The honorless party »« Creationism and racism

“It’s about misogyny. It’s about intimidation. It’s about silencing.”

Jane Fae writes about the realities of online bullying in the New Statesman.

…there is something disturbingly misogynistic about online bullying. Yes: blokes, male columnists, undoubtedly get it too. But it feels as though there is something far more vicious, gender-related with respect to what women have to endure.

Beard makes the point well, in a blog responding to her own online treatment. It is clear that she is no stranger to tired old jokes about her appearance – but even she has been shocked about the response she evoked, describing the level of misogyny as “truly gobsmacking”. The focus of much of the abuse is sexual, sadistic even and, she adds: “it would be quite enough to put many women off appearing in public, contributing to political debate”.

In other words, it is silencing, something I get very well from personal experience. I’ve opted out of contributing online for periods ranging from hours to a couple of weeks after being subjected to this sort of online nastiness. Not just me. Many far braver women with serious contributions to make to public discourse on violence and abuse have suffered similar: been silenced simply for having an opinion.

Yeah, the guys get it, too. I thought it was ridiculous before — I had Conservapædia raving about how fat I was, whole blogs dedicated to how stupid I was, and of course, frequent accusations of being gay — but once I got associated with feminism, the hatred reached a whole new level of shrieking. I’ve basically been declared an honorary woman by a whole new category of people, online atheists, who turn out to be worse than creationists, Christians, and Muslims. There are even more rants about my appearance, my ‘irrationality’, my sanity, than ever before.

And the scary thing is that when I compare what I get to what women activists get, I’m getting off easy.

It’s not criticism, either. It’s just raving mad hatred.

Comments

  1. leatham says

    Is the compulsion to anonymously express violent hatred towards people you have never met an American thing, or are there spineless scumbags all over the world?

  2. Rodney Nelson says

    It’s just raving mad hatred.

    This is the thing I’ve never quite understood. Why is there so much hatred towards women (and men who support women)? Why has Rebecca Watson had months of death and rape threats thrown at her for saying “guys, don’t do that”? Why is Ophelia threatened with having acid thrown at her? Why is Greta screamed at for buying a pair of shoes?

  3. Rodney Nelson says

    leatham #2

    Go look at some of Avacinna’s (A Million Gods) past posts. You’ll discover misogyny is thriving in India.

  4. darwinharmless says

    So sad that this keeps coming up. I try to estimate the number of mysoginist asshats and fuckwads, as a percentage of our whole group, but they are so noisy and vocal that it’s hard to get an accurate sense of proportion. Certianly they are “effective” far beyond their numbers or what they deserve. There must be some feedback mechanism in their echo chamber that is keeping them going.

    With the departure of Natalie Reed from FTB, this feels like a crisis building. I’ve been wracking my brains for some way to silence the silencers, but so far that seems impossible. I’ve always believed in meeting hatred with ridicule and contempt, ala the FSM folks with their counter protests dressed as pirates and carrying signs like “God hates pollyseter”. But these cretins are not visible, not where we can confront them. They snipe and sling shit from the protection of anonymity and feel imune to social pressure. The Internet is their playground, and they can be poo artists to their hearts’ content.
    It’s all enough to make me want to see the end of anonymous blogs and comments. But then we have to face the fanatical fundies who would kill us for insulting their imaginary magical buddies.

    Okay, decision made. I would give up being anonymous to put an end to this crap. Now how do we make that happen? And is it worth it in view of the fact that we’d lose people like Cuttlefish? And maybe Darwin Harmless.

    That’s what’s on the table here, folks. Is anonymity worth it? Can we accept the life threatening dangers of requiring everybody to reveal their true identity. Will that shut down discussion and debate more than it’s worth? Can we just tolerate the abusive assholes, ignore them, scorn them, make fun of them, and get on with our lives?
    We’ve seen that ignoring them doesn’t work all that well. What works?

  5. Gnumann+, Radfem shotgunner of inhuman concepts says

    It is a rather sad illustration of how deeply entrenched gender roles and male privilege are entrenched in our societies.

    Some things, like demonstratably unfair wages are relatively easy for people to grok, but once you tread off the path of painfully obvious, and into more obscure territory – a lot of people instinctively circle the waggons around patriarchy.

    If you ask a simple thing like: Is it obvious that a (usually) male engineer with three years training should earn almost twice as much as a (usually) female nurse with three years training – you might as well have screamed bloody murder judging from the reactions.

  6. Gnumann+, Radfem shotgunner of inhuman concepts says

    Darwinharmless:

    Certianly they are “effective” far beyond their numbers or what they deserve. There must be some feedback mechanism in their echo chamber that is keeping them going

    Like I partly said in my previous comment, I think you rather need to look at the feedback from society at large rather than the specific forums of the extreme goonsquads.

    You could call that an echo chamber of course, but it’s a rather large one.

  7. bluentx says

    So “honorary woman” is bad right ? Aw, and there I was about to welcome ye aboard matey!

  8. Cuttlefish says

    Darwin Harmless– in addition to what Pteryxx says, note that people can and do engage in this sort of behavior while their identities are not in question whatsoever. Recall, for instance, the threats Jessica Ahlquist got, via the Fox News comments, from dozens of named individuals.

  9. says

    darwinharmless:

    So sad that this keeps coming up. I try to estimate the number of mysoginist asshats and fuckwads, as a percentage of our whole group…

    Many aren’t even part of the group. Vermin from the MRA community have been scurrying over. People like John the Other aren’t really interested in the atheist movement. They just want to smack down uppity women.

  10. dgrasett says

    They do it because they can do it. This behaviour started when they were young – and they weren’t curbed when they smacked someone, or reminded that their actions hurt others – or told the equivalency of “Bad Puppy!”. Or someone did it to them, and wasn’t punished. On the internet, with its anonymity, they aren’t taken to task.
    It is fuelled by boredom and a desire for reaction, any reaction. And it is fuelled by fear. That the limited privilege they have now will be taken away from them if they are caught out.
    It was a vituperation that was open and vocal and considered a form of free speech until after WWII. It continued well into the 60s and 70s. The law always takes time (which is probably a good thing).
    You can see the examples of this behaviour in graffiti, and in the destruction of ancient monuments in the middle east. This is what fuelled the Holocaust. I have, for years, asked myself why the killing continued when it was obvious that it was improper behaviour.
    I think it may be from a belief that if the haters stop making the noises that they feel identify them as part of the group, that the group will become aware of them, and cast them out.
    I feel that the human has a deep need to be part of a group, even if the group is doing things that would not be considered do-able by an individual. It is the urge that has powered people from the Aztecs to soccer riots. Unfortunately, it is a human thing.
    It will only be curbed when the internet is as policed as ‘real life’. Then they will find other ways.
    This is only my opinion – from a lifetime of watching and trying to learn. I have no credentials except those of life.
    And I grieve at this.

  11. fantysq (a Radical Feminist and a Militant Atheist) says

    Why is there so much hatred towards women (and men who support women)?

    For the patriarchy to exist, it needs to keep women rendered as sub-human. And the easiest way to dehumanise someone is through hatred.

  12. darwinharmless says

    Sounds like nobody has any better answers than I have, and I agree that losing anonymity isn’t going to work. It was something I briefly considered, out of frustration and despair. Time to grow that thick skin I guess. Not that I’m important enough to draw any attacks, but just to hear about the attacks makes me want to grow a shell and crawl into it. Or go back to long walks on the beach and avoiding the Internet. And that’s no answer either. Fuck. Group hug everybody. Let’s all try to feel better.

  13. Gregory Greenwood says

    darwinharmless @ 5;

    That’s what’s on the table here, folks. Is anonymity worth it? Can we accept the life threatening dangers of requiring everybody to reveal their true identity. Will that shut down discussion and debate more than it’s worth? Can we just tolerate the abusive assholes, ignore them, scorn them, make fun of them, and get on with our lives?
    We’ve seen that ignoring them doesn’t work all that well. What works?

    As noted by other commenters, eliminating anonymity would place the victims of this kind of online intimidation in very substantial danger, since it would make it that much easier for the more dangerous stalkers to find them in flesh space.

    Unfortunately, I also don’t think that ending anonymity would do much to curb the misogynists and stalkers. If we ended anonymity, we would get endless tirades from people complaining that we were evil and attacking their precious Freeze Peach, and if we are going to behave like that then we are asking for online intimidation, and deserve whatever we get. Every possible attempt would be made to cast this as ‘feminazis’ trying to stifle ‘open debate’ – it would just be another means to demonise us as hell bent on destroying ‘true’ atheoskepticism. There are any number of pseudo-intellectual idiots out there who would be quick to paint the misogynists as the vicitms in such a sceanrio.

