The wrong reason for diversity

At the Secular Student Union dinner tonight:

Guy 1: So, what was your talk in Minnesota about?
Me: The intersection of atheism and feminism, what we can do to get more women to leave religion, and how to make the atheist movement more welcoming to women.
Guy 2: Cool! Is the lack of women really that big of an issue? I’m just new to everything.
Me: For a lot of groups, yeah. I mean, just look at ours. There are only three women.
Everyone: Yeah… *shame*
Guy 3: Heh, I’m dating a third of the SSU’s women.
Me: So yeah, I talked about how to make groups more welcoming so more women join.
Guy 4: I guess that’s a good thing. Means there would be more girls to date.
Everyone: *glare*
Me: Um, that’s precisely what you shouldn’t say.

Super Duper Hint For The People Who Don’t Get Why This Is A Problem: Women don’t exist for the sole purpose of dating you. They can actually participate for the same intellectual and social reasons that you do. It’s fine to be attracted to someone and date within a group, but don’t only see a woman as Person Who I Want to Sleep With.

On the bright side, I’ll never be out of blogging material.


  1. says

    I don’t see dating as necessarily meaning you “want to sleep with”. At least not in whole. I completely agree with Guy #4 such that I’d love to see more non-religious women in the dating pool so I could potentially have a relationship with intellectual compatibility. Sadly, the odds aren’t too good right now. Bad phrasing, but I get his sentiment.

  2. Pete says

    Would it have been more acceptable if Guy 4 said ” I guess that’s a good thing. Means with a more diverse group we can entertain discussions with a broader point of view, plus there would be more girls to date.”?

  3. Watchout5 says

    I’m shocked, SHOCKED I tell you to discover that men would be searching for powerful independent atheist women at an atheist conference. Men have never used social events to try to get closer to women they find attractive, NEVER, until this day. Thank you for your reporting of this issue, I will forever remember that there are men out there who think with their penis, and they are they only one’s worth blogging about.We like the same things, think the same way, hang out with similar people, and one thing leads to another and we’re together. I get that she’s more than just another warm body to date, it’s one of the reasons why I’d date someone from a community like this rather than the repressed psycho at the youth group who thinks anal is a perfect form of birth control. In my sexist mind it’s a compliment, that I would date atheists before anyone else, but even I know you shouldn’t say stuff like that out loud.

  4. Icaarus says

    So in defense of the male gender. Yes one of the many advantages of equal ratio groups is that there are more girls to date, but this is not necessarily as face palmy as you portray. (Disclaimer – I have not met the guy, so he may be creeper material, I don’t know) My requirements for a date – at the very least deist, if not further from religion, strong confident conversationalist, open about their true values and unashamed by them. So where do these qualities intersect? Where could I possibly find a girl that would be able to brow beat me with intellectual conversation? Where do I find strong, vocal, confident women? I know, a church!!! Seriously, I do not troll the local meetups just to meet girls, but that being said if I find one there I will not shy away from trying to figure out if she is single. So what is so wrong with stating that one advantage of an equal ratio is that the dating opportunities are more realistic for everyone? There are better advantages of course, and those should be advertised, but don’t ignore social group dynamics just because they may have negative connotations from one point of view. Now on the contra-positive; Guys (and girls) do not be creepy, when conversing on a topic, listen, if she says I have a boyfriend (or girlfriend) don’t let that be a conversation stopper, just curtail the blatant flirting and keep conversing. Finally @Lydia and others of the same ilk, please see the logical fallacy with implying that just because we wish that there might be the chance for a date at a social event that you would not be welcome. This is both egregiously wrong and a blatantly hostile attitude. I welcome discussion with all. If you are open to a date, and I am interested there is no problem with pursuing that. If we are not romantically compatible that in no way implies that I will ignore you or value your opinion less. (P.S. personally my past actions support these sentiments)

  5. says

    I think one time I was talking about getting more women involved, and someone said something which assumed I was just trying to improve my dating prospects. I was like, “Uh… I’m not into women.”

  6. says

    Oh no, a college-aged guy wants to find a date… he must be evil! At least he’s not trolling parties looking for incapacitated girls. I’m sure that the single guys and girls at any minority club meeting are at least partially thinking about being able to be friends with and also potentially date within their particular smaller in-group. As a lifelong atheist who has been in past disastrous relationships with theists where religion was a big factor in the breakup, I can tell you that I probably would have blurted out something like that into my late 20s. Not out of any creepy motive, but just sort of relieved that I might have found a dating pool where the women weren’t likely to accuse me of being in league with Satan during a fight.

  7. trc says

    I have to agree with Jen’s perspective on this. There’s nothing wrong with meeting like-minded individuals of the opposite sex, that’s what social events are for, but we have to encourage an atmosphere of egalitarianism, not one where women are just potential dates. I don’t know the exacts of the conversation, but the attitude of these men regarding women participating seems to be misplaced.

  8. says

    Don’t think of it as “Person Who I Want to Sleep With” but “Potential soul mate who shares my interest”. That makes it way better right, souls and stuff?Is guy 4 Karl Pilkington?

  9. says

    Thinking that a meeting with like minded people might be a great place to meet someone you’d match well with isn’t wrong at all in my opinion. However, if the group’s main point is to meet up and exchange ideas and you’re having a conversation about the topic of having women possibly feeling uncomfortable at meetings and events or not feeling like the movement as a whole is receptive to women… that is the wrong time to say that more women there would give you more people to date. Particularly when you’re having that conversation with women who are seriously outnumbered. It says that that’s one of the first things that comes to mind when you think of women in the group, might make those there feel uncomfortable, and totally derails the conversation that’s happening. Especially when it’s proceeded by a noncommittal “I guess that’s a good thing,” and then stating that as the reason why. I’d hope an atheist group would want me there because they value the conversation and ideas I can contribute first and foremost. I guess the good thing was that everyone else in the group got that it wasn’t a good direction for him to be heading.

  10. says

    It’s not his opinion that’s the problem of course, it’s the fact that it’s bad marketing :PAt least, that’s the way I read it. A typical single heterosexual dude is pretty likely to be thinking just that, but a sensible one might just keep his trap shut.

  11. says

    Sensible maybe but respectful definitely. I know I don’t say every thought that crosses my mind because, well, sometimes it could be offensive or make someone uncomfortable. It’s common courtesy to try to think of how words might impact others before speaking. Probably even more so when I’m talking about how to make people more comfortable…

  12. says

    There is a thing called context, the discussion was about how to make sceptical/atheist meetings a more welcomming place for women and the guy is more interested in talking about atracting more girls to date, bad guy #4, bad!That isn’t to say that he couldn’t have made similar comments in a different context, if the discussion was about finding compatable life partners, and the guy had said he was primarily looking for an atheist girl because of shared interests and philosophy, then okay.His comments seem self-defeating, his group isn’t going to be a comfortable place if he makes that simple a contextual error.

  13. says

    The problem here isn’t with the fact that straight/bi atheist guys think it’d be nifty to know more awesome atheist straight/bi women to date. The problem here is with the fact that the reason this guy thought it’d be awesome to have more women in the atheist movement is because the straight guys would like it. Not because it’d be great for the women themselves. The issue isn’t that people like to date people they have things in common with- it’s with always looking from the perspective of one group. It’s with always seeing the other groups from that perspective- from the outside looking in. It’s with seeing people as means to ends, as opposed to ends in themselves. It’s saying that the greatest value a woman can bring to the group is through her sexuality. Excuse me here but, ewwwww. Also, it’s assuming that “women” equals “attractive, straight, single women who are looking for people to date”. Bit of a difference there.

  14. Joe T says

    Guy #4 may be an idiot for saying it out loud but I find his desire totally reasonable. I’m way too tired to say anything else intelligent right now.

  15. says

    It is OK to date within a group, but it can be hard if things don’t workout. That’s why I stopped doing it in my local group. Twice was enough. We should be bringing more women into skepticism and atheism because they’re good beliefs, and should be spread to all races and genders. Treating women only as dating partners will turn them off to your group.

  16. says

    I am amused. I wonder how many guys are like him, who goes to atheist meetings to date atheist women. If there are a lot, then I don’t think the ratio of women in atheist communities will improve because an atheist woman will attract more than one atheist man. Using math, it is not hard to figure out why the ratio will not go up.P.S. How effective is it to package feminism and atheism as one product? How many people are buying it? Have you done a survey on this? What is the hit ratio? And what is the expected increase in unit sales?Paul

  17. says

    I’m shocked, SHOCKED I tell you to discover that doodz on the internet completely fail to comprehend feminist points made about trying to be more inclusive of women. Clearly, Jen doesn’t understand how heterosexual dating and relationships work. We’re all glad that you set her straight. She totally didn’t say

    It’s fine to be attracted to someone and date within a group, but don’t only see a woman as Person Who I Want to Sleep With.

