. 199
    theef

    Little late to the party, but: Pigliucci is obviously an accommodationist and an apologist. WHY the FUCK didn’t PZ blast his mansplaining ass with both barrels?
    “Rationally speaking”? More like “MRAtionally speaking.”

    You are waaayyy off on this one. He is not an accommodationist by any black tar heroin induced distortion of the word. He meets two criterion which categorically exclude him from the accommodationist camp.

    1) He recognizes there is a problem with the way women are treated and received at Con(s).

    2) He recognizes that the solution to 1) is to draft and implement a harassment policy.

    I mean, if I drew a Venn diagram of his position and that of an accommodationist it would look like a 2-D snap shot of Pluto’s orbit.

    That last joke was a little labored I admit.

  200. 200
    strange gods before me ॐ

    5) They’re MRAs (since I imagine it’s possible to be one without being a libertarian.

    Yep.

    One of our longest-trolling MRAs here is a Labour voter, vocally anti-libertarian, and (as far as I can tell) a social democrat.

    I don’t want to summon him by nym, but he’s the one who I test for by asking about Chomsky; he hates Chomsky not for being a leftist, but for being an anarchist.

  201. 201
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    That’s right, and most people have no trouble following it. So why impose oppose a formal regulation concerning it?

    Fixed it for Massimo.

  202. 202
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    Theef,

    I don’t think accomodationist means what you think it means.

  203. 203
    'Tis Himself

    I agree it’s possible to be an MRA without being a libertarian and vice versa.

    Libertarians object to what they see as arbitrary rules. They hate being told not to do something even if they have no intention of doing it. It’s part of the “when I’m all grown up nobody is going to tell me what to do, so there, nyah!” libertarian mentality.

    MRAs don’t like rules which are supportive of women. They see gender relationships as a zero-sum game, if women are supported then men are degraded.

  204. 204
    Inaji

    Theef:

    You are waaayyy off on this one. He is not an accommodationist by any black tar heroin induced distortion of the word.

    I’m afraid you’re the one who wrong. Very, very wrong. We’re more than familiar with Pigliucci and he is, indeed, of an accommodationist bent. He has a long standing problem with Gnu atheists, what with us being so terribly militant and strident by stating we’re atheists.

    He has problems with rocking the boat and that really hasn’t gone away when he addresses this particular problem, which is evident in several of his responses.

  205. 205
    Louis

    [Massimo Pigliucci]

    I’m afraid you’re both equally wrong in some important ways. Your wrongness is in part due to you being mean. I shall equivocate about this because I hate it when mummy and daddy fight.

    [/Massimo Pigliucci]

    Louis

  206. 206
    ChasCPeterson

    I’m afraid you’re both equally wrong in some important ways. Your wrongness is in part due to you being mean

    …and in equal part it is due to your contemptible ignorance of philosophy. *sniff*

    [/Dr.Dr.Dr. Pigliucci]

  207. 207
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    He, too, is discussing this as if it were no more significant to actual people than a discussion of the impact of post-structuralism on the Twilight novels.

  208. 208
    Louis

    Wowbagger,

    Oh Wowbagger, now come on, you know by now that women aren’t people.

    Not like Soylent Green. ;-)

    Louis

    P.S. That aside, I do value the more clear headed, dispassionate treatments of any subject. However, when that “clear headedness” is coupled to “you’re being too emotional” as if passion or animation is a crime and somehow causes logical gaps to magically appear in an argument…yeah, erm, THAT gets me moody! ;-)

  209. 209
    theef

    @Erülóra Maikalambe

    I don’t think accomodationist means what you think it means.

    The way I understand it, and the way it’s been applied to the likes of Chris Mooney, accomodationist is a spineless live and let live attitude towards destructive philosophies. It’s the same people who operate under the delusion that there needn’t be any conflict between religion and science, and that the two can go about their business unimpeded. A philosophy that blows never ending chorus lines of chimps if you will. These are also the people that try to reconcile evil bronze aged myths with their homosexuality so they can continue to go to church.
    I’m digressing.

