Atheism Feminism LGBT

Sisterhood of the Oppressed

Yes, I know I’m writing this… four? weeks late. Deal with it. Truth be told, I’ve had a problem putting the words together.

Something that has really come to a head in the skeptic community recently is its intersection with other social justice causes. Especially feminism, but also, to an extent, anti-racism, LGBT activism, and other related activism. And how we, as skeptics, treat those other activists. As an LGBT activist and feminist as well as a skeptic, along with quite a lot of other people, this causes tension.

For an example, at the beginning of last month, Paula Kirby released an open letter “The Sisterhood of the Oppressed“, which was… wow. Basically tearing into feminist skeptics and female skeptics for acting like “feminazis” – a term borrowed from Rush Limbaugh – and claiming that they had a victimization complex the size of Soviet Russia. And what really started this? Well, DJ Grothe, the president of the James Randi Educational Foundation, had a public falling out over several bloggers including half of the FreeThoughtBlogs and Skepchick networks, over harassment policies at The Amaz!ng Meeting. Grothe had stated there was really no reason for a harassment policy because he’s never received a report of harassment happening at TAM. Despite at least one prolific female blogger saying, yes, actually, she was harassed.

What the fuck?

Even if you’re in the friendliest safe space ever, you need to have a harassment policy. The world does not work on SimCity rules, where you don’t build a fire department until the first fire breaks out. It needs to be there. Harassment at any type of convention is common, and the skeptic community should know pretty damn well it’s a problem, especially after “Elevatorgate“. And women, sadly, are the target of most harassment. How many men have personal attack alarms? And how many women do? How many straight people, cis people, white people fear harassment, compared to queer people, trans people, people of colour?

This is privilege, guys. Check it once in a while.

And to claim that people are being feminiazis or FTBullies over this? Really? Oh, those oppressive feminists! Fighting for their right to be respected! For a movement that is mostly liberal or libertarian, it runs the risk of creating unholy alliances with conservatives to push and keep these historically oppressed minorities down. And without any sense of irony and despair at their arguments being appropriated. Even Andrea Dworkin felt a little sick when her anti-pornographic feminism was used to oppress women.

We should know better. We’re on the same side. Skeptics have a stake in the feminist fight, in the LGBT activist fight, in the progressive fight, because religious privilege runs through the opposition. The opposition, the patriarchy, lean on that “opiate of the masses” and bring out their Levitical law to keep women barefoot and to force gays into hiding. Why do you think most atheists are pro-choice, support equal marriage, etc? Because strip the religious dogma, and there aren’t really any reasons to support the opposite. You can’t argue that homosexuality is unnatural when evidence supports the idea it happens throughout the animal kingdom.

In Leeds, this conflict hit closer to home than most of us would’ve liked. Chris Worfolk, someone I would consider my friend, invited Steve Moxon, author of The Woman Racket (what a lovely title for a book) to July’s Skeptics in the Pub. You can read his justification here. This raised the ire of several feminist activists, including several of my friends but most notably FTBlogger Ophelia Benson (there’s a long chain of SitP posts, I suggest you read them). Basically, it turned out that Steve Moxon was not a savoury character, being, in the words of someone I discussed this with, “too racist for UKIP”. Eventually, the event was cancelled and replaced with a rather meta event called How should skeptics respond to controversy?

This was all a point of discussion at Leeds Atheist Society’s social the Tuesday before Moxon was due to speak. And while it was a civil discussion, I did feel that these people were speaking from a perspective of privilege. Yes, a right to free speech exists, but there isn’t a right to be heard, and I thought it was poor form to invite someone who ran the risk of intimidating attendees. Other attendees also opposed him speaking, but from the perspective that his work misrepresented research and he wasn’t really the best person to speak on the issue, given that he ran the risk of using it as a platform for unrelated bigotry and not adhering to skeptical inquiry.

And, as an hour or so wound on, the argument devolved into discussing similar issues in the atheist community, although someone did allege Rebecca Watson and Ophelia Benson were “radical feminists” – they’re really not – and the society’s new harassment policy that I had helped write, cognizant of the fact that events had started to be attended by LGBT Society and Feminist Society members in levels not seen since I started attending the university, including having two FemSoc coordinators (including myself) on the 2012-13 committee. Even if we didn’t have to use it, we knew that the policy had to be there.

