Mallorie Nasrallah’s misguided defense of serial harassers and misogyny in the skeptical community

Please note that at Mallorie’s request, as Google indexes are returning potential business contacts to this page when searching for her name, I have retitled the post. The URL can’t change for indexing purposes, but the title itself has been changed from ‘Mallorie Nasrallah says “I like it when #mencallmethings”‘ — playing off a Twitter hashtag that was popular when the post was written.

That’s the only takeaway message I can get from this open letter to the skeptic community, which apparently came as a direct response to her active participation in this discussion at Greta’s.

In the comments on my ill-received but well-intentioned (but as Classical Cipher is fond of saying, intent is not magical) post regarding whether we should differentiate between a person being “a misogynist” and “exhibiting misogynist behaviour” yesterday, Mallorie Nasrallah chimed in. She claimed that the people involved in dissenting from the idea that there is a patriarchy, or that certain actions are misogynistic or enforcing of that patriarchy, might not dissent out of privilege, or out of misogyny in the sense of hating women, but just because they came to different logical conclusions.

She then went on to pen this open letter, which she sent to me via Twitter apparently hoping that I would amplify it. I didn’t. She is apparently friendly with some far bigger movers and shakers in the skeptic community though — Penn Jilette tweeted a link to it a few hours later, lending a very large audience to her letter in a hurry, most probably because he likes the idea she expresses.

Jen McCreight has already torn this letter to shreds for what it is, as has Megan Wells. It is a gigantic strawman argument about what women are actually complaining about with regard to the sexism in the community, and how awful it must be to men who hear that the way they treat women is wrong and needs to change. Sure, it certainly must be awful for a person to find out that those jokes they make about anally raping a fifteen year old girl are unacceptable. It must be so horrible to discover that that time you told Greta Christina to fuck herself with a knife, that it might have been slightly impolitic. But that’s not what this is about.

There is evidently a misapprehension of the problem in Mallorie Nasrallah’s experience. The problem in her estimation is not that there are honest-to-goodness misogynists and misogynist-enablers in the community, who in aggregate make a substrate that new members of the community would find to be unwelcoming. The problem in her estimation is, rather, that pushback against this endemic sexist behaviour is too scattershot and too willing to lump all men together; that too many otherwise good men who just want to joke and cajole with people and embrace the gender roles that say males should be dominant, sex-seeking cavemen, will be caught in the crossfire if an all-out war between feminists and misogynists breaks out.

Of course, I think such a “war” is already happening, and while the feminists are fighting by consciousness-raising, by showing people instances of misogyny and sexism and disturbing epithets hurled as a matter of status quo, the folks on the other side of the fence are complaining primarily about how politically correct we have to be if we’re to avoid ticking off those histrionic wimminz and because of it we risk a slippery-slope toward a dystopian future of fascism and thought police.

I have said that I have a lot of sympathy for people who have had differing experiences and that I believe we should be wholly accurate in defining what people do, damning them for exactly what they are and not what they might be. Others find calling people what they might be to be fully acceptable given their personal experiences of just how much of this nonsense they’ve had to fight. The flaw I exposed in my thinking yesterday was one of expecting that everyone should have the same patience as me, that everyone CAN have the same patience as me, and that reasonable people might not recognize patterns of behaviour quicker than I could. This is, in effect, a failure of empathy. Despite that flaw of over-patience, of giving the individual trolls too much rope, I am extremely comfortable in saying the following.

The hashtag #mencallmethings is effective because women on the internet have been systemically attacked for being women for a very long time, and the offenders are primarily men. Some men have joined the field to say that yes, this is a real phenomenon, and yes, the offenders are primarily male. I am one of them. I have also been called a number of things by many of the same men, who just want to continue shaming women for being women and don’t like that I’d dare agree with these women that they’re out of line. Some women have joined in on the fight as well, for the other side, having decided that they like the gender roles and the crude sex-based humor and the various nasty horrible things that people sometimes say. The stuff that they try to pass off as “just a joke”, that regardless makes a knot in the stomach of most of us who happen upon it while reading casually.

I suspect that the women like Mallorie aren’t this type of woman. I suspect she is the type of woman who just doesn’t see these instances of the more horrible types of sexism and misogyny we point out all the time. And by that, I do not mean that she has not seen them pointed out to her. She sees these instances of egregious trolling and it evidently does not register for her. She apparently read the Reddit thread that I’ve covered in context of Rebecca Watson’s role as whistleblower, where Lunam was told to “bite the pillow, I’m going in dry”, and “blood is nature’s lubricant”, and they evidently did not impress upon her psychology as sexist. They did not impress upon her psychology as rape jokes, but rather as “just a joke”. They did not suggest anything but collegiality with a girl whose post was “about her asshole” (rather than about her Christmas gift), and attempts to tell them otherwise are entirely because the offenders are men.

To wit:

If your jokes or teasing manner offend some people, so the fuck what? Someone will always be offended by jokes, never let them make you believe that you are guilty of something worse simply because of your gender. If you want to make boob jokes thats fine by me, you have after all been making dick jokes since you were old enough to make jokes. Plus they are funny as hell.

To you, Mallorie, maybe being told that you’re a shrivelled old cunt is just fine, probably because it hasn’t happened to you. Maybe being told that you should stop complaining about people calling you names because “it’s just going to antagonize us” leads you to side with the people who are causing the offense. Maybe you’ve got some sort of Stockholm syndrome going on and you think if you just make nice with all the nasty fucks out there who can’t see a woman on the internet without calling her a cunt, maybe you’ll be exempted from that kind of thing. I don’t know what your experience is, but you’re denying that other women have had other experiences, and you’re denying that any of these things that women have been called, primarily by men, are damaging.

And then there’s this gem, which is beautiful in its multifaceted nature, exhibiting both right-headedness and simulaneous strawmannery. It is this gem that the howler monkeys will find particularly useful and heartening and comforting, and this gem which, while ultimately correct, is a significant point of outrage among feminists.

If you want to go free and uncensored among a group of like minded people, if you want to try to acquire sex from a like minded person, awesome, do it, sex and friendship are amazing. You are not a monster for wanting these things. You are not a monster for attempting to acquire them.

It is a point of outrage among feminists because nobody ever said you can’t try to hook up with like-minded individuals. Not even during Elevatorgate, where the whole point of the conflagration was that you should break the ice in some way other than by using shameless predatory tactics on a person (who, incidentally, just got done saying she would not be receptive to them). Get to know them first. Find out if they’re like-minded in matters of hooking up. Realize that your attempt at hooking up has consequences for the person that is your target as well as yourself.

Attempting to hook up with members of a group of like-minded individuals is perfectly fine. It’s good. It’s beyond okay — it’s laudable. If you can only hook up with people by first telling them to fuck themselves with a knife, though, I’d really rather you stay out of the general public and hole yourselves away with like-minded individuals.

If Mallorie Nasrallah is okay with this kind of person, if she would want to hook up with someone who would call her a twat for expressing an opinion that doesn’t match his, or who ignores what she wrote altogether so he can call her ugly instead, she’s welcome to do so. Telling all skeptic men that there is, in fact, no problem with sexism because she, one woman, is okay with the sexism she sees — that’s something else entirely.

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Mallorie Nasrallah’s misguided defense of serial harassers and misogyny in the skeptical community
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281 thoughts on “Mallorie Nasrallah’s misguided defense of serial harassers and misogyny in the skeptical community

  1. 201

    I did apply schroedinger’s rapist to a mugging scenario upthread. Notice how race isn’t part of it. Schroedinger’s rapist is about risk assessment from the point of view of a likely target or someone in a compromising situation. That’s all it is. I honestly do not understand what everyone has against it (for what little it’s worth I grew up in high crime area, have seen my home broken into multiple times and been mugged, so maybe that’s blinding me to something).

