Dawkins stabs at Skepchick over “Hug Me I’m Vaccinated” campaign

One of the most painful lessons I’ve learned over the past several months is that there are no heroes. There is always — always — some measure, small or large, of disappointment hiding behind all the awesome things that drew you to idolize one person or another.

Of course, while I always thought of Dawkins as a science popularizer and atheist first, and a humanist dead last, I figured this latest Great Sorting of the skeptical and atheist communities into those that are down with social justice causes and those that would rather entrench themselves in privilege would pretty much end exactly this way. The hyper-privileged folks nearest the top of our movement have pretty uniformly fallen on one side of this divide — the side that would rather not skeptically examine ideas like social conventions, consent, harassment policies and protecting the underprivileged.

So it’s absolutely no surprise to me that Dawkins has, again, sided against Skepchick — this time, instead of writing a “Dear Muslima” comment at Rebecca Watson (telling her that the sexism she encounters isn’t nearly as bad as female genital mutilation, so she should grow up or get a thicker skin), he’s stabbing at Skepchick the organization for a) being on board with the idea of harassment policies, and b) for having written a post last year offering free vaccinations with hugs as your reward.

[blackbirdpie id=”223116208835272705″]

(How heartwarming is this Skepchick open invitation to “HUG ME at TAM”! http://tinyurl.com/6za5gxa . Spontaneous! Carefree! Rule-free! Delightful!)

He was asked to clarify by probably dozens of people — and dozens of people heaped derision at his “timely” reply to the issue in order to smear Skepchick’s credibility as hypocrites, even if it would damage the vaccination campaign in the process. He “clarified”:

[blackbirdpie id=”223125658870611968″]

(I VERY strongly support the vaccine campaign. And I support spontaneous hugs governed by ordinary unwritten rules of politeness. Problem?)

The funny thing is, it doesn’t take a particularly sharp mind to be able to square that circle — first, put aside your predisposition that suddenly Skepchick is all about sex-negativity, or about requiring consent via consent forms written in triplicate, or any other antifeminist trope you’ve heard about them. Skepchick is very much a sex-positive organization. They are also very pro-consent. It is not difficult to be both — if you foster one, you pretty much must foster the other, because if you don’t, people will be almost invariably hurt.

He walked some of this back, because people got the wrong impression of what he was saying. Some people thought he does not support the efforts to increase herd immunity. So he said the following:

[blackbirdpie id=”223144235589828608″]

(Please support http://hugmeimvaccinated.org . Epidemics are nonlinearly favoured if vax nos fall below a threshold. Spread the meme not the disease )

This was a good, strong message, and in isolation, absolutely correct. It’s just a shame that he decided to — now, suddenly, shortly before TAM 10, and using what he thinks is a gotcha moment from a blog post in 2011 — take this stab at Skepchick.

It is an emotive argument about the morality of expecting consent before actions are taken involving other people, and one predicated on paper-thin evidence. It is so far beneath Dawkins that it serves only to undercut his image as a rationalist in my eyes — not that I was any longer under any delusion that he is a pure rationalist. It is similar in scope and in vector to his last stab at a Skepchick, in suggesting that these unwritten rules are all it takes to prevent people from doing nasty things, and that anything that DOES happen must be dealt with via the panacea of a “thicker skin”.

Offering free, spontaneous hugs to people is perfectly fine. There was a very strong harassment policy at CONvergence, and a sur-policy for the FtB and Skepchick party rooms at the convention, and I got more hugs there than anywhere else at the entire convention. Every one of them was enthusiastically consented-to as far as I can tell, and if anyone was being significantly put-upon, they would have had every right and every recourse to ameliorate that situation.

Offering hugs as a reward for vaccination is a nice idea, but at the same time, it’s well within the rights of the person who gets a vaccine to forgo the hug. And in fact, some people are even bothered by the very offer of a hug, so those people must needs make that apparent before they partake in the free vaccination services offered, because the whole event is predicated on something that might be to them a trigger, if not a simple preference.

