Females Are Not welcome in the Atheist Community

Females, especially younger women and girls, are not as welcome in the Atheist Community as are men. There are indeed many women who are atheists, and many of those are quite active. But to be a woman active in the atheist community, two things are almost always, I think, true: 1) You are not allowed to forget that you’re a woman before you’re an atheist, and not in a good way but in a stereotyped, sexualized, objectified and exploited way; and 2) one of your main jobs as an activist, blogger, writer, or speaker, may very well be dealing with sexism not only generally but in your particular field of interest as well.

——–
Clarification

I would not have thought this necessary but I was wrong. A “Community” is like a neighborhood. Pertinent to the present discussion, no matter how many female-welcoming (or even indifferent) people live there, and no how many non sexist, non misogynist, pro-feminist, female-friendly places, subgroups, places to go or places to be or things to do there may be in that neighborhood, if many of the street corners and parks and other public spaces are habitually occupied by groups of dick-headed immature women hating misogynists who harass and bother and abuse any women that show up in that neighborhood, then the neighborhood is not welcoming to women. A community is like a neighborhood, and our community (of atheists or skeptics) is a lot like that neighborhood I just described.
——–

And what I’m saying here applies as well to the Skeptical Community, quite possibly because the Atheist and Skeptics communities have quite a bit of overlap.

I have proof of that last point: That female atheists address issues related to sex and sexism more than men. I looked at the last three substantive (i.e., not a random YouTube clip) posts of all the male bloggers at FTB.com and the last six of all the female bloggers (there are so many more male bloggers that I was worried about sample size) and categorized them. Here’s the chart I came up with:

female bloggers blog more about sex, sexism, and glbta issues

Bloggers by type vs. topics blogged, FTB.com, recently


I don’t assume that women are doing relatively more sexism related blogging becuase they are women per se, but rather, because they are reminded constantly that this is an issue, to a larger extent than are men. Which is why this is an issue.

We commend the cuttlefish for being so even tentacled in treatment of different topics.

This observation about not being welcome is brought into sharp focus by the recent treatment of a young freethinking female about the age of my daughter who put a picture of herself holding a book by Carl Sagan, with a caption indicating that her religious mother had given her this book, on the atheist redeit forum.

The name of the book was The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark And indeed, it turns out that reddit is the demon haunted world! As you know by now if you read any of the blogs on this network that she was verbally abused numerous times by the sophomoric testosterone driven scum that call themselves men who make up an unknown but not small enough percentage of our community.

You may also know by now that Rebecca Watson wrote a blog post about this, and then, of course, Rebecca became the object of verbal abuse by the usual subjects.

When all that happened, I was disturbed and annoyed and I planned a blog post. Part of that blog post was the chart I provide above. The rest of the post is lost, in two ways: 1) In the malarial ague of several days bed ridden, half conscious, barely cognizant of reality. Well, OK, I had a bad cold and was on facebook alot, but you get the picture … and 2) Everybody else said all the stuff I wudda said but better.

So in homage to my colleagues, Rebecca started off the critique of the patrislime with this: REDDIT MAKES ME HATE ATHEISTS and she was mad because as you can see it is in all caps. Blag Hag tossed out a short and timely comment. PZ Myers (Pharyngula) was even shorter. Ed Brayton expressed something most of us felt and gave up on his own gender. Johhn Loftus spoke up In Defense of Rebecca Watson. Ophelia Benson went to the hardware store and got some disinfectant.

Jason wrote a post that ended up being one of the hubs for this conversation.

Justin Griffith wrote a post called “A nuclear exchange with the USSR could have looked like this” which I honestly thought was about this reddit maneno, but it wasn’t. It was about, well, a nuclear exchange with the USSR and what it would have looked like.

Stephanie Zvan talked about “Hate Atheists” … that fragment of the phrase Rebecca used to title her post. Greta Christina chimed in with a post titled “Why “Yes, But” Is the Wrong Response to Misogyny” which has had over 700 comments so far, though if I know this community I suspect (but I’m only guessing here) that there were several hundred trollish misogynist verbal attacks from the usual suspects which were summarily deleted. PZ Myers then chimed in again to point out that this whole thing is a conspiracy by us to get more page views, or something.

Mike Haubrich just posted an expose of an actual example of an actual atheist community actually attempting to be more welcoming to women in a way that demonstrated how good intentions must be carried out with more consideration and skill than often happens.

JT Eberhard agreed with Greta. Maryam Namazie problemetized the concept of the atheist community rather brilliantly, and Christina, who has stayed out of this until now, stopped staying out of it.

Then there was this, this, this, this, this, and this. I’d give you more detail on that but I’ve gotta get back to my bad cold.

I talked about this incident with my daughter and she more or less shrugged it off, and suggested that by now the girl on reddit probably has too. And in fact, that may well be true. But that is not a “Yeah but” situation. Here’s the thing. If you are a guy (talking to the guys here) and some chick on the internet says, like, “Hey, tell me all about how you want to fuck me” that does not really mean (from your persepctive, not hers …. I’m talking to and about you) that it is perfectly OK (especially on a public forum like Reddit where other people are busy being evolved humans) if you then proceed to discuss your sex organs, her orifaces, and various actions, acts and activities.

A woman can not give you her permission to rape or abuse her physically or verbally. If she does say something you interpret this way (and it may well be sincere) and you follow through, you are just as wrong as if you carried out your abuse without being “egged on” or “tempted” or “told it was OK.” And if all she does is to show you a books she read, then you really should behave better than you tend to. Do you understand this?

No, I didn’t think so. So, I can make it even simpler for you if you like. When it comes to dickish moronic behavior like we’ve seen in this case … (click the Play button on the video)

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67 Responses to Females Are Not welcome in the Atheist Community

  1. Sivi says:

    Yes.

    (With the small but important caveat of negotiated physical/verbal abuse in, say, a BDSM context)

  2. Konradius says:

    Interesting how you change the premise from “not welcome” to “not as welcome” from the title to the first sentence. What a great way to appeal to women that start reading these blogs and start with the titles of the posts.
    Oh yes, and I’m sure you’re going to stop criticizing publications like New Scientist about titles like “Was Darwin Wrong?”. At least that was a question and the answer was “No”.
    I think the approach to this problem is to drive a wedge between the “menz” and the regular men within our movements. Then talk about what behavior is appropriate from the regular men and what behavior puts one in the “menz” category.
    Blanket statements like this title are wrong for all people. And this includes titles like “REDDIT MAKES ME HATE ATHEISTS” and using “men” as the target of your postings.
    Even if you think only a small portion of men are doing it right, you want to highlight that portion to show the masses how to get there. It’s the carrot to the stick of a misogyny accusation.
    Addressing this issue, you are doing it wrong.

  3. Isn’t it telling that the first comment manages again to not talk about the issues Greg has brought up and does instead tell people how awefull they are for using provocative headlines?

    ++++++

    A woman can not give you her permission to rape or abuse her physically or verbally.

    That’s because it’s an inherent contradiction, isn’t it.
    Asking somebody to call her a dirty slut, spank her and then tie her up because that’s their bedroom funtime is the opposite from doing that unbidden.

