Something funny happened in my and Stephanie’s trackbacks today. On Adelaide Atheists’ Meetup group, one of their male members wrote up a post asking women to endorse the Skeptic Women petition. The thread was titled, “I wish to promote the statement below issued by a group of women atheists/(true) skeptics and ask women to consider supporting their position.”
Let’s ignore the “no true skeptic” for a brief moment here, and the fact that the two women replying both strongly disagreed — and that the poster and two other guys argued with them, explaining to them why they’re wrong.
There’s a lot of mythologizing going on in this thread, and there’s no way it’s going to be possible to catalogue all of them and debunk them all. So I’m going to post some highlights.
The atheism plus argument can be framed this way.I don’t feel safe in the atheist movement.Whether or not my concern is correct doesn’t matter.The mere fact that I feel unwelcome and unsafe needs to be addressed.Why do I feel this way?What is going on to bring forth such feelings?If there truly isn’t anything there,what am I misinterpreting?My concerns cannot be dismissed simply because some other men don’t share my concerns.
To recapitulate,it doesn’t matter if my feelings have any basis in fact.The fact that matters, is the expression of my feelings.
Anyone can play the ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’ game -which is why it’s such a dangerous game to play.
This isn’t the “atheism plus argument”. The “atheism plus argument” is that a certain group of people were tired of having this fight over and over and calved off into their own private space where they could be free from the harassment, and more importantly free from the apologetics for the harassment, so prevalent in movement atheism.
And the argument is not about whether or not a concern of safety is the problem. It’s that there are baseline levels of sexual harassment and sexism and mistreatment of women in society, and that the so-called “rational” communities are no better than that baseline background. And that they SHOULD BE. Especially if we intend on improving the general inclusiveness of said community. Just like bars need bouncers to throw out the harassers, lest women stop going and thus men stop going and thus the bar goes out of business, our community spaces need to be cognizant of and intolerant of harassment, throwing harassers out on their ears by banning them from our internet communities, and by our conferences providing harassment policies just like every other public event in the world to give these people experiencing harassment a framework by which they can have their grievances taken seriously.
The fact that there’s so much pushback against harassment policies, and so much pushback against the idea of being intolerant of harmful actions by community members, suggests that the community has no interest in being safer than the background levels of sexual harassment and sexism. And the fact that much of this pushback comes from the very top — from the leaders of the organizations themselves. THAT’S the problem. Not that it’s particularly unsafe, but that it has no interest in being safer.
One of the women said of the signatories:
I am also familiar with many of the names who have signed it and they are some of the most unpleasant commenter’s on atheist blogs. Many of them have been banned by blog writers because of their ranting, insult filled comments. They insist that they have been ‘silenced’ (as I notice they refer to in the statement) but some of them have their own blogs and are still very active online. I just don’t believe they are credible.
I ALSO know many of the signatories at the bottom of this statement, many strong intelligent women who I am familiar with and who I respect, women such as : Karla Porter, Scented Nectar, Sara E. Mayhew, bluharmony, Renee Hendricks, Alissa Puurunen.
For you to casually describe some of the women who have endorsed this statement as “unpleasant” without being specific and naming those women that you find unpleasant, you are indirectly casting aspersions on all of the women listed. And I wonder, do you find these women to be “unpleasant” simply because they hold a different political position to you and/or are critical of some of your core beliefs?
No, I think she found them unpleasant for being insulting and for, after being banned (at unspecified blogs) for being insulting, ranting about being silenced.
I know them too — some of them, anyway. The names I recognize are real pieces of work, and have been instrumental in giving the pro-harassment crowd some genuine XX chromosomes to give their anti-feminist ravings legitimacy.
Yes it is true that some of them are bloggers and do in fact have ‘a voice’, but the point that they are trying to make is as follows:
some very powerful and influential women and men (people who hold office or authority in powerful and influential organizations and groups within the atheist/skeptic community), are acting and using rhetoric which indicates to all that they actually believe that they are speaking for ALL women.
Personalities such as Amanda Marcotte, Melody Hensley, Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Zvan, Rebecca Watson, PZ Myers, Adam Lee, all have a big following and can shout over all other voices through their powerful organizations, forums and blog space networks. These personalities definitely do not speak for all women and ,luckily, their popularity, ‘clout’ and influence is exponentially declining.
Proof? Citations? Bah! We’re skeptics! And TRUE skeptical women agree with us!
