There is very very little hope for the perverse.
They willfully and purposefully misconstrue, misrepresent, and pretend to misunderstand proportion and perspective of the very social phenomena with which they are obsessed. They are not honest with themselves or others. They see social change coming, change in the culture they enjoy, and they don’t like it and they resist it by claiming that the fog bank is a hurricane, or visa versa, that the rain is the sky falling, that ripples from a fish breaking the surface are a … well, you get the point. Ophelia Benson must get kicked in the cunt in order to quiet her down. PZ Myers must have dog poo, or something, sneaked into his jacket pocket to teach him a lesson. I must be accused of extramarital humping of someone I’ve never met in order to make me lose my taste for the conversation and go away. And never mind what happens to Rebecca Watson. Some guys just want to grab some ass1 when they feel like it, and a smaller number of chicks like that in a venue, but objections have been made; not in our community please. And for that, those who have raised the objections are vilified every single day of the week forever thereafter. Every. Single. Day.
Russell Blackford and John C. Welch and Richard Dawkins and Justicar and the others will not admit the obvious, for example, that a woman mentioning as an aside that for a man to ask a woman who just made clear she was done for the night, following her on to an elevator at four o’clock in the morning in a hotel to do so, if she would like to join him in his room for coffee, is slightly uncool (“guys just don’t do that”) and that it is an OK thing for her to say that this is uncool even if they disagree with her. They have made that minor complaint into an accusation of rape, which it never was. Failing there, they have made further discussion of that aside into an inappropriate oppressive power play, which it was not. Failing there as well, they said that bringing up poor form in a social setting harms women in traditional societies that are being mutilated and therefore she, this woman who keeps talking, needs to quiet down. Failing that, they call her ugly and say that she and her female supporters should be “kicked in the cunt.” And so on.
More recently, we have seen that it is a perfectly legitimate and even praiseworthy enterprise to openly discuss the fact that many women have felt uncomfortable at many different atheist, skeptics, and similar conferences and conventions, and we have seen as part of that discussion a reasoned call for more clearly stated and more widely distributed anti-harassment policies. The same people who have claimed that the aforementioned woman cried rape in an elevator when all she did was to provide some simple and rather obvious dating advice for morons (the ass-grabbers) told us that these women should shut up as well. That suggestion did not take effect. They would not shut up, for some reason. So the claims of harassment were denied. But the claims would not go away, for some reason. So the standard of evidence has been changed to the point that is has become absolutely clear that those who wish the status quo, that conferences are like pick up bars or meat markets, to remain, will not accept any level of evidence, and it goes on and on. A real, and important, but not earth shattering issue (as in, nobody died) was brought up and was being dealt with effectively, like one might close a window to keep out a chilly breeze, or fix a roof to manage a leak. But those who prefer the status quo for their own reasons have recast the expressions of concern to be planet-killing comets where they were really just storms or they’ve recast the players such as the complainers and their allies to be the worst kinds of people or worthy of being the object of physical threats, instead of just being people who are often annoyed and occasionally feel threatened.
I do not want to live in a world where the wind driven rain assails me where I sit, ruining the laptop I’m typing on and wrecking the nice wooden floor and the furniture. But the solution to that is to wait ’till it starts to rain and close the window. The solution is not to drain the lake and terraform the planet so that free water is frozen into glaciers or burned off into outer space. The handful of men, and smaller number of women, who have spent the last year actively trying to ruin people’s lives, and those who have recently joined them when they realized that their ass-grabbing culture was threatened as well, really have only one motivation: They don’t want to live in a world in which women can tell guys to fuck off without said woman paying a cost of some kind, being put in her place, or a threat being made against her so she will think twice about speaking up in the future. And the thing is, these guys can do this if they want to, by closing the metaphorical window. There are places in this world where they can go and have their particular version of a real-life 4channel meat market pickup bar. They can go to a bar where those are the rules. They can go to various communities on line. Like 4channel! They can arrange something with a professional sex worker if they can find one without standards, or play a video game where they get to harm countless victims who will mostly comply. But instead, they’ve decided to try to purge the community, of which they are a small part, of the majority, who wish to live in a 21st century world where freedom and respect are both counted as key values and are thoughtfully proportioned and balanced.
The discussion is over. The discussion has been over for a long time. In fact there never was much discussion. But most importantly, at the moment, other issues are emerging on the horizon, at least for me (and certainly for many of you) that are more important than Franc Hoggle, Abbie Smith, or Russel Blackford. I’m not taking about issues other than misogyny. I’m still talking about misogyny and other feminist concerns, as well as other current political and social problems, but just not in relation to these lost causes, these hopeless cases. These people with their perverted sense of proportion are not really as important right now as, oh, for example, Mitt Romney or any of the Teabaggers that are running for re-election in the US Congress or nationwide in state legislatures, in the upcoming US election. Of course, there are similar and parallel issues in other countries. The thing is, the next national election in the US, where we will decide ultimately the composition of the US Supreme Court for the next couple of decades, various same sex marriage amendments and related issues in many states, voter ID bills that will virtually guarantee a woman-hating freedom-repressing Republican government nationwide for the foreseeable future, is coming up in less than 20 weeks.
These people … these people on the internet that are so annoying … are not important in the larger scheme of things.
This is not to say that the fight going on now is not important. The blogging and commentary of my many friends and allies many of whom are here at Freethoughtblogs but also elsewhere, as well as the private discussions that involve those who rarely go public with their feelings, are incredibly important and they should and will continue.
And this, of course, is not really my last word on the subject either.
But I hope the title of this post conveys this: That I would like it to be the lastish word, and kind of need it to be, for a few months, for me, mostly. I have commitments to political activities and to other writing projects. No one in this circus is going to be convinced to change their minds by any of my efforts over the short term. The misogynists and 4channel fetishists and the rest of them are relatively small in number in the Skeptic and Atheist movement, and few are in leadership positions. Those who are in leadership positions probably regret stepping into this steaming pile of dogshit, and I suspect they will now quietly back away and hope things cool down. The worst case scenario for TAM is that it would transform, after a season or two, into a special kind of skeptics conference. Instead of “The Amazing Meeting” it will be called “The Ass Menagerie,” or maybe “The Ass Manhandler,” or “The Ass Market.” Or some other name that has to do with a lot of Ass Grabbing which is, after all, the point of being …. oh never mind, you get what I mean.
1The term “grab ass” is used here as a literary device, a catch-all, for behavior that is usually classed as “unwanted sexual attention” through “sexual harassment.” Unsolicited up-skirt photography is included in this.