    Apart from the fact that minors cannot give consent per definition.

  4. Konradius says:

    No, I do not think that’s telling Giliell.
    First of all my post does go into the issues that have been brought up. I too am very disturbed about the abuse the menz have been giving women in our movement. I want to ostracize anyone who displays such abuse and I want to correct anyone who gives comfort to the abusers.
    That’s why I propose driving a wedge in the community. Anyone who abuses their speech with this crap goes onto our shit list.
    How is that not adressing the issues Greg has brought up?

    And about the ‘provocative’ titles and exclamations that have been used by our side in this.
    I wouldn’t call them provocative, I’d call them stupid.
    It gives comfort to the menz who simply discard the post because of hyperbole.
    It drives people in the middle to the menz because if they feel they’re in the out group they therefore must be in the ingroup of the other team.
    It turns away actual skeptics because they read the post and think rightly at times: hey, that’s not true.

    By all means, don’t tone down the retoric. But make sure you’re targeting the menz and make sure the fallout gets on their side. Didn’t we want to make our community inclusive and yet not compromise on our ideas and ideals? Then don’t be sloppy when writing these pieces!

  5. Konradius
    I’m sorry, I missed your middle-part.

    I still think that you made the “yes, but” fallacy, but that doesn’t excuse my sloppy reading.

  6. Greg Laden says:

    Konradius, the atheist community is as a community not welcoming to women. If a woman holds up a book next to her face in front of her web cam she is verbally raped by that community. If a woman talks about this kind of thing (as Rebecca did) she is harassed by the comunity. The details of how many of the men in the community are involved in that vs. not. Everybody knows the meaning of the word, everybody knows that a community is a group of different people. Why, this very post I wrote and all those I cite in the post are by people who welcome women in this community and are part of it, nonetheless, the title is true.

    Women are not as welcome in the community as men. That is also true.

    So, what’s your problem again?

    By all means, don’t tone down the retoric. But make sure you’re targeting the menz and make sure the fallout gets on their side. Didn’t we want to make our community inclusive and yet not compromise on our ideas and ideals? Then don’t be sloppy when writing these pieces!

    So far two of the three comments on this post is some guy not addressing the issue but rather, telling me that I didn’t make my comments in the same way he would have!

    Sivi, right, and the keyword there is “negotiated.” The young girl in the reddit maneno did not have a codeword (is that what it is called?) she could use to turn off the firehose of abuse!

  7. Quietmarc says:

    Konradius, perhaps you are worried that you are one of the menz?

    The title of this post seems fine to me. Are you worried that it sets the wrong…what’s the word… tone?

  8. Konradius says:

    Giliell,
    Well, apology accepted on the sloppy reading. I do get why you’d still think I made the “yes, but” fallacy.
    I honestly want to stamp down on the misogyny. There’s no “yes, but” in that.
    There’s a “Hey, this is not helping” directed to this specific post. And that is why I try to make clear what (I think) would be helping and how to better accomplish it.
    I love for example the postings by Greta Cristina. I generally like the stuff Rebecca Watson does in this respect (I *love* all the other stuff she does). As a matter of fact I wouldn’t as easily levy this criticism against her exactly because I’d not be helping!

    I am however ticked off by the sloppy generalisations that are distracting from the real problems.
    In so many other skeptical areas we pride ourselves in fighting the ideas while respecting the other persons unless they really deserve demonization (e.g. when they behave like menz)

    Let’s do that for this topic as well. And to give another idea how to do that: Let’s pharyngulize the reddit and whatever other venues that are plagued by menz. In addition to the echo room here on FTB (remember, I like most of the echoes, just not this one), let’s post links to menz-infested areas and counterbalance their echo rooms. Either those fora aren’t moderated, or if they are (and are moderated in favour of the menz), we know who to avoid in the future.

    But try to be clear when uncompromising. I think we can target the right people without friendly fire.

  9. Greg Laden says:

    I really do resent you calling this sloppy. Fuck you. You might disagree with me that our community is unwelcoming to women, and if you want to argue about that, great, let’s do that. I’m making a very specific statement, I mean it, I may be wrong, I may be right, but this is not sloppy.

    And I think you know that and I think you may be just telling me to shut up, but I’m not sure yet.

    This may simply be a matter of you misunderstanding what “community” mean.

    Drop the sloppy shit or move on.

  10. Greg Laden says:

    Oh, and I assume that you also told Rebecca that she was doing it wrong with her posts’ title, and that you had similar comments on the other posts (see links above) that supported that approach. Right?

  11. Sivi says:

    Greg – Safeword, and yeah, for sure. And I wouldn’t trust any of teh menz commenting on these various items to get the importance of context, negotiation, or even in some cases consent.

  12. It certainly does not take everyone in a community to make me feel unwelcome in that community. Not one little bit.

  13. parasiteboy says:

    Greg,
    I agree with you and with many of the post that you have linked to about this topic (I cannot agree with them all since I have not read them all), but I am a bit confused by your example

    Here’s the thing. If you are a guy (talking to the guys here) and some chick on the internet says, like, “Hey, tell me all about how you want to fuck me” that does not really mean (from your persepctive, not hers …. I’m talking to and about you) that it is perfectly OK (especially on a public forum like Reddit where other people are busy being evolved humans) if you then proceed to discuss your sex organs, her orifaces, and various actions, acts and activities.

    It seems like you are saying, when someone says “yes” they really mean “no” which is no truer than the opposite.

    If you are not ok with the responses to such a post then you should not be ok with the initial post.

    Unless I am missing something?

  14. Greg Laden says:

    parasiteboy, this is an incredibly important point. The thing is, it is not about yes or no. Bad behavior is bad behavior and generally speaking (though there may be exceptions) one does not a) engage in bad behavior because someone gave you permission and b) you especially don’t wait around on the street corner looking for an excuse to do it.

    There is a fine line between “well, she said something provocative” and “she dressed like a slut” and “she is pretty so I could not help myself” as reasons for bad behavior. Well, actually, no line at all.

    I’m glad you asked about it. This is key.

  15. Cathryn says:

    I think that you might be forgetting that the online Atheist community is not the Atheist community. My local group of non-believers has more women than men attending the meetings regularly and I believe everyone feels welcome.

    We should also consider the situation that is present all over the internet: the perceived anonymity that causes people to behave badly. This sort of sexual harassment is practically everywhere online. I’m not saying that it is alright – because it isn’t – but I am saying that this is not something exclusive to the online Atheist community.

    I, too, was disappointed to see that it did extend to online Atheist networks but now that we have identified the problem we can do something about it.

  16. bug_girl says:

    You know what? I now self censor all the time in terms of what I write about, or even what I post on FB and G+. Because I am sick of the sexist crap that blows up anytime I mention anything that…has to do with humans, actually.

    I’m seriously thinking about retiring (and bowing out of CONvergence as well, actually), mostly because I can’t take the daily shit from mansplainers and rape threateners and just plain a-holes. I have been doing this for DECADES. I am sick to shit of being the only girl, the only scientist, in the room.

    I’m telling you this not to be a drama queen, but because I want to make the point that the environment IRL and online is hostile to women. And that while some awesome women like Rebecca and Stephanie can put up with that, many of us are walking away.

