When Gender Goes Pear-Shaped

Guest Post by Sharon Moss, President of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio with Lyz Liddell, Director of Campus Organizing at the Secular Student Alliance

These are the views of individuals and do not represent the views of the Secular Student Alliance or the Humanist Community of Central Ohio.

If the freethought community doesn’t have a problem with sexism, why did I just spend 20 minutes in the bathroom consoling a woman who was publicly insulted when she asked the panel a question about sexism in freethought communities? Note to dudes, it doesn’t matter if it is sexism or biology, if you’re making people who come to your group uncomfortable, you’re doing it wrong. — Facebook status, Sharon Moss, 1/30/11

I’m not one to post snarky facebook status updates. I generally view snarky facebook statuses as the realm of the powerless. And, damn, did I feel powerless.

Last weekend Lyz and I were at American Atheists’ Southeast Regional Atheist Meet in Huntsville, Alabama. This is the first regional conference America Atheists organized and the over the two prior days, it sold out with 200 atheists from as far away as North Carolina and Ohio. At a rough visual estimate, probably 30% of the attendees were women. When David Silverman polled the audience on Sunday afternoon, for about half of those in attendance, this was their first atheist conference of any kind. Clearly, American Atheists is on to something.Sunday morning’s first session was an “Attendees’ Choice” panel discussion, featuring five local group leaders. Attendees were asked to submit written questions ahead of time, and the most frequently asked questions were asked of this panel.

A panel of five guys and one woman discussed what an atheist group should do to attract more women. The all-too-common problem came up of a woman showing up to a meeting and every dude there hitting on her. First, the panelists grabbed a theme that had been floating around all weekend: that men hitting on women is just biological (therefore excusable), making it sound like a woman in that kind of situation should just STFU and get over it.

Then the moderator asked the women in the audience, as if it were a rewording of the same question, whether they would feel harassed or flattered if they showed up to an event and a few guys started flirting with them. We women in the audience, pressured to respond to the question at hand but feeling duped because we knew it wasn’t the same thing, gave an honest response. Sure, a few guys flirting with us is sexy. BUT!!! (we all screamed in our heads, even though the panel never let us say it out loud) 20 guys our father’s age blatantly staring at and talking to our cleavage is a totally different situation! It’s not sexy, it’s gross and creepy.

It was extremely frustrating. So I wasn’t surprised when the young woman who finally stood up and started challenging the panel snapped. First, despite her having her hand raised for most of the discussion, the panel never even acknowledged her or invited her opinion (despite soliciting the opinion of several guys both on and off the panel. Finally, she just stood up and started shouting to make her voice heard. Her question focused on the language the panel had been using – “female” instead of “woman,” and pointed out that it made us sound like livestock rather than people.

But did the panel address the question, perhaps looking for the point at which the discussion took on the word “female” so universally? Did they take the opportunity to discuss how things like language can make a group uncomfortable for women, and what we could do to make it better? No! The woman asking the question was viciously torn apart and ridiculed for even bringing it up. First, a combination of panelists and audience members tried to defend themselves by saying that feminists won’t let men use the word “women” off-limits because it has “men” in it. Then a commotion of everyone talking at once, which was cut off by one panelist’s definitive comment: “What do you want us to say, ‘the weaker sex?”

She got upset (and who wouldn’t be?) and left the room. I – a member of the audience, not one of the event organizers – went after her. While there were a few odd calls from the audience for the panelist to apologize, the moderator sort of awkwardly pushed the discussion on to a new topic, with an embarrassed air of “Sorry for the disturbance.” No apology, no discussing a better way it could have been handled. Not even a joking “This is how *not* to be welcoming” comment. Just “nothing to see here, move along.”

This wasn’t an isolated incident. In fact, almost the entire conference had a bizarre quality to it when it came to gender issues. If I had to point to when it started, I think it would have to have been in Sean Faircloth’s Saturday talk. This talk began well enough: a strong feminist position, an excoriation of Victorian moralist Anthony Comstock, mention of several areas in which the law imposes on women’s rights. But then it got weirdly uncomfortable. First, came the proposal of a new motto: “What Would Don Draper Do?” (Don Draper is your role model, seriously?)

Sean’s transition hinted strongly that men also face gender discrimination, which had huge potential to be really interesting (wow, a chance to talk about our society’s constraining, conflicting roles for men! *insert Greta fangirl here*).

[Jen’s note: I’ve temporarily removed the section on the “Million Dollar Challenge” since there seems to be a lot of debate over whether it was depicted fairly. The Alabama Atheists are uploading the video of Sean’s talk to make this situation clear. While I wouldn’t let Sharon and Lyz do a guest post unless I trusted their judgement, I also don’t want to misrepresent Sean Faircloth, so I’m waiting until I’ve seen the video.]

From there, the conversation wandered into a weird discussion about how men’s biology drives them to frequently (if not constantly) pursue sex, and since it’s biology, no one should get upset at, judge, or think less of men for any skirt-chasing they might engage in. (Because we never intellectually overcome our animal instincts in other areas of our biology, right?) The attitude in the room shifted: suddenly women were the bad guys for saying no to men’s propositions because it denies the men’s innate biology. Most of the guys in the room loved it, but as a woman in the audience – it was really uncomfortable. It was demeaning, frustrating, and not what you want to say to attract more women into this movement. And the attitude stuck around.

All these people got presented with a totally skewed perspective on our movement’s views on gender equality and sexuality. The message was loud and clear: it’s totally ok for guys to be assholes. Women should just STFU when men treat them like sex objects. The appropriate way to solve the problem of gender imbalance is to ask a bunch of guys about it (oh, and the entire problem is just because women won’t let men have sex with them whenever they want to). The way to handle women’s input is to ridicule them.

But there’s an even bigger problem here. Situations like this drive wedges between otherwise natural allies in our movement. That young woman is on our side – she came to this event at the cost of her time and money to get involved – and she was driven away. So are thousands of women across the country – for no other reason than because this movement can’t seem to figure out how to treat them like equal humans.

Why don’t we see more women in our groups? Maybe because when Jen McCreight showed up to an atheist meeting, guys in the group stood around comparing her to her photos from Boobquake. Why don’t we see more young people? Maybe because when a new parent shows up to a group event, other members make rude comments to her face about how her child is disrupting the meeting. Why are we so overwhelmingly Caucasian? Maybe because a black person shows up and hears a bunch of racial jokes.

We need to have these conversations, but there’s no reason to drive away people who are *on our side* by having them in completely the wrong way.

American Atheists created a real opportunity for members of local groups to come together, share ideas, get leadership training, and go home ready to take over the world. For many issues– activism, law, supporting campus groups, the future of the atheist movement– they were incredibly successful. I’ve been doing this for 10 years and I haven’t seen this kind of enthusiasm for the grassroots outside the college level. Ever. But there is always room for improvement. We lost a real opportunity for local leaders to share their experiences, successes and failures. Creating a more inclusive movement needs to be a priority at both the national and local levels.

From my own experience as the former president of Students for Freethought at Ohio State and as the current president of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio and from talking to other local leaders, the grassroots gets it. We want to be more inclusive and we’re taking the steps to get there.

Here’s what I’ve learned, both from my own experience and from talking to other local leaders. These suggestions aren’t just about being more accessible to anyone who isn’t a middle aged white man. Some of these are just good practices for running a group. Turns out running a more professional (wrong word) group brings in more people of all kinds.

  • Be a leader. Take responsibility for the tone of your group. If potential new members are being made to feel uncomfortable and aren’t coming back, you’re doing it wrong. As a leader, it is your job to prioritize the comfort of your attendees in programs, group dynamics, and communications. Try to put yourself in other members’ shoes and also ask for feedback.
  • Promote a sense of community. Take the time to socialize and get to know each other. If you’re group isn’t primarily a social group, thinking about adding some social time. Go to breakfast before the protest, compose your letters to the editor over coffee, or grab a pizza and beer after that lecture. When you know each other, you have each others backs. Being a jerk isn’t tolerated.
  • Moderate discussions. Make sure everyone has the opportunity to participate- new people, quiet people, etc. Don’t let conversation be dominated by one or two people who must “win.”
  • Embrace and accept different ways of communicating. Whether someone is an aggressive debater or not, make sure they’re still welcome. The other atheist in the room isn’t your enemy.
  • Encourage subgroups. Every event your group hosts doesn’t need to appeal to your entire membership. Many women appreciate women-only space to express their nonbelief and to connect with other atheist women. Here at the Humanist Community of Central Ohio, we started a subgroup book club called Reasonable Women. When it grew to have about 25 regular members and was beginning to be a little too large and unwieldy to function as a book club, we created a second group, Heathen Chicks, which is just a social group that meets at a local cafe. It isn’t just about creating women only space, for us, this has been a way to draw more women into other events our group hosts.
  • Foster women in leadership. Groups with women in leadership positions tend to have more women. Encourage women in your group to be visible in leadership.

Our movement is growing faster than ever, and we have more opportunities for growth and expansion than we have ever seen before. While hiccups like this can be frustrating, they’re also a great chance for us to make our groups, communities and movements even stronger. We encourage you to take a look at your group and see if there are ways you can reach out to women, younger adults, minorities, or other groups.


  1. Skeptiheidi says

    Gross. Just gross. I have no witty insight, no advice, no helpful comments at this moment in time.Just anger, frustration, and weariness.

  2. Ian says

    Thank you for this great guest post. I hope Jen will post more and that more women atheist leaders will continue to speak up.

  3. Charlie Kilian says

    To the men of the skeptical movement who would assert that we are trapped by our biology: Talk about a double standard. If we’re trapped by our biology, why even bother trying to practice skepticism? We accept that we should overcome our entirely natural tendencies to form quick — often incorrect — cause and effect (such as “our people are sinners, which is the cause of our recent drought”). So why is it so hard to accept that we should not be slaves to our biology when it comes to sex drive?Which is to say, that’s a bad argument regardless of whether men actually *are* slaves to our sex drive more than women are. Which I highly doubt.

  4. asonge says

    This seems like such a caricature of bad behavior, I have a hard time believing that this happened. I run a local group, and just under half our membership is women…and I just don’t see any of these overtones at all, but I can easily see where it can come from. This could be because a co-founder is a strong feminist who would’ve brow-beaten anyone who made any such absurd comments. We talk about issues with race and women a lot (we are in the South, after all) and everyone seems to be very comfortable with the topics. Only thing I remember is once a guy joked about a girl being a slut (obviously in a derogatory sense) and everyone brought the ridicule down on his antiquated double standards.Is this just a relic with the older and more established groups? It’s obviously a given that these people are assholes, but I know many assholes who aren’t so ignorant.Also, the sheer logic of indulging every biological drive justifying subjugating women is insane. Maybe somebody should’ve obeyed their immediate biological need to shit on top of the panel’s table in a show of dominance.This post has me angry (not a bad thing). Thanks for posting this. Sunshine can be a good disinfectant, but sometimes we need to bring out the roach spray.

  5. JRB says

    “But then he issued the million dollar challenge. The men in the room were encouraged to actively look around and find a woman they would want to boff. (In the challenge, a man who could hypothetically boff said woman that night would win a million dollars.) “…is there any more context for this… because… wow… just…wow… if this is an accurate paraphrasing of what was said, then… wow… it… sorry, I cannot think of the words to describe the pure wrong of this.

  6. Don says

    I would add, “Provide child care at meetings.” If we expect mothers of young children to participate, they have to know they aren’t going to be kid-wrangling for the whole conference. Letting the kids wreck the conference for the people who didn’t bring children, is not an acceptable alternative, and the mothers will be both kid-wrangling AND unwelcome.Something I’ve had experience with is an organization that required the national leadership to be 50% women. The result was a mixed bag. The clear message being sent was that women were taken seriously as leaders at the highest level. On the other hand, I heard numerous complaints from women—who were still in the minority of total membership—that they felt pressured to stand for leadership posts because they were women.

  7. Mike Hare says

    I am so tired of this! No, not the topic, men behaving badly and then making it worse by defending it. I am 65 and come of age in a matriarchal household. Father left early and I grew up with sister, mother and grandmother. After the Air Force I lived with my wife and then 2 daughters. Now, hearing what crap my adult daughter put up with from the men at work and complete strangers, it just makes me angry..

  8. asonge says

    I’ll glom on to this a little: we need to call these people out for not being skeptical about their attitudes at all. Even if I were more of a bigot than I think I am, I’d be skeptical of any evidence that confirms my hypothesis neatly. There are so many biases that are possible (indeed they seem to be there) that you shouldn’t ignore anyone speaking out on how they feel they are being treated.

  9. Barbara_K says

    What was the point of the million dollar challenge? Was there one? What purpose was there in putting all of the women there in that position, as objects to be assessed as possible sexual partners, that’s terrible. After all of that I would have walked out, never to return.

  10. Ethan says

    This is outrageous. American Atheists should publically apologize for this and refund the admission fees for people who were offended. What a shameful display by the speakers and panelists.

  11. says

    I’m disgusted by this, and I have to agree with asonge – I’ve never come across such attitudes in the groups I’m part of, but then again, my groups tend to be filled with younger people with an equal gender ratio. I think it’s probably either an age/group-age thing or simply stochasticity that brought all the assholes together. Doesn’t make it acceptable though. Gah.

  12. says

    Shitting on the table would be too much, but I was thinking of something we could really do. People on panels usually have water, don’t they? Next time a guy on a panel talks about biology, someone should stand up and grab his water and drink it. Thirst is an even bigger drive than sex. To any brave people reading this, be on the lookout for this opportunity.

  13. says

    Grargh… what makes me the most grumpy about all of these incidents is not that they make the mistakes/fall in to the trap in the first place but that when someone points out that they have they don’t even just back peddle they try to justify it as not a mistake at all.This doesn’t just happen with sexism… it happens with everything… Most people are too afraid of being wrong to admit to being wrong when they actually are. The ironic thing with this group of people is that I’m sure they encounter this sort of attitude from many a religious person about their atheism. Grow up. Learn to accept mistakes and learn from them rather than pathologically justifying that they really weren’t mistakes to begin with to make yourself feel better…. you will look (and act) a lot more intelligent if you do and gain much more respect from people around you. A person confident enough to say that they made a mistake and move forward from it gains more respect than someone who hides behind “it is just because of my biology that I made you uncomfortable, not because I didn’t think about it before I did/said it”And I’m sure it hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice that huge heaps of examples of this self-gratifying justification of mistakes in behaviour where related to sexism are available just a few posts down about Jen talking about her experience of being on the internet while female.

  14. says

    Terrible. What is the alternative? Putting together a facemash for atheist dudes? Unfortunately, I feel like that would be like choosing the lesser of two skeezeballs.

  15. John Small Berries says

    I’d like to add, in the absence of conference-provided child care, why should we expect mothers of young children to be the full-time child-wranglers if they wish to participate?I find it hard to believe that every woman with a child who might wish to participate at an atheist or skeptic conference has no husband or significant other with whom to share child-wrangling duties, no family who could watch the child while she is at the conference, and no access to babysitters.

  16. says

    I like this. While I personally have not encountered much sexism in the atheist/skeptic movement, I’ve heard the argument from biology in many other forms. Natural sex in the homophobic community. What is ‘natural’ and who cares? Humans have come to a place in our evolution where we can decide to do something different than our biology may suggest… Thanks to the power of conscious thought.And to assume that women don’t like sex is faulty, as you suggest. I also agree with that. :)

  17. leanne says

    just one more reason i’m terrified to attend an atheist event. [the main one being i’m not much of an extrovert]

  18. says

    I wonder, if I had been at this meeting and things had played out as described, would I have been justified in expressing my male biological impulse to punch assholes in the face? Would the people making those claims about males being slaves to their urges have simply wiped the blood off their faces and respected my natural behavioral tendencies?

  19. says

    No doubt most men are half-past chimp when around women, but I’m guessing this isn’t why more women aren’t in the atheist movement. The churches are over-flowing with milk-soaked bra pads and we “know” the church isn’t pro-woman.

  20. says

    I’ve heard the “Million Dollar Challenge” before, but the way I heard it phrased was, (to the guys), “Okay, let’s say you would get one million dollars if you could sleep with a woman here before midnight tonight. How many of you think you could do it?” (Check hands raised) Then to the women, “Okay, let’s say you would get one million dollars if you could sleep with a guy here before midnight tonight. How many of you think you could do it?” (Check hands raised) I guess it was supposed to demonstrate that women tend to be the “gatekeepers” of sex, since guys are more likely to bang anything with a pulse.Of course, I have no idea how it was used at the American Atheist Conference– probably not appropriately, if there even is a case where the Million Dollar Challenge could be used appropriately. I can’t think of one… it’s a degrading exercise for everybody involved.Frankly, any time someone even insinuates “well, it’s okay for men to be pigs because it’s their biology” I’m reminded of those Islamic clerics who say “Well, women have to wear a burka, and if they don’t, it’s their fault if they get raped, because that’s just how men are. You don’t blame the cat for eating the meat that gets left out, do you?” It’s incredibly insulting, to both genders, and if that’s how the discussion at the conference went, then… just wow.

  21. Add says

    Geeze, for someone so hyper critical of any gender offense you sure seem eager to write off older men as disgusting creeps. Agist! Men shouldn’t be ashamed to approach women they are interested in. No, it does not mean women have to oblige and can’t indicate they aren’t interested, but the male bashing in this post is ridiculous.

  22. says

    “20 guys our father’s age blatantly staring at and talking to our cleavage is a totally different situation!”Sorry, but the ageism made me a bit sick. It sounds like you’re saying that flirting is great, as long it’s someone you might actually find attractive… otherwise “OMG-stop-treating-me-like-an-object”! The only thing I can agree with is this: there are repectful and disrespectful ways of hitting on someone. The disrespectful ways are not cool, and guys who do that are stupid assholes. BUT!There is nothing wrong with wanting to have sex with me, and there’s nothing wrong with hitting on me, provided you don’t do it like an asshole. (And yes, continuously talking to my cleavage is an asshole move) And it doesn’t matter whether it’s “biologically normal” or not, that’s not the point! In fact, it’s a strawman. The question is whether there is anything morally *wrong* with this behavior, and whether men should need to control themselves and avoid it — and honestly, I don’t think so!I have an analogy: suppose someone says that it annoys her how people always try to become her friend. She doesn’t need any more friends, she’s not interested, she just came to the conference to discuss atheism/biology/webcomics — but for some reason people just insist on talking with her, and end up sharing personal things, inviting her to board game nights with their friends, ugh!.. So sick of that! What is wrong with people, can’t everyone just leave her at peace?If someone said that, we would call her crazy (among other things). And the reason for that is that there is nothing wrong in friendship, and pursuing friendship — again, provided that you’re not being an asshole. There is nothing wrong with it even if the person is not interested (as long as you can take a “no” for an answer).Saying that men should hide (or downplay) their sincere affection for women that they meet at atheist venues… I just can’t agree with it, because a) I want to hit on people and I don’t want to be sexist and say “Oh, women can hit on guys, but not the other way around” b) I want people to hit on me (especially at venues where the probability to find someone intelligent and like minded is 10 times the normal one…).I’ll admit one thing: if it turns out that the vast majority of women would indeed prefer that men refrained from hitting on them, I will yield (begrudgingly). But I would do the same if the hypothetical “friendship-freaked” girl represented the vast majority…

  23. Todd says

    “20 guys our father’s age blatantly staring at and talking to our cleavage is a totally different situation! It’s not sexy, it’s gross and creepy.”First, that’s a very ageist statement. As you get older you will learn that humans don’t become asexual just because they reach middle-age. Even though you see them as gross old men, that doesn’t mean they see themselves that way.Second, maybe in that setting it would be best to not display any cleavage.I’m actually very sympathetic with the problems that women might have feeling comfortable at atheist gatherings, but the points of the above statement seem to be, “It’s only nice for attractive men to show their attraction to me” and “I can display my sexuality, but DON’T YOU DARE NOTICE IT!”

  24. Sfaircloth says

    There have now been many people posting here who did not hear my speech but have a false impression of it. The speech was a STRONGLY feminist talk. Women came up to me after and praised the strong feminist message. Those women are not heard here. The short portion of the speech that mentions the million dollar challenge comes from a woman PHD in the psychology of evolution. I would have appreciated a call to discuss this before it was posted.

  25. WhatPaleBlueDot says

    But we don’t get to say that God will love you more if you go to the conferences. And, frankly, this shouldn’t be about whether we’re attracting women members, but whether we’re being represented–and abused–by sexist buffoons. This is about whether atheist groups are actually behaving better than the religious they claim to be superior to. This is about whether we are properly questioning biological determinism, which is a plague.

  26. says

    Hello from far away Australia. This discussion reminds me of the next big thing that “atheism” needs to tackle as it makes its way into a solid set of ideas. What is to be the nature of ethics post-religion ? Does atheism have a need to organise a morality outside of or alternative to religions? Yes, people should be “good”. This is subject to enormous disagreement, as per thousands of years of internecine wars etc. If atheism is to compete with the established religions, on what basis do we argue behaviour that is “ethical” “moral” and “good” without the baggage of religious nonsense? This maybe a new topic, sorry if it complicates this discussion. Forget I spoke!

  27. says

    What the hell were you thinking when you asked the man to do this?”The men in the room were encouraged to actively look around and find a woman they would want to boff.”If this account is correct you should stop making excuses and apologize immediately.

  28. Dread Meeting You Again says

    Mr. Faircloth, you’re a total skeeze in person. I’ve seen how you behave around women.

  29. Barbara_K says

    Apparently not everyone came away with the impression that it was a strongly feminist talk. I’d like to know how this million dollar challenge was phrased – was it introduced into the talk the way it was described, by inviting men to look around at the women and assess whether or not they’d be able to have sex with any of them? If so, I’d really recommend that you not do that in the future, that’s an approach that is bound to make people uncomfortable, and I don’t care what the gender or credentials are of the person who came up with it. As I said above, if I was put in that position I would leave and never give that organization another second of my time. Keep in mind that just because it met with the approval of some women it doesn’t automatically follow that it’s ok to ignore all of those who might have disapproved or been uncomfortable.If the talk has been entirely misrepresented here then that would be nice to know. If you have a recording of it I urge you to share it.

  30. plublesnork says

    Do you seriously think that a mother who attends such an event and brings her child along is doing so because she wants to have the child there? I’d be extremely confident that if they could have someone else look after their kid while they go to such a meeting that they absolutely would do so.As for babysitters, I’m sure they all have access to those, but to assume they have access to the money to pay for said babysitter, that’s privileged horseshit.There’s also a lot of single mothers out there. I’d much rather be inclusive by catering for their needs where possible, rather than silently judging them through my inaction.

  31. Azkyroth says

    I thought that part was a refreshing break from the “young males == dumb jerks” meme, personally. (To say nothing of the misnomer of “socially inept” for people who just don’t give a shit, other than optional perverse amusement, what effect their actions have on the emotional state of “people who don’t matter,” which not only is insulting to those of us who actually struggle with social interaction but impedes understanding by codifying a faulty interpretation of the motives for a behavior. I notice it’s been a while since Jen did that, though, and I appreciate it ^.^)But, like, did you read ANYTHING ELSE IN THE POST?Dumbass.

  32. Azkyroth says

    You can notice without staring.Also, while I think there’s probably some truth to the charge of “ageism” and/or the charge of subconsciously devaluing the sexuality of people “we” don’t find attractive, I don’t think it’s inherently misguided to suggest that people should seek sexual interactions with their peers, and/or (given the history of attitudes and gender dynamics) to be suspicious of, and/or unenthusiastic about, some of the possible reasons older males might gravitate towards younger females.

  33. Marywuderwood says

    Unfortunately, women that are involved in traditional faith systems, especially the more conservative and fundamentalist faiths, do not generally expect equality. It was generally never offered and/or promised by these groups. I think most aetheist woman have actively chosen not to be a part of these institutions, probably in part because of the acceptance of inequality inherent in them. I don’t think they are going to be as willing to tolerate sexism and inequality.And, I’m really hoping your “overflowing with milk-soaked bra pads” wasn’t slam against motherhood or breast-feeding!!

  34. Azkyroth says

    Keep in mind that just because it met with the approval of some women it doesn’t automatically follow that it’s ok to ignore all of those who might have disapproved or been uncomfortable.

    Hell, it doesn’t even mean those women weren’t uncomfortable; it may just mean they’ve figured out it’s more socially rewarding, in the short term, to swallow their discomfort and support the status quo (one of the major reasons so many women are seen upholding overtly patriarchal religious institutions and traditions like FGM in Africa), or, less cynically, that they’ve been trained by the society they grew up in to not “rock the boat” and especially to avoid overtly challenging male authority or even making it uncomfortable. I’ve met a disturbing number of women who are so eager to not be tarred with the stigma that attaches to feminism from traditionalists that they can’t denounce and trivialize it fast enough (much like Mooney and other Invertabratheists with their fratricidal tone-trolling).

  35. says

    EDITI got very, very angry when reading Ola’s post, and continued getting everm angrier when writing this reply.I do still think hit that I hit some very good points in my response. But all the same I still descended into hyperbole and ad-hominem. This was very wrong of me – and for that I unreservedly apologize./EDITIs this a poe? A troll? A troll-poe?I’m running on the assumption that you’re serious here… But please, fuck, let me be wrong. Let that be a tasteless joke – it’d be easier to swallow.There is an entire world of difference between casual, witty flirtation and overt ogling. The first is non-threatening and fun, and can be opted-out of with a few strong hints.The second is sexual harassment.Is this really so hard a concept?Put it another way:I’ve been hit on by gay guys a few times. They walk up, chat, maybe try to get me to dance (I don’t dance). They establish I’m straight and not interested, give a wistful smile, and move on. Some of them are even really good looking themselves, which is flattering. And making my female friends green with envy is always good for a laugh.But at Uni I once met this really, really, really creepy bisexual dude who wouldn’t keep the fuck out of my personal space. Constant leering, crude failures at double-entendres for what was on his mind, and frequent ‘accidental’ touching.How the fuck women put up with this nonsense used to confuse the hell out of me. But since then I’ve learned something else: They don’t have a choice.I always had the option (never used it) of punching creepy gay dude in the face. Firstly, I’m a male and we had a similar approximate level of strength. More importantly, I’d probably have got away with it. While I may not approve of heterosexual privileged, it nonetheless exists. I could have knocked the prick out and (unjustly) got away with it scott-free.A woman doesn’t have that option for both reasons. Firstly, a woman has to work far harder than a man to maintain the same level of physical strength. A woman who trains as hard at fighting as me (none at all) would be very lucky to take me down in a fight.But secondly, a woman who lashes out violently at a man can be branded and punished in all sorts of ways – and I’m probably not even aware of most of them. Social ostracization springs to mind, snarky comments about Lorena Bobbit and Bitches be Crazy, that kind of thing. And worse that I can’t think of right now, I’m sure.So no. A woman can’t respond with violence.But hey – our hypothetical woman can at least stand up and complain, can’t she?Well, actually, no. It turns out she fucking can’t.Sharon Moss just did that. She stood up and complained.And you had the small-minded short-sighted arrogant fucking gall to mansplain down to her about how when she’s being sexually harassed by creepy older men its her problem because she doesn’t understand that harassment is really just a form of affection. And worst of all, that men shouldn’t be held responsible for restraining their affection even when a woman points out that it’s making her completely and utterly uncomfortable.On top of that, you accuse her of ageism.You disgusting little troll.Please, please, please: Let me be wrong. Come back and tell me to cool down, chillax, it’s all a joke, I was yanking your chain.I’d rather stomach the embarrassment of overreacting to an internet troll than the bitter taste that drivel you posted has left in my stomach.This is why women put up with male bullshit: They don’t have a fucking option.Grr.

  36. Barbara_K says

    That is another possibility, thank you for bringing that up. I’ve been guilty of that behavior myself, but now consciously avoid it after having realized that for the sake of belonging or being taken seriously I was betraying myself, and other women, as well as insulting all of the men who would prefer hearing the truth over just having their egos flattered.

  37. Todd says

    I would need more of a definition of “staring.” If someone is actually looking at a woman’s cleavage for more than a second or maybe two, then I would agree that it’s inappropriate in that setting. However, given the tone of the rest of the statement, I have to wonder if a “stare” is sometimes just an unwelcome, but noticed, glimpse.

  38. says

    Older men staring at a women’s breasts while talking to her is CREEPY, yes. Nothing in her post grouped all older men into one generalization. Like Azkyroth said, did you even read a damn word in the above post?

  39. says

    Maybe I would be freaked out if creepy older women kept on overtly staring at my crotch and ass and making crude entendres at me.However: It’s never happened to me.Which isn’t to say it *never* happens, but still.It’s never happened to me.How many women can make the same claim?

  40. Praedico says

    I… I just… this is… I mean… GAH!Sigh…I tried to come up with a constructive comment, I really did. But after typing, retyping and typing again for at least half an hour, all I have is a barely coherent rant, punctuated with phrases like “social skills of a demented cabbage”, and profanity-laden exhortations for men to stop acting like biological imperative to mate gives us the right to treat all women like masturbatory aids.Unfortunately, it did a poor job conveying the shame, embarrassment and downright rage I feel towards my gender right now.Oh, FSM, now I’ve gone and read the comments that appeared since I first read the post. The phrase “blind, seething rage” seems insufficient to describe my current state.

  41. says

    What the hell is it with all these claims of ageism/agism? The whole point was OGLING HER BREASTS and treating her like an OBJECT. It had nothing to do with agism. You people need to get over yourselves. And yes, I said “you people”.

  42. Todd says

    By mentioning their age she implied that it wouldn’t have been so creepy if they had been younger.

  43. Todd says

    If she had mentioned their race, rather than their age, would it not have been racist?She mentioned age because she thought it was relevant to that situation. That’s why it’s an ageist statement.

  44. says

    I don’t think that’s neccesarily what she implied. To my reading, she was relating her experience of being hit on by creepy men who happened to be older. The implication I got from this is that her history of being harassed by creepy men is such that older men were disproportionately represented in the sample compared to the base population.However:Getting hit on by someone significantly older is creepier than getting hit on by someone your own age. It has this whole Odepial thing to it. Ick.That’s not to suggest that charming old rogues don’t exist – because they do. But they ain’t exactly in the majority.(Edited this post after Todd’s first reply: I corrected ‘minority’ in the final sentence to correctly read ‘majority’ – silly me)

  45. says

    Okay, no real chance to be witty with this one. It’s insane.Now, I know that I get things wrong in this sort of issue sometimes; I expect everyone does, sometimes, with any given discrimination issue. However, the most important thing I can say to other guys about this sort of thing – just try to imagine what it’s like for the women, okay? Try to empathise. Sure, you might like it (or imagine you would) if loads of women started really obviously checking you out – but has it ever happened? My guess is that most guys wouldn’t like it, especially when it keeps happening in situations where you want to relax and enjoy yourself.And how about someone said “oh, sorry about clubbing you over the head because your car is better – it’s connected to evolved behaviours!”? That seem reasonable?If I’d been in a situation like that, I’d’ve kicked up a stink until I was forced to leave, because it’s just so stupid and wrong. Idiots.

  46. Todd says

    If that’s the case, then she should have left their age out of it. However, I doubt that was the case.

  47. says

    There’s an awful lot of scholarly work on ethics that either makes no appeal to religion, or stands up fine without any claims the author made in that regard. A lot of it is very old.

  48. Todd says

    “Getting hit on by someone significantly older is creepier than getting hit on by someone your own age. It has this whole Odepial thing to it. Ick.”That is an extremely ageist statement.

  49. Barbara_K says

    Thank you for the link! I wish I didn’t have to run to class, but I’ll watch it tonight when I get home.

  50. says

    You’ve clearly never worked at a bar before. I have. I’ve watched men hit on women young enough to be their daughters more often than I care to count.So while I continue to grant you that exceptions do exist… Trust me. In the general case: It’s really fucking creepy.Perhaps more importantly: If a woman finds given male attention creepy and says so, then no matter how innocent the motive behind that attention may be, it should stop. She doesn’t have to provide a bullet-point justification for why it should stop. It should stop. End of story.I’d say that the reverse was true for men as well – but as I noted before, I can’t think of a time it’s ever happened to me, so the ‘turnabout-is-fair-play’ gambit would be a bit disingenuous here.

  51. Barbara_K says

    A couple of points about your link. 1. That article says nothing about the feminist content of your talk. 2. Did you really just respond to one woman’s description of her reaction to the event by trying to find something else published by another woman who wasn’t critical of it? If so. that’s not a response, it’s an evasion of addressing the content of the post.I’d also like to say that I find your suggestion above that Sharon or Lyz should have contacted you before publishing their reaction is rather condescending. No one needs your permission to give their opinion, and no one’s stopping you from defending yourself in these comments.A link of your talk, or one that you gave on the same subject at a different venue, I’m not sure, has been posted to one of my responses to your prior comment in this thread, and as soon as I get the chance I will watch it. I may not be able to do this until tomorrow.Understand, I’m not looking to vilify you, I’m looking to understand what was said and how things were handled.

  52. says

    Hmm… Put it another way.An older man hitting on a younger woman isn’t necessarily creepy simply in and of itself – at least, not in principle.But in practice, it almost always is creepy due to related context and circumstance, despite the occasional exception.

  53. TheG says

    So, your reply to unabashed sexism is with… sexist comments? I’m lucky the chimp half of my brain let me type with the contralateral hand long enough to put blaghag into my browser to read your wisdom.