And setting the expectation that hugs are pre-consented (and in a limited fashion — the post he linked to says one hug per vaccination!) is absolutely not an undercutting of the idea that one needs to obtain consent before performing an action. The thing about consent is that it is often negotiated by the neurotypical without verbalizing or formalizing. One can offer a hug by opening one’s arms, and letting the other person approach if they choose. Neuro-atypical folks can explicitly request verbal consent if they are unskilled at those practices, as well. Even asking or motioning, though, crosses some people’s comfort barriers, so setting the expectation — verbally, via that blog post and via the title of the campaign — that hugs are on the table explicitly, and in advance, actually does people like that a huge service.

To be clear, and frank, I am seriously disheartened that Richard Dawkins feels the need to take swipes at Skepchick over concerns that completely buy into the least charitable framings of the issues at hand. I honestly thought that Dawkins would be more intellectually curious and rigorous than to conflate a demand for consent in the form of harassment policies, with sex-negativity in the form of deriding “spontaneity” and lionizing “unwritten rules”, the way he has in this instance. It’s terribly unskeptical, and it exposes a very large blind spot in an otherwise intelligent and rational actor.

I know there are no heroes. I just wish some of the people that I want to look up to, could stop proudly displaying the unheroic bits like so many peacock feathers.

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Dawkins stabs at Skepchick over “Hug Me I’m Vaccinated” campaign
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243 thoughts on “Dawkins stabs at Skepchick over “Hug Me I’m Vaccinated” campaign

  1. 151

    Claus:

    If you have done the former, but not the latter, then you have not encouraged a boycott of either. But, if you did the latter, then you will have encouraged a boycott of either. Just as Rebecca recommended that others did not buy Dawkins’ books, or attended his lectures.

    Is this not correct?

    No, it is not correct, and the reason why has been explained to you. Rebecca said: “I will not attend his lectures or recommend that others do the same.” She is saying that she’s no longer going to recommend that others attend his lectures. Nowhere is she saying that she will tell people not to attend, and makes that explicit point later.

  2. 152

    I guess the word that’s getting hung up on here is “or.” Claus is reading it as ‘I will not attend his lectures [and] recommend that others do the same.’

    When, in fact, “or” is a different kind of conjunction, as Jason pointed out above. Removing the confusing conjunction and breaking out the clauses gives: ‘I will not attend his lectures. I will not recommend that others do the same.’

    Clearer?

  3. 153

    Jason,

    (and, to some degree, Tom Foss)

    Thank you for your patience, but I think that much of this mess is due to misunderstandings, not just from non-English speaking people such as myself, but also from a general failing to parse what is meant to be said to what is perceived as having being said.

    So, in that vein, let us examine the sentence in its true totality, and not merely a part of it:

    “So many of you voiced what I had already been thinking: that this person who I always admired for his intelligence and compassion does not care about my experiences as an atheist woman and therefore will no longer be rewarded with my money, my praise, or my attention. I will no longer recommend his books to others, buy them as presents, or buy them for my own library. I will not attend his lectures or recommend that others do the same. There are so many great scientists and thinkers out there that I don’t think my reading list will suffer.”

    I think we can all agree that Rebecca is lucidly clear about one thing: She has lost a personal hero, because he does not, according to Rebecca, care about her experiences as an atheist woman.

    Whatever one thinks of that reason, that is what has driven Rebecca to announce her intentions. So, what are those?

    1) Rebecca will not buy his books.
    2) Rebecca will not attend his lectures.

    Again, that much is unchallenged – by basically anyone, if I have followed the brouhaha correctly.

    Now, you could argue – as I think you do in your above post – that Rebecca calls for a general boycott of Dawkins’ lectures, but not of his books.

    If that is what you are saying, why on Earth would Rebecca encourage a general boycott of Dawkins’ lectures, but not his books?

  4. 154

    Gilliel:

    Congratulations on getting your very own troll… [email protected]

    A lot of what’s “normal” to you depends on where you live. So, not only organizers, but people themselves should take care and be aware of this. A French person in Germany should be aware that kissing on the cheeks is NOT normal for friends in Germany, that it carries a great deal of intimacy, so they’re not rejected if people just shake their hand. Germans in France should be aware that this gesture does not carry a great intimacy.
    Both should give the other some fucking space.

