Not lord of the manor

Tessa Kendall has a post on Bullies and predators, expanding on Michael Story’s post yesterday.

Because of the stupid libel laws in this country, the Offender cannot be named publicly, which makes him harder to deal with.

I’m one of the hosts of London SitP, along with Carmen and Sid. When I started going to SitP, very few women came. Sometimes I was the only woman there at the King’s Head in Borough. Over the years, we’ve worked hard to encourage women to come and now a lot do. We want them to feel safe and comfortable. This isn’t a major problem, we don’t want to blow it out of proportion, but we do want to act responsibly and nip it in the bud. [Read more…]

Your Hit Parade

I thought that was the last of it, but there’s this adorable song that was performed at TAM.

Dedicated to James Randi, JREF, and all clear-thinking individuals who are fond of dirty words.


He said “Come up for coffee”
Before she reached her floor
Now, some folks who have vaginas don’t show up here anymore
Well, perhaps that guy was wrong
But can’t we all just get along?

Now, Professor Richard Dawkins
Said, “Really, what’s the harm?
He never put his cock in or even touched your arm.”
Well, even smart guys get stuff wrong
Can’t we all just get along?

Soon the blogosphere went ape-shit
And that ape-shit hit the fan
Some cried, “Hey gals, just chill out,” and some said “Kill the man!”
We all stood our moral high ground,
Using 20-dollar words
Lots of people talkin’
But nobody bein’ heard

Yes, Dawkins was a dick,
And he shouldn’t get a pass
But honestly, some chicks should pull the sticks out of their ass
It’s not the weak against the strong
It’s not Fay Wray against King Kong
I heard last year some girls got grabby With Paul Provenza’s schlong!

But here’s the point of this whole song:
Can’t we all just get along?

Dividing bridges

Kristjan Wager has a good post on the Deep Rifts. He’d rather have the rifts than no rifts at the price of entrenched sexism.

So, to sum it up, there are deep rifts in the movement, and I think it is fine. Not only that, I feel more comfortable being in a smaller community within the movement, which doesn’t include people whose opinions and behavior I find repugnant. I can still appreciate the good work done by those people (like I did with e.g. Hitchens) without wanting to be part of the same community.

Fewer but better Russians. (I kid, I kid.)

Massimo Pigliucci also has a good post, [Read more…]

The Oppressed Sisters and their Approved Male Chorus

The second part of problems with Why it’s totally fine to call The Sisterhood of the Oppressed Feminazis and Femistasi and totalitarian.

Remember the Women in Secularism conference the other week? How that conference was hailed by the Oppressed Sisters and their Approved Male Chorus!

Wow. I don’t have much more than that.

Well wait, one thing occurs to me. Paula’s counterpart Liz Cornwell was at that conference. Liz and I were both absolutely electrified by the talk that Wafa Sultan gave, and excited about possibilities for RDF to help her get the word out. It seems odd that Paula is willing to be quite so rude about the conference. She’s angry at “the Oppressed Sisters” for dividing the movement, but that remark doesn’t seem very collegial.

But also, wow. She might as well call the “Approved Male Chorus” pussy-whipped – that’s about the level of that remark.

Far from encouraging new women to get involved, all this hysterical and unjustified insistence on how dangerous our conferences are for women, how hostile our movement is to them, the indignities and humiliations they will be exposed to should they dare to set foot over the skeptical threshold could have been calculated to scare them away.

That’s all nonsense. Nobody’s been saying that. That’s ridiculous.

DJ Grothe was, predictably, shot down in furious flames by the Sisters when he dared suggest such a thing recently, yet Ophelia Benson herself would have us believe she’s been scared away from attending a conference because of the exaggerated and over-the-top messages she got about the terrible risks she’d face if she went.

So for the second time she all but calls me a liar, and she presumes to be able to know what it’s like to get a peculiar email that could be read as an exaggerated warning or as mockery or as a threat.

It’s interesting that she calls me out by name twice. I guess she really didn’t like me when we met at QED. She certainly hid it well. I liked her a lot, despite the fact that we’d disagreed sharply over elevator issues and she’d defriended me at Facebook. I must be gullible!

Nazis and Stasi and bears, oh my

Dear oh dear, lots of new assigned reading first thing in the morning; how will I ever catch up.

There is Rebecca’s post on being called Feminazis and Femistasi. (I read that yesterday actually, but late in a long and rather nerve-racking day, so I’m treating it as new.)

There is Paula Kirby’s eagerly-anticipated (since she announced it yesterday) Google doc “Sisterhood of the Oppressed” (gee I wonder what that could possibly be about, and what its take might turn out to be).

There is Alex Gabriel’s unanticipated and lovely mash-note to Freethought blogs. Alex’s note is especially pleasant because it includes detailed accounts of what he likes about a whole slew of particular blogs on the network, which makes a nice contrast to people who simply rant endlessly on Twitter about “FTB” as if it were allonething. It also offers the comradely suggestion to tweet #WeLoveFTB. It offers it for the same set of reasons as the one we were talking about on the video yesterday. (That was only yesterday? It feels like weeks ago now.)

All of these people are tremendous, and so are many of their co-bloggers from the little of them I’ve seen. But none of them is the biggest reason I love FtB.

The biggest reason is the same one other people have been criticizing them recently: that they speak out so often, and so eloquently, on feminism, queer and racial struggles, politics and other Causes That Aren’t Directly Related To Atheism. That while primarily they’re an atheist network, they’re a collective of atheists with other opinions, where atheist discussions on justice, ethics and politics can take place – especially where the perspectives of the marginalized are included.

If we had a word for atheists doing this, what would it be?

Oh yes. ‘Freethought’.

The criticism of religion is a very much older beast than RDFRS, or CFI, or FreethoughtBlogs itself. It’s older than the skeptical movement writers here belong to, and which focuses (don’t get me wrong, correctly) on attacking religion epistemologically.

In Europe, the historic home of freethought, and elsewhere in the world, there exists a long and esteemed tradition of thinkers and writers who called out religion for being unjust and oppressive: traditionally, feminists, Marxists, queer theorists and all the other famous bêtes noires of the Daily Mail have been the first to bash religion. There’s clearly no real dichotomy, and many people who identify with these groups also foreground science, but I relate to that atheist tradition at least as much as to Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris. And I love FreethoughtBlogs – I adore it – for representing that contingent.

So here’s my invitation to you, if you love it too. Now that I’ve set out what makes that set of writers special to me, I’m not going to try and stop people calling them bullies or totalitarian. They’re entitled to their opinion – but so are we, and while the FtB crowd are, frankly, being bombarded with abuse, I think we ought to share it.

Remember when Tory politicians said we needed to privatise health, and #WeLoveTheNHS trended? I think it’s time for #WeLoveFTB.

Tweet it. I’m about to. Tweet it so that everyone from that network knows we support them, and find love as well as hate when they search for FtB.

Thank you, Alex.