Sadly, none of the names mentioned are any bigger than the big-name leaders who are actively campaigning against feminism. If their “clout” is declining, it’s because they’re tired of waging these endless battles with entrenched dogma that has poisoned the very top of our movements. But I’d still like to see some numbers.
We have seen these ‘personalities’, and others of their ilk, attack their adversaries and critics through the power and positions they hold in nasty ways such as silencing tactics, doxing, lying, defaming, banning, smearing, boycotting etc. and by removing or trying to remove their critics from office. They are currently campaigning to have Ronald A Lindsay removed from his position as CEO of the Centre For Inquiry (CFI) because of a talk he gave at the Women In Secularism II conference which, in part, they did not agree with.
I have a whole rant stored up about the diminutive term “doxing”. Spellcheck doesn’t like that word. There’s a good goddamn reason. But I digress.
Nobody to my knowledge is seriously campaigning to have Ron Lindsay removed from his position at CFI. The speakers’ petition, the open letters, the various calls for action, are all generally demanding an apology and assurances that WiS3 will happen despite the antifeminist sentiments evinced by Lindsay. Yes, individuals may have called for his resignation, but it’s certainly nothing like organized, nor anything like the majority. More like a tiny minority.
Not that I particularly disagree with the idea that a CEO of an organization attempting to sabotage a fundraising event for his organization — to air some of his personal petty grievances in public, undercutting the speakers there and the morale of everyone who was there and might have been willing to open their pocketbooks — is grossly unprofessional and hurt the organization’s bottom line. In just about any other organization that would result in a very rapid shuffling of that CEO out the door, perhaps with a courtesy golden parachute.
But I personally just asked for an apology. So did many of the aforementioned names. So unless you want to pony up with evidence, this is a mythology, just like every other mythology built up about asking that people not be represented by the worst, most unskeptical and most generally odious members of our community.
The women who are signing this statement are simply saying ” you do not speak for us…we speak for ourselves”
“And therefore you will too, if you’re any kinda skeptic. Skeptics NEVER agree with other people! Don’t you agree with me?”
Feminism is not about equality. It is about empowering women, just because they are women, and they build the biggest, most vile straw-man in the patriarchy. The theocratic rulers of the dark ages were sexist, and were about masculine power. Contemporary society is about equal oppurtunity. Regardless of race, class or gender. Claiming that thousands of years of oppression even happened, if it did, is just a pathetic excuse to push your own agenda.
“Therefore, go sign this petition, you silly women. Unless you’re not skeptical enough!”
Liam, my father indoctrinated me with the mirror image of the myth you referred to, so I think we can both agree
I would prefer to decide for myself whether or not I agree with what you say. But that’s what most wives would probably now expect their husbands to do…
Oh snap! Put that uppity bitch back in her place! I know you’re all but telling her to agree with you about matters that affect her more than they affect you, but there’s no hypocrisy in telling her “I THINK FOR MYSELF WOMAN”.
Perhaps “Philosophy” is just a cute name for “Patriarchy Studies” since it seems dominated by men.
When there is any funding at all put into debunking the grossly built straw-man that is the patriarchy, I will be sure to send you a facebook update with the link. Until then, more money will be poured into “Women’s Studies” by pussy-whipped men, who are only out to please their wives.
Yeah. Fucking beta manginas, wanting their partners to be happy. They should be dominant alphas and take charge of their womenfolk. (Also, patriarchy doesn’t exist, and I’m sure science will science up some proof one day.)
Thankfully, the creator of the meetup group recognized that people are talking a lot of crap here, and are apparently talking a lot of crap because they don’t have the definitions of the words in question, so he linked to Patriarchy for Dummies and Strawprivilege, suggesting that people actually try learning the real arguments instead of fighting with poorly-built straw dummies all day.
I pity the poor women in this group who have to deal with shit like that with barely a reprieve. They must feel
totally unsafe exactly as unsafe as in every other group.
Oh, and as a coda — Mark Senior, the guy who posted this thread asking the REAL skeptical women to please validate the petition against all those uppity feminists ruining our community by writing petitions, also himself signed the petition to have Stephanie Zvan removed from Atheist Voices of Minnesota.
He signed a petition to remove Stephanie from her leadership role in a BOOK.
Clearly this guy knows his petitions! And clearly he’s not engaging in trying to remove people from roles!