    And then there is the fact that we live in a highly patriarchal society that fosters the kind of toxic masculinity that sees ‘putting uppity women in their place’ as an entirely acceptable ‘manly pursuit’. The fact is that society simply doesn’t place much importance upon stopping such people from behaving in this fashion before they become violent. Law enforcement all over the world is infamously poor at dealing with stalkers and their ilk, often doing nothing until the victim is murdered.

    A large contingent of misogynist bigots would simply continue their campaign of intimidation openly under their own names, secure in the knowledge that the poilce will be slow to act, if they do anything at all. Even if you could prosecute one or two of them, it would be extremely difficult and time consuming to do so, and it would be but a tiny fraction of their number. The rest would be further emboldened by the realisation that they can target women online under their own names with impunity.

    Ending anonymity would ultimately do far more harm than good.

  14. Loud - warm smiles do not make you welcome here says

    @leatham #2

    Is the compulsion to anonymously express violent hatred towards people you have never met an American thing, or are there spineless scumbags all over the world?

    The article linked to in the OP is from a UK woman’s perspective, and also links to an article by UK scholar Mary Beard, also dealing with hateful misogyny, so no, definitely not something you can casually balme on the US.

  15. Loud - warm smiles do not make you welcome here says

    @darwinharmless #5

    That’s what’s on the table here, folks. Is anonymity worth it? Can we accept the life threatening dangers of requiring everybody to reveal their true identity.

    Shutting down anonymous abuse online just hides the problem, it doesn’t address the root issue, which is that we live in a culture of privilleged sexism. The only way to address this is to fight this culture both online and offline, wherever we see it.

    Change the culture, rather than hide the abuse.

  16. Ogvorbis says

    Is anonymity worth it? Can we accept the life threatening dangers of requiring everybody to reveal their true identity.

    The problem there is that making anonymity, or pseudonymity, unavailable would remove large numbers of bloggers and commenters. Including me.

  17. Gregory Greenwood says

    darwinharmless @ 14;

    Sounds like nobody has any better answers than I have, and I agree that losing anonymity isn’t going to work. It was something I briefly considered, out of frustration and despair. Time to grow that thick skin I guess. Not that I’m important enough to draw any attacks, but just to hear about the attacks makes me want to grow a shell and crawl into it. Or go back to long walks on the beach and avoiding the Internet. And that’s no answer either. Fuck. Group hug everybody. Let’s all try to feel better.

    I klnow what you mean – it is terribly frustrating to realise thate there are so many hateful, misogynistic arseholes within the supposedly ‘rational’ skeptic community, and it doesn’t help that the stench of their bigotry is now attracting the bottom feeding slime of the MRAs to boot.

    Once again, we are reminded forcefully that not believing in god or bigfoot is no guarantee that a person is actually capable of rational thought or applying a sceptical mindset to any other part of their lives, and that the clueless champions of unearned privilege are as common amongst the atheoskeptical community as in the rest of society.

    All we can do is continue to call them on their bigotry and not allow them to dominate the discourse, and hope that, by providing a better example, the progresives will help society to ultimately outgrow such toxic attitudes. It won’t be easy, nor quick, but I can see no other practical way of making things better.

  18. Matt Penfold says

    This crap is not confided to comments in blogs, emails, twitter etc.

    Mary Beard, mentioned and linked to above, was subjected to a sexist tirade by AA Gill in his TV column in the Sunday Times. He described her as being “too ugly” to be on TV.

  19. says

    Men who agree with the feminist position that the most important thing about a woman is not whether she is sexually appealing (to men) or not are, apparently, threatening. Just like any member of a privileged group who acknowledges privilege is threatening to those who don’t. Failure to live by the bro code means you’re not a real man, I guess.

  20. Pteryxx says

    The fact is that society simply doesn’t place much importance upon stopping such people from behaving in this fashion before they become violent. Law enforcement all over the world is infamously poor at dealing with stalkers and their ilk, often doing nothing until the victim is murdered.

    ^ This. Besides, these are the sort of problems folks *can* work to change – stronger stalking laws, allocating funding and volunteer work to shelters and education campaigns, and continuing pressure to make misogyny and stalking neither acceptable nor romantic. Frankly the online intimidation would be somewhat less effective if the targets had more protection against it turning physical.

    Online I’m thinking moderation posses might help: along with moderation tools, have a few screeners who can’t edit blog content or look at private information, but can hide or dispose of hate spam so the OP doesn’t have to deal with it personally. Most of these hate spamming jerks want the personal attention of the target.

  21. says

    Removing anonymity would force me into using a name I do not want associated with my statements I make online. Removing anonymity would take away the safety I have to be able to identify as myself. Removing anonymity would limit what I could say on these places, because I would damn well never associate myself to trans* issues, I would never say I’m transgender, and I would still be closeted because having anonymity allowed me to find a place that I could safely come out.

  22. Ogvorbis says

    Removing anonymity would take away the safety I have to be able to identify as myself.

    Quoted for truth.

    Removing anonymity would, for me, mean that my one outlet to deal with my past safely would be gone.

    Rather than find ways to force people to act like responsible adults (there is no possible way to legislate against stupidity), how do we encourage diverse voices while providing protection to give the writer room to grow? I pose this as a question because I do not know how to do this except by what I do now (try to call out privilege and bigotry when and where I see it).

  23. raymoscow says

    I know Jane a bit in real life. She’s an amazing woman.

    Thanks for re-posting her article, because I missed it.

  24. A Hermit says

    Go look at some of Avacinna’s (A Million Gods) past posts. You’ll discover misogyny is thriving in India.

    Yup, and some of the usual suspects are turning up in the comments to whine about how talking about it hurts men’s feelings…

  25. says

    The worst of the language might be slowed down by taking away anonymity… but stopped? Not in this lifetime. Look how many of the worst people are engaging in their hate campaigns under their real names, and people like Vacula who feel comfortable following their victims to meat-space events.

    And it is the people using their real names who are the real problem, because they are the ones who provide cover for the hate by constantly telling the lie that this is about “disagreements” or “ideology.” It is about foaming-at-the-mouth hate on their end, and nothing else.

  26. laurentweppe says

    This is the thing I’ve never quite understood. Why is there so much hatred towards women (and men who support women)?

    It’s the impostor syndrome: if you live in a system were the game is obviously rigged in favor of your social class/ethnicity/religion/gender/etc… you may start to wonder if your current confortable social status is really deserved, you may start to think that, if the system was fair, a lot of people who are actually smarter/more hardworking than yourself would get ahead of you, forcing you to give up your confortable livestyle.
    .
    The thing is, there are a lot of men out there who are certain that millions of women more talented than them are kept bellow them thanks to glass ceilings: protecting these glass ceilings is a matter of survival for these guys, and the best way to protect an unfair system is to forbid people for even saying publicly that the system is unfair.
    .
    Of course, sometimes it interract with other forms of dishonesty: Rebecca Watson became a target for expressing publicly that creepy male behavior was not a monopoly of the religious, thus accidently revealing the undercurrent of tribalism which exists within anglo-saxon atheism by becoming a ripe target for all the people who wanted to keep on pretending that atheists were the perfect embodiment of progressist virtues

  27. says

    I think some of it can be understood simply by listening to the rabid, MRA types and taking them seriously. A lot of this comes down to some seriously antiquated and toxic ideas about gender roles. There are of course different versions of their position, but common to them all is this idea that their view of what it means to be a man is under attack and they’re defending it.
    When Rebecca said, “don’t do that,” it was such a big deal because it’s just one more attack on their male dignity. It’s not what she said as much as what it represents to them; one more brick in the prison cell for True Masculinity.

    They see the world they want and understand slipping away and they’re fighting against it. They except women to be wilting flowers pining away for the rugged embrace of a Real Man and they get confused and upset when those same women decide that they don’t want to follow that script.
    What Rebecca did was not to say, “don’t do that.” What she said was, “I’m not going to be the way you want me to be.” These men are very tired of being told that. They’re highly frustrated and they don’t seem to know how to deal with it gracefully or constructively.

  28. Gregory Greenwood says

    Gretchen @ 21;

    Men who agree with the feminist position that the most important thing about a woman is not whether she is sexually appealing (to men) or not are, apparently, threatening. Just like any member of a privileged group who acknowledges privilege is threatening to those who don’t. Failure to live by the bro code means you’re not a real man, I guess.

