News from down under: the TRUE skeptical women side with the guys!

Something funny happened in my and Stephanie’s trackbacks today. On Adelaide Atheists’ Meetup group, one of their male members wrote up a post asking women to endorse the Skeptic Women petition. The thread was titled, “I wish to promote the statement below issued by a group of women atheists/(true) skeptics and ask women to consider supporting their position.”

Let’s ignore the “no true skeptic” for a brief moment here, and the fact that the two women replying both strongly disagreed — and that the poster and two other guys argued with them, explaining to them why they’re wrong.

Stop laughing.

There’s a lot of mythologizing going on in this thread, and there’s no way it’s going to be possible to catalogue all of them and debunk them all. So I’m going to post some highlights.

The atheism plus argument can be framed this way.I don’t feel safe in the atheist movement.Whether or not my concern is correct doesn’t matter.The mere fact that I feel unwelcome and unsafe needs to be addressed.Why do I feel this way?What is going on to bring forth such feelings?If there truly isn’t anything there,what am I misinterpreting?My concerns cannot be dismissed simply because some other men don’t share my concerns.
To recapitulate,it doesn’t matter if my feelings have any basis in fact.The fact that matters, is the expression of my feelings.
Anyone can play the ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’ game -which is why it’s such a dangerous game to play.

This isn’t the “atheism plus argument”. The “atheism plus argument” is that a certain group of people were tired of having this fight over and over and calved off into their own private space where they could be free from the harassment, and more importantly free from the apologetics for the harassment, so prevalent in movement atheism.

And the argument is not about whether or not a concern of safety is the problem. It’s that there are baseline levels of sexual harassment and sexism and mistreatment of women in society, and that the so-called “rational” communities are no better than that baseline background. And that they SHOULD BE. Especially if we intend on improving the general inclusiveness of said community. Just like bars need bouncers to throw out the harassers, lest women stop going and thus men stop going and thus the bar goes out of business, our community spaces need to be cognizant of and intolerant of harassment, throwing harassers out on their ears by banning them from our internet communities, and by our conferences providing harassment policies just like every other public event in the world to give these people experiencing harassment a framework by which they can have their grievances taken seriously.

The fact that there’s so much pushback against harassment policies, and so much pushback against the idea of being intolerant of harmful actions by community members, suggests that the community has no interest in being safer than the background levels of sexual harassment and sexism. And the fact that much of this pushback comes from the very top — from the leaders of the organizations themselves. THAT’S the problem. Not that it’s particularly unsafe, but that it has no interest in being safer.

One of the women said of the signatories:

I am also familiar with many of the names who have signed it and they are some of the most unpleasant commenter’s on atheist blogs. Many of them have been banned by blog writers because of their ranting, insult filled comments. They insist that they have been ‘silenced’ (as I notice they refer to in the statement) but some of them have their own blogs and are still very active online. I just don’t believe they are credible.

The reply:

I ALSO know many of the signatories at the bottom of this statement, many strong intelligent women who I am familiar with and who I respect, women such as : Karla Porter, Scented Nectar, Sara E. Mayhew, bluharmony, Renee Hendricks, Alissa Puurunen.
For you to casually describe some of the women who have endorsed this statement as “unpleasant” without being specific and naming those women that you find unpleasant, you are indirectly casting aspersions on all of the women listed. And I wonder, do you find these women to be “unpleasant” simply because they hold a different political position to you and/or are critical of some of your core beliefs?

No, I think she found them unpleasant for being insulting and for, after being banned (at unspecified blogs) for being insulting, ranting about being silenced.

I know them too — some of them, anyway. The names I recognize are real pieces of work, and have been instrumental in giving the pro-harassment crowd some genuine XX chromosomes to give their anti-feminist ravings legitimacy.