    I think Massimo took an unambiguous position of supporting the harassment policy and recognizing the need for it. He also expressed the need for consent, although I’m still punch drunk with dumb by the fact we have to actually explain to people. Consent good. Rape bad.

    P.S. My girl friend is sitting here mocking me because I thought I knew how to pronounce your username and apparently butchered it worse then the bath salt face eater. She won’t correct me and continues to laugh. Therefore, I kindly request a phonetic guide to it’s pronunciation in your reply, if you care to.

  210. 210
    theef

    @Caine, avec prémédité méchante langue

    I’m referring specifically to his stance on harassment policies. I think, at least on this issue, he’s not an accomodationist. I’ve listened to his podcast “Rationally Speaking” for a while now, and I never took him for a Chris Mooney.

  211. 211
    davidjanes

    @23 The problem with too much fence-straddling is that the rails ride up your ass.

    And the problem with always jumping off of it is you often end up neck deep in the manure pile.

  212. 212
    Inaji

    Theef:

    I’m referring specifically to his stance on harassment policies. I think, at least on this issue, he’s not an accomodationist.

    Then you aren’t paying attention. He is being an accommodationist, by attempting the “equal weight” nonsense. His later comments reveal his mindset on the issue and it’s not pretty.

    I’ve listened to his podcast “Rationally Speaking” for a while now, and I never took him for a Chris Mooney.

    No one cares if you like him, really. You need to get over this Mooney business – Mooney is an individual and is not a walking definition to which all accommodationists must adhere. As I said, Pigliucci’s writings have been dissected here in some detail many a time. He’s not only an accommodationist, he’s one of the sniffy types, yelling “philosophy!!1!” every time he gets slapped with reality.

    If he’s your cuppa tea, fine. Don’t expect everyone else to agree.

  213. 213
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    The way I understand it, and the way it’s been applied to the likes of Chris Mooney, accomodationist is a spineless live and let live attitude towards destructive philosophies.

    Specifically, people who think atheists should not confront the religious about their beliefs. Massimo is firmly in that camp, and ended up in a snipe-fest with PZ a while back over it.

    I’m referring specifically to his stance on harassment policies. I think, at least on this issue, he’s not an accomodationist.

    Then as Caine said, you aren’t paying attention. Also, that would mean you’re not using the word the way it usually does. It also puts the lie to your comment “He is not an accommodationist by any black tar heroin induced distortion of the word.” He is by the most common usage of the word here. You are the one distorting.

    I kindly request a phonetic guide to it’s pronunciation in your reply, if you care to.

    Well, it’s complicated. Here’s a guide to help. http://tolklang.quettar.org/pronlo/pronguide.html

    I assume you mean the first name more than the last. Maikalambe isn’t that difficult. Basically I pronounce it like “mike ah lawm beh”.

    Erülóra is a bit more challenging. The E is like that in “pet”. The r is a good question, and there are plenty of ways you can go about it. I do it like a typical Spanish r. The umlaut is there over the u to preserve the pronunciation of the root word (“Eru”). The u itself is basically pronounced like “oo”, just don’t stretch it out too much. The l is as you’d expect. I probably mispronounce the ó myself. It’s not as rounded as an English long o, but not as closed as an English short o. The last r is the same as the first, and the a is like a Spanish or French a. The emphasis is on the o.

    Maybe some day I can get a recording of Esteleth pronouncing it. :)

  214. 214
    Inaji

    Erülóra, an interesting tidbit surfaced regarding theef.

  215. 215
    Erülóra Maikalambe

    I didn’t see that coming. Thanks for the heads-up, Caine.

  216. 216
    Paul

    The way I understand it, and the way it’s been applied to the likes of Chris Mooney, accomodationist is a spineless live and let live attitude towards destructive philosophies.

