December 3, 2022

Keeping some perspective

I think it ironic that my critics so often accuse me of demanding that everyone in this movement must agree on every point. Because I’ve never said anything like that.  Quite the reverse in fact. For example, I’m constantly accused of having said that “you’re either feminist or you’re sexist”, even though that’s not what I actually said; I said we’re all sexist to some degree.  I’m still accused of promoting divisive dichotomies even by those who know and admit that I said it’s not a dichotomy.

I’ve said many times that I rarely agree with anyone completely, that we should be able to express disagreements respectfully, and that we should be able to strategically overlook some differences in opinion in those who would otherwise be useful allies. We don’t have the resources to do otherwise, not when we’re outnumbered, out-gunned and out-financed as much as we are.  I have also come to the defense of some prominent person who said something dumb once, or who wasn’t very knowledgeable of some issue well outside their expertise.

So Dawkins didn’t know about the Men’s Rights Movement, and he occasionally alternates between supporting feminism and sounding sexist. Thus he is criticized from both sides, even though gender equality is obviously not his primary focus or area of interest.  So I hardly think it fair to say that “Dawkins has lost it“, just because he’s not up to speed on that topic.  Yeah, I know.  “Dear Muslima’ wasn’t his best moment.  He’s said a few other things I don’t agree with, and not just about that.  I wish he’d stop using the word, ‘Darwinism’ -for example.

I don’t expect anyone in this movement to agree on all philosophies, policies, or politics, just like I don’t expect science nerds to understand fashion statements.  Being critical thinkers doesn’t mean that we should criticize our associates more than our adversaries.  Because I also don’t like when our opponents publish comments that “the atheist movement has petered out“, based on the impression that “even atheists think Dawkins is a joke”.  Not only is that overwhelmingly not the case, but believers don’t know that it doesn’t really matter what any of us thinks of Dawkins or anyone else.  However we don’t seem to understand how infighting diminishes our own capacity.  For that and many other reasons, I would rather give credit where it is due. respect where it was earned, and reasonable criticism when and wherever necessary. But then, I’m not trying to sell my blog with sensational headlines.

 

52 thoughts on “Keeping some perspective

  1. I never found Dawkins’ response to Watson to be unfortunate. In fact, I never bought the whole elevator-gate story. But I did receive the worst push-back by saying that, accused of every crime against humanity, or so it seemed. I am glad we are becoming more ‘ecumenical’ these days.

  2. @Aronra

    I don’t know what to do with Dawkins. It seems his handlers are preventing anyone to be able to get to him and correct him on these issues. Like, has PZ ever had a chance? I don’t know. Or maybe he is just that full of himself and that thick. He’s said a lot of stupid things on this topic, and his apologies have been half-assed at best.

    Unlike Matt Dillahunty. <3 You two are my favorites in the movement. (Probably Richard Carrier too.) Keep up the good work.

  3. Aron don’t worry as an atheist and feminist you are going to make many people angry just by existing. Keep up the good fight!!!

    Dawkins?? He a human that automatically means that he will say something stupid, who cares big deal. He is not in his element when outside of biology, and he can’t do tweets worth a damn. He should never speak or write anything shorter than 12 paragraphs.

  4. Aron,

    I’m not entirely sure if your opening paragraph was meant to be a joke or if you really believe what you’re saying or if you’re being obsessively strict about the phrase of which you’re accused:

    I’m constantly accused of having said that “you’re either feminist or you’re sexist”, even though that’s not what I actually said; I said we’re all sexist to some degree. I’m still accused of promoting divisive dichotomies even by those who know and admit that I said it’s not a dichotomy.

    In your speech on “Reconsidering Norms”, at 23:28 you said:

    There is no word for a “non-racist”. But there is a word for a “non-sexist”.

    followed at 24:05 by:

    Once you utter the word “feminism”…you’re stirring the coals of controversy, awakening a hornets nest of haters and they will twist whatever I say today into something I never said, never meant, never implied.

    Those phrases seem to imply that there IS a dichotomy between “sexism” and “feminism”. If there is no dichotomy, then you must mean that “sexism” and “non-sexism” are on opposite ends of a scale with at least some gray area in which people could be neither sexist or feminist. Perhaps the gender associated root of your word for “non-sexist” is easier to concoct than a word for “non-racist” because there are virtually only 2 genders in terms of physical anatomy (ignoring unusual medical conditions).

    Maybe you don’t consider your words to be “promoting divisive dichotomies” because you’ve convinced yourself of the quaint simplicity of “feminism” connoting only “non-sexism”. In practice, I think you must acknowledge that the word “feminism” holds more meaning. With a capital “F”, the word is a broad movement, sometimes with simple egalitarian ideals and sometimes with irrationality and hostility, and some non-sexist people don’t wish to be connected with a movement. Maybe you would say you’re “a little ‘f’ feminist”.

    In the end, even if you didn’t say “you’re either feminist or you’re sexist” verbatim, I think a reasonable person would say that IS what you’ve implied.

    1. @JJL

      Congratulations, you did exactly what Aron predicted would happen. Those phrases don’t imply a strict, binary dichotomy.

      Aron’s extremely stringent on definitions and really doesn’t care if someone else decides to make up a definition or if there are other definitions floating around…he’s clear about his terminology and prefers to keep definitions focused and singular for ease of communication. Just check out the amount of times he’s had to define “faith” as he uses it. Also, he’s been consistent in saying that aversion to a label doesn’t invalidate its application; there are plenty of atheists who abhor using that term because of perceived connotations. It doesn’t make them theists.

      FYI, sex, not gender, is determined by anatomy.

