Bill Maher’s guide on how to be a human trashfire

Image of one Bill Maher, douchebag extraordinaire, suffering from a self-inflicted case of White Male Entitlement Mentality.

Once upon a time, Bill Maher was cool in my book. I vaguely remember watching  a couple of episodes of his old show Politically Incorrect and while my memories are fuzzy,  I remember being quite entertained. Once he made the move to cable television, I started watching him more often. Hell, I used to dvr his show and watched it near religiously.   I used to appreciate the frankness with which he’d talk about religion, his support for legal marijuana, and his vocal opposition to all things conservative and Republican.  At that time, I knew of no one who was an unabashed critic of religion, so listening to Maher mock and criticize religious beliefs was refreshing, as was his no-holds-barred criticisms of Republicans.

But there was a side–several of them in fact–that I didn’t know about and/or weren’t woke enough to recognize. In 2017, however, I can see them plain as day. In fact, they’re so apparent that I’m not sure why he hasn’t written a ‘How to be a Human Trashfire’ guide. Such a guide would include examples from Maher’s various displays of bigotry over the years and include advice like:

  1. Learn to be a Pro. An ableism pro. One of the beginner steps to mastering ableism is to treat disabled kids with contempt like the time Maher equated developmentally disabled kids with dogs.  More advanced human trashfires know how to engage in multiple forms of bigotry simultaneously, as Maher did last year when he blew up at BLM activist Ashley Williams for crashing a HIllary Clinton fundraiser. And don’t forget–no self-respecting ableist bigot can claim that title if they don’t point to cognitive ability and say “POTUS45 is an asshole bc there is something wrong with his brain”.
  2. With boundless pride, you’ve got to share your sexism and misogyny with the world. Fly your “I hold women in contempt and think anything feminine is inferior to me” flag high. This can be done through an ancient male ritual called “I’m not sexist, but…”  or through the not-so-subtle derision of femininity,  or the use of gendered slurs (for someone who isn’t sexist, Maher has a long history of the word b*tch falling–I guess uncontrollably, since he says he’s not sexist–from his mouth when talking about women) or by “joking” about killing women for it doesn’t matter what the reason is   or if you combine your misogyny with ableism or…(yeah, the list goes on)
  3. Another trait often found in the modern Trashfire Bigot is transphobia. An excellent way to show the transgender community that you are the opposite of an ally–an enemy, for those uncertain–is to grant a platform to a White Supremacist Piece of Shit and not only let him speak his mind unchallenged, but indulge in a bit of transantagonism yourself (yes, I’m talking about that time Bill and Milo the douchebag bonded over their disgust of trans people).
  4. Of all the forms of bigotry he has displayed, one of Bill Maher’s favorites, one he can’t seem to go for too long without gushing over (as if his newborn child) is his anti-Muslim bigotry. From his completely unproven claim that millions of Muslims supported the attacks against Charlie Hebdo  to his smells-like-he-pulled-this-from-his-ass commentary about Muslim men, Maher loves him some Islamophobia. Of course, he doesn’t call it that, bc to him, he’s merely criticizing the religion when he condemns millions of Muslims for the actions of a relative few extremists**.

As with so many other bigots with racist beliefs, Bill Maher’s racism is not focused solely on Muslims. He also has room in his evaporated husk of a heart for some anti-black racism. Unlike his anti-Muslim bigotry, however, Maher’s anti-black racism has traditionally been more restrained. For example, on the face of it, his 2012 comment to Wayne Brady about the latter being a “non-threatening black man”, doesn’t appear racist. It is though, bc it  betrayed a view of black men as violent and dangerous. Such a view, which is ridiculously absurd*, is commonly held today and is one of the main biases at play when police officers shoot and injure/kill black people.  His supportive comments to Bill O’Reilly after the latter engaged in some casual racism regarding Representative Maxine Waters’ hair went a step further.  There’s also his comments about wanting President Obama to act like a “real Black man” by pulling up his shirt to reveal a gun tucked in his pants (the image of a black man with a gun hidden under his shirt and tucked into his pants is shorthand for criminal or thug). It’s one thing to have subconscious racial biases and prejudices. We all do (especially white people). It’s quite another to defend the racism of a virulently racist dirtbag like O’Reilly.And it’s something else to playfully allude to black people as criminals  Now, as if he were tired of hiding, Bill Maher has fully embraced his anti-black racism by doing the thing virtually every white person in this country knows is racist:

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Bill Maher’s guide on how to be a human trashfire
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Saying goodbye isn't always difficult

Whether its a 19-year-old heading off to college in another state, a military service member receiving an assignment overseas, or a long-time employee of a company leaving for greener pastures, saying goodbye can be difficult. For the younger sibling of that 19-year-old…for the father of that service member…for the friend of the long-time employee, for all that they may be happy for their sibling/son/friend, there is often a great degree of sadness. Sadness over being unable to go fishing with that older sibling-at least not for the foreseeable future. Sadness from the father who hates the thought of spending the holidays without one of his children. Sadness from the friend who will miss the daily talks with that long-time employee.

There are other times, however, when we say goodbye to someone and the accompanying emotion is joy, rather than sadness. Over at Addicting Info (don’t click the link yet), I just learned that a particularly odious individual may soon be making Costa Rica his home. Were it someone I cared about, someone like a sibling, or one of my [hypothetical] children, or a much-loved co-worker, I would no doubt be filled with sadness. In this case, I do not feel an ounce of sadness. I feel much joy.

Joy at the thought that USAmerican airwaves will have one less slut-shaming asshole spewing shit like this:

“A Georgetown coed told Nancy Pelosi’s hearing that the women in her law school program are having so much sex they’re going broke, so you and I should have to pay for their birth control. So what would you call that? I called it what it is. So, I’m offering a compromise today: I will buy all of the women at Georgetown University as much aspirin to put between their knees as they want. … So Miss Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

One less so-called “pro-lifer” polluting the airwaves demonstrating that they really don’t care about children? Joy fills me.

“If you feed them, if you feed the children, three square meals a day during the school year, how can you expect them to feed themselves in the summer? Wanton little waifs and serfs dependent on the State. Pure and simple.”

Who wouldn’t be happy to hear less sexist bullshit like this?

“I’m a huge supporter of women. What I’m not is a supporter of liberalism. Feminism is what I oppose. Feminism has led women astray. I love the women’s movement — especially when walking behind it.”

One less science-denying nincomfuck? Yippee!

“Cholesterol has nothing to do with heart disease. Nothing wrong with saturated fats.”

I could very nearly jump for joy at the thought of one less person perpetuating Rape Culture.

“Public and private polling indicates that Ohioans, by a substantial margin, want to overturn the new law. Which means, if this is true, that people in Ohio want to rape themselves”

How could I not be filled with joy at the thought of a racist asshole departing the U.S.?

“Holocaust? Ninety million Indians? Only four million left? They all have casinos — what’s to complain about?”

Or the homophobia. I can definitely do without the homophobia (as well as the sexism).

“When a gay person turns his back on you, it is anything but an insult; it’s an invitation.”

Have you figured out the identity of the mystery man? Do you know who this racist, homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, Rape Culture enabling, faux “pro-lifer” is?  No? Here’s a hint:

Why am I saying goodbye to this bigoted, bloviating blowhard? He told us he was leaving back in 2010:

“If this [Obamacare] passes, and it’s five years from now, and all that stuff [from Obamacare] gets implemented, I’m leaving the country. I’ll go to Costa Rica.”

