Who’s getting silenced?

Rebecca Watson has a few things to say about The Silencing of Men at Women in Secularism, and Ron Lindsay’s opening talk. You know, there is a very, very tiny grain of truth to what he said — I’ve been in a few situations this weekend where I’ve felt uncomfortably like an outsider because I’m a man — but the thing is … that’s fair. I should be somewhat marginal here, because this is an event to try and correct the privileges I can usually rely on feeling at other events. So my internal conversation when I’m feeling that way is “OK, that was a bit weird. Shut up. Think about it. Do they have good reason to think that way? Maybe I should consider where they’re coming from more.” My plan is to listen and learn here.

What I think now is that even if Lindsay hadn’t said those objectionable things that so thrilled the Misogyny Brigade, he would have been wrong to speak at this event anyway. He objected to being told to “shut up and listen” and instead asserted his privilege as the head of the organization to lecture at the attendees…but shutting up and listening in this case was exactly what he needed to do, and speaking in the opening session was an extraordinarily impolitic thing to do instead.

It is perfectly legitimate to tell someone to shut up when you’ve heard their voice in a thousand variants many times before, and you need some small space in which to express yourself, too. This conference should be that space for the many who have been shushed.

Comments

  1. barfy says

    There will always be a place for a Women in Secularism conference. Women have issues and emphasis needed that are particular to their experience. Women, in this context, should be allowed to limit – or, maybe a better word – construct a place for a man’s participation according to the needs of the women.
    I strongly applaud PZ’s open-mindedness, lack of overt participation and attendance at this much needed event.
    I honestly wish I could be there. There is no doubt that I would learn a lot by listening.
    Privilege is contextual, and in this context, privilege should belong to the women.

  2. Ulysses says

    Feminism is not one of Lindsay’s concerns. Reading his opening remarks I got the impression that he was dragooned into giving grudging approval for WiS2. He doesn’t appear happy that CFI is devoting time, effort and resources into something peripheral like women in secularism.

    If I had been giving the welcoming address at WiS2 I would have talked for less than a minute, basically giving Melody Helmsley an introduction and thanks for setting up the conference and then letting her make the welcoming speech. But then I’m not the President and CEO of the Center For Inquiry, I’m just some guy who gives a damn about women.

  3. says

    The old “This is about you (minority group), but first let me frame the discussion according to my own (majority/priviledged) perspective”. I have encountered this too many times to count.

  4. carlie says

    He shouldn’t have given a speech. I don’t care that he’s the CEO of CFI; my parents bankrolled my college education, but that didn’t give them the right to write an introduction to each of my term papers. He could have come out and said hi and gotten his applause without taking up a half hour of the conference’s time basically talking about how much he didn’t think there was a reason to have the conference. No matter how much damage control people like Melody do, that sours the entire thing. So yes, great job on CFI for doing this conference, but now the big message being transmitted is that the CEO of CFI just doesn’t get it. That’s… not good.

  5. Maureen Brian says

    I’m thousands of miles away but it sounds to me as though Ron Lindsay, in his determination both to have the last word and to get it in first, both shot himself in the foot and proved precisely why this conference is necessary.

    Shall we congratulate him?

  6. Pen says

    It seems kind of inappropriate to use the opening lecture of a conference to make contentious points. Aren’t you supposed to welcome everyone, introduce the main speakers and explain where the bars are?

  7. says

    Here’s Lindsay’s version of “welcoming everyone”:

    One thing you may have noticed already is that I did not give you a formal welcome to Women in Secularism 2. Of course you are welcome here. We’re very happy to have you with us, but this is something you know already, and, although I don’t want to appear ungracious, why take up time to state the obvious, because the reality is we have much work to do, and presumably you came here for substance not rhetoric.

    Ironically, *not* welcoming everyone took up way more time than simply welcoming them would have. It’s interesting to think about what exactly he’s signaling here.

  8. says

    And his “substance” — the thing that it’s apparently *worth* taking the time to say — is that women are being unfair to men.

  9. changerofbits says

    The existence of the wiscfi equals silencing of all men’s speech? Seriously, did the great vagina of wrath make all MRA tongues and fingers develop rigor mortis and all sites on the internet where they’re free to do what ever just disappear? Goddam, what a bunch of irrational shit. I’m am so fucking sick and tired of this freeze peach crap that I may develop a prayer callous from all of the head desking.

  10. says

    It’s also interesting how Lindsay reacted to Watson. She said on Twitter:

    Very strange to open #wiscfi w a white male CEO lecturing women about using the concept of privilege to silence men.

    One of his responses:

    @rebeccawatson never claimed i’ve been silenced; your very 1st tweet indicated as white male I shouldn’t have spoken; I should have shut up.

    If Watson’s tweet indicated anything beyond finding the subject of his talk “weird”, it was that he should have talked about something other than how men are being treated unfairly. Nowhere did Watson say that Lindsay shouldn’t have spoken at all, and nowhere did she tell him to shut up.

  11. stevem says

    Re PZ’s OP:

    You say you just listen to someone you might disagree with and ask yourself, “Why do they say that? Maybe I should try to understand.” Ironically, isn’t that really what the “Freeze peachers” are saying? “Don’t tell me how WRONG you think I am, just LISTEN, don’t argue. I’m just speaking, so shut up and listen, don’t interrupt my freeze peach.” Ugh, now I’m stuck. I know they’re wrong and the situation is fundamentally different. But I’m stuck in this loop; Who’s wrong, and who’s right. Sorry, my brain just melted down from this overheating loop dynamic.

  12. Rey Fox says

    No, see, Lindsay, we just don’t think you should speak at this ONE event. You have the whole rest of the year and the whole rest of the world in which to speak. Funny how that’s never enough for some people.

    #7: Christ, what a complete and utter wanker.

  13. ashley larrieux says

    Aaaaaand this is why I want nothing to do with the atheist movement. Even at a so-called women in secularism conference, the boys have to get up on stage first and have an MRA cry about how silenced men are when they aren’t allowed to dominate. The atheist movement can just fuck right off, in my opinion. I didn’t leave one sexist, patriarchal religion just so I could go join another.

  14. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    So, what he’s saying is, if women aren’t silently listening to men 24/7/365, men are being silenced. Even at WIS, we have to hear about the poor, poor oppressed boys who aren’t the center of attention for one. fucking. weekend. of the year.

    I second that, Ashley. They made atheism into Misogyny+. I wanted to hang around a bunch of arrogant, self-obsessed crybabies, I’d have stayed a christian.

  15. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    it sounds to me as though Ron Lindsay, in his determination both to have the last word and to get it in first, both shot himself in the foot and proved precisely why this conference is necessary.

    Shall we congratulate him? – Maureen Brian

    Maybe it was a piece of performance art, designed precisely to prove the necessity for the conference, and tomorrow he’ll come clean.

    But probably not.

  16. One Day Soon I Shall Invent A Funny Login says

    OK, I read Ron Lindsay’s speech and I am completely baffled at why he thought he had to give it, or why he thought it was important to say just those things to open a conference.

    This is now how you give an opening address: You welcome the attendees — he explicitly says he isn’t welcoming them, which is just bizarre — and you say some nice things about them, and about the organizers, and about the caterers, and you try to pump everybody up about what a good time they’re all gonna have, and you get the hell off.

    He got up there and opened a conference by going through a list of the most important ideas these people are likely to hold, and for each of those ideas, giving it half-hearted approval followed by a list of reasons it wasn’t important, or useful, or good.

    He never mentions any upcoming event. He never mentions a speaker or panel to look forward to. He doesn’t tout the dinner or the vendors or the tee-shirts or any of the other things the opening greeter should talk up. It’s just mopey droning about how these are weak, divisive, and pointless ideas, but oh, maybe we should have “a conversation” about them.

    It was the a long, negative, downer of a talk, and exactly the opposite of what you want to open a convention. Why the hell did he give it? Didn’t the organizers even ask what he’d say before hand? And — why wasn’t he booed?

  17. Robert B. says

    @ 7: In other words, it’s not worth his time to make his listeners feel genuinely welcome, but it is worth their time to hear him talk about how it’s unfair that he doesn’t get to talk all the time.

  18. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    In other words, it’s not worth his time to make his listeners feel genuinely welcome, but it is worth their time to hear him talk about how it’s unfair that he doesn’t get to talk all the time.

    During my college days, there was the Male Chauvinist Pig. Ron Lindsay should be checked for a snout, tail, and his ability to “oink”.

  19. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Robert at #18 – well, not just him. All men. Women are being horribly unfair to men when we say that men might not know everything bout everything. That’s very silencing because OBVIOUSLY, men do know everything about everything and women should shut up and listen always. but that’s not silencing. That’s the way god intended it biology says it should be way things are because talking in public is more a guy thing. At the WOMEN IN SECULARISM conference.