    If people aren’t willing to recognize that there is some really bad behavior in the community, I’m going to get a new community.

  17. Konradius says:

    Greg wrote:

    Konradius, the atheist community is as a community not welcoming to women.

    And again a turn of phrase. “not welcome” vs “not welcoming”. According to my understanding of english “not welcome” implies “not welcome anywhere” and “not welcoming” is far less harsh.

    If a woman holds up a book next to her face in front of her web cam she is verbally raped by that community. If a woman talks about this kind of thing (as Rebecca did) she is harassed by the comunity. The details of how many of the men in the community are involved in that vs. not. Everybody knows the meaning of the word, everybody knows that a community is a group of different people. Why, this very post I wrote and all those I cite in the post are by people who welcome women in this community and are part of it, nonetheless, the title is true.

    I happen to think a woman is perfectly fine and welcome discovering FTB and posting here. Yes, we can do a lot improving the welcome women get, and we are doing that and we should do more of that. I wish I had been given a warning about the crap on reddit so I could have downvoted the menz and put more positive stuff in the comments. Can you tell me how you try to improve this situation with this post?

    Women are not as welcome in the community as men. That is also true.

    So, what’s your problem again?

    My problem is a deluge of posts about this that decry the status quo without trying to change anything. My problem is the crappy skepticism in some of the posts and replies that attack not just the menz but everyone thinking about it. (see my reply to Quietmarc later)

    So far two of the three comments on this post is some guy not addressing the issue but rather, telling me that I didn’t make my comments in the same way he would have!

    Actually I accused you of crappy writing and sloppy skeptisism and gave reasons for that. And I chose to see the issue of this post about the level of welcome women get into this movement. This is what the title and the first paragraph address. The idea that a woman can not give you her permission to rape or abuse her physically or verbally is controversial only to menz.

    Did you really expect a discussion about what would constitute permission for rape or abuse?
    Or did you expect discussion about the topic choices of FTB as the middle part of your piece describes? To be honest, I would like discussion about that. Too bad this post is all over the place topic wise.

    Quietmarc wrote:

    Konradius, perhaps you are worried that you are one of the menz?

    No I’m not. I know I’m not one of the menz, I am aware of my privilege and know my intuition can be faulty because of it.
    I sometimes am worried that someone might mistake me for one of the menz. I try to make sure that can only happen to non-skeptics (you?). And I try not to be one of the people who give comfort to the menz. That’s why I reacted to one of the worst posts about this topic and one that was written by a man.

    The title of this post seems fine to me. Are you worried that it sets the wrong…what’s the word… tone?

    No, the tone is ok. Do you really think in our community that females are not welcome? If so, why do you react to someone that disputes that instead of seeing how you can fix the problem?

    So, let’s discuss the issue of this post. How do we make our community more welcoming to women? How do we police and ostracise the menz?

    So far people have reacted as typical non-skeptics trying to silence a critical voice. But what about a pharyngula style alert system to make sure menz can’t sprout their crap unchallenged?
    And do you really think it’s not a good idea to use language to expose the menz and inform the men? Greta does that well, Rebecca can make overgeneralizations but is normally well on target (if anything I think she’s too soft on the embedded video, and yes I know that that’s the one that ‘started’ elevatorgate)

    And if you really think I’m either
    – off topic (then what is the topic?)
    – one of the menz (citation then please)
    – using a “yes, but” (do you really think it’s still time to talk about the problems instead of solutions?)
    Then feel free to discuss that, but I don’t feel to be the one changing the topic then.

  18. Greg Laden says:

    Cathryn, the internet connection is a very important aspect and you make a valuable point.

    Please check out the link to Mike Haubrich’s post in the OP (above) for some meat-space related discussion.

  19. Greg Laden says:

    Bug Girl, please don’t leave us! Seriously.

    We’ve almost got it cleaned up, honestly! This is just the last death convulsions of the misogynists, really. We’re taking them down!

  20. Greg Laden says:

    Konradius, you are clearly convinced that I’m doing this wrong and that you can do it much better. Your next comment here, I hope, will be a link to your new blog in which you demonstrate the right way to do it!

  21. Konradius says:

    Greg wrote:

    I really do resent you calling this sloppy. Fuck you. You might disagree with me that our community is unwelcoming to women, and if you want to argue about that, great, let’s do that. I’m making a very specific statement, I mean it, I may be wrong, I may be right, but this is not sloppy.

    I’m sorry you feel that way Greg. Yes, I think this post could be a lot better. Better on topic, better to address the problems women have entering our community, more interesting than discussing non-existent “permissions” for rape. This is why I chose the adjective sloppy. I would not tell you to shut up, nor would I say something like “fuck you”.
    And you’re addressing a very important problem, the welcome women get entering our community. It’s something that I care about. It’s not good at this moment. It’s pretty bad when people (women and men alike) enter it through unmoderated fora.
    But I havn’t seen any “women not welcome” signs.

    And I think you know that and I think you may be just telling me to shut up, but I’m not sure yet.

    No, I’m asking you not to contribute to the zeitgeist that it’s all so bad and start discussing solutions.

    This may simply be a matter of you misunderstanding what “community” mean.

    No, the menz are part of our community. We need to find a way to expel them, marginalize them, ostracise them or in any case make sure they are not the face of our community. I think we agree on that.

    Drop the sloppy shit or move on.

    I think it was a valid use of the word, but I’ll drop it.

  22. Konradius, perhaps it’s time to pay attention to the women in this thread who have already told you those “Women Not Welcome” signs are there instead of saying they must not be because you haven’t seen them.

  23. Konradius says:

    Konradius, you are clearly convinced that I’m doing this wrong and that you can do it much better. Your next comment here, I hope, will be a link to your new blog in which you demonstrate the right way to do it!

    I have been thinking about starting my own blog, but I first want to try to contribute to existing blogs. I’m sorry you cannot get over the fact that my first reaction to this post is a negative one. I am very, very happy with the way FTB is going. I love most of the posts and when I do I don’t comment with a “me too” reply.
    Shall we set aside the disagreement about the level of welcome women get and see how we actually can improve this?

    Bug Girl, please don’t leave us! Seriously.
    We’ve almost got it cleaned up, honestly! This is just the last death convulsions of the misogynists, really. We’re taking them down!

    *blinks*
    Okay… Let me honour my comments in my previous paragraph and ask you:
    How exactly are we taking the menz down?
    Do you see any merit in the suggestions I posted earlier?

  24. Scotlyn says:

    “But I havn’t seen any “women not welcome” signs.”

    Konradius, just so you know:
    -any comment that demeans, belittles or objectifies a women, reduces her humanity to her “parts,” depicts her as being subservient to a man’s desires IS a “women not welcome” sign.

    Real life is still full of men only space (or spaces where women are only welcome in service or sexual roles). Not all, but certainly a great many bars, betting offices, boardrooms and bank investment houses, and such like spaces, not all beginning with “b,” preserve male-only space (or space wherein males are served by women) in very similar ways.

    They don’t need to hang out an actual “women not welcome” sign. They just need to make every woman coming in the door feel threatened, diminished or out of place. Sexual objectification can effectively accomplish all three of those purposes.

