Congratulations to Team Douchebag on their first major victory

It’s war once there’s casualties, right?

Jen McCreight and her commenters dubbed the necessity for a third wave of atheism — a wave that actually gives a shit about people who are getting forced out of the movement by a cloud of vile hatred just because they’re not cis males — as “atheism plus”. A forum is built and a thousand members join within a week. Organizations form to shore up some social justice movement intersections with the atheist community. We built something good. Something energizing. Something that portends a great swamp-draining. A way for movement atheism to heal itself.

Then a whole antifeminist and anti-woman wing of the atheist movement rallies to show us why we can’t have nice things. They amp up the hatred, the vitriol, the vileness. They steal Jen’s resources and leave her drained and incapable of contributing, by making her clean up rivers of bullshit aimed at tarring her personhood, slut-shaming her, and threatening her job by taking the same bullshit to her employers. They make her dread contributing her writings to this movement. This movement which she loved. This movement in which she gathered fans of her writing as easily as some people breathe.

She was a bright shining star in the atheist community when she joined, with all the energy and motivation in the world — but because she was young, not ugly, and made the mistake of mentioning that she has boobs, she started gathering the wrong kind of attention. Then she realized her mistake and started fighting, and the same community that once welcomed her energy and motivation turned on her.

Not everyone, of course. Just the terribly entitled ones who registered her demands that people stop being such assholes as “being divisive”. The people who take “stop being such assholes” as a challenge to prove exactly how big an asshole you can be.

And the irony of it is, this is why a third wave of atheism is entirely necessary. The same people who would bully Jen McCreight out of the community do the same to any female voice that speaks up. Some of them do a victory lap about pushing Jen out of the movement (and yes, this is a shameless bit of self-congratulation on having done damage to the movement!). And they simultaneously ask, “why is atheism plus necessary?”

It’s necessary because of you. It’s necessary because of the colours of Team Douchebag that you so proudly wear while you’re attacking vital new members of the community who dare to talk about issues that might only affect, say, women. It’s necessary especially because there are some among you who won’t wear your colours off the field. It’s necessary because of the divide — the “Great Rift” in our community — between normal, reasonable people, and people who hate as a matter of course. It’s necessary because some people think that if you stomp on sadists who get off on bullying people, then YOU’RE the bully. It’s necessary because some people need to destroy to make themselves feel important.

Some people say you can’t win a war on trollishness.

Maybe not, but you can make the trolls wear their colors off the field. You can show the world exactly what kind of hate-filled monsters some of your supposed “leaders” are. You can prove that the antifeminist and anti-woman factions — our largest single issue for movement cohesion at the moment — are the ones driving the divide and are the ones that make atheism plus a necessity. They are the ones drumming people out of the movement. They are the ones embracing tribalism. They are the ones making atheism plus a divisive idea — because they cling tenaciously to the idea that giving offense is sacrosanct. These people WANT an “us vs them” war, but the reasonable people who recognize that hatred has no place in our movement to be the “them” in the equation. All because they worship offense as its own greatest good, and hold the status quo of privilege as our golden cow.

And here I thought we weren’t supposed to have gods or idols in this community.

So congratulations on your victory, those of you who consider “atheism plus” to be an evil that one must fight. You’ve managed to push out one of our brightest stars.

Know, though, that I’m not going anywhere. And you won’t win the war.

Update: To avoid giving anyone any misperceptions, Jen did not say that she was quitting blogging, or the community. She’s taking a break. But that means she’s taking a break because of the hatred she’s incurring, which amounts to bullying, which amounts to a subset of our community forcing her out. This changes nothing in the above post except that Jen’s taking a breather, not a bow.

Congratulations to Team Douchebag on their first major victory

112 thoughts on “Congratulations to Team Douchebag on their first major victory

  1. 101

    Amazing that joel was told by several women what the context is, and he keeps telling those women that the word is all about women’s body shame (even though that body shame is entirely manufactured by the people selling the product!).

    Let me tell you something, joel. You’re pretty uninteresting yourself, not for your hatred of a term used here exclusively to shame people for being terrible to women, but for repeating your memes ad nauseum despite nuanced argumentation to the contrary.