    Most everyone does risk assessment and I see nothing wrong with taking that into consideration. To me it seems as silly as complaining about someone standing a few steps back when someone else goes up to an atm machine to withdraw money. Or getting irritated that the person withdrawing money is somewhat apprehensive of them when they stand to close.

    Thats the thing, it is not just a risk assessment, there is nothing wrong with risk assessment, nor is it likely to be mentally avoidable. The problem is when one, as this blogger did, start dispensing advice to the target of the prejudice (in this case men, though it could be applied to blacks in the scenario) on actions they should take to disprove the hypothesis that they are a rapist. It is a guilty until proven innocent scenario, and the burden is placed on that person to change their behaviour.

    I could write a blog post that asks “black men, if it is night time, and you are walking towards me, this raises flags that you may be interested in assaulting me, in this case it is best for you to cross the street”

    “as muggers often have guns hidden under jackets, please do not approach me to ask me for directions, if you are wearing a jacket.”

  2. 202

    Sorry, my computer was lagging out and i accidently submitted.

    I was going to say, the actions above could be both completely innocent or hostile, and while some of the advice the woman gave on the blog was perfectly legitimate(the email one for example), a lot of them were based purely on her interpretation of what are often completely innocent actions. It places the obligation on other people to change their behaviour, because it can subjectively be interpreted as threatening/rapist.

  3. 203

    I think the perfect language to describe *my* issue with it is:

    It demands that the group of people in question, in this case men, prove a negative.

    Anyone fighting religion should understand the fallacy in that.

  4. 204

    Ok, I’m going to throw this in here as a frighteningly relevant real-world near-time experience.

    About 4 1/2 years ago, as I was walking to the grocery store at the end of the road I live on, a car pulled up next to me and the guy in it shouted me over. I, innocently, thought maybe he was lost, and went to the car window. He asked me if I would get in the car and go have sex with him. In disbelief I shook my head, and walked off. He then followed me, shouting at me if I wanted paid for it. When I continued walking, he continued following in his car, shouting more and more violent and abusive things, culminating with his following me right to the door of the grocery store shouting how I was a stuck-up bitch who should be grateful he’d wanted to fuck me and what was wrong with me, anyway.

    In the early evening of the 2nd of January, this year a 15-year-old girl was dragged into a car at the top of the road I live on, and raped.

    Yesterday they arrested a man and charged him with the abduction and rape, and published his name and picture in the local press.

    I’ll give you three guesses who it was. The first two don’t even have to count.

    In light of this, if I say something like “uh, guys, here’s a hint: if you want to talk with me about something, don’t pull up next to me in your car and shout at me, because I find it, like, creepy”, then you, Mallorie Nasrallah, seem to be saying that I’m being some kind of delicate oversensitive type making undue imposition on men for asking that. Going back the the whole “how to talk to women” thing in the atheist/skeptic community which has rumbled on since Dublin, you seem to be saying to the male community “don’t change your behaviour for what she says, or for what anyone says!” and you further seem to be saying that men in general should be excused from having to alter their behaviour when women (note, there is also a plural there) say “yeah, really, that’s creepy, please find a different way to approach” on the basis that the poor men are (heavens forfend!) being asked to demonstrate a negative, i.e. that they are not creepy attackers, via behaviour.

    I personally think that it is actually sometimes very appropriate to say to people who are members of a historical high-risk group, “this is what creeps and attackers do. We’re not saying that everyone who does it is a creep or an attacker, but if you want people to be sure you are not a creep or an attacker, please don’t do it.” Are you saying that this is illegitimate because part of risk-assessment is based on group membership? Are you saying that it is illegitimate because it is asking a group in general to alter behaviour in order to cause less distress to members of another group? Are you saying that it is illegitimate because people might argue over the degree to which behaviour ought to be altered, rather than there being a clear bright line that every single person can agree on? What?

    I’ll tell you this, though; the way your open letter comes across to many people, and unfortunately the way it will be used, is that “a woman has said that she likes the jokes and getting hit on, therefore it’s totally ok for guys to make ‘offensive’ jokes around women and hit on them whenever”; your preference will be taken as a universal approval, and will be used as part of the ammunition to shout down the women who say “actually, that is not ok for all of us!” I’m perfectly willing to believe that you don’t mean it that way — but seriously, keep watching, that is the way it is already taken in some male quarters, and that is the way it will be used. Consider the possibility that there is a problem with how you have expressed it.

  5. 205

    Mallorie et al, you might like to look at these statistics regarding who is religious and who isn’t.

    United States: total atheist, 3.6%
    United States: male atheist, 6.0%
    United States: female atheist, 1.2%

    Canada: total atheist, 6.6%
    Canada: male atheist, 8.7%
    Canada: female atheist, 4.6%

    So yes, in theory, there should be roughly double the men in any atheist room in North America, maybe three times as many. But that’s not what we see. We’ve gotten closer to parity with the general population as far as speakers are concerned (and thank goodness for that). But I am under the impression that con attendance is still skewed way out toward men, further than these numbers for the background populace would suggest.

    There’s also the question of how many women are not reporting their irreligiosity, because they don’t want to be shunned? Is underreporting a problem? Would it be gender-skewed, e.g. would males be more likely to be able to declare their atheism without social repercussions?

  6. 206

    I believe it was later self-identified as another case of feminism’s failings.

    heh

    until about two and a half years ago I was a libertarian atheist who hated feminism and thought it infantilized women. I may not be someone you wanna cite as a shining example of feminist thought as I hesitate to call myself one and have been more influenced by anti-feminist thought than by pro-feminist thought.

    @Liam

    you very well could. I’d throw in a few personal bits of advice (1. if you’re in a group of 4 or more do not stop 11 year old boys on the subway and ask them what they have in their pocket 2.when with a group of friends do not stop to stare at people who walk past you and then whisper to one another secretly) but seriously it really isn’t the same situation.

    If you get mugged it could be by anyone, that white couple who live in that one busted up apartment down the street. The Mexican kids who think they’re all gangsters. That group of black guys who hang around the train station after midnight. Risk assessment for mugging isn’t going to be about guarding yourself against blacks or whites or latinos or asians or southeast asians or what have you. They’ll be guarding against people.

    A woman guarding against rape will be guarding against men. There’s no way around that. While women can rape at most only 2% of rapes are woman on woman. So it isn’t as if it’s a prejudice or discrimination going on.

    As for the advice. Meh. Take it or leave it. It isn’t as if there’s something malicious behind what was said. At most you can criticize it for being somewhat presumptuous but I feel that’s mitigated by how dismissive you can expect most people to be regarding sexual harassment regardless of the feelings of the harassed.

  7. 207

    Part of my concern with how “flirting” happens in the community is that, when someone is told that a certain situation is generally uncool, or “creepy”, e.g. cold-propositioning someone in an elevator at 4 am, certain factions go absolutely batshit insane saying “how dare you tell us we can’t flirt with any girls ever”. When nobody said that.

    If your definition of flirting involves putting out feelers, there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Putting out feelers involves actually conversing with the person like they’re a human being.

    The entire “problem with sexism” that the community has, is not one of “every man is a sexist”, or “every man is a potential rapist”, or anything remotely so universal. It is that there are certain people who will take the merest suggestion that a man’s privilege to flirt does not override a woman’s right to feel safe as a gross violation of the man’s rights, rather than that man’s privileges.

    As for the racist analogy of a black man approaching you, this does not work statistically. Where something like 22% of women have been sexually assaulted or raped, 99% of them by men, decent human beings who are also men will go out of their way to make women feel safe. I think once the number of people affected by a certain class of violence reaches a certain undefined critical mass, there’s a tipping point where you do have to go out of your way to make women feel safe. And by “go out of your way” I mean do not intentionally do things that are known predatory behaviours, like walking faster to overtake a woman who’s walking away from you in a dark alley, or catching up to them to get on the elevator with them then asking them to your room for “coffee” when they don’t know you from Adam. For instance.

    If black men were anything near that level of criminality, where 22% of people were mugged by 99% black men, there might be a problem. But those statistics don’t pan out, and the analogy is by definition not analogous enough to be useful.