    I absolutely appreciate Greg’s illustration of the word “community” with a depiction of a physical neighbourhood.

    A neighbourhood displaying Ku Klux Klan symbols on just a couple of lawns is going to feel unwelcoming to black people, no matter how many other neighbours would rather invite them to their barbecues.

  25. Konradius says:

    Stephanie wrote:

    Konradius, perhaps it’s time to pay attention to the women in this thread who have already told you those “Women Not Welcome” signs are there instead of saying they must not be because you haven’t seen them.

    I do not want to dismiss anyone’s experiences. I have in the mean time seen bug_girl’s response and yes, I find that shocking.
    Apparently there are “women not welcome” signs. I have not seen them on FTB, nor on skepchick or WEIT or on RD.net. I assume the menz are kicked out of here and there as soon as they make themselves known.

    Do you agree on the point that the communities I just mentioned do not have those signs?
    Do you agree that these are the parts of our community we should promote?
    And I do not want to create a “women safe” zone, I want to contribute to make sure all parts of our community are decent. Hence the pharyngulating suggestion I put up earlier.

  26. parasiteboy says:

    Greg Laden@14

    I agree that there are lines that should not be crossed, but as far as I can tell your example

    “Hey, tell me all about how you want to fuck me”

    only has the line of forced sexual activity.

    If we generalize your example to “someone” (without regard to gender or sexual orientation) who says

    “Hey, tell me all about how you want to fuck me”

    then another “someone” (again without regard to gender or sexual orientation) who responds with comments about their sex organs, the other persons orifices, and various actions, acts and activities, would be a valid response, as long as they were not talking about forcing someone against their will.

  27. Scotlyn says:

    No, the menz are part of our community. We need to find a way to expel them, marginalize them, ostracise them or in any case make sure they are not the face of our community.

    Konradius, you appear to want the sheep to be separated from the goats, and hope you end up on the “right” not the “wrong” side. From where I sit and read your comments, I’m not sure.

    But, while marginalisation may sometimes be required just to preserve some civility, but it is not in any way a solution. The ultimate solution is the actual changing of hearts and minds. Perhaps better if you continue to study the topic in more depth, until you yourself might one day be a face of our community we can all trust for an egalitarian welcome.

  28. sparky_ca says:

    @Konradius

    You make me want to punch the computer screen. You are not helping. The time for being polite and not ‘alienating’ men is past. The good guys know we are talking about the ‘menz’ and not men.

    I am a female engineer. I work in a field that is 30 to 1 men to women. I have been in this field for 12 years, 17 if you include the time I spent in the Navy as a technician without a degree. And do you know what has changed? The outright misogyny has toned down, but then you get mansplainers and the ‘yes-but’ people like you. And honestly, that environment is worse to work in, because they make you feel so irrational and whiny when you complain about the treatment you receive. I almost welcome the insults to my face rather than people like you, because you make me wonder what you are saying behind my back and to my boss during review time.

    I currently have a great climate to work in, because most of my co-workers are more like Greg and Jason and all the other regular posters here at FTB and that makes a huge difference to my work environment. And I have seen my co-workers come to my defense when dealing with asshole customers, and they apologize that not all men are ‘gentlemen’ when the customer walks away. (most of the guys I work with are Southern, so that ‘not gentlemen’ and ‘bless his heart’ are actually pretty strong insults in our world)

    So Konradius, fuck you very much for your ‘Yes, But’. Greg’s post was spot on.

  29. parasiteboy says:

    bug_girl@16
    This may be of little consolation, but if it wasn’t for my girlfriend reading your blog (and Skeptchick in general) and telling me about various post, I would not have gotten interested in the skeptical and atheist online communities.

    So here’s a thank you for getting me involved indirectly:-)

  30. Greg Laden says:

    Parasiteboy, let’s shift to a parallel case.

    Let’s say that a good person is a person who will resist punching a person in the face. A bad person is one who will readily punch someone in the face.

    You walk up to a person and say “I think it would be just fine if you punch me in the face.”

    The person punches you in the face. That was a bad person.

    Now, you walk up to a different person and say “I think it would be just fine if you punch me in the face.”

    The person does not punch you in the face. That was a good person.

    ….

    the guys who are making these remarks on that reddit thread are assholes who wander around looking for excuses to be assholes.

  31. Greg Laden says:

    This may be of little consolation, but if it wasn’t for my girlfriend reading your blog (and Skeptchick in general) and telling me about various post, I would not have gotten interested in the skeptical and atheist online communities.

    See? That’s good!

  32. parasiteboy says:

    Greg Laden@30

    I agree that the guys on the reddit thread are asses for numerous reasons. I just think your initial and parallel examples are a bit off the mark. With that said I get the gist of your argument. I don’t want to take away from the more important issue of misogynistic comments and attitudes in the online atheist community, so I’ll leave it at that.

  33. Quietmarc says:

    @17 This may seem out of left field, but yes, I believe that women are unwelcome in the community because (mind blow revalation here) women have said that they feel unwelcome in the community.

    I can understand why something a woman says should be subjected to doubt and scrutiny, because…well, wait, no, I can’t.

    Whatever my faults, I’m sane enough to realize that when woman after woman makes a statement about their experiences as women, that they just might have a point.

    The way I see it, the whole “the feminists are being unskeptical and succumbing to group think” is a bit of a non-starter. The fact is, the group-think is the SEXISM, not the posts fighting it or pointing it out. Anyone right now who is taking the time to write about the horrendous treatment that women receive on the internet and in real life has already done the work. It’s people resisting that movement who have succumbed to group think, and a lot of people would really, really like for you to get over it, think about thinks skeptically, and start acknowledging the problems without all of these distractions so that we can move on to the work of solving the problem.

  34. ischemgeek says:

    @Konradius, have you considered that calling people out on this shit (ie, writing posts decrying such behavior) is doing something about it? If you publically call it out, you send the message that you do not approve and don’t want to see that done… social condemnation is a powerful tool.

    Furthermore, as a woman whose experienced my share of sexism (both online and offline), posts like these are sometimes all that keeps me from saying, “Fuck the lot of you, I’m leaving.” It helps to have someone voice very public support for you and equally public condemnation for the frankly abhorrent behavior exhibited by some people.

    Because frankly, if people keep silent and don’t say “That’s not cool. Knock it off,” it feels like they’re condoning the behavior – or, at the very least, accepting it. I’m not psychic. If some sexist asshole keeps making lewd comments at me and telling me that I’m female therefore I’m useless and logic is for men and next time I come, I should wear a thong and so on and so forth, and everyone stays silent, I can’t tell that they’re uncomfortable. By staying silent, they in effect condone the behavior (even if they’re personally uncomfortable).

    Further, people who write posts about the problem are also filling an important role – namely validating those of us who have issues. They’re saying, “Hell yes, there’s a problem. There’s a big fucking problem and I can see why you’re pissed off. Hell, I’m pissed off!” I don’t know if you’ve ever been bullied or harrassed on a chronic basis, Konradius, but if you’re in that situation it does help to have someone say, “Yes, this is a problem and I’ll stand in support of you through it.”