Again, privilege: check it.

And the victimhood complex? Hoo boy. The entire use of the word “feminazi” is the reaction of the privileged to women talking about the radical idea that women are also people. Yes, atheists are oppressed – there is the famous study that found atheists as distrusted as rapists – but so are every other religious outgroup. And to claim that the religious oppression of atheists is equivalent to the religious oppression of women or the LGBT population.

Since I started drafting this a week or so ago, two things have come up: the first, is a blog post by Ashley Miller about how a SSA affiliate president received rather unwelcome comments. And the second, and most awful, is a post by Natalie Reed about how certain events, including the elevator incident, the constant lobbying of abuse at FTB members, and her own privacy being in danger of violation, make her so uncomfortable to be in the Atheist Movement™ that she wants no part of it any more.

The latter two issues have, for a central figure, popular atheist vlogger Phil “thunderf00t” Mason, who blogged once for FTB and got expelled by the network for, well, what can best be described as trolling over the harassment policy issue. And, indeed,Mason has not taken his expulsion from FTB kindly; he was discovered to have regained access to the private FTB mailing list he was expelled from. And he posted the content of several emails. You just don’t break a confidentiality agreement, you just don’t out people. Whatever the FTB team could do to Mason, it’s nothing compared to what he could do to several FTB members.

As I often do, I agree with Natalie. Fuck that Atheist Movement™. If it’s a choice between a movement of mostly white straight cis men too blind to see their privilege, and a movement that contains Natalie, Ashley, Ophelia, PZ, Greta, Zinnia, and Rebecca, where women’s issues, gay issues, trans issues, and race issues join with skepticism, give me the second movement any time. Why would you want to have the first? So, basically, I stand by the “FTBullies”. I stand by the “Sisterhood of the Oppressed”, and the “Approved Male Chorus”. I stand by human fucking decency.

67 replies on “Sisterhood of the Oppressed”

Well thanks. (I got a trackback via this post, hence turning up out of nowhere.) Weldome to the Approved Male Chorus!

It may have looked a bit odd for a total outsider to be talking about the doings of Leeds SITP, but a friend of mine in Leeds told me about it, so I took an interest.

I’m not letting the privilege gang having atheism though. I’m not leaving. I refuse.

Well, my reaction was pretty much the same as yours, so don’t worry. I haven’t come across that many scumbag atheists in Leeds, most of them tend to be of the can’t-see-their-privilege type than the won’t-see-their-privilege type.

“I’m not letting the privilege gang having atheism though. I’m not leaving. I refuse.”

Damn right! I’m not letting anyone get away with dividing the ranks into atheists v skeptics. I am both, and a FTbloggerist(?), and if FTb and Pharyngula have a reputation, then that is good. There is so much intelligence there it is scary, and that attracts people plenty to ‘the movement,’ a melding of atheism and civil rights.

Well this is interesting. Steve M was down to speak at Sheffield SITP, we objected and he was disinvited. The organisers were pretty good about it, but the man himself has spent a long long time on the FB page arguing about it. I was also less than thrilled with the reaction of some of the other SITP people- (or at least, others who claimed to attend meetings and were on the FB page). At one notable point, someone made a remark along the lines of “I thought this was supposed to be a progressive group” and got laid into for using the word “progressive”. To tell you the truth the whole thing made me feel a bit less happy with SITP in general, despite him being disinvited.
I’ve been following everything kicking off in the US blogosphere over the last year, and a lot of it has made me feel quite down. This latest ridiculous and potentially dangerous move by Thunderf00t takes the cake. Sigh.

In practice, I agree with you. Any self-styled “libertarian” anywhere near power will really follow their locality’s right-wing party line. For example, Paul “Guido Fawkes” Staines’ love of the death penalty and unelected legislators.

I think the likes of libertarians which you see on r/atheism are mostly just middle class white men who see their privileged position as a norm. Sure, there are exceptions, but they tend to prove the norm.