  8. 208

    Luna, I encourage you to read my replies both here and elsewhere. I was not talking about rape, or even really sex that much.

    I was talking about “female oriented events” and such. Yes I also want guys to know that we all have different boundaries, so yes I included that.

    On my god damn birthday I had a man offer me a ride, my house was about a mile away from where I was, it was a little past noon (which I accepted it was fucking hot out and I did not want to walk home), he tried to…how do I say…purchase me. When I said no he was pretty irritated. The situation resolved itself.
    That was September of 2011, only a few months ago.

    I was legally emancipated when I turned 16, while walking to work an ethnic scary looking fellow also tried to purchase me, I suddenly realized I was pretty alone in this world. It was a little scary, he followed me in his car, much the same story you shared and so on. I grabbed a rock and threw it at him, he left me alone. Fucking sucked.

    I have dozens of these stories (the above one has some funny side notes, like when I tried to scare him off by saying I was 14 years old, he proclaimed with joy “14 dollar?!?!?!?!?!?!”) My awesome story of hitchhiking through Chicago 2 days after my 18th birthday, Male student of mine at a workshop insisting I was “a fucking waste of a woman”.
    At a night club I worked at as a photographer I had a man show me his dick when I refused to acknowledge him. and on and on and on and on.

    However these stories say absolutely nothing about the atheist / skeptic community.
    If that sounds harsh I am sorry, but its true.

    I am sorry you have had to deal with this, I am sorry I have had to deal with it, I am sorry anyone has.

    But “being more welcoming” doesn’t usually mean “not raping” It usually means a room full of atheists, acting like using pink decorations will make women want to come, or offering a monthly “girls night out”. Or maybe if they didn’t talk about video games so much, or swore less. And any number of inane degrading things you can think of.

    It was largely of this that I was speaking.

    If you read my responses here or elsewhere you will see more elaboration on this subject. Or just re-read my letter with this in mind.
    I am not trying to say I never addressed sex, or flirting, I did, but it was with this as the subject, not rape.

    (I was really trying to avoid the “Ive been bothered by men too” thing, but it seemed the only way to address this poster).

  9. 209

    But “being more welcoming” doesn’t usually mean “not raping” It usually means a room full of atheists, acting like using pink decorations will make women want to come, or offering a monthly “girls night out”. Or maybe if they didn’t talk about video games so much, or swore less. And any number of inane degrading things you can think of.

    I think if anyone tried to “pinkwash” the atheist community, the feminists, myself included, would scream bloody murder.

    I don’t personally think that the atheist or skeptic communities have higher than “general population” levels of sexism or misogyny. I do, however, think that we have higher than average levels of pushback against sexism and misogyny. Our problem is less that there are sooooo many sexists, than it is that we can’t rout out the ones who take their metaphorical dicks out to get attention like that guy in your nightclub without risking all sorts of people coming down on our heads about how we’re being so divisive. Where decent human beings say “holy shit, don’t make rape jokes at a fifteen year old”, and lots of decent human beings downvote that nonsense, others defend it as perfectly acceptable and normal to treat newcomers to the community that way and fight tooth and nail when people like Rebecca Watson point out that it’s going on and people aren’t doing anything about it.

  10. 210

    @Mallorie

    The problem is, the entire sexism issue blew up over a woman saying “look, don’t do this thing, it’s creepy.” The response to her saying that blew right past creepy into some icky hinterland that we both agree is unacceptable. But what she said in the first instance was a response to being creeped out by experience.

    I brought up the example I did precisely because you have stated you are not ok with rape. (And I would hardly expect you to be.) Therefore, it was plain to me that you would be not-ok with the behaviour of the guy in the example. I wanted you to draw the line with me between what happened to the 15-year-old girl a week ago, and what happened to me with this same man 4 1/2 years ago, and to understand that even though *I* wasn’t raped, it would be perfectly reasonable for me to see what happened there, and say to guys in general “in the future, please don’t do that [behaviour associated with potential rapists].”

    I think you kinda missed the point.

    Hitting on women who have expressed a preference not to be hit on is a creepy/potential attacker behaviour. Treating women like it’s ok to hit on anyone any time anywhere creeps a lot of women out, and that is why men especially are asked to, y’know, talk to people to get to know them before they decide it’s ok to hit on them, and to get over the idea that it is absolutely a male prerogative to proposition for sex without any idea of whether or not it may be welcomed. That’s what the whole original shitstorm was about; the fact that women atheists with strong voices are often being either ignored or shouted down sort of fell out from that, and that was subject to later attempts to address.

    When you reduce it all to statements like “The idea that you have to set time aside to cater to me, because my vagina imbues me with some special needs is becoming increasingly insulting
    or
    If your jokes or teasing manner offend some people, so the fuck what? Someone will always be offended by jokes, never let them make you believe that you are guilty of something worse simply because of your gender. … If you want to go free and uncensored among a group of like minded people, if you want to try to acquire sex from a like minded person, awesome, do it, sex and friendship are amazing. You are not a monster for wanting these things. You are not a monster for attempting to acquire them.” — then you are again not only missing the point of what happened and what was asked, you are still trivialising and dismissing the experience of a lot of other women.

    You also haven’t responded to my questions about why it wouldn’t be legitimate to ask people to change their behaviour if and when their behaviour creeps other people out.

    You haven’t really responded to my point about how your open letter is seen and how it will be used; but I don’t know, maybe there isn’t much you can actually say to that. I would like to know if you are thinking about how it comes across, and whether you have noted at all what I and a number of others have pointed out: your type of response is actively hunted out and used by sexist dickhead types as being the excuse they need to justify hitting on any women, any time anywhere. In fact, you do specifically say:
    With all of my heart I beg you: Do not change. Do not change for me, do not change for someone else. You’re wonderful, just the way you are.” This is the MRA manifesto, I’m afraid; they are perfect, it is only the women who have a problem with their behaviour who have a problem, full stop.

    Not ok.

    ..
    But since you’ve responded to me, I would like to bring up another, somewhat unrelated point, which has been bothering me about your responses here and elsewhere.

    Several times you’ve mentioned that if women don’t show up for the awesome talks and science and stuff, why would they show up for a women-only night or using pink decorations (and who the fuck ever suggested that?). Sure, why would they. You’re right, they wouldn’t. On the other hand, there IS a problem that women can show up for the awesome talks and science and stuff, and then simply not stick around because they are tired of being hit on constantly and belittled when they try to say “stop that.”

    I had almost the opposite problem, actually, with much the same result. There is a local “Skeptics in the Pub” club. I’m even a member, nominally, on facebook. I showed up to a couple meetings, and I was ignored. Totally. Nobody would even talk to me, beyond the bare necessity of polite greeting, and even then only when I spoke first; and, I’m sorry, but it seemed like that was because there were only two other women there, and they were both 18-19-year-old university students, and every male in the room was vying to drool into their laps. (Cue the “see, you were just JEALOUS remarks, were I to mention this in any open forum.) The issue was that they were all a bit, shall we say, occupied with other concerns than the awesome talks and science.

    I’m completely unwilling to pass any judgement on them for whether they enjoyed it or not, but I can say that as a tired-looking middle-aged woman who was there with my husband, no-one was even remotely interested in introducing themselves, much less holding a serious conversation about climate change skepticism. And I gave up. Women were plainly mostly to be considered as sexual objects, and I wasn’t a sexual enough object — and therefore, I didn’t even exist. Piss on that for a timewaster. So yeah, I showed up. I just didn’t stick around.

    Would I go again to a women-only event? Maybe, if there were enough women to have one; maybe I would get some decent conversation that way. I think it’s inexpressibly sad that I even have to consider that.

    You really, honestly, come across as being very dismissive of that kind of experience. I’m sure you don’t mean to be. But that is how it comes across, and that is why people have reacted to you badly.

