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A reminder!

Whoa. There’s way too much effort being put into parsing who said what. Stop. Step back. Go back to the original list of suggestions — it’s a good list. Read it and think about it and ask yourself whether any of your behavior on the threads violates any of them — and if it does, don’t take offense, don’t try to make excuses, set it behind you and tell yourself to do better next time.

This isn’t about judging or rebuking anyone — it’s about growing to do better and be better. OK? You don’t have to obey every word, but do try to take McEwan’s list seriously.

  1. Atheist men wondering what they can do to change this dynamic: Start with not engaging in misogyny yourselves. Ex: http://bit.ly/16xrGQ8

  2. A safe space for women doesn’t mean you get to be nasty in explicitly misogynist ways to women who aren’t “on your team.”

  3. Also: Institute a zero-tolerance policy for misogyny in your comments. No slurs, no misogynist narratives, no questioning women’s agency.

  4. Simply not having to encounter not being called a cunt in your comments sections isn’t good enough. My humanity isn’t a debatable issue.

  5. Read this on why debating “women’s issues” as an abstract exercise is some rank bullshit: http://bit.ly/16xsCUC

  6. And read this on how to effectively and safely communicate with women about women’s issues: http://bit.ly/Ygajwt

  7. Don’t play devil’s advocate. Let me reiterate that. DON’T PLAY DEVIL’S ADVOCATE. That is not compatible with a safe space for many women.

  8. Don’t appropriate or ignore women’s lived experiences. Let women be the experts on our own lives.

  9. Don’t treat women like a monolith. Or any subset of women. Not all atheist women think the same way about any issue.

  10. Don’t only listen to the women whose opinions support your perspective. If there is disagreement among atheist women, pay attention.

  11. Recognize that there are privileged women in the atheist movement who may collude to marginalize non-privileged women (and men).

  12. Extend opportunities to women in your space — as contributors, as moderators, as guest posters. Support female atheists with links.

  13. CHALLENGE OTHER ATHEIST MEN ON THEIR MISOGYNY. Silence is not good enough. It isn’t neutral: It signals tacit support.

  14. When you allow female atheists do the lion’s share of challenging misogyny, you’re reinforcing the narrative women are a “special interest.”

  15. Don’t accuse women of overreacting when we are merely reacting. Don’t accuse us of being oversensitive; maybe you are not sensitive enough.

  16. Don’t imagine that being a man makes you “objective” on sexism. It merely gives you a different perspective, not greater objectivity.

  17. Listen. Listen listen listen listen listen. Listen.

  18. And if you’re not willing to make the effort to make movement atheism more inclusive, don’t pretend that you are. Be a real ally, or don’t.

Comments

  1. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Sigh.

    I really, really want these conversations to go better.

    We all have our communication styles, and PZs isn’t bad. I like it, but I know it’s not for everyone. But he’s put in some work that deserves to be taken into account when determining meaning.

    This isn’t like deciphering my intent after seeing a couple of comments. He has a long history, and they’re the original posts, so you wouldn’t have to go searching through pages to find his words…nor would you have to read back up 100 comments to make sure you understood them. They are intended to make sense on their own, but be interpreted through the perspective of the community that has grown up here.

    If you’re not part of this community and your communication style is different enough that PZ comes across as saying something other than respectful: that’s fine. He can be wrong. Criticism is welcome here. But when we start to attribute motive, we’re going beyond the OP. At that point, if you aren’t just criticizing what’s on the page but what you believe is in PZs head, to take into account some evidence (one word!) and not other pieces of evidence (PZ has a history of statements illuminating his broader motives, which are likely to be reflected in specific intent and are certainly relevant to establishing it), then one is not just making a new error – which doesn’t help the conversation along – but you’re ignoring evidence. Cherry picking.

    That’s not welcome here. There are some things that have been so thoroughly proven as to not need evidence each time it is brought up: the Catholic church called for the crusades and the Crusades were justified in the name of Catholicism. Blue is a portion of the visible light spectrum. Sexism is F’n all over the internet.

    Well and good.

    But PZs state of mind while writing a specific post isn’t one of those things.

    1. describing how PZs statement is wrong = helpful
    2. describing how PZs statement contributes to sexism = helpful
    3. doing these things while providing evidence = really helpful
    4. asserting you can know PZs state of mind from a few words that don’t begin with, “My state of mind is…” = not helpful.

    McEwan’s criticism was harsh, but based on a legitimate (though I think it’s clear was incorrect) reading of PZ’s words. A few of the followers-on have left productive interaction behind.

    To quote Rodney King:
    “Can’t we all just beat each other up only for the things we actually do?”

  2. Anthony K says

    This one stuck with me while reading that last thread:

    And if you’re not willing to make the effort to make movement atheism more inclusive, don’t pretend that you are.

    200 comment dissection threads about charitable vs. uncharitable readings looks a lot more like business as usual than being more inclusive.

  3. carlie says

    Ok, so going to the actual substance:

    I think that #s 3 and 4 are things that simply can’t be done here, and shouldn’t be done here. This is the space where such crap gets ripped apart for the benefit of anyone else reading who thinks such crap is ok, and provides nice tearing-apart talking points for people who want to rip apart such crap in other spaces. Some people see that as a deal-breaker, some can cope with it in limited amounts and have to take breaks, some relish in the opportunity to let loose and say exactly what they think about and to people who say such crap. \

    #7 is a good one to keep in mind, but might not always be able to be followed. I don’t think that other people who come in spouting it should be silenced, but ripped apart. And occasionally it can be used for introspection among people who are allies. But to do it regularly and think of oneself as an ally is a bit dicey.

    The rest of them? Definitely yes.

  4. says

    Go back to the original list of suggestions — it’s a good list.

    It’s a good list. Not particularly original, but good, and helpful to have in one place.

    By the way, I think you should also stop kicking puppies, PZ. What’s that? You don’t kick puppies? What do you want, a medal? Ally my ass.

    OK, now I really am going to try to leave this discussion (such as it is). I’ve been informed that due to my criticisms of McEwan and of certain stated principles of internet interaction, I’m not a good ally to women. I’d best go work on that.

  5. says

    “Can’t we all just beat each other up only for the things we actually do?”

    That is so much pure distilled win it melted off my screen, ran out of my laser printer and stuck to the wall of my office.

  6. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    I agree with Carlie but have to also note the other point Carlie made in the other thread:

    By not instituting #3 and #4, that means that some feminists will be more wary, more on their guard. Hell, it might even remove Pharyngula from someone’s “ally” list completely, or prevent Pharyngula from being seen as a true ally in the first place.

    That is valid. That every single feminists every single where doesn’t thing that Pharyngula and PZ are the be all and end all of addressing feminism in the atheo-sceptosphere because of things like #3 and #4 does not make them “uncharitable” or anything like that.

    Also, can we take the word “uncharitble” out back and shoot it? Because I’ve yet to see it being used in any way other than to silence.

  7. Anthony K says

    By the way, I think you should also stop kicking puppies, PZ. What’s that? You don’t kick puppies? What do you want, a medal? Ally my ass.

    I read nothing about kicking puppies, but I do remember the unflattering picture of Michelle Bachmann referred to in item 1.

    So, applied to the actual conversation we’re having, “What’s that? You don’t kick puppies?” is factually wrong.

  8. Helen Huntingdon says

    #7 is a good one to keep in mind, but might not always be able to be followed. I don’t think that other people who come in spouting it should be silenced, but ripped apart. And occasionally it can be used for introspection among people who are allies. But to do it regularly and think of oneself as an ally is a bit dicey.

    I don’t think one can safely do it at all and consider oneself an ally. I can’t think of any group over whom I have privilege where it would ever be non-sleazy to do this. The oppressed group is always going to have a far clearer notion of every last bit of “devil’s advocate” argumentation than a member of the oppressor group, because that is knowledge members of the oppressed group need to pick up to survive. They don’t need to hear about the oppressor viewpoint. Their heads are held in it, forced to breathe it in, all the time. It’s patronizing in the extreme to suppose that members of an oppressed group would ever gain by a member of an oppressor group playing devil’s advocate for them.

  9. ChasCPeterson says

    lol.
    Can I please just tweak it slightly, ala Tony Soprano?

    To quote the Rev. Rodney King Jr.:
    “Can’t we all just beat each other up only for the things we actually do?”

  10. Ogvorbis says

    By not instituting #3 and #4, that means that some feminists will be more wary, more on their guard. Hell, it might even remove Pharyngula from someone’s “ally” list completely, or prevent Pharyngula from being seen as a true ally in the first place.

    But, by the same token, when misogyny is torn apart here, I (and, I presume, others) learn. Two or three years ago, I thought I was a good progressive liberal supporter of rights for all. And yet I still mindlessly repeat misogynist bullshit (I like to think I’m getting better about it) despite having been shown, time and again, how misogyny, or rape apologetics, or shaming, or any of the other silencing methods privileged people (like me) use to get our own way. Just me, not making any kind of actual statement.

  11. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    Ogvorbis, I completely agree, which I why I wouldn’t personally want to see #3 and #4 instituted in this specific space.

  12. blitzgal says

    It’s a good list. Not particularly original, but good, and helpful to have in one place.

    And that’s the sad thing. It’s not original because these are issues that atheist women (and men) have tried bringing up again and again and yet those issues remain, and keep some of us from feeling comfortable enough to participate in the community. I am very grateful to have this space to come to, and this blog has definitely renewed my commitment to the movement — like Liss, I’d given up on even trying to participate years ago. I’m still wary of going back to the meatspace events that chased me away to begin with, but being here is a big start for me personally.

  13. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    Oh, and I wanted to add that where I differ from Carlie is that I completely agree with #7. I HATE people “playing” devils advocate and agree that it makes a space unsafe. It’s harmful and achieves nothing, nothing at all, in addition to what Helen said in #13.

  14. thumper1990 says

    Oh, thank Cthulu for that! Seriously, I couldn’t even be bothered to get involved in that other thread, it was ridiculous and frustrating to read.

  15. Anthony K says

    Oh, and I wanted to add that where I differ from Carlie is that I completely agree with #7. I HATE people “playing” devils advocate and agree that it makes a space unsafe. It’s harmful and achieves nothing, nothing at all, in addition to what Helen said in #13.

    In the Shakesville thread in which this list is posted, Edward Gemmer showed up to defend Devil’s Advocate.

    So that’s the kind of shit we’re working against, and the kind of shit we have to counter.

  16. jaggington says

    4. Simply not having to encounter not being called a cunt in your comments sections isn’t good enough. My humanity isn’t a debatable issue.

    I’m having difficulty parsing the negatives, should this not read:

    4. Simply not having to encounter not being called a cunt in your comments sections isn’t good enough. My humanity isn’t a debatable issue.

  17. Anthony K says

    I’m having difficulty parsing the negatives, should this not read:

    Sounds like you’re not having difficulty parsing the negatives at all. But never mind that forest, look! Trees!

  18. says

    While I agree that it’s a good list, let me assure everyone Pharyngula isn’t going to become a Shakesville outpost.

    Shakesville is a protective place: I find it a little cold to my taste, but that’s perfectly OK — it’s their place, it’s run well for its audience.

    Pharyngula is a hostile, aggressive place: we run hot, and I like it that way. It’s not going to be a good place for some people. And that’s perfectly OK, too.

    But let’s at least try not to trample on allies while we’re being cranky and fierce.

  19. Pierce R. Butler says

    18. And if you’re not willing to make the effort to make movement atheism more inclusive, don’t pretend that you are. Be a real ally, or don’t.

    Why do I hear this as if spoken by Matthew Nesbit, when I don’t even know what Nesbit’s voice sounds like?

  20. says

    Regarding 3, 4 and 7: I made this suggestion before, and I’ll make it again, now: why not keep those sorts of discussions limited to the Thunderdome? Someone wants to play devil’s advocate? Do it in the Thunderdome. Someone wants to derail yet another thread relating to feminism by talking about abortion? For the love of FSM, please take that shit to the Thunderdome, where people who have the spoons to take on that sort of discussion (for the hundredth time) are free to do so, and those of us who would prefer not to have our bodily autonomy constantly up for debate all the fucking time are able to participate in this community.

    These items, the ones people seem to keep saying won’t work here, or are most hostile to implementing, are, at least to me, the bare minimum one can do to ensure that more women feel welcome (and safe) in the atheist community. If you’re not willing to act on any of these suggestions, that’s your call, but if you ask women how you can be a better ally and then not take any of the advice given, can you really continue to call yourself an ally?

  21. Anthony K says

    Why do I hear this as if spoken by Matthew Nesbit, when I don’t even know what Nesbit’s voice sounds like?

    I dunno. You tell us.

    But that’s not really what your comment is about, is it? It’s about some backhanded conflation with accommodationism.

  22. says

    I’ve found the “don’t be a philosophical dudebro” thread over at Crommunist’s to be profoundly instructive (esp. the comments) wrt “devils advocacy”…

  23. Epinephrine says

    Missed out on the previous thread, but this point irked me.

    Recognize that there are privileged women in the atheist movement who may collude to marginalize non-privileged women (and men).

    There are no non-privileged people. Everyone has forms of privilege.

    White women have white privilege. Wealthy women have wealth privilege. Healthy women have health as a privilege. And even things that are negatives in some spaces can be privileges in other areas (yes, women have privileges, too, as do minorities). I’m not sure what “privileged women in the atheist movement” means – that they have some privileges that others don’t? They are still women, and thus are facing the same stumbling blocks women face – is it that they are blind to these, thanks to other privileges? Is it that they are privileged, or just blind to the issues?

  24. kate_waters says

    I sincerely hope that #3 is not meant as “ban whomsoever makes such comments” or meant to be reflective of a new policy here.

