And a haircut, while you’re at it

One of the things I hate more than some of the other things in The Great Community Wars is the cry of “get a JOB!!”

Like the cry quoted by Aja Romano in a Daily Dot piece on the latest front in The Great Community Wars, mockingly dubbed #tablegate.

Skeptics seized upon the discrepancies in Watson’s post and launched a heated backlash. One of the most outspoken critics of the incident was the ironically named Uberfeminist, a skeptics/atheists blog heavily focused on critiquing “American atheist social justice bloggers.” Uberfeminist believed Watson and Roth were trying to game Dragon Con by getting free attendance and then using their own panels to plug their table and merchandise:

Skepchick may say they’re not trying to make a profit, they’re trying to “break even” when accounting for the cost of making the trip happen. … Presumably the majority of attendees make this work by having a day job and saving money.

That’s far from the first time I’ve seen that stupid trope. It’s almost as popular as “real activists do real things, unlike those losers who write blog posts.” The two are closely related, of course, and about as vulgar and anti-intellectual as it’s possible to get. Yeah, get a job, John Keats – don’t lounge around writing poetry, do some honest work for a change.

Fuck that. People are allowed to try to make it work in other ways. People are allowed to put together a patchwork of partial jobs, to make a living by creating art, to make less money doing what they love instead of more money doing what they hate. People are allowed to do things that have little or no market value but a lot of non-market value. Just having a job isn’t the hallmark of virtue and merit.


  1. carlie says

    Aren’t the kind of conservatives who yell “get a job” the same ones who extol the virtues of working for oneself and building up one’s own business? How exactly do they think that happens?

  2. yellowsubmarine says

    Do they not understand that there are plenty of jobs that don’t pay a living wage? Hell I had 3 jobs until a few months ago and I couldn’t even begin to hope to scrape enough together to go to a con. What a bunch of privileged asshats.

  3. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    Fuck that weak shit, indeed.

    I wonder how many people employed by atheist/skeptic orgs are there because they wanted to be all about their atheism/skepticism, but “had to get a real job”. How many jerks-that-be might that partially explain?

  4. says

    Do they not understand that there are plenty of jobs that don’t pay a living wage? Hell I had 3 jobs until a few months ago and I couldn’t even begin to hope to scrape enough together to go to a con. What a bunch of privileged asshats.

    Seriously. Not to mention those of us who would love to get a job, but can’t because of disability. (So add some ableism to their epic asshattery…but honestly, if I tried to respond to all the casual ableism that gets dropped in the comments, I’d lose it. I’m very happy that most of the bloggers–and people in the comments!–here at FTB are beginning to recognize how pervasive ableist comments are and finding other ways to express themselves. It’s nice to have a space where I’m not getting pinged with bullshit every other sentence.)

    I really want to go to Skepticon–the Skepticon videos were some of the first that I watched when I was checking out the whole “atheism” thing. I started saving up, but a couple catastrophes & unexpected offenses wiped that out. I’m thinking about applying for a scholarship, though I feel uncomfortable doing so because the airfare is so expensive since I’m coming from CA. I can’t find a trip under 600$. We’ll see. I’d love to go, but it might be something that needs to wait for next year.

    Some people just have no understanding of what it means to be the “working poor”. (Or the non-working poor, in my case. But as my aunt the genealogist found out, we’ve pretty much been dirt poor working class for centuries.) They really truly think it’s just a matter of creating budget, maybe clipping coupons and doing “sale” shopping.

  5. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    It’s yet another reminder of just how little many of the ‘skeptics’ know about the people they keep on insisting they speak for when trying to shout down those attempting to make the community more diverse and inclusive.

  6. xyz says

    Ummm… I HAVE a job and yet I often try to offset trips to expensive venues like music festivals by working a couple of bar shifts there. And if I’d planned to do something like that and was arbitrarily prevented from doing so, you bet that would leave a big gaping hole in my budget and I would be pissed.

    Not to mention that the Skepchicks were at DragonCon to promote their contributions to their community and were spending the whole time at their booth in a professional capacity – so it’s not like they were asking anyone to fund a pointless vacation for them…

  7. Bjarte Foshaug says

    …the cry of “get a JOB!!”

    Like being an “investigative journalist”, tirelessly “documenting” the atrocities of the #FTBullies, like the outrageous fact that Surly Amy had another satisfied costumer..

  8. Pieter B, FCD says

    Another theme in the criticism is that apparently Rebecca should be grateful to conventions for “allowing her to go on stage and promote herself and her website.” Right. It couldn’t possibly be that a for-profit convention thinks that people might actually want to hear her views on various subjects, she’s somehow conned them into letting her on the program. In the case of one of her (and Ophelia’s) most obsessed critics, that charge is an example of projection.

