Comparing movement atheism and Catholicism on matters of misogyny

Silentbob posted an excellent comment on one of the last threads that I think really cuts through a lot of the pushback with regard to cleaning up our own houses. It’s not about who’s “good enough” to be part of our “exclusive club”, it’s about acknowledging problems when there’s overwhelming evidence that those problems exist, and fixing them. Given that we’ve attacked the Catholic church so often for their issues with child molestation, even though MOST PRIESTS AREN’T CHILD MOLESTERS, one would think that we would recognize the need to acknowledge the problem of antifeminism and outright misogyny even though MOST ATHEISTS AREN’T MISOGYNISTS.

The comparison my be odious, but I suggest an analogy with the paedophilia problem in the catholic church.

Atheists, of course, strongly condemn this behaviour, but are we not almost as appalled by the church’s response, which is typically to trivialise, dismiss or conceal the problem? How do we react when the church says, “Oh, but this is just a few isolated incidents! You shouldn’t condemn the whole church. Most priests aren’t paedophiles. Why make such a fuss? Focus on the good, not on the bad!”. Aren’t we especially disgusted when they resort to blaming the victim? When someone within speaks out and acknowledges the problem, don’t we praise them?

There is a misogyny problem within the atheist movement. It is well documented. Let us not trivialise, or dismiss, or sweep the problem under the carpet. Nor complain that is it isn’t representative of the atheist movement as a whole. And most of all, let us not blame the victim. We must do just what we would expect of the church – focus on the problem, highlight the problem, condemn the problem in the strongest possible terms, and set about fixing it. The people who have been doing this should not be attacked for exaggerating the problem, or for calling the movement into disrepute. They should be thanked for the courage to take a stand.

We must hold ourselves to a higher standard than we would hold those we oppose.

I’ve also elsewhere likened it to people being told they have cancer, but instead of treating it, they demand that doctors stop talking about your body being “full of cancer” when it’s really just one tumor, and really the tumor is teeny-tiny, no bigger than 0.01% of your body mass!

Can we just deal with the tumor please? Is that so hard?

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Comparing movement atheism and Catholicism on matters of misogyny
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180 thoughts on “Comparing movement atheism and Catholicism on matters of misogyny

  1. 51

    @Liam

    That sounds ghastly. Where an accusation is as good as a conviction, justice is going to be misused. Due process is something that should be afforded to all, ESPECIALLY those accused of an offense.

    This is the kind of bullshit that makes it hard for me breathe when I read it.
    WTF?

    The only one who can and should determine whether an action was welcome or unwelcome and what it made that person feel is the person it happened to. Intentions don’t mean shit for that. No one gets to decide whether or not someone felt harassed.

    You and anyone else does not get to be the fucking judge of that.
    Due process is relevant in a court of law because they handle convictions. Intentions matter for convicting someone, not for fucking establishing whether or not a punishable crime occurred or whether or not someone felt violated or harassed.

    Fuck that. According to you anyone can walk away from a car crash they caused as long as they “didn’t mean to cause one”. In dubio pro reo means that the court should consider the person accused not guilty of causing this car crash until guilt can be determined, not that the fucking car crash didn’t happen.

    FFS!

    This isn’t difficult.

    So many people complain feminism were too dogmatic but apparently it’s acceptable for fucks like this one to to let anyone be the fucking authority of another person’s feelings than that person themselve.

    When, in a company, a complain about harassment is made, the one person who is and can be an authority about that is the one it happened to.
    Intentions don’t matter for that.

    Intentions matter when it comes to punishing it. If someone made a blunder and didn’t mean to cause harm the most they will get is a reminder to think before acting and taking the other involved people’s feeling into account.
    But apparently that’s too much to ask for.

  2. 52

    Demanding to be not left alone: then why the fuck do you even visit blogs where assholes abound?
    Did anybody explicitly invite you to post? Or gave you special rights for posting? Do you expect special treatment and why?

    O rly.

    Did anybody explicitly invite the assholes to post? Did they get special rights to make attacks on women just for Posting While Female? Or are THEY expecting special treatment in not being called out for it?

    Misogynistic assholes don’t just rain from the sky as an act of god. They decide to make women’s lives hell and they deserve to be censured or prevented. Raising a roof to make one dry space isn’t stealing anything from them.

  3. 53

    here an accusation is as good as a conviction, justice is going to be misused.

    So,what you’re saying is, when a woman makes an accusation, justice can only happen if there’s 4 male witnesses to corroborate her story? You know, cuz obviously bitches lie so much who can trust ’em, amirite?

