Paula Kirby wrote stupid shit

This is how Paula Kirby tweeted about her essay* in re: the Harassment Policy discussion:

I’ll wait until you’re done laughing and/or rolling your eyes.
Done? Alright, let’s get on with this blogpost**. And btw., I’m ridiculously late to the game. Others have competently dismantled large parts of that ridiculous essay about Teh Ebil #FTBullies, but there’s just so much incredibly ignorant and untrue crap in this essay, I figure I’ll have a stab at it, too. But do read the other commentary on it, if you have time. Like I said, there’s so much crap in this, a single essay doesn’t do it justice: atheist logic, Ophelia Benson pt. 1, pt. 2, and SUIRAUQA (there’s probably more, but those are the ones I know about)

First, since I gather this has touched a nerve in some quarters, I shall deal with the terms “feminazi” and “femistasi”. As a general principle, I oppose the use of any kin dof name-calling. But sometimes an apparently rude term is doing more than being rude: it is conveying a meaningful point in shorthand form. For the record, I am categorically NOT suggesting that the people I have applied these terms to are, in fact, Nazis or Stasi members, or would ever have sympathized with either of them.There are many of us who are proud to be called Grammarnazis and who know perfectly well that no aspersions are being cast on our intentions towards either Jews or Poland. It might be considered distasteful that the suffix -nazi has come to be used simply to mean “extremist” or “obsessive”, but nevertheless, it has come to be so used, and The Sisterhood of the Oppressed cannot legitimately chalk it up as yet another example of their alleged victimization.

This is the first paragraph of the essay, and it’s already complete crap. And here’s why:
1)To be “proud to be called Grammarnazis”, and even to refer to oneself like that, is an act of Reappropriation; something that was used as an insult to try to shut someone up by making them feel bad for doing what they do by calling them -nazis is now being worn proudly as a banner, in a way similar to the way the Queer community has reapppropriated the term “queer”. And, in fact, in exactly the same way that many of Teh Ebil #FTBullies have for years now worn the worst epithets thrown at them as titles behind their handles, including the word “feminazi”.
2)A reappropriated word is still an insult/slur though, and so when it is used negatively against someone else, it is not used in the reappropriated, positive (or at least, non-negative) sense, but in its original, negative sense. Therefore, comparing being proud to be called a Grammarnazi to calling someone else a Feminazi in order to compare them to Nazis*** is worse than comparing apples to oranges (at least, apples and oranges are both fruit, and are both good for you).
3)The main difference, of course, between something like “Grammarnazi” and “Feminazi” or “Queer” is that being called a Grammarnazi is not an act that flows down a power-gradient, nor is it used to shut down anything too particularly important****. As such, you wouldn’t even be able to reasonably compare the insult-use of Grammarnazi to actual slurs used as insults, since they perform entirely different kinds of cultural work.
4)Regardless of any truth value to claims that the suffix -nazi has merely come to mean “extremist” or “obsessive”, this is obviously not true for the suffix -stasi, since that suffix doesn’t have a culturally acquired meaning other than the literal one, since it’s not in common use. As such, points 1-3 aren’t even necessary to establish the BS in that paragraph, since even if everything she said about the suffix -nazi were true, she didn’t just use that one. Calling someone a Femistasi is actually literally comparing someone to the East German Homeland State Security.

In both “feminazi” and “femistasi” the allusion is to certain totalitarian attitudes and the intolerance and suppression of dissent. Indeed, it was this, and eminently not their politics, that the Nazis and the Stasi had in common, which further underlines my point that no comment about anyone’s wider political views is being made.

This is part of the previous line of thought, but it’s crap in a different way, so I’m quoting separately. Paula here seems to imply that running a totalitarian state is not politics. Because a form of government is not political? I’ve complained in the past about such incoherent restrictions on what can be considered “political” so I won’t get into that here, but really. Suppression of political dissent, being part of a totalitarian state government, and being often the enforcing arm of the politics of the government is not political?

In the case of the -stasi suffix, it draws attentions to behaviours associated with the thought police, for whom anyone who dares to hold non-approved attitudes is automatically persona non grata and to be treated as an enemy of the people. I am referring, of course, to the unfailing response on certain blogs whenever someone has had the temerity to challenge the claims that have been made there. Any suggestion, no matter how mildly phrased or how in keeping with the principles of skepticism, that The Sisterhood might not be automatically and wholly right by default has been met with torrents of abuse, and a pot-pourri (actually, dung-heap would seem a more appropriate metaphor) of accusations ranging from troll at the lower end, through slimebag, douche etc, right up to misogynist or even rape-apologist.

“Thought police” is an Orwellian term. Originally, it referred to an actual police actually making sure that no unapproved thoughts happened, since people caught thinking the unapproved thing were brainwashed to “fix” the problem, and ultimately killed. Obviously the Stasi couldn’t quite achieve that level of efficiency, but they certainly tried, by arresting and/or killing people they’ve found expressing unapproved sentiments, even in the “privacy” of their own homes. So, what does Paula compare this to?
To argument. To people disagreeing, often with long-winded explanations and links to evidence, and doing so while liberally dispensing invective. In writing. On their own blogs, as well as in comment sections on other blogs. Most of these “oppressed” dissenters aren’t even banned from commenting on these blogs, and they certainly are free to express themselves in the privacy of their own public blogs without any repercussions (other than maybe having someone disagree with you (publicly even! *gasp*), or say that they don’t like you anymore, and maybe won’t give you their money) or restrictions. That’s stasi-like behavior. But apparently only when Teh Ebil #FTBullies do it, since the antiFTB contingent indulges in exactly the same behavior (plus occasional threats and extensive use of bigoted slurs; minus the evidence), but when they do it it’s just “calls for balance” and “challeng[ing] the claims”.

Good heavens, we have even seen Ophelia Benson describe DJ Grothe’s call for more balance in the discussions as “sticking a metaphorical target” on her!

This “call for balance” btw. was Grothe’s silly-ass, evidence-free claim that talking about harassment has caused a drop in female attendance at TAM, and therefore talk about harassment should stop. I fail to see “balance” here, except in the “Fair And Balanced” sense (more details about this, from Ophelia herself).

Let’s not forget the abuses of speakers’”privilege” at certain conferences, where audience members holding “the wrong attitudes” have been picked on by the speaker from the platform.

Elevatorgate is never going to die is it? Also, Paula is in business, not science… but really. It has never been a bad thing for a speaker to analyze and criticize an attendees public writing. Most of the time, this bit of whining is some sort of “the internet isn’t real” luddism. In this case, it seems more generic hypocrisy in the service of “when we criticize, it’s just criticism; when you criticize, it’s ‘picking on’ and being the thought police”, as noted above. Also, she’s just plain bullshitting when she claims Stef McGraw was “picked on” for her “attitudes”. She had a publicly stated written argument deconstructed. An argument is not an attitude, by any definition of the word.

Let’s consider 1930s Germany for a moment. How did the Nazis gain popular support? By exploiting a sense of grievance post-Versailles, by continually telling the German people they’d been treated abominably, had their noses ground in the dust,been unfairly penalized, that they were the victims of an international, Jew-led conspiracy, that they needed to rise from the ashes and gain their revenge and their proper, god-ordained place in the world.

Yeah, let’s consider this. And by “this”, I don’t actually mean the historical inaccuracies in this paragraph, because they’re not relevant just now. For starters, as Paula herself reluctantly admits in a later paragraph, it’s not actually a case of the Nazis “telling the German people they’d been treated abominably”, since the German people were well-aware of that fact (and a fact it certainly was), Nazis or no. But let’s consider the political situation in 1930′s Germany. Here we have an abysmally poor, systematically oppressed people, who end up becoming radicalized and a totalitarian state results. Happens all the fucking time. What’s the solution to the problem?
Well, according to Paula, it seems to be “Oh you silly Germans. Stop feeling oppressed and pull yourself up by your own bootstraps”, and “Don’t talk about systemic oppression, don’t try to eliminate oppression, and don’t ever dare publicly and openly argue with those who say there isn’t any. Because if you do, you’ll be propagating a victim mentality and also being Nazis yourself.” Where in the goddamn universe has being silent about systemic oppression and telling people to instead fix themselves ever worked?
The real solution to the existence of systemic victims is not cries of individualist empowerment, but deconstruction of the oppressive system. The French learned this lesson, which is why WWII was followed by the creation of the Council of Europe and the EEC instead of another oppressive Treaty of Versailles.

So is the Sisterhood’s sense of victimhood also justified? No.

Fuck the evidence from years of social science*****. Paula says there’s no oppression of women, therefore there isn’t.

In my experience (and I’ve attended and organized a lot of conferences in my time)there’s a sexualized atmosphere at all conferences involving an overnight stay:people are away from home, probably drinking more heavily than they would at home, *cough* networking, surrounded by people who share a common interest, whether that’s in secularism or buttercups or ball bearings, and who are equally letting their hair down and out for a bit of fun, and, moreover, with hotel rooms conveniently located right above their heads.