  54. R. Elisabeth Cornwell, PhD says

    I am a female-evolutionary psychologist, and I am very concerned about this article and how it portrays both men and women. I consider both Lyz and Sean my friends and colleagues (I don’t know Sharon Moss, although we have met). As an evolutionary psychologist, I have studied sex differences (and I mean ‘sex’ not ‘gender’). I’ll note here exactly what I tell my students:all individuals differ, we cannot make individual assumptions based on statistical probability statistical probability is the interpretation of probability that defines an event’s probability as the limit of its relative frequency in a large number of trials. Statistical probability in study after study shows there are differences between males and females. (let’s clarify something here about the term ‘female’ vs ‘women’ or ‘male’ vs ‘men’ – yes, it is a biological term… we ARE animals. It is not an insult – it is a fact). One of the differences that have been shown consistently is that women own the womb in our particular species… and as in other species where females control the womb, females are in control of sexual access. Perhaps some people find that crude… suggesting humans are indeed animals and have evolved, like other species. I know a lot of religious people who object to the concept strongly. The fact is, we are animals and we have evolved… both our physical and mental traits are products of millions of years of evolution. When we ignore that fact, we have lost vital information that can lead to an understanding of human behavior. Another issue I repeat to my students on a regular basis is that ‘is’ is not an ‘ought’. What does mean? Just because something has evolved in terms of human behavior, does not mean we must accept it. But unless we acknowledge that such behavior does evolve, we cannot address it properly. Do men, on statistical average, more receptive to a possible sexual invitation from a woman (please let’s keep it simple and talk about heterosexual men… if we were to bring in homosexual behavior the data are even MORE supportive of these sex differences) than a woman is to a man’s sexual advances? Unequivocally the answer is ‘Yes’. Now let’s ask the question… does that mean all men are ready to act on that evolved impulse to perceive a smile as a possible ‘yes’ to sex? Does it mean they will act on It? Does it mean that men are completely ‘out of control’? No. And to make the assumption that all the men in the room were lusting after all the women is just as bigoted a statement as to say that all women use sexual innuendos to get what they want. It just ain’t so. What I found in this article is reverse discrimination… that there was an assumption that men are out of control, incapable of not lusting after women, and will use evolutionary biology as an excuse for this behavior. Often after my classes and lectures, it is the men who come to me and tell me how refreshing it is not to be stereotyped. Yet, they also recognize that they are easily swayed by a female smile. And the women, do the majority of them suggest that they are ignorant of their ability to sway the male mind? No, they don’t. When Sean spoke of the sexual differences between men and women (and now I will note men and women because it is specific to the human species) he was citing a study from 1989 by Clarke and Hatfield titled ‘Gender differences in receptivity to sexual offers.’ in the Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 2: 39-55. The study has been duplicated… and in every class I have taught, in every lecture I have given, when I have mentioned this study there is an acknowledgment that, well yes, women if they really wanted to could find someone with whom to have sex. They could accept the ‘million dollar challenge’ but men won’t risk it… It is not meant as an insult to either men nor women… it is meant as a study to understand that women control human reproduction. I often wish I knew then what I know now. You can be certain my niece is going to understand these sex differences, and I think every young boy as he reaches puberty should also be aware that his hormones and brain have evolved over millions of years to seek out sexual partners more so than most girls. Then, using this knowledge teach both girls and boys how to learn to respect and control their natural urges. Boys can learn that what they want is not necessarily what girls want, and girls can learn that what they are looking for is not necessarily what a boy is looking for. Until we begin to understand our evolved differences, we can never understand how to confront them and deal with them. To deny them is fatal, to deny that male jealousy is more dangerous than female jealousy in terms of violent outcome is not only naive but deadly. Are there issues that need to be addressed in order to bring in more women, minorities and young people – yes. This is not the appropriate dialogue. Automatically accusing human males as being lusting, sexist pigs is in appropriate. Knowing Sean, I know how hard he has worked to benefit women and minorities against the sort of stupidity that usually comes from an ignorance of evolution. Do we really want to be in the same boat with those denying human evolution? I don’t. I want to understand it, I want to understand the very broad aspects of human behavior including sexual differences. Equality is something we all should strive for, but by denying our evolutionary histories suggests that we have a long way to go because we value some statistically probable sexual behavior over other statistically probable sexual behavior. That’s what we need to address, not that differences exist, but that they need to be acknowledged and discussed in an open dialogue without letting our hackles raise – in either sex.

  55. says

    Just because the concerns in this post weren’t mentioned in a 500-word newspaper article about the event doesn’t mean that said concerns are invalid. It’s easy to get defensive when criticized (especially if you feel like it’s unfair criticism), but don’t pull a Sarah Palin. Respond to the content of the post.

  56. says

    See:PythagorasIsocratesGorgiasSocratesPlatoAristotleEpicurusthe SocraticsConfuciousSpinozaKantHumeVoltaireThomas PainSamuel ClemensPeter SingerAC GraylingSam HarrisThat’s just to name a few up to my first mental pause. I don’t agree with everything all the authors/schools above wrote or taught, but it’s all worth thinking about.Also, I’m sure it’s just the tip of the iceberg. After all, I only have *pretentions* to be well-read. I’m sure that someone who is *actually* well-read could supply a whole lot more names before their first pause.

  57. Azkyroth says

    And you had the small-minded short-sighted arrogant fucking gall to mansplain down to her about how when she’s being sexually harassed by creepy older men its her problem because she doesn’t understand that harassment is really just a form of affection.

    Why structure the term as “MANsplain” if you’re going to use it to describe statements from women? Or has any woman who ever disagrees with prevailing opinion in a “feminist” context therby forfeited her femaleity?

  58. Dustin says

    This looks like a Boston talk, not the incident in question. Would you be so kind as to verify whether the two speeches are more or less identical? Also, at what point does the offending material begin? Call me lazy, but I don’t want to fish through forty minutes of video :P

  59. TheG says

    I think this was the point more than a few possibly poorly chosen words. It doesn’t matter what is the age of the proposition-er; don’t be creepy and stop when someone is creep-ed.That, and don’t go to an intellectual convention to pick up on someone in a lecture.

  60. Scott Savage says

    A full video of this event will be posted soon. Sfaircloth got a standing ovation from the woman in the group for the Woman Empowering speech that he gave.

  61. says

    As a woman who was at this event, I am appalled. I am appalled at the dishonest, incorrect recounting of the speeches and the event in general. I will grant you that each person brings their own personal baggage / experience with them so others may feel something that I did not. However, there are many blatant lies in this blog post. It is a shame that the young lady got upset, but to say that the panel viciously tore her apart is incorrect. The “female” who was on the panel explained that she saw no difference between the word female vs woman. She answered the audience member’s question honestly and without negativity. As to how the moderator handled the remainder of that panel, I couldn’t say because I too was in the bathroom with the young lady who got upset. For Sharon to claim that she “alone” heroically went to rescue the young woman (nay, female) from the sexist “assholes” is just wrong. I am a leader of the local group where this event was held. Our group worked with American Atheists to help run this event. So to say that no one went to check on the young lady is an out and out lie. I stood in the restroom with Sharon and the aforementioned lady for 20 mins. Several men (some from American Atheists) went to look for the young woman, but were told that perhaps they should not speak to her since she seemed to be so upset by the men in the room. If the event leaders chased her down after she came out of the restroom, they would have been criticized for embarrassing her. As to Sean Faircloth’s speech. The point was that women are sexually strong. It was about women’s strength and how they had been sexually repressed for hundreds of years. The point was that a lot of the judgement about women’s sexuality comes from a religious arena. I personally know Sean and have never heard him say anything sexist, racist, or any other -ist besides HUMAN-ist. He is a fine individual. Taking his intent and words out of context and besmirching his and American Atheists name is unfair and disappointing. After seeing this post, I called several women who were at the SERAM to see what take they had on it. There was nothing but positive remarks. When I directly asked if they felt that the SERAM or Sean was sexist, they laughed. One even asked, “Why would I think that?” Sean’s speech was empowering. It did mention biology, but it was referring to the fact that we are biological creatures. What is so wrong with that? Are we not? FYI – Sean Faircloth got a standing ovation (even the 30% stood up). Your accusations just do not hold up.I find it more offensive to have someone ascribe thoughts to all the women in the audience. Just because you (the authors) felt a certain way does not mean that everyone did. You definitely need a bigger sample size before making such “broad” statements. (pun intended)Maybe some women prefer to be treated like they do not have any rights to be sexual people. I prefer to be treated as “an equal”. It is high time that feminists stop giving women a bad name. Not all of us are weak flowers that need to be protected from hearing the dirty truth about how the world works or how nature works. Honestly, I expect better from intelligent people.Also, the whole thing was recorded. Video will be available later on. I hope you will all watch and come to your own conclusions.

  62. Scott Savage says

    A full video of this event will be posted soon. Sfaircloth got a standing ovation from the woman in the group for the woman Empowering speech that he gave. But, you are right. Apparently not everyone come away with that impression.

  63. SaraDee says

    My favourite favourite favourite part of the “It’s my biological imperative to aggressively seek sex from women all the time so how DARE women be upset about it!” argument is that not one douchebag swayed by that logic would be swayed if a woman said “It’s my biological imperative to be extremely choosy about my mates because I have a much greater parental investment and don’t want to be saddled with a sub-par offspring – so how DARE men think that women should welcome unwanted male attention!”It’s like the above examples with the face-punching. Biology is so oddly selectively imperative.

  64. Azkyroth says

    Because of social attitudes about age and older people, age may be relevant in a way that’s hardly reflective of bigotry. There’s a significant degree of privilege and social status that comes with age, and that was truer when the current group of older adults were young and their attitudes were (for the most part) crystallizing. Younger people are taught to “respect” their elders (and we all know how some people define “respecting” them) and show deference, and midlife and older adults are generally afforded greater social status. Many of them also perceive younger adults as “kids” or as naive and in need of their guidance, and those younger adults’ opinion of the appropriateness of that guidance is irrelevant. Hitting on someone you have, or expect to have, an advnatage in institutional privilege over is indeed creepy, and that is likely to be a significant portion of the reason older males might hit on young females.

  65. says

    I wasn’t there, but no matter how STRONGLY feminist the speech was the challenge was simply letting a prick talk. The misogyny of religion caused me very early to formulate an ethic that women were never even to be thought of as sex objects. And the thought of “boffing” one would have been equivalent to thinking of my mother as a whore. I enjoy sex as much as the next man, but it is a result of a relationship never a goal. You can be as STRONGLY feminist as you want, but if you look at a woman as a “boff” you are simply a prick.

  66. Azkyroth says

    I wonder if it would help to acknowledge with our language the significant fraction of men who don’t act like this. Not just for the social esteem needs (Maslowian sense) of men who make a conscious effort not to be douchebags, but as a way of framing the debate. If we’re continuously implying that all, or virtually all, men act this way, that could easily feed into the idea that it’s biologically determined and pointless to fight.

  67. says

    Also, for what it’s worth, I watched most of the video that was linked of your Boston speech, and if the same speech was given at the American Atheists Conference, then I do think Sean is being unfairly portrayed in this post. Admittedly, it’s a risky topic, there’s room for criticism, and I can see where people would get offended… but some of the facts are left out, and the speech is portrayed through one narrow lens. Which is fine (blogs are for personal opinion, after all), but hopefully both sides of the debate can treat the other with a modicum of respect and rationality.

  68. Rollingforest says

    Well, you should be skeptical of both sides of the issue. It is possible that you are bias. It is possible that they are bias. Just look at the facts.

  69. Azkyroth says

    all individuals differ, we cannot make individual assumptions based on statistical probability

    You can be certain my niece is going to understand these sex differences, and I think every young boy as he reaches puberty should also be aware that his hormones and brain have evolved over millions of years to seek out sexual partners more so than most girls.

    Make up your mind.

  70. nicole. says

    I am a female and I was not offended by anything that was said or done at SERAM. I though Sean Faircloth’s speech was amazing, and I didn’t think that is was slanted towards males more than females.

  71. Todd says

    I’ve known many women who privately said that they were bothered by the number of overly-forward black men who hit on them at bars. I don’t think that they were being racist. They were just expressing a concern based on their personal preferences. However, if they had then written an article which was primarily a critique of male chauvinism, but into which they also dropped the race of their unwelcome pursuers, I don’t you would be so quick to defend them from the inevitable charges of racism.

  72. says

    *looks up, re-reads post*Actually, yeah, that’s definitely a mis-application when taken in-context.To anyone not familiar with the term MANsplan or MANsplanation:When a member of a privileged in-group is criticized or challenged by an underprivileged minority they tend to respond with a very specific and condescending pattern of privilege denial and blaming-the-victim.In the case of sexism this pattern of argument is often referred to with the derogatory label of ‘mansplanation’ to convey the condescending and patronizing manner in which men too-often adopt when talking with women. The word has different meanings in different contexts too – but this is the context in which I intended its use.Ola’s original post reads like a cut-and-paste version of one of these arguments. Take out the graphic and put in something gender-neutral as the name, and I think I’d be fully justified in assuming the author was male. It reads like every example of male privledge denial that I’ve ever read. Anyway, despite a few personal attacks in there (which, having calmed down a at this stage lot, I now regret) it was the argument that had me fuming, and in the flow of the moment I applied the label that seemed to fit at the time.Also:Ola, for what it’s worth: I apologize for getting personal in my response to your post. I shouldn’t have included ad-hominem attacks in my response to you. I consider emotionally-charged personal attacks to be immoral and it’s bad logic. So I’m wrong twice to have done so, and I unreservedly apologize.I’m almost tempted to go back and edit away the bits I’m not proud of – but as Azkyroth has already (correctly) called me out for poor behavior that feels like Orwellian dishonesty.Unless there’s any objections I’ll refrain from erasing my misdeeds and let them stand by my apology so anyone passing by can see what I’m apologizing about.

  73. Rollingforest says

    Not sure I’m in favor of a quota system. What if all of the best leaders just happened to be women? I wouldn’t want to necessarily say that the makeup HAS to be exactly equal of a given gender, race, or other characteristic.

  74. Don says

    I’d say the verdict is in concerning sexism in the freethought community. It’s a problem. Continuing to argue about whether the problem exists, is a symptom, not a solution.

  75. SaraDee says

    holy shit… Elisabeth Cornwall – I just re-read that whole post TWICE and I can’t find anywhere where the author stated that she thought that men were all “out of control, incapable of not lusting after women” her point was that that is UNacceptable to use use evolutionary psychology to make that very claim! (as so many posters have pointed out – my biology makes me want to punch someone in the face, but it doesn’t make it okay to do so). Biology is not destiny, it’s a tendency, and a lot of us atheist women would really like it if so many men would stop friggin’ trying to pass it off as a divine freakin’ commandment to be an asshole. Women do it too, oh, frustratingly, yes they do – but mostly men, in my experience, because too many men (where too many = more than none) are already used to looking for reasons to not have to treat women like people. I have no beef with evo psych, it’s a fascinating and (apparently direly) necessary field. But I’ve lent copies of the Blank Slate to friends and family after more than one heated discussion about exactly what this post was about. Instead of God being waved as the magic flag to push women down in church, “biology” is too-frequently-for-comfort-if-not-universally used to push women down among atheists.

  76. Scott Jones says

    I was at the meeting. I heard the “$Million Question”. It was sexist, but that was the point. I can kind of see why some women felt uncomfortable, but believe me ladies, when the heads were swiveling around the room, it wasn’t that we were checking you out, we were looking for the guy with the balls to raise his hand. The question made me uncomfortable, because I new the premise of it was true. Women decide when/if sex happens. I would have thought you would have found it empowering, just as I found it disarming. I missed the discussion where the “female” stormed out of the panel discussion, but i did hear about it at length later. There is nothing sexist about the word female. Other points or topics may have raised her sensitivity and that just set it off, and I am sorry that happened, as I wish there had been more women at the meeting, as well, and I certainly would like to do anything to encourage their attendance. However, as I said, there is nothing sexist or misogynistic about the word “female”. I can tell you that, though I don’t know who said it or which particular instance set off the observer’s sexism alarm, but if it was Tom Hand, it may very well have been because he is prior military. I am active duty, myself, and I can tell you that in the military, “male” and “female” are the terms most commonly used to specify gender, when necessary. More often than not, we just refer to the troops as “Soldiers”, but there are times when one must specify. There is nothing sexist about it, it’s just the terminology we use, so Tom may have a predisposition to using that particular word left over from his Army days.

  77. Derek Johnson says

    You have been lied to. I’m not going to waste another minute on this ridiculous article systematically debunking it and exposing the blatant effort to mischaracterize events at SERAM in furtherance of some unknown agenda. No one was a victim at SERAM. But don’t take my word for it; watch the video and you will clearly see how you have been misled. I truly hope you will watch the video and confront these authors for wasting your time, lying to you, and attempting to get you needlessly angry at people who have a genuine appreciation and respect for women.

  78. Rollingforest says

    Although the resulting realization (that women are the gatekeepers of sex) IS true. This kind of excersize has no place at an Atheist meeting, but it does show an interesting point about sexual relations.

  79. says

    I’ve temporarily removed the section on the “Million Dollar Challenge” since there seems to be a lot of debate over whether it was depicted fairly. The Alabama Atheists are uploading the video of Sean’s talk to make this situation clear. While I wouldn’t let Sharon and Lyz do a guest post unless I trusted their judgement, I also don’t want to misrepresent Sean Faircloth, so I’m waiting until I’ve seen the video.

  80. says

    Aha!Now this is what I like to see.The article has indeed had be all hot-and-bothered. But as always: A change of mind (and an apology) would be forthcoming if shown to be wrong.Thanks for the response: I’m looking forward to the video.

  81. Rollingforest says

    Although just because it never happens doesn’t mean ‘turnabout-is-fair-play” is disingenuous. If it is the same for either sex, then that is fair. We just need to decide what fair is.

  82. Greg Henderson says

    I attended SERAM in Huntsville, and from your description I’m not sure we were in the same location… There was certainly some frank “grown-up” discussion about gender, race and various other topics. But this post seems to be a gross caricature of the actual event.

  83. Todd says

    Then, according to your reasoning, men should never “hit on” women, since men have historically had a higher degree of privilege and social status relative to women. Also, wealthy people should never hit on poor people. White people should never hit on nonwhite people (except, maybe, in certain Asian countries). College graduates should never hit on high school dropouts. Blond people should never hit on brunettes.If the writer was implying that the older men were trying to use their age to take advantage of her, then she should have made that clear and given evidence.It is much more likely that the older men were interested in her simply because they thought she was pretty. Even though she just sees them as men old enough to be her father, they probably don’t primarily characterize themselves that way.

  84. Rollingforest says

    Why assume that only men can be sexist? Why use a term at all which suggests that men aren’t capable of being objective and that female opinion always takes precedent?

  85. says

    thanks :) I think he is being misrepresented and I was there. I wasn’t at the panel where the woman was so offended and so I don’t feel that I can respond to that… but Sean’s speech was to empower women, not put them down.

  86. Rollingforest says

    Daniel, she made clear that there is a difference between flirting and harrassment. Harrassment is never okay. But saying that older people aren’t allowed to flirt with younger people IS ageist. It may be that younger people are less interested in older people and that’s fine. But we shouldn’t tell older people that they’re never allowed to flirt except with people their own age.

  87. Leaann says

    I didn’t catch this “sexual hostility,” but maybe I just wasn’t looking for it??? sheesh. My husband pointed out when the woman stood up and complained that women in provocative images were used in Faircloth’s presentation, that Pinalope Cruise was half naked on top of a half-naked Tom Cruise. And it’s TRUE that women are the gate keepers. If the men want in, they better act right. Doesn’t that make women in charge??? What’s humiliating about that??

  88. says

    If the description of the SERAM and Sean Faircloth’s speech were accurate, I would be disgusted, too. The truth is that this blog is very slanted and untruthful. I am a woman. I was present at the SERAM. Sean got a standing ovation from everyone including the women. I have had many conversations with other women about the SERAM and Sean’s talk. I have heard no one else say anything about either being sexist. I met both Sharon and Lyz. They seem like intelligent, nice people, but the assertions here are unfounded. Please take that into consideration before diving right into the oh-so-handy bucket of despair. I am not saying that they did not feel they way they felt. I am saying that it is wrong to rake people over the coals if you weren’t there. Evidence-based folks should ask for more than one blog before gathering the torches and pitchforks. Watch the video when it comes out and make up your own minds.

  89. says

    The original article made the distinction clear as well.Sure, a few guys flirting with us is sexy. BUT!!! (we all screamed in our heads, even though the panel never let us say it out loud) 20 guys our father’s age blatantly staring at and talking to our cleavage is a totally different situation! It’s not sexy, it’s gross and creepy.The difference is: I consider the above to be an example of sexual harassment. If Ola comes back and agrees with me… Well, then I’ll just be stumped as to what the devil she was disagreeing with in the first place.

  90. Scott Savage says

    As one of the event organizers, I need to call out Sharon on this one. She states: “She got upset (…) and left the room. I – a member of the audience, not one of the event organizers – went after her.”This is blatantly wrong. A number of organizers responded immediately. I (as well as several other organizers) spoke to Sharon who also responded after the event. I am at a loss on why she is mischaracterizing the events.We will be posting a video of the event so that everyone can judge for themselves. If after watching the video, you feel that American Atheists needs to apologize, I will be glad to hear your concerns.

  91. says

    Hm. Given the later comments here I’ll refrain from much outrage, but the fact is there:a. is a problem with sexism in the freethought community. There’s one in every community, but it’s worse for us, because we’re supposed to know better.b. are far too many bad, mansplaining evo psych arguments used by privileged people in our community. Not just sexist ones, admittedly. I’ve also heard them directed against religious people, non-white ethnic groups, and poor people.c. is a general lack of understanding of the term ‘privilege’ in our community. Some education would be good.Also – complaining about ageism is a diversion. Being hit on by someone much older than you usually involves a power imbalance, particularly if you’re a young woman in your early 20s and the other person is a man in their 40s. The power imbalance makes it creepy, unless there’s additional context.

  92. Rollingforest says

    It is hard for men to understand women’s uncomfort because they often wouldn’t be uncomfortable in the same situation. This is because of biology (and no I’m not trying to justify anything. Just explaining). Women can usually only have one baby at a time while men could theoretically have thousands. Thus women have to be more cautious than men and thus feel more harrassed by unsolicited male sexual attention.

  93. Scott Savage says

    Barbra_k: “What was the point of the million dollar challenge?”The point was to show that women hold the power over men.

  94. Maggie says

    How so? Especially if you do not have the full context of the talk to go on?Would you also then say that talking of feminism has no place at an atheist meeting?

  95. says

    I think you’re a little bit off base on this one Az.Acknowledging that individuals are distributed within a bell-curve doesn’t mean we can’t still learn about, and teach our children about, how the curve is distributed and why.Read fairly, there’s no contradiction in those two quotes.

  96. Leaann says

    It was used in the context of how religion represses the natural sexuality of BOTH sexes. I, a female….oh, excuse me “WOMAN,” geesh….didn’t find it offensive. But I do tend to have a sense of humor.

  97. LS says

    There’s nothing I can say that I’m not sure the 90 commentators before me said better. I’ll just add that I am disgusted. And, as you’ve so often noted Jen, I feel that disgust intensified because I expect better of the skeptical community.

  98. says

    In the section where you mention how they stated “men’s biology drives them to frequently (if not constantly) pursue sex” What surprises me is that the men in the audience seemed to like this statement. Maybe you misread them, I don’t know, but as a man I find it rather offensive….and dare I say, sexist, to have them to suggest that men are nothing more than a walking penis waiting for some willing woman to happen by. Nonsense I say, for a group that should pride itself on rational skepticism they apparently forgot to engage their brain before uttering that particular canard.

  99. Todd says

    The complaint about ageism my seem like a diversion since the article was mostly about male chauvinism, but that’s the point. She expressed her age bias without even noticing it.Also, as I said in an earlier comment, if she was taking about a power imbalance then she should have made that clear and provided evidence.

  100. Rollingforest says

    From other posts, the million dollar challenge seemed to be a way of pointing out that women are much more selective in who they have sex with. And that is supported by scientific evidence. Women can only normally have one child at a time while men could have thousands so of course women are going to be more selective about who they let impregnate them. This seems to be a valid point though I’m not sure how it fits into the talk. I’ll have to watch the video when I have time.

  101. Rollingforest says

    Yes, the context of the video does matter. I guess I should have waited to watch it before making that comment. But these comments are piling on so fast, I wanted to be heard too ;)

  102. Rollingforest says

    I was asking Azkyroth. I know he is trying to be fair, but if we define mansplaining as making a sexist comment, we should note that not just men can be sexist. I was also noting that the term mansplaining is often thrown around to dismiss anything a man says even if it has merit.

  103. Rollingforest says

    Though I’d say there is less sexism in the freethought community than in society at large. But because there are fewer women it is more noticable.

  104. BC says

    HUH? There are some errors in this report. Some concrete – such as the distance the attendees traveled to attend the meeting – I, myownself, traveled from California to attend; others are maybe more likely errors in judgment or interpretation of events. I was present. I did not have an experience anything at all like what has been reported here. Maybe because I am a more mature woman (i.e. female) I was able to use my years of experience and foundation of wisdom to put everything said in this conference session into a more level perspective?

  105. Andrew Scruggs says

    I’d be interested to see the video, as I’ve heard it may be different from the original description. Based on the original description (which is all I have to go off right now), I would say that it was a wildly inappropriate way to get the point across. And maybe I’m just reading too much into your wording, but saying “women hold the power over men” seems to (1) oversimplify the issue, as though there is nothing men are doing to hold some kind of power over women or treat them inappropriately; and (2) perpetuates the idea that it is some kind of battle, rather than an issue where we need to try to understand each other and come to some sort of agreement.Anyway, I apologize if I was too quick to come to judgement on that. I really would like to see the video for myself and see how it played out.

  106. SaraDee says

    “And it’s TRUE that women are the gate keepers. If the men want in, they better act right. Doesn’t that make women in charge??? “Holy crap. No. Theoretically, you would think so… and in a perfect world where No meant No that could be true. But it isn’t. It’s not that the evolutionary or biological arguments aren’t sound – it’s just that they can’t be used to make moral arguments about what sexual behaviours are good for men and women to act on in modern society. Because, while it is a biological fact that women have a strong incentive to be pickier about sex, it also really is a biological fact that men, in the sex-scarce scenario, have historically been tempted to steal sex, ie, rape. (“Why did the robber rob a bank?” “Because that’s where all the money is.”)And from a sociological perspective, a lot of women will be made uncomfortable – even humiliated – with “just sticking to the facts, ma’am” presentations about sexual psychology, because the idea of Woman as Sexual Gatekeeper has been used to deny rape charges, and shame victims – if women are in charge of when sex happens, then the argument goes, sex can’t have happened without her say so. How could someone charged with such a sacred trust have let such a defilement happen to her? (Oh sure, she says she said no, but her body said yes). In less obvious but more pernicious ways, it lets some men justify feeling resentful that women are holding all the sex, and not giving them any, even when they act nice and listen to their stupid ideas. God, what does a guy have to do to get her to give it up? What’s she doing with it anyway – guys care about sex more than girls, everyone knows that, so why is she being such a prude? (Of course, if she does have sex, more than other people want her too, she’s clearly an unnatural slut – women don’t like sex that much).It’s not that we can’t talk about the biology here – it’s just that people who choose to do so have to understand that they’re not talking into a vacuum, or even a room full of scientists who are well-acquainted with the difference between “is” and “ought” in biology. You’re talking to women who have, in many cases, been personally abused by other peoples’ inability to make a distinction between is and ought in practice. This is a hot button not because Bitches Be Crazy and Teh Feminazis are on the march – but because there are genuine historical reasons why women are nervous that they won’t be taken seriously on account of their freakish uteruses (or, worse breasts – right out in the open like that, what did they think was going to happen? They’re supposed to control how men think about them, because they’re the Gatekeepers of Sex). Are some women a little too jumpy sometimes? Yeah, maybe. But they have good reason to be. Maybe we ought to spend a little more effort trying to see how we can make those women feel safe enough to stop jumping at shadows because the shadows in our house really aren’t burglars, and a little less time yelling at them that, for chrissake’s, we put in a new alarm and that guy is in jail now and we’re in a nice neighbourhood so won’t you JUST CALM DOWN?!?

  107. Cortex says

    ::sigh:: Well, to begin with, you’re blaming women for the way people treat them when they wear totally normative clothing in public. If they were walking around with nothing other than nipple stickers on, then I could see your point. But come on. Grow up.Also, turnabout is fair play:I’m actually very sympathetic with the problems that men might have feeling unattractive at atheist gatherings, but the points of the above statement seem to be, “It’s only nice for attractive women to be receptive toward me!” and “I can display my age, but DON’T YOU DARE NOTICE IT!”

  108. Leaann says

    We had a Xian idiot on the news saying, “I look forward to having a buncha godless women in town for the weekend,” and THIS is what ya’ll’re getting your panties in a bunch over??

  109. says

    I was on that panel and this blog post is not only inaccurate, it is grossly unprofessional, detrimental to our cause, and unbecoming for a Director of the Secular Student Alliance. The authors of this blog post failed miserably to accurately describe any of the events of this discussion nor put any of it into context. I expect that once the video is released for this event that a formal retraction and apology will be posted immediately.

  110. Rollingforest says

    Not all evo psych arguments are bad. “Because a feminist said so” is not proof that privilege exists in a certain situation. Having privilege does not mean that you are always wrong. Being older does not necessarily involve a power inbalance. And finally, I find the term ‘mansplaining’ sexist because it assumes that if you are sexist you must be a male and is used too often to dismiss anything a man says without thought simply because he is a male.

  111. Azkyroth says

    I’m making a point about clashes between etymology and usage. If the word used were “sexistsplaining” you would have a point, but incorporating a specific reference to one gender into a term that’s then applied to members of both genders is illogical and disingenuous at best. (It probably also contributes to the abuse of the term you’ve described, which I’ve noted in the past, including on Daylight Atheism).

  112. Rollingforest says

    Well, okay, you have a point. As so often online, people just misunderstood what other people where saying. She is right that men talking about a girl’s cleavage without her permission is harrassment. Ola just assumed that the part about “our father’s age” meant that older men shouldn’t be allowed to flirt with younger women, when in reality the OP was just saying that she personally wouldn’t want to flirt with older men, though that point wasn’t entirely clear.

  113. Azkyroth says

    That’s not my reasoning, but I certainly wouldn’t argue that the members of those groups are being sexist, classist, racist, etc. for being bothered by that potential/perceived angle.

  114. K.Morgan says

    I attended SERAM and was in no way offended by any of the content. The Million Dollar question, was, to me, a funny exercise. At the end of the presentation, when a woman requested that Sean include some eye candy for the female audience as well as the male (because yes, it was heavily laden with attractive females), the idea was accepted and appreciated.I was also at the panel when the female vs. woman incident occurred. I can’t say that it was handled perfectly, but the entire scenario was just plain confusing from my from perspective. The comment from the audience member seemed to come out of left field – here we were talking about something related to gender, but then the labels of female vs. woman was brought up, and being like “cattle.” The panel responded, a couple of them, saying they thought of the terms as synonymous (as do I), the audience member asked everyone to think of it in the future, and then yes, a comment was made saying, since we’re talking about labeling women here, that “why don’t we just call them the ‘weaker sex’?” – it was intended as a joke, and taken as such by most of the audience. I felt sympathy for the woman who raised the question – it was obviously something that she felt passionate about and here she was in a group of supposedly like-minded people who just didn’t understand, and who could appreciate a joke that she found offensive. Since she was obviously upset I think it would have been best if a quick apology was given (not solicited by the audience, but prompted by the speaker of the ‘offensive’ statement), but it wasn’t and the conversation had to move on.

  115. Robert Posey says

    It’s funny… She kept her hand raised throughout the entire panel discussion about something very relevant to how women are treated in free thought groups to change the subject to something as trivial as being called a female. I’ve never heard a single complaint from a male about being called a male. To be fair, this is the first time I’ve ever heard a female complain about it. I’m sure that once the videos of the panel are released.. you will all see that that this blog needs to be scrapped… just like the authors integrity.

  116. Azkyroth says

    There’s also the point that the supposed omnipotence of (properly behaved) women over men, due to women’s role as the Gatekeepers of Sex and men’s supposed slavery to their sexual impulses, has historically and repeatedly been used as an excuse to deny women an equal share of every other kind of power society had to offer, or to fuel efforts to curtail what they already had access to in that regard. (I seem to recall, for instance, that this was pretty much John Adams’ entire rebuttal to his wife’s urging that he support provision for women’s rights and political participation in the constitution, while it was being drafted).

  117. paisley says

    I did just watch the Faircloth video from the Boston event and I have to say that while it was overall alright, there are a few moments during the talk that would have made me feel uncomfortable. If I had been at the event in Alabama with the intent on writing a piece about my experience as a woman at an atheist event, there would be some criticisms. For example, it felt that although most of what he said was pretty good, he still needed to bring home the point that he’s a straight guy who enjoys sexy women. While I feel that he may do this to make the guys feel a little more comfortable bc he’s talking so much about women, being a a room of mostly men with practically naked P. Cruz would make me feel very aware that I’m a woman around a bunch of men – and a lot of them think that’s hot. Also, the Million Dollar Challenge would have made be feel a little uneasy too. Plus, I don’t see how the Million Dollar Challenge is even necessary – since middle school people know that women are more likely to be the determining factor of whether or not sex will happen. And yeah, too much glory for Don Draper. Lastly, why is a man giving the big talk on women’s sexual repression and agency? Especially because there was not a single speaker who was a woman, and there was only 1 of 6 panelists that was a woman. I do have to say, though, I appreciate that Mr. Faircloth has taken so much time to learn about these issues facing women, and help us in our fight. Lastly, and this is not related to Faircloth’s talk, I do find it irksome when I get referred to as “female” or when people talk about “females”. It’s one thing to say “female speaker” or “female student” but to just say stuff like “and females, they….” I find it disrespectful – many women do. And the women who’ve commented on here saying that they don’t find it disrespectful, that’s fine for you, but realize that a lot of us do; and I hope that you will be respectful of that.

  118. Azkyroth says

    You know, I’m completely sympathetic to the position of people who justly feel they might have been misrepresented and I find this comment incredibly pompous and arrogantly demanding. I suggest rephrasing it.

  119. Azkyroth says

    “men’s biology drives them to frequently (if not constantly) pursue sex”

    Apparently I’m doing it wrong here, too.

  120. Todd says

    If they clearly explained why they were bothered, then I might not argue that either. However, if they just said (or, more relevantly, wrote in a guest post on a blog that I read everyday) that someone hitting on them was “creepy” if that person was a member of a certain racial/age/social group and implied that it would be less creepy if that person had not been a member of that group, then they shouldn’t rely on a commenter to make a retrospective rationalization for their public expression of a personal bias.

  121. says

    “Second, maybe in that setting it would be best to not display any cleavage.”You must not be reading closely enough to make idiotic comments like that.

  122. Leaann says

    Well, thanks for letting me know that I SHOULD be offended, and that I’m just a weak wil woman.

  123. Todd says

    I’m not blaming anyone. However, if a woman is so bothered by men looking at her cleavage in certain settings that she’s motivated to write a blog post about it, then there’s an obvious solution: Don’t show your cleavage in those settings.Your last paragraph doesn’t make sense. First, no one said that women had to be receptive toward any man who was interested in them. If you’re not attracted to older men or black men or fat men or poor men, that’s fine. Just don’t drag your personal tastes into a blog post about male chauvinism. Second, if the men involved were consciously “showing their age” (I don’t know how…maybe by wearing an “Old Fart” t-shirt or by saying “You can call me Big Daddy”), then you might have a point. However, most people don’t really have any choice about whether they show their age.

  124. says

    THIS. Mansplain is too often used as a blanket dismissal of anything anyone has to say, and it’s often unfairly leveled as a criticism against men, when women “mansplain” just as much as men do. I hate “X Bingo” for the same reason; rather than using a reasoned argument against someone, you’re using an ad hominem attack in the form of out-group shaming. It’s a juvenile move. If you thinking someone is being ignorant, I feel like you have three good choices; ignore them, link them to a 101 blog, or respond. Making childish remarks to someone with innocent intentions might be satisfying, but it’s still lame.