  4. 54

    You have only one right: either to fight those assholes or leave; since when do you have the right to be left alone when entering a public arena where unpleasant topics are discussed?

    FFS, did you read her comment? That’s what atheism+ is, it’s leaving and setting up something else entirely. And the assholes are following us around, stalking, butting in on every conversation happening everywhere. So, is the best societal solution to just keep moving and let them take over everything?

  5. 55

    kraut–

    (Sigh).

    Racism 101: it isn’t always about the person’s physical characteristics, or more accurately, it’s a social construct that can encompass many things. It’s not all or nothing. When people make insulting remarks about Jews, that particular form of bigotry is a species of racism. You are aware of the term anti-Semite?

    OK, now, in the US, Islam has become racialized. This means, contrary to reality, that most people do not associate Islam with white folks. The situation would be different if we were living in Bosnia or Tajikistan. We are not. Islam is pretty clearly a religion of the “other” in our society. Othering is a social process, a social construct.

    kraut, it just seems to me that you’ve got this desire to be kind of a jerk to people, that you don’t care that when you insult someone you aren’t just hurting their wittle feewings. You are engaging in an act of dehumanization. This is the case whether you say to a woman “just deal with it” when they get rape threats or a person of color or religious minority who has to deal with all kinds of daily bullshit.

    Tell me, kraut, why is it so important not just to argue with folks, but to hurt them? What is it about this particular stripe of atheist, if that’s what it is, that says “hey, not only am I going to argue there is no god, but I am going to try my best to alienate and dehumanize those who are less powerful than I.”

    This is why people like Crommunist and Sikivu Hutchison and Rebecca Watson are important. I don’t agree with them all the time but day-um I do agree with them when they call out much of the “movement” of atheists, such as it is, for being rather white and male and more importantly, refusing to examine their own privileges.

    Atheism is the position that god doesn’t exist. But it’s also an explicitly political stance. Because if you are going to say God doesn’t exist, presumably you don’t want to be punished for it, in all the ways that society does so. Little ways, most of the time. Sometimes big ones, like the de facto religious test for office.

    And if you are going to say that folks shouldn’t be discriminated against for being atheists, I don’t see why it’s such a gigantic leap to say that you know what? Other people shouldn’t have to deal with stupid bullshit either. Other people should also be, as much as possible, free of it.

    That’s also a political stance, because it reflects a certain vision of how a society should treat its members.

    It’s easy to be a tough guy and say “well, words don’t hurt me” when you never have to rally deal with any of it. When you can walk away. When you never, ever have to think all day, every day, about being a woman, or a person of color. About all the small things that just make your life a little more difficult than it has to be.

    When you say stuff like “Islam is a shitty religion” you aren’t striking blow for rationality. Same for when you say “women don’t get to decide when they are being harassed.” You’re just being a bully.

    Maybe you dig that, I dunno.

  6. 56

    We’re not here to cheer ourselves for being awesome, we’re here to discover REALITY. If what we discover mandates us as ethical beings to change, then we work for change.

    Bangerang.

    I am reminded of an episode of Firefly (The Train Job). Captain R discovers that he has just unknowngly stolen life saving medicine on behalf of a psychotic bastard. He returns what he pinched, and is caught by the local law while doing so…

    Sherrif: “If a man can get a job, he might not look
    too close at what that job is. But a man learns
    all the details of a situation like ours, well,
    then he has a choice.

    Captain: (stone-cold serious) “I don’t believe he does.”

    Furthermore, as a result of defying a psychotic bastard, doing the right thing puts our heroes in the firing line and the captain later pays a price for his integrity. In the RW, at least we can share the cost with others who share a similar lack of choice in the matter.

  7. 58

    Fundamental anarchy? *snark* Yeah, and we have a Cheif Anarchist as well. Quick, everyone, circle the wagons and organize to protect the Anarchy!

    Funny how the same crowd that will say “Atheism is nothing but a lack of a belief in gods, stop trying to redefine it!” are so quick to tack their own personal values onto it. It’s almost like one can be an atheist AND hold other values that stem from their atheism. But, since atheism *is* just a lack of belief, those values vary between groups and individuals. So we organize groups that are, say, atheist but help build houses (helping hands), or are atheist but try to aid under privileged kids (For Kids Sake), or are atheist but care about social equality. Or are atheist and want to create a group that focuses on what we can do to improve the human condition in general, far from the woo of religious humanists or derailing misogynists who are angry that a woman has the audacity to have an opinion on the internet like. Oh, look! There’s a new organization that does just that.