Except libertarians are against the drug war, are against having a massive military empire and wars of aggression/premption, in favour of legalized sex work, in favour of open immigration, in favour of 1st amendment rights, are against execution of citizens without trial, are against indefinite detention, are against state surveillance and the police state at large, are gainst the Patriot Act, are against bank bailouts, are against legal privileges for people based on their gender, race or sexuality, are against corporate personhood and corporate privilege.

Apart from that they’re pretty conservative.

Note I said libertarians, not Libertarians. There is a difference.

I am in total agreement that the atheist and skeptical communities need to be very concerned about and address sexual harassment and the various other social issues. Let’s please, however, not be loose with the facts. I think you made an unintentional misstatement in your post. I don’t recall D.J. stating that a harassment policy was not necessary. He did state that there were no reports of sexual harassment at TAM, which apparently was factually incorrect. But I am pretty sure he did not say in any of his posts that a policy addressing harassment was not needed. In fact, JREF had a policy in place at TAM both this year and last.

Even if DJ Grothe did the right thing, which I think he eventually did, it’s not changing the culture of influential skeptics siding with sexist ideas, even if they were on the stage at TAMs. They have to stop too.

“You can’t argue that homosexuality is unnatural when evidence supports the idea it happens throughout the animal kingdom.”

That’s the problem. The religious homophobes don’t think we are animals, so what is natural in the animal kingdom does not pertain to us. Remember, we are the specially created image of god. We did not evolve form no monkey!

Commented above before finishing the entire post. Excellent post.

Although I consider myself an atheist activist, I can’t join any movement. I do actively support secularism and humanitarianism, but I do it on my own terms. No group think for me.

And despite thunderf00ts cries to the contrary, FTB is not a group think site. It is more akin to a party where you only invite your friends. And friends don’t show up and spill their beer everywhere while crying, in the style of Monty Pyton, “Look, I’m being oppressed! Look at the oppression, did you see that?”

Yeah, fuck the atheist movement, but long live atheism!

I’ll throw in my lot with the secular movement and the humanitarian movement. Those at least actually have some defined values. I’ve never met a humanist who was a racist or a bigot. It would be an oxymoron. But atheists aplenty are asses. Not most, but enough to be annoying. Fuck Ayn Rand too.

“How many men have personal attack alarms?”
In my (male) adult life, I have been physically attacked about half a dozen times, mostly by more than one person, and twice involving knives. I have been seriously threatened a similar number of times, and have lost count of the number of times where violence was in the air, and I have absented myself before it broke out.
Just sayin’.

I think the can’t see my privilege people are at their first rodeo. I started defending women’s health clinics – physically getting abused by the right to lifers…decades ago. Many of these folks have been finger wagging about “splitting the movement”… What movement? White man? They fail to see they themselves are noobs when it comes to fighting for this change (a life free of priestly meddling) They are late comers and need not be telling others to get in line…Feminazis? Really? How about you watch Rush Limbaugh for a week and come back and tell me which side you’re on? Trouble is SOME of these people – who happen not to believe in Gods – happen also to believe some incredibly stupid things about gender, sexuality and race.

Atheism is the lack of belief in deities; it’s not feminism, it’s not LGTBQ activism, it’s not anti-racism nor any other social justice hobby horse. You don’t get to conflate them, no matter how much you try to vilify any dissent.

You’re welcome to your Social Justice Movement, but what actually seems to bother you people is that you can’t make us “white straight cis men” run out of the Atheist Town no matter how much tarring and feathering you do.

With all due respect, I think you missed the point of the article.

I’m a white cis man myself. Nobody’s trying to run me (or you) off on that designation alone. However, if someone’s going to come down on the side of advocating racism/sexism/homophobia, then damn straight they’re going to be “tarred and feathered” by people on the side of common decency.

I came to The Atheist Movement(tm) specifically because of the horrible positions of religion/the religious. I forcefully reject the idea that we simply stop at the dictionary definition and fail to look at what we all should do next, once we’ve rejected deities.

If that’s not your cup of tea, that’s your prerogative. On the other hand, it’s our prerogative to simply note your objection and then basically ignore it.

