The Backlash Against Feminism

Jen McCreight has a long post today about the backlash against feminism within the atheist-skeptic (AS) movement.  I think she's right that there's a backlash, but it would pay to dissect it dispassionately, and not overstate how big it is and who's a part of it.

By a "backlash against feminism" you might think what's meant is that a lot of people have been challenging the positions of atheists and skeptics on issues affecting women--like abortion, contraception, child marriage, oppressive religious institutions, and the like.  But no. Lots of people at atheist blogs write about those issues, and I don't believe I've ever seen any kind of revolt against them.

The backlash is not about general issues pertaining to the status and treatment of women. It's entirely (from what I can see) about interactions between men and women at AS blogs and conferences.  It's a very small bit of land that's being fought over, relatively speaking.  These are the kinds of things igniting all the fires--
  • Is it, or isn't it, OK for a man to (in so many words) proposition a woman in a hotel elevator at 4 in the morning? 
  • Is it, or isn't it, OK for a couple to give their "swinger's card" to a speaker after she's finished presenting at an AS conference?
  • Is it, or isn't it, OK for people to protest against actions of a group using parodies of jewelry created by a member of the group? 
  • What kinds of codes ought to be put in place to protect women from harassment at AS conferences?
  • How much time/energy should bloggers put into discussing the issues above?
  • Is it possible for excess attention to these things to backfire, scaring women away from the AS movement, instead of increasing participation?
Now, there are people who take a skeptical position on all these things. They think it's OK to proposition women in elevators at 4 in the morning, etc. etc. etc.  But it pays to distinguish two types of skeptics. 

The respectable skeptic may be on board with all substantive feminist goals, but they lean very liberal on sexual issues and libertarian-ish on rules and codes. They may also have distinctive positions on purely empirical matters, like how often harassing incidents occur, and what the impact is of discussing them at blogs. Their views on what will advance the status of women may also be distinctive. It strikes me as inflammatory and distorted to accuse these people of misogyny, or even of being anti-feminists.  Even if some of these people dress their views in provocative clothing, underneath it all they do not have troubling attitudes toward women. 

The second group is another matter. These are people who are seized by a desire to attack women when there's the least hint of a question about male behavior at blogs and conferences. The notion of codes being imposed on their behavior sends them into a rage.  These are the people whose existence you have to find surprising ... and very disturbing.  At the very least, they're seriously lacking in empathy. Some of them even seem to feel an awful lot of hatred. I don't know how numerous they are, but too numerous--and their ranks seem to be growing too.

Why bother making all these distinctions? Just to be accurate and truthful, but there are also repercussions to worry about. One worry I have is that group 1-ers will wind up being driven away as a result of the misrepresentations.  Why shouldn't they be a part of an atheist-skeptic movement that's committed to social justice? Furthermore, I think those misrepresentations tend to incite the people in group 2. Granted, they're easily incited, and their behavior is their own responsibility, but still: the more group 1-ers are maligned, the more group 2-ers respond by going after individual women and men in a hateful fashion. I've noticed this pattern over time--it's something that needs to be taken seriously.

That's all very general.  No examples of group 1-ers or group 2-ers, no links, nothing about where I stand.  But it's a beautiful day in Dallas.  Only 90 degrees!!!!!!  Plus new kitty wants to play.  That's enough for the moment.


David Osorio said...

Nailed it! Thank you!

BTW, there are some other issues that you didn't address. For example: is it OK to file DMCA complaints just to censor people critical of what one is saying?

What does *that* say about social justice?

Anonymous said...

{this is @magicthighs from twitter)

I agree with a lot of what you're saying here, but there's a problem when group-1-ers are retweeting and praising group-2-ers, which has been happening an awful lot.

Also, Ðavid A. Osorio S., nobody's been censored, Vacula's post is up after he removed a copyrighted image, n'est-ce pas?

Damion said...

From my experience on the FtBullies hashtag, there is a continuous spectrum from group #1 to group #2. Also, sometimes a group-1 person looks more like a group-2 type when responding to particular attacks.

Anonymous said...

Jean says:

"The second group is another matter. These are people who are seized by a desire to attack women when there's the least hint of a question about male behavior at blogs and conferences. The notion of codes being imposed on their behavior sends them into a rage."

Jean, I have asked many times in many places for some evidence to actually prove that there are people who are in a rage over the stated desire for codes being implemented/imposed at conferences, and elsewhere. And you now what? No one, nowhere, has been able to actually provide any evidence whatsoever that anyone, except a very, very small handful of obvious trolls, has actually even opposed let alone raged over codes being implemented/imposed at conferences.

Yes, there is a small group of rational people who point out, quite accurately, that codes are almost certainly a waste of time because enforcement is almost impossible. But rage against? No.