    See, people who are bullied or harrassed on a regular basis often end up feeling insecure and blaming themselves at least in part. You know why we do that? Because the majority of people we complain to will turn the situation back on us (just look at all the people who say Watson brings the threats and sexist insults on herself for calling people out in the wrong way or with the wrong language or whatever-have-you). Greg’s post (and those like it) provide external validation of the victim’s feelings about the issue and emotional support.

    So I really appreciate people like Greg who stand up and say, “This is a problem. I’m not okay with this.” It is doing something – I feel welcome and relatively safe here, unlike many other places online. I know that if I say some bullshit like homeopathy works or religion saves lives or whatever, I’ll be called out, but the posters (as a rule) will address my argument, not my breasts or menstrual cycle (and if they do address my gender rather than my words, others will come to my defense). I think it’s very productive for Greg and the others here to build a community where that holds true.

  35. Greg Laden says:

    I just want to point out that this conversation is happening on G+:

    https://plus.google.com/109027288459519863918/posts/CS4Pi55PNkt

    I wish those people would come over here, but what-ever.

  36. Warren says:

    Konradius, Google up the word ‘mansplaining’ before you post another comment. With any luck, you’ll find it very informative.

    Greg, what struck me about Redditgate was not only the savage nature of the comments directed toward the girl involved, but that those comments (rape fantasization, assault, etc.) were made against a girl, not a woman.

    That means that every single one of those commenters was not merely a misogynist, but actually a sexual deviant, at least as far as legal terms would go. You’d think there would be some concern about that.

  37. Hertta says:

    Konradius,
    RD.net may not have any “women not welcome” signs but the vast majority (I mean like 90%) of the commenters are men. WEIT has many known misogynists as regulars. No signs needed.

  38. chris evo says:

    Here’s the thing. If you are a guy (talking to the guys here) and some chick on the internet says, like, “Hey, tell me all about how you want to fuck me” that does not really mean (from your persepctive, not hers …. I’m talking to and about you) that it is perfectly OK (especially on a public forum like Reddit where other people are busy being evolved humans) if you then proceed to discuss your sex organs, her orifaces, and various actions, acts and activities.

    So what you’re saying is that even though a theoretical girl SAYS she wants a theoretical guy to talk dirty to her, she doesn’t really want that and men should know better than to think some crazy woman would know what she wants? No, that’s bullshit. In the right context a lot of women like to be talked dirty to. I won’t say a majority because I don’t know that and can’t speak for everyone, but I do know that yes, many women really do enjoy sex and talking about sex explicitly.

    My input on the Sagan girl controversy is this: she made a comment that was more sexual than intended (because she’s fifteen and teenagers don’t know things yet), people made sexual advances (some of which were over the line but I’m not certain they all were), she clarified that no, this isn’t what I meant, and everyone who made advances after that was a creep. The initial comments were just responding in the same vein as lunam’s “bracin mah anus” which to me is a butt sex joke. Are we to assume from here on out that girls who make anal sex jokes don’t really mean what they say they mean even if they think they do? How is this not mansplaining?

  39. Hertta says:

    Has Dawkins not noticed the skewed gender ratio on his site? Then he is clueless. Has he noticed but does not care? Then he’s sexist. Has he noticed and cares? Then why are there almost no women on his site?

  40. Konradius says:

    Ok, I took some needed distance and just reread the threads.
    First of all I want to apologize about the “welcoming” discussion. It is self defeating. Discussing it actively makes the community less welcome.
    My own feelings about it are irrelevant. And any woman who feels unwelcome in our community is one too many.

    The positive comments about the article itself also make me re-evaluate my feelings about it. I like that it validates the problems women have; or rather the problems our community has with welcoming women.

    And those problems are men. And I still see two categories, three actually.
    One category is the menz. These are men that see nothing wrong with misogynist remarks. They are the source of the open abuse and I have no sympathy for them.
    The third category are men that ‘get it’. These include Greg and I also quite like Ian ‘Crommunist’ Cromwell from the google+ link Greg provided.
    The second category are all men in between. Those men that have insufficiently gotten what the problems really are. I think and really hope that all of these people would like to get into category 3.

    I see myself as being in category 2, close to 3 and wanting to fully get to 3.
    So what I think is needed is:
    1. a good way to approach the men in cat 2 to get them to 3.
    2. a swift and harsh treatment of the menz.
    3. a good support structure for women that get confronted with these problems.

    Sorry to put men front and centre there, but the problem lies with us. Point 3 is only to alleviate symptoms.

    I can understand the exasperated reactions of women. People, mostly men, really need to change. And I personally hate the menz with a vengeance. Am I wrong in what I think is needed?

    And again, let me apologize for the welcoming crap, in retrorespect that really was a “yes, but” type of thing.

  41. PZ Myers says:

    A cuttlefish is a mollusc, not a fish.

    I think I resent this casual speciesism.

  42. Greg Laden says:

    Warren: Exactly!

    Hertta: I know, right?

    PZ: I mean fish only in the sense that whales and penguins are fish.

  43. Dave says:

    I have to disagree with this post so much, and with the unfortunate girl who was the subject of so much abuse.
    You(Greg)completely lost my support with “I have proof of that last point:” UNscientific survey followed.
    In no way are your ‘findings’ proof but the type of ‘quick survey to say what I want it to’ that the religious nutters put forward and some ‘proof’ they have.

    Re the abused girl: In no way, in any form, do I condone the abuse she suffered by small minded ignorant apes. BUT first things first, WHY are her parents allowing her on an UNMODERATED forum? It is totally irresponsible of them, there are moderated sites/forums/networks that are safe for children, and that is what she is A CHILD!

    Unfortunately the net in general is becoming/has become somewhat undesirable place to be along with parents deliberately sexulising children, especially pre-teens and so many children displaying, no worse, masturbating on web cams on open sites (I know, I ‘caught’ my kid watching some a while ago only to be informed “Oh they all do it, they dare each other at school, here it’s only a google away) since them I’ve been campaigning for parents to monitor their kids supply software to block cams etc.
    But it seems to me under-age porn is so rife that a lot of people(men and women & kids) are beginning to become desensitised even accepting it and it is encouraging these arseholes (sorry best word) to do/say what they want even though chopping of their testes would be my course of action.

    Lastly the girls statement “Females Are Not welcome in the Atheist Community” is completely false in my experience and opinion, she is judging A LOT of fine people because SHE hangs out on unmoderated unsafe sites for children coupled with the fact she/we have no idea if the people answering her are even atheists, after all atheists hang out on non-atheists sites and comment/debate/argue.
    It is a shame she judges by her small demographic some very good people.

    In the meantime: Parents: STOP letting you children free unsupervised access to the web and make sure they are in moderated, kid safe areas! PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN!
    The rest of you shut the f*ck up about male sexism and look at the REAL issue, I’m so tired of hearing how us men are so bloody bad. Not ALL of us are jerks (or worse)

  44. Greg Laden says:

    So what you’re saying is that even though a theoretical girl SAYS she wants a theoretical guy to talk dirty to her, she doesn’t really want that and men should know better than to think some crazy woman would know what she wants? No, that’s bullshit. In the right context a lot of women like to be talked dirty to.