What a sorry world Paula lives in, if she’s never experienced collegiality not laced with sex. It’s a bit like eating all foods drenched in Ketchup (or any other condiment of your choice).
Well, I have experienced plenty of friendly, collegial drunkenness, fun, and “letting your hair down” while away from home, too. Some of it involved sex and an atmosphere that could be described as “sexy”. Some of it however was just hanging out with awesome people and shooting the shit, without sex appearing anywhere on the horizon. It’s awesome (it also oddly seems to be clustered around Poland). Why, last October I spent an entire weekend in mixed company away from home, sleeping in the same room with two dudes, and somehow no one got propositioned. We must be all prudes; or asexual. Or, maybe, we prefer some variety in our life, and are therefore capable of sometimes not thinking about getting laid. Seems there aren’t that many people like that in Paula’s life, if she’s never experienced anything like that.

Anyway. What do you want to bet that most, if not all, of these conferences has sexual harassment policies (after all, this is what this latest “ZOMG Stazinazis” is about)?

I simply do not accept that any reasonably mature, rational adult does not know exactly how to avoid getting into this kind of situation if he or she would prefer not to,or how to deal with it if it occurs.

This is quoted just to laugh at it. Because really, she just finished saying that this happens at all conferences and that anyone can find themselves propositioned. Which I guess means “how to avoid getting into this situation” = “not going to conferences” :-p

And, of course, she’s being very disingenuous when she implies that we say people don’t know how to deal with propositions (or harassment; because let’s remember, this is about harassment policies, dissembling on Paula’s part notwithstanding). but you know, knowing how to deal with stupid shit because you’re constantly exposed to it is not actually a valid reason for stupid shit to exist.

Note that I am talking about normal, non-violentsituations in which no assault takes place. I am talking about the kind of normalinteraction that, whether you like it or not, goes on wherever you get a group of adults letting their hair down while away from home.

False dichotomy which denies the existence of harassment which is not assault.

but to give the impression that such assaults are commonplace is to do a disservice

Boring lie is boring, but at least explains why the preceding false dichotomy exists.

To tear a movement apart, [...] over something that is just a feature of life in general and not specific to the movement itself

Translation: atheists and skeptics shouldn’t strive to be better. Average is fine. Doesn’t matter that average is pretty fucking horrible.

I did a sociology module as part of my degree many years ago: I know the arguments about socialization and normative values, and structural discrimination and all that malarkey.

This was hilarious the first time, and it’s never stopped being hilarious. Paula knows better than social scientists with years of work and experience and science to back them up. Because she took one sociology module. Is there any better demonstration of the Dunning-Kruger effect?

So there is an alternative, and it is this alternative that I would urge women to seize with both hands – whether we’re talking about how we interact in our jobs, in our social lives or in the atheist movement. And that alternative is to take responsibility for ourselves and our own success. To view ourselves as mature, capable adults who can take things in our stride, and can speak up appropriately. To really start believing that we can do whatever men can do. To stop seizing on excuses for staying quiet and submissive, stop blaming it on men or hierarchies or misogyny or, silliest of all, “privilege”, and start simply practising being more assertive.

And the way to fight poverty is to stop “externalizing” the causes of poverty, and instead tell people to stop being so goddamn lazy and to view themselves as “mature, capable adults who can take things in our stride” and stop blaming their poverty on rich people or hierarchies or classism or “privilege”.

Libertarianism is such tiresome bullshit.

Anyway, she’s repeating the bullshit trope that non-libertarian feminists are saying that women aren’t capable of doing what men do. This is of course bullshit. Women are just as capable as men, and they are often far better able to deal with adversity since they don’t get shit handed to them on a silver platter and have to constantly fight against stupid sexist bullshit. Men faced with even a fraction of the shit a woman who shares their other social statuses has to face tend to dissolve into incoherent puddles of self-pity rather quickly (see: MRA), because they lack the practice and have never acquired the requisite hardened skins. However, as noted above, being able to deal with stupid shit is not actually a good reason for stupid shit to exist. Plus, as everyone should realize, two people with identical ability but different stressloads will rather obviously not perform equally at the one task they have in common. All we’re trying to do is a)undo some of that damage of the extra stressload in the short term, and b)equalize the stressload.

But I am saying that we women do ourselves no favours by assuming that the system is malevolently weighted against us

And here Paula says that women shouldn’t know the truth, because it does us no favors. And she says we’re belittling women?

Yes, there’s the occasional Neanderthal, in any walk of life. But it’s up to us whether we let him put us off doing what we really want to do. Let’s not give him that power over us! We can choose to rise above him (or sidestep him) and continue pursuing our own goals.

Here Paula is being anti-scientific, because this comment basically amounts to “willpower is an unlimited resource”, which we know isn’t true.

In almost any fieldyou care to consider, the women who have made it to the topare generally not sympathetic to the view that men or the system were desperately trying to hold them back. They havesimply adopted the tactics I am describing here, and have refused to let anything stop them.

Women who mold themselves to and make bargains with a patriarchal system are more successful within the patriarchal system than those who try to dismantle it for the benefit of all women?

Shocking.

They certainly haven’t diverted their focus from their goals to worrying about how men are treating them, and they haven’t waited for men to give them permission to succeed.

indeed not. Other women (and their allies) have done this for them and done something about some of the structural barriers that exist so that these exceptional women could succeed. How is this an argument for not continuing to dismantle these barriers, so that even more women can succeed?

Activism is by definition controversial: we don’t need activists for causes that are already widely accepted. This means that conflict comes with the territory. Activists need to be able to cope with that, we need to be able to deal with people who really do want to silence us and discredit us at any cost. It can turn nasty.

I quote this specifically because it’s so fucking hilarious that this comes from the woman who whines about feminazistasi oppression because she and others are being criticized. As I said before, she’s basically saying that other people mustn’t speak up when they’re mistreated and instead they “need to be able to cope with that” and “need to be able to deal with people who really do want to silence [them] and discredit”. But she and the other antiFTB-whiners should be totes encouraged to whine all day and night about Teh Ebil #FTBullies, because they apparently don’t need to learn to cope. Not even with the much smaller amount of unpleasantness that they are receiving, as compared to what they’re dishing out.

Look in the pages of any self-help book you care to pick up.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Self-help books. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Paula is advising skeptics to read the quackery that is self-help books. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

What we have seen endlessly on the pages of the worst of the blogs over the course of the last year-plus is just a tedious, counterproductive, alienating, divisive, pointless self-indulgence.

Don’t care to argue “alienating” and “divisive”, but the fact that WIS happened, WIS2 will happen, and harassment policies are being adopted, is boringly obvious refutation of the claims of “counterproductive” and “pointless”.

How many of those speakers [at WIS] were not already well established in the movement? [...] Talk about “Four legs good, two legs better”!

This is hilariously incoherent. A conference that previously didn’t exist and doesn’t cannibalize other conferences in terms of speakers can by definition not provide less exposure to these speakers (and the group they belong to) than its nonexistence. Also, it should be noted that Paula doesn’t actually know what these women who spoke at the conference talked about (other than the speeches they gave; she might know that, but I doubt she’s seen all the videos), and what kind of networking happened at the conference.

Far from encouraging new women to get involved, all this hysterical and unjustified insistence on how dangerous our conferences are for women, how hostile our movement is to them, the indignities and humiliations they will be exposed to should they dare to set foot over the skeptical threshold could have been calculated to scare them away.

I note she provides precisely zero evidence for any of this. Also, bonus point for using “hysterical”.

Ophelia Benson herself wouldhave us believe she’s been scared away from attending a conference because of the exaggerated and over-the-top messages she got about the terrible risks she’d face if she went.

Another boring lie. Paula here is basically claiming that “nice business, would be a shame if it burned down” is a warning about fire hazards.

- – - – - – - – -
*Incidentally, posted on scribd by hoggle. Nice allies she’s got.
**After sufficiently complaining at the fact that the link in her tweet can only be accessed with a google account**. because really, wtf? (in case you’re wondering, a previous tweet had the link to the scribd document. still a dumb format, but at least it doesn’t require anyone to log in anywhere to read it)
***she’s actually lying when she’s saying she’s using the suffix to mean “extremist” or “obsessive”, since she DOES compare FTB to actual, real, 1930′s Nazis later in the essay.
****being a stickler for the use of grammar where it actually helps communication, I still very much acknowledge that knowing the difference between you’re and your, and knowing when to use the word “whom”, is piddly bullshit compared to social justice activism.
*****a sample this, as well as other scientific articles and essays, are of course collected in the comments of this post

75 comments on “Paula Kirby wrote stupid shit

  1. Wowbagger says:

    Well said. The only downside is that there’s almost no chance she or any of her pals will read it, and even less that if any of them did they might actually take any of it in and consider it. But it should at least help a few fence-sitters.

  2. Jadehawk, this comment cannot contain all the internets I want to give you for your post! Thank you for the humorous and adept deconstruction. Squeee!

  3. Irène Delse says:

    Hmm…

    “@PaulaSKirby: If you’re desperate to go on thinking me a misogynist, make sure to read this: The Sisterhood of the Oppressed”…

    FIFY.

  4. julian says:

    Greta piece. Thorough and snarky without becoming bitter (however justified that may be in this situation.)

    I get Kirby and her supporters won’t read past the title (*shock* *gasp!* “bully!”. “Hypocrit!”) but it was still an enjoyable read.

  5. Improbable Joe says:

    Nice work, not that it will make a difference to the anti-crowd. They’ll point to this and call it silencing or something equally stupid.

