Saturday, July 16, 2011

A note to Miss Andry

Words to know:
Elevatorgate - The shitstorm that ensued after Rebecca Watson was propositioned by a man in an elevator.

Fem-Corp - (I've created this term in order to distinguish this particular group of feminists from all feminists.) The band of women who regurgitate similar blog posts regarding what they see as "sexism in the atheist movement" and who often overlook facts completely (see: SERAM in Huntsville, Alabama when a few of these women tried to paint Sean Faircloth as sexist and when I stopped taking them seriously).

Summary of Elevatorgate:
I'm assuming you're all familiar with the current goings on regarding Rebecca Watson being demeaned in an elevator and surely almost raped and forced to make pie afterwards when a lowly being possessing a penis said the following to her: "Don't take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting and I would like to talk more. Would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?" Oh yes. He did.

Actually, I find that Rebcecca replied to this in an almost acceptable way... originally. However, the first cycle of blog posts by the rest of Fem-Corp (see: Greta Christina, Jen McCreight, and others) have since written post after post attempting to speak for all women in the atheist movement. I'm sure they'll say emphatically that they don't attempt to do this, however that doesn't change how it's read or what's implied.

Richard Dawkins replied with a rather snarky bit. Rebecca Watson then proposed that we should now boycott him for it. His initial reaction was indeed snarky and sounded frustrated... however, a few comments later he simply asks for someone to politely explain to him what he's obviously not getting.

Another cycle of blog posts came around attacking Dawkins. Then there was one by McCreight saying that her original post regarding Dawkins' response to Elevatorgate wasn't intended to make Dawkins out to be a misogynist. She had a few points I'll address in the following bits to come.

My thoughts:
I can certainly relate to Rebecca, in that being approached alone in an elevator would make me uneasy. Granted.

I can certainly see why she would then bring it up and say, "Hey don't do that." Also, granted.

I cannot see how this incident is considered sexism or why her response was shrouded in the implication that Elevator Guy is a sexist.

I cannot see how Dawkins' comments warrant a "boycott" - a man who has done tremendous work against the most misogynistic set of ideas, theistic ones.

Finally, I'm infuriated that Fem-Corp seems to feel that they are qualified to speak for all females. I'm infuriated that they speak as though they have found the sole cause as to why there aren't as many women involved in the atheist movement.

Also, I understand that sexism is a human problem. But I do not agree that we should now call this "sexism in the atheist movement."

Addressing a few quotes from Greta Christina's recent blog:
"You want to know how to not have huge Internet blowups every time women in the atheist movement complain about sexism? LISTEN TO WHAT THE WOMEN ARE SAYING."
Exactly which women "the women" are eludes me. Perhaps only women who agree with you? It would seem to me that you aren't even listening to what women are saying. Quite a few disagree with the things you have to say on these issues and you're conveniently dismissing those women. Merely because you and I have similar genitalia does not by any means constitute you and I having similar opinions on this. There are so many women out there who do not have a significant outlet to voice their opposition to the women like yourself, Jen McCreight, Rebecca Watson and others. Lets stop talking about Richard Dawkins for a moment and let me just point out your privilege that you are obviously unaware of as well. You have an outlet and a vagina and therefore feel you're entitled to being able to speak for the rest of us, or so it seems. I have this little blog and though it's not much, I will try my best to give the other women who you do not represent - women in opposition to Fem-Corp - a tiny voice.

Go ahead, call me "uneducated" and stick your fingers in your ears. "Lalala there's that uneducated southern woman thinking she is entitled to voice her uneducated opinions regarding feminism on the Internet."

Point being... in order to actually avoid huge Internet blowups every time women in the atheist movement complain about sexism.... quit attempting to speak for all women and quit portraying this as "sexism in the atheist movement."

1. You do not speak for me. You do not speak for everyone with a vagina. We do not all feel that Dawkins was out of line. We do not all feel that flirtation is demeaning. We do not all feel that the man in the elevator was a sexist. We do not all feel that men should just "shut up and listen"... I'll spare you from a point by point list of everything we actually do not agree on. It's enough that you just know there is a massive chunk of us out here who also need to be heard on this. If we're supposed to be listening to the women in this movement then we should listen to all of them and not just the ones with a major outlet. I'd go further and say that the majority do not share your opinions on this issue. You only seem to hear from them in comment sections because they're afraid to speak out publicly due to the impending shitstorm that would inevitably follow from disagreeing with you all. I, however, am fond of storms... shit or not. It's important that we be heard as well.