  125. Deziner says

    What if it was a man your father’s age? Also, just because it wouldn’t make you uncomfortable doesn’t mean it’s a non-issue for others.

  126. TheG says

    An addition (not an argument negating your point) is how uncomfortable I get when referred to as a “male nurse”. The only alternative when someone feels to point out my genitalia when referring to my profession is “boy nurse”. My anecdotal evidence indicates it is overwhelmingly “female patients” who use these names for their caregiver.I don’t know if I would be less offended if someone called me “man nurse”. It has never come up, honestly.

  127. Todd says

    How so? She wrote about older men “staring at and talking to our cleavage.” What do you think I’m missing?I don’t think that sort of “flirting” is appropriate, especially if it’s really as extreme as she describes, but I also don’t understand why she would wear a cleavage-bearing shirt in public and then be perturbed that the wrong kind of men stared.Also, Jen, I’ve read your blog everyday for the last several months. Even though I occasionally think you’re wrong about something, I would never refer to anything you wrote as “idiotic.”

  128. Todd says

    That doesn’t make your personal biases/preferences fodder for a blog post about male chauvinism.

  129. says

    You obviously were not there and I don’t really care how “incredibly pompous and arrogantly demanding” you find my comment. Your suggestion has been duly noted and filed accordingly.

  130. says

    Hmm….I’ll answer anyway. ^_^There is a difference between sexism and privilege.Women can be sexist. A woman can be sexist towards men. Hells, a woman can be sexist towards women – it’s weird, but it happens.However, men are privileged in a way that women are not. I’m taking it for granted that I don’t have to justify this so I’m omitting that part. But I can elaborate if requested.To me, the use of ‘mansplanation’ is a weapon against male privilege – to be specific, a weapon against a specific sub-set of behaviors that emerge that are bound up with that privilege.That’s not to say it can’t lend itself to mis-used. I certainly did earlier today.But used appropriately it can be a very useful, cutting, and (to my mind) pithy descriptor that exactly encapsulates the behavior that it is intended to describe and deride.

  131. says

    @Steve and Jen — I’m *so* glad you raised this, as I was just about to say something myself. I definitely have seen similar heterosexism in workshops / lectures on topics of this nature at atheist conferences in the past (though I’ve occasionally wondered if, because I’m queer, I was projecting… glad to see others noticing the same thing), and it should be addressed.Also: Regardless of how “accurate” this article is, it is still a reminder of how important it is to confront sexism (and, for that matter, other -isms and -phobias) whenever we see them appear in this movement. Thanks for initiating the conversation; even if turns out that a minority of women present were offended by these incidents, the fact that anyone was is important and must be acknowledged / responded to.

  132. says

    I have spent the last *year* making posts about why comments like that drive me crazy, especially over the last few days.

  133. says

    OK at the next atheist meeting we will all have the women dress in gunny sacks so the pricks of any age won’t be tempted to gawk. If you find it hard to simply appreciate feminine sexuality without worrying about sex I would second the motion that you should grow up I don’t care what the calendar says. Women have secondary sex characteristics that are difficult to hide. It is up to men, especially atheist men to control their rut. God didn’t tell us to be fruitful and multiply. We should be more civilized than that.

  134. Nidia says

    This attitude that it is in a man’s “biology,” to ogle, stare, chase, etc women is frustrating. I expect these sort of comments from religous groups (since they often try to justify female modesty biblically as a way to protect the purity of men) but not from atheist groups.I feel terribly that you had to uncomfortably sit through that.

  135. says

    Hmm…I read through the article again and it got me thinking.The original point of the panel was how to make women feel more invited at atheist conventions, yes?Greta Christina once pointed out that one of the things that made her feel really welcome in the atheist community was that if she jumped into blog comments or a messageboard on an atheist site and someone made stupid comments about GLBTs, a whole heap of straight atheists would scramble out of the woodwork and tear them down. Greta didn’t have to do anything – the atheist community had her back. She felt welcomed.Greta was using her experiences as a bisexual and what she felt appealing about atheism as an analogy for how atheist groups could appeal more to non-whites.I think the analogy holds true for how atheist groups can appeal more to women.

  136. R. Elisabeth Cornwell, PhD says

    The ‘million dollar challenge’, which I have used in my lectures and courses to open up the discussion of how parental investment influences sexual access:To the men: I will bet a million dollars (if I win you pay me a million if you win I pay you), that by midnight tonight you cannot find a women to have consensual sex with you… but these are the rules… she must be someone you have never before met, no drugs, alcohol, money, promises of love, anything can be exchanged – all you can do is ask her if she would willingly go and have sex with you. That’s it. One question… Then ask if any of the men think they could really win that bet? No takersThen I offer the same bet to the women in the room… and ask do you think you could take the bet and win… Most of the women agree that they could. Does that mean they will? No, it means they are aware that they could win that bet and the men realize that their odds are slim. That’s the challenge… it is meant to simply highlight the control women have… and if anyone actually read a bit on evolutionary theory, they would understand that because of this control, males and females have been exerting sexual selection on the opposite sex of their particular species. It differs with species, mammals are generally female choice. There is nothing sexist, offending or bizarre about using this example as a way to provide an example of how evolution – and in particular sexual selection – works. In the sea horse, its opposite – males are choosier because they hatch the eggs and watch over the fry – while female sea horses pursue males and are aggressive. Evolution does not care about being PC – it cares about survival and disproportionate reproductive success. Humans, unlike all other living things happen to have brains capable of not only understanding why this is, but understanding the influence it has on culture, religion, politics, and family…. Whether or not people wish to change how we think about individuals and learn to respect one another is our choice and, I might add, relatively new on the scene. In terms of my paraphrasing about the views that were expressed in the original article about male behavior was just that – paraphrasing from sentences like “that men hitting on women is just biological (therefore excusable), making it sound like a woman in that kind of situation should just STFU and get over it.” and “20 guys our father’s age blatantly staring at and talking to our cleavage is a totally different situation! It’s not sexy, it’s gross and creepy.” as well as “how men’s biology drives them to frequently (if not constantly) pursue sex, and since it’s biology, no one should get upset at, judge, or think less of men for any skirt-chasing they might engage in”…. I did not quote the authors – if that was not what the authors were hinting at… what were they suggesting? Actually the million dollar challenge is not heterosexist… as I alluded to, studies of homosexual behavior confirms the male/female bias.

  137. Todd says

    Oh, you meant I wasn’t reading YOUR blog posts closely enough. I thought you meant I hadn’t this particular blog post closely enough.I’ve read your blog posts on similar issues. I’ve never commented on them. Sometimes I think you have a point and sometimes I think you complain too much. You’re right often enough that I chose to not make an issue of the times I thought you were wrong. Since the issue was raised here: I don’t think you can become famous in large part for encouraging women to show their cleavage and then reasonably expect that no one will notice your breasts even after Boobquake is over. (That doesn’t excuse the loutish behavior you’ve described in other posts, but it does mitigate it.)

  138. says

    Mansplaining involves a certain tone of voice, and is almost exclusively delivered by men to women, particularly when explaining anything scientific or technical. It doesn’t mean men can’t explain things, they should just avoid a condescending tone while doing so.Not all evo psych arguments are bad. Evo psych makes a lot of sense, but too often it’s just used to confirm pre-existing biases.

  139. says

    It turns out men have other states than ‘horny’.(From when I was 17)Aunt: You know, men only really feel three emotions. Happy, sad, and angry.Uncle: I don’t know. Sometimes I get hungry.Aunt: That’s not a feeling.Me: Maybe not to you auntie. But it is to us.Uncle: Exactly!Aunt: Fine. That’s still only four.Uncle: What about the feeling when you’ve just caught a great big fish?Aunt: Elation?Uncle: Not exactly. Oh, it’s its own thing. There’s nothing like it.Aunt (dubiously): Even so, that’s only four.Daniel: We get horny sometimes too.Uncle: *cracks up* That we do Dan. That we do.Aunt: Fine. *leaves the room*Uncle (calls after her): Then we can mix them up! Catching a fish and hungry! Hungry and sad!Daniel (sotto): I wouldn’t want to try catching a fish and horny, though.Uncle: No… That would probably get awkward for everyone. Especially the fish.We didn’t even include ‘sleepy’ in our discussion.

  140. Goblinpaladin says

    “Second, maybe in that setting it would be best to not display any cleavage.”Wow, way to make it the woman’s fault there, chuppo. She has it coming! Look how she is dressed.

  141. Maggie says

    Except that I grew up in the south where “hey, woman” and “all you women” leaves a particular bad taste in my proverbial mouth. Conversely, my mom doesn’t care for the term ‘ladies’ because of her particular experiential association to it with prostitutes. So what’s respectful? And how can one be expected to be preemptively respectful ; especially when using an altogether proper term?

  142. Just_some_weird_person says

    Stupid cunts are more damaging to the feminist movement than horny old men that say the world “female.” Maybe I am just a pig of a man, but I saw nothing offensive about Mr. Faircloth’s speech and I daresay anyone with the ability to use their brain would agree with me here. Fact of the matter is that we are animals, and you are indeed females. I am a male and I see no cause to get offended when I am referred to as much. The “weaker sex” comment was used in jest and perhaps if the person had a sense of humor she wouldn’t have stormed out of the room. It is unfortunate that someone did get offended but is it really enough to write a blog entry about? Do you really think that your coverage of the convention is at all accurate? If you can spew a load of malarkey that rewrites the fore-mentioned events then I hold the right to call you out on that. Its not hard to find offense if you are looking for it.

  143. Scott Savage says

    Make that “Elisabeth Cornwell, PHD” She has posted more than once, so be sure to see the one that starts out describing the “million dollar challenge.”

  144. Gus Snarp says

    No, stick with shitting on the table. Or at least urinating or waving your penis in the male panelist’s face. This should now be the automatic response to cries of “but our biology makes us do it!”

  145. paisley says

    it evokes non-human animal imagery to me. I don’t think cattle, like the woman at the conference said, but I do hear the National Geographic voice say “The female of the species…” And feeling like you’re being talked about like something other than human feels uncomfortable.

  146. paisley says

    That’s an interesting point. When I was growing up (in the Midwest) there was a neighbor my age who always called me “woman” and I hated it! I think it’s why it took me so long to be ok with calling myself a woman. However, someone saying “hey, woman” I feel is sexist: it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re just “woman”. Does hearing the term “women” in every context bother you?

  147. says

    I really want to see this video now.Fuck its confusing.Storm in a teacup?I’m wondering how long it’s going to take someone from outside the atheist community to take this piece up, get the interpretation even more wrong, then slap up an article somewhere prominent.Can’t be long now.

  148. paisley says

    This was just brought up on FriendlyAthiest (post about abortion). I didn’t make the comment (that being in a community of men sticking up for women’s rights made me feel proud to be part of the atheist community), but I felt the same way.

  149. Rollingforest says

    I disagree that difference in practice is just as important. If it is based on choice or culture, then it is unfair to hold the genders to different standards. That would correctly be declared sexist.However, there are some biological differences (biology seems to be a dreaded word on this thread) which would explain why women are less likely to hit on men and thus by extension why older women are less likely to hit on younger men than older men hitting on younger women. Women normally only have one child at a time while men could theoretically have thousands. So women are much more cautious about who they let impregnate them. Thus being hit on bothers them more. But like you said earlier, it doesn’t matter why the person feels uncomfortable. If they do, then a person of either gender should stop.

  150. says

    …To YOU. It’s less noticeable TO YOU. To women, who find themselves surround in the sausage-fests that atheist meetings generally are, it’s extremely bloody noticeable. Particularly, as I’ll point out again, because we’re supposed to know better.

  151. R. Elisabeth Cornwell, PhD says

    I hope people will take the time to look at the evidence and note that Sean (nor others) ever suggested that poor behavior (by either sex) is excusable because of our evolutionary history. Sean did not intimate at any time our biology excused male behavior or sexism. Nor, would any reasonable person imply that by understanding natural and sexual selection that we were justifying war, infanticide, jealousy, homicide, intolerance, or rage… to suggest that by understanding our biological heritage means we accept all forms of human behavior is like saying that studying the causes of schizophrenia, depression, cancer, diabetes means the researchers are encouraging these diseases. Through understanding evolution, we can see how morality, love, kindness, friendship, parental care, and care for non-human life came about. Atheists don’t mind with claiming that our evolved natures through being a social species can explain the better part of our nature than being made in god’s image. Well, evolutionary pressures also created parts of our human nature that are not particularly terrific. But we can’t lay claim to our evolved good natures and then refuse to acknowledge some of the other parts of our nature have evolved and require explanation. Sexual selection is incredibly powerful – Darwin acknowledged its ability to push traits well beyond the benefits that survival on its own would dictate. Hence the peacock’s tail, and why men tend to die younger than women (testosterone is unhealthy). Just actually look at the evidence from Sean’s talk and listen to what was said rather than assuming what was meant.

  152. says

    As one of the “assholes” you are speaking of, I am quite offended. It is SO disappointing for so many people who were not even there to judge not just one person but a group of people based on one person’s opinion. Where are the skeptics here?Mr. Scanlan, you do not even know me (and I am guessing – do not know anyone else who was at the SERAM or you might have a different opinion). I don’t mind being called an asshole when I have done something to deserve it. But seriously, you should consider what you are doing before you so flippantly throw around hateful words.

  153. Todd says

    I didn’t say she “has it coming.” I’m just pointing out that, based on her earlier experiences, she knows that some men are going to stare at her cleavage if she attends an event wearing a shirt that shows her cleavage.If a man attended an event wearing a tank top and then whined in a blog post about people staring at his well-developed biceps, I would make a similar recommendation to him.

  154. says

    I would have suggested burkha’s but properly worn they can be quite suggestive to those that cannot or will not control their lust.

  155. says

    I was wondering how long people who were against sexism would let that statement go. Apparently, for most of the people on here it’s okay to insult men since they are big and strong ehough to take it. *rolls eyes*

  156. Gus Snarp says

    What I find myself wondering is why a room full of intelligent people is expected to learn anything from this million dollar question. It seems to me to be nothing more than stating the obvious in a way that is contrived to be a bit. It says nothing about any real issues of power dynamics between men and women, but is just a cheap ploy to get laughs with a joke so hackneyed it would embarrass Leno. And that’s the most generous way I can imagine those words being contextualized. It only goes downhill from there.

  157. Todd says

    If she had said, “staring at our breasts,” then I would have assumed that she meant the outline of their breasts as visible through their shirts. In that case, I think you would have a point when you say that women “have secondary sex characteristics that are difficult to hide.”However, she complained about men staring at their “cleavage,” which I take to mean that they were wearing cleavage-bearing shirts. (I know this was within the context of a hypothetical, but she seemed to be basing her comments on actual events.)Also, your assumption that I would “gawk” at women’s cleavage or otherwise harass them just because I made a suggestion about how they could avoid that problem in the future is incorrect.

  158. says

    I find it insulting and udderly disgusting that so many people on here act as if we women are not capable of standing up for ourselves. As if we need someone to speak up for us and come to our rescue. To me, that is more sexist than any of the false accusations that have been thrown around in this article and in these comments.Speaking of the comments, for those of you that jumped on Sharon’s bandwagon without any consideration for the validity of her claims, I hope you folks don’t get called for jury duty if you are willing to take one person’s word as evidence. Good night all.

  159. says

    Heh.We’re getting a bit cramped here.Here’s an example where turnabout is not fair play:”I love it when women come up and grab my ass! Therefore you’re being oversensitive when you tell me I’m such a bastard for doing it to you. It’s a compliment. You should be pleased. What’s wrong with you? I’m just doing unto you as I’d have you do unto me, babe. *wink*”Part of what makes the above so transparently, absurdly wrong is that the practical reality for a man is very different than for a woman. And that needs to be taken into account.

  160. says

    I’ll definitely be watching the video, yes.Just out of interest: Do you have anything science-y for all of this that you can link to that isn’t behind a paywall?I’m not demanding evidence or anything. I’m just curious. I’d like to do some reading up.

  161. Allison B. says

    I too, am a female that attended SERAM. I had to strain to see the woman (lady/chick/female) in the back with the “female” question- so it did probably take forever for them to get back there to get her to ask her question. (IMO-Blair, the moderator and my friend- isn’t one to leave someone hanging simply becuase they are a woman/female/chick/lady-it was because she was really far away and he was picking off people in the front where he could easily see them.) I find most of this post to be highly skewed interpretation of the tone, sense of humor, and nuance of the events & specific parts of speeches from SERAM. Yes, there were men there oversimplifying how they follow their penises. But at no time was there mention or implication that women should STFU and take it. I’m sad to read that one person did think that-but I wasn’t forced to laugh, think, and stand up and applaud the SERAM presenters. Next, another SERAM panel discussion spoke about how to be inclusive and how to deal with a variety problems- including(!!) what happens when someone gets offended. How was Blair Scott (moderator) or the offending panel members/speakers able to apologize much less rectify the matter with the offended who presumably didn’t have the fortitude to go talk face to face with them afterwards? As I read the post, she ran off and it’s pretty hard to give a worthy apology to those not around that need to hear it. There were lots of breaks where if you wanted to- could have found any of the organizers or panelists and had an adult conversation with them. The hotel restaurant and bar was open the whole weekend and filled with SERAM participants both days- there was plenty of opportunity to talk about this “hiccup”. Honestly, if I had seen the main offended lady’s face and recognized her during the breaks and had known she had walked off- I would have gone and talked to her about it. Another oversight that is frustrating to not read: the organizers under scheduled the Sunday events. There was an open period during the closing hour in which anyone was asked to come forward with concerns, problems, or comments. I didn’t hear one person say anything about presentations being sexist or offensive. I’m really confused as to why there is this blazingly awful review of SERAM and no mention of what the posters/offended persons did to rectify anything. We all have to work to make this community better. Or perhaps, the offended (presumably more than three-which is possible) could have taken the time out to find them (the offenders) online (eg Facebook) since SERAM and confront them about their concerns and feelings? She didn’t say her name to the crowd so I don’t think it was as easy for the panelists to go apologize to her/others offended. Lastly- since there’s no mention of any of the above actions – I must say I’m disappointed that this negativity bomb would be dropped on such a widely read blog without trying to work things out first. Sounds like those offended would have left SERAM with a lighter load if they had tried to talk it out-instead of fuming all the way home (which just plain sucks that this happened and I had to read that it did) and then write this obviously angry post for all to read. If we are to go forward as an atheist community- everyone needs to take responsibility and work for a better understanding and communication between each other. I do not find the beginning ~60% of this article to accomplish that at all. I’m disappointed in the guest posters for not following through on their own suggestions.

  162. AK says

    “Stupid cunts are more damaging to the feminist movement than horny old men that say the world “female.” Assholes like you are pretty damaging as well when you start out your comment with a sexist word used to belittle women.

  163. says

    I would still object to the million dollar challenge as the focus is getting laid by midnight. Of course the women could find a prick to do the deed, but you can bet she would only take you up on it if the contraceptive was firmly in place. At least in a relatively well educated group attending your classes or lectures. The reproductive investment in humans is measured in years, for intelligent humans maybe in tens of years. Getting laid should be no part of the equation either for men or for women. The days of sowing your seed and hoping someone will bring up the kid are long gone outside the fundamentalist world. They may be right, but I certanly hope not.

  164. Britt Hannah says

    It was my first time attending SERAM and a convention of this kind. As a strong, independent woman with a critical-thinking journalism background, I treated each speaker with an open mind and without any previous personal connection (I knew no one at the convention when I first arrived). While I closely analyzed the gist and message of each speaker, I also have a keen sense of humor to let communal jokes slide by (I didn’t see anyone walk out when Monty Python’s “Every Sperm is Sacred” was sung along to on the first day). Sean Faircloth was one of my favorite speakers. His message and delivery was fair, balanced and professionally articulated. I mirror the note of a few other posters that he received a standing ovation at the end of his talk. He spoke of himself as a feminist – I am as well. He made no snarky, degrading remarks to anyone involved at the conference and in my humble opinion, someone who takes great offense to him showing depictions of a million dollar challenge and the fictional character of Don Draper, is digging for a controversy to muddy the water of him representing a great force of strength and pride in the secular community. As to the female/male stink and the woman who walked out, I was flabbergasted as to why that was such a stink. The panelist was calmly talking about a situation involving males and females when the outraged “why females instead of women?” was brought up. This is just silly and crying wolf. He was speaking about both genders equally in a very respectful manner. Why the attendee found it upon herself to interrupt the panelists and create a dramatic situation, I have no clue but I suppose it makes for a titillating blog posting. I thoroughly enjoyed SERAM, all attendees involved, and I hope to attend again. Best of luck to all and keep debate strong and intellectual! As the popular Auburn T-shirts espoused at the conference, “Question Everything!”

  165. Dae says

    Why don’t you describe your point of view, then, with specifics? You’ve said that this post mischaracterizes the situation, and you’ve implied that it makes something out of nothing, but you haven’t stated how, or given your own version of events. I’m willing to entertain the idea that the interpretation presented here is flawed, but you’re doing nothing to convince me (or anyone, I suspect) of that by blowing steam like you’ve been doing.

  166. Dae says

    “Women as gatekeepers” is no more True than any other maleable social construct, and there are enough exceptions to that generalization that it harms both men and women. I agree with TheWanderingFool – I don’t see an appropriate context for the “challenge,” period.

  167. Dae says

    Everyone has a line where humor ends and something becomes offensive. Yours may be in a different place than the woman mentioned in this article, but that doesn’t make hers wrong.

  168. says

    I apologize for seemingly personal comments. They were not intended to be. My point remains bikini, cleavage showing or sexy burkha, the Japanese onsen addage should still apply: nakedness is frequently seen, but never stared at. One can even appreciate the beauty but gawking is always a social error.

  169. says

    Christie:You’ve touched on something here that I’d really like you to elaborate on.Earlier in this thread I referenced a talk given by Greta Christina. She found the atheist community very welcoming when she was moving into it because whenever she was on an atheist-themed forum, blog or panel and someone said something stupid about GLBTs, all these straight atheists appeared out of the woodwork and started tearing it down. She felt like the atheist community really had her back.She was using it as an example of what the atheist community can do for non-whites. Straight people sticking up for GLBT rights seems like a pretty good analogy for white people standing up for the rights of non-whites.But I also thought at the time that this could also be a good idea that atheist groups could use to try and appeal more to women. Get men to stand up publicly and more often in support of women’s rights.So whenever a feminist issue comes up I make a point of coming out of the woodwork myself and having a say. I don’t do this because I suppose women can’t. I do it because I both give a damn and want to show that I give a damn.Normally this idea meets with positive response. But even so, I was hoping for a reality check. From your comments here, you don’t sound like you’re one to sugar coat. ^_^Do you think I’m way off base, or am I on to something here?

  170. Just_some_weird_person says

    Bitch, Cunt, Asshole, Dick head … These are words and they have as much power as you are willing to give to them. I wrote that with the intent of catching attention. I am sorry if you’re not adult enough to hear a simple word. In this case, yes, people that get offended and write a selective article on an issue are cunts. It is also more uncouth to call a someone an asshole on your twitter account just because you have opposing ideas of what that term actually means. Somewhat petty as well. I think i did a good job of presenting how I feel about this blog post. It’s unpretentious and brutally honest. If you think that I am a sexist because I said cunt, then that doesn’t bother me. I will not apologize because some people have a narrow view of the world. Get a life and perhaps read a book sometime. Your time would be best spent that way. I am quite sure you have more to say … but I don’t. :)

  171. PamEllis says

    I was not present at this conference, but when I first heard about what set this off…it totally confused me. I am still confused. I never got the memo that I was supposed to be offended by being called a female, as I AM A FEMALE.Jeez.Treating this as sexist is just an insult to people who have experienced real sexist discrimination. Most of my jobs have been in areas dominated by males. So maybe I am so used to seeing how to handle myself in that arena that it really takes a lot to set me off, but running out of a room because people don’t fall in line with how I view things would not be an option. That fits in with my own stereotype of the kind of female I don’t want to be.

  172. Dae says

    Second, maybe in that setting it would be best to not display any cleavage.Well, THIS suggestion sounds familiar, now doesn’t it? Sorry, I don’t buy your “I’m actually very sympathetic…” – take your victim-blaming and go fuck yourself. You can “notice” without looking at and talking to someone like a piece of meat. It’s how my roughly Kinsey 5 bisexuality tends to go under the radar with straight women. =P

  173. says

    Y’see, this is one of the weird things for me.I tend to use ‘female’ as an age-neutral term. For example, if I’m referring to a collection of females that comprises both women and girls, I’ll say ‘females’, and think I’m being all clever and respectful and properly inclusive.Until reading this I’d never even considered that ‘female’ could be read in a derogatory manner.

  174. R. Elisabeth Cornwell, PhD says

    Daniel – I will take a look, I know journal articles cost – but the online peer-reviewed journal Evolutionary Psychology (http://www.epjournal.net) is free to all – they have variety of articles on this field (no, it is not always about sex).It is interested that when speaking of sexual orientation, scientists have steadfastly argued that there is a strong biological component. I have spoken at length on the topic – and the data are overwhelming that sexual orientation is part of our individual biological make-up. No one on this list would suggest even though it is biological, some sexual orientations should be banned or seen as unacceptable (or sexist). But, as soon as we start to talk about the biological differences between the sexes – some will accuse me and others as making an excuse for unacceptable behavior (when no one from the EP side said that or suggested that on this thread or in general). So I am just curious why we can accept sexual orientation as a part of our human biology – and say viva la difference, but then be completely intolerant of the suggestion that male-female differences are biological – and that by suggesting they are biological (those of us that do) promotes debauchery and intolerable sexist behavior. Is that sort of a double standard? Only the religious people (and not all religious people – but I never hear atheists attack such a view) become upset with me when I speak about the strong biological influence of sexual orientation. And, might I remind people – sexual orientation is a human behavior (even if not acted upon).

  175. Charon says

    I don’t understand your repeated vitriol about ageism. What is weird or wrong with generally wanting to mate with someone your own age (particularly if you’re young)? And if I say the average 20-year-old is substantially more attractive than the average 45-year-old, that’s just true. Holy cow. This is like being upset when someone thinks it more likely that a 100-year-old person will die in the next year than a 25-year-old person.If you read Lolita, you do in fact sympathize with Humbert Humbert, but you still think what he does is creepy and messed up.At least, most of us do.

  176. SaraDee says

    nobody said anything of the sort. If you’re not offended, fill your boots – but just because you, personally, are not, is not a good argument for why women, in general, shouldn’t be. You asked a question, with three question marks, as though to you it was really obvious that women shouldn’t be offended. So we answered with reasons why many are. No where in either of those statements did someone say EVERY woman should be.

  177. Azkyroth says

    So what’s with people who use “mansplaining” as an ad hominem to dismiss ANY criticism, regardless of tone and even when it’s delivered by a woman?

  178. says

    When I first read this post, I was extremely disappointed in the behavior I was hearing – but also a little wary. I can’t say that I’ve ever witnessed anything even remotely like this in any kind of environment I’ve been in, and having worked construction, I’ve seen some pretty heavy-handed sexist behavior. I was wondering if there were aspects that were misinterpreted.Now, with several posts distinctly and specifically calling this into question, I’m still disturbed, but over two entirely different things:1. That a certain number of commenters here are blatantly refusing to accept the contradictory accounts, and are clearly playing towards a bias without apparent support. That they’re not even pausing to see what the video shows is a total failure of the critical thinking skills most of us promote;2. If true, it means that the guest posters either drastically misunderstood, failed to observe objectively, or intentionally misrepresented the whole affair. Since this is not the first time I’ve seen behavior of this sort, I can tell you honestly, this is why I have an ugly taste in my mouth over feminism. I’m very supportive of equality – but not of seeking it through hyperbole, misrepresentation, and false victimhood. And I’m sure I’m not alone. Such tactics are certainly not going to help promote the cause. As yet, it is not clear that this occurred.I have once in my entire life seen a guy staring at and talking to a woman’s cleavage. That’s anecdotal evidence, of course, but it’s enough to make me wonder just what definition of “staring” we’re actually talking about. I have as much interest in cleavage as the next guy, but decorum and the desire to avoid “creepiness” has forced me to avoid anything more than momentary glances, so much so that my girlfriend actually got annoyed when I was failing to notice something she was wearing. But I also have to ask why anyone’s cleavage is even visible if they are offended at the attention – there are plenty of fashionable, acceptable clothing styles that do not display cleavage or mammary size. And of course, this forces me to ask if it is being displayed because certain attentions are welcomed, but only from select people? While this is going to come off as one of those dreaded excuses of behavior, men are as culturally aware as women. When a woman dresses to accentuate her body, it is because she is encouraging attention – that’s the way our society works. Even if you don’t like it, you’re not going to change it by ignoring it and then complaining because you received exactly the response you should have expected.Were I not in a happy relationship right now, would I be seeking someone at such a conference? Hell, yes! People with my interests and values are pre-selected just by being there! And because women are under-represented in such circumstances, this does mean they’ll receive far more attention than in “normal” circumstances. The same thing applies, with differences in approach, in places where men are underrepresented. This isn’t sexism, it’s opportunism, and it doesn’t have a gender bias. At the same time, where women are overrepresented, the competition among women often gets… can I use the word “catty” without setting someone off? Probably not, but you know exactly what I mean when I say it. What is the term for the woman who shows the most cleavage in that situation?As Dr. R. Elisabeth Cornwell said above, there are distinct differences between the way men and women view interactions, relations, and sex. The reason that the male approach is even brought up, most times (I cannot vouch for this conference that I did not attend,) is to make women aware of it, not to excuse the resulting behavior. Very often, I’ve seen the attitude that since men and women are different, men are wrong – it’s almost pervasive in our society, and actively encouraged in media aimed at women. Dr. Cornwell is one of the very few people I’ve seen ever address this – thanks!I have had to deal, numerous times, with women that cannot handle adversity without crying and leaving the room, which makes it exceptionally difficult to encourage them to handle customer service, or even to receive employee reviews. How come no one ever addresses this inexcusable trait? Should I ignore it when I see it, pursue the woman and keep plugging away at the problem I’m addressing, because it’s ancient evolutionary behavior intended to deflect unwanted adversity, that women should have left behind by now? Shouldn’t empowered women have stopped resorting to this? Or be decrying (heh! I’m a card) it when they see it?And finally, to wrap up this rant. Most men are actually receptive to sexism issues, believe it or not. But the approach has to be honest, and it has to be aimed at encouraging change, rather than throwing blame. Several people directly involved with this conference are actively present in the comments, but I’ve seen no one start a dialogue. That’s not a good sign to me.

  179. Azkyroth says

    How could my being or not being there possibly be relevant?And you evidently care enough to have to have the last word, even at the expense of doing the additive inverse of dispelling my conclusion that you’re an infantile prima donna-type with a ridiculous sense of entitlement.On that note:

    The authors of this blog post failed miserably to accurately describe any of the events of this discussion nor put any of it into context.

    Would this be a bad time to point out that sentence is ungrammatical? :)

  180. quantheory says

    “Blah blah blah, I care enough about how I’m perceived to mount a rebuttal, but not to evince basic social skills and empathy. Blah blah blah, when people don’t like what I say it’s because they are narrow-minded and not because I’m intentionally being a dick. Blah blah blah, arguing and cursing here means you’re petty and have no life, but that doesn’t apply to me.”I’m very impressed, weird person.

  181. Charon says

    The point is that apparently many people didn’t explicitly realize this before, or so clearly.When I teach physics classes, I ask the students why they have antilock brakes on cars. They all have some vague feeling about why, but usually no one can actually articulate it properly. I think it’s freaking obvious, in terms of static v. kinetic friction, but… I’m a physicist. What’s obvious to you isn’t obvious to everyone else (a point which… isn’t obvious to everyone ;)

  182. says

    An apology wasn’t offered immediately, however, I think it would have been a moot point anyway since the woman left the room. The panelist who made the joke spoke with the woman later. He said he apologized, and she said that it was not a big deal. She also said she was being “thin-skinned”. Thanks for giving the perspective as someone who was actually there.

  183. R. Elisabeth Cornwell, PhD says

    So you are suggesting that 100,000 years of human evolution (and even longer when looking and mammalian evolution) simply vanishes because of the invention of contraception? Have you read anything on evolutionary theory? Are you suggesting that there is a body-mind disconnect? The body parts evolved, but the mind did not (we invented it on the fly?). Honestly – before you begin to make such statements, you need to read at least a little bit of science.

  184. SaraDee says

    the author was not EXPRESSING those views, she was COUNTERING them. That was, again, the point: it’s aggravating when a bunch of men say “men hitting on women is just biological (therefore excusable)” therefore “making it sound like a woman in that kind of situation should just STFU and get over it.” Apparently some woman haven’t experienced it, but it has sure has hell shown up on this blog, and at my university, I’ve been told that over and over and over and over and over again. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t have shown up to work on a mine, if I didn’t want the men to talk about what they’d like to do to me over the pit channel (while chit chat is normally a fireable offense on that channel, it was only to be expected from men when there was a woman around. A woman in coveralls, hard hat, safety glasses, and safety vest inside a truck driving by.) “It’s just biology” is constantly used to excuse sexist behaviour, and this article was pointing that out, not condoning it.

  185. quantheory says

    I’m going to reserve judgment on these specific incidents, because a) there’s a lot of anecdotes and drama flying around, and b) the specifics of this event have no real impact on my life right now.However, I will say that the next time a straight guy tries to justify obsessive sexualization of women as a matter of biology, I will definitely be tempted to see how he feels about being on the receiving end of such treatment.

  186. says

    I appreciate that you took the time to check out the claims that were being made before coming to a conclusion. Kudos!I am curious if it offends you when you fill out a form at the hospital or DMV or well, practically anywhere, and you have to mark that you are well – female. I am trying to be sympathetic to the fact that people are sensitive to certain words. But for reason’s sake, we are all posting on a blog that has “hag” in the title. No one seems to have a problem with that, but some have a problem with a scientific word. It is simply astounding to me. The word is common vernacular. If someone asks on a form what sex you are, do you write that you refuse to answer the question on the grounds that the word that is used to identify your sex is offensive to you? I am not trying to be a smartass. I seriously don’t get it. Why is the word “female” offensive?

  187. Todd says

    Thanks for the apology and clarification. They are really appreciated.I agree that any actual staring was inappropriate, even if she was showing cleavage. (I must stress again, however, that this really depends on how one defines “staring.”) I’m not meaning to excuse the staring, which is rude behavior.I’m just saying: She seems to know that some men will “stare” if she shows cleavage in those settings. She seems to really dislike the staring. So, it seems reasonable for her to not show any cleavage in those settings.