  6. Not Greta, Jadehawk. Hahahaha

    But seriously: great job. I’ve been half wanting to dispute the libertarian core, especially since some Kirby-fans (the Approved Kirby Chorus?) have shouted at me for ignoring the substance in favor of paying attention to the smears – but I’ve also been wanting not to, since I don’t want to bore my readers TOO much with all deep rifts all the time. Now I can just point them here.

  7. [...] does a great fisking of Paula Kirby’s recent declaration of war. I’ve been half-wanting to address the [...]

  8. inanna says:

    Thank you for this. I still cannot believe she wrote this crap.

  9. Moonpanther says:

    The thing that really struck me about this piece was how you pointed to the bit about how others shouldn’t complain, but she certainly can. I was left wondering after reading this why she and her crew don’t simply “rise above or sidestep ” those mean old #FTBullies?

    Also, I took her advice. The Secret tells me that if I can imagine an internet without morons whining about nonsense, it’ll just happen. I wonder if Paula would agree?

  10. Pierce R. Butler says:

    Nice bit of dissection.

    I had never heard of Kirby before she rode to the defense of helpless DJ Grothe, and so far have seen no reason to wish to hear of her again. Horatio Alger in drag is still Horatio Alger, and still – socially & experientially – a drag.

  11. That was simply awesome…

  12. eristae says:

    Yay! Thank you so much for writing this. It’s wonderful.

  13. Vilém Saptar says:

    That was deft and comprehensive and punched so many nice round holes! Nicely done, Jadehawk.

  14. Jadehawk says:

    Julian & Joe, I wasn’t really expecting any of the antiFTB’ers to read this for comprehension. For one, I freely and without explanation use terms that they don’t understand but know are “silly” (like “privilege”, or “power-gradient”, or “reappropriation” or “systemic”). So it’s not like titling this something less direct would have made much of an impact.

    Ophelia, thanks for linking to this on your blog (and Joe’s typo made me want to make exactly the same joke, too :-p )

    To everyone, thanks for reading and for commenting :-)

  15. Daenyx says:

    Right. Reasons I need to remember to bookmark this blog. *bookmarks it this time*

    Great post, Jadehawk.

  16. [...] just find it too depressing, so I’m just going to pass the baton on to Jadehawk and Suirauqa to administer the drubbing. They do it well. Share this: Posted in Stupidity [...]

  17. 'Tis Himself says:

    Deep Rifts™.

    Seriously, I keep wondering who pissed in Kirby’s Cheerios that she’s declared war on FtB.

  18. Now I want to piss in Kirby’s Cheerios. Does that make me a bad person?

    But seriously: this is a great takedown, Jadehawk. Extra bonus points for mockery and ridicule, which is exactly what Kirby’s hypocritical and fact free rant deserves.

  19. Terri Lupo says:

    Thank you so much for this, it is sad to me after retiring that this is still such an issue. It takes so long for good change to happen, and is fought against by the very people who benefit from it.

  20. Sean says:

    In amongst Kirby’s plaintive yelp, there’s a fair smattering of Survivorship Bias and a helping of the Just World fallacy. Indeed, it is a rather unremarkable variant on the usual we tend to hear from the laptop libertarians: “Pull yourself up and make a success of your life! Stop whining! If only you engaged more, if only you could see things another way. Look at [STATISTICAL OUTLIER], they’ve overcome far worse!”

    The idea that these powerful social systems, from patriarchy to the neoliberal consensus which has virtually eliminated social progression for the most indigent, can be ameliorated by positive thinking alone is surely one of the most successful, and thoroughly egregious, of our contemporary memes.

  21. the Siliconopolitan says:

    As always your talent and intelligence scare me. Somehow I fear I won’t dare talk to you any more this year than last year.

  22. elronxenu says:

    Nice post. It brings out the double standard in Paula’s attitude and post.

  23. David Marjanović says:

    19 laptop screens of win.

    A reappropriated word is still an insult/slur though, and so when it is used negatively against someone else, it is not used in the reappropriated, positive (or at least, non-negative) sense, but in its original, negative sense.

    Tim Minchin: “Prejudice”; thanks to Jules and Liriodendron.

    It’s awesome (it also oddly seems to be clustered around Poland).

    …You’re very perceptive.

    As always your talent and intelligence scare me. Somehow I fear I won’t dare talk to you any more this year than last year.

    I’ll find ways to scare you into doing that. Be afraid. Be very very very very very very very afraid.

  24. J. says:

    Excellent, enlightening, entertaining—the art of deconstruction didn’t perish with the old millennium, after all. Great work!

  25. Cthandhs says:

    Great post. Witnessing her brand of Internet Libertarian BS has basically made me not a Libertarian.

  26. sprocket says:

    Does Paula Kirby understand irony now?

    @CosmicSnark @PaulaSKirby “The Saga of Paula Kirby” http://tinyurl.com/cqjjn3r Dissent must not be toleralted!!!

    @PaulaSKirby @CosmicSnark Yup. And still no substance …

    Nope. Still doesn’t

  27. Pacal says:

    This comment floored me:

    “There are many of us who are proud to be called Grammarnazis and who know perfectly well that no aspersions are being cast on our intentions towards either Jews or Poland.”

    Grammarnazis is not a name to be proud of it to me means someone wedded to a series of arcane, idiotic rules of grammar whose stupidity is manifest. For example the i9nfamous split infinitive rule which is based on the shit reasoning that since you can’t split infinitives in Latin you can’t do it in English. The other is the infamous It is I versus It is me stupidity that only the truly brain dead can really believe that It is me is so heinous or that anyone using the experssion is being unclear. Hell everyone knows whaty you mean when you say it is not unclear! So my opinion is that upon encountering anyone proud to call themselves a Grammarnazis is to consign that person’s opinions to the garbage heap of anal-retentive nutbars.

    As for the topic at hand. I’m floored c. 1 year ago someone is propositioned in a elevator at 4 in the morning and it makes her uncomfortable. She mentions in a long speech very briefly (c. 2 minutes), about how these made her feel and she requests that guys not do that and that they exercise a bit of tact. She says so in a very reasonable manner without rankor or even fear. Amazingly enough all sorts of people jump all over her with hysterical denounciations and bluntly massive lying about her. The hysteria was not her comments but the over the top denunciation of her comments. I had a certain scepticism about “male privlidge”, I have a lot less now.

  28. [...] worse, he doesn’t even put together his own defense; he relies on two people named Jadehawk and Suirauqa to write his feelings (this reporter can’t really call them [...]

  29. bluharmony says:

    Imagine that, Wowbagger is wrong in his very first comment.

  30. Jadehawk says:

    imagine that, bluharmony can’t read for comprehension.

  31. bluharmony – I know the nuance of ‘almost’ and ‘might’ is lost on those who would find nuance in ‘nazi’ and ‘stasi’ equivocations, but take your axe-grinding reprobating to the next level. You know, rationally discuss the content of what brought you here in the first place and attack the ideas. This is a safe-space for you to speak out (topically or tangentially). Use the opportunity, engage us with something substantial!

  32. ericatkinson says:

    Jadehawk: one of Myers harpy sycophants. Much like one of the flying monkeys in Oz.
    A slightly more advanced verson of the “Turd of the Redhead” insult fembot.

  33. [...] Unfortunately there is so much wrong with Paula’s letter that my own comment’s size grew to unreasonable level [...]

  34. Jadehawk says:

    your detailed and insightful deconstruction of my argument is awe inspiring and convincing, eric dear.

  35. I knew Kirby’s piece was wrong when I read it. You told me why. Thanks!

  36. I’m fairly new to FtB and have only dipped my toe into similar blogs.
    Whenever I read any of the opposition to feminism I’m amazed at the frequency of the complaint that dissent is not tolerated as opposed. Why is there such confusion between dissent and stupid arguments that have been repeatedly shown to be false?

  37. Wowbagger says:

    Actually, bluharmony, your lack of substance – and that of your charmingly misogynist sidekick, ericatkinson – proves me more than a little prescient with my comment. Maybe you should try again.

  38. yeoldeblacksmith says:

    Well done, Jadehawk!

  39. MrHeteronormative says:

    I read the first paragraph of this post and then stopped reading. I don’t have the patience anymore to read the genuinely mean-spirited words of a cruel and nasty person. Try differing in a collegial way next time.

  40. Jadehawk says:

    thank you for proving my point, MrHeteronormative

  41. Paul says:

    Nice deconstruction. As always, it’s shocking how transparent and self-serving their “framing” of the arguments are. So much special pleading as to why their questioning is well and good but yours is shrill and hysterical.

    So, FtB. I haven’t been around the blogosphere for a few months (or a year, or maybe a little more, I don’t recall, been really busy with work and was never very deep in) aside from here every once and awhile . Looks like sone Sciblings and other atheist bloggers have moved over there? What did I miss, just some funding and the decision to collect some interesting bloggers in one place? I ask here since it’s a bit much to try to catch up there right off the bat.

  42. Jadehawk says:

    What did I miss, just some funding and the decision to collect some interesting bloggers in one place?

    kinda. basically, National Geographic now owns SciBlogs, and PZ and Ed Brayton decided that they’d rather have their own host than have to limit themselves to the stuff NatGeo would be ok with posting (plus, commenters where unhappy with possible enforced niceness in the comments).

    So now we have FtB, which is turning out to be a pretty nicely intersectional atheist space. Which is pissing off the old-school skeptics (you know, the ones who think “diversity” is having old while straight guys of different religions and political beliefs) and the libertarian-ish contingents.