    Oh, yes, the whole kissing thing in France! There’s even a whole lot of unwritten rules about it: for instance, it’s the “done” think between women, or between a man and a woman, but rarely between two men. And you kiss on the cheek (without straying to the lips!) but don’t hug while you do it– takes some experience, I can tell you. And I’m not even talking of regional variations.

    Funny thing is, even political leaders at the higher level can commit horrible blunders at international conferences. And it’s embarrassing that ex-president Sarkozy, for instance, was well-known for his excessive familiarity in this area. I cringed when I saw the photos of him patting the back of Angela Merkel as if they were old buddies! In his position, he had no excuses: advisers are there for a reason, shame on him for not listening!

  5. 155

    @ … says:

    Yes, how dare the man be snarky towards someone who tried to blacklist him?

    And again with the “blacklist” canard! Nope, not even close. And to help refresh your memory, I suggest availing yourself of the link to Suirauqa’s digital archeology of the Elevatorgate that Jason thoughtfully provided in his latest post. You’ll find it here:

    https://the-orbit.net/lousycanuck/2012/07/12/digital-archaeology-of-elevatorgate-a-timeline/

    No, no, don’t thank me.

  6. 156

    Seriously, Claus? No, at this point, I have to assume you are arguing this way intentionally — after it’s been explained several times in several ways that nobody believes Rebecca is telling anyone else to do anything here, you still think we’re telling you that she’s telling people to do something?

    1) Rebecca will not buy his books
    2) Rebecca will not attend his lectures
    3) Rebecca will not tell others to attend his lectures

    It can also be implied that Rebecca will not tell others to buy his books, but not that she will actively campaign against people buying his books or attending his lectures.

    Just like my not telling you to do things does not amount to my registering disapproval if you do do those things, Rebecca is not calling for any kind of change in behaviour here on anyone else’s part — she is merely telegraphing a change in her own behaviour.

  7. 157

    Oh my fucking nonexistent god.

    Rebecca does not “call for” a boycott of anything. Here are her points, in a numbered format:
    1. Rebecca Watson will no longer give Dawkins her money.
    2. Rebecca Watson will no longer give Dawkins her praise.
    3. Rebecca Watson will no longer give Dawkins her attention.
    4. Rebecca Watson will no longer recommend Dawkins’ books to others.
    5. Rebecca Watson will no longer buy Dawkins’ books for others.
    6. Rebecca Watson will no longer buy Dawkins’ books for herself.
    7. Rebecca Watson will no longer attend Dawkins’ lectures.
    8. Rebecca Watson will no longer recommend that other people attend Dawkins’ lectures.

    The only places that “other people” enter into it are in cases where Rebecca Watson is doing something for/to them. She is not saying that she will tell other people not to buy his books or attend his lectures. Nowhere in the paragraph does she say that, and then she clarifies later for the people who have trouble “perceiving” what she meant: “Nope, I didn’t call for a boycott. I’m relaying the fact that I have no interest in giving this person any more of my money or attention.”

    If you’re “perceiving” something other than “Rebecca Watson posted her personal choice not to promote or support Dawkins anymore,” then you are perceiving something that is not there.

  8. 159

    I can’t say I hate Dawkins, though I am disappointed at his failure to listen. He’s made quite a few mistakes due to this before – the Timonen thing and his support for A C Grayling’s weird private university spring to mind. The problem for him is that he is used to being right; on evolution and atheism I think he’s pretty much spot on. His inability to spot his wrongness here is not a huge surprise given that; but I will admit to having expected a bit better.

    Max said that Dawkins has “championed” women. It’s all very well for Dawkins to say that he supports women, but his actions recently have shown that his support is equivocal at best; I cite these tweets and “dear Muslima”. I don’t doubt that intellectually he believes in the equality of the sexes, but his not being able to fully appreciate how that would change his experience is part of what privilege means.

    But I still have copies of most of his books. I think he writes clearly and engagingly and hardly puts a foot wrong when in his areas of expertise, and I take great pleasure in re-reading them from time to time.

  9. 160

    Jason,

    I can only refer you to her own words: “I will not attend his lectures or recommend that others do the same.”

    To me, that is a crystal clear call for a change in behavior on other people’s part. You do not see it this way, and I respect that. History, as always, will get the last word.

