@PennJillette, Your Friend Is Wrong January 2, 2012

@PennJillette, Your Friend Is Wrong

If you’ve been hanging around the freethought communities lately, you’ve probably heard a lot about sexism. You’ve probably heard plenty of women sharing their experiences: feeling objectified, feeling dismissed, feeling threatened, feeling constantly sexualized.

Does that mean every man in the skeptic and atheist communities is a misogynist douchebag? Absolutely and unquestionably not.

Does the fact that not every man in the skeptic and atheist communities is a misogynist douchebag mean that these women’s experiences are invalid? Absolutely and unquestionably not.

But it seems that Mallorie Nasrallah and her friend Penn Jillette disagree.

Jillette, ever the contrarian, tweeted a link to that article on Monday night, and a horde of angry feminist skeptics started frothing at the mouth. Me included.

Hey, y’all know what a straw man argument looks like, right? Oh, look — here’s one now!

The idea that you have to set time aside to cater to me, because my vagina imbibes [sic] me with some special needs is becoming increasingly insulting. These communities are about our minds, not our genitals and as far as I can tell my mind is just like yours.

Gosh, if only women were asking for special treatment, instead of asking to be treated as equals by communities that have been traditionally male-dominated, that argument might actually make sense.

Ooh, here’s another one!

More recently I have noticed a trend among men in my communities, you seem to have been told that you’re awful and need to change. Again, apparently because your genitals imbibe [sic] you with an inescapable assholism. Please never believe this lie. With all my heart I beg you to not make monsters of your gender. I like your jokes. I like your humor. I like the casualness and ease that no gender distinction has allowed us all over the years.

Yep, because it’s dirty jokes that make the ladies uncomfortable. Oh, my virgin fucking ears. Perhaps, instead, it’s the objectification and trivialization of our concerns that upset people.

With all of my heart I beg you: Do not change. Do not change for me, do not change for someone else. You’re wonderful, just the way you are. If the day comes when you censor your language around me, when dick/fart/vagina jokes are not allowed because of my delicate gender, my heart will break as I wave goodbye in a search for a more open, natural, candid community that does not insist on seeing me first for my gender.

This is the part that really upset me. In one fell swoop, Nasrallah minimized the legitimate concerns of women in the skeptical community, and urged the men of said community to resist a change that no one is trying to make. No one is trying to eliminate dick/fart/vagina jokes. That’d bore me too. In fact, I welcome any good joke that includes all three of those.

But if there’s one thing we can learn from the plethora of female voices speaking out, it’s that there’s a systemic issue in the skeptical community causing lots of women to feel uncomfortable. Nasrallah declaring herself part of the boys’ club and dismissing those who feel marginalized as “delicate” doesn’t help that whole “sexism” thing. Nor does implying that everyone else needs to “man up.”

You know what does help?

Listening to women’s actual concerns, instead of misrepresenting them and then urging people to ignore them.

Taking inventory of your own behavior, in light of what you hear, and modifying it as necessary.

Treating everyone equally, instead of presenting the problem as the “manly dudes just being normal people” versus the “sensitive ladytypes who get oh-so-offended.”

Jillette is already trying to backtrack, saying that Nasrallah is speaking only about her own narrow experiences in one individual group. But considering the way the piece itself is written, I find that pretty disingenuous. You are certainly welcome to judge for yourself.

Me, I’m just disappointed.

***Edit***: You can respond directly to Mallorie Nasrallah (or just follow the conversation) at her Facebook page.

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  • Guest

    You people get way too worked up over nothing.

    You don’t agree with Mallorie? Big deal. Get over it, crybaby.

  • First post. Good job big boy/girl.

  • I’m more disappointed in her lack of recognition of the word “imbue.”

  • e grassi

    The moment you make a “community” out of an idea, someone’s bound to get hurt.

  • Could someone please answer me this question:  is sexism rampant in the skeptic community?  Or are we still focused on the silly thread from the children at reddit? 

    (personally I’ve never witnessed it and like to get some context)

  • Unfortunately, it is.  I say this from my own experiences within it, hearing stories from friends, etc.

  • Adamcormier94

    I think Mallorie does have a point Mr.Mehta, 
    I feel this all goes back to Dawkins comment about skepchick’s experience and her feeling awkward at being asked back for coffee at a guys house and telling guys everywhere not to do this. That is asking completely for special treatment, if a girl asked a guy back to her place for coffee, I doubt the first thing a guy would do is talk about it on his blog and tell girls everywhere never to ask guys back to their apartment whether or not their thoughts were sexual in nature or not. Skepchick’s demand for some sort of special treatment I feel is exactly what Mallorie is trying to condemn, and although we might shake out heads at Dawkins for starting an un-necessary fight with his overly sarcastic (yet quite eloquent and brilliant) comment comparing her ‘ills’ with those of the Muslim world. This got way out of proportion with talks of rape and wealthy white male privilege slander, etc…etc… I feel this has the chance to go the same way. Now I’d say I’m a feminist, I’m outraged just as much as the next guy at the difference in pay between man and woman of equal standings (and to be honest I’m sure often times the woman is even doing the better job). But I do see a trend in a lot of ‘feminists’ this demand for superiority. Whenever someone starts a conversation with me about feminism, before I say anything else I always ask them to define: ‘feminism’ and a ‘feminist’ because to some people those words have completely different meanings.
    just my thoughts,
    – Adam Cormier

  • This entire thing reminds me of S.E. Cupp… Fox News’ fake atheist character meant to get under real atheists’ skins. Except that this friend of Jillette’s is unfortunately real.

  • AngryZenBuddhist

    I miss the days when this was Hemant’s blog.

  • Still is!

  • So Mallorie has an opinion that some people disagree with, and others don’t.

    That doesn’t make her right or wrong, unless you subscribe to highlanderism. 

    Wait, it’s the internet, of COURSE it has to be “Two enter, one leaves” for EVERYTHING. How stupid of me to think otherwise.

  • Not really into the drama. For me, being up front and honest with the person who just so happened to offend or make me uncomfortable at that particular moment works wonders. Almost always the person didn’t even mean it the way I interpreted it.

    This is coming from someone who is hispanic, atheist, vegan, and female…

  • GazeboNinja

    If you’d like to address Mallorie directly, instead of via Penn as proxy;


  • Rich Wilson

    I’m enjoying the varied content, including this.  I’m just having a hard time keeping up with everything.

  • Anonymous

    Treating every woman who dares to disagree as a traitor to the cause isn’t helping anyone either

  • Rob

    Spot on. It isn’t about treating women like men, but treating women as equals. Congrats to Mallorie. She has chosen a very easy solution… not bothering to consider if the concerns of others are important. Must love some Ayn Rand.

  • As in any group, there is bound to be a certain subset of people of either sex that doesn’t treat others as equals.  Having followed the Rebecca Watson “controversy” a bit, I’d like to chime in here and add a bit to this post (which I agree strongly with).

    The way I see it, *some* guys disrespect women or make them feel like their safety is jeopardized and I have no issue believing it considering, for instance, the horrible comments on Reddit toward that teen girl and her “Demon-haunted world” picture.  In the same way, I’m sure Rebecca Watson does get creeps writing her overtly sexual stuff that could lead her to be cautious of propositions and/or being alone with a member of the skeptical community in an elevator late at night.

    Now, the problem as I see it is when people get emotional about the issue and make a general statement, for instance that women are either “special” and should be  treated in a “special” way or that there’s no issue and they’re just nagging.  Can’t we arrive at a balanced compromise?  Say, make joke about vaginas because they’re funny as hell!  And at the same time, try and avoid putting women in a situation where they could feel vulnerable or threatened.

    I’ll use an example from personal experience.  I’ve been to Afghanistan twice and within the military bases and camps, as would be expected and despite all the precautions, sexual abuse takes place.  Some people (mainly men) rape other people (mostly women but men too).