    Accomodationist around here used to also refer to their tossing Gnus under the bus to try and make themselves look better to the other side. I don’t doubt that there’s been some drift in the usage, but for a change Pigliucci didn’t do that here. He recommended removing self-righteousness from the discussion. It is very fair to call that a privileged statement, even morally bankrupt. Such anger is right and correct when faced with such bullshit behavior as has been seen in this harassment policy fight. But that’s the closest he came to tossing anyone under a bus, and he spent his entire post agreeing with one side and pointing out where and why he doesn’t agree with the other (except for that hug policy thing, ick). It was a far cry from Mooney-style accomodationism.

  217. 217
    joed

    white male privilege is being challenged and that is a good “morally good” reaction by both men and women. Most white males can not even admit they are privileged let alone allow a woman to consciously set the rules of touch.
    Just trying to be considerate and polite is really all that is necessary in every day intercourse.
    However, when there is a special situation, say something like a convention, then published rules seem to be necessary in order to keep the white male privilege in control.

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

    Paul, I don’t consider your smug “better than both sides” comments to be all that “polite,” either.

    And yet, there are plenty of idiots that haven’t been engaging in that vicious harassment for the last year.

    That’s nice. Should we give them cookies for simply being ~skeptical~ about what women report, rather than piling on Rebecca Watson et al. with gendered slurs and rape threats?

    Barbyau is absolutely correct. Fuck the “moderates.”

    Improbable Joe:

    [Pigliucci's] highest principle is appearing reasonable and calm.

    Then I see absolutely no reason to give his commentary serious consideration.

    Kesara, why, precisely, should we care how this shit “looks” to pompous, smug equivocators like Pigliucci if he hasn’t bothered to follow this discussion? Aquaria was 100% right to leave such a comment. Go wring your hands elsewhere.

    Ogvorbis:

    Some people treasure their own personal right to invade someone else’s space over the right of a person to not have his or her space invaded?

    Mmmm-hmmmm.

    I tell you, I really can’t wait for the first time one of these types catches a punch in the jaw or a knee in the groin from someone whose PTSD leads them to lash out at unwanted touches.

    (“Oh, no, one of the Horde is wishing violence on people!!” Nah, just the possible real-world consequences of their behavior.)

    Caerie, I’ll be blunt: You deserve better friends.

    Eriktrips:

    “Objectivity,” especially in social relations, tends to be a function of privilege…That he is worried about too much political correctness is to me a red herring…I don’t see his stance a “reasonable” one so much as a conveniently disinterested one. It seems apparent that he can afford not to state the case against sexism too strongly. That doesn’t mean the rest of us can.

    QFT.

    Karmakin, speaking as an extreme introvert, I find your continual remarks about “extrovert privilege” to be derailing from the topic of gendered dynamics. Meetups tend to skew extrovert for obvious reasons; introverts do attend, but they are usually “higher-functioning” ones in social situations, for want of a better phrase.

    neonsequitur:

    First of all, I’m not on anyone’s “side” because I think you’re all a bunch of obnoxious gits.

    Awww, kissies to you too, cupcake! Now go introduce Mr. Fork to Ms. Electrical Outlet for some sexytiemz, there’s a good waste of protoplasm.

    Sexyjedi, thank you very much for your comment at #175.

    Redgreen:

    “Rationally speaking”? More like “MRAtionally speaking.”

    BWA!

    Davidjanes:

    And the problem with always jumping off [the fence] is you often end up neck deep in the manure pile.

    Your ASS-umption being that both sides of the fence boast deep piles of shit. (You can say “shit” here, you know.)

  219. 219
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Massimo Pigliucci keeps providing evidence that he is not a voice of reason. Apparently, the hugging part of the policy “likely has other effects, such as a chilling one on social relations in an environment in which we are trying to build a community.”

  220. 220
    Paul

    Paul, I don’t consider your smug “better than both sides” comments to be all that “polite,” either.

    When did I claim to be better than anyone else? In fact, the only people I’ve talked down to are you for openly and unrepentantly falsifying quotations and the slimepitters.

    Barbyau is absolutely correct. Fuck the “moderates.”