    However, the question still remains: If Rebecca calls for a general boycott of Dawkins’ lectures, but not of his books, why on Earth would she make that distinction? What is the difference between his books and his lectures?

  10. 161

    Tom Foss,

    I am getting very conflicting messages here, from you and Jason.

    You say that Rebecca will no longer recommend Dawkins’ books to others.

    Jason says that Rebecca will not tell others to buy his books.

    Who is right here? You can’t both be.

  11. 163

    Claus: “withholding a recommendation” and “not telling someone to do something” are identical descriptives. They can both be right because they are identical.

  12. 165

    To “recommend something to someone” is to tell them about a thing and suggest that they would benefit from it. If she is not recommending books or lectures, she is not telling people about them. That is all.

    Either you’re REALLY bad at English (and your comments do not suggest that to me), or you’re being very disingenuous.

  13. 167

    Claus, will you just listen please? If lots of people are telling you that you are wrong in an identical way, don’t you think that might be because, well, you’re wrong? In that way?

  14. 168

    However, the question still remains: If Rebecca calls for a general boycott of Dawkins’ lectures, but not of his books, why on Earth would she make that distinction? What is the difference between his books and his lectures?

    Yes, and I think if we grant this hypothetical, it exposes the fact that your reading of the statement is a misinterpretation. Why WOULD someone tell people to stop attending his lectures, but not say a word about reading his books? However, if you read it the way everyone else in the thread is reading it — that Rebecca will merely stop actively suggesting that people see his lectures — that logical fallacy entirely evaporates!

    So why do you cling to your misinterpretation when everyone’s telling you it’s wrong, and if you grant the misinterpretation, it makes other things problematic?

  15. 169

    Claus:

    You say that Rebecca will no longer recommend Dawkins’ books to others.

    Jason says that Rebecca will not tell others to buy his books.

    Who is right here? You can’t both be.

    Let’s try something new: what do you think “recommend” means?

    To me, that is a crystal clear call for a change in behavior on other people’s part. You do not see it this way, and I respect that. History, as always, will get the last word.

    If that’s so crystal clear, then what do you make of her postscript statement in the same post:

    Nope, I didn’t call for a boycott. I’m relaying the fact that I have no interest in giving this person any more of my money or attention. Other people have independently told me they’re doing the same. This is not an organized campaign, and no one is going to be vilified for continuing to give their own time and attention to Dawkins.

    Emphasis mine.

  16. 170

    @ Illuminata – and I think there are a lot of people who really sincerely and truly believe that they champion women when they say it, but whose actions are at odds with their words. The Catholic Church at its slimiest and most sanctimonious says it champions women’s rights; of course the caveat is that women don’t get any say over what they do with their own bodies!

    I think some of the slimepitters are sincere when they say they support women’s rights – they just have never had to think through what that actually means. They don’t realise that the horrid uncomfortable feeling they get when called out on this is their resistance to giving up privilege kicking in; and whatever their conscious motivations may be, the effect of their actions is the same as if they were deliberately trying to keep women down. And this is the best of them! Not all of them are entitled to such a charitable interpretation.

    It’s not surprising they meet with an aggressive response from people (women, mostly) who have had to deal with this sort of thing for decades and decades. As someone whose views on this were rather unreconstructed a few years ago, I can tell you that it was the aggressive responses that made me think the most.

  17. 171

    Jason,

    >#165 (I trust you will forgive the shorthand referral):

    I am not being disingenuous to any degree.

    Rebecca recommended that others do not attend his lectures (that much we agree on), and, I’ll take your word, that recommending is benefiting from it. Ergo, Rebecca is saying that people would benefit from not attending Dawkins’ lectures.

    Why it would be beneficial to people not to attend a world-class science communicator’s lectures, because he does not care about Rebecca’s experiences as an atheist woman, is beyond me, but – that’s me, I guess. YMMV.

    >#168:

    I fully get that Rebecca has called for a general boycott of Dawkins’ lectures. We all seem to agree on that.

    And, according to you, Rebecca will not tell others to buy his books. On that, I agree.

    You do not see this as Rebecca calling for a general boycott of Dawkins’ books. On that, I do not agree.

    So, that is where we are, at the present moment.

    How do we resolve this?