Such inflationary sensationalistic misrepresentations are at the root of much of the current anger and division among atheist and skeptical so-called forward thinkers.

"I don't know how numerous they are, but too numerous--and their ranks seem to be growing too"

Sorry, but that is just sensationalistic fear-mongering nonsense wth no grounds to support it.

John Greg

bluharmony said...

Aside from anonymous YouTubers, I've seen exactly two people who would fit your description of group 2 members, and they're not active in the atheist-skeptic speaking/blogging/conference-attending community. What is your evidence (other than some inflammatory name-calling in Abbie's old thread) that more exist? And you're right, those in Group 1 are getting angry and beginning to retaliate. Personally, I came into this with a desire to build bridges, since most of us have the same goals, but now I no longer want to be on the same side of an ocean with some of these so-called feminists. They're not afraid of breaking the law to bully people, women included, and for that reason, I am indeed very afraid of them.

julian said...

bluharmony, the feeling goes both ways.

"Why shouldn't they be a part of an atheist-skeptic movement that's committed to social justice? "

Are they absolutely necessary to it? If this is going to happen every time social justice is topic of the day, better the two groups go their separate ways and work towards their goals how they see fit. Nobody wants to see all this drama again so why not just nuke that last bridge and go about ignoring each other?

Magicthighs said...

@blueharmony the people in group 2 can be found in the recommended blog section of your new blog on John Loftus' skepticblogs.com, at http://www.skepticblogs.com/musingsfromtheskepticalleft/. Greylining, Phawrongula and Freethoughtblaghs (sp?) for instance.

bluharmony said...

@Magic: I tried to include all sorts of perspectives in that blog list, including all of FTB (as well as its parody), Phawrongula, which documents things that actually happened with screenshots, this blog (which is usually excellent), and a few others that might be considered controversial. None of those people or their blogs; however, are support the anti-woman items in Jeans list. The worst they get (Grey Lining) is name-calling. Aside from that, I think examining diverse perspectives is healthy, don't you?

@Julian Given that you won't find much support by constantly telling people to die or kill themselves, you're right, I wouldn't want to be in the same movement with you. Ever.

Magicthighs said...

@blueharmony Yeah. not buying it. Greylining is "Franc Hoggle" aka @felch_grogan, possibly aka @TheOtherAtheist (on twitter, both). I think these are precisely the people Jean refers to as group 2. Justin Vacula's actions yesterday also push him towards group 2. Your very own last tweet is mocking Surly Amy.

You know the people in group 2, you hang out with them.

julian said...


That's fine. I'm disagreeable and overly aggressive. There's no reason to want me around any movement.


"It's a very small bit of land that's being fought over, relatively speaking. These are the kinds of things igniting all the fires"

Ignoring all the online harassment (which I understand many here wont recognize as harassment) this is why I think everyone should just part ways. A relatively small set of issues caused this. Who ever is at fault, what's to be gained by staying together? Will this faction be more effective, more readily mobilized, what?

It won't be any of those things. It'll be worn out from internal fighting and bickering. Nothing is going to stop the people here from being pro-choice, or opposing religious oppression of women. Everyone's still going to put the necessary leg work to get whatever needs doing done whether they see each other as one group or not.

So split up. A+ does their thing, A does it and everyone regards the other lik you would a random unknown news reporter who occasionally posts about things relevant to your cause.

Magicthighs said...

I agree with Julian, by the way. Let there be a split, it doesn't seem like some differences are reconcilable.

Magicthighs said...

And just to be very clear on this matter, I personally think people like Paula Kirby, including their retweets, praises, shares, subscriptions of, and conversations with people from group 2 are partly responsible for creating the hostile atmosphere that lead to the harassment of Surly Amy.

bluharmony said...

Sheesh, Magic, I just asked if I would get a DMCA notice for using an image of a Cheezeburger cat. As far as I know, Amy wasn't even the one to send out those notices, so I'm not mocking her, but making a sarcastic observation about the fair use doctrine. Be a little skeptical, eh? And I agree with you about the split completely.

As to the people I supposedly "hang out with," I've never met them in real life, unlike PZ, Watson, and most of the rest. In respect to the latter group, I've attended fancy dinners, donated money, bought Surly jewelry, and so on. I regret this tremendously, and will make sure that my money goes to organizations that do not condone libel, death threats, publication of private information, and cyber-stalking from now on.

Magicthighs said...

Last post for now, and I wish I could just edit the previous one to say this.
People from group 1 associating themselves with people from group 2 in any way whatsoever empowers group 2. I know you can't tell which is which immediately, but damn, there are people with clear track records.

Jean Kazez said...