    I read and participate here precisely because jackasses get ripped apart by the commentariat and it’s good practice/learning material for my day-to-day interactions in meatspace.

    #3 is why I do not read or participate at Shakesville. #3 would, to me, mean that the very thing that makes Pharyngula worthwhile would be gone.

    It’s all fine and good to create spaces where misogyny is simply ignored and deleted, they’re definitely needed and I think Melissa provides and excellent space where that happens, but I need help in refining my arguments and help in learning new ways to speak out effectively that I just wouldn’t be getting otherwise.

    YMMV and all that, but I really, really, really, really hope that Pharyngula can remain a place where I, and other women, can come and have a few practice rounds before we return to the “real world” where we’re dealing with this kind of crap every damn day.

  25. Helen Huntingdon says

    But let’s at least try not to trample on allies while we’re being cranky and fierce.

    Since my first response to that sentence was, “I can’t believe you just said that,” I think we might have another sentence here that will read wildly differently to different people.

    I’d like to believe that by allies you don’t want trampled, you were referring to Melissa, or me, or other women who’ve stayed away from your cause because of how virulently hostile a subculture goes with it. Or something like that, where allies refers to friends of those here and what you are trying to accomplish.

    But how I first read it was that since “allies” in discussions of privilege and oppression refers to members of oppressor groups who try to be decent allies to members of oppressed groups, for a moment there it sounded like, “WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ”. Realistically, that’s still what it looks like. I’d just like to believe that’s not what you meant.

  26. kate_waters says

    …aaaaaaand PZ reads my mind and posts reassurances as I’m typing my comment.

    Thank you, PZ. From the bottom of whatever organ thanks comes from, thank you.

  27. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    that they have some privileges that others don’t?

    Yes. Exactly this. A gay woman is not facing the same road as a straight woman. A black sceptic’s road is different from a white skeptic’s road, regardless of whether that white person is male or female. A black woman’s road is different from a white woman’s road. A trans woman’s is different from a cis woman’s, etc. etc. etc.

    In each of these cases, one is in a slightly better societal situation than the other, and some people use that to diminish the concerns of those in the worse-off position even when they are both women.

    See also interseciontality.

  28. mythbri says

    I like Melissa’s list, and I agree with carlie that not all of these items are feasible in a space like Pharyngula. And if, because those things are not feasible here, people don’t feel safe or comfortable to comment here, that’s perfectly valid. This is not a one-size-fits-all space. I wonder sometimes if this makes it exclusive, and I think that it sometimes does (in good ways more than bad ways).

    Atheist men wondering what they can do to change this dynamic: Start with not engaging in misogyny yourselves.

    Yes. This.

    A safe space for women doesn’t mean you get to be nasty in explicitly misogynist ways to women who aren’t “on your team.”

    Again, this. Engage arguments and not attributes. Someone’s appearance, gender, race, sexual orientation or anything else is not relevant to engaging what they actually say. Obviously those things inform people’s experiences, and it’s important to understand that. But it’s not appropriate to use attributes as weapons against people on the “opposing team” when that causes splash damage to people who have nothing to do with the argument at all.

    Also: Institute a zero-tolerance policy for misogyny in your comments. No slurs, no misogynist narratives, no questioning women’s agency.

    I think that Pharyngula is self-regulating this way. These things appear, they are challenged, and if that particular commenter is particularly offensive, real moderation takes place. I think this is useful.

    Simply not having to encounter not being called a cunt in your comments sections isn’t good enough. My humanity isn’t a debatable issue.

    This bolded part I really like. The trade-off to allowing misogynist narratives and questioning womens’ agency is that the arguments that MUST be made against them are exhausting, and repetitive. I have had some conversations over and over and over, and I get extremely tired of them. So what do we do?

    1. We allow those narratives to come in and be challenged, relying on the strength of the regular commenters to do so.

    2. We allow those narratives to come in and stand, with little to no challenge because there’s no one feeling up to it, or has the time to do so.

    3. We DON’T allow those narratives at all, which means more moderation work, and less opportunity for lurker-learning – but also less of a burden on the commenters here.

    Don’t play devil’s advocate. Let me reiterate that. DON’T PLAY DEVIL’S ADVOCATE. That is not compatible with a safe space for many women.

    I think it was Sally Strange that said (somewhere on FTB) that the devils have enough advocates of their own. They don’t need more. This goes along with treating “womens’ issues” as thought experiments.

    Don’t appropriate or ignore women’s lived experiences. Let women be the experts on our own lives.

    I would say that the most irritating example of this that comes to mind is when we’re arguing a point, and some commenter (presumably a man) comes into the discussion saying “Well, my wife/girlfriend/sister/mother/cousin/aunt/woman I met” doesn’t feel this way, as if that somehow negates everything that the other women in the discussion are saying.

    Don’t treat women like a monolith. Or any subset of women. Not all atheist women think the same way about any issue.

    It’s almost as if we’re individuals, isn’t it? ;)

    Don’t only listen to the women whose opinions support your perspective. If there is disagreement among atheist women, pay attention.

    The value of this cannot be overstated.

    Recognize that there are privileged women in the atheist movement who may collude to marginalize non-privileged women (and men).

    This is certainly true.

    Extend opportunities to women in your space — as contributors, as moderators, as guest posters. Support female atheists with links.

    What you you all think about this? There are some very regular and very vocal and very intelligent commenters here who I would almost think of as contributors, except that they don’t actually get to write blog posts here. But I do think that PZ does a good job linking to women bloggers.

    CHALLENGE OTHER ATHEIST MEN ON THEIR MISOGYNY. Silence is not good enough. It isn’t neutral: It signals tacit support.

    I think Pharyngula does pretty well here.

    When you allow female atheists do the lion’s share of challenging misogyny, you’re reinforcing the narrative women are a “special interest.”

    Caine had really good things to say on this one in the other thread.

    Don’t accuse women of overreacting when we are merely reacting. Don’t accuse us of being oversensitive; maybe you are not sensitive enough.

    “Over-reaction” is not the same as a reaction than is greater than silence. This one is important.

    Don’t imagine that being a man makes you “objective” on sexism. It merely gives you a different perspective, not greater objectivity.

    Oh yes, THIS. Just because the perception exists that the straight white male experience is the default experience doesn’t make it so.

    Listen. Listen listen listen listen listen. Listen.

    Always good advice.

    And if you’re not willing to make the effort to make movement atheism more inclusive, don’t pretend that you are. Be a real ally, or don’t.

    I had an interesting discussion with Crommunist about this in one of his threads about the intersection of social justice and atheism. Richard Dawkins sometimes says the right thing – that the ways that women are oppressed by religion are bad. But he can hardly be called an ally.

  29. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    All hail tpyos, the only True Goddess.

    I meant in 34, of course, intersectionality.

  30. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Also, can we take the word “uncharitble” out back and shoot it? Because I’ve yet to see it being used in any way other than to silence.

    I’ve seen it used sometimes to silence and sometimes as a softer way of saying “intellectually dishonest.” I think the latter is valid, but perhaps undeserved at times.

  31. says

    But let’s at least try not to trample on allies while we’re being cranky and fierce.

    Yes of course, and I dont actually see anyone doing that right now. But when calling any commenter’s interpretation of some other commenter’s comment as uncharitable is regarded as a silencing tactic, then we have a problem I think. The critique is raining down mainly on SC the female feminist activist, long time commenter and supporter of feminist causes at the moment, which makes me breathe a sigh of relief, since I’m just mostly clueless in these matters and still have to learn a lot, but I feel a tad uneasy when I see how the criticism is being directed at her for merely disagreeing with some of the interpretations of what some people said in the other thread.

  32. kate_waters says

    @Chris Clarke #35:
    If that is the case then I’d have to say I have nothing to worry about in regards to #3. My teeth have been sharpened more than once in your threads, so I feel mighty relieved.

    Now I just have to remember to pick up dental floss. Troll/Jackass bits between your teeth are bad for you.

  33. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Please let me wake up and find that we at Pharyngula don’t have to go into defensive mode and pick over every dislike we may have with Melissa, Shakesville, or people that (justifiably) are wary of the atheist subculture. Please tell me we’re not going to do that anymore. Please tell me we understand that we share the same important goals (not all of them, I know, so you don’t need to tell me) wrt misogyny and that this is more important than turf wars and that we do not have to especially like interlocutors and our dislike of them is really, really, really, really less important than the issue.

  34. Ana says

    I sincerely hope that #3 is not meant as “ban whomsoever makes such comments” or meant to be reflective of a new policy here.

    Dr. Myers, I know that you are deeply familiar with the flow of this series of posts, given that you’ve been involved with them from the beginning, but given that someone coming fresh to the conversation could be confused about the source of this list, would you please edit your OP to clarify that the list of 18 items were written by Melissa McEwan? I know that you linked to her post where she wrote them, but not everyone clicks links (and not all screen reads display links!), and the feminist community tries to be very careful about explicit accreditation of words and ideas to their authors.

    Thank you in advance.

    ~ Ana Mardoll

  35. Gregory Greenwood says

    As PZ has said, it is important to get back to Melissa’s excellent list of things that atheist men can do to make atheism more welcoming to women. As noted by others, Pharyngula may not be able to implement all of recommendations due to the nature of the space *, but the bulk of the points made can only benefit the community here.

    ————————————————————————————————————————–

    * We all need the opportunity to keep our teeth sharp and our coats sniny from time to time, afterall, and if the bigots aren’t allowed to wonder into our corner of the intertoobs in the first place, then we will get no chance to rhetorically savage them in a satisfyingly vicious manner.

  36. kate_waters says

    @42: I was in the other thread. I’ve read Melissa’s post and am well aware that they were her suggestions. I voiced my concern that they would be implemented here.

    Please don’t put words in my mouth. If you wish to address my comment, please address me directly. To do otherwise is incredibly rude.

  37. says

    Yes of course, and I dont actually see anyone doing that right now. But when calling any commenter’s interpretation of some other commenter’s comment as uncharitable is regarded as a silencing tactic, then we have a problem I think. The critique is raining down mainly on SC the female feminist activist, long time commenter and supporter of feminist causes at the moment, which makes me breathe a sigh of relief, since I’m just mostly clueless in these matters and still have to learn a lot, but I feel a tad uneasy when I see how the criticism is being directed at her for merely disagreeing with some of the interpretations of what some people said in the other thread.

    Don’t be silly. A woman who’s spent the past several years trying to contribute to feminist progress here and in the atheist movement is being scolded and accused of alienating allies for mildly criticizing another woman (who’s declared she wants nothing to do with the movement, seems committed to ignoring that real progress, and tags her posts on the topic “Ally My Ass”). By men. Nothing perverse about that. Thanks so much for your helpful comments, PZ and Anthony. You’re being super allies.

  38. Anthony K says

    A woman who’s spent the past several years trying to contribute to feminist progress here and in the atheist movement is being scolded and accused of alienating allies for mildly criticizing another woman (who’s declared she wants nothing to do with the movement, seems committed to ignoring that real progress, and tags her posts on the topic “Ally My Ass”). By men.

    You mean Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty?

    Thanks so much for your helpful comments, PZ and Anthony. You’re being super allies.

    Alright. I don’t mean to cause further upset and harm, so I’ll leave.

  39. says

    CHALLENGE OTHER ATHEIST MEN ON THEIR MISOGYNY. Silence is not good enough. It isn’t neutral: It signals tacit support.

    I wish I could emphasize this one to the skies. After some recent reading,* it’s been driven home to me that it is absolutely crucial for men to start speaking up and speaking out, consistently, often on issues they feel are better addressed by women. Culture simply will not change unless men are more willing to step up and be instrumental in that change.
     
    *Manhood in America and Guyland by Michael Kimmel and Misogyny: The World’s Oldest Prejudice by Jack Holland.

  40. says

    #32: by allies, I was most definitely referring to people like McEwan. I do not consider dudebros, MRAs, and unthinking mysogynist asses, atheist or not, to be my allies.

  41. Pierce R. Butler says

    Anthony K @ # 28: … some backhanded conflation with accommodationism.

    Prezactly – “inclusiveness” is often a worthwhile goal; it’s not the ultimate aim in all situations and contexts.

    For those among us who consider any ultimate-aim-for-all indicative of a totalitarian agenda, maintaining clear distinctions (aka exclusiveness) remains an important strategic principle. Hearing the strains of “Kumbaya” near the front lines (not necessarily what McEwan was trying to say, but a possible reading) brings out the Admiral Ackbar in many of us.

    [/advocacy of deviltry]

  42. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    Rorshock, I’m a woman, a feminist and I’ve been an active feminist activist. I even helped start a local charity that raised $ for local domestic violence centers, held Take Back t Night rallies, etc.

    That does not mean I can’t be wrong, or express internalized misogyny. My intentions do not automatically make me the perfect feminist ally.

    So, when someone disagrees with me about what is or isn’t feminism, that does not automatically make them wrong. I make mistakes.

    I’m not the only one that applies to.

  43. carlie says

    They don’t need to hear about the oppressor viewpoint.

    I was thinking more about people using devil’s advocate strictly for themselves to help clarify the issues (am I the only one who argues with myself in my head?), but I didn’t say that clearly, and didn’t really think about the fact that when it’s done in a comment section, it still has that effect on anyone else reading. I’m sorry.

  44. Helen Huntingdon says

    #32: by allies, I was most definitely referring to people like McEwan. I do not consider dudebros, MRAs, and unthinking mysogynist asses, atheist or not, to be my allies.

    Cool. It’s worth remembering that for the future though, that you might need to make it clear what you mean by “allies” when you’re not using it in the most standard usage for discussions of privilege and oppression.

  45. Pteryxx says

    for merely disagreeing with some of the interpretations of what some people said in the other thread.