Yes it is true that some of them are bloggers and do in fact have ‘a voice’, but the point that they are trying to make is as follows:
some very powerful and influential women and men (people who hold office or authority in powerful and influential organizations and groups within the atheist/skeptic community), are acting and using rhetoric which indicates to all that they actually believe that they are speaking for ALL women.
Personalities such as Amanda Marcotte, Melody Hensley, Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Zvan, Rebecca Watson, PZ Myers, Adam Lee, all have a big following and can shout over all other voices through their powerful organizations, forums and blog space networks. These personalities definitely do not speak for all women and ,luckily, their popularity, ‘clout’ and influence is exponentially declining.

Proof? Citations? Bah! We’re skeptics! And TRUE skeptical women agree with us!

Sadly, none of the names mentioned are any bigger than the big-name leaders who are actively campaigning against feminism. If their “clout” is declining, it’s because they’re tired of waging these endless battles with entrenched dogma that has poisoned the very top of our movements. But I’d still like to see some numbers.

We have seen these ‘personalities’, and others of their ilk, attack their adversaries and critics through the power and positions they hold in nasty ways such as silencing tactics, doxing, lying, defaming, banning, smearing, boycotting etc. and by removing or trying to remove their critics from office. They are currently campaigning to have Ronald A Lindsay removed from his position as CEO of the Centre For Inquiry (CFI) because of a talk he gave at the Women In Secularism II conference which, in part, they did not agree with.

I have a whole rant stored up about the diminutive term “doxing”. Spellcheck doesn’t like that word. There’s a good goddamn reason. But I digress.

Nobody to my knowledge is seriously campaigning to have Ron Lindsay removed from his position at CFI. The speakers’ petition, the open letters, the various calls for action, are all generally demanding an apology and assurances that WiS3 will happen despite the antifeminist sentiments evinced by Lindsay. Yes, individuals may have called for his resignation, but it’s certainly nothing like organized, nor anything like the majority. More like a tiny minority.

Not that I particularly disagree with the idea that a CEO of an organization attempting to sabotage a fundraising event for his organization — to air some of his personal petty grievances in public, undercutting the speakers there and the morale of everyone who was there and might have been willing to open their pocketbooks — is grossly unprofessional and hurt the organization’s bottom line. In just about any other organization that would result in a very rapid shuffling of that CEO out the door, perhaps with a courtesy golden parachute.

But I personally just asked for an apology. So did many of the aforementioned names. So unless you want to pony up with evidence, this is a mythology, just like every other mythology built up about asking that people not be represented by the worst, most unskeptical and most generally odious members of our community.

The women who are signing this statement are simply saying ” you do not speak for us…we speak for ourselves”

“And therefore you will too, if you’re any kinda skeptic. Skeptics NEVER agree with other people! Don’t you agree with me?”

Feminism is not about equality. It is about empowering women, just because they are women, and they build the biggest, most vile straw-man in the patriarchy. The theocratic rulers of the dark ages were sexist, and were about masculine power. Contemporary society is about equal oppurtunity. Regardless of race, class or gender. Claiming that thousands of years of oppression even happened, if it did, is just a pathetic excuse to push your own agenda.

“Therefore, go sign this petition, you silly women. Unless you’re not skeptical enough!”

Liam, my father indoctrinated me with the mirror image of the myth you referred to, so I think we can both agree

I would prefer to decide for myself whether or not I agree with what you say. But that’s what most wives would probably now expect their husbands to do…

Oh snap! Put that uppity bitch back in her place! I know you’re all but telling her to agree with you about matters that affect her more than they affect you, but there’s no hypocrisy in telling her “I THINK FOR MYSELF WOMAN”.

Perhaps “Philosophy” is just a cute name for “Patriarchy Studies” since it seems dominated by men.

When there is any funding at all put into debunking the grossly built straw-man that is the patriarchy, I will be sure to send you a facebook update with the link. Until then, more money will be poured into “Women’s Studies” by pussy-whipped men, who are only out to please their wives.

Yeah. Fucking beta manginas, wanting their partners to be happy. They should be dominant alphas and take charge of their womenfolk. (Also, patriarchy doesn’t exist, and I’m sure science will science up some proof one day.)