  18. 172

    Tom Foss,

    I note that Rebecca says nothing of her own statement: “…or recommend that others do the same.” Whether that applies to Dawkins’ books, lectures, or both, is, as we have seen, up for interpretation.

    I do note that Rebecca is contradicting both you, Jason, and others here, when she says that she did not call for a boycott of anything. We have agreed here that Rebecca did in fact call for a general boycott of Dawkins’ lectures.

    Either you, Jason and others here are right, or Rebecca is.

  19. 173

    Rebecca recommended that others do not attend his lectures (that much we agree on)

    Wrong. I have disagreed with this, at length. As have others.

    Rebecca Watson has stated that she will stop recommending people to go to his lectures.

    The implication is that, previously, she has recommended that people see his lectures — actively told them to go to those lectures. She has signalled that she will stop actively telling people to see him. She has further clarified that she does not care if others do see his lectures, read him, pay him attention, etc.

    Rebecca Watson did not ever recommend that people NOT see his lectures. Not once.

    Why must you expressly lie about my clear statements in order to make it seem like you’re merely confused?

  20. 174

    We resolve it by you considering that because everyone keeps telling you you’re wrong about a point, you stop restating that point as though some of us agree with you.

    You either do this, Claus, or I take the microphone away because you’ve derailed this thread for far too long and you’ve driven out all semblance of actual discussion.

  21. 175

    Claus, are you German? Do you understand the difference between:

    Rebecca macht keine Empfehlungen in bezug auf Dawkins’ Vorträge

    and

    Rebecca empfiehlt anderen, Dawkins’ Vorträge nicht zu besuchen

    ?

    The first one is simply not telling people to go. The second one is positively telling people to stay away. The first one is what Rebecca said, the second is not. I will admit that in German the moving of “nicht” does not alter the meaning of the sentence as much as moving “not” does in English – so

    Rebecca empfiehlt anderen nicht, Dawkins’ Vorträge zu besuchen

    reads more like a boycott than the literal translation into English. But please stop digging this hole for yourself (whether or not you’re German); listen to what everyone else on this thread is telling you!

  22. 176

    Claus:

    I note that Rebecca says nothing of her own statement: “…or recommend that others do the same.” Whether that applies to Dawkins’ books, lectures, or both, is, as we have seen, up for interpretation.

    No, it is not “up for interpretation” unless you are being willfully obtuse. It has been explained to you repeatedly why and how you are misreading what has been clearly written.

    I do note that Rebecca is contradicting both you, Jason, and others here, when she says that she did not call for a boycott of anything. We have agreed here that Rebecca did in fact call for a general boycott of Dawkins’ lectures.

    Either you, Jason and others here are right, or Rebecca is.

    I’m beginning to think your problems with English are greater than you suspect.

    Here’s a clue: Rebecca, Jason, and I all agree. Why are you the odd one out?

  23. 177

    roland72: Reading your post, and digesting for a few moments, I’ll accept that. Its not uncommon for bigots to not realize they’re bigots.

    But, let me just point out that “I think some of the slimepitters are sincere when they say they support women’s rights – they just have never had to think through what that actually means.”, while probably true, doesn’t disagree with what I said (which, was clearly hyperbolic and deliberately so).

    They don’t beat up women or rape women so they’re not the bad guys! They supporters of women’s rights. . . until women’s rights are inconvenient to them. Or until a woman makes insanely impossible demands on them like “don’t call me that” or “stop groping me”. What man can live under such tyranny!

    And this, right here, is why I have such a good time mocking them. They’re all for women’s rights! They claim. Until a woman says, “Okay, cool. Could you stop calling me a cunt then?” and their response is “FEMNAZI CENSORSHIP MAN-HATER MISANDRY BITCH CUNT RUINING YOUR CAUSE DEEP RIFTS HIVEMIND WARBLEWARBLE RAAWWRR”

    But it’s women – and feminists, specifically – who are irrational and overly emotional. LOL

    You are spot on about the privilege aspect.

    Lastly, a question: since slimepitters (and other bigoty trolls) are always attempting to tone troll their way out of having to make an actual argument, insisting that women not being sufficiently nice to them is the reason they don’t support feminism, what was it about aggressive responses that made YOU rethink? (if you don’t mind my asking).