    So did you look at the Reddit thread? Are you actually arguing here that this is the right context? Seriously? Are you fucking kidding me?

    Konradius: Thanks, nicely put.

    Dave: “You(Greg)completely lost my support with “I have proof of that last point:” UNscientific survey followed”

    You never met an irony you didn’t get, right?

  45. mess says:

    I was torn on posting to on this topic. After much though I decided that I should. As a guy, I do not like being lumped in with sexist crowd. I have not been reading this blog, but read this article because this topic seams to be a dominate theme.

    The focus on all men are evil that is conning through is quite disturbing. Up to this point I have read blogs from PZ, Ed, Jen and occasionally Chris Rodda. I guess if I do not want to read about how evil my gender is, with of course the perfunctory “not all men are this way”, I will have to eliminate 2 of those blogs.

    Too bad because some of the posts are quite interesting.

  46. Greg Laden says:

    The focus on all men are evil that is conning through is quite disturbing.

    I can’t find where anyone said that. But I do hear that kind of comment a lot, usually from guys who are in fact sexist and don’t want to admit it and don’t want anyone talking about it.

    Too bad because some of the posts are quite interesting.

    Do you have a clue as to how immature and stupid you look when you make this kind of comment on someone’s blog?

    (Imagine the following in a John Stewart Sarcasm Voice): Oh, oh, oh, you don’t think and writ exactly like I do so I can’t read this bog any more Oh Oh Oh”

    I suppose that by using a fake name like “mess” you can just change it and keep going and no one knows what a dickless whimp you are. And I chose the phrase “dickless whimp” because, as an anthropologist, I am trying to speak in a language you will understand.

    Clean up your act, mess.

  47. Hertta @37 – really. I thought no one had noticed (well, no one apart from a few people who’ve told me they had).

  48. Hertta says:

    Ophelia,
    I suppose it’s possible not to notice it. Konradius seems to think RD.net is a particularly nice place for women. They just haven’t showed up yet or something.

  49. chris evo says:

    Greg, the paragraph you quoted from my earlier comment does NOT refer to Lunam (the girl in question), but to a more general case you seem to be describing in the middle of your post and applying to the reddit drama. I’m sorry that I didn’t separate my points out more. I agree that the vast majority of jokes in the initial post were in bad taste or worse, especially once the girl made it clear that she was both underaged and not interested in that sort of conversation.

    I do not agree with the point you appear to be making that no one should ever say inappropriate things to a woman who explicitly says she’s okay with it. If this isn’t what you’re saying, I’d like a clarification on the paragraph I quoted earlier.

  50. Warren says:

    Dave @43, no small amount of what you wrote is akin to blaming the victims:

    ‘Well, of COURSE these kids are going to encounter abuse, hell, they ASK for it by parading around in discussion forums, posting pictures of themselves with BOOKS and whatnot, the damn pre/pubescent hussies!’

    That might not have been your intention, but it is a subtext in your comment.

    mess @45, it might behoove you to do a bit more research about misogyny in particular and feminist writing in general, as the objection you’ve raised is actually a common trope in discussions of misogyny.

    No one is out to hurt your feelings when they point out that men can be real pricks, so you’re the one who is personalizing it; the problem, by extension, is yours to resolve, not Greg’s, not mine, and not anyone else’s.

    …and I feel I must soapbox a little here about all the wounded tones affected by so many Poor Innocent Men.

    You (we) are in a position of privilege in virtually every society that exists in the world today.

    The only time you hear privileged people sounding like innocent victims is when they believe their primacy is being challenged – or when they are aware of their potentially abusive behavior, and are damn well feeling guilty at getting called out on it.

    So when a woman says there’s a problem, sit the fuck down, shut the fuck up, put your precious delicate feelings aside, and listen.

  51. Greg Laden says:

    I do not agree with the point you appear to be making that no one should ever say inappropriate things to a woman who explicitly says she’s okay with it. If this isn’t what you’re saying, I’d like a clarification on the paragraph I quoted earlier.

    Chris, a woman saying “abuse me verbally” is not your cue to do so. Period. Full stop. If you have a relationship with another person in which this sort of conversation happens, fine, good for you, that is not what we are talking about here.

  52. chris evo says:

    a woman saying “abuse me verbally” is not your cue to do so. Period. Full stop. If you have a relationship with another person in which this sort of conversation happens, fine, good for you, that is not what we are talking about here.

    Abuse, yes. I’m in full agreement there. (steering back on topic a little) if a person with whom I have no relationship whatsoever starts making references to their anus out of nowhere I’m going to assume that that level of conduct is perfectly okay. If they start making rape jokes, I’m going to assume that they’re ok with rape jokes. Even with the problems of rape culture and and its possible enabling through offensive humor these things are not always abuse. In this specific case I don’t think they escalated from rude/embarrassing to verbal abuse until after Lunam indicated that she hadn’t meant to make sex jokes.

    Consent and comfort with inappropriate comments as well as the general appropriateness of ‘inappropriate’ comments in any context are complex issues and I’m not confident that we’re examining all of the right problems in this controversy.

  53. John Moeller says:

    I always enjoy the “leave in a huff” comments(!), a/k/a “taking my toys and going home” or “I’m going to go eat worms.”

  54. Greg Laden says:

    if a person with whom I have no relationship whatsoever starts making references to their anus out of nowhere I’m going to assume that that level of conduct is perfectly okay.

    OK, that’s your style, I hope it works for you.

    My daughter is the same age as the girl who was abused on Reddit. You are advised to not speak to my daughter that way under any circumstances, and generally, I’d consider an age limit if I were you!

    But really, what you are doing here Chris is missing the entire point. Which I’ve restated for you and I’ll restate again. Asshole behavior, carried out with permission, is still asshole behavior.

  55. Greg Laden says:

    OK, I think I have to rephrase that because I suddenly realize what is missing here.

    It is conceivable that any two people can have a conversation about pretty much anything. However, there is a form of conversation called “polite conversation” which is the default mode of communication. To have a conversation that goes “beyond” (above, below, whatever) polite conversation, it has to be allowed by the relationship between the people involved in the conversation.

    Generally speaking, it is not really the case that two people who don’t know each other at all, or who have only a limited distant (i.e. workplace, different offices same mailroom) relationship, would normally switch from polite conversation to “I want to stick my dick in your ear” conversation on the basis of one person saying something. If a woman says to you, out of the blue, that you can speak of your sex organ penetrating her OfficeMax if you like, that is not really her giving you permission to say things that perhaps you were thinking of saying, hoping to say, needing to say. No. Something else is going on there. Either the woman is saying something utterly inappropriate, or she’s trying to trick you and there’s a camera somewhere and it’s a new TV game show, or some other thing.

    Mos likely, though, something else has happened. If you’ve heard a woman whom you barely know say something like that, you probably heard wrong. Or, you heard her say something sexual or sexualized or vaguely sex related and perhaps you’ve only gotten part of the conversation but you think she said it to you, or you’ve over interprted what she’s said, and when you start talking about your dick and her orifice, you will be making a fool of yourself, offending her, and setting off a blogstorm if it happens to be on the internet.