      Knowing this and in order to reduce anxiety in my female companions, whenever I was alone with one I took great care not to put her in a corner or in a situation where I *could* use my greater strength to overpower and abuse the lady to my advantage, just so she could feel safe.  And in the same way, I would often escort female friends on camp if they needed to go somewhere at night or in the day if it was isolated.  A military base in a combat zone is usually not lit beyond the bare minimum so there are lots of corners and “dark alleys” were someone with evil deeds in mind could hide.  As the bigger/stronger person, I felt it necessary to take steps so my more vulnerable companions would feel the same amount of freedom and security as I did at all times.

    I feel this relates to this whole issue in that there doesn’t need to be a threat but merely the perception and likelihood of one for someone vulnerable to feel unsafe.  As a large and hopefully caring community, this means we should at least try and project how another person may view a situation and if possible, avoid it or at least clarify your intentions.

    So I say bring on the fart/penis/vagina jokes but don’t allow women to fear you in a dark alley at a skeptical conference (or Afghanistan)!

  • Actually I prefer discussion on Facebook, I really hate the character limit on twitter.


  • Anonymous

    This was one womans opinion, it isn’t wrong, it’s an opinion, one that she is entitled to. There seems to be lots of nit picking of the blog, speling grammer etc, what it does overlook is that one woman feels part of a community, until now of course.

    Surely if you want to be part of a community YOU have to make some adjustments to fit in, rather than the whole community adjusting to accommodate you, and we’re not talking about misogynistic groups here.

    Seems to me that misandrism is as big a problem as misogynism these days, all too often men are guilty of simply being men.

  • Anonymous

    Is that real? Are you really saying that when someone makes an argument you think is wrong, you shouldn’t express your disagreement? 

  • wow 30 comments from men calling Mallorie ignorant and sexist, and about 3 comments from women bewildered why Mallorie is being attacked for her views.  Where’s the sexism again?

  • Spencer

    Wow, all the fucking stupid comments being upvoted on this blog really makes me consider who’s reading it.

  • Also pretty sure the word imbibe can be used in that context.

  • Made the edit to Megan’s post.

  • Greg laden

    Adam, why are you talking to that guy instead of thr woman who wrote the post?

  • I think the sexism is mixed from group to group. I know we at Harvard try our best to make everyone feel welcome, men, women, trans, etc. That said, I am a little amused at the dogpile on this woman’s experience. While I disagree with her conclusions, I don’t think that her experience is illegitimate. They are only one data point. Disagree with her if you want. But realize that her perspective exists and is just as valid as Jen’s, Hemant’s, and mine.

  • The Vicar

    Meh. You’re upset because Penn Jillette, the guy who is a big-L Libertarian and has proclaimed that recycling is a waste of time despite the fact that we have ended deforestation for paper-making purposes, is acting like a douchebag? That’s like being upset when Scott Adams, the guy who draws Dilbert, says something woo-filled — by now you should be EXPECTING that behavior. He probably does it precisely because he knows it will draw comment; the guy is a media figure, after all.

    I have a sickening feeling that people who “expected better” of Penny-Boy were doing so because he is an atheist, in much the same way that Christians trot out the “no true Christian” thing to pretend that Christians never act like jerks. What’s next, pretending that prominent atheists must be absolutely flawless because they are atheists? (Thankfully, the recent decease of Richard Hitchens and subsequent fairly common criticism of his later, unethical warmongering days showed that at least some of us aren’t doing that — yet.)

  • Thank you, Megan.

    We hear that women are not well represented in atheist circles but then we are told that women who are feminists are feminazis, that men aren’t accorded equal rights, that when a women says that some men in the atheist community are not behaving in a way that is conducive to women feeling comfortable such as hitting on women when they have them trapped alone in an elevator , that women are drama queens and that men are being lumped into the all men are sexist pigs category.

    Couldn’t guys take the time to listen to what is being said by the women who are not uncomfortable with a few jokes but are uncomfortable with nasty, scary jokes or being cornered when alone?  Instead of leaping onto the aren’t women sensitive band wagon couldn’t some of the guys think a  little bit about the message that is being delivered and do start 

     “Treating everyone equally, instead of presenting the problem as the “manly dudes just being normal people” versus the “sensitive ladytypes who get oh-so-offended.”

    Going along with this theme is men who get sidetracked onto the gal didn’t say it just right so I am not going to listen to the message but instead attack on the basis that I felt the gal generalized too much or didn’t state that a huge percentage of guys who are atheists and the best people in the world.  Aha, maybe that was wrong of the guys but since you didn’t say just right I will marginalize the message and pick on the messenger.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe people should just focus on the larger issues? Is there a problem with sexism? Yes. But artificial, unnecessary drama like this is just a distraction.

    The way this tends to work  isn’t just a simple disagreement between two people. It’s one person deviating from the mainstream opinion and then being piled on by most of everyone else in the group for it

  • brad

    I would make a comment, but her vagina is keeping me from saying what I really feel.

  • Spencer

     ‘Is there a problem with sexism? Yes, but you shouldn’t actually draw attention to it or call out people with sexist attitudes, statements, and beliefs.’

    Fuck you.

  • Anonymous

    “I feel this all goes back to Dawkins comment about skepchick’s experience and her feeling awkward at being asked back for coffee at a guys house and telling guys everywhere not to do this. ”
    That is actually not what happened. Watson announced pointedly her desire to go to sleep at 4 AM, and a man she’d never spoken to before followed her onto an elevator. This man proceeded to ignore her stated intention of ending her evening by inviting to his hotel room for coffee. 

    Saying that men should not do this is not requesting “special treatment” or “superiority.” If someone says that they want to go back to their and go to sleep, assume they mean it. If you would like to meet someone you don’t know personally, don’t do it by following them into an enclosed space late at night. That seems straightforward enough.

    Unfortunately, when women make statements and suggestions along these lines, a lot of people diminish their concerns. Most of the people who do this are men, but some are women.

    Here is Watson’s first written post recounting the event, for those who are unclear on the details (and still care):

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see what’s artificial about it. She wrote a piece as a direct challenge to an opinion held by many- nothing inherently wrong with that. But, in doing so, she misrepresented the arguments she was disagreeing with. A lot of people called her on it. 

    And often, people going against the “mainstream” of a particular ideological subset are actually re-enforcing ideas that are very common in society as a whole. I think you’ll find that Nasrallah’s views would be banal outside of communities with a strong feminist presence. 

    But what’s important is whether or not what she is saying is true, and if any part of what she argues is inaccurate, it deserves correction.

  • You really need to do something about making the “Submitted By:” line larger then, its so small its like reading the fine print on a contract.  It sometimes takes me to end of the post before I figure out it wasn’t written by you and others posts, like now, I have wait until I get to the comments.

    Or you could  have your guests write a nice little blurb at the beginning, I’ve seen you do that on other guest posts and it really goes a long way toward figuring out who’s talking.

    Because this is your blog I assume you are doing the writing, when you’re not your guest should make it quite clear that it isn’t you.

  • His Shadow

    I found Mallorie’s missive annoying for the straw men as well.

    don’t ever believe the lie that us delicate girls cant take being hit on

    So, if a woman is uncomfortable being hit on in an elevator at 4am that’s just that chicks problem. Carry on as if normal because it’s nonsense that such an approach would make anyone uncomfortable because another woman finds the first woman’s concerns silly.

  • His Shadow

    Way to further the discussion.

  • Drew J

    Megan, you sound hot.

  • Nah. The byline’s at the top and bottom for regular contributors now. People will get used to it.

  • His Shadow

    If you think this started with Reddit, or that what went on in Reddit isn’t indicative of the exact problem in the first place, you need to do more background.

  • As a female and an atheist, I’m still saying the same thing I said the day all of this Reddit sexism nonsense happened.

    Is it terrible that this girl was ridiculed and made to feel like an outcast in the atheist community? No.
    It’s terrible that a PERSON was ridiculed and made to feel like an outcast in the atheist community.

    People are making this into a sexist issue when it really isn’t one.

  • Of course the woman is allowed to feel uncomfortable – but that doesn’t make this a sexist issue.
    Many people – women included – are into casual sex. The guy made her a veiled offer. She refused. That’s all there was to it.

    If a man had complained about being hit on in an elevator, he’d be ridiculed.