Thankfully, the creator of the meetup group recognized that people are talking a lot of crap here, and are apparently talking a lot of crap because they don’t have the definitions of the words in question, so he linked to Patriarchy for Dummies and Strawprivilege, suggesting that people actually try learning the real arguments instead of fighting with poorly-built straw dummies all day.

I pity the poor women in this group who have to deal with shit like that with barely a reprieve. They must feel totally unsafe exactly as unsafe as in every other group.

Oh, and as a coda — Mark Senior, the guy who posted this thread asking the REAL skeptical women to please validate the petition against all those uppity feminists ruining our community by writing petitions, also himself signed the petition to have Stephanie Zvan removed from Atheist Voices of Minnesota.

The book.

He signed a petition to remove Stephanie from her leadership role in a BOOK.

Clearly this guy knows his petitions! And clearly he’s not engaging in trying to remove people from roles!

News from down under: the TRUE skeptical women side with the guys!

126 thoughts on “News from down under: the TRUE skeptical women side with the guys!

  1. 101

    For instance, you were asked to retract some misattributed quotes but you never did.

    The “pussy whipped” quote? Why would I retract that if I never misattributed it in the first place? Scott corrected you quite accurately. I never attributed this phrase to anyone other than Liam (and neither did Scott).

    You’ve made a bit of a meal of sexual harrassment, but in fact you are the only person I know of to have ever levelled a sexual harrassment complaint in the Adelaide atheist community.

    This occurred in the Humanist Society of South Australia, Gareth, not ACSA, nor an atheist meetup. I was felt up by a certain individual at a committee meeting in the plain, direct and unobstructed sight of others. Witnesses corroborate this (both the President and Secretary of the HSSA). No witnesses contradict this. The individual who felt me up did not contest this. There is no need expressed by the interested parties to go any further in this.

    I certainly don’t think it’s reasonable that I be expected to entertain speculation (or blatant fabrications) about this. I certainly don’t think it’s reasonable to entertain any implied conspiracies on the part of the HSSA President and Secretary in this matter.

    Perhaps you’d like to explain how it is, in the interests of accuracy and reason of course, that you think you’re in a position to in anyway refute this? Could you perhaps, name the pub in which this incident occurred, or perhaps you could provide the date of the meeting?

    No, of course you can’t. Because you’re not even an onlooker. You’re some individual on the Internet who has nothing to do with the incident, no interest in the incident, nor anything to do with the Humanist Society of South Australia, nor are you a person that I have ever met; you’re just some guy with an obviously personal and petty motive for engaging in sensational speculation about the matter.

    Assume for the sake of argument that there’s absolutely no question of my having been felt up, even among the vapidly and self-servingly speculative – what kind of person would that make you, in using such a phrase as “making a meal” against me? Would a rational person even risk making this kind of accusation so casually and with such credulity?

    In actual fact, I was felt up, and that makes you such a person. Congratulations. I can see why people don’t want you around for myself – if you really are Gareth Bridges, I don’t have to take their word for it anymore.

    Incidentally, you may want to be a little less lax with the fact checking in future if you want to throw around lines like “You’ve made a bit of a meal of sexual harassment”. That’s a pretty silly claim to make without a shred of evidence other than Dave Donnellan’s entirely worthless and easily refutable say so.

    Dave would have the same vacuum of evidence that you do, only he’s expressly contradicted himself in saying that he know’s nothing about the guy who felt me up – Dave’s complained about him in the past as well (the “9 1/2 Weeks” anecdote), and I’ve even got an email here from Dave thanking me for confronting the guy. Moreover, there are multiple witnesses to Dave thanking me, and expressing his concerns about the guy who felt me up.

    Guy can’t keep his story straight.

    If that’s all you’ve got to go on Gareth, then you’re a very credulous and irrational man indeed. Not to mention someone who’s careless in discussing matters of sexual harassment to the point of being both an apologist for it, and someone who aggravates it after the fact.

    Again, if that’s really you Gareth, I now know for myself why people don’t want you around.

    It must really burn that people rejected your aspirations to become president for you to act like this.

  2. 102

    The censored thread in question had received 2,000+ hits in 2 weeks at the moment of its deactivation. The next most popular thread on our message board had received, what, 27 hits?! It was something like that.