      1. Ok, so in this editorial, Aron denies ever saying “you’re either feminist or you’re sexist”. But in his speech he said the word for a “non-sexist” is “feminism”. It sounds like he’s mincing words. In this editorial, he also said “we’re all sexist to some degree“, thus implying that we’re also all feminist to some degree. But that can’t be the case, because “non-sexist” is an absolute, not a matter of degree. So, if non-sexist is zero quanta of sexism and feminism is non-sexist, then feminism is zero quanta sexism. But that can’t be because sexism IS a matter of degrees. Maybe “sexist” is anywhere on the scale that is above zero, meaning “feminism” is zero and “sexism” any value above zero. So “feminism” ISN’T a matter of degrees and is actually an abstract philosophical concept of perfection. But that would mean that we all have either zero degrees of sexism (feminist) or we are sexist. But that can’t be because Aron said he never said “you’re either feminist or you’re sexist”. To avoid the appearance a dichotomy, there must be something between feminist and sexist that is neither one.

        1. @JJLatFtB

          Everyone is sexist to a degree. A feminist is not someone free of sexism. A feminist is someone who values lack of sexism and a certain equality or fairness of the sexes.

          I don’t think you’re attempting to engage honestly, and/or you have some serious intellectual honesty issues. This is very straightforward stuff.

          1. @EnlightenmentLiberal

            “A feminist is someone who values lack of sexism and a certain equality or fairness of the sexes.”

            If you are attempting to speak for Aron, then I have to point out that that is not what he said. He said that “feminism” is the word for “non-sexist”, not someone who “values non-sexism” or “values lack of sexism”. That stretches the meaningfulness of the word “feminism” even more and takes feminism entire off the scale sexism. By that new definition, a sexist could be a feminist as long she “values lack of sexism”. I’ll admit I haven’t read or watched all of Aron’s works, so maybe he HAS changed his definition of “feminism” to mean “valuing lack of sexism”. Can you tell me if such is the case?

            I think I’m as honestly engaging as Aron is. Aron has declared that “feminism” is defined as “non-sexist” AND we’re all “sexist to some degree”. How can one be X to some degree AND be non-X. If he’s going now with the new definition, I guess he’s saying that one can be X to some degree but value non-X. But then it would be unfair to begin this editorial by claiming to be a victim of unfair accusations simply because he has since changed his definition of “feminism” from “non-sexist” to “values lack of sexism”.

          2. @JJLatFtB

            You seriously think that an honest reading of Arorna is that “A feminist is a person who is free of sexist beliefs and behavior, regardless of how they value equality, etc.”? Really?

    2. In practice, I think you must acknowledge that the word “feminism” holds more meaning. With a capital “F”, the word is a broad movement, sometimes with simple egalitarian ideals and sometimes with irrationality and hostility, and some non-sexist people don’t wish to be connected with a movement. Maybe you would say you’re “a little ‘f’ feminist”.

      Hostility is sometimes proper reaction to abominable ideas. Divisiveness is sometimes the proper reaction to people with abominable ideas. We’re not going to make the world a better place by withholding criticism and allowing people with diametrically opposed ideas to share our movement.

      Honestly, what you say can only come from a MRA or the like, or someone who is grossly ignorant of the issues. You’re welcome to join the good side. Please, come on over. When you come over, you don’t have to use the word “feminist” to describe yourself. We’re cool with that. We just prefer that you don’t piss on the label unfairly.

      1. We just prefer that you don’t piss on the label unfairly.

        Thanks. You’ve done that better than a sexist probably could have.

        1. I smell a concern troll….

          Honestly, JJL, I just watched AronRa’s video “Reconsidering norms” and he explains it very clearly! You cannot possibly be this obtuse! He literally says (time index 26:15):

          “If you are not a feminist, you are a sexist. By definition! But it’s not a dichotomy. If you are sexist to a degree, you are feminist beyond that degree. “

          1. Honestly, JJL, I just watched AronRa’s video “Reconsidering norms” and he explains it very clearly! You cannot possibly be this obtuse! He literally says (time index 26:15):

            “If you are not a feminist, you are a sexist. By definition! But it’s not a dichotomy. If you are sexist to a degree, you are feminist beyond that degree. “

            First, to find a point of agreement, in your mind, is the phrase “If you are not a feminist, you are a sexist” equal in meaning to the phrase “you’re either feminist or you’re sexist“? The latter phrase being the one Aron claims to be falsely accuse of saying.

            Second, Aron seems to be making up a novel definition of “dichotomy”. “Division into two parts, kinds, classifications”, “division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups”. Aron clearly defines 2 groups “feminist” and “sexist”. In order for this to be NOT a dichotomy, there must be at least 1 additional group or possibly an area where the 2 groups commingle. Aron gesticulates a scale and describes a point, not a middle area for mixing or a 3rd option, at which sexism is divided from feminism.

  5. I don’t expect anyone in this movement to agree on all philosophies, policies, or politics, just like I don’t expect science nerds to understand fashion statements.

    Yeah, except that telling occidental women to shut the fuck up and stop whining about their trivial problems because somewhere else someone has it worse (while himself engaging in the most surreal, hyperbolic whining about being critisized with words), is not exactly the same as making a fashion statement while not really knowing or caring much about fashion, is it?

    There are different types and degrees of disagreement. I’m totally on board that it’s unreasonable to expect full agreement with everybody involved, and there is plenty of room for difference of opinion in many, many areas, but i’m not willing to excuse every kind of disagreement….some things are just too much to ignore, and Dawkins’ multiple sexist comments and his doubling down, are a good example of that. He is causing harm, he can’t be ignored or dismissed as a mere disagreement.