  • I like your jokes. I like your humor.

    Hmm… I wonder what “male humor” she has in mind.

    …dick/fart/vagina jokes…


  • Charles Black

    Is it really so difficult to just treat everyone as equals, despite their gender? Things like this just drive me up the wall.

  • This is super not helpful, imho.

  • > Harvard


  • Thanks, I deserved that for H-bombing.

  • Indeed, her experience is valid but because it was one data point, it was ridiculous of her to draw such heavy conclusions.

  • This is what you get when you associate yourself with egalitarians, who think that indiscriminate treatment of every human being is the rational and more importantly the progressive thing to do.  Well, here goes: there are inherent differences between the sexes beyond dick, balls, cunt and tits.  Not accepting these natural, genetic and social distinctions is as irrational as any religious dogma I’ve come across and is unfortunately promulgated through a community that claims to be skeptical of all claims but especially of the most well-established.  Mallorie is pointing out that men should not stop being men, stop acting like men act, because they are worried they will put off some sensitive women.  And this is no machismo trip.  I don’t consider myself ultra masculine.  I get shy and weirded out by frat boy treatment of women and treatment of human beings in general.  This doesn’t mean people shouldn’t respect natural boundaries between the sexes or that we must accuse as an aggressor any man who maybe wants to plow some pretty atheist chick and takes action to that end.  Sorry but you’re not being repressed or marginalized because men sexualize you.  It’s what we’re always going to fucking do, so deal with it.  Girls are pretty and we want to stick our rods inside them until we go blorp and fall asleep.  It’s the same in any community.  It’s not rampant in the “skeptic” community.  It’s rampant in humanity.  Beyond some sort of gene selection process, I don’t think we’ll be getting rid of the barriers between the sexes, nor should we hope to do so. Act the way you want to act, the way that seems right.  Don’t change yourself, your nature that has never harmed anyone so that you can get some more people into your community.  Your community should rise or fall based on the intellectual virtue displayed.  And I must say, it’s not looking all too good if you can’t challenge social norms such as this.

  • I agree: Her straw men are annoying.  Everyone has a right to their own opinion.  But not their own logic.

  • “If a man had complained about being hit on in an elevator, he’d be ridiculed.”

    This is not a compelling argument. If the man had been hit on by another man big enough to overpower him in an enclosed space no one would ridicule him for complaining. The reason a man would be ridiculed is because women are rarely seen as a threat to men, especially not as a sexual assault threat (not true, women can and do rape men but it’s not that common).

  • I agree that how she was treated would be just as terrible is she was a boy, but she isn’t and the people who ridiculed did it on the basis of her being a girl. How is that not an issue of sexism?

  • mikemunrow

    In this case, simply being a man is cause for being a threat. As most men could overpower most women. 

  • Agree with Hemant. People just need to remember to actually read it. 😛

  • The comments about Mallorie’s statements seem to be more annoyed with her using a single data point to make large generalizations about an entire group. She definitely could have used a few more “in my opinion” disclaimers in front of her sentences, in my opinion (pun intended).

    The rest is calls of sexism from all sides. Penn’s tweets appear to provide the correct path – “Oh right! She was talking only about herself. Maybe she should have said that.”

  • I’m confused. Are you saying that Mallorie should make some adjustments to fit in? Or that each person commenting should make some adjustments? Or?

  • Sexism is rampant throughout human civilization. I am not certain but I think this is a pretty safe generalization. Though there may be some small groups which manage to escape the more egregious effects of sexism.

  • UofC

    It can’t; she means ‘imbue’. 

    ‘Imbibe’ means ‘to drink’, as any university-level drinker (imbiber?) knows. Tbh, I find the image of this girl being drunk by her vagina whilst it also swallows special needs quite funny, rather than, as she says, ‘insulting’.

  • It seems that she was talking about her own experience with a particular Freethought group, and not her experience with feminists in the movement in general. She probably should have made that more clear from the beginning though.  I find her statements to be refreshing. But I don’t see them as a way or even an attempt at a way, of shutting down the other side of the argument in general. It reads like she was venting about her own experience. If she’s not a regular pundit in the movement in the first place, I think folks should relax. We need all types of Atheists anyway.

  • Anonymous

    I kind of understand what she is saying, though it is seemingly written to instigate some kind of argument with atheist communities, especially in light of all the feminist work people are doing right now.  

    It reminds me a bit of my group of friends from high school.  There were mostly boys, with me and sometimes one other girl and less frequently other girlfriends.  The jokes were incredible crude, and I was uncomfortable at first, but soon felt right at home with the masturbation jokes and dick jokes etc.  I was even used to the commentary on my looks.  But I couldn’t get “used” to the rape jokes.  They always made me uncomfortable, and were even triggering often times because I am a rape survivor. I didn’t feel like I could ask them to stop, that it was my problem to just accept them for their humor in their group.  It automatically made me feel like I was not a part of the group, because of this very clear distinction.  It didn’t occur to me that I had the right to tell them that I was uncomfortable by those jokes because my feeling uncomfortable would make them feel bad.  

    So to me, the most important thing about a group is the ability for anyone in it to come forward if they are being made uncomfortable.  I would say that there is no real way to say that all issues brought up need to be applied evenly across all groups.  This is usually personal between a few people, but the group as a whole should be supportive of creating a positive environment.  Does that mean that there should be no dirty jokes at atheist/ skeptic groups/blogs? No.  But perhaps one shouldn’t open with it when inviting new people in.  Establish trust and then everyone can joke together.

    I think this gets blown out of scope often because people use their platform to reach a wide audience, and the behaviors brought up seem benign when viewed from the big picture.  Despite the fact that mostly anyone would agree that RW has the right to say “No” or “Fuck off” to ElevatorGuy, it seems ludicrous to some when she says so on youtube.  For whatever reason it must feel like a personal attack to some, and not a comment about one specific person.  And I feel the same way about this piece.  I say, if the position written about doesn’t fit you or your group or your situation, assume it is not talking about you.  

    I think using platforms is great, but people should all keep in mind that just because someone’s voice or words reach more people, doesn’t mean they necessarily speak for more people.

  • WhatPaleBlueDot

    Hey look at that!  We don’t have real concerns!  We’re just emotional women!  It’s just too fucking easy.

  • WhatPaleBlueDot

    Even if it were just about the fucking elevator, it would be a real argument.  But it isn’t.  And reducing all skeptical women’s concerns to a single incident which has been completely blown out of proportion is fallacious.

  • WhatPaleBlueDot

    She seems to like reducing a lot of people to rather puerile boxes.

  • WhatPaleBlueDot

    Well, as long as you blorp, I don’t need to be considered a whole person.  I’m just a wet hole.

  • Michael

    Why bother? Nobody who is interested in this discussion is approaching it with an open mind.

  • Anonymous

    What I’m somewhat depressingly fascinated by is how a fair number of women have come forward explaining how they are made uncomfortable within the community, and yet others simply tell them that there is no problem. This is like several neighbors complaining at a meeting that the music from one neighbor doesn’t let them sleep and others claiming there really is no music because they live further away or have a higher threshold for waking up.

    The problem is not going to go away because you dismiss concerns, or limit the conversation to exhortations that “not all men are sexist!” (when this is never claimed), or say “well that’s the internet” or “stop being such a baby”. You sure as hell are never going to solve the issue of people feeling dismissed and minimalized by dismissing and minimalizing their concerns.

    It’s often been commented on how welcoming the atheist community is of LGBT folks. This is manifested in a variety of ways. Posts about LGBT rights are commonplace on skeptic blogs. The comments threads of these posts tend to be uniformly supportive and, perhaps most importantly of all, any homophobic remark is met with a harsh response from other commenters, who rebuke, rebutt and reject homophobia in their midst, even though most commenters are heterosexual. LGBT folks can see that not only do atheists share their views on equality, they will not tolerate bigotry in the community. Compare that to any thread on sexism that doesn’t strictly limit itself to bashing sexism within religion, and you’ll start to see why the community doesn’t always seem as welcoming to women as it is to LGBT* folks (*some of whom are women, obviously).

