Hang Your Hat on a Goalpost

There’s a common trope out there that those of us talking about sexism and harassment in the secular and skeptical movements have never provided any evidence that this stuff is really a problem. I’ll likely follow up on that more in other posts, but I wanted to share an example of how the conversation goes when someone engages one of these claimants.

In this case, it happened over at CFI’s blog, on a post where the comments are now closed after personal attacks from the usual suspects. The claimant is “Oliver”. I presume that’s Oliver Crangle aka Jaques Cuze aka jay, who has been engaging in a good bit of anti-feminist arguing in several places, including the slime pit. [Oops. Realized that without benefit of caffeine, I was confusing Crangle with Edward Gemmer, who made a similar path through the blogs. As far as I know, Crangle hasn’t been active at the pit.] Here’s where he started:

If you believe in equality between the sexes you are not necessarily an ideologue. Almost everyone involved in this dispute believes in equality. If you can find anyone in the skeptical community who disagrees with equality between the sexes I will eat my hat.

Fascinated by the claim, I responded:

What kinds of inequality do you consider hat-worthy? Are you hungry when you run into the guy who says girls are innately worse at math? How about the one who continues to repeat that women aren’t as interested in casual sex two years after disconfirming research has been published? If those don’t count to you, what does? What kinds of belief in specific inequalities amounts to a general belief in inequality to you?

They didn’t count, of course.

For me to eat my hat you would have to find someone who actively advocates rape, oppression, the exclusion of women from the skeptic movement, someone who actually refers to women as “f**k toys for privileged white men” or openly declares they think women are not people too.

Lucky for my hat that no such people exist.

Espousing an ignorant stereotype about women and maths or making a sweeping generalisation about womens views of casual sex (probably based on radical feminist demonisation of men who seek casual sex) does not equal an opposition to equality between the sexes.

Ah, so we were no longer talking about people who don’t believe women are equal. I noted his change.

So your hat isn’t really on the line for inequality, just for straw monsters that think roaring is smart. Good to know.

He pulled out his PC card.

If someone makes the observation that white men tend to do be at a disadvantage to black men in the Olympic 100 metres; regardless of the truth or ignorance of such a claim it doesn’t imply that that person believes that white men don’t deserve equality.

It’s just an observation, admittedly it’s an observation which upsets the politically correct status quo but it doesn’t say anything about that persons actual views on equality.

Despite all of the cries of sexism and misogyny emanating from your radical feminist faction (other than some internet trolling) you have yet to provide any evidence of there being a serious -real world- issue in the skeptical movement.

My hat is safe

He wanted someone advocating for different treatment based on those differences. So I found him one of those. It didn’t take long. Six minutes, including posting my comment, going by the time stamps on the comments.

Oliver, do you really think these sorts of poor and repeatedly refuted arguments just come up out of the blue? No, of course they don’t. They’re use to justify why fewer women are speakers in our movements: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/13/welp-im-all-convinced-and-stuff-now/

You know, inequality.

While I slept, Oliver and another commenter decided (for some reason) that I had said PZ was arguing for inequality. Yeah, I know. Oliver did, however, take the opportunity to state his personal bona fides.

I have never once supported the oppression of anyone or expressed a belief that women are not people and I resent the idiotic smear tactic of pretending that is my view when I have plainly said no such thing.

I believe in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality.

So I set him straight.

J.D. and Oliver, try looking up “math” in the comment thread I pointed you to. I certainly wasn’t saying that PZ was using any such argument.

Then, oh, but reasons.

I’m not going to trawl comments. Internet trolls do not a case make.

If they did I would agree with Rebecca Watson that there was an epidemic of sexism, misogyny and rape threats but internet comments by anonymous trolls does not constitute evidence.

If you can produce a singe real world example of a person saying women should not be speakers at skeptic conventions or are fuck toys for privileged white men I will eat my hat.

No such people exist so my hat is safe

Because, you know, none of the work of our movements happens online. The interactions that happen here aren’t “real”. And the person who uses his real name and links to his Facebook page to tell us that there should be fewer female women speakers is an “anonymous troll”.