    Gee, it’s great to live in a buffet of opinions and ideas, isn’t it? We can pick and choose where we go, and no one can define our atheism for us because it’s ALREADY BEEN DEFINED.

  8. 59

    @jesse

    “When you say stuff like “Islam is a shitty religion” you aren’t striking blow for rationality. Same for when you say “women don’t get to decide when they are being harassed.” You’re just being a bully.”

    In case you did not read my post, I stated that find all three abrahamic religions to be shitty. So, if I say a religion is shitty, how does that imply that I label the adherents as shitheads? Who is projecting here, buddy?
    How can the condemnation or critique of an idea for that matter be taken as a personal attack of the adherent to those ideas.
    By your impeccable logic it would be always wrong to attack religions or ideas because implicitly I attack the adherent to such ideas.
    And in this case, where does the “other” come in? I am discriminating now also against white anglosaxon teabaggers?
    I am not permitted now to say that libertarianism is a pile of shit? Do I really have to argue every time why I think it is shit? or why any religion is shit? To be equally discriminating (I hope you get the logic here, which in your post I find sadly lacking)I am calling all religions a pile of steaming shit, be it hindusim, shintoism, wiccan, any kind of animistic religion, sikhism, the three abrahamic ones for sure, voodoo…please feel free to expand the list as you like.

    In case I insult your sensitivities, please read the bible (OT and NT) and the quaran and see for yourself the pile of hateful, misogynistic, murderous, ethnic cleansing and authoritarian shit those book represent or advocate. If you think they are not shit, or why it is wrong to label them as such given the content – please feel free to explain further.
    But please explain at the same time why and how you consider yourself an atheist.

  9. 60

    @48 SallyStrange: Elite Femi-Fascist Genius says:

    Fuck him and fuck his fans. Amazing, looking back at his and his fans’ passionate opposition anti-harassment policies. Motivated reasoning, anyone?

    I am not a fan of thunderfoot, but I think this next comment is a pretty good example of why some people are apprehensive.

    @ 30 ‘Tis Himself says:

    If someone thinks they’ve been sexually harassed, then they have been.

  10. 62

    brokenmech @ 60–

    What, precisely, do you think happens when a man is accused of sexual harassment? Twenty years at hard labor??

    What really happens is that he gets pulled aside and quietly told that some people don’t appreciate his touchy-feely style (or off-color jokes, or whatever) so please cool it. That’s it. If he says, “oh, sorry, didn’t know that was a problem” AND CUTS IT OUT, that’s generally the end of it.

    Only if he makes a complete nuisance of himself, doubles down, and tries to get revenge on the woman, while screaming his rights are being violated, will there be further repercussions. It is entirely under the alleged harasser’s control.

    Of course, men who are morally committed to anarchism and who feel that any suggestion that they behave with consideration toward others is a violation of their sacred principles may have a problem. Other guys, not so much.

  11. 63

    “And the assholes are following us around, stalking, butting in on every conversation happening everywhere. So, is the best societal solution to just keep moving and let them take over everything?”

    In case where the arguments amount to actual harassment, personal attacks, the blog owner could monitor the topic (I have been on a variety of other forums where appropriate postings get removed)and remove the offending article or block the person from posting further.

    “As a general detractor of FTB and the atheist+ cause, I don’t think anyone sees themselves as protecting misogyny. I think it is natural that the “free thinking” community would consist of a wide range of apolitically divergent opinions and ideologies. I think people, myself included, see themselves as protective of that fundamentally anarchic quality that the Skeptical/atheist community has always embodied.”

    I see nothing but a non attacking – personal or otherwise – non harassing opinion in the posting that the request for being left alone was made in response to.

    If postings like the above however should be construed as harassment or a personal attack, or beyond the scope of permitted opinion, if criticism of feminism is suddenly anathema (why should it not be scrutinized as any other “ism”?), if critique of religion is frowned upon and labelled as racist (as done by some idiot here, and that is a personal attack): fuck you all and keep playing in your sandbox by yourself.

  12. 64

    I am not a fan of thunderfoot, but I think this next comment is a pretty good example of why some people are apprehensive.

    @ 30 ‘Tis Himself says:

    If someone thinks they’ve been sexually harassed, then they have been.

    because bitches are always lying, amirite?