  • Anonymous

    She is absolutely free to have and express her own experience, but her exhortations to “men” to not change generalized her experience. Essentially she said “I love things they way they are, so guys keep going exactly the same”. She severely misrepresented the concerns of other women (and many men), dismissed them as nonsense and made a call for continuity. This is not merely sharing her experience, this is deciding that her experience is the only one that counts and other women’s concerns are to be dismissed.

  • Trina

    We’re all humans, here (unless there’s  a stray space alien present lol), and I expect and usually receive the same respect as anyone else.   In a group situation, everyone present deserves basic respect.  What that means can vary, depending on the situation.  In a more formal setting, such as an ‘official’ meeting, I’d expect talk to be somewhat less casual than in an informal ‘get-together.’   I swear like a sailor, myself, under the right circumstances, and don’t have a problem with jokes, so long as those who are slinging them can take as good as they’re dishing-out.  But if someone’s going to be sexist around me, I hope they’re prepared to be called-out on it.  As should anyone behaving in a sexist manner, anywhere. 

    I haven’t really seen much sexist talk around here (although a few of the above comments make me wonder, I admit), but if there are very many sexist atheists, then let them go start their own group! 

  • Anonymous

    1. I urge people to look up sexism/racism in the dictionary. It’s more than just making someone “feel” comfortable and avoiding using sexist/racist humor

    2. it bothers me that folks dismiss claims of sexism/racism but catch a fit if one artist changes ONE word in a song

    3. I appreciate Mehta for bringing up these issues.

    4. I love the fact that we are discussing it, it demonstrates that we are as rational as we say we are (despite the trolls and the sexist responses by some folks)

  • Anonymous

    There is a problem, but this is doing nothing whatsoever to actually deal with it. All I’m seeing is more drama. I guess the fact that it’s a relatively small community plays a huge part in this. There is a small number of well-known blogs that anyone can easily follow. So all big-name bloggers make a statement about it or bring their followers’ attention to it. Then it’s another one or two rounds with everyone making comments about the previous comments. So things can get amplified very quickly.

    When people say “Don’t make such a big deal out of it”, they do not mean sexism in general, but blowing another ‘incident’ (unlike the Reddit thing, nothing actually happened here) out of proportion. Or at least it seems so due to it being a small number of blogs

  • Pen

    What an excellent use of time!  Gentlemen, keep your cocks out of the discussion, unless it is that sort of room.  Women, don’t judge all men by the actions of a few. Internet, you aren’t that important to what happens in the real world, and we are figuring that out.  Internet, you are all ID, not enough of the grit and grinding that destroys somethings and builds others.  That happens when we walk away from you, and deal with each other.

  • Greg

    Until people from both sides are able to talk about this subject without generalising, looking at things rationally, and immediately chucking out someone’s point of view when it doesn’t agree with theirs, I’m not reading any more posts about feminism. They’re just making me care less and less. Like someone else said, I really miss the days when this was just Hemant’s blog, with the occasional guest post.

    I’m sure some idiot will try to spin that as me being somehow misogynistic – I’m not, I’m still a vehement supporter of equal rights. 

    Unfortunately, my experience is that my opinion doesn’t count in a discussion involving feminism (at least on the net) because I have a dick. (And no, that’s not strawmanning, that is exactly how it comes across to me.)

    For example, if I believed there was any point to it, I’d point out that just because you disagree with Mallorie does not make her opinion in any way invalid. She’s talking about her own feelings and point of view. You may feel differently about the things she does, but that does not mean she is not allowed to feel the way she feels. In fact, she can’t exactly help it.

    She believes she’s noticed a trend she doesn’t like about the way men are treated. You are closing your eyes and ears and claiming she’s making it up, or lying, or whatever. You know what the rational, logical thing to do would be instead? Give her the benefit of the doubt that she is being honest about the way she feels about what’s happening. Maybe even spend a bit of time trying to see if she has a point rather than lambasting her for thinking something different to you.

    I’d also point out that the alleged crime is that she is strawmanning the feminist movement in the scepticism community. Then, after pointing out what strawmanning actually is, I might say something like:

    Isn’t it odd how no-one ever seems to question if that might actually be exactly how it comes across to her and others? Maybe the problem isn’t that she is strawmanning these outcries, but rather the people making these outcries are doing it in a really lousy manner, that easily gets mistaken? Or even, that some of those people are coming across exactly as intended. If you don’t believe there is plenty of misandry in the community, as well as misogyny, just read some of the blogs and their responses about Elevator-gate. 

    But – hey! It’s far easier to blame someone else, and dismiss their opinions out of hand rather than actually think about the issues, isn’t it?

    I’d also confess that, personally, I find this response to Mallorie’s letter absolutely disgusting. All she actually said is (essentially) that she – personally – likes the sceptic community exactly as it is, and she’d hate to see it changed. And she’s getting vilified for it. 

    Like I said, disgusting. 

    However, as I don’t think there’s a point to saying any of that in any great detail, and I don’t feel like I can cope with the inevitable shit storm either, I’m just going to ignore all feminist blog posts on this site from now on. A pity, because probably among them somewhere, there actually will be some worthwhile ones. Well, perhaps ‘possibly’ would be a safer choice of word.

  • Demonhype

    She’s not disagreeing so much as she is misrepresenting what people are saying and disagreeing with that caricature–a caricature which, unfortunately, echoes a boy’s club SD and SU attitude that has become second-nature to some–though not all by any means–men.  And there’s nothing wrong with pointing that out.

  • You mean like how because of Rebecca’s experience, she told all guys to (not) behave in a certain way? Was that okay as well, because it seems like it’s the same thing to me, just from a different angle.

  • A Portlander

    The atheist/skeptic internethood is full of badly-socialized man-children who are either afraid of girls or just oblivious to why someone wouldn’t want to be chatted up in an elevator, for example. They know they’ll never have a shot at a relationship with a healthy, intelligent, attractive woman, and they shore up their shame and frustration with “make me a sandwich” and “tits or GTFO”. News fucking flash, the internet is full of bitter nerds. Every time a self-identified “angry feminist skeptic” gets on a tear about this embarrassing pack of 30-year-old virgins we have tied around our collective necks like an albatross, it derails the larger conversation for a month.

    Ladies, they aren’t going to stop doing and saying things that make you feel icky. They won’t respond to social pressure; they’re already marginalized. They don’t care what you think because they already know you’re not going to fuck them, and it makes them sad in their man-places, so they act out. The rest of us aren’t bending over backwards to deal with this problem because we don’t want those troglodytes to be what our community does with our time. We’re trying to ignore them and get on with business. Can you get on board with that?

  • Yes. How unfortunate that she doesn’t appear to hate everything about men who aren’t Approved By the Group.

  • WhatPaleBlueDot

    Her opinion is “don’t listen to those silly women.  They don’t have real complaints.”  

  • NickDB

    Yeah a guy would still be ridiculed for being hit on by a guy bigger than him. It’s the way we’re wired. If he was assulated or raped, then he wouldn’t be. For been hit on, 99.9% of guys would be ripped off about it, whether it was a woman that he refused the offer from, or a bloke bigger than him that he refused the offer from.

  • A Portlander

    Nice straw man.

    Some people will like you for your sense of humor, or your fashion sense, or your amazing command of the scientific canon. Some people will like you for your wet hole. These are all components of a whole person. Why do you assume that somebody who is primarily interested in one aspect of you doesn’t see the rest?

  • Anonymous

    Yes, because if a fifteen year old boy had posted the same photo of himself with his present, all of those people would’ve made the exact same comments about how fuckable he is.

  • LawnBoy

    If Mallorie’s point had been “I don’t have a problem with the community’s behavior, so don’t change forme,” I don’t think anyone would have objected. Unfortunately, the point that came across (whether intended or not) was “I don’t have a problem with the community’s behavior, so don’t change foranyone.”
    That perspective is seen as going beyond expressing your opinion to dismissing the opinions of others.

  • A Man

    I used to be a man’splainer like you, but then I took a logic to the face.

  • A Man

    Who the fuck are you arguing with? Or why? 

  • A Man

    Can’t tell if trolling, or just stupid.