    Please go to the original post, read the last sentence and PLAY THE VIDEO. Thank you

    So, no, the out of the blue “I give you permission” thing not only really doesn’t’ happen in real life, but if you think it is happening it is probably an error on your part, or something other than you think it is. So that should answer your question. But just in case I’ll put a finer point on it before moving on to the next clarification.

    There are guys, most of them are 14, who think that if a girl looks at them and smiles, or at least, does not scowl, that this means that she wants to give you a blow job. But in truth, this is hardly ever true. Usually, she’s just being polite. Or, perhaps, she has gas and you thought it was a smile.

    Putting this another way, if you find yourself being given permission to say “I want to put my dick in your ear” very often, you are probably that guy.

    Now the next point, and a very important one. I’m not trying to set limits or suggest that there should be limits on what someone can or should say to other people, but do please, please, pleasae (or I’ll stop saying please and kick your fucking ass) remember that when you are on the Atheist Reddit Forum, or some other public place assocaited with science, atheism, humanism, or skepticism, then you are in a public (or quasi public) place and it is my place, not just your place, and it is that girl’s place, and everyone who’s commented here’s place, and my daughter’s place and my wife’s place and Rebecca Watson’s place. When you are in that place, keep your fucking dick in your fucking pants. Even if you are given permission to speak in overtly aggressive sexual ways (or think you’ve been given permission because everyone else is doing it, or because you think you’ve seen or heard a suggestive remark by a person with an orifice you feel some right to stick your dick into) please, just shut the fuck up.

    THIS COMMUNITY DOES NOT WELCOME WOMEN BECAUSE …. of you. (and by you I mean men who can’t distinguish between hanging out with their friends at the local middle school sponsored alcohol free mixer if they are 14, or the local sports bar if they are in fact adults from a place where people gather as a community to discuss stuff about atheism, skepticism, etc.).

    There are places on the internet you can do this. Go there.

    That should be much more clear now.

  56. Greg Laden says:

    OfficeMax = damn you autocorrect!?!?!!?

    O_o

  57. Oh, good, the Safe Space for Men(TM) brigade has shown up. I was worried we weren’t being inclusive enough. Dear boys, please do speak up if anything–anything at all–that we might say could possibly bruise your delicate sensibilities. We couldn’t possibly have that.

  58. StevoR says:

    Well said Greg Laden & seconded by me.

  59. chris evo says:

    That’s much clearer, thank you.

    I personally try not to make inappropriate jokes around people I haven’t known for years for exactly those reasons but if the people around are okay with it I don’t mind hearing such material. To be clear- no, I did not comment on this post when it appeared with any reddit account and I do not condone the people who did.

    You stress the difference between polite and impolite default states. Reddit’s front page (I checked /r/all) currently (11:14 pm Eastern US time) features a joke about surprise drugging; a joke about period blood, cunnilingus and the Joker; and a three paragraph stealth joke about a man’s dick all in the top ten. I’m not sure if any front page subreddit could even remotely be considered a place for polite conversation by default whether we want it to be or not, and most of the people who think it should be have long since fled to /truereddit and /freethought if they haven’t left altogether. Mature conversations with mature comments just aren’t very likely to materialize in between a screencap from a funny or die skit about a man having a bigger dick than a cat and a rage comic about getting gay-friendzoned.

    When I don’t know the commenter’s age I’m going to assume adult or at least college, as much of reddit seems to becauset we forget how much the average age has skewn downwards over time. When I don’t know their comfort with inappropriate discourse I’m going to follow the lead of the wider community. As much as /r/atheism is the responsibility of people like us to police, it’s still just another subreddit and the tone is going to be set on the home page to some degree if the commenter doesn’t dispute it. /r/atheism is not our place, it is our corner of another, creepier place. The mods are NOT active enough to keep it safe to standards of polite company and they are unlikely to change, though I’m glad some visible people are finally trying to convince them.

  60. StevoR says:

    In other news – Rebecca Watson has won the Most Influential Female Atheist of 2011 – see :

    http://skepchick.org/2012/01/i-won-a-major-award/

    Last year Rebecca Watson shook a lot of people’s worlds when she (metaphorically) turned over a huge stone exposing an infestation of creeping misogynist bugs that have been hidden and gnawing away at the Atheist / Skeptical communities for a long time unnoticed.

    Rebecca Watson & the whole “Elvatorgate” / “Rebeccapocalypse” explosion of online hateful pustules and bad ideas hidden behind the priviledge curtain that all started with a polite request and youtube explanation : “Guys, a word to the wise, don’t do that ..” woke a lot of folks up and made this Aussie male into a feminist.

    More power to her and other strong, courageous, intelligent women. We need them and we need to have the sense to listen to them. And having folks like Greg Laden, Phil Plait and PZ Myers speaking up has been very important and helpful too.

  61. Greg Laden says:

    Plus reddit is impossible to figure out or use.

  62. David Masover says:

    I’m not really seeing this part addressed, and I think it’s important:

    A woman can not give you her permission to rape or abuse her physically or verbally. If she does say something you interpret this way (and it may well be sincere) and you follow through, you are just as wrong as if you carried out your abuse without being “egged on” or “tempted” or “told it was OK.”

    This, to me, sounds like a condemnation of BDSM or even outright “dirty talk,” but worse, it’s encouraging this idea that a woman cannot give permission. This is just as wrong as the idea that a woman making a crude comment makes it okay to bring Insanity Wolf into the picture.

    Yes, there is the part where we’re still arguing about things like whether the abuse was justified, or whether it should be expected, etc. There is an extent to which, as a practical matter, one should be aware that the comment “bracin’ ma anus” might lead to Insanity Wolf, even if, as others have said, women shouldn’t have to “walk on eggshells”. There’s even an extent to which the fact that men respond to every instance of misogyny by blaming the victim instead of blaming (and downvoting) the misogyny, and the fact that we’re still having this discussion means we have a lot of growing up to do.

    Certainly, it makes no sense for men to assume that they have permission to talk about anal rape in hilarious detail (and I feel dirty for laughing now) because of a single comment, certainly a comment which was apparently not sexual in nature at all.

    But when you say she can’t give permission, you’re removing a choice from her, you’re robbing her of her agency. If she can’t give permission to abuse, then how can we say that such abuse was against her will? It was out of her hands. She’s passive. A victim.

    I think it’s much more powerful to say that she could give permission, but clearly didn’t, and furthermore that men should be cautious to do this sort of thing in public even with permission. Tacit permission isn’t enough if you want to be a welcoming community.

  63. Greg Laden says:

    David [62]: “This, to me, sounds like a condemnation of BDSM or even outright “dirty talk,” but worse, it’s encouraging this idea that a woman cannot give permission. ”

    First, see my comment: http://freethoughtblogs.com/xblog/2012/01/05/females-are-not-welcome-in-the-atheist-community/#comment-41772

    Then make sure that you are not trying to side step or avoid what is a very obvious and simple point by examining the edge cases (edge in relation to this point).

    Regarding “a woman cannot give permission” is not what I mean, and not what I said. What I said is that “You don’t have permission” under these circumstances.