  9. David Marjanović says

    People are allowed to do things that have little or no market value but a lot of non-market value. Just having a job isn’t the hallmark of virtue and merit.

    That’s not so in the Protestant work ethic, which has spread throughout Western culture – far beyond the Calvinists who actually believe in its religious underpinnings.

    Those are that God already rewards the elect in this life. And he rewards them with success: not with being rich, but with becoming ever richer. If ever you stop becoming richer, if you stop working – that must be because you’re too hellbound to keep it up. Damn you quite literally, and God will have no mercy on your soul.

  10. says

    I find this sentiment revealing. And see also ‘serves you right for not keeping your head down’.

    Both arguments essentially lead the same place. Invisibility and acquiescence. Let’s keep things the way they are. Shut up and punch your clock, shut up and keep your head down. It’s the same stupid shit.

    This kind of sentiment is pretty much a cancer, generally. And exactly the wrong direction for anyone who gives a shit about anything to be pushing. It’s a huge problem with modern democracies that people aren’t particularly engaged with civics, don’t really see themselves as part of their societies’ decision making, don’t really have the power to change anything.

    Note also that that kind of ‘keep ’em too busy to protest’ attitude is part and parcel of plenty of several incredibly nasty authoritarian movements’ and governments’ manipulative quivers. So much so now that hearing it out of anyone’s mouths sets my antennae alight.

    Just what do these idiots want? I think they’ve answered that. They want their opponents to shut up and clean their toilets for them, that’s what.

  11. says

    ^ ‘…don’t really have the power to change anything’ should actually be ‘don’t really see themselves as having the power to change anything’. But then, since the former leads to the latter anyway, close enough, I guess.

  12. says

    But don’t you know that you can only find grace and redemption through work? (Assuming you’re already one of the blessed (with lots of money to begin with))
    Oops, I see David Marjanović already beat me to this.

  13. karmacat says

    What is striking is that these people cae so much about what Rebecca and Amy are doing. If I went to a con, them having a table would not affect my life. I could understand if I were someone who had paid for a table, but I doubt their table created that much competition. And I suspect that the vast majority of commenters were not selling anything. Their complaints are really just about envy

  14. says

    Re #15 and envy:

    While speculation about motive is always a bit of a job, I tend to think this is at least part of it. The darker read being: while ‘envy’ probably isn’t a bad word, I think the implications of this can be incredibly nasty, and I think it’s not just envy about call it commercial success, entrepreneurial spirit, all that stuff, but even the obvious activist overtones.

    I’m finding it oddly difficult to pin the idea into English, but it goes something like this: Amy and Rebecca, in addition to making a buck or two doing what they’re doing, do what they do with activist intent. The very argument that they should just ‘get a real job’ seems to me to betray this darker attitude about that. That yeah, what pisses them off is that Amy and Rebecca have found a way to make their passions their work as well, at least in part. You couldn’t work out a way to do that? Or you figured you’d just make more just working nine to five? Hell, maybe that is a pretty good move, if you want to pay for your kids’ upbringings. But what, now you move from that reality to pissing on anyone who actually does still have passion for doing something more full-time about it, however uneven and unpredictable might be the financial rewards?

    Pretty self-defeating that attitude, when you think about it. Even a bit of crab in the bucket syndrome, there. You got a lot of real villains in the world, and you shoot instead at those who make it their business to do something about it, just because they’re managing actually to do that somewhat more full-time than you’ve ever managed? And maybe you don’t see them changing things how you want, or you just wish it were you?

    I expect it is that stew of ill-considered or mixed motivations, at the end of the day, actually, come to think of it. Which is probably why it was briefly a mash to put into words. We probably have:

    1) Envy of those who fear they’ve ‘sold out’ for those who really are trying and succeeding at raising awareness on this stuff, relatively full-time.

    2) Envy of those who haven’t, so much, but have lesser profile, at least.

    3) Opposition of those who don’t even want this direction.

    They’re all a bit of a mess on their own, way I think about it, though, even sorting them out like that. One and two pretty much are crab in the bucket. Three is immensely unwise at a civics level, in my opinion, but that’s the bigger thing. In capsule, I’d just say if you’re just bright enough to realize the gods are fictions, but not bright enough to see that they were also fictions with immense civic implications, that theology and authoritarianism have long been pretty comfortable partners, and the mass of men wound up in that god-king top-down hierarchy just one run above women, and were kept there in part by being told at least they were that one rung above (and could easily be busted down that rung if they didn’t play the part properly), and a lot of others maybe a few rungs up from that are played by the same dynamic (hey Mr. Successful Professional who probably did in fact benefit also from systemic inequities, keeping alive the myth of equality of opportunity and meritocracy kinda is in your interest even after you see how qualified it is if you’re sufficiently amoral)… well, listen, if you somehow see the one fiction but not all those that came along with it, I have to wonder how hard you’re really looking.