Well Rush? It’s been 5 years. Have you made all the necessary preparations? Have you bought your plane ticket? Is your stuff packed?

Dammit, turns out he wasn’t serious!

Now I’m sad.

A Limbaugh-less U.S. would be better for us all. For Rush, it would mean he wouldn’t have to bear the indignity of living in a country where millions of previously uninsured people now have health insurance. For the rest of us, we’d have one less hatemonger on the airwaves. Win-win! Of course if he did move, that wouldn’t be good for the citizens of Costa Rica. Perhaps a one-way trip to a deserted island would be better.

Saying goodbye isn't always difficult

Saying goodbye isn’t always difficult

Whether its a 19-year-old heading off to college in another state, a military service member receiving an assignment overseas, or a long-time employee of a company leaving for greener pastures, saying goodbye can be difficult. For the younger sibling of that 19-year-old…for the father of that service member…for the friend of the long-time employee, for all that they may be happy for their sibling/son/friend, there is often a great degree of sadness. Sadness over being unable to go fishing with that older sibling-at least not for the foreseeable future. Sadness from the father who hates the thought of spending the holidays without one of his children. Sadness from the friend who will miss the daily talks with that long-time employee.

There are other times, however, when we say goodbye to someone and the accompanying emotion is joy, rather than sadness. Over at Addicting Info (don’t click the link yet), I just learned that a particularly odious individual may soon be making Costa Rica his home. Were it someone I cared about, someone like a sibling, or one of my [hypothetical] children, or a much-loved co-worker, I would no doubt be filled with sadness. In this case, I do not feel an ounce of sadness. I feel much joy.

Joy at the thought that USAmerican airwaves will have one less slut-shaming asshole spewing shit like this:

“A Georgetown coed told Nancy Pelosi’s hearing that the women in her law school program are having so much sex they’re going broke, so you and I should have to pay for their birth control. So what would you call that? I called it what it is. So, I’m offering a compromise today: I will buy all of the women at Georgetown University as much aspirin to put between their knees as they want. … So Miss Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

One less so-called “pro-lifer” polluting the airwaves demonstrating that they really don’t care about children? Joy fills me.

“If you feed them, if you feed the children, three square meals a day during the school year, how can you expect them to feed themselves in the summer? Wanton little waifs and serfs dependent on the State. Pure and simple.”

Who wouldn’t be happy to hear less sexist bullshit like this?

“I’m a huge supporter of women. What I’m not is a supporter of liberalism. Feminism is what I oppose. Feminism has led women astray. I love the women’s movement — especially when walking behind it.”

One less science-denying nincomfuck? Yippee!

“Cholesterol has nothing to do with heart disease. Nothing wrong with saturated fats.”

I could very nearly jump for joy at the thought of one less person perpetuating Rape Culture.

“Public and private polling indicates that Ohioans, by a substantial margin, want to overturn the new law. Which means, if this is true, that people in Ohio want to rape themselves”

How could I not be filled with joy at the thought of a racist asshole departing the U.S.?

“Holocaust? Ninety million Indians? Only four million left? They all have casinos — what’s to complain about?”

Or the homophobia. I can definitely do without the homophobia (as well as the sexism).

“When a gay person turns his back on you, it is anything but an insult; it’s an invitation.”

Have you figured out the identity of the mystery man? Do you know who this racist, homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, Rape Culture enabling, faux “pro-lifer” is?  No? Here’s a hint:

Why am I saying goodbye to this bigoted, bloviating blowhard? He told us he was leaving back in 2010:

“If this [Obamacare] passes, and it’s five years from now, and all that stuff [from Obamacare] gets implemented, I’m leaving the country. I’ll go to Costa Rica.”

Well Rush? It’s been 5 years. Have you made all the necessary preparations? Have you bought your plane ticket? Is your stuff packed?

Dammit, turns out he wasn’t serious!

Now I’m sad.

A Limbaugh-less U.S. would be better for us all. For Rush, it would mean he wouldn’t have to bear the indignity of living in a country where millions of previously uninsured people now have health insurance. For the rest of us, we’d have one less hatemonger on the airwaves. Win-win! Of course if he did move, that wouldn’t be good for the citizens of Costa Rica. Perhaps a one-way trip to a deserted island would be better.

Saying goodbye isn’t always difficult

Feminist Link Round Up 1.14.15

Despite what many make think, as creators and fans, women have been part of the comic book world from the beginning. A new documentary, She Makes Comics, interviews several industry creators as it traces the history of women in the world of comic books.

I’d like to see this doc.

* * * *

 Florida man allegedly sold his pregnant girlfriend 

Trigger Warning

The Miami Herald reports that Justin Robert Muoio forced his 23-year-old girlfriend to advertise herself as a sex worker for “fetish clientele” and demanded that she have sex with them for two months while she was pregnant in 2013.

Prior to that, the woman alleges that since 2009, Muoio had “physically forced her” to work as a sex worker for an agency called VIP Escort Services, where “she would average 8 to 10 dates a day,” six days a week, according to court documents.

Muoio was arrested back in August during a domestic dispute with the woman, which the police reported as a “heated altercation … related to infidelity.” When the woman tried to escape, Muoio tried to escape, Muoio dead-bolted the door and refused to allow her to leave. She eventually escaped by climbing out of a window while Muoio was talking to his mother.

It gets even worse: Muoio’s mother, Louise Henig-Muoio, 66, an “independent real estate professional” in Miami/Fort Lauderdale, was allegedly also involved, with cops saying she threatened the woman and refused to allow her to leave. Henig-Muoio has been arrested and charged with false imprisonment.

* * * *

 Fraternities at UVA must have ‘sober monitors’ at every party

[Fr]aternities wanting to throw parties at the University of Virginia will have to get three members to stay “sober and lucid” to monitor behavior and bedrooms, under new rules imposed after a media report of a gang rape at one of the gatherings.

The student houses will also have to post a guard at the front door and ban pre-mixed drinks, according to the safety regulations the university announced on Tuesday.

At least one of the sober monitors will have to be posted on the staircase leading to bedrooms and have access to every room in the house, the university said.

UVA banned all social events at fraternities and sororities after Rolling Stone magazine published an article in November detailing an alleged rape at a party in September 2012, and accusations that the university failed to respond.

Rolling Stone later said there were editorial mistakes in its story and asked Columbia University’s journalism school to review the coverage.

UVA President Teresa Sullivan said the ban would be lifted, as long as the organizations signed onto the new regulations meant to guard against excessive drinking and the risk of sexual violence.

“I believe the new safety measures recommended by the student leaders in the Greek community (the fraternities and sororities) will help provide a safer environment for their members and guests,” Sullivan said.

* * * *

Pay transparency.

That’s one of the positive aspects of the recent Sony hack.

Charlize Theron had to negotiate to get paid as much as her male co-star

Leaked documents showed that Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence were getting a smaller cut of the profits than their male costars for appearing in American Hustle. And that has led movie studios to take a hard look at how they compensate women.

So when Charlize Theron signed on to film a sequel to the 2012 blockbuster Snow White and the Huntsman, she apparently wouldn’t settle until she got what she was worth. According to Page Six, she insisted she be paid as much as costar, Chris Hemsworth, and her persistence paid off. She’ll reportedly be making more than $10 million – just as much as Thor himself.