    If we’re going to deal with “uncharitable”* it’s important to realize the flip side is “merely disagreeing”. Especially after seeing what the pitters call “merely disagreeing”.

    *my comment in the previous thread: here

  46. says

    Carlie:

    I was thinking more about people using devil’s advocate strictly for themselves to help clarify the issues (am I the only one who argues with myself in my head?)

    No, I argue with myself in my head all the time. I don’t consider that to be devil’s advocacy though. It’s for what you said, to help clarify how I feel and exactly what I think of ______. I find playing devil’s advocate to be problematic not only because it’s a favoured trolling tactic, but because in many ways, it has become the new “Yes, but…” and generally has nothing at all to do with clarification of any kind.

  47. says

    You mean Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty?

    Of course not.

    Alright. I don’t mean to cause further upset and harm, so I’ll leave.

    I’d prefer it if you’d recognize what was wrong with what you said. (I mean, it shouldn’t be too difficult to see the problem with trying to chastise a feminist woman on a thread about how to be better allies to feminist women.) Anyway, don’t bother. I found this amusing earlier, when people were assuming I was a man, but now I’m pretty angry. Perhaps #19 should be: “If a woman feminist argues with or criticizes another woman feminist on the subject and you feel the need to intervene to tell one or both of them how to behave, try shutting the fuck up.”

  48. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    If we’re going to deal with “uncharitable”* it’s important to realize the flip side is “merely disagreeing”. Especially after seeing what the pitters call “merely disagreeing”.

    Malicious misuses of both are evident, but this does not imply that reasonable uses don’t exist?

  49. Anthony K says

    I’d prefer it if you’d recognize what was wrong with what you said.

    Since I have no fucking idea to which comment of mine to which you’re referring, I cannot do that.

  50. Pteryxx says

    Malicious misuses of both are evident, but this does not imply that reasonable uses don’t exist?

    Here’s what I said at #202 on the other thread:

    I guess the same goes for “uncharitable.” Does the fact that it is often used to silence women mean that it’s never true, or that it’s never fair to point out? Is even asking this problematic?

    I’m not speaking to any one person with this.

    … I see this a lot, when someone goes to “but then nobody can EVER say x” or “does that mean ALL women…” and I wish there were a handy essay I could point to about how people receive certain kinds of privilege checks as meaning THE WORLD HAS CHANGED OMG. For instance, compare “then guys can NEVER hit on women” or “she calls herself a ‘bitch’ therefore it’s ALWAYS okay” just to name a couple of really well known arguments.

    There are also examples where ‘uncharitable’ has been used completely with justification. Caine and I were in the middle of one just a few days ago, y’all may recall. It comes up a lot when commenters counter the pitters’ accusations about Ophelia. Seems like folks here can use the concept of ‘uncharitable’ just fine except when it comes to a feminist reading of our own unconscious biases. Which, again, is more evidence proving McEwan’s point: when a prominent man says something that subtly deflects criticism of his privilege, a woman points it out as part of a pattern, and our response as a group (on average) is to fumble our reading as if she’d said “YOU LIE!” seriously? We can do better than that. We HAVE done better than that, when it involved pitters or regulars or random trolls. Self-examination is fuckin’ hard.

  51. Callinectes says

    There was an incident at my last D&D game this weekend when one of my friends, in response to something I’d said or done (I don’t remember what) called me a girl. It was in “good” humour, but it didn’t sit well with me. So I said, “you know ‘girl’ isn’t actually an insult?”

    At which point our dungeon master, the only girl in our group, chimed in, “yeah, girls are awesome!”
    “I know!”
    “We have boobs and everything.”
    “I… know.”

    I’m not here looking for any cookies, I’m just not quite sure what to make of the exchange.

  52. Esteleth, stupid fucking starchild Tolkien worshiping douche says

    *sigh*

    I said this in one of the other threads (here, to be precise) but I think it bears repeating and expanding upon.

    Shakesville and Pharyngula are very different spaces.
    Shakesville is a space were commenters can be secure in the knowledge that trolls, misogynistic asshats, and the like will be ruthlessly banned by the mods. There are strict rules regarding slurs, language, and how it is a safe space. And that’s good. The Internet NEEDS spaces like Shakesville, where important conversations can go on in the absence of that crap.
    Pharyngula, by contrast, is a space where those very same trolls and misogynistic asshats are chew toys to be ripped apart. It is a place where their “arguments” are refuted and the trolls made to answer. Deletion, disemvoweling, and bunnification of comments is done only in the cases of the most extreme cases – the ethos is instead to let the original bullshit, and the refutations, stand for all to see. The Internet NEEDS spaces like Pharyngula, where the crap can be exposed for what it is.

    This doesn’t mean that the two spaces have necessarily different tolerances for sexist shit (both spaces come down solidly on the side of “sexism is bad”) but that the responses are different. Shakesville’s response is “Not here. Go away, we have other stuf to do.” Pharyngula’s response is “Let us list all the ways you are wrong.”

    Both of these responses are 100% valid and needed.

    Let me speak briefly about the effect these two very different styles has on lurkers, i.e. those who read and don’t comment.

    Shakesville is a space where, for once, they are free of reading “cunt” and “bitches ain’t shit” and all the associated garbage. It is a space where the lurkers can be safe in the knowledge that they won’t be triggered. Melissa and her mod team have done the hard work of making Shakesville that space, and they deserve huge props for this.

    Pharyngula is a space where, for once, they can see the language, and the assumptions underlying it, ruthlessly dissected and pulled apart, exposed for the emptiness and ugliness that it is. It is a space where lurkers can be safe in the knowledge that bigoted crap will challenged. The Horde, backed up by the banhammer and PZ’s (and Chris’) approval, has done the hard work of making Pharyngula that space.

    Shakesville is a space where lurkers can be safe from harm. Pharyngula is a space where those who do harm are refuted.

    And don’t think that this means that Shakesville – or its commenters – are weak, or clutching their pearls, or whatever. A statement of “I cannot deal with that shit today, I don’t want to have that 101 talk, I want to have a good conversation without it” is not weakness, and should never be mistaken for it. To borrow a phrase of Melissa’s, they aren’t angry at that shit, they’re contemptuous of it.

  53. kate_waters says

    Anthony K:

    Chill out, dude. You’re being an asshat here. If you want to know what comment, ask. Don’t fly off the damn handle unless you’re not really interested in a conversation. If that’s the case, and you just want to freak out and flounce, keep on keeping on.

  54. mythbri says

    @Caine and carlie

    It is of course important to question your own thoughts, especially when you’re trying to figure out new things. This is part of critical thinking, no?

    But I’m not callous enough to try to sharpen my arguments about the oppression of LGBTQ people by crashing one of their forums and forcing them to prove to me that they’re worthy of civil and human rights. (as an example).

    I’ve seen plenty of new or non-frequent commenters here at Pharyngula who do things like that, though – trying to figure out what zie thinks by provoking others to make zie think. That’s a way in which they say “This idea that I’m trying to formulate is more important than the effect that my playing Devil’s Advocate has on other people.” And that’s what I think is meant in Melissa’s list.

  55. Anthony K says

    Chill out, dude. You’re being an asshat here. If you want to know what comment, ask. Don’t fly off the damn handle unless you’re not really interested in a conversation. If that’s the case, and you just want to freak out and flounce, keep on keeping on.

    You’re right. Sorry, SC.

  56. Ana says

    Dr. Myers, thank you very much for placing Melissa’s words in blockquotes. I appreciate that. :)

    I wonder if it would be possible for you to explicitly credit her by name, though? I don’t mean to keep asking for things, but as a disability activist I recognize that not everyone is automatically aware that html blockquotes frequently aren’t rendered correctly in screen readers (particularly on some spoken word devices I have used, as well as some of my older mobile devices, if you can believe it!).

    Thank you in advance (and I apologize for not explaining better about screen readers in my previous comment). I appreciate your willingness to credit words and ideas. :)

    ——————

    @44, kate_waters, I apologize for misunderstanding your comment and appearing to speak over you. I was thinking about accessibility issues and trying to pull a quote to demonstrate how confusion could reasonably occur if someone was using a scree reader to parse the OP, and I didn’t mean to be rude to you.

    I’m sorry.

    ~ Ana Mardoll

  57. says

    Kate:

    Chill out, dude. You’re being an asshat here. If you want to know what comment, ask. Don’t fly off the damn handle unless you’re not really interested in a conversation. If that’s the case, and you just want to freak out and flounce, keep on keeping on.

    You’re seriously over the line here, Kate. Anthony K doesn’t need to chill out, personally I don’t think he’s been an asshat, all he did was state that SC did not refer to the specific comment she was complaining about or quote it. Anthony K is a long time regular here and not generally prone to “freak outs and flounces”. You might want to consider leaving this to SC and Anthony to work out.

  58. kate_waters says

    @Anthony:

    Thanks. Thanks for listening. I really hope everything’s okay. You’ve seemed more than a little raw in the last few threads.

  59. says

    Mythbri:

    I’ve seen plenty of new or non-frequent commenters here at Pharyngula who do things like that, though – trying to figure out what zie thinks by provoking others to make zie think. That’s a way in which they say “This idea that I’m trying to formulate is more important than the effect that my playing Devil’s Advocate has on other people.”

    This pinpoints exactly why I dislike the whole devil’s advocate business. We have seen this exact line of “reasoning” in way too many threads. One of the recent ones which comes to mind on this score is the one where we had a commenter insistent on playing the “well is it rape if this happens? what about in this scenario?” that went on for about a hundred posts. It was incredibly bad and harmful.

  60. Anthony K says

    You’ve seemed more than a little raw in the last few threads.

    I get no pleasure from my interactions in the atheist community. I feel all I have the energy to do is scream blue murder at the sexist assholes who exist in the atheist community in spades, and whom I should note, are not people I encounter on a regular basis in my offline life. (I should also note that the majority of people I interact with offline are atheists, agnostics, or moderates as well, so I don’t feel like this place is any sort of retreat. If anything, it’s the opposite. My privilege, at least as far as not having to deal with assholes, be they sexist or theist, abounds.)

    So that’s why, at this point, I feel pretty raw. I leave most encounters at FtB frothing with rage, and I suck down cigarettes like they’re candy whenever I’m here.

    Whine, whine, I know. But it’s not a good place to be for me, and I hate the person I am when I’m here.

  61. kate_waters says

    Caine: I read here every day. I read most of the comment threads on most of the articles and have for many, many years long before FTB and even before sciblogs. I’m pretty damn familiar with Anthony K and his commenting style, and just as familiar with the rest of you. That I don’t comment often doesn’t mean I’m a “newbie” or unable to see when a situation needs to be defused or incapable of reaching someone in an effective manner. But the real biggie is: If he didn’t think I was out of line to say what I did I think perhaps it wasn’t “out of line” or “overstepping”.

  62. says

    The idea that my criticism of McEwan reflected some misgynistic bias or anything of the sort is wrong and really pretty strange to read. Maybe you should consider that my conclusions were based on a reading of the series of posts in context, and that I find some aspects of her approach in this context not particularly helpful to feminism, at least in the atheist community. I think it’s both more fair and more honest to recognize and encourage the positive efforts of allies. (It’s more fair and honest not just to the men you’re talking to and about but also to the women who’ve been active to the community, who might be insulted by the fact that you ignore their efforts and the progress that’s resulted from them.) I think it’s better to read people who’ve acted like allies with more generosity than she does. I don’t owe allies my gratitude or admiration, but, again, it’s fair and honest to recognize the good work they have done and are doing, and this can be done without considering them immune from criticism or reflexively defending them in every confrontation. (Um, obviously.)

    I think this tendency to try to shut down potential criticism of McEwan might stem from her own tendency to present criticism of her as hostility to women or feminism, and I’m not going along with that. I’m also not going along with the notion that such criticism is necessarily distracting or harmful to the cause. I absolutely know the abuses people hostile to feminism can make of openness to criticism, but I don’t think the solution isjnh to try to shout down or psychoanalyze basic criticism but to prevent and deal with the abuses.

    ***

    Since I have no fucking idea to which comment of mine to which you’re referring, I cannot do that.

    Your determinedly simplistic response @ #12.

  63. kate_waters says

    @Ana #65:

    Thanks for explaining. I understand now what it was you were getting at and appreciate the apology.

    Now back to the thread, because I’m hating this derailing. :)

  64. mythbri says

    @Caine

    Exactly. I was over at John Scalzi’s blog, participating in the comment thread of the post he wrote about the Steubenville case.

    Scalzi’s blog is not like Pharyngula, so I had to rein myself in a little. But it was amazing to see how many people did not understand the definition of rape, and trampled all over with the victim-blaming (although Scalzi tried to keep the thread from trending that way), and incidentally trampled on the women who spoke up in that thread having gone through really similar experiences as the victim in the Steubenville case.

    Some of it was Devil’s Advocacy (because you know, every discussion has to have “two sides”), and some of it was just plain ignorance.

    All of it was harmful, but at least some of the ignorance was correctable. :P

  65. says

    Helen Huntingdon: No.

    This is a two way street. I can sympathize with a feminist site owner who gets exasperated with someone coming in and constantly asking for instruction in Feminism 101, but likewise, I’m not going to watch my every word and tailor it to newbies — I’m not about to make every post an exercising in holding hands and delivering Pharyngula 101 lessons. I’m happy to clarify when asked, as you did.

    There is a Pharyngula wiki link on the sidebar, which might help. You might also notice that social justice issues are highlighted there. I understand that you’re not expected to know this, but I have alienated a lot of former allies and made a huge number of extremely nasty enemies by making a stand on feminism and other equality issues, and I find it very wearing to be both the target of a lot of hatred and to have to reassure people whose backs I’m trying to defend that I’m not really planning to stab them there.