  20. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    Warning: Extreme Snark Ahead. Please put on your wading pants.

    Aaaaaand this is why I want nothing to do with the atheist movement. Even at a so-called women in secularism conference, the boys have to get up on stage first and have an MRA cry about how silenced men are when they aren’t allowed to dominate. The atheist movement can just fuck right off, in my opinion. I didn’t leave one sexist, patriarchal religion just so I could go join another.
    ashley larrieux@15

    And this is why we have Atheism+, the new freshness. Where you (yes YOU!) can be accused of being a horrible monster for the atrocious crime of being a Woman who is Uppity (MRA speak for not being a subservient slave) and anyone who has the #BRAVEHEROMRAFUCKBITCHES stamina to tell a woman to make him a sandwich is lauded as a great person, and truly a model to base one’s life on. Anyone who would stand up for such LOATHESOME, man hating monsters like feminists obviously doesn’t understand all the HORRIFIC OPPRESSION that these BRAVEHEROES go through on an hourly basis!
    /snarker broken

    On a serious note, this bullshit is why I, a semi-successful white male, learned how to sit down, shut up, and fucking learn something.

    TL:DR (alternatively TL:IAAMRA Too long: I am a mens rights activist)
    Mansplaining at a WOMEN’S event means yer a fuckken asshole

  21. carlie says

    So let me get this straight:

    When there’s a conference and the speaker lineup is all men, and someone mentions that it would be good to have a woman speaker or two, then it’s terrible because they’re being accused of not being able to fairly represent everyone and of course they can and stop insinuating that there’s something wrong with all men speakers, that’s just how it is sometimes, no big deal.

    But when there’s a conference and the speaker lineup is mostly women, suddenly the minority gender is being silenced, SILENCED, and this CAN NOT STAND.

    Do I have that right?

  22. sonorus says

    It’s hilarious to think of men as being silenced. When you turn on the television to a news or information program what’s the ratio of men to women? With the exception of a few women-only daytime talk shows, it’s mostly 3-4 or more men and one woman. Men are being silenced? No, men are being criticized. Your right to speech doesn’t include a shield from criticism, especially for saying stupid shit. Men are not being silenced. In fact, most of the time, we won’t shut up long enough for women to talk.

  23. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Linday’s made it clear how little regard or comprehension he has for women’s issues, most especially his own employees. Were I woman and in a position to do so I’d be out that door so fast his goddamned beard would singe. And I’d take all my pals with me and start another organization.

    Fuck him.

  24. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    Josh, that would be a great idea. I know I’d never go to a CFI event, including a third WiS, because of this. It seems time to make a clean break from the old guard. They want their sexism more than they want people like me in their movement. So be it. Time for a new movement.

    And, I agree with your sentiment toward Ron. Fuck him very much.

  25. says

    Maybe Melody Hensly might consider getting a new sponsor for WIS3?

    Y’all remember Gurdur? He was on Twitter claiming that Jamie Kilstein’s determination to stop doing fundraisers for CFI in light of Lindsay’s stupid remarks was “shooting yourself in the foot”. Because CFI gave lots of money to #WIS2 and boy, you’ll be sad if they take that nice money away, won’t you? He blocked me for pointing out that that was more a threat than an argument for continuing to support CFI.

  26. microraptor says

    Shorter Lindsay intro: Wah! It’s not fair that people are going to be paying attention to the womenz instead of me!

  27. imthegenieicandoanything says

    Re-re-read Ron’s take on his speech.

    I agree with the general view expressed here.

    He hasn’t got a clue, either, however it’s explained and whatever frequency or volume it’s broadcast.

  28. Sili says

    Why on earth did he attend – or back for that matter – this conference, if he hates it so much? Why not stay away and send someone else to represent the CFI?

  29. Tom J says

    I’m always wary when someone pens an argument disagreeing with a speech or a blog post yet refrains from actually quoting that person.

    So it is here with PZ. Here is the crux of Lindsay’s argument: “By the way, with respect to the “Shut up and listen” meme, I hope it’s clear that it’s the “shut up” part that troubles me, not the “listen” part. Listening is good. People do have different life experiences, and many women have had experiences and perspectives from which men can and should learn. But having had certain experiences does not automatically turn one into an authority to whom others must defer. Listen, listen carefully, but where appropriate, question and engage.”

    I’ve yet to see anyone here challenge that argument. PZ skirts it in the post above, saying instead “It is perfectly legitimate to tell someone to shut up when you’ve heard their voice in a thousand variants many times before, and you need some small space in which to express yourself, too. This conference should be that space for the many who have been shushed.” But turning that argument on its head – which of the women speaking at the conference have been shushed? All of them are active in the movement, have blogs, have written books, I mean Rebecca Watson certainly isn’t shy about voicing her opinion – no one is shushing her.

    Has she and many others felt harassed or threatened in the past? Absolutely, and Lindsay doesn’t deny this – in fact he specifically says he wants to hear that (“Listen, listen carefully.”). His point is that having those experiences “does not automatically turn one into an authority to whom others must defer.”

    It’s valid to disagree with this line of thinking, but I see little to none of that going on here. Instead I seen charges of misogyny, fuck him, fuck him very much (one step up from just fuck him, apparently), “Wah! It’s not fair that people are going to be paying attention to the womenz instead of me!”, and “Mansplaining at a WOMEN’S event means yer a fuckken asshole.”

    These commenters are – unwittingly, I presume – illustrating Lindsay’s point. Some minutes before in his speech he said this: “It’s the approach taken by ideologies such as Marxism. You pull your dogma off the shelf, take out the relevant category or classification, fit it snugly over the person you want to categorize, dismiss, and silence and … poof, you’re done. End of discussion.” He is an old, white, male, misogynist enabling, asshole (or fuckken asshole, lol). Poof, they’re done. End of discussion.

    You can argue whether or not it was appropriate for him to discuss things like this at the beginning of the conference, and PZ does a little of that here, but you also have to keep in mind that this guy is responsible for making the conference happen in the first place as the CEO of CFI. We wouldn’t be having this discussion in the first place were it not for him.

  30. Anthony K says

    We wouldn’t be having this discussion in the first place were it not for him.

    Ah, the appeal to “show a little gratitude, you fucking bitches.”

  31. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Here is the crux of Lindsay’s argument: “By the way, with respect to the “Shut up and listen” meme, I hope it’s clear that it’s the “shut up” part that troubles me, not the “listen” part.

    That’s not how I read it. But then, there are always accommodationists, the scum oft the Earth, who try to twist what is said to make it innocuous.

    We wouldn’t be having this discussion in the first place were it not for him.

    Gee, could it be better conference without his condescension starting it off?

  32. Sili says

    No, see, Lindsay, we just don’t think you should speak at this ONE event.

    Speak for yourself, Rey. I wouldn’t mind him shutting up completely.

    But I’ll settle for him just muttering to himself and yelling at clouds, somewhere I won’t have to hear him.

  33. frogkisser says

    I have friends who are less financially well off than I am, and I occasionally help them out. Some times I will see them spending money on a luxury, and I will have a thought that goes”they should not be wasting money on that.” Then I will have a second thought that says “shut up, self. Just because you gave someone money does not give you a voting share in their life. And just because your paycheck is bigger does not make you an expert on managing finances.”
    The argument that CFI sponsored the event and therefore Ron Lindsay should get to tell conference attendees how to behave deserves the same degree of respect as I would if I told my friends how to spend their money (none).

  34. consciousness razor says

    We wouldn’t be having this discussion in the first place were it not for him.

    Which discussion is that? The discussion about how awful his fucking introductory speech was? (“I’d welcome everyone, introduce speakers/topics, maybe say something non-whiny and relevant; but, nah, fuck all that…”) Or do you mean a discussion about women or feminism in the skeptic/atheist movements?

  35. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    Sally, and just when I thought I could not love Jaimmers any more than I already do! He and Allison are amazing. My eldest and I are maniacs. The best thing about Monday is that I get a new Citizen Radio AND and a new Caustic Soda.

  36. llewelly says

    Tom J 18 May 2013 at 5:26 pm (UTC -5) :

    “I mean Rebecca Watson certainly isn’t shy about voicing her opinion – no one is shushing her. ”

    Instead, they are sending her rape threats.

    Do you seriously think those threats have no effect?

    Rebecca’s article gives examples of women who were active in secularim, and who received violent threats. And some of them are no longer active.

    Your “no one is shushing her. ” claim is perhaps the most ignorant thing you might have said.

  37. says

    This would be like if Billy Crystal’s Academy Awards opening number didn’t mention any of the nominated films, but did feature a list of aspects of movies he didn’t like.