  188. quantheory says

    I actually have to agree with R. Elisabeth Cornwell below, that the million dollar challenge is based on principles which are actually supported by studies of gay/lesbian sexual behavior.I suppose that it’s heteronormative insofar as the presentation assumes that the whole audience is straight. I would definitely feel a bit weird about such a situation. However, the principle that it’s trying to elucidate is not one of those things that disintegrates as soon as you bring non-heterosexuals into the picture.

  189. Maggie says

    It doesn’t bother me, per se, because I know it’s my own particular social conditioning at work and not someone else’s malicious intent.

  190. quantheory says

    Do you speak a language other than asshole? Even if your original complaint is 100% valid, I now feel like you can just shove it.

  191. says

    I am a scientist, and am fluent in evolution. Not really for this discussion but if you think contraception didn’t turn human sexuality on its head by giving women absolute control over whether the man had any children I would wonder about your understanding of sexuality. See http://jcarlinsv.blogspot.com/… if you wish to discuss this further.

  192. says

    And the women who’ve commented on here saying that they don’t find it disrespectful, that’s fine for you, but realize that a lot of us do; and I hope that you will be respectful of that. Fair enough, but… is it really realistic for any in-group member to expect an out-group member to know and understand any what any given member of the in-group might find offensive? Is it really realistic to hold them to that kind of standard? It’s one thing if you’re talking about something blatantly offensive or sexist (“the weaker sex” “get in the kitchen”) but when you’re talking about how (“some women may maybe feel offended by the word female and you should always be respectful of that”) I feel like that’s getting a little unreasonable. I don’t think the word “Female” is something any given man can reasonably be expected to know that any given woman is going to offended by.

  193. Todd says

    I don’t have a problem with her not being attracted to older men, just as I wouldn’t have a problem if she privately said that she wasn’t attracted to men of a certain race, socioeconomic group, etc.However, if, within the context of a post about male chauvinism, she writes that it’s “creepy” and “gross” when men of that group “stare” at her cleavage (thereby implying that it would be less creepy and less gross if the men were more her type), then someone should call her out her out about that.Also, the major problem with the Humbert/Lolita relationship was not the difference in ages. It was that he was an adult and she was a child.A 47 year old man pursuing a relationship with a 22 year old woman is not comparable to a 37 year old man pursuing a relationship with a 12 year old girl.It’s as if some people in their early twenties retain childhood ideas about age disparities (e.g., “An 8th grader going out with a 6th grader! Ewwww!). As you get older, age differences become less noticeable.She’s being ageist because she assumes that any reasonable person is going to realize that it’s “creepy” and “gross” for a middle-aged man to show an interest in a 20-something woman.

  194. quantheory says

    I think you actually have some very valuable things to say, but I think you are dramatically wrong in the second-to-last paragraph. (Also, does “PhD” really have to be in your name here? No one does that; you probably didn’t mean it, but it sounds arrogant.)In terms of my paraphrasing about the views that were expressed in the original article about male behavior was just that – paraphrasing from sentences like “that men hitting on women is just biological (therefore excusable), making it sound like a woman in that kind of situation should just STFU and get over it.”This was a complaint about what they thought other people were saying. It’s not that they think men are out of control, but they are objecting to such a statement being used as an excuse.and “20 guys our father’s age blatantly staring at and talking to our cleavage is a totally different situation! It’s not sexy, it’s gross and creepy.”This is the behavior they thought was being wrongly excused. That is, they think that men are perfectly capable of not doing this, but some large number (apparently 20) didn’t bother.as well as “how men’s biology drives them to frequently (if not constantly) pursue sex, and since it’s biology, no one should get upset at, judge, or think less of men for any skirt-chasing they might engage in”….Again, reporting the offensive statements they thought they heard, not saying that this is correct.I did not quote the authors – if that was not what the authors were hinting at… what were they suggesting? They were describing what they thought others were saying, not what they themselves believed. I understand that you want to clear people who you don’t think did anything wrong, but you’d be better off not rushing in with a misconstrual of what the accusation is. The accusation is not that men are like that, but that some men claim to be like that in order to avoid responsibility for their actions.

  195. says

    The only difference between masturbation and sex with a voluntarily sterile woman is that it is friendlier and the body thinks it has accomplished something useful for evolution.

  196. says

    Reminds me a lot of this old thang: http://www.ted.com/talks/steve…The is/ought thing is a tough nut to crack. The number of times I’ve heard an otherwise reasonable and intelligent person resort to the phrase: “That’s all well and good, but it’s just not natural.”I suspect that nearly everyone can passively, intellectually accept the is/ought divide when someone such as yourself (or Sean) explains it:Is/ought divide? Well duh. Of course. I knew that. Get to the point, speaker! My attention is starting to drift here!But internalizing the notion and accepting it on an emotional level? I suspect that’s a lot harder:Because, like, natural things are good and pure and stuff. So icky things must not be? So if something’s icky, it must not be natural. And if natural is good, not natural is bad. It just makes sense.

  197. says

    Also: One of the nice things about not being a scientist myself is that I can make unqualified statements and not have to worry about my professional reputation. ^_^

  198. says

    My reading of R. Elisabeth is that she’s concerned that Sean didn’t actually present the views that Sharon attributed to him.It isn’t: Oh my goodness, Sharon thinks is => ought.It’s: Oh my goodness, Sharon thinks Sean thinks is => ought.At least, that’s my reading.Man…. Keeping up is getting tiring.

  199. says

    Wow.It looks like I completely blew up in that post over nothing.And people still keep clicking ‘like’.I’m grateful to be liked and all – but what’s up? If I could go back and ‘unlike’ my own post now, I’d do so.

  200. quantheory says

    I think that R. Elisabeth Cornwell, PhD espoused a hybrid. Let “is” mean “Men are out of control”, “ought” mean “men are allowed to be out of control”, and “tends” mean “men have a tendency, but can control it”. Sharon asserted:”Tends”, neither “is” nor “ought”, but Sean asserted that “is” and “is” implies “ought”, therefore Sean implied “ought”.Then Cornwell asserted:”Tends”, neither “is” nor “ought”, but Sharon asserted that “is” but not “ought”, and that Sean said “ought”, but Sean said “Tends”, neither “is” nor “ought”.That is, I think both agree that men have tendencies which can be controlled, but Cornwell falsely believes that Sharon is asserting that men are out of control. And they disagree about what Sean said, which can’t really be settled without video.

  201. Katryna says

    Oh for fuck’s sake. If well-developed biceps caused people to become oppressed and abused simply by virtue of having them, that would be one thing. Don’t pretend that well-developed biceps on a man = large breasts on a woman. Just don’t.Also, I’m really not getting what the fuck you’re on about here.If someone gets their pockets picked in an area that’s high in crime, do we then turn around and say, “You have no right to complain–you were carrying money there!” Of course they have a right to complain, they were the victim of unacceptable behavior.And when that unacceptable behavior is socially entrenched, it’s important for some people to step out of their comfort boxes and fight for what they believe in. Part of that includes making the problem visible, which means–GASP!–going through uncomfortable experiences and talking about how uncomfortable they are in the hopes that decent people will say, “This makes some people uncomfortable; perhaps I should stop doing it!” Or (in the case of the people in charge, such as police etc.) “this is really a problem, perhaps I should do something about it.”We both agree that ogling is unacceptable behavior that should be stopped. I think we can both agree that it’s generally socially entrenched. So what, pray tell, is going to cause change if some women don’t stand up and make the problem visible. Men don’t have these experiences–are they supposed to speak for us?So really, if her complaints are making you that uncomfortable, there are one of two options available to you. There’s a back button in the left-hand corner and an X button in the right-hand corner. Avail yourself of one if you are not willing to reconsider your statement.Now, if you have made it through that blistering, angry comment intact, might I recommend reading this before posting again? http://synecdochic.livejournal…When multiple people are telling you after multiple rewordings that something is seriously wrong and fucked-up about your post, it’s a good idea to consider that something is seriously wrong and fucked-up about your post. Thank you, have a nice day.

  202. Rollingforest says

    Most of the time when I see the term used, people are saying that it’s not just the tone but also the content of the man’s comment that is sexist and wrong. But what you are talking about, men being condescending to women about science, is wrong, though I don’t see it too much in my personal life. But tone of voice can often be misunderstood, especially on an internet forum and we shouldn’t rush to judgement about a man’s motivation everytime he explains anything.

  203. Goblinpaladin says

    O_o”She got raped because she was wearing a short skirt.” Seriously, that is EXACTLY how your comment reads.

  204. Todd says

    You said, ‘If someone gets their pockets picked in an area that’s high in crime, do we then turn around and say, “You have no right to complain–you were carrying money there!” Of course they have a right to complain, they were the victim of unacceptable behavior’I never said she didn’t have the right to complain. Also, if someone continually got robbed after carrying around something visible and valuable in a high crime area, I would suggest that he might want to stop doing that.Additionally (and more importantly) staring is not a crime. A woman is completely justified (based on ethics and probability) in assuming she won’t be raped or groped when she wears a low-cut shirt in a room with dozens of men. She may have an ethical assumption that she won’t be stared at, but she almost surely knows that she probably will be.

  205. Rollingforest says

    Yes, there is variety, but I think that women are more likely to be the gatekeepers given their biology. I just don’t see how anyone could argue that a woman has less to worry about from pregnancy than a man does. The woman is the one who goes through 9 months of being pregnant and likely 18 years of caring for the kid. The man has the option of disappearing the next night so men have a higher likelihood of seeking sex.

  206. Goblinpaladin says

    OH NOES! A woman wants to wear clothing she feels comfortable in! It makes men free to leer at her and treat her like shit! If she doesn’t like it it is her own fault for bein’ sexy and she oughta have covered up her damn woman parts.Other arguments from the land of your privileged douchey face: “He got hit by a care because he dared walk on the side of a road! If he didn’t want to get hit by a car, he oughtn’t have been near a road.”Or maybe “He got beaten by white bogans because he was pakistani! If he didn’t like it, he shouldn’t have moved to this country.”

  207. Rollingforest says

    Reply to Daniel from 12:21 AMOkay, I see your point, but I still say that the difference is caused by how biologically costly pregnancy is to each gender as to how sexually active they are. And that people should take other’s feelings into account regardless of gender.

  208. Rollingforest says

    We shouldn’t have our terms revolve around the failings of the members of one group (be it gender, race, sexual orientation, ect) because then people begin to always accuse that group of failing even in circumstances where they don’t. I’m okay with the term ‘feminism” because it has been around so long that everyone knows that it means gender equality, even if it does make you think primarily of one gender. But trying to push the term “mansplaining” into the lexicon just makes one more likely to blame someone of that group without considering the facts.

  209. Rollingforest says

    Are men privileged in many ways? Yes, absolutely. Not having to fear sexual harrassment or rape as much is one example of male privilege. But there are a few things were women are privileged (car insurance, or more importantly the draft). There are also many things where feminism has almost completely erased male privilege in our society (voting, going to college ect). So while I think dealing with the issue of male privilege is important, I think that saying that society is entirely male privilege is way too much of an over generalization (I’m not necessarily saying that you are saying this, but this is the impression that a lot of talks on male privilege give).

  210. Rollingforest says

    A troll is someone who doesn’t believe what they say but just says it to rile people up. I have yet to see you make any attempt to counter what I said, so I’ll assume that you are rejecting my statement out of blind faith in your humanities major dogma which said that everyone is completely a blank slate and biology has no effect on anything. If you have a serious comment then make it.

  211. says

    First: I’m a girl, and I’m sincere. Second: it seems that you misunderstood me somewhat (a lot?), perhaps by reading only what you wanted to read from my (admittedly wordy) post.You agree that there are different ways to hit on people. The respectful way is welcome. The assholish way isn’t. THAT is basically all I’ve said!You know, I thank you — I suspect that our misunderstanding mirrors the misunderstanding that people had at that venue. Maybe I’m wrong. But: it sure seemed (to me) that in this post, and many others, the women were trying to get men to refrain from flirting with them AT ALL — not just from doing it *disrespectfully*. Remember their conversation about biology, about men’s instincts, etc.? Why did they go into that conversation at all? Men weren’t trying to prove the point that their biological instincts tell them to behave like assholes. All they were trying to show is that they have to hit on women. The conversation wasn’t about HOW, it was about WHETHER.Now, since we agree that people want to hit on each other, the next step will be to discuss the “how”. Talking to someone’s cleavage (or junk, or whatever) is universally considered disrespectful, hence — it’s out. Sneaking a peak occasionally is fine. An uninvited touch is a big don’t. (I assure you, we agree on this! I have been harrassed in my life — that wasn’t fun at all. I used verbal violence, and it was effective, but I sure didn’t enjoy it). As long as we agree what are we talking about, it’s a promising venue of conversation — I’m sure that there is A LOT of disagreement about it (at what point an occasional peak becomes ogling? Language — what is offensive, what isn’t? Is a touch really always inappropriate? etc. etc.).Btw, ageism: sorry, she yanked my chain! If *all* that was bothering her was the “talking to her cleavage” part, then — why the hell does she begin that sentence with the guys’ age? Why is it there at all? What, if they were younger, would it make them staring at her boobs more okay? Sorry, but she was asking for it. Even though I agree that these guys probably behaved like real assholes, and I sympathize! But the beginning of her sentence was still very wrong.

  212. says

    Don’t worry, Daniel, I was not offended — probably because I felt that you misunderstood me and the insults were referring to what you thought I meant, not to what I actually meant. So it’s okay. But it made me wonder:Suppose you and I (or other people) have a discussion on the good and the bad ways of hitting on someone. Now, is this a topic on which disagreeing is even allowed? Let me explain: suppose A says “Men shouldn’t do X, its disrespectful” and B disagrees. Is there ANY WAY AT ALL for B to express their disagreement without being accused of MANsplaining (whatever X is, and A and B’s genders are)?

  213. says

    Defensive much? Words can have many different values and effects. Here in Scotland the word ‘cunt’ is often a term of endearment when used in a certain context and in the UK in general it doesn’t have quite the same impact as it does in the US. however if you call a group of women you disagree with ‘stupid cunts’ you are using the word in a sexist manner. I don’t give a toss if you did it to get attention to your post, which is the equivalent of a child shouting random swear words to get adults to pay attention, opening your post in this way just reinforces the thrust of the posts argument. Way to go with defeating your own argument.

  214. Whoever says

    So him calling the author a cunt is bad, but you calling him a dick is ok? How is that not the same thing?On topic, people should stop beeing dumbfucks, goes for both male and female members of our species. That woman was surely a bit oversensitive, which doesnt make the comment less retarded. You all suck, grow the fuck up.

  215. Che26m says

    I’d like to see the whole video first. I’ve noticed some strong opinions by people who haven’t seen the video and who weren’t at the event. Aren’t freethinkers supposed to be more skeptical, logical and reasonable? I don’t believe everything I read on blogs, and the story on this blog missed some points and at times is short sighted. 1. There are many groups out trying to address the challenges of getting more of a broader crowd of gender, age and ethnicity at public events. We’ve been doing it for years and are still working on it. 2. The blogger here, did hit some accurate points about how to help with getting more of a wide range of people at the events. However, all these points are already being addressed with some conventions out there and are a work in progress. My organization has tried for three years to involve the Secular Student Alliance at our events, and since 2008, we have not recieved one reply. If you want more inclusion, and more input into the movement, then you have to read your emails and pick up the phone when people and organizations are reaching out to you.

  216. Che26m says

    I also know Sean Faircloth personally, and will say that never once has he come across anything other than intelligent, thoughtful, and a person who is driven to help everybody in our movement move forward. Again, I’ll wait to see the video. He was at the Texas Freethought Convention last year, and will be again this year. We are proud to have Sean as one of our guests.

  217. says

    I was offended. Daniel called you a fucking troll because you dared to express an opinion of your own. That’s something a sexist pig would do. For shame, Daniel.I should hope that a discussion relating to hitting on people can be discussed rationally and politely, but this blog maybe the wrong place to try it.

  218. paisley says

    I am not offended to make my sex on a form. However, I am assuming that the form says both “female” and “male” and you select one. If the form said “man” and “female”….then I would be irked.

  219. paisley says

    I have not seen the video that the Alabama Atheists are going to post, but it seems like the woman at the conference tried to let people know she was bothered. From the description it really doesn’t sound like she was being listened to at all. I would never just assume that people should know what offends and what doesn’t. But I do feel like when someone is offended by something they should be able to express why, and the listeners should try to show some consideration. I remember seeing this resource for men who want to be allies from Geek Feminism, and elementary mistakes they make. One of the things that was discussed was speech and to not use “female” as a noun when talking about human females. http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/

  220. paisley says

    Yeah, I never understood what it was necessary to call a nurse who is a man a “male nurse”. I’m a scientist and I was on the subway pretty recently and I saw an advertisement for a university: it was a picture of a woman working in the lab and the caption read something like “top ranking women scientists doing research”. I stared at it! There is a pic of a woman, why is it necessary to say “women scientists” it felt like “women scientists” are this different, lesser category of scientists. I know many authors/directors/etc feel this way about “woman” being put in front of their profession – that it makes them feel as if they are a different (lesser) member of that profession.So I guess I’d like to know: when you get called a “male nurse” do you feel like people are devaluing you?

  221. says

    The problem with that is that it’s not actually scientific… until and unless there’s some possible experiment to test it (potentially a few years away, or whatever) it’s not truly falsifiable, and thus not scientific. It might be coherently reasoned, but so were the Ancient Greeks’ ideas about cosmology, gravity, optics, and so on.Just because something makes sense and is well reasoned, doesn’t make it true. It’s just a hypothesis or a postulate, not a theory in the scientific sense of the word, and certainly not one supported by evidence.I’m sure biology, and evolutionary psychology, do have an effect on people. We just have no idea what that effect is, and no clear way available to us of separating any such effects from socialisation.

  222. says

    It is good to hear from someone in the field, but the thing I always wonder about evolutionary psychology (as I mentioned in an earlier reply above), given that it refers to biologically-based behaviours, is how you can separate biologically-based behaviours from socialised ones. I behave fairly atypically for a male, and for a White British person, and some other categories I’m in – and very typically for others. Some of this categories are social, others are biological (with strong links to social counterparts, as in male/man). I have little doubt that a fair amount of my atypicality comes from atypical socialisation when I was very young, and as I grew up. Would evolutionary psychology support that possibility? If so, how can deviation from typicality be socialised, but typicality is so clearly biological?Just because there’s a great explanation available for the behaviour differences being biological, doesn’t mean they are. Even a statistical study doesn’t bear it out unless you have controlled variation in conditions (or wide enough and well-measured enough variation to alleviate the need for controls) – otherwise it’s just cum (or post) hoc ergo propter hocOh, and as a final point, however much people relating these arguments don’t want them to be, they can’t help coming across like an excuse (unintended consequences and all that – I’m sympathetic, we get unintended consequences in my current field as well), or being used as one by someone else, who willingly accepts the (apparent) claim that these things are scientific gospel. For that matter, might the implicit excusing of such behaviour inhibit ongoing behavioural evolution, as the conditions have changed the most advantageous sexual behaviour has changed, so we interfere with whatever change this would bring about by (however much it’s not intended) condoning those behaviours.

  223. says

    It is good to hear from a (presumably) neutral third part on this. I’m perfectly prepared to reserve judgement on the speech in question, and I’ll get on to my preliminary thoughts having now heard all three sides in a moment. My first thought for the event as a whole (the bits we’ve heard about) is that perhaps the failing wasn’t sexism per se, but a lack of sensitiyity to percieved sexism. As sensitive members of any movement (or even society) we should be aware not just of potential sexist (or other discriminatory or prejudice-promoting) behaviour, but also of things that may be perceived as such, and consider our delivery so as to, where possible, avoid such perceptions without altering the underlying meaning. Also, while you would urge the people who were unhappy with the event to consider that they may have a wrong impression, may have mistaken things, consider similarly yourself that there may be sexist aspects to what happened that no-one involved discerned. Either is possible – even both.Regarding the speech… if the description of certain fragments is accurate, then it seems to me that the overall speech may have been pretty good, worthy of an ovation, and not particularly sexist overall. I can certainly see people being uncomfortable at the idea of the male audience being encouraged to look around and assess the degree to which they’d like to sleep with the women in the audience. – I’d be uncomfortable with that, as a man. If few women were bothered by it, then I think that’s arguably a result of socialisation leading to women accepting that men do that, and evo psych arguments (‘not trying to excuse it, but…’) only support such socialisation. One might argue that, if everyone finds it acceptable, that’s a good outcome, but I hae trouble with that morally.However, I would certainly agree that one problematic element doesn’t make the whole speech bad, and a couple of such incidents don’t necessarily make a whole event bad.

  224. says

    I think it does a disservice to all bloggers everyone if you don’t reserve judgment BEFORE you post. If you want to be taken seriously as “journalists”, then fact check your articles. If you don’t, then don’t be surprised if you get vociferous negative reactions.I wasn’t there. I don’t know exactly what happened, and I’m reserving judgment until I see the video. Because you didn’t do the same by allowing the guest post BEFORE you have seen the video, you have caused this firestorm over an organization and people that I respect very highly. THIS is what pisses me off.Even if your post is accurate, Jen, you’ve done the entire community a disservice with your actions. Was it so important that you make your political point that you couldn’t wait a day to do due diligence?And before you say anything, I’m certain that if you asked the organizers for the video and told them why, they would have obliged. If they hadn’t within a reasonable timeframe, then you would have every justifiable reason to go ahead with the article.This is what journalists do.

  225. says

    And it’s TRUE that women are the gate keepers. If the men want in, they better act right. Doesn’t that make women in charge??? What’s humiliating about that??

    Well, it’s arguably humiliating to men, but that’s beside the point…Partners should be equal; all of us as partners in society, and each of us as partners in the relationships we have. Women shouldn’t have to be empowered by having almost complete control of the sexual sphere (assuming arguendo that they do), it ought to be something that requires willingness from both parties without being able to assume willingness.In fact, the argument that women are in complete control is predicated on the idea that men don’t refuse sex. That ought to feel insulting to everyone, but how would it make any woman who’s been refused feel? Sure, leaving aside violence, coercion, etc, women are gatekeepers of sex; actually, so are men. Both parties have to be willing, if you’re leaving aside violence, coercion, or rape of any sort at all. Is it really that vanishingly rare that men turn down sex?

  226. says

    Thanks :-)No, I think this blog is a great place to try it! Maybe I’m naive, but I think that most of the people here are nice, smart, and willing to discuss these important topics, and actually listen to the other side. And Daniel is probably one of them, despite his fit of rage. It was actually quite telling: when someone says “X makes me feel uncomfortable, therefore men shouldn’t do X”, you can’t disagree! No way. You’d just be blaming the victim and denying the priviledge and whatnot… For example, in the article, when that woman went about the word “females” and how it makes her feel like livestock… how can I voice my utter and complete disagreement with her without inducing fits of rage in otherwise normal people?

  227. says

    No, it really did sound pompous and demanding – not sure about the arrogantly part. Try approaching people as equals, or considering that, while it differs from your impression, the authors may have some justification to their reactions. Surely being sceptical on ones own subjective impressions is something we should aim for – and I happily direct that comment at everyone expressing a first-hand opinion of the event; it’s possible that you’re all a little right. To those of us who weren’t there, I suggest that we apply the same uncertainty – we have no way of knowing what it was like, and while a video will improve that, it won’t give us the same impressions as being there, nevermind the fact that the experience of each person there is subjective and will thus differ, without anyone being ‘wrong’.On a subject like this, I’d say that there’s only a wrong if someone, for whatever reason, posted a view or report that doesn’t agree with their own experiences. After that, it’s all subjective experience and difference of opinion.

  228. says

    There is a value to giving the apology publicly even when the person who was obviously upset isn’t there, assuming it’s given to them later as well. It serves as a signal that the person knows something went wrong, even if they don’t know what it was, and that they wish it hadn’t; that can be reassuring to other people who were (less) offended, or who were concerned at the handling, or whatever.I don’t mean this as condemnation, merely constructive criticism. It’s hard to think about things like that when it happens. I just wanted to offer some food for thought.

  229. says

    Most complaints I’ve heard about the use of male/female versus man/woman are actually in the area of gender more generally than sexism, when concerned with the difference between biological sex and gender identity, and so on. Someone could easily be offended by the conflation of the two, particularly if they are transgendered in either direction (a woman feeling that it is suggested that she has certain traits because she’s male, or a man feeling that it is suggested that he’s not a proper man because he’s not male, therefore won’t have the right traits). Especially when evo. psych comes into it, you can get a terrible tangle between biological issues (some of which may apply to a person’s gender if they’ve had certain trans-sex treatments, we just don’t know because we don’t understand the mechanisms of biological behaviour differences too well yet) and social issues. Nature versus nurture, biology versus socialisation, it’s all a complex question that’s hard to tease apart. As you might have gathered from some of my other comments, I tend to feel that many evo. psych arguments ignore (or minimise) this question.

  230. Stephan Goodwin says

    Damn straight! I’m tired of these dickheads giving my gender a bad name! Where the hell are they coming from? Seriously, there seems to be some underground movement within atheism and skepticism that is focused on sheer asshattery and I was definitely left off the list.To all the women reading this, as a man, I apologize (to the extent I can) for any dickish behavior of these guys. We need, desperately to overcome these issues as a movement. Regardless of any possible interpretation issues, there is obviously something wrong here.

  231. Jim Fisher says

    Umm, excusa’ me? Can someone please tell me when the word “female” became a pejorative? That is not in the atheist bible anywhere as far as I can tell. In the meantime, females, please note that there are differences between men and wom… er, females. Men see wom…er females differently than females see men. Seriously, I looked this up in a biology book one time. Vive la différence!

  232. Jim Fisher says

    “and “20 guys our father’s age blatantly staring at and talking to our cleavage is a totally different situation! It’s not sexy, it’s gross and creepy.”Speaking as a man who is old enough to be your daddy: Look, of you don’t want men staring at your cleavage, then cover it up. If I walked around with my butt crack showing, there is no possible way you could NOT look . . . At least for a second before you ran screaming out of the room.Seriously, a woman could be 400 pounds, covered with open sores, smelling of elderberries and if her cleavage is showing a man is going to look. It doesn’t mean we want to take you out back and bang you (well, it might). It simply means that cleavage is a huge red flashing light to our monkey brains that demands attention. It takes superhuman strength to not look at them and, believe me, there are many cleavages that I wish I would not have seen.Seriously, why would FEMALES hang their puppies out there at an event that they KNOW is going to be well attended by men… er MALES, then dare anyone to as much as glance at them?

  233. Dae says

    Yes, women have more at stake in having sex, thanks to the potential for pregnancy. (Which is why we need legislation to protect women’s bodily autonomy instead of the recent slew of attempts to remove it, but that’s another rant and one that I suspect you don’t need to hear, assuming you’re a decent human being.) It’s still a generalization that plays right into line with our society’s deplorable sex-negativity, and I’ve yet to see a convincing argument for why this “point” was being made at an atheist conference.

  234. Dae says

    But it does make anyone who dismisses her out-of-hand simply because their line of tolerance is elsewhere wrong. When someone says “I’m offended by this,” the proper response is to consider it seriously and have a dialogue about how that could be changed, even if the conclusion is that not much will change. It is NOT to ridicule the person and dismiss his or her concerns.

  235. Dae says

    The suggestion that women should change their behavior to avoid being harassed, raped, or otherwise treated like shit. (Maybe we should wear burkas to shield ourselves from men’s lustful eyes – OH WAIT, women in head-to-to covering STILL GET HARASSED AND RAPED.)Women are not responsible for men’s bad behavior toward them.You’re an absolute cretin if you haven’t understood that by now, especially since you’ve bragged about reading this blog often.

  236. Svlad Cjelli says

    I may be a callous bastard, but I don’t really care about the insulting panel issue even if it hurt someone, and I think “female” is a pretty neat word. The “it’s OK to harrass women” issue is the disturbing part.

  237. jimmyboy99 says

    The “C” word, specifically in the US, has been used extensively to denigrate women, a group who have to endure much from the patriarchical “dude” world. A group that has been mistreated and abused over millenia.”Dick” on the other hand has not been used as a term to denigrate men in the same way, and even if it had been, men do not get equal status here: they have been the powerful group who collectively have benefitted from sexism so they are much more immune to this kind of harm.So no. That’s false equivalence there.Being offended by the C word in the US context appears to be a resonable response to the history of the use of that word (think of the N word if that helps give a fairer equivalence). If you want more on this, I propse you pop over to Pharyngula, post the word there, and get yourself an education from some folks who are a lot more eloquent than me on this subject.Impressive debating skills you have there by the way. Well done.

  238. says

    How about we try to look at the original post aside from the contested points. Is it inaccurate to say there are problems with this around the community? Are the suggested improvements not worth considering? Maybe we should try and draw focus away from the bits that there’s questions over, and work on the bits we can agree on, at least in principle.

  239. jimmyboy99 says

    Christie: it’s a really difficult one. Sexism against blokes is clearly rubbish. But…it just does not have the history that misogyny does and therefore is much less potent. I think of if like punching a bruise perhaps. I am definitely in with lots of blokes who sometimes wonder what our place is in these debates (though when the unreconstructed wankers start chatting, it becomes more apparent). So sure: I think sexism against men can (and maybe should) be pointed out. But it’s not equivalent at all because it lacks that (dreadful) historic pedigree. CheersJimmyI also actually find it very difficult to spot in its subtlest forms – which I think is common. Again – it’s the bruise thing: I’ve not been beaten over the head all the time with sexist stereotypes by women who have then profited extensively from the inequality that they have caused, so I’m pretty insensitive to it.

  240. Rob says

    Ok, here’s my serious comment: read Sex At Dawn by Ryan and Jetha. It rigorously debunks everything except cultural presumption as the basis of the behaviors you described. I’m not going to take a 200 page argument and try to fit it into a troll thread, but I can say that that portion of evo psych has been thoroughly trounced.

  241. jimmyboy99 says

    Offense is a difficult issue: it is entirely reasonable to offend some people on some subjects. To set out to do it even. Sometimes you have to.Take the Jesus and Mo cartoons. Designed to offend – and (in part I presume) to make the point that someone’s right to take offense does not trump my right to give it.Whether it’s the best way to proceed in a particular situation is always up for discussion.If you have a group that has been abused for ever (as women have) then it’s quite likely that being prepared to offend them on a sexist platform (because they lack a sense of humour, or your sense of humour or???) is probably just plain stupid. It’s not unreasonable that those who are capable of understanding these nuances (ie freethinkers for eg?), would aim not to reinforce patriarchal, misogynyst stereotypes just because they can or because their sense of humour means they personally are not offended.

  242. says

    I think the only thing that anyone, male or female, present at the event or not, can say without a great deal of doubt or fear of bias or whatever, is that these issues are complicated. Maybe extend it to experiences being subjective as well. No-one but the people whose actions are in question can possibly know their motives at the time, and motives aren’t the only thing that’s important. If there does seem to be a problem, looking at videos, then let’s not assume malice on the part of those showing the problem; if not, let’s not assume malice on the part of those who felt there was. In either case, let’s not assume idiocy on any part. Just a suggestion.

  243. says

    Just to clarify my own comment here: I was writing fairly specifically about the explanation (whether it’s meant to be excuse or not) of ‘typical’ male behaviour with evo. psych, with the delivery (I can’t speak on the scholarly science people are doing with it) seems to take a rational explanation as being evidence, without consideration of alternative explanations. Evidence is needed, beyond reason, for something to be established.

  244. says

    Sorry, I was rushed. I should have stuck with “boffing,” getting laid by midnight. Partnered sex is an entirely different evolutionary kettle of fish. Establishing a strong pair bond through sex in anticipation of eventual parenting or even just for bonding to face the rigors of life is an evolutionary strategy common in the animal world and necessary in humans.

  245. says

    I should add: factual misrepresentation is a bad thing, of course, and some allegations of factually misleading elements of the post are there, and should be examined, and that’s all fine. I think what some of us found difficult with the comment was the tone of entitlement, and of escalating the conflict. Stuff like this can be resolved in other ways, and you could even have made the same point and request without sounding so objectionable. Of course, it could all come down to tone not coming across in text…

  246. Sara Duncan J says

    “Fair enough, but… is it really realistic for any in-group member to expect an out-group member to know and understand any what any given member of the in-group might find offensive”And therein lies the rub – the topic at the forum that started this whole brouhaha was about why more women weren’t involved in atheism. Well, that’s a pretty big problem when women in general can be thought of as a special “outgroup”.

  247. says

    I have known (in my younger days) several women who dressed provocatively at functions like this simply to separate the pricks from people she would like to spend time with. I will admit she didn’t complain about the pricks. She simply frosted them, or should I say wilted them?

  248. Sara Duncan J says

    Ah, yes, the old: well, maybe I’m just more mature/have a better sense of humor/more experience/more intelligence than other women, because *I* wasn’t offended. I, at least, am not one of *those* women.I filled my bingo card ages ago… anyone else?