  15. says

    Agreed 100%.

    It’s also telling how they misrepresent (in quotes, no less) what Rebecca said, which was not about breaking even, but about recouping some of the cost. Nowhere did Rebecca ever say that she expected to break even due to tabling at DragonCon. In fact, she said the opposite (emphasis mine):

    I get a free pass to perform on panels but I’m expected to pay for my own airfare and hotel, costs that add up to be nearly $1,000. I expect to take a loss, but selling some Skepchick merchandise at least helps off-set that loss.

  16. says

    I know – but they want her to off-set that loss BY GETTING A JOB because A JOB is the only decent, respectable, mature way to earn enough money to off-set the expense of attending a conference away from home. Yeah. So all those garage start-ups? HOW DARE THEY?!

  17. Pieter B, FCD says

    I don’t think envy is the right word; it’s jealousy. These people think that they should be the ones getting free admission to cons to spout their opinions on panels, not her.

    I’d also bet that a number of them think Rebecca Watson gets all her expenses paid plus handsome honoraria to speak or participate on panels at these events. Right. DragonCon, which draws 40- or 50,000 attendees at $120 a pop didn’t even comp her room, just gave her free admission.

    OBTW I haven’t ever seen her beg for money to attend a conference like JV has; in fact, Skepchick has raised funds for other people to attend conferences—dozens of other people.

  18. doubtthat says


    So, these stupid chicks, thinking that they can make money by selling products to willing buyers, need to shut their commie asses up and engage in the capitalist system?

    What were they thinking? Hoping to accumulate money by contributing goods to the free market? Balderdash!

  19. MrFancyPants says

    It’s particularly rich when someone like Sara Mayhew sneers at Amy for making a living off of her artwork. Because, what, Sara’s manga is Real Art™, or something, but SurlyRamics are not, somehow? I seem to be unable to perform the mental gymnastics needed to reconcile that kind of thinking.

  20. says

    Not work….meaningless – anything will do – work.

    They’d like her better if she worked as a Black Rock mercenary… at LEAST she’d be “working”….

  21. says

    Maybe OT, but I find it so depressing that Sara Mayhew acts like this. I used to really enjoy her manga, but now I can’t look at it without thinking about her obsessive, destructive, hateful behavior.

    Just add her to the list of Atheist Assholes I used to enjoy, I guess. Between Dawkins, Shermer, thunderf00t, and now Brian Dalton (*sob*), I’ve lost almost all my heroes, the people who taught me about skeptical thinking, science, and atheism. I would straight up not be on this blog right now if it wasn’t for Richard Dawkins and Michael Shermer…I might still be training to be a minister, trying to shove down all my doubts with apologetics and theological rationalizations ::shudder:: Pretty much all I have left from the original people I found when I first looked into this whole atheism thing are PZ and Scott Clifton. Okay, and Roy Zimmerman. (Maybe James Randi, although he’s on probation right now.) My trust in PZ is rock solid, but I live in fear that I’m going to turn on youtube to see a new TheoreticalBullshit vid supporting the slymepit or something.

    I dunno. Maybe it’s a good thing, breaking me out of the residual religious urge to put my trust in supposed infallible leaders and my faith in “holy” books. Still hurts.

  22. carlie says

    I’d also bet that a number of them think Rebecca Watson gets all her expenses paid plus handsome honoraria to speak or participate on panels at these events.

    I think the only scandal in this is that DragonCon doesn’t do that. “Come speak at our event for free so we can charge people to come see you and pocket it all ourselves!” Um… what?

  23. Pieter B, FCD says

    And now that the alleged child molester who used to get a third of the profits has been put off the gravy train, the owners get even more.

  24. freemage says

    Carlie: I will say that the way the events work is pretty fair–you have to be a real rock-star to get comped more than entrance tickets. Hell, I’ve volunteered at cons, and unless you’re spending at least half the weekend working events (ie, not attending them yourself), you’re still paying for your own hotel room. And I’ve never heard of any con that comps for travel costs for staff.

    But, then again, Rebecca and Amy weren’t complaining about that, either.

  25. rnilsson says

    Channeling Mark Knopfler: Money for nothing. Or: Sultans of swing. Etc.

    Reminds me to buy you a cookie, Oph. B. Please use it wisely 🙂


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