Well sure, who cares about a split ...but you're ignoring my arguments for distinguishing groups 1 and 2. It's important not to keep misrepresenting the group 1-ers because that's part of what's inciting the rage of the group 2-ers. What I'm suggesting is that if feminists were more fair to the group 1-ers, they'd go some way toward reducing the hostility. I care about that not just becaus I'd like to see more fairness to group 1-ers because I have a lot of concern for the women getting attacked--like for example Surlyamy.

Magicthighs said...

You were just asking questions, commenting on DMCA notices, and it has nothing to do with Surly Amy. Please, don't insult my intelligence.

As for your sophistry about the phrase "hanging out", have fun with that.

"organizations that do not condone libel, death threats, publication of private information, and cyber-stalking"

You've heard of libel laws, I assume?

David Osorio said...

@magicthighs: Justin's post was making a Fair Use of the image. Complaining to DMCA was, therefore, censorship!

Magicthighs said...

"What I'm suggesting is that if feminists were more fair to the group 1-ers, they'd go some way toward reducing the hostility"

I think best candidates for reducing the hostility are the people in group 1, because they're empowering group 2

I know you care about Surly Amy, I was very happy to see you ask Justin to remove your name from his post, and for giving your reason you provided for it.

julian said...

" What I'm suggesting is that if feminists were more fair to the group 1-ers, they'd go some way toward reducing the hostility."


If say Grothe and Watson tomorrow were to throw back a few bears (yes bears) together and Watson apologized for her anger with him, there'd likely be some drop in the hostility. Mostly because the 2's would have fewer sympathetic spaces to spread their views on.

bluharmony said...

@Magicthighs: As an attorney, I can tell you that most people can't afford to bring a libel lawsuit, so trashing people and lying about them is far more common than it should be. Also, a lot of us still don't want to actually harm others, even after they've hurt us.

I have no idea what you mean by "hang out" then, since you won't find me in the Slymepit (I did originally post in Abbie's thread after all my comments were misrepresented and deleted in the FTB forums, but I haven't been near it in ages). I do, however, have infinite respect for all the bloggers at Skeptic Blogs, and consider them my colleagues and friends. The same goes for Abbie, Justin, Russell, Kirby, and many others.

On a personal note, and as I stated elsewhere, I don't see why it was OK to publish my home address (where I was previously raped) but not Amy's public address (and Jean, who is now defending Amy, snarled at me for complaining about it -- oh, where was her super-sensitivity then?) Anyway, I don't think Amy gets to dictate what people wear or find funny. And, unlike Amy, I don't think that shirts supporting gender equality or parody jewelry are items that can or should be addressed in anti-harassment policies.

FTB (I'm only referring to a small number of the blogs on the network) & the Skepchicks have spent over a year doing little more than trashing people who've done nothing wrong. Of course there will be backlash to their behavior, and thank FSM for that. But I am tired of fighting this battle, because as you noted, the differences are not reconcilable.

Anyway, I'm happy with the split solution, and I'm glad we agree. I wish you the best of luck with your ever-shifting goals, whatever they may be at the moment. But I certainly don't want to live in the paternalistic and patronizing society you seem to be envisioning, and it appears that the majority of both men and women feel the same. And I thank FSM for that, too.

Magicthighs said...

Most people can't afford a libel trial. Sure. What on earth does that have to do with anything I've said? Your actions are actionable but there's no monetary incentive?

What I mean by hang out is you linking Hoggle etc on your blog as a "great blog".

Why are you brining up your address being posted? That's bad, but what on earth does it have to do with this subject? Is this a tu quoque?

I'm not saying Amy gets to tell people what to wear. The subject hasn't come up here. Straw man much?
I disagree with you on items targeting specific conference attendees. I think the organisers of a con have a duty to protect attendees, speakers, sponsors, etc, from such derision. Deep rifts, right?

FTB calls people out for shitty behaviour. That's not OK by you, so they should expect a backlash. Am I getting you right?

" I wish you the best of luck with your ever-shifting goals, whatever they may be at the moment. But I certainly don't want to live in the paternalistic and patronizing society you seem to be envisioning, and it appears that the majority of both men and women feel the same. And I thank FSM for that, too."

This is exactly the nonsensical rhetoric I don't think helps in any way whatsoever.

J. J. Ramsey said...

bluharmony: "On a personal note, and as I stated elsewhere, I don't see why it was OK to publish my home address (where I was previously raped) but not Amy's public address (and Jean, who is now defending Amy, snarled at me for complaining about it -- oh, where was her super-sensitivity then?)"

Wait, wait, ... what? Who published your personal address, and why do you think that our blog host would think that publishing either your address or Amy's was okay?

BTW, is "No examples of group 1-ers or group 2-ers, no links, nothing about where I stand" a request to avoid naming examples of group 1-ers or group 2-ers?

julian said...