    Clearly, the topic was of intersest to our community – and apparently of greater interest than anything else we had ever discussed. At the absolute peak of this interest the message board was shut down, autocratically, for an unspecified period.

    So Scott, you’re either an idiot or a liar. Taking the most generous view of events – that your closing the board was merely procedural – you did this at the first and only moment in its life when it was generating interest. Good move prez!

  3. 103

    Careful with the libellous comments, Gareth… Don’t think you can use THIS platform to slur the people who’ve kept you from slurring them on THAT platform.

  4. 104

    Nat Hevens, thank you for your insightful post. In just a few short lines, you have managed to create the perfect false dichotomy. The alternative to theroretical feminist notions such as “patriarchy” is not “treating women like dogs”.

    No women have been treated like dogs in the Adelaide atheist scene that I know of. There haven’t even been any accusations of such.

    May I suggest that this sort of reasoning error has “dogged” the feminist movement?!

  5. 105


    feel free to keep blustering into the wind. You will find that I only respond to correct people on points of fact. Indeed, if you had read all of what I wrote, you would have realised that your description of the decision being autocratic is rather silly considering it was made by the new committee as a whole.

    Secondly with regard to the hit count and the supposed interest from the community in Adelaide? Even after the board had been restricted and even now after it’s been taken offline, every single click that occurs through the original link in the article is counted by as a hit. Yes, even though the page is never loaded for people, simply clicking the link in the article increases the hit counter on the forum. So I simply do not accept your suggestion that the majority of page visits were from members of the Meetup Group. The evidence simply does not support your assertion.

    President of the Atheist Community of South Australia

  6. 106

    Jason, I think you just strayed from the “party line” there. I wasn’t “kept from slurrring” those people on that other platform. It was closed down for purely procedural reasons. Are you accusing Scott of lying aout this?

  7. 108


    “I think what Mark has to learn to appreciate, is that when you make serious accusations in public, but don’t take them seriously enough to subject them to due process, your accusations come off as being made in bad faith – often because that’s exactly what’s happening”.

    I’m not sure what accusations I have actually made against you Bruce apart from my opinion that you have been ‘grandstanding’. I not care if you ‘grandstand’ or not and I certainly would not be considering complaining officially about ‘grandstanding’ to the HSSA (though you have really been baiting me and trying to inflame me into this action for some reason…want to test your popularity perhaps?).

    Bruce I have more serious issues with you because of what you have published elsewhere and I am seeking legal advice on that issue, nothing said by you here at Freethought Blogs is of any concern to me (yet).
    So if you do want to have a further go here in this space, with your lies you have presented elsewhere, let me declare first to all readers name is Mark Senior and I go under the name of ‘mofa’. Any comment directed at ‘mofa’ is directed at Mark Senior.

  8. 109

    Oolon @ #89

    “I denounce people making rape threats”.

    Now that I have made that truth statement above the content of your post @#89 a waste of time and dishonest. This is your ‘shtick’ isn’t it Oolon, to paint all of the people not in your camp as ‘evil rape supporting scumbags’…you are a sensible man, I have heard you speak on radio, how can you continue to debate so dishonestly? Take a good hard long look at yourself.

  9. 110

    “Bruce I have more serious issues with you because of what you have published elsewhere and I am seeking legal advice on that issue, nothing said by you here at Freethought Blogs is of any concern to me (yet).
    So if you do want to have a further go here in this space, with your lies you have presented elsewhere, let me declare first to all readers name is Mark Senior and I go under the name of ‘mofa’. Any comment directed at ‘mofa’ is directed at Mark Senior.”

    You do realise that if you can’t substantiate that I’ve actually lied, that I can now sue you for defamation (not that I’m particularly interested in doing so)?

    Yes. Let’s see your tilt at legal action get rebuffed by your lawyer (assuming you have one). That’ll be funny.

