Some of the online atheosphere’s most noisome abattoir drippings all got together to lay out some questions they want “SJWs” to answer. (Some other folks addressing their foolishness here and here provide that context without giving them pageviews). Giving serious answers to unserious questions is a hobby of mine, so here are some interesting thoughts for uninteresting drivel.
- Do you realize that your war on language through political correctness has made you bedfellows with true rape culture? In other words, Islam, the world’s most misogynistic ideology.
“Realizing” something that isn’t true is an abuse of vocabulary at best. So no, we do not, because this claim, as written, is horseshit.
“Political correctness” is one of those phrases that tends to mean whatever its user wants it to mean, so I’m usually inclined to utterly dismiss people who would rather use it than own their exact meaning by using more precise words. This phrase was originally used as a conservative dogwhistle to indicate that the speaker was saying something literally true but politically inconvenient, as a way to designate the speaker as a courageous truth-teller against a censorious prevailing culture that wouldn’t permit the saying of certain things. That’s the role it serves here, only this time, conservative/libertarian atheists aim it at people who do things as banal as acknowledge and accept others’ genders when they wouldn’t, as a way to position themselves as people saying something obviously true that has somehow become impossible to say without backlash.
Out here in reality, of course, “politically correct” moves face enormous backlash, and the whole premise of the concept is reality turned on its head. It’s trivial to say the “truths,” which are to a one lies and distortions, that conservatives claim “political correctness” silences in all but a handful of spaces. There’s no bravery in flexing one’s “political incorrectness” to fling about racial slurs and stereotypes, or to trot out tired canards about “male socialization.” These are the norm in a terrifying majority of the places where one might say them. This includes such verbiage when it`s about Muslims and people from Muslim-majority states and cultures, as the continued prevalence of violent rhetoric and violent acts against these people in the west and elsewhere demonstrates.
Islam presents a trickier case than most, however. Particularly in the UK, strands of political Islam have taken lines very similar to the lines taken by political Christianity in the US and elsewhere. Leftists in the west are usually inclined to be passionately and correctly hostile to modesty patrols, the sequestration of women from the legal system to make them more easily abused, and misogynistic honor violence. But in this instance, political Islamists are sometimes able to parlay leftist defenses of multiculturalism into support for agendas that would be immediately recognized as hideously regressive if Christians were pushing them. This is an area where ex-Muslims in particular are placed in a multifaceted, impossible position: people misread their advocacy for the fair treatment of their ethnic kin as apologetics for their former religion’s grotesque misogyny, and misread their criticism of their former religion as advocacy for vicious, racist attacks on their people.
The cultural-relativist version of multiculturalism, where designating anything as “culture” means its ethical implications can no longer be discussed or analyzed, is an evil and destructive force that assigns power to the loudest, most patriarchal, and often most stereotypical representatives of a culture group, to be then imposed on the rest of its members. This notion must be combated with the same fervor and the same enthusiasm that anti-oppressive people aim at racist abuse, which right-wing anti-Islam rhetoric almost always is. Folks who rail about “political correctness” aren’t doing that, and one can tell by how they treat women.
- Why do you claim to speak for LGBT people, women, ethnic minorities, but when LGBT people, women, ethnic minorities disagree, you harass them?
“Harass” is another word I don’t trust when right-wingers use it. In my experience, it means “criticize” and sometimes “mildly inconvenience” when right-wingers use it, whereas when quote-unquote social justice warriors use it, it tends to mean “refuse to stop directly engaging with someone when that someone told them to go away,” with addenda for stalking and further escalations. With that in mind, I’ve already written about appropriate reactions to the diversity of opinion found between members of marginalized groups. Harassment, in the useful sense of the word, is not something that anti-oppressive folks can advocate against anyone without refuting their own anti-oppressive bona fides, so that tends not to last long. However, lots of things that thin-skinned right-wingers call “harassment” when they happen to them and “just desserts” when they inflict them on other people—refusing to grant someone a platform, publicly criticizing someone, advocating that institutions refuse to implement their recommendations, et cetera—are more than acceptable.
