Not a plan but a background

Greg has an interesting followup comment on his claim about how intentional it all is.

I am not suggesting that people sat down in a board meeting and made a plan and DJ Grothe is carrying it out.

I am suggesting that a male dominated society within a society (JREF/TAM within Western Culture) is blind to certain things, and has certain self-serving expectations, and smooth sailing is defined when those expectation are not interfered with by, well, by “Feminist Bitches.”  Are there no conversations happening amongst (there’s that word again) JREF financiers, board members, DJ, others? Are there no emails distributed among any of the various mainly male defenders of DJ Grothe in social networking circles that say anything about anything?  Is there no background discussion going on at all?  Of course there are.  How organized is all that? Doesn’t matter. What matters is that an important part of the culture of the skeptical movement is being threatened and JREF is one of the pillars of that culture.  JREF, TAM and DJ Grothe do not need to defend the status quo, and they shouldn’t. Yet they are.  After a while, that ceases, all due respect to my colleague Crommie, to be attributable to incompetence.

Agreed. I don’t think it was a plan, but yes I do think it emerged from a particular culture (and is getting cheered on by that culture now).

I said this at Greg’s:

I think a lot of it is just dislike and contempt, simmering in those background discussions you mentioned. I think DJ blurted some of that out…maybe thinking that it was an “everybody thinks” kind of thing, because of the background discussions – and lots of people do think, so he wasn’t all wrong. I suppose he expected us all just to go “ouch” and creep away to the corner and stop bugging everyone until maybe late July or so. I don’t think he expected the conversation to go the way it has. But the idea that we’re (we pesky women, we feminist bitches, to use Rebecca’s term) threatening the Normal skeptical movement – yes, I think that.

I’ll say more here.

It’s like other male enclaves, or places that men think are male enclaves.

They think we’re going to make it all boring, and weak, and puritanical (or Talibanesque, however bizarre that might seem for feminists), and unfunny, and sexless, and schoolteacherish. They think it’s bean sprouts and Birkenstocks and puzzled frowns and homemade toothpaste.

They think they have a monopoly on all the good things – jokes, irony, sex, energy, noise, sex, color, hippitude, argument, sex.

The trouble with that is, The Great Penis Debate. Not funny.


  1. Mattir says

    So comfortable shoes are out if I want to be a Chill Girl? Oh well, guess I wasn’t going to fit all that well there anyway.

    It’s a trainwreck, and at this point I really don’t expect JREF to change. I’ll give my money and time elsewhere in the skeptical/freethought/atheist movement.

  2. Axxyaan says

    Here in Belgium is at least one city that seems to take the problem seriously. In Mechelen, the mayor wants to put female police officers, in civilian outfit on the street, in order to counter the problem of men harrasing women.

  3. says

    I feel that Greg’s clarification makes sense. However, I’d caution him that this is not how he presented his argument. It came off, to my ears at least, as unsubstantiated conspiracist theorising, and that’s what might well stick in the collective memory of the community. I expect the critics to bash him around the head for that and use it as grounds for dismissing his (and our) arguments.

  4. Hertta says

    Well put. Especially the homemade toothpaste. They sort of kind of want women to attend but they don’t want to give up what they’ve come to think of as their space. I work in a heavily male dominated field, and women are generally thought of as major killjoys. The completely irrational statement, that Stephanie Zvan wants to ruin TAM, becomes suddenly more understandable with homemade toothpaste. For someone like Emery a harassment policy is like that.

    I don’t mean it becomes acceptable. But I do understand it. I also kind of get the Chill Girls. It sucks being seen as the killjoy.

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