  13. 65

    “Of course, men who are morally committed to anarchism and who feel that any suggestion that they behave with consideration toward others is a violation of their sacred principles may have a problem. Other guys, not so much.”

    anarchism – please fucking read some Bakunin before you conflate anarchism with libertarianism, because anarchism is taking personal responsibility for your actions, and taking away the power to regulate from the state, anarchism is the association of free individuals to make decisions based not on power but on goals,
    it is the pinnacle of a truly democratic society and not what FOX news tell you anarchism is.
    Anarchism is not anarchy, it actually the final goal of socialism and communism, the free association of free producers free to make decisions based true democracy one person one vote.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho-syndicalism
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Bakunin

    “Forbidden Snowflake says:
    According to kraut, getting rape threats is the norm, and not getting them is “special treatment”. Jebus, what a blazing asshole.”

    Oh, you are too kind, but maybe you should read to what I responded to. Where for fucks sake you idiot is in anything that was said a threat of violence and rape? Is your tunnelvision so pronounced that any opinion diverging from your’s is a threat of rape? Go fuck yourself you slimebag.

    I wonder sometimes what the difference is between some posters like snowflake and sallystrange and Rush Limbaugh – the same response of crying “abuse” to any deviating position.

  14. 68

    @64 Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says:

    because bitches are always lying, amirite?

    Clearly this is a troll comment, but yes, sometimes people do lie. This is not a controversial claim. People who are accused deserve to be presumed innocent. The accuser must prove their case. Again this is not a controversial position.

    @67 skeptifem says:

    what is your way to judge if sexual harassment has happened or not?

    I suppose there needs to be some objective standard of what constitutes sexual harassment. Then if a person is accused of having harassed someone there would be some form of impartial investigation into the veracity of the claim.

    For the record I am not at all opposed to things like harassment policies. I would be very concerned about a harassment policy like the one ‘Tis Himself seems to endorse @30.

  15. 69

    So, because most harassment is impossible to prove without video evidence, all harassers are presumed innocent, and by extension, all women are presumed liars. The “troll argument” you’ve dismissed tells you where the problem is.

  16. 70

    AND. When that harassment comes in the form of online threats by anonymous assholes, under the guise of “trolling”, it’s dismissed as mere trolling. Therefore it is impossible to deal with harassment because no harassment can ever be shown to be TRUE harassment. Ever.

  17. 71

    There’s a reason presumption of innocence is a rule specifically WITHIN CRIMINAL TRIALS. Not for personal judgement, not for codes of conduct, not for discussions, not even for criminal investigations. And certainly not for questions of consent involving other people. The target of harassment should be taken *at least* as seriously as the aggressor, more so when consent is involved as they are THE definitive authority on their own consent. The evidence of widespread bigotry, denial of consent, and silencing of victims justifies correcting for the demonstrated bias: i.e. making conscious effort to consider the victims credible.

  18. 72

    @Jason Thibeault

    As far as on line anonymous trolling(yes it’s harassment)goes… I still fail to see what you think I or anyone else should do about that.

    As to the rest of your point that harassment is impossible to prove? I disagree. Sometimes it may indeed be difficult to prove, but other times there may be witnesses, or the harasser’s previous behaviours make their claim of innocence doubtful. Sometimes the harassment may take place via video or text. Sometimes there may be no need for evidence, because the harasser will just admit they have done what they are accused of doing (even though they may not think their actions constitute harassment).

    Your argument that a presumption of innocence is a presumption that all women are presumed liars, is fallacious.

  19. 73

    @Pteryxx

    The person making a positive claim is the person that is obliged to support that claim. Their is no onus on anyone to just believe what anyone else says no matter how emotionally they assert their claim.

    This should be a fairly familiar concept to most atheists and skeptics.

  20. Rob
    75

    Brokenmech

    You are being oblivious. I hope for your own sake that you are not being intentionally so. After all if it’s only because you haven’t figured it out yet there is still hope for you. Others in this thread and elsewhere have addressed all of your points, and more, quite adequately. Jason in particular, but other FTB hosts as well have compiled a series of links delving into prehistory and explaining social theory at a range of levels. .

    I’d suggest taking some advice from Richard Feynman: “Write down the problem. Think very hard. Write down the answer.” I know the advice is not in the context Feynman meant it, but it’s still good advice.

  21. 76

    BTW, pedophilia is not ignored by the Catholic Church. Do you really think a suspected predator could currently hide in the priesthood? Please cite evidence for the assertion that
    ” the church’s response, which is typically to trivialise, dismiss or conceal the problem? How do we react when the church says, “Oh, but this is just a few isolated incidents! ”

    How about a link to the Vatican’s website? The US Conference of Catholic Bishops? Surely you can manage to quote-mine the writings of Pope Benedict? Not so much as an off-hand response to a reporter stripped of all context? You know. Like when he said that the problem (in Africa) cannot be resolved by just passing out condemns. Remember how you claimed the pope said condoms cause AIDS? Except he didn’t.
    Invitations for coffee = misogyny. Got it!