* * * *

Take a good look at this picture:

Now look at this one:

The first image was taken at a Charlie Hebdo photo-op of various world leaders and you’ll notice the presence of several female heads of state.  The second image however? An ultra-orthodox Jewish newspaper photoshopped the female leaders out of the image.

[Th]e march was to express solidarity between nations and included leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and Anne Hidalgo, the current Mayor of Paris, among a majority of male leaders from around the world. Later in the day all the world leaders posed for a picture together.

But you wouldn’t know that any women were in attendance according to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspaper, The Announcer, which removed the ladies from the photo and ran the shopped picture on the front page of the publication.

Feminist Link Round Up 1.14.15

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.  On this day in 1989, a vile misogynistic scumbag (who I will not name here.  I don’t want his name immortalized) entered Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique and opened fire, killing 14 women.  During his shooting spree, the murderer ranted about his life was ruined by feminists. Before taking his life, the killer also injured 13 others.  The following plaque was posted on the exterior wall of Ecole Polytechnique to honor those women who had their lives stolen in the massacre.

Sadly, it doesn’t appear much has changed in the intervening years.  If anything, things may have regressed:

Despite the apparent markers of progress (the long-gun registry, the White Ribbon campaign), it is hard to deny the feeling that things have started to go backward in many regards. Not only did the Conservative government cancel the poorly-conceived long-gun registry, it is taking legislative steps to ease restrictions on gun ownership across the board.

Rape culture on campus, sexual harassment in the workplace, and generalized violence against women seem as endemic as ever. Even the nature of manhood is under scrutiny yet again, with men charged as having abandoned their traditional role as problem-solvers, and turning into a problem to be solved.

That sense of here-we-are-again world-weariness permeates the writing of the six columnists we asked to look at the Montreal Massacre a quarter century on.

For example, Janice Kennedy argues that it is clear that all that talking we did after the massacre was just that —  empty words.

Mary-Margaret Jones surveys the culture, sees how little has changed, and despairs for what the future holds for her daughter.

Jennifer Ralston, who first heard about the massacre sitting in a high school class in Kansas, argues that the real surprise is not that the massacre happened, but that it hasn’t happened again.

Angelina Chapin is somewhat optimistic, but she puts the onus on men to help feminism by, quite simply, becoming better men.

I think Angelina Chapin’s advice is incredibly important.  Violence against women cannot end without the help of men.

While passion and anger from feminists has resulted in sweeping political progress, feminism is too easy for college boys hopped up on booze and hormones to ignore or mock. Regardless of the policy gains the movement makes, as long as sex is considered a conquest, liquor the best lubricant, and degrading women worthy of a high-five, campuses, streets and offices will always be hotbeds of gendered violence. And the best people to convince men that chauvinism isn’t cool are other men.

Though the male response in the aftermath of École Polytechnique was not ideal, it did inspire the White Ribbon campaign. In 1991, a group of male activists and politicians from Toronto formed an organization to help men examine the cultural roots of violence (it has since spread to over 60 countries). That approach is extremely important.

In a recent survey, White Ribbon found that less than 50 per cent of men were willing to call out or stop a peer’s “sexist language or behaviour.” The report citesother studies that found “men are more likely to intervene to prevent sexual assault” if they think the men around them would as well, and that that “the likelihood of rape is higher when men believe other men are more likely to endorse rape myths.” In other words, misogyny has a domino effect.

Men make a lot of excuses for not getting involved in the fight against violence against women. White Ribbon found that if men aren’t abusive themselves, they often don’t feel part of the wider problem. They don’t act because nobody asked them to participate. Then there’s everybody’s old favourite: feminists are too hostile. But what men don’t realize is that they don’t need to hang out with angry women at protests to participate in feminism. They can simply challenge toxic ideas about masculinity. There’s more pressure and ways than ever to get involved.

This fall, U.S. President Barack Obama released a public service announcementtargeted specifically at men in which celebrities such as Jon Hamm stare into your eyes and say “It’s on us to stop sexual assault.” Former NFLer turned actor Terry Crews wrote a book about letting go of toxic masculinity, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt has encouraged men to identify as feminists. Groups like Male Allies Against Sexual Violence, conferences like What Makes a Man, and websites like The Good Men Project all exist to help men develop healthy ideas about manhood.

But there’s another reason men don’t jump to support feminist causes such as ending sexual violence: they feel women have labeled them as part of the problem rather than the solution. Feminists are justified in saying “grow up.” Female anger is a necessary part of earning equal rights. But it doesn’t help the sexes work together toward the common goal of ending violence against women.

Instead of bickering on social media (#NotAllMen vs. #YesAllWomen), we need more programs that put both genders on the same team. The University of Windsor offers a course that dispels myths about sexual violence (“she asked for it by wearing a short skirt”) and teaches bystanders to intervene. Half of the spots in the class are reserved for men and student facilitators must be a male-female pair.

We should also listen to our enemies. One of the bravest ideas to fight violence against women comes via a documentary made by the filmmaker Attiya Khan, who sits down with a man who physically abused her for two years and asks him to explain why he hurt her. “It’s important to me that people don’t view Steve as a monster,” Khan explains in the trailer. “I just don’t think that helps. I wonder how much violence could be prevented or lives saved if we were able to get inside the head of the abuser.”

Twenty-five years after the Montreal Massacre, men need to realize the biggest contribution they can make to feminism is to become better men. And so long as they are not stealing the spotlight at protests, women need to accept them in our movement. As a united front, we have the best chance of rejecting Lépine’s twisted worldview.

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre

Oh noes, the thought police are suppressing and bullying Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins seems to think his critics are suppressing and bullying him. During a recent speaking tour in San Francisco, he gave an interview in support of his new memoir and invited a reporter to sit down with him:

Bottom line: He stands by everything he has said — including comments that one form of rape or pedophilia is “worse” than another, and that a drunken woman who is raped might be responsible for her fate.

“I don’t take back anything that I’ve said,” Dawkins said from a shady spot in the leafy backyard of one of his Bay Area supporters. “I would not say it again, however, because I am now accustomed to being misunderstood and so I will … ”

He trailed off momentarily, gazing at his hands resting on a patio table.

“I feel muzzled, and a lot of other people do as well,” he continued. “There is a climate of bullying, a climate of intransigent thought police which is highly influential in the sense that it suppresses people like me.”

Oh dear. He won’t take back anything he’s said and stands by everything he’s said (so much for his apology for Dear Muslima earlier this year), he thinks he is misunderstood, and he thinks he has been bullied and muzzled (oh and he thinks the thought police are after him).  Is that true? Let’s take a look at some of his past comments. When he made his  ‘Dear Muslima‘ comment:

Dear Muslima
Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and … yawn … don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.
Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so …
And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.
Richard

he was criticized by many for minimizing the sexism and misogyny that women in the Western world face. People told him that the horrible misogyny women deal with in one part of the world doesn’t erase the misogyny other women in the world face. Those critics read  ‘Dear Muslima’ and came away thinking that was Dawkins’ way of saying “you can’t complain about sexism and misogyny unless you have it this bad”.  

When he made his comments about aborting a fetus with Down Syndrome, he was criticized by many.

“If your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down’s baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare.”

He later said that he wasn’t trying to boss women around:

“Those who thought I was bossily telling a woman what to do rather than let her choose, of course this was absolutely not my intention and I apologise if brevity made it look that way. My true intention was, as stated at length above, simply to say what I personally would do, based upon my own assessment of the pragmatics of the case, and my own moral philosophy which in turn is based on a desire to increase happiness and reduce suffering.”

