The Most Important Things consultants on the job

So Team We Hate Feminism is pleased that Dawkins withdrew his apology for Dear Muslima by telling Kimberly Winston that he gets impatient with American women who talk about things that he considers trivial instead of about women being stoned to death in Iran. Team We Hate Feminism wants more of that kind of thing. Team We Hate Feminism thinks it’s worthwhile to summon other Team Members, or rather Thought Leaders, to chortle over more of that kind of thing. Team We Hate Feminism can’t see a tweet about contempt for women in Turkey without making it a rebuke of feminists who have the gall to talk about sexist culture in STEM fields.


Ryan J Holder ‏@RyanJamesHolder Nov 24
Turkish President says women arent equal to men “our religion has defined a position for women: motherhood” @SamHarrisOrg @RichardDawkins

Russell Blackford ‏@Metamagician
@RyanJamesHolder @RichardDawkins @SamHarrisOrg Hmmm, this just *might* be a bigger problem than pop art imagery on men’s shirts.

So let’s see, now. The Turkish President’s expression of contempt for women is a bigger problem than pop art imagery boob art on men’s shirts. How big a problem is feminists talking about boob art on men’s shirts compared to the Turkish President’s expression of contempt for women? Shouldn’t Blackford be talking about the Turkish President’s expression of contempt for women only instead of talking about it as an excuse to talk about feminists talking about boob art on men’s shirts?

How do we calibrate these things? How to we adjudicate them? How do we know which Thought Leader on Twitter to listen to on the subject? How do we know for sure what problems we should be talking about? I suppose we could run everything past Blackford and Dawkins and Harris first, but then how would they have any time to talk about the most important things? Because there are more important things than telling feminists what we should be talking about, surely. Aren’t there?


  1. says

    Also interesting how every “real problem” is one that they 1) are doing nothing about, 2) probably will never be expected to do anything about, and 3) doesn’t require them to exert even the smallest amount of effort to change or combat. I’m sure that’s completely coincidental.

    But yes… the biggest First World Problem of all is rich white dudes complaining about other people’s “first world problems” instead of whatever it is they pretend they really care about.

  2. says

    But you see, their complaining about our talking about what we talk about is doing something about the Real, Important problem, because they’re Thought Leaders, so by saying things, they Lead everyone to think better. That will fix all the problems. Pretty soon.

  3. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    Also interesting how every “real problem” is one that they 1) are doing nothing about, 2) probably will never be expected to do anything about, and 3) doesn’t require them to exert even the smallest amount of effort to change or combat. I’m sure that’s completely coincidental.

    Not only that. The real problems are the ones they can’t do much about by their very nature. I meant to mention this in one of the other threads when somebody talked about how Feminism must have a priority list or some such. Sure, there’s lots of Muslima scenarios around the world that are worse than whatever issue the haters want us to ignore. But the more minor issues that prompt the haters to invoke Muslima arguments are usually of the sort that our effort can actually make a significant difference on. I can donate $, go abroad to volunteer, support local/US candidates on the right side of whatever issue is devastating women in the Middle East or wherever, but here I can actually tell my buddy not to use sexist language, or demand my workplace has effective harassment policies, or boycott companies that treat women like shit, vote for candidates who will push for equal pay etc. The difference in how much bang for my buck I can get for whatever I do is notable. This is another reason why the “there’s bigger issues” and “mission drift” concerns from the Passionate Feminists (who are notably reluctant when it comes to Feminist activism) seem like mostly bullshit. We can do lots of things at once with these crazy brains of ours, and we can certainly decide that sometimes we would rather put our effort into a small thing that we can influence directly, now.

  4. maudell says

    I’m looking forward to Blackford and his friends schooling all American atheist organizations. I mean, what’s worse, a blogger sentenced to death for ‘insulting the prophet’ in Saudi Arabia or feeling bad because people in the US looking at you funny when you tell them you’re an atheist (they should grow a thicker skin, amirite)? Blackford, go tell them what you think about people who don’t talk exclusively about the worst thing.
    I’ll wait here.

  5. Janine the Jackbooted Emotion Queen says

    We do have a lot of religious figures in the US, Ireland and England who also say that motherhood is the defined role for women.