    QFT.

    Misogynists hate men who don’t live by the unspoken ‘bro-code’ almost as much as they hate women. This often manifests as simply refusing to accept that there is such a thing as a man who has looked at the arguments of feminism and found them persuasive; and so believes that women deserve equal representation of interests in society, and should generally be treated as people rather than living sex toys and ambulatory incubators, as a matter of principle and basic decency. Instead, to the minds* of misogynists, the only possible explanations for a man supporting feminism are either that he is gay**, or that he is ‘white knighting’ and only pretending to be a feminist in a bid to have sex with feminist women.

    They simply cannot conceive of the possibility that not every man is as non-functional and bigoted as they are.

    ———————————————————————————————————————-

    * I use this term here in the loosest possible sense.

    ** I don’t understand why they think homosexuality is a bad thing – other than the usual homophobic rubbish about men ‘acting like women’ being somehow offensive, which is itself linked back to misogyny – or why they assume that gay men are any less mired in gender privilege, or less likely to be misogynistic as a group, than heterosexual men are. Then again, misogynists rarely make any sense at all, so why should this case be any different?

  29. lancefinney says

    I was glad to see Dawkins retweet the original article. After his “Dear Muslima” comment, this is a nice improvement.

  30. says

    Gregory @ 30

    Misogynists hate men who don’t live by the unspoken ‘bro-code’ almost as much as they hate women.

    Like traitors in a war.

    I see “sub-human” as a common way to characterize the way misogynists look at women. I’d say “the enemy” is probably a lot closer. In this view women are like men– very much like them; it’s just that they are opposed to them, and dealings with them can only be maintained with an aura of mistrust, like a temporary truce in a never-ending battle. Fundamentally different and fundamentally opposed.

    I don’t understand why they think homosexuality is a bad thing

    Because gays are like Sweden, and misogynists are like George Bush– you’re either with them or against them. ;-)

  31. says

    Joe:

    The worst of the language might be slowed down by taking away anonymity…

    If we’re lucky, we’d end up with dogwhistles and veiled threats.

    Of course, loss of pseudonymity may not change the agressors’ behavior at all– just look at the shit that Conservative talking heads have gotten away with saying. Like calling Sandra Fluke a slut and demanding to watch women on the Pill have sex on a nationally syndicated radio show.

  32. The Mellow Monkey says

    Gregory Greenwood:

    I don’t understand why they think homosexuality is a bad thing – other than the usual homophobic rubbish about men ‘acting like women’ being somehow offensive, which is itself linked back to misogyny – or why they assume that gay men are any less mired in gender privilege, or less likely to be misogynistic as a group, than heterosexual men are.

    The exact same terrifying, hateful harassment that is decried here? I have seen it–and received it–from gay men. Absolute frothing hatred turned towards women (or people they perceive as women) in general and most especially trans women. Hell, I’ve seen it from trans men specifically towards trans women. The vast majority of men aren’t like this, but it’s certainly not restricted to just straight white cis men.

  33. Rob Grigjanis says

    Mary Beard! I love her. They’re showing her “Meet the Romans” on TVO; saw Episode 2 last night.

    As she wrote, and as seems apparent listening to her, she can shrug this vile crap off, but how many can say the same? Not sure I could. As she says in her show, Rome (like the internet) was a pretty open, lawless place, and the assholes, bullies and sociopaths thrive in that sort of environment. Not much we can do but stick together, really. Is there?

  34. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @dgrasett #12, Gregory Greenwood #15, Gretchen #21, laurentweppe #28, LykeX #29:
    Thank you for all the detail.
     
    “Privilege” and “patriarchy” often get used in concise, sometimes cryptic sentences, and it helps when they’re unpacked now and then.
     
    I’d been having trouble connecting ignorance/unmindfulness of special treatment norms (and unrealistic expectations of others who’re treated differently, leading to callousness or low-opinions)… to being deliberately unethical… to motivating long-term abuse, despite being informed of the harm.

  35. bradleybetts says

    As though to illustrate PZ’s point, there are currently a few people derailing Avicenna’s thread with some (so far relatively polite) points about FtBullies and how Slymepitters get a bad rap, including some irritating little twerp called astrokid who seems to be of the opinion that MRA’s mostly don’t care about feminists… though in fairness I have trouble dredging a point out of his posts.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/amilliongods/2013/01/21/you-are-judged-by-the-company-you-keep/comment-page-1/#comment-32991

  36. says

    I think feminists are getting traction in culture. Comparative to my childhood, there are dozens of things floating about in culture which would never have occurred otherwise, including the message that there’s something wrong with this sort of heckling/threatening/etc.

    Slow traction, or at least slower than I’d like, but there have been some advances in the acknowledgement of this behavior as being unacceptable and some recognition of events online as having an effect on offline behavior. CA, among other states, have officially enacted cyberbullying laws designed to criminalize that sort of online behavior. There are some really interesting legal opinions, coming out of Michigan and Stanford, as well, on the merits of total anonymity and on legal precedent for dealing respectfully with general anonymity, versus dealing with the anonymity of persons who engage in behavior which is being criminalized (was doing research on that last night.)

    (I’m clinging to these ideas because otherwise I’d be really, REALLY depressed.)

  37. Steve LaBonne says

    As one who always posts under his real name, I just wanted to strongly agree that forcing everybody to do so would be a really terrible idea, for all the reasons already discussed.

  38. bradleybetts says

    Sorry, linked to my own post. Scroll up. Or down, there’s now someone “unpacking” Elevatorgate and trying to say censorship doesn’t exist at Symepit. *sigh*

    @Gretchen

    I see “sub-human” as a common way to characterize the way misogynists look at women. I’d say “the enemy” is probably a lot closer.

    I think it’s both depending on what camp they fall into. Some (the latter) seem to see the two sexes as opposing sides in an eternal battle, with men being sex-crazed juveniles who are always out to get some, and women constantly trying to deny men sex while using the allure of it to get what they want. The rest (the former) seem to pine for a world where men were firmly in charge and women were subservient, and see any attempt at equality as an unforgiveable undermining of their lost utopia. Ugh.

  39. says

    leatham #2

    Read the comments in The Guardian. Liberals posting on a U.K. site are every bit as nasty as their redneck counterparts across the Atlantic. There was a time when I’d comment on that site and have my photo appear next to my comments. Even those who would agree with me (which was the majority of people, as I’m also a liberal) would tell me things such as “you have such nice, cock-sucking lips” or other “compliments” about my appearance. (Do I need to mention the photo I used was professional photo? I wish I didn’t have to explain that my appearance in a photo shouldn’t warrant such a comment, regardless of how professional or unprofessional it was.) Those who didn’t like what I was saying would make derogatory comments about my appearance or that they’d hope I’d be raped/beaten or otherwise silenced by some man. This is still mild compared to what the female staff had to endure, even from others who allegedly agreed with the points they were making.

    This insanity isn’t just levered against female writers. Female politicians receive even more vitriol than their male coworkers or females in other lines of work. Otherwise secular and liberal Germany is filled with men who have something pathological against Angela Merkel, usually about her appearance and based in an absolute hatred against any female politician. An Italian newspaper called her a “lard ass,” in spite of the fact she’s considered to be the de facto leader of the E.U. and has bailed out their banks. In addition to the problems associated with Dominique Strauss-Kahn, France has a problem with male politicians molesting their female staff members while female politicians must endure cat calls just to show up to work. Of course, the news also recently broke about a male politician in Bolivia raping a female politician at a party after she passed out from drinking. So… it would seem as though a photo equals consent, clothing equals consent and the inability to say “no” is also consent. The constant threat of rape is just one example of what can and will happen to women if they dare make themselves seen and heard.

    The ugly reality is that “male machismo” is considered a basic human right for most of the world, including many liberal and secular countries. It’s meant to silence and hide women who otherwise might not “know their place” in society, reminding us all that if we ever fail to please, we can and will be humiliated, threatened, hurt and much worse.

  40. Daniel Martin says

    Re: anonymity. Posting under my “real name” provides no consequences to speak of. It’s my birth name, yes, but it’s also the title of a classic in postmodernist literature, the name multiple different British and Irish footballers, the name of a magician who’s SEO’ed the stuffing out of his sites so that he always appears at the top of search results for my name, and the name of an Oklahoma State Trooper who ends up in the news routinely for failing to keep his temper in check. I might as well be posting under the name “John Smith”.