  24. Ike
    178

    Watson did explicitly say: “But those of us who are humanists and feminists will find new, better voices to promote and inspire,”

    Implying that those who are not humanists and feminists will not find new, better voices. I.e., if you’re a humanist/feminist, then you’ll move on from Dawkins. That’s somewhat of a boycott calling…

  25. 179

    And now, for some CONTEXT:

    “Despite the fact that I’ve seen hundreds of comments from those of you who plan to do the same, I’m sure Dawkins will continue to be stinking rich until the end of his days. But those of us who are humanists and feminists will find new, better voices to promote and inspire, and Dawkins will be left alone to fight the terrible injustice of standing in elevators with gum-chewers.”

    So, she was TALKING TO THE PEOPLE WHO ALREADY SAID THEY PLANNED TO DO THE SAME.

    Still not calling for a boycott.

  26. 180

    Ike: Keep stretching, and maybe you’ll grasp one of those straws someday.

    Illuminata: Absolutely. They’re fine with women’s rights and calling out misogyny and destructive patriarchal societies as long as it’s abstract. As soon as someone suggests that misogyny may be closer to home than the Middle East, that they may be contributing to patriarchy, it’s a different story.

  27. Ike
    181

    The context doesn’t change the sentence. She still implicitly says those who move on are humanists and feminists, and those who do not move on are not humanists and feminists.

    Not ‘some of us humanists and feminists’ but ‘Those of us who ARE humanists and feminists’.

  28. 182

    Not ‘some of us humanists and feminists’ but ‘Those of us who ARE humanists and feminists’.

    Yeah – COMMENTING AT HER BLOG. Are you aware of the troll infestation her blog got because of her audacity to argue with King Dawkins? Here’s a hint: NONE of them were humanists and feminists.

    Keep scraping the bottom of the barrell though. I’m sure, if you keep trying really really hard, you’ll someday manufacture convincing proof that she’s the devil incarnate. Good luck!

  29. Ike
    183

    Yeah, trying to prove she’s the devil incarnate is my aim.

    Those of us who are intelligent and wise will continue to not be her biggest fan.

  30. 184

    To me, that is a crystal clear call for a change in behavior on other people’s part.

    Yeah, well, it’s already been explained to you why your interpretation is wrong — countless times by several different commenters. And your total refusal to accept or understand what we’ve explained to you just proves how immature and dishonest you are.

    Implying that those who are not humanists and feminists will not find new, better voices. I.e., if you’re a humanist/feminist, then you’ll move on from Dawkins. That’s somewhat of a boycott calling…

    Oh looky, another Dawkins fanboy pretending to be smart and failing basic reading comprehension. News flash: if you replace “will” with “should” in the sentence you’re all upset about, THEN you’d have a call for a boycott — which is different from a prediction. If you don’t know the diference between those two small words, then you don’t belong on a grownup blog; and you sure as hell shouldn’t be trying to read at Dawkins’ level.

  31. 185

    @ Illuminata – I think you’re right. How anti-women you can be without realising it is different for different people. The classic line is “I can’t be anti-women – I love women!” – but men who say that have a very different idea of what “love” means to rational people, and it normally means denying agency to women they find attractive – and denying existence to women they don’t. How to get someone to realise that is a difficult problem.

    How did I realise it? Well I remember thinking – a long time ago – that there wasn’t a problem with sexual inequality and that women who pointed out that this isn’t the case were moaning unnecessarily and generally making life inconvenient for everyone. I’ve always been incredibly conflict-averse, so rather than trying to argue the point if it came up, I simply didn’t talk about it. Growing up I had a couple of very strong feminist role-models (my mum and my best friend’s mum) who had no problem with pointing out ingrained sexism when they saw it; I was too timid to argue with them about it, even though I didn’t agree with them that it existed in the way they said, so their points brewed in my mind for years and years.

    Then I started to read Pharyngula, which I’ve been doing for four or five years now, and was initially startled by what I saw as an overly aggressive approach to men (and some women) who exhibited clueless sexism – but the thing I read (and I can’t remember when I read it first) which really made me think, was just – listen! Listen to what these women are saying.