  22. 78

    @Pteryxx

    I don’t see how that addresses my point a tall. I agree that it is possible to be too skeptical about things. For example, people who claim that Rebecca may be lying about what she experienced… I would characterize that as an irrational skepticism.

  23. 79

    Brokenmech:

    The problem is that the standards of what qualifies as harassment and abuse within the atheism+ community are not even close to the standards of the majority of people.

    This is just plain untrue. The folks calling for the adoption of anti-harassment policies at atheist events (and so on) are calling for policies identical to the ones adopted by a wide range of other conventions. They even used a standard template, developed by another organization to be used by a variety of organizations. You can’t much more “standards of the majority” than that.

    The policies being promoted by the A+ group are also consistent with most workplace harassment policies across the first world, for example defining it as persistent and unwelcome (sexual) conduct.

    What you are objecting to is not some highly unusual set of standards at all, and you know it. Or you should. If you don’t, please familiarize yourself with the actual definitions of harassment that folk like Jason want to implement, then come back and tell us how these definitions are “not even close to the standards of the majority of people.”

  24. 80

    Brokenmech:

    The person making a positive claim is the person that is obliged to support that claim. Their is no onus on anyone to just believe what anyone else says no matter how emotionally they assert their claim.

    Physician, heal thyself. You have made a positive claim that A+ standards of harassment are not even close to the standards of the majority of the people. You are, by your own words, obliged to support that claim.

  25. 81

    I suppose there needs to be some objective standard of what constitutes sexual harassment. Then if a person is accused of having harassed someone there would be some form of impartial investigation into the veracity of the claim.

    That would be just horrid!

    I mean, let’s look at a common scenario. Suppose A likes to tell slightly off-color jokes, and B finds them offensive. B complains to A, but she ignores him, and B is annoyed enough to go to Human Resources.

    Under your plan, HR would have to sit down with a list of jokes and run them through a textual sieve and say: “OK, A, this set of jokes is a little too off-color, and you’re not allowed to tell them to any of your co-workers (not even C, who would think they’re hilarious). And B, this set isn’t all that bad, so you’re not allowed to be offended when you hear them.”

    Isn’t it better to just stick with the method that most companies use today? HR just says to A, “B already asked you not to tell those jokes around him, so how about a little professional courtesy, OK?”

    The only problem I can see is that maybe B will lurk in a closet in hopes of hearing A tell a joke to C, so that he can complain and get A fired. But how often is that going to happen? I mean, we’re not in elementary school, right?

  26. 82

    @79 SallyStrange: Elite Femi-Fascist Genius says:

    And yet you are urging the same level of skepticism be applied to similar claims. You know, claims that basically go, “This guy made me feel really uncomfortable.”

    No, I have never suggested that anyone should question whether or not Rebecca felt really uncomfortable.

    Please clarify if it is indeed your position that Rebecca Watson’s experience constitutes sexual harassment.

  27. Rob
    83

    Brokenmech –
    @73

    The person making a positive claim is the person that is obliged to support that claim. Their is no onus on anyone to just believe what anyone else says no matter how emotionally they assert their claim.

    @78

    I agree that it is possible to be too skeptical about things. For example, people who claim that Rebecca may be lying about what she experienced… I would characterize that as an irrational skepticism.

    @84

    No, I have never suggested that anyone should question whether or not Rebecca felt really uncomfortable.

    Does the dissonance of your statements not give you a headache? Do you not re-read your comments and face palm? Your comment at 73 is naive at best. Sure we don’t want to be credulous fools wrt others claims, but there is no need to be hyper skeptical areseholes either. Your comment at 78 is almost reasonable taken out of context of your general tone in this thread, but then at 84 you try to pretend that the comment at 73 was never uttered!

    Trying to parse your comments in such a way that your declared general rules at 73 somehow does not apply to any one specific example someone is pinning you down to casts your motivation and reasoning in a very poor light.

  28. 84

    For example, people who claim that Rebecca may be lying about what she experienced… I would characterize that as an irrational skepticism.

    And yet you are urging the same level of skepticism be applied to similar claims. You know, claims that basically go, “This guy made me feel really uncomfortable.”

    We should be skeptical about claims like that why again? Because bitches be lying? Oh right, how unfair of me to insinuate something so dastardly as sexism on your part. Far better to allow such insinuations go unchallenged, because your sterling reputation is far more important than challenging entrenched misogyny in our culture.