@ JJ Ramsey

Greg Laden did back during E-gate. He published that alongside her real name and work info.

Jean Kazez said...

JJ, I'm not asking people not to give examples, though I think the thread so far makes it clear why giving examples isn't very constructive.

Jean Kazez said...

Magicthighs--I think you're right that group-1-ers shouldn't empower group-2-ers. Hope I haven't at any point...

About sticking up for Surlyamy. Yes, I've done my best. At twitter and also here--


I don't want to discuss it endlessly, but I'm appalled by the way she's been treated.

Jean Kazez said...

"I think you're right that group-1-ers shouldn't empower group-2-ers. Hope I haven't at any point..."

I didn't mean to suggest I saw myself as a group 1-er (I don't, really). It probably sounded that way.

Anyhow... Hope everyone will play nice on this thread. I have stuff to do so won't be able to moderate for a while.

bluharmony said...

First of all, thanks Julian, I appreciate your comment.

Second, Magicthighs, I wasn't talking about monetary incentive but financial and practical ability, beyond that your post doesn't make sense to me, except to say that "Hoggle" has written a few interesting posts, such as the one about the nature of freethought. Yes, he's prone to hyperbole and at times quite angry, but that doesn't mean I have to dismiss him as a misogynist, because he isn't one. I've been extremely hurt by the people he criticizes, so obviously I look at his posts in a different light than you do. He also has the unique ability to admit when he's wrong, and he has done so often.

Here's a question for all of you, if you don't mind answering it: Do you think Amy would have been treated differently if she were a man? Do you think a man would have reacted the same way to a t-shirt, a song, and some taunting jewelry? Do you think he would have received the same sympathy and defense? Please, if you can, don't use the word "privilege" if you decide to answer this question. (Granted, publishing anyone's address on the internet is wrong, and the "privilege" argument applies. Well, unless it's my address, apparently.)

Jean Kazez said...

Bluharmony, I responded with sympathy and in defense because the parodied jewelry upset her, and because I think the upsetness was reasonable and understandable. But beyond that, I think the various people attacking her, at different points, had bad reasons for attacking her. If you're imagining I wouldn't have done the same for a man, I think you're wrong. I have found myself coming to the defense of someone or other at atheist blogs many times over the last several years,, and the majority of these people have been men.

Dave said...

One of the silver linings to the recent turmoil is that I've found some really excellent blogs I wouldn't have noticed otherwise. Reading this blog has given me an appreciation for philosophy that I could never quite muster when I was younger (I still keep up some nights thinking about that "first contact" problem). So thank you for that.

I think maybe there's some deeper conflict at work here within the larger non-believing community. Or several. Can't put my finger on what yet.

Finally, I really hope this A v. A+ thing doesn't turn into something like the South Park episode "Go God Go." That would just be embarrassing.

Jean Kazez said...

Thanks Dave. I'm getting back to the "first contact" issue this week, so stay tuned!

A vs. A+ is a pretty terrific way of framing the debate (and I like the logos at Jen's blog).

bluharmony said...

Jean, I believe you. But I don't think many men would have complained about a t-shirt promoting equality, a parody song, and some parody jewelry, while making $8,000 from selling their wares at that very same conference. Both positive and negative attention is the price of being a public persona, and considering that each of Amy's pieces is around $25, she must have sold quite a few to earn that much, which means she got a lot of positive attention as well. Nor would such complaints have garnered any sympathy if they were voiced by a male, and if a man cried over them, he'd be laughed at. (Heck, in our society men are even laughed at when their wives cut off their privates.)

Further, some of the things Amy said in her interview with Marcotte make no sense. For instance, She asserts no harassment policies were in place until the Skepchicks started fighting for them -- this is patently untrue, because unlike the Skepchicks, TAM immediately adopted an anti-harassment policy after the Elevator incident last year. The Skepchicks, on the other hand, were covered under the policy of their hosting organization which *disclaims* all liability for personal interactions, something that Greg Laden tried to overwrite later this year, so that it would appear that Skepchickon(sp) had a policy too. I don't know how effective this would be in a legal sense. Certainly the disclaimer would stand as far as the main organization was concerned.

Second, Amy states that a reasonable harassment policy and code of conduct would specifically exclude butt-grabbing and "fake jewelry." Those are the only things she mentions and they are in no way equivalent. While the former is reasonable, the latter is not. I don't even understand how ceramic jewelry can be fake. The parodies just show how easy it is to make it.

And finally, Any describes an appropriate way for a man to ask a woman to have sex at a conference, which to me sounds far more offensive and objectifying than what actually happened to Watson in the elevator, as she went up *one* floor in a fully-booked downtown Dublin hotel, after she had been living in the UK for two years (assuming the truth of Watson's multiple narratives most charitably). I have no idea what conclusions to draw from all this, because as is typical of what the Skepchicks preach, much of it is contradictory and illogical.