  • Richard who died?

  • Anonymous

    I disagree that “nothing actually happened here”. A woman has employed her personal experience of not feeling discomfort due to her gender to disparage the concerns of all other women who say that they have, and declare that men should do nothing to address these concerns because everything is fine.

    When people say “Don’t make such a big deal out of it”, they do not mean sexism in general, but blowing another ‘incident’ (unlike the Reddit thing, nothing actually happened here) out of proportion

    The problem is that every single time someone points to an incident within the community that could be indicative of the problem, the reaction from many is “that’s not such a big deal” and therefore the problem does not require addressing. I absolutely agree that going over each individual incident over and over does not actually help the larger problem, but the problem is that dismissal of each incident both serves to dismiss the notion of a larger problem and also to show women that if they bring concerns based on a given incident, they will often be dismissed or even insulted (Holy overuse of “dismiss” in a sentence, Batman!).

    I also don’t see why discussion of sexism within the community should follow a pattern any different from discussion of any other problem in the community. When discussion of homophobia within the GOP comes up, it’s usually because some member of the party has said or done something (an “incident”) homophobic. What I see is a lot of energy expended in explaining to each woman why her unpleasant experience was not sexism, was just some random asshole, is not an actual problem, or is just her being over-sensitive, and a lot less actually stepping back and seeing if there are any trends, and whether more energy should be expended telling the assholes to stop being assholes.

  • Anonymous

    Clearly the answer to responding to bigotry and stereotypes is to fashion more of them. Good job on this new front in the fight for equality and acceptance!

  • “Bullshit”. That is my reply. Were you as equally upset when Rebecca Watson dictated behavior to ALL men about how they should NEVER approach a woman on an elevator, ANY woman ever? 

    No. Of course you didn’t. In fact, I’ve a nice shiny Nickel that says you were cheering her on. 

    Clearly, you don’t have a problem with ONE person telling ALL people how to think, behave or feel. Your only problem is this time, Mallorie isn’t agreeing with you. She has the temerity, the gall, the outrageous assumption that she can have a different opinion on this and related issues. Not only that, she further refuses to keep silent about it, or pretend like her opinion is wrong. My god, if this keeps up, she may never apologize and recant, and WHERE WILL WE BE THEN?

    Yeah. Bullshit. Because had she written the same thing, only telling men there is a huge problem and castigating them for their behavior, you and pretty much everyone else would be doing backflips and screaming SEE! SEE! ANOTHER WOMAN AGREES WITH US, WE’RE RIGHT!


  • Yeah, after all, it’s only Mallorie being the silly woman with no valid point of view.

  • When you see 15-year-old girls being reduced to wet holes when they’re specifically trying to draw attention to something cerebral, it’s easy to believe that’s the only aspect being noticed.

    Someone thinking I’m sexy is not the same as them sexualizing me and ignoring all other content of my character.  If I’m trying to get others to appreciate and share something intellectual and those others see fit to discuss raping me instead, yes, that’s a pretty damn strong case for being marginalized.

  • ischemgeek

    I’m not sure why you’re surprised. The most common response to knowing that someone’s being bullied (in my experience as a bullied kid) is to deny that the bullying is a problem at all. Blame-the-victim is alive and well in all walks of life.

    Oh, you had your head slammed in a locker? What did you do to provoke it?
    Oh, you came home in tears because other kids spent all day making fun of you? You’re too sensitive.
    Oh, kids destroyed  your lunch? Why were you dawdling over it?
    Oh, someone stole your book and tore it up? Why weren’t you playing on the playground like a normal kid? And don’t tell me that the other kids won’t let you play, you’re just being anti-social!

    This is no exception.

  • A Portlander

    So here’s the question I’ve never seen a satisfying answer to: what are we, the atheist/skeptic community at large, and, more specifically, the men, supposed to do about it? What magical ability do you think we possess to stop misogynists and overgrown adolescents from speaking their minds in public?

  • Pete084

    No, Mallorie has made the adjustments, and is quite happy to be part of the community, and has expressed that happiness, shame some have decided to piss on her parade.

  • Anonymous

    I was intensely frustrated by(and expressed my frustration over) the “he said, she said” junior high feel that took over this forum after the incident, especially when there are so many other issues for us atheists to be worrying about in the United States and the world, but what BentleyOwen says is simple common sense. Frankly I (and, I would guess, most atheist women) expect better (i.e., less sexist) treatment from fellow atheists than from religious men. Why is that so hard to understand, or so easy to condemn? (BentleyOwen, thank you!)

  • Scotanthony

    Definitely trolling

  • Michael D

    Well this has been one depressing morning of stupid shit and doubling down. I’m going back to bed.

  • Anonymous

    “These communities are about our minds, not our genitals and as far as I can tell my mind is just like yours.”

    Gender is not reducible to genitals. And if you think your “mind” is independent of your body or social context, then you need to show more skepticism.

  • Right, we should suck it up and let the trolls say whatever they want about women.  It’s just too much hassle to call people out on it and correct the behavior, so we should just allow it to continue unabated.

    Think of what people could get away with when talking about gays twenty years ago.  About blacks fifty years ago.  Those groups obviously still face discrimination, but once society began holding bigoted people responsible for the horrible things they said, the problem began to change.  People DO respond to social pressure–there are people far more marginalized in society than “nerds” who have.  It’s not that these guys say these things just because they figure they won’t get laid–they do it because they can get away with it.  It’s a power trip, and it’s easier to keep thinking women are inferior stuck-up bitches and marginalize them than to confront personal prejudice and start putting effort into other people, especially when no one bothers to correct abberant behavior (except, of course, for those stuck-up bitches), or worse, upvotes it.

    Of course there will always be people who are assholes.  That doesn’t mean we should just throw up our hands and allow it to continue.  We’re not helping or enlightening anyone by ignoring it.  This community corrrectly jumps all over posters who write racist or homophobic remarks, and it keeps them in check remarkably well.  This shouldn’t be any different.  Progress may be slow, but it’s still progress.

    The internet may be flush with bitter nerds, but that doesn’t mean we have to put up with them in our community.  Would you rather discuss atheism with a diverse, interesting group of people, or a bunch of low-lifes who talk shit about half of the other posters with no logical reason to do so?  If it’s such a hot-button issue that it continues to derail threads, then isn’t it worth examining??

  • EJC

    Yep, once again, some uppity little female thinks that because we aren’t cowtowing to her and the vagina community, we are all assholes and douchebags.

    I have a penis, I am proud and I am FED UP with this canard that women are asking for equal rights, when the actions say there is a pattern of DEMANDING and EXTRACTING special rights.

    I am so sick of the PZ Myers “be ashamed of your skin pigment and penis” bullshit.

    Get over it women. Seriously. Funny thing is, this seems to be an American women phenomena; I lived in Europe for quite some time, and the women there EMBRACE their femininity and know they have equal rights. They do not have this sense of entitlement and idiocy that seems indicative to American chicks. Why? Because American chicks are like little children who just discovered something new for the first time and do not know how to use it properly.

  • EJC


    Could it be that we see what we want to see?

    Seriously. I am asking in sincerity.

  • Panofsky

    Apparently sexism is rampant in the skeptic community. It is probable that he-man woman hating club are more likely to get upset about this post and so are more likely to respond.

    However there is I think there is a real ‘I’m all right so screw you’ libertarian contingent attracted to atheism. The kind for whom male privilege is such a fundamental part of their self-image that any woman who asks to be treated with dignity is seen as a threat.

    The only thing to do is keep going regardless, keep on calling out the hate and making an issue of it. You’re not going to convince the trolls but you’ll probably open a few minds and empower others to speak up as well.

  • a lot of people in our community do tend to have over the top reactions to dirty jokes about women. I don’t know how you could deny that when sexual jokes are being mischaracterized as violent threats of rape.

  • EJC

    Hooters, boobs, melons, bazangas, tits, breasts, flappy-fun bags, the family fluffies, sweater meat, shirt bunnies….I LOVE ‘EM!!!