  6. Aron, I am glad you posted this. I am totally with you and you helped me untie a few knots in my head. While I also disagree with Dawkins on these issues, to some extent, I also recognize that he simply may be in over his head. You nicely illustrate this by suggesting that he may simply be unaware of some major issues (“MRA’s? Woot!?”) and therefore regularly puts his foot in his mouth. I am happy to be finding a re-appreciation of Dawkins in this light and I also have another suggestion for what may be going wrong…

    You see, like me, Richard Dawkins is a Western European, and it is not entirely unthinkable that misogyny is a much smaller issue on our side of the Atlantic. Not that I’m saying that there’s no misogyny at all, certainly not, but the beast may have been tamed to a much higher degree than in the US. I’m not sure. I just know that in my country of residence, Denmark, we make a whole lot less fuzz on sexualised joking back and forth, because it is generally not taken as oppressive or aggressive. It also generally goes both ways. Actual outbursts of misogyny are generally frowned upon. Recently, there was a program on TV here where a reporter went and looked up different men who posted misogynistic comments on different female politicians’ Facebook pages. When confronted, these men acted uncomfortable and embarrassed about the whole thing, and somewhat in denial of what they did.

    The environment in American culture seems to be a whole lot more polarized and shrill and I can clearly notice the difference. When I posted some open questions regarding sexism on PZ Myer’s blog, I was mauled in the most vicious ways by some of the regulars. What I posted was in the veneer of “Gee, I used to be unaware this video may be sexist, now I am not so sure any more. What do you all think?”

    I was very surprised by the aggressiveness of many of the reactions. What’s more: It struck me that the different comments were carrying contradicting messages amongst each other, being mainly united in their condemnation of my posts. It’s like it had become a sport in finding the most effective way of shooting down all comments with any hint of sexism or other “incorrect opinions”.

    Actually I found this really disillusioning and quite hurtful. This is because I had always regarded the Pharyngula crowd as my allies and saw its members are intelligent, profound thinkers, whom I could turn to for discussing matters like these and learn from their viewpoints.

    This relays back to the whole divisiveness issue that you are talking about. Have we in the atheist community become too used to being combative and belligerent that we are now turning our weapons of reason and sarcasm against each other? Are we now becoming like the theists who will find many reasons for disagreeing with each other and splitting into different sects? Are we, in fact, becoming just like the religious?

    As I am writing this comment, as a matter of complete coincidence and utter irony, there is an ad below on Smokey saying: “Only YOU can prevent wildfires!”. Perhaps this is a message the atheist community should take to heart?

    1. @petrander

      Pharyngula does indeed attract a shrill crowd. Part of it is the assumption that everyone’s American or at least part of a society where sexism is a major issue. While I don’t agree that we’re becoming just like the religious, we do tend to be a bit trigger-happy and we should probably be more culturally sensitive.

      Denmark (Skål!) is rather exceptional in regard to sexism, IIRC. Please correct me if I’m wrong about any of this. The women are educated and independent (socially and financially) to a much higher degree than pretty much every other country. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the Pick-Up Artist movement, but a popular internet PUA (read: borderline sociopathic douchebag) wrote a blog post specifically about avoiding Denmark. Apparently the typical PUA predatory, manipulative tricks don’t work because society-induced gender-based insecurities don’t exist in Danish women. To me, this is one piece of independent evidence backing up your description of the gender culture in Denmark.

      Most people are myopic to some degree, and it’s unfair to assume that we’re all equally aware of world culture issues, I agree. I’d appreciate any more input you have.

      1. I remember that video. Apparently the PUA in question hates a functioning welfare state, since it prevented him from having sex.

  7. You seriously think that an honest reading of Arorna is that “A feminist is a person who is free of sexist beliefs and behavior, regardless of how they value equality, etc.”? Really?

    Aron said “feminism” is the word for “non-sexist”. The prefix “non” implies the absence of sexism, so according to Aron’s speech, “feminism” is the absence of or free of sexism. Is that an unreasonable interpretation of his words?

    1. Are you going to acknowledge that you were wrong and dishonest? I mean, petrander already exposed your quote-mining of “Reconsidering Norms.” There’s no way you heard the portion you quoted without hearing Aron explicitly explain that it’s not a dichotomy. Do you have a point? Or are you going to switch to vanilla-flavored trolling and ignore all responses?

      1. @Monocle Smile

        Are you going to acknowledge that you were wrong and dishonest? I mean, petrander already exposed your quote-mining of “Reconsidering Norms.” There’s no way you heard the portion you quoted without hearing Aron explicitly explain that it’s not a dichotomy. Do you have a point? Or are you going to switch to vanilla-flavored trolling and ignore all responses?

        I responded to petrander separately. Please take a moment and look up the definitions for dichotomy and see if you can twist them in such a way that “If you are not a feminist, you are a sexist” is NOT a dichotomy. And then tell me how “If you are not a feminist, you are a sexist” is NOT the same thing as “you’re either feminist or you’re sexist“.

        1. Yeah, you “responded” by ignoring his points and distracting from what he said. Good job.

          Aron isn’t talking about people in his explanation. He’s talking about concepts that exist within any given person. I have sexist and non-sexist components and tendencies, and it’s up to me to make choices that allow one to become dominant over the other while recognizing that it’s likely impossible to eradicate it completely. Aron was pretty careful to explain it this way, but you’ve gone ahead and conflating people with concepts, and not in honest fashion, either. He started with a hypothetical to demonstrate the definition, and then acknowledged that such a dichotomy is unrealistic because everyone’s sexist to a degree. This isn’t hard.

          1. @Monocle Smile

            I see you’ve studied apologetics and you’re good at convincing yourself that you’ve made a valid excuse.

            “If YOU are not A feminist, YOU are A sexist”. That phrase is unambiguously describing people. It is not the same as “If a component or tendency you express is not feminist, it is sexist.” You could argue that he misspoke and support that argument with his subsequent description of people, or even concepts within any given person, existing on a continuum of sexism. I might accept a “misspoke” excuse to claim he didn’t mean what he said. But even on his continuum, he describes a definitive line sliding on that continuum on one side of which is sexism and on the other side is feminism. What is a good word to describe a division consisting of exactly 2 kinds?

            Now, what point of petrander’s did I fail to address?