    She clearly thinks that no one should ever date someone with similar interests that they meet in a club dedicated to one of those interests. Good thing you were here, otherwise people with reading comprehension skills might think that the point of the post was to say that groups dedicated to some intellectual endeavor such as the SSU shouldn’t focus efforts at increased inclusion on gaining members that the current membership will be romantically and sexually attracted to. Instead, they should focus on increasing diversity to better promote the objectives of the organization.

  18. says

    Wait, bad phrasing? It wasn’t bad phrasing, and his sentiment wasn’t, “Ooh, yay! Smart women in my social circle!”What was said was that he “guessed” that more women in atheist organizations was a good thing because it “meant more girls to date.” So this guy can’t see a reason outside of how it could benefit his dick to have more women in the group. Not that they’d add a unique perspective or contribute interesting ideas. Nope, boobies and blowjobs, amirite?

  19. says

    I am frankly really surprised at the number of comments mansplaining for all of us that heterosexual guys are apparently attracted to women who share interests with them. There is not a person reading this who doesn’t understand that fact, but thanks for sharing. The SSU is not a singles club. It’s an organization dedicated to promoting secularism and freethought around campus. Increased efforts at inclusion should therefore focus on pursuing those objectives and not providing dating material for the current hetero/bi male membership.

  20. says

    So I’m guessing in your talk you didn’t advise telling women that coming to atheist events would be a way to meet men? :-pAfter 30 it’s reeeally hard to meet men!

  21. says

    What’s the first rule of Atheist Club? Don’t get defensive when someone has an issue with you.What’s the second rule of Atheist Club?Don’t get defensive when someone has an issue with you.What’s the third rule of Atheist Club?Listen.

  22. says

    Guy #4 strikes again.I dunno. I can see where Jen is coming from; I think this guy has been featured on Blag Hag previously. I think the fellow’s sentiment was expressed, at best, awkwardly; there’s just so many problems with what he said. He assumed that a) any girl who entered the group would be eligible for dating, and that b) this is the first thing that came to mind.Seriously.There’s any number of reasons why a new face to the group may be unable to date. She might be in a relationship. She might be asexual, or homosexual. She may have social conditions that cause her to not want to engage in a relationship. Maybe she doesn’t like assholes. It’s a lot of privilege.That, and you didn’t even try to show it was a joke, Guy #4? I mean, you could say something like, “Yeah, it’d be really nice to get more input from women, and show that we can be diverse. Plus, it’s *kinda* a sausage fest here, which some people are down with, but hey, I’d love to meet some more smart, free-thinking women who just might be interested in me.”But then again, some of the atheist stuff I’ve been to isn’t exactly populated by social whiz maestros like myself.

  23. says

    I, myself, am shocked, SHOCKED I tell you to discover that nerdy, socially awkward college guys are horny and sometimes speak without thinking.SHOCKED I tell you.

  24. says

    Thanks for correcting all of us who thought that Guy 4’s statement was part of his dissertation. Jen was so mean and unfair to him when she politely corrected him.

  25. says

    There is nothing wrong with wanting future partners to be like minded individuals. The issue arises when, as Tea Cosy says downthread, “The problem here is with the fact that the reason this guy thought it’d be awesome to have more women in the atheist movement is because the straight guys would like it. Not because it’d be great for the women themselves. ” (Emphasis mine)

  26. Clayton says

    I don’t know if that is fair or not. We don’t know HOW it was said, so it’s hard to determine either way. If his tone was that of uncertainty, stressing the “I GUESS…” part then you might have a point. On the other hand, he may not have been seriously expressing doubt. Perhaps he was joking or maybe he hadn’t put a lot of thought in to the lack of women before and was in the process of considering it (similar to when I say “Yeah, I guess that does make sense” to something that makes COMPLETE sense, but I simply haven’t considered it prior to now).As an atheist living in the (deep) south, I COMPLETELY agree with the sentiment that one of the advantages of having more female atheists would be the increase in available dating partners. Most people here should know how difficult it can be finding someone compatible to date when you are in the minority (and where I am, it’s a TINY minority), and when women are so underrepresented it makes it nearly impossible to find a compatible mate. I, for one, have YET to find a ‘nice atheist girl.’So, while it most certainly shouldn’t be the primary motivation in bringing more women in to the movement, I personally can’t help but sympathize with those whose first thought is, perhaps a little selfishly, that of their own inability to find someone who shares their world view.

  27. says

    Personally, I’d just like to know how seriously he said it. From Jen’s reaction, it sounds like he actually meant seeing the ladies there as potential dates/lays, but just from reading the (paraphrased, memorized) transcript, he came across as jokey and facetious, maybe even sardonic. Maybe that’s just me, though.(FTR: I am not acquainted with Guy #4’s history, so maybe he’s just jokey/immature/etc. in general.)

  28. says

    I want to know what happened to Guy #5. He never gets brought up, ever. Is he just the quiet type who then took Guy #4 out back after the meeting and gave him a stern what for? And, for the sake of staging the play, is this everyone supposed to be voiced by the audience or is it like in those Greek plays where they were done by a chorus. After all, I’d hate to screw up the playwright’s intent when I produce “Sexism at an Atheist Event” the musical. One of the reasons I like having a proportionate amount of women (or, at least a largish amount that the group doesn’t just appear to be a boy’s club)–less of having to put up with Guy #4s.

  29. Matt Dillahunty says

    Look, I almost fully agree with Jen and I’m a huge supporter of resolving this issue and eliminating sexism…Which is why I’ll point out the sexism in your response – and in Jen’s.It’s completely understandable and normal – and acceptable – that people might want to increase their dating pool.Notice, though that he said “date”. It’s bad enough that Jen equated this with sex, but when you exaggerate it with crude nonsense, you really expose your own biases.When I was looking for someone to date, sex – believe it or not – wasn’t a concern. Dating, for me, isn’t about sex, it’s about looking for a potential partner, someone with whom you share common interests. It’s about finding someone who is intellectually stimulating, challenging and interesting. It’s about finding someone with common desires, interests and goals. It’s about finding someone to care about BEYOND sex.This frequent representation of heterosexual men as slobbering sex maniacs who objectify women such that “date” really equates to “boobies and blowjobs” is pathetic. It’s narrow-minded and sexist – and shameful … and it may hurt the cause even more than what “Guy4” said.Are there guys like that? Sure…and there are women like that – and that goes for every sexual identity I’ve encountered.Jen is completely correct that this response from him is part of the problem, but it’s part of the problem because it tends to give the wrong impression – not because his intent is somehow base and repugnant. Your response is also part of the problem – because you’re alienating men by misrepresenting them as inconsiderate, sex-crazed pigs.This individual, like many others, may simply have been expressing frustration at the general inability for people in closeted minorities to find someone that they want to spend time with.

  30. says

    You fail at both reading comprehension and context sensing, d00d. The reasons have been pretty well explained by others. That comment might be appropriate as a joke when you’re a couple of beers in to a late night bull session, but is wholly inappropriate and offensive in the context described.

  31. says

    There’s no reason for you to try to start a pissing contest with me, so please just stop.Plus, people are way too eager to assign malice to comments that are based on less-negative things. Not everything is part of the evil penis conspiracy against women. OMG it is so offensive that… some kid is a kid. Wow, the HORROR!

  32. says

    One thing I just noticed there: Just in case anyone here thinks that Jen is Blaming Men For Everything in this post, I’ll draw your attention to the oft-overlooked Guys 1-3. Not only did these sterling examples of humanity not make ridiculously ignorant and inappropriate comments, but they also joined in the necessary glaring and raising of eyebrows at Guy 4.From this we learn two things:1: If you are akin to Guys 1-3, then posts like this are not about you. They’re not trying to say you’re a Bad Person, or that we want less of you about. 2: One Guy 4 can stop everyone in their tracks. So if you’re a Guy 1, 2 or 3 and you wonder why people keep going on about feminism and misogyny and the like when you haven’t done a sexist thing in who-knows-how-long? Blame that pesky Guy 4. He’s the one spoiling it for the lot of us.