- Do you want women to be equal or do you want women to be a protected class. You can’t have both. If you expect society to treat women as equal with men, why don’t women have to take responsibility for their own safety?
CN sexual assault
This might blow your mind, but men don’t take responsibility for their safety, either. You’ll notice that emergency medical personnel exist, health insurance exists, weather services exist, and they’re not even close to alone among the ways that every human who ever interacted with another human lays some of the responsibility for their well-being on others. The whole political rhetoric behind “taking responsibility for one’s own” whatever is wrongheaded, and a useless frame for anything other than libertarian navel-gazing. What we should be talking about is taking responsibility for one’s actions, including actions like inflicting sexual violence on people. But in right-wing-atheist land, taking responsibility for the decision to rape someone plays a distant, distant second fiddle to placing all of the responsibility for sexual assault on the victims thereof, as though sexual assault were a weather hazard rather than a decision and an action that individual people make.
So the real question is, why are right-wing atheists so determined to keep men—and, let’s be real, they mean white cis able-bodied men—as a class protected from responsibility for its actions, by blaming sexual assaults these men commit on the victims of their actions via the rhetoric of “taking responsibility for one’s own safety”?
I think we all know the answer. She’s unmarried and her last name is O’Gyny.
More subtly and more charitably, there’s a reaction to mixed messages about means and goals in anti-oppressive movements here. The endgame is indeed a world where men and women function as equals, but the current state of the world is based on long, long ages of previously-built inequality. When part of why the world looks the way it does is a commanding plurality of the world’s people spending a huge part of their history laboring for European conquerors, it’s difficult to claim that it attained its modern state under fair and equal circumstances (but that doesn’t stop right-wingers from trying.) Similarly, when a rich assortment of institutional norms is built with women’s exclusion in mind and has been so for generations, it takes more than declarations of equality to render an actual egalitarian world. In the interim, women have to be directly uplifted, until new norms can coalesce. Similar logic applies to other marginalized groups. Taking issue with this reality tends to characterize people who hope to reduce the heights to which individual women can rise, by insisting that a “true” meritocracy will never, even transiently, reward more women than men, but never seeming to have the same problem with supposed meritocracies that rewarded only men for millennia.
- What do you think will happen if you leave your safe space?
I leave mine regularly. What happens then varies. Sometimes I go about my day unmolested and safe. Sometimes I run into and resist the urge to finish fights with bigoted family members. Sometimes bigoted family members let me know exactly what they think of me in situations I can’t easily flee. Sometimes I receive comments on this blog telling me to remove myself from this world in spectacular and bloody fashion and I mark them as Spam because Trash is too dignified an end for such slop. Sometimes I read the news and 50 of my kin are dead a few hours north of where I’d be living if I hadn’t escaped. Sometimes the doctor reads the top of my file out loud and I wince because of what he just told everyone else in the waiting room. Sometimes my parents use the wrong pronouns when I’m around, and telling them that outing me to the waitstaff puts me in physical danger, and they do it again and get angry with me for pointing it out a second time. Sometimes I’m at job interviews and all of the other people around are slightly unnerving in the way neurotypical people always are, but not enough to raise genuine alarm. Sometimes politicians tell me I’m a plague and I have to check whether they mean because I’m Hispanic, because I’m a lesbian, because I’m trans, because I’m an atheist, because I’m a Millennial, or maybe it’s finally something new?
Outside my safe space can go fuck itself until it starts being safe.
- How can you possibly justify the idea that it’s somehow racist to disagree with Black Lives Matter and yet it’s not racist when a black person tweets something like “Kill all white people”?
Ania already handled this one.