          2. You could argue that he misspoke and support that argument with his subsequent description of people, or even concepts within any given person, existing on a continuum of sexism

            Oh, so you already understood what Aron was actually saying and chose to be an excessively pedantic and dishonest douche anyway?

            I need not explain exactly what’s wrong with your post, then. Protip: using a hypothetical or a literary device to convey a point isn’t “misspeaking.” Move along, troll.

  8. Oh please, petrander, you poor little flower…does it still hurt where the bad people beat you?

    That you personally think that sexism in your country seems to be less virulent and that for the most part it’s not tolerated tells me that a) your country has done many things right and b) you, like Dawkins, are quick to trivialise the sexism that still goes on around you because “it’s not too bad” (this is very clear in your post). That’s not for you to decide, that’s for the women it affects to decide.

    This is not about Dawkins being above his head, making careless remarks that are poorly worded. He has doubled down and recanted his fake apology, he is actively telling women that the sexism they face is not worth even talking about because muslim women. He knows perfectly well what he is saying, it is representative of his actual views. It’s not someone putting his foot in his mouth, he actually means it. You, petrander may be perfectly willing to ignore this as a triviality and dismiss the whole thing (others are not…in particular many women do not…) and the fact that you are is why people are deservedly critisizing you.

    I’m sure you’ll consider this yet another vicious attack from those horrible pharyngulites…

    1. I’m sure you’ll consider this yet another vicious attack from those horrible pharyngulites…

      Why, yes, and thank you for being a live example illustrating the point quite precisely.

      Oh please, petrander, you poor little flower…does it still hurt where the bad people beat you?

      Yes, it does still hurt. What’s next? Are you going to tell me to “man up”? As a white male I am not allowed to talk about my feelings without being ridiculed? I am not allowed to be sensitive weak and imperfect? Are you going to go “dear muslima” on me now, because there are others (women, non-whites, etc.) who have to suffer through much more vicious vitriole than I would ever? A fact I would fully acknowledge BTW.

      […] that sexism in your country seems to be less virulent […] tells me that […] you, like Dawkins, are quick to trivialise the sexism […] because “it’s not too bad”[…]. That’s not for you to decide, that’s for the women it affects to decide.

      Perhaps, and I am open to entertain that possibility. I really liked when Aron Ra pointed that you can be sexist to a degree, and you would be feminist beyond that degree. I also liked Phil Plait pointing out here that we may all be carrying around a lot of sexism without even being aware of it. It’s a learning process and I have always been eager and willing to learn. But you seemed to have decided beforehand that I am an asshole worthy of derision and demonisation.

      First of all, it’s a matter of interpretation. (Northwestern) Europeans tend to be less used to out-right misogyny/sexism and may therefore overlook it. Conversely, Left-Liberal Americans may interpret things in European settings as “sexist”, where it really is not. It all depends on what is actually going on and if there actually is a clearly negative effect on women.

      BTW Matt “shirtstorm” Taylor is a Brit too. I am starting to see a pattern here…

      That’s not for you to decide, that’s for the women it affects to decide.

      Indeed and I never claimed otherwise. This goes back to you too. We need to evaluate this on a case-to-case basis. With regards to Dawkins, I already agree that he’s saying too many wrong things. I do also think that this is mainly, because of him being clueless. Same thing with Matt Taylor. So I never dismissed this as a triviality, but thanks for trying really hard to interpret my words in the most negative way.

  9. @Monocle Smile

    Oh, so you already understood what Aron was actually saying and chose to be an excessively pedantic and dishonest douche anyway?

    I need not explain exactly what’s wrong with your post, then. Protip: using a hypothetical or a literary device to convey a point isn’t “misspeaking.”

    Ah yes. It’s been a while since I’ve commented on FtB and I do miss the dismissive, divisive name calling.

    Nice cherry pick, but no. I said, “you could” claim he misspoke and (a part you left out) “I might” accept it. But (another part you left out) a problem with that excuse is that it only changes what he claims he meant, not what he literally said. Regarding your claim that his phrase employed some kind of hypothetical or literary device to make a point and apparently should be taken literally: it may be ok to say you didn’t mean that literally, but it’s not ok to say you never said it. However, it did not sound like he was using metaphor, homily, hypothetical, inner voice, third person, or any other literary device. He wasn’t telling a story. He was giving a speech. Those words were his own. It sounded like a direct claim of a matter of fact and “misspoke” would be the only escape.

    1. it may be ok to say you didn’t mean that literally, but it’s not ok to say you never said it

      Well, Aron never DID say what he quoted in the post:

      For example, I’m constantly accused of having said that “you’re either feminist or you’re sexist”, even though that’s not what I actually said

      By your own admission, he never said exactly that, and because you’re today’s Captain Pedantic, your objection is doubletalk. Again, this is troll behavior.

      However, it did not sound like he was using metaphor, homily, hypothetical, inner voice, third person, or any other literary device. He wasn’t telling a story. He was giving a speech

      Firstly, it doesn’t matter one shit how you think he “sounded.” Secondly, people use literary devices in speeches constantly, dumbass. Just stop; you’ve hit rock bottom and have started to dig.

      1. @Monocle Smile

        he never said exactly that

        Wow, I hope that’s not an honest defense. Within that one speech, true he did not utter the verbatim phrase “you’re either feminist or you’re sexist“. Are you saying that “If you are not a feminist, you are a sexist” is NOT qualitatively the same thing as “you’re either feminist or you’re sexist“?

        Firstly, it doesn’t matter one shit how you think he “sounded.”

        Does that apply only to me, or to all audiences of all speeches by all speakers? If it’s the former, it seems capricious and arbitrary. If it is the latter, you should let someone know because there are a lot of people who might get their jobs back if they knew the interpretation of the audience didn’t matter one shit.