  43. Paul says:

    Ahh, thanks. I was there for the NatGeo acquisition (I even guessed what the surprise was before it was announced!), but left before any movement got coordinated. I’m glad to see the end result, because I remember everyone worried about enforced niceness, possible mandatory identification, etc.

    And yeah, I know the type you speak of. I really wish people wouldn’t get offended that others want to include minorities more. It’s actually been a topic of discussion lately on another forum I frequent (a silly gaming one, but the parallels are clear). It’s disturbing how people get so offended that more people might be sharing in on the pie, and they act like second-class citizens because they used to have all the pie, and now that others have some they feel like they’re losing out. Big deal, you still have most of the pie ffs.

  44. Moonpanther says:

    It’s not that they’re opposed to marginalized groups participating. They just want the ability to treat them poorly in case somebody from those groups steps out of line.

  45. Paul says:

    It’s not that they’re opposed to marginalized groups participating. They just want the ability to treat them poorly in case somebody from those groups steps out of line.

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s the same thing. If the tables were turned, they would think that having their group subject to being treated poorly would mean that the hosts opposed them participating.

  46. Moonpanther says:

    Oh, I agree. I was being sarcastic for comic effect. It’s kinda my thing. I hope nobody else on the internet ever does that. %)

  47. Paul says:

    Yeah, after I hit reply it occurred to me that that was very likely tongue in cheek. Even then, I have a habit of trying to make things REALLY clear for the players at home, to the point of annoyance I’m sure.

    The utter absurdity of this whole “Sexual harrassment” situation is just…well, absurd (I know, I know, get a Thesaurus and take some writing classes). This reaction just out of the idea that it’s a good idea to behave oneself at a social event? It should be an utter non-issue with the offense being that people need to be told how to behave, as opposed to people arguing over the definition of “good behavior” with one side arguing vehemently that behaving oneself in such a manner as to not fucking frighten people is a good thing, and in fact, the only ethical thing, and telling them otherwise is being a liar liar pants on fire.

  48. Paul says:

    erm…

    to not fucking frighten people

  49. Thanks for writing. I agree with much of what you said, especially this,

    In this case, it seems more generic hypocrisy in the service of “when we criticize, it’s just criticism; when you criticize, it’s ‘picking on’ and being the thought police”, as noted above.

    What also bothered me about the Nazi analogy (besides the fact that it was comparing people writing blog posts to the Nazis) was that the Nazis wrongly blamed certain groups of people (e.g. Jewish people) for the problems going on in the country and persecuted and killed them. But the people who are concerned about sexual harassment and sexism are blaming the people who actually were responsible for the sexism. Plus, they’re not calling for entire groups of people to be persecuted and scapegoated, but want to prevent the sexism from happening in the future, as much as possible, with anti-harassment policies. A comparison between the two is ridiculous. Like Paul wrote above,

    This reaction just out of the idea that it’s a good idea to behave oneself at a social event? It should be an utter non-issue with the offense being that people need to be told how to behave, as opposed to people arguing over the definition of “good behavior” with one side arguing vehemently that behaving oneself in such a manner as to fucking frighten people is a good thing, and in fact, the only ethical thing, and telling them otherwise is being a liar liar pants on fire.

  50. the Siliconopolitan says:

    I read the first paragraph of this post and then stopped reading. I don’t have the patience anymore to read the genuinely mean-spirited words of a cruel and nasty person. Try differing in a collegial way next time.

    Thank you for the clarification. I was having real trouble making sense of this until you stepped in and cleared everything up.

    Rolling eyes: uncollegial
    Comparing people to the Stasi: collegial

    Thank you! These common norms of social interaction always trip me up.

  51. David Marjanović says:

    basically, National Geographic now owns SciBlogs, and PZ and Ed Brayton decided that they’d rather have their own host than have to limit themselves to the stuff NatGeo would be ok with posting (plus, commenters where unhappy with possible enforced niceness in the comments).

    Also, before NatGeo at least, SciBorg did shitty things like not paying bloggers and not listening to them in general while providing practically no tech support.

  52. Paul says:

    Rolling eyes: uncollegial
    Comparing people to the Stasi: collegial

    Thank you! These common norms of social interaction always trip me up.

    But you’re missing the point. Jadehawk’s words could be taken as angry. The Stazi references are just level-headed pointing out of people demanding conformity with their idea of social norms. It’s utterly Orwellian, this “openly discussing the idea that one should comport themselves in public in a manner that avoids making the person you’re pushing yourself on feel the need for the immediate use of a shower”. Can’t we just be nice so that women will come to our events without realizing that there might be mouthbreathers?

    Really, the whole “just don’t talk about it and it will go away” thing is giving me real Mere Christianity vibes. “Don’t let them know that men at atheist events can be pigs too, until they sign on the dotted line and arrive after having paid for tickets and travel fare”.

    And here I was expecting you to mention Pepsigate, David. The lack of tech support did seem to be pretty silly, but I hadn’t heard of missing checks.

  53. David Marjanović says:

    Oh, yeah, Pepsigate, too.

    It seems to me that the SciBorg had practically no personnel and therefore couldn’t handle either the tech support or the paychecks from ad revenue.

    Really, the whole “just don’t talk about it and it will go away” thing is giving me real Mere Christianity vibes.

    Fortunately I haven’t read any C. S. Lewis, so all it reminds me of is “bullies just want attention – if you ignore them, they go away”, which has never been true (I’ve done the long-term experiment), never mind the fact that it’s just one small step away from blaming the victim.

  54. [...] what feminism is all about.  The original document is here, and of course the deconstruction is at Jadehawk’s blog from which this excerpt originates. [PK:}Let’s consider 1930s Germany for a moment. How did the [...]

  55. I reposted some of your highlight reel take downs of Kirby on my blog and lo and behold, my first comment on said thread.

    I have great admiration for Paula’s clarity of thought embedded in an easy to read style in her writings. After reading her WEIT comment, my impression was that she argues we overcome biases and discrimination by doing, that women should stop spending so much time on whinging about being victims and simply do what others presume they cannot or should not do, that the strongest evidence we can have – and that women can show – is taken directly from reality. I do not think Paula is arguing that women are not subject to biases and discrimination; I think she’s advising us how to overcome them so we do not allow ourselves to empower and then define us.

    I think this is very good advice.

    *headdesk*

    Nevermind you have already addressed this with your deconstruction. The mind boggles, on how self identified rational-skeptical people entirely miss the boat on privilege and patriarchy and still claim the moniker.

    Thank you for writing and doing what you do Jadehawk.

  56. Meg says:

    As a Libertarian leaning person who believes in fostering sexual equality, then don’t get the jabs at being Libertarian. I’ve run into this “in the know” jab, but don’t understand the history. Is there some blog or other place that this is explained in a succinct way?

  57. Jadehawk says:

    it’s not an insider joke/jab. it’s not a “jab” at all, but rather bone-weariness with the libertarian tendency to pretend systemic problems either don’t exist, or they can be fixed by individuals minding their own business and only trying to work out how to make the system work for themselves (instead of individuals banding together to help other themselves and other people by changing the system)

  58. Bluharmony says:

    Well, as Jadehawk should well know, I am as far from libertarian as they get, but I still disagree with 90% of her disputes with Kirby, especially considering that this “deconstruction” only applies to a series of strawmen. But why bother writing out the substance when it will just be buried and suppressed AGAIN?

    I prefer to move on with the movement and the scientists & intellectuals in it. Fortunately, that doesn’t include any of you. The only loss of any significance is PZ, but you can’t have it all, I guess.

  59. Jadehawk says:

    Well, as Jadehawk should well know, I am as far from libertarian as they get,

    I wouldn’t know, but it’s irrelevant since I’m not accusing you or Kirby of economic libertarianism, but rather of thinking like libertarians when faced with structural problems.

    considering that this “deconstruction” only applies to a series of strawmen

    some evidence for this assertion would be lovely.

    But why bother writing out the substance when it will just be buried and suppressed AGAIN?

    and now you’re just making shit up. I’ve never “suppressed” anything of yours.

    I prefer to move on with the movement and the scientists & intellectuals in it. Fortunately, that doesn’t include any of you.

    considerinbg we’re the ones with the research on our side, that actually includes us, but excludes you. That’s the whole point.

  60. David Marjanović says:

    I prefer to move on

    Problems don’t dissolve into thin air when you try to leave them behind in the dust. They stay, until you actively do something against them.

    Let me guess… you’re one of those people who believe bullies give up when you ignore them, right?

  61. bluharmony says:

    No, I’m one of those people who believe that a discussion with all sides listening is necessary for a problem to get resolved. And I don’t think that systemic sexism can be addressed simply by telling women to “man-up.” But I question whether the atheist movement is the appropriate place for this debate, especially considering how polarizing and distracting it seems to be from the main cause (which was, by the way, Paula’s whole point, and which, oddly enough, Jadehawk ignored completely). I’m not accusing Jadehawk of “suppressing my speech,” but on many boards (OK, three of the most prominent ones and a few of the minor ones), posts like this one have been edited, deleted, or the thread has been closed with my words vanishing into thin air forever. (Which is another one of Paula’s complaints).