  29. 85

    Brokenmech and the other one–I really can’t be bothered–appear to be stymied by the simple fact that when it comes to matters of human interaction, having someone stand in front of you and report that, “I spoke to X, and X said this and X did this and that, and it made me feel harassed,” that is evidence.

    The testimony of an individual who experiences harassment is evidence.

  30. 86

    No, I have never suggested that anyone should question whether or not Rebecca felt really uncomfortable.

    Please clarify if it is indeed your position that Rebecca Watson’s experience constitutes sexual harassment.

    The point you are missing is that Rebecca Watson’s opinion about whether she experienced sexual harassment is the only relevant opinion as to whether she experienced sexual harassment.

    If the person who harassed her disagrees that he was harassing her, then he needs to understand that his intentions (not to harass) did not match the outcome (she felt harassed anyway).

    Unless you can establish that Rebecca, or any person who claims to have been harassed, is lying about their own personal experience, which is a claim that must also be supported by evidence, there is no reason to doubt their assessment of their own experience.

    In fact, most women don’t bother classifying the majority of harassment they experience as such. I know I wouldn’t have classified the hundreds of comments I got about the size of my breasts from classmates and perfect strangers when I was a young teenager as harassment then, but that is indeed what it was.

  31. 87

    @86 SallyStrange says:

    “Rebecca Watson’s opinion about whether she experienced sexual harassment is the only relevant opinion as to whether she experienced sexual harassment.”

    Well here is where we fundamentally disagree. Feeling threatened, harassed, or intimidated, is not necessarily the same thing as actually being threatened, harassed or intimidated.

    If the person who harassed her disagrees that he was harassing her, then he needs to understand that his intentions (not to harass) did not match the outcome (she felt harassed anyway).

    Fair enough, but we are still only able to conclude that she did indeed feel harassed, and not that this harassing behaviour has occurred.

    In fact, most women don’t bother classifying the majority of harassment they experience as such. I know I wouldn’t have classified the hundreds of comments I got about the size of my breasts from classmates and perfect strangers when I was a young teenager as harassment then, but that is indeed what it was.

    Here you are contradicting yourself. First you say that the only relevant opinion regarding whether or not a woman has experienced harassment is that opinion of the woman herself… but now you are saying that women who do not feel that they are being harassed, are in fact being harassed.

  32. 88

    So you’re not questioning the feelings of the people, just whether the actions themselves are objectively harassing, intimidating, etc? So maybe you should take a survey of a representative sample of women in society, and ask them what sorts of behaviours they find to be creepy, what they find to be intimidating, and what they find to be harassing (sexually or otherwise), then compare the actions to what women claim to have experienced.

    And then after that, you can say that these women have objectively experienced harassment and, since the “punishment” is telling the guy to stop it, you’ll be on board with doing so WITHOUT video evidence that it actually happened, right?

    Oh right, no, you still want it to be unimpeachable evidence before you’re willing to have that chat with those men. Wonder why there’s an underreporting problem for issues even as objectively objectionable as rape?

  33. 89

    Once we had some friends over for dinner… everything went well, and everyone appeared to have enjoyed themselves. The next day I learned that our friends wife had spent the entire night in tears over something I had said in friendly jest. She had been devastated by an innocent good natured comment that no reasonable person could ever have predicted would cause any distress.

    People feel what they feel.

  34. Rob
    90

    Brokenmech @89. You are clearly oblivious. Not in itself a crime, after all we all have blind spots. However, the dismissive attitude you have displayed in this thread leads me to conclude that you are intentionally oblivious. That makes any debate meaningless. We don’t have to agree with each other, but to discuss these issues you need to put forward some kind of argument that is at least internally consistent (yours has not been) and which stands external scrutiny(yours does not).

  35. 91

    Once we had some friends over for dinner… everything went well, and everyone appeared to have enjoyed themselves. The next day I learned that our friends wife had spent the entire night in tears over something I had said in friendly jest. She had been devastated by an innocent good natured comment that no reasonable person could ever have predicted would cause any distress.

    People feel what they feel.

    Why would ANYONE want to be friends with someone as insensitive and oblivious as you? You did not intend to cause this person to break down in tears, but she did anyway. If the only thing you conclude from that is that she is unreasonable, then you more or less fail at basic human interaction.

  36. 92

    First you say that the only relevant opinion regarding whether or not a woman has experienced harassment is that opinion of the woman herself… but now you are saying that women who do not feel that they are being harassed, are in fact being harassed.