    I know. I’m an old white privileged dude. I don’t expect to be trusted, and that’s OK. I just have limits to how much I can bend, and you’re going to have to recognize that.

  66. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    (((Anthony))))–If its any consolation, I often leave here feeling the same way. /derail

    As to the Devil’s Advocate thing…I remember one thread (and I’m sorry I can’t remember the commenter’s name because I think I’ve blocked it out) where this guy was banging on for comment after comment about how women perhaps were responsible in some ways for their rapes, not *morally* responsible but just responsible-responsible. Now, he was jumped on HARSHLY by a lot of regulars here, and rightly so. But what he was doing was Devil’s Advocate, which is a subset of the Logical Vulcan thing–“I’m so rational and unemotional that I can theorize about the lived experiences of people here. What, you’re mad? HAHA, you irrational, hysterical creature! You just can’t understand that this special edge case/hair-slitting detail/quibble somehow has relevance! Aren’t I smart???”

    It’s gross and it’s hurtful.

    AND YET–I learned a ton from watching the regulars in action on that thread. And I do believe that that commenter wasn’t just trolling, that he was in earnest and just very very wrong. But Devil’s Advocate is, at bottom, a very privileged position because it allows you to distance yourself from the oppression that others experience and talk about it in theoretical terms, sometimes to the very people that actually deal with that oppression.

  67. says

    Mythbri:

    But it was amazing to see how many people did not understand the definition of rape, and trampled all over with the victim-blaming (although Scalzi tried to keep the thread from trending that way), and incidentally trampled on the women who spoke up in that thread having gone through really similar experiences as the victim in the Steubenville case.

    Yikes. I don’t know if you caught it, but I had a similar situation here at home with Mister. Wrote about that in TeaDome. It’s one of the more pervasive aspects of rape culture, the notion that if a penis isn’t involved, it isn’t rape, therefor, it really isn’t all that big of a deal. When you can wake someone up and get them to shake that idea, it goes a long, long way in dismantling the rape culture that’s in everyone’s heads.

  68. thumper1990 says

    @Esteleth #61

    Definitely bears repeating, mainly because you’re right. Both spaces serve needs, and some people are going to preferr one to the other.

  69. Anthony K says

    Thanks, SC. I’m going to defer to your knowledge and expertise in this issue, and I’m sorry for my part in implying you’re part of the problem. I do respect your opinions on feminism (and many and myriad other topics), and you’re the last person I would consider not an ally.

    So, I am sorry.

  70. says

    I repeat, McEwan’s list is not formal doctrine here. Yeah, I hate that faux-Vulcan shit so many skeptics and atheists love to pull, but I’m not forbidding it — I encourage the commentariat here to instead draw their knives and flense it so thoroughly the dispassionate ass is feeling the pain in every nerve ending.

    It’s a difference between this site and McEwan’s. McEwan would rather provide a sanctuary for the oppressed. I’m more interested in rhetorically arming and inflaming them.

  71. says

    Cyranothe2nd:

    As to the Devil’s Advocate thing…I remember one thread (and I’m sorry I can’t remember the commenter’s name because I think I’ve blocked it out) where this guy was banging on for comment after comment about how women perhaps were responsible in some ways for their rapes, not *morally* responsible but just responsible-responsible.

    That was Paul W, OM in the recent NYT thread, which carried on into TeaDome.

  72. Pteryxx says

    Ana @65:

    not everyone is automatically aware that html blockquotes frequently aren’t rendered correctly in screen readers (particularly on some spoken word devices I have used, as well as some of my older mobile devices, if you can believe it!).

    Oof. Thank you for pointing this out (obviously I’d never have noticed otherwise). Good advice considering the sheer amount of blockquoting that goes on around here. (plenty of which I do. <_< )

    /derail

  73. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    SC @ 72–

    You know, I was pretty perturbed with how you acted in the other thread, but your comments here are just out of line.

    The idea that my criticism of McEwan reflected some misgynistic bias or anything of the sort is wrong and really pretty strange to read. Maybe you should consider that my conclusions were based on a reading of the series of posts in context, and that I find some aspects of her approach in this context not particularly helpful to feminism, at least in the atheist community.

    You might try EXPLAINING your criticisms of this particular list, instead of snarking about how its “unoriginal” and bringing criticism from another thread (a criticism that AnthonyK didn’t offer you, btw) in here. At best, your comment @ 9 is a derail in a thread where PZ is specifically asking us not to do that.

    I think this tendency to try to shut down potential criticism of McEwan might stem from her own tendency to present criticism of her as hostility to women or feminism, and I’m not going along with that. I’m also not going along with the notion that such criticism is necessarily distracting or harmful to the cause. I absolutely know the abuses people hostile to feminism can make of openness to criticism, but I don’t think the solution isjnh to try to shout down or psychoanalyze basic criticism but to prevent and deal with the abuses.

    This thread isn’t ABOUT criticism of McEwan or Shakesville. Its about a list of 18 items. If you have criticism to offer about those items, lets hear it. If not, can you see how once again, the thread is being derailed by the “I’m an ally *but* I just don’t like Shakesville….” talk? Which again, is what PZ was trying to stop by creating this thread?

  74. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    @ Caine–thanks. *barf* I am still trying to scrub that thread out of my brain!

  75. Helen Huntingdon says

    Helen Huntingdon: No.

    This is a two way street. I can sympathize with a feminist site owner who gets exasperated with someone coming in and constantly asking for instruction in Feminism 101, but likewise, I’m not going to watch my every word and tailor it to newbies — I’m not about to make every post an exercising in holding hands and delivering Pharyngula 101 lessons. I’m happy to clarify when asked, as you did.

    Huh. It never even occurred to me that we were talking about tailoring things for newbies. I thought we were talking about this really cool interchange you’ve got going with Melissa. I spotted a sentence that you used that might very well mean one thing to you and something else entirely to readers of her blog, and thought to save you another what-this-really-meant headache, in the interest of keeping distractions off of the exchange of ideas.

    There is a Pharyngula wiki link on the sidebar, which might help.

    I’m not following with what.

    You might also notice that social justice issues are highlighted there. I understand that you’re not expected to know this, but I have alienated a lot of former allies and made a huge number of extremely nasty enemies by making a stand on feminism and other equality issues, and I find it very wearing to be both the target of a lot of hatred and to have to reassure people whose backs I’m trying to defend that I’m not really planning to stab them there.

    I’m really not following how this follows from what I’ve posted here.

    I know. I’m an old white privileged dude. I don’t expect to be trusted, and that’s OK. I just have limits to how much I can bend, and you’re going to have to recognize that.

    Sternly admonishing me on what I will have to recognize is nothing to the purpose. If you choose to use a term ambiguously that is central to the discussions you’ve having across platforms, what I do or do not recognize myself doesn’t mean a hill of beans.

  76. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    I think this tendency to try to shut down potential criticism of McEwan might stem from her own tendency to present criticism of her as hostility to women or feminism, and I’m not going along with that.

    Or, you know, actually seeing a good point in her words.

    Does everyone who wants to say something supportive about her words have to preface it with a disclamer about not actually liking her blog or something like that? Or a snipe about how her list wasn’t all that great to begin with, eh?

    And there was nothing wrong with Anthony’s #12. The response was right for the stupid hyperbole of whateverthehell was your point.

  77. says

    Thanks, SC. I’m going to defer to your knowledge and expertise in this issue, and I’m sorry for my part in implying you’re part of the problem. I do respect your opinions on feminism (and many and myriad other topics), and you’re the last person I would consider not an ally.

    So, I am sorry.

    Wow. What a nice and thoughtful thing to say. Thank you, and I’m sorry for jumping down your throat.

  78. says

    Helen:

    I’m not following with what.

    I’m really not following how this follows from what I’ve posted here.

    I’m not having any problem connecting the dots. These are good, relatively quick ways to find out what Pharyngula is all about, what major concerns are, that resources are there and available for the “I need 101 hand holding” crowd, etc., so these things don’t need to be explicitly repeated in every post on these subjects.

    You’ve spent most of your time here eying every word which might be taken another way. I imagine there are better ways to spend time, and that’s really not focusing on what this thread is supposed to be focusing on – Melissa’s list.

  79. says

    Cyranothe2nd:

    I am still trying to scrub that thread out of my brain!

    [Goes back to attempting to be on topic]

    It was an excellent example to bring up though, because you were right, we weren’t really dealing with the usual devil’s advocate nonsense in that case. We were dealing with someone who was, as Carlie stated, trying to clarify a line of thought and build a specific model. Unfortunately, what we got was another person who in their attempt to do so, decided that the human equation wasn’t important at all, so there was immense damage and fallout from that discussion.

  80. Helen Huntingdon says

    You’ve spent most of your time here eying every word which might be taken another way. I imagine there are better ways to spend time, and that’s really not focusing on what this thread is supposed to be focusing on – Melissa’s list.

    Wait, what? On this thread I made two points — one that was talking about Melissa’s list, and one that was about the use of a word that really is likely to be misunderstood the way it was used, potentially leading to more who-meant-what nonsense.

    If you don’t like me personally making that latter point, fine. The point remains valid.

  81. says

    Or, you know, actually seeing a good point in her words.

    Does everyone who wants to say something supportive about her words have to preface it with a disclamer about not actually liking her blog or something like that?

    What are you on about? I wasn’t criticizing people supportive of her words. I was criticizing her words, and the practice of trying to shut down criticism of her words. It’s a pretty common practice here.

    Or a snipe about how her list wasn’t all that great to begin with, eh?

    My comment was that it was good but not all that original. The point about originality was in large part a reflection of the fact that for many of the points I could point (if I had the time) to both several posts over the past several years in which I and others called for the same thing and several more that show that PZ had (eventually) taken those comments to heart after being open to criticism. Again, this is a good chunk of my life and a lot of difficult interactions and frustration I’m talking about, and some really good things PZ and other atheist men have said and done as allies, and I thought it was unfair, not honest, and not especially helpful for her to largely ignore all of that in her posts.

    And there was nothing wrong with Anthony’s #12. The response was right for the stupid hyperbole of whateverthehell was your point.

    I recognize that my point was probably not entirely clear from that post. I elaborated @ # 72. I’m still finding this all quite strange. I offered some mild criticism of her responses, while acknowledging what I found good even about the parts that I criticized. Since when is this so intolerable or baffling? You don’t share my disagreements with her words or approach. That’s fine. I’m not going to question your motives or commitment to feminism.

  82. Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts says

    Helen Huntingdon, you’re telling someone what to write. You know, there’s another way to frame that that doesn’t involve admonishment for what you think was ambiguous language, which is exactly what started this in the first place.

    (Fuck knows why the hell I’m even getting into this, because it’s such a fuck-storm, but hell, this is my place too and I’m not just wall decoration.)

    Is it possible that maybe just pointing out the possibility for misinterpretation is enough? Does PZ really need to also alter what he wrote because of the possibility for misinterpretation? I guess you think so, since this is what started this in the first place, but then that gets to the root of what precisely is the problem, at least as far as I see: It’s that you could even interpret, in any world, what PZ wrote to mean,

    But how I first read it was that since “allies” in discussions of privilege and oppression refers to members of oppressor groups who try to be decent allies to members of oppressed groups, for a moment there it sounded like, “WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ”. Realistically, that’s still what it looks like. I’d just like to believe that’s not what you meant.

    I mean, honestly! If that’s not what you’d like to believe he meant, then why not believe it? All the evidence points to that not being the case. And then you were answered with a simple sentence to clarify the problem you had.

    That kind of shit is stupid. It’s not even helpful to point out such a problem, have it clarified for you and then expect more. Why wasn’t the clarifying statement enough?

    More to the point (and what bothers me quite a bit, since I consider PZ an ally of my particular cause too), why did you even interpret what he wrote the way you did while hoping that exactly the opposite was true? Why that and not interpreting it the other way first and wondering if perhaps he didn’t mean the worse of the possible interpretations?

  83. says

    The word “ally” is always going to be context dependent: who I consider an ally is going to be different than who the slymepitters consider an ally. McEwan used the word “ally” herself, without clarification about who exactly she meant — by reading her blog and knowing just a little about her past, though, I could easily figure it out. No one seems to be calling her to task and demanding that she list precisely who she means.

    This is a case where it really takes the tiniest amount of effort to figure out I wasn’t taking about my good pals, Adolf Hitler, Lester Maddox, and Phyllis Schlafly. The tiniest.

  84. kate_waters says

    I don’t think #15 can be emphasized enough.

    I’ve gotten it here, in threads on feminism and rape. Regulars who present as male often tell women who are just bloody angry about it all to calm down because they want to talk about rape and misogyny as if they’re just intellectual exercises and not our lived experiences. Which makes survivors like myself even angrier, which leads to them calling us “angry morons”, “irrational”, and “unable to understand nuance” when we tell these men to STFU and stop treating survivors as statistics instead of actual people.

    I’d really like to see more of the regulars called out for that kind of crap. Not holding my breath, but I hope it happens.

  85. Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts says

    (Not that feminism isn’t a particular cause of mine, just that I have a nearer and dearer cause. Oh, shit that sounds awful and wrong, but it’s true. I’m gay. My priorities are skewed and slightly different, just not excluding. Ah, fuck. Think what you want about that and me.)

    Hmm …we should be amazed here that someone recognised the potential for misinterpretation in themselves before it was pointed out to them.

    Damn this has me feeling cynical.

  86. says

    PZ:

    This is a case where it really takes the tiniest amount of effort to figure out I wasn’t taking about my good pals, Adolf Hitler, Lester Maddox, and Phyllis Schlafly. The tiniest.

    Now you’ve gone and done it, PZ. You’ll be explaining and clarifying forever. I think I need another nitpickin’ cuppa tea.