I have always seen you as a reasonable voice in this drama, but I think that lately you're letting your biases get the better of you, and, obviously, so am I.

I lost any ability to be objective after various threats and attempts were made to get me fired from my job, and so on. And if you don't think that's an attempt to silence an opinionated woman, you're wrong.

oolon said...

@bluharmony, you saying their are only a 'few' nutty MRAs on your side is one thing but how you and others respond to them is another. I posted a comment on Ophelias post linking to this where I observed that it seems on your side of the debate 'my enemies enemy is my friend' seems to apply so anyone that hates FtBs/Skepchick can say what they like. While you said to me you do not support the MRAs, neither yourself nor anyone I could identify as a slimepitter called them out on their extreme posts on Thunderf00ts blog. In fact even when someone threatened Sally Strange with rape recently only a couple of your side called them a shit - even there many chose to make childish comments to her on the same thread.

I said it already on TFs blog... If you have a good point to make about feminism I think you are unfortunately drowned out by a chorus of hate and hyperbole

I don't know what 'side' is right in this debate but as long as you are keeping company with people like that and using your blind hatred of FtBs to justify it I am not on your side.

Magicthighs said...

This will be my last post on this topic, I don't want to use this blog as my personal soapbox, that's what I have twitter for ;)

I think I was unfair when I said people in group 1 empower people in group 2. A better way to put it is that people in group 2 feel empowered by people in group 1. That's not to say that my previous statement isn't sometimes correct, it's just that the latter is more often correct.

Jean, I do count you as being a member of group 1. That's not an accusation in any way, but me acknowledging that you're a respectable skeptic. I think you noticed the feeling of empowerment I spoke of when you asked for your name to be removed from Vacula's blog post. The clear message you sent in asking for the removal of your name is, in my opinion, exactly what's called for in cases like this, a simple "you don't speak for me on this matter".

Finally, blueharmony, you're still defending hoggle and the other blogs you link to and promote. Here's some of the things these people say on twitter:

Grey lining, aka Franc Hoggle, aka Felch Grogan:


So sorry if I don't buy your false equivalence.

Allen A said...

Jean, I just happened upon one of your FoF Dallas videos. I appreciate your detached perspective. When I look at AS blogs I am struck by the overwhelming small-mindedness of the conversation. Much of it consists of "he/she made me upset" or "he/she is a bad person because he/she made me upset". Few strive to take the view from above, as you do.

Jean Kazez said...


Am I really a group 1-er? In a some ways yes, in some ways no. Here's the "no" part-- I said they tend to be super-liberal on sexual behavior. I'm not, actually! I see the problem with propositioning people on elevators, handing out swinger's cards at a conference, and the like. I also said they're libertarian-ish. I'm not at all. I don't have any major objection to harassment codes--I would just question some of the details, like the "ask before you hug" business. Yes, I'm a group 1-er in other ways, and not attracted to a certain sort of tiresome, empty rhetoric ("check your privilege"--ugh)

I think you have a point about group 2-ers feeling empowered by group 1-ers. People like Justin Vacula want to think they're involved in a respectable crusade. It's not as if these people never say anything that makes any sense--the problem is that their sense-making is mixed in with a lot of hatefulness, and a lot of that is targeted at women.

SallyStrange said...

Since when does expecting sexual come-ons to be confined to venues where they are appropriate and appreciated constitute being "illiberal" about sexual issues? Asking for respect and zero tolerance for harassment leads to an atmosphere that is MORE conducive to enthusiastically consensual sexual encounters, not less.

Accusations of prudery by feminists got old decades ago. Why are you falling for that line, Jean? It's just not true.

Jean Kazez said...

I'm using the word "liberal" in the narrow sense of "at liberty"--so the more you think people are at liberty to do, the more liberal you are. You're using it in a different way, so that "liberal" is an honorific and "illiberal" is pejorative.

All I'm saying is that people vary in their beliefs about how restrained you should be in even requesting sexual encounters (we all agree that consent is required before engaging in them). Some people think practically any requesting is OK, as long as you respect the person's answer. Others think the sheer asking is sometimes inappropriate.

I'm in that second camp, really. I don't think propositioning a speaker right after a talk is appropriate, for example. A speaker is presenting herself as having ideas worth discussing. If you respond by asking for sex you aren't recognizing how she's asking to be regarded. Basically, I think you actually need implicit consent even to proposition someone, and not just consent to have a sexual encounter.

That's "non-liberal" of me (in the sense of the word I spelled out), but I wouldn't say "prudish". There's a lot of nuance to human interaction and I think there's a right way and a wrong way even just to ask for sex, let alone to have it. Nor prudish, just ... true!

bluharmony said...