    I keep feeling like I should be able to understand why these people behave this way, but I can’t. It isn’t the usual puzzlement when someone’s just random – I can construct in my head a personality that would join in the abuse, and could easily egg it on further than the examples given. Unfortunately, my “inner asshole” is insufficiently self-aware for me to fully extract why he’d behave this way, or what might stop him. Part of the motivation is boredom, I suppose, but a supportive community of fellow assholes (even if it’s relatively weak support) is an important component too. There’s also this flavor of self-righteousness to his thoughts – taking the enemy down a peg feels warm/good, even if it’s just posting with your other assholes. He also has that “loves the sound of his own voice” thing going on, but I can’t tell if that’s the “inner asshole” or host personality (me).

  41. cicely (No Description Available.) says

    Why has Rebecca Watson had months of death and rape threats thrown at her for saying “guys, don’t do that”?

    This one is way easy: These guys don’t want any infringement of their Right to “do that”. They resent even the suggestion that they do not have the Right to “do that”.
     
    Plus, of course, there is the looming Threat of Human Extinction to worry about, if they are not allowed to “do that”.
    *eyeroll*
    -

  42. TriffidPruner says

    Re Pteryxx’s suggestion,

    Online I’m thinking moderation posses might help: along with moderation tools, have a few screeners who can’t edit blog content or look at private information, but can hide or dispose of hate spam so the OP doesn’t have to deal with it personally.

    This sounds like a practical solution and a way to perform volunteer action in support of a good cause (a very A+ thing to do). I would happily volunteer a bit of time each day to relieving the load of ugliness born by a blogger I like.

    It could be modeled on other crowd-sourcing sites. Comments to a blog would enter a screening queue managed by the forum software. Registered volunteer mods could sign in at any time and spend a few minutes clicking a set of radio-buttons under each queued comment. The button set could be as simple as [ok] [not]. As soon as a comment had acquired 3 or more [ok] votes the software would move it from the queue to the blog; if it first acquired 3 or more [not]s it would be deleted, or perhaps emailed back to the one who posted it suggesting a rewrite.

    Other things are possible once the system is in operation. The software could track the voting per commenter-ID; after a given ID had been [ok]‘d a certain number of times, comments from that ID could bypass the queue and go straight to the blog. Or, when an ID had been [not]-voted a certain number of times, that ID could be blocked, or sent to the blog owner as a blocking-candidate.

  43. WharGarbl says

    @cicely
    #44

    Plus, of course, there is the looming Threat of Human Extinction to worry about, if they are not allowed to “do that”.

    Eh… I don’t get the part about the “Threat of Human Extinction” thing.

  44. Matt Penfold says

    Eh… I don’t get the part about the “Threat of Human Extinction” thing.

    People argued in the aftermath of ElevatorGate that stopping men propositioning women for sex in the manner RW was would mean no one ever had sex ever again.

  45. WharGarbl says

    @Matt
    #47

    People argued in the aftermath of ElevatorGate that stopping men propositioning women for sex in the manner RW was would mean no one ever had sex ever again.

    Oh! Now I get it.
    Thanks.

  46. says

    People argued in the aftermath of ElevatorGate that stopping men propositioning women for sex in the manner RW was would mean no one ever had sex ever again.

    Which made me wonder… exactly how much does human survival count on 4AM elevator hookups in Dublin-area hotels? It seems a peculiarly specific requirement, don’t you think?

  47. Matt Penfold says

    Which made me wonder… exactly how much does human survival count on 4AM elevator hookups in Dublin-area hotels? It seems a peculiarly specific requirement, don’t you think?

    I am not so sure it specific to a city and a space, more to women who do not know them. Probably because women who do know these men. know these men!

  48. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    The ugly reality is that “male machismo” is considered a basic human right for most of the world, including many liberal and secular countries. It’s meant to silence and hide women who otherwise might not “know their place” in society, reminding us all that if we ever fail to please, we can and will be humiliated, threatened, hurt and much worse.

    QFET.

    That, especially the bolded part, is exactly it. Thanks, Rachel Kiernan @42.

  49. UnknownEric says

    People argued in the aftermath of ElevatorGate that stopping men propositioning women for sex in the manner RW was would mean no one ever had sex ever again.

    Funny, because I think it would be that if men continually propositioned women in elevators late at night, then no one would ever have sex again…

  50. ChasCPeterson says

    I see “sub-human” as a common way to characterize the way misogynists look at women.

    Many of Prof. Beard’s harassers seemed to be using ‘you have pubic hair’ as an insult, so “sub-mammalian” might be more accurate.

  51. says

    It’s not criticism, either. It’s just raving mad hatred.

    This in particular has been bothering me a great deal lately. Recent threads give good examples of us just trying to keep our heads above the breaking waves of hate. There’s not one valid complaint, no actual argument to be had.

    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain:

    “Privilege” and “patriarchy” often get used in concise, sometimes cryptic sentences, and it helps when they’re unpacked now and then.

    Yes, it does. We tend to shorthand here, because most of us are well versed in the subjects. I’m reading Manhood in America: A Cultural History by Michal Kimmel and it’s increased my understanding *tremendously*. It’s a good read and it helps a lot on understanding the deep roots of patriarchy, privilege and the never ending quest to define and re-define masculinity.

  52. says

    Is the compulsion to anonymously express violent hatred towards people you have never met an American thing, or are there spineless scumbags all over the world?

    I assure you, European feminists aren’t treated any better. Plus, plenty of slymepitters are non-Americans.

    I think feminists are getting traction in culture. Comparative to my childhood, there are dozens of things floating about in culture which would never have occurred otherwise, including the message that there’s something wrong with this sort of heckling/threatening/etc.

    I’m actually wondering about that. I know this is true-ish for the US, but I’m worried it might not be true for example for Germany. For example, the big new thing right now is the Pirate party, and unfortunately their members spend an unpleasantly large amount of time making fun of the Greens for assorted policies and ideas meant to fight the patriarchy. Plus, based on some stories from parents of daughters, it seems gender roles are more entrenched there than they’ve been when I was a kid.

    I’m reading Manhood in America: A Cultural History by Michal Kimmel and it’s increased my understanding *tremendously*

    that’s on my reading list. unfortunately, said list has acquired truly epic lengths since I went back to college. Hoping to get through a lot of it during my year off, though.

  53. Esteleth, Ultra-PC Feminist Harpy Out To Destroy Secularism says

    I’m going to point out oh-so-gently that if you take a stand on “no anonymity,” then (1) not only would that not help terribly much (a perusal of the shit people say on Facebook should prove this), but (2) Natalie Reed is herself pseudonymous. That is not the name she uses in meatspace.

    So a “insist on real names so Natalie will feel safe” policy is thus doubly nonsensical.

  54. Azuma Hazuki says

    This whole thing is baffling to me. The vast majority of the human race is heterosexual: men who love women, women who love men. So why are they always fighting?

    When you love someone, you want to build them up and help them become the best man or woman they can be, right? Instead there’s what looks like a permanent guerilla war on. And there’s these hideous positive-feedback (as in “self-reinforcing,” not “good”) social loops, where devaluing leads to oppression leads to more devaluing, on and on and on.

    There are times I am very glad that I (mostly) don’t have to play this game. The hetero mating game in particular is nauseating in the existential sense.

  55. WharGarbl says

    @Azuma
    #57

    When you love someone, you want to build them up and help them become the best man or woman they can be, right?

    Except some men don’t love women. Some are selfish prick who view women just as a sex-toy or a baby-bag.
    And having women gain self-worth would make it much difficult for those men to treat women as a mere property, so they constantly push to devalue women and try to convince other men to “join their cause”.

  56. says

    Azuma Hazuki:

    This whole thing is baffling to me. The vast majority of the human race is heterosexual: men who love women, women who love men. So why are they always fighting?

    Uh…what you wrote might be relevant on a dating site, but it has zero relevance to this discussion. How in the hell could you possibly read the OP and come away with something about mating rituals?

    Jesus.

    This is about misogyny. This is about hate. This is about patriarchy, notions of manhood, sexism and the fight to retain privilege. And being in the GLBT tent does not excuse you or anyone else from all that.

  57. Ogvorbis says

    When you love someone, you want to build them up and help them become the best man or woman they can be, right?

    Not necessarily. For some, the term love is a catch-all which includes dominance.