2. Sexism is a HUMAN problem.
 I'll quote from another blog I wrote on a very similar topic...
This sort of stuff is not exclusive to the atheist movement nor is it exclusive to just women and I don't think we can point this out enough. ... To pin this down as any particular group's problem is a waste of effort. This type of behavior is universal across all groups of humans. It's the same with theists, social clubs, and like I've said before Xbox Live even. There is no indication that it is any worse in the atheist movement than in any other movement. I would argue that in fact it's less for many reasons: 1. There is no atheist dogma that insists women are less human or less important than men as there IS with religion. 2. Though we do vary in many ways, regarding a wide array of topics, we have more in common morally speaking than your typical social group (such as, book clubs and the like) and the vast majority of us are capable of understanding where a line should be drawn, whereas with other social groups the variety of ideas are often far more diverse. 3. We're not shrouded by invisibility as people are on the Internet/Xbox Live/etc.

Attack the sexism where you see it, fine, but call it what it is... "sexism." My argument is NOT that "because there's so little sexism in the atheist movement it therefore doesn't matter." I repeat, that is NOT my argument. I simply feel that it'd be best if we were to attack sexism wherever it exists and not inadvertently turn people off to the atheist movement. People outside the movement, who surely do not follow every word you write, will undoubtedly see this as something worse than it actually is. Contrary to popular belief, some women are scared off by YOU despite your having a vagina.

I'm not asking any of you to shut up. But I do honestly think you all need to take a long look at yourselves as being at least one reason that there aren't as many women in this movement as we would hope for.
"We are trying to help you get laid."
This you repeat several times... as if men can't possibly continue reading unless there's a reward of sex in the end. Why isn't this sexist? To assume that all men want is sex and could never just want coffee and conversation... Why aren't people up in arms over this?

Greta goes on to say...
"When you are so vehemently unwilling to see some of the ways that privilege works in your favor, I have to assume that maintaining privilege is the point."
I think the word "privilege" immediately puts people on the defensive. As if you're saying, "You're just so fucking privileged you can't see what us living the tough life are fighting for." I realize that this privilege exists, but perhaps you should approach it differently if you sincerely want to educate people to these things and not just start a shitstorm. Words and connotations are important... especially when attempting to educate. And I'm not being tone police, but to assume tone is never important is obviously ignorant.

Addressing a few quotes from Jen McCreight's recent blog:
A bit that she posted that bugged me... (although in a blog that I'm more fond of than others she has written, where she admits it is not time to boycott Dawkins and that she still respects him)...
"No one likes being told they're wrong in general - but people get especially uncomfortable having their privilege pointed out. I sympathize - it took me a long time to understand white privilege and not feel like it was somehow attacking me or calling me racist."
You're right! And you should always remember being right about this. IF what you're trying to do is educate people. Maybe you should re-evaluate how you approach these kerfuffles regarding sexism. The same way that it took you a long time to not feel like you were being attacked and called a racist... is the same way people who are unfamiliar with feminist issues (i.e. the uneducated, that you're trying to educate) are instantly put on the defensive when you and others mentioned here write angry diatribes on such. I write angry diatribes too, but I'm not claiming that it's my attempt to "educate" people. I'm an angry writer and mostly use this place to vent and should my venting be entertaining perhaps gain a few followers in the process. I'm not trying to teach anyone anything like you all claim to be. Your methods of education should be looked at a bit closer. Then, maybe next time something like this happens more people will be more inclined to listen and learn something from you instead of fight against you.

Addressing an often stated quote from PZ Myers:
PZ often says that men should, "shut up and listen."
How is this ok? I don't need or want a man to tell other men to shut up before I can be heard. I don't need or want some father figure to stand up for his little girls. To say that all men should shut up and listen is insulting. 

Addressing mansplaining:
This term makes me sick. Can we all just be adults and stop using this word please? My god, if you want to be taken seriously stop using cutesy terms that are used to immediately dismiss retorts that you don't want to deal with. Address it! Address it with your own retort. Tell them they're wrong. Back up your claims whatever they may be. The only way I've seen this term used is to disqualify men from speaking on women's issues simply because they're men and they just won't understand. This is certainly NO way to educate anyone. Let them speak their side and then show them how they're wrong and if you can't do that then perhaps you should re-evaluate your side. It's not hard. Maybe it is on the Internet... but in that case I'd just advise to not feed the trolls.

In conclusion:
Women... stand up for yourselves. You don't need PZ to tell everyone to shut up. If people aren't taking you seriously, re-evaluate your approach. If women you disagree with are attempting to speak for you stand up to them too regardless of the ensuing shitstorm. Be heard.