It’s clear to my eyes why people would criticize Richard Dawkins here. The words he wrote have subtext. They insinuate that if you don’t make the choice that  he, Richard Dawkins would make…if you choose to have a child diagnosed with Down’s, then you’ve made an immoral choice (either that or you don’t share in Dawkins’ morality which is essentially the same thing). He is offering his opinion of women who decide to have a Down’s child.  He is telling those women that he is better than them and that their choice is wrong. He also doesn’t seem to realize that people with Down Syndrome can and do live fulfilling lives.

When he said this:

he was criticized by many people for ranking rape and pedophilia.  They are both horrible. Both are violations of the bodily autonomy of an individual.  It serves no purpose to rank rape or pedophilia (a rapist or a pedophile may face a harsher sentence for their crimes, but that’s a courtroom assessment. It doesn’t mean that one bodily autonomy violating act is worse than another).

Looking back on some of the things he’s said, I can see quite clearly that Richard Dawkins has been the victim of the thought police…that he has been prevented from sharing his thoughts…that he has been bullied into…oh fuck this.

Richard Dawkins is not the victim of anything.  All that happened was people criticized him.  And that, I think, is one of his problems. He doesn’t like being criticized.  He can dole it out to religious leaders and lay believers. He can criticize Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and every other religion out there but he can’t take criticism leveled at him. Especially when it comes from other atheists.  Does he really think he should be immune to criticism? Does he think himself the Atheist Pope (there is no such thing)? Does he think he can do no wrong?

If so, he’s wrong.  And people have called him out on the things he has said. People have explained why his comments are problematic. To him though, the people criticizing him (like PZ Myers and Ophelia Benson) are thought police engaging in witch hunts using online lynch mobs to suppress and bully him (I desperately want someone to shove a dictionary in his face and so he can learn what “thought police”, “witch hunts”, and “lynch mobs” actually mean, bc the way he’s using the phrases?  He hasn’t a fucking clue what they mean).  When I look at the responses Dawkins has received, none of them call for violence against him. None of them say he doesn’t have a right to think what he wants. None of them call for criminally punishing him for having these thoughts. Nope.  All that has happened is that he has been criticized. And I find it laughable that he’s complaining about being suppressed while in an interview in the midst of a speaking tour.  

Dude, you’re not being suppressed or muzzled.  You won’t shut up!  No one has kept you from talking, though many people have wished that you’d get the fuck off Twitter (not like that would stop the sexism from flowing from your lips).  I know of no one with the power to affect your speaking engagements, so you’re not being hurt there. When the media wants to talk to an atheist, your name always comes up. FFS, you have your own blog where you can share your thoughts to the world.  In what way have you been suppressed?

As for the bullying accusation, I find I can’t take that seriously when the worst that has happened to Dawkins is that he’s been criticized for saying things.  Last I checked, that’s not psychological bullying. It’s not emotional bullying.  It’s not physical bullying.  Verbal bullying? Maybe that’s what he means, but again, he has only been criticized.  If he thinks that the criticism he’s faced is the same thing as bullying…he has to explain how, and he hasn’t done that. To me, Dawkins comes off as someone who thinks his right to free speech means “the right to say what I want without criticism”.

Here’s my advice to Dawkins: stay off social media. If you don’t want your words criticized, then don’t fucking express them.  As long as you continue to publicly do so, and as long as you make the insensitive, sexist, misogynistic, Rape Culture enabling comments that you’ve become known for, you’re going to get criticism.  And rightly so.

Oh noes, the thought police are suppressing and bullying Richard Dawkins

There will be no further statement

Trigger Warning: discussion of rape and sexual assault

In 2005 Andrea Constand brought a lawsuit against comedian Bill Cosby alleging that he drugged and sexually assaulted her. 12 other women with similar stories of sexual assault agreed to testify if that case made it to trial. Cosby settled out of court for an undisclosed amount, ensuring that none of those 13 women had a chance to testify against him. He probably thought that was the end of the allegations of rape.

He was wrong.

In October, comedian Hannibal Buress referred to Cosby as a rapist during one of his stand-up acts.

“It’s even worse because Bill Cosby has the fuckin’ smuggest old black man persona that I hate,” Buress said. “He gets on TV, ‘Pull your pants up black people, I was on TV in the 80s! I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom!’ Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches.”

“I guess I want to just at least make it weird for you to watch Cosby Show reruns,” Buress says later. “I’ve done this bit on stage and people think I’m making it up…. when you leave here, google ‘Bill Cosby rape.’ That shit has more results than ‘Hannibal Buress.'”

In the wake of Buress’s comments, there has been a public outcry against the 77-year old comedian. His appearance on The Queen Latifah show was cancelled (according to TMZ; although a spokesman for the show said that Cosby simply postponed the appearance). In addition, a PR move by Cosby’s social media team completely backfired. “Go ahead. Meme me.” said Cosby’s Twitter account.  Ok, said the world.  The results were not what they expected:

Thanks in part to Buress speaking up, Barbara Bowman chose to talk publicly about how Bill Cosby sexually assaulted her.  In an interview with the Mail Online, she says:

‘I was drugged and raped by that man,’ she tells MailOnline. ‘He is a monster. He came at me like a monster. My hope is that others who have experienced sexual abuse will not be intimidated into silence by the famous, rich and powerful. If I can help one victim, then I’ve done my job.’

[…]

‘I’m finally revealing all of my full story in hopes that others will learn to read the tell-tale signs of abuse and not wait as long as I did. No one believed me for years. They said Bill would never do that. That it was preposterous. But I’m putting my name out there and standing behind these words, just like Burress. No more code of silence.’

Now, 25 years after the multiple incidents of drugging, sexual assault, and even rape at the hands of the now 77-year-old Cosby, Barbara said: ‘I’ve been silent too long. It’s time to raise a fuss. I’m a real person that this happened to. And it’s taken decades to get over what he did to me.

‘I thank Hannibal Burress for speaking out over and over again, despite the threats from the Industry that it could ruin his career. He is standing up for me and the other women who are too afraid to speak out.

I appreciate the fact that Buress spoke up about the rape allegations surrounding Bill Cosby. Not enough men speak up about sexual assault, and all too often people dismiss women when they raise rape or sexual assault allegations.  Bowman goes on to say:

‘And the timing couldn’t be better. It sickens me to think he’ll be on TV again, playing a father, no less.’

Barbara’s fear is that her perpetrator will actually hit the NBC airwaves again, as soon as next summer in a new sitcom, playing a patriarchal father figure, just like he played the quintessential family man Dr Cliff Huxtable on The Bill Cosby Show in the 1980s.

‘Maybe he should also teach his fictitious TV family how to escape the talons of sexual predators. Bill used to tell me that he was my father figure and that I needed to trust him as a father, 100 percent. Then he’d drug me and attack me. I was to afraid to talk back.

‘He told me over and over again, “Trust me like I was your father.” He zeroed in on that like a laser beam.’

While other victims were allegedly given hush money to prevent them from going public with their accusations, and another settled after filing a court case against Cosby, Barbara is free to speak out.

‘I never took shut up money. My motivation to speak now is to expose Bill Cosby as the animal that he is. He went after me in that hotel room like an animal with such sexual prowess and force that he couldn’t control himself. And at 19-years-old, I knew it would be the last time he would ever get the chance to hurt me this way again.’

