First, get rid of all the misogynists

OK, it’s not just conservatives. It turns out that progressive movements have a long history of informants blending in and disrupting the efforts of the group, and they’re usually men.

To save our movements, we need to come to terms with the connections between gender violence, male privilege, and the strategies that informants (and people who just act like them) use to destabilize radical movements. Time and again heterosexual men in radical movements have been allowed to assert their privilege and subordinate others. Despite all that we say to the contrary, the fact is that radical social movements and organizations in the United States have refused to seriously address gender violence as a threat to the survival of our struggles. We’ve treated misogyny, homophobia, and heterosexism as lesser evils—secondary issues—that will eventually take care of themselves or fade into the background once the “real” issues—racism, the police, class inequality, U.S. wars of aggression—are resolved. There are serious consequences for choosing ignorance. Misogyny and homophobia are central to the reproduction of violence in radical activist communities. Scratch a misogynist and you’ll find a homophobe. Scratch a little deeper and you might find the makings of a future informant (or someone who just destabilizes movements like informants do).

It’s a long article, but worth a read. It got me thinking back to all the warning signs we should have seen in the Brave Leaders of Atheism, who routinely dismissed those little problems of sexism in the movement as trivial obstacles to advancing the Cause…and who ended up seeing that movement rip itself apart.

Hey, also consider all the spousal abuse among the police. It would probably be a great step forward if they immediately fired everyone ever guilty of wife-beating.


  1. microraptor says

    If hey fired every cop who was guilty of domestic violence, there wouldn’t be a functioning police force left in the US.

    Not really seeing the downside.

  2. says

    It makes me imagine that if there had been an atheist/skeptical movement that was achieving some political success, the FBI would have planted provocateurs in the ranks, to sow dissention and confusion with trolley car problems.
    FBI plant: “Hey, I’m just asking questions…”
    FBI plant: “What if we all live in a Japanese hentai simulation?”

  3. says

    In Maryland in the 90s they passed legislation that anyone with convictions for domestic violence could not get a job that involved carrying a gun. Naturally, the police union stepped up and said “you can’t do that because you’ll lose 50% of the police force.”

  4. says

    Surely you are mistaken, PZ! Mano Singham assured me (about 3 years ago now, I think?) that this cannot be true! There was a Harvard study looking at tweets of progressives versus conservatives, or something like that, and found them to be no less mean than those of conservatives!

    Sorry…it was a baffling argument from Mano that left me dumbfounded and, honestly, I lost a lot of respect for Mano over his argument. (Progressives should strive to be better and so this study seemed to back my concerns that there is a misogyny problem in the progressive movement and was not a result in his favor like he seemed to think it was. It was also disappointing he was taking so much stock in just one study that analyzed tweets.) While it seems that Mano is a good guy, it was disappointing that he seems to be one of those progressives who is dismissive of misogyny, perhaps thinking, too, that it will work itself out when those “real” issues are resolved. But I do want to be clear I am simply speculating on this last part. I’m not out to set up a strawman of Mano’s position. But he was pretty explicit in his view that misogyny in the progressive movement was a nothing burger. (If his views have changed, then hopefully for the better!)

    Honestly, I’m not out to pick on your fellow FTB bloggers here…but I felt the need to vent my frustration with this since it seemed very on topic. And, to be honest, I think it’s important to know when your own house may be in need of “cleaning”…or minor repair…whatever analogy you think is most appropriate.

  5. silvrhalide says

    @4 You know that kyriarchy and intersectionality are A Thing, right?

    @2 Is there a reason you think that you are living in a hentai simulation?

  6. Rob Grigjanis says

    Leo Buzalsky @4:

    he seems to be one of those progressives who is dismissive of misogyny,

    Not even remotely the impression I’ve got from Mano’s posts. You should come armed with more than vague impressions before making this sort of accusation.

  7. Tethys says

    I’m assuming that Leo Buzalsky wasn’t around when Rebecca Watson said ‘Guys, don’t do that.’, and a bunch of supposedly progressive men lost their minds at the idea that they don’t have Carte Blanche to privilege their dick in all social spaces.

    Dear Muslima…..

  8. says

    “Hey, also consider all the spousal abuse among the police. It would probably be a great step forward if they immediately fired everyone ever guilty of wife-beating.”
    Oh, look, no more cops, and we can live in peace!

  9. xohjoh2n says


    The police will still kick the shit out of people and shoot them, but there’ll be no police to arrest them and bring them to justice any more. How could we cope with that huge change?

  10. logicalcat says


    They cope by not living in the neighborhoods that require police presence to begin with.

    But in general I agree. If you got a history of violence, a the very least make it harder to be a cop.