  11. 211

    I think if anyone tried to “pinkwash” the atheist community, the feminists, myself included, would scream bloody murder.

    Well, at least we agree on this. 🙂
    That doesn’t mean people aren’t talking about it. When people I know personally, who are not talking about rape, etc. Start talking about making the movement “more appealing” what do you think the conversation is? I am not trying to be aggressive here. I’m serious.
    Because while you might see such phrases and think they are about “no rape”, in my experience, quite they are about pandering.
    Its fair that I wanted to address this. I would love to see more people address it, and good news for everyone, most of the emails and such that I have gotten have been on this very subject. Good things like “Yes, absolutely, I am here because I love science, not because I was bribed with cupcakes!” etc.
    Sorry, trying to keep it positive.

    I don’t personally think that the atheist or skeptic communities have higher than “general population” levels of sexism or misogyny.

    More good news!

    I do, however, think that we have higher than average levels of pushback against sexism and misogyny.

    Sad news. But ok, lets talk about this. And lets use what we know as skeptics.
    If you hear something three times from the same source it is as good as hearing it once from three independent sources. I am not saying that is at play here but maybe it is worth considering?
    How much do we know about other communities? What is our control? What is our expectation, I mean literally. We need some qualitative way to see where we are, and where we want to be. I doubt there will be a consensus on the latter, but thats ok, at least it gives us something more than anecdotes.
    What do we think the source is (ok some people think ladies like myself are the source). But in a less personal ambiguous way, why would we find higher levels of sexism among this group specifically? Not what is the behaviour, why the behaviour in the first place.
    Additionally, perhaps its also worth considering that with only negative things spotlighted we do have a skewed perception of the actual levels. Or perhaps we are guilty of another well known behaviour, which is being absolutely terrible at noticing patters.
    We know humans do these things, and we know the cure, qualitative data. Objective data.
    Until then, I wont make such bold statements, because I dont know. And I hope you understand that this is fair.

    Our problem is less that there are sooooo many sexists, than it is that we can’t rout out the ones who take their metaphorical dicks out to get attention like that guy in your nightclub without risking all sorts of people coming down on our heads about how we’re being so divisive. Where decent human beings say “holy shit, don’t make rape jokes at a fifteen year old”, and lots of decent human beings downvote that nonsense, others defend it as perfectly acceptable and normal to treat newcomers to the community that way and fight tooth and nail when people like Rebecca Watson point out that it’s going on and people aren’t doing anything about it.

    But you can. And you have. Yes people are going to disagree, but we know enough about human behaviour to understand why. Lets use that. Mindless perpetual condemnation will only go so far.
    I dont think Atheist Reddit is indicative of the skeptical community. And I need to be able to say that, and show my work.
    Namely because once something starts “trending” it shows up on the main page of Reddit.
    Then it is no longer an internal issue. The internet is a horrible way to judge human behaviour, and it absolutely is not “internal”.
    If you want to attempt to bring down the hammer on the internet assholes as a whole, thats fine, but its a different conversation.

    More than that, if 5% of us want to go on the war path against sexism, thats not because 95% want to go and be assholes to women.
    That is not a fair assumption.
    From where I stand it has always seemed its because another 5% are more concerned about what schools are teaching kids, and another 5% are just really excited about astrology, and another 5% are worried about what islam is doing to Europe, and another 5% are worried about bunk medical crap, and another 5% are out to stop female genital mutilation, and another 5% to stop male genital mutilation, and another 5% in debunking the historicity of the bible, and another 5% are worried about the government endorsing religion, and another 5% about external women’s issues like abortion.
    And on and on and on. and somewhere in there you have an unknown percent that additionally feel entitled to some vagina. And those guys are fucktards.
    Some people feel its a waste of time, thats their prerogative, some people dont feel they have much to add to the conversation, some people dont think it exists, Some people are afraid to voice their position for any number of reasons, etc.
    I will admit I am concerned more with other issues, and thats fine, its good that we have different concerns, and different battle fronts. Some people get annoyed at what they see as a distraction from “larger” issues, and thats just personal preference.

    But at least from where I am standing, it is fair to say until you have some qualitative data to show me, I would rather worry about X issue, and this seems like a distraction from that.
    (which may or may not be my stance, obviously recently I have taken a pretty active part in discussion, so dont assume :p)
    Personally my favorite thing to do is share my science art with kids (and adults too), and in my own sneaky little way fan that spark of curiosity. I see this as the best way I can help the future be better.

    I do not believe that you are asking us all to drop what we are doing to call out some internet douche bags, I get that, but you also need to understand that having other concerns is not acquiescence. And trying to force the issue will make people angry. We need to understand that we are all vital to the community. This issue cant take the front seat, its not fair to demand that, and doing so or seeming to do so, or calling names when people dont want to do so, is going to get push back often childish lame push back, but not always.

    Sorry that got really really long and ranting, hope I stayed on topic.

  12. 212

    @Liam

    you very well could. I’d throw in a few personal bits of advice (1. if you’re in a group of 4 or more do not stop 11 year old boys on the subway and ask them what they have in their pocket 2.when with a group of friends do not stop to stare at people who walk past you and then whisper to one another secretly) but seriously it really isn’t the same situation.

    The thing i would object to in this analogy is that a “group” can be made up of any type of indivduals, black, white, male, female. No one is born as a “group” being part of a group is an action in and of itself, its not like gender or racial discrimination.

    If you get mugged it could be by anyone, that white couple who live in that one busted up apartment down the street. The Mexican kids who think they’re all gangsters. That group of black guys who hang around the train station after midnight. Risk assessment for mugging isn’t going to be about guarding yourself against blacks or whites or latinos or asians or southeast asians or what have you. They’ll be guarding against people.

    See below, the schroedinger’s rapist idea is just as fallacious as believing every strange black man is a potential assailant.

    A woman guarding against rape will be guarding against men. There’s no way around that. While women can rape at most only 2% of rapes are woman on woman. So it isn’t as if it’s a prejudice or discrimination going on.

    It is somewhat less likely to be a woman, though not the 2% you imagine.. I’d say the biggest problem with her schroedinger’s rapist assessment is that 73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger, which means she is actually discriminating against those least likely to rape her.

    also, the Bureau of Justice, puts female on female rape, recently as high as 20% http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/ascii/fvv.txt
    Not statistically insignificant. In fact it is equal to the chance of being raped by an intimate partner, and approaching that of the chance of being raped by a stranger.

    As for the racist analogy of a black man approaching you, this does not work statistically. Where something like 22% of women have been sexually assaulted or raped, 99% of them by men, decent human beings who are also men will go out of their way to make women feel safe. I think once the number of people affected by a certain class of violence reaches a certain undefined critical mass, there’s a tipping point where you do have to go out of your way to make women feel safe. And by “go out of your way” I mean do not intentionally do things that are known predatory behaviours, like walking faster to overtake a woman who’s walking away from you in a dark alley, or catching up to them to get on the elevator with them then asking them to your room for “coffee” when they don’t know you from Adam. For instance.

    I won’t again go over the fact that she is far less likely to be sexually assaulted by the people she considers to be in a quantum superposition of rapist/not-rapist. But looking around this 1-2% female female rape statistic seems to be incorrect. As my source above suggests, it was in 2008 as high as 20%, and past studies have put it above 13% http://web.archive.org/web/20060208091351/http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/text/pblct/sexoffender/female/female-02_e.shtml#P50_7592

    I will however, admit that my black man assault analogy does fall flat when you look beyond perception and at the actual statistics, as does a lot of things suggested in the schroedinger’s rapist scenario. which i will go further into. Not to trivialise geniune fear of rape, but to show that a lot of it is based on flawed reasoning.

    .
    .

    In the second large paragraph of her post, she brings up the male privilege of being able to live safely without fear of assualt. This is clearly false, the chance of being a victim of violent assault in ones lifetime is 89% as a man 73% for a female. Clearly fallacious reasoning on her part, even without statistics, musing on it for a few minutes should be enough to see it is a stupid thing to say.