    Shorter Lindsay: “Welcome to the Oscars! Fucking hell, aren’t we sick of superhero reboots yet? And could everyone please STOP RELYING ON GLITZ TO SAVE SHITHOUSE FILMS (I’m looking at you, Baz Luhrmann)?!! Okaaay, on with the show!”

  38. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    We wouldn’t be having this discussion in the first place were it not for him.

    That’s the stupidest thing I’ve read in a while. Really? We wouldn’t be discussing the intersection of secularism and feminism without him? With all of the women and actually supportive men who have been banging this drum for so long and getting so much backlash for it, you think this misinformed, short sighted man is indispensable to secular feminism? There will be other events and I don’t think he or CFI’s money will be needed. However, CFI just lost the support of alot of talented, passionate, bright people in the secular community and managed instead to draw to it’s bosom some nasty lack-witted trolls. I think you are confused as to who needs the other more.

  39. says

    Ulysses @ 2:

    Reading his opening remarks I got the impression that he was dragooned into giving grudging approval for WiS2. He doesn’t appear happy that CFI is devoting time, effort and resources into something peripheral like women in secularism.

    Certainly appears that way, given his adolescent fucking petulance.

    But if that’s so, it would have been very easy for him to handball the conference opening to, say, one of the attendees or someone from his organisation who’s actually interested in the topic, instead of getting up there and telling a bunch of women they’re doing feminism wrong.

  40. says

    Tom J:

    We wouldn’t be having this discussion in the first place were it not for him.

    This conference is called “Women in Secularism 2“. That’s TWO. Which, for the maths-challenged, means that ONE has already occurred. What’s more, the discussion was already happening before the original WiS, which is why the original WiS occurred.

    So, erm, yeah.

    It also seems like Lindsay was a reluctant attendee (possibly even a reluctant patron), given his whining, and he probably opened the conference out of obligation due to his position at CFI. Why he decided to get his back up in public is beyond me – even if you honestly don’t agree with (or understand – in Linday’s case, a combination of both seems plausible) something, why give yourself and your organisation such shitty PR by scolding everyone who spent money and time attending your event?

    A better result for all concerned would’ve been if he’d given a two-minute editorial/prescription-free intro and walked out the front door if it displeased him so much. Instead, the focus of the all-important “discussion” has shifted to his pissy atttitude and how it has coloured the entire conference; he’s also now personally responsible for alienating existing and potential supporters of CFI (clearly, not just women).

  41. Eristae says

    You can argue whether or not it was appropriate for him to discuss things like this at the beginning of the conference, and PZ does a little of that here, but you also have to keep in mind that this guy is responsible for making the conference happen in the first place as the CEO of CFI. We wouldn’t be having this discussion in the first place were it not for him.

    No, no, no, fucking no. I despite attitudes like this. Lindsay is not “responsible for making the conference happening the first place.” You know who is responsible? W-o-m-e-n. I hate it so much when a bunch of women (or other minority) come together to work towards the advancement of their oppressed group and somehow a man (or other privileged group) ends up being given the credit for it all. Lindsay helped facilitate the conference to some degree, although I can’t say that I agree with your assertion that being the CEO of CFI in and of itself means that he facilitated to a meaningful degree. But however much he did facilitate, this was a conference for, by, and about women. Any attempt to run a WIS conference while removing one of these three things will be disastrous, as are all attempts to deal with minority issues while insisting on the exclusion of minorities from some segment of the process. It would be much more meaningful that he should keep in mind that the conference wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for all the women he was speaking to and about in that speech.

  42. kevinkirkpatrick says

    ashley larrieux @ #7

    Exactly why I have no compelling interest in trying to entice my liberal-Christian wife to de-convert and join the atheism movement. At the “what I see day-in and day-out” level, the Liberal-Christian culture is more respectful and empowering of women than the atheist culture is. Not to say the LibX culture gets it right… they just seem to be better in a liver-and-onions vs moldy-cheese type of way.

    On behalf of the small contingent of white-male-atheist-clique who can see this, sorry, I guess.
    -Kevin

  43. Gregory Greenwood says

    Tom J @ 34;

    So it is here with PZ. Here is the crux of Lindsay’s argument: “By the way, with respect to the “Shut up and listen” meme, I hope it’s clear that it’s the “shut up” part that troubles me, not the “listen” part. Listening is good. People do have different life experiences, and many women have had experiences and perspectives from which men can and should learn. But having had certain experiences does not automatically turn one into an authority to whom others must defer. Listen, listen carefully, but where appropriate, question and engage.”

    It is important to bear in mind the context in which this conference is taking place – the whole discussion about women in secularism has become incredibly toxic because of an obsessive group of misogynists within the skeptic movement who seem to do little other than try to think up new ways to silence and demean women, and fly into a frothing rage at the very suggestion that feminism and socially progressive values have any place within skeptical thought.

    The obsessive bigots would be bad enough on their own, but the situation is worsened by the disturbingly high level of tolerance for such attitudes within the broader sketpical community, with a great many people all to willing to admonish those who call out the misogynists for their bigotry (and seemingly especially if the people pointing out the problem are women), and a worryingly widepread mindset that asserts a false equivalency betwen the misogynists and those who simply say that women are people too and should be recognised as such – that both sides are somehow as bad as one another; that both are equally divisive and that the only option is to shut down any discussion about the raw deal women get within atheism and skepticism for the ‘good of the movement’, thus conveniently leaving a discriminatory and unjust status quo in place in the name of avoiding the notional risk of the dreaded ‘deep rifts’.

    There is also the problem of ‘mansplaining’ – we have now reached a point in the debate about the standing and status of women within secularism where the voices of women are being routinely drowned out by those of a certain type of man, who for some reason think themselves automatically better qualified to discuss the ‘proper’ role of women within the atheist and skeptical communities than the women themselves are. There is an awful lot of white noise coming out of that, but also a strong undercurrent that is incredibly patronising and basically amounts to telling women to sit down, shut their yaps, and pay attention while a bunch of privileged doodz mansplain what it means to be a woman in the modern atheist and/or skeptical movement to those women – essentially, “now sit quietly and listen while I explain the complexities of what it means to be you to… you, of course making sure at all times to use simple words that won’t tax your pink fluffy lady brains”.

    Into this environment comes Ron Lindsay, and he uses his opening talk at the Women in Secularism conference, not to attempt to sympathetically discuss the challenges facing women, or better, to simply say that as a man he is not qualified to hold forth on the experiences of women, and so is yielding the floor, but instead stands there and sternly tut-tuts at feminists for being so unreasonable (at least he didn’t say ‘shrill’) as to assert that maybe women have a better idea of what women face within the movement than men do. It does sound an awful lot like more of the same – even in a conference specifically about women in secularism, there is a man opening proceedings telling the ladies to be more decorous, especially when the men are talking. It is hardly surprising that people are justifiably angered by that.

    Lindsay may particularly object to the ‘shut up’ part of ‘shut up and listen’, but it is not there to merely be gratuitously rude. When people habitually talk over you while discussing issues that effect your life, and even go so far as to dismiss your experience of what it means to be you, then there does come a time when the only option is to stand up and make yourself heard. Until those people (all too many of whom are altogether too much in love with the sound of their own voice/sight of their own words) actually stop droning on, then they will be incapable of listening in any meaningful way to what the only people with actual experience of the problems women face have to say – the women themselves.

    Politeness may be all well and good in the abstract, but in practice polite social justice movements fail because they are easy to ignore – there is nothing more certain to lead to your concerns and interests being dumped at the bottom of the priority pile than meekly waiting your turn to be heard, because when you are a member of a marginalised group, the entire edifice of society is structured to ensure that, should you play by that society’s rules, you turn will never come. This is why anyone who demands that social justice activism by conducted in a more genteel and courteous fashion is met with such suspicion – that is a very effective method of pulling the teeth of any equality movement, and has formed part of the pushback against many such movements including the civil rights and gay rights movements, and the campaign to secure the vote for women. Martin Luther King’s famous Letter from Birmingham Jail discusses this issue in the context of the Civil Rights Movement, but I think his words carry wisdom applicable to this situation as well;

    I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

    By complaining that how feminists go about arguing for a skepticism (not too mention a broader society) that recognises the equality of women is too confrontational, I think that here Lindsay is effectively taking on the role of what might be termed the ‘disappointing progressive man’. He may mean well, but his words give succour and support to those who certainly do not.

  44. poxyhowzes says

    To the tune (but not very well) of “Gaudeamus Igitur,” the hymn/song said to represent the life of learning.

    Mr. C-F-I am I,
    Here to say, at “Girls in Sci”
    {‘TWO’? (we’ve had another one?)}
    Whutev, — I speak, and it’s begun!