  10. 111

    Scott@ #96

    “indeed he is supportive of the action that the committee of ACSA took and their reasoning”

    No Scott this is not entirely true. You informed me, before taking down the messageboard, that this action was not one of censorship but one of maintenance. You also said that the board would be down only for a few days and in that this period maintenance, archiving and name change could be performed and at the same time it would help ‘cool a heated state of affairs’.
    The message board has not returned. I regard this action as censorship. You broke you promise to me. This message board does not need a moderation policy. And I will object to any policy that would not allow the debates we have had so far on the board to occur. Because you have taken our vehicle of speech, debate and complaint away, our little fracas has now spilt over onto Freethought Blogs..and I am guessing it is boring the hell out of the readers here.

  11. 114


    What, because you think that I have loads of money? Even if you had a case, I can assure you I do not (and neither does the HSSA).

    The idea that you’re going to make money out of this is laughable and a testimony to your confusion between facts and imagination in this matter.

  12. 115


    [quote]“indeed he is supportive of the action that the committee of ACSA took and their reasoning”[/quote]Perhaps I should have said “was supportive” since it is clear you have changed your opinion since our phone call and the committee meeting you attended on Wednesday.

    However, it is clear we have differing recollections of the phone call that occurred. I expressed clearly to you that the board would be down till a moderation policy was in place. It was you who in our phone conversation who first mentioned that it would “allow tempers to settle,” to which I responded “on both sides.” I expressed these facts again at the recent ACSA committee meeting (which you attended) and there was no dissent to such a decision.

    I made no such promise to you that it would return in a “few days.” The content of our phone call was the same content as the phone calls I had with each of the committee members and what I wrote in the email that went out to the members of the Meetup Group.

    No one has taken away anyone’s “vehicle of speech, debate and complaint away” because people are still able to post comments to events and email the leadership/committee of ACSA

    If anyone has further complaints, I welcome the to contact the committee of ACSA via our profiles on the ACSA Meetup Group page, a direct link to which can be found by clicking on my name at the start of this post.

    President of the Atheist Community of South Australia

  13. 116

    Scott, we have spoken on the phone, via email and also had a committee meeting together over the past week You have it wrong, in your initial phone call to me you told me that the board would be down for a couple of days, and that this was not an act of censorship – this approach satisfied me at the time. The messageboard has not returned – this does not satisfy me. Any future moderation policy that will stifle or prohibit the type of civil debates that have occurred on our web space thus far I will oppose and consider censorship. You said:

    No one has taken away anyone’s “vehicle of speech, debate and complaint away” because people are still able to post comments to events and email the leadership/committee of ACSA

    Comments to events? Emails to committee? You are deliberately missing my point. Our ability to DEBATE issues has been taken from us by your action and so we are here in Jason’s space having a ‘bun fight’.

  14. 117

    I don’t want what little money you have Bruce, but seeing you go bankrupt would bring a Cheshire Cat smile to my face.

  15. 118

    I don’t want what little money you have Bruce, but seeing you go bankrupt would bring a Cheshire Cat smile to my face.

    Well, that certainly contradicts the whole laughing to the bank thing, but at least between that and the Cheshire Cat, you’re equivocating between fantasies – you’re consistent in that, I’ll grant you.

    I’d be lying if I said I didn’t anticipate enjoying watching you fall on your face, but I’d be hard pressed to take pleasure in watching anyone go bankrupt. And even if I did, I wouldn’t be silly enough to tar myself publicly with such an admission.

    And I’m the one supposedly damaging your reputation?

    At any rate, I’ve got better stuff to do right now, and in future, so I’m just going to let you bloviate to yourself here from now on. I’m sure you don’t need any help from me in undermining yourself. I look forward to hearing from your lawyer.

  16. 119

    Our ability to DEBATE issues has been taken from us by your action and so we are here in Jason’s space having a ‘bun fight’.

    Which is crappy netiquette from you by any definition, particularly when setting up a free blog on or or even your very own free forum on can be done with a few clicks, and you could have made one comment here directing people to your new free blog/forum with a short summary of your viewpoint and could then have had your internecine spat over there (with all the free speech you can eat!) instead of derailing over here.