    Jadehawk, if by “research,” you mean “the data” presented in women’s studies departments in certain colleges, then I hope you know that it’s usually at odds with the conclusions reached by science departments, psychology departments, and history departments. Not that I’m in a position to decide who’s right and who’s wrong, but I think science is probably the best way to approach atheism/skepticism. And certainly the Feminism for Idiots in Feminism Blog 101 isn’t supported by any research; rather, what is supported is the nuanced take on the issues that’s presented in Crommunist’s blog, for instance.

    And Paula’s right. Constant whining doesn’t make problems go away. Action does. Action that results in something positive. I haven’t seen much of that (if any) coming from FTB, have you? There was a pro-vaccination “hug me” campaign at one point, and that was good… right up until I read that the words “hug me” don’t mean “hug me.”

    Also, it’s ridiculous to suggest that you have to avoid conferences in order not to get propositioned. That’s tantamount to saying you have to avoid life. What Paula is saying is that hanging out drunk, alone, in a bar until 4AM sends the signal that you might be up for something more than just a drink. At least that’s how Paula and I interpret it, anyway. If I wanted to get laid at a conference, that’s exactly what I’d do. If I didn’t, I would behave professionally, the way I do at CLE seminars, for example, which also occasionally involve overnight stays. In other words, yes, I would change my dress, tone, and demeanor to that of a professional. The way you present yourself, like it or not, does affect the way you’re treated. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. We often communicate via nonverbal cues, and often, that provides a satisfying result for all involved.

    I could go on taking apart your response to Paula and how it completely misses the mark, but what’s the point? I’m not going to defend her use of Nazi or Stasi, though, since I think name-calling is just resorting to your level, though even so, I can see her point. Dissent on FTB on certain issues doesn’t get thoughtful responses, it gets you branded, like I’ve been.

  62. Moonpanther says:

    “But I question whether the atheist movement is the appropriate place for this debate, especially considering how polarizing and distracting it seems to be from the main cause”

    If the atheist movement is where sexism is being perpetrated, then it is the perfect place to address this. Any place where there is a problem is the place to address the problem.

    “I haven’t seen much of that (if any) coming from FTB, have you?”

    You haven’t been paying attention. For example, on this very subject, FtB was instrumental in getting other conventions to adopt harassment policies. JT does great work on behalf of student atheists and uses his blog to raise awareness and money, not to mention his work regarding erasing stigma associated with mental illness. They’ve been involved in publicizing efforts to do Light the Night this year and letting people know about the Stiefle matching funds. PZ recently got his readers to help a Humanist school buy a chicken coop so they could, you know, feed their students. Greta is very involved in the LGBT movement and is consistently publicizing issues and ways to help.The people at FtB do a lot of work on behalf of a lot of people.

    “What Paula is saying is that hanging out drunk, alone, in a bar until 4AM sends the signal that you might be up for something more than just a drink. At least that’s how Paula and I interpret it, anyway. If I wanted to get laid at a conference, that’s exactly what I’d do. If I didn’t, I would behave professionally, the way I do at CLE seminars, for example, which also occasionally involve overnight stays. In other words, yes, I would change my dress, tone, and demeanor to that of a professional.”

    And Paula and you are both wrong. This is the two most classic examples of victim blaming ever conceived: “She was dressed like a slut” and “she didn’t appropriately protect herself.” They are, however, victim blaming. You’ve put the responsibility to not get harassed on the victim and not the harasser to not harass.

    Funny thing is, acting and dressing more professionally doesn’t actually stop harassment. That’s why workplace sexual harassment is so high. Unless you’re suggesting that the majority of women in the workplace dress and act like they’re looking for sex while on the clock and not like professionals.

    Both you and Kirby make the same mistake: you assume that the world operates in the manner in which you think it does. That all a woman needs to do is act professionally and she won’t be harassed, and those who are harassed were clearly asking for it. This is the Just World fallacy at work. Just because you think that’s the case and your anecdotal evidence supports it doesn’t mean it’s actually true. In fact, since you were so quick to reach toward science (and attempt a genetic ad hominem, i.e. making it seem like there’s a difference between the same facts being presented in a women’s studies class or by some other departments are different and one is automatically less reliable), the science doesn’t support you.

  63. bluharmony says:

    First, I wholeheartedly commend people for all the positive activities you mention in the above post. I hate to bring up an old disagreement, though, but I must: I’m not victim-blaming because there was no victim in the elevator situation. RW was not victimized by someone asking her a question, the same one that she was free to ask him. Nor was she harassed. At worst, this was an issue of manners and conduct, and one where signals could have easily been misread. But since the first “no” was accepted without question, that is all anyone could or should ask for. Further, I do not believe we live in a just world, and I do not believe that professional attire will stop harassers from harassing or rapists from raping; at the same time, it’s silly to deny that we communicate things about ourselves by the way we dress, speak, smile, tilt our heads, and so on. This is not victim-blaming, but acknowledgement of non-verbal communication. The issue isn’t black or white, but many shades of gray. How RW felt about the elevator incident is entirely up to her, based on her experiences, fears, desires, or whatever; but that doesn’t mean I have to feel the same way, or that others must treat me the same way. As long as people accept my first “no” as the answer, my personal “harassment” line has not been crossed, and I don’t want men to think that it has. Having said that, I’m not suggesting that men should proposition women in elevators — given how many women object to that location, it sounds like an extremely bad idea to me.

    To emphasize: Dressing or acting “slutty” does not in any way justify harassment, groping, rape, assault, or worse. But it will likely lead to more sexual attention, which is one of the reasons that some people dress and act “slutty” in the first place. Many people like sexual attention; yet no one wants to be harassed. However, beyond illegal harassment, the line appears to be personal, and hence, it’s no wonder it gets crossed so often. Take the coffee incident; a lot of women see it as completely harmless, yet other women do not. So men should probably err on the side of caution, but must they? No. (To note, PZ actually characterized the elevator incident as an “assault,” and that’s simply incorrect. Legally speaking it’s neither harassment nor assault, and socially speaking, the same appears to be true. As someone who’s been assaulted, systematically abused during my childhood, and raped, I feel that PZ’s characterization trivializes my experiences and those of many others.)

    Now, before you bring up male privilege, let’s pretend that elevator guy was physically weaker than Rebecca, suffered from anxiety disorder, lived in poverty, had a bad leg, and also had a mild case of Aspergers; nothing Rebecca told us is actually inconsistent with this, and no one else ever saw him. Given these additional “facts,” and given the way the situation played out, who was presumably privileged and who was actually privileged?

    I’ve been called a “bitch” and an “attention whore” by people on “your side” of the debate for voicing these opinions, BTW. What is the feminist justification for that?

  64. Moonpanther says:

    “I’m not victim-blaming because there was no victim in the elevator situation.”

    You are victim blaming because discussing professional behavior and attire have nothing to do with the RW situation. You don’t know what she was wearing to suggest that she wasn’t dressed in a way that you might feel isn’t asking to be propositioned. As to professional behavior, she just gave a talk that day about how she doesn’t like to be propositioned while at conventions because she’s working. I’m not sure how much more clear and professional one can get.

    Moreover, this is victim blaming because you are putting the onus on the person to signal based on some vague and undefined sense of non-verbal communication to signal whether they want sex, and then allowing for the other person to interpret it any way they want. Yes, we do communicate non-verbally, but in this case the verbal communication of stating just hours before not to do that should override.

    Finally, it’s victim blaming because you’re making the case that being drunk and walking back to your hotel room at 4am alone is a valid reason to assume somebody wants sex, which if it applies to RW, it applies across the board. As you said, it’s what you would do if you were looking to get laid, which confuses me because I don’t really get how attempting to go back to your room without inviting somebody else is a signal that you’re looking for sex, but whatever. However, by assuming that “behaving professionally” is somehow a way to avoid having people come on to you, you’re now making that avoidance incumbent on the person receiving the attention, not the person giving it.

    “I’ve been called a “bitch” and an “attention whore” by people on “your side” of the debate for voicing these opinions, BTW. What is the feminist justification for that?”

    This has nothing to do with the conversation. I’m sorry people have behavior abominably toward you. They’re wrong. But it’s still a red herring.

  65. bluharmony says:

    I do know what RW was wearing, since I’ve seen the photos taken by PZ, and I’ve also been around her enough to know that she is capable of behaving in a very sexually provocative manner. I don’t know if she still behaves this way, but I do know of several women who have left the movement because of her sexually-themed parties. In any case, none of this justifies harassment, assault, or worse. But, in my opinion, there’s no harm done in asking a woman what she was asked, regardless of her conduct or attire. The only onus I’m putting on the woman is to politely decline the invitation. That’s what we all do on a daily basis (I hope), and many of the invitations make us — both men and women — “uncomfortable.” And while I’m stating up front that elevators are a bad place to ask women out, I refuse to assume that a woman alone in an elevator with a man is automatically a victim. I’m also not going to make any assumptions about what the mystery elevator man heard or saw earlier that day, since due to RW’s admitted and selective face-blindness, she couldn’t identify him and thus couldn’t have even ventured a vague guess as to his mental state, despite her many positive assertions as to exactly what he thought and heard. To address your other question, personally, I’m not likely to stay late in a bar alone unless I want to hook up. It’s possible, of course, but I wouldn’t be angry if someone assumed that’s why I was there and asked me politely to “chat somewhere more private.” Even if he asked in the elevator in the early-morning hours, during the seconds it took to get to my second-floor room.