Men... don't proposition women you don't know in secluded areas. Period. Fuck, you might get maced! It's dangerous for you too! I'm not going to call you a sexist for doing something stupid... I'd just call you stupid... so don't be stupid. And if someone tells you you're mansplaining tell them to womansplain it to you then so your sex-crazed little man-brain can comprehend.

And now I'll just leave this right here...

With love,

P.S. Boobquake. 


  1. Could not agree more. Thank you.

  2. Great post!

    However, blue text on black background makes my eyes hurt. Please fix :)

  3. We've actually been looking for a new layout. :)

    Thanks for all your comments. I've talked to so many people that don't agree with Fem-Corp, but are afraid to speak out about it. I wish more would come forward publicly. I'm probably going to scour the internet and find all the posts in opposition and link them all here.

  4. There's a good 800 or so comments over at [fellow lady blogger] ERV's post on the incident.

    If you're confused by the initial post, she's referencing this particularly embarassing-for-Rebecca-Watson moment.

    (At least she should be embarassed by it...)

  5. It's the feminists who are showing their privilege, absolutely. And isn't that a hallmark of privilege that they don't see it and carry on so arrogantly? They are the sexists in this issue, continually insulting all men, continually pretending to represent all women, silencing everyone who disagrees with dismissive put downs. They get away with it because of their power of the megaphone.

    However I think a real gender equality movement would challenge the idea that this guy acted poorly somehow. True given the sexist (against men) terms we live by it was inadvisable, but in a world of real equality why shouldn't a guy proposition a woman in a lift? In a world where women are not taught that men are all rapists and that its OK to mace someone simply for asking a polite question in an elevator?

  6. Yes! Thank you so much for posting this. Agree especially with "do not speak for all women" and "[I'm sick of the word] mansplaining".

  7. Hoo-bloody-ray!
    At least someone "gets it"! ;)

    And that is without ripping into Rebecca for her public evisceration of another feminist, on-stage.
    A clear abuse of privilege if ever there was one.

    As I have outlined elsewhere: at least this episode has filtered out those so-called feminists who behave as though they owe more to their petty tribal allegiances than to ultimate equality of opportunity.

  8. Yes yes yes! Thank you!

  9. Hello, thanks for popping over. I do get what you're trying to articulate as "fem-corp". I call them "fem-bots" - they tend to find that a lot more offensive, especially from the penis enhanced.

    A female skeptic friend from 'Frisco (who has herself been on the receiving end of Skepchick style misogyny by not being important enough) pointed out a critical point most others have missed that sums up what you are getting. It's regarding her first video, I'll just quote her verbatim (it was chat) -
    she said "guys, don't do that" and continued to explain how women feel when men do that

    well the problem is this

    if she had said "guys please don't do that to *me*"

    it wouldn't be a big deal

    but she again decided to speak for all of us

    yet again

    This is where the disconnect lies in Watson's brain. It's a very subtle point - but it is the heart at of the matter.

  10. This post wins the inter tubes!!

    They keep telling us to shut up and listen to women, but when we do, they say "No! Not those women!"



  11. Let me start by saying I'm not speaking for anyone but me, but the url i posted is to my podcast. That's because I'm a nefarious glory hand and unmitigated egoist.

    First, ironkidd, I lurve you; and not just in the meaty, lusty, way; but in the I'm gonna facilitate a brutal "accident" involving your husband so the last obstacle blocking our meaty lusty love will vanish; and also you have a wonderous mind-thing.

    I completely agree with all your points.


    I disagree that a guy who was quoted as saying "Don't take this the wrong way, but..." was actually trying to fuck or rape or even lick whoever he was talking to, but that he understood the innuendo that could be placed on the statement. Was he hiding behind a double feint? Maybe it was a triple feint? Quadruple? If it was sextuple it really fucks my point. We could just take him at his word- but that might be employing Occam's Razor and it's not like we trumpet that kind of thing.

    Also, I think, women do deserve some special privilege in regards to gender issues, for the same reason minorities deserve some privilege in regards to racial issues. No one deserves a free pass to say whatever without being challenged (especially when challenged via logic, reason, and rationality). Trying to shut someone down based solely on their gender is, by definition, sexism. Which is where fem-corp becomes a self eviscerating parody.

    Gender equality is a myth, the genders are not equal. I'm attracted to women, so I tend to view them through a different lens than the men I'm around. Same for women who are attracted to men. Same for men who are attracted to men, or women to women. The gender of your preference will never be exactly equal to the other gender, subjectively; at best(?) they're slightly better.

    But that doesn't give women, even in my muddled head, a pass to be illogical, rationally bankrupt, or liars.