Look at me, pretending to a spokesperson. Obviously, just speaking for myself here.

msironen, you don’t speak for “us” white straight cis men, and don’t pretend otherwise. No one is being run out of the atheist movement for belonging to the majority gender, skin color or sexual orientation; that is a contemptible falsehood. The only people who are being “run out” of the movement are the self-selected ignorant and privileged who think that sexual harassment and racism can’t be real because they’ve never personally experienced them, and good riddance. We’ll build a stronger atheist movement by including everyone, not by chasing away people who want to be our allies.

And no, atheism isn’t identical to feminism or LGBT activism, but given how religious privilege has been used and is still being used to justify the oppression of women, gay people, and so on, both sides would have to be blind to miss the similarities. We’re working toward the same goals, and progress made by any of us will aid the others as well. In that light, we’d be foolish not to forge alliances with them. The only people who’ll win by keeping us divided are the religious right.

Well said Revjimbob….I think because of the threats and fear women deal with from some men.. They lose sight of the fact that other men are also threatened by those who have no problem with acting violently….Thanks for saying that…

@Hammer of Dog – Right there with you…I’ve started being much more explicit about identifying as a Secular Pluralist and Humanist. My atheism is a tiny sliver of my over all politics…I think we’d all be better off if we took that path. I’ve always had religious/spiritual allies fighting for the things I value – including better science education, women’s autonomy, against war profiteering…AND separation of Church and State… Identify less and less with “The New Atheist Movement” – because some of the main figures are just fucking embarrassing to be honest. Thunderf00t being the worst offender. Don’t get me started on the minions! Seriously rigid thinkers…

Good post. It’s interesting to see that the “deep rift” over issues of privilege generally and male privilege in particular is appearing in UK sceptic/atheist circles. I’ve only recently started attending SITP (in Aberdeen), and haven’t yet seen it there; but if it comes to that, I’d much rather work with pro-social justice theists than with anti-social justice atheists.

“The entire use of the word “feminazi” is the reaction of the privileged to women talking about the radical idea that women are also people.”

Do you honestly think that Paula Kirby et al. really oppose the idea that ‘women are people’?!

Do you honestly think they would admit it if they don’t? Kirby’s desperation for male approval aside, it doesn’t matter if they personally oppose it or not. WHAT THEY DO, THE THINGS THEY SAY, THE LIES THEY TELL, show that they are incredibly hostile to those that DO support women.

I don’t know whether they would admit it or not – I’m just saying that the idea that someone like Paula Kirby opposes the idea that ‘women are people’ sounds rather counter-intuitive (to put it mildly).

Yes, they are hostile to some people that support the idea that women are people. So what? That just means that the people they oppose do something worthy of opposition, not that they disagree with absolutely everything the people they oppose are fighting for.

That’s like saying that if you oppose Bill Maher then you’re opposing atheism.

We have all sorts of examples of African-Americans who deny the role of social justice movements in their success or the effects of subtle and not so subtle racism on their lives – is there any mystery that there are also a segment of women who take a similar stance.

Let’s be clear -there are conservative atheists, there are reactionary athiests, there are libertarian atheists… all whom I have little in common with….I may choose to ally with them if and when they defend:

secular society
science education
sex education

and I part ways with them when they

deny anthropocentric climate change
oppose gay rights
oppose environmental protection generally
deny sexism

My alliance with them is based on a subset of my politics…I’m not going to shut up about the rest of my politics under the limited umbrella of an atheist movement….

No, that’s a strawman of your own making. Paula Kirby thinks that women are people.

Kirby is objecting to women speaking up about the problems they have encountered with the people who do not think that women are people. Kirby chooses to respond to this by attacking the women who are speaking up and minimising their complaints.

“Skeptics have a stake in the feminist fight, in the LGBT activist fight, in the progressive fight, because religious privilege runs through the opposition. The opposition, the patriarchy, lean on that “opiate of the masses” and bring out their Levitical law to keep women barefoot and to force gays into hiding.”

I do not believe that gays in England are forced into hiding by the patriarchy, but who knows. What exactly do you mean with the patriarchy, I honestly do not understand what you mean? Okay, I am a white cis man, so I do not really have a right of speaking on this topic, of course, but I would appreciate it if you could explain it a bit better. You can only expect me to join in your fight if you give detailed examples of what you think needs to be done.