  33. Rollingforest says

    An addition to the first rule of Atheist Club is don’t get defensive if someone questions the legitimacy of the issue you had with that other person.I agree that guy 4 made a sexist comment and Jen did a good job of proving why that is, but “having another opinion” and “getting defensive” are two different things. Just because someone has an issue with another person does not mean that their side of the story should be accepted on blind faith. Setting out a logical argument, as was done in this post, is necessary and a discussion should be facilitated rather than just negative assumptions about others.

  34. Rollingforest says

    If a woman made observations that you thought were obvious and missing the point, would you call it womansplaining?

  35. says

    It’s a perfectly understandable internal response that no-one should be blamed for, IMO, but it shouldn’t be the only response, and it shouldn’t be voiced casually. It’s not that people think like that that causes problems, it’s that they think like that as their main thoughts on such matters, and that they casually speak these thoughts without realising the problem with doing such.

  36. says

    Whoa, nailed me. Clearly, gender interactions are completely symmetric and interchangeable. Let me guess, you’re the type of person who complains that there is no White History Month, right?I think Zuska wrote this great piece on mansplaining just for you.

  37. says

    He did not say this in a joking or sarcastic way – he said it seriously. This guy has a history of putting his foot in his mouth. That, and being a feminist doesn’t turn of my ability to detect humor. We spent a portion of the conversation joking about how pink and sparkles were the obvious way to get more female members. I didn’t post that out of context just to stir shit.

  38. says

    As long as the first part wasn’t just lip service, I for one would be fine with that.The problem is not that (straight) men want to date women; it’s when that’s the only thing about women that matters to them.

  39. says

    Where I live the ratio of atheists/theists is here exact oposite to that of US. So there are no atheist organisations, movements etc. Feminism is not a big issue either. But I can imagine some lonely guy at local church thinking among the same lines as Guy 4 and blurting it aloud when the topic of the conversation comes by the issue of women in church.Jen, as a male who enjoys your writing about feminism (and non-english speaker and lurker), I strongly hope not to come on the wrong side of this issue.___________Women dislike sexist guys who see them only as potential mating objects. I get that, I understand it completely. I would not like it either when someone (anyone) reduces me just to my penis (or my money/car/whateva).But I have to ponder one question after reading this blog post:Why it seems that males who “only see a woman as Person Who I Want to Sleep With” are much more succesfull, ahem, at actually sleeping with women? I have only anecdotal evidence to back this up, but I know at least some guys who would 1) say exact the same thing 2) got laid with more than small percentage of available girls no matter what the community/event were.The most succesful skirt chaser I know says things like this virtualy to every woman he meets. What he considers light flirting I would consider to be heavy harrasment, but he not only gets away with it – it works for him perfectly.It makes me wonder if there really are some fundamental differences between male and female psyche, because I simply do not get it.

  40. Rollingforest says

    I think this is a good feminist post because it points out the problem (that guy #4 was thinking only about dates and not the input of women) shows the logic (women should be included in atheist groups because they are people not because they are dating material) and provides the proof (assuming the transcript above is accurate, it is pretty clear that guy # 4 was thinking only of dates and not of bringing in more women for the sake of being inclusive. If he had said “It’s great to see more women participating and also it has the added benefit of making dating easier for the guys” then that would have been more acceptable because it points out that dating is the secondary concern.). Providing posts with these three elements is how feminists can successfully work for gender equality.

  41. The Nasty Christian says

    Matt, your reasonable response is lost on the militant fem crowd. As you can see below…Jen is still stewing. And not listening. Men, expressing their needs, are always hateful and disgusting! And part of the problem. Feminista 101. One could acknowledge there are several goals of the A members.Feminism wouldn’t be anything if it couldn’t jump to the wrong conclusions, almost all the time. Men are to be discounted. Children are to be hated as a burden, etc. Jen needs to “get” women to leave religion, just like she needs men to “get” onboard with her group goals. Son, daughter, you must be a part of the groupthink…individualism and differences WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.

  42. says

    If the portrayal of the conversation is accurate then I disagree that the problem with his statement is that it gives the wrong impression, at least of Guy 4’s mindset. Let’s look at the conversation as recounted by Jen:Me: So yeah, I talked about how to make groups more welcoming so more women join.Guy 4: I guess that’s a good thing. Means there would be more girls to date.He “guesses” that would be a good thing. Maybe that was meant to be subversively humorous or something, but as quoted it implies that he’s not sure it’s an issue that requires attention. In his next statement, the first plus he gives is that there would be more girls to date. Dating typically implies more than friendship. The problem is not that we’re getting the wrong impression from what he says, the problem is the thoughtlessness and lack of awareness that his words reveal, and that level of thoughtlessness is kind of repugnant.And I agree that a healthy relationship is based on much more than sex, but would you call hanging out with a friend “dating” (beyond a casual joke about it being a “date”)? If so, then I guess you have a different definition of dating than I do. It’s been my experience that without the sexual component, whether or not it is currently or will ever be physically realized and regardless of to what extent it’s a focus of the relationship, it’s just friendship, and I’m under the impression that that’s the common understanding. Perhaps I’m making unwarranted assumptions – if you’re heterosexual, did you date men while you were looking for a partner? If not, why not? Do you think it’s reasonable to think that Guy 4 has a definition of dating that precludes that sexual component? If he does, why would adding women to the movement even generate a response from him, wouldn’t he be just as satisfied forming relationships with the men in the group? I don’t see what’s sexist about Jen reserving criticism for the one guy who deserved it, based on the words that came out of his mouth as well as her previous interactions with him, and targeting her admonishment to people who don’t understand why his response is a problem.

  43. Rollingforest says

    In regard to your counter example, there are non-racist groups that celebrate the culture of white ethnicities. For example, I went to a Celtic fair recently that was well attended. There are other groups celebrating English, German, Polish, and Greek culture. There is nothing racist in and of itself of a “white history month”. The problem is that the KKK and Neo-Nazis have connected such celebrations with white supremacy (or at least with racial segregation). As long as such connotations exist in the minds of the general public, it is wise to be careful as to how you present things so as to be clear on your beliefs. In regard to your link, I especially loved this quote: “Bonus points [for being a manspainer] if he is explaining how you are wrong about something being sexist!”Yes, because as we all know every sexist person is a man and it is impossible for women to be sexist (or to be wrong about anything regarding gender).Seriously, the point of gender equality is that your opinions are judged by the facts, not by your gender. Yes there is sexism and gender privilege in the world and yes women suffer the most from it, but that does not mean that everything is sexist and it does not mean that there is no sexism against men (for example, only men can be drafted to fight against their will in foreign wars and juries are more likely to seek the death penalty for men than women in similar crimes). I actually think that most of Jen’s posts on feminism, including this one, as well as most of the posts on the feminist blogs she links to are right most of the time (something I want to celebrate more in the comments), but they aren’t correct ALL of the time. Sometimes some feminists, just like anyone else, will make negative assumptions about men without proof. It isn’t that they hate men, it is just that have been conditioned to see men as the oppressors from focusing on real examples of sexism. But the problem is that if they then take that assumption of male guilt and apply it to situations where they have no evidence, then they are just as guilty of being sexist as any man they ever criticized. To assume that women are always right on gender issues is sexist and is based on blind faith and ideology. A claim by a feminist, just like a claim by anyone else, has to be proven. If it can’t be, it deserves to be criticized and people shouldn’t be sneered at for doing so.

  44. says

    (I was going to explain the various ways in which this misses the point or misrepresents things, but then I realised it would take too long. So I shall go for the succinct version…)What??

  45. says

    It’s part of the problem in several ways. Maybe what was going on in the guy’s head is as you describe – we can’t possibly tell. However, even if it was, it wasn’t the right thing to say.A separate conversation could be had on the difficulty in finding compatible romantic interests due to being strongly invested in a minority view – but that conversation shouldn’t be “dang, there’s so few women, it’s hard for guys to get a date”. More to the point, that wasn’t the conversation that was happening.The statement would have been marginally better, and the argument that there were other thoughts going on behind the scenes, if he’d said “It would also mean …”, but it would still be better not to even raise the point in that context as an issue of sensitivity.

  46. Lodevijk says

    He was just HONEST. Men want to fuck. Expecting them to act like eunuchs is pretty damn stupid.