        Secondly, people use literary devices in speeches constantly

        Yep, and there are often little verbal cues or gestures that help the audience know that the speaker is employing a literary device. Like “air quotes” or changes in inflection, frequency, timbre, accents, etc. Is that what Aron is claiming, that he was employing a literary device so his words shouldn’t be taken at face value?

        1. Monocle Smile, why are you even bothering with this asshat, JJLatFtB?

          To the asshat JJLatFtB. I am not going to take seriously your complaints. It’s obvious that you don’t like Aronra being divisive against unremorseful sexist asshats, and that you are engaging in dishonest word games in order to score points or something. I know that you know what Aronra means, or you are so goddamned ignorant of the whole context and background evidence that you need to shut up and listen.

          My last time: Generally, feminism is the name of the philosophy and movement of trying to change the world to improve the condition of women to be equal to men – give or take. In other words, advocating feminism is merely the opposite of advocating sexism or condoning sexism through inaction. (All it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.) One can be a feminist and also have some sexist beliefs and behaviors. Honestly advocating feminism and being a feminist does mean a constant struggle to identify and eliminate those sexist beliefs and behaviors. In a very similar way, abolitionists and civil rights advocates all have racist beliefs and behaviors, but the “civil rights movement” can be understood as the opposite of racism. There’s no contradiction here except in your dishonest, disingenuous word games.

          I’m pretty sure I’m talking to a troll. No one could be that ignorant of context and background evidence. However, I’m generous, and I like ranting. Now, go forth, and be evil no more!

  10. By the way, someone was mean to you on the internet (not out of nowhere, but as a response to your actions, but let’s ignore that) and that clearly hurt you so much that you feel the need to complain about it in hyperbolic terms and let the people who did it that they are mean and awful and abusive (your post at Pharyngula was just such a gem). But somehow, when others are “mean” (actually what they endure is far more serious than just people being mean) to women, these women should not be so thin-skinned and put their petty little feelings aside for the benefit of…petty little men with thin skins…?

    If you don’t see the monumental hypocrisy in there, you are far worse than i expected…

    1. @azhael

      Dude, stop. Petrander was explaining a potential origin of the problem, not stating that it wasn’t a problem.

      But somehow, when others are “mean” (actually what they endure is far more serious than just people being mean) to women, these women should not be so thin-skinned and put their petty little feelings aside for the benefit of…petty little men with thin skins…?

      No one said that, least of all petrander. He was just saying that he didn’t understand why his attempts to understand something were met with hostility, and I actually agree with him…Pharyngula posters are insanely impulsive and high-strung, for the most part, even though I’m usually in agreement with their views. I’m a white male feminist, and it’s those first two descriptors that make me refrain from commenting on sexual or racial issues. While most people won’t care, it’s just not worth the bullshit from people who think I’m not allowed to have an opinion.

  11. I would say that dismissing it is actually the same as saying it’s not a problem…the difference is trivial. Petrander makes a huge deal about the way others have treated him for his views, but is happy to trivialise what is done to others…that is both hypocritical and something that can be legitimaly critisized. It is, incidentally, one of the reasons why Dawkins is also critisized.

    His “attempts to understand something” are waving away Dawkins’ responsabilities for his actions. The people who suffer the consequences of those actions are not happy about it and are not going to look favorably on yet another priviledged individual who is not affected by those actions, happily waving them away and going “seriously, what’s the big deal? can’t we look past it and focus on how great Dawkins is in this other area?”.

    By the way, i’m also western european, and while, sure, things are not nearly as bad as in some other places, our culture is most certainly not devoid of sexism and none of it is acceptable…just because it doesn’t affect you, personally (although i would argue that it does) it doesn’t mean that you get to tell the people who it does affect that it’s not so bad, and expect to be treated with the respect that you are not affording them. That’s not an innocent action…that is actually insensitive and offensive to many…it’s no surprise they repay you in kind.

    Also, what you call insanely impulsive and high-strung, i call being really tired of enduring the same shit every day and not being in any mood to cuddle the 30th clueless, priviledged arsehole of the day (because why should they? seriously? the feelings of the clueless, priviledged arsehole matter more than theirs? The clueless one gets to be treated with kiddy gloves because they are special, but everybody else has to put up with their insensitive, offensive comments and smile lest the clueless one’s feefees are bruised?). Sometimes people have excellent reasons to be high-strung…sometimes people snap because their limit has been reached…

    1. Jump to conclusions, much?

      The people who suffer the consequences of those actions are not happy about it and are not going to look favorably on yet another priviledged individual who is not affected by those actions, happily waving them away and going “seriously, what’s the big deal? can’t we look past it and focus on how great Dawkins is in this other area?”

      No one said anything like that. Until you learn the difference between an attempted explanation and an actual argument, you’re going to look like a douchebag. Petrander wasn’t saying that things should be a certain way or that they’re excusable. He merely attempted to provide an explanation for why the problems first originated. They’re still problems.

      it doesn’t mean that you get to tell the people who it does affect that it’s not so bad, and expect to be treated with the respect that you are not affording them. That’s not an innocent action…that is actually insensitive and offensive to many

      Holy shit. No one said anything like that.

      what you call insanely impulsive and high-strung, i call being really tired of enduring the same shit every day and not being in any mood to cuddle the 30th clueless, priviledged arsehole of the day

      Just shut the fuck up. This is Prima Donna bullshit. When a religious person genuinely wants to learn or understand something about atheists or atheism, I don’t call them stupid assholes and tell them to fuck themselves. That’s extremely counterproductive…in fact, it’s the worst response. You’re concluding in advance that all “clueless, privileged assholes” are incapable of learning, understanding, or changing their opinion, and because you will apparently always see me and petrander as “assholes” regardless of what we say or do in the future, I think we’re done here.

