Shuffling feet: a follow-up

Okay, first of all: wow. I have written more than 700 posts on this blog, and I have never seen a response like I had on Monday afternoon. At the time of writing, my post about my objection to anti-black racism being used to deflect the “Shroedinger’s Rapist” argument has elicited 330 comments, and received nearly 20,000 hits. I’ve been quickly outed from my quiet little obscure hideaway at the middle-bottom of the FTB frontpage, and have been placed in front of many fresh pairs of eyes.

So, hi.

Second of all: there is apparently a need for some clarification. I was trying to make two separate points in that piece, and there seem to be a number of people who simply did not pick up on them. The first point is that connecting Shroedinger’s Rapist to anti-black racism fails to address the central question of whether or not we want women to feel more comfortable in freethinking circles; if we do, then we need to make some changes. Men being aware of how their (our) seemingly-benign behaviour may be seen as threatening is one specific change we can make.

The second point is that linking the argument to anti-black racism ignores many of the experiences of black folks who are constantly making similar adjustments to make white folks feel more comfortable. Failing to recognize this fact only highlights the ignorance of the speaker, and it is not particularly pleasant to have my story used in the service of an argument I despise by a person who will never experience it.

There were a number of other comments and misconceptions that I will attempt to clear up in this post. [Read more…]

Shuffling feet: a black man’s view on Schroedinger’s Rapist

This morning I made a reference to the fact that men are often assumed to be potential rapists as an example of how sexism negatively affects men as well as women. The argument, commonly referred to as “Schroedinger’s Rapist”, goes something like this: because you can’t know for sure if the stranger approaching you in a dark alley or other unsafe place is a rapist or not, it is generally a good idea to be on your guard. Men can enhance their interactions with women by being aware of this mindset, and adjusting their own behaviour accordingly.

I have often heard from people making an anti-feminist argument that Schroedinger’s Rapist is profoundly sexist and unfair. After all, most men do not rape – why should every man be treated like a rapist? Isn’t that discrimination? How can you claim to be opposed to sexism, yet promote a fundamentally sexually prejudicial idea? The next step is often to draw parallels to racism – is it fair to treat all black people as potential criminals simply because, statistically speaking, there are more black criminals than white ones? Isn’t that racist?

As much as I hate it when white people use anti-black racism as a cudgel with which to beat other people, I can understand the conundrum as it is expressed. The problem with it (and the reason why it’s so bothersome to hear white people talk about anti-black racism) is that it fails to address the question in a meaningful way. To demonstrate what I mean, I’d like to share a couple of personal anecdotes from my own life. I’ve never shared these stories with anyone before, and I’m not sure why because there’s nothing particularly embarrassing about them, and they’re extremely useful in this context. [Read more…]

A “fruity” personal anecdote

Sometimes I worry that those of you who know me exclusively from the blog (who don’t, for example, follow me on Twitter – a medium on which I am exceedingly silly) think of me as a very serious, somber person. I try to balance my natural inclination toward jokes and frivolity with the fact that many of the topics I discuss here deserve a mature discussion. While I do my best to maintain a kind of balance, I am never sure how successful I am.

If you are interested in getting a better understanding of who I am outside the blog, I am going to relate an anecdote from my personal life. I keep a bowl of fruit on my desk at work because I get hungry and it helps break up the day. My favourite fruits are apples and bananas. Because I am a ridiculous creature of habit, I always have a banana in the morning and an apple in the afternoon (it’s nothing at all like OCD; it’s just a thing I do because I am borg and fear change). Usually I go shopping on a Monday and buy exactly enough of each to last me through ’til Friday.

What this means is that on Thursday afternoon there is always 1 banana and 2 apples in my fruit bowl. And every Thursday afternoon I position the apples on either side of the banana and LAUGH MY ASS OFF.

This is who I am. I am a giant 6 year-old making cock-‘n’-ball sculptures out of my food.

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It’s a special day for another reason

I almost forgot to mark this, as anniversaries don’t really mean much to me, but it was December 25th, 2007 when I finally ‘came out’ to myself as an atheist. I had been a de facto atheist for a few years before that, but it was during Christmas mass, seated next to my still-Catholic parents, that I finally turned that corner in my mind and said that, in all likelihood, there were no gods.

I’ve talked about this in greater detail previously.

I still attend Christmas mass with my family – an event that fills me with dread in the weeks leading up to it, and angry nausea for the 90 or so minutes I am actually forced to sit in a church without the option of saying the word “bullshit”. Every time I attend is worse than the last. The latest assault to the sensibility was the new hyper-cultish language in the Catholic service. That, coupled with the homily (“do you allow God to be bigger than yourself? Can you live a God-centred life?”) raised every skeptical hackle I possess – I definitely pulled my David Silverman face more than once:


It is, I suppose, a sign that the skeptical arguments are persuasive – I cannot participate in, or even be present for, a Christian worship service without seeing a brainwashing death cult. It casts an appalling light on the earnestness and gaiety with which young people participate in the readings and hymns; my mind immediately bemoans that fact that this energy and enthusiasm is being wasted in the service of an imaginary friend. Imagine if that hour spent verbally jerking Yahweh off (in the hope of being splashed with a droplet of his divine spunk after we face our own ‘happy ending’), was instead spent by every person in that church doing something nice for a friend or neighbour – what a Christmas that would be!

If there is any similarity between theist paradise and church worship, YahwAlladdha could not devise a better hell for me than sending me to heaven – I can’t help but imagine that this is indeed “a boot stamping on a human face – forever”. Now that I am free of these obligations (my annual Christmas attendance notwithstanding), I revel in and savour my atheism as it has put me securely in the driver’s seat of my own life, free of the cloying spectre of clergical busybodies attempting to insert their cold fingers into every private inch of my thoughts.

I am now the maximum number of days away from having to go back to church that I will be for the whole year. That is a tiding that brings me both comfort and joy. Hoping that this day, and all the ones to come, are merry and bright.


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