    Vaginas, twats, pussies, nappy dug-outs, cunts, hairy tacos, fish tacos, finger-pie….great stuff.

    Dick, penis, cock, rod, swantz, Mr. Happy, one-eyed trouser mouse, skin flute, Celtic love flute, et al…..good stuff.

    Chick, broad, dame, hoes, bitches, chiquitas, babes, girls, money-drains….gotts love that.

    Dudes, dogs, bros, dickheads, knuckledraggers, mouth-breathers, Fido, Rovers, men, beasts, cavemen…yep.

    Call a chick’s personal room the “hen house” and you are scum — if you are a man saying it.

    Call a man’s study a “man cave” and it is acceptable, even though it promotes negative stereotypes. WTF? 


  • Call people out on it!  Make people realize what they are saying is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated.  When we get the stray religious nut on this site who asserts that homosexuality is sinful, everyone on the thread makes it known that this is an unsubstantiated, bigoted position to take.  No one is saying there’s a magic word or simple solution, but the more of us that are on board with it, the greater the impact will be.  And if dealing with misogynists, seeing other men step forward and defend women will probably have a bigger impact on the discussion than just women alone.  When those morons speak their minds, come right back with logic and reason, like we try to approach other issues.  Yes, things like this take time, but if you’re doing the right thing, so what?

  • EJC

    Did your mother try to call the bluff on those cigarette package warning labels when she was knocked-up with you? Because you make some pretty broad (double entendre intended) statements without any proof or citations.

    This just sickens me. YOU are the one propagating false information, yet you try and invert it to make like you are in the right. Wow. That is way fucked.

  • EJC

    Go slap a little makeup on, shave your legs, and maybe you’ll land a man…

  • A Portlander

    Again, I ask: what, besides making outraged noises that just encourage the most egregious trolls, are we supposed to do about this? The black civil rights movement had real-world problems that demanded solutions through action. The “problem” we’re facing here is subjective on two fronts: the discomfort of women and the self-justification of misogynists. We can’t magically make the women feel more welcome, and we don’t have the ability to police the thoughts and speech of the misogynists. What can we do besides try to ignore the assholes and just move forward?

  • DCG1

    “I know we at Harvard try our best to make everyone feel welcome,  men, women, trans, etc”.   As  long as they are wealthy??.

  • Not in the stories I’ve heard. They’re pretty obvious examples of there being boys’ clubs and women being treated as nothing more than sexual objects. You don’t see those examples being talked about as much online, but they happen all too often. We tend to get mired in arguments about whether certain anecdotes are truly misogynistic or as bad as they’re made out to be. But the ones I’m thinking of (which I’m not obliged to share) are pretty clear-cut. I think everyone would say, “That’s not right. The men shouldn’t be doing that. The women shouldn’t be subject to that.”
    So I don’t think it’s just seeing what we want to see.

    But the whole blogosphere sure does an awful job communicating our thoughts about these issues effectively. Too much shouting and arguing about completely different things, when I suspect most of us are on the same page regarding how everyone should be treated.

  • Anonymous

    I supp0se you think “cracker” and “n-gger” are the same, too.

    Read a book.

  • A Portlander

    This gets back to “they’re immune to social pressure”. They know we don’t like it and they don’t care. Next?

  • Not in the stories I’ve heard. They’re pretty obvious examples of there being boys’ clubs and women being treated as nothing more than sexual objects. You don’t see those examples being talked about as much online, but they happen all too often. We tend to get mired in arguments about whether certain anecdotes are truly misogynistic or as bad as they’re made out to be. But the ones I’m thinking of (which I’m not obliged to share) are pretty clear-cut. I think everyone would say, “That’s not right. The men shouldn’t be doing that. The women shouldn’t be subject to that.”
    So I don’t think it’s just seeing what we want to see.

    But the whole blogosphere sure does an awful job communicating our thoughts about these issues effectively. Too much shouting and arguing about completely different things, when I suspect most of us are on the same page regarding how people should be treated

  • The Captian

    ahh yes, another example of a woman within the skeptic community who doesn’t agree with what apparently is the “official” viewpoint a woman in the skeptic community should have, so all hell breaks out on the internet at her. So great, continue to put off most of the women I know from the movement who don’t share y’alls cultural sensibilities since they know if they speak up for themselves, they’ll just get trashed too (all in the name respecting women right?)

    Yea, there is some sexism going on around here, but it’s not what everyone thinks. And it’s mixed with a whole lot more cultural elitism than anyone will admit!

  • Anonymous

    p { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; }

    Oh! FFS, news flash
    American atheists you’re not that big a group. You’re what 2 to 4% of
    the population. Lets get this straight ‘woman gives her opinion on
    the Internet, Guy tweets that he agrees with her opinion.’ So lets
    continue this little parochial shitstorm.

    Atheist sexism: Hitting
    on woman, making rude jokes.

    Religious sexism (which
    is written in scripture that cannot be questioned and is law which
    the eternal celestial dictator demands it be followed or the eternal
    torture chamber is waiting for you.): Half/no rights for woman, human
    incubators, honour(sic) killed, slaves to the men in your life, being
    stoned for well doing anything, a acid face wash for getting an
    education, etc.

    A house divided against
    itself will fall and yes this is a worse things happen a sea argument
    but have you seen the size of that big fuck off sexist elephant in
    the room. While you bicker amongst yourselves it wont be going away
    any time soon, in fact I think I can hear it laughing.


  • Anonymous

    You’re damn right they’ll get trashed – for their ideas. Not because they’re ugly or slutty or hysterical or deserving of violence. See the difference? 

  • Recneps

    Yeah because anyone with a different opinion than you is clearly stupid.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry don’t know what happened to the layout?

  • Sara

    To all the posts that are claiming that it is her opinion, her experience, not right or wrong, etc-since when do we skeptics allow opinions to go unchallenged? Since when do we say opinions can’t be evauluated for truth? C’mon, we’re atheists. We criticize the heck out of opinions.

  • Actually, it is perfectly possible, through public derision, to police the speech of misogynists, and doing so does a lot to make women feel more welcome.

  • ROFL

    It may not be helpful, but it is hilarious.

  • No. Being a man who approaches a woman for sex in an elevator at 4AM after said woman has stated she’s going to bed comes across as a lot more threatening than just riding up to your floor with her in the car.

  • Many women throughout history have kissed up to the patriarchy as a survival tactic (cf. Athena, the original Daddy’s girl).  Sad to see that it’s still going on.

  • ROFL

    SOMEONE IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET!!@!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • The Captian

    Actually your not trashing their “ideas” your trashing their culture. So yea, they take that shit a little personally and want nothing to do with the elitist shit they see going on around here.

    Ohh, and I know one of them who has told me (off handed remark) she doesn’t talk about how she feels on her blog so that the internet “mob” doesn’t “internet lynch” her as she put it.

    It’s also telling how on most every other issue within the skeptic community we “disagree” and “discuss” but when a woman speaks out against the current zeitgeist they are supposed to get “trashed”.

  • Wow, that was dimissive.  Please. No one group is totally immmune to social pressure.  That’s just you throwing up your hands and deciding it’s too much effort.  If they were piled on every time they posted something sexist or vile, like our community does for homophobic or racist comments, they’d be posting here (and other atheist forums) a lot less frequently.   Please explain why this would be any different.

    If you really want to take the stance of,” Oh, well, it’s not worth the effort,” then be prepared to have more discussions with nasty people like that, and less with the people who are made to feel marginalized and uncomfortable but might actually have something worthwhile to say.

  • Anonymous

    Originally posted as a comment at Blag Hag:

    All these incidents, and people’s response to them, often look to me like a microcosm of the atheist movement in the world at large, or ANY movement to change thoughts and behaviors. You have the people pointing out a problem, saying that people aren’t even noticing that they’re hurting or offending or driving away people, and then the ones saying “hey seems ok to me, why do you have the keep harping on it?” Theists in the world at large just don’t get why those annoying atheists have to keep making so much noise and can’t just get on with life. Many people among skeptics and atheists seem to not understand why those annoying feminists have to keep making so much noise and can’t just get on with life. 

  • EJC

    Context Chico, context.