  47. says

    Let’s count the strawmen.1.) “Yes, because as we all know every sexist person is a man and it is impossible for women to be sexist (or to be wrong about anything regarding gender).”Nowhere in that post did Zuska argue that every sexist person is a man, nor that it is impossible for women to be sexist. You made that argument up. 2.) “but that does not mean that everything is sexist and it does not mean that there is no sexism against men “Once again, no one is arguing that “everything is sexist” nor that men cannot suffer from sexism. You made those arguments up too.3.) “To assume that women are always right on gender issues is sexist and is based on blind faith and ideology. A claim by a feminist, just like a claim by anyone else, has to be proven.”No one is saying we should assume that women are always right on gender issues, nor is anyone saying that feminists should be able to make evidence-free claims. Once again you soundly refuted arguments that no one is making.You claim to accept the existence of gender privilege, but you don’t seem to realize that completely dismissing the actual experiences of women when they are discussing an issue like mansplaining is a perfect example of being blinded by privilege. Just because you may be equally condescending to men and women, doesn’t mean that some men do not treat women in an especially condescending manner because they just assume women are less knowledgeable about certain topics like science, sports, mechanics, plumbing, etc.

  48. says

    Your sexless version of dating bores the hell out of me. Your assumption that I equate a romantic relationship with sex because I secretly think that all men are sex-crazed pigs is pretty amusing, though. Project, much?

  49. says

    On further thought:I think the problem has less to do with educating men on how to be less sexist, and more on how to get children to grow the hell up on our schedule. The problem with Guy #4, to the extent that there is a problem, is that he’s just a couple of years out of high school and still has that self-centered mindset that boys and girls of that age tend to fall into.If it had been a 35 year old advisor to the student group expressing that sentiment, it would have been about 12 different kinds of inappropriate. Just some college guy being a douche-nozzle is hardly in the same category of wrong. From my experience, 90% of people under the age of 25 are guaranteed to say or do something stupid and offensive at least once a day. By the time you get to be my age, it at least gets spaced out to maybe three times a month if you’re lucky.

  50. Matt Dillahunty says

    I don’t think your response is very helpful either.The point is to raise consciousness here and in the same way that Julie demonstrated her bias by misrepresenting Guy4, you do the same by painting with a broad brush by tossing around derogatory labels and generalizing.

  51. Tony says

    I think it’s time for a rule. Athiest/Skeptic social club meetings shall be a flirtation free environment. Post meeting revelry can be a bit more relaxed, but any type of flirting at meetings should be completely verboten.

  52. Matt Dillahunty says

    And I already agreed that Guy4’s comments were part of the problem. I don’t know Guy4 and I don’t know exactly what he said, how he said it or what was going through his head.I’m reasonably sure that Jen fairly represented it – the point was that Julie did not and that Julie’s comments represent another issue that exacerbates this problem. Jen evidently knows this guy and has an understanding of what he said that I don’t – but there seems to be a lot of people reading more into what he is reported to have said than I can see. Jen is able to see his comments in a context that I cannot, but it’s possible – just possible – that she may be seeing more than what was intended. (Which doesn’t, in any way, deny that there is SOME problem with Guy4’s comment.)Saying something like, “I guess that’s a good thing” is often a way of softening language for people who wish to avoid confrontation. I don’t know what’s in his head, and I don’t know if he’s a misogynist or just under-informed, or slow, or confused, or avoiding confrontation, or uncomfortable around women or what…I’m convinced, though, that comments like Julie’s are just as, if not more, sexist and divisive than what Guy4 said.To your points about dating and sex:Am I a heterosexual? Yes. Did I date men? No. Why not?Because I am both physically and emotional attracted, primarily, to women. I have dated women where sex was a mainstay and I’ve dated women where sex was virtually non-existent.There are two (or more) components here and while sex is certainly a factor, it need not be the primary factor. There are couples who have sexless relationships – and STILL only wish to have those with someone of a particular gender. There are couples where sex is a relatively minor aspect of the relationship who still only wish to have that type of relationship, with or without the sex, with someone of a particular gender.Your oversimplification of the issue demonstrates the same stumbling blocks that inhibit resolution of issues like these. It takes work to see beyond your own biases and see the bigger picture.I promise that isn’t intended to sound patronizing but I’ve worked hard to correct my own prejudices (and I’m far from finished…never will be)and I’ve had lots of help from lots of people in exposing areas where I had invisible assumptions that colored everything I looked at.Ignoring the complexities of emotional relationships (one goal of dating) by focusing on the sex is as potentially damaging to diversity discussions as it is to an individual relationship.Guy4 needs to be educated a bit – but he’s not the only one and until we all start realizing that we all have some bias that colors our perceptions and that diversity problems don’t rest solely or even primarily on comments like that of Guy4, we’re not going to make much headway.

  53. Matt Dillahunty says

    What a clever and insightful response. Thanks for taking the time to seriously think about what was written. I’m sure you’ll be on the forefront of resolving gender diversity issues in no time.

  54. BrianSchaan says

    To play the Devil’s Advocate, so long as at least one of the additional women to join the club were a) single, b) interested in dating, and c) interested in men, the gentleman’s statement would follow as a corollary to having more women in the club. That being said, based on his comments alone, it does sound like he had a somewhat more womanizing attitude to the idea.

  55. bnaji says

    No one is commenting on the most hilarious aspect of this? Presumably, Guy4 is aware that Jen has a blog…Does no one else find this hilarious?

  56. Tony says

    Indeed, but tone matters. I see nothing wrong with the sentiment that an increase in female participation in atheist clubs shall naturally increase your chances of meeting someone with whom we are compatible. It’s a sentiment I share but it’s not a possibility if most of the women are driven away because every time they show up some jackass(es) tries to hit on them. The first rule of Atheist club is “you do not try to pick up women at Atheist club”

  57. ryan says

    Maybe Guy #4 is saying all of this stuff becuase he thinks it’s super awesome that you are writing about him on your blog.

  58. Ali says

    I love that no matter how many times you post about a situation like this, two dozen men immediately jump to the defense of guy #4. What, do they think maybe, just maybe, this time they’ll persuade you that he’s not wrong to act that way?

  59. says

    Let’s not ignore the fact that we human organisms want to mate. Or at least our genes are driving us in that direction. I’d lay money on more than just guy #4 being there to meet possible dating partners. He is just a klutz about it.

  60. says

    Sure, but I guess our host here might not be invited, since she’s given the impression that she tends to be flirty under the right circumstances?

  61. says

    Nah.You see, it’s a lost cause.Jen (and all feminists and also all women) are all prejudiced against men.It’s anti-male sexism, is what it is!And I can prove it by providing an anecdote about how a girl in high-school refused to sleep with me, even after I was transparently super-nice to her for, like, a whole afternoon.Then, an unspecified amount of time later, that same girl started dating a guy who could sometimes be a bit of a jerk. It doesn’t make sense! I was super-nice to that bitch and she didn’t touch my penis at all – why did she prefer that jock asshole?It can’t possibly be because he was better looking, more interesting, more exiting and more genuine than I am. And it can’t possibly be because I was acting like a privileged asshole who was entitled to receive sex in exchange for a few stilted lines of what I only suppose is what nice conversation is supposed to sound like.No. There’s nothing wrong with me.There’s something wrong with women!They’re crazy, like jerks, hate and despise nice guys, and are sexist towards men. How do I know this? Because they won’t sleep with me, of course.And it’s okay for me to say that, because I’m such a nice guy I can’t possibly be sexist.

  62. Tony says

    Nothing wrong with that. I simply believe that we need to formalize that club meetings are not the right circumstances. In my experience it is nearly impossible for someone who’s bad at flirting to understand when they’ve gone too far and a blanket ban is, IMO the fairest, simplest way to handle it.

  63. ryan says

    The second rule of Atheist club is “if you want to pick up women join a different club this one is a sausagefest.”

  64. BrianSchaan says

    Totally agree with you. I’m just trying to get at the fact that sometimes (not saying that it’s necessarily the case in this situation) there’s a discrepancy between what someone means and what they say. Maybe I’m being naive, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt until I know them well enough to know their intentions – regardless of whether they’re male, female, transgender, worm, goat, or cassowary. (Oddly enough, the Google Chrome spellcheck insists that “transgender” is not a word. Perhaps they need a kick in the ass to be a little more tolerant.)

  65. Pete says

    What if when asked why she was there a new female member says “The male to female ratio in this groups just rocks!” would that create the same stir as Guy #4?Actually what bothers me is discussion groups usually thrive on free open communications between members and when the members have to engage PC filters to everything they say it limits that communication. While some filters are necessary (I slept with your mother), I have found the fewer the better.