AS an aside- I don’t even think in terms of “the patriachy”…. I think there are patriarchal values… but The Patriarchy makes it sound like this monolithic thing…and I tend to favor a deeper class analysis…

We don’t all gather and agree to an analysis (thanks be to the FSM)

I dunno, I might be able to take this stuff more seriously if any of these feminists-come-lately’s had mentioned the International Aids Conference and the protests against anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-trans policies, not the least of which is the Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath that charities must sign if they want harm reduction funds. An anti-progressive policy which is supported by an “unholy alliance” of feminists and conservative christians. From what I can see, there is only a certain sort of feminism being supported by the skeptic community, and it’s the same feminism that is already in bed with patriarchal religions and it’s the same feminism that always privileges the issues that affect the most privileged.

As far as I’m aware, those are being protested by even the proto-New Atheists such as Dawkins. I think most atheists, regardless of whether they’re also feminists, oppose the Mexico City policy and anything like it. Stuff such as the International AIDS Conference being used as a springboard for harmful alternative medicine or faith healing, such as South Africa’s infamous salad stall in Toronto, is something that the skeptic movement doesn’t seem to like either. (see: Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science.)

Edit/expansion: Although when it comes to anti-prostitution efforts, I personally think the best strategy is to be tough on the causes than to be tough on the act. No teenage girl grows up thinking “I want to be a sex worker”, but for whatever reason, they end up in that line of work. Working against poverty, and against people compelling others into sex work, works better than just criminalising prostitution, because that just ends up with more poor (and also often black, gay, and/or trans) women in jail or hospital.

Nice strawmen. I see you’re pushing to get an invite to GroupThinkBlogs. At no point has it ever been about one side wanting to stand up for women and the other side opposed to treating women like people. It’s been an argument degree. Your side wants women to be treated like children and apparently your side is full of women that want that. Why is it that any call to handle this situation RATIONALLY is screamed down as being anti-woman?

As for Tf00t, at no point did he “out” anyone or give out any personal information. (Also, he has no more personal information on them now then he did when he was a member at FTB.) He merely posted the scheming of the FTBullies who were plotting to mount personal attacks against people to get them fired from their jobs because they didn’t like the fact that their asses weren’t being kissed. Oh, and their scheming to divvy up the money he made FTB instead of giving it to him as owed. And I find it comical how much you all insist on putting out his real name all the time, which, incidentally, he only put out publicly because of some doc-dropping fundtard.

I suggest you read Natalie Reed’s post. She blogs pseudonymously for a very understandable and obvious reason, and posting emails that she sent would be outing.

I have, personally, never seen the word “feminazi” in a way that didn’t suggest that all feminists are horrible people for wanting to be treated like women. If there is a Sisterhood of the Oppressed and the Approved Male Chorus, there is probably also a Brotherhood of the Privileged and the Approved Female Chorus (the latter containing the likes of Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann).

The apparent quote that was posted here,

“Plus, TF had more hits than ten of our bloggers today. Please tell me he is not getting paid for them. And that we are divvying up his spoils.”

doesn’t look like they’re wanting to defraud Mason of the cut he’s entitled to. There is probably a legal dispute that I’m not privy to, and probably neither are you, which should be argued behind closed doors. To be honest, I actually agree that the money his blog garnered post-expulsion be donated to a good cause. MSF seems a good one.

Yes, posting such emails would be outing, if it’d been done. But it hasn’t been and Tf00t isn’t the type of person who would, do to his own history of trying to stay anonymous in the face of a doc-dropping dick. And again, he had access to those details all along. Unless I see evidence of him claiming that he’s going to release PERSONAL DETAILS about someone’s identity, I’m not going to believe it.

The whole thing is petty ridiculousness. All Tf00t EVER said was that the situation should be analyzed rationally and suddenly the FTBullies start screaming that that’s hate speech and anti-woman. As someone who has been on the receiving end of such irrational vitriol, strawmanning, and hyperbole by FTbaboons and Bullies alike at the mere suggestion that actions should be analyzed rationally, this seems to be a consistent theme there. Instead of throwing your hands in the air and screaming that the sky is falling, or crying because someone wore a tshirt you didn’t like, or using standard internet trolling comments as hundreds of atheist woman-haters out to get you, or calling out someone who suggests that it seems you may have made a mountain out of an elevator molehill out as being an anti-woman woman, or calling people who want to actually analyze the situation woman haters and say they’re being ugly and inflammatory HOW ABOUT SITTING DOWN AND DISCUSSING IT?! LIKE ADULTS!