Note her motives here.  Not to gain notoriety. Not to get rich. Not to take him to court (she couldn’t even if she wanted to, as the statute of limitations has long since expired).  She’s speaking up to warn people. Not that Cosby supporters, MRAs, and Rape Culture enablers will pay heed to her stated motives. I recommend reading the rest of Bowman’s story.  Also worth reading is her column at The Washington Post, where she expresses frustration at the lack of public outcry over her allegations, or those of the other women who have come forward, all of whom have told their stories over the last decade.  She notes that it took Buress’s comments to make the media and public begin to question Bill Cosby (apparently more than a dozen allegations from different women are meaningless in the eyes of the public; bitches be lying, amirite?)

Following Bowman’s interview and Buress’s comments, another woman has come forward with allegations of sexual assault. On Monday, Joan Tarshis gave an interview to CNN’s Don Lemon.  In the interview, Tarshis tells Lemon that she was raped by Bill Cosby twice when she was 19 (she also gives further details about why she stayed silent for so long in an interview with the Philadelphia Magazine):

She described her initial meetings with Cosby and what led up to the first time she claims he drugged and raped her:

“We went up to his bungalow. He made me a drink and very shortly after that I just passed out. I woke up or came t very groggily, with him removing my underwear.”

She told Lemon how she tried to lie to Cosby about having an STD to try and get him to stop.

“I said if you have sex with me, your wife is going to know it because you probably will infect her. I thought I was very clever in saying that but he was more clever. And instead he made me have oral sex with him, which was really just horrible.”

Lemon asked her why she never went to the police with her accusations. Tarshis said she was hesitant because no one else had come forward with a similar story and feared no one would believe her story of being sexually assaulted by such a famous man.

“I didn’t know his history. I assumed I was not the only girl that he was doing this with. But who’s going to believe me…who would believe me? They’d probably think I was out to get something.”

She said, in the end, her emotions won out, and she kept silent for 20 years.

“I felt a lot of shame, I felt a lot of guilt. I felt a lot of ‘shoulds.’ I should have known there was something wrong with this man. I should have felt something was off with him. And I was angry at myself that I didn’t and blamed myself.”

I’m sorry she had to go through that.  Being raped is horrible enough. Then sitting on that for decades, afraid to share such a traumatic experience just compounds the awfulness of the situation.  Fuck you Bill Cosby.  Fuck you for raping all these women.  Fuck you even more for refusing to even comment on the allegations.  In a recent interview with Scott Simon at NPR, Cosby simply shook his head when asked about the sexual assault allegations surrounding him:

SCOTT SIMON: “This question gives me no pleasure, Mr. Cosby, but there have been serious allegations raised about you in recent days.”

BILL COSBY: [SILENCE]

SIMON: “You’re shaking your head no. I’m in the news business. I have to ask the question. Do you have any response to those charges?”

COSBY: [SILENCE]

SIMON: “Shaking your head no. There are people who love you who might like to hear from you about this. I want to give you the chance.”

COSBY: [SILENCE]

Crickets chirping. I don’t know what’s going through the man’s mind, but somehow I don’t think he’s feeling guilty for what he’s done.  He won’t even acknowledge the allegations. He won’t dignify his victims with a response.  To compound this, his lawyer recently released this steaming pile of crap:

Over the last several weeks, decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced. The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment. He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work. There will be no further statement from Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives.

– John P. Schmitt, lawyer for Bill Cosby

No further statement?!

Yeah, just crawl back into the celebrity world Mr. Cosby, with all the comfort and security that world offers and don’t pay any attention to the women who’s bodily autonomy you violated. They clearly still don’t matter to you. That you won’t even respond to your victims shows you still don’t view them as human beings with rights.  It shows a complete disregard for the harm you caused them.  And it really fucking sucks that you’ve gotten away with it.  You still have your fame and success, while these women have to live the rest of their lives traumatized by what you did to them.  I hope your career tanks and you fade into obscurity. I know it’s not likely, but that would be the closest thing to punishment that you’re likely to ever face.

There will be no further statement

Feminist Link Round Up 11.8.14

MIT releases results of survey on sexual assault

One in six female undergraduates at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who responded to a survey has been sexually assaulted, but fewer than 5 percent reported a sex crime, MIT said.

Five percent of female undergraduates said they had been raped and one in five knew a perpetrator of unwanted sexual behavior, according to the MIT poll, which had a response rate of 35 percent from undergraduate and graduate students.

“Sexual assault violates our core MIT values. It has no place here,” MIT President Rafael Reif wrote in a campus email Monday accompanying the survey results.

MIT, which urged all its students to take the survey on attitudes towards sexual assault, is one of the first U.S. schools to release wide-ranging data on sex crimes on campus.

Lawmakers, activists and students across the United States have been urging a crackdown on sexual assaults on campuses.

MIT emailed the survey to all of its 10,831 undergraduate and graduate students on April 27 – two days before the White House called on colleges and universities to ask students about these matters.

* * * *

Joss Whedon is widely known as a feminist (though not one without problems). From his creation, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to his support for Anita Sarkeesian, he has made his voice heard in feminist discussions. In a recent interview, he spoke up again, this time sharing his thoughts on why so many people are so angry about feminism.  It’s because something is actually happening:

You know, it’s one of those things that’s always surprising. I was raised by a very strong woman, I didn’t know feminism was actually a thing until I left home and found out the country didn’t run the way my mom’s house did. So I have this goldfish, idiot, forgetful thing in that every time I’m confronted with true misogyny, I’m stunned. I’m like, Really? That’s like, I don’t believe in airplanes. It’s like, What century are you from? I don’t get it. So usually I’m shocked, then occasionally amused, then occasionally extremely not amused, but once I get over the shock, it’s very clear that misogyny in our own culture — and not just where they perform genital mutilation and marry off 10-year-olds — runs so deep. When I see this hate bubbling up towards any kind of progress, my reaction is twofold: First, it’s horror, and then, it’s delight, because you don’t get this kind of anger unless real change is actually happening. It is a chaotic time. It’s an ugly time because change is happening. It would be lovely to be living after the change has happened.

Is change happening?  If so, is that change for the good? I don’t have an answer for either, though I hope Whedon is correct.  As a member of the atheist community, I’ve seen (and taken part in) discussions of women’s rights in the atheist movement. I’ve watched people argue against harassment policies. I’ve watched people argue against the movement being more welcoming to women. I’ve also seen the issue of feminism brought up in the comic book community, which I’ve also taken part in. I’ve read rant after rant of fanboys complain about people advocating for better representation of women in comics. I’ve listened to sexist twerps whine about how men are just as sexually objectified as women in comics (the male power fantasy is not sexual objectification; nevermind that comics have traditionally been aimed at boys and men–do these people not stop to realize that their examples of male sexual objectification-if true-would be aimed at them? Have they forgotten that a great many of them are heterosexual? Think, you fools). I’ve heard about sexism and misogyny in the gaming community (seriously, who hasn’t heard of GamerGate at this point), and the pushback against simple things like improving the treatment of women in video games (which wouldn’t fundamentally change the games, but would make them more welcoming to women, which means increasing the $$, unless legions of misogynistic fuckwits seriously plan on no longer purchasing video games unless female characters are sexualized). I’ve read about feminist issues in the science fiction/fantasy community. I’ve read about feminism in a wide variety of communities, and perhaps that’s a good thing.  This is getting talked about. Women are making their voices heard.  More and more men are speaking up in support of women and making their voices heard too.  It hasn’t been pleasant, don’t get me wrong. But perhaps Whedon is correct.  Maybe all this harassment, misogyny, rape/death threats…maybe it’s a sign that change is in the works. I hope so. I’m tired of women being run out of atheism, chased out of the video game community, or made to feel unwelcome at comic book conventions. Women should be able to participate in society to whatever extent they choose without street harassment, sexual harassment, or the threat of sexual assault or physical harm.