  66. Rollingforest says

    In regard to numbers 1 through 3, it seems that you agree with me on these issues. So let’s move on in the discussion.I see you have published some strawmen of your own. “You claim to accept the existence of gender privilege, but you don’t seem to realize that completely dismissing the actual experiences of women when they are discussing an issue like mansplaining is a perfect example of being blinded by privilege. Just because you may be equally condescending to men and women, doesn’t mean that some men do not treat women in an especially condescending manner because they just assume women are less knowledgeable about certain topics like science, sports, mechanics, plumbing, etc.”Nowhere did I say that anyone should completely dismiss the actual experiences of women. Of course some men are condescending toward women on issues like mechanics and plumbing. I said that most of Jen’s posts on Feminism are correct and I even said that this particular post was correct. I am merely making the point that evidence is needed. Asking for evidence is not “condescending” toward anyone (this is kind of like the whole “he hates Christians because he says Creationism isn’t true!” distortion) Like I said, I think this particular post is a good example of sexism, but on other posts the whole “he’s sexist because he’s a man who disagrees with me!” is far too prevalent. This happened frequently on the posts a few weeks ago about whether the panel discussion at the Atheist Conference on gender was sexist toward the woman who said that the word “female” was degrading. I agree that the panel was rude, but they would have been just as dismissive if a man had made the same statement (if he said the word “female” was sexist OR if he said the word “male” was sexist) so calling the panel sexist just because they disagreed on a gender issue with a person who happened to be a woman is an example of jumping to conclusions based on their gender and the gender of the speaker. In other words, the post itself was sexist, even if it wasn’t trying to be (I’m not blaming Jen for posting it, but she should not be surprised if we criticized it) We need to avoid these kind of blind assumptions.…But let’s go back to my original post. My point is that if you are going to say that mansplaining exists, then you can’t then dismiss out of hand the same thing with the genders reversed. Let’s take the definition of mansplaining from your post and flip the genders. “Womansplaining is when a woman tells you, a man, how to do something you already know how to do, or how you are wrong about something you are actually right about, or miscellaneous and inaccurate “facts” about something you know a hell of a lot more about than she does.”Why do you feel that this is impossible? Couldn’t this happen just as easily in regard to something like raising a child?

  67. says

    I thought that sexist meant saying something like, “Women are bad drivers”. Does any reference to gender fall into the ‘sexist’ category, or just comments that demean the indicated group. Would “I like black people” be racist? How about “I like Indian women who are good cooks.” The speaker may be someone who really likes Indian cuisine and wants to recognize those who prepare it well. My questions: 1) does a reference to women need to be demeaning for it to be sexist? 2) if the answer to 1) is no, can references by women regarding men also be sexist?For the record, I think “Good, then there will be more girls for me to date” is something said clumsily by someone with no social ability (actually a deficit of social skills) but not particularly sexist.

  68. Rollingforest says

    Pete, the difference between what the girl in your scenario says and what Guy #4 says is that there is no problem with lack of guys in the Atheist group. The girl doesn’t need to worry about small numbers of men in the group because there are plenty. The problem with Guy #4 is that he used a discussion about including women to focus on his need for a date which is kind of selfish. The girl in the scenario doesn’t need to worry about helping men join Atheist groups because they already do and so she is free to start thinking about dating.If, however, there was a group of people who was predominantly female in an occupation that was predominantly female (say teaching elementary school) and a women said that she wanted to see more men so that it would be easier for her to get a date, then that would be sexist because it completely ignores any other value to men who may be struggling to fit in.

  69. says

    Obviously I can’t speak for yourself – this is just about me.I used to have a similar line of thought regarding the whole ‘girls like jerks, I don’t get it’ thing.A couple of guys I used to know were (in my humble estimation) outright assholes towards women.Yet they managed to get lots of women into bed. All the freaking time.Meanwhile, nice-as-pie little-old-me was locked in a two-year drought.And I would think to myself: This is nuts. I don’t get it. These guys are assholes that just want to get laid, and the girls all flock to them. I’m a decent human being that wants in on a relationship, and nada. What gives?What I’ve realized is that, while the other guys had their flaws, so did I.The biggest was (and still is) the unconscious air of intellectual condescension I exude when talking to people.The other guys? Sure, maybe they were manipulative jerks that cared little for the emotions of the women they were sleeping with. However:1) They were better looking than me (ahh, my vanity, how it burns!)2) They were more exciting than me3) There were more interesting than me – at least, more interesting to that particular audience. Turns out that most people aren’t interested in getting a drink on Friday nights and discussing Socrates. And although clubbing and dancing and shouting conversations over loud music are objectively and clearly grim chores that no-one could ever conceivably enjoy… Well, inconceivably, some people do actually enjoy them. People are weird.4) They didn’t exude an aura of unconscious (and frequently false) intellectual superiority (note: I still do this a lot, but I’m aware of it and try to tone it down as much as possible)5) It turns out sometimes women like to have casual, relatively meaningless flings too! (shocking!)6) It turns out that sometimes women are intimidated by commitment too! (to the fainting couch!)7) I couldn’t (still can’t) dress to save myself8) Poorly concealed desperation isn’t very attractive to anybody9) And finally, a little bit in my defense: The guys I’m thinking of were predatory. They would play to a woman’s insecurities and take advantage of whatever they found. I wasn’t willing to do that – which is noble, and all. But it does provide something of a handicap.Essentially, I found that self-described ‘nice’ guys like myself usually had plenty of our own flaws to match all the general jerk-y things that the other guys were doing. But the jerks (in my anecdotes) know they’re being jerks. They play to that, act out the bad boy role, and don’t act like they’re better than anybody.In contrast to that, I didn’t realize all the many unconscious ways that I was being a condescending asshole. That may not be the entirety of the cause behind those lonely years. Causes are more complicated than that. But I’m confident it had quite a lot to do with it.Bottomless barrel of self-deprecation that I may be, don’t anyone get to feeling too sorry for me at this point. What’s past is past. At the time of writing I’m three years into a solid relationship now and things are great, so my story has a happy ending.But the moral of the story: Looking back and realizing all the shit I was (and still) do wrong? All that confusion over why other asshole guys always did so much better than little old nice (nice-and-friendly-please-have-sex-with-me-please-oh-please) me?Yeah.Now I get it.

  70. says

    Yes, we all have biases, and I’m also aware that there are about as many relationship dynamics out there as there are people. I think I also made it pretty clear that I don’t expect sex to always be a primary factor, but I could be wrong in assuming that it typically (I did use that qualifier for a reason) factors in there, somewhere. It’s also possible that I’m conflating emotional and sexual attraction to some degree.”I have dated women where sex was a mainstay and I’ve dated women where sex was virtually non-existent.” Ok, I’m getting more pedantic here and breaking from the problematic, sexual argument I made before, but regarding your use of the word “concern” – I’ll happily believe that if sex was for some reason precluded but you were in love with someone, you would find a way to work around it – but if you’re not asexual then working around it would still qualify it as a concern, wouldn’t it? It’s hard for me to imagine (which admittedly doesn’t make it impossible) that even for someone who’s asexual it wouldn’t be some sort of concern. They’d at least have to make sure their partner was on board with the asexual nature of the relationship. Feel free to respond to or ignore this paragraph, I’m kind of musing here.So, setting the maximum pedantry option to off and bringing it back to the post, while I understand you have problems with Julie’s response, you also indicated that you felt there was sexism in Jen’s response (“Which is why I’ll point out the sexism in your response – and in Jen’s.”). That is what I’m not seeing. I’m happy to listen to your explanation of what sexism you were referring to, but it sounds like you’re more concerned with the conflation of dating and sex, which seems like a different (but enlightening and useful) question to me. I agree that diversity problems don’t rest on comments like Guy 4’s. Those comments aren’t creating the issues, but they do throw some light on the sort of thinking that helps fuel them, and hopefully Guy 4, and anyone else who might be inclined to give a similar response, will give a bit more consideration to their opinion on the importance of increasing the presence of women in the atheist movement.

  71. says

    Yes, I agree with the obvious points you made that no one here disagreed with. That is why they were strawmen. I’m not sure if you understand what a strawman is, but you’ve definitely mastered cherrypicking quotes, since you quote me as saying:

    Nowhere did I say that anyone should completely dismiss the actual experiences of women.

    When, the entire relevant quote is

    [Y]ou don’t seem to realize that completely dismissing the actual experiences of women when they are discussing an issue like mansplaining is a perfect example of being blinded by privilege.