    I realised that I hadn’t been listening, and that the likely reason for this was that I had internalised the idea that women weren’t worth listening to. Intellectually I realised this wasn’t a good reason not to listen, so I listened. And I realised that what these women were saying was consistent and believable, and I saw statements which I might have agreed with before as the clueless nonsense that they were. It’s made a difference to how I interact with women IRL as well. I don’t interrupt. I don’t know if I interrupted women more before – I think it’s quite likely – but I certainly don’t now. I shudder now to think how I treated some of my female friends at school. And if a woman has been used to this sort of treatment since that age it’s hardly surprising she’ll have a short fuse when confronted with it now; hence the aggressive approach on Pharyngula to clueless sexists. Fair enough, I say – though I’m still too conflict-averse to engage in it myself.

    Full disclosure – I’m a gay man; I used to think that gay men were misogyny-proof but I can hold myself up as an example that they’re not. I honestly can’t tell if not being sexually attracted to women has made a difference to this journey.

  32. 186

    While everyone argues about whether Watson called for a boycott (for the record: 1. Claus is WRONG 2. There’s nothing immoral with calling for a boycott, even though that isn’t what she did), I will just quickly note that the slimy little troll moved the goalposts from “blacklist” to “boycott” between 117 and 120, and is therefor either too stupid to tell the [vast] difference between those two terms, or is a shameless liar who imagines everyone else is stupid.

  33. 189

    roland72 – Thank you for that. 100000000%. You, and lurkers like you are the entire reason I personally engage trolls. Obviously, I’m not conflict-adverse. Not NOW. But I was. Back when I was a Chill Girl(tm), I would never have argued.

    Then, I had an abusive rapey boyfriend (now LONG an ex). Four years of that and now I couldn’t fucking care less if my arguing is seen as combative, unladylike or obnoxious. I personally feel that combating this bullshit online is just as important as donating time and money to like-minded orgs.

    if my being an obnoxious bitchybitch to bigot trolls helps some lurker arm themselves against bullshit arguments like we’ve seen here, or helps give someone even the slightest clue, or lets someone know they aren’t alone in being this deluge of horseshit bigotry* then I can die happy.

    To be clear, I’m not claiming credit for your transformation. I am just very happy to hear from another person who disproves the tone troll’s mantra. There’s a LOT of commenters at Pharyngula (and elsewhere) who’ve told similar stories to yours. Which is why the tone trolls get such a trouncing. We KNOW they are wrong. And cowardly.

    * to be clear, I’m not taling about just misogyny. Any bigotry that is directed towards disadvantaged/oppressed people.

  34. Ike
    190

    Watson understands them. So if you have a beef with that, it’s probably because the terms have not been defined here and people are riding on assumptions. But rather than playing semantic gotcha, you ought to be discussing what it means to be a feminist and humanist if it seems like Watson and others are saying something ridiculous or wrong.

    I didn’t agree with what Dawkins said. I don’t see the gain of comparing something somewhat bad to something very bad and so completely disregarding the somewhat bad thing. That just isn’t productive. If we lived our lives like that we wouldn’t get anywhere.

    Howe’er, Dawkins says lots of very good things and does lots of very good things, and to say that people who still like him do not share her ideals of humanism and feminism is, yes, ridiculous and wrong. He has done lots for humanism, and, by proxy (though it may not have been his main aim) feminism. She did say that people who don’t move on are not humanists and feminists. As hers and Dawkins’ audience is comprised of, presumably, humanists and feminists, that is as good as a boycott.

    I’m sure nobody can say, with integrity, that Watson and PZ Myers have got everything right ever but disowning them as not in keeping with new humanism and feminism would too be ridiculous.

  35. 191

    Thanks for the kind words Illuminata. I’m sorry to hear you had such an awful relationship, but glad to hear you’ve made it out the other side.

    Tone trolls are a funny bunch. I’m all for a discussion having the right tone, but for me the frequency of “fuck” has nothing to do with it; a polite assertion of a toxic opinion drags down the tone of a conversation much more effectively than any amount of profanity in defence of a humane one.