* * * *

 Mitt Romney:  ‘War on Women’? What ‘War on Women’?

47% of Americans pay no income taxes and are dependent on the federal government.

The middle class income is $200-$250K/year.

50% of kids coming out of school can’t get a job.

All those assertions (and more) have been made by Mitt Romney, and all of them are wrong. We can add something new to the list of claims made by Mitt Romney that are wrong:

“This rhetoric about the war on women or the war on one thing or another, I think people are saying, “You know, this just doesn’t carry water anymore.”

Birth Control.

Abortion Rights.

Violence Against Women Act.

The War on Women does indeed hold water. It is an ongoing attempt by the Republican Party to restrict the rights and opportunities of women in the United States. As with other statements made by Mitt Romney, this comment indicates he lacks an understanding of what he’s talking about. It’s especially egregious that a man with his money could be this smugnorant (portmanteau of ‘smug’ and ‘ignorant’).

* * * *

Saudi Arabia may relax ban on women drivers

The Saudi king’s advisory council — whose suggestions are not binding — has recommended that the government lift its ban on female drivers, a member of the council told The Associated Press Friday. Local media subsequently quoted an official denying the report.

There have been years of campaigning against the kingdom’s staunch rejection of any review of the ban. Though they are not obligatory on the government, simply making the recommendation would be a major step after years of the kingdom staunchly rejecting any review of the ban.

There have been small but increasingly bold protests by women who took to their cars over the past year. The driving ban, which is unique in the world, is imposed because the kingdom’s ultraconservative Muslim clerics say “licentiousness” will spread if women drive.

The council member said the Shura Council made the recommendations in a secret, closed session held in the past month. The member spoke on condition of anonymity because the recommendations had not been made public.

After the AP story first appeared, Shura Council spokesman Mohammed al-Muhanna told Al-Riyadh newspaper that reports about “the approval of the council of women driving” are not true.

There was no mention of the recommendation on the Saudi Press Agency, the kingdom’s official state news agency. Al-Muhanna could not be reached directly, and other officials declined to comment publicly.

Under the recommendations outlined by the council member speaking to AP, only women over 30 would be allowed to drive and they would need permission from a male relative — usually a husband or father, but lacking those, a brother or son. They would be allowed to drive from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday through Wednesday and noon to 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. It wasn’t immediately clear why the restrictions would be different Thursday and Friday, as the Saudi weekend was changed by royal decree in 2013 to Friday and Saturday.

Similar provisions have been floated as far back as 2008 as conditions for allowing women to eventually drive. It seems that the recommendations last month were building off the earlier studies, now with the additional contributions from women members in the council, appointed by the king last year.

The conditions also require that a woman driver wear conservative dress and no make-up, the official said. Within cities, they can drive without a male relative in the car, but outside of cities, a male is required to be present.

The notion that women should need “permission” to drive, or that they can’t wear whatever the hell they want, or wear make-up is so fucking oppressive and misogynistic.

* * * *

Stop Asking Why the Women Accusing Jian Ghomeshi Didn’t Go to the Cops

We have to face the possibility that in this world, the only one we’ve got, a woman who says she was attacked by a powerful man can’t necessarily expect justice and protection if she goes running to the law. That if she tells, her home address and telephone number will probably be splashed across the Internet where demented ragey misogynists will use them to terrorize her. That she’s not crazy to worry her relationships with her parents, her partners, her friends and colleagues will be forever altered if they hear about it, because lots of people just aren’t emotionally equipped to deal with a loved one going through something like this.

“So why didn’t I do anything?” says Reva Seth, the latest woman to come forward with a story about being attacked by Ghomeshi. “This is the part that I think is so important to understand if we are ever going to change the context in which rape culture and violence against women is perpetuated. I didn’t do anything because it didn’t seem like there was anything to do…And even if I had wanted to do something, as a lawyer, I’m well aware that the scenario was just a “he said/she said” situation. I was aware that I, as a woman who had had a drink or two, shared a joint, had gone to his house willingly and had a sexual past, would be eviscerated. Cultural frameworks on this are powerful.”

So either these nine women are all irresponsible dummies—doesn’t sound like it—or they did what tons of people in their shoes would do. They didn’t tell, because telling can be more painful than not telling. This is depressing, confusing, and awkward, but it’s also what happened.

Those refusing to understand why victims of sexual assault or rape choose not to inform the authorities may think the world is just and fair. That if they really were victimized it would be a simple thing to go to the cops, who would believe them, and arrest the rapist. Then the rapist would be brought up on charges and be convicted of a crime and go to jail.  Sadly, that’s often not how reality works.  The world isn’t fair. It isn’t just. The Just World Fallacy is exactly that.  A fallacy.

Feminist Link Round Up 11.8.14

"We’re in the waning days of the dude-ified gaming world."

Those are the words of Jesse Singal, correspondent for the Boston Globe, in Gaming’s Summer of Rage. In the piece, Singal covers the genesis of GamerGate, from the angry retribution of Zoe Quinn’s ex to the misogyny laden responses of many gamers (and yes, he mentions that the very foundation of GamerGate-that Zoe Quinn slept with a writer of Kotaku to get favorable coverage-is a false narrative; although this doesn’t stop the anti-feminist gamers from ranting, raving, and sending rape or death threats to Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian). He makes the argument that insecurity is at the heart of the anti-feminist gamers:

Trying to unravel where all this anger comes from could occupy dozens of dissertations’ worth of interviews and research (I’m not sure if the relevant field would be anthropology or clinical psychology). But what this whole sorry summer comes down to is insecurity — profound insecurity — on the part of some male gamers reacting to their hobby of choice becoming more diverse and nuanced and, I dare say, emotionally intelligent.

It’s a simple point: The form art takes depends a lot on who is allowed and encouraged to make it. We’re in the waning days of the dude-ified gaming world. Women are increasingly breaking into the industry, writing about games and playing them.

One of the things I’m continually saddened by in all of this is that feminists like Anita Sarkeesian are only asking for women to be treated better in games.  That’s it.  The gamers simultaneously claim that the background sexism and sexualized violence in video games isn’t that big a deal to them (which shows their privilege-they don’t have to think about these things; to them, they aren’t affected by a culture of indifference towards sexism and sexualized violence) while decrying efforts to change these minor little things. I find it amusing (and horrifying) the lengths these people will go over something they consider not a big deal.  Ultimately it is a big deal because women comprise more than half the gaming audience. They have concerns about sexism in video games and it would behoove manufacturers to listen if they want women to part with their money.

So how did the anti-feminist gamers react to the various insights by Singal? According to The Mary Sue, Singal was told to check out the subreddit KotakuInAction.  That would show him what the real GamerGate was all about. I’m sure they didn’t expect him to do that.

Their bluff was called.  Here’s his response:

Uh huh. That’s why at this very moment three of the top six posts on KIA—the subreddit I was explicitly instructed to visit if I wanted to see the real GamerGate—are about Wu and Sarkeesian (oh, I’m sorry, LW1 and LW3 [or is Wu 2? I can’t keep track]) and social-justice warriors.