    I am Lindsay! Hear me speak!
    Hear me at my manly peak!
    What I say is manly art…
    Thinking from my manly part!

    Hear me out! you ditzy maids,
    Listen! all you broads in braids,
    Wisdom I’ll impart to you,
    If you just S-T-F-U.

    I would welcome you, I’m sure.
    If I knew your aims were pure.
    Perhaps in g-d you place no trust,
    But, a-the-ism you have plussed!

    While you’re here, be calm as I’m —
    Don’t be flustered by the slyme.
    Twitterheads will say and say
    what you need to know each day.

    Writ on high, my keynote speech,
    An exemplar of Frieze Peach!
    Masc., white, bearded, cis am I —
    Lindsay, Ron, from C-F-I!

  45. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    The voices of woman historically have been drowned out, when they dared speak at all, by those of men. Until that far off, dreamed of day when their voices and experiences are an equal and accepted part of the daily discourse of our society it’s right and good to have conferences such as WiS.

    The whole fucking point is to create a resounding silence, a vacuum of the male perspective so that women can fill the air clearly and without the distraction of having to justify why they are not addressing male concerns. This doesn’t mean that men have nothing to offer, it doesn’t mean that they must remain silent forever, as if that were possible, and it doesn’t mean that men don’t have problems too.

    Why the ever-loving-fuck can’t people like Lindsey and Tom J above ever look past their experience, their narrow conformation bias enforced world view and see the context in which events like WiS happen? [That's a rhetorical question BTW. There's a very obvious reason and it starts with P and rhymes with er, uhm... riversledge.]

  46. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    Without a doubt nightshadequeen. He’s become active again across FtBs.

    poxyhowes! Holy hell, that was a thing of beauty and a joy to behold. One whole sniny internets to you!

  47. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    @ 52, GOLD!

    Gregory @ 50–thanks for the longish explanation for why Tom J is dreadfully wrong. I hope he will listen (as he enjoins us to do), but I’ve a feeling that won’t happen…

  48. David Marjanović says

    “Gaudeamus Igitur,” the hymn/song said to represent the life of learning.

    o_O It’s a drinking song. Gaudeamus igitur, iuvenes dum sumus means “so let us be happy as long as we are young”, and the rest of the stanza is about youth and death (nos habebit humus = “the soil will have us”); the next is praise to the professors and the university and stuff (the “I love you all, you’re my bestest buddies” stage of being drunk); then there’s one about group identity as a vaguely frat-like organization, and so on. Learning does not occur.

    Quite a pity given the catchy tune.

  49. says

    In Ron Lindsay’s latest post, I have learned that he was thinking specifically of me in that closing bit of his speech.

    You cannot imagine how proud I am to have annoyed him so much.

  50. Ulysses says

    Gregory Greenwood @50

    By complaining that how feminists go about arguing for a skepticism (not too mention a broader society) that recognises the equality of women is too confrontational, I think that here Lindsay is effectively taking on the role of what might be termed the ‘disappointing progressive man’. He may mean well, but his words give succour and support to those who certainly do not.

    The comments on Lindsay’s CFI blog post on his talk are full of congratulations to him for an excellent speech. These comments are from a certain group who would not normally be considered WiS supporters. Here’s Reap Paden’s outburst of admiration for Ron:

    Good talk Mr Lindsay. If this type of thinking is supported with matching action then it will be one more step forward.

    There’s a few other names like Michael Kingsford Gray and The Tim Channel that people here may recognize.

  51. says

    From Lindsay’s latest blog post:

    [Watson's post] may be the most intellectually dishonest piece of writing since the last communique issued by North Korea.

    and

    But in her defense, perhaps Watson was too busy tweeting about how “strange” it was to have a “white man” open the conference to pay attention to what I was actually saying. (I’m just glad Watson didn’t notify security: “white man loose on stage, white man loose on stage!”)

    Classy guy.

  52. John Morales says

    Hm, just took a look at the second-to-last post there:

    The Myers quote is below:

    “When a member of a marginalized group tells a member of a privileged group that their efforts, no matter how well-meaning, are wrong, there is one reasonable response: Shut up and listen. You might learn something.
    There is also a terrible response: arguing back. It always makes it worse.
    It’s not that they are infallible and we are totally stupid. It’s that THEY are the experts and the subject of the discussion.”

    [...]

    At CFI, we do not follow the rule “shut up and listen.” Generally, employees can express their opinions. There is one requirement, however. They need to supply reasons and evidence. Invoking their racial/sexual/ethnic/class identity, whatever it might be, is not considered a substitute for argument.

    (!)

  53. chigau (違う) says

    The sound of points wooshing by overhead must be deafening in the vicinity of Ron Lindsay et al.

  54. susans says

    I had lunch with 15 people today. I sat next to a gay man. He told me I don’t know what it is like to be a gay man. I told him I agree.

  55. Ulysses says

    I’ve just posted the following at the CFI blog post where Lindsay was sneering and whining at Rebecca:

    Ron, your speech showed you don’t understand the concept of privilege. But I won’t try to explain it to you. Right now you’re too angry to read an involved sociological explanation.

    There are times when you, Ron Lindsay, actually do need to shut up and listen. You may have read Rebecca’s post but you didn’t understand it. You wanted to reply to it so much that you just picked out those parts you felt were insulting to you without reading what Rebecca was actually saying.

    The point of having WiS2 was to give women a chance to discuss their views, comment about their problems in the secular world, and give possible solutions to those problems. So what did you do in your opening speech? You scolded women for telling men to shut up while women were talking.

    WiS2 came about because a group of noisy misogynists are doing their utmost to silence women in atheism and secularism. That’s because many women are trying to bring social justice ideas into secularism. You’re obviously not too happy about this idea yourself, considering your tepid, almost grudging acceptance of Atheism+. But there’s a fair bit of tolerance given by organized secularism and skepticism (particularly CFI and JREF) to these misogynists. There’s too many people saying the misogynists and the women are equally at fault. Your opening speech showed you were in this group. You rebuked women for saying “don’t talk when we’re talking” at a conference where women will be talking.

    BTW, it was not too classy to say (paraphrasing) “I’d like to welcome you here but I’m not going to.” Just a suggestion, the next time you give a welcoming speech you might actually welcome the people. It makes you look less like jerk.

  56. says

    @Tom J Rebecca may not be silenced by the harassment she receives, but the harassment she receives silences me. I’d like to get more involved in things (blog, speak, write), but I don’t. I comment on other people’s blogs using a pseudonym.

    @kevinkirkpatrick That’s one thing I miss about the religion I used to practise (Neo-Paganism): women were respected and honoured.There was probably a tad too much gender essentialism than was good for us, but at least we didn’t have to deal with this crap.

    Oh, and tx Gregory. That’s the kind of mansplaining I can get behind. ;-)

  57. consciousness razor says

    I am not going to identify the speakers at the Heads meeting, as the meetings are supposed to be confidential, but if you ask around, other people will confirm that there was a lengthy discussion of privilege, and within that discussion there were examples of how members of “privileged” groups should be quiet and just listen to those in the non-privileged group when the latter were discussing their experiences.

    How dare they suggest listening to people discussing their experiences. Absurd! That’s not how Skepticism™ works.

    At CFI, we do not follow the rule “shut up and listen.” Generally, employees can express their opinions. There is one requirement, however. They need to supply reasons and evidence. Invoking their racial/sexual/ethnic/class identity, whatever it might be, is not considered a substitute for argument.

    What, because you simply can’t discuss experiences without “invoking” facts about your identity as a “substitute for argument”?

    I just don’t grok people like this. How the fuck do you think listening works?

    Does all the evidence have to come straight from your fucking mouth? Because otherwise I just don’t see how shutting it for one fucking minute, in order to listen to someone, would undermine evidence being presented.

  58. Ulysses says

    I just posted the following comment to Lindsay’s “shut up and listen” post at CFI:

    At CFI, we do not follow the rule “shut up and listen.” Generally, employees can express their opinions. There is one requirement, however. They need to supply reasons and evidence. Invoking their racial/sexual/ethnic/class identity, whatever it might be, is not considered a substitute for argument.

    In my company we are expected to give reasons and evidence to support our opinions. And, at least at the meetings I chair, we have a rule that one person speaks at a time. When Person A is talking the others just shut up and listen. When Person A is finished talking then someone else can speak. This is called “courtesy” and “manners.” You might consider instituting the “shut up and listen” concept at the free-for-alls you apparently have at CFI.

  59. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Has RL presented any real evidence to back up his assertions? From what I see posted, he, like all MRA fuckwits, think their OPINION is evidence. It isn’t, and never will be.