  12. No, Monocle, i’m not concluding that all clueless, priviledged arseholes are incapable of learning, understanding or changing their opinion. I’m evidence to the contrary….i’m a clueless, priviledged arsehole in many aspects, but i’ve learned better to some extent (work in progress and all that).

    What i’m concluding is that if you tell people that they shouldn’t make a big deal about the sexist remarks that the most visible figure and representative of their movement, it really should not surprise you if people are not super nice to you….you started it…now own up.

    Anyway, i realise that my criticism towards petrander stems from more than what he has said in here, and it’s probably not fair of me to bring in stuff from another discussion so i’ll stop. I was just annoyed to once again see him whining hyperbolically about how misstreated he has been…

    ——————–

    “If you are not a feminist, you are a sexist”.

    Yup.

    How on earth is that not a true dicotomy? If you don’t think that women are equal to men and deserve the same rights and treatment, which is what the feminist possition is, you are clearly and unambiguously sexist. In fact, you are sexist no matter in what direction that goes…whether you think women are inferior or superior, you are sexist…

    As for ” feminist is the word for non-sexist”, this is not at all problematic if you take into account that Aron is very clearly speaking in the context of discrimination against women. Non-sexist here means someone who doesn’t discriminate against women. The sentence is not said in a vaccuum, there is a context to that talk that precedes it.

    1. I already replied to Azhaels earlier comment, which is now further back up, since comments are nested here, rather than purely chronological. I might just as well have posted it down here, since Azhael is simply not listening.

      I was just annoyed to once again see him whining hyperbolically about how misstreated he has been…

      I spill out my guts, but in your eyes I am just “whining” and being “hyperbolic” about being “misstreated” [sic]. As I wrote before, you’d probably want me to “man up” and trivialize my plight, because others are treated a whole lot worse (“dear muslima”).

      Why do you insist on acting like an asshole? Is it so hard to show a little empathy? Is it so hard to try to see where I may be coming from? We are supposed to be allies! We share similar values, believe it or not, to varying degrees. We oppose theism, racism, sexism and misogyny. Why aren’t you people listening to others!? What is this automated condemnation and treating the expression of any disagreement / confusion / imperfection as some vile act!?

      you tell people that they shouldn’t make a big deal about the sexist remarks that the most visible figure and representative of their movement

      Straw man. I never said never *not* to make a big deal about these things. I just think it’s wrong to demonise people right off the bat and like Aron I feel that we should get some perspective, realize that humans are imperfect and try to understand where they may be coming from.

      1. @azhael

        Also, what you call insanely impulsive and high-strung, i call being really tired of enduring the same shit every day and not being in any mood to cuddle the 30th clueless, priviledged arsehole of the day (because why should they? seriously? the feelings of the clueless, priviledged arsehole matter more than theirs? The clueless one gets to be treated with kiddy gloves because they are special, but everybody else has to put up with their insensitive, offensive comments and smile lest the clueless one’s feefees are bruised?). Sometimes people have excellent reasons to be high-strung…sometimes people snap because their limit has been reached…

        You’re welcome to be mean. I’m generally not one to judge someone for undue mean-ness. However, I do think that Pharyngula blog comments is not a welcoming place. I often find that its commenters are often unreasonable.

        I’m a firebrand. I’m not an accommodationist. However, if the goal of the Pharyngula commenters section is to make a difference by changing minds, then I think they go too far. There’ firebrand, and then there’s extreme arrogance and offputting.

        I suppose if the “goal” is to simply be a community for like-minded people, then it could be doing fine. There’s nothing wrong with being a little mean to outsiders or to ignorant or evil people.

        However, that community is not for me. Just off the top of my head:

        I’ve been called horrible names for defending the legal right to advocate for changes to the law (in the context of defending the legality of Scott Lively’s actions in Uganda). This one really pisses me off that the population would be so silly, naive, and ignorant of history, and so authoritarian, as to create full blown censorship of political speech.

        I’ve been called a bigot and a racist for arguing that beliefs affect actions, culture affects belief, the subset of culture called religion affects belief for those in that religion, and there are real meaningful differences between the world’s religions.

        I’m also really annoyed about the ridiculous anti-nuclear sentiment and pro-“green” sentiment (wind, solar, tides, etc.) which lacks all basis in factual reality. Energy policy is a pet peeve of mine. So many problems in our world come from a lack of cheap clean energy. I see my side, the left-leaning “liberal” side as more responsible for this problem and the right-leaning Republicans, and that pisses me off to no end.

        I also think the hair-trigger of accusing someone of being ableist is over the top. There is nothing wrong about noting that if there was a test for homosexuality of a fetus in the womb and if a doctor and a pill to “make it straight”, we would consider it unethical for a doctor to advise the parents to take the pill, but for many mental and physical disabilities, we could consider it unethical if the doctor withheld knowledge of the existence of a cure-pill or did not advocate for its use. Ergo, we rightly consider it undesirable to have certain mental and physical handicaps. That’s why we’re spending lots of money on finding treatments and cures, as opposed to homosexuality where we are not. And the whole time I emphasized that we should endeavor that this does not stigmatize people with the conditions, yet for that I’ve was roundly denounced as ableist and horrible. /sigh

        Yes, I have some beefs with Pharyngula, and that does color my first impressions, which makes me a lot more sympathetic to Petrander.

        PS: Having said all that, I still don’t know if Petrander is worthy of your treatment of him here.

        /rant (I like ranting.)

      2. I’m leaving for the weekend so i’ll just make a “quick” comment before i go.

        It’s not a bleeding “Dear Muslima”, for fuck’s sakes….it’s pointing out your hypocrisy. You are making a huge deal about the way you were treated in the comments of a blog post. If this has trully affected you so much, that sucks, and i acknowledge that you get to feel however you feel. However, what you don’t seem to grasp at all is that while these people, and me included, have hurt your feelings by being mean to you, YOU have hurt other people by being dismissive of THEIR feelings and more than their feelings, things that actually impact their lives in serious ways. And yes, if you must know, i absolutely think that Dawkins’ sexism is far more severe and with a vastly larger impact than you being told to fuck off on a blog post. I also think that telling women to compromise and put up with it for the “greater good” is far more damaging and to a much larger extent than what you have endured in response to your own actions.