The comments were closed before I had a chance to point out the absurdity and continued shifting of goalposts. They were, however, open long enough for Oliver to make some unilateral dictates.

As for the subjective offence of pornography, gendered slurs or “objectification” EG:sexual attraction -from a man to a woman- without personality appreciation?

I’m afraid those complaints will just have to be shelved as what is offensive to you might be funny or sexually arousing to others and we can’t force society to conform to the taboos of the most sensitive among us. 

So, ladies, Oliver has never said that women aren’t people. He’s just decided (no, of course you don’t get any input) that you’re going to have to deal with people who decide they’re attracted to you treating you like an object without a personality instead of a real person.

But at least his hat is safely up there on that cart-mounted goalpost.

Hang Your Hat on a Goalpost

30 thoughts on “Hang Your Hat on a Goalpost

  1. 1

    If you linked him to a case of a real world example of a skeptic saying ” I actively advocate rape, oppression, the exclusion of women from the skeptic movement” and a prominent atheist speaker who actually referred to women as “f**k toys for privileged white men” or openly declared they think women are not people too, he would complain that it does not count since he read about the account on the internet and nothing that you see on the internet is related to wider trends in society, donchta know.

  2. 2

    They complain about the shifting definition of language whilst trying to subvert it for their own needs.

    Suddenly, there is deep esoteric meaning to the word sexism which differentiates true, real-world-consequential-sexism and online-trolling-sexism (which is apparently literally ineffectual).

    I would imagine that sexism and sexism are probably pronounced differently. Apparently all of the letters are silent in the latter sense.

  3. 3

    He must believe that anonymous sexist trolls are really decent people who for some bizarre reason are only pretending to be assholes. Maybe as an exercise in creative writing? But even if this ludicrous case were true, the comments still cause harm – perhaps even more so because they are anonymous. At least a person can try to avoid known assholes.

  4. 4

    Sounds a bit like the conservative Christians who insist they aren’t anti-gay, or even emphasize how much they “love the sinner”, all the while while arguing how horrible it would be to give gay people full rights.

  5. 6

    August Berkshire: I would venture so far as to say that someone who pretends to be an asshole online is, in fact, an asshole. The Internet isn’t something that changes them in some fundamental way; these aren’t all stand-up Dr. Jekylls with a digital Hyde-potion. They’re people who restrain their asshole tendencies in polite society and lower their inhibitions online.

    I don’t think decent people get the urge to be assholes online. And I know you’re trying to portray their mindset.

    I think it’s a bit like the homophobic preachers and politicians who talk about how “we all” have sinful same-sex urges: it reveals far more about them than it does about anyone else.

  6. 9

    If you can produce a singe real world example of a person saying women should not be speakers at skeptic conventions or are fuck toys for privileged white men I will eat my hat.

    David Futrelle has made quite a gig out of providing examples of such people.

    Now is that one hat per misogynist or just one hat total. Can we request that it be a fedora?

  7. 10

    There’s a common trope out there that those of us talking about sexism and harassment in the secular and skeptical movements have never provided any evidence that this stuff is really a problem.

    One of the things the critics dislike was the implementation of policies against sexual harassment at conferences. Haven’t the reporting procedures already provided evidence that this does happen? I thought I read about it last year, but I can’t remember where.

    It will be interesting to see how the numbers change from year to year. Won’t this be the second year for some policies? Can we expect a downward trend?

  8. 11

    If you can find anyone in the skeptical community who disagrees with equality between the sexes I will eat my hat

    He thinks somebody would admit that? Even the KKK don’t admit they “disagree with equality.”

    There are systemic problems, unconscious biases and stereotypes that sustain inequality. But these defensive idiots keep trying to characterize our arguments as “You called me a sexist! How dare you!”

  9. 12

    Stacy, Just noticed your avatar for the first time. I was just reading the doubtful guest to my daughter, it’s her favourite night time story at the moment! Jay strikes me as being as obtuse, he sits with his nose to the wall and is seemingly deaf to whatever is said. Although I’d rather put up with the guests fits of bewildering wrath than Jay and the doubtful skeptics at the pit.