    And you did dismiss or at very least trivialize those experiences in that context. You essentially laughed at the fact that one of the most prevelant areas of mansplaining is explaining to women how what they think is sexist actually isn’t sexist.You seem to fundamentally not understand the social asymmetry in play here. No one is arguing that women are incapable of being condescending or sexist. No. one. You really need to understand that. You are getting defensive against arguments no one is making.If making up a term for some trivial thing in the name of equality makes you feel better then have it. But, I don’t think “womansplaining” is really a pervasive problem that needs to be addressed, especially because a man in that situation would have the benefits of his privilege to not feel/be as powerless. It’s much easier for a man to interrupt a woman and directly tell her that he already understands what she is explaining or just telling her that she is being a condescending jerk. Assertive women are at much greater risk of being labeled “crazy bitches” and ostracized for such behavior. That’s the benefit of privilege.

  72. says

    Intent isn’t magic. He’s an asshole, he’s gonna get called on it. Too bad, so sad. Ideally, he could say “Oh, I said something stupid, maybe I can learn from it.” Obviously a lot of people here aren’t.

  73. says

    Yes, because clearly there are no options open to men other than “act like eunuchs” and “hit on every woman you see at the atheist meeting”.

  74. says

    I don’t think he deliberately meant straight guys, it just wouldn’t occur to him to think of things from anyone else’s viewpoint. That’s practically the definition of privilege.

  75. Pete says

    How is him saying “Hmm more girls = more dates” and different from my mythical girl saying “Hmm more guys = more dates”. They were both saying what was on their minds. Point being that either everything is equal or everything is not you can’t really have gray areas.

  76. sneeky bunny says

    Perhaps now would be a good time, as a lady, to remind some of the gentlemen posting here (Not all! Just some!) that nobody owes you pussy. Even if you really, really want it, and even if you are an atheist. Presumably a lady would join an atheist group due to an interest in the topic, not your dick. It would be nice if gentlemen could afford those of us in possession of the opposite genitalia to theirs, the same courtesy.

  77. Pete says

    I wonder if those guy would get down and pray if it would get them the ‘opposite genitalia’? ;-) Interesting conundrum.

  78. sneeky bunny says

    Whether or not a choice were to be made compromising this particular philosophical position pursuant the goal of getting laid, is irrelevant. My point remains: Nobody owes you pussy.

  79. Tony says

    Sleeping with women, is like any other goal in the world. The further one is willing to go to accomplish an objective, the more likely one is to be successful at it. The key difference between you and your promiscuous acquaintance is he’s doing whatever it takes to end up with his penis in the most optimal vagina he can manage, whereas you keep getting distracted by the little things like, you know, the fact that women are people.

  80. Azkyroth says

    Why it seems that males who “only see a woman as Person Who I Want to Sleep With” are much more succesfull, ahem, at actually sleeping with women? I have only anecdotal evidence to back this up, but I know at least some guys who would 1) say exact the same thing 2) got laid with more than small percentage of available girls no matter what the community/event were.

    One possible explanation I’ve heard hinted at: If he’s fairly physically attractive and makes it pretty clear that he’s an unpleasant person only looking for sex, that potentially makes him appealing to women who would like some sex now please, but don’t want to worry about feelings getting involved or potentially hurting someone decent by leaving the next morning. In other words, he may imagine she’s thinking “at LAST, a REAL MAN!” but it’s really closer to “well, what do you know? Here I am thinking I need to go buy a vibrator and boom, a dildo with a buzz just walks up and starts chatting!”

  81. says

    Where is the line between “mansplaining” and disagreeing with a woman over whether something is intended to be sexist? Or disagree over ‘is’ sexist versus ‘perceived to be’ sexist?

  82. says

    I actually would doubt that Guy #4 is assuming that any/all women joining the group would be eligible to date. But rather he’s likely to expect that a larger pool of women would mean a larger subset of those who may be eligible to date.

  83. hippiefemme says

    Golly! I think this would be an excellent teachable moment. Guy #4 might not know why his comment is offensive on multiple levels: women aren’t commodities, not all women date men, not all women who join groups are single and/or looking, etc. I believe in the power of education, one person at a time. (I could be incredibly naive, too, but it helps me get through the day.) Granted, some people are going to be jerks regardless, but sometimes people genuinely don’t understand that they’re a bit off the mark. I hope one of you all explained–kindly–why you were glaring at him and why it was “precisely what [he] shouldn’t say.” Otherwise, he’ll never learn how or why to change.

  84. Vanessa says

    Thanks for pointing that out. You should maybe edit the original post to include this so that everyone doesn’t just assume you’re looking for something to complain about.

  85. Vanessa says

    Not really sure how being the minority gender automatically excuses you from sexism…Pete brings up a good point. I would have to say if the only reason your fictional girl is glad about the male/female ratio is due to a higher chance of getting laid, then yeah, that pretty much equates to guy #4.

  86. Pete says

    I curious, what makes you think anybody wants it. Your comment is one of the most sexist I’ve read here (granted I haven’t read them all). You assume just because you possess a commodity that every male actually wants it. Of course after enough alcohol the crack of dawn looks good to some guys. If nobody owes us pussy then it only stands to reason that nobody owes you dick.

  87. Rollingforest says

    Because the girl doesn’t need to worry about the under representation of men because there are already plenty of men in the group. She already knows that men are being welcomed so she doesn’t have to worry about it. The man, who is in the majority, first must work to to show that he actually cares about making sure than women are welcome and THEN he can say that he’d like more dates.It has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with who is in the majority.

  88. Rollingforest says

    Yes, I am a firm believer that sexism is never okay from either gender as I point out in a post lower down the thread. And there is nothing sexist about wanting to find a good dating pool. But it is the total disregard for the minority gender that is the problem. The idea that the increase in the minority gender is only useful for dating purposes and not for input is the issue. It is sexist no matter which gender is in the majority.

  89. says

    I think we’re trying to find the wrong answer to the wrong question and its distracting us from the real issue, how do we attract more *people* to join an atheist club / event?The problem I’ve noticed whenever this topic comes up is that no one ever seems to ask the right questions:* Is the event we’re throwing of interest to our intended audience?* Is the venue for our event an appropriate place to hold it?When looking up meetings online they usually have two common factors:* They’re usually run by people in colleges / universities* The meetings almost always take place in pubs / barsI don’t mind the young people, its nice to have a fresh perspective and ideas on the table. When it comes to bars though I can unequivocally state that my idea of a fun day does *not* include spending time surrounded by inebriated people with bad beer breath trying to have a rational discussion about the weighty topics we’re likely to be discussing.I also have to wonder if the fact that many of these events are held in bars, venues that are often associated with people looking for others to “hook up” with, is one of the reasons some people seemingly don’t want to go; the venue immediately discounts the event because its assumed it’ll be full of drunk people looking for others to hook up with and it won’t be possible to have a rational conversation without being continuously propositioned.Personally I don’t like being around people who’ve been drinking. From experience I’ve found that the combination of alcohol and lowered inhibitions can cause a person to radically alter their usual behaviour, often for the worse, so I can’t imagine what it’d be like to be a woman going to a meeting expecting to have a rational conversation about *anything* but instead ending up having to spend the evening fending off unwelcome advances from uninhibited people with impaired judgement.To sum up:Hanging out at the bar with fellow atheists holds no interest for me as I feel the venue is inappropriate and I can’t imagine I’m the only person who feels this way.Perhaps it might be an idea to consider holding meetings at the public library; a more relaxed, safe, family friendly location that would be open to all. Once you have the “general” meetings set up in the neutral location I think you’d find that certain social groups would form on their own volition.

  90. Jordannalie says

    They insist a lot of things aren’t words. Fiance will spell check correct to fiancée but not fiancé. Apparently only women get engaged in Google Chrome World.

  91. says

    Thanks for correcting all of me who thought he was making gentle fun of the speaker. It was so mean and unfair to you when I omitted the <irony> tags without warning.

  92. Oneiric says

    Possibly the part where you (not you in specific) talk as if you know the context of the conversation better than the woman who was actually there?Or where you give a dozen situations in which the offensive behaviour mentioned would not be found offensive, neglecting the actual reasons for offense?Or maybe when you take it for granted that the behaviour was only ‘perceived to be sexist’ but was not really sexist and that the woman is misreporting?

  93. says

    Nor do I. However, I’m not 19 any more.The dude misspoke. It happens. The anecdote ends with him being corrected. I’d have thought that would be the end of it.