        Use that empathy and sensitivity of yours to look past your own feelings and realise that just because you haven’t used expletives it doesn’t mean that you haven’t been mean, or hurtful. Intent is not magic, i’m sure you’ve already heard that phrase.

        By the way, an ally is not someone who is willing to throw you under the bus, an ally is not someone who makes it all about his feelings (me, me, me, me, me…you are so focussed on your own feelings that you don’t even know why it is that people were mean to you…you think it’s because they are just naturally vile! It doesn’t even occur to you that there might be a legitimate reason why people were angry at you) and doesn’t even think of considering yours. When you are dismissive of the impact of Dawkins’ actions, you are being an ally to Dawkins and the people who would silence women, you are NOT being an ally to women. Being an ally is not about claiming to be, it’s about the actions you take.

        1. You don’t understand. I’m not complaining about my hurt feelings. I’m not that fragile. I’m saying that Pharyngula comments section is a shitty place to hang out because of the shitty posters. You azhael are a typical response of what I’ve come to expect there.

  13. I should really remember to read the entire thread before posting.

    (actually what they endure is far more serious than just people being mean) …

    So, you did pull a “dear muslima” on me! How is this not hypocritical!?

    But somehow, when others are “mean” […] to women, these women should not be so thin-skinned and put their petty little feelings aside for the benefit of…petty little men with thin skins…?

    How on the world you managed to construe this straw-man is beyond me. If someone is genuinely “mean” to women (or any other weaker part), I would be the first to condemn it.

    Petrander makes a huge deal about the way others have treated him for his views, but is happy to trivialise what is done to others…

    …you get to tell the people who it does affect that it’s not so bad, and expect to be treated with the respect that you are not affording them.

    Stop making shit up! Just… stop! Burn this humongous straw-man that you’ve constructed! I never did or said any of those things!

    What is it that I’ve said that is sooo insensitive and offensive that you need to snap like that?

    I may somehow see how you can interpret things this way, but please try and take a step back, try Keeping some perspective and try to see where I’m coming from, for crying out loud!

  14. More comments have been trickling in, which I didn’t see, while I was working on my latest comment, so I have to add some more responses:

    YOU have hurt other people by being dismissive of THEIR feelings and more than their feelings, things that actually impact their lives in serious ways.

    I have done no such thing! This is entirely fabricated. I have never been dismissive of anyone’s feelings nor things that impact their lives in negative ways. You are making stuff up.

    …i absolutely think that Dawkins’ sexism is far more severe and with a vastly larger impact than you being told to fuck off on a blog post. I also think that telling women to compromise and put up with it for the “greater good” is far more damaging and to a much larger extent than what you have endured in response to your own actions.

    First of all, I did already state repetitively that I disagree with Dawkins here. How could you possibly have missed that?

    Second of all, what I, MonocleSmile, EnlightenedLiberal and Aron Ra in the very article you are commenting on are trying to tell you, is that flaming people in your own camp on certain disagreements is in fact damaging to the movement!

    I know you lot keep on trying to twist it this way, but this is actually not about just little me. Yes, I may experience the problem first hand, and, no, I am not so tough as some of you, but I also see the greater problem. And I also spring to the defense of others like frankqturner in the thread on racism.

    By the way, an ally is not someone who is willing to throw you under the bus

    Then why do you keep on throwing your very own allies under the bus!? I don’t do that? I just want to talk about matters!

    you are so focussed on your own feelings that you don’t even know why it is that people were mean to you… […] It doesn’t even occur to you that there might be a legitimate reason why people were angry at you […]

    I really, REALLY want to know, because I really do not understand! The only thing I can come up with are the straw-men you keep throwing at me. I am totally baffled by the level of irrationality by some of the regular zealots on the Pharyngula blog!

    […] you think it’s because they are just naturally vile!

    WHAT!? Where did I even say such a despicable and wrong thing!

    .When you are dismissive of the impact of Dawkins’ actions, […]

    STOP! MAKING! SHIT! UP!

  15. @EnlightenmentLiberal

    You are not being honest. An honest person would note that Aronra “misspoke”, and ask that Aronra be clearer in the future. An honest person applies the principle of charity.

    No problem. Which of Aron’s claims should I assume he misspoke? a) “Feminism” is the word for “non-sexist”, b) “I’m constantly accused of having said that “you’re either feminist or you’re sexist”, even though that’s not what I actually said”, or c) “it’s not a dichotomy”?

    It’s hard to apply the principle of charity to all of this when he went to some length in the speech to preemptively claim victim at the hands of people accusing of him of saying something he “never said, never meant, never implied”, and then in this editorial he played the same victim card. He also repeated the “not a dichotomy” claim from the speech in this editorial. A one-time slip of the tongue is easily charitably overlooked. Repeating the statements makes them less likely to be slip-ups and less deserving of charity.

    By the way, why all of a sudden are you promoting an “Aron Ra misspoke” agenda? Before, you were claiming that I simply misunderstand the concept of “feminism” or the “context”.

  16. @EnlightenmentLiberal

    To the asshat JJLatFtB. I am not going to take seriously your complaints. It’s obvious that you don’t like Aronra being divisive against unremorseful sexist asshats, and that you are engaging in dishonest word games in order to score points or something. I know that you know what Aronra means, or you are so goddamned ignorant of the whole context and background evidence that you need to shut up and listen.