  60. rowanvt says

    Today at work, we had a client whom none of us like. Unfortunately, because I know a bit about dog breeds this client likes *me*… but I’m about the only person he likes there.

    So he came in with a huge list of obscure questions because one of his dogs was diagnosed with epilepsy. And he confronted one of the doctors with this list of questions. She tried patiently to explain it, but he kept talking over her, telling her she was wrong and he knew HE was right because he had a masters in something-or-other-that-has-nothing-to-do-with-veterinary-medicine, and that she wasn’t answering his questions at all and that the questions she was answering she was making up in her own head and she needs to take classes on how to communicate.

    I am seeing a fairly strong parallel here.

    That client needed to shut up and listen… because his concerns WERE being answered but he couldn’t hear it over his gods-be-damned monologue/diatribe.

    And apparently so does Ron Lindsay.

  61. consciousness razor says

    Here he’s quoting PZ:

    It’s not that they are infallible and we are totally stupid. It’s that THEY are the experts and the subject of the discussion.”

    Immediately, he follows it with this bizarre distortion:

    Myers-Watson [approach "Hitchkins" territory] assume you should never question, you should never argue back, because the person from the marginalized group must have the expertise.

    They have expertise about quite a lot, because they are the subject, for fuck’s sake. Until we have psychics or mind-reading technology, we’ve got easier ways of figuring out what someone’s experiences are. Like fucking listen to them, for example. Jebus. If he were approaching this honestly and sympathetically, there’s no way he’d have such a hard time understanding this.

    I do not share that assumption, and I doubt its wisdom. Indeed, I think it is a horribly misguided, logically infirm understanding of communication. This model of communication asks us to put our critical thinking on hold merely because the person speaking comes from a marginalized group.

    No extended argument or analysis of this issue is needed, [don't argue with him!] and I do not think the choice could be starker. Either you believe reason and evidence should ultimately guide our discussions, or you think they should be held hostage to identity politics.

    So much bullshit here, so little time.

    This guy isn’t indifferent, which is why he didn’t hand over the mic to someone who actually cared, or just welcome everyone without saying anything incredibly inane and condescending. No, he’s a hostage, and it was a cry for help.

  62. smhll says

    This model of communication asks us to put our critical thinking on hold merely because the person speaking comes from a marginalized group.

    I also feel compelled to call bullshit on this statement.

    The complete absence of evidence presented by the anti-feminist side (most of the time in threads like this), the reliance on “this is what I think having thought for two minutes (or having read the title of the article)” arguments is the enraging part of these ongoing discussions. (For me.)

    Thank you guys for getting this.

    When two casual atheists are dueling opinion to opinion, and neither is citing studies (or full sets of stats), then the argument tends to boil down to a clash of opinions plus some fancy rhetorical techniques. I know that skeptics hate anecdotal evidence, but let’s bear in mind when we bicker over in Opinion Land (and our conversations veer there pretty often) then the marginalized person has orders of magnitude more anecdotal evidence than the person who doesn’t receive that treatment because xie is not marginalized.

  63. says

    It will forever be an enduring mystery to me why there are people who think that if they just tell women one more time that they’re wholly owned possessions, of whoever takes a fancy to grab them, in a kinder voice, that it’ll finally sink in and they’ll accept it.

  64. vaiyt says

    Thanks for demonstrating exactly why you need to shut the fuck up and listen, Lindsay. Men like you get way too enamored of the sound of your own voices to actually listen to women.

  65. Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters says

    Seriously, Mr. Lindsey could have invoked Steve Biko and the idea that people who occupy different spots on whatever privilege spectrum may need to work separately on social change targeting that particular privilege issue. Why is it okay for Biko to say that people may need separate groups to work towards a shared goal, but awful if Rebecca Watson says the same thing? Why is it so damn bad for there to be one, ONE, conference a year where there are women speakers and we don’t all have to fawn and fap over the amazing brains of the Vaculous Men?

    I am someone who actually does want to hear about the experiences of men concerning sexism and feminism. I think everyone’s feelings matter. It’s astonishing that Lindsey’s introduction managed to alienate even me – that takes real talent.

    I think I’ll go get my boltcutters now.

  66. says

    In comments on Lindsay’s post, Melody Hensley indicates her feeling of betrayal:

    Half of the Slymepit have shown up to support these series of blogs. These are not our supporters or donors. They are harassers and sexists.

    I’m completely embarrassed. I feel betrayed that that my allies are upset and the people that wish me ill will are cheering this on. I wish we could go back in time and delete this PR disaster.

    Nicely done, Mr. Lindsay. Way to alienate the people you’re supposed to be supporting and inflame the already existing tensions.

  67. yazikus says

    One thing you may have noticed already is that I did not give you a formal welcome to Women in Secularism 2. Of course you are welcome here. We’re very happy to have you with us, but this is something you know already, and, although I don’t want to appear ungracious, why take up time to state the obvious, because the reality is we have much work to do, and presumably you came here for substance not rhetoric.

    I’m sure this has been mentioned elsewhere, but this totally feels like a shout out to the whole “I don’t feel threatened at TAM/this space/with skeptics” crowd.

  68. John Morales says

    yazikus, well, at least he didn’t appear ungracious, right?

    Oh, wait.

    He did.

    Never mind.

  69. yazikus says

    Oh, wait.

    He did.

    Never mind.

    Yeah, but that isn’t near as bad as appearing uncharitable

  70. Rey Fox says

    Half of the Slymepit have shown up to support these series of blogs.

    The Company You Keep

    I’m just glad Watson didn’t notify security: “white man loose on stage, white man loose on stage!”

    Wanker of the highest order.

    Seeing another secular organization going down in flames like this makes me wonder if there’s something inherently patriarchal about the whole offices-and-phone-numbers setup.

  71. yazikus says

    Seeing another secular organization going down in flames like this makes me wonder if there’s something inherently patriarchal about the whole offices-and-phone-numbers setup.

    Definitely has to do with offices-and-and-phone-numbers, because you can’t have those without a Secretary, you know, to handle those weird devices, and monitor incoming information. And secretaries are ladies, amirite?

  72. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    On CFI’s blog:

    The Myers quote is below:

    “When a member of a marginalized group tells a member of a privileged group that their efforts, no matter how well-meaning, are wrong, there is one reasonable response: Shut up and listen. You might learn something.
    There is also a terrible response: arguing back. It always makes it worse.
    It’s not that they are infallible and we are totally stupid. It’s that THEY are the experts and the subject of the discussion.”

    [...]

    At CFI, we do not follow the rule “shut up and listen.” Generally, employees can express their opinions. There is one requirement, however. They need to supply reasons and evidence. Invoking their racial/sexual/ethnic/class identity, whatever it might be, is not considered a substitute for argument.

    Can you even imagine engaging in this 101 bullshit, day after day? (I know many of you can, because we do it here ad nauseum) “Yeah, PROVE you’re an oppressed class! Give me facts and evidence that shows that gay people/trans* folks/women/people of color are treated like inferiors. Lets argue about your lived experience like we are all brains in a jar and these things don’t hurt real people in real life every fucking day! Treat me, your oppressor, like a fucking special flower who doesn’t have a duty to educate myself and has a right to demand any explanation and endless levels of proof from any oppressed person at any time. IT IS ONLY FAIR. WHY ARE YOU SILENCING ME???”

  73. yazikus says

    They need to supply reasons and evidence. Invoking their racial/sexual/ethnic/class identity, whatever it might be, is not considered a substitute for argument.

    This really brings it back to (for me) the whole, My humanity is not up for debate thing.
    Which is kind of a linchpin in their arguments. They want me to argue for my humanity, without regard to my position in the human race. I’m not down with that.

  74. Onamission5 says

    @81: Or maybe there’s something inherently patriarchial about having middle class cis white guys be the appointed gatekeepers of who gets to say what, how, where, and when.

    Or, the whole phone-and-office thing. Yeah, it’s definitely the phones. :P

    Damn it, why is it too much to ask to get the equivalent of five minutes out of each week to speak without the incessant dominant narrative demanding their due/fee/say/cookie?

  75. Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness says

    Went to the site where Lindsay posted the text of his talk. Have to agree that he did put his foot in his mouth and chewed on it for a half hour. Comments were interesting, at least until I felt queasy. One fellow basically argued for many, many screens that since in the dawn of time women as a society could not have functioned without men (no, he didn’t mean procreation), and because there are still jobs mainly done by men like fishing (he seemed to suggest farming, too, but that one won’t fly), therefore the womenz should not run the show.
    You know, that line of “logic” makes my head hurt.
    Anyhow, the chorus of approval was filled with examples of how MRA types got the message that the womenz were wrong. Again.