    To be sure, I don’t agree with everything that’s said by the regulars on Pharyngula (though when pressed to think of an example, it’s actually quite hard to come up with one); but if I wanted to assert a contrary opinion I would make damn sure I had the facts and arguments to back it up. The fact that it’s such a bearpit is why.

    Over the last few days I’ve felt more confident commenting on FTB though… perhaps a foray into the bearpit might be a good idea 🙂

  36. Ike
    192

    KarenX,

    If we presume that liberating someone from religion increases the standing of women – which seems to be a strong correlation – then Dawkins has done an exceedingly high amount for feminism (with a loose definition of ‘making things better for women’).

    Everyone can be unimpressed with him as much as they want – but in the long and short of it, what he’s done, and what he continues to do, is a great asset to humanity. He’s obviously not going to be perfect, and I hate to use majority rules as a thing: but Dawkins has done far more for the atheist and skeptic movement than Watson, by affecting people both inside and out of it.

    And by extension, probably has affected the lives of a lot more women for good. Disowning him because he disagrees on a not particularly huge issue (blah blah blinded by privilege – but if we look at it, standing up and saying ‘I hate Dawkins’ and having many people in the atheist movement do it is not going to wonders for wider religious issues) seems petty and trivial.

  37. 193

    @178 Ike

    Watson did explicitly say: “But those of us who are humanists and feminists will find new, better voices to promote and inspire,”

    Implying that those who are not humanists and feminists will not find new, better voices. I.e., if you’re a humanist/feminist, then you’ll move on from Dawkins. That’s somewhat of a boycott calling…

    Yes, implying that those who are humanists and feminists will not find new, better voices because they see no need for them. But not somewhat of a boycott calling because those who are humanists and feminists will start recommending new people and stop recommending old people and not disrecommend anyone. See above.

    @181 Ike

    The context doesn’t change the sentence. She still implicitly says those who move on are humanists and feminists, and those who do not move on are not humanists and feminists.

    Not ‘some of us humanists and feminists’ but ‘Those of us who ARE humanists and feminists’.

    Yes. Those who do not move on are not humanists and feminists because they are demonstrating that they do not share the ideals of humanists and feminists. At least not the ideals of humanists and feminists as Watson understands them. So if you have a beef with that, it’s probably because the terms have not been defined here and people are riding on assumptions. But rather than playing semantic gotcha, you ought to be discussing what it means to be a feminist and humanist if it seems like Watson and others are saying something ridiculous or wrong. And I don’t know if that’s a topic for this thread or another post altogether, but that’s one place people might be talking around each other.

  38. 194

    Rebecca Watson has said, very specifically, that she is not calling for a boycott of Dawkins. So why are Claus and Ike trying so desperately to “prove” that she is?

  39. Ike
    195

    I hate women and women are shit and really just the worst.

    I’m not a misogynist though.

    Is this roughly your point, ’tis?

  40. 196

    No, Ike. His point is

    “I will no longer buy X and would encourage you not to”

    =/=

    “Everyone must boycott X.”

    They are two different statements and while the sentiments are similar one is a call to action the other is just expressing someone’s feelings.

  41. 197

    No, Ike, my point is that you’re twisting Rebecca’s words out of shape to “prove” she’s calling for a boycott of Dawkins when in reality she as said in as many words that she’s not calling for one.

    I’m not making any conjectures about your motives in lying about Watson. Perhaps you’re not lying but only incredibly stupid. So which is it? Are you lying or are you stupid? Or is there some other reason why you’re claiming something that has been denied by her?

  42. Ike
    198

    Well, by definition, ‘A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for political reasons.’

  43. 200

    Ike,

    Clearly Watson has different ideas about what constitutes humanism and feminism than you do, which is why you are disagreeing with her division between herself and Dawkins. I don’t think anyone is denying that there is an overlap between what Watson and Dawkins consider to be humanism and feminism. But the fact that he has done some good is not really relevant if the bad she perceives him as doing outweighs it. It’s nice for those people that Dawkins has helped that he helped them, but it’s not so nice for those people who have been hurt by him.

    We can presume that Dawkin’s audience is comprised mostly of humanists and feminists, but I am skeptical of that. Very skeptical of that. I would like to see proof before I accept it. But before that, I would like to see a definition of humanism and feminism so everyone is on the same page.

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