  249. Gus Snarp says

    I’ve been thinking about this almost every waking moment since I read it last night, because the description is so shocking, and because there’s so much disagreement. Not having been there or seen the video puts me at a disadvantage in one respect, but it also gives me a cool and objective distance, something I think is valuable in this case, so I’m going to share a few more of my thoughts.There are a lot of people saying this post is full of lies, but when I look at the major factual assertions made in the post as well as those made by people who were there and disagree, I find no real disagreement in those assertions. The language is different, certainly, the perspective, maybe even some of the context, but if you’re calling someone a liar, it’s a good idea to make sure they actually said what you’re calling a lie.First, the author says that a woman was torn apart and ridiculed for saying she was offended at the use of the term “female”. Reading the female panelists account of the event, I agree, she was ridiculed and torn apart. Those words are a bit stronger than I might use, but I would certainly go with belittled and made fun of. The words quoted are accurate, and while some of the audience reaction does not seem to be corroborated, in a large crowd what happens in your immediate location may seem very different from someone else’s view of the crowd.Second, the woman fled the hall and the author went after her to console her and the organizers did not. Those calling her a lier seem to corroborate this point. She never claimed to be alone, only that organizers didn’t follow, which apparently they didn’t. Now maybe it was awkward for them to do so, that’s a nuance and perspective that could be important, but did anyone in any official capacity talk to this woman in a supportive way? I’ve seen no one assert that there was an official representative of any kind talking to her.Third, the million dollar challenge, which has been attacked and edited out for supposed dishonesty, is merely a lack of context, everyone seems to agree with the basic substance of what was said. The author may have made it sound a bit worse, but not much, and in a long speech a dramatic moment involving audience participation that offends you could easily stand out and not really be taken in context on the spot.So, let’s stop calling people liars. Misleading at best, certainly not lying, and not nearly as misleading as George W. Bush.Now, on to evolutionary psychology. It’s basic human nature to become defensive when someone tells you you are being sexist, racist, ignorant, that you have a drinking problem, halitosis, body odor, bad hair, or whatever. No matter how much they’re trying to help, the natural response is defensiveness. That makes sense in an animal with a highly evolved social structure, if your social status is attacked, you lash out at the attacker, attempting to bring them down in status before they can bring you down. I just made that hypothesis up off the top of my head, but anyway any psychiatrist or therapist will tell you that defensiveness is the standard response.This leads to an enormous amount of the conflict in the world, including this one. But while it’s a natural response, it’s not the right one. One person had the courage to stand up and say she was offended by the extensive use of the word “female”. Was she being over-sensitive? I don’t know, but in a meeting packed with and run by men her voice should have been respected. Acting dumbfounded or making a cheap and dismissive joke was a defensive response, and it was wrong. This was a discussion where women’s issues was a topic at hand, this could have been a jumping off point into more conversation or though, at the very least an honest explanation could have been proffered instead of belittling comments.The defensiveness has continued with the response to this blog post, which may be inflammatory, but that doesn’t mean we should cast it aside with offended and officious protestations and accusations of lying. Instead we should be willing to examine and discuss the actual issues the post raises. One of which is the standard issue in blogging: how much should bloggers hold back? How much is airing of dirty laundry in the wrong place? It’s a tough issues, because blogs began as rather personal publication spaces, and that ethos still holds sway. But it doesn’t mean bloggers don’t sometimes do a real disservice to an issue with a hasty and inflammatory posting. Nor does that mean that the blogger doesn’t have a legitimate concern or that their point of view should be ignored.And finally, more on this million dollar challenge. In spite of the response to my comment above, I stand by it. Anyone who has done any dating or had any kind of heterosexual relationship knows that women control access to sex. They may not have compared us to birds of paradise in the biological origins of our behavior, but they know the basic fact. And anyone without that experience has seen it on a sitcom or a bad stand-up routine. It’s not new and it’s not terribly interesting. What might be interesting in a discussion of sexual equality is to look at the broader implications of this fact. One of which is that it is basically saying that the only power women have in society is control of sex. So for a woman to be powerful, to get what she wants, she has to withhold or dole out sexual favors in a manipulative power struggle instead of just having fun with someone she likes. And that’s no fun for any of us.The million dollar challenge demonstrates something else as well, namely that all those women with their hands raised have to be concerned when they’re out drinking that someone will drop a roofy in their beverage, while the men have no such concern unless they put too much stock in urban legends about kidney thieves. Not everyone is a victim, and women shouldn’t all be seen as victims, but I didn’t create the implication, it flows naturally from the statement made by the million dollar challenge.These are things worth talking about. They’re challenging, they require new and original thought and methods of progress. They’re the kind of thing that people who pride themselves on being smart, on being free thinkers, and simply on liking to think and discuss weighty issues ought to be discussing. Not the fact that women get to say who has sex, therefore they have power, but rather what that means for society. So did the speaker go into any of that?

  250. says

    I call BS, I am man her fathers age too and you are doing the typical blame the victim routine. What? should she dress in a full burqa? would that work for you? She is not talking about casual glances (both sexes engage in that), she is talking about out right ogling, which if I were a 20 something woman would creep me out too.

  251. Gustavsnarp says

    That’s the point? I’m not so sure. The speaker may have though it was a revelation, but was it really a revelation for the audience? If so then we skeptics have earned our reputation for being socially awkward nerds. I don’t think anyone who has been in a sexual relationship or watched a sitcom can fail to be aware of it. Of course for high minded skeptics, perhaps they have enough of a classical education to have read or seen a performance of the Trojan Women.Fundamentally I find the demonstration insulting and demeaning – to the intelligence of the audience.

  252. plublesnork says

    ugh, what a grotesque comment.This power women have over men, it’s such a wonderful privilege they have there. Makes me think of the privilege of preferential treatment in custody battles because those wimmins are the ones who are supposed to be looking after kids, because that’s womans work.Or then there’s the women who get hassled by men all the time, you might say they have the privilege of being able to get laid pretty much whenever they choose, or the privilege of cheap nights out because of all the free drinks guys will buy for them. Taking advantage of the situation to get what you want in that one in one thousanth occurance where an advance isn’t unwanted/unwelcome, yeah, that’s totes a privileged position there.I’d like to support your organisation, Scott, but you’re being a douchebag.

  253. jimmyboy99 says

    I have been guilty of this myself, partly because I like breasts, and partly because I’m getting really absent minded. I stare at lots of things quite by accident these days.But I’ve always assumed that if I cause offense by staring at a woman’s cleavage that really is my fault and I should try quite hard not to. Pointing the finger at the woman for having and showing a cleavage is classic victim blaming. There’s nothing wrong with a woman showing her cleavage and she should not have to apologise for it or hide it. If blokes stare and make women uncomfortable that’s not the woman’s fault. My curiousity combined with my sexuality are mine to control.

  254. Don says

    When I was a nurse, and people would call me a “male nurse,” as opposed to “nurse” or “professional nurse” or “the charge nurse,” I did find it irritating. It’s not that the phrase made me feel devalued, it’s that the people who used the phrase had other, much more damaging, ways of showing that they didn’t want me in their profession. (And they won. Now I write software and laugh at my former salary.)

  255. paisley says

    I’d like to go back to the female/women discussion. I stated earlier in the thread that I don’t like it because it makes me think of National Geographic. However, I feel that I should elaborate on WHY I think it makes me feel this way. It appears to me that throughout this thread many of the women at the event (which was in the South, so I think it may be fair to assume that they are Southern) found it ridiculous that anyone would find a woman being referred to as “a female” would get upset. However the authors of this post (both from? (or currently living in) Ohio) found it reasonable, as do I. I’m originally from MI (South Detroit) and I’ve been living in the North East for the past 3 years (always in a major city). This is WHY I find “females” irritating.1. It is very rare to hear. I’ve only just begun to hear “females” leaking into speech in the last 2 years.2. I have ONLY ever heard “females” being used instead of “women” by men, NEVER any women. Specifically by men under the age of 30.3. I don’t ever hear “males” get used in place of “men” or “guys”If the experience in the South is different – both men and women use “females”, “males” will get used instead of “men”, using “females” has been around for awhile and is not uncommon – then I guess I can understand why it was found to be so strange that someone didn’t like it.Finally, I have to say that I’m kinda disappointed that so few commentors choose to try to interact with me to understand why I shudder when I get referred to as “a female” instead of “a woman”. Instead many commentors have chosen to respond with “I’m a female, it doesn’t bother me, if it bothers you then you’re stupid and petty”It’s much more productive to try to figure out the reasons. If someone can tell me that their experience in the South is that “females” is part of normal vernacular then I’d appreciate knowing that. Then I would know that if I make a trip down South that I shouldn’t be offended (when I would have otherwise been). Furthermore, it’s good for you to know that if you come to a city in the North and are a woman who would refer to a woman as “that female” many people would be surprised, and if you were a man who did that, there is a decent chance some women would be offended.

  256. says

    Regarding the million dollar challenge, I’m just seeking clarification; the researcher who (I believe) coined it said it had two parts – to the men, and then the women. For what it’s worth, with there clearly being two parts the value is clearer, although I’m not sure I’d go as far as to get people to really put themselves in the shoes or encourage them to look around, for instance, but it’s a good illustration.I haven’t read every comment in the thread, for obvious reasons (I have a life away from this blog, after all). However, no description I’ve heard of the version at this conference included the second part. This could be a natural omission – so I’d like to know if it was included. Can anyone who was there clarify?

  257. Todd says

    You’re comparing rape with “staring.” One is a crime; the other is not.Besides the obvious lunacy of implying that rape and staring are even in the same range of behaviors, there is the matter of probability.A woman could walk into practically any room full of men in America wearing a low-cut shirt and reasonably expect that she WON’T be raped. I don’t just mean that she would be morally justified in expecting that she won’t be raped. I mean that it is extremely unlikely that it will happen.”Staring,” however, is a different matter. If a woman walks into a room full of men and she’s wearing a cleavage-baring shirt, there’s an almost certainty that someone will look at her cleavage for more than a second at some point.I think some of the problem here is that people have seen movies like The Accused and then they want to apply that lesson to the wrong scenario.

  258. TheG says

    I do, but not necessarily in a sexist way. The best method I have to explain why it is so debasing is to ask them to start referring to the doctor as “black doctor” or “female surgeon.” I especially use this line of comparison on obstetric units, where there are many doctors that understand how hard it is to overcome the stigma of your gender within a profession. Nobody wants to have their achievements qualified with a discriminator (“yes, he’s a good nurse… FOR A MALE” or “I suppose, as far as someone with too much pigment in his skin, he’s competent as a president…”)

  259. says

    Why do you shudder when you hear the term “female”? I never use that term, I try to use woman/women. I refrain from using the term “girl(s)” when speaking about an adult woman. I must admit I am not perfect though and when I am with the “boys” I will saying something like “chick”. refering to women.

  260. Richard Hesketh says

    Perhaps that now, some men feel freed up from the fetters of a religious dogma they have a right to voice unacceptable attitudes and opinions? I have seen this in the UK. As some are brought up to understand that a moral framework equals belief, they tacitly and perhaps unwittingly see their new group as ‘liberal’ in all ways. Men behaving badly is no unusual phenomenon when the teacher’s out of the room. I am ashamed of my sex’s conduct sometimes and struggle not to get on my soapbox!

  261. says

    You’ll have to forgive my bluntness, twelve years in the military does tend to leave that mannerism in people. I did not mean to come across as pompous or demanding but if my statements offended you please know that calling me names or ridiculing my grammar will not sway my opinion in any way. I understand that the authors of this blog post are stating their perception of the events that transpired and they are entitled to their opinion. However, you have to understand that not everyone agrees with their perception of the events. As someone who witnessed these events first hand I can confidently tell you that my perception of the events that transpired was entirely different. As for the bluntness of my original comment, perhaps I could have phrased it differently. But in doing so I believe it would detract from the indignation I feel about this libelous blog post. I hold people accountable for their actions and the authors of this blog post do not get a free pass to misrepresent an entire group of people unabated.

  262. Gus Snarp says

    I’ve heard the term used in a highly pejorative manner, usually in the South, actually. This may not be noticed among highly educated people and scientists in general, but if you’ve spent enough time around the great unwashed masses you find that “female” is a term you apply to a hunting dog or to the prey, not to a human. When applied to a human it’s usually “those pesky females” (as a crude example, but perhaps you see the kind of usage I’m thinking of?) . No, not everyone uses it this way, and this probably never crossed the speakers’ minds, but it exists, and someone in the audience could surely hear it that way. I actually heard it that way reading the female panelist’s blog post on the matter.Now the claim is that the terms “male” and “female” were used throughout, but if you happened to hear “men” used a few times, but only heard “female” for the women, it could quickly come across as a bit sexist, I imagine.

  263. paisley says

    I watched the link of the talk from Boston (which granted is not where the incident took place) but a few people said it was the same talk. Both parts were included. First the men raised their hands if they thought they could “boff” a woman by midnight, Then the women raised their hands if they thought they could “boff” a man by midnight. When I read the post (before the Million Dollar Challenge part was removed) I do not recall the authors mentioning the second part – of women raising their hands.

  264. Don says

    Since you helpfully quoted the original complaint, it’s clear that she wasn’t complaining about to “looking” or “glancing.” She was complaining about staring, which is an aggressive behavior, something you’d readily admit if someone was staring at you. (Or, try staring at someone with a REAL monkey brain: see how a wild gorilla likes being stared at. I’ll watch from over here.)So instead of responding to her actual complaint, you set up a straw man and bravely knocked it down. I don’t speak for women, but I’m going to predict this isn’t going to persuade them to agree with you.You also claim to be unable to stop staring at their tits. I could buy that from an adolescent, but not from a (fellow) old fart. We’ve both had decades of practice at not looking when the situation called for it. At this point if you’re staring it’s because you want to, not because you can’t help it. Make some non-staring eye contact FFS, is that so hard?

  265. jimmyboy99 says

    You have presented a straw man here. Who said there is anything wrong with wanting to mate with someone your own age?Please quote.And if I say the average 20-year-old is substantially more attractive than the average 45-year-old, that’s just true. Holy cow.,/b>That’s “just true”? You seem very certain. All my life I have found older women attractive (a certain beauty that comes with age, together with life experience). There are no certainties or absolute truths here. Well – as stated it might be true that you find certain groups more attractive than others, but very clearly that is not applicable to everyone.There are plenty of very successful relationships which have substantial age gaps. I’m sure Jen knows this – and was not suggesting otherwise. What’s creepy is having a load of blokes letching. Make them old blokes and they are still letching – which is the problem. Old might make them feel more intimidating to a young woman because the age/respect thing might make them seem harder to deal with perhaps. But there is nothing inherently wrong with age-discrepant relationships until the age difference is used to exploit a weaker party (let’s leave juveniles out here which we can probably agree on – but would be a red herring to the argument). At which point it is the exploitation which is the issue, and age just the tool used to execute it.This is like being upset when someone thinks it more likely that a 100-year-old person will die in the next year than a 25-year-old personFalse equivalence: the two are not comparable. One appears to be a definitive statement that the average 20-year old is substantially more attractive than the average 45-year-old – and as presented, universally true. A universal truth, if you like. (Which I can confirm to be untrue for some people: it matters – older people should not be demeaned by being thought of as automatically unattractive).The other is a statement of statistical probability which is certainly corroborated by facts in most societies.When I read Lolita I struggled to complete it. I sypathised not 1 tiny jot actually – because there was a juvenile being exploited sexaully which I find sickening.At least, most of us do.Who is “us”? If the world at large, do you have any way supporting this (wild) assertion? It’s complete shite I’d suggest – as is your attempt to make a point by claiming support which you have not obtained.Your imperative certainties are pretty revealing.

  266. OneSidedDiscussionMan says

    They like to concentrate on negative attitudes and pretend that it is the norm around here.

  267. says

    I understand that Sam and I do tend to be a bit blunt and abrasive. Anyone who knows me will probably tell you that I tend to get straight to the point and that I sometimes rub people the wrong way by doing so. I mean no harm, I only expect that people be held accountable for their actions… as should everyone. I never “demanded” a formal apology and a retraction, I merely expect (predict) that once the video is released and the truth of the events are revealed that the authors of this blog post will see their error and take the appropriate action.Also, I do see how difficult it would be as someone who did not witness the events in question and are receiving two entirely different versions of the events on which to base any sort of opinion. And you’re right that even the video will still fail to sway some people’s perceptions. Without the proper context anything can get skewed to purport a different meaning entirely. What matters is the civility shown to those that have a different opinion from your own. From my experience so far on this blog it seems that civility has gone entirely out the window.

  268. says

    Civility is important, sure. Also, I would say that, however swayed someone is to either position by a video, or by being there, that should cause them to disregard that fact that some people had a problem with it. The difficulty the anonymous woman had with ‘females’ is separate from the difficulty the posters had with the million dollar question, and both are separate from any problems in how it’s been reported. I just want to remind people that, for instance, even deliberately misleading content in the original post doesn’t invalidate any problem anyone might have experienced.And civility is still here from some of us; I suspect, from your explanation, that the tone you would have delivered the original comment in was different from how we read it, and that can even be down to regional differences in use of English. Certainly, I’ve heard “confident expectation” used as an expression of arrogant certainty and self-assurance (“I know I’m right so I don’t even need to consider other views”) before, and in person, so that’s the way I read it.

  269. Gus Snarp says

    I just really want to see someone shit on a desk and explain it as their biological imperative.

  270. Attendee says

    As a long time supporter of genuine equality against the claims of sexist feminism I was not “offended” by the anti-male feminist content of Fairlcloth’s speech. I am completely used to it. It’s normal in our society to stereotype men negatively. He also made some points about anti-male discrimination and issues which was pretty brave of him.I did not witness the Sunday morning events but it sounds like the woman was a jerk. If a man had acted as she did he would be called a jerk. But women can get away with this rude behaviour. As described above she stood up and shouted out when everyone else was politely waiting their turn to speak. Jerk. Then she made a ridiculous and divisive attack on the speakers accusing them of thinking women were cattle. Jerk. Then when she couldn’t get sympathy for her position she ran out of the meeting.If a man did all this we would not be discussing his feelings but what an asshole he had been. Nobody would run after him and nobody would tell him how valid his views were. Nobody would tell him that as long as he feels unhappy his emotional state is more important than the good running of a meeting with 200 other people in it.And certainly nobody would write long articles defending his right to be a jerk.

  271. says

    It also depends on the definition of “cleavage.” A few years back there was a kerfuffle about Hillary Clinton “showing cleavage” on the Senate floor. Here’s what the fuss was about: http://www.marius.org/2007/07/… There was just enough of her upper chest showing to make it obvious that like most women, she has two breasts. Alert the media! Nearly 90,000 Google hits. <facepalm></facepalm>

  272. Attendee says

    “Male” and “female” are used very commonly in gender discussions. I bet the authors of this article use those terms a lot (a quick search of their web site would no doubt prove this) and I bet the woman who disrupted the meeting uses both terms a lot too.Accusing someone of thinking women are cattle on this flimsy basis was rude and disruptive.

  273. OneSidedDiscussionMan says

    Hey, look at all the comments taking Jen’s side without having checked if what they heard of the the other side has any accuracy.Like that /r/atheism thing.I beging to see a pattern in how this site works. I’m fucking happy not to be part of THIS “atheistic movement”, it looks like some Cult Of Jen.

  274. paisley says

    The video of what happened during this part of the conference has not been put up yet and so I am unable to speak to what actually occurred. Furthermore, I did not get the impression from reading this post that the woman was accusing the panel of thinking women are cattle. I read it as, “when you use language, like replacing the noun “woman” for “female”, it makes me feel uncomfortable – as if you are talking about a non-human animal.” Just as I have said that when I hear men do this (because as you can read above, I’ve only heard men do this) it suddenly causes that National Geographic voice to play in my head “The female of the species…”And again using “female” and “male” where I’m from are proper in certain situations. For example if you’re talking about biological differences that span species, or if you’re using it as a adjective. However, I have almost exclusively heard it used as one guy talking to another guy “man, females are crazy” or “we’re gonna go check out some females tonight”. I’ve never heard woman say something like “us females are gonna go out tonight” “that female has some great shoes”.

  275. Rollingforest says

    I’ve found that when people start using personal insults, it means that they are worried that they won’t win the argument and want to bring down their opponent before he can ask anything that would reveal that fact.

  276. Rollingforest says

    Again, to you apparently “troll =anyone who doesnt’ agree with me” like you’re trying to play God or something.This comment reminds me of an article circulated a few months ago by a theist who said that Richard Dawkins wasn’t allowed to talk about atheism until he had read every single theist paper that had been published in the last 2000 years. Nowhere did the theist actually provide any argument for his side, instead just sending Richard Dawkins off to do all the work. It seems that there is a similar situation here.Sure, I’ll try and read that book. But if it was so great, you should be able to summerize it here.

  277. paisley says

    “a woman can be sexist towards women – it’s weird, but it happens.”This actually isn’t weird at all; it is very common. We live in a patriarchal society and many women are wedded to patriarchal ideas. One of the ways the feminist movement actually developed was by women getting together and talking about the sexist views they had towards themselves and others and trying to work through them. Furthermore, when patriarchy gets challenged, those women who stand by it get praised by men and are thus rewarded by those at the top of the social hierarchy. We also live in a society with white privilege and many people of color will tell you that they find themselves valuing some ideas of whiteness that are racist – example: Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye spoke of blacks struggle with ideas of white beauty.

  278. Attendee says

    Well the female equivalent is looking at men’s bank balance of course, not their biceps and women do that all the time. When a woman who says to her friends, “I met a nice doctor” is slammed as a sexist as much as a man saying “I met a nice Double D cup”, then we will have gender equality.But until then women offend far more than they are offended in this matter.

  279. jimmyboy99 says

    But I also have to ask why anyone’s cleavage is even visible if they are offended at the attention – there are plenty of fashionable, acceptable clothing styles that do not display cleavage or mammary size.Right.And why would any woman wear a mini-skirt if she doesn’t want to be raped, right?Nice victim blaming.I have once in my entire life seen a guy staring at and talking to a woman’s cleavage.Do you think that possibly the fact that many women describe this behaviour, might indicate that it’s your “eyesight” which is the problem here? Or are all those women just being over-sensitive in that way women just are? Just all hormonal and all over the place, right?There’s so much more I could comment on here…but could I propose you jsut try to put yourself into the shoes of a woman who is feeling harrssed by these issues for a second? Start with: “if they are complaining about it, maybe there’s some truth in it”, say? And then go on from there.

  280. says

    Just assume for a moment that they were sincere, it being impossible to establish absolutely either way (therefore needing to consider both possibilities). Feeling very strongly about something, and frustrated with “in order” attempts to voice it, they spoke out. In terms of basic principles, the same as civil disobedience from powerless people trying to fight for their views (so not out-and-out not on). On voicing this opinion, they were, seemingly (and none of the other accounts from people who were there seem to contradict this in the facts) ridiculed for this. More appropriate would have been “we certainly didn’t mean to be offensive; we can’t deal with this in detail now, but someone will certainly discuss it with you afterwards”. Things were done inappropriately by more than the woman in question, based on what I’ve read from both sides.This doesn’t make anyone evil, and no-one should be being demonized about it.

  281. says

    If you call a group of men that you disagree with “cunts” is it still sexist?And, I get blah, blah, blah, poor pitiful women, men evil men don’t have a right to weigh in or have feelings. I am asking you a sincere question. So please cease and desist with the women are so frail and unsubstantial that men should treat them like fucking rose-petals / men are evil, privileged assholes bullshit. Eventually, the “weak” have to stop being such a bunch of weak-ass whiners and wo-man the fuck up! It is time for people to stop playing the martyr cards. I have “faith” that people are strong, powerful individuals. Why do they underestimate and undercut themselves so much?Sorry, Welsh Andy. The question was for you; the rant was not. : )

  282. Attendee says

    That’s not the precise issue. The issue is that men and not women are expected to make the first approach in sexual relations. It’s a shitty job that opens you up to all manner of rejection, humiliation, disappointment and in some cases criminal liability.It’s sexist that our society expect women to do none of this work. It’s all on the men. But rather than give men respect and thanks for doing all that work – which both sexes benefit from – the male role is criminalized and women feel they have the right to complain when men get it wrong Ask men if they would like or dislike lots of pretty young women making eyes at them and approaching them. Women are complaining about a situation where they have it far better than men! Of course sometimes being approached is a pain and you get people you don’t find attractive approaching you along with those you do, but on the whole both men and women agree they would much rather not be the one that has to do the approaching.

  283. says

    We obviously can’t tell whether the characterisation of “accusation” is fair, of course, but the distinction is that “female” has no implied humanity (nor does “male”), but “man” and “woman” do. I can’t say about that specific situation, but one does see some texts, or hear some speakers, use “man” predominately for men, and “female” predominately for women. Unless you’re making a distinction between sex and gender (where male and female are the right words), or talking across multiple species, using ‘female’ as a noun is problematic (not necessarily objectionable) for just this reason.Of course, I’m far from the first to explain that in this thread…(ooh, case in point of it as a dramatic device, look at Ferengi dialogue in the first few seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation = the writers effectively signpost Ferengi misogyny by their exclusive use of ‘female’ even in the noun form)

  284. jimmyboy99 says

    Too right. Apart from anything else: let’s try not to have 5 men, 1 woman on a sceptical panel. Let’s try to ensure we have lots of women in leadership in our organisations even if at first some are a bit nervous about that due to lack of experience or legacy expectations for eg (we can always be supportive and helpful after all). Let’s get lots of women to speak at our conferences. Let’s ensure that when women speak their views are given due consideration. Let’s try to ensure they speak in the first place. Let’s look back over how things were organised with a critical eye for the male/female balance. Let’s think creatively how we can be really open to women at our meetings and given the issues raised, have an elevated sensitivity to those issues. Let’s not hit on them aggressively or in large groups when they come to our meetings. Let’s use their judgement as to what is intimidating here and not trust our male judgement on this (because it’s been found wanting just once or twice in the past). Let’s call sexist language all and every time it occurs, not just let it slip because that’s easier to do.And if we don’t have more women coming after a bit of effort, let’s ask ourselves why and not let ourselves off the hook with a crap answer.Why is this so difficult?

  285. paisley says

    I don’t believe Jen took a side in this discussion. In fact, she even removed part of the authors’ post. The only thing Jen has had any input on in this thread has been the whole “if you cleavage can be seen, then you deserve men to look at you” trope. Also, I’ve been following this whole comment thread and I’ve felt that with the input of those who were at the meeting added, it was kinda decided that everything was up-in-the-air as to how it all took place and have moved on to discussion issues that were raise outside of specific details of the event.

  286. says

    This post really is a misrepresentation of the events that took place at SERAM. I was there and present at the panel discussion where the young lady became upset; it was an unfortunate incident, but it was not something that needed to derail the rest of the conference, and I believe that by moving on with the panel, the moderator did the right thing. Another point that I would like to make is that the statement “none of the event organizers went after her” is a blatant lie. Christie Swords was an event organizer, and left the room immediately to follow the woman to the bathroom. She stayed there with her until the end of the panel discussion. In fact, I had to go in to let her know that she was due to be on stage for her own panel so she would not be late.I think that emotions are running high on both sides of this debate, and views are getting skewed. No one is evil or stupid in this situation. I think if we step back and look at the reality of the events, we’ll see that it really doesn’t need to be this much of a deal.I have a lot of opinion on this, and I don’t want to take the space here in the comments to say everything. I’ll be blogging about it tonight.

  287. Quantal says

    If women don’t want us to look at their breasts, why on EARTH would they walk around with their breasts exposed? It is completely illogical. Many women even do it during winter, when it is surely in their interests to dress warm. Despite claims to the contrary, we’re not all capable of preventing ourselves from looking at a woman’s exposed breasts. We all differ in levels of self-control.

  288. jimmyboy99 says

    Read it again. Lots here have taken no side (while commenting extensively) because we don’t know the facts (and probably won’t get them just by watching a video either given how limited that information will be). You read what you wanted to read.It’s not strange that people come here because they like Jen’s take on things (and perhaps can’t be arsed to run their own sceptical blog). To suggest it’s a Cult of Jen just speaks to your ignorance. Lot’s here take regular issue with Jen’s positions. It’s part of being sceptical. And she rarely bans people either so…where’s the “cult” bit come from?Did you have a real point there at all?

  289. says

    Not sold either way on the ‘female’ thing, as it can, IMO, be problematic at times.Right with you on the “biology tells them to be jerks” argument. Whatever the intent of the speaker, it ends up being used, even if only internally to a person, to excuse behaviour.

  290. Rollingforest says

    It is possible to test the idea that women can only have a few children while men can theoretically or actually have thousands. There is evidence for it in the real world. For example, 8% of central Asia is directly descended from Genghis Khan because he forced so many women to have sex with him during his rampages. There is another example from Libyan history and another from Irish history. There are no women that have that large a biological impact in that short a time. Also, humanity’s last common female ancestor (mitochondrial eve) lived at least 50,000 years earlier than humanity’s last common male ancestor (Y chromosomal Adam). It is also possible to test in other animals (for which we, rightly or wrongly, don’t give the same ethical considerations that we do to humans) that females are more choosy do to biology. We can prove that females with limited eggs in every species we test are more choosy except in cases where a readily understood exception shows otherwise. We can also show that female humans are more choosy in pretty much every culture. So yes, it is possible that humans could be completely special and due to the ethical limitations of our research, we would have missed this odd twist that goes against everything else we’ve ever learned. But when you have proof for all other animals and circumstantial evidence strongly suggests humans are the same, how cautious should we be in suggesting our theories? Biology is never going to be as precise as physics (as the quote goes from the physicist goes, all science is physics or stamp collecting). There are always going to be thinks that we can’t absolutely prove (I can’t absolutely prove I’m not dreaming this conversation, but I’m still willing to agree with the science of how my computer works). What vocabulary should I use? “The evidence suggests…”?

  291. Gus Snarp says

    Excuse me while I shit on your desk to demonstrate my dominance. I can’t help it, it’s biology.Besides, read from the beginning. The operative verb root used is “stare”. I expect that many women who wear shirts that show some cleavage don’t mind a glance, but you shouldn’t, and you don’t have to stare.Not to mention of course that some women’s breasts are apparent virtually no matter what they do. See Jen’s “bro-Jen” picture in a previous blog entry for an example. Is anything less than an ace bandage and a burka an invitation to gawk? But surely you knew all this, it’s certainly been covered, you’re just being obnoxious.

  292. says

    It is okay to have a problem with it. It is not okay to lie about events that happened in an attempt to skew people’s opinions of another person or group of people. I think THAT is what keeps getting overlooked here. Sharon lied. The dishonesty cannot totally be attributed to a difference of opinion or subjectiveness. I also hate that when someone points out that the post is dishonest and hurtful no one seems to care about that. They simply call us assholes or sexists and move one. (Just like the blog post accused the moderator of doing.) The fact that Jen is leaving an article that is offensive and hurtful to stay up is disappointing. I have been a fan of the blag hag for a while. I do not always agree, but this really hit home when Sharon made it sound as if the whole group of atheists that were there are insensitive assholes. I was one of those athesits. Why take down the Million Dollar Challenge part if you are going to leave the rest of it up. Her accoutn of what happened has been discounted by several people who were present and were hurt by her saying that no one cared enough to help a distressed person. It also bothers me that she tried to say that all the women were screaming inside our heads about the outrage that we felt. 1. Most of us did not feel outrage. 2. If I did, you can damned well bet that I don’t need anyone to stand up for me, particularly someone who is dishonest. As I have stated in other posts, I am not doubting that Sharon felt offended. I am not saying that she has no right to feel such. I am saying that she lied about events that happened. It draws her whole intent into question. I feel that she has falsely tried to get people to believe that some heinous thing happened at a southern atheist convention. She is allowed to feel that way all she wants. If someone has a valid point, they do not have to lie to make their point.It is sexist to think that just because someone is a female, and they have their feelings hurt that they cease to be accountable for their actions.

  293. Rollingforest says

    So does that mean that theoretical physics isn’t science? Theoretical physicists use mathmatical models but leave the scientific tests to the experimental physicists. String Theory, for example, one of theories that physics focus on the most, has mathmatical models supporting it but deals with subatomic particles too tiny to test currently. Is string theory, the theory that has captured the attention of physics professors everywhere, not science according to your definition?

  294. says

    I wasn’t in this sub-conversation, but here’s my take:I don’t see that women are fragile and men have to be careful not to hurt them. People are fragile, generally, and we ought to be mindful of the possibility of hurting people, but that’s not the real point I’d want to make.People who have expressed that something hurts them should have some consideration of that. Where there’s genuine evidence that the individual in question is misusing claims of hurt, “crying wolf”, effectively, then that can have relevant too. If someone sincerely expresses hurt because of a person’s actions, it behoves that person to try to understand why it hurt them, and figure out what to do either remedially, or to allow for the problem in future.

  295. OneSidedDiscussionMan says

    I receive notification of the posts here on my gmail.So I read your comment, about how the enlightened people here went to discuss the core principle of Sexism. Next, I look at the post right above yours (I receive them in order they are posted of course) and this is what I see : “Apart from anything else: let’s try not to have 5 men, 1 woman on a sceptical panel. “That’s not about the panel? I see comments like this in every new posts to this thread in fact. People that *where at the fucking conference* are getting called assholes, and that despite having other posters corroborating their side of the story.Jen took a side just by posting this without verification. This posts wouldn’t have made the main page if not for the little feud with non-blogging atheists she had this weekend. That’s the side she took.The call on this blog for “sexism” in some elusive “atheistic community” is based on 3 things right now : How /r/atheism are sexist : This claim is refused by atheists AND feminists Reddits.How replies to the mess about /r/atheism are sexists : Duh. I see hate, not sexism. No other female atheists gets her kind of reaction (even though they do get catcalls)This conference : The claim is once again disputed.So you have 2 disputed claims and people who can’t argue without being assholes (I include Jen along with the people who replied in a sexists manner in this)Don’t believe me? Check her newest post : She use the comments that do not agree with the article in this thread as “proof” of sexism in her next thread. THAT IS ALL SHE HAS EVER PROVIDED AS PROOF for the past 4 days.She is weakening her position, not reinforcing it. As someone targetted by one of those claims and who was the target of her rabid fans, I’m not taking her seriously at all. And the reactionary opinions seen in this thread tells me that this particular “atheist community” isn’t any better than the next one, and that are not in any position to be throwing stones at anyone.

  296. says

    I think that emotions are running high on both sides of this debate, and views are getting skewed. No one is evil or stupid in this situation. I think if we step back and look at the reality of the events, we’ll see that it really doesn’t need to be this much of a deal.

    This, oh so this. People screw up. Doesn’t make them evil. On the other hand, it behoves everyone involved to try to understand every side of a question like this.Or: calm down, everyone who’s not calm.

  297. jimmyboy99 says

    DUPLICATE POST (sorry the other did not come out as a reply)Read it again. Lots here have taken no side (while commenting extensively) because we don’t know the facts (and probably won’t get them just by watching a video either given how limited that information will be). You read what you wanted to read.It’s not strange that people come here because they like Jen’s take on things (and perhaps can’t be arsed to run their own sceptical blog). To suggest it’s a Cult of Jen just speaks to your ignorance. Lot’s here take regular issue with Jen’s positions. It’s part of being sceptical. And she rarely bans people either so…where’s the “cult” bit come from?Did you have a real point there at all

  298. says

    Not sure about everything in that comment, but the general point about inequality in sexual relations is very true; it creates a fundamental imbalance in power that isn’t entirely in favour of either side – the initiators are disempowered in that they always have to take that emotional risk, and the non-initiators are disempowered in that they are reliant on someone else making ‘the first move’. It’s evolving to be more fluid, in my experience, but movements in the direction of allowing or expecting either party to make an approach is a good thing.It doesn’t sit in isolation, though; it does interact with other gender and discrimination issues.