    When I was younger, I had an abusive cub scout leader. I remember him telling us that there were only two kinds of humans in the world — men and girls. Girls exist to provide pleasure to men whenever and wherever they wan it. We were all still girls. His job was to teach us how men are supposed to act so that some of us might actually grow up to be men rather than remaining girls. Men like him get very, very upset at the idea that women exist who are not girls. Men like him get very upset at the idea that women have rights, including the right of bodily autonomy (which includes the right to say no).

    Love that involves an actual partnership between equals is not as common in the world as it should be (and that includes all facets and iterations of sexuality, not just hetero).

  58. don1 says

    Damn, this is depressing. I guess the internet gives to those who need it the anonymity and moral abdication of the mob multiplied several-fold and brought to the comfort of your couch. Don’t even have to leave the house.

    That is just an ugly side-effect of the technology. What is depressing is that until a couple of years ago I had no idea that the rational, skeptical atheist ‘community’ was so riddled with these jerks. Some of them are people I once admired or at least saw as valued comrades. They aren’t the ones making threats or hurling vile sexual abuse; they are the ones who explain that it’s nothing to be concerned about and if Ophelia or Greta object then they are the aggressors.

    Having found one another they feed off and amplify each other (I guess that’s just human, we do it too) until someone who genuinely considers themselves as humane and, progessive, and who is unquestionably intelligent, can describe the threat to throw acid in the face of someone they once considered a friend as nothing to worry about. And, yes, Mr Blackford I’m looking at you. Or who deplore such threats but only because they are tactical errors. The really extreme scumbags are not the main problem; the main problem is those with a reputation and a standing who validate this shit.

    What can we do about it? I suggest we can put in the time whenever we are able. Challenge it when it shows up, follow through. But we don’t attempt to intimidate or silence by mass abuse. That is their chosen style. We win by being better than them. That is how it works, isn’t it?

  59. says

    Don1:

    We win by being better than them. That is how it works, isn’t it?

    No. We win by refusing to be silenced. We win by continuing to fight the good fight, even when your energy is being sapped by constant harassment and threats. We win by pushing, until minds are changed and society at large cannot continue to ignore the noise. We win by raising awareness. We win by getting more men to realize that it is crucial they speak up, even inside their own homosocial groups. That is probably more crucial and effective than general speaking out and up.

  60. cuervodecuero says

    The societal messaging of the global human species is still that it is better to be identified as a man, any social status of man, rather than be the highest status woman. Parts is power.
    Even if the messaging was different before agricultural lifestyles and it’s now cracking apart in the light of critical thinking and communication , it’s been how many thousands of years of showing that stepping outside this message can literally kill non-MenTM?

    Prof Myers speaks in his other post today to relatively recent militias being used as conscriptive/prescriptive lessons in “there but for an unsullied bloodline go you, so you’re not one of them *are* you”. A very effective deterrent to empathizing/associating with the targeted Other in the times of American One-Drop laws defining colour lines, sprinkled with incidents of slavebonding low-status persons on patently absurd judicial grounds and ‘Passing as White’ accusations.

    Moral Militias aka state/city-allowed-rape-gangs-of-men have been used all through ‘known’ history to exemplarily punish women for, well, to summarize, being inadequately locked away from exemplary punishment. The prescriptive is “L’etat, est le troisieme jambe ou rien”.

    Be a tormentor or the tormented. Identify with the powerful or the powerless. The tormented and the powerless must deserve exploitation/punishment; if not, what would that make me for exploiting/punishing them? They made me hurt them!

    Sometimes I think we’re all societal artifice PTSD survivors, in denial or therapy.

    At least, via the internet, the denialists leave a paper trail legible to millions. Gaslighting just doesn’t work as well when it’s recorded and comparative. The downside is, facts don’t mean much to lazy e-duckfu**ers honking and flapping enmasse around a target, afraid they’re somehow losing their right to be MenTM after they played by the Rulez (and cheat codes) that lets them win.

  61. Azuma Hazuki says

    Sometimes I think we’re all societal artifice PTSD survivors, in denial or therapy.

    Please expand on this? It sounds profound but I’m not sure what it means…

  62. Ogvorbis says

    Be a tormentor or the tormented. Identify with the powerful or the powerless.

    Restated for truth.

  63. Ogvorbis says

    Please expand on this? It sounds profound but I’m not sure what it means…

    I read that to mean that we all carry the toxins of patriarchy and that these toxic ideas, even when we are aware of them, colour and poison our world.

  64. says

    Azuma Hazuki:

    Please expand on this? It sounds profound but I’m not sure what it means…

    You know, you could work on figuring out that the ongoing and worsening harassment of women doesn’t have anything to do with “mating rituals” first.

  65. Esteleth, Ultra-PC Feminist Harpy Out To Destroy Secularism says

    Chatted awhile back with a friend who was reading an old psychiatry textbook.

    Apparently, it included a real gem. To wit, that while a woman who had been raped or otherwise abused for being a woman might display symptoms of [current term for PTSD], that this wasn’t really PTSD, unless she’d been subjected to additional, “real” traumas.

    Also, a woman who complained of sexism should be given a diagnosis of “delusional” and treated accordingly. The goal of her treatment was to get her to cheerfully submit.

    There’s a cogent rant in that somewhere, but I’m too depressed by the implications to start.

  66. says

    This insanity isn’t just levered against female writers. Female politicians receive even more vitriol than their male coworkers or females in other lines of work. Otherwise secular and liberal Germany is filled with men who have something pathological against Angela Merkel, usually about her appearance and based in an absolute hatred against any female politician.

    Yes, but at this point I would say that in respect to her alone this has changed. When she first started as chancellor it was all about her looks. From radio comedy to top notch political satirists, none of them seemed to be able to think up any joke that wasn’t about her not being conventionally attractive. This has changed. But it’s not because the atmosphere itself has changed but because she “became one of the boys”.

    Jadehawk
    Oh yeah, the Pirates. That’s what happens when middle-class male college gamer kids become a party. But fortunately their appeal seems already to be wearing off.

  67. says

    Esteleth:

    There’s a cogent rant in that somewhere, but I’m too depressed by the implications to start.

    I think it can be summed up with “My, how little things have changed.”

  68. Esteleth, Ultra-PC Feminist Harpy Out To Destroy Secularism says

    Caine:

    I think it can be summed up with “My, how little things have changed.”

    That, and “Isn’t it interesting how unsurprised I am?”

  69. says

    Esteleth:

    That, and “Isn’t it interesting how unsurprised I am?”

    *Snort* Yes, absolutely. Some days, too many days actually, it feels like a much more productive use of your time would be to stand and bang your head into a brick wall.

  70. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    Re: anonymity: Forcing me to use my real name means I would never, ever be able to talk about things like trauma or my gender. Also, it would make life awesome and easy for my abusive rapist stalker.

    As for the article, I was surprised to see complaints about the “bullying” of Suzanne Moore and Julie Bindel, as what they’ve termed such has actually been being called out for transphobia.

    But the rest of the article is very, very spot-on.

  71. Rodney Nelson says

    I have a fundamentalist Christian boss who has googled my real name (she told me someone with my name has multiple arrest warrants in Pennsylvania). I do not want her to know I’m an atheist. If I were forced to post under my real name then I’d be gone, never to reappear here again.

    Besides Justin Vacula and Jerry Conlon use their real names and that doesn’t stop them from posting misogynist crap. Conlon was the one who threatened to throw acid in Ophelia’s face. So forbidding anonymity is not a deterrent for the slymepitters.

  72. says

    My identity isn’t difficult to find, I do business via the ‘net. What bothers me (massive understatement) is that some people are dedicated to making as much of the ‘net as possible an unsafe place for certain people. It’s not bad enough we already face dangers in meatspace, they want us to face those dangers online too.

  73. says

    Me @ 63:

    In shorter form, Don1, this isn’t a contest of superiority.

    I want to clarify a bit. There are a fair amount of men who seem to think that feminism is about flipping the current paradigm, so that women will dominate and oppress men in the same way women are dominated and oppressed currently*, and they fear that. I understand that fear, I really do. However, that is not what we want to do, in any way. Language matters, and the above is one reason I avoid terminology such as “better than”. It’s not helpful and seriously open to misinterpretation.

    *Then you have those who scoff at the idea of [Western] women being oppressed or dominated. No winning for losing.

  74. cuervodecuero says

    @66

    Sometimes I think we’re all societal artifice PTSD survivors, in denial or therapy.

    Please expand on this? It sounds profound but I’m not sure what it means…

    Profound? Oblique is more my style. So deepity it’s opaque.