“I have, personally, never seen the word “feminazi” in a way that didn’t suggest that all feminists are horrible people for wanting to be treated like women.”

I finally got around to starting to read the Kirby letter. It’s long, but the relevant point is at the beginning. I think it was very unwise for her to use that term because it seems most people, like you (and me, in general), go into shutdown mode on seeing that word and not pay attention to what is actually being said. Right away in Kirby’s letter, she explains her usage of the word and what it means to her, and, based on that, I agree completely with the attributes and attitudes she was trying to ascribe with the term. No one wants to look at that though. No one cares what she meant by the term, only what their conception of the term is and instead say that THAT is what Kirby is implying.

“In both “feminazi” and “femistasi” the allusion is to certain totalitarian attitudes and the intolerance and suppression of dissent… 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.”

These sum up perfectly what I’ve been seeing on the blogs on this subject. I agree 100% with the stated goals of these bloggers, but their methods and attitudes lead me to believe they have different REAL goals that they don’t state so openly. I’m not saying all the bloggers fall into this category. It seems to me many of them just haven’t been thinking critically, examining evidence, and responding accordingly.

I’m still early in the Kirby letter so I can’t say if I agree with it all yet or not.

Read it and she was 100% correct, rational, and analytical. Then I went and looked at how the FTBullies had demonized and strawmanned her over that letter. I was even more shocked to read that some of the Baboons had actually READ the letter and still strawmanned her. That is some serious group-think going on there.

The First Amendment doesn’t automatically apply to blogs and even the most rabid supporters of free speech can, and do, draw a line somewhere. Besides, free speech doesn’t mean the right to be not criticised for that speech. And you don’t get to claim free speech while waving your metaphorical dick in their face outside their window.

Instead of making comments about harassment policies, let’s imagine Grothe made comments about same-sex marriage. I don’t think Paula Kirby would complain if people were harshly critical and shouty about it. Indeed, from what I’ve seen, most atheists I’ve seen are supportive of the Chick-fil-A protests and boycotts.

Kirby asserts that Grothe was bringing balance into the conservation. But there are some situations in which “bringing balance” is anything but (to wit: SMBC Theater’s “Both Sides”). When someone reports that whatever harassment policy was in place at last year’s TAM still let an upskirt voyeur through the net, the reaction of anyone with half a brain would be to say “well, we need to work on making sure that happens again”.

For Kirby, getting propositions in the bar at half twelve in the morning might be cute. But for a lot of women, and in a lot of situations (such as 4am in an elevator, for example), these can be really scary. Women are taught nearly from birth, “carry mace”, “don’t reveal too much skin”, “don’t walk home alone at night”, “don’t leave drinks alone”, because that could, and sometimes does, mean the difference between life and serious assault or even death.

It all comes down to privilege, really. A lot of men, and a not unremarkable proportion of women, don’t realise just how much needs to be done before, for example, we can say that sexism, racism, anti-LGBT prejudice is over. I suggest you read Natalie’s post; if Natalie’s real name was leaked, it could seriously end up ruining her life. The worse that could happen to people like Mason is a minor reputation hit.

No one said anything about First Amendment. They’re free to react however they want, but their reactions are equally open to scrutiny. The issue isn’t that they challenge, for example, DJ Grothe; it’s the way they do it. Their methods are dishonest, hyperbolic, and damaging to the community. Their first reaction isn’t “We should discuss this” but “BURN THE WITCH!”

As for the upskirt guy, from my understanding of the situation, it was a) dealt with and b) there was no evidence that that was what he was doing. How do you propose stopping something like that pre-emptively? You can’t without gestapo tactics. You can only respond.

If a woman has issues being propositioned in a bar at 1am, she shouldn’t FUCKING BE IN A BAR AT 1AM! You don’t go to a thrash metal concert, hang out in the mosh pit, and then get pissed off when someone slams into you.