    Her quote

    Now, you want to become acquainted with a woman you see in public. The first thing you need to understand is that women are dealing with a set of challenges and concerns that are strange to you, a man. To begin with, we would rather not be killed or otherwise violently assaulted.

    “But wait! I don’t want that, either!”

    Well, no. But do you think about it all the time? Is preventing violent assault or murder part of your daily routine, rather than merely something you do when you venture into war zones? Because, for women, it is.

    So, as scared as she may feel, the numbers are completely the opposite, with a statistically significantly higher risk that a man may be a victim of a violent crime in his lifetime. And about a 4x chance she will be non-sexually assaulted at some point. Though on that last note, i can see why someone would be less worried about being non-sexually assaulted than so.

  13. 213

    Luna,

    The problem is, the entire sexism issue blew up over a woman saying “look, don’t do this thing, it’s creepy.” The response to her saying that blew right past creepy into some icky hinterland that we both agree is unacceptable. But what she said in the first instance was a response to being creeped out by experience.

    Ok not to be snarky, but that is not the first time gender or gender issues have been discussed in the community. Specifically the thing I was largely addressing, the pandering has been around for many years. And it is consistent in all the groups I am part of.

    The problem with her “don’t do that” is that she didn’t say don’t do that to me.
    If I am mincing words here, by all means say you think so. But I do not think that is the case, and her response was not “oh shit, I didn’t mean don’t ever do that to anyone, I meant don’t do it to me”.

    We are pretty independent thinkers and a lot of us do not like being spoken for. I hope you see that this is a fair complaint.

    I brought up the example I did precisely because you have stated you are not ok with rape. (And I would hardly expect you to be.) Therefore, it was plain to me that you would be not-ok with the behaviour of the guy in the example. I wanted you to draw the line with me between what happened to the 15-year-old girl a week ago, and what happened to me with this same man 4 1/2 years ago, and to understand that even though *I* wasn’t raped, it would be perfectly reasonable for me to see what happened there, and say to guys in general “in the future, please don’t do that [behaviour associated with potential rapists].”

    But this isn’t obvious overt sexual behaviour, like what you brought up, and we have no reason to believe there was any threat there.
    I live in Las Vegas, I ride elevators daily and honestly I have never ever ever associated a man entering the elevator and speaking casually or flirting with me to be behaviour associated with rape.
    I understand that other people do, but this still does not mean you can speak for other people.
    If someone did the exact same thing to me as was done to RW my thought process would be “he didn’t want to embarrass me or himself in front of people”. I don’t know many men who have the nerve to ask a woman in the middle of a meet-up to leave said meet-up, go out with them, and possibly have sex with them.
    Your thought process is not the only one, its not a forgone conclusion that flirting in an elevator is rape related behaviour. Or even suspicious.

    I think you kinda missed the point.

    Hitting on women who have expressed a preference not to be hit on is a creepy/potential attacker behaviour. Treating women like it’s ok to hit on anyone any time anywhere creeps a lot of women out, and that is why men especially are asked to, y’know, talk to people to get to know them before they decide it’s ok to hit on them, and to get over the idea that it is absolutely a male prerogative to proposition for sex without any idea of whether or not it may be welcomed. That’s what the whole original shitstorm was about; the fact that women atheists with strong voices are often being either ignored or shouted down sort of fell out from that, and that was subject to later attempts to address.

    The part of the above quote I put in italics, I totally agree with that. Which is why its important for those of us who dont mind being hit on to also say so.
    Candor and honesty is the way to go here.
    I said before , but here it is again.
    I used personal pronouns though out my whole letter, and I signed it with my real name, I think I was pretty clear that I was only speaking for myself, if you feel that was unclear I will make a name badge to wear at every skeptical gathering I attend that says “Mallorie Nasrallah: Maybe DTF, inquire at your own risk”. I am dead serious.

    The part of your comment I put in bold lacks any data, and I have no reason to believe it is correct. As it stands with no proof to back it up it is sexist and abhorrent.

    When you reduce it all to statements like “The idea that you have to set time aside to cater to me, because my vagina imbues me with some special needs is becoming increasingly insulting
    or
    “If your jokes or teasing manner offend some people, so the fuck what? Someone will always be offended by jokes, never let them make you believe that you are guilty of something worse simply because of your gender. … If you want to go free and uncensored among a group of like minded people, if you want to try to acquire sex from a like minded person, awesome, do it, sex and friendship are amazing. You are not a monster for wanting these things. You are not a monster for attempting to acquire them.” — then you are again not only missing the point of what happened and what was asked, you are still trivialising and dismissing the experience of a lot of other women.

    The first statement deals fairly obviously with what I addressed in my previous comment to you. It has absolutely nothing to do with sex, flirting, hitting on, or anything like that. It completely addresses the idea that women need special bribery to join the movement.

    The second one, No I am dealing with issues you fail to mention. I am not commenting on rape and the like, I assumed that went without saying as “really fucking evil”.
    I have received countless messages from people saying they have dealt with the demands to “tone the language down, no wonder girls don’t like us” before. It might not be what you want to talk about, it is is obviously what I was talking about. I am not trivializing, I am addressing a whole other thing.
    “acquire sex” does not mean “get pussy at all costs”. It is a normal healthy human desire to want sex, preferably with people you get along with.
    Do you disagree? Do you think people should stop trying to have sex? Does a sex positive message bother you?
    Believe it or not some guys have been given the impression that wanting an atheist girlfriend or hook up is a monstrous desire.
    Do you agree that it is?
    If not what exactly bothers you about what I said?

    You also haven’t responded to my questions about why it wouldn’t be legitimate to ask people to change their behaviour if and when their behaviour creeps other people out.

    Because you do not get to decide what is creepy. Understand that what may always seem creepy to you, is not creepy to all of us.
    I met a recently deconverted strict mormon, to her talking openly about anatomy was creepy. Really, you know that joke about women who literally cant say “penis”. Its real. Its not just a joke, people like that exist.
    Do you want to use her definition of creepy? Do you want to reinforce it? Do you want to impose it on others?
    I hope not.

    You haven’t really responded to my point about how your open letter is seen and how it will be used; but I don’t know, maybe there isn’t much you can actually say to that. I would like to know if you are thinking about how it comes across, and whether you have noted at all what I and a number of others have pointed out: your type of response is actively hunted out and used by sexist dickhead types as being the excuse they need to justify hitting on any women, any time anywhere. In fact, you do specifically say:
    “With all of my heart I beg you: Do not change. Do not change for me, do not change for someone else. You’re wonderful, just the way you are.” This is the MRA manifesto, I’m afraid; they are perfect, it is only the women who have a problem with their behaviour who have a problem, full stop.

    Not ok.

    People can use my letter however they want, I can not control that. If people really want to see any given message in anything, they will find a way. Shit if I had said “no sex anywhere is ok, I hate all penis” really massive assholes would take that and make it “oh thats just because she hasn’t had some deep dicking”. Or whatever.
    Honestly until blaghag acted as though she thought it was all a personal attack on feminist issues and a promotion of rape I had never thought people would see it as anything other than me begging people not to change the community in an attempt to lure women in…just for the sake of having more women.

    I had almost the opposite problem, actually, with much the same result. There is a local “Skeptics in the Pub” club. I’m even a member, nominally, on facebook. I showed up to a couple meetings, and I was ignored. Totally. Nobody would even talk to me, beyond the bare necessity of polite greeting, and even then only when I spoke first; and, I’m sorry, but it seemed like that was because there were only two other women there, and they were both 18-19-year-old university students, and every male in the room was vying to drool into their laps. (Cue the “see, you were just JEALOUS remarks, were I to mention this in any open forum.) The issue was that they were all a bit, shall we say, occupied with other concerns than the awesome talks and science.