    No. I said that they would not label it as harassment per se. They would report feeling uncomfortable and not wishing to return to the area where it happened, or being wary of being around the person who did it. That’s harassment.

    Try to be less stupid, please.

  37. 93

    br0kenmech:

    Feeling threatened, harassed, or intimidated, is not necessarily the same thing as actually being threatened, harassed or intimidated.

    So everyone is supposed to follow your rules for what constitutes threats, harassment or intimidation?

    Let’s look at a few definitions of harassment:

    Harassment is bothersome, demeaning, irritating, and annoying behavior. Sexual harassment is, specifically, harassment of a sexual nature. The law describes two different forms of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile environment.
    http://www.ncsu.edu/project/oeo-training/eeo/harassment.htm

    Harassment: A pattern (two or more acts within a ninety-day period) of intentional, substantial, and unreasonable intrusion into the private life of a targeted person that causes the person and would cause a reasonable person in his/her position to suffer mental distress.
    http://www.musc.edu/publicsafety/stalking.shtml

    intimidation:

    Intimidation (also called cowing) is intentional behavior that “would cause a person of ordinary sensibilities” fear of injury or harm. It’s not necessary to prove that the behavior was so violent as to cause terror or that the victim was actually frightened
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intimidation

    Intimidation includes physical or verbal abuse; behavior directed at isolating or humiliating an individual or a group, or at preventing them from engaging in normal activities. Behaviors that might constitute intimidation include, inter alia:
    • degrading public tirades by a supervisor or colleague;
    • deliberate insults related to a person’s personal or professional competence;
    • threatening or insulting comments, whether oral or written–including by email;
    • deliberate desecration of religious and/or national symbols; and
    • malicious and unsubstantiated complaints of misconduct, including harassment, against other employees
    http://www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/pdf/IMFpolicysh3.pdf

    and of course, threat:

    What is a threat ?
    A potential cause of an unwanted incident, which may result in harm to a system or organization

    http://www.bu.edu/tech/files/2011/09/2011-Camp-Wattanasin.pdf

    1:an expression of intention to inflict evil, injury, or damage
    2: one that threatens
    3: an indication of something impending <the sky held a threat of rain
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/threat

    Looking at the definitions, how do *you* distinguish between an individual feeling ‘threatened, intimidated, harassed’ and an individual being ‘threatened, intimidated, harassed’?

    Unless you’re the individual who’s dealing with a situation like this, what gives you the right to determine for others whether or not they’ve been ‘threatened, intimidated, or harassed’?

  38. 94

    br0kenmech:

    She had been devastated by an innocent good natured comment that no reasonable person could ever have predicted would cause any distress.

    People feel what they feel.

    So you have a friend that you made cry (your intention doesn’t matter, since there’s no way for her to know what you were thinking). Instead of apologizing for having that effect on her, you dismiss it as ‘people feel what they feel’?
    How was she supposed to know it was innocent?
    Did you state that beforehand?
    How do you know that whatever insensitive thing you said didn’t remind her of some tragedy in her life in the past?
    From what you’ve said, you sound like the kind of person who doesn’t care what effect your words can have on others.
    Either that, or you don’t care.

    You’re despicable.

  39. 95

    @brokenmech, at first blush a remark like “If someone thinks they’ve been sexually harassed, then they have been,” sounds scary. But as people have pointed out, we’re not talking here about courts of law or punishing people. We’re talking about codes of conduct under which, if someone feels uncomfortable with a behavior, it’s incumbent on the person who caused the discomfort to avoid that behavior around the person who complained.

    Yes, human nature being what it is, every so often there are going to be glitches. Occasionally someone may be utterly mistaken about what happened (that guy who touched you really didn’t mean to, he was just stretching). And occasionally someone will try to game the system, and lie about an incident.

    This would be extremely problematic if we were talking about a court-like system with a one-strike rule involving punishments for alleged transgressors. But we’re not. We’re talking about creating safe spaces by allowing people who feel harassed to approach a third party, who will then talk with the other person/people involved. If there’s no dispute as to what happened (intentions aside,) the person who caused the offense will be asked to not behave that way around the person who felt uncomfortable. There’s no need for publicizing problems when you’re talking about a single incident. (If a pattern emerges, that’s something else.) There’s no “punishment,” no shame involved, unless the behavior in question is egregious (in which case, yes, investigation is required.)

  40. 96

    Stacy @95:

    And occasionally someone will try to game the system, and lie about an incident.