    @TomJ

    So it is here with PZ. Here is the crux of Lindsay’s argument: “By the way, with respect to the “Shut up and listen” meme, I hope it’s clear that it’s the “shut up” part that troubles me, not the “listen” part. Listening is good. People do have different life experiences, and many women have had experiences and perspectives from which men can and should learn. But having had certain experiences does not automatically turn one into an authority to whom others must defer. Listen, listen carefully, but where appropriate, question and engage.”

    How can you listen if you don’t shut up?

  76. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But having had certain experiences does not automatically turn one into an authority to whom others must defer. Listen, listen carefully, but where appropriate, question and engage [tell them how them how they should feel].”

    Corrected to MRA speak from apologist speak.

  77. Ichthyic says

    Ron Linday’s latest post is snarky, petty, and unprofessional. I’m really amazed at how deep he’s digging this hole of his.

    I’m not. This kind of thing happens all too often to surprise me at this point.

    …this makes me wonder if there’s something inherently patriarchal about the whole offices-and-phone-numbers setup.

    I don’t wonder about it at all. Dominant male personalities are very good at getting themselves into positions of authority in a society where dominant males are privileged…

    Catch 22.

    Lindsey’s value is as a good case on point, and I personally think PZ did an excellent job of exposing it as such.

    Lindsey will gnash his teeth now in defense, just like what’s his face (shall remain nameless) did after he tried to mansplain why women weren’t more represented in skeptic conferences….

    same exact pattern of behavior.

  78. chigau (違う) says

    “The opposite of talking is not listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.” -Fran Lebowitz

  79. Ichthyic says

    In comments on Lindsay’s post, Melody Hensley indicates her feeling of betrayal:

    “Half of the Slymepit have shown up to support these series of blogs. These are not our supporters or donors. They are harassers and sexists.

    I’m completely embarrassed. I feel betrayed that that my allies are upset and the people that wish me ill will are cheering this on. I wish we could go back in time and delete this PR disaster.”

    Nicely done, Mr. Lindsay. Way to alienate the people you’re supposed to be supporting and inflame the already existing tensions.

    yeah, that sums it up rather well, Sally.

    except for it’s beyond just a PR disaster. Many will now make the decision to never participate in any skeptical conferences ever again, considering that this one was SUPPOSED to be the quintessential place to discuss… the problem that people like Lindsey seem to think doesn’t exist.

    It’s hugely frustrating to see this happen.

    Hopefully the rest of the conference made up for it?

  80. biogeo says

    De-lurking to comment for the first time. I’m at WiS2, and unfortunately I missed the first day of talks, though perhaps I was lucky to miss Ron Lindsay’s after all. I thought “shut up and listen” in this context was just good friendly advice, part of the strategy I’ve always used to learn things from other people.

    To those commenting that they see this as a reason to stay away from organized atheism, or to abandon CfI, I wish you were here. It’s awesome, and I think it would change your mind. It was a great day of talks by some really phenomenal women, and I think a lot of the speakers and panelists have made a very convincing case that while it may be possible to be an atheist and not a feminist, Atheism as a movement is doomed if it is not also feminist. The crowd is something like 60% women, 40% men, which is a really cool shift after last year at the first WiS, which was maybe only 10% men, and when one of the panelists (I’m afraid I forget who) asked “Who here identifies as a feminist?” I didn’t see a single hand stay down. Yes, the secularist movements have a lot of sexist, misogynistic jackasses, but there’s also a lot of men who are so eager to shut up and listen that they spent hundreds of dollars for the privilege of doing so. Don’t let the anti-feminists blind you to that.

  81. Ichthyic says

    It was a great day of talks by some really phenomenal women, and I think a lot of the speakers and panelists have made a very convincing case that while it may be possible to be an atheist and not a feminist, Atheism as a movement is doomed if it is not also feminist.

    good. I hope there will be an ever bigger event next year!

  82. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    I’m going to Dublin for Empowering Women Through Secularism at the end of June. Maybe this is unfair to Michael Nugent – I don’t know the man, but given his clueless attempts at “bridging” the deep rift, I’m apprehensive there might be a similar performance.

  83. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Oh, and a personal commitment. I’m not shy of speaking at conferences (I’ve been to a lot of academic ones), and I’m pretty sure there will be a lot of questions I want to ask and points I want to make in the Q&A sessions following talks. But I’ve just now decided not to put my hand up to do so if I can see a woman waiting to speak whom I have not heard do so at least once during a Q&A session.

  84. Muz says

    Tom J @34
    “These commenters are – unwittingly, I presume – illustrating Lindsay’s point. Some minutes before in his speech he said this: “It’s the approach taken by ideologies such as Marxism. You pull your dogma off the shelf, take out the relevant category or classification, fit it snugly over the person you want to categorize, dismiss, and silence and … poof, you’re done. End of discussion.” He is an old, white, male, misogynist enabling, asshole (or fuckken asshole, lol). Poof, they’re done. End of discussion.”

    Come on. Red baiting doesn’t make this point any better. It’s the habit of the powerful conservative to label things they disagree with Marxist ideoolgy and assert they cannot cut through that as a way of dismissing it. 9 times out of ten (not a real statistic) people waltz on in trying to tell people how it is, feminists disagree firmly, points are re stated over and over. The arguments don’t cut any ice with either side and said visitor wanders off and declares “Well these people just won’t see reason” and gets publicly ‘very concened’ about the tenor of the debate and creeping feminist ideology. That’s the way it generally goes. There are some bits of collateral damage I’d prefer not to see. But in general the tacit insistence is that in order for feminism to appear open and reasonable to these guys it must first concede certain ideas and lines of argument as false and that they were right all along.

    Certain folks have declared themselves the arbiters of what is and isn’t salient and reasonable seeming and are happy to dismiss feminist ideas and feminists for not taking their points on board like they should, then getting upset about being silenced and alienated. The debates are there to be had if they want them. But after a certain point they don’t. They just want the opposition to just accept how right they are and that’s the end of it. They just don’t like being disagreed with and people telling them they might not have this great objective perspective on everything that needs to be respected.
    That’s why ‘shut up and listen’. Just because so many wouldn’t shut up. It was always “That’s fine but…” let me tell you how your entire point of view on the universe is incorrect, and if you don’t accept my version instead I’ll call you an idealogue.

    If you’re inclined to throw up your hands or never want to speak again at the suggestion you might be a bit sexist, then I think the problems lies with your ability to argue for yourself not the unbearable weight of political correctness this often sexist society lets people wield against you. (this is a generic ‘you’, of course). If you want to get down to it, people are “silenced” on the internet all the time in one way or another. Some of them are even gentle white middle class males who meant no harm. The combat is friggen gladiatorial in some places. For some reason, however, when it’s feminists being forthright and aggressive it causes terrible concern in some people. It somehow attains almost magic import as a scary idea that should not be known.
    Lindsay seems to be very much joining in with this silliness, trying to talk feminists out of their awesome unifying force (that they never ascribed themselves). It’s like he’s begging women not to become the terrible mob, lest they destroy the world and please be humanists instead because that’s a word he likes better. (in his response to Watson, I note he is every bit as spirited as anyone else might be. I presume he doesn’t consider himself as trying to silence her).

    I think there’s a few short hands that feminists could work on as far as arguments go. But seriously, if you’re gauging this whole thing on angry comments on Pharyngula or Greta Christina banning people or something (and that’s usually what it is, it seems. Those two things are enough to tear the entire atheist/skeptical web assunder) it’s pretty light weight anyway.

  85. John Morales says

    Nick Gotts,

    But I’ve just now decided not to put my hand up to do so if I can see a woman waiting to speak whom I have not heard do so at least once during a Q&A session.

    Micro-concession as opposed to a micro-aggression.

    (Kudos!)

  86. Rey Fox says

    Dominant male personalities are very good at getting themselves into positions of authority in a society where dominant males are privileged…

    Sorta what I was thinking.

    Kali Dali, are you being serious?

    His Facebook page indicates that the answer is yes. (Also, the fact that he’s logging on via Facebook)

  87. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Rey Fox, lip-service to the 3-comment rule.

    (Plausible deniability!)

  88. says

    “Mangina”, yes. Please, reveal your misogyny some more so it becomes even more obvious who’s on the right side of history here.

    Not to mention, the fraudster Twitter accounts for Ophelia Benson and Center for Inquiry. There’s @center4inquiry, which is the real one, and there’s @centre4inquiry, which is fake and anti-feminist. The account for “Centre 4 Inquiry” appears to be run by the same person who has claimed the womeninsecularism.com domain name.

    I’m curious what the leadership at CFI have to say about this.

    I’m still not sure which linguistic trick they used to make their account look like Ophelia’s, and I don’t really feel like searching for it right now. It’s too irritating.