    I’m completely unwilling to pass any judgement on them for whether they enjoyed it or not, but I can say that as a tired-looking middle-aged woman who was there with my husband, no-one was even remotely interested in introducing themselves, much less holding a serious conversation about climate change skepticism. And I gave up. Women were plainly mostly to be considered as sexual objects, and I wasn’t a sexual enough object — and therefore, I didn’t even exist. Piss on that for a timewaster. So yeah, I showed up. I just didn’t stick around.

    .

    I have cut some of your story down to size, I apologize if this bothers you, I just didnt want a massive reply that no one would read.

    Ok, dont take this as condescending

    Lesson one in thinking critically:
    If its an anecdote you do not have all the data, and any conclusions drawn from the anecdote may be drawn incorrectly.

    Maybe they spoke more to them because they knew them, maybe they had really kick ass personalties, maybe they just aren’t wary of Christian trolls.
    Maybe you weren’t saying things they cared to comment on.
    Maybe they felt a communication divide because of the age difference.
    Maybe they were as friendly to you as to any newcomer and you had unrealistic expectations.
    Maybe they had other troubles they didn’t want exposed to outsiders.
    Maybe it was just a bad night.
    Maybe you drank the last pint of the best beer in the house.
    Maybe you weren’t as outgoing as you thought you were.
    Maybe…just maybe they thought you were neo-cons because of your [sic]climate change skepticism.
    Maybe it had nothing to do with your age at all.

    I am not saying any of the above is the case, I am saying, I am sorry I do not know, and can not know.
    I can play the same game with myself, maybe I have had good experiences because the creepers know I will face kick them, maybe it just hasn’t happened yet, maybe people are nicer to me because in some ways I am conventionally attractive. Maybe they are nice because they feel I am going to bat for them. Maybe they want to use me because of my friends. Maybe it really isn’t an awesome welcoming community.

    Either way, I do not feel I can comment on your story because I don’t know and it would be in poor taste and under terrible logic for me to condemn a behaviour I never saw, and do not understand.
    I can say I am sorry it didn’t go well, lets hope they are a happy group doing what they are doing, and you can find a welcoming place.

  14. 214

    Well, at least we agree on this. 🙂

    I’m gonna call bullshit. Sorry, but I’ve seen feminist like Rebecca Watson bring up similar issues and get berated for wasting time on such frivolities by people who’ve made the same arguments you have against feminism.

    @liam

    I’d say the biggest problem with her schroedinger’s rapist assessment is that 73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger, which means she is actually discriminating against those least likely to rape her.

    We’re talking about risk assessment that doesn’t exclude acquaintances or friends. A man acting creepy is still a man acting creepy. Strangers aren’t anymore targeted than the guy who you go to Chem Lab with.

    also, the Bureau of Justice, puts female on female rape, recently as high as 20%

    From my reading those stats are for 2008. Of the 182000 estimated rapes and other forms of sexual assault against women that year it’s estimated about 20% were committed by women. The 2% comes from lifetime estimates of attempted or completed rape where 98.1% (from the CDC’s 2010 estimates) were committed by men. (That same survey puts sexual violence other than rape committed by men against women at about 92%)

    Besides, this does nothing to reduce the legitimate concern a woman has of being raped or sexually assaulted. These numbers are far from comforting even if there has been a steady decline.

    I won’t again go over the fact that she is far less likely to be sexually assaulted by the people she considers to be in a quantum superposition of rapist/not-rapist.

    The threat assessment does not end with complete strangers, as I pointed out. Acquaintances, friends and friends of friends are also factored in (from what I can tell after having it explained to, at least.)

    But looking around this 1-2% female female rape statistic seems to be incorrect.

    Your sources have been for 12 month intervals. They don’t take lifetime statistics into account except to compare last years numbers with this years.

  15. 215

    The problem with her “don’t do that” is that she didn’t say don’t do that to me.

    Not to cut into your argument but…

    you’ve denied multiple times speaking for the other women in skepticism despite instructing men throughout it to ignore anyone who asks them to change even if they said or did something to hurt someone else. Isn’t it hypocritical to take the position that Rebecca Watson presumed to speak for all women when she said ‘guys don’t do that?’*

    *I have to wonder how many women are ok with having their expressed wishes ignored.

  16. 216

    Either way, I do not feel I can comment on your story

    You already did. You pointed out why you believed she was a sloppy thinker and her story was bunk.

  17. 217

    Oh Julian…shame. Shame on you. Seriously…obvious much?

    The problem with her “don’t do that” is that she didn’t say don’t do that to me.

    Not to cut into your argument but…

    you’ve denied multiple times speaking for the other women in skepticism despite instructing men throughout it to ignore anyone who asks them to change even if they said or did something to hurt someone else. Isn’t it hypocritical to take the position that Rebecca Watson presumed to speak for all women when she said ‘guys don’t do that?

    You think people wont see what you did there? Really? you’re going to do this? and you dont think you deserve all the shit you’re getting?

    Tell me this was on honest mistake, tell me you didnt deliberately cut out the next thing I said just to be a cunt. Really please.

    Full quote for anyone watching is:
    The problem with her “don’t do that” is that she didn’t say don’t do that to me.
    If I am mincing words here, by all means say you think so. But I do not think that is the case, and her response was not “oh shit, I didn’t mean don’t ever do that to anyone, I meant don’t do it to me”.

    Julian. seriously that wasn’t even subtle.

  18. 219

    From my reading those stats are for 2008. Of the 182000 estimated rapes and other forms of sexual assault against women that year it’s estimated about 20% were committed by women. The 2% comes from lifetime estimates of attempted or completed rape where 98.1% (from the CDC’s 2010 estimates) were committed by men. (That same survey puts sexual violence other than rape committed by men against women at about 92%)

    Unless 2008 was an extremely fruitful year for female sex offenders, there is little to make sense of a 10 fold jump from 2008 to lifetime. What seems more likely is that your 98.1% statistic is skewed by the inclusion of male-male rape else the numbers do not fit. Moreover, finkelhor and russell in 1984 put the estimate at around 13%.

  19. 220

    Two things, Mallorie.

    1)Feel free to use any insult you can think of from combination of fuck and random objects to belittling my intelligence. Don’t use slurs like cunt, faggot or whatever else you’ve declared cannot possibly be bigoted if it’s coming out of your mouth.

    2)The bit you bolded, doesn’t change the bit I quoted. I’m accusing you of hypocrisy not pedantry.

    What seems more likely is that your 98.1% statistic is skewed by the inclusion of male-male rape -Liam

    No I just double checked the CDC’s piece. It’s 98.1% for women and 93.3% for men (sadly the CDC excluded cases where you were forced to penetrate another. In 79.2% of those cases women were the attackers.) And a similar number is given by other independent pieces for lifetime rapes (see the sources our blog host provided upthread.)

  20. 222

    @Mallorie

    I’m going to make this as brief as possible. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s that brief.

    No, it really isn’t clear that you were not discussing rape-threat behaviour, triggering behaviour, sexual imposition, etc. No, it really isn’t. Take this on board. And although you cannot control how other people use what you say, you still have responsibility for what you say and how easy you make it for people to interpret your words in certain ways. If a biologist stood up and said “everything we think we know about evolution is wrong”, do you think the scientific community would be out of line for criticising his or her saying that, given that it is not only inaccurate, it is feeding ammunition to creationists?

    Now, here is what Rebecca Watson actually said:

    “So I walk to the elevator, and a man got on the elevator with me and said, ‘Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk more. Would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?’

    Um, just a word to wise here, guys, uh, don’t do that. You know, I don’t really know how else to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4:00 am, in a hotel elevator, with you, just you, and–don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner…”

    Your characterisation of her is dishonest. But let’s look at a deeper issue: when a lot of women chimed in and said, “guys, do NOT make your first interaction with us an attempt to pick us up in a small enclosed space at 4am, that IS creepy — well, apparently, you have a problem with that. That is a RESTRICTION ON MALE BEHAVIOUR OMG IMPOSITION. Um. Why is it more unfair to say to men “control your impulse in this kind of circumstance, not everywhere or for everyone but certainly in small spaces with women you don’t know” than it is to just make it a blanket requirement for women to have to deal with that behaviour? Why is it such a hardship to say to men, why don’t you get to know the women as people first? You seem to be passing by that part entirely without seeing it, or acknowledging it, or understanding it, or whatever.

