This thing is different from the other

What is “dogmatic feminism”? It turns out it’s not dogmatic at all, it’s stating things in strong terms. Well it’s too bad that Becky called it dogmatism then, because that’s a different thing, and much more blameworthy than stating things in strong terms.

A comment on Bad analogies are bad pointed out another strange claim of Becky’s, and I belatedly got curious enough to take a look.

Becky’s claim:

In Stephanie’s post addressing our episode, you in three words reveal your tacit agreement with one of the most egregious characterizations of atheist men I’ve seen condensed into one paragraph (the 5th, if you’re following the links), bolstering an us-versus-them mentality.

The “one of the most egregious characterizations of atheist men” she’s seen in one para is in comment 91 on Stephanie’s post, by Jacqueline S Homan of godless feminist. Para 5 says:

Yet, it never ceases to amaze me how many “rational” men who are “reasonable” resort to evo psych — the last refuge of scoundrels, a load of bullshit cooked up by professional bullshit chefs — in order to justify oppressing women and keeping the atheist community a privileged white ol’ boys’ club, where the only women that are welcome are women who don’t challenge men’s use of their unearned male privilege as a cudgel to beat women down and silence us.

But I “in three words” reveal no tacit agreement with that at all – my three words have nothing to do with that paragraph. I quoted a different paragraph – the second, not the fifth, and added my three words. That’s comment 97.

When the whole Elevatorgate thing erupted, what really bothered me the most was not the initial incident (although that was uncool), but the vicious misogyny and the threats of sexualized violence aimed at Rebecca Watson in response to her very reasonable request that guys not corner women in elevators. This same kind of vitriol was also hurled at Greta Christina.

And at me.

See? Nothing to do with para 5. Becky says my quoting a different paragraph and saying that the same kind of vitriol was hurled at me reveals my tacit agreement with a different paragraph. What an idiotic claim. There’s nothing else I can say about it, and I’m bored with this anyway. But really – it’s idiotic. Quoting one passage is not tacit agreement with a different passage. Pretending it is is just a silly gotcha move. That’s how flimsy her “case” is, yet they squandered two hours of talk and a blog post on it, all for the sake of gaining a bunch of ERVites hurling more vitriol at me.



Naming the problem

I keep meaning (and wanting) to get back to more usual subjects – violence against women, persecution of “blasphemers,” bishops telling everyone what to do – but more shrapnel keeps coming in, so I keep reporting on it.

I could do the other thing. I could ignore it. I could skirt around it, leaving names out.

But I don’t think that’s the way to deal with bullying. There’s been a lot of discussion of this lately, with regard to the bullying of gays, atheists, women – lots of Others – and there’s a pretty strong consensus that advice to “ignore it” just lets it go on. It’s not Buddhist or Tolstoyan or pacifist, it’s lazy and callous and status quo-protecting.

So fuck that. I’m being subjected to systematic bullying, as are other women who are talking about this, and no I’m not going to smile politely and ignore it.

So I’m sorry about the interruption and the monotony, but there it is. There’s a grotesque awkward situation here and it’s not my job to try to smoothe away the awkwardness by pretending it isn’t happening.

Squicked again

Oh good – this just in – another “bitchez need to stfu about all this sexual harassment shit” announcement, from a Dr Marty Klein.

He cleaned up the facts about the harassment to improve his case though. That’s naughty, Dr Marty Klein.

I recently attended the national conference of a large progressive organization. It was well-organized, stimulating, and fun. The people were mostly energetic, interesting, and friendly; it was a good mix of ages, sexual orientations, and divided almost 50/50 male-female.

I was eventually asked, as a sex therapist, what I thought about Sexual Harassment. Apparently a couple at last year’s conference had gotten friendly with a particular woman in her mid-30s. Eventually “Mary & John” handed the woman their card—suggesting quite clearly that they were “open” to “adult activities.”

The woman didn’t want to share this kind of fun, which is perfectly fine. But she was somehow “offended,” which is not.

See where he got the facts wrong? The couple did not “get friendly” with Elyse during the conference, at least not according to her account.

Then, at the very end, when everyone was preparing to leave, and I was packing up the Hug Me table, answering questions, and generally socializing with other speakers and attendees, thinking about how fat my check is going to be from Big Pharma when one man and his wife, whom I’ve become vaguely acquainted with on Facebook in the last week, approached my table. He said, “Here’s a little something to remember us by” and handed me an upside-down card. I turned it halfway over, glanced at it peripherally, then thanked them.

A minute or so later, I had a “wait… what?” moment, then flipped the card over and looked at it not peripherally to discover I had not been handed a business card, but a card with a naked photo of the two of them, with their information on how to contact them should I want to fuck.

See? That’s different, isn’t it. They didn’t get friendly with her and then “eventually” hand her their card. They came up to her at the very end of the conference, handed her the card face down, and split.

Is it fine for her to be “somehow ‘offended'” at that? What a fucking stupid question. How fucking stupid and unpleasant of this Dr Marty Klein to change Elyse’s account of the incident and then announce that it’s not fine for her to be “offended” in scare quotes – it’s not fine for her to be offended by two total strangers – apart from vague acquaintance on Facebook – sneaking her a card of them naked inviting her to contact them if she wanted to fuck, and then running off.

The name of his blog is Sexual Intelligence. That’s sexual intelligence?