    And I did not attend the University of Google there Slappy….kinda have that literacy thing going for me….

  • Aaaand case in point, EJC gets a “like” for insinuating I’m ugly and doesn’t address a single point I made, yet no one calls him out on it.  Seriously, this is exactly what I’m talking about.  Portlander, why not tell EJC that he’s completely off base for reducing my argument to my legs?  Even if he keeps it up, I know other people on this thread have my back, and it makes me much more comfortable coming back here.  It really, truly makes a difference.  Tell the assholes they’re being assholes.  I would much rather know my fellow atheists acknowledge this instead of silently offering their complacency and allowing it to continue unabated.  Ignoring does nothing.  I am telling you as a woman that addressing it definitely, absolutely makes me feel more welcome, even if it doesn’t completely shut the trolls up.  We DO have the ability to police their speech by letting them know it isn’t acceptable.  I am giving a straightforward course of action here.  Please give it a shot with me.

  • Anonymous

    “Culture” is a pretty vague term, and I can’t think of how it could be meaningfully distinguished from a set of ideas. What kind of culture are you referring to? And are you intending to imply that culturally-based ideas should be immune from harsh criticism?

  • Please see above.  It’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

  • EJC

    Well played!!!

    I propose we hold a “World’s Hottest Feminist” contest.

    The chicks can submit some nude photos, please tasteful nudes only. And then perhaps they could write up a little something highlighting their talents. 

    Men like to read how the woman has great shorthand, or knows a tasty recipe for some quick-and-easy muffins.

    And to round out the contest, the entrants should showcase how they apply make-up and tampons, or perhaps swap a few pregnancy tips. Because we all know that getting pregnant is such a skill intensive ability.

  • Chgo_liz

    We must have lived in different Europes.  The one I lived in, women had to do significantly more housework than their American counterparts (I will never forget ironing socks, underwear, and towels…WTF?), work full time jobs as well, and the time and money spent on physical appearance (to appear appropriately sexy at almost every age) was even greater than what we see here in the US.

  • Anonymous
  • EJC

    Must have been. That is it. Different Europes.

  • Yeah, I’m sure you’re an expert on women, both American and otherwise.

  • A Portlander

    Maybe you have the energy to appoint yourself the sexism internet thought police. Personally, I know better than to “pile on” a provocateur.

  • Get a life, EJC.  You are being inappropriate.

  • Clauke

    Except that’s not what Rebecca said. Her message was: “Don’t hit on a woman who has just explicitly stated she does not want to be hit on”. She was telling guys to listen to women. Sounds like good advice to me.


  • AGREED!!!

  • A Portlander

    I don’t bother because EJC knows he’s being an asshole. He’s childishly poking you with a stick, and the more it looks like he’s disturbing us, the more satisfaction he feels. If we report him for abuse, he’ll do it again somewhere else, or come back here from a different IP. We can’t engage him to change his mind because he’s not motivated by an ideology, he’s just a loudmouthed casual chauvinist.

    Congratulations, you’ve now wasted both of our time and attention on a discussion about how a misogynist troll is treating you. Please explain to me how this exchange counters discrimination against atheists and the religious erosion of civil rights.

  • Again, she was telling EVERY guy how to behave with EVERY woman. Some women might have disagreed. But she didn’t allow for that. She was saying, it was ALWAYS wrong, oh and that line ALWAYS means “I want sex”. ALWAYS.

    I have just as much anecdotal proof that there are women who wouldn’t have been bothered in the slightest by that situation as she does that ALL WOMEN HATE THAT, and ALL MEN need to do what she says. (I showed various women I know that video and after yelling at me for making them sit through that tripe, they thought she was kind of off the rails on it.)

    She didn’t say “hey, if she says this, you might want to think twice”. She said “don’t do that”. There’s no option there. It’s rather absolute. (We’ll leave off the assumption that everyone in the room was hanging on her every word. That’s a different issue, even though it has some bearing.)Yet HER absolutism is okay and Mallorie’s is *completely wrong*. Why is that? I bet I know, it has to do with whose ox is getting gored. 

  • Anonymous

    Speaking of bullshit

    “Rebecca Watson dictated behavior to ALL men about how they should NEVER approach a woman on an elevator, ANY woman ever?”

    Maybe if you hadn’t opened your post with a big steaming pile of it you might be taken seriously.

    But since the rest of it sounds like the ranting of an irate teenager, probably not.

  • I proposed a solution that I’ve seen work in similar situations.  If you don’t want to give it a shot, fine,  but understand that you dismissed the idea as impossible without trying it.

  • Anonymous

    You weren’t the creepy guy on the elevator by any chance, were you?

  • I here ya, Felyx.  I just get so frustrated with the men are men and women should put up with it theme that I give up after one comment.  Before everyone dog piles on me I would like to point out that there are lots of nice men but I think many men are having a hard time seeing how frustrating it is to be a gal in a group of men.  I end up liking being in all girls group sometimes since then I don’t have to swim upstream against the impression that speaking is interrupting what the guys have to say.  

    Had a talk with Hubby the other day about this and he is a nice guy who tried hard to understand where I was coming from.  Might have to write something up when I can explain this better.  

    One can only say so much in a comment on the web.  I do end up feeling marginalized by some of the comments and attitudes by some of the people on the web like dismissing concerns of women by saying  feminazis or that is just the way men are so deal with it.  Kind of ends up feeling like STFU and I don’t think that is the way  all men are but it does seem sort of endemic to American culture.  

    There are other ways for men to be men than  talking smutty all the time.  I don’t see how talking and behaving like junior high boys [even if you are a girl doing it] somehow enhances the atheistic, utter logic and rationalism that is claimed to be theirs.

  • Kevin Kirkpatrick

    Trust me, they are not immune to social pressure.  When you directly admonish your best buddy for telling a “dumb blonde joke”, saying “Hey, joking or not, that kind of shit is disrespectful as hell to the women here – how about you tone it down?”, it’s going to sting.  And that’s the exact kind of calling out misogyny – when it occurs in groups of which you are an insider – that will be most effective, but also most difficult (it’s very easy to sit back quietly when you see your friends treating others like crap).

  • Anonymous

    Still whining are you?

  • Well then, can you show where she specifically said “Look, I don’t speak for all women, but *I*, and probably a lot of other women don’t like that, and maybe you should think twice before hitting on a woman in an elevator. Even if your words are outwardly innocuous, it could come across as creepy.”

    Or something similar, where she wasn’t trying to speak for all women to all men.

    I’ll wait, it shouldn’t take you long, since the source material is easily available. Transcriptions or time stamps in the video work equally well as proof that I’m wrong in my view of what she said.

  • Rich Wilson

    Any chance of you doing some guest posts?

  • No man should ever approach a woman in an elevator.  You have to question this?

    Look, John, you are quite probably not a rapist.  5 out of 6 men aren’t rapists.  You probably aren’t even a creeper.  You’re probably a really nice guy.

    But rapists and creeper don’t wear signs identifying themselves as such.  You know who had a nice, attractive appearance and boyish charm?  Ted Bundy.  And women know that.  Women spend a lifetime learning that.  That the guy who comes across as charming may very well be a rapist.  And so, that until you know a bit about a guy, you consider that a possibility.  

    You don’t go out on a date with a guy you met on the internet without leaving identifying information about him, in case you don’t come home.  Because they still don’t know where Donna Jou Jun’s body is.  

    You don’t let yourself be separated from the crowd.  Like in an elevator.  Because you can be backed into a corner.  Seriously, when I was a teen, we were told not to get onto an elevator if a man was already on it.  And that if you were alone on an elevator and a man got on, to get off.  He might be setting you up to be attacked.  I think that this was before they put alarms on the stop buttons.  

    I understand how horrible it must be to realize that many women you meet are at some level afraid of you.  I realize that it negates everything you do to live life as a kind and considerate human being.  I know it’s unfair that you are tarred with the same brush as criminals and sociopaths.  But I am less concerned with hurting your feelings that with being raped.