- Are you aware that the present is not the past? I’m not kidding. Are you familiar with the concept of linear time? Because you seem incredibly comfortable travelling back through to time to talk about how bad things were for women or black people or whoever and then by using some form of SJW magic you claim or imply that those problems in the past exist today? Are you aware that this trick that you’re doing is not working? Why do you think that would work?
Pah. Everyone knows time is a cube.
That “SJW magic” is called history, and as it happens, it’s a major explanation for why the modern world looks the way it does. Historical wrongs reverberate into the present, and many of those reverberations have yet to be silenced. It’s a form of right-wing political alchemy to see the massive wealth that white America has carefully sequestered over centuries and imagine that black America is inadequate for not having duplicated this feat in one generation. It’s an even bigger act of magic to try to claim that racism and similar oppressions are figments of the past. Such monstrosities as antiziganism and antisemitism, which many people imagine died in the 1940s, continue to mar the lives of millions of people, often actively pursued by the same right-wing assholes who wish we would gaslight ourselves into silence. Even slavery isn’t over, in Mauritania and in the United States.
But then, the right wing has a very…idiosyncratic understanding of history.
- Do you really think you can spend your entire life in a state of perpetual emotional immaturity? Do you actually imagine that you will be able to stretch out your adolescence for your entire existence?
Immaturity is a teaching tool. I cultivate it.
More seriously…you lot really should get better at distinguishing your computer screens and your bathroom mirrors. I’ll help: the one that water comes out of is not the one where you ridiculous manchildren who never stopped whinging about having to share the sandbox with your classmates should be having your self-directed pep talks.
I’m glad I could help.
- There are 13% more women in college right now than men. So if the whole goal of feminism is equality, shouldn’t we have some men-only scholarships in order to equal it out?
You’ll find that stat is not quite so simple, and breaks down very differently in different subject areas. You’ll also find that, even in subjects where more women than men start, the graduating class is often mostly men, by a lot. Institutional obstacles to completion that women but not men face include a horrifying amount of misogyny and sexual harassment from professors. My thesis supervisor frequently stated his commitment to having more women in his lab and usually has at least one female honors student in each year’s cohort, but I am the only woman to have gotten a graduate degree with him as a supervisor since I started in his lab in 2009, and he hasn’t taken on new female graduate students since, and he didn’t think I was a woman when he took me on. Two other women began degrees in his lab and gave up on graduate school before completing them. The reasons for that may not be him, but they’re there, all the same, and it takes a right-winger’s dutiful commitment to assuming the status quo is meritocratic in spite of contrary evidence to assume this is as it should be.
But all of that is beside the point. Quite honestly, every university in the world churning out only degreed women for ten straight years would only begin to put a dent in the stranglehold that credentialed men have on the world’s wealth, power, and influence, because of the obstacles that stand between qualified women and having our qualifications recognized and honored.
- If feminism and egalitarianism are both for equal rights, then why does one start with a gendered prefix and the other is entirely gender neutral?
One is a decent name for the ending state, and one is a name that acknowledges that building equality in an unequal world means raising some people up. One is, when right-wing atheists use it, a dogwhistle for maintaining the status quo as though the status quo were fair, and the other is an explicit acknowledgement that it isn’t and a call to fix it. Bringing up egalitarianism is a rhetorical dodge, not a serious point.
- What do you hope to gain by bringing back racial segregation?
When right-wing atheists use this particular bit of loaded language, they usually mean the establishment of spaces from which white people are disallowed. They fail to understand that the need for such spaces follows directly from the fact that people of color are disallowed from full, equal, and unharried participation in an overwhelming assortment of spaces, including most hobby groups, most dating sites, and walking down our own streets. Segregation never left, and the need for safe spaces of this sort follows from the rest of the world being unsafe for people of color…because of people like you.
So what do I hope to gain from “bringing back racial segregation”? Places where people of color can discuss their experiences without catering to white fragility. Parallel institutions that can generate non-white Ph.Ds when ordinary universities still have a long way to go. Places where people of color can share their hobbies and interests without the dump truck of racist bullshit the white masses of the “mainstream” groups keep around for such occasions. That’s what I want.