So, to recap:

Me: I don’t think this is really about corruption as much as it’s about discomfort with feminism. After all, a lot of the heat seems to be aimed at small female devs/commentators of a feminist bent.

GamerGaters on Twitter: Not true! So unfair! Go to KIA!

[Goes to KIA. Suspicions appear to be mostly confirmed.]

This has happened over and over and over again (I also looked into the 8chan board and some other “approved” places). As a journalist trying to be fair-minded about this, you can’t fucking win. If I’m arguing with someone from the NRA or the NAACP or some other established group, I can point to actual quotes from the group’s leadership. With you guys, any bad thing that happens is, by definition, not the work of A True GamerGater. It’s one of the oldest logical fallacies in the book.

So what is GamerGate “really” about? I think this is the kinda question a philosopher of language would tear apart and scatter the remnants of to the wind, because it lacks any real referent. You guys refuse to appoint a leader or write up a platform or really do any of the things real-life, adult “movements” do. I’d argue that there isn’t really any such thing as GamerGate, because any given manifestation of it can be torn down as, again, No True GamerGate by anyone who disagrees with it. And who gets to decide what is and isn’t True GamerGate? You can’t say you want a decentralized, anonymous movement and then disown the ugly parts that inevitably pop up. Either everything is in, or everything is out.

Anyway, faced with this complete lack of clarity, all I or other journalists can do, then, is journalism: We ask the people in the movement what they stand for and then try to tease out what is real and what is PR. And every every every substantive conversation/forum/encounter I’ve had with folks from GamerGate has led me to believe that a large part of the reason for the group’s existence is discomfort with what its members see as the creeping and increasing influence of what you call social-justice warriors in the gaming world.

I’m not just making this up based on the occasional Tweet or forum post. After my HuffPost Live appearance, I was invited into a Google Hangout about GamerGate by Troy Rubert, aka@GhostLev. I accepted, and when I got in just about everyone who spoke openly talked about how mad they were that progressive politics and feminism were impinging on gaming, which they saw as an area they had enjoyed, free of politics, forever. They were extremely open about this. A day or so later, another GamerGater, @Smilomaniac, asked me to read a blog post he’d writtenabout his involvement in the movement in which he explicitly IDs as anti-feminist, and says that while some people claim otherwise, he thinks GG is an anti-feminist movement.

I believe him; I think GamerGate is primarily about anger at progressive people who care about feminism and transgender rights and mental health and whatever else (I am not going to use your obnoxious social-justice warrior terminology anymore) getting involved in gaming, and by what you see as overly solicitous coverage of said individuals and their games. And that’s fine! It’s an opinion I happen to disagree with, but “at least it’s an ethos.”

But this is only going to be a real debate if you guys can cop to your real-life feelings and opinions. You should have a bit more courage and put your actual motives front and center. Instead, because some of you do have a certain degree of political savvy, as is evidenced whenever GamerGaters on 8chan and elsewhere try to rein in their more unhinged peers, you’ve decided to go the “journalism ethics” route.

Unfortunately, that sauce is incredibly weak. There was no Kotaku review of “Depression Quest,” and fair-minded journalists will see through that line of attack right away since ZQ was receiving hate for DQ long before her boyfriend posted that thing. Journalists donating to crowdfunding campaigns? I bet if you asked 100 journalists you’d get 100 different opinions on whether this should be inherently off-limits (personal take is that it isn’t, but that journalists should certainly disclose any projects to which they donate). Collusion to strike at the heart of the gamer identity? Conservatives have been arguing that liberal journalists unfairly collude forever—I was on the “Journolist” that people wrongly claimed was coordinating pro-Obama coverage when really what we were doing, like any other listserv of ideologically like-minded people, was arguing with ourselves over everything. What happened was Gamasutra ran a column, that column went viral, and a lot of people responded to it. That sort of cross-site collusion doesn’t happen the way you think it does. When everyone’s writing about the same thing, that’s because the thing in question is getting a lot of discussion, which LA’s column did.

You guys know as well as I do that a movement based on the stated goal of regaining gaming ground lost to feminists and (ugh) SJWs would not do very well from a PR perspective. But you’re in a bind, because the ethics charges are 1) 98% false; 2) complicated to follow for the layperson; and 3) pretty clearly a ruse given the underlying ideology of the folks pushing this line forward.

(Important side note: A lot of the people calling for “journalistic ethics” quite transparently don’t know anything about journalism — to say that sites should clearly label what is and isn’t opinion, for example, is just plain weird, because a) that distinction is less and less relevant and is mostly a relic of newspaper days; and b) it’s a basic reading-comprehension thing; anyone who reads on a daily basis can tell, pretty simply from various cues in the narrative, whether they’re reading a work of “straight” journalism [outdated, troublesome term], “pure” opinion [again, bleh], or some combination of the two [which is what a lot of games coverage is].)

So I’d make a call, one last time, for honesty: Stop pretending this is about stuff it isn’t. Acknowledge that you do not want SJWs in gaming, that you want games to just be about games. Again: I disagree, but at least then I (and other journalists! you do want coverage, don’t you?) could at least follow what the hell is going on. If your movement requires journalists to carefully parse 8chan chains to understand it, it gets an F- in the PR department.

You guys need to man and woman up and talk about what’s really on your mind, or stop whining about “biased” coverage and/or blaming it on non-existent conspiracies. And that’s my overlong two cents about your movement and why I’m having a lot of trouble taking it seriously.

(Edited right away to fix some stuff; more edits surely to come given that I wrote this quickly and in an under-caffeinated state. Feel free to snap a screenshot—I won’t be making any substantive changes.)

Yes, will you gamers just be honest? Your deplorable antics are transparent. Your “movement” is a failure (here are 10 reasons; some are annoying bc of the “both sides” BS), because you aren’t really focused on corruption in journalism. Oh sure, some of you might be. But most of the GG’s? You’re really engaged in a campaign against feminism, threatening physical harm or sexual assault all because you don’t want progressive minded people intruding into your world. Unfortunately for you, it’s already happened, and it’s going to keep happening. Games aren’t just for you guys any more and that’s not a bad thing.

"We’re in the waning days of the dude-ified gaming world."

“We’re in the waning days of the dude-ified gaming world.”

Those are the words of Jesse Singal, correspondent for the Boston Globe, in Gaming’s Summer of Rage. In the piece, Singal covers the genesis of GamerGate, from the angry retribution of Zoe Quinn’s ex to the misogyny laden responses of many gamers (and yes, he mentions that the very foundation of GamerGate-that Zoe Quinn slept with a writer of Kotaku to get favorable coverage-is a false narrative; although this doesn’t stop the anti-feminist gamers from ranting, raving, and sending rape or death threats to Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian). He makes the argument that insecurity is at the heart of the anti-feminist gamers:

Trying to unravel where all this anger comes from could occupy dozens of dissertations’ worth of interviews and research (I’m not sure if the relevant field would be anthropology or clinical psychology). But what this whole sorry summer comes down to is insecurity — profound insecurity — on the part of some male gamers reacting to their hobby of choice becoming more diverse and nuanced and, I dare say, emotionally intelligent.

It’s a simple point: The form art takes depends a lot on who is allowed and encouraged to make it. We’re in the waning days of the dude-ified gaming world. Women are increasingly breaking into the industry, writing about games and playing them.