  299. says

    And why would any woman wear a mini-skirt if she doesn’t want to be raped, right?I guess you missed the part where I mentioned hyperbole.Selecting a mode of dress to reveal, or draw attention to, any particular portion of anatomy is a conscious choice, and as I said, claiming unawareness of the reaction to this is not a valid excuse. You can walk around naked for all I care, but bitching because our society considers this inappropriate doesn’t really make your point valid – all it does is show you provoking a response.I said nothing about any physical contact whatsoever, nor is it even remotely implied in what I wrote. Thanks for so effectively demonstrating why such issues cannot be discussed rationally.Do you think that possibly the fact that many women describe this behaviour, might indicate that it’s your “eyesight” which is the problem here? Or are all those women just being over-sensitive in that way women just are? Just all hormonal and all over the place, right?Yes, indeed I have considered it – that’s exactly why I’ve paid attention to it. Thank you for considering that I might actually not be talking out of my ass. Yes, that was sarcasm – I suspect you need it pointed out to you.As for women being over-sensitive, yes, I consider this too. Most especially since we now have a culture espousing the idea that all women are victims of sexual harassment and abuse. When you have a prevalent attitude, it can easily influence the conclusions and the experiences. Did you miss the large number of comments here that interpreted the conference in an entirely different light than what the OP portrayed? So, do you have a decent way of determining objective truth from someone’s written account? Because the courts would love to hear it, I’m sure.Until that time, I will feel free to state reservations where they seem warranted.I will also point out that I did not mention hormones, either, nor select anyone to blame. I merely called attention to the idea that critical examination was probably a good thing to wield. Someday, perhaps, you’ll get reading comprehension down.Start with: “if they are complaining about it, maybe there’s some truth in it”, say? And then go on from there.Thanks, I did. I just didn’t assume it was necessarily accurate, but looked for independent confirmation. Sorry if rejecting confirmation bias offends you. No, actually, I’m not sorry, either. Get over it.The fact that you purposefully, and with malice, tried to twist my words around to make your point more prominent is exactly why I find feminism so ineffective. You didn’t demonstrate any effort whatsoever to try and see things objectively, and instead tried to create a conflict that did not exist in reality. You will excuse me if I fail to find you a good role model.

  300. Rollingforest says

    I know what you mean! I’ve given up trying to read all of the posts on this thread. They just keep getting added at such a fast rate that I simply don’t have time. I’m mainly only responding to comments that are responding to one of my earlier comments. Don’t get too exhausted by this yourself!

  301. says

    And then I don’t agree… it has to be seen in the context of overall power imbalance and privilege, and the usual personal experience of women. Plus, in-your-face sexism (gawking) is more obnoxious than behind-the-scenes sexism (the doctors example).

  302. Rollingforest says

    Just because it’s on a bingo card doesn’t make it right. And just because a person is offended does not mean that they get to set the standard. We should be considerate to those who are offended and try to understand them, but for everything you do, there is going to be someone who is offended by it. It’s wrong to say “I was offended therefore I’m right.”

  303. Maggie says

    Paisley said: “Instead many commentors have chosen to respond with “I’m a female, it doesn’t bother me, if it bothers you then you’re stupid and petty”As one of those who replied, quite calmly and clinically I thought, and having read the replies to your earlier post… I have to say that I did not see you called stupid or petty, either literally or figuratively, in any of the replies to you. But I will say that telling people they aren’t interacting with you to your liking and aren’t attempting to figure out your particular perceived offense isn’t going to win anyone over. Especially if it’s prefaced with a list of “I’ve never” argument from experience/argument from ignorance.

  304. says

    I may not be not old enough to be Jen’s father, but I am (barely) old enough that I could, in theory, legally engage in consensual sexual behavior with women half my age. Speaking in that capacity–in other words, as one of those you try to defend–I fully support Jen, and I do not find her characterization offensive in any way, shape or form. The situation she describes *is* gross and creepy. Besides the fact that any unsolicited sexual attention beyond polite flirting is inappropriate regardless of age, the lack of cultural common ground between a 50 year old man and a 25 year old woman precludes any form of meaningful romantic connection, meaning that the man’s interest is purely sexual and that the woman means nothing more to him than “a piece of tail”. It is condescending and demeaning on an entirely different level than if they were of comparable age. The fact that this occurred at a conference rather than a night club makes it twice as offensive, because while an unaccompanied woman in a nightclub can at least plausibly be looking for casual sex, a woman attending a conference most definitely is not.[EDIT: oops, it wasn’t Jen saying those guys were gross and creepy, it was Sharon. My point still stands.]

  305. says

    Physics is science; there are theoreticians and experimenters. They are handling different parts of the scientific process.And yes, I do have trouble with the characterisation of string theory as a scientific theory; it is far more a hypothesis, or a set of them. It is one of the problems with the different meaning of theory; even within science, it sometimes has the meaning I gave it, but I admit I excluded the meaning of a coherent collection of structures, hypotheses, etc, which is what I suspect is usually meant in the case of String theory.By the by, speaking as someone who’s studied advanced mathematics, mathematics (pure maths) is certainly not a science; it is, really, an art, but people don’t like that sense of ‘art’ in modern use. While maths can be applied to reality, it has very little to say about reality itself.

  306. Ashli Axtell says

    I am a female who attended SERAM and I find the portrayal of the events in this blog post to be incredibly inaccurate. The panel never concluded that women should “STFU and get over it” when guys check them out – in fact, it was outright stated to males that they should stop creeping out the new ladies in their respective groups by not ogling them and instead, treat them with decency and respect.Second, if only 30% of your attendees are women, then it stands to reason that a similarly representative sample of audience members would be chosen to question the panel directly, which would explain why more men were selected. More men raised their hands and were selected because more men were in attendance. Also, this woman was sitting across the row from me and one table farther back, and I was about four tables from the very back of the room – far from the front of the moderator’s and panelists’ faces. They appeared rather tiny from where we were.She did ask if anyone was offended by the use of “female” instead of “woman,” pointing out that she felt it made women sound like livestock and the question was posed to the female member of the panel who said that she wasn’t offended, that it denoted a biological difference. Then, someone asked if men would be insulted by being referred to as “male” rather than men, to which the moderator and panelists said they would not. One of the panelists joked that rather than calling us women or females, we’d heretofore be referred to as “the weaker sex,” whereupon the woman hastily exited the room. His humor was shared by many of the attendees but unfortunately, fell short of the woman for whom it was intended. In retrospect, could this situation have been handled more sensitively? Probably. However, everything happened quickly and with such physical distance between the panelists, moderator and woman of subject, the ability to assess visual cues about her emotional state was severely limited. It’s regrettable that she was upset but to give the impression that she was publicly derided and torn apart is very misleading and inappropriate. Finally, the portrayal of Sean Faircloth’s talk as anti-feminist is blatantly false. The million-dollar challenge was merely an illustration to show that women are the gatekeepers of sex and that it is an empowering position. The overlying message of his talk was that in our society, we seem to be moral eunuchs and we should, rather, embrace our sexuality in a respectful, healthy and honest manner between consenting adults. What would Don Draper Do? He’d have some sex and make no bones about it, that’s what. As a very strong feminist, I found Sean Faircloth’s talk to be inspiring and uplifting. I stood to applaud him.

  307. says

    It’s also wrong to say “I don’t understand why you were offended, therefore you’re wrong”. Can we at least agree that everyone reasonable probably thinks we should keep away from those two extremes?

  308. Don says

    In fact the organization I was part of, having tried the quota system for several years, got rid of it at the behest of the leading women in the organization.

  309. Feminatheist says

    I agree! Treating women as objects and calling it power over men? What a douchebaggy thing to say.

  310. Vanessa says

    Cue Affirmative Action. Best candidate gets the job regardless of gender. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for atheist groups to use it.

  311. says

    [EDIT: this was posted as a reply to a previous comment about cleavage; I don’t know why it showed up as a standalone comment instead]Oh, grow up. Women don’t wear plunging necklines because they want to show off their “mammary size”, as you so eloquently put it; they wear those clothes because they like the way they look in them, and because they make them feel good about themselves, and to a certain extent because it is expected of them. You may not realize it, but it’s really no different from a man wearing a well-cut suit, a button-down shirt and a matching tie (and if you tell me that you’re not comfortable in a suit or that you hate neckties, you’ve clearly never owned a good suit or a shirt with the correct neck size or learned how to tie a necktie). The only difference, really, is that women have more latitude in style and color, while men only have one choice: a suit that matches their skin and hair color, and a shirt and tie that match the suit and the occasion.

  312. Feminatheist says

    Oh and the women should all wear burkas too, huh Todd? So you creepy old dudes can control yourselves when confronted with women’s bodies? Seriously dude. Shut up!

  313. says

    Thank you so much for bringing in the heart of the matter as it seems like a lot of other people have failed to do. In the current mainstream feminist landscape, the aversion to the biological rather than cultural terms of denoting one’s gender has everything to do with equality for trans women. Not all females are women, and vice versa. Thank you, a million times over.

  314. paisley says

    I’m sorry if the wording was confusing. I did not mean that they replied to my post (in a way that would appear “in reply to paisley”) that was mean-spirited. I was referring to the general attitude of how it was addressed later down in the forum about the woman/female topic. Such as saying that the topic of woman/female is “silly crying wolf” that “treating this as sexist is just an insult to people who have experienced real sexist discrimination” Not for a woman: “Can someone please tell me when the word “female” became a pejorative? That is not in the atheist bible anywhere as far as I can tell. In the meantime, females, please note that there are differences between men and wom… er, females. Men see wom…er females differently than females see men. Seriously, I looked this up in a biology book one time. ” Maggie, you did reply very calmly and I did think you made an interesting point. I had no issue with you.

  315. jimmyboy99 says

    I guess you missed the part where I mentioned hyperboleWell. No – but I had no idea what point you were making and it wasn’t relevant to the point I was making: ie that you were indulging in classic, sexist victim blaming. There’s a long history of it – and you joined in. I pointed it out. I note that you believe that you find “feminism so ineffective” because I “purposefully, and with malice, tried to twist my words around”. I didn’t: I highlighted your sexist argument and put it in the context of its bed fellows. Victim blaming is victim blaming. claiming unawareness of the reaction to this is not a valid excuseWho claimed unawareness? This appears to be a straw man. Interesting from someone as vitriolic as you.As it happens, I think the authors showed strong awareness and objected to being letched at (my summary). I made no further judgement in this post on what had happened (because that wasn’t what I was commenting on here).You can walk around naked for all I care, but bitching because our society considers this inappropriate doesn’t really make your point valid – all it does is show you provoking a responseYou think the reaction to someone walking round naked has equivalence with a woman being irritated by men perhaps regularly talking to her cleavage?I said nothing about any physical contact whatsoever, nor is it even remotely implied in what I wrote. Who said you did? Get a grip. I put your comment into the context of the same arguments which are more extreme, but fundamentally the same point.Thanks for so effectively demonstrating why such issues cannot be discussed rationally.You really are searching here (in the absence of actually addressing the points made). You just repeat arguments that show you are a classic, sexist, dude, unreconstructed, victim blamer and indulge in some also pretty old and tired arguments about why feminism is crap. Well done.You didn’t demonstrate any effort whatsoever to try and see things objectively, and instead tried to create a conflict that did not exist in realityThe flood of irony is drowning me.Did you miss the large number of comments here that interpreted the conference in an entirely different light than what the OP portrayed? So, do you have a decent way of determining objective truth from someone’s written account? Because the courts would love to hear it, I’m sureNope. I got them. But I didn’t comment on those (because I noted that we don;t have all of the agreed facts and I wasn’t there). I picked you up for sexist victim blaming. Don’t move the goal posts or I’ll assume you can’t defend yourself. You could of course apologise for being a sexist victim blamer, but somehow I think that is unlikely.I will also point out that I did not mention hormones, either, Who said you did? I put you into the bracket which you came across in to me.nor select anyone to blame.Yes you did. You said women shouldn’t wear certain types of clothing if they didn’t want the attention. Classic victim blaming and right up there with the “don’t wear mini-skirts if you don’t want to be raped” argument.Thanks, I did.Evidence?I just didn’t assume it was necessarily accurate, but looked for independent confirmation.Right. And what you found was a load of old fashioned, stereo-typical, bias-confirming (I can throw that one too), sexism.I merely You didn’t ‘merely’ do anything. You had a big rant and revealed yourself to be a sexist, dude, victim blamer.called attention to the idea that critical examination was probably a good thing to wield. No you didn’t – well not that I commented on. You made some stupid, old fashioned, sexist, victim blaming comments. And then tried to defend them.Someday, perhaps, you’ll get reading comprehension down.Nice argument. Well done.You will excuse me if I fail to find you a good role modelI suppose I will then as you explicitly ask me to. I excuse you for being a sexist, dude, victim blamer. But then it’s not really in my gift to do so. Try asking the women reading this to do so.

  316. Jim Fisher says

    paisley says, “Finally, I have to say that I’m kinda disappointed that so few commentors choose to try to interact with me to understand why I shudder when I get referred to as “a female” instead of “a woman”. Instead many commentors have chosen to respond with “I’m a female, it doesn’t bother me, if it bothers you then you’re stupid and petty”It’s much more productive to try to figure out the reasons. If someone can tell me that their experience in the South is that “females” is part of normal vernacular then I’d appreciate knowing that.”My goodness. Are we REALLY having this discussion? Are we, perhaps, witnessing the evolution of a common word into a pejorative? I mean, really, WTF? My slant, for what it’s worth: Some women, especially over-the-top feminists, are just looking to get offended. it is really hard to get offended at such a large gathering of like-minded people like an atheist gatering. So some women went hunting for offense. It started with the million dollar challenge that stated simple fact. There was not quite enough offense in the challenge to get worked up over, though. So she tried to get the attention of guys by allowing her puppies to show and succeed in getting offended. She noted the abundance of men there who were oggling her abundant bosom and got offended. The panel consisting of mostly males, er, men, er, guys offered opinions on our views of sexuality (hint: we are pigs, get over it). Not much offense there so she narrowed in on the “female” word. Some guy made a joke about it and there you go: instant offense at a word that no one knew was offensive.Look, “female” is the word used in a clinical setting. “Woman” is typically used in a less formal setting. “Girl” is very close to slang in some uses and clinical in others (babies, for example). But please, someone tell me how in the hell is this offenseive? Please tell me why “female” is more offensive than “woman”? Shall we just refer to each other as “person” now?Jesus christ.

  317. Attendee says

    Ridiculous. She wasn’t powerless. She interrupted everyone and threw it in their faces. She had power and she used it irresponsibly to cause dissension and be rude. She made everyone ELSE there powerless, both men and women who were trying to have a rational discussion. She made a scene.The person who should apologise is the woman who ran out. Why should rudeness be pandered to? I don’t care if she was sincere in her rudeness or not. She acted like a child and not an adult. Such behaviour should be discouraged.And again: if a man had done it they would have been called a jerk.

  318. MRJF says

    I attended Sean Faircloth’s talk in Boston in October. As a Humanist woman, I found his discourse informative and even empowering. Frankly, I thought the “Million Dollar Challenge” was pretty funny, insightful, and accurate (from my experience). It demonstrates female intellect. I wasn’t at the conference in Alabama and certainly cannot personally attest to the overall tone of the event, and am genuinely sorry if it was as misogynistic as the author reports. If Sean’s talk was anything like the one in Boston, I applaud his efforts for the secular cause and gender equality.

  319. Attendee says

    It is entirely in favour of women. It is entirely sexist against men. Women have the option of initiating they simply don’t because — why would they? They don’t have to and it is a shitty job. They are not forced to sit and wait but they do so because of the benefits.Men are forced to initiate because a man who says I will wait for women to approach me is basically saying they will be single all their life.Furthermore only the male role is criminilaized. Men who approach wrongly are called sexual predators (stalkers, harassers etc) but women who perform their role badly are not criminalized are they? At worst they are called prudish or a tease but you don’t go to jail for that.The imbalance in power is total and one sided and it favours women over men.Please stop dismissing sexism against men by pretending women have the same issues when they do not.

  320. Kai Haswell says

    I’m disgusted. Yes, as a man, I can vouch that it’s impossible to not notice an attractive woman. But it’s actually possible to avoid staring at her chest and making awkward comments about sex! It is! Maybe I’m not a Real Man(TM) for saying so, but…I actually think women are people too. Like, with their own minds and interests and everything!Thank you for bringing these problems out into the open, Jen. Please don’t get discouraged by the amount of bullshit that you’ve encountered.

  321. Attendee says

    So your “logic” here is that women must be seen as powerless in this specific case, not because of the evidence, but because of an “overall power imbalance” that you have no evidence for?Is that even rising to the level of circular logic? It is simply an assertion of your prejudices I think.

  322. Rollingforest says

    But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the opinions of those who are offended should take precedent over the opinions of those who aren’t.

  323. says

    Second, the woman fled the hall and the author went after her to console her and the organizers did not.Christie Swords wrote in an earlier comment:“I am a leader of the local group where this event was held. Our group worked with American Atheists to help run this event. So to say that no one went to check on the young lady is an out and out lie. I stood in the restroom with Sharon and the aforementioned lady for 20 mins. Several men (some from American Atheists) went to look for the young woman, but were told that perhaps they should not speak to her since she seemed to be so upset by the men in the room. If the event leaders chased her down after she came out of the restroom, they would have been criticized for embarrassing her.”Anyone who has done any dating or had any kind of heterosexual relationship knows that women control access to sex. […] And anyone without that experience has seen it on a sitcom or a bad stand-up routine.Sitcoms, stand-up comedians, movies, books, comics… all have their tropes and their conventions and their accepted truths, but just because a thousand stand-up comedians say it doesn’t mean it’s true. Media, and especially American media (thanks to its prudish and politically correct self-censorship) routinely depict female sexuality as beautiful and empowering and male sexuality as dirty and abusive, and routinely uses physical and psychological abuse of men by women, and especially their wives and girlfriends, as comical elements and symbols of female empowerment. That doesn’t make it true, or right.

  324. says

    So, just to check… if someone sees injustice (of whatever sort), be it against themselves or someone else, but is in a situation where it would be ‘rude’ to say or do anything, they should just keep their mouth shut?If I’m at an event and I think the speaker is being offensive (depending on how severe), I’m going to let them know about; if I’m bothered enough, I’ll heckle them out-of-turn. Why? Because, in some situations, that’s the most effective, or only effective, thing to do. Sometimes a quiet word afterwards is more appropriate, sometimes it’s not, but with the information I have I couldn’t say which was which in this case.

  325. says

    Not at all. It was an easy way to separate those who were interested in the person not simply a boff. If one was interested in appreciating her very attractive body you simply had to appeal to her mind first. They didn’t mind sharing their beauty if you could keep the drool off your chin.

  326. Gus Snarp says

    Hmm, you may be right on the first part. To me she makes her relationship to the event sound a bit tangential. She’s a leader of a group that worked with American Atheists to run the event, which doesn’t automatically make her an organizer or an official, but maybe she is and just expressed it poorly, in the way that one might try to make themselves seem official when they’re not, I don’t know.On point 2: What? One of us is missing the point, which is that the supposed revelation of the demonstration is such common knowledge that it’s a standard comedy trope and well recognized by most people, not a new and shocking insight.

  327. Attendee says

    The only REAL people I have seen do this are (some) feminists who often refer to men as “males”. But I don’t think they do it to be insulting. When they insult men they are usually much more open about doing so as insulting men (as a collective birth group) carries no opprobrium in our society.Seriously who on earth would care about such trivia if there were any real issues to explore? “Men are all rapists” was once a popular feminist slogan. Valarie Solanas’ “Society for Cutting Up Men” remains a popular feminist essay to this day. When men are not called rapists they are all “potential rapists”. I am not going to care about some feminist calling men “males”.

  328. Attendee says

    So your position is that it is offensive to use the word “female” to describe women? Even when the speaker was using “male” to describe men too? Even when nobody else at the even, either male or female, agreed with the utterly ridiculous notion? No that is not your position but you insist that we allow that insanity to be HER legitimate position.What huge power you want to give this woman. She can invent whole new reasons to be offended and that gives her the right to disrupt 200 other people over it. Again: is it only women you say should have this power?If a religious person had attended that meeting and taken offense at some trivia — oh I know how hard it is to believe they could be offended — would you say that such a person had the right to disrupt the entire meeting to say that use of the word eg. “religion” was offensive to them when referring to religious people?

  329. says

    Those sort of views I’ve only heard expressed at the most extreme end of the spectrum, or to illustrate a point (i.e. not meant as literally true). Using them to tar the whole of feminism is very much a straw man. Or, I suppose, it could be bad inductive reasoning instead – X is a feminist, X makes weird arguments, therefore feminists all make weird arguments…

  330. says

    No, my position is that it can be offensive to use the term ‘female’, depending on audience, dialect, and context. It is therefore unreasonable to dismiss the complaint as ridiculous or label the complainant negatively.

  331. says

    Oh, and regarding the religious person bit… the event was expressly atheist. There’s no reasonable expectation of avoiding offence on the basis of religion. I assume that such a conference isn’t trying to include Christians. It would be organised differently, I’m sure, if it was intended to foster atheist-theist dialogue, it would be different.However, I assume that people do want to include women at these things, so concerns specific to women (not necessarily universal to women) should be of concern.

  332. says

    Yes, you are missing my point, which is that “common knowledge” and “standard comedy tropes” are not always (or perhaps I should say “rarely”) right, and should not be quoted in support of an argument in a serious discussion. I brought up sexuality and abuse partly because they are the subject of some of the most common and egregious lies perpetuated by “common knowledge” and “standard comedy tropes” and partly because of your assertion that men do not need to fear rape.Physical and psychological (and to a lesser extent sexual) abuse of men by women is just as real, just as common and just as traumatizing as the reverse, but we as a society choose to pretend that it doesn’t happen, and that if it does it’s nothing to worry about. Take it like a man! She’s just standing up for her rights and her opinions! It doesn’t show up in crime statistics because men are too ashamed to report it, and if they do they are met with disbelief and derision unless the abuse has gone so far that they require urgent medical attention. Even then, it is often assumed that “he had it coming” and the woman acted in self-defense. Abused men have nowhere to go, because shelters won’t take them in; to paraphrase an actual quote from a shelter here in Norway, “the women at the shelter would be traumatized by the presence of a man”.At least in English-speaking countries you have a gender-neutral term for it (“domestic violence”), while in French, for instance, the corresponding term is “violences faites au femmes” (“violent acts towards women”). In Norwegian, the common term is “kvinnemishandling” (“abuse of women”); the gender-neutral and more general term “familievold” (“family violcence”) is rarely used.

  333. says

    One more thing: my wife argues that the depiction of female-on-male abuse as comedy is discriminating against women because the underlying message is that nothing a woman does to a man can have serious consequences. I’m not sure whether to agree with her or to consider her a part of the problem.(I used “female-on-male” because “woman-on-man” sounds like a reference to a sexual act)

  334. Jim Fisher says

    Kai, I’m not sure who this person actually was but I have an idea. There were a couple of pretty “large” women who were wearing some VERY low cut shirts. This wasn’t just your normal cleavage but way-down cleavage and lots of it. There were lots of college aged kids there that, I’m sure, found it hard not to look.Next time I go to one of these things, I swear to god I’m gonna wear my “fake butt sticking out of jeans” costume and DARE some women to give it more than a one second glance. I can write a blog, too, by god so if you stare more than two seconds I’ll post the damn thing for all to see! So watch out, ladies, I’m on the offensive for offense!

  335. says

    It depends on the depiction; it’s either against women because it portrays the idea of female-on-male abuse as ridiculous, or it’s bad for everyone because it suggests that domestic (or other) abuse is something we don’t have to take seriously. Very rarely it’s effective in communicating about abuse, although it does happen.Well, that’s the way I see it.

  336. Beth Walls says

    I was going to refrain from commenting on this, as I was not able to attend SERAM, but the more I read and the more I talk to friends that were able to attend, the more annoyed I get. I just have a few comments to make.If you knew Mary Posey- the lone female on the panel- at all, then you would know that she would not hesitate to speak her mind if any of the panel members had said anything that she deemed offensive or sexist. I know that she is very capable of hold her own in an intelligent debate with 5 other people, be they male or female. I am also of the opinion that she could very easily hold her own with the 5 woman hating, savage, caveman that you seem to think were occupying the panel with her. Now while I know that what offends one might not offend another, there were multiple female representatives of NAFA- the local freethought group that helped to organize the event- who attended SERAM who would have also spoken up had they been offended. The females in NAFA have no problem with letting you know that you’ve crossed the line with them, whether its hitting on them or remarks you make about females in general, and the fact that most of them, if not all, seem vastly irritated with this blog should say something to both the authors and readers of this farce. Seems to me that the biggest offense was underestimating the strength of character and willingness to be heard of these females.And lastly, if you are trying to make an issue of female/male equality or trying to say that women are not the weaker sex, running to the bathroom to cry because things did not go your way in no way helps that argument. Neither does posting a grossly inaccurate and biased article written to make you seem like a victim.

  337. Attendee says

    You are wrong. Marilyn French (“all men are rapists”) was the feminist best seller of her generation. Dworkin is not popular now but her side-kick McKinnon was one of the most successful feminists ever in the legal field and invented sexual harassment. Valarie Solanas was a nutcase but her violent anti-male rant is popular as a feminist screed.The “extremists” run the movement. And another thing. If feminism was really about gender equality such people would simply be thrown out of the movement and told in no uncertain terms they were not feminists. That they are the opposite of feminists. Their ideas would be excluded and ridiculed — instead they are applauded and promoted by feminists.Sure not all feminists are that awful but almost all feminists accept that such violent anti-male imagery is a legitimate branch of feminism. What does that say about feminism? It says that most feminists think violent anti-male sexual hatred is compatible with the broader goals of the movement.What are those goals? Female supremacy. Advancing women over men, making society more unequal.

  338. Attendee says

    OK well if you genuinely want to argue “female” is offensive then you are in crazy town and I won’t bother to continue. I don’t think you really believe that at all though.

  339. Attendee says

    The event was open to religious people. But I could easily give another hypothetical that wasn’t based on religion. No doubt your answer would be the same. Bad if anyone but a woman does it.In short you do not extend your women-can-be-crazy and we have to just take it, dogma, to people in general? isn’t that sexist?Would it be different if a feminist woman told you it is OK to call it crazy?http://jesusfetusfajitafishsti

  340. Szaga says

    I can probably explain it to you. The older guys are not behaving like the younger ones. They are older, so when hitting on you they are “joking” and “winking” that of course they are not hitting on you because of there age but in the same time they are invading you space. In this situation you can’t complain because they are “joking” . This is something that younger ones never do.

  341. says

    Dae, I was helped run this event. I also went to find and talk with the young woman when she left. I have stated that before (fyi).(I know that with so many comments that it is hard to navigate.) Therefore, Sharon saying that she was the lone person that cared enough to try to make sure the upset person was alright is incorrect. Multiple people went to check on her. The fact that Sharon / Lyz did not describe the complete point (which was stated at the SERAM) of the Million Dollar Challenge seems like a purposeful attempt to make it look different than it was. To arbitrarily omit information is a tactic that used to try an get people to make an uninformed decision about something they have limited information about. What was the purpose of this blog to start with? If it was to share how they felt, I could get behind that (even if I don’t agree). But, when conjectures are thrown in about how all the women in the room were feeling, then it becomes my business since I was one of those women. What they said is incorrect. I have posted many times. I am sorry if I did not include all of the details every time I posted. I realize that I also have not included them all now. If what I have told you is insufficient, then I am sorry. Let’s just say that when someone describes a whole group of people the way they have in this post, people should at least have the courtesy to wonder how much is emotional and how much is valid.I am thoroughly disappointed by what has happened. It is hard to work together when you feel that someone has no qualms about skewing information or about shouting fire in a crowded theater.

  342. says

    I guess I should have been a little clearer. Not only did I find the lady who was upset, I stood in the restroom with her and Sharon. We had a pleasant (if somewhat awkward) conversation. So, Sharon lies from the get go. A liar is a liar all day long.

  343. says

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the most common argument against quotas: that the people intended to benefit from them end up being ostracized and resented because it is assumed that,were it not for the quota, they would never have made the cut.

  344. says

    I have no such dogma; if anyone’s upset, it’s a moral responsibility of the organisers or otherwise ‘in charge’ people to initially assume that there’s a reason, and to look into it and try and understand it, not just dismiss it or mock it. That’s all.PS: I think other people shouldn’t dismiss it without seeking understanding either, but it’s the people running an event for whom it really matters.

  345. says

    I argued that it can be offensive; if you want to dismiss all of the reasons given by myself and others, that’s up to you, but it’s simply dishonest to misrepresent the claims right here. I don’t believe anyone has said that ‘female’ is universally offensive, or even usually offensive, but that there are reasons that it can be offensive at times.

  346. says

    The extremists are just the most vocal; in previous generations, such views were more prevalent than they are now, but still not overwhelming. You can’t judge a groups views by which books are bought – they simply become parts of the discourse that everyone feels they should know about – it doesn’t mean they agree. I don’t agree with all of the research methods theory espoused in my textbooks, which is a good thing, as I’d have real cognitive dissonance.Oh, and no-one can be thrown out of a movement; there’s no membership system.As to the finer details… I don’t have the time or energy to try and deal with such rabid generalisation, privilege denial, and, based on my experience, misrepresentation. You’re entitled to your views, and I no longer have the time or inclination to try to engage with them and find common ground.

  347. Rob says

    A concise 200 page argument that’s a fairly easy read is within limits of reasonable work to expect your opponent to do. Every theist paper published in the last 2000 years is not.Maybe Sex At Dawn will change you, maybe it won’t. But their overall point is that humans, proto-humans, and our closest cousins (chimps, bonobos) evolved in the tribe as the basic social organization. The social rules that apply in the tribal setting are entirely different than anything we know today, yet we tend to look back on prehistory with the rose colored glasses of what makes sense to us now in civilized culture. In prehistory, sex was far more about maintaining bonds among and between tribes than it was about procreation. Some evidence for that lies in our bodies: we (males and females) are built to have a LOT of sex yet we are only capable (resource-wise) of having a handful of children in our lifetime. Also, in the tribe, being a parent was no where near as expensive and threatening as it is in civilized society because parenting costs and responsibilities are shared among the tribe members. There’s not much concern about who the “baby daddy” is because they all could be, and everyone shares resources anyways. This is the context in which we evolved everything, including our sexuality.The evo psych model you describe is only true given the parameter of needing paternity certainty, i.e., “This is my private property and it can only be passed on to my kin, therefore I need to control my wife’s sexual behavior to ensure that she gives birth to only my blood descendants.” This is an ECONOMIC ADAPTATION, and a very recent one at that. Not an evolutionary adaptation by any stretch, and certainly not something with deep roots in the long timeline of humanity.Furthermore, you can keep taking the “troll” bait. I don’t care. I’m not posting any of this for you because you seem to have your mind made up. I’m posting this for everybody else who reads it.

  348. Heather says

    I want to add my two cents to this part of the post:”Why are we so overwhelmingly Caucasian? Maybe because a black person shows up and hears a bunch of racial jokes.”I was born and raised in Alabama. I have been in freethought circles for at least 12 years. I co-founded a freethinking group at the University of Alabama. Down here in the Bible belt where racism is still alive and well, I don’t ever recall encountering any racists or racist comments/jokes while hanging out with other freethinkers or attending a variety of freethinking events. It is the one place I know I can go and be free of it [I’m a caucasion female (woman…don’t want to offend) by the way]. In my experience, this is not the reason more African Americans are not involved. I wish more were. In my experience there are relatively few in environmental circles as well. My adult life has been spent mainly in freethought and environmental groups so I only have a couple of African American friends.As for being a woman and an atheist…I have complained before to my atheist woman friends about some of the men in these circles. Fortunately, I have never been hit on at any freethought event (of course, I don’t get hit on anywhere as a generally rule). My close atheist women friends have, however. One of them seems to never escape it (she gets the older, creepy type a lot). We have done our fair share of eyeing and flirting with any cute atheist guy who comes along too. I think it is all about how you engage with someone you are interested in and knowing to stop once you have been given the signs that they are not interested in you…and by signs I mean blatant ones like the woman saying “no”.I got a little off track there…what I have complained about is the sexism I sense when at freethinking events. It is generally from older men, say 50 and up. It isn’t a blatant sexism, but more of a subtle dismissal of women there. And this is just my feeling, but I often feel as if by not wanting to delve into deep intellectuall discussions about atheism, etc… I’m dismissed as not being a true enough atheist. I’ve never felt like this around any woman atheist.Oh, and I was not at the SERAM, so my comments don’t reflect anything that occured there.

  349. Xorthon says

    Question for anyone… Keeping in mind that what may be offensive to some may not be offensive to others; Does the region in which this meet was held have anything to do with the perspective that the post’s author gives? Specifically, Alabama. My understanding of the SE U.S. is that it is not only racist (over generalization, I know) but also very patriarchal. Basically, my question is: Don’t men treat women in somewhat dismissive ways down there AND aren’t women who live down there and grew up in the culture used to this behaviour? And could that have an influence on whether a visitor would be offended where a local would not have been?

  350. Don says

    Affirmative action causes that kind of resentment among the people who didn’t think there was discrimination in the first place. In the situation I’m talking about (a socialist feminist organization) the majority didn’t need convincing that sexism was a problem, and they supported affirmative action inside and outside the organization as a remedy. All the resentment was from men who had to compete for half as many leadership posts, and women who didn’t want to fill the other half. Had the pool of potential leaders been bigger, it would have felt different.

  351. csdx says

    “Selecting a mode of dress to reveal, or draw attention to, any particular portion of anatomy is a conscious choice, and as I said, claiming unawareness of the reaction to this is not a valid excuse. “Yeah, right on. I mean really that’s what women should expect, after all they failed to cover up their face and wear full burkas. /sarcasmAnd that guy with the popped collar makes me so angry, really it’s his fault that I punched him in the face,

  352. Rollingforest says

    Having privilege in custody battles (though some feminists argue that that only exists in uncontested custody battles) or having privilege to get laid whenever they want or privilege to get free drinks DO count as privilege even if they also deal with male privilege of harrassment. Something doesn’t stop being privilege just because the other group has a different but related privilege.

  353. Rollingforest says

    We should try to move to a point where gender equality is the norm and where a statement about a woman is no more likely to be suspected of sexism than a statement about a man.

  354. plublesnork says

    Seriously, you’re going to use the draft as an example?Sorry little lady, you’re too delicate for this big mans job of shooting guns and rolling in dirt, and anyway, you have to stay home and look after the kids because that’s where you belong!Yeah, nice privilege that one.Now I’m going to go and find an agorophobic prisoner and tell them about how privileged they are to be locked up and thus not have any expectations put on them to go out and face the world.

  355. plublesnork says

    Um, Todd… here’s some required reading for you:http://shakespearessister.blog…Please go and read that, and then perhaps you can come back and try to sound less like a potential rapist, because you’re victim blaming. Women already go above and beyond what’s reasonable to avoid/minimise harassment, and instead of realising this and telling people to cut-it-the-fuck-out, you’re asking to make even more concessions so that arseholes can continue to be arseholes.

  356. Rollingforest says

    Though try writing the same thing about women and society would come at you with pitch forks and torches. To me, sexism is sexism. It doesn’t matter if this is the first time your group has suffered it or if your group has suffered it for a thousand years.

  357. Rollingforest says

    Anything you do, you can find someone who is offended by it. We can’t bow to anyone who is ever offended or else we’d never get anything done.