  17. 120

    Well, that escalated quickly.

    I want to clear something up though:

    “This is your ‘shtick’ isn’t it Oolon, to paint all of the people not in your camp as ‘evil rape supporting scumbags’…”

    You’re confusing things. The only people that “we” REALLY don’t want in “our camp” (whatever that is) aren’t those who simply don’t agree with “us” on every point (as if we actually agree with one another on every point) but the small (but presently very vocal) people that insist on using demeaning gendered slurs and seem completely obsessed with attacking feminists in ways that make it extremely clear that they don’t understand what “criticism” actually is; as they purposely skirt the line between “persistently bothering” people and “harassing” them; as well as giving a forum to people who think making a joke about raping female skeptics is “parody” and if anyone gets annoyed about that they have a “thin skin” or some such nonsense.

    There are a few people that interact online that I do not want to meet in person EVER – and it has NOTHING at all to do with their politics.

  18. 121

    Also to expand on M.A.Melby’s point, Mark in his overly emotional state allowed his delicate man brains to get a bit scrambled… At least that’s the charitable interpretation of his lack of reading comprehension.

    “This is your ‘shtick’ isn’t it Oolon, to paint all of the people not in your camp as ‘evil rape supporting scumbags’…”

    Amazingly this is in reply to comment #89 saying “if” rather a lot and the whole point of it was that Mark *would not* agree with those people. Furthermore the point was to make it clear that *if* he doesn’t agree with those people then he’d be happy to divide himself from them which was all Richard Carrier was saying about A+. You are on our side if you repudiate them… So what’s Marks reply?

    “I denounce people making rape threats”

    Welcome to the right side of the A+ vs Carriers CHUDs divide, so he was not lumping you in by your own admission. Thanks for proving your comment at #72 wrong. This was the whole point of my comment not some elaborate trap to trick you into rape apologism or something *rolls eyes* … However your A* credentials seemingly lay elsewhere, mofa sez –

    I don’t want what little money you have Bruce, but seeing you go bankrupt would bring a Cheshire Cat smile to my face.

    Really don’t need me to “trick” you into being an “evil … scumbag” now do you? Hope you really didn’t mean that and retract it to regain some semblance of decency. Especially now we’ve determined you are on the side of A+ 😀

  19. 122

    I said I’d come back and apologise to Scott (for calling him a censorial control freak) when the act of censorship was overturned. Well, you know how it goes. This has not happened. I’d have as much chance waiting for the second coming of Jesus.

    So, drawing this whole sorry saga to a close – closing down the Adelaide Atheist message board WAS an act of censorship.

    A month on, can you Scott, admit that it was an act of censorship?! Why not just admit it? You do the censoring – so call it what it is!

    So finally, it was an act of censorship – and of the worst kind. There was no harrassment, threat or abusive language. It was just one weak minded individual shutting down the exchange of ideas because he diudn’t like the way it was going.

  20. 123

    It’s been nice to discuss this here on FtB – and ironically appropriate. I think the censorial elements of the Adelaide atheist scene have learned their behaviour from their big brothers (and sisters!) on FtB.

    We all appreciate the need for moderators and for behavioural standards – on message boards, at conferences and at meet-ups. But what we have had here is ideological censorship – thought policing.

    And just as FtB has progressively marginalised itself from the wider atheist community, so the little clique of Adelaide A-plussers has wound itself into an ever tightening ball of political correctictude with almost zero intellectual capital or interest. It’s been a learning experience!!@

  21. 124

    It’s interesting to note how the act of refusing to let web-based resources such as a forum or a blog be misused for irrelevant, acrimonious bickering can possibly be interpreted as ‘censorship’, but this is the standard line of argumentation that has been pushed and it continues to sound extremely hollow. I’m especially amused by the PC dog-whistle in Gareth’s #122 and the claim that FtB or A+ is marginalising itself. LOL, you’re funny, do keep it up.

    Meanwhile, ACSA are still holding meetings, so if it is a concern the logical time to bring it up is at the next meeting on August 5, see here:

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