    Try this. Bullying, which is a term lobbed more than defined by many parties on the net(you know who you are), is a kinder, gentler term for torturing animals, often humans on humans.

    When a society prides itself on having a large portion of its populace acting as bullies to the rest, it must train even those not criminally sociopathic to behave in a bullying manner. While the non-sociopaths may come to identify with the torturer training them because of a very logical decision to not be the one most in harm’s way, they’re still damaged by the training…and so is the society.

  75. says

    Apparently, it included a real gem. To wit, that while a woman who had been raped or otherwise abused for being a woman might display symptoms of [current term for PTSD], that this wasn’t really PTSD, unless she’d been subjected to additional, “real” traumas.

    It occurred to me recently that this may also feed into the whole “Men want sex, women accept it” meme. In a situation where a very large percentage of the female population is suffering from unacknowledged, untreated rape-related PTSD, and the associated slut-shaming, etc. etc.etc., and a culture that doesn’t distinguish between rape and sex in most cases, a lot of women are probably going to be ambivalent at best about the whole idea of sex. Yet another way in which patriarchy reinforces itself, I suppose.

  76. ginckgo says

    Yet more evidence that just being atheist is not enough. To be a decent human being we need more, be it humanism or atheism+. Those attacking these seem to be most upset about the fact that they may need to go further than just rejecting god/s.
    That leads me to think that some atheists have come to the right answer (disbelief in god/s) for the wrong reasons, in other words without thinking about it too much, which can lead to them not thinking too much about anything else.

  77. says

    ginckgo:

    Yet more evidence that just being atheist is not enough.

    No argument there. However, this is much wider than what’s happening within the atheoskepticism sphere right now. This is all a vicious backlash against feminism, an attempt to put women back into their “proper” place.

  78. caveatimperator says

    @Gregory Greenwood

    Your comment about accusations of white knighting and hatred of “gender traitors” reminds me of creationists. Specifically, the kind of creationists who argue things like “Darwin recanted on his deathbed” and quote mine papers. They see the world in such an authoritarian mindset, that they are incapable of comprehending a worldview that doesn’t depend on revealed truth.
     
    The Slymepitters are much the same. They are so stuck on “the purpose of women is to be submissive and provide sex” that any male-female interaction gets filtered through that worldview. When they see men standing in solidarity with women, they see a man who just wants sex, but is seeking sex through a different approach. They cannot understand that nothing could be further from the truth.

  79. Raziel WasAlone says

    P.Z Myers, haven’t you got more important things to focus on than gender politics? Amusingly there’s no mention of this feminist stuff on your Wikipedia page.

  80. says

    P.Z Myers, haven’t you got more important things to focus on than gender politics?

    Like what, Cupcake? Obviously you don’t think vicious harassment is a suitable or important subject, but just what is it you think is so terribly important? And if it’s so important, why don’t you run off and focus on whatever it might be?

    Amusingly there’s no mention of this feminist stuff on your Wikipedia page.

    Who cares? It’s here, where millions of people read. I’d say that’s the most effective way to disseminate information. But you aren’t terribly sharp, are you?

  81. says

    P.Z Myers, haven’t you got more important things to focus on than gender politics?

    That’s spelled “equality”. Can’t speak for PZ, but sounds quite important to me.

    Amusingly there’s no mention of this feminist stuff on your Wikipedia page.

    You are easily amused.

  82. says

    P.Z Myers, haven’t you got more important things to focus on than gender politics? Amusingly there’s no mention of this feminist stuff on your Wikipedia page.

    Translation:
    Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
    Don’t. Speak. About. Women.
    Don’t. Speak. About. Gender.
    Speak about things I care about because clearly, I’m way more important than 51% of the world’s population.

  83. says

    @ Raziel

    P.Z Myers, haven’t you got more important things to focus on than gender politics?

    Can you mention a single “important thing” that gender politics does not impact on?

  84. Masquirina says

    But, but what about “Religious Liberty” and “Men’s rights”? We must rally together to stop the suppression of men and religion now! Will religious groups ever have a chance to disseminate their logically sound ideas and achieve world domination, or will you keep breaking their balls every time like an overzealous prostitute? What about all of that worldwide hatred for cats and dogs? Can’t air, wind, and TV have a voice too? And all of these attacks on doctors, hey, HEY – did they ask you to forget to shave? Hmm? Forsooth.

  85. Free Fox says

    I saw this video comment someone made about video games and school shootings a while ago. In it they made a pretty compelling argument about how the dramatic way the press reports on shootings tends to encourage more shooters to want to become such much talked about dark and scary anti-heroes. And I’ve always been somewhat annoyed at the way most people treat islamic terrorists like such a bit threat. They’re given way too much credit: Compared to the common flu, to simply incomptent doctors, or bad drivers these chaps are total whimps as far as their body count is concerned. And nobody is calling for a war on pneumonia or spends billions to hunt down bad doctors.
    What I am trying to say in regard to online bullies and misogynists (or homophobes or any other kind of intolerant arseholes) is that they are arseholes. But there’s no law against that. And nor should there be, because they frankly aren’t worth it. They aren’t worth all this huff and defense.
    I totally get that nobody wants to feel physically threatened, but how big is that treat really? How many phyiscal assaults on columnists have there been – especially compared to the general level of muggings, robberies, or random hooliganism? If it is a real threat, hey, yeah, that needs to be fought, no doubt. But if not, if it’s mainly a case of arseholes not liking us or feeling threatened by our oppinions… um… isn’t it kind of a badge of honour to get as many arsehole reeling and puffing themselves up to defend their arseholeness?
    To be honest, I fear there is a bit of a victim culture at work, too. In a way it’s not all unpleasant to feel indignation and to proclaim one can’t go on because of the harsh treatment. It’s a great way to find someone we can feel angry about in the face of tiredness, and self-doubts (those ugly mysogynistic, or homophobic, or whatever other demeaning cultural stereotypes we suffer from are worst not outside of us, but where they’ve taken root in ourselves, aren’t they, and where they sap us of our strength and happiness by digging into our souls), and feel a little bit better about ourselves and reaffirm that we are standing on the right side, but that its too much, too hard, that we have good reason to withdraw or even quit.
    And hell, of course, everyone has the right to quit. But is it really those stupid arseholes that are the reason? Do we need to give them that much importance and power over us?
    Aren’t we feeding the trolls?

  86. says

    Masquirina

    Will religious groups ever have a chance to disseminate their logically sound ideas and achieve world domination, or will you keep breaking their balls every time like an overzealous prostitute?

    Uhm, not cool.
    Please avoid slut shaming and gendered insults around here as it is the community standard.

  87. says

    Free Fox:

    if it’s mainly a case of arseholes not liking us or feeling threatened by our oppinions… um… isn’t it kind of a badge of honour to get as many arsehole reeling and puffing themselves up to defend their arseholeness?

    No, it’s not a badge of honor. Nor is a campaign of ongoing harassment any sort of honor, nor is it a minor thing. Do you even have the slightest idea of the psychological toll involved? It’s quite easy to dismiss what’s going on as “huffery and puffery” when you’re sitting in a place of privilege* and aren’t one of those targeted. It’s easy to dismiss and handwave when you aren’t already affected, every day, by systemic sexism and those who not only are aware of that sexism, but make it more toxic and revel in doing so.

    But is it really those stupid arseholes that are the reason? Do we need to give them that much importance and power over us?

    The arseholes are the reason, yes. They’re just the noisy symptoms on top of a very deep rooted toxicity. It’s not just a matter of “oh, those chaps are behaving badly.” What would you suggest, sitting down and staying silent? Cowering in the corner? Saying “oh yes, you’re ever so right, we really should settle for being not fully human and cheerfully submit”?

    Aren’t we feeding the trolls?

    Oh for fuck’s sake. Enough with this shit. “Don’t Feed the Trolls” Is Bad Science. Try reading Amy Roth on the subject – it doesn’t fucking work. Full stop.

    *The Male Privilege Checklist

    Excellent explanation of privilege

    Try educating yourself, at least the tiniest bit, instead of breezing in with the same damn shite we’ve been hearing for well over two years already.

  88. says

    Free Fox

    I totally get that nobody wants to feel physically threatened, but how big is that treat really?

    How about a 1 in 4 lifetime chances of being raped and a 100% chance of being the victim of sexual harassment up to assault?
    That’s what we’re talking about.
    Women know pretty well that those idiots are around them and that those assholes are encoraged by other people, by a society that like you totally thinks that this isn’t really a problem and that women are profesional victims. Congratulations for being part of the problem.
    Wanna become part of the solution?