    Second, speaking of dishonest:
    “Do you disagree? Do you think people should stop trying to have sex? Does a sex positive message bother you?”

    Wow. You just had to right for the insinuations of “you don’t like sex?”, didn’t you.

    No, you dishonest little shit. Maybe my reaction to you and to this wouldn’t be so violently aversive if you hadn’t just landed squarely in the (yes) sexist tactic of “you don’t think it’s ok for men to try to pick up women regardless of detail or context or circumstance? YOU MUST NOT LIKE SEX.” It’s just a variation on the traditional theme of “if you don’t like this, you must be frigid.”

    Shame on you. Shame on you for the dishonest portrayal of what I said. Shame on you for landing squarely on that insinuation. Shame on you for your apparent difficulty in reading and understanding get to know the woman first, dammit despite the fact that you have said elsewhere that you (supposedly) agree with that.

    And speaking of dishonest — I gave you a specific example of how a preoccupation with picking people up at a skeptics gathering can work to freeze people out. I gave you a working example, in order to help you understand. Clearly that was a mistake, because you have no interest in understanding how that works; you’ve gone for the game of well, I can’t comment and commenting at length on how I’m subject to being wrong/deluded/etc. You say, “don’t take this as condescending”, and then proceed to condescend the fuck out of me as you lecture me on critical thinking without even, as you yourself said, being there to know what happened. And you make all kinds of interesting assumptions in the process, too! Like, that *I* am a climate skeptic! (Wow.) But that is totally missing the point again: the point being, that treating a skeptics group as a pick-up bar can and does make some gatherings uncomfortable and pointless for women to attend, and this is one way that it can happen.

    And your biggest, greatest bit of dishonesty.

    You claim:

    I used personal pronouns though out my whole letter, and I signed it with my real name, I think I was pretty clear that I was only speaking for myself, if you feel that was unclear I will make a name badge to wear at every skeptical gathering I attend that says “Mallorie Nasrallah: Maybe DTF, inquire at your own risk”.

    Here’s what you said in your open letter, and this is a copy-paste:

    “With all of my heart I beg you: Do not change. Do not change for me, do not change for someone else. You’re wonderful, just the way you are.”

    You are not speaking just for yourself. You are exhorting all the men in the skeptics movement not to change for anyone. You say that clearly, explicitly, and in so many words: DO NOT ALTER YOUR BEHAVIOUR, YOU ARE PERFECT AS YOU ARE. You are saying to them, ‘if other people are uncomfortable with your behaviour, fuck ’em, that’s THEIR fault’ — it is in fact an exhortation to ignore other people’s comfort levels, because you have a certain comfort level that YOU think is right. If that isn’t what you meant, you shouldn’t have bloody said it.

    Sorry, I tried extending you the benefit of the doubt, but at this point I’ve completely lost patience with you.

  21. 223

    Oh, one thing I forgot to mention.

    it is absolutely a male prerogative to proposition for sex without any idea of whether or not it may be welcomed.

    The part of your comment I put in bold lacks any data, and I have no reason to believe it is correct. As it stands with no proof to back it up it is sexist and abhorrent.

    You cannot possibly have missed the thousands of messages left by men after the Elevator Guy incident saying “but there’s nothing WRONG with propositioning someone in an elevator! He WASN’T a rapist, so how could she possibly justify being upset about it! If we can’t approach people how can we ever know if they want to have sex with us or not!” — with the clear message that trying to say that some places and times are just not appropriate for approaching women for sex (unless you happen to know her and know she is comfortable with it), is just a completely unreasonable restriction.

    Gah. I have a lot of things to say to you on this, but it’s going to get nasty fast. I’m just going to leave it.

  22. 224

    I agree with everything Luna said in @223 and @224 except that Mallorie “cannot possibly” have missed those ridiculous amounts of messages by men saying “there wasn’t anything wrong with cold-propositioning a stranger in a confined space”. She has exhibited a lack of understanding of the greater playing field that only comes from joining that field really late in the game and declaring that everything’s fine, just fine, because she HADN’T seen anything that went on before.

  23. 226

    Jason
    Since I haven’t seen anybody else complain: I have a problem with your site which I haven’t encountered anywhere else on FTB: When I post a comment, which works fine, instead of getting redirected, I get an error message.

    Luna
    I appreciate your patience.
    Really, I couldn’t muster it.
    Yes, seems like Mallorie either lied about what RW said, or she never bothered to listen to her but still thinks she’s qualified to comment on it.

  24. 227

    Interesting, Giliell. We were having an issue earlier today where my site was showing up as a “ghost” of Butterflies and Wheels, owing to some strangeness with a plugin that our webmaster was working on installing. I wonder if it’s related. If it happens again, can you grab a screenshot and send it along via email? Thanks!

  25. 229

    Luna, first of all I asked you questions, I did not accuse you of being frigid.

    second of all

    You are not speaking just for yourself. You are exhorting all the men in the skeptics movement not to change for anyone. You say that clearly, explicitly, and in so many words: DO NOT ALTER YOUR BEHAVIOUR, YOU ARE PERFECT AS YOU ARE. You are saying to them, ‘if other people are uncomfortable with your behaviour, fuck ‘em, that’s THEIR fault’ — it is in fact an exhortation to ignore other people’s comfort levels, because you have a certain comfort level that YOU think is right. If that isn’t what you meant, you shouldn’t have bloody said it.

    Yes and I have been very very clear that I am talking about this “more appealing to women” pandering.

    I will try to explain.

    Its not all about what you want it to be about. The letter had very little to do with watson etc and very much to do with the idea that we need special activities and possibly a different format inorder to lure more women.
    So in that light.
    Dont change.
    So dont think I need a girls night out, do not think I am not happy with the format of lectures or events, do not think I need time set aside for me because of my gender.
    If you have issue with that I am happy to discuss, but I am not going to explain to you what I already have over and over both to you personally, all over this blog post, and elsewhere.

    and third.
    Go tell Darwin that he should have kept his mouth shut because in a little while Nazis were going to militate his theory, and make it bad.

    No I am sorry it doesn’t work that way.

  26. 230

    “until about two and a half years ago I was a libertarian atheist who hated feminism and thought it infantilized women. I may not be someone you wanna cite as a shining example of feminist thought as I hesitate to call myself one and have been more influenced by anti-feminist thought than by pro-feminist thought.”

    And this is opposed to…I don’t know… that now you are an liberal atheist educating a woman on her personal experiences on being a female, right?

  27. 231

    Ha!

    codelette, where in this thread have I done that? You may want to rewind a few threads where I outright state that’s not only inappropriate, it’s condescending.

  28. 232

    julian said -among other nuggets of wisdom-:

    “I would, however, like to point out some studies suggest those who’ve experienced sexist and racist environments on average tend to become numb to it and dismissive towards those who have experienced ‘lighter’ forms of it. And you, seem to be doing the same here.”

    Exactly…

  29. 233

    So citing studies done by sociologists and psychologists is me telling individual women what their personal experience with sexism or other forms of discrimination have been?

    Would you say the same if I informed a believer that there are studies out there suggesting the divine revelations they’ve experienced may have been brought about by the expectation of seeing those signs?

  30. 236

    No, it is not only you citing a study, it is you directly applying those results to an individual:

    “…And you, seem to be doing the same here.”

    That’s what you wrote.

  31. 237

    I don’t need my experiences to be supported by the experiences of others or to be validated by academia.

    cool beans

    Hope you don’t mind me objecting to your religion’s subjugation of women, rampant homopobia and totalitarian ideals. Actually, it’s going to happen regardless. I’m not here for you.