- When my granduncle was dropping bombs on London, did your grandparents get out of their bunkers to protest with signs that read Not All Nazis?
My grandparents were in Latin America, living under Fascist (Cuba) and American (Puerto Rico) heels, thanks. From what I remember, Dad’s line did pretty well under Fulgencio Batista, so it’s possible they were on the wrong side and only ended up on the right one because the Castros forced their hand.
But considering that #NotAllWhatever is your thing, I’m not sure what you’re trying to prove here.
- Why do you think every cis white male is born racist? Racism is a learned behavior.
And all y’all learn it. Do try to keep up. Racism is built into how mainstream / white society is shaped and structured. It’s in code words, TV representation, and the way teachers treat their students. It’s more than a “learned behavior,” it’s a massive societal installation that affects virtually everything, as more advanced texts will inform you.
- How can you possibly say the phrase “all lives matter” is somehow racist? It sounds like something the Dalai Lama would say.
For the same reason we can recognize that “egalitarianism” is a dodge and active anti-oppressive movements are doing the actual work. Notice who says which phrase, and how “all lives matter” only comes up when racists want to silence “black lives matter.” If all lives actually mattered to the mainstream, “black lives matter” wouldn’t be needed.
- Would you rather be right or popular? It seems like your primary objective is to score social points and get public validation. You speak publicly in the same way people write their dating profiles. Stop trying to demonstrate how awesome you are and get real.
While this kind of cookie-seeking and manipulation of the discourse for in-group adulation definitely happens in social-justice circles—I’ve been victim to it in the past—you’re projecting again. Most of us don’t do this for the fame. It’s way easier to get famous for cat videos or for being a colossal asshole than it is to get famous for blogging about how to make a better world. If we’re in this for notoriety, we are bad at it.
- So if a drunk man sleeps with a drunk woman, the woman is incapable of giving consent but the man is?
If they’re both impaired, then neither is in a position to consent, and they’d both be well advised to keep that in mind while they’re returning to their senses in the morning. This is one of several scenarios where open lines of communication between the two participants can mean the difference between one or both of them feeling used and violated versus regarding the event as a mutual indiscretion to pass into memory. Of course, the relationship, and consent agreements, between the two participants prior to this bout of drunken sex can establish in advance whether one or the other of them crossed a line.
- Is it really easier to spend your life trying to pacify the world and subdue all around you instead of accepting that you are the person who has to change?
Buddhism’s promise of the extinction of the self is dangerous, magical nonsense that should hold no currency among atheists, but here, it finds renewed use as a way for right-wing atheists to admit that what they stand for is the status quo, not some revolutionary truth. So thanks for that.
More directly, no, it isn’t. Most of us are doing what comes to us naturally. “Accepting” the awfulness of this world is literally life-threatening for me, and it is not an option.
- When I’m singing along with rap music is it okay if I say the word “nigga”?
- How do you reconcile your opinion that gender doesn’t matter or even exist with your need to invent new genders each day?
As for “invent new genders every day,” I have a strong suspicion that many gender concepts are names applied to nebulous zones in gender-space that don’t already have well-established and well-understood names. From there, the names those points are given last about as long, and propagate about as far, as their sources can manage, before fading away and getting replaced with new names. There are others that seem to mostly be inhabited by people who need to ease themselves into a more extreme deviation from their assigned gender and so temporarily occupy an intermediate concept, and still more that are particular to specific regions or to people with particular patterns of abuse and sheltering therefrom. In short, there are “so many genders” in part because you fuckers are so shitty to people with genders you don’t like.
- In your version of equality, will white men ever have a voice in society, or will white men always be too privileged to participate in discussion?
“Ever have a voice in society”? That’s cute, when white men utterly dominate this society and exert disproportionate influence over all of humanity. What you’re doing is pretending that POC-centering spaces are the same as “society” and complaining that you don’t get to speak over people in those spaces as well. Your game is noted, and the rest of us feel no need to play it.