    You’re right in calling a red herring a red herring, but it still amazes me that this kind of aggressive, sexist, and harassing conduct is condoned and even supported by the leaders of the FTB “feminist” movement, which includes some of the most prominent males. Especially being called an “attention whore” while talking about being raped, as happened to me on Ophelia’s board. She has recently said that she’s deleting the comment if she can find it, though she thinks I’m lying about it; but that really doesn’t make it any better, it just makes it look like I’m complaining about something that didn’t happen. Sound familiar? Anyway, for the record, the way I was treated on that board (because I had earlier posted at Abbie’s) had me in tears. At FTB, you’re clearly succeeding at creating an immensely hostile environment for women both by telling us how horribly we’ll be treated at cons, and by treating some of us even more cruelly online. (And no, I don’t approve of calling RW names, either, but sadly it comes as part of her “job,” and she is actually compensated for it.)

    Just a word to the wise, guys: You want to work on serious women’s issues in the US? Start by working to raise the minimum wage and protecting birth control rights. Fight for better rape-shield legislation. But leave the subjective ones, like the appropriate time and place for coffee invites, for women to sort out amongst themselves. Because even as feminists, we disagree. And further, don’t attack the ones who actually have the courage to stand up to the most prominent and aggressive figures in your movement. It’s not that easy to do.

    See? There are valid counterarguments to your points, and it is possible to articulate them politely. But it does no good to do so if you’re unwilling to even try to look at the issues from a different angle. I know I’ve had to that in order to even acknowledge that an elevator proposition can be a bad thing for some people, so can’t you do the same?

    Also, it saddens me that people care more about women feeling safe than being safe. Another red herring, perhaps, but one that led to my home address being published online. Welcoming community? I think not.

  66. Jadehawk says:

    But I question whether the atheist movement is the appropriate place for this debate, especially considering how polarizing and distracting it seems to be from the main cause

    there are no places in which fighting social injustice is inappropriate. That’s how intersectionality works: all aspects of social justice are interlinked anyway (including atheism), so trying to separate them out weakens each.

    For example, you can’t spread skepticism and atheism in areas where churches are the only social safety net. Another example: dichotomizing via stereotype (men-rational, women-irrational; western-rational, nonwestern-irrational etc.) drives people away from even considering certain ideas by telling them these ideas are for others.

    which was, by the way, Paula’s whole point, and which, oddly enough, Jadehawk ignored completely

    she didn’t say anything at all about how feminism supposedly weakens atheism. Not one word about how it diverts efforts. It was all about victim-feminism etc.

    Not that it matters, since she’d be just as wrong as you are had she said it. Intersectionality as a concept in activism exists because it’s become obvious that you can’t succeed in social justice activism when you dissect and dismember it.

    I’m not accusing Jadehawk of “suppressing my speech,” but on many boards (OK, three of the most prominent ones and a few of the minor ones), posts like this one have been edited, deleted,

    I don’t believe that to be actually true. Posts by you that are unlike this one however have indeed been deleted. So have entire conversations on the old B&W because Ophelia has an excessively niceness-emphasizing commenting policy. In those conversations, my comments were disappeared just as much as yours, so it’s not a question of censoring content.

    Jadehawk, if by “research,” you mean “the data” presented in women’s studies departments in certain colleges

    no, I’m talking about sociological and psychological research. But your ignorance and arrogance on this topic are duly noted.

    I hope you know that it’s usually at odds with the conclusions reached by science departments, psychology departments, and history departments.

    historical research into social movements is one of those areas that confirms us in our methodology most. I hope you know that.

    I think science is probably the best way to approach atheism/skepticism.

    it is. you’re on the side of the science-deniers.

    And Paula’s right. Constant whining doesn’t make problems go away. Action does. Action that results in something positive.

    Paula is wrong to claim that what she’s observing is constant whining without action. Considering that we have more women in conferences, that we have a conference that specifically addresses issues in atheism and skepticism specifically important to women, that we have a lot of conferences with sexual harassment policies, and we have raised awareness of the ubiquitous sexism in the skeptic/atheist movement, it’s pretty fucking obvious that we are being effective. with our actions. one of which is the discussion of problems and the networking necessary to organize actions. d’uh.

    I haven’t seen much of that (if any) coming from FTB, have you?

    yes.

    That’s tantamount to saying you have to avoid life. What Paula is saying is that hanging out drunk, alone, in a bar until 4AM sends the signal that you might be up for something more than just a drink

    this isn’t actually what she said, if you bothered to read the article at face value rather than project preferred meaning into it. Not that it matters, since this attitute is part of the bullshit that produces sexism anyway. Drunkenness or being a night owl or bar attendance are NOT actually signs of interest in sex.

    If I wanted to get laid at a conference, that’s exactly what I’d do.

    If I wanted to get laid at a conference, I’d socialize with a bunch of hot guys, try to figure out via conversation if any of them are up for it, and then invite them up to my room in a way that isn’t creepy. Promoting the idea that women should just passively signal with environmental clues like being up late or drinking or socializing in one place rather than another is a horrible idea. Seriously. That’s way beyond merely accepting that women are socialized to be not-too-bold, that’s promoting the idea that women shouldn’t say anything at all. :-/

    The way you present yourself, like it or not, does affect the way you’re treated.

    it indeed is. it shouldn’t, which is the whole point with the harassment policies and wanting to change the culture that considers a short skirt to be consent.

    We often communicate via nonverbal cues, and often, that provides a satisfying result for all involved.

    there’s a BIG fucking difference between non-verbal cues and a miniskirt. jesus fuck O.o

    I’m not victim-blaming because there was no victim in the elevator situation.

    this is factually incorrect. “victim” in this case is a very strong word, but ultimately it’s still correct.

    RW was not victimized by someone asking her a question, the same one that she was free to ask him.

    weren’t you the one whining about context a moment ago?

    once again: enclosed space; proposition despite VERBAL clues of non-interest; witing until the target was isolated. All of these are part of sexual predator behavior. That EG turned out, in consequence, not to be one doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be creepy as fuck-all to have someone behave in a fashion consistent with the way sexual predators behave.

    At worst, this was an issue of manners and conduct, and one where signals could have easily been misread.

    this is bullshit. and it’s once again a denial of systemic forces.
    besides, how difficult can it possibly be to misread a “i don’t want to be propositioned” and a “i’m going to sleep, i have to get up early”?

    you’re bullshitting.

    But since the first “no” was accepted without question

    third no, actually. she mentioned previously, multiple times, in multiple unambiguous ways that she wasn’t interested.

    Further, I do not believe we live in a just world, and I do not believe that professional attire will stop harassers from harassing or rapists from raping

    we don’t, and it doesn’t. That’s hardly a reason to just throw up our hands and say “oh well, just deal with it, be strong, focus on the atheism”. It’s a reason to make the world more just.

    The issue isn’t black or white, but many shades of gray.

    it really isn’t us who tries to make this into a black-and-white issue.

    As long as people accept my first “no” as the answer

    that has to include non-verbal clues as well as general statements of lack of interest. Otherwise, it’s already boundary braking.

    Dressing or acting “slutty” does not in any way justify harassment, groping, rape, assault, or worse. But it will likely lead to more sexual attention, which is one of the reasons that some people dress and act “slutty” in the first place.

    the reasonable conclusion to draw from this statement is to make sure that the latter doesn’t happen, not to shrug and accept it.

    However, beyond illegal harassment, the line appears to be personal,

    it really isn’t. the behaviors that lead to “chilly climates” and that harass individuals can be relatively well described, even if individual wiggle-room exists therein.

    So men should probably err on the side of caution, but must they? No.

    oh yes, they should. that’s basic human decency.

    Now, before you bring up male privilege, let’s pretend that elevator guy was physically weaker than Rebecca, suffered from anxiety disorder, lived in poverty, had a bad leg, and also had a mild case of Aspergers;

    irrelevant to male privilege. those are other kinds of privileges that interact in certain ways with the male privilege, but they don’t make it go away. Seriously, learn how intersectionality works. especially if you’re going to drag the poor Aspies into this again, since the only reason an Aspie would behave as EG has would be because he was supplied a social script based on sexism amd male privilege (also, we know he didn’t have social anxiety by the simple fact that he approached a “famous” woman for sex)

    Given these additional “facts,” and given the way the situation played out, who was presumably privileged and who was actually privileged?

    intersectionality you dolt. It’s not a competition, and different situations bring about different aspects of the matrix of oppression. this situation is solely about sexism, not poverty or disability.

    I’ve been called a “bitch” and an “attention whore” by people on “your side” of the debate for voicing these opinions, BTW. What is the feminist justification for that?

    there isn’t one. they were being sexist. what’s your point? because my point is that there are communities where being called those things is less likely than in others, and Pharyngula is one of the least likely places for gendered slurs. Other blogs on FTB is less safe because not all the other blogs allow Pharyngulites to stomp out such behavior though, but we’re trying.

    But, in my opinion, there’s no harm done in asking a woman

    there is, if the asking ignores clear previous verbal and non-verbal statements of disinterest.

    The only onus I’m putting on the woman is to politely decline the invitation.

    she pre-declined. he ignored that. that was an asshole move. and finding yourself in an enclosed space with a guy who has already ignored a bunch of more or less direct “no”s is creepy as fuck, even when in this one instance it ended without further harm.