    Anyway, back to codelette. Am I correct in assuming you’re a multiculturalist? Sorry, but that’s the only explanation I think of for you signing off on something like that.

    I am capable of thinking and speaking for myself.

    Heh

    Kinda ironic that you’re using this in place of your own words. But again, remember, most are not doing this for you. You are not that important.

  32. 238

    No, it is not only you citing a study, it is you directly applying those results to an individual

    And I ask again, if I told a believer that there are studies suggesting the visions and revelations they’ve experienced were caused by the expectation of seeing them would you say the same?

  33. 239

    I had to look for the definition of your new assumption regarding my persona:

    mul·ti·cul·tur·al·ism   [muhl-tee-kuhl-cher-uh-liz-uhm, muhl-tahy-] Show IPA
    noun
    1.
    the state or condition of being multicultural.
    2.
    the preservation of different cultures or cultural identities within a unified society, as a state or nation.

    I previously said:

    I am a Puerto Rican, but I am not “us”. I refuse to be sucked into a broad group from which a small, hysterical minority calling themselves feminists decided to speak on my behalf. No woman (or men, or Puerto Rican, or skeptic, or engineer or white or black) can speak for me and further, none of them are allowed to accuse me of treachery because I don’t live up to their standards.

    So I guess that takes care of your doubt.

    BTW, the woman on the link said:
    “I do not need other women of color to “save” me any more than I need white women or men to do so. […] I am capable of thinking and speaking for myself. I do not ask anyone to speak on my behalf or to make my speech more palatable to others.”

    Which is very similar to my views.

  34. 241

    Luna said:

    You cannot possibly have missed the thousands of messages left by men after the Elevator Guy incident saying “but there’s nothing WRONG with propositioning someone in an elevator! He WASN’T a rapist, so how could she possibly justify being upset about it! If we can’t approach people how can we ever know if they want to have sex with us or not!” — with the clear message that trying to say that some places and times are just not appropriate for approaching women for sex (unless you happen to know her and know she is comfortable with it), is just a completely unreasonable restriction.

    This is precisely why I don’t even initiate anything with women, even polite conversation. I wait until spoken to unless I have to seek out someone for something work related. It’s certainly not worth getting fired or socially ostracized for saying the wrong thing. The same goes for social situations (i.e. at restaurants, the mall, etc). I don’t want to offend women by saying or doing anything (related to getting to know them or dating or having sex) that seems innocuous to me, but might offend them.

    I’m going to be honest here – when I read about Rebecca Watson getting cold-propositioned in an elevator at 4am, I didn’t immediately think “that’s fucked up and creepy. I thought, “that’s pretty boneheaded, since this guy thought that much of himself to attempt to randomly pick someone up like that.” If he asked once, she said “no”, and that was the end of the exchange, then I see no harm other than the guy being an oblivious idiot.

    I could be snarky and say there should be some sort of handbook of “acceptable places to cold-proposition people,” but I recognize that some sense should be applied to situations like that.

    The guy lacked that good sense, but honestly, if he was going to rape her, what does her consent matter to him? If he propositioned her and she said “no”, he would have tried to rape her if he was a rapist. I could also understand the outrage if he ran to the elevator, stopped the door from shutting, jumped in, blocked the door and said, “hey, wanna fuck?” That would scare the shit out of me.

    You are not speaking just for yourself. You are exhorting all the men in the skeptics movement not to change for anyone. You say that clearly, explicitly, and in so many words: DO NOT ALTER YOUR BEHAVIOUR, YOU ARE PERFECT AS YOU ARE. You are saying to them, ‘if other people are uncomfortable with your behaviour, fuck ‘em, that’s THEIR fault’ — it is in fact an exhortation to ignore other people’s comfort levels, because you have a certain comfort level that YOU think is right. If that isn’t what you meant, you shouldn’t have bloody said it.

    I hate to build upon what others have said more eloquently than I, but the statement was intended for people who already had/have common decency. To redirect her words based upon the spin you want isn’t entirely honest. If someone is a MRA/rapist/misogynist, the statement isn’t going to cement a viewpoint their struggling with. They’ve already made the choice to be assholes, and I posit that they would continue to think and do what they believe to be right regardless of whether Mallorie made that statement or not. I would also posit that if a “skeptic” has somehow reasoned that women should be treated like objects they don’t belong in the skeptic movement anyway. Likewise, asking to bring in more atheist voices at the expense of treating one gender preferentially to another is equally counterproductive.
    In the end, though, I’m simply glad the topic was discussed.

  35. 243

    if you want to try to acquire sex from a like minded person, awesome, do it, sex and friendship are amazing. You are not a monster for wanting these things

    Jason, I thought you had a great reply to this quote of Mallorie’s. I want to toss in my two cents, because I agree with M’s general statement, just not with it’s applicability to Elevatorgate and #mencallmethings.

    While men don’t get the exact same “slut shaming” as women from our culture, due to the sexual double standard, men do get whacked with some “lust shaming.” While I totally take the feminist side in Elevatorgate, I have been reading the discourse on this topic since July and occasionally I catch a cogent point from someone from the other point of view.

    If we filter out the troll posts and the derails and make allowances for exaggeration, then I think some of the men who want to hookup (and their allies) have a point. There is some exaggeration here, but I think they believe they are hearing the statement “Don’t ever hit on anyone who does not wish to be hit on by you.” And they are probably thinking “How can I know who is willing to have sex with me unless I ask?” How to be pro-sex and anti-harassment at the same time seems a fruitful topic to me. I know this is the kind of thing Greta may have covered, I just haven’t read a lot of her older blog posts.

    (Disclaimer: I find it easy to start conversations at conferences and do not support cold propositioning someone who is tired and cornered.)

  36. 244

    That also serves as a kind of advice to skeptifem, as chances are that a WOC will choose the “struggle of a black man” over her “struggle as a white woman” and thus that can shift that WOC to dangerous “gender traitor” territory (at least according to skeptifem herself).

    I am way late, but selling out your own for social approval =/= having a husband and identifying with race struggles more than feminist ones. WOC do not have to ally themselves with the specific causes I feel are the most important, but that doesn’t mean it is okay for anyone to thrown women under the bus. The latter is what I take issue with.

  37. 246

    Oh, wait, I can’t find anything that says “men not allowed”.
    Ye-es, there’s an all-women speaker list.
    Tell me, how many times has there been an all-male line-up?
    But I guess you also think that affirmative action is reversed-racism…

    Yes, because i suppose they’d place that on their website, even though the speakers are already booked and they don’t generally advertise for speakers on the websites anyway. Oh, wait, I can’t find anything on the NYPD’s website that says “we target black people”, i guess there is no racial profiling policy in the NYPD.

    Maybe its a coincidence that it is women only to this women’s event.

    I haven’t seen all male lineups, though i don’t doubt they happened in the past, however i would be very skeptical that there was ever a deliberate policy of ‘only men’.

    Affirmative action? Specifically choosing people for roles based on their race? Hmm, can’t see anything racist about that at all…

  38. 248

    May I ask a question? Who cares if minority X signs up wholeheartedly to fight some form of bigotry? Why is it necessary to have their full approval before trying to undertake somesort of social change for the greater good?

    If I had to get the approval of my very Catholic, very racist, pretty homophobic and very transphobic mother before I did anything I’d be screwed. Ditto if I had to get it from any of her friends (who are probably worse than she is).

    And let’s not even talk about rape. Rape that doesn’t exist/only happens to sluts/girls were just asking for it/should be grateful for/couldn’t have happened because he’s such an awesome guy.

    Fuck that. I’m not a little kid anymore and I don’t need momma’s approval to call something fucked up or wrong.

  39. 249

    Ah, yes, Liam (and I’m guessing), the white heterosexual male, the most prosecuted type of people on the planet…

    Nice non-sequitur, the fact that you had to resort to this appears to me to be an admission that you don’t actually have any reasonable counter to what I said, and what I said was sound.

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