    The fact that you don’t recognize that there are people to be influenced that aren’t slimepitters or those who have “piled on with rape threats” speaks volumes. I don’t think you’re interested in dealing with reality at this point. It’s fair enough, reality sucks. But you could at least warn people by putting it in your nym so it’s up-front.

  221. 221
    Cipher

    The fact that you don’t recognize that there are people to be influenced that aren’t slimepitters or those who have “piled on with rape threats” speaks volumes

    Good thing that’s not what she said, then.

  222. 222
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    The fact that you don’t recognize that there are people to be influenced that aren’t slimepitters or those who have “piled on with rape threats” speaks volumes.

    False binary is false.

  223. 223
    Paul

    Good thing that’s not what she said, then.

    What part of “fuck the Moderates”, the moderates being anyone that does not already agree with the need for a harassment policy (or isn’t even AWARE THERE IS AN ARGUMENT YET) isn’t creating a FtB vs slimepit/rape threat-er dichotomy? Considering the post of mine that she is quoting, I can’t see where I am making an unfair assumption.

  224. 224
    Cipher

    What part of “fuck the Moderates”, the moderates being anyone that does not already agree with the need for a harassment policy (or isn’t even AWARE THERE IS AN ARGUMENT YET) isn’t creating a FtB vs slimepit/rape threat-er dichotomy?

    I’m sorry, but I don’t know how to explain something to you at this level of simplicity. Saying

    Should we give them cookies for simply being ~skeptical~ about what women report, rather than piling on Rebecca Watson et al. with gendered slurs and rape threats?

    makes it pretty obvious that she doesn’t actually think they are the same, she just doesn’t want to give them cookies for not being the same as slimepitters.

  225. 225
    Jadehawk

    What part of “fuck the Moderates”, the moderates being anyone that does not already agree with the need for a harassment policy (or isn’t even AWARE THERE IS AN ARGUMENT YET) isn’t creating a FtB vs slimepit/rape threat-er dichotomy?the part where she acknowledges the existence of moderates?

    stating a desire not to want to pander to moderates, especially those who pride themselves on being “above the fray” and being forever fencesitters, is not the same as refusing to recognize that moderates exist

  226. 226
    Jadehawk

    oops

    What part of “fuck the Moderates”, the moderates being anyone that does not already agree with the need for a harassment policy (or isn’t even AWARE THERE IS AN ARGUMENT YET) isn’t creating a FtB vs slimepit/rape threat-er dichotomy?

    the part where she acknowledges the existence of moderates?

    stating a desire not to want to pander to moderates, especially those who pride themselves on being “above the fray” and being forever fencesitters, is not the same as refusing to recognize that moderates exist

  227. 227
    Paul

    makes it pretty obvious that she doesn’t actually think they are the same, she just doesn’t want to give them cookies for not being the same as slimepitters.

    And at no point did anyone recommend cookies. She was sniping at my post that was just announcing the novel idea that, hey, maybe posts trying to win them over DO serve a purpose, which she scoffed at.

  228. 228
    Cipher

    And at no point did anyone recommend cookies. She was sniping at my post that was just announcing the novel idea that, hey, maybe posts trying to win them over DO serve a purpose, which she scoffed at.

    And no part of that demonstrates that she was claiming moderates don’t exist.

  229. 229
    Jadehawk

    She was sniping at my post that was just announcing the novel idea that, hey, maybe posts trying to win them over DO serve a purpose, which she scoffed at.

    then criticize that, not something she didn’t say.

  230. 230
    anotheratheist

    PZ, if it was not so sad it would be hilarious. The harassment policies don’t make the boundaries clear and sharp. This as been repeatedly criticized about them. I have said that the policies are vague and I don’t even mean this as a criticism but rather as a factual statement. My hunch is that the vagueness is deliberate. The CFI policy for example makes it clear from the wording that it completely leaves open what inappropriate behavior is.

    And then you come along not only making the false and ridiculous statement that these policies draw clear lines you also mock other people’s attempts of clarification.

    I withhold any comment about feminism, intellectual honesty, and rationality because this really is too sad.