  87. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    SC,

    I was criticizing her words, and the practice of trying to shut down criticism of her words. It’s a pretty common practice here. [bolding mine]

    News to me. Not saying it isn’t true, just that I haven’t noticed it.
    I have noticed a lot of criticism of Melissa (on this topic) that seemed to have a lot to do with not liking her or her blog and getting outraged at any criticism of PZ, even when he agreed that criticism of his post wasn’t undeserved. It seemed like such a little disagreement that people blew out of proportion. It still looks that way. Hence the comparison to “Guys, don’t do that”.

    This whole thing is really strange to me too, just from another side.

  88. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Kate_waters—I hope you’ll point this out when you see it happening because it’s something I’d sure as hell jump on and I know most regulars would, too. That should never be tolerated regardless of whether one is a regular or not.

  89. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Here’s what I said at #202 on the other thread

    There’s your problem.

    My exam today went fine, my engineering senior project is coming along well and our mid-semester presentation was well received, my daughter is all right, I’m handling work okay, and I’m only one 20-page lab report behind schedule this semester, by the way.

  90. kate_waters says

    Tomathy @96:

    *gasp*

    **clutches pearls**

    ***faints delicately on a well-placed chaise lounge in a beautifully appointed parlour***

    You mean you’ve got other concerns? HOW DARE YOU??!?!?!?

    …but seriously, I don’t think that’s a terrible thing. You ought to be concerned about your own stuff. It doesn’t mean you can’t also be concerned about feminism, or that you’re an awful person for being more concerned about the issues you face, personally.

    I happen to think you kick some serious butt in the feminism threads. Being concerned about your own issues more than the ones that affect others is a-ok as far as I can see. I’d be a little weirded out, I think, if it were the other way ’round.

  91. says

    SC @ 72–

    You know, I was pretty perturbed with how you acted in the other thread, but your comments here are just out of line.

    !

    You might try EXPLAINING your criticisms of this particular list,

    You’re confused.

    This thread isn’t ABOUT criticism of McEwan or Shakesville. Its about a list of 18 items. If you have criticism to offer about those items, lets hear it. If not, can you see how once again, the thread is being derailed by the “I’m an ally *but* I just don’t like Shakesville….” talk? Which again, is what PZ was trying to stop by creating this thread?

    First, you don’t get to dictate what the thread’s about. Second, I’m not a fucking ally; I’m a feminist woman who’s been posting on this blog for years. Third, I don’t think it’s being a good ally for PZ to try to tell one feminist woman how to behave toward another feminist woman (see #10!). Fourth, I didn’t say I don’t like Shakesville, and wouldn’t since it’s not true. I took issue with a pattern of McEwan’s words in one context – a context that’s very much a part of my life. BFD. Try to get over it.

    Jesus, this is excruciating.

  92. The Mellow Monkey says

    kate_waters

    I’ve gotten it here, in threads on feminism and rape. Regulars who present as male often tell women who are just bloody angry about it all to calm down because they want to talk about rape and misogyny as if they’re just intellectual exercises and not our lived experiences. Which makes survivors like myself even angrier, which leads to them calling us “angry morons”, “irrational”, and “unable to understand nuance” when we tell these men to STFU and stop treating survivors as statistics instead of actual people.

    I’d really like to see more of the regulars called out for that kind of crap. Not holding my breath, but I hope it happens.

    It should certainly be called out. I don’t know which regulars you’re talking about, though. In very nearly every rape thread Pharyngula has had over the last year or so, I’ve either been commenting or lurking, often sharing my own stories and frustration and anger. From my POV, anyone who tries to play Vulcan gets called out. In fact, there was this huge thread where Paul W, OM was challenged over and over again for doing exactly what you describe.

    Could you point to some other examples where this isn’t getting called out here? Because it should be.

  93. says

    Kate:

    I’d really like to see more of the regulars called out for that kind of crap.

    I can’t speak for everyone else, but that shit is called out, in force, whether it’s a regular or not. The NYT thread Cyrano and I were discussing (and I linked) is a good example. So is the recent ‘Do you deny rape culture exists’ thread, where there was a very long calling out of a regular over the way he reacted to and treated Pteryxx and myself.

  94. kate_waters says

    @Josh #99:

    I did when it happened to me somewhat recently (within the last year), and IIRC you came to my defense and you did it quickly, vociferously and with great aplomb. Others, however, sided with the “regular”.

    I gotta say, if I’m ever in a Pharyngula Fight you’ve always had my back when I’ve been in the right.

    I don’t know if I’ve ever thanked you properly. I hope I have, but just in case:

    Thanks, man. It’s good to know you’ve got my back.

  95. roro80 says

    #92

    I offered some mild criticism of her responses

    I’m still hung-up on why you think it was so mild. You called her intellectually dishonest (in #92 as well), unfair, uncharitable (along with so many others), said you didn’t take her seriously, made hay of her saying her list wasn’t that long, called her ridiculous, critisized her for not being active in the movement after she was asked why she’s not active in the movement (?), said she was acting in bad faith, and basically said you want to be the person asked what kind of people you want to be part of the movement (implication: not people like her).

    Now you seem to be concerned that in her tweets (140 character limit), which she was asked for, she didn’t go into the history of things you’ve done to try and make the community more open to women.

    She gave one clause in a long list of pushback to “uncharitable”, which you seemed to take to point to you particularly, when many, many people had used that word.

    It just seems that you think your wording and criticism were so mild and hers was so harsh, when neither of those things is really the case.

  96. Esteleth, stupid fucking starchild Tolkien worshiping douche says

    Pharyngula is stomping, swearing loudly, in the direction of being right on these issues. Occasionally, though, we stomp on things that don’t need stomping, and sometimes we shout “fuck!” a bit too loudly.

    Apropos of nothing, really, but it is something that struck me.

  97. says

    Kate:

    I did when it happened to me somewhat recently (within the last year), and IIRC you came to my defense and you did it quickly, vociferously and with great aplomb. Others, however, sided with the “regular”.

    If you’re going to discuss such happenings, it’s helpful to include the name of the thread at the very least, a link would be better. You can hardly expect people to behave the way you want without providing a concrete example. You’ve been provided threads and links to where such crap is called out. I’d like to know why regular is in quote marks, too.

  98. says

    News to me. Not saying it isn’t true, just that I haven’t noticed it.

    You haven’t noticed people criticizing others’ words? You haven’t noticed people criticizing those who try to shut down reasonable criticism? Neither?

    I have noticed a lot of criticism of Melissa (on this topic) that seemed to have a lot to do with not liking her or her blog and getting outraged at any criticism of PZ, even when he agreed that criticism of his post wasn’t undeserved.

    I think there has been some of that, especially from some people who just came here to grind that axe. There have also been some oddly extreme reactions to substantive criticism that wasn’t about a personal dislike or a reflexive defensiveness/outrage.

    It seemed like such a little disagreement that people blew out of proportion.

    Indeed.

  99. Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts says

    kate_waters, thanks! I really mean that. I am literally feeling incredibly cynical about this topic, though. I even had to re-read your comment at #95 twice, slowly, to reduce my urge to ask for evidence. Something that would have been extremely unhelpful and totally aside from the point. It’s hard to even admit that I wanted to ask at all, because it’s a sad example of how cynical this topic has made me feel.

    People are really, actually, going on about the matter of providing clarity when asked for it! It’s ridiculous -ambiguously so.

  100. kate_waters says

    Mellow Monkey and Caine:

    This would have been last spring, I think? I’ll dig up the thread, but it’s gonna take me a bit to find it.

    (I’ve seen it happen elsewhere, but I don’t bookmark threads I think ought to have been nuked from orbit. It’s often very subtle, and I’ve been hesitant to jump in because of the way I’ve been treated in the past and figured I’d just be ignored. I was wrong to do so, and should have spoken out. I know better now, though.)

    Caine, I recall you backing me up in that thread. Mellow Monkey I don’t remember you posting much, or at all at that time. I was also under another nym. I think it was Dharmasatya? (I lost the log in because I had a stupidly long password that I couldn’t ever get right. I had also not posted much, with the thread in question being maybe the 4th or 5th I had ever appeared in since I prefer to lurk. As I’ve preferred to lurk for most of my time as a Pharyngulite.)

  101. The Mellow Monkey says

    I’m really sorry you had that experience, kate_waters. Like I said, that shit does need to be called out. I will continue watching for it and pointing it out when I see it, because nobody needs to have their voice silenced for being directly effected by something. It doesn’t matter if it’s coming from someone who just showed up or a Big Name Commenter.

  102. kate_waters says

    @Caine:

    Regular is in quote marks because there are many regular visitor and readers who do not regularly comment. The only people who are considered regulars are those who are very active in commenting.

    If you want specifics?

    It was John Morales and Rorschach who were refusing to stop discussing rape victims as if they were simply intellectual constructs. I’m going to look for the thread now. Please bear with me.

  103. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    You haven’t noticed people criticizing others’ words? You haven’t noticed people criticizing those who try to shut down reasonable criticism? Neither?

    Um, I think we have a misunderstanding here.

    I thought you meant shutting down criticism of Melissa was a common practice here.

    To quote you again, with different bolding this time:

    I was criticizing her words, and the practice of trying to shut down criticism of her words. It’s a pretty common practice here.

    I’m reading this again and again and I keep reading it as you saying that shutting down criticism of Melissa’s words is a commone practice here. Melissa McEwan’s words specifically. Maybe I’m having a brainfart.

  104. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Kate, I’m glad to know I caught an instance of it, thanks. We all have to be as circumspect about our own selves as we are about others. Every one of us can get caught up in conflicting loyalties and we can lie to ourselves about things that, if we acknowledged them accurately, would compel us to do things we don’t want to do (like calling out a friend).

    It’s human, and none of us will ever escape it. No use pretending it isn’t true. The best thing we can do is resolve to notice it and try to stop it.

  105. says

    The comments a couple people made about being burnt out, and Ana’s mentioning accessibility reminded me of something else:

    To what extent is the constant tooth-gnashing and knife-sharpening keeping out persons with disabilities? Dealing with misogynistic language and having my agency as a woman called into question on a regular basis isn’t just hostile, it’s tiring. It makes me feel unwelcome as a woman, and furthermore, I don’t always have the spoons to dismantle those arguments. At the same time, such comments are rage-inducing, and it can be hard not to say something, especially when it’s one’s own rights being debated.

    So, in addition to Melissa McEwan’s advice being good to help women feel more welcome in the atheist community, some of it may also have the effect of garnering more participation from persons with disabilities, regardless of their gender- and that’s another group that atheists should consider reaching out to more.

    (Obviously, I’m speaking from my own perspective, and not all persons with disabilities may feel this way. There’s so much talk of people being tired, though, that I felt my experience might be worth mentioning in this context.)

  106. pixelfish says

    Haven’t read all the way through the comments yet, but got as far as Carlie’s note about numbers 3 and 4, and provisionally agree with her for reasons stated on the other thread: Simply put, when I encounter bullshit in Meatspace, I have more tools to deal with it because of the responses of people here.

    But I think we could easily say that we can reinforce THE SPIRIT, if not the letter of 3 and 4 just by adding the caveat that zero tolerance here means WE SPEAK UP WHEN WE SEE BULLSHIT. So, still zero tolerance–just a different approach and consequences. I mean, it’s still not tolerated, we don’t let it sit there, tacitly accepted. Instead, we pick it apart.

    (This reminds me of the reasons why Greta Christina says it is important to debate people publically despite “trolls”–one, because you aren’t necessarily trying to convince the person you are arguing with, but the onlookers, and two because the stuff you see in such debates can be useful for the onlookers and everyone else.)

    Similarly, Greta Christina has a whole post about why playing Devils Advocate sucks: http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2009/03/26/trying-to-get-people-to-think/ But to sum up: It’s disingenuous, it ignores the realities of people’s lives, it is arrogant.

    “But in a group discussion or debate, the person who’s “just trying to get people to think” has essentially taken that authority upon themselves. They have set themselves above the rest of the group; appointed themselves teacher and guru, the leader of other people’s thinking. And they have done so without the consent of the group that they’re participating in… and without doing any of the hard work that earns someone a position of genuine intellectual authority.”

  107. kate_waters says

    Can anyone tell me what script I’ll need to enable in order to get the archives to work properly? I’m using “NoScript” because something on Pharyngula always slows my computer down to a crawl. Or if you know what’s making it slow can you tell me so I can enable all other scripts but that one?

  108. Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts says

    And for the record, I happen to not like the interpretation nor the tone (hard to fucking believe, I’m sure) McEwan took in reply to PZ’s post.

    But that doesn’t fucking matter because PZ took the time to clarify himself when asked (well, not so much asked -which is a problem) and that really ought to have been the end of it for everyone, because the clarification wasn’t for those without charity/reading comprehension problems, it was for the person who asked (well, not so much asked).

    I really wish people could just have let SC’s comment stand. It’s okay to disagree. This isn’t the kind of important that anyone seems to think it is.

    Heck, jump on me instead, I just said that McEwan has either or both a charity or a reading comprehension problem. But then, I have a problem with people interpreting things in the worst possible of ways with no real reason to do so, so maybe I’m just mean.

  109. says

    Kate:

    This would have been last spring, I think? I’ll dig up the thread, but it’s gonna take me a bit to find it.

    I appreciate that. I like to go back and refresh my memory on things like this, I find it helpful. It also helps me to keep a sharper eye out for certain behaviours which are not welcome here.

    (I’ve seen it happen elsewhere, but I don’t bookmark threads I think ought to have been nuked from orbit. It’s often very subtle, and I’ve been hesitant to jump in because of the way I’ve been treated in the past and figured I’d just be ignored. I was wrong to do so, and should have spoken out. I know better now, though.)