    Is it alright with the great rational male atheist leaders if we are a bit more concerned about them, who have a lot of say about how we conduct ourselves, instead to what is said by the President of Turkey? Also, these great rational male atheist leaders are speaking as if the women of Turkey (still a secular state) are helpless.

    Being a resident of the US, I will remain more worried about the powerful christian leaders instead of keeping a fear of the “Islamists”, they have more potential to do me harm. And I will continue to see that shirt as but a reflection of how women are treated in STEM fields.

    Also, fuck Russell Blackford, smug little shitheel.

  6. yazikus says

    Okay, I have to ask, what is it with these guys and their shitty examples that don’t help their cause? Saying women have a defined role and that is motherhood is essentially the same message that Matt Taylor’s shirt was sending, “Women have a defined role, being sexy”. Which is essentially saying that they don’t belong in STEM fields, which is what the Prime Minister was saying.

    That tweet/ ‘joke’ does nothing to help their credibility.

  7. says

    A. As many people have pointed out over the years, US and European feminists have been protesting the horrible things done to women in non-Western countries far longer than any of these pompous assholes have.

    B. The claim they don’t, or can’t multitask, is just like what we see done by the right wing on the same subject. Bad company for these pompous assholes to be keeping (but then there’s the AEI connection too).
    C. In the Glenn Greenwald article about Sam Harris that PZ recently linked to and discussed, Greenwald quotes Noam Chomsky about why he spends a lot of time and energy criticizing bad behavior close to home:

    “My own concern is primarily the terror and violence carried out by my own state, for two reasons. For one thing, because it happens to be the larger component of international violence. But also for a much more important reason than that; namely, I can do something about it.”

    “So even if the U.S. was responsible for 2 percent of the violence in the world instead of the majority of it, it would be that 2 percent I would be primarily responsible for. And that is a simple ethical judgment. That is, the ethical value of one’s actions depends on their anticipated and predictable consequences. It is very easy to denounce the atrocities of someone else. That has about as much ethical value as denouncing atrocities that took place in the 18th century.”

  8. resident_alien says

    I am astonished at the levels of willful density and general pettiness displayes by the
    feminist-haters. Those would be embarrassing in middleschoolers, to say nothing of university professors.
    Over at Heina’s I’ve recently learnt the term “columbussing” , meaning white people “discovering” something
    that people of colour have known/done/etc. for AGES and acting like it’s theirs. This is sort of the feminist equivalent of columbussing : Anti-feminists “discovering” injustices that feminists have been screaming about since disco died and shaming feminists for supposedly never paying attention to these same injustices.

  9. screechymonkey says

    So, does this absolute ranking of priorities apply to money, too?

    Should anyone be spending money on some scientist’s memoir, or on fees to attend a convention and hear him speak, when that money could be spent on liberating Muslim women, or cancer research, or whatever?

    Should Australian students be studying philosophy, or Australian taxpayers subsidizing it, when those students could be learning how to cure cancer or solve global warming?

  10. Blanche Quizno says

    screechy (10), I think the most noble vocation for students would be learning how to be REAL feminists, don’t you? :}

  11. Blattafrax says

    This guy is running a country FFS. Surely thats what we should be talking about rather than a few comments about trivial opinions – probably given to him by a close female friend and only brought out to lighten the mood. Suddenly the story isn’t all about the magnificent achievement of bringing Turkey into the 20th century as it should be. Instead, radical feminists like Russell Blackford just want it to be all about them and their bullying tactics. After all this I wouldn’t be surprised if Erdogan is forced to apologise.

  12. Hj Hornbeck says

    If I may quote myself on a slightly different subject:

    no-one wants to wake up and realize they’re in a hate group. So to protect themselves, the ‘Pit has constructed a treadmill of myths and lies […] By endlessly cycling from myth to lie, they avoid having to consider any one in detail and thus can convince themselves they’re just a bunch of skeptical satirists.

    A consequence of this treadmill is that they wind up repeating and obsessing over their talking points, until the ability to ward off cognitive dissonance fades. It turns out, attacking the straw feminists that attacked Taylor has been an excellent source of myth fertilizer in the ‘Pit.