  2. 104

    The Skeptics Dictionary ( is good reading. Here is a sample:

    ” One of the more common tactics of those who can’t provide a good refutation of an argument is to divert attention away from the argument by calling attention to something about the person who made the argument.”

    Quite a lot of that in this thread, none of it by me by the way.

    Is there something about atheism/skepticism that draws this sort of behavior?

    There is also a lot of ‘authority’ dramatized here, which also seems to me out of character for a blog dedicated to skepticism.

  3. 106

    So since “ad hominem” didn’t work as a club, you’re going for “authority”? Perhaps you could elucidate on what authority, exactly, is being claimed by whom?

    Pointing out that you repeated the same argument despite being refuted and even PRE-futed multiple times is not, in fact, distracting. It is pointing out a disingenuous argumentation tactic that does not facilitate dialog (which involves a two-way interaction — not a repeating of one side of the argument without any acknowledgment that the other side said anything!).

  4. 107

    Your argument has *already* been refuted. That you don’t accept it, preferring to continue believing your unsupported opinion doesn’t change that fact.
    This is what you said originally:

    Why is ‘douchbag’ a term of derison? What are the connotations that make it so awful? It’s just an appliance, what is the problem with it? Is its usual function disgusting or what? Disgusting to whom?

    Jason does the refuting @74:

    One more time: “douchebag” largely became an insult thanks to body shame originally, but the word has been retaken because douching generally employs caustic chemicals and is harmful to the orifices it’s used on (which includes anal). It’s a product sold to women (generally, by society, targeted at women but not sold exclusively to them mind you) to shame them for having orifices that don’t smell like petunias, that aren’t dry as a bone. And it empirically harms them to convince them of those memes, as well as employing the “fix” for those supposed issues. It was sold to women as necessary but turns out to actually be harmful.

    See the parallels yet?

    He also follows up with:

    Because, as I said, douching is harmful to any orifice, and most of us have assholes. I also sort of prefer it to “asshole” generally, because of the body shame issue that brings up — some people enjoy their assholes and I don’t want to stigmatize that either.

    I AM, however, perfectly willing to shame people / ideas sold as beneficial but are empirically harmful.

    So, between the two posts, Jason explains why it’s a term of derision (you asked why), he explains why the connotations are awful (another of your questions), and he explains why a douche bag-despite being an appliance-is bad (another of your questions).
    [I don’t bother with your questions about disgusting, b/c they aren’t relevant. Using a douche is not beneficial, so disgusting or not, it’s not necessary.]
    Do you see the similarities between a device sold to women as beneficial (but is actually harmful), and a guy who tries to inject his opinion as if it’s beneficial (but it’s actually harmful/wrong)?

    You might have a point IF:
    1-douching were a beneficial procedure
    2-a douche was used just by women.

    Douching is *NOT* a beneficial procedure. In fact, it can have a detrimental impact.
    That detrimental impact is felt by women *&* men.
    As I mentioned, I’ve douched before (and I don’t intend to do so again, as I now know that doing so has detrimental effects).

    A douche /ˈduːʃ/ is a device used to introduce a stream of water into the body for medical or hygienic reasons, or the stream of water itself.
    Douche usually refers to vaginal irrigation, the rinsing of the vagina, but it can also refer to the rinsing of any body cavity. A douche bag is a piece of equipment for douching—a bag for holding the fluid used in douching. To avoid transferring intestinal bacteria into the vagina, the same bag must not be used for an enema and a vaginal douche.

    [emphasis mine]

    An enema (/ˈɛnəmə/; plural enemata or enemas) is the procedure of introducing liquids into the rectum and colon via the anus.

    Do you understand now?
    A douche is a device.
    A douche bag is used to hold the fluids used in douching.
    An enema is a procedure.
    A douche can be used on the vagina *or* the rectum.
    Douching is unnecessary and can have negative effects on women and men.
    To continue spelling it out:
    I’ve used a douche to give myself an enema. Got it?