    I completely forgot to reply to this insult. I’m not quite sure what fuels your hostility. But let me say that my points were not “complaints” and in fact, I do like Aron quite a bit. I enjoy practically every video featuring him and I agree with him almost all the time. I accept that to him, “feminism” is synonymous with “non-sexism” and he prefers to use the word “feminism” in place of “non-sexism”. I get what he means. He might even have an opinion similar to yours that even quibbling with his use of the word makes one an “asshat”.

    Where it’s difficult, if not impossible to reach accord with Aron is when he insists “If you are not a feminist, you are a sexist” is not a dichotomy. As azhael said above, “How on earth is that not a true dichotomy?” Despite my respect for Aron, I think he is being dishonest on this point and for claiming victim status over critics who used his words against him.

    You, EnlightenmentLiberal, are a different problem entirely. You’re a scourge to you own cause, regardless of what that cause is. Whether it’s promoting feminism, attacking sexism, or defending Aronra, you do more harm than good. You don’t practice what you expect from others and you use scurrilous bullying to try shut off what you perceive as contrary opinions. From my experience, you’ve found a matching dark corner of the web.

  17. @EnlightenmentLiberal, you sound like a typical coward bully and you argue just like an aggrieved theist defending their scripture who, instead of admit the folly of their scripture resorts to ad hominem tactics. In a so-called community such as FtB, there should be no sacred cows and every one of you should feel comfortable, even encouraged, to proclaim that one of your evangelists is wrong. I have a feeling that since such weak defenders responded to my simple assault, the rest of the FtB community can see that Aron is wrong but doesn’t want to admit it.

  18. You are not engaging honestly.

    there should be no sacred cows and every one of you should feel comfortable, even encouraged, to proclaim that one of your evangelists is wrong

    This is wrong. One sacred cow is honesty. One sacred cow is skepticism. One sacred cow is reason, rationality, and science. One sacred cow is being a decent human being.

    We welcome you to provide feedback. If your feedback is wrong-headed and dishonest, which it most certainly is, then the right thing to do is to be unwelcoming, in order to create an environment where negative social feedback will force you to conform to the standards I have just laid out.

    Someone once said, that if you want the definition of a feminist, ask a feminist, not an MRA. I’ve already explained to you several times the correct meanings of these words as used by self-identified feminists, and I’ve explained to you Aronra’s clearly stated intent. I am not interested in playing your word games. I am not interested in coddling up to your victim complex and superiority complex. You refuse to accept those posts or otherwise engage with this posts, and that makes you dishonest.

    Shape up, or expect no constructive conversation from me.

    1. @EnlightenmentLiberal

      You are not engaging honestly.

      Spontaneous, novel, and ad hoc definitions seems to be a big thing at FtB. Aronra makes up his own definition of “dichotomy” and you make up your own definition of “honestly”.

      One sacred cow is honesty. One sacred cow is skepticism. One sacred cow is reason, rationality, and science. One sacred cow is being a decent human being.

      I would have called that a list of sacred “tenets” or “doctrines” perhaps. “Sacred cow” usually implies an unreasonable reverence. It’s a bit of a stretch of the common meaning, but, I can work around it.

      We welcome you to provide feedback. If your feedback is wrong-headed and dishonest, which it most certainly is, then the right thing to do is to be unwelcoming…

      Again, novel definitions pepper your every thought. “Welcome” by unwelcoming. “Disagreement” equates to “wrong-headed and dishonest”.

      …in order to create an environment where negative social feedback will force you to conform to the standards I have just laid out.

      So “negative social feedback” and “conformity” also among the sacred cows. To me, they don’t seem to fit that good with reason, rationality, and science.

      I’ve already explained to you several times the correct meanings of these words as used by self-identified feminists, and I’ve explained to you Aronra’s clearly stated intent.

      And I and others have explained several times that your assumption of Aronra’s intent does not and can not accord with his multiple explicit statements. Rather than admit that Aronra is wrong (for denying what he said and his denial of dichotomy), you choose to attempt to stifle me with insults (MRA, asshat) and bullying (unwelcoming negative social feedback to force conformity).

      I am not interested in playing your word games.

      Maybe because MY word games involve the accepted and common meaning of words?

      I am not interested in coddling up to your victim complex and superiority complex.

      I’m not sure I have a superiority complex, but I know I don’t have a victim complex.

      You refuse to accept those posts or otherwise engage with this posts, and that makes you dishonest.

      With which posts have I not engaged? “Refuse to accept”…”Refuse to accept”… Oh… I have to accept that “conformity” is a sacred cow around here. Well, I’m sorry, but I don’t share your reverence for conformity and I need a rational justification to accept something.

      Shape up, or expect no constructive conversation from me.

      Is that what you think you offer? “Constructive conversation”?

  19. So no, you’re going to continue to be an asshat, pedantically arguing pointless minutiae in bad faith. Gotcha. Silly me for having hope.

    1. @EnlightenmentLiberal

      Oops. My bad. I’ll trying to shape up and conform. From now on, when one of the apostles of FtB creates an obvious dichotomy but denies that it is a dichotomy, I will try harder to integrate this new exception into my personal lexicon. I will try harder to adopt FtB colloquialisms and ignore conflicts between FtB word meanings and the commonly accepted word meanings. I will also try harder to accept that when someone on FtB insults and attempts to use bullying to prove their argument it is probably because I “wrong-headedly” stayed on point and pointed out errors that I should ignore in order to maintain harmony, conform, and protect the sacred cows. Thanks for your help.

  20. I like that Aaron points out from time to time that people aren’t perfect and whenever someone gets a following they also get the hero label until they make some stupid comment, and then everyone wants to run away. Although I think the younger generations are more cynical they also don’t have the “hero problem” we did. PZ is typical of my generation in this way. This is the solution for everything on the Right: find the hero, or the messiah, or the “thousand points of light” to save the day. The Left understands that people are messy and complicated and our strength is not in the goodness of any one person but in the goodness of our organization and practice. We will be much stronger if we don’t discard our coalition partners or fellow travelers.

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