  89. athyco says

    My comment on Lindsay’s “A Few Examples of ‘Shut Up and Listen’”:

    I contend that you have in this article shifted the focus of the original question.

    Quite a few women and their allies in secular work, like PZ Myers, the only one identified in using this construction, would look at you askance if your argument is that there’s denial of “Shut up and listen” being used; PZ would be the first to point to his own example of using it.

    He would also point to all the things that you have quoted yet not addressed:

    When a member of a marginalized group tells a member of a privileged group that their efforts, no matter how well-meaning, are wrong, there is one reasonable response: Shut up and listen. You might learn something. There is also a terrible response: arguing back. It always makes it worse. It’s not that they are infallible and we are totally stupid. It’s that THEY are the experts and the subject of the discussion.

    The audience for this particular “Shut up and listen” is for a majority group member who is actively making efforts to help a minority group. It’s sharp, but it’s intended to pierce a self-satisfied veil that can fall over the well-meaning doer of good deeds. The person hearing it who’s making the blanket assumption that it’s personality or intent or decency that’s being cut short is in the wrong; it’s the outcome of their actions. If the person hearing it wants to claim working for equality, it’s the work that counts.

    If you witness a traffic accident and an off-duty paramedic is there as well, do you refuse to listen if the paramedic tells you you’re doing something that hurts the patient or impedes the medic’s attempts to stabilize the situation? Do you began defending your actions, arguing you’re sure you’re right because you saw what you’re doing on a documentary or your cousin who’s also a paramedic described almost the same thing?

    That bystander trying to help the paramedic is the one PZ is talking to, and the bystander who shuts up and listens can be a fabulous asset. The one who declaims huffily how rude the medic is—that bystander deserves dismissal as the medic looks for someone who’s willing to put the work first. Yeah, there may be the very rare bystander who can say to a newly certified EMT, “I was once in an accident; my bruising and swelling looked like this. Have you considered flail chest?”

    But as I said earlier, your ignoring of the nuance in the quote you gave is secondary to your changing of the focus of the question you were originally given. You weren’t asked for examples of this linguistic construction being used, you were asked for specific examples of it having the chilling effect of making men active in the field shut up.

    Do you have those examples?

  90. says

    The usual trick that the supposed ‘parody’ accounts exploit is the similarity between a capital I / lower case l, or capital O / numeric 0. However, fraudster is a more accurate description as the trolls running the accounts have attempted to make it difficult to tell the genuine account apart from the fake. This is certainly what was being done sometime ago with some of the accounts trolling Ophelia, which have names like @opheiiabenson or @ophellabenson. It is all extremely inane and ignorant.

    Given that #wiscfi is the hashtag for the conference, it was pretty unwise not to claim the @wiscfi account name.

  91. Ichthyic says

    However, fraudster is a more accurate description as the trolls running the accounts have attempted to make it difficult to tell the genuine account apart from the fake.

    actually, even before the DMCA was passed, you could sue successfully in court for someone tarnishing your brand website with a knockoff that had a name close enough to be confused for it.

    I recall several cases of McDonalds suing people with websites that were even based on family names, and successfully.

    all you have to do is demonstrate it causes harm to your brand. That’s it.

  92. says

    I’m going to Dublin for Empowering Women Through Secularism at the end of June. Maybe this is unfair to Michael Nugent – I don’t know the man, but given his clueless attempts at “bridging” the deep rift, I’m apprehensive there might be a similar performance.

    See you there. And yes, I go there to listen, and show support, and stand up against slymers should that be necessary. I also share your apprehension wrt how it may pan out. We shall see.

  93. carlie says

    That’s why ‘shut up and listen’. Just because so many wouldn’t shut up. It was always “That’s fine but…” let me tell you how your entire point of view on the universe is incorrect, and if you don’t accept my version instead I’ll call you an idealogue.

    I would like to place this comment in a nice display case with an accent light so that everyone notices it.

  94. athyco says

    Ichthyic @104

    hehehe :)

    My first thought was to use pneumothorax, but you did catch me. With my second thought, the meaning of “flail” separate from that injury’s name was one I couldn’t resist.

  95. Suido says

    I don’t get it. I just don’t understand his motives. Even if he had given the best, most heartfelt, empathetic welcoming speech ever, he would still be a man introducing a conference that is supposed to be for and about women. That imagery, of a man giving the opening speech of the conference, is entirely too like he’s giving his blessing or approval for the women to have their little conference, and isn’t that cute.

    No. Just no. If I was in his position, my instinct would have been to say, ‘No, the fact that I’m male means I don’t get to make opening or closing speeches. As CEO of CFI, perhaps I should be mentioned and acknowledged in such speeches, but if we don’t set the right tone by having women make those speeches, what the fucking hell kind of message are we sending?’

    So even if he’d fucking nailed the speech content, I’d still not be impressed that he said it. But what do I know? I’m just a non-CEO dude who doesn’t assume that job titles and responsibilities give inalienable rights to speak whenever and wherever I want.

  96. Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty says

    I’m still trying to understand the, (paraphrase) “I’m not welcoming you because you should already feel welcomed enough and while I’m at it, let me tell you why you’re doing this wrong and why I know so much better than you what you really need and it is to listen to me.” stuff.

    What exactly about the last few years does he think makes women feel welcomed in this community? Has anyone else ever heard of a speaker being so insulting and openly unwelcoming to paying attendees at an event? That was mindbogglingly unprofessional. What a bitter, blinded, ass. He actually told the attendees how they should feel and what they think and showed complete disdain for the entire reason for the conference. What an utter failure.

  97. microraptor says

    actually, even before the DMCA was passed, you could sue successfully in court for someone tarnishing your brand website with a knockoff that had a name close enough to be confused for it.

    I recall several cases of McDonalds suing people with websites that were even based on family names, and successfully.

    all you have to do is demonstrate it causes harm to your brand. That’s it.

    Yeah, but it takes money to take them to court. And an independent blogger probably doesn’t have such a huge surplus of discretionary funds that they can afford to take on all the challengers, especially at the rate such trolls can keep popping up.

  98. says

    One thing you may have noticed already is that I did not give you a formal welcome to Women in Secularism 2. Of course you are welcome here. We’re very happy to have you with us, but this is something you know already, and, although I don’t want to appear ungracious, why take up time to state the obvious, because the reality is we have much work to do, and presumably you came here for substance not rhetoric.

    WHAT THE UNHOLY HELL THAT IS NOT HOW MANNERS WORK.

    I don’t want to come off as one of those conciliatory We Should All Be Civil sort of people, but if you’re going to pull the “now everybody play nice and don’t say nasty things like ‘shut up’” card, you should probably not introduce it with such blatantly and inexcusably piggish manners as skivving off on basic kindergarten shit like saying “please” and “thank you” and “welcome” because you figure people, like, know that already. I wonder if this guy also fails to send thank-you notes when he gets Christmas presents because he figures the senders totally already know he’s thankful. I kind of understand this dude’s cluelessness about the privilege thing because he was raised in a patriarchy, but within this patriarchy, was he also raised in a fucking barn?

    If I were on the board of directors for CFI I would very seriously consider pulling Mr. Lindsay from any position where he needs to interact publicly with other people just for publicly dismissing the need to engage in basic politeness.

    And yeah, notice how explaining why he didn’t feel it necessary to be the tiniest bit polite took several times as many words as it would have to say “Welcome to Women in Secularism 2; we’re so happy to have you all here.”

    There is a time and a place for rudeness. That time and place is when you do wish to deliberately communicate that you don’t really have any respect for someone. If that isn’t what you intend to communicate, manners are your friend.

  99. consciousness razor says

    I wonder if this guy also fails to send thank-you notes when he gets Christmas presents because he figures the senders totally already know he’s thankful.

    Oh, I’m sure he sends them….

    “You’re probably expecting me to thank you for the present, but that’s not my concern and it wouldn’t change the fact that I never had any intention of giving you a present. Instead, I’m writing because we have pressing business to discuss, so I will not belabor the point any further, other than to say again, just to be absolutely clear, that I would like you to understand that you haven’t been thanked. On to business, then. This copy of Non-Alienating Social Interaction for Dummies you sent me has a barely perceptible scratch on the cover. You need it much more than I do, though I’m sure you’re unaware of that given the studies on the Dunning-Kruger effect, so make sure to buy yourself a copy the next time you go to the bookstore. You will be able to thank me for my advice appropriately, once you learn something from it. I suppose my copy may work as kindling despite the scratch, no thanks to you. I’ll keep you informed about my progress.”