  358. Quantal says

    I simply don’t buy it that women walk around with breasts exposed, on a freezing winter night, because they want to “feel good about themselves”. Why, anyway, would feeling good about yourself go hand in hand with being sexually appealing to men? It is patently ridiculous. Clearly if you walk around half-dressed, in a way that is universally known to cause men sexual arousal, you have lost your right to complain about being looked at. You’re actually trying to encourage being looked at.To be honest, I’m completely fed up with neo-feminism on the whole. I don’t see ANY EVIDENCE AT ALL that women are being discriminated against overall. They make up 60% of college graduates, they have much longer life spans, they have all the political pressure groups, they are overrepresented in work requiring “interpersonal skills” as opposed to technical skills. They’re more likely to be housewives (which we’re told isn’t an easy run, but somehow I don’t think women, what with their well-known attraction to status, are going to be falling over one another for male housewives ). There is a controversy over representation in computer science, mathematics, and engineering, but not psychology, sociology and English literature. I think it is time to seriously consider the possibility that women aren’t oppressed anymore.Now in Saudi Arabia women ARE oppressed, and oppressed horribly. Because we’re good liberals, though, we don’t want to offend Muslims. Let’s ignore everything of importance and focus our feminist activism only on pointless nitpicking stupid irrelevance.

  359. Goblinpaladin says

    I wasn’t saying that ‘staring’ was the same as ‘raping’; I was pointing out that you were blaming the victim because of her clothing. A woman has the right to wear whatever she wants and not be harassed because of it- EVERYONE has that right, but it tends to get violated in the case of women more than men.*And I have no idea what ‘The Accused’ is.*And anyone not fitting into the gender binary more than anyone else.

  360. jrandom says

    Yes. B simply says, “I don’t find that as disrespectful as you seem to.” No accusations or need for one or the other to be wrong. And I think that no matter who thinks what is acceptable as flirting, everyone should agree that if the person on the receiving end says “stop” that it should stop, even if it’s completely innocent and low-pressure flirting. It doesn’t matter how respectful the approach was, if they go past “stop now” they lose all claim of respectablility.

  361. jrandom says

    Reply is to plublesnork, as it won’t let me reply directly to that post.Yes, as used, the draft DOES count as privilege for women. Women have the option of joining the military, as do men. But only men can be conscripted to the military against their will. How, pray tell, is that NOT a benefit towards the women?

  362. Derek Johnson says

    Excellent point about true oppression of women. It is trivializing and insulting to the plight of women forced to wear burqas, having their noses and ears amputated, and having their genitalia “circumcized” to cry about women being referred to as “females” instead of “women.”

  363. jrandom says

    You know, I have a close friend who is 5 foot even, 33 DD, 28, 32. The ONLY way she can dress that doesn’t in some way “show off” her curves is to wear an over-large mumu or burlap sack. So she should just expect and stop being bothered by it when people talk to her chest instead of her face? I’m not quite as well endowed as my friend, but I have a few curves myself. So I should be stuck with sweat shirts and baggy T-shirts when going to conferences, so as to avoid luring those poor, defenseless men into staring? And we shouldn’t expect men to have enough self-control to make eye contact when talking to a woman with a nice body? No. You, sir, are wrong here.

  364. moralnihilist says

    I think the fight to get the atheist community to evaluate this issue is going to be uphill, unfortunately. My hypothesis is that since chauvanism is so closely tied to fundamentalist religion, many atheists recoil at the accusation that they are in some way like those fundamentalists we all know and hate. No one wants to confront the idea that they share an undesirable trait with someone like Fred Phelps or Pat Robertson. I hope the atheist community starts to take this issue seriously. I wasn’t at the Alabama event, so I can’t attest to what actually happen. All I can say is if the described account is accurate, shame on those panelists!The whole point of new atheism is to raise awareness of our existence and how integrated we are into modern society. If we’re overlooking sexism or any other kind of unwarranted prejudice in our ranks, we have no high ground from which to criticize religious dogma.We need to keep the sensitivities of others in mind during meetups like this, because as this article pointed out, most of the time the offended party isn’t going to say anything and just not show up ever again. Maybe there is some misunderstanding happening on the other side, too. But regardless, flippantly dismissing all complaints about it isn’t going to help anyone. The alarm is being sounded. We need to at least pay attention and seriously evaluate ourselves.

  365. Dae says

    I understand what you’re saying (and yes, I read your earlier posts before I responded to you the first time), but you still haven’t actually given your account of events. You’re still just saying that the given account is wrong. Yes, you were there and helped organize it and have a different viewpoint, but you have not described it except to say what it is not. That is what I was asking for. I really don’t care – I’m going to watch the video and form my own opinion – but my original point was that you’re trying to argue against the position presented in the post without offering any refutation other than “I was there; it wasn’t like that.” That’s a profoundly ineffective argument.

  366. Dae says

    I agree with you, including the sentiment that giving offense is not necessarily a bad thing. From the top of my head right now, the line that seems appropriate to me is that between causing offense by a lack of respect for what one is versus what one thinks or does. (e.g., racist statements are never appropriate, but I certainly think just about everything I say that offends Christians on the basis of I don’t believe in a deity is perfectly appropriate)I’m not sure if that line is robust or not, and I’m a bit too sleepy to try to work it out. TLDR, I agree. Your reservation about my earlier statement about giving offense is entirely appropriate.

  367. Dae says

    The people calling you an idiot, myself included, are comparing one dehumanizing and disrespectful action to another. Rape differs in severity and legality from ogling/lewd comments/mild invasion of personal space, but they share the quality of being something Bad and Disrespectful that men do to women. (And on occasion, that women do to men, in which case it is just as deplorable) In no such case is it the woman’s responsibility to prevent the man from being a shithead. It is the man’s responsibility to NOT BE A SHITHEAD.This is the last time I am going to post in this particular branch. If you don’t get it yet, there’s no hope for you, and I fervently hope that you never reproduce.

  368. Dae says

    So if someone steals your car and you’re angry about it and want justice for the theft, you’re insulting the families of murder victims everywhere by having the temerity to think the crime against you was significant? Quite aside from your painfully privileged obliviousness if you think misogyny has been defeated in the US (pay gap, anyone?), your argument is fucking terrible.

  369. John Small Berries says

    My response was to the statement that “If we expect mothers of young children to participate, they have to know they aren’t going to be kid-wrangling for the whole conference.”Do you honestly believe that every woman who brings children to a skeptical/atheist conference is a single mother without significant other, family or access to the money to pay for a babysitter?I certainly don’t, and that wasn’t my point. “Privileged bullshit” is assuming that wrangling the kids is the woman’s job.

  370. plublesnork says

    I absolutely agree it’s not the woman’s job to be the primary/solo care provider for their children, but this doesn’t change reality, a reality where women are hugely over-represented as the primary care provider for their children.Whether circumstances have forced them into this position, or whether they want to be the primary carer, this shouldn’t mean that they’re now left out of things they’re interested in.Providing child care services would be very helpful for primary care givers, both men and women, and would be the deciding factor for many, and in the context of growing the number of women participating, would be a very wise move.I think it’s also worth pointing out that having options doesn’t necessarily make them appealing. The hassle of organising someone to look after your children while you go out, or when you do the cost benefit of paying for a babysitter so you can attend something, sometimes you conclude it’s just not worth the hassle and/or expense and decide to stay home.Edit note: I slightly reworded my initial sentence to make the language more correctly match my intended statement.

  371. nevarewit says

    i could be wrong but i think Sharon was stating that she (sharon) was not one of the event organizers)

  372. Katryna says

    “I met a nice doctor” can preclude bank accounts, you know. It could mean that the woman likes the doctor for his or her giving spirit or for the intelligence s/he shows in the profession. A more accurate statement would be something like, “I met a rich doctor,” at which point the problem becomes more apparent–and the reaction more obvious than the banal “nice doctor.” And yes, I get offended whenever bank accounts are mentioned, as do most women I know, thankyouverymuch.

  373. says

    Now, when I thought about it more, I have another explanation, too: “guys my father’s age” could be substituted for “guys who should have known better”.You mean… hitting on you but at the same time pretending not to, in order to have deniability? Oh, almost everyone does that! Rejection hurts, need to be prepared…

  374. Katryna says

    I said an EXAGGERATED analogy, not an exact analogy. The usefulness of an exaggerated analogy lies in the fact that the points to be made are more obviously apparent than a more subtle analogy.You implied by your tone that she didn’t have the right to complain. “However, if a woman is so bothered by men looking at her cleavage in certain settings that she’s motivated to write a blog post about it, then there’s an obvious solution: Don’t show your cleavage in those settings.” Let me write this a different way, using the above *EXAGGERATED* (note the emphasis there, I am not making a direct comparison that staring is a crime) analogy. “However, if a person is so bothered by having his/her pockets picked in certain settings that he or she motivated to write a blog post about it, then there’s an obvious solution: Don’t carry valuables in those settings.” How dare she be so upset about something that upset her that she wrote a blog post about it! It doesn’t matter that the behavior was unacceptable! She shouldn’t write a blog post! Or do you not hear the dripping condescension there? If that wasn’t your intent, then WRITE FUCKING BETTER.Furthermore, we both agree that suggesting that some areas high in crime might not be the best place to be “flashing valuables around.” But I hope we can agree that telling a woman that she should not wear “suggestive” clothing in literally every space (because every space could hold a man who wants to ogle) in order to feel safe and/or respected is reasonable. But that is exactly what you’re saying here. I would understand if it was a place that was specifically for ogling, like a titty bar or something, but it’s an atheist convention. What about that screams sexuality? Nothing. It’s reasonable to expect, if you have big or even noticeable breasts, that getting stared at will happen in every public space where there could be men. So we’re just supposed to shut up and dress nicer? What the hell kind of suggestion is that?Additionally, and I know you don’t know this because you don’t have breasts, but getting men not to ogle is really difficult if you’ve got big breasts. You basically have to dress in clothing that doesn’t reveal form, like XXXL T-shirts. I have a southern accent, so wearing clothing like that tends to mark me as “trailer trash” immediately. But this is a fair solution because men gawk everywhere I go? Thanks for the sympathy, guy. Really. Again: we both agree–you said it above–that ogling is unacceptable behavior. I don’t particular care about legality here as it’s not the point. What I am concerned with is ethics, not law. So why exactly the double standard regarding reactions to two unethical behaviors? Or do you not agree that ogling women is wrong/unethical? Just because it’s wide-spread does not mean that telling women “just put up with it/prepare for it, and don’t write blog posts because it’s really widespread, so it’s unfair to expect better” is right. How about something like, “If I see a guy ogling, I’ll get him to stop. I’ll try to pay attention to this issue.” or “I don’t really get it, but I believe you. I can understand on an intellectual level why you would be upset.” Rarely do we see anything like that.This was your chance to be helpful, gratz on screwing it up and mansplainin’ why we’re being ridiculous instead.

  375. April says

    I see no insult, only description. Your extremely oversimplified argument (about sexual appetites and behaviour being linked to the sex-dependant relative number of potential offspring) is easily re-interpreted in many alternative, nay opposing, ways, including being entirely based in cultural values. Your blind adherence to a single interpretationof highly complex human behaviour is lunacy. K?

  376. Meadowrue says

    I didn’t attend this event and I am not clear on exactly how the events transpired but I can tell you that presenting the Million Dollar Challenge would have made me uncomfortable and even more so in a room full of men. And this is assuming that the defenders of the conference are giving the most accurate portrayal of events. I wouldn’t go to an atheist conference expecting to be evaluated sexually. In a speech meant to reach out to women it’s mind boggling to me that anyone would find that to be effective. It is also very dismaying that so many of the comments here are so anti-feminist. I guess we have a long way to go.

  377. jimmyboy99 says

    Is that a come back there, Just Al?I am going to struggle trust you that holes get shallower if you keep digging. I obviously haven’t got your experience in the matter but it seems counter intuitive…

  378. Watchout5 says

    “men’s biology drives them to frequently (if not constantly) pursue sex, and since it’s biology, no one should get upset at, judge, or think less of men for any skirt-chasing they might engage in.”I have no idea who you’re meeting or why, but you should really stop hanging out with these people before they rape you. They don’t represent a mainstream view of a man’s sex drive. Yes, it can be annoying, no, it’s not an excuse, you have a hand, shut the fuck up if its really that bad. People who use biology as an excuse start on a slippery slope. What else shouldn’t we control because of the way we’ve evolved? It’s like they’re actively denying our ability to be self-aware. I mean, if your sex drive as a male is so bad that it would be impossible for you to not stare at a perfectly round ass…wait what was I talking about?

  379. says

    It is a disturbingly oft-cited example of evolutionary psychology (with an implicit assertion that evolved and inherited behaviours are all biological – I’d say some combination of biological and socialised with the balance as-yet unknown), often accompanied by “I’m not saying that makes it okay”. The problem with “I’m not saying…” is that people will take it that way even if you don’t mean them to, people will re-use it with that intention, and it really does feel like someone is saying it’s “okay because it’s biology” unless you also take the time to explore the issues of civilisation/intellect trumping biology.

  380. Odile says

    Of course, when you say “Women don’t have to do anything”, there’s one thing you’re overlooking: *Pretty* women don’t “have” to do anything. It’s those who conform to the ideal that get approached all the time. Those who don’t – those with crooked teeth, with big noses or unplucked eyebrows, the too-skinny and the too-fat – won’t get anywhere by waiting until a desperate sap comes along because he couldn’t get someone hotter. And while men, too, are judged by appearance, the standards for women are far harsher. And what, pray tell, is “women who ‘perform their role badly'” supposed to mean? Women who don’t put out as soon as someone plucks up the courage to express his wish to get involved? Women are not obliged to respond to a man’s advances just because he asks. Asking doesn’t entitle anyone to anything.Refusing to fuck someone is not “bad performance”. Not being able to take a “no” as a “no” is.

  381. Jwilder204 says

    True story, Katryna: When I had my car broken into last year, and my GPS unit stolen from it, I listened to MANY people say to me “You shouldn’t have left the mounting unit on the windshield. That’s a flag to thieves that there’s a valuable GPS unit probably in the car.”So … your pickpocket mansplaining doesn’t work there. Yes, we blame the victim constantly in this country.A friend of mine got beaten outside a night club in Danville, Virginia. He was given the following responses when he told people what happened: “You should know not to go to Cluck’s, that’s a rough club.” and “What did you say to provoke them?”I could go on, but I’d rather not.

  382. Jwilder204 says

    If I didn’t shower for days and stunk, would it not be my fault if people avoided me?If I showed up to a classy dinner party in sweat pants and Crocs, would it be other people’s fault if they stared at me and assumed I was too poor/uncouth to wear appropriate clothing?If I walk around with a sandwich board that said “The end is near.” would it be OTHER people’s fault that they treat me like a paranoid schizophrenic?

  383. Dae says

    1) No woman here is complaining about men avoiding her to avoid the temptation to stare. 2-3) It would be other people’s fault if they treated you in a dehumanizing manner, yes. Also, you are welcome to assume someone is dressed inappropriately – that can easily be done without treating him or her like shit. There is not a situation where it would be correct and morally fine to treat someone in a dehumanizing way. You are missing the point; go do some more reading. This is one of those issues that Jen mentioned in her recent post about “but I didn’t evolve from a monkey” tropes.

  384. Gus Snarp says

    Let me know when you have real evidence that men are raped by women anywhere near as often as women are raped by men. I don’t claim it doesn’t happen. I don’t claim men can’t be abused by women. But just as common? Psychological abuse, possibly, but not likely. Physical abuse? Rape? Just as common? Prove it.But all that’s still beside the point. The point is that everyone knows women are the sexual gateway. In this case those standard tropes aren’t proof that women are the gateway any more than who raises their hand in the million dollar challenge is proof, but they are a clear indicator that everyone knows it already. The million dollar challenge is presented as if it were some way of proving something that goes against conventional wisdom, but it’s not, women as the gateway is conventional wisdom.

  385. Svlad Cjelli says

    Looking at it from a distance (i.e. not relating to it), this sounds better, if they are OK with it. I opposed the same suggestion on the racial issue, because I sometimes get defensive when anyone feels a need to point out that I’m not as light as they are. Maybe it’s not fully rational, but something like that is often accompanied by an intense eyecontact, and it makes me wonder what the hell they want from me. Maybe it’s not really on topic, either, but whatever.

  386. Katryna says

    I’m sorry that happened to you and other people you knew. You’re right, it DOES happen a lot, and is largely an invisible problem because people assume that criminals aren’t responsible for their behavior quite a lot. It still doesn’t change the fact that it’s morally wrong to do something like that, and I would guess that you think it’s morally wrong too by your tone. Can you suggest an analogy that might work to explain why, exactly, victim blaming is so demeaning?Sorry if it sounded like I mansplained. :) I find victim-blaming to be irritating in every form it comes in, but more irritating when I’ve been the victim of the behavior.

  387. Katryna says

    Jwilder, they might avoid you an they might assume things about you, but the important question here is, do they act on those assumptions and instincts in an inappropriate way?I guarantee you that (heterosexual) men will notice when a woman has cleavage and that everyone will sift everyone else into categories that allow them, if they so choose, to take actions that are inappropriate. Being able to recognize, “This person has characteristics that make him/her look dangerous or attractive” is a survival mechanism that is wonderful and effective when used properly. For example, I may be very friendly and chatty to a fellow who is dressed in one of the local gangs’ colors and has a tattoo identifying him as from that gang, but there’s no way in hell I would go with him alone to a secluded area unless I knew for a fact that he wouldn’t harm me (for instance, if he was my little brother I wouldn’t hesitate–but I’d probably be too busy skinning him alive to go with him anywhere).I’m a cashier at Wal-Mart in Arkansas. I get all kinds of guys who come in dirty and stinking to high heaven, even in the winter. I may not want to get near enough to smell, but that doesn’t mean that this gives me the right to give them the silent treatment, tell them to take a shower, or give them dirty looks. I could choose to treat them that way, and many people do choose to do so (judging by the way they apologize for their funk), but I don’t. And yes, it would be my own fault if I was so vile to them.So too can men choose to either 1) act inappropriately and stare at a woman’s breasts or 2) do their damned best to keep eyes up and treat women courteously and apologize if they get it wrong. The vast majority of (hetero) men do not choose the second option, but that’s their own damned fault.

  388. Katryna says

    Not to mention heteronormative. Because women never dress up to attract the attention of other gay women.

  389. Realee says

    You weren’t asking me but if you don’t mind I’ll throw in my two cents. Using a term that has been used to denigrate women to denigrate men… If you call a white person the n word is it racist? I would say yes. You’re using racism to try to lower a person. So using terminology of sexism to lower a person… sexist. Note that I’m coming from the U.S. perspective on the word. But if you’re posting a comment on a blog based in the U.S. about a U.S. conference…. it’s fair to say that some of your audience is going to be… from the U.S. So, taking note of how terminology is taken in such a case may be worthwhile.

  390. says

    Just like it’s a problem to use ‘gay’ as a general-purpose pejorative, to sneeringly call a non-macho by ‘girly’, and why the term ‘spastic’ is now used much less for its original medical purpose (because it become a popular derogative).

  391. jose says

    In fact that’s the exact same reasoning for the burqa: women are responsible for the actions of men, because men can’t control their impulses when they see boobs.

  392. dcarr1 says

    I am not a part of the Ohio group nor was I present at this gathering, but I do appreciate the advice for fostering a well organized group. As an organizer I had no experience before I started a group in my area and it has not been easy trying to get a diverse group of people to feel comfortable and welcome at our meetings. Despite having met with and been contacted by nearly 75 free thinkers as our group has grown, we still only have a core group of maybe 5 to 10 people at each meeting.

  393. Dave P says

    This article has made me really apprehensive. I’ve never been to an atheist/skeptic conference, but I’d like to go someday.Also, I happen to be a single man, and I hope that won’t always be the case. My desire to someday be in a relationship isn’t due to an uncontrolable biological imperative; at least I don’t feel that it is. My higher brain functions want me to be happily married someday.With that said, my purpose in going to an atheist/skeptic conference would not be to meet women. I’d go there for the same reason I frequent atheist/skeptic/science blogs. However, my friends keep telling me: “it will happen when you least expect it”. If that’s the case, then I shouldn’t rule-out the possibility of randomly meeting a nice, attractive, single woman at such an event (who happens to think that I’m a nice, attractive, single guy). Afterall, I don’t go to the grocery store to meet women, but if a woman happens to talk to me at the grocery store I’m not supposed to throw eggs at her and run for help. I’m supposed to think: “well this is a happy, unexpected surprise, let’s roll with it. Even if nothing comes of it, I’ll still be having eggs for breakfast.”This article is distressing, because here’s what I’m gathering from it: Any sort of flirting with a woman at such a conference is horribly offensive. I’m awful at flirting with women, because I’ve got this hang-up: I’m worried that if I flirt with a woman, I risk offending her. My friends have tried to convince me otherwise. They’ve insisted that there’s nothing wrong with it, and a woman would probably find it flattering. And even if she’s not interested she wouldn’t be upset. And over time I’ve been improving. But then I read this article and suddenly I regress. Granted, the article addresses part of my concern with this line: “Sure, a few guys flirting with us is sexy. BUT!!! 20 guys our father’s age blatantly staring at and talking to our cleavage is a totally different situation!” OK, the part about being old enough to be a woman’s father doesn’t apply to me (in most cases), and I sure hope the cleavage-staring doesn’t either (though I’ve been known to sneak a glance; damned peripheral vision). So even if I do conjure up the courage to *politely* flirt with a woman, how am I supposed to know that she’s been hit on 19 times already? The first guy to do so is cool, but the 20th guy is a dehumanizing jerk? The law of independent trials applies here: those 20 guys are not in cahoots. Guy #20 might not be a douchebag, he might just have arrived late.So let’s say that I resolve not to flirt with any woman while at such a conference. Easily done, I’m the master of my own actions. But my worry-wrinkles get deeper when I start thinking about this: What if a woman thinks I’m flirting with her when I’m actually not? Can I offend someone without actually trying? Afterall, flirting is a very subtle thing (the dudes on Jersey Shore are the exception, not the rule). If I talk to a man at one of these conferences, I don’t have to worry about this; I can just be myself. But if I talk to a woman, do I need to make it abundantly clear that she’s not being hit-upon? Do I have to throw up a barrier and treat her differently? Do I need to overcompensate by being cold and distant? Isn’t that exactly what women in the atheist/skeptic community want to avoid?Right now, I hope readers are saying “no, you’re taking the wrong lesson from this!” (actually, I’d be surprised if anybody is reading this, due to the sheer volume of comments). I realize that the most offensive stuff described by this article happened as the debate heated up, so to be clear: I’m not talking about that stuff (I don’t condone the “weaker sex” cracks or any of the trolls leaving comments here). What I’m talking about is what the article describes as the impetus for the debate: “The all-too-common problem came up of a woman showing up to a meeting and every dude there hitting on her.” If I’m taking the wrong lesson from this (fingers crossed), please let me know what the right lesson is. Please explain how I’m supposed to go to an atheist/skeptic conference and not worry that I’m teetering on the edge of insulting countless people. Do I need to wait until I’m married before attending such an event?

  394. Nullefide says

    Just wanted to say I love this post. I have felt that sexism is something the atheist community does not discuss near enough. It really needs to be taken seriously if these groups want to encourage women (or keep women) in their ranks. And the fact that any discuss of sexism is often shoved to the side and not taken seriously just makes women like me really not feel welcomed…

  395. says

    “A panel of five guys and one woman discussed what an atheist group should do to attract more women. The all-too-common problem came up of a woman showing up to a meeting and every dude there hitting on her. “First of all, for someone who finds the term “female” so objectionable, I find your casual use of the terms “dude” and “guys” to be interesting – especially in light that you contrastingly refer to females as “women” consistently throughout your post.” First, despite her having her hand raised for most of the discussion, the panel never even acknowledged her or invited her opinion (despite soliciting the opinion of several guys both on and off the panel.”You’re suggesting that the panelists are so overtly and extremely sexist that they avoid accepting questions from female audience members because of the sole fact that they are female? Incredible. I wonder how the panelists themselves would respond to such accusations – and I wonder if you would ever have the courage to accuse them of as much in plain english to their faces or if you only feel comfortable with insinuations on a blog.“the language the panel had been using – “female” instead of “woman,” […] made us sound like livestock rather than people.”Get off the euphemism treadmill and call a spade a spade. Policing language to be P.C. does nothing to help whatever root cause makes a neutral term take on negative connotations – and only serves as a distraction to real discussion.“Did they take the opportunity to discuss how things like language can make a group uncomfortable for women, and what we could do to make it better?”I would like to discuss how you voted yourself the spokesperson for women in general and why you think your kneejerk, hypersensitive P.C. mindset is the standard to be met by all speakers and attendees.“the conversation wandered into a weird discussion about how men’s biology drives them to frequently (if not constantly) pursue sex, and since it’s biology, no one should get upset at[…]suddenly women were the bad guys for saying no to men’s propositions […] Most of the guys in the room loved it, but as a woman in the audience – it was really uncomfortable. It was demeaning, frustrating[…]”Look at yourself. Can you not see the way you are portraying men? You obviously think of men as sex-crazed maniacs itching for an excuse to rape and oppress women. I can’t decide what is worse: if you are purposefully lying to advance an agenda or if you actually believe your own bullshit. You actually believe they were advocating that women ought to accept all sexual advances from all men and furthermore that men would be “happy” with this kind of arrangement? You have a bizarre, twisted view of men and what men desire and I find it incredibly ironic that your twisted perception of the discussion and the men in the audience made you feel demeaned. Your words here appear to be FAR more demeaning and stereotyping than even your (probably exaggerated) accusations.“The appropriate way to solve the problem of gender imbalance is to ask a bunch of guys about it”More evidence revealing your polarizing disdain for men and your sexist view of the world. Why on earth would you devalue someone’s opinion solely because of their sex or gender? “A bunch of guys” have just as valid opinions about topics (yes, even about sexism) as you do. The disparaging language dripping with contempt is so incredibly offensive and the fact that you’re affecting an air of righteous indignation makes it so much worse. Who the hell do you think you are?“Why don’t we see more women in our groups? Maybe because when Jen McCreight showed up to an atheist meeting, guys in the group stood around comparing her to her photos from Boobquake.”Boobquake. You mean where Jen wore an intentionally ultra-revealing shirt and bragged about her size-D breasts? And let me guess, the “guys in the group” are pigs for noticing. Give me a freaking break.“Why are we so overwhelmingly Caucasian? Maybe because a black person shows up and hears a bunch of racial jokes.”If you’re involved in a group that spends its time making racist jokes you need to clean up your friggin acts and grow up. And please don’t try to paint the whole movement like that.“Foster women in leadership. Groups with women in leadership positions tend to have more women. Encourage women in your group to be visible in leadership.Female leaders are no more valuable than male leaders. People should be judged as individuals – on their individual merits, not as genitals and boobs. GROW THE F UP PLEASE!!!

  396. says

    “A panel of five guys and one woman discussed what an atheist group should do to attract more women. The all-too-common problem came up of a woman showing up to a meeting and every dude there hitting on her. “First of all, for someone who finds the term “female” so objectionable, I find your casual use of the terms “dude” and “guys” to be interesting – especially in light that you contrastingly refer to females as “women” consistently throughout your post.” First, despite her having her hand raised for most of the discussion, the panel never even acknowledged her or invited her opinion (despite soliciting the opinion of several guys both on and off the panel.”You’re suggesting that the panelists are so overtly and extremely sexist that they avoid accepting questions from female audience members because of the sole fact that they are female? Incredible. I wonder how the panelists themselves would respond to such accusations – and I wonder if you would ever have the courage to accuse them of as much in plain english to their faces or if you only feel comfortable with insinuations on a blog.“the language the panel had been using – “female” instead of “woman,” […] made us sound like livestock rather than people.”Get off the euphemism treadmill and call a spade a spade. Policing language to be P.C. does nothing to help whatever root cause makes a neutral term take on negative connotations – and only serves as a distraction to real discussion.“Did they take the opportunity to discuss how things like language can make a group uncomfortable for women, and what we could do to make it better?”I would like to discuss how you voted yourself the spokesperson for women in general and why you think your kneejerk, hypersensitive P.C. mindset is the standard to be met by all speakers and attendees.“the conversation wandered into a weird discussion about how men’s biology drives them to frequently (if not constantly) pursue sex, and since it’s biology, no one should get upset at[…]suddenly women were the bad guys for saying no to men’s propositions […] Most of the guys in the room loved it, but as a woman in the audience – it was really uncomfortable. It was demeaning, frustrating[…]”Look at yourself. Can you not see the way you are portraying men? You obviously think of men as sex-crazed maniacs itching for an excuse to rape and oppress women. I can’t decide what is worse: if you are purposefully lying to advance an agenda or if you actually believe your own bullshit. You actually believe they were advocating that women ought to accept all sexual advances from all men and furthermore that men would be “happy” with this kind of arrangement? You have a bizarre, twisted view of men and what men desire and I find it incredibly ironic that your twisted perception of the discussion and the men in the audience made you feel demeaned. Your words here appear to be FAR more demeaning and stereotyping than even your (probably exaggerated) accusations.“The appropriate way to solve the problem of gender imbalance is to ask a bunch of guys about it”More evidence revealing your polarizing disdain for men and your sexist view of the world. Why on earth would you devalue someone’s opinion solely because of their sex or gender? “A bunch of guys” have just as valid opinions about topics (yes, even about sexism) as you do. The disparaging language dripping with contempt is so incredibly offensive and the fact that you’re affecting an air of righteous indignation makes it so much worse. Who the hell do you think you are?“Why don’t we see more women in our groups? Maybe because when Jen McCreight showed up to an atheist meeting, guys in the group stood around comparing her to her photos from Boobquake.”Boobquake. You mean where Jen wore an intentionally ultra-revealing shirt and bragged about her size-D breasts? And let me guess, the “guys in the group” are pigs for noticing. Give me a freaking break.“Why are we so overwhelmingly Caucasian? Maybe because a black person shows up and hears a bunch of racial jokes.”If you’re involved in a group that spends its time making racist jokes you need to clean up your friggin acts and grow up. And please don’t try to paint the whole movement like that.“Foster women in leadership. Groups with women in leadership positions tend to have more women. Encourage women in your group to be visible in leadership.Female leaders are no more valuable than male leaders. People should be judged as individuals – on their individual merits, not as genitals and boobs. GROW THE F UP PLEASE!!!

  397. says

    I didn’t go to the thing, so I don’t know what really happened. After reading this post, as well as some of the comments that support the post, I can’t help but feel like I’m some sort of monster simply for being a man. Maybe that makes the communication of what the problem was ineffective? Am I supposed to walk away from this post feeling like this? This isn’t much different to me than how I felt when I went to church and thought I was a sinner by nature. The post was essentially supposed to address the failure of communication from the panel to the audience, and it ended up failing at communicating its own intended point, IMHO. I find it VERY lame that women were referred to as “females” during this event. You want to talk about stereotypes? Well, when a bunch of science-crazed atheists start universally referring to human women as “females,” it just makes us all look like a bunch of socially pathetic virgins, and I won’t stand for that! That alone makes me want to go back to calling myself agnostic. Also, as a man, the only time I catch myself staring at cleavage is when it’s visible. Seriously, it’s not victim blaming to point out the obvious. If somebody looks at boobs that are in front of them, they aren’t being creapy. If somebody starts to touch either themself or you in response to your cleavage showing, then they are being creapy, and you should complain loudly. This is different than blaming an earthquake on immodest dress. *Mouth breathing is also creapy, regardless of the situation. I’m married to an awesome non-theist woman, whom I met in college. We have never attended any organized atheist or skeptic activities, and I’m thinking we haven’t missed much. If you want to attract more people to your meetings and events, you should treat them with genuine care, and as the individuals that they are and deserve to be recognized as. Then you’ll get more women, and more people in general. Dave P, you should not feel the least bit hung up about flirting respectfully with any girl you find attractive. If she has a problem with you for doing so, then she’s probably a miserable asshole, and she isn’t worth another wasted breath. Most people will probably see her for what she is, so you also shouldn’t fear how that would harm your status with everyone else. For every over-the-top feminist out there, there are plenty of reasonable women (feminist and otherwise) who’d be happy to meet a good guy.

  398. Lynet says

    Right, but harrassment also doesn’t become less painful just because you also have a slightly easier time finding casual sex. Saying “You shouldn’t feel harrassed because, look, you also have this privilege” is ridiculous.

  399. Lyra says

    I don’t know anything about this conference, but I have a little bit to say about the Million Dollar Challenge. If the point of the Million Dollar Challenge is to point out that women are in general more sexually selective than men in general, I’ll buy it.If the point is to insist that because women are more sexually selective than men, they have greater power than men in regards to sex, I’m going to start twitching. Our history is made up of countless examples of women not having any power at all when it comes to sex. On the hand, our history is full of examples of women not being allowed to say no to sex. You know, where whole societies said that there was no rape within marriage, that a woman consented to sex if she stepped foot in a man’s apartment, that women who dressed certain ways are asking to be raped, and so forth. On the other hand, we have countless examples of women not being allowed to say yes to sex. Women who have inappropriate sex (generally sex without being married) are whores, are ruined and can never be married, are forces of evil, etc etc. Throughout a sizable chunk of human societies throughout human history, women have not been the gatekeepers of their own wombs, men have been, specifically their fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, and so forth. It wasn’t women who decided when men got to have sex with women, it was men who got to decide when men had sex with women.

  400. says

    “On the hand, our history is full of examples of women not being allowed to say no to sex. You know, where whole societies said that there was no rape within marriage, that a woman consented to sex if she stepped foot in a man’s apartment, that women who dressed certain ways are asking to be raped, and so forth.”Lyra, you are absolutely correct! It’s only been recently that women have had much say as far as sex goes. In fact, books attributed to Jesus’s own disciples were omitted from the canonical bible because they empowered women to choose to remain celibate as a display of their love and devotion to their god. The Nostics who practiced these teachings were punished and persecuted (and they eventually died off, because they weren’t terribly good at reproducing).

  401. Caralee Hickey says

    This last weekend at the San Diego Secular Humanist Conference, I heard Sean Faircloth’s presentation “Sex! Morality! Law! Women!”. Personally, I thought the talk was rad! I was NOT at all offended. In fact, I felt it was empowering and fun! The talk was very positive toward women & highlighted “our” accomplishments and discussed how religion & government often gets in the way of “our” rights. The Million Dollar Challenge exercise was a part of the presentation at this conference, too. It was a fun group activity that highlighted the differences between men & women with regards to sex. In absolutely no way did this exercise feel demeaning and I was a happy participant. I think it helped to illustrate the power that women have as the “gatekeepers” of sex. I hate to see Mr. Faircloth portrayed as a sexist. I think this is unfair. He is a friend to women and he cares about our cause. I loved his talk & am bummed that it has been perceived by some in a twisted way. It’s a bit baffling.