  231. 231
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    The harassment policies don’t make the boundaries clear and sharp. This as been repeatedly criticized about them. I have said that the policies are vague and I don’t even mean this as a criticism but rather as a factual statement.

    Citation need for every allegation, or it is simply the OPINION of a fuckwitted idjit. Welcome to evidence based reality, where TF and his sycophants aren’t.

    And the null hypotheses you must refute are 1) these policies can be enforce in good faith. 2) These policies make women feel safer. 3) These policies reduce harassment if enforced consistently.

    I withhold any comment about feminism, intellectual honesty, and rationality because this really is too sad.

    This from a fuckwitted troll who shows no respect for women? What a loser. You have no evidence, or you would lead with it. You have no evidence, so you must present nothing but attitude. Losertude is a better description, as it is tacit acknowledgement you have lost the rational argument.

  232. 232
    Gnumann+, out&proud cultural marxist (just don't ask me about Gramsci)

    PZ, if it was not so sad it would be hilarious. The harassment policies don’t make the boundaries clear and sharp. This as been repeatedly criticized about them. I have said that the policies are vague and I don’t even mean this as a criticism but rather as a factual statement. My hunch is that the vagueness is deliberate. The CFI policy for example makes it clear from the wording that it completely leaves open what inappropriate behavior is.

    It’s quite simple- they are clear enough to establish the boundaries if you read them in fucking good faith. At the same time, they make it clear that if you choose to exploit the gray areas you do it at your own risk (risking the terrible punishment of being told guy, don’t do that and they are flexible enough to nail any fucker obviously gaming the rules to the wall.

    All is well unless you’re a troll, a quarrelsome over-literal fool, a predator or a libertarian (there’s some overlap here between these sets).

    So, which one is your problem?

  233. 233
    Amphiox

    The mistake, gnumann, as usual, is assuming that those like anotheratheist have, ever, been taking anything in any way related to this subject, in good faith, ever.

    Because they haven’t, not from the first “it’s just a socially awkward guy” to now.

  234. 234
    Gnumann+, out&proud cultural marxist (just don't ask me about Gramsci)

    Don’t worry Amphiox, I’m not under any delusions that I’ll get through to AA. I just though an explanation of his error might do some good in others that might be watching.

    That, and venting of course.

  235. 235
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    First of all, I’m not on anyone’s “side” because I think you’re all a bunch of obnoxious gits. If I want to fight misogyny, I’ll study FtB as an example of how NOT to do it.

    Interesting. We get post after post from either 1) people expressing thanks for fighting bigots or 2) people who were bigots but who had their eyes opened watching the Horde devour bigot trolls.

    And, from this, you’ve decided to NOT do what clearly works. Because being self-righteous is more important to you than fighting bigotry.

    Well, that’s everything we need to know about you. Door’s to the right. Don’t forget your crown on the way out!

  236. 236
    lv57lurker

    Hi there,
    I missed most of the sexism debates in the atheist community and I´m currently trying to read up on this issue.
    One thing I´m still confused about is who exactly the “other side” is. The MRA label is thrown around frequently, but to me, it seems that the uniting factors among those who oppose harassment policies and think that sexism is a “non-issue” are rather libertarianism and / or an affiliation with the PUA community. Any opinions on that ?

    Also, I was lurking at some MRA sites (not a pretty sight) and, hidden under layers of misogynistic nonsense, there were a handful of valid arguments. Well, at least they seemed to be valid from my perspective (which is probably not saying much).
    Ís anyone interested in discussing this or aware of a thread where this could be discussed ?

  237. 237
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    The MRA label is thrown around frequently, but to me, it seems that the uniting factors among those who oppose harassment policies and think that sexism is a “non-issue” are rather libertarianism and / or an affiliation with the PUA community. Any opinions on that ?

    Well, think about it. If you are PUA or MRA, how can you be a predator/harasser if a written policy is in place and enforced? It does cramp your style, and must be reflexively opposed. Since you don’t want to appear to be a fuckwitted idjit, you must invent some reasonable sounding rationale (just like the bigots did in the ’60s after the CRA was signed) so you don’t look bad. It can only be a “non-issue” if you can prove that women have the same privileges as men, and aren’t “hit upon” just having a drink with friends. Nobody has shown that is the case. The alleged theoretical idea every is now equal falls apart when looked at. Which is why the evidence backs well enforced anti-harassment policies.