  94. says

    Vanessa wrote:”Not really sure how being the minority gender automatically excuses you from sexism”Vanessa — many understand “sexism” in common discourse to be any time one gender holds prejudiced or stereotyped views of the other gender.However, there is a more nuanced view of the word “sexism” that moves away from the “prejudice/stereotype” view to a “prejudice/stereotype + power/privilege” view.Saying that a man holding a gender stereotyped view is 100% identical to a woman holding a gender stereotyped view overlooks the social and cultural setting that men and women live in.Exploring the role of power and privilege is useful for other areas of life as well:rich – poorable-bodied – disabledwhite – people of colorstraight – gayreligious – atheistChristian – non-ChristianOnce one includes power/privilege into one’s examination of the world, saying that women can be sexist towards men makes about as much sense as saying whites are subject to “reverse racism” from blacks.

  95. Jay says

    “Super Duper Hint For The People Who Don’t Get Why This Is A Problem: Women don’t exist for the sole purpose of dating you.”I am definitely aware of that. My question is: what is the relation between that response, and what Guy #4 actually said?One interpretation is that you are claiming that Guy #4 literally believes that women exist for the sole purpose of dating him. An alternative interpretation would be that you don’t think his attitude is truly quite that extreme or sexist, but that you are choosing to decry a straw-man version of it.I’m not particularly enthused about either of those options.Guy #4’s actual statement was that “[having more women in the group] means there would be more girls to date.” There is at least some conceptual distance between his exact statement and a conclusion that he believes “women exist for the sole purpose of dating [him].” The question is whether that conceptual distance is tiny or huge.If you think that that distance is small, what do you think of the distance between the statement that “[having more women in the group] means there would be a greater diversity of backgrounds and perspectives” and a conclusion that the speaker thinks that “women exist for the sole purpose of providing diversity to this group”?

  96. Matt Dillahunty says

    When I said sex wasn’t a concern, that doesn’t mean sex wasn’t assumed to be some part of the relationship – it meant that it wasn’t a concern.Regarding my comment on Jen, she later clarified that she has a perspective on Guy4 that informed her conclusion…so it’s possible that she wasn’t being sexist. This wasn’t clear in her original post and I was judging his words at face value, without the benefit of all the context that she has.

  97. says

    Giving a damn about women beyond whether or not they’ll sleep with you isn’t “engaging a PC filter.” I don’t really know how to be more plain about it.

  98. says

    No, but the misunderstanding is understandable, if such it is – no-one need be blamed for that, but with the crap that people regularly post on gender-issues threads of all sorts here, it would hardly be surprising that someone be saying that in the way that people read it. Yes, it’s obviously ironic, but what’s the aim of the irony? It reads to me in the way that people have responded to it.

  99. says

    This really should be a more general point, but…When dealing with social issues, the experiences (subjective as they are) of people, particularly in the un-privileged group, are a form of evidence. Social science uses the concept widely – and badly, some of the time, but that doesn’t mean it’s always wrong.

  100. says

    Hey, want to start an online ‘inadvertently condescending anonymous’ group? Well, not 12-step like that implies, what with the theism being required for 12-step, but meh.I gather I’m better about it than I used to be, and sometimes its enthusiasm that gets misread as condescension (I love a subject, I love helping other people learn about it, and so on… like an incredibly eager but unwanted university lecturer)… but I don’t think I’ve ever really felt the attitudes that others have told me I give off. It’s very frustrating.

  101. says

    And to all those people posting ‘ironic’ stuff that keeps being ‘misread’ as sexist when obviously it’s satirical, this is how it’s done. Well, one way of doing it.

  102. says

    If one-at-a-time is what you have the opportunity for, it’s what you should go for. I’ve been doing that a lot since my disabilities became more visible (about disability rather than gender issues/sexism/etc, obviously).Also, speaking from experience, it’s really hard to get any guidance transitioning from well-meaning-but-clueless-guy to actually-has-some-idea-why-that-pisses-people-off-person. There being a few people around who’ll trust that one is well-meaning and point one in the direction of good sources, or give those key initial explanations that make it all cascade in one’s mind… and once we get to the stage of realising why it’s so annoying, we appreciate it even more, because we realise what a risk it is to give us that guidance.

  103. says

    Just since you asked, Jen, this thread is *exactly* why I (a woman) don’t comment – I think it’s easy enough to discern why. PZ(?) or you(?) referenced a comic a couple months ago that summed it up completely.I love your blog – here’s one vote for “keep doing what your doing” including the atheism/feminism entries. Perhaps many guys will never “get it” — I’m open but, uh, skeptical :) — but that doesn’t reflect on you, only them.

  104. says

    Hell, *I’ve* given up commenting on these latest posts. I totally understand. I can only take so much rage and frustration with my morning coffee. Soooooo many people completely missing the point because of their own insecurities and biases.

  105. sneeky bunny says

    Pete, that gentle breeze you feel softly ruffling your downy locks is the point of Jen’s post, and my comment, going right over your little head.

  106. says

    Why is “what we can do to get more women to leave religion” a goal at all?I think it’d be far more effective if you instead provided community and support for women who chose to leave religion of their own accord. By focusing on converting people who are religious, you’ll have less overall recruitment success, and reinforce the image that atheists are just repeating the mistakes of dogmatic religion.

  107. LS says

    Woah, just had a moment of male/straight privilege. I’ve visited the comments for this post 4-6 times now, and every time I’ve thought your comment was confusing, because I assumed you were a straight man, and thought you were making some kind of sexist statement. Only just now, after reading one of your other comments, do I realize you’re a woman, and the true nature of your comment. A realization quickly followed by shame for having assumed you were a member of the “default” gender.

  108. Tony says

    Would that there was a way to flag the frustratingly aggravating “just don’t get it” posts such that those who care for such things could see them, but those who want to have a productive discussion could do so in relative peace.

  109. Rollingforest says

    But the more victories that feminism has, the more equality that the genders have and the more potential opportunity for your definition of sexism (prejudice + power) to occur by women toward men. So writing off sexism by women as impossible isn’t a totally accurate potrayal of the shifting world.

  110. Rollingforest says

    Yes, I agree that some situations are subjective and can be viewed differently by different people. But in that case the groups should come to a compromise. I think it is a mistake to say that just because a group is in the minority therefore their view is necessarily the correct one. It could be that they have trained themselves to see discrimination everywhere that doesn’t exist. If the issue is truly subjective, then each group needs to talk to each other openly and come to a compromise instead of automatically assuming one group or the other is the “correct” subjective view.

  111. Ali says

    Except the whole point of Jen’s post, and sneeky bunny’s comment specifically, is that guy #4 (and some commentors on this post) are acting like because they have a penis, someone owes them sex. Neither you nor your penis owes me or any other person on this thread anything.

  112. Ali says

    I tried to point that out to him, but he must have missed it! Also, you and your earlier comment rock. <3

  113. Rollingforest says

    I’m not trying to laugh at anyone. Perhaps it is the limitation of these short text based exchanges or misunderstandings of each of our meanings that makes you think that. If someone has something that they feel is wrong, I’ll listen to them, be they man, woman, or transgendered. And I agree that woman’s concerns are sometimes ignored without consideration. But discussing an issue is not the same thing as laughing at a person. If a claim is made, it will be debated and the evidence analyzed and that is how it should be.I think the issue here is that there is a fundamental disagreement about the social asymmetry that you mention. My point is that 50 years ago, you were right and there was a social asymmetry against women throughout much of society. But due to the victories of feminism, this patriarchal assumptions have been greatly decreased. Yes discrimination still exists in some places against women, and more often against women than men, but it is much less than it used to be and is found in fewer places than before. Treating male privilege as this overarching social construct that affects everything is an idea based on ideology and dogma and not fact. It is a “just so” story that has been accepted by some because it is easy to connect to emotionally. The truth (that things have improved for women but there is still some areas of discrimination left) is far more complicated, but I feel that it is more fact based and thus important. “womansplaining” may not be talked about as much and I’m not saying that the term necessarily is the best one to be used, but I do think that in certain areas, especially areas like elementary school, day care, and other kid-related situations, there can be situations of female privilege where the man is assumed to less intelligent on the subject simply because he is a man. In these situations, it is the woman who would be more likely to speak up. Each situation is different, of course, but I think that it exists in enough situations to warrant consideration and not be brushed off. I should perhaps apologize for one thing. This was perhaps a bad post to bring up the issue about the use of the term mansplaining since I actually agree with you that there are a lot of people mansplaining on this post (this can be proven by the fact that it seems very likely that they would switch their argument immediately if it were men who were seen as just eye candy and not seen as integral to the group). It’s just that I’ve seen the term mansplaining misused a lot and that I have a gut reaction toward pointing out that it has been misused in the past even when it is presently being used correctly and I apologize for this.