  402. Steph says

    Wow, five minutes in and he’s had a picture of buxom Christina Hendricks up for no reason at all, other than the fact he is praising Don Draper.

  403. Steph says

    Oooh, a woman reporter. She has a vagina and didn’t criticize you, therefore your presentation must not be sexist.Or did you point out her gender for another reason?

  404. says

    For most people I know, feminism is about equal rights for men and women. Meaning that I as a woman would like to see those harmful effects of a patriarchy relieved on both sexes.On a side note I do not have children nor am I likely to want to. If I did I would hope I would always want their father to be an equal player in their lives with me regardless of where we stood as long as we were both safe for them. I don’t let guys buy me drinks or dinner etc on principle unless it’s going back and forth fairly. Stating that no one should need to spend money spend time with one another. I try not to be forceful about it but it’s not always taken well and can offend even when I offer to start off by buying him a drink instead. And if I got laid whenever I wanted male figures in my life have made it clear how deeply it would degrade me in their eyes. (Discussing women having sex without being very “choosy” and how it “cheapens” them comes up even from people I would otherwise respect.) Alone being honest about sexual history with future partners can have an impact on how they view a woman. So that privilege you note comes with a price as well as more health risks. So, while there may be some benefits to either sex, I can only make my own personal choices and you can make yours. I expect men to treat me with the respect I treat them with. That doesn’t always happen and harassment far too often does. And being stared at, followed, talked to inappropriately, not left alone when asked, grabbed, when “please leave me alone” is just not being heard is an truly awful feeling. Of course those are the actions of individuals. But I might avoid a place or group where that happens all the time. And I don’t think it’s wrong to point out when it is happening. If you think I’m being oversensitive does it hurt you to hear me out for five minutes? Pretty sure I’d extend you the same courtesy. And telling me that my potential privileges make that okay… or at least something I should just accept… I feel like every time we play that game a chance to try make a difference in the imbalances is being missed.

  405. GG says

    I’ve no idea about this particular case, but being from the UK it wouldn’t really occur to me that “cunt” is a sexist word. Offensive, yes, but not sexist. Whilst I agree that one should be mindful of such things, it’s not like there’s a guide anywhere that says “don’t use the word cunt to Americans if you don’t want to come across as sexist”

  406. GG says

    BTW, that was a general point. I think that the OP was using the term in a sexist manner (“Stupid cunts” being damaging to the feminist movement)

  407. says

    I’ve watched the video of the panel discussion.Jen, you owe everyone an apology.Cries of things like “racism”, “sexism”, etc are serious charges in the Atheist movement. In a community of intellectuals, this is the equivalent of calling names and committing slander or libel. To an intellectual, that’s a heinous crime. It’s completely natural to be vociferously angry if the charge is felt to be incorrect, and to lash BACK out at the people who lashed out at you.It behooves all of us to take a moment and find out the truth before making those kinds of claims. In that respect, I point the finger at Jen and company for failing all of us.

  408. says

    To be fair, the only claim in this posting that I give any credence to, potentially, is the “staring at boobs” claim. Guys do it. They shouldn’t. If the boobs are on display, it’s perfectly natural to glance at them. However, you should be able to override that instinct and look the person in the eye you are talking to. Women should do the same – I have seen women checking out the speaker’s package or looking around at attractive guys before when talking to someone they are bored with or unattracted to (Like me, I’m not that physically attractive and I know it).In any of those cases it’s disrespectful. So, if it happened, guys should just NOT do it. We’ll never know, though, because with all the other untrue claims it’s hard to lend any weight to that one last one. That’s a shame, because if it was a problem that problem now doesn’t have a voice.

  409. says

    Not having watched the video yet (but I haven’t seen a claim that this was inaccurate), I see a problem with the million dollar question including a suggestion of looking around the room. The whole thing works as a hypothetical (which I have no inherent problem with, understanding it), it doesn’t need to be brought into the context of specific company.If that’s another ellegedly (or actually) inaccurate claim, then this problem doesn’t exist, unless what actually happened was that people looked around speculatively without being encouraged to; in that case, it’s an unforseen consequence, but still an issue that should be considered.

  410. says

    If the point is to show people that women are the gatekeepers of sex by demonstrating it visually, it makes sense to ask the crowd to look around the room.

  411. says

    Why does it need to be done visually? The ideas it appeals to are clearly part of common understanding; what is gained by the visual that outweighs the (frankly) obvious risk of discomfort to female audience members?

  412. Jwilder204 says

    Sam, I’m not sure that the risk of discomfort is obvious to most people, and let me say, especially in an –atheist– meeting.One of the genuine upsides to the casting off of religious sexual repression; it is a world-view that embraces the fact that we are sexual animals that are free to engage in consensual sex without being married or even agreeing to a long-term relationship. Atheists generally can agree: sex is good, it feels good and it should be done consensually, safely and as frequently as desired.Speaking to a group seen as embracing these ideals, I don’t think that a risk of discomfort is obvious as you say. I’m just playing devil’s advocate, here and trying to explain (not defend) his actions.

  413. says

    If it’s not obvious (and it is to some men, and I would imagine more women) then that’s a good reason to talk about it.Encouraging people to openly assess those around them for such things leads to them openly assessing those around them (hence the problem). This is uncomfortable to women particularly because of societal norms, attitudes, and implications that are not intimately tied to religion. How about the increased perception of risk of rape, to take one obvious example? It doesn’t matter that the text talks about it having to be consensual for the challenge – the challenge is hypothetical. The meat-market atmosphere the assessment generates is uncomfortable.The more general point, though, is that risks of discomfort are often not obvious, which is why people should talk about such things, and people writing and giving talks, organising events, and so forth, should try to be as familiar with all of the issues as they can be.

  414. DirgeOfMorin says

    I heard Mr. Faircloth’s speech (a version of it anyway) when he spoke to Boston Skeptics a while back. I did not see anything antifeminist and the Don Draper thing was not really promoting the character’s libertine behavior. It was meant as an exercise for us to examine our preconceptions and behaviors. This movement is at its core irreverent, challenging its members to reconsider the status quo constantly. Although the joke was in poor taste, I don’t think that it was actually meant to marginalize her or disrespect her as a woman. As a movement we give the middle finger to the gods and lords of the world because our minds are free, we should have tough enough skin to bite back. We are a group that IS marginalized, that takes criticism and attacks from the religious right, fighting amongst ourselves is unnecessary. What’s all this prudery about looking around the room for a woman you’d have relations with? We’re all animals and to deny that these rationalizations occur is to lie to yourself and deny your nature, both men and women. He shouldn’t apologize for making a sociological experiment and helping us identify these things in our nature. We’re tough, we’re smart, we’re proud, we’re atheists, skeptics and freethinkers. If you want prudery, primness and propriety maybe you should go back to the churches you claim to deny.

  415. Jwilder204 says

    Without taking sides in this issue, I can’t help but wonder if the reason that feminists are so often disappointed in atheists is because we expect MORE from a group that embraces free thinking and rational thought. What we don’t realize is that some of the things that are attractive about atheism (sexual liberation) is also something that attracts scumbags who disliked the “prudery, primness and propriety” of religionThat said, I am not taking sides in this debate, this is an observation that could be incorrect and is not backed up by scientific study. It is merely a hunch.

  416. Jwilder204 says

    I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say that atheism attracts scumbags. That was not my intention at all. If I could, I would remove that term entirely, it was inflammatory and unnecessary.

  417. says

    I think you are over analyzing it. Do you honestly think that in that environment such a demonstration was intended to provide a “meat market” atmosphere? I think that’s a stretch at best.For some people, a visual demonstration strikes home a point more than a clinical discussion. That’s why it’s important to make the demonstration.How does pointing out that women are the gatekeepers of sex increase the perception of the risk of rape? What does that have to do with the demonstration?

  418. says

    Do you really think intent is all that matters? If you stumble and push someone into a precipice, do they fall less than if it were deliberate? I’m suggesting that it’s understandable that people feel uncomfortable about it (I know I would), and that that should be taken on board and learned from. Possibly the ultimate decision is that the risk of discomfort is outweighed by the benefit of a visual demonstration – I wouldn’t say so myself, but that’s one possible conclusion. In that case, it’s fine (well, not fine, but you know) as long as it’s been seriously considered, not dismissed as readily as some seem to.It’s not the point that’s intended that increases fear/perceived risk of rape; it’s the afore-mentioned atmosphere.

  419. Ibis3 says

    Jen, I’m not a child. I can read what Sharon and Lyz wrote and judge for myself whether they are presenting things fairly. You generously provided the platform for them to speak. Why are you shutting them up? Even if there is some dispute about the actual events, their opinions are valuable and whatever bias there might be gives us information in its own right.

  420. says

    If you’re calling it an experiment, he should certainly apologise for not securing informed consent in advance of participation.The rest of it I’m not going to argue again right now…

  421. says

    Oh, a comment I just got from the gallery (non-reader I was talking to)…”What’s prudery about discomfort with people openly assessing whether they want to sleep with you?”For that matter, why does prudery have to imply religion? I’ve heard secular arguments for ‘prudish’ behaviour before now, and I can’t accept as a general truth that prudery only derives from religion.Being an atheist doesn’t automatically make you all sexually liberated, and being sexually liberated doesn’t automatically make you comfortable with that sort of behaviour.What you seem to be saying is “if you object to people leering at you (at least if someone is trying to make a point), sod off back to church”.

  422. paisley says

    I personally wouldn’t blame Jen. She gave a platform to two atheist women (who are leaders in atheist organizations) who she trusts.I just watched the panel discussion myself, and while I am a woman who doesn’t like to be spoken of as “a female” I didn’t see anything wrong with the panel using it because they were also using “males”. This wasn’t a case of “men” and “females” which I would personally be annoyed by.I really hope that the authors of this post were not purposefully trying to make the sexism at the conference sound much worse, because their description does seem quite conflated after I’ve seen the actual events. I do feel that there is sexism in the atheist community, but I felt that the panel members were quite respectful. Even the issue of “the topic was about women and they weren’t talking to women about it”…they were talking about their own groups gender make-up and how one was more women heavy and one was more of a family affair…which is cool!

  423. Enrique says

    I was a member of the panel. For fairness sake, I’d like to ask Jen to embed the video of the actual events *in the body of the blog post*. Most people will only read the blog post, and skim over the comments, in which case they will never get to judge for themselves.

  424. says

    That’s the problem though -> She gave them a platform without fact-checking their claims. I think that does more harm to the movement than any critic of the movement ever could.

  425. DirgeOfMorin says

    It’s not like he was asking people to openly solicit a sexual exchange. Maybe my opinion comes from being fed up with the false propriety of society. The talk is meant to be provocative ( I assume) and honestly, you may object to people leering at you but you’re still deluding yourself if you don’t assume that this occurs every single day and every time you encounter members of the opposite sex in reproductive age. The fact that a person assesses sexual compatibility does not guarantee any sort of disrespect or approach even. It’s like the Christian idea of “if you covet a woman (or man, doesn’t matter) then you’ve already committed the sin of adultery in your heart”. I don’t think atheists are sleazy at all, and given the diminutive population size, the incidence of perversion, not more than any other group anyway. I can guarantee you that the population of sleazeballs in our is lesser and lesser in proportion than that of religious folks. BECAUSE we are smarter and BECAUSE we are more educated. How many atheist do you know are willing to rape children? OR better yet, how many atheists do you think would cover up another atheist’s child-rape, just because they happened to be atheists (the rapist and the cover-up person)? Never, because that’s not how atheism unites us. We are united in forging our own morality and our own standards and as long as you’re not openly proclaiming you want to bone somebody nobody should cry foul. We can agree to disagree here I think. Because the women in the room were asked to do the same as the men, it wasn’t unequal standing, it just happens that there are more openly atheistic males than females, causing this population skew and making it seem encroaching to female members of the audience (or so I think). Nobody seemed offended in the Boston talk and everybody took it in stride with a laugh really.

  426. CatBallou says

    A blatant lie? How about a complete fabrication on YOUR part? That statement doesn’t appear in the post. Instead, Sharon was emphasizing that SHE was not an event organizer. Accusations of lying are serious, and they go way beyond differences of opinion. Please read more carefully.

  427. Maggie says

    To be fair, there’s a difference between ‘wrong’ and ‘potentially slanderous’.Sean Faircloth was singled out by name and may have been grossly misrepresented… And possibly slandered. So I agree with her decision to excise that portion (especially as my opinion is, having seen his talk elsewhere and finding it wholly unlike what was described, that his reputation could suffer unfairly from this).

  428. Amii Lockhart says

    Hi Scott – here is my perspective for your consideration given your involvement in the event. I did after watching the video: The weaker sex comment was offensive and inappropriately handled. People are focusing on the term female because that was the issue that the woman in the audience had. My issue is how her issue was handled. That one comment about weaker sex effectively “put her in her place” for having the audacity to complain about it. It is legitimate for the panel (the authority figures) to respond to her complaint with agreement or disagreement, but to belittle and dismiss that one woman specifically and all women in general by dubbing them the weaker sex…that’s not funny (though it might be amongst peers). That’s not professional and that’s not how you encourage women into a movement. I personally feel that the man who made that comment should have apologized then and there to the entire audience (even though the woman had left by then) for an inappropriate jest made at their expense.I go to a lot of professional events, and I’ve never seen that kind of response to an audience member. While I understand that professional seminars are more formal than those open to the general public, the panel really should operate as professionally as possible.

  429. Crap says

    Wow. Just wow… Having watched the video I’m a bit at odds to sort out how the account above even came to be. I can only assume it was re-assembled after the fact with all the glitches and gaffes our all-too-poor memories as witnesses throw in.I’m sorry. The only way that I can square what I just saw with what I read above is that… Perhaps she was embarrassed that her personal interpretation was not taken up by the panel or, indeed, those in the room and felt ashamed/embarrassed and that, in due course, turned to anger/offense. Especially if it was ratcheted up with a few “yeah, that’s what happened” and “hey, you have a right to be offended”. But I’m speculating.All I can say for certain is that having seen the video (as well as having seen Sean Faircloth’s talk live and in video afterward), there is little to no reality portrayed in the original post and the posters owe all and sundry an apology (where apology means ‘I was wrong’ not ‘I recognize tha you disagree with me’).And if we’re going to build a big discussion here, I for one think maybe it ought to be “how did this get to where it did and is every woman’s perceived offense excused from the usual burden of evidence [i.e. – the privileged must accept every offense as being as valid as every other until proven false]. Or, to paraphrase a common phrase amongst skeptics, everyone can have an offense, but can’t have their own facts. Because, frankly, this post, now that the video has come to light, reminds me more of high school social politics than grown-up gender politics.

  430. Jwilder204 says

    Intent matters. To use your analogy, imagine we could freeze time and interview the pushed person right before they hit the bottom. They’d rather it was an accident. Interview the dead person’s family: they’d rather it was an accident. If it wasn’t an accident the pusher would be punished with possible death. Even the people watching the news that reported the story that night would rather live in a world where one less person was murdered. They’d rather have it be an accident too.Intent matters to those directly and indirectly affected – from murder all the way down to sexist comments.

  431. Jwilder204 says

    Technically it’s libel, not slander, and Jen could potentially be sued if she knowingly hosted false information on her blog about Sean.Of course there are exceptions, such as if Sean is considered a public figure or if the false information could be deemed a parody. But this isn’t a legal blog, so I now return you to your regularly scheduled infighting.

  432. Jwilder204 says

    I watched the video and taken in context, the joke was funny. No one expected the woman to leave the room, and I’ll bet if they had, wouldn’t have said it.And now, having watched the video and seen it all, I want to officially distance myself from all feminists who took that woman’s side. We feminists already had to deal with comments that we are “overreacting.” Having someone genuinely over-react, then get the facts incorrectly reported by sympathetic guest bloggers is the last thing our movement needs. I feel tempted to turn in my “Feminism” badge, and something tells me feminists like you would like me gone.

  433. says

    (hit the nesting limit – this reply is to your further reply): well, that’s a matter of opinion and my view of that is strictly preliminary, as I’m just going on the (several) descriptions that have emerged here. If you don’t want to consider the general point, that’s your call.

  434. says

    Replying to Jwilder204:I never suggested intent doesn’t matter, of course it does, it affects how one views the person who did the ‘bad thing’. Depending on the situation, a crime may still have been committed in your example, but that’s by the by.I only assert that intent isn’t the only thing that matters.(edited to remove brain-error that inverted meaning of a clause)

  435. says

    If that’s the case (reserving final personal judgement ’til I have time for the video), then there should be an apology; I don’t think the whole post should come down, because it’s context to the rest of the discussion, but I could see an argument for bracketing it in some sort of disclaimer.Also, though, it shouldn’t be seen as devaluing all of the ensuing argument, because there are some really good points – and I include those I disagree with.Regarding “is every woman’s perceived offense excused from the usual burden of evidence“, I would say that everyone’s offence (not just women’s) deserves a hearing, and it shouldn’t be cursory. As I’ve said elsewhere, that should have some exceptions for offence that you have, individually or organisationally, expected and dismissed (with consideration) in advance, but if it keeps happening it’s worth re-examining.The question of why it was taken so seriously without evidence other than one set of personal testimony is very valid, though.

  436. Amii Lockhart says

    While I do identify as a feminist, I was speaking as an individual in the business of holding seminars, tradeshows and conventions. Putting on professional events is something that the atheist community should aspire to imo. Turnouts have been great – there is a genuine desire on the public’s part to attend. I’m not sure if you have any experience with events, but if you do then you know that good attendance is a rare and wonderful thing – a thing to foster.I was specifically addressing Scott’s invitation to air concerns. To me, the point is not whether or not the woman in the audience overreacted, genuinely or otherwise.Taken in context, the joke was funny to you. It certainly wasn’t funny to her, a woman who had the full contextual experience (full disclosure – wasn’t funny to me either). If they wouldn’t have said it had they known the reaction it would get, then it should be acknowledged they shouldn’t have said if they didn’t want that reaction. I think that is a valuable thing for Scott to think about with reference to future conferences. Now, let me tell you about my feminism, so you’ll know the exact kind of feminist to distance yourself from – your presumption was off a bit. My utopian dream is that all people are feminists – all women, all men, all people that seek to distance themselves from me, all those who seek to embrace me and those that are utterly indifferent or ignorant of me…until the word feminist becomes irrelevant. So don’t go turning in your badge on my account.

  437. says

    Where is the border between victim blaming and living life as a victim? At what point should a victim take responsibility for their choices as well?I’m not saying that it’s OK for criminals and perverts to behave badly. What I’m saying is that I don’t like this idea that it’s OK to ignore the fact that there are ways for you to take responsibility for your own behavior, and that suggesting that people should do so is somehow morally wrong.It’s very easy to fall into the trap of victim mentality and overlook the areas where should should be taking responsibility to protect yourself as much as reasonably possible.

  438. Jwilder204 says

    Interestingly enough, I work in commercial PR and have organized an event like this – speaking while wearing THAT hat I have to say the incident was handled badly and you’re right about Scott.However, this wasn’t a commercial enterprise. There is no customer to disappoint, no contract to lose. This was a meeting of equals at a group setting – and for one person to demand that the rest of the group use her terminology was bizarre.The Feminism club I joined had this as its mission statement: To restore women to the rightful equal societal place alongside men as biology and human rights dictate.By my personal observations, I believe that we are ~90% there in the U.S.My latest complaint with Feminism is that they are more concerned with stamping out minor perceived offences (such as the above event), when their time and energy would be better spent turning their focus towards both genders. But I’m getting off topic.

  439. Catsydestiny says

    “Female” is perfectly appropriate on a form. A person (or other animal–or, in many cases, a plant) can be female or male (or some combination of the two–biological sex is not always a binary deal.)”Woman” is the word for an adult human being who is female.I take to heart what an earlier commenter said: that the man using the term “female” was ex-military, where using “male” and “female” is the norm. I do think referring to women as females can come across as somewhat dismissive, but I also believe that intent is more important than the word used. Context is everything. It sounds like he meant no harm.

  440. says

    Fair enough. However, I think the distinction is meaningless. We are all aware of the moral obligation of not spreading untruths if we can avoid it. With something like this post, I find it hard to agree that she shouldn’t have worked to find another way to reach the truth before spreading inflammatory rumors.

  441. Jwilder204 says

    I think what Brian was getting at here (and didn’t say outright in his post below [forgive me Brian if I misrepresent you]) was that by having a blog you are either a Journalist or a Propagandist. When it comes to an online blog that many other people read (and you are aware of your popularity) you are going to fit into one of those categories.

  442. Maggie says

    I hope I didn’t imply that I thought the post shold be taken down. I don’t.And i do think that some good points were raised and worth discussion, but on their own and not attached to this post, hopefully.And I agree everyone should be heard, but I also don’t believe in the “everyone’s opinion is equal to everyone else’s” notion. If everyone gets a trophy, no one learns to play. So being heard and being given the proverbial floor are two different things in my estimation. In this case, a room full of adults could not see the tempest in the teacup and moved back to topic. The teacup owner took this personally and her teacup was conflated into a tsunami.

  443. says

    Just curious, are there meetings you go to where flirting is something you shouldn’t even be thinking about? A scientific symposium for example. Or a business school discussion of marketing strategies? If you raised your hand and asked the woman panelist, “Hey, you are hot want to go for a boff?” Do you imagine you might be asked to leave? I might suggest that this session was just such a meeting particularly when one of the discussions was about making women feel welcome. I would put on my strictly business persona during the meeting with women especially. No matter how they were dressed, and without worrying about their being offending by my lack of interest in sex..

  444. says

    As a major denizen of blog space both as a consumer and producer journalism doesn’t sell. 500+ comments is what blog space is all about. If you want journalism go to Fox News.

  445. says

    Yep sexual orientation is biological and a basic and powerful evolutionary drive. Which is why religions and all sane societies have equally powerful social controls over sexual behavior, especially heterosexual behavior. As the old song goes you can’t have one without the other.

  446. Steph says

    I watched the video. The description in this blog is accurate. What a stupid thing to do, making a sexist joke when the woman was obviously upset. The panel and audience discussion was as it is written in this blog, and there is even an earlier stupid sexist joke that elicits an awkward silence.

  447. says

    If feminist men don’t speak out on feminist issues, the only ones left to do so are those rad-fem women who object to sexist language and treatment. I can call a sexist a prick and get away with it because I have one. The women have to be oh-so-careful not to be seen as “one of them.” Hang in there, you will get flack from both sides but that is the way entrenched mores get changed.

  448. Not Part of THIS Movement says

    “Words have the power you give them” is a cop-out and you know it. You used the word that in our society is considered the most degrading way to refer to a woman – and I think it’s interesting that we use a slang word for ‘vagina’ to make sure everyone knows how despicable that woman is – and then say “Hey, it’s not on me, I’m not responsible for the words I use, you’re just responsible for how you hear them.” If you’re white, do you go up to black folks using the “n” word and then say, “Hey, that word only has the power you give it?” Or do you think words have history behind them?

  449. AlysonRR says

    I don’t go to the PTSA meetings of my childrens’ schools because there is no child care. I have declined membership in a select choir because I can’t afford to pay for a babysitter for rehearsals and performances. I am a middle class mother, with a husband who works away from home most of the time, and two young children. I am an atheist. But I am unheard in your movement, because of my circumstances. And I am not alone.

  450. Adrialexi says

    I just wanted to say thank you for the post. I tried to read the comments, but they were far too triggering. I truly hope that the organizers hear and address your concerns. As a woman who is also an atheist, I had considered going to similar events, but am now reconsidering. If I can’t be guaranteed treatment as a human being by atheists or humanists, then I will continue to live safely and happily on my own and won’t be tempted to attend these things. Again, thank you and I hope that the movement learns from this and grows.

  451. mero says

    Your argument makes sense, and it’s true not everyone everywhere needs to know everything.However, when one person says to you “This term is offensive, please stop using it.” the best response is to apologize and actually stop saying it, and not to harass them and tell them to grow a spine and get over it.

  452. mero says

    Funny how those are the only biological imperatives that men operate by. You’d think if instincts were so insurmountable, we would all be crapping in public and eating our boogers.

  453. R. Elisabeth Cornwell, PhD says

    Biology never stands alone, it is always the case of nature-nurture. EP does not suggest that environment (sometimes the influential environment occurs in the womb) does not have substantial influence on behavior. Biology and environment work together to create a set of outcomes. Culture is also not a stand alone ‘thing’ – it is influenced by our biology as well. That is one of the more difficult things to get people to understand. There is a continual feed-back loop.

  454. says

    If that’s the understanding in the field, then I’m reassured. I’ve always wondered about cultural evolution, myself, but that’s entirely off-topic. What I think I was getting me worried is that a lot of ‘pop science’ explanation of/from EP seem to gloss over that complexity, and whether the exponent means to or not, that supports perceptions of “men act like that because of biology, so you can’t really blame them” – which is a problem when people actually share that theory without clarification.

  455. Heather says

    I think this is a good point to bring up. Having grown up in the South, my tolerance level my be higher for this sort of thing than someone from , say, the Northeast or West coast.However, I know the people on the panel and others in attendance, and many of them are not originally from the South.

  456. Heather says

    I have run across some very dogmatic atheists in my time…very akin to those fundamentalists jerks.

  457. kaiakur says

    Any guy using this kind of language to refer to woman definitely has a problem being respectful and has no idea how to treat them professionally. You need classes in gender sensitivity.

  458. Guest says

    You really should read the comments. It sounds as though, based on the comments of other women who attended the American Atheists conference, that Sharon and Lyz may have overreacted or in the very least interpreted the events in a wildly different manner than other women (and men) in attendance. Please don’t let this discourage you from attending atheist conferences. I’ve been to two and I saw no signs of either overt or covert sexism. Whatever happened at the American Atheists conference sounds like an exception rather than the rule. And, as I stated in the above paragraph, it may not even have occurred in the manner related by the authors of this article.

  459. savage_spheniscus says

    A comment on the use of ‘female’.While I don’t feel like this is an inherently sexist term, at least in the geographical region I currently reside it it is frequently used in the place of ‘bitch’ by young men. As in, ‘crazy females’ ‘get me some females’ etc. So I can see why someone might be at least bothered by it if that is the current usage of the word. It is the usage of the word that matters not the word itself. Take ‘gay’ for instance. It’s one thing if one is talking about the gay community or self identifies as gay. It’s another when someone is saying ‘that’s so fucking gay’ meaning that something is stupid. It’s not the word in and of itself that is offensive. I don’t thing women/feminists are just looking for something to be offended about, but if the word ‘female’ in your experience is usually used in conjunction with other misogynist comments or to replace the word ‘bitch’ in the common vernacular, then it’s not surprising that some people might be, if not offended, then at least slightly uncomfortable with the use of that word.

  460. Chris McDougal says

    Excellent book by a sociology and women’s studies professor showing how evolutionary psychology and sociobiology (i.e., human behavior and evolution studies, the “soft” and often-misused accompaniment to biological studies of evolution) are being misused in order to justify antisocial behavior–and sexism of the kind witnessed at this event–on the part of men. It’s called “The Caveman Mystique” (a play on Betty Friedan’s “Feminine Mystique”), by Martha McCoughey.

  461. says

    Let’s continue to flog the messengers here. That will allow us to continue to avoid dealing with the real problem which has nothing to do with feminism but the fact that atheists have become so full of their Atheist BS that they can’t be wrong about anything. Bad behavior, Atheists don’t do that. They have the righteous Atheist TRUTH™.

  462. Tpence says

    So, we’re supposed to use “woman” instead of “female” because “female” makes women “sound like livestock rather than people?” Jesus H. Christ. And feminuts wonder why no one takes them seriously. The people who jeered this woman out of the room were absolutely right to do what they did. She represents everything in America that needs to be flushed down the toilet.

  463. says

    I wouldn’t say calling a group of men cunts, in the way that the above poster does, would be sexist. Men don’t have cunts and the way that the poster above uses the word reduces the women to their genitalia.

  464. Marshall Agnosticsalvation says

    Open letter to Jen McCreight. Given the inflammatory nature of one of your more recent blog posts (‘When Gender Goes Pear-Shaped’ authored by Sharron Moss and Lyz Liddell) regarding the alleged disrespectful treatment of women at the recent SERAM event hosted by the organization American Atheist; furthermore given the significant number of men and women who were in attendance at the aforementioned American Atheist event who disagree with virtual every detail provided in the previously mentioned blog post, I believe that if you care at all about your reputation (and the fairness) you will allow a representative of American Atheists’ choosing to author a rebuttal to Sharron’s depiction of events. You will then allow this rebuttal to be posted to your blog as an entry in the same manner you allowed Sharron and Lyz to post their thoughts about the event. Please note: I am not asking you to remove Sharron and Lyz blog entry; nor am I asking you to condemn Sharron and Lyz’s version of events; nor am I asking you to apologize. All I’m asking is that if you care about the reputation and credibility you will give equal time to both sides. Please don’t counter that you’ve allowed open debate on the comments section, because lets be real, many of us don’t even read the comments; most of us read the article and move on. Jen, it’s your call, I just hope you do the right thing.

  465. George says

    Holy clusterfuck indeed!Hey, I think this behavior was despicable too — but if the post accurately describes the behavior of the participants, has no-one commented on the described behavior of the woman in question? (sorry can’t get through all that!)”she just stood up and started shouting to make her voice heard”The bloggers rationalize this as not surprising because of the frustration and her apparently being ignored, but consider:1. Shouting at people tends to determine their behavior in response, not usually making it more positive.2. Adults (even female adults) don’t throw temper-tantrums when they are frustrated — they find some civilized means of ‘getting their voice heard’.3. Moderators in large conference sessions choose to call on speakers in the audience for a variety of reasons, and this doesn’t immediately mean they are ignoring you.Also, I doubt that the best entree the woman in question could have begun with was to berate someone for using ‘female’ rather than ‘woman’.1. The panelists have likely been unaware of the loaded distinction and will initially feel attacked for saying things they don’t think they are.2. Context and not the word in-and-of-itself make the difference. I bet I can say ‘woman’ in a way that will make it sound much more derogatory than ‘female’. The woman in question may well feel that ‘female’ is used for livestock, but I doubt this distinction is widely accepted. I think it would be a different situation if what had happened was that the panelists used ‘man’ for men and ‘female’ for women persistently — that is plausibly a sexist bias. But this isn’t the situation recounted.3. The bloggers recount that ‘the panel failed to take the opportunity to discuss how language can make women uncomfortable’ — but what would they expect? The panelists probably felt that the woman in question ‘used language to make them feel uncomfortable’. Not that the panelists are right in their reaction and she is wrong in hers, but I don’t think the situation, given its set up, is really very likely unfold into a nice consciousness-raising session.4. The term used for the main thing wrong is ‘uncomfortable’ — reflect with me a minute: just how worthy is ‘comfort’ as a political goal anyway?All I’m saying is that it doesn’t strike me that the behavior of either side was sterling here, and both contributed much to how it unfolded.

  466. Johnny says

    Thank goodness we have video that proves without a shadow of a doubt that what was said on this blog is completely inaccurate if not an outright lie.

  467. says

    I dispise dishonest people, whether male or female, atheist or godbot. I watched the video and this blogger is simply lying about what happened. I even counted the number of instances of “male”, “female”, “men”, “women”, etc. You should try it.

  468. says

    “she just stood up and started shouting to make her voice heard” She did no such thing; this is simply a lie, one of many here.

  469. says

    They interpreted the events in a wildly different manner from reality, as anyone can ascertain by watching a video of the event.

  470. says

    “The description in this blog is accurate”Pathetic liar.”making a sexist joke”It was a joke employing a sexist sterotype. No doubt it was a stupid and inappropriate response, but that doesn’t justify the immense amount of dishonesty about this event displayed by you and the blog post.

  471. says

    You should watch the video … annoyance will become extreme disgust at the lies and misrepresentations in this account. The feminist cause, of which I have been a strong supporter all my life, is badly hurt by by the downright sociopathic behavior of the authors of this piece and by the readiness of far too many to accept it as factual without confirmation — even scientists like P.Z. Myers, who should know much better.

  472. says

    Yeah, like saying that you don’t believe in god can be offensive at times.We should have learned from the use by godbots of this sort of “it’s offensive if I’m offended” swill but some have not. What I’m offended by is the gross lies and misrepresentations in this account and the fact that the person who asked the question dishonestly distorted reality in service of her desire to be offended — the panelists repeatedly used the terms “female” AND “male”.

  473. says

    “Not having been there or seen the video puts me at a disadvantage in one respect, but it also gives me a cool and objective distance”How incredibly stupid. What it gives you distance from is the facts, leaving you only with your subjectivity. I, OTOH, much as I might have been inclined to accept this account as truthful (and I was so inclined, indeed) simply cannot do so after having watched the video, so SEVERE are the distortions.

  474. says

    No, oh intellectually dishonest one, what she is talking about is looking that she is mischaracterizing as staring.

  475. stratobill says

    Based on the context, she seemed to be strongly implying that no one on the panel was concerned enough to follow the young lady out. That’s my take and it seems to be the take of most other readers as well, based on the comments.Your interpretation doesn’t make sense. We KNOW that she is not a member organizing group, so it was pointless for her to point it out in that sentence unless she was contrasting HER actions with their non-actions. I can’t believe that someone with her excellent writing ability would of included that phrase for the reason that you believe.

  476. stratobill says

    Do you really want any commenter who was at the meeting to give a detailed blow by blow description of their version of events? Why should Christie have to defend what she said? Her point was valid. Mr Scanlan is jumping to conclusions based on reading one attendee’s view of the conference and starts calling a group of people he never met “assholes”. That’s pretty lame.

  477. stratobill says

    Sometimes it makes sense to have a dialogue about why someone felt offeneded by a joke or comment, but sometimes it’s not. I wasn’t at this conference and haven’t seen the video, but my impression is that the woman who tried to make an issue out of the use of “female” versus “woman” was off-topic. It may have been important to her, but the majority of the audience would of preferred to stay on topic. And when someone tries to hijack a meeting that way, intentionally or not, they need to be dealt with quickly, for the benefit of everyone there. People didn’t invest their time and money to go to the conference just to have someone start a debate about what they see as incorrect use of gender terms!And as far a ridicule is concerned, guys do to each other all the time. Maybe she needs to grow a thicker skin.

  478. says

    if a woman is so bothered by men looking at her cleavage in certain settings that she’s motivated to write a blog post about it, then there’s an obvious solution: Don’t show your cleavage in those settings.”I don’t know how simple I can make this. Because it has been explained over and over again.Women are humans.Humans can dress however they want. (A point I think you can agree with)Humans have the right to no be oggled and harassed.If a woman gets her cleavage stared at, it’s the fault of the creep doing the staring, not the woman wearing the low-cut shirt.I wonder if you’re one of those people who say that women who wear skirts late a night and get raped were simply inviting the rape.