  238. 238
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Also, I was lurking at some MRA sites (not a pretty sight) and, hidden under layers of misogynistic nonsense, there were a handful of valid arguments. Well, at least they seemed to be valid from my perspective (which is probably not saying much).

    What are these valid arguments? Please elucidate.

  239. 239
    Gnumann+, out&proud cultural marxist (just don't ask me about Gramsci)

    What are these valid arguments? Please elucidate.

    I would very much like to hear this too please.

    From my dark past I know of quite a lot of common arguments that seem valid, but none that bears the light of close scrutiny.

  240. 240
    Nightjar

    Ís anyone interested in discussing this or aware of a thread where this could be discussed ?

    Well, there’s not much going on in TZT at the moment. I think it’s the right place for that.

  241. 241
    Cipher

    Also, I was lurking at some MRA sites (not a pretty sight) and, hidden under layers of misogynistic nonsense, there were a handful of valid arguments. Well, at least they seemed to be valid from my perspective (which is probably not saying much).

    Some MRAs have complaints that are legitimately connected to the real world. (Most of them do not, because they are blithering morons.) For instance, the tendency of people to assume that men are unable to be good parents. What they fail to realize is that the reasons those things exist are fundamentally based in the oppression of women – in this case, the view that women are naturally nurturing, instinctively suited to take care of their children, and should not do anything else. Men aren’t taken seriously as victims of abusive women? Because women are supposed to be weak and a man should control his woman. It’s kinda similar to… creationists noticing that some animals have useful features that suit them to their particular environments. They’re right about that! Where they fail is in the explanation.

  242. 242
    lv57lurker

    I would very much like to hear this too please.

    From my dark past I know of quite a lot of common arguments that seem valid, but none that bears the light of close scrutiny.

    That´s exactly why I am asking, some arguments seem to be valid, but I don´t know enough about these issues to scrutinize them properly.

    So, the first argument that seemed plausible to me was about female-on-male violence and the social acceptance of it. The point is essentially, that this kind of violence might be rare, but if it happens – it is not taken seriously or even laughed at.

    Some of the anecdotal evidence I have seen for this:
    - Sharon Osbourne mocking a man whose penis was cut off by his wife and thrown into the garbage disposal, the entire audience laughs about it and in the next show, Osbourne does not even manage to apologize for this without again bursting into laughter:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKgwczruOSQ#t=01m00s
    - And this video of reactions to women abusing men in public:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlFAd4YdQks

    A lot of scientific studies that are relevant to this topic are available (many are linked here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence#Violence_against_men ). I have not read all of them, but it seems to me that there is some evidence that both males and females tend to condone female-on-male violence but not male-on-female violence. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2009.00492.x/abstract (article behind paywall unfortunately)

    The most frequent complaints I have seen from MRAs about this issue is that no one outside the Men´s rights movement is taking this issue seriously at all and that men who suffer from domestic violence have, unlike women, very few options to deal with the situation, especially when children are involved as well – because existing domestic violence and custody laws allegedly favor women (I have no idea if this is actually true).

    So, overall, the argument that female-on-male violence is not taken seriously by society or even laughed at seems plausible to me. Any ideas on that ?

  243. 243
    Nightjar

    Any ideas on that ?

    Yes. See the post right before yours.

  244. 244
    lv57lurker

    Some MRAs have complaints that are legitimately connected to the real world. (Most of them do not, because they are blithering morons.)

    Yes, it is very hard to take them seriously, even when they do seem to have a legitimate concern, because most of them are not able to make a point without including a long (and usually completely irrelevant) rant about how evil feminism is and how much they hate their ex-wives.

  245. 245
    lv57lurker

    Men aren’t taken seriously as victims of abusive women? Because women are supposed to be weak and a man should control his woman.