    Heh, I’m the opposite. I *always* bookmark threads I think should be nuked from orbit. They often contain the best arguments. Please, don’t ever be hesitant to jump in, jump up and down and all over the place in such cases, subtle or not. That sort of shit is not okay here and it’s not welcome. Sometimes, we all get very busy arguing one particular thing or person in a thread and can focus so narrowly that a subtle dig will get bypassed. That’s one of the reasons every voice is important.

  110. Pteryxx says

    kate_waters: I use Noscript with Freethoughtblogs.com and googleapis.com permitted, nothing else. Not sure what’s doing the slowing, but worth a try?

  111. pixelfish says

    And I endorse what Esteleth has said at 61. We have two types of diverse communities here, with differing strengths and differing purposes. It’s not Shakesville vs. Pharyngula, but all of us IN TOGETHER against bullshit. We’re both learning to be intersectional, learning to challenge our privilege and both providing communities where people can accomplish various goals to grow as people and fight injustice.

  112. says

    Fionnabhair:

    Dealing with misogynistic language and having my agency as a woman called into question on a regular basis isn’t just hostile, it’s tiring.

    Yes, it is. The regulars here are always past fucking weary of the same damn arguments over and over and over and over. However, someone has to speak up. Someone has to fight the good fight. Someone has to counter all the misinformation and bad thinking out there. That’s what we do here. No one is put down or criticised because they can’t or don’t want to do that, that is fine. What we do ask is not to be scolded for engaging and refusing to be silenced.

  113. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    You ought to be concerned about your own stuff. It doesn’t mean you can’t also be concerned about feminism, or that you’re an awful person for being more concerned about the issues you face, personally.

    This is reassuring to me as well. Thank you. :/

  114. kate_waters says

    @Caine: I’m going to bookmark those threads from now on. That’s a really damn good point you’ve made. I’m also going to be less hesitant to comment from now on, too. It was wrong for me to keep silent. (See point # 13 in Melissa’s list) I wasn’t helping by keeping quiet and I feel pretty shitty about it.

    @Pteryxx: Thanks. :) I’m computer literate, sort of, but a lot of stuff is just over my head. I’m old, you see, and cut my computer teeth programming on Commodore 64’s with tape drives. I just never got the hang of much of the newfangled stuff because for the most part, it always “just works” without me having to mess around with it.

  115. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    I’m moving from baffled to seriously assessing my theory about body snatchers. People have been acting weird here the last couple of days.

  116. says

    Kate:

    I wasn’t helping by keeping quiet and I feel pretty shitty about it.

    Oh, don’t. It’s not always easy to speak up and it’s harder for some than others.

  117. says

    Beatrice:

    I’m moving from baffled to seriously assessing my theory about body snatchers.

    Is there room for one more on conspiracy corner? I’d like to join you.

  118. Pteryxx says

    I keep hesitating to post this, so what the hey. It’s a general observation only.

    Extending a bit from list #17:

    Listen. Listen listen listen listen listen. Listen.

    Listening’s an active skill requiring practice. In the context of dealing with one’s own unconscious biases, it entails recognizing your own fog-of-war, or for a different metaphor, when what you’re hearing is your own privilege buzzing in your ears. Members of underprivileged groups, almost by definition, suffer a credibility gap that makes it easy to undervalue their contributions; resume research highlights this tendency, as do blind auditions, and it’s a major factor in creating chilly climate. Rebecca Solnit described it back in 2008, in the essay that led to the term ‘mansplaining': (link)

    Credibility is a basic survival tool. When I was very young and just beginning to get what feminism was about and why it was necessary, I had a boyfriend whose uncle was a nuclear physicist. One Christmas, he was telling—as though it were a light and amusing subject—how a neighbor’s wife in his suburban bomb-making community had come running out of her house naked in the middle of the night screaming that her husband was trying to kill her. How, I asked, did you know that he wasn’t trying to kill her? He explained, patiently, that they were respectable middle-class people. Therefore, her-husband-trying-to-kill-her was simply not a credible explanation for her fleeing the house yelling that her husband was trying to kill her. That she was crazy, on the other hand…

    The very first effect of unconscious bias is that we take someone’s word less seriously than we would if that person wasn’t nonwhite, non-male, non-able or whatever. Rape culture basically turns upon that: the target knows nobody will believe them. Conversely, the aggressors can say any damn thing and have it taken seriously. At least by the majority and/or dominant voices (see CNN, etc).

    Solnit:

    At the heart of the struggle of feminism to give rape, date rape, marital rape, domestic violence, and workplace sexual harassment legal standing as crimes has been the necessity of making women credible and audible.

    So I humbly suggest, to put “listen, listen, listen” into practice, starting with a heuristic that says when challenging someone on the grounds of credibility, charitability, interpretation, or any such basis particularly subject to unconscious bias, especially when privilege is the topic, just take a few moments to recalibrate the credibility-meter. We do this all the time with sarcasm-meters and newbie-meters. Also, the Horde’s gotten very skilled over the last few years in recognizing when certain arguments or assumptions should NOT be treated as credible by default. It shouldn’t be all that hard to learn when it’s most productive to err the other way.

  119. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    To what extent is the constant tooth-gnashing and knife-sharpening keeping out persons with disabilities? Dealing with misogynistic language and having my agency as a woman called into question on a regular basis isn’t just hostile, it’s tiring. It makes me feel unwelcome as a woman, and furthermore, I don’t always have the spoons to dismantle those arguments. At the same time, such comments are rage-inducing, and it can be hard not to say something, especially when it’s one’s own rights being debated.

    So, in addition to Melissa McEwan’s advice being good to help women feel more welcome in the atheist community, some of it may also have the effect of garnering more participation from persons with disabilities, regardless of their gender- and that’s another group that atheists should consider reaching out to more.

    (Obviously, I’m speaking from my own perspective, and not all persons with disabilities may feel this way.

    Another perspective: I know it fucking gives me pause (and sometimes outright triggering), but that’s mostly due to my specific disability and history. There are enough other aspects of the community that I appreciate that I stick around, but there are certainly times when I wonder why.

    On the other hand, my disabilities and history (and personality) make the Shakesville model extremely uncomfortable for me.

  120. Pteryxx says

    (off topic) and if Ana is still around, was that sufficient to set off the blockquoting, or is there a way I can blockquote more accessibly? Putting a trailing character in, perhaps?

  121. Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts says

    Chris Clarke and Caine, I mean the deal with SC. Sure, where it’s at now would need to be resolved, but the point at which this started certainly didn’t seem to me to be something that needed to get to where it’s at now. The disagreement with SC isn’t the kind of important that people seem to think it is. That’s what I think.

  122. says

    I’m still hung-up on why you think it was so mild.

    Because it was.

    You called her intellectually dishonest (in #92 as well),

    No. Read the posts again.

    unfair, uncharitable (along with so many others),

    No, I called the approach in that context unfairand her responses (and pattern of responses) uncharitable.

    said you didn’t take her seriously,

    Again, no.

    made hay of her saying her list wasn’t that long,

    No, I pointed to her comment about the long list because it’s part of the pattern of hostile and ungenerous responses. It took a real effort to read PZ’s saying it was a “long list” in that context as some sort of dig or deserving of an objection. If anything, it was a compliment or a thanks for taking the time and effort to produce a long list which he was encouraging people to read.

    called her ridiculous,

    No.

    critisized her for not being active in the movement after she was asked why she’s not active in the movement (?)

    Wrong again.

    said she was acting in bad faith,

    I don’t think so. Have a link?

    and basically said you want to be the person asked what kind of people you want to be part of the movement (implication: not people like her).

    No once again. I said I would appreciate people not telling me who I want in the movement, especially in the context of trying to shut down my criticism.

    Now you seem to be concerned that in her tweets (140 character limit), which she was asked for, she didn’t go into the history of things you’ve done to try and make the community more open to women.

    The tweets were then listed in a blog post. She had all the space in the world to make clear that she wasn’t suggesting PZ or all atheist men aren’t doing these things. That she didn’t isn’t the only problem, but it’s symptomatic of the larger problems with her approach to this. Which I never saw as all that major, as I said repeatedly.

    She gave one clause in a long list of pushback to “uncharitable”, which you seemed to take to point to you particularly, when many, many people had used that word.

    No, I thought I was among them. I believe I was also the first here to use it.And my use of it had nothing to do with “pushback.” It’s a problem that she rarely links to what she references.

    It just seems that you think your wording and criticism were so mild and hers was so harsh, when neither of those things is really the case.

    It’s not that hers is harsh (and I have no issue with harsh criticism). It’s that it’s based on intellectual shortcuts that I think are due to a needlessly hostile approach. I don’t think it’s a fair, entirely honest, or productive approach. I think the list is useful, but I disagree with some aspects of how it was presented. Seriously not a big deal.

    But so what? People here say all the time that they like a post but don’t care for the person who wrote it. Or criticize both the post and the person who wrote it but think it has some redeeming value. The problem isn’t criticisms. It’s criticisms that are baseless or irrelevant or used to silence (or likely to have a silencing effect, which I hardly think mine are, but if they did I wouldn’t consider that sufficient reason for people to try to silence my voice).

  123. The Mellow Monkey says

    Fionnabhair

    To what extent is the constant tooth-gnashing and knife-sharpening keeping out persons with disabilities? Dealing with misogynistic language and having my agency as a woman called into question on a regular basis isn’t just hostile, it’s tiring.

    Yeah, it is tiring. And I’ve been triggered to extremes I didn’t think were still possible.

    But I also feel like it’s very positive for this stuff to be called out. And that can’t be done if it’s not being dragged out into the light of day at the same time. That isn’t for everyone, nor should everyone feel obligated to do it. But if someone has the capability of doing it–maybe just once, maybe only a couple of times a week–it’s really beneficial, because it provides hope and perspective to those who have been ground down and it educates.

    There is the Lounge for when we need a break. There’s real life and other websites, too. It’s most definitely not something everyone can do all the time. But, yeah, the emotional and energetic burden of it does likely weigh a bit heavier on those with disabilities.

  124. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    [OT]
    Caine,
    Sure there is! Some of my friends will be landing tomorrow, so I hope you’ll join us for tea. Just don’t be too vocal in your surprise that they are grey, not green, they are a bit tired of hearing about that. Especially the bad jokes.

  125. says

    Chris Clarke and Caine, I mean the deal with SC. Sure, where it’s at now would need to be resolved, but the point at which this started certainly didn’t seem to me to be something that needed to get to where it’s at now. The disagreement with SC isn’t the kind of important that people seem to think it is. That’s what I think.

    Thomathy, I knew what you meant. How a person could get through hundreds of comments in the last couple days on this topic and still trot out the “those concerns you think you have are not as important as you think they are” argument was what boggled me.

    Fuck it. I can’t engage on this topic anymore without exploding. Gone for a few days.

  126. says

    Um, I think we have a misunderstanding here.

    I thought you meant shutting down criticism of Melissa was a common practice here.

    …I’m reading this again and again and I keep reading it as you saying that shutting down criticism of Melissa’s words is a commone practice here. Melissa McEwan’s words specifically. Maybe I’m having a brainfart.

    I was speaking generally. They’re her words in this case, but criticizing people’s words and defending the validity of that practice are what’s commonly done here. It’s just seemed like the response to the criticism of her words was disproportionate. Part of the problem might have been that some of the people responding to me assumed I was a guy (and some of the people with similar responses were guys), and that’s more complicated. On the other hand, my comments were here, where many people do know who I am, so I don’t feel it necessary to preface criticisms of feminists’ arguments with “I’m a woman” or links to my previous posts.

  127. says

    something on Pharyngula always slows my computer down to a crawl

    At 140 comments, the HTML for this page is about 1/2meg. Depending on your bandwidth and processor, that could be quite a lot. If the archives are full of long discussions, you could be experiencing slowness just due to site bloat.

  128. Helen Huntingdon says

    Trying to articulate my level of surprise:

    We have PZ and Melissa getting a dialog going based on PZ saying he really wants to know how the atheist community can do better at integrating women, and Melissa giving a thoughtful reply. A core concept is listening to what such women who have been driven away have to say.

    Then there’s a misunderstanding because PZ made a remark the meaning of which depends on a non-standard meaning of a particular word. PZ and Melissa clear it up, express interest in the topic remaining how the atheist community can adapt to change its history of driving women away.

    Then there’s a misunderstanding because PZ made a remark the meaning of which depends on the meaning of a particular word that has a very specific meaning for people PZ was trying to reach out to with this discussion. I ask for clarification, and point out the word already has a very specific meaning to many of the people driven away from the atheism community.

    The response? Can be summed up as, “Too bad and I’m not catering to noobs.” With a side of paterfamilial condescension.

    In a discussion about reaching out to those who have been driven away from the atheism community.

    In response to one of those driven away, when answering a part of how to make the community more welcoming to those driven away.

    In a discussion that’s supposed to be about listening to what such people have to say.

  129. says

    Chris Clarke and Caine, I mean the deal with SC. Sure, where it’s at now would need to be resolved, but the point at which this started certainly didn’t seem to me to be something that needed to get to where it’s at now. The disagreement with SC isn’t the kind of important that people seem to think it is. That’s what I think.

    Yeah, I knew what you meant, I’m not that dense. I was commenting, along with Chris, on the “isn’t the kind of important people seem to think it is” – you are fucking wrong, full stop. That might be your opinion, Thomathy, but that is all it is. From where I sit, there’s a fair amount of problematic with SC’s posts on this subject and yes, it should damn well be addressed by those who feel up to it at the moment. What you’re doing is indulging in “Hey, c’mon, hush. Don’t talk about this, just let it slide!” crap. We don’t let that slide on any other issue, why this one? In case you didn’t notice, others have been talking about how sometimes regulars are allowed to behave in crappy ways and aren’t called out because they are regulars. That is not alright.