One of the things I’m continually saddened by in all of this is that feminists like Anita Sarkeesian are only asking for women to be treated better in games.  That’s it.  The gamers simultaneously claim that the background sexism and sexualized violence in video games isn’t that big a deal to them (which shows their privilege-they don’t have to think about these things; to them, they aren’t affected by a culture of indifference towards sexism and sexualized violence) while decrying efforts to change these minor little things. I find it amusing (and horrifying) the lengths these people will go over something they consider not a big deal.  Ultimately it is a big deal because women comprise more than half the gaming audience. They have concerns about sexism in video games and it would behoove manufacturers to listen if they want women to part with their money.

So how did the anti-feminist gamers react to the various insights by Singal? According to The Mary Sue, Singal was told to check out the subreddit KotakuInAction.  That would show him what the real GamerGate was all about. I’m sure they didn’t expect him to do that.

Their bluff was called.  Here’s his response:

Uh huh. That’s why at this very moment three of the top six posts on KIA—the subreddit I was explicitly instructed to visit if I wanted to see the real GamerGate—are about Wu and Sarkeesian (oh, I’m sorry, LW1 and LW3 [or is Wu 2? I can’t keep track]) and social-justice warriors.

So, to recap:

Me: I don’t think this is really about corruption as much as it’s about discomfort with feminism. After all, a lot of the heat seems to be aimed at small female devs/commentators of a feminist bent.

GamerGaters on Twitter: Not true! So unfair! Go to KIA!

[Goes to KIA. Suspicions appear to be mostly confirmed.]

This has happened over and over and over again (I also looked into the 8chan board and some other “approved” places). As a journalist trying to be fair-minded about this, you can’t fucking win. If I’m arguing with someone from the NRA or the NAACP or some other established group, I can point to actual quotes from the group’s leadership. With you guys, any bad thing that happens is, by definition, not the work of A True GamerGater. It’s one of the oldest logical fallacies in the book.

So what is GamerGate “really” about? I think this is the kinda question a philosopher of language would tear apart and scatter the remnants of to the wind, because it lacks any real referent. You guys refuse to appoint a leader or write up a platform or really do any of the things real-life, adult “movements” do. I’d argue that there isn’t really any such thing as GamerGate, because any given manifestation of it can be torn down as, again, No True GamerGate by anyone who disagrees with it. And who gets to decide what is and isn’t True GamerGate? You can’t say you want a decentralized, anonymous movement and then disown the ugly parts that inevitably pop up. Either everything is in, or everything is out.

Anyway, faced with this complete lack of clarity, all I or other journalists can do, then, is journalism: We ask the people in the movement what they stand for and then try to tease out what is real and what is PR. And every every every substantive conversation/forum/encounter I’ve had with folks from GamerGate has led me to believe that a large part of the reason for the group’s existence is discomfort with what its members see as the creeping and increasing influence of what you call social-justice warriors in the gaming world.

I’m not just making this up based on the occasional Tweet or forum post. After my HuffPost Live appearance, I was invited into a Google Hangout about GamerGate by Troy Rubert, aka@GhostLev. I accepted, and when I got in just about everyone who spoke openly talked about how mad they were that progressive politics and feminism were impinging on gaming, which they saw as an area they had enjoyed, free of politics, forever. They were extremely open about this. A day or so later, another GamerGater, @Smilomaniac, asked me to read a blog post he’d writtenabout his involvement in the movement in which he explicitly IDs as anti-feminist, and says that while some people claim otherwise, he thinks GG is an anti-feminist movement.

I believe him; I think GamerGate is primarily about anger at progressive people who care about feminism and transgender rights and mental health and whatever else (I am not going to use your obnoxious social-justice warrior terminology anymore) getting involved in gaming, and by what you see as overly solicitous coverage of said individuals and their games. And that’s fine! It’s an opinion I happen to disagree with, but “at least it’s an ethos.”

But this is only going to be a real debate if you guys can cop to your real-life feelings and opinions. You should have a bit more courage and put your actual motives front and center. Instead, because some of you do have a certain degree of political savvy, as is evidenced whenever GamerGaters on 8chan and elsewhere try to rein in their more unhinged peers, you’ve decided to go the “journalism ethics” route.

Unfortunately, that sauce is incredibly weak. There was no Kotaku review of “Depression Quest,” and fair-minded journalists will see through that line of attack right away since ZQ was receiving hate for DQ long before her boyfriend posted that thing. Journalists donating to crowdfunding campaigns? I bet if you asked 100 journalists you’d get 100 different opinions on whether this should be inherently off-limits (personal take is that it isn’t, but that journalists should certainly disclose any projects to which they donate). Collusion to strike at the heart of the gamer identity? Conservatives have been arguing that liberal journalists unfairly collude forever—I was on the “Journolist” that people wrongly claimed was coordinating pro-Obama coverage when really what we were doing, like any other listserv of ideologically like-minded people, was arguing with ourselves over everything. What happened was Gamasutra ran a column, that column went viral, and a lot of people responded to it. That sort of cross-site collusion doesn’t happen the way you think it does. When everyone’s writing about the same thing, that’s because the thing in question is getting a lot of discussion, which LA’s column did.

You guys know as well as I do that a movement based on the stated goal of regaining gaming ground lost to feminists and (ugh) SJWs would not do very well from a PR perspective. But you’re in a bind, because the ethics charges are 1) 98% false; 2) complicated to follow for the layperson; and 3) pretty clearly a ruse given the underlying ideology of the folks pushing this line forward.

(Important side note: A lot of the people calling for “journalistic ethics” quite transparently don’t know anything about journalism — to say that sites should clearly label what is and isn’t opinion, for example, is just plain weird, because a) that distinction is less and less relevant and is mostly a relic of newspaper days; and b) it’s a basic reading-comprehension thing; anyone who reads on a daily basis can tell, pretty simply from various cues in the narrative, whether they’re reading a work of “straight” journalism [outdated, troublesome term], “pure” opinion [again, bleh], or some combination of the two [which is what a lot of games coverage is].)

So I’d make a call, one last time, for honesty: Stop pretending this is about stuff it isn’t. Acknowledge that you do not want SJWs in gaming, that you want games to just be about games. Again: I disagree, but at least then I (and other journalists! you do want coverage, don’t you?) could at least follow what the hell is going on. If your movement requires journalists to carefully parse 8chan chains to understand it, it gets an F- in the PR department.

You guys need to man and woman up and talk about what’s really on your mind, or stop whining about “biased” coverage and/or blaming it on non-existent conspiracies. And that’s my overlong two cents about your movement and why I’m having a lot of trouble taking it seriously.

(Edited right away to fix some stuff; more edits surely to come given that I wrote this quickly and in an under-caffeinated state. Feel free to snap a screenshot—I won’t be making any substantive changes.)

Yes, will you gamers just be honest? Your deplorable antics are transparent. Your “movement” is a failure (here are 10 reasons; some are annoying bc of the “both sides” BS), because you aren’t really focused on corruption in journalism. Oh sure, some of you might be. But most of the GG’s? You’re really engaged in a campaign against feminism, threatening physical harm or sexual assault all because you don’t want progressive minded people intruding into your world. Unfortunately for you, it’s already happened, and it’s going to keep happening. Games aren’t just for you guys any more and that’s not a bad thing.

“We’re in the waning days of the dude-ified gaming world.”