The woman didn’t want to share this kind of fun, which is perfectly fine. But she was somehow “offended,” which is not. In fact, the woman felt that this invitation constituted Sexual Harassment, and she complained. Even worse, this previously loyal movement member then blogged and blogged and blogged about it, urging her female readers to stay away from the organization. Now the word is out to younger progressive women—don’t go to this group’s conferences.

Unless you want strangers slipping you an invitation to fuck and then running away. If you do, by all means go to this group’s conferences! But no, that’s not good enough for Dr Marty Klein – it has to be forbidden for people to blog about such jolly incidents, because to blog about it is disloyal. (And as for blogging and blogging and blogging – there are no words to describe such treason.)

So what did that young woman experience? Not Sexual Harassment, but Unwanted Sexual Attention. And when the woman made it clear it was unwanted, the attention went away. That should have been the end of the story. But if the recipient of a friendly, non-pressuring, non-institutional sexual invitation isn’t grown up enough, she (or he) will feel assaulted. And with today’s heightened consciousness—and internet access—she will have the option of describing herself as victimized to a large number of people.

No, the attention went away before she registered what it was. One could see that as considerate tact, or one could see it as creepy. I think it’s creepy. But in any case – some people (at least, some women) really don’t want to be the recipient even of a friendly, non-pressuring, non-institutional sexual invitation from complete strangers in a work situation. Not as a card with naked people having sex on it, not as a 4 a.m. invitation for coffee in a hotel room. Some crazy women just really want to be able to go places without being asked for sex. Dr Marty Klein apparently thinks that’s nuts. What a creep.

I did not compare TAM to Nazi Germany

I sent Travis Roy a message on Facebook. (He’s not a friend, but you can send messages to people who aren’t friends. That’s convenient sometimes.) He’s the guy who announced on that “Great Penis Debate” that I compared TAM to Nazi Germany, which is not true. I asked him where he got that piece of misinformation.

The only place I’ve seen it via Google is on a stupid wiki set up by ERV people (and places they’ve dropped it lately, such as Ask an Atheist). I’m curious about how much success they’re having in spreading malicious falsehoods.

Maybe for my TAM talk I’ll just say “I did not compare TAM to Nazi Germany” as many times as I can in the time allotted.

More people speak up

Update June 18 8:29 a.m.: I modified two items in Act II to reflect later discussion and amplification, including one of the two complainants. They didn’t see him taking photos up skirts, they saw him walking around with a camera on a monopole held at his ankle pointing up. The guy in question – Buzz0 – has also been commenting on the Facebook post.

One of the things I didn’t get to in the hail of shrapnel yesterday – a Facebook post describing two incidents of sexual harassment at TAM.

Act I:  TAM 2009

I notice an outrageously drunk conferee hitting on a non-conferee in the Del Mar Lounge.  She was at the stage of being quite anxious but trying very hard to remain polite.  I asked him if maybe the woman had had enough.  He was far too drunk to notice his inappropriate behaviour and became surly.  I watched from a distance.  He decided to kick it up a notch, leaned across the table, and licked the woman’s neck.  Myself and another gent physically restrained him and frog-marched him to his room.  Hotel security wanted to eject him immediately.  God knows why, but I intervened so he could stay.  He was a royal pain in the ass for hours while we babysat him in his room, and he remains bitter about the experience to this day.  I would not plead with hotel security if that were to happen again.

Act II:  TAM 2011 [Read more…]

Mike Gillis

Mike Gillis of Ask an Atheist decided he hadn’t been rude enough yet, when he called my objection to posting my email without permission “such a stupid pedantic distraction from Becky’s actual response.” So he commented again:

Ophelia, knock it off. Now you’re just looking for excuses to dismiss Becky’s arguments.

Actually no. I said what I had to say about her “arguments” in a later post. My objection to her publishing my email without asking is not an excuse at all, it’s a very real objection.

Not worth a post, obviously. I just did it by way of using The Hammer of Shame.

Why is she going there?

And then there’s a bunch of guys doing a video about how stupid and awful women who talk about harassment are. I haven’t watched it (and oh god do I not want to) but it’s partly transcribed, and what’s there is awful. It’s so awful, and the comments by one of the guys involved with it are so awful, that the combination had me slamming on the brakes and deciding (again) that I can’t do a talk at TAM.

But there are people who tell me they decided to go partly because I’m going to be there, and I would feel like a worm if I didn’t go, so I took the brakes off again. But this stuff is pissing me off like you would not believe.

Gilliel provides a relevant (to me) segment:

-“Ophelia Benson compared TAM to Nazi Germany” 11:12:15 Another blatant lie. I don’t agree with Ophelia’s post, but that’s not what she wrote. It simply isn’t. -“If Ophelia thinks TAM is like Nazi Germany, why is she going there?” Well, it might be because she never actually said that…(1:12:35)

Also, it’s because I was invited and I accepted long before DJ decided to do all this blaming of the women talking about harassment. The comparison I did make (which was not “TAM is like Nazi Germany”) came after DJ blamed the women talking about harassment (which could, for all I knew and still know, have included me).

But anyway – that kind of ERVesque bullying doesn’t make me look forward to going.

DJ should do something about all this. I still don’t understand why he thought it would be a good idea to antagonize a bunch of women (and a bunch of men) some of whom were part of the program at TAM, a few weeks before TAM. I think of the wonderful people who organized QED, and how welcome I felt before I got there and while I was there and after I left. I wonder why DJ does not operate more like them.