    Makes total sense. I think there are two main causes why these victims are not taken seriously. First, the assumption that due to the disparity in upper body strength – women could not seriously harm men in a physical confrontation. And second, the assumption that those victims must have done something to deserve it.
    So, what do you think about the complaints that those men have nowhere to go to outside the men´s rights movement because no one else takes their concerns seriously ? (I totally agree that they should support feminism to fight against the stereotype of women being to weak to harm men – but while this stereotype still exists, what are they supposed to do ?)

  246. 246
    Cipher

    So, what do you think about the complaints that those men have nowhere to go to outside the men´s rights movement because no one else takes their concerns seriously ? (I totally agree that they should support feminism to fight against the stereotype of women being to weak to harm men – but while this stereotype still exists, what are they supposed to do ?)

    There are feminists who deal specifically with these issues, first of all. Feminists take these concerns seriously. And second, I have absolutely no sympathy for people who “go to” people who are misogynistic and who contribute to oppression because those people care about them.

  247. 247
    Gnumann+, out&proud cultural marxist (just don't ask me about Gramsci)

    The most frequent complaints I have seen from MRAs about this issue is that no one outside the Men´s rights movement is taking this issue seriously at all and that men who suffer from domestic violence have, unlike women, very few options to deal with the situation, especially when children are involved as well – because existing domestic violence and custody laws allegedly favor women (I have no idea if this is actually true).

    Like Cipher said, many good feminists have been on this issue for at least a decade. And even if they weren’t, antifeminsm wouldn’t be the answer.

    In my neck if the woods, family crisis centres are required to have alternatives tailored to men who’s subjected to domestic abuse. This didn’t come to pass because of MRAs.

    Many MRA complaints are based on facts that are true, it’s the analysis of those facts and causality and the suggested solution that’s invariably off to the land of whiny, clueless privilege.

  248. 248
    lv57lurker

    There are feminists who deal specifically with these issues, first of all. Feminists take these concerns seriously.

    I didn´t know that (again, I don´t know much about these issues, that´s why I was asking). Could you point me to an example ?
    From what I´ve read so far, I had the impression that the first studies that showed that female-on-male violence indeed does exist were not well received in feminist circles:
    http://www.law.fsu.edu/journals/lawreview/downloads/304/kelly.pdf

  249. 249
    lv57lurker

    Like Cipher said, many good feminists have been on this issue for at least a decade.

    Thanks for pointing that out, I didn´t know that.

    And even if they weren’t, antifeminsm wouldn’t be the answer.

    Of course, again – I´m not trying to defend them ;-).

  250. 250
    lv57lurker

    Thanks for the responses so far.
    While I´m at it, a more general question – can someone point me to a good book or online ressource about contemporary feminism ? I´m still rather confused about which feminist positions are mainstream and which are fringe. I have read the geekfeminism wiki and this seems to be representative of the feminist positions that are popular in the atheist community (right ?), is this mainstream ? (I´m only asking because I also stumbled upon some pretty horrible feminist sites like the radfem hub, which are full of misandry and anti-transgender bigotry – but those are fringe positions, right ?).

  251. 251
    Cipher

    Start here!
    :D
    (Sorry, I’m just super excited about being able to use that link.)

  252. 252
    Cipher

    That page is a work in progress. To find stuff about men’s issues, a good place to start is looking for work on toxic masculinity. Our own Jadehawk has a few blog posts on it; Greta Christina wrote some too. Also, here! pteryxx, a regular here, is really good at finding just about anything, and has located a few examples for you. :)

  253. 253
    lv57lurker

    Wow, that´s a pretty impressive link roundup :-D. Thanks a lot cipher!

  254. 254
    Nightjar

    Our own Jadehawk has a few blog posts on it

    Well, I have her blog open in another tab at the moment, so it only took me a few seconds to get the relevant links. Here they go:

    https://jadehawks.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/toxic-masculinity-part-one/

    https://jadehawks.wordpress.com/2010/03/16/toxic-masculinity-part-two/

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