  100. Gregory Greenwood says

    Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado @ 56;

    Gregory @ 50–thanks for the longish explanation for why Tom J is dreadfully wrong. I hope he will listen (as he enjoins us to do), but I’ve a feeling that won’t happen…

    It doesn’t seem likely that he will listen, but he did seem to want people to go into greater detail, and now he has another example (of questionable quality and lucidity, but still) of the kind of response he was asking for. It might be that he was making that enquiry in good faith (but then again I am an optimist).

    Looking back, I did spend an awful lot of words to basically say ‘stop waffling on and listen to the women’, which is kind of ironic I suppose.

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

    Ulysses @ 59;

    The comments on Lindsay’s CFI blog post on his talk are full of congratulations to him for an excellent speech. These comments are from a certain group who would not normally be considered WiS supporters. Here’s Reap Paden’s outburst of admiration for Ron…

    When people like Reap Paden are smacking you on the back and telling you what a capital fellow you are, it really is past time that you sat down and took a long, hard look at yourself. That Lindsay seems so unconcerned about the particular type of adoring crowd he is drawing does not cast him in a flattering light.

    Lindsay might benefit from remembering that the company you keep says a lot about you, and when one lies down with slyme…

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

    Ibis3, Let’s burn some bridges @ 66;

    Oh, and tx Gregory. That’s the kind of mansplaining I can get behind. ;-)

    *sarcasm*

    Well, being a manly man of manliness, my peen demands that I help the ladies properly express the ideas that so tax their pink fluffy lady brains, and one must never allow one’s peen to be silenced…

    */sarcasm*

    ;-p

    In all seriousness, it was a little cluleless of me to come to a thread about women’s voices in secularism, and then opine that the most important thing is to stop talking and listen to the women… in the most long-winded fashion possible.

    Sorry about that.

  101. smhll says

    GG, I’m not particularly inclined to flutter my eyelashes at a man this morning, BUT, I thought 50 was an excellent comment.

  102. Ichthyic says

    an independent blogger probably doesn’t have such a huge surplus of discretionary funds

    true, but if it’s a civil case, most lawyers would do it for a cut.

  103. Ichthyic says

    …or if recovering damages is not important, just an injunction, then you can go to small claims court, which costs 50.00 in CA last I checked.

  104. Gregory Greenwood says

    smhll @ 117;

    GG, I’m not particularly inclined to flutter my eyelashes at a man this morning, BUT, I thought 50 was an excellent comment.

    I am glad you liked it. Eyelash fluttering is, of course, entirely optional, but may present a danger to one’s well being if it is combined with operating machinery, walking, or doing pretty much anything active, so I really can’t recommend it. It principally is for this reason that I also have no plans to flutter my eyelashes at any men (or women) this evening (as it is over here in the UK).

    Well, that and the fact that I am not very pleased with a substantial subset of my fellow menz right now. Misogyny (and those that enable it) does not put me in a very flirtatious mood.

    No eyelash fluttering for you, Mr Lindsay…

  105. neuroguy says

    Well… sorry, I’m not convinced. I see where you’re coming from, but I think better arguments need to be made.

    A member of a marginalized group is indeed the authority on how such membership affects him or her. So, in that case, yes I should shut up and listen. However, that person is not the authority on how such membership affects other members of the marginalized group. Why should I accept this person’s experiences as representative, or typical? And why should I believe this person has a special insight as to the experiences of others? I am 100% sure that you agree with this. Because there are many women who say, sexual harassment? Never happened to me, therefore not a problem. These are valid questions and I’m not going to be told to “shut up” merely in virtue of my privilege. There are competing voices among members of marginalized groups and merely saying “shut up and listen” does not tell me who to listen to or believe.

    And when it comes to the issue of what policy measures should be adopted, again that person is the expert as to how such measures would affect him/her. However that person is not the expert as to how such measures affect other members of the marginalized group, and certainly not (unless he/she has the proper training and education) about the legal and other ramifications.

  106. Ichthyic says

    These are valid questions and I’m not going to be told to “shut up” merely in virtue of my privilege. There are competing voices among members of marginalized groups and merely saying “shut up and listen” does not tell me who to listen to or believe.

    what this tells me is that you care less about information, and more about being told what to do by a trusted authority figure.

    swing and miss.

  107. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Why should I accept this person’s experiences as representative, or typical? And why should I believe this person has a special insight as to the experiences of others? I am 100% sure that you agree with this.

    Why should your OPINION of he they should feel be of use to them. Nobody says you have to believe everything you are told. You just don’t tell them how they must feel. This isn’t rocket science, just good listening and empathy.

  108. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Dang, offering to Tpyos # 123. Should read “Why should your OPINION of how they….”

  109. says

    There is an irony in Lindsay’s claim that men are being silenced, and then using a common silencing technique in order to escape women like Watson’s criticism. He is digging in, and claiming that Watson lives in an alternate universe. There is an entire social history of shushing women’s reactions to rude or even abusive behavior by referring to stereotypes of women as incorrectly perceiving reality.(search the history of the word hysteria) A common example would be to insult a woman’s weight, and the claim the woman’s reaction to the rude behavior is because she is on her period. The person who instigated the problem puts the entire responsibility for the woman being upset on the woman. This manipulation has a name it is called gaslighting. I just learned it had a name this week, and I posted a blog about it because I think it is useful for women to be able to spot this behavior and name it. It may help to shift the responsibility for rude or abusive behavior back to the perpetrator. In the end that would be a more useful discussion than whether a woman is wrong about her criticism or emotional reaction because she lives in an “alternative” reality.

  110. Ichthyic says

    He is digging in, and claiming that Watson lives in an alternate universe.

    amazing that he decided this was appropriate for the front page of the CFI website, right under the banner promoting the conference where Watson was a speaker.

    knee jerk defensiveness causing massive publicity problems. Not the first time I’ve seen a CEO pull that stunt, but it rarely ends well.

  111. Ichthyic says

    This manipulation has a name it is called gaslighting

    I can see why it is used as a description, but in the original, it was a conscious and intentional attempt at psychological manipulation of the subject, not the audience.

    I rather would have used the idea that Lindsay was simply engaging in the type of logical fallacy commonly referred to as ad hominem, in this case, most closely resembling well poisoning.

    …but to see the CEO of CFI engage in ANY type of ad hom attack is just… unacceptable. Let alone try it as an official representative using official media.

  112. says

    I meant his response to Watson’s criticism of his behavior is that she lives in an alternate reality. He didn’t address the criticism he put it off on Watson’s supposed inability to perceive the correct reality.

  113. says

    We see commonly see gaslighting in the freethought movement whenever women speak up about something that is wrong. Remember that whole hysteria thing in response to harassment policies and the fainting couch brigade?

  114. mildlymagnificent says

    Let alone try it as an official representative using official media.

    That’s the bit that sticks in my craw. It’s absolutely true that he’s an individual who can express an opinion. But, here and now, he’s _not_ speaking merely as an individual. He’s speaking in his role as a leading figure in an organisation. And that requires watching your words carefully – in fact, getting someone else in the organisation to “watch” the words you plan to say is a very good idea.

  115. Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters says

    I would argue that the gaslighting was directed towards not just Watson, but everyone who was put off by his original speech. I remember hearing the privilege shut up discussion and thinking “is he really saying that? Surely not, how else could I interpret this?”, which is how I came up with the Steve Biko separate groups idea. But no, it appears that Lindsay really meant that women should stop asking for space to speak.

    Basically I spent hundreds of dollars for Mr. Lindsay to gaslight me.

  116. carlie says

    A member of a marginalized group is indeed the authority on how such membership affects him or her. So, in that case, yes I should shut up and listen. However, that person is not the authority on how such membership affects other members of the marginalized group. Why should I accept this person’s experiences as representative, or typical?

    It’s a lot more likely to be closer to what is representative or typical than the experiences of a person who is not a member of that group, and it’s sure as hell going to be a lot closer to the typical experience than a person who is not a member of that group who has never put in even the smallest effort to study the experiences of that group. That is the point being made here. It would be one thing if the comparison being made was member of marginalized group to person who is not in that group but did their doctoral dissertation on the experiences of that group. But that’s not the case, and it never is. The comparison is member of marginalized group to person who has never even thought about how people in that group are treated, but who decides after thinking a few minutes that they have an opinion and that opinion ought to be treated with respect because they’re used to being listened to.

  117. Anri says

    neuroguy:

    Why should I accept this person’s experiences as representative, or typical? And why should I believe this person has a special insight as to the experiences of others?

    Shutting up and listening is the first, utterly vitial step, in having these questions answered.

    …unless, of course, you weren’t actually asking the questions to have them answered…

  118. Louis says

    Speaking as a man, mfff mfff mfffff mff…….mffff?

    MFFF MFFFF MFFFF!!??!?!?!

    Louis

    P.S. Sorry, had to do it.