And Natalie’s post doesn’t even enter into it because NO ONE IS RELEASING HER PERSONAL INFORMATION. She even specified in the update to the post that there was no actual threat of it, just that she was scared it might happen.

Kirby’s letter was 100% pure REAL feminism, not this fake “oh, I’m so weak, you have to protect me!” feminism of the Skepchicks.

(for some reason it wouldn’t let me respond directly to your post)

“If a woman has issues being propositioned in a bar at 1am, she shouldn’t FUCKING BE IN A BAR AT 1AM! You don’t go to a thrash metal concert, hang out in the mosh pit, and then get pissed off when someone slams into you.”

And they shouldn’t wear short skirts if they don’t want to be raped, right?

(Also, I’ve edited the database to properly nest comments)

It is not true that we were “plotting to mount personal attacks against people to get them fired from their jobs.” Thunderfoot worded his post in such a way as to create that impression without actually saying it, and it is not true. Nobody at Freethought blogs said anything about getting Payton fired.

In the same way that the privileged Christians complain how the “New Atheists” are aggressive and taking it all too far (even though we’ve barely made headway in ensuring secularism is the default mode in society), I see this paralleled when the privileged white males complain how the “feminazis” are taking it all too far, and now supposedly the men are the real oppressed. And in both cases there are people within the movement who agree with this, atheists who say we should be less vocal against religion, and women who think other women should just suck it up.

If paying Paul what is due from his shit stirring traffic…is really the issue… I am pretty sure they would hand it over gladly if it meant he would fuck off.

You lot seem to have a terrible problem with the “privileged white males”. But do they really exist?
Last time I checked, I found out the following:

1) In all wars, old and new, the majority of soldiers being “used” by society are males. Take WW1 and WW2, many men were forced to go and fight the wars. Depending on your view of history, you might find that good or bad. But you can hardly say that these men were privileged. Many men that return from the battle field are mentally destroyed and never get a job again.

2) Who picks up your trash bins, one of the lower paid jobs? I am sure they are rarely suppressed women? Sure, women also do similar jobs, so do men, and men are working in many dangerous industries (mining, building-trade working with toxic materials such asbestos, fire men). Again, it is not the case that all white men are so well off. Many are not.

3) Men have a lower life expectancy (after points 1 and 2, hardly surprising)

4) Men suffer from more stress and commit more suicide (check wikipedia for a list of how many more men commit suicide, there list comes from the official WHO data).

I am not saying that men are “the real oppressed” (which somebody on this forum said), nobody is saying that. The fact is that if you add everything up, men and women are both not that well off in many circumstances, and men’s and women’s rights groups often rightly raise attention for a selection of issues. That is good, for both women and for men.

Finally, I find the comments against white males reek of “racism” and “genderism”. No white man choose this situation. If the same things you write about “white males” would be said about ethnic minorities, you would be branded as a bunch of right wing bigots. So why is it so accepted in these circles to say that white men are the fault of for so many wrongs in society?

Altogether, it is frustrating to read all these discussions. The most frustrating part is that this whole discussion has become part of the atheist/skeptic groups. Maybe all the white males should not come to these groups anymore. Let’s measure then how long there will be any skeptic groups. You lot are kicking against your own constituency. It would be a bit like telling the visitors of a black history meeting that black people are bad. You think that would be good for next years’ black history meeting. Likely people would stay away. Rightly so. The skeptic movement will implode if you lot do not solve these issues in a more reasonable manner.

I’m somewhat confused about the feminist end game with regards to the atheist movement as well. I suppose they calculate that once they’ve achieved their Great Purge and made a whole lot of enemies in the process, they’ll still come out ahead. Assuming the mantle of free thought and the image of being committed to rationality and evidence certainly wouldn’t hurt feminism’s somewhat tarnished reputation on those fronts, either.
So there definitely could be a method to their madness and admittedly it’s not clear how it would be best defeated.