    Converting my “you don’t get to take permission from a 15 year old girl to verbally rape her” to “Greg Laden is saying that women can’t give permission” is exactly the tactic that has emerged from the Franc Hoggle/Abbie Smith form of neo-misogyny. If that is what your intent is, you can shove it right now. However, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and precede with reading the rest of your comment. I just wanted you to know that you started out with what looks like a willfull misinterpretation with nefarious purposes. I.e., trolling.

    Certainly, it makes no sense for men to assume that they have permission to talk about anal rape in hilarious detail (and I feel dirty for laughing now) because of a single comment, certainly a comment which was apparently not sexual in nature at all.

    Correct except it wasn’t funny.

    But when you say she can’t give permission, you’re removing a choice from her, you’re robbing her of her agency. If she can’t give permission to abuse, then how can we say that such abuse was against her will? It was out of her hands. She’s passive. A victim.

    I think it’s much more powerful to say that she could give permission, but clearly didn’t, and furthermore that men should be cautious to do this sort of thing in public even with permission. Tacit permission isn’t enough if you want to be a welcoming community.

    OK, now I see what you mean. You are mainly concerned that I write in a different way than you would have written. I clearly am talking to the would be misogynist (a small expansion of the context to the previous sentences shows this) and I’m making a thinly veiled reference to statutory rape. I think I’ve clarified the point,which I made originally clearly enough, so I probably don’t need to clarify it again, but just to be clear: What I am telling you is that even if you think it’s funny and really really want to join in, a remark you could interpret as being given permission to do so isn’t. So shut. up.

    I do not mean to state or imply that a woman can’t provide or withhold her point of view or permission, and thinking that is so at odds with the tenor, framework, context, and detail of this discussion that I think you have to work pretty hard to come up with that.

  64. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how many times rando dudes read a blog post about the behavior of some men towards women and conclude that criticizing those men and that behavior = hating ALL men.

    It leads me to assume that the whiners ARE that type of guy and are either aware of that fact and pissed that people don’t condone it, or are not aware of fact and just kneejerk illogical, irrational reactionaries.

    Either way, they are part of the problem.

  65. Scotlyn says:

    I see myself as being in category 2, close to 3 and wanting to fully get to 3.
    So what I think is needed is:
    1. a good way to approach the men in cat 2 to get them to 3.
    2. a swift and harsh treatment of the menz.
    3. a good support structure for women that get confronted with these problems.

    Sorry to put men front and centre there, but the problem lies with us. Point 3 is only to alleviate symptoms.

    I can understand the exasperated reactions of women. People, mostly men, really need to change. And I personally hate the menz with a vengeance. Am I wrong in what I think is needed?

    @40, Konradius, I think you are being honest, and therefore, since you pose a question, I will respond, as honestly as I can, for myself.

    First, your categories of men:
    1,2,3 – Personally I hesitate to categorise any person into a box that they cannot get out of. So, while I think these are useful talking points, perhaps describing fuzzy-edged steps in a process or journey that men might take in studying this issue, I personally will not be joining you in appending labels to any particular man.

    I am particularly uncomfortable at the way you seem so eager to draw a line around the no. 1’s and consign them to some outer darkness where they should gnash their teeth and receive harsh treatment. I have learned, through my own religious upbringing, to be extremely wary of the easy comfort of virtue – drawing the lines that separate sinners from saints and making sure it is drawn so that you end up on the “right” side – without ever reflecting on your actions and their consequences. I would rather people never find a point of complacency, particularly when comparing themselves to others, but remain always open to learning (this includes me, of course – and I hope always to be open to being shown something new about myself or my behaviour that I hadn’t been able to see).

    Yes, wrongdoing should be called out, and where legally applicable, punished. But that applies to observable actions, words and deeds. Not to defining categories of persons. If the subject of the conversation is making our community better, then I would like to address that conversation from the point of view of bringing everyone along if at all possible.

    So, to answer your question about what is needed, particularly in helping you personally to take that step from 2 (acknowledging there is a problem) to 3, being able to speak intelligently about that problem, there are things you can do. Like any worthwhile endeavour, proper study will pay dividends. So, if you will permit me to “assign” some “homework.”

    Have a notebook, and resolve to take notes everywhere you go IRL for the next week. Take particular note of the numbers and positioning of the men and women in any specific space you move through – bus, street, bar, workplace, shop, meeting, sports match. Are there any spaces where there are no women? Would you have ever noticed this before? If women are present, watch their body language – are they looking comfortable or wary, are they laughing, speaking freely or keeping silent? Are the women playing a service role, or a leading one? What types of male behaviour is evident in the kinds of spaces in which women appear to be most relaxed and laughing? What types of male behaviour is evident in the kinds of spaces where women appear to be most wary and silent?
    Resolve to do nothing, say nothing for a week, other than take notes. Do not assume that people who are feeling wary in their surroundings are going to be willing to speak their minds to you. Use your own eyes and ears and see what you learn. Then come back, and re-read your last comment, and see how you might re-write it.

    Good luck to you.

  66. Pingback: The Atheist Movement is Full of Misogynists » Oolon's Dumping Ground

  67. Northern Free Thinker says:

    I’ve run a small atheist page, as a bi-feminist-biologist-female for just over a year, and just recently got called a biggot and a feminazi. First time in my 46 years for both names. Of course they came out of the mouth of a gun-toting motor loving male. So no surprise really. He used to approach me online, sending out ‘feelers’, he stopped! :)
    The reason he called me so was more or less this. Over the years, it has become more and more obvious to me that gay males, through their dominance in media and fashion and Hollywood have severely hindered female emancipation. The trans MtF crowd is now allowing males to take over female safe zones and definitions. I’ve seen MtFs fight for “gender essentialism” when there is no such scientific evidence. I’ve had my share of experiences with violent MtFs and I have no wish for a further alliance here. I’ve witnessed MtFs be incredibly rude to Ls because Ls didn’t want to share their bed with MtFs. I’ve witnessed MtFs call people names and get violent just over minor day-to-day disagreements. Male sex hormones coursing through veins speaks louder than any mind malfunction.

    This conversation started because I noticed a new idea online through various LGBTQA (etc) sites, that Ts, Qs, GTs and LGBs are starting to waver on the relevance of being so tightly allied. Yes, we may take on certain battles and have momentary alliances, but to be conjoined at the hip as the ever lengthening acronym indicates, is making sense to fewer and fewer people.
    My principal life purpose in life is for Homo sapiens born with female reproductive systems, 50% of all humanity, to stop being controlled by Homo sapiens born with male reproductive systems. I am NOT a gender, I am a Homo sapiens, member of the H.sapiens community, not as a reproductive unit, but as a support unit, just like most large mammals, especially apes, where not all individuals partake of breeding. That someone can get fake boobs and neo-vaginas and impose themselves onto females because they “say so” is a step backwards for all females on the planet.

    As a biologist, I can without doubt say there is presently no more evidence for “being born the “wrong” sex” as there is of gods and spirits. To have a fellow atheist, male non-scientist, to call me biggot and feminazi for my scientifically held opinion made me see ever more that the one of the fundamental problems within the atheists community is not only that males think females ought to just take whatever “equality” males are willing to donate… but also that many male atheists become great advocates of science, while understanding nothing of science.

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