Oolon: so let me get this straight; I'm on the wrong side because of blogs and threads I've never read and because of how people I don't know or communicate with have acted somewhere? That's totally reasonable.

Magicthighs: I don't recommend Elevatorgate, so thanks for misrepresenting what's on my blog. I do recommend Jean Kazez, despite her complete of empathy or intellectual integrity.

Jean: No response about any of your misrepresentations of what Amy actually said or did? What about her ridiculous campaign to get movement leaders to say they don't hate women? I'm not the only one who noticed these things; most of us did, including Russell Blackford. Most certainly he's not a misogynist. And still no explanation of why publishing my address was OK and I needed to shut up about it, while publishing Amy's wasn't, and therefore you're willing to make a stink about it on all sorts of websites that don't even belong to you? Not surprising.

Enjoy your A+: token diversity plus suppression of truth and ideas, with bullying and real-life harassment on the side.

Deepak Shetty said...

It would be nice if the lines between group-1 and group-2 were as cleanly delineated as they are in your post.

bluharmony said...

"lack of" that was supposed to say.

And "liberal" has a specific meaning in feminist philosophy, by the way.

bluharmony said...

@Deepak - you're right, and it would also be nice if people understood the difference between disliking a person or a group of people and disliking women.

Jean Kazez said...

Blu, For being a lawyer (are you really a lawyer--a practicing lawyer?), you have an amazing inability to confine yourself to relevant points. Justin made a claim about a specific point Amy made in an interview. Naturally, my defense of her focused on that point. It's simply not relevant what else she said in that interview. It's off topic. If Russell wants to talk about that stuff, well and good--it's his prerogative to discuss what he wishes. But there's no reason at all for me to join that discussion.

As for someone publishing your address--what on earth? How could that be relevant to this discussion? Do you really think that if I object to Justin Vacula publishing Amy's address, I'm thereby saying someone else was permittedto publish yours? What on earth are you thinking?

I don't engage with you because you don't engage with me--and instead spin out of control on all sorts of irrelevant topics. Sorry-I simply don't have time for that. Hopefully you have friends who can give you the attention and empathy you want--but I'm just a blogger here, trying to cover a topic, deal with some relevant comments, and then move on.

Jean Kazez said...

Deepak--Agree, really. I'm trying to sharpen them.

Magicthighs said...

I really didn't want to comment again.

@bluharmony: "I don't recommend Elevatorgate, so thanks for misrepresenting what's on my blog"


I did not say you linked to @elevatorgate on your blog. You linked to her blog on twitter.
Guess you just forgot about the "I hate you with my vagina" caption on their twitter avatar, the name mocking Rebecca Watson (misspelling the name of her ex husband, btw), the post mocking @RhysMorgan for failing his exams (http://elevatorgate.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/little-skeptic-twat-rhys-not-so-hot-at-science/), or their campaign to get Rebecca Watson removed from the Skeptics Guide panel when you linked to the blog?

Deepak Shetty said...

I'm trying to sharpen them.
Good luck (but Im a born cynic).

Anonymous said...

FUnny how it always comes down to what feminists are doing wrong and never what whiny ass bigots are doing wrong.

Funny how its always - ALWAYS - feminists who have to "be nice!" to bigots, because history has totally shown us that being nice to those that hate you magically automatically equals no more bigotry.

Wake me up when someone finally puts the blame where it belongs.

Ardent Skeptic said...

IMO, the designation of groups is a large part of the problem. Every issue should be evaluated on it's own merits. Instead, we drew battle lines and decided that you either completely agree with everything being said by everyone on a perceived "side" or completely disagree with everything being said by a perceived "side".

This has been proven untrue, yet we persist in this misrepresentation of the issue. Jean is a prime example of someone who has taken issue with what she has seen from both "sides" of this war. So am I, but because I involved myself in this debate as opposed to Rebecca's treatment of Stef McGraw and Rose St. Clair at the CFI Student Leadership conference and did so in moderate tones, I was on a "side". I spoke up about the power of words at ERV and, at least, got the folks at ERV to acknowledge that each of us and, each of us alone, holds personal responsibility for what we say. I also disagreed with and went after Franc Hoggle at ERV. So, to state that there are these battle lines is completely lacking in nuanced thinking.

Of course, the problem from the onset has been a complete lack of nuanced thinking. And, as this issue has escalated the "enemy" naming has become more vicious and we have become even less capable of not seeing people as being on one "side" or the other.

Lately, there have been many calls for charity and civility from bigger names in this community. It will never happen unless we stop claiming there are "sides" and quickly designating what "side" someone is on based on what "side" they take about any issue that gets discussed about the overall issue of feminism and sexual harassment in the atheist and skeptic communities.