  10. 13

    Sooo, it’s a general belief in equality, while at the same time believing women are genetically dumber in terms of math? That’s confusing.

    By the way… I think people should be aware that radical feminists would never get to have a blog in FTB. Calling Zvan and Watson radical reminds me of those republicans who call Obama socialist.

  11. 15

    I’m never quite sure what people mean when they talk about radical feminism. I mean, when I look at actual definitions of radical feminism, it doesn’t seem like some terrible thing that should have people running for the hills.

    Perhaps someone could enlighten me?

  12. 17

    Eristae, Stephanie:

    I happen to think “radical feminism”, as far as your average self-interested sexism-apologist goes, equates to “anything said or done by a feminist that forces me to think or may require me to behave in a manner I’m unaccustomed to”.

    People are afraid of change; they’re also afraid of any implication that the things they do (and perhaps have always done) are harmful or even just unwelcome. Combine the latter with the threat of the former and you may well experience civil, intellectual-sounding Crangling as your interlocutor defends their right to not do anything different. Of course, that’s one of the mildest reactions you’re likely to get. He didn’t even mention the Nazis (or Stasi, or Vagylons, or Braleks …)!

  13. 18


    Radical feminism means both failure to shield from criticism the things that people get off on and a belief that “the personal is political”. And down that road lies discomfort and possibly the need to change behavior for a lot of people. You thought asking people not to call you cunt triggered backlash, wait until you ask them not to jack off to “Deep Throat” and “I Can’t Believe You Sucked a Negro! 7”.

  14. 21

    oolon, nice to hear your daughter is discovering Gorey at a young age. I just love his stuff. I wish her joy. (Of possible interest: he illustrated Edward Lear’s The Jumblies.)

    The pit’s wrath is bewildering, all right. And their obsessiveness rivals the Guest’s too.

  15. 22

    Cheers Stacy, I’ll look that one up!

    BTW I just read the full comment thread Stephanie refers to… Comment #29 made me lol, although it didn’t stop SkepticReport from derailing it should have!

  16. jay

    You’re a dipshit Stephanie and you’re not skeptical and you’ve fallen for the fallacy of egotism. Yes, there can only be one Oliver in the entire blogosphere that thinks feminism is problematic and that internet feminists largely behave like assholes and who would comment at a blog that you read.

    Yes, CFI is so small and so insignificant and you are so huge (in the Sunset Blvd and Katy Perry sense) and Feminism so correct that anyone posting as Oliver at CFI about feminism’s ills must be the same Oliver.

    A good guess is this is how you go about the rest of your life too, spreading misinformation as truth, never understanding how full of shit you are. Dunning Krugering your way through life.

    I’ve never posted at CFI, and that Oliver isn’t me, and you’re a dumbass, and you’re not a skeptic, you’re mainly just a small time prick, an idiot, and a professional victim.

    Go whinge some more.

  17. 25

    jay, just for the record, “egotism” isn’t a fallacy. You might want to brush up. While you’re at it, you might want to check the difference between “truth” and “presumption”.

  18. 27

    I hate goddamn whingers, too, Jay. They just whinge and whinge the day away

    Slightly off -topic: my favorite part of that comment section was when that “steersman” fellow took up the challenge to produce evidence that feminists argue that “all men are rapists.”

    Of the examples only two were generated within the last several decades. One was a post by Greg Laden where he was apologizing for making the statement, and it was clear he meant all men were potential rapists (still a weird post, by the way), and the other was from a very strange blog that only had two posts. I read both posts several times, and I’m fairly certain it was meant as satire or parody.

    Whatever the case may be, the examples sort of proved the point, but that guy was so proudly belligerent of his discoveries that he reminded me of a cat setting a mouse carcass on the front steps and expecting praise.

  19. 29

    What I come away with from this thread is that I could probably do pretty well if I made a couple hats out of smithfield ham, instead of cured leather. Bacon’d be a bit floppy. Or do you think hats made from seaweed would sell? It’d suck to get caught in the rain in a seaweed hat, though a hat made of smithfield ham would survive just fine (other than making its wearer very very interesting to dogs) …

Comments are closed.