    I’m also not going to make any assumptions about what the mystery elevator man heard or saw earlier that day

    there are only two assumptions possible. either he’s propositioned her for sex the first time he came within hearing distance of her, which is fucked up. Or he did hear her, and ignored it, which is also fucked up. There’s no scenario in which his ignoring of boundaries is not fucked up.

    To address your other question, personally, I’m not likely to stay late in a bar alone unless I want to hook up.

    that’s nice. also, irrelevant, since unless you communicate that clearly, people shouldn’t assume your motives.

    it still amazes me that this kind of aggressive, sexist, and harassing conduct is condoned and even supported by the leaders of the FTB “feminist” movement

    you better fucking provide a referent for the “this” in that sentence, because I’ve not witnessed any harassment and sexism being supported by FTB leaders.

    At FTB, you’re clearly succeeding at creating an immensely hostile environment for women both by telling us how horribly we’ll be treated at cons,

    I’ve not heard a single testimpny of a woman deciding that the conferences were too hostile because of someone “telling” them it would be so; I have however seen plenty who said they felt alienated because they have witnessed how the Skepchics etc. have been treated for the last year.
    Seriously, talking about sexism doesn’t make sexism worse. It’s a necessary prerequisite to fixing it.

    And no, I don’t approve of calling RW names, either, but sadly it comes as part of her “job,” and she is actually compensated for it.

    er. no. she’s not being compensated for being the target of sexism. That would require her to be paid more than men who do the equivalent job she does.

    You want to work on serious women’s issues in the US? Start by working to raise the minimum wage and protecting birth control rights. Fight for better rape-shield legislation.

    we are. don’t even imply that’s not the case.

    But leave the subjective ones, like the appropriate time and place for coffee invites

    if you’re just going to be lying about things, I can’t possibly take you seriously. there was no invite for coffee, as in the black beverage. no one invites people to hotelroom coffee when there’s bars and coffeeshops around that serve much better coffee.

    And further, don’t attack the ones who actually have the courage to stand up to the most prominent and aggressive figures in your movement.

    pot, kettle

    There are valid counterarguments to your points

    valid only in the sense of not being fallacious. all your points are still wrong though.

    it is possible to articulate them politely.

    lying is not polite.

    But it does no good to do so if you’re unwilling to even try to look at the issues from a different angle.

    see? lying really isn’t polite.

    FYI, I’m very familiar with that different angle, having spent my early 20′s being one if its defenders. I’m still quite capable of thinking along those tracks, but now I’m also capable of seeing the problems with those arguments, as well.

    Also, it saddens me that people care more about women feeling safe than being safe.

    I take back the thing about your argument not being fallacious, since this is both a strawman and a false dichotomy.

  67. bluharmony says:

    You’re going back the ridiculous argument that a face-blind person could know what someone else thought and heard earlier in the day. Forget that, let’s assume he propositioned her cold in the elevator (and that most likely it was indeed a proposition and not an invite for coffee). Having assumed all this, would she be any safer had he not asked? Of course not. Sure, generally speaking, safety and perception of safety can co-exist, but in the elevator case, safety was completely irrelevant. The internet war began over the mere perception of safety and not actual safety, since RW was perfectly safe the whole time. There is no argument to the contrary. Moreover, a single coffee invite is not sexual harassment (or any other type of harassment) just because it occurs in an elevator and a man does it to a woman, and I think Pinker, whom you cited in an earlier discussion, clearly explained the concept of plausible deniability. Please don’t lecture me about psychology, since that was one of my ridiculously silly social science majors, and it thoroughly debunked most feminist theory. But what psychology didn’t do adequately enough in college, biology took care of quite nicely later in life.

    And please don’t accuse me of lying. There’s a difference between being in error, being stubbornly wrong, reasoning poorly, or intentionally attempting to deceive. Whatever else I may be doing, I’m certainly not doing the latter. Words have meanings, and the ones you choose to use say more about you than they do about me. In any case, your arguments are examples of extremely poor reasoning, but nothing about them leads me to believe that they’re lies.

    I’m truly sorry that you feel all women should behave in a way that you approve of and should constantly feel victimized and oppressed, but I’m simply not on board with that. I believe people of all genders should be free to be what they want to be, as long as they’re not infringing on the rights of others. Real harassment is an infringement, common “discomfort” is not. Please provide scientific evidence that I’m wrong.

    RW made a huge error in attacking both Kirby and McGraw from the cozy and real privilege of the speaker’s podium. Aside from making the environment even more hostile for women, she was flat wrong both times. Setting allegations of Kirby’s “privilege” and “ignorance” aside for the moment, the most RW could have said about the elevator incident was that she *felt* objectified (or sexualized, which is all that she originally claimed in the video McGraw blogged about), as she could not possibly know that EG’s *only *desire was sex, and that would be a necessary condition for actual objectification. But EG could have wanted to talk to her and have sex, and thus, no objectification occurred. Please provide scientific evidence that I’m wrong. Or at least a logical argument. (“We know what he really wanted” is not logical, unless you’re psychic.)

    Please provide scientific evidence that attacking all injustices at once is more effective than tackling them one at a time. I’ll give you one bit of evidence to the contrary. Feminists fought for and won the right to vote because they decided to overlook their differences and join together on one key issue. United we stand, divided we fall; and history is full of examples. Where are yours?

    Or, in other words, show me valid evidence for all the assertions you’ve been making. That would be far more persuasive than insulting me and calling me a liar just because I happen to disagree with you. When I’m wrong, I gladly admit it and end up learning something new; all I need is for someone to show me why.

  68. Jadehawk says:

    ou’re going back the ridiculous argument that a face-blind person could know what someone else thought and heard earlier in the day.

    I don’t actually. I mentioned both possibilities, but while I find both equally bad, only one of them needs to be discussed, so that’s the one I focus on.

    Having assumed all this, would she be any safer had he not asked? Of course not.

    I’m guessing you mean “had all else been equal except for the detail of the asking”. Now here’s the thing. The reason people chose to do something or not do something is that their personality, experience, and environment causes them to chose/not chose. If EG were the sort of person who wouldn’t ask, he’d be a person who didn’t break boundaries. But he was a person who did ask, so he was a person who breaks boundaries. Assuming otherwise, that all else can be the same save for this one choice, is a false, counter-evidential belief in contra-causal free will.

    Sure, generally speaking, safety and perception of safety can co-exist, but in the elevator case, safety was completely irrelevant.

    not true, for the reasons i just mentioned. There’s a particular set of circumstances that caused the event. A change of the circumstances to ones which wouldn’t have caused that particular event would also prevent some other, related but worse events. To believe that EG acted in isolation from his milieu, that the notions that led him to act as he did sprung wholly formed from the aether, contradicts everything we know about how humans behave.

    The internet war began over the mere perception of safety and not actual safety, since RW was perfectly safe the whole time.

    this is a post-hoc rationalization. what means did she have to know she was going to be safe, when faced with a person following the MO of predators? hence the discomfort. not knowing, and being deprived by the location of agency to react if it had turned out badly.

    Moreover, a single coffee invite is not sexual harassment

    you’re not ever going to stop this pretense that it was about actual coffee, are you. how dishonest.

    I think Pinker, whom you cited in an earlier discussion, clearly explained the concept of plausible deniability.

    er. yes. Pinker explained it fine, but you clearly don’t understand it. Plausible deniability in these situations is not “it could have gone either way” but “we can both pretend it wasn’t what it clearly was to save face”.

    Please don’t lecture me about psychology, since that was one of my ridiculously silly social science majors, and it thoroughly debunked most feminist theory.

    If you’re going to get things wrong, I’m going to continue to correct you, regardless of whether that was one of your majors, or how badly your professors mangled feminist theories (or maybe they didn’t, and you just didn’t understand them)

    But what psychology didn’t do adequately enough in college, biology took care of quite nicely later in life.

    if you think biology refutes feminist theory, you’re either ignorant of the former, or of the latter.

    There’s a difference between being in error, being stubbornly wrong, reasoning poorly, or intentionally attempting to deceive.

    being stubbornly wrong on something that’s been corrected time and time again is willful wrongness. willful wrongness is a form of lying, even if maybe it’s more like lying to yourself, AKA denial.

    In any case, your arguments are examples of extremely poor reasoning,

    you’ve not shown that to be the case, actually. I commit no logical fallacies, and I do not deceive. Nor am i factually wrong.

    I’m truly sorry that you feel all women should behave in a way that you approve of

    see, this is another of those statements that has been shown to be bullshit a lot, and yet you repeat it. I don’t insist that others gain my approval.
    incidentally though, this also completely nonsensical as a complaint. To make an ethical argument always means to claim that one set of behaviors/actions/choices/policies/whathaveyou leads to better outcomes/has fewer negative consequences than another. And it doesn’t matter whether the ethical argument is about environmental destruction, harassment, parenting, etc. What matters about ethical arguments is not that they’re ethical arguments (and thus classify some things as more or less ethical), but that they’re reality-based, and that they strive towards an ethic of wellbeing and fairness for as many people as possible.

    should constantly feel victimized and oppressed

    stop bullshitting. I’m not telling you how to feel, I’m telling you of systemic realities. I don’t “feel” victimized and oppressed either, but I know the workings of the systems in which my life is embedded, and I know how to puncture them to be best of my abilities. And I think other people should do that, too, but I don’t think that doing so only for yourself is somehow better than trying to do it for others (by trying for systemic solutions) as well.