We should be thoroughly ashamed of our inability to have well reasoned debate of each of these issues so that we can move forward in achieving the goal of making the atheist and skeptic communities a welcoming place for all of us. Was it really necessary to have caused such polarization that we are now talking about each "side" going it's own way? That leaves me with nowhere to go. This “welcoming to women” war has made me feel unwelcome, and even worse, ashamed to ever have associated with and supported a “community of reason” that is so quick to sacrifice their claimed principles of reason, critical thinking, and evidence to reach provisional conclusions for a “side”.

Jean, issues have come up making it impossible for me to take the road trip I planned. This will be my last comment on this issue because, for my own well being, I need to back away from this community. I thought that when I walked away from the horrors of the religious world I grew up in and associated myself with people who claim to be people of reason, I would be in a better place. I am right back where I started.

Thanks to the "sides" who has left me with no place to be but alone.

Who are the Skeptic Illuminati? People who don't take "sides".

bluejohn said...

Amen Ardent. Amen.

John C. Welch said...

Part of the issue here, is the level of inconsistency from the people complaining the loudest.

For example:

Surly Amy is very, very upset at people "abusing" her copyright, (although her definition of fair use would effectively prevent atheists from analyzing anyone's claims.) Yet, on her site, she's *selling* artwork based on Namco's copyright/intellectual property.

Why should I take her arguments on copyright abuse seriously when there's a clear example that she doesn't take it seriously herself. Doesn't matter if it's a person's copyright or a corporation. The fact Namco is a $BIGCORP doesn't matter.

The idea that someone Amy is initiating legal action against, (and that is what a DMCA notice is: legal action) should somehow be concerned *at all* with her privacy and feelings, given the rather silly basis for her DMCA actions, is ridiculous. If you're going to use the law to silence someone you find inconvenient, I would suggest not expecting them to particularly give a whit for your needs. Really.

If you're (not anyone specific here) going to be terribly upset that someone has published YOUR emails sans consent, then don't do it to other people.

If threats of violence AGAINST you are bad, then the same done FOR you is bad.

If it's bad to contact someone with whom you agree's employer in an attempt to silence that person's ability to speak out, then it is JUST as wrong to do so for someone with whom you disagree.

If you're going to throw your hands up and say "not my responsibility" when your commenters are treating people poorly, then STFU about someone else's commenters treating YOU poorly.

In other words, if you're going to do the very things you cry to the skies about, don't expect anyone to take you very seriously, at least as long as you're being a raging hypocrite.

Jean Kazez said...

Ardent, I've spoken a couple of times for a local "freethinkers" group and find them altogether pleasant and harmonious. It seems to me most of the drama is online and has to do with people participating who are more or less anti-social characters. They're less likely to show up in real life. That's my take on it, anyway. But you may know better--as you are involved in these things much more closely. That's a shame about your trip--hope you'll still be able to take it one way or another. Maybe a trip would bring you into contact with more just plain nice folks than you encounter online. That's what I find, anyway. When we were in California in June we had all sorts of nice interactions.

Jean Kazez said...


I don't know how you manage to convince yourself of all this stuff. Amy hasn't silenced JV--simply hasn't. In fact, he's simply published the very same essay with a new image, and one that's actually even more appropriate than the original one he used. Now he's got a parodied surlyramic at the head of the post, and the post defends wearing such things. So the net "message loss" from her challenge is literally zero. With a message loss of zero, you just don't get to talk about silencing and censorship. It makes no sense whatever.

As for her alleged inconsistency, no to that as well. Here's the ethic that most bloggers go by. It's basically: use whatever images you like, but defer to the image owner or a DMCA if there's a complaint. "Defer" means quickly, pleasantly without making accusations.

There's nothing at all strange about this code of conduct. You might have something similar in a house with a bunch of roommmates. Everyone gets to borrow each other's books, but if the owner claims their book, you defer. If that's the code of conduct, there's nothing inconsistent about both having someone else's book and asking for one of yours to be returned.

As for the other points--I fail to see the relevance to my post. Yes, people can be hypocritical. I'm not where I ever said otherwise.

John C. Welch said...

Well jean, first, thanks for telling me what I think. I guess were I to become a philosopher, I'll gain that skill as well. However, I didn't say she'd silenced him. I said that given her use of the DMCA against him, expecting him to particularly care for her feelings or her privacy was a bit much.

However, your assertion about the "net loss" is simply incorrect. Do you know what his host's DMCA policies are? Do they have a "three strikes" policy as many do? If so, this could, even *fixed*, count as a strike. All you need are two more, and the blog is taken down.

An unsuccessful attempt at censorship is okay? So if someone did the same thing to you, you'd be sanguine? "Oh, it didn't work, no harm no foul". Pardon my disbelief. My *extreme* disbelief. But, sanguinity when your ox is okay, and it's that ox in that other guy's pasture with the slashed artery is always easy.

