RCimT: Dispatches from the Misogyny Wars

I’ve had quite a week, and the well’s pretty close to dry as far as spare resources with which to blog. Thankfully, it’s not like the rest of the blogosphere runs on my specific contributions! Therefore, have a link roundup of things that people have written that are worth reading. The theme for this Random Crap in my Tabs round-up should be relatively obvious, given the current all-encompassing conflagration surrounding our attempt to evolve the atheist and skeptical movements into some sense of pluralism and humanitarianism.

At Lord Setar’s Atheist Conspiracy, Setar excoriates false equivalency arguments (because when one side is actually doing physical harm to others, there’s no “both sides are bad” to be had:

Politics is warfare.

We’re not discussing as equals. We liberals think we’re correct, but we’re willing to change our minds in the face of new evidence or rational arguments, and we recognize that we must be bounded by those rules (which also govern ethics) in order to be right.

Regressives don’t merely think they’re correct. They think they’re right — period. Anything and everything they do is right. Anything done to forward their conclusions is right. Evidence and logic are just tools to be manipulated to the cause of that which is right. Hell, they even call themselves “the right” (except for the libertarians who don’t want you to know they’re just as regressive as the other privileged righties). And if evidence and logic fail? Bah, that’s just one tool; the next step is to just make stuff up, and if that fails then just pound the opponent into silence with words.

Or threats. Or bombs. Or gunshots.

Skepchick brings us good news in the fight against anti-feminist and anti-woman trolling: David Silverman has spoken out.

As a Humanist, I see these threats as base and detestable. They have no redeeming value and will raise no awareness, solve no problems, and hurt those who should be friends. As a long term activist, I see hatred and threats of violence directed at our sisters-in-arms to be reprehensible, serving no purpose other than to hurt and intimidate valuable allies. As a white man, I know that so much of this hate comes from people who look like me — but they’re nothing like me where it counts. As the leader of a national atheist organization, I have implemented harassment policies to minimize such irrational, hateful, and counterproductive behavior wherever my authority allows. We have a war to win, and we won’t win until we can look forward, without watching our own backs. American Atheists stands by all its members, supporters, and allies, and we will not tolerate hate directed at any of us. Period.

~David Silverman

Surly Amy covers the very rational question of whether it’s immoral to rape a Skepchick if she’s annoying:

Just an average day for us. And this has been going on ever since Rebecca said, “…hey guys don’t do that.” For me, it has been getting worse over the past few months. I guess I became a direct target after Rebecca decided to stay home from TAM. I was more in the spotlight so the threats became more about me.

I’m not really sure what the best advice here is, honestly. I can say things like, don’t give up and keep fighting the good fight but it sounds so cliché. It’s no joke that this endless stream of misogyny and out-and-out hatred is exhausting. Especially when we here at Skepchick have literally donated thousands upon thousands of hours and thousands of dollars to encouraging the secular-skeptic-atheist movement and to specifically working towards getting more women involved.

Stephanie Zvan rehumanizes the Skepchicks in order to answer the question of what good Skepchicks have done for the community:

The question I’d like people to devote some brain power to, though, is how anyone could look at that statement and not see the blatant dehumanization of a group of people. Nor am I even talking about the “joke” that rape might not be immoral. How can anyone look at the group of people and decide that they are interchangeable, that you can just grab any of my friends mentioned above at will and have someone who is somehow everything that a Skepchick is?

Ophelia breaks down Amy’s comments on the raping-Skepchicks “question”, and points out some great comments like:

The things that really dig at me are the people who have been allies or should be allies that no longer are because their widdow feewings were hurt. People like Emery Emery who when the elevator incident occurred backed Rebecca but has somewhere since switched over to misrepresenting Rebecca and the FTBlogger’s position and then writing them off. Organizations like JREF who don’t feel the need to lay out a clear anti-harassment policy yet feel the need to blame anyone who suggests they should have one as hurting the attendance to their fundraiser (which is what TAM really is). People like Paula Kirby who seems to be operating under the delusion that if she can’t see something that it doesn’t exist and feels the need to shut up those who point out where she might be wrong (and her herd of lick-spittle sycophants that seem to be overly represented by philosophy students for some reason).

Sasha Pixlee changes the framing of the questions being asked by those who don’t believe there’s any misogyny to be ended in our communities, making their blind spots denialism rather than rationality:

Many skeptics and atheists seem to adhere to the “overvalued idea” that their love of rationality makes them better people than those who don’t profess an allegiance to truth over dogma. They seem to build much of their identity around the idea that everything they believe is grounded in reason and is therefore pure, just, and good. They love talking about the way the human brain is prone to error but never seem to think about how they are just as likely to be mistaken as someone who doesn’t identify as a skeptic. They will criticize racism, sexism, etc in credulous or theistic groups but somehow believe that those ideas are absent from their own minds or communities.

Pamela Gay’s well-received TAM speech about misogyny and bullying in our community has apparently spawned a t-shirt — Stopping Harassment Starts Here.

In order to call attention this issue I had printed (with personal funds) a set of t-shirts that simply say, “Stopping Harassment Starts Here.” The shirts are in purple, a color used to symbolize the need to stop domestic violence, stop animal cruelty, support religious (and non-religious) tolerance, and stop bullying of members of the LGBTQ community. These are all issues that matter to me, and I hope that at least some of them matter to you.

In Our Words Blog’s Andrew Tripp blogs about a talk he’s given for CFI’s Leadership conference, about evolving the atheist movement’s goals and methodologies:

We haven’t been looking to break down the old ways of knowing; instead, we have coopted them and slapped a secular label on them. We have been trying to create a permanent, ahistorical, neutral set of standards by which all knowledge and worth is to be judged; that of science, atomism, whatever we choose to call it. It’s the same type of framework that has been used by popes, priests, and dictators for centuries; the enemies of freethought, of rationality, the things we have been supposedly fighting for. By inhabiting this reductionist philosophy, we have never looked outside the box; the framework does not allow, epistemologically, for questions of identity to enter our conception as being a worthy aspect of investigation, for it is such a subjective thing; our conceptions of our and others’ being is always in flux, always depending on sense data gained from experience. It resists quantification.

Hopefully that’s enough reading material for the moment. I’ll work on getting my mojo back in the meantime. I have a few blog posts rattling around in my brain that I haven’t been able to make coalesce into actual words on the screen yet, but I really hope to manage something meaty over the weekend. I’m feeling… out of practice. Or something.

RCimT: Dispatches from the Misogyny Wars

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