    I believe people of all genders should be free to be what they want to be, as long as they’re not infringing on the rights of others. Real harassment is an infringement, common “discomfort” is not. Please provide scientific evidence that I’m wrong.

    as soon as you provide non-recursive definitions for “harassment” and “discomfort”, I will. until then, I will classify harassment as the sort of things that produce measurable prolonged stress-responses (anxiety, prolonged states of fight-or-flight alertness, that sort of thing). Which is “subjective” insofar as different people have different thresholds, but still holds as a trend.*

    RW made a huge error in attacking both Kirby and McGraw from the cozy and real privilege of the speaker’s podium.

    “privilege” cannot be a temporary thing. Jesus, have you never been to a scientific conference?

    Aside from making the environment even more hostile for women, she was flat wrong both times.

    assertion of facts not in evidence.

    objectified (or sexualized, which is all that she originally claimed in the video McGraw blogged about)

    sexualization is a specific form of objectification. what the hell are you talking about.

    she could not possibly know that EG’s *only *desire was sex, and that would be a necessary condition for actual objectification.

    *sigh*, no. objectification requires that someone treats a person not like an agent but like an object. ignoring boundaries for the purpose of self-gratification is a form of objectification. it doesn’t even require ALL boundaries to be broken, it just means it was a mild form of objectification.
    in situations in which the primary (not only; that’s not necessary) interest is sex and the person is being viewed as a target rather than a person with agency you get sexualization

    But EG could have wanted to talk to her and have sex, and thus, no objectification occurred.

    no, that would be evidence that no sexualization occured. objectification still would have occurred because of the overriding of (or lack of sufficient concern to find out about, if he cold-propositioned her) a person’s boundaries and desires. Again: just because EG didn’t commit the worst kinds of objectification and sexualization, doesn’t mean he didn’t commit any at all (what was that you mentioned earlier about gray areas?)

    Please provide scientific evidence that attacking all injustices at once is more effective than tackling them one at a time.

    I will not provide you with evidence for something I didn’t say. I said that you cannot separate them out, which is not the same as saying you cannot have a primary focus. However, the failures of single-focus, non-intersectional social movements speak for themselves; when anarchists cannot build structures that deal with rape, they stagnate; when feminists pretend that race doesn’t make a difference, they fail (example: monolingual women’s shelters that forbid sons to be translators for their mothers) and also stagnate; and when the atheist movement pretends race and sex don’t influence how religion holds a grasp on certain segments of society, they won’t make inroads with these segments. to repeat the example from above, an atheist movement that is effectively trying to deconstruct the social safety network of a lot of poor folks isn’t going to become popular with the demographics most in need of those networks.

    It should also be noted that most social problems are linked and exacerbate each other. Thus, fighting one reduces the social forcing that strengthens another. OTOH, focusing on one problem while propagating another that has the ability to create a feedback loop that worsens the first is self-defeating. Its not a coincidence for example that less unequal, less classist countries are also less religious, for example. Religion feeds on desperation, and where there’s less inequality there’s less desperation.

    Feminists fought for and won the right to vote because they decided to overlook their differences and join together on one key issue.

    what “differences”? 1st wave feminism was a feminism of upperclass white women. it didn’t unite, it excluded. is that what you want to see for the atheist movement?

    calling me a liar just because I happen to disagree with you

    I’m not calling you a liar because you disagree with me. I’m calling you a liar for making assertions about what I think after being corrected on it, and for repeating blatantly false claims.

    *some papers on stress and bigotry:

    http://pwq.sagepub.com/content/24/1/93.short

    http://psycnet.apa.org/?fa=main.doiLanding&doi=10.1037/a0016059

    http://jbp.sagepub.com/content/30/3/406.short (this one conveniently shows how this all relates to atheism: 1) if religious faith is a coping mechanism, then reducing that which must be coped with reduces the utilitarian function of religion; and 2)if social networks are important, then providing non-religious alternatives is a way of reducing the utilitarian function of religion, as well)

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/4168640702004p51/

    http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.psych.56.091103.070137

    http://spq.sagepub.com/content/68/1/75.short (this one is idiotically named, but effectively deal with the silly claim that only blatant sexism is harmful (or even sexism at all))

    http://vaw.sagepub.com/content/12/10/970.short

    and some specific to “harassment” and stress responses (note among other things what sort of behaviors were used to stimulate the responses):

    http://www.jpsychores.com/article/S0022-3999%2898%2900075-0/abstract

    http://www.jpsychores.com/article/S0022-3999%2805%2900216-3/abstract

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1360-0443.1996.9133918.x/abstract

    http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/20159666?uid=3739784&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21101105076581 (this one has the benefit of also clarifying why fighting harassment inside the atheist movement might be relevant, since harassment and various organizational dysfunctions are correlated)

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2001.tb00161.x/abstract

  69. David Marjanović says:

    But I question whether the atheist movement is the appropriate place for this debate, especially considering how polarizing and distracting it seems to be from the main cause (which was, by the way, Paula’s whole point, and which, oddly enough, Jadehawk ignored completely).

    Whu… what…

    Every place that has this problem must discuss it, because it won’t go away on its own.

    What is any less than obvious about this???

    Also, it’s ridiculous to suggest that you have to avoid conferences in order not to get propositioned. That’s tantamount to saying you have to avoid life.

    So? Then why don’t I ever get propositioned? Huh?

    What Paula is saying is that hanging out drunk, alone, in a bar until 4AM sends the signal that you might be up for something more than just a drink.

    *headdesk*

    Alone??? Is it seriously possible that you still don’t know Watson was at the bar with a whole crowd!?!

    (Besides, I’d consider it a sign of depression, not of libido. You know, “drowning your sorrows in booze”, that sort of thing.)

    I’m not victim-blaming because there was no victim in the elevator situation. RW was not victimized by someone asking her a question, the same one that she was free to ask him. Nor was she harassed.

    How would you like to call it? Cornered?

    I’ve been called a “bitch” and an “attention whore” by people on “your side”

    Thanks for the scare quotes!

    Promoting the idea that women should just passively signal with environmental clues like being up late or drinking or socializing in one place rather than another is a horrible idea. Seriously. That’s way beyond merely accepting that women are socialized to be not-too-bold, that’s promoting the idea that women shouldn’t say anything at all. :-/

    QFT.

    Seriously, learn how intersectionality works. especially if you’re going to drag the poor Aspies into this again, since the only reason an Aspie would behave as EG has would be because he was supplied a social script based on sexism amd male privilege (also, we know he didn’t have social anxiety by the simple fact that he approached a “famous” woman for sex)

    Exactly.

    if you think biology refutes feminist theory, you’re either ignorant of the former, or of the latter.

    Or of course both! :-)

    “privilege” cannot be a temporary thing. Jesus, have you never been to a scientific conference?

    :-) Your own privilege is showing! Few people have ever been to a scientific conference!

    So I’ll spell it out: at a scientific conference, almost all participants present either a talk or a poster (or sometimes, at smaller conferences, both, or several talks). Almost everyone gets their 15 minutes behind the podium.

    And the moderator (the one who says “unfortunately, there’s no time for questions, and the next speaker is”) changes 3 or 4 times a day, and at bigger conferences there are always 3 or 4 talk sessions at the same time, so everyone more famous than me is a moderator at some point. :-) You can’t even put having been a moderator into your CV (you’re expected to put your list of conference presentations there).

    Feminists fought for and won the right to vote because they decided to overlook their differences and join together on one key issue.

    what “differences”? 1st wave feminism was a feminism of upperclass white women. it didn’t unite, it excluded.

    ooh, burn :-)

  70. Jadehawk says:

    So I’ll spell it out:

    somewhat more relevantly to the problem at hand, it also somewhat regularly results in the person at the podium shredding publicly the ideas of a person in the audience. because largely, that’s what scientists do for a living: proving other scientist wrong :-p

  71. Jadehawk says:

    Feminists fought for and won the right to vote because they decided to overlook their differences and join together on one key issue.

    I must have been ridiculously tired not to notice just how ridiculous that statement was. Not only was there a lack of socioeconomic diversity, there was no “overlooking” of ideological differences. Quite the contrary: there were Deep Rifts™ so deep, they fractured entire organizations over such questions as whether vandalism is an acceptable strategy or not. Plus, many suffragists/suffregettes were at the same time doing activism on other issues they felt were related to the betterment of women’s lives. And they had disagreements about these things, among themselves, too.

    So whatever the fight for women’s suffrage may be an example of, it is in no way an example of different women coming together and overlooking their differences to pursue one single goal.

  72. David Marjanović says:

    somewhat more relevantly to the problem at hand, it also somewhat regularly results in the person at the podium shredding publicly the ideas of a person in the audience. because largely, that’s what scientists do for a living: proving other scientist wrong :-p

    …True. :-)

    Sometimes this happens the other way around: somebody gives a talk, and then in the questions session an audience member rips the talk to shreds, sometimes by asking one pointed question, sometimes by going on a tirade… it’s not common, but it does happen. I’ve actually done it myself (well, the guy who gave the talk didn’t see it this way, but at least some other audience members have told me they did).

  73. [...] always trying to find reasons to be victims” was black. And, of course, Paula Kirby is now infamous for her essay arguing that women shouldn’t complain about sexism so much: we have to “stop blaming it [...]

  74. [...] more studies on this and related topic can be found at the bottom of this comment, because I’ve talked about this [...]

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