This part:

As for her alleged inconsistency, no to that as well. Here's the ethic that most bloggers go by. It's basically: use whatever images you like, but defer to the image owner or a DMCA if there's a complaint. "Defer" means quickly, pleasantly without making accusations.

is ridiculous. No, you can't just "use whatever image you like until you're caught". If I use Namco's copyrighted images, *even if I am not caught*, in a way that has no valid protection whatsoever under fair use, I am wrong. In fact, I find it appalling that anyone over the age of 17 would justify wholesale copyright abuse via "cop didn't see it, I didn't do it."

No, "most" bloggers don't go by this, but every time I see my wife refusing to do any artwork that will be posted anywhere but the sites of paying customers, I see appalling comments such as yours, and I don't wonder why she refuses to commit stylus to screen until her palm has been crossed with silver. She'd be stupid to trust anyone to respect her copyrights anymore, and you again illustrated why.

But, again, not your ox, so why should you care.

There's nothing at all strange about this code of conduct. You might have something similar in a house with a bunch of roommmates. Everyone gets to borrow each other's books, but if the owner claims their book, you defer. If that's the code of conduct, there's nothing inconsistent about both having someone else's book and asking for one of yours to be returned.

I'm sorry, how does Amy making money sans any form of permssion from Namco fit this anywhere.

you know, it might just be easier were you to say that you're simply not going to find any fault with Amy for any reason.

And if you want to know why so many people look at the various parts of the atheist and skeptic "movements" and refuse to think of them in any form of serious manner, well, your response to me is every reason they've given me in four short paragrapsh.

As far as the relevance:

If someone is going to speak out on a cause, if someone is going to advocate for a particular form of action, it is considered reasonable to expect they apply the standards they wish others to follow to themselves. When they don't, and blatantly so, it makes it effectively impossible to take anything they say seriously. It's one of the larger problems people have with religion. Yes, it is quite hard to not be hypocritical on things, but rather than justifying such hypocrisy as "okay (at least until it causes me problems)" - the parenthetical is always the case - maybe people should perhaps actually attempt to reduce the level of hypocrisy they bring to their causes.

Jean Kazez said...

John, This conversation is bordering on the totally nonsensical. You're now complaining, "I didn't say she'd silenced him"... But in fact you had written, above: "If you're going to use the law to silence someone you find inconvenient...etc."

As for "net loss"--you didn't read what I wrote. I said there was no net MESSAGE loss. In other words, he could say all that he wanted without using the contested image. It's true, and it's pertinent to your claim about how she's silencing him.

Further down, you make another mistake, failing to understand how my analogy addressed a point you made in your comments about Amy's alleged inconsistency.

Plus, I think you're making things up about how most people borrow images--yes they do borrow liberally and defer readily.

Etc. etc.

In short, waste of time. I'm not finding your comments sufficiently fair, accurate, or reasonable to measure up to my comment policy.

John C. Welch said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jean Kazez said...

Sorry, but that long comment was just going to keep this conversation going endlessly. This is the last week of my summer and I need to use it well.

That's all I really have to say on this topic for now, and don't want to have to moderate and discuss tomorrow. Nothing new's really being added, and there are already lots of irrelevant tangents in the thread above.

Onto other things ...

Jean Kazez said...

One last comment. That's the last time Bluharmony (Maria Maltseva) comments here. Apparently Maria started getting upset about me and the address issue back in July. I wrote a post about bullying, at the end of which I wrote--

Please keep comments on a general level. What is blog-bullying? Is it always bad? Is it just a way of quickly excising "horrid" claims, or is there more to the psychodynamics? That's the kind of thing I'm trying to talk about here.

Maria couldn't resist bringing up innumerable specific complaints. I politely asked everyone in the thread to "please" keep it general. She continued with her litany of complaints.

Unable to get her to stop in any other way, I got more firm: Please stop ranting and raving. This just isn't the place for it. I said I don't want to discuss incidents. Next 'incident' comment you leave is going to be deleted.

Apparently she's been sitting on this for month, all ready to get back to her complaints. So when I wrote the "Backlash Against Feminism" post, she showed up to do some more complaining, even though it simply had no relevance to the post.

It gets worse. Now we've got one "Justicar" trying to do battle for Maria. They seriously think that I've done her some terrible injustice by not wanting to get into her litany of complaints.

Justicar, on her behalf, is simply lying about me in this little video--


He says and I quote: "she told Maria to shut her mouth or be banned" and this is simply false. He has taken the above quote and made it 10 times more strident. This is a problem. We can't just go around lying about what people say. I'm a person who would not tell someone to "shut her mouth" or threaten to ban her. He needs to take down the video that contains the lie.