    While not an official member, Blackford is engaging many of the same cognitive pathways over feminism. So it’s no surprise he shows the same repetition and obsession they do.

  13. Brian E says

    I would’ve thought Russell would’ve avoided this kind of fallacious thinking. But then, when you’re emotionally invested, you don’t think logically as a rule. I take or my wife take our boys and ourselves to the doctor when we think it required. We don’t think it’s the worst case when we do. I guess Russell wouldn’t do that, because there’s so many people in far away countries (and closer to home) who are dying terrible deaths. It’s just bullshit, you can’t solve every problem, so for starters you can’t solve the problem in Turkey and at home all on your own (division of labour), and it’s reasonable that you solve the issues in your immediate environment, at the current time, then waiting until all the bigger issues (however that’s judged) are solved in far away places. Stupid thinking involved in using the fallacy of greater evil. Bad philosopher, no cookie!

  14. Matt Penfold says

    “Also interesting how every “real problem” is one that they 1) are doing nothing about, 2) probably will never be expected to do anything about, and 3) doesn’t require them to exert even the smallest amount of effort to change or combat. I’m sure that’s completely coincidental”

    And almost certainly not in a position do anything about anyway. There is not a huge amount people in Europe, North American or Australia can do about Erdoğan. But Dawkins and others who work in STEM can do something about sexism in those fields.

  15. Athywren; Kitty Wrangler says

    Bloody hell… it’s almost two weeks since Taylor apologised, and they just won’t let it go. Never mind how much of the criticism came from within the scientific and educational communities. Never mind that at least two professional astronomical bodies have come out in support of the original criticisms and in opposition to the irrational ragestorm that was its response. That was all feminism, nobody who complained cared about the landing, and all we wanted was to make Dr Taylor cry.

    I have a friend on facebook, who is not the token MRA I occasionally mention, who posted that ludicrous meme that’s floating around and, of course, the fact that feminists are getting pissed off at that meme someone reinforces in their minds the idea that they’re just out to demonise scientists. I mean, sure, the meme compares being told that it’s ok for someone to rape you if you’re dressed the wrong way with being told that your shirt isn’t appropriate for a live broadcast seen worldwide if you want to attract women into astronomy, or science in general, but why, oh why would that annoy anybody? Bah!

    The annoying thing about that is that they have the nerve to call us anti-science for being critical of that shirt and his comments when they’re actually arguing in defence of a worse-than-useless filter to academic careers. I mean, sure, a shirt may be just a small thing, a comment may be a just a small thing, but small things can still exert influence. Take orbital resonance, for example; a relatively small gravitational tug on a regular basis from an object several million miles away can have a dramatic impact on a body. Sure, orbital resonances often find a kind of equilibrium and balance , but they also lead to objects being flung away entirely – this is why planets generally don’t find themselves in the middle of asteroid belts… sorry, Ceres, but you know it’s true.
    Ok, true, a shirt doesn’t work on a human in an atmosphere on the surface of a planet in the same way that the gravity well of Jupiter does on Pallas, but you still have fairly regular instances of actions, comments, and even images that exert an influence over other people, and which can drive them away from certain fields.
    Shifting over to an evolutionary analogy, as long as we’re maintaining a situation where those instances fall into a regular pattern, we’re essentially selecting for those people who, while they may still be influenced by those instances, are not driven away by it. Maybe that seems fine, but surely our only selective pressure in the sciences should be the ability to perform good, accurate scientific work? In allowing a selective pressure to remain in place which serves no scientific purpose, we are only limiting our scientific communities to those people deal with this pointless treatment. What scientific benefit is there to requiring that scientists be thick skinned enough to deal with being reduced to objects on a regular basis? I can think of none, but maybe there is one? I can, however, think of a great problem with excluding, without regard to their scientific aptitude, anyone who isn’t so hardy.
    (In case anyone is keeping score for number of comments made by either side about this since Dr. Taylor’s apology, this brings me up to something like six or seven, and has probably more than doubled my word count on the subject.)

  16. carbonfox says

    yazikus @6,

    Okay, I have to ask, what is it with these guys and their shitty examples that don’t help their cause? Saying women have a defined role and that is motherhood is essentially the same message that Matt Taylor’s shirt was sending, “Women have a defined role, being sexy”. Which is essentially saying that they don’t belong in STEM fields, which is what the Prime Minister was saying.