    Egregious case in point: a colleague was eventually fired because another colleague accused him of hitting on him at work, persistently. Fired colleague is gay. Accusing colleague is straight. I have no evidence of what actually happened, but to this day I wonder what actually transpired. Years after I left the company I did hear (which I know is not the same as evidence) that the accuser is a homophobe.

  41. 97

    To expand on Stacy’s remark: the use of the term “due process” is, as commenters above have pointed out, entirely not useful in this debate.

    Workplace conduct codes have nothing to do with criminal or civil court actions, except insofar as those arise from suits. If I complain about any kind of harassment from a colleague at work, I should be taken seriously. The person I complain about should modify behavior, so as to create a workplace in which someone does not feel uncomfortable.

    Mind you, this is not taking into account power differentials or workplace culture, which make that expression of discomfort even harder in many cases. This is an idealistic expression of being able to say “I’m uncomfortable, please don’t do that”.

    As Stacy says, a phrase like “If someone thinks they’ve been sexually harassed, then they have been” does sound scary at first, because it connotes dreadful punishment. But, as someone above noted, the penalties are typically not severe. Being asked by a supervisor to not make jokes like that in a work environment is not tremendously burdensome. Being asked to undergo some form of sensitivity training for persistent behavior may be taken as an insult, but it’s really not punishment.

    @ silomowbray: That’s a real problem with these situations, as complaints and actions are (correctly) treated with extreme confidentiality. Reputation of parties are involved, after all.

    @ spectator: I know I shouldn’t feed the troll, but HA! You should write for The Onion. I mean, really:

    BTW, pedophilia is not ignored by the Catholic Church. Do you really think a suspected predator could currently hide in the priesthood?

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA. I refer you to the NYT, the LA Times, the Irish papers, multiple papers in the UK, in Germany, in Poland, in France, in … well, everywhere. Reassignment of problematic priests is a fucking policy of the Catholic Church.

  42. 98

    brokenmech and others are also ignoring the cost to the victims of harassment if they complain. Even if every complaint is, in fact, justified, the person who reports it can easily get a reputation for being a whiner or crying wolf. (Look what happens if you say, “Guys, don’t do that”!) So that puts a real limit on the use of harassment complaints as an instrument of–, well, harassment.

    I did remember one instance of a man who was fired for sexual harassment. The complaint was that he constantly showed up for work in T-shirts with offensive messages and even illustrations. In that case, there was no “he said/she said” ambiguity. Everyone could see he was guilty as charged. And the entire female staff was united in their objection. Even so, the boss told me he gave the guy several talks and warnings before he finally fired him. And he was still willing to tell potential employers that the guy was a hard worker, if they could put up with that quirk of his.

    Now, the only way that can be turned around so that the guy was the victim is if you completely deny the women’s right to make *any* complaint at all. (Of course, the “she shouldn’t have complained, it was only a T-shirt” meme does seem to be going the rounds, doesn’t it?)

  43. 99

    Relevant quote: Colleen Doran, a veteran comics artist and writer who suffered serious campaigs of coordinated stalking and harassment in the 80s and 90s which was brushed as ‘hysterical”, you’re being mean to the poor socially mal-adept/mentally ill menz, etc etc, responds to a Chill Girl saying women shld just suck it up, on her blog (www.adistantsoil.com)

    “I like to think younger generations of women will not have to grow up armored assholes to deal with assholes, tossing off a crusty “Get over it!” every time a young girl gets groped at a con, or gets a barrage of rape threats on twitter. I prefer a world where men and women stand up and say, “This is not acceptable,” to a world where men and women chastise others to develop crocodile hides as if ugly words and ugly actions bounce off it.

    It doesn’t. It just makes you ugly, too.”

  44. 100

    (Of course, the “she shouldn’t have complained, it was only a T-shirt” meme does seem to be going the rounds, doesn’t it?)

    Yeah. I wonder if besides not being subjected to any kind of similar abuse those people simply lack imagination. (Little Trigger Warning:)

    If there was a conference and someone wore a t-shirt with the words “Everyone at this conference doesn’t protest the raping of little children” they surely wouldn’t say it was only a t-shirt.

    Protesting such a thing is not legally or morally required, so I’d say it wasn’t even slander. It’s certainly no criminal offense.

    But of course everyone would expect the organizers of that conference to either remove that person from the premises or at least ask them to remove that shirt.

    So they don’t really care about “only a t-shirt”. That’s irrelevant. Obviously they support the message they got from Dr. Hall’s t-shirt which they assumed, for good reason, to be “Skepchicks feminazis dumb, bully-harass-make fun of them”. That’s why they defend it. Because they like the message.

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