1) you forget to mention that until fairly recently women were flat out not allowed to serve as soldiers in wars, so your statistic is meaningless.
2) Several problems here: there are probably fewer women in some of these industries partly because of the blokey environment and also outright discrimination because they are seen as too weak; furthermore, as a percentage relative to the population as a whole, I think ‘white’ men are underrepresented (compared with white collar work)
3) there are many causes for lower male life expectancy, but you seem to imply it has something to do with sexism, which is BS
4) also from wikipedia “In the Western world, males die much more often by means of suicide than do females, although females attempt suicide more often.” So you are saying males commit successful suicide more often. But is a higher suicide attempt rate among women not significant?

You are right that there is a way to put these issues into context, but then I am not sure that I agree with your point:

“you forget to mention that until fairly recently women were flat out not allowed to serve as soldiers in wars, so your statistic is meaningless.”

No wonder that some men ask whether it is time for the feminist movement to start a campaign to get 50% women in the military, and mining and other hazardous industries. They seem to go, though, mostly for the desired “desk jobs”. Whatever your position, you need to admit that many men do highly undesirable jobs, and that it is therefore unfair to claim that all white men are privileged. You need to answer that point. Do you really believe that, and if so, how do you explain that so many men do these dangerous jobs, risk their life, etc?

In this context, you might find this an interesting video (made by a woman):

Hey Will, interesting post, thought provoking, good that people mull these things over. I find it interesting to follow this stuff. I am trying to get where the different people come from, and I am open to learn and understand the differences in opinions, although I must admit, as being new to the whole movement, I struggle a bit to really understand it all.

The hardest thing to grok is what you said about Paul Kirby. Why do you say he does not think women are people?

Paula/She. Mostly it’s the dismissing of all feminism as “feminazism”/”femistasism” which has historically only ever been used by people like Rush Limbaugh who seem to denigrate any movement by women that sees them gain any autonomy.

Found this blog – it’s great, and even though I’m from the US of A, extremely relevent. Your writing is erudite and use of links helps me orient myself with more information, always a plus. I do want to say one thing though – that is that, though the vast majority of my friends could be considered skeptics and truthfully atheists, I often find myself wishing more people would come to the polytheistic side of things (which is of course, my magical thinking that polytheism is always=egalitarian, though I do feel I have some smigeon of anecdotal evidence to back my delusions up) . A small rant ensues; I see in the US, at least, the current faith binary as being a binary of privileige that stands either at a one (monotheist) or zero (atheistic). And instead of truly exploring what those variables mean, people then erode their potential value further by using them as buzzwords, and buzzwords blend together… Meaning that in the US, both sides regularly team up against things they both mutually dislike… Such as – for example – non-straight non-cis non-white non-males.

Naturally, there are exceptions, too many to count. But it is extremely frustrating to me, a polytheist, to see people boomerang from one ‘end’ of this binary to another without ever truly changing their deeply moralistic and privileged beliefs. I do not have some fantasy that one day, everyone will worship all the gods and spirits and everyone’ll be happy all the time etc, etc – but we can at least try to respect one another, and call people out when they are shutting people down and intimidating them into silence (on that thought – here in the US, the term politically correct is one of the most frightfully used means of shutting down discussion around. Don’t like what someone is saying? They are politically correct. Possibly the nightmare of nightmares, a politically correct feminazi… And a dirty red as well!).

Please continue to write on these themes and more, Will! Reading some of your posts really helped bolster my little grey cells; I tend to forget to comment on what I follow, but again, really good writing. All the best!


To the commentator above who asked some questions – certainly men are disposable as well; but that does not remove their level of privileige, which derives not just from them being men – specifically white, cis, straight men – but because of their socioeconomical background. I’m one of those wackos out there who’d go so far to state that there isn’t really such a thing as race, or even gender – but the last eight-hundred years have viciously defined those concepts, and it is our job to undefine them. That alone would not secure people, their rights, and their freedoms… But to my mind it would be a start.

And as it stands, though someone does not have the choice of being born into a position of to privilege and can (and do, quite frequently) choose to question it, that persons actions do not erase privilege or its hooks. Nor does someone simply lose or change their perspectives overnight. I believe that like all true learning, it is something never to be completed and always to be refined – through acknowledgement sometimes one is wrong, and it is better to listen rather than to speak, one can learn much more.

And that might seem invalidated by my wall of text, but I only type so much in an effort to remind my patchy brain of sights where I can find good discussion.

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