  114. Rollingforest says

    I think Oneiric is correct. A person is mansplaining when they take a different opinion on an issue based on whether the person is male or female in situations where that difference should have no effect.

  115. Rollingforest says

    Sexism is making over-generalized negative assumptions about a gender without good evidence to back it up. Sexism can occur to either men or women but depends on the circumstance. What guy #4 said was sexist not because dating is wrong, but because he disregarded the fact that women should be valued for their input not just as eye candy. A girl doing the same thing would not be sexist because men are already in the majority and it is already understood that their input is valuable. If, however, the girls were in the majority, then a girl saying the same thing WOULD be sexist because then their is the issue of whether the input of men is as appreciated in that group and she should be more sensitive to that.

  116. Pete says

    Wow, snarky. When you read the comment from Guy#4 it talks about dating not sex. To automatically assume that if someone want to date you they are expecting sex says more about you than Guy #4. I’ve been on many dates where the shared interests was the point and the thought of sex, and all the baggage it can bring, was defiantly not on my mind. Just because you have something you think is valuable of does automatically mean it is something of value to someone else.

  117. says

    A laudable suggestion. However, what about something even more public, and maybe more exciting as well? We need the talks and meetups, and, I think, flashy public stuff on occasion as well. Maybe.

  118. says

    Sigh. So can we assume then, when upon an outing with a male companion, predicated by shared interests and no thought of sexual congress, you also refer to said outing as a “date”? If not, then why not?

  119. says

    You refer to your outings with other heterosexual gentlemen of your acquaintance as “dates”.I call shenanigans.

  120. Pete says

    I have a date to go play tennis with Bob. Let’s get the kids together for a play date. Nice try. Why is it so hard to comprehend a guy can go have a date without thinking about sex. You’ve never went skiing with someone of the opposite sex because they were at your level and therefore fun to be with (insert your sport where needed).

  121. Pete says

    My definition of a ‘Date’ is two people doing something together they enjoy. Is your’s Foreplay before sex?

  122. says

    Are we then to accept your definition as universal? If that is the case, why then, pray, did Guy #4 neglect to say “I guess that’s a good thing. Means there would be more guys to date”?One is disinclined to believe that when using the word “date” in that context Guy #4 was thinking of a game of tennis. To imply other wise, regardless of your own semantic quirks, is disingenuous.Jen’s point still stands. Women joining an atheist group, can be supposed to be primarily interested in atheism. Not the dicks of atheist gentlemen, nor their backhands for that matter. They are not there to be “more girls to date”.This is the point which you so resolutely wish to avoid.

  123. says

    I wholeheartedly agree with this whole post. The last part I was actually thinking about myself; I am a taken, committed woman. I’m sure my addition to an atheist group would get less, “WOHOO, WOMEN! YES!” than the addition of a single woman, because suddenly, it becomes about the contribution of my thoughts, ideas and perspective as a woman instead of my sexuality.

  124. says

    Guy #4 doesn’t stop to consider that there are gay women, married women, transgender women… woman does not automatically equal single, attractive and heterosexual.

  125. says

    I’m the same as you, Marsha! I’m a frequent reader of Jen’s blog, but almost never comment… only after the census results were posted did I decide to speak up a bit more.Thanks so much for raising your voice for the more timid of us women out there! :) I really do appreciate it.

  126. MPH146 says

    If the exchange is accurately related, Jen’s made an error in logic. “Guy 4” stated ONE reason why having more women in the group would be to his liking. Jen has made the assumption that this reason is his ONLY reason for liking more women in the group. She may very well be correct, but based on the exchange as related, we are assuming this and have no verification(I thought you were a scientist, Jen). I also wonder if there isn’t some sexism here as well. If a woman had said something like “I’m glad there’s so many guys in this group, it means there’s more guys to date”, or “I’m glad there’s so few women here, there’s less competition”, or perhaps, “we need more women in this group, so the guys won’t ask me out so much”, would we be having this discussion? “Guy 4” just had the bad class (or is that honesty?) to say out loud what every heterosexual guy in the room was thinking.The one thing that every woman of even minimal attractiveness will have to deal with all their life is that men will want to have sex with them. Some will be interested only in sex. But even the men who appreciate her for her intellect, or her sense of humor, or that she plays foosball like a professional will want to have sex with her. Some are more brazen, or perhaps, more honest in expressing this, and of course, others are better at hiding it. But rest assured that it is ALWAYS there. That guy you think of as sweet and a really good friend that you can depend on and you trust totally and you’re just sooo sure isn’t hot for you? If you told him he had exactly five minutes to have sex with you, starting “NOW”, he’d be banging your brains out 2 seconds later, even though that meant ripping his $2,500 Armani suit to shreds. If that’s upsetting to you, you’re going to spend a lot of your adult life upset. Millions of years of evolution have made men this way. It isn’t going to change any time soon. Evolution has even contributed to women making this problem worse (for reasons beyond your control). With nearly every other animal on the planet the females go “in season”, in ways that are detectable to males. They give off scents, or their breasts swell, or etc. Human females, unfortunately, do not do this. Indeed, human females have breasts that are swollen all the time. So to we dumb males, all of you are, as far as we can tell, always in season (ie – willing to mate). So of course, we’re always ready and eager to go; every woman we see looks like she’s “in heat”. That’s not your fault, any more than it is ours. Lest you think men should override such impulses with “reason”, we already do. That’s why hot women can walk through a crowd of men and NOT get raped. We humans use our higher reasoning functions all the time. Did you see an item in the store you REALLY wanted but couldn’t afford? Did you steal it? No? That’s your higher reasoning at work. Did you see someone you thought was really sexually attractive? Did you konk them on the head and drag them home? No? Higher reasoning skills again. Without them, we’d all behave like 2 year olds, who think everything they see that they want at the moment is theirs for the taking. Now imagine what life would be like if sexually mature males actually had the self control of 2 year olds (many say we do, but that’s hyperbole – I hope). The reason life isn’t like that is because we are ALREADY using our reason to override our impulses.I agree, women don’t exist just to date men, or just as sexual partners for men. But does wanting to date you, or have sex with you, make a man somehow subhuman? Or is it just the expression of such a desire that turns you off? So you want men to hide their sexuality in order to spare you? I thought you didn’t like it when feminists demanded you conform to their vision of what your sexuality should be, why do you demand it of men? Or have I misread some of your posts (I’ll admit to not having read all your existing posts)? Is your willingness to date/have sex with a man dependent on how well he HIDES his desire to have sex with you? Would that make sense? If a woman is more than her looks, can not men be more than whatever their last statement might indicate?Never forget that when you first meet someone, they don’t see an intelligent, educated, Purdue graduate. They see this (or something similar):… (I love the safety glasses, by the way; that’s being prepared). Yes, you’re more than a pretty face above a pair of spectacular boobs. But when someone first meets you, that’s ALL that they know about you. So when it comes to men, that means almost without fail, their first thought will be about whether they would “hit that”. Your views on atheism, feminism, sports, love, music, and everything else are not visible on your face (or your boobs, even if you’re wearing a shirt with a slogan), and will take some time for you to express and for them to learn. But unless you’re wearing a large cardboard box that completely hides your figure and face, how sexually attractive you are is something that men have been assessing every time they’ve seen you since you passed puberty, and such assessments will continue for many years to come. You’ll either get over it, or you’ll get ulcers.Keep up the interesting posts, Jen. I’m a regular, if infrequent visitor, and enjoy the time I spend here (dug the April fool’s joke). Good luck with the diet, but don’t go too far (are you at risk for anorexia?), because in the photo I linked to above I really don’t see where you’re hiding the weight you’re trying to lose. Maybe when the Skepticon Calendar comes out I’ll understand ;-)

  127. Rob says

    So if it was 3 men and 20 women, and a woman found out there might be more men joining and said, “I guess that’s a good thing. Means there would be more guys to date,” that would also be bad? I’m pretty sure he meant it as this community is very important to him, and people often date within their communities. Since the male female ratio was very male heavy and he might not see himself very connected to other communities, he determined this would be a good place too meet a mate with similar interests especially if more females where to join. People say that kind of thing to express their dedication to a community, the same with how many Christians will only date other Christians. If you think the only reason he was there was to find a girlfriend you are probably wrong. I know he didn’t mean to say the only point of women is for him to choose and take. Give guys more credit sometimes please.

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