It might well be that, in some halcyon future, no one is oppressed enough to see the need for, or benefit from, places where they can be away from, and temporarily safe, from their oppressors. Until then, there’s a need for spaces that exclude white men. It’s that simple.
- What makes you think that the power of censorship that you are so desperately trying to establish now will at no point be used against you?
I fully expect to be called out for some shitty thing someday. I’ve erred, often in situations related to my own oppression, and more experienced activists set me straight. It’ll happen again. And I look forward to it, because being corrected means I get to stop being wrong about something. That’s not censorship. It’s learning.
- Why is it that if a woman dresses sexy or even topless in public, you support it, but if a female video game character is dressed sexy, then you want her clothed more modestly?
Women in impractically revealing or sexualized clothing is a hallmark of male power fantasies, and comes part and parcel with stories that do not take their women seriously as characters. This can be discomfiting for female players, who have to deal with a character for whom making her appealing to male viewers was more important than making her even a little interesting for the people who would identify with her. That subtext comes with and follows many, many, many depictions of mostly- or fully-unclothed women, and creates environments where women are mostly or entirely valued for our aesthetic appeal rather than our skills, personalities, or anything about us that a photograph, statue, or sex doll couldn’t provide.
Most people don’t go on dungeon-raiding adventures in their lingerie. We don’t expect video-game men to do that. But that’s what we expect women to do in video games, because the medium still hasn’t figured out that designating a huge fraction of the human race as eye candy rather than potential players isn’t a sound marketing strategy.
- What is your favorite song to sing really loud when you’re confronted with a different point of view?
I rather like this one.
- Why are you afraid of dissenting opinions? Your continued attempts to silence all opposition by smearing them publicly or labelling their content as hate speech and having it removed only serves to insulate your bubble even more and maintain your echo chamber. It also prevents you from taking on new information. Different points of view that are sometimes superior to yours, which tends to happen whenever I talk?
This is the same question as #20.
- What is reverse racism? Like, what the actual fuck is it? It’s just racism, right?
“Reverse racism” is white people whinging about people of color not wanting them in PoC spaces; or about people of color getting hired for anything that isn’t, to the white person’s mind, demeaning; or about that one time that a person of color was mean to a white person. At best, it describes anti-white prejudice held by people of color, which isn’t bigotry (because it utterly lacks the institutional power to create and enforce systemic inequality), but a survival tactic in a hostile world.
- Do any of you people actually remember all the pronouns? You know the list, right? The one with 76 fucking genders?
Nope. But there’s a trick to figuring out which ones are useful to keep memorized. Are you ready?
The ones that correspond to people you want in your life.
Because getting pronouns wrong after learning them is a very good way to let someone know that you don’t actually want them in your life and are prepared to physically and psychically endanger them to demonstrate that antipathy.
- Why do you feel entitled to control what artists and entertainers are allowed to express? Why do you think your sensibilities should be placed above the sensibilities of actual creators?
This is also the same as #20.
- Have you ever considered that using the terms “racism” and “sexism” as haphazardly as you do to describe everything under the sun that makes you uncomfortable devalues the word to the point of actually hurting the people who actually suffer from real sexism and real racism? Have you ever fucking thought of that?
It’s the other way around. Your overly restrictive definition of oppression limits progress and prevents understanding. As noted earlier, bigotry/oppression are much, much more than what people like you think they are, which tends to be limited to murdering people while shouting “I am doing this because I hate you and I hate you because you are a [marginalized person]!” over and over into a recording microphone. But that’s by design, because impeding progress and gaslighting people about how their own experiences work is your right-wing MO.
Your last question is instructions to suicide using a common and extremely unpleasant method, so I won’t bother with it, except to note how it reminds us that none of these questions were delivered in good faith.
It was fun answering them, though.