    This is exactly what I was thinking, except you’ve said it better than I could have (so thank you!).

    I was wondering why Team We Hate Feminism even cared that this guy said this. After all, the president was just expressing an opinion–he wasn’t actually physically hurting a woman (hell, he wasn’t even groping them by the water cooler, which, according to the Dawk, is an acceptable form of physical hurt)–so what’s the harm done? If they were consistent, they’d be saying exactly what Blattafrax @12 wrote–except in earnest (brilliant job, by the way, Blattafrax).

    I’m sure it has nothing to do with a Muslim person from Turkey saying something bad about women; after all, well-to-do white non-Muslim folk in the civilized US and UK simply do not–and cannot–hold sexist beliefs. Seriously, if Matt Taylor had said this exact statement (okay, maybe throw in “science says” instead of “religion says”), would they be angry with him? Or would they still be calling feminists hypersensitive for calling the comment out (after all, it’s just a harmless opinion) and supposedly distracting from the comet mission? I have a pretty good idea which they’d be doing.

  17. Eric MacDonald says

    Strange that this keeps going and going, like a hamster in a wheel. Doesn’t the same thing apply to Dawkins as he applied to everyone else? Just because Dr. Taylor’s shirt is less important than Erdogan’s claims about women, doesn’t mean that Dr. Taylor’s shirt is unworthy of comment. If you think it is, go away and learn to think. The difference, I suppose, is that Taylor is a scientist, and no one should criticise scientists. The more Dawkins et co go on with this the less I think they are being rational about religion, because, clearly, they don’t know how to think.

  18. Brian E says

    The difference, I suppose, is that Taylor is a scientist, and no one should criticise scientists.

    I’d amend that to The difference, I suppose, is that Taylor is a male scientist, and no one should criticise male scientists.

  19. Crimson Clupeidae says

    A Hermit: I think we should amend that saying a bit for the Dick Dawk:

    Dear Mr. Dawkins: Think Global, Act Local, and stay the fuck off twitter. 🙂

  20. Kevin Kehres says

    Oh for fuck’s sake, shut up, Russell. You’re just embarrassing yourself.

    You realize that BOTH astronomical associations of relevance have gone on record saying that “the shirt” was inappropriate, right?

    Fucking hell, what an intellectual midget.

  21. johnthedrunkard says

    They are still stuck on the trivial observation that ugly shirts and perving on elevators are not magically equal to death by stoning or being shot for wanting to go to school. Well Duh!

    Anyone whose eyes were open would think through and observe that the ‘meta’ reactions, the avalanches of trolling misogyny, the threats of rape and murder, that follow merely REPORTING these incidents, are indistinguishable.


  22. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    It’s funny, in a not funny way, how many of our Thought Leaders resemble toddlers in the throes of a tantrum. “I’M SMART! SMARTSMARTSMART! /sticks out tongue”

  23. says

    Don’t even tell me these asshats even keep informed about what they declare to be “real problems” (let alone try to do anything about them, including simply spreading awareness), which they only care to mention a some kind of half-baked straw ammunition against people discussing sexism.

    Of course, if it were certain other subjects, I’m sure more than a few of these people would tell you to forget about what is going on elsewhere in the world, and take care of the equivalent problem at home first (because hypocrisy, where your tax money is going, being colonialist or meddling in the affairs of other cultures / sovereign nations, or just because reasons).

  24. John Horstman says

    I’m pretty sure both things are essentially the same problem – reducing women to sex objects, for pleasure and/or procreation. We decried The Shirt becasue it was doing the SAME WORK as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement – boxing women into a very constrained set of roles. So, no, actually, it’s NOT more important. Blackford ably demonstrates he has no grasp of the subject matter.

    Ah, and I see yazikus has noted the same thing.

  25. smhll says

    So… we need to rein in efforts to move toward full equality for Western women until women in Muslim countries get to catch up? Gee, yeah, that sounds fair. /snark

  26. sigurd jorsalfar says

    I suppose we could run everything past Blackford and Dawkins and Harris first …

    There’s no need. We already know their answer.

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