    I’ll stop short of saying the things Chris was thinking, but you might want to stop extrapolating your opinion to everyone else.

  130. roro80 says

    That’s a remarkably uncharitable reading

    ungenerous readings

    Intellectual honesty isn’t a cookie.

    strikingly negative reading

    it’s hard to take this sort of response seriously

    I’d like people to stop informing me about the “kind of people” I want the movement to be more welcoming of.

    “Long list” wasn’t a criticism. There was no cause for her to read and respond to it as it it had been. This is so ridiculous.

    part of my problem with it was a fact that several people have mentioned: that she is, as far as “mainstream movement atheism” is concerned, something of an outsider.

  131. says

    Chris:

    Fuck it. I can’t engage on this topic anymore without exploding. Gone for a few days.

    Say hello to the desert for me. I think I’ll go work, I should be doing that anyway.

  132. says

    You wrote them.

    And you misread them. Keep trying. And while you do, consider that I have in fact said those things about many people, including several here, and those things have been said about me here by several others. And somehow we manage to go on and sometimes even interact in the future. Now, you’ve mischaracterized my criticisms in this case in order to portray them as harsher than they were, and I take objection to that. But I’m fine with harsh criticism, and haven’t heard any good reason for not criticizing McEwan specifically.

  133. Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts says

    Wait a second Chris. Is that really what I was saying? Oh, fine. I suppose that really was a case of me showing my particular privilege and diminishing the concerns of others. Maybe it really is a concern of some marginalised people to pile on SC and really get to the bottom of just how wrong she is and how mean she’s being to McEwan.

    I was mistaken in suggesting that maybe SC doesn’t deserve her current treatment and that it’s not that important to lay into her over her remarks.

  134. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    SC,

    I don’t understand. People who were most vocal in their surprise of the negative treatment Melissa got here were regulars. me included, for as much I can count as a regular.

    There was one guy who thought you were male.

  135. Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts says

    Oh, hell, hyberbole aside.

    That’s what I think.

    I know it’s my opinion Caine. I’ll step away from this now. Obviously your concern over SC’s comment is every bit as important as you think it is.

    And I’m not trying to say that it should be let to slide or ignored; I don’t have the same problem that you do. I was upfront about the fact that I wished no one had a problem with it. I’m sorry, really I am, that I seem to have been extending my opinion to everyone as though it’s the correct one. I don’t like what I’m seeing and that bothers me.

    So, yeah, I’ll step away now.

  136. kate_waters says

    Okay, I’m going to go look for that thread the old fashioned, googly way.

    …because I can’t read any more of this thread. It’s making my splenetic region ache and my head hurt.

    But before I go, to sum up so I know I’m up to speed:

    Everyone is mad at everyone and we’re all big meanie-pants-poopyheads for one reason or another. We all need to go sit in corners and think about what we’ve done. Except the people who’ve been body-snatched. They wouldn’t know what they’ve done. (Due to the body-snatchification… or pod-personification or whatever it is that body snatchers do to render a person snatched or podded or whatever.)

  137. roro80 says

    And you misread them.

    Considering how very many people “misread” them, perhaps it’s a matter of the writing and not the reading? I do actually tend to be a charitable reader, actually. You are asking for a lot of charity.

    haven’t heard any good reason for not criticizing McEwan specifically

    Because PZ started this thread for the specific purpose of getting away from criticizing McEwen and instead looking at the list?

    And again, I do apologize for misinterpreting your gender — it was wrong and presumptuous of me. I’ve been reading this site for years, but not the comments (explanation, not excuse).

  138. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    Yeah, the outsider part of the comment that roro80 mentions bothered me too. It takes special kind of gumption to use bah, an outsider in the conversation about how atheist movement could be more inclusive.

  139. roro80 says

    @Beatrice

    There was one guy who thought you were male.

    I did, but I’m not male.

  140. says

    Thanks, Thomathy.

    roro80, you’re tiresome and have problems with either reading comprehension of honesty. Anyone is welcome to go back to the earlier thread and read what I actually wrote.

    OK, I’ve had enough of this. I’m not angry – more bemused and a little worried, and kind of disappointed. Oh, well. Take care, everyone.

  141. roro80 says

    you’re tiresome and have problems with either reading comprehension of honesty

    ….and screw you. Have fun.

  142. Doug Hudson says

    Great post, PZ! Ideas should be judged on their own merit, not by who suggested them. Unless it’s Hitler, you don’t need to listen to him.

  143. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    roro80,

    I did, but I’m not male.

    *facepalm*
    And right in the comment saying that you misgendered someone else.
    Sorry!

  144. robpowell says

    This is a pretty good list! Especially 13. My BiL damn near provoked me to violence with some of the horrifically sexist shit he says (Telling my SiL, upon coming out, that she was only allowed to kiss other girls for attention. That DID inspire a full on “Get the fuck out of my house” from the Partner)

  145. carlie says

    SC, it seems like what stuck in your throat the most was the “long list” bit? At least, that’s the part it seems you mentioned most often. I can tell you how it could sound like an insult: someone asks you for some tips, you spend a lot of time and say here’s a bunch of possibilities, and their response is along the lines of “jeez, there’s a lot there, it will take me forever to read through that, I didn’t think it would take actual work on my part!” That’s how it could be interpreted as insulting.

  146. yazikus says

    Well, I’m a little late to the party. I think in the big picture Pharyngula & Shakesville are very much Same Team. We want to be more inclusive. And as we have seen there is a large overlap in readership, and people value both spaces for what they offer. As far as the list, #7 so much!

  147. David Marjanović says

    I’ve been reading this site for years, but not the comments

    Does not compute.

  148. Esteleth, stupid fucking starchild Tolkien worshiping douche says

    I’ve been reading this site for years, but not the comments

    Does not compute.

    Apparently people will just read the OP, not realizing that the comments are also hugely important?

  149. robpowell says

    @Esteleth 166:

    Apparently people will just read the OP, not realizing that the comments are also hugely important?

    I’m in the same boat as Roro on that. I never really saw the point of the comments, I was mostly just interested in what Dr. Myers (or later Chris) were bringing up.

  150. says

    @165, 166: I frequently will read the OP, but not the comments. Other time I will start to read the comments, decide I don’t like where the thread is heading, and go back to read more posts or something.

    The comments are where the triggering/tiring/hostile/unwelcome/just plain rage-inducing stuff is most likely to be. Sometimes a thread can also be entertaining and insightful, and sometimes it can be one or both of those things while also being one of the other things, too.

    Considering the topic being discussed, I’m surprised that people are surprised to learn that there are regular readers who stay the ever-loving fuck away from the comments.

  151. Ulysses says

    I guess I’m an outlier. Often I skim the OP to get to the meat of the thread, the comments.

  152. Annah Green says

    @PZ Myers : #32: by allies, I was most definitely referring to people like McEwan. I do not consider dudebros, MRAs, and unthinking mysogynist asses, atheist or not, to be my allies.

    Is there a word for people you generally agree with and are generally expressing things you support, but don’t want to consider allies because they sometimes go off in an insane direction or use assumptions you can’t agree with?

  153. says

    Ms Green:

    You and your friend Phoenicianromans have a question pending a reply. If ‘neither’ of you choose to address it in the next few hours, by 8pm tonight — I think 24 hours is a reasonable span of time to allow for you to respond to a concern — or if you can’t give a satisfactory answer, the ‘two’ of you will be banned.

    Final warning.

  154. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    Fionnabhair @ 168

    Considering the topic being discussed, I’m surprised that people are surprised to learn that there are regular readers who stay the ever-loving fuck away from the comments.

    I used to never read the comments, and I still skip the comments on most threads. Basically, if something blows up (100+ comments,) I’ll go wading in to see what’s up. But I simply haven’t the time to read all the things. (Not just here–I don’t regularly read the comments on many of the blogs I frequent. I actually read and participate in comments more on FtB than anywhere else.)

    Annah @ 170

    Is there a word for people you generally agree with and are generally expressing things you support, but don’t want to consider allies because they sometimes go off in an insane direction or use assumptions you can’t agree with?

    Ummm, usually you’d just call them by name? Or you could make your point of disagreement clear by saying, “Hey, that blog I read and sometimes disagree with said X thing that I liked.”

    In a more general sense, I don’t typically assume that someone agrees with everything that X person said ever just because they state agreement with one thing that X person said (UNLESS their agreement is a core construct of the argument. If a person said they agreed with Stormfront on Jews, I’d assume they were racist against PoC as well.)

    I guess when in doubt, clarify. (Which I think is your point?)

  155. roro80 says

    @168

    The comments are where the triggering/tiring/hostile/unwelcome/just plain rage-inducing stuff is most likely to be.

    Right, exactly. For example I’ve never been told on the front page that I had a problem with reading comprehension and honesty for saying that the words that were written might mean what those words say. So, there’s that.

  156. Annah Green says

    if you can’t give a satisfactory answer

    Yes. Read the definition of “sockpuppet” – vis

    “A sockpuppet is an online identity used for purposes of deception. The term—a reference to the manipulation of a simple hand puppet made from a sock—originally referred to a false identity assumed by a member of an internet community who spoke to, or about himself while pretending to be another person.[1] The term now includes other uses of misleading online identities, such as those created to praise, defend or support a third party or organization,[2] or to circumvent a suspension or ban from a website. A significant difference between the use of a pseudonym[3] and the creation of a sockpuppet is that the sockpuppet poses as an independent third-party unaffiliated with the puppeteer. Many online communities have a policy of blocking sockpuppets.”

    I choose to use different identities for different purposes. As far as I am aware, I am not using them to “praise, defend or support” myself, or spreading deception by mixing identities in the same thread.

  157. says

    Annah:
    I’m with Josh on this one.
    I take it you never clicked on PZ’s _commenting rules_ in the sidebar?

    ” Identity. We all know that anonymity can be abused, and that some people will turn into total assholes when unconstrained by accountability. Total anonymity is forbidden. However, I encourage and will protect pseudonyms, as long as you maintain a constant identity. Your online persona is accountable for your actions; I expect you to cultivate that identity, and maintain a recognizable and consistent pseudonym. One pseudonym; sockpuppetry will get you sent to the Dungeon. Stealing someone else’s pseudonym will also get you endungeoned.”

    The bolded portion is relevant to you.
    Also I have to laugh at “I do it because REASONS that I will not share.”

  158. BradC says

    Helen, in comment 144 you said:

    Then there’s a misunderstanding because PZ made a remark the meaning of which depends on a non-standard meaning of a particular word. PZ and Melissa clear it up, express interest in the topic remaining how the atheist community can adapt to change its history of driving women away.

    Then there’s a misunderstanding because PZ made a remark the meaning of which depends on the meaning of a particular word that has a very specific meaning for people PZ was trying to reach out to with this discussion. I ask for clarification, and point out the word already has a very specific meaning to many of the people driven away from the atheism community.

    I’m assuming that the first quoted paragraph is in reference to “reservation” and the second quoted paragraph is in reference to “ally”.

    In the first case, PZ just used the term poorly, not in a way that has any special “pharyngula” meaning. I think everyone agrees he shouldn’t have used that term at all if he intended to compliment the list, which I believe he intended to do, and he has since clarified.

    In the second case, PZ was using the term “ally” in its normal, english usage of “confederate – associate – friend”, or “someone on the same side of a conflict”, as opposed to the more technical definition used within feminist-related discussion that you’ve outlined in your prior comments (specifically referring to a member of a privileged group supporting the cause of the underprivileged group).

    Obviously, that is the larger scope of the discussion, so when the word is used, both definitions are plausible, but in context it pretty clearly refers to Melissa or other feminists, so the common definition is the natural interpretation.

    So while I understand your request for clarification in this specific case, I can also appreciate PZ’s take that he shouldn’t have to police word usage for possibly misinterpretation by narrow technical definitions when he is using that word in the normal, general sense.

  159. Forelle says

    Thomathy at 149 pretends that he was mistaken in suggesting that

    maybe SC doesn’t deserve her current treatment

    and for what’s worth, which isn’t much, I agree with him. I read her initial comments as a criticism of McEwan’s reading of PZ’s words, not of the list. I understand that it could be seen as people closing files and defending their dear leader.

    But I have some knowledge of SC’s comments over the years and for the life of me I can’t imagine her as PZ’s groupie. If anyone would criticize PZ or any other sacred being without regard for the consequences, it’s her.

    I think I’d be able to disagree quite bitterly with SC about many things. I might disagree with her, or not, on that interpretation of McEwan’s words, but for that I’d have to read the whole previous exchange between McEwan and PZ and I’m not really that interested. It’s SC’s interpretation of an answer and she has a right to it, and the intellectual clout, as far as I’m concerned. What interests me now is the whiff of uncharitableness that seems to surround SC.

  160. says

    Forelle, you’re welcome to your opinion, however, you start out on the wrong end of the stick. Thomathy was telling people their concerns with certain things said was not important. That’s really not okay. As for:

    But I have some knowledge of SC’s comments over the years

    What makes you think we don’t?

  161. says

    Tony:

    Also I have to laugh at “I do it because REASONS that I will not share.”

    Oh, they’re pretty clear. As “phoenicianromans”, the male persona, they indulged in JAQing off a fair amount here, always about feminism or sexism; as “annah green”, the female persona, it’s always “so and so doesn’t speak for me, a feminist! They’re stupid and wrong!”

  162. Pteryxx says

    Shakes has its dedicated hate sites, too. Just google ‘Shakesville’ and see.

  163. Portia says

    Crap. Of course. My apologies.

    No worries, it’s nice to be able to point it out and have people care.