    I think what you're saying needs to be heard, especially seeing how dismissive a lot of those same chicks and hags were to/about you re:seram. I also think most convention organizers are, generally, spineless- for good reason, often- and so it won't happen. I'd love to see the moderated debate of this. I think you should offer to debate the topic on neutral ground- like my podcast, for instance. Maybe we can get Tim Minchin to moderate that episode....

  12. "You want to know how to not have huge Internet blowups every time women in the atheist movement complain about sexism? LISTEN TO WHAT THE WOMEN ARE SAYING."

    There's privilege and sexism in spades: "Whatever I say is correct and completely overrides your own beliefs because I AM A WOMAN". And PZ Myers and Greg Laden et. al. make the argument one step removed that you must listen to them because they agree with THE women, and if you don't you're a misogynist or a "gender traitor". They miserably fail to be skeptical about their own beliefs and their own use of ad hominem and other fallacies, and the consequences are predictably disastrous.

  13. "When you are so vehemently unwilling to see some of the ways that privilege works in your favor, I have to assume that maintaining privilege is the point."

    Yeah, not agreeing with Greta abut something is being vehemently unwilling to see it and so she HAS to assume that the reason you don't agree with her is because you want to maintain social advantage of her.

    Look, folks, the skeptical community should call out this self-serving irrational garbage that is as bad as any crap that we get from those religious folks who say that we're fools because God said anyone who doesn't believe in him is a fool. It's the same sort of logic.

  14. womansplaining, LOVE IT!

    Nice post, great at pointing out the hypocrisy

  15. Thank you!
    Great post!

  16. @greylining, To clarify, I also use the term "fembots." That's actually why I felt the need to use "fem corp" in this one in order to distinguish between the entire group of fembots from this smaller well known group who attempt to speak for the rest of us.

    @Tom, <3.

    @Everyone else, thank you again for the comments. Blogs like these are obviously necessary... but it is also necessary to have a comment section filled with people who feel the same way.

  17. Aha.. I just discovered this blog.. Thank you very much for writing about this.
    To pick just one of the points from fem-corp "We are trying to help you get laid".. Its so cheap to people like me who aspire to study and grow intellectually.. I just show the finger and walk out. I hope GC learns.

    I didnt realize you were the one from the SERAM panel. Unfortunately, that audio recording wasnt ok enough for me to follow the goings on (AND I sometimes find American english lil bit difficult to follow). I hope you speak at more Atheist meetings.

    PS: Been browsing a few of your other posts too.. Loved the one on SE Cupp.

  18. Holy Fu*king FSM...

    Thanks you. A voice of reason...I was wondering where all the adults went in this conversation.


  19. @Astrokid NJ, glad you found us and are enjoying. We've been seriously slacking and for that I apologize! SERAM was an amazing event that I was honored to be part of... I'm still a bit hostile due to the misrepresentations that occurred afterwards.

    @Brad Feaker, I catch a lot of shit for saying the things I say. I'm apparently an asshole for disagreeing with the herd. Fine by me! I've encountered so many women who agree with me 100% and simply don't have a microphone quite as loud as FemCorp.... or one at all really. I've also found that tons of men are SCARED to speak up at all regarding these things, which I think is unfortunate.

  20. Great post! I'm one of those who has been branded as a sexist, a misogynist, and an "MRA" for disagreeing with Ms. Watson's most fervent supporters concerning the events surrounding Elevatorgate. Most recently, I was banned from Greg Laden's "freethought" blog (and all of my previous posts erased) for merely disagreeing with the crowd over there. I feel as if some of those who have taken Ms. Watson's side are using whatever power they have to belittle and silence those who disagree – and completely overlooking all of the nasty things said about Dawkins on Skepchick since the incident. Thank you for using your blog to express the other side of this story.

  21. Yeah, I might get maced just for getting on an elevator with a woman at 4am. I don't think that is really or was really a concern with elevator guy. She was mocking this guy and did not at all concerned she was going to get raped. IF she was really concerned she would have found some excuse to go back to the bar like I forgot my scarf on the chair. If he sai, you didn't have a scarf then she could say, "I did at some point in the evening and I'm not sure wher I left it."

    It made her mad because he wasn't behaving the way she wanted, not because there was a reasonable concern of rape. Obviously macing some give for a veiled proposition on an elevator is quite an overreaction. Who's violent here?

  22. Definitely a little late finding this, but that was a really good article. You're a great writer! I never noticed how black & white they paint everyone, while people like you come across as far more intelligent and rational. I've heard it said many times that the side that's generally wrong is the side that tends towards the simplistic good/evil view of everyone else, which has really proven to be true the more I read and learn about critical thinking, skepticism, etc. Anyway, I'm going to read a bunch more of your stuff, thanks again for the great read!