  5. 108

    If I do as I should do, I would judge this whole thread by its result, not by what the individuals say within it.
    The result – a commentary on misogyny, mostly bullying, and how this action has persuaded (and will continue to persuade) certain writers to remove themselves from the ongoing discussion, has been derailed by one (or more) persons insisting upon concentrating on one term of opprobrium and their alledged distaste for the term being used .
    Anyone who has studied rhetoric will spot this. And it worked. Reasonable people have left the discussion, in disgust.
    Jason, your commentary has been mugged. And I am disgusted.
    I think the mysogynists within the discussion group (Could we call them Jerks?) have found a successful ploy. I also think that their attitude of entitlement is because they have figured out one of society’s lies. It was hard work, for that they get credit. But they do not have the stamina or ability to work on the rest of the societal lies – so they will do anything to prevent anyone working on the matter, because it makes them feel badly because they aren’t working on it.
    Entirely too many years ago, in the playground, I encountered bullies, as did others. I found that the second best way to deal with them was to be where they weren’t.
    I have also been guilty of using the second best way. From the first time I read TF (I will not gratify the individual by writing out his handle in full) I simply decided that that was one blogger I simply need not read. He could never have written anything of interest to me.
    Certain commenters on all these blogs are doing the same thing. I have only recently found this group, and I do not wish to deprive myself of intelligent companionship. I really wish they would stop. I have, however, added Skepchik and Secular Women to my favourites.
    I always read your blog. I appreciate your writing.
    I am unable to properly wind up this comment – I also apologize for the length. I simply felt that perhaps one more reader should let you know that your outlook is appreciated.

  6. 109


    The result – a commentary on misogyny, mostly bullying, and how this action has persuaded (and will continue to persuade) certain writers to remove themselves from the ongoing discussion, has been derailed by one (or more) persons insisting upon concentrating on one term of opprobrium and their alledged distaste for the term being used .

    Sometimes it takes someone hitting me across the head with a clue by four.
    You’re right about the derailing and no matter how I feel about it [the derailing topic], I have helped contributed to derailing Jason’s post.

    Thanks Dorothy.

    Sorry about my contribution Jason.

  7. 110

    These conversations always keep returning to the Rebecca Watson elevator issue and the simple utterance of, “guys don’t do that” and the declarative statement from Jen about the “list” of male speakers and their inappropriate conduct. The conversation has grown and/ or deteriorated from there depending on your beliefs.
    My concern is Rebecca Watson told a story in her own narrative that I believed at first blush, right up until the time she said a guy called her a “cunt” on a tweet which did not happen. She then tried to tap dance her way out of it but never really explained her deviation from being truthful. More about this in a second.
    Jen got distressed after cut and pasting a note off a Facebook page where Penn called a woman a “cunt” even though Jen has called people asshats or douchebags or other use of invective. Her argument is her invective is not as bad as the other folks invective. It’s hypocritical but I understand her reasoning. Then she makes a statement without any offering of proof of speakers making inappropriate conversation or groping or propositions. To date as far as I know there has not been the offer of one piece of evidence to support this claim and yet we are in the midst of a huge upheaval because of this mysoginist conversation.
    As far as I can tell, the documented claims are a couple of instances at TAM and what else? Did someone lose a job, a speaking assignment, an opportunity, what? Where is the proof there is rampant anything that is different as a percent of the atheist community than has occurred anywhere in society? He anecdotes of unsafe space issues are again societal.
    These fallacious arguments have been built on smoke and mirrors because …….well you fill in the blank. Don’t tell me about some statistical argument on the web, tell me about instances in the atheist community where something other than 3 instances out of thousands of interactions rises to some level of gross mysoginy.
    As for the harassment on line, yes, absolutely. I can see it but you have no idea who these folks are. For all you know these are the religious right eating you up.
    The absolute lack of a anyone being able to take an opposing viewpoint without being called a name or put down is an embarrassment.
    I am in agreement about treating all folks with dignity and respect, that cuts both ways.

  8. 111

    I just released @110 from a moderation trap, which got modded because it included some twitch words. This I suspect explains why Entrained later changed his name to Eliott1 (thinking he got put in moderation and trying to avoid it). It indicates to me I should probably put him in moderation for trying to avoid a ban I didn’t implement.

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