  89. says

    Masquirina:

    keep breaking their balls every time like an overzealous prostitute?

    We don’t do gendered insults or slurs here. If you lack the creativity to manage an insult which does not involve gender, then go away until you figure it out.

  90. says

    To be honest, I fear there is a bit of a victim culture at work, too.

    Well, thanks so much for continuing a very long line of tradition in blaming the women. It’s all our fault, isn’t it? Why, we bring it on ourselves, having the godsdamn nerve to speak out, to be in the public sphere, when everyone knows that’s rightfully a homosocial arena, and hey, if we can’t grow a pair, like a proper human being, we should just get back to doing what comes naturally, like being under a man’s thumb, eh?

    Did you even bother to think before you tossed this shit on the carpet? Would you like to tell all the people here who have raped and assaulted* that it was their fault, really, because they must have done something they weren’t supposed to be doing, right? Would you like to explain to us how a simple “Guys, don’t do that” deserved two years of constant harassment and threats, which shows no sign of stopping?

    Would you like to explain to us that rape culture is a myth, there’s no such thing, you know, men have powerful sex drives and women, well, they tend to be slutty and most of it is just regret on their part? Would you like to tell us that there are more false allegations of rape than actual rapes? Would you like to impress upon us that because of the prison system, more men are raped than women? Would you like to tell us there’s no rape culture, there’s just rape nature?

    We get all those arguments and much, much more. All. The. Time. Here’s a bit more reading for you: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/21/an-experiment-why-do-you-despise-feminism/ – I’m sure the overwhelming logic of the anti-feminists will impress you. And here’s a recent thread where a man was arguing the “it’s not rape culture, it’s rape nature” crap: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/01/16/nyt-women-cause-rape-by-being-too-scarce/

    *Guess what, asshat? Those people include men.

  91. says

    Here’s a bit more reading for you, Free Fox: Rape Goggles. After reading that post, why don’t you tell Stephanie Zvan that what those people are doing to her is no big deal, really. It’s just huffing and puffing, no worries.

    Why don’t you run off and tell Ophelia Benson that A vial of acid in the face is no big deal?

    Why don’t you read what all the lovely huffers and puffers had to say about Natalie Reed being driven away?

  92. says

    P.Z Myers, haven’t you got more important things to focus on than gender politics?

    You mean like creationist racism, crackpot alternatives to evolution, current events, like the president’s inaugural address, More crackpot science, scientific ethics, a bit about scientology and the odd funny video, all within the last week.
    Then, let’s not forget that PZ also has invited in a second blogger, Chris Clarke, who also writes on different things, like this one on an interesting kickstarter project.

    So, if all you see is gender politics, maybe that says more about you than this blog.

  93. Free Fox says

    Yo! I apologise a million times if I blamed anyone, let alone “women” as a group. That wasn’t my intent and obvious really bad communication skills on my part. I may not have 2 X chromosmes, but I’ve been openly queer since I was 14, and i got my arse kicked hard enough for that, I’ve been homeless because of it, and I’ve been raped, and I am raising the child that is the result of a close friend having been raped, so I think I have some right to look at alternatives here and not just have to shut up with the rest of the white male privileged society.
    As for bullying… erm… I feel pretty unfairly attacked right now. I mean, sure, have a different opinion, but does it have to be so hateful? I didn’t know we were being on different sides. I thought we all wanted a world were everybody can be her- or himself freely, without society dictating your behaviour from your chromosomes, or parentage, or ethnicity or anything else but your conduct – and that said conduct should be mostly free and were possible friendly. I am quite willing to take what you tell me serious and change my opinion. Really. If you allow me to take my own life’s experiences into the picture.
    And in my humble if not eventless 20 years I have learned that getting aggravated usually makes things worse, provokes bullies even more, and more often than not has something to do with unspoken fears and not yet dealt with shame we have been instilled with. And I am speaking of myself there as well.
    If you can name me a working way to “switch off” arseholeness in others, you’d have a HUGE fan in me! :) I was just concerned that these debates aren’t really part of the solution either. Every time we’re lamenting how we’re treated when we speak out against, for example, those real rapes happening out there, every day, or the economic unfairness towards women and other non merit-defined groups keep happening unchallenged.
    I thought there was a difference between blaming someone and trying to self-critically find solutions. Is there statistic evidence that being frightened by and pissed off at bullying stops it and diminishes inequality and prejudice? (That’s an honest question, no snark.)

  94. says

    See, this is why, when writing a longer post, you should always compose it in a separate text document, so if anything goes wrong, you can repost. Sadly, this doesn’t really allow for breaking into separate posts, so I guess I’ll just leave out some of the links. The point will still be made, I’m sure:

    P.Z Myers, haven’t you got more important things to focus on than gender politics?

    You mean like creationist racism, crackpot alternatives to evolution, current events, like the president’s inaugural address, more crackpot science, a bit about scientology and the odd funny video, all within the last week.

    Then, let’s not forget that PZ also has invited in a second blogger, Chris Clarke, who also writes on different things, like this one on an interesting kickstarter project.

    So, if all you see is gender politics, maybe that says more about you than this blog.

  95. Maureen Brian says

    Yes, Free Fox, we all want to live in that word where everyone is free, equal and judged solely on their merits. So did MLK. He got shot for it. Too many women get raped or have acid thrown in their faces for making precisely the demand you make. Think about that!

    When you see someone expressing anger then your first , second and third questions should be, “What is ze angry about?” not a whole string of cliches pulled from pulp fiction, internet chat rooms and blokes in the pub performing masculinity as a public display. That’s what you did at 93.

    I note that you are young. Good. That should make it easier to learn and lurking here to read is one of the better places to do that learning. Take it, though, from someone with 70 years experience of the disbenefits of being a woman – there’s an awful lot of shit to shovel away before we find the yellow brick road, let alone the promised land.

    We will not silence arseholes by giving in to their demand that we be silent and submissive. No, we fight back loud and hard enough that some of them will learn – many fine examples are now regulars on Pharyngula – or they finally realise that their cheap thrills are no longer worth the effort it takes to achieve them.

  96. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist, with anit to pick) says

    Free Fox, your intent is not magic, if your words and your attitude cause harm, they cause harm, and your intent matters not one whit.

    I’m very sorry you’ve had such a difficult time. But your history does not give you a free pass on a bad argument either. At best it’s an emotional manipulation to deflect criticism.

    If you want to learn, truly want to learn, then Pharyngula is chockers with great stuff. Shutting the hell up and searching the site for “feminism” might be good start. Read those threads. Read the comments, the thousands of comments, literally thousands, where all of this stuff has been gone over and over and over again. My own strategy was to read any thread with over 100 comments first because those were usually the ones where some disagreement was being thrashed out. But whatever works for you.

  97. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist, with anit to pick) says

    Damn, I should also say that there’s nothing wrong with expressing emotion. Strong language for strong emotions are part and parcel of this place. But that said, you cannot substitute emotion for argument and expect to get away with it here.

  98. says

    This is more good reading, from Marc David Barnhill:

    [...] A lot has happened in the last year, some of it wonderfully inspiring and much of it dismayingly ugly. One of the things about privilege is that an ally can choose to withdraw from the struggle when burnout or shocked sensibilities request it. Not everyone has this option. It’s an option I was too easily prepared to exercise. [...]

  99. bradleybetts says

    @Cicely #44

    Why has Rebecca Watson had months of death and rape threats thrown at her for saying “guys, don’t do that”?

    This one is way easy: These guys don’t want any infringement of their Right to “do that”. They resent even the suggestion that they do not have the Right to “do that”.

    I don’t get that. You know what I took away from her post? Advice. I read it and though “Shit. You know, I have never even considered that the very location in which I approach a girl may make her feel uncomfortable. I shall have to start thinking about that in future.” How anyone can read it and think “Argh! Shrill Feminazi calling misogyny where none exists!” is beyond me. It was a bit of advice phrased as an anecdote, nothing more. I’d have thought that even the arseholes who see women as nothing more than sex toys would have thought “Well, that’s going to get me laid more often, cheers Rebecca!”. But no, apparently it’s oppressing them, so they feel the need to oppress her in turn… except the oppression they heaped on her was real rather than imagined. *sigh*

  100. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Bradley, that is because your learning curve has a positive slope. MRAs…not so much.