    Taking my offthreadness back to the perpetually off thread. :)

  164. Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters says

    Don’t appropriate or ignore women’s lived experiences. Let women be the experts on our own lives.
    Don’t treat women like a monolith. Or any subset of women. Not all atheist women think the same way about any issue.
    Don’t only listen to the women whose opinions support your perspective. If there is disagreement among atheist women, pay attention.
    Recognize that there are privileged women in the atheist movement who may collude to marginalize non-privileged women (and men).

    I’ve been thinking over this list for a couple days now and have started focusing on these particular items. I’ve noticed that it’s fairly common for me to assume that other atheist feminist women think the same way I do about some particular issue. Then some apparent disagreement gives rise to acrimony, when what we actually needed to do was work on articulating our ideas more clearly. Public online discussions don’t really have a lot of space for “This discussion reminds me of something I recall from Fanon and I’m going to think about this for 3 days and get back to this topic” kinds of responses, because the thread is most often dead at that point.

    Also, everyone can be wrong, no matter where they are on any particular privilege/intersectionality continuum.

  165. says

    Oh. You just “choose to use different identities for different purposes.” So you just post something under one name, logout, and minutes later log in under a different name to post a similar McEwan-bashing comment.

    You fucking fraud, you phony dipshit. That IS sockpuppetry — you were intentionally trying to create an illusion of a larger opposition. Jebus, but you’re stupid.

    BANNED. Gone for good.

  166. yazikus says

    For some reason I had assumed that PiAToR was a guy from New Zealand (probably from an old pandagon thread)… Oh well. Glad to see that element gone and unable to derail the conversation everyone else is trying to have.

  167. theoreticalgrrrl says

    “What interests me now is the whiff of uncharitableness that seems to surround SC.”

    You’ve got to be kidding. I thought her treatment of Melissa was downright ugly. Now she’s denying what she said when being quoted verbatim.

    You can disagree with someone, but saying they don’t deserve to belong in your club (the atheist movement) is just cruel and petty.

    “I understand that it could be seen as people closing files and defending their dear leader.”

    Because that’s pretty much what happened. PZ said explicitly that had no problem with it, so why were people getting so offended on his behalf. Yes, offended. It wasn’t criticism, it was more “how dare she??”
    Even though Melissa said she didn’t think it was intentional. A few times. And said she never said she disliked PZ, which PZ did say about her and did not retract.

  168. carlie says

    PiAToR? Did somebody send out the “old home days in asshole world” signal? Have they been reading along silently all this time? Ew.

  169. deoridhe says

    I think #9 “9.Don’t treat women like a monolith. Or any subset of women. Not all atheist women think the same way about any issue.” is one of the steps I feel like I struggle with the most.

    In a proscriptive, rules-based response to the problem of sexism, the simple fact that two women won’t agree on what is sexist and what is not is a significant problem, because there is a “right” which is always right, and a “wrong” which is always wrong. One of the nice things about a rules-based response to sexism is that there is an implication of objectivity and clarity which conceals the more complicated reality of boots on the ground experiences of sexism. This is one of the major flaws with the whole concept that there is a “right” and a “wrong” way to think as a woman.

    One of the issues with the simple fact that Women Disagree About Things, though, is how do “we” (meaning all people engaging in the discussion in good faith) negotiate about the things we disagree about, and come up with responses which honor what people disagree with and the valid reservations they might have without offending the integrity of the people involved by asking them to sign on to something they disagree with.

    For example, the language issue. I find kicking the ball around language choices critical both to dismantaling internalized sexism and identifying when sexism is occuring around me, but someone else finds focusing on language nitpicky and a distraction from more important things; on the face of it, these opinions appear irreconcilable, and even if some individuals can reconcile them, I think it’s inevitable that others on either side will be unable to.

    I feel like this is the meta-issue with how different people responded to McEwan’s list and the accompanying judgements about the nature of those people because of this response. Yes, people should be able to disagree, I firmly believe that, but in aggregate disagreement can be used as a distancing or silencing tactic, and I agree with that, too.

  170. John Morales says

    [meta + OT]

    kate_waters:

    It was John Morales and Rorschach who were refusing to stop discussing rape victims as if they were simply intellectual constructs. I’m going to look for the thread now. Please bear with me.

    I would help you if I had any recollection of such.

  171. fwtbc says

    Fionnabhair @ 117 said:

    The comments a couple people made about being burnt out, and Ana’s mentioning accessibility reminded me of something else:

    To what extent is the constant tooth-gnashing and knife-sharpening keeping out persons with disabilities? Dealing with misogynistic language and having my agency as a woman called into question on a regular basis isn’t just hostile, it’s tiring. It makes me feel unwelcome as a woman, and furthermore, I don’t always have the spoons to dismantle those arguments. At the same time, such comments are rage-inducing, and it can be hard not to say something, especially when it’s one’s own rights being debated.

    I’m legally blind. Aside from the occasional obliviously privileged comment, I don’t have issues with comment sections. I do however frequently feel alienated by blog posts themselves, not because of their content, but just because of the zero thought given to accessibility.

    If I have the spoons I’ll still sometimes ask a post’s author to take steps to make their content accessible to me and others in my position, but I’ve largely given up as it’s much less disheartening to just imagine it’s a careless oversight based on ignorance, but without malice. Asking, only to be briefly humoured and then promptly forgotten about again, completely ignored, or told to fuck off makes me feel unwelcome, unwanted and a problem people just wish would go away, which is usually what I end up doing.

    Interestingly, the only blog I read that is consistently good and dedicated to making sure their content is accessible as possible is Shakesville. I’ve emailed Melissa a couple of times. Once was about a minor accessibility issue. She thanked me for alerting her to it and invited me to email her again if there’s anything else she can do to improve accessibility. That’s going above and beyond all expectations I’d ever have of anyone. I read that and I started to cry. I don’t think I’d realised just how much I’ve come to expect shittiness that I was overhwlmed by such genuine kindness.

    So yeah, I’m sure there’s plenty more of me out there, and for most bloggers, the effort required to not alienate us is minimal. I’m quite stubborn and determined when it comes to accessing what I want to access, but for others in similar positions, they’ll just move along to somewhere else and we’ve lost another valuable voice in our community.

  172. John Morales says

    [OT]

    fwtbc:

    I’m legally blind. Aside from the occasional obliviously privileged comment, I don’t have issues with comment sections. I do however frequently feel alienated by blog posts themselves, not because of their content, but just because of the zero thought given to accessibility.

    If I have the spoons I’ll still sometimes ask a post’s author to take steps to make their content accessible to me and others in my position, but I’ve largely given up as it’s much less disheartening to just imagine it’s a careless oversight based on ignorance, but without malice.

    Quoted because I think it’s an important thing.

    (I’ve made it a habit to put alt-text into my hyperlinks for just that reason)

  173. Walton says

    I agree with those above saying that “playing devil’s advocate” is bullshit. (And I say this as someone who used to be guilty of it myself, back when I was a teen.)

    When we’re talking about people’s human rights and human dignity – whether in the sphere of feminism, race equality, poverty, immigrants’ rights, trans rights, or anything else – then “playing devil’s advocate” just makes you look like a narcissistic asshole, for whom scoring debate points is more important than people’s actual lives. These aren’t academic issues, they’re matters that affect the everyday reality of millions of people. When talking about immigration reform, for instance, the people I find most frustrating are affluent white people who will argue for restrictive immigration policies by way of “playing devil’s advocate”, without a shred of concern for the actual human beings who are affected by those policies. Ditto when we’re talking about gender, or gay equality, or trans equality, or any other similar issue.

  174. sonderval says

    @fwtbc
    Sorry for the distraction in this thread – is there a simple “How to make your posts more accessible 101″ somewhere on the web?

  175. carlie says

    sonderval – I’m sure typing that into a search engine would yield a lot of good results.

  176. Pteryxx says

    while I’m thinking about it… community standards and allies could really be helpful here, because people with visual impairments often get tremendously shat upon if they attempt to ask for minor accommodations in comment sections. ‘How dare you nitpick / why should Our Blogger go to extra effort for the likes of you lazy scum’ and worse. (I was flabbergasted when one of my friends showed me examples. Gah.)

    So besides being mindful of our own comments, remind and nudge article writers and platforms to use alt-text for images, attribute quotes, use descriptive links, link to transcripts where available and so on.

  177. thumper1990 says

    @kate waters #95

    I’ve gotten it here, in threads on feminism and rape. Regulars who present as male often tell women who are just bloody angry about it all to calm down because they want to talk about rape and misogyny as if they’re just intellectual exercises and not our lived experiences. Which makes survivors like myself even angrier, which leads to them calling us “angry morons”, “irrational”, and “unable to understand nuance” when we tell these men to STFU and stop treating survivors as statistics instead of actual people.

    I’d really like to see more of the regulars called out for that kind of crap. Not holding my breath, but I hope it happens.

    In my expereince anyone who even comes close to doing that on Pharyngula gets dogpiled. The regulars just do not put up with it, as they should not. Was it a while ago this happened to you? Perhaps things have got better since?

    I’m not disagreeing with you; they’re your experiences and I believe you. Just trying to reconcile your experiences with my own.

  178. thumper1990 says

    To clarify my above; I’m not seeing anyone get away with it which could mean it’s not happening any more, or it could just mean I don’t see it happening. If it is still happening now then clearly I’m missing it, so I’d like help recognising it because if it needs calling out, then I will try to do that.

  179. hypocee says

    You don’t have to obey every word, but do try to take McEwan’s list seriously.

    Incorrect. McEwan says we do have to obey every word, or go fuck ourselves.

  180. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    Hypocee, you do know that we can all see the list to, right? So making up stuff about it is kinda pointless.

  181. fwtbc says

    Thanks for the supportive comments everyone.

    sonderval @ 205:

    As Carlie suggests, you can find many with a quick google. I don’t have any favourites. You could also search for web best practice and probably find other useful info. Using the W3C HTML/XHTML validator is very valuable. If your HTML is standards compliant, then a lot of accessibility stuff will just be there inherently, such as alt text for images.

    Pteryxx @ 208:

    Some more allies would be wonderful. I’ve always felt that the FTB community has had my back when I’ve made requests for accessibility, but having some more people go into bat for accessibility would be even better. I hate that on some blogs, >50% of my comments are essentially “um, what does the text in that image say?” and “*tap tap* me again, given this post consists of nothing but an image, do you think you could describe it?” It’s hard not to feel like you’re becoming an irritating nuisance. Having more people speaking up would greatly alleviate that feeling as well as putting a spotlight on accessibility as an important issue.

    For bloggers who want to make their posts accessible, reading a guide or two won’t hurt, but I think the best approach is to tell your community that you care, make yourself approachable and ask where you fall short and what would be the best resolution, this way you’ll get real-world feedback and be able to tend to those shortcomings as your first priority.

  182. says

    fwtbc @ 198 and 213:

    Posts like yours are the reason why I’m glad I kept this thread open overnight, because I may not have bothered to check here for new comments otherwise. Thank you for sharing your experience. I don’t update my own blog nearly as often as I’d like (which is to say, I haven’t updated it in months, whoops), but I’ll definitely be looking at how to make it more accessible for people with visual impairments. Ditto my comments, here and elsewhere. Visual accessibility isn’t something I spend much time thinking about (oh, hello, privilege, you can check your bags over there), so I’ll have to do more work in that area.

    So, thank you, once again.

  183. says

    Jumping ahead a bit, but I wanted to note that the reason that #3 and #4 exist on her list is because of something that always comes up when those aren’t in place. One of those is the “swarm”. The massive influx of professional sexists and douchebros that flood specifically to posts on sexism in order to argue the humanity of women and make women feel like they are endlessly swimming against a tide of bullshit just to talk about their humanity. The other is getting stuck in the “101 cycle”. That is conversations always end up returning to the same handful of basic Feminism 101 arguments (rape culture exists, harassment isn’t cool, hey look at this double standard, there’s no good reason to be against abortion rights, transwomen are women too, etc…) and so doesn’t expand from there into harder lessons and deeper aspects of the problem.

    I wouldn’t know about implementing that here. So many have stated how important it is to have a place where the swarm comes but usually loses, but I can understand why other places would and what benefits they bring to a space. It can be exhausting fighting assholes 24/7. It’s one of the reasons I had to take a long break from this place, but at the same time, the fact that the assholes usually lose is an incredibly powerful thing and I’m happy to see that balance existing here.

  184. Forelle says

    (Very tangentially — I think I owe a couple of answers, but I’ve been busier than I expected and I haven’t had the time to read the new posts to the thread. Now I’m too tired even to read carefully, but I’ll check Thunderdome as soon as I can. Sorry for the involuntary silence and this off-topic post.)

  185. daniellavine says

    Anthony K@69:

    I’ve been mostly lurking for years and I know you use to comment as Brownian. A lot of my interactions here have been pretty confrontational and that’s probably mostly my fault so you might not care at all about this. But ever since I’ve gotten a sense of who the regulars are I’ve always had the sense that you, in particular, are a humane and sensible person (not the only one of course, but very notably).

    I think even if you don’t like who you are at Pharyngula the real you still comes across pretty clearly. Don’t get too down on yourself, especially since it is all a reaction to some vile shit. It’s hard not to get pissy when you’re doing this every day.

    I mean, your prompt apology to SC was a pretty good indication of the kind of person you are. (Not taking sides there, just thought it was stand-up for Anthony to step back and apologize whatever the circumstances.)

  186. anchor says

    There’s way too much effort being put into parsing who said what. Stop. Step back. Go back to the original list of suggestions — it’s a good list. Read it and think about it and ask yourself whether any of your behavior on the threads violates any of them…

    yes, an entirely good and decent list

    its amazing to read downstream mutation forcing it by degrees into an ‘evolution’ departing from the original

  187. sonderval says

    @fwtbc (and others)
    Thanks for the advice (was off-line afew days, but this doesn’t mean I don’t care for your answers), so I’ll google around a bit and may be ask my readers for hints as well.