  101. Pteryxx says

    It was a bit of advice phrased as an anecdote, nothing more. I’d have thought that even the arseholes who see women as nothing more than sex toys would have thought “Well, that’s going to get me laid more often, cheers Rebecca!”. But no, apparently it’s oppressing them, so they feel the need to oppress her in turn… except the oppression they heaped on her was real rather than imagined. *sigh*

    Heh, Rebecca addressed that one herself, right when Egate got rolling:

    http://skepchick.org/2011/07/update-plus-dating-advice/

    *cough* transcript in comments *cough*

  102. casus fortuitus says

    bradleybetts, #110:

    You know, I have never even considered that the very location in which I approach a girl may make her feel uncomfortable.

    You’re obviously one of the good guys, so please don’t take this observation amiss, but here’s another learning opportunity: it can make women uncomfortable to be infantalised by being referred to as “girls”. So unless you’re talking about picking up actual under-18s, a better term to use “women”.

    Also, it’s just creepy if you think about it.

  103. says

    Bradley:

    I don’t get that. You know what I took away from her post? Advice.

    Rebecca, Greta Christina and a host of other women bloggers pointed out that it was good advice if you want to get laid. Didn’t help much.

    I read it and though “Shit. You know, I have never even considered that the very location in which I approach a girl woman may make her feel uncomfortable.

    Fixed that for you. If you’re dating girls, Bradley, I imagine that would be problematic, in more than one way.

  104. jeffret says

    You’re obviously one of the good guys, so please don’t take this observation amiss, but here’s another learning opportunity: it can make women uncomfortable to be infantalised by being referred to as “girls”. So unless you’re talking about picking up actual under-18s, a better term to use “women”.

    I realize this distinction, “women” instead of “girls”, can seem a little trite and picky. After all, that’s just how everybody speaks. Nobody means anything demeaning by it, right? But this is the crux of the issue. Whether they mean it or not, it is still a diminishing term. I submit that this is a significant distinction. I try to treat grown females as women, though I’m sure being part of our patriarchal society, I don’t always realize when I don’t.

    Also, I find the term “picking up” disconcerting and demeaning. I’m glad to see that bradleybetts didn’t use it. Besides its favorite use by the MRA crowd, it depicts a materialistic view of people as objects.

  105. Eurasian magpie says

    Amusingly there’s no mention of this feminist stuff on your Wikipedia page.

    Congratulations! You’ve made the weirdest anti-feminist argument evah!

  106. cicely (No Description Available.) says

    Free Fox: To the links that have been suggested for you above, I would add Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is. Yes, I realise that you identified yourself as “openly queer”; now apply how that fact has made life less than a cabaret, old chum, and extrapolate.

    I mean, sure, have a different opinion, but does it have to be so hateful?

    You were clueless, and shouted “Fire!” in a crowded theater full of the previously-trampled, so to speak.
    -

  107. Eurasian magpie says

    I did follow that thread until I gave up when it was a little shy of 1000 comments. But I’ll check the rest of it, thanks!

  108. arakasi says

    P.Z Myers, haven’t you got more important things to focus on than gender politics? Amusingly there’s no mention of this feminist stuff on your Wikipedia page.

    Amusingly, Raziel WasAlone neglected to actually read our host’s Wikipedia page, or xe would have seen:

    He is also an outspoken supporter of sex-positive feminism.[12]

  109. says

    Cicely:

    You were clueless, and shouted “Fire!” in a crowded theater full of the previously-trampled, so to speak.

    You know what stuns me? That someone can breeze in here, handwave, “hey, it’s not really a big thing, right?” after reading the vitriolic hate in the OP and linked articles, then after experiencing some anger and criticism, whines about it being “hateful”. Gad.

  110. cicely (No Description Available.) says

    Caine: And it seems to be such a common reaction, too. I can only assume that it’s an outgrowth of the ol’, “If it ain’t a problem for me, then it ain’t really a problem” mindset (phrasing it that way, because I suspect that just saying, “Captain Privilege strikes again!” will not, in this instance, achieve communication where it’s needed).
    -

  111. casus fortuitus says

    @jeffret, #116:

    Also, I find the term “picking up” disconcerting and demeaning.

    I absolutely agree, thanks for pointing that out.

    At the risk of sounding like a parody of myself, I’ll say the same about female-as-noun when talking about women (or girls, actually) outside of a strictly scientific context.

  112. bradleybetts says

    @Casus Fortuitus and Caine

    Ah, fair point :-/ my apologies. I’m quite young and so are my peers, so most of the women I hang out with don’t object to it and it’s become part of my everyday speech. I’ll try to think about that in future; my bad. No offence intended.

  113. bradleybetts says

    @Casius Fortuitus

    At the risk of sounding like a parody of myself, I’ll say the same about female-as-noun when talking about women (or girls, actually) outside of a strictly scientific context.

    I certainly agree with you there. It feels like a sort of casual dehumanisation of women; speaking of them in the sort of disspationate sense that you would use to describe non-human females. I don’t like it at all.

  114. casus fortuitus says

    No worries, bradleybetts, we’re all learning all the time. Or at least we should be.

  115. jeffret says

    @casus fortuitus

    At the risk of sounding like a parody of myself, I’ll say the same about female-as-noun when talking about women (or girls, actually) outside of a strictly scientific context.

    Is there a viable alternative term that encompasses girls, women, those of all ages, or similar? I’m not really familiar with feminist theory and terminology, though I’m open to learning.

    I suspect that ultimately discussions like these, especially involving categorization, are deeply flawed because of our culture and our environment. We want to avoid lumping people into unnecessary categories but we lack the tools to talk about it without at some point doing so.

  116. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    It’s pretty simple, actually. Run it through your head by reversing the genders. Do these sound right to you when you’re talking about grown-ups?

    “There were a lot of attractive boys at the economic development conference.”

    “There was a male acting as chair at the meeting and many other males were represented there.”

    Once in while, sure, you hear that. But not nearly as much as you do when it’s “girls” and “females.” In fact, you almost never hear grown men referred to as “boys” outside a college context (and not so much there either).

    If it sounds like awkward copspeak clinical baloney to you, you’re right.

  117. says

    Bradley:

    Ah, fair point :-/ my apologies. I’m quite young and so are my peers, so most of the women I hang out with don’t object to it and it’s become part of my everyday speech.

    No worries. The other day in the lounge thread here, a young woman was talking about the new person they’re dating, and referred to her as a girl. I corrected that to woman, and an interesting thing came up. It’s been a bad habit for her, using ‘girl’, because she is young and the times she’s been called a woman, it’s been in a negative way, so she doesn’t like using it. It’s one way people have of making women internalise sexism to another degree, so that a woman will actually keep infantilising herself. So, when you catch yourself using ‘girl’ in any situation in which ‘woman’ is correct, and fix that, you’re helping everyone out, not just yourself. :)

  118. casus fortuitus says

    @jeffret

    Is there a viable alternative term that encompasses girls, women, those of all ages, or similar? I’m not really familiar with feminist theory and terminology, though I’m open to learning.

    Well, “women and girls” in general seems to work if you need to refer to, you know, women and girls. If you’re really talking in a scientific context (like statistical analysis or whatever), then I think you’re probably OK to use female as a noun.

    Originally, you said that you tried to treat “grown females as women”. I’d say that in this case, you could have said that you try to treat “women as women”, which has the added rhetorical bonus of highlighting how absurd any alternative treatment would be.

    [To be honest, given the tautology of your original phrasing (and my rephrasing) I'd probably go with something like "I try to treat women as I treat men", which is a bit more meaningful.]

    I suspect that ultimately discussions like these, especially involving categorization, are deeply flawed because of our culture and our environment.

    This seems to put the cart before the horse. If the culture and the environment makes the use of non-alienating and non-marginalising language difficult, then we should work to change the culture and environment, which we can do by, in part, using non-alienating and non-marginalising language, whatever minor inconvenience that might put us to.

  119. jeffret says

    Yes, my initial use of the term “females” was clumsy. It was originally part of a tangent I started on and decided better of, but that part remained, slightly revised.

  120. says

    Jeffret:

    Yes, my initial use of the term “females” was clumsy.

    What you might want to keep in mind is that unless what you’re saying is clinical or dealing with the sex of a person, don’t use female. Josh’s trick is a good one – before committing to type, substitute male and see how it sounds and looks.

    Language matters. “Female” is often used to denigrate women, stripping them of their humanity. It’s easier to objectify female than woman. You might want to read Misogyny by Jack Holland. I highly recommend it.

  121. jeffret says

    You might want to read Misogyny by Jack Holland. I highly recommend it.

    Requested from the library.