    All I can suggest is that you try to imagine what it would be like if something awful happened to men on a regular basis.  The kind of soul-destroying, life-changing thing that rape is, but it happened to men.  A lot.  So that one in three men would have this done to them during their lifetimes.  And you could never know who might do it to you and when.  So you spend a small part of your thought processes every day looking at the people around you and considering those bigger and stronger and more powerful than you, and are you alone, do you have an escape path, what in your pockets is a potential weapon?

    And if you can’t wrap your mind around it, try reading this:http://kateharding.net/2009/10/08/guest-blogger-starling-schrodinger%E2%80%99s-rapist-or-a-guy%E2%80%99s-guide-to-approaching-strange-women-without-being-maced/ 

  • Anonymous

    That’s because your angle is angry misogynist whose worldview is threatened by women asking to be treated with a little respect.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Yeah, because every woman who just wants to shag considers the whole person of the man(or woman, as the case may be) she’s with at that particular moment.

  • Are you drinking large quantities of alcohol and then commenting?  You don’t make sense but you sure are flaming away.

    Maybe you should go sleep it off.

  • Rich Wilson

    I would have gone with ‘fucktard’ but that might just be fanning the flames of distraction.

  • The Other Weirdo

    effort.  If they were piled on every time they posted something sexist
    or vile, like our community does for homophobic or racist comments,
    they’d be posting here (and other atheist forums) a lot less
    frequently.   Please explain why this would be any different.

    Umm… if all you care about is that they post less often(or, I’m guessing here, not at all), then by all means, the tactic is successful. Of course, it doesn’t address the actual problem, it merely hides it away in a dark hole, to live there alone, one day to return and wreak Holy Vengeance upon the world it thinks has wronged it.

    But if you want to actually solve the problem, merely piling on someone one do that. That requires extra effort.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Wow, that’s nice! Way to generalize an entire segment of the population.

  • I very clearly made my point above, that knowing your fellow commenters have your back is infinitely more welcoming than seeing them sit in silent complacency.  I am outright stating that this helps me and other women.  Claiming he’ll just do it again by sneaking on under another IP address is just a lazy excuse so that you don’t have to actually do anything and can ignore the solution I’ve suggested without trying.  EVEN IF HE DOESN’T STOP, you are acknowledging to women in the atheist community that it is unacceptable behavior on EJC’s part.  If EJC is THAT pathetic to sneak back on somehow, it’s on him, and will reflect on him accordingly.  Letting people “get away with it” has NEVER worked.

    Please explain to me what religious erosion of civil rights has to do with being mistreated by fellow atheists.  Or are you just belittling the discussion about how women are treated by presenting a “more important” topic?

    If trying to make women feel welcome on Friendly Atheist and other atheist sites is “wasting time” to you, then we have nothing more to discuss.

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

  • Anonymous

    “Not accepting these natural, genetic and social distinctions is as irrational as any religious dogma”

    Weird then that most of those distinctions are the product of religious dogma.

    “natural boundaries between the sexes”

    Natural boundaries? What is this the nineteenth century? And just what social norms does reflexive misogyny challenge?

    Come on Ryan step outside your man-bubble, do a little research. Male harassment and violence are a real world issue for women, threats to your ego aren’t.

  • The Other Weirdo

    We already do that here in Canada. It’s called women-only-health-clubs.

    They can be cops, astronauts, doctors, nurses, teachers, business owners, executives. But, they can’t handle men.

    And is that something you really want? To police someone’s speech? Here in Canada, a few years back, we had a government-backed group of feminists who tried to claim that any man who said something–anything–against the women’s movement was guilty of a crime. Luckily, that got squashed, but I see you’re doing a bang-up job of following in their footsteps.

  • Anonymous

    EJC needs to get out of his parent’s basement

  • Kevin Kirkpatrick

    Hi EJC.  You are acting like an idiot.  I assume you have some idiot friends that you’re asking to read your idiot posts right now.  “Yuck, yuck, look at me guys”, you’re probably saying, “I’m making maximally-overt sexist comments in this pro-feminism thread to see how riled up I can get these chicks… and look at them getting sooo upset, hyuck, hyuck, don’t they know it’s just the internet?”. 
    Your friends who you’re comfortable pointing this out to – they’re idiots too.  They’re too cool to tell you what an asshole you’re being (this is why you’ve chosen them to tell).  They think they’re much cooler for patting you on the back, maybe even chiming in (or “liking”) your comments with some quick sock-puppet accounts they’ll create. 
    You are not cool.  You are not funny.  You are not a witty “maverick”.  You are like the idiot posting “dumb nigger” jokes on a MLK thread.   You are the douchebag “bravely” disparaging the “retards” on a forum about Special Olympics. 
    If you can understand my post and comprehend that this is not “just joking around on the interent to get under some people’s skin” – if you can acknowledge that you really are acting like a cruel and cowardly jerk toward real people, maybe there’s some redemptive hope for you. 
    Otherwise, please just go away.

  • So… Yeah, you’re here defending a woman’s right to have an opinion, right?  That’s why you posted your comment defending one woman who was denying the OP’s evidence?

    Or don’t you think evidence has anything to do with it?

  • Anonymous

    It’s easy it balances him out and encourages others to speak up. EJC’s purpose is to silence silence people. He’s threatened by speaking up for themselves.

  • I think every guy should know that hitting on people in elevators or small enclosed spaces has a high chance of being uncomfortable.

    I think every guy should be told that asking someone back to a private space entails similarity to predatory behavior.

    Or don’t you think that every guy should know, and we shouldn’t bother telling any guys, because a few might already know?

  • How do you be up front and honest with someone on Twitter ‘without the drama’?

    It’s an overtly public statement.  And replies are similarly going to be overtly public.

    Things which are public will create ‘drama’.  Things which are private create drama.  There is no escaping the ‘drama’.

  • So women should ‘make adjustments’ to accept being treated like trash and assaulted?


  • Why are you so threatened by being asked to do something you weren’t doing?

    Do you think you’re the only guy in the world?

  • Do you really not see a difference between censoring speech (which absolutely no one on this thread suggested) and calling people out when they say something decidedly inappropriate??  Come on.

  • Anonymous

    Of course she was speaking to all men. Are you offended by her asking men not to be threatening and creepy? Is this an affront to your inner creep?

    I don’t know if she speaks for all women but I can guess most women are firmly down on the against side when it comes to threatening and creepy behavior.

  • Semipermeable

    Look up rape conviction statistics and terms such as victim blaming, then look up female eating disorders and gender ratios of high ranking positions in mathematics, sciences, and politics. Then come talk to me about our ‘real world’ problems.

  • He’d most likely also be ridiculed for being raped.

    But hey, feminists point this stuff out all the time.

  • So again. Why is it okay for Rebecca to categorically tell ALL men something is ALWAYS wrong for ALL women, even though it is logically, and literally impossible for her to be correct, and yet COMPLETELY wrong for Mallorie to do the same thing?

  • Semipermeable

    This a thousand times.

  • What inherent differences mean that women should adapt to having their ideas reduced to sexual innuendo?

  • A Portlander

    Okay. Those of you who have buddies who make dumb blonde jokes, feel free to take Kevin’s advice.

    Do you really think that these people don’t know by now that we disapprove? Every time Rebecca Watson makes a blog post, they hear about it. PZ posts a chime-in, and then re-blogs Jen and Greta. Hemant throws in his two cents or hosts a guest post. Reddit goes full derp for two or three days. And over what?

    There are people in the world who have shitty attitudes toward women, or who never learned how to relate to them. They’re everywhere, and they basically own the internet. Some of them affiliate with groups and causes of interest to atheists, and they frequently open their mouths the the embarrassment of all. I’m just tired of  the movement as a whole (a) getting dragged into these spitting matches, and (b) the expectation that somehow, male atheists will police the thoughts and speech of one set of people because another finds it socially unpleasant. Why are we responsible for that, and how would it be justified in the first place?

  • A Portlander

    You got some people to give you a cookie and a hug, and to tell EJC what a big meanie he is. I’m sure he’s learned his lesson. If all you want is for some strangers to make you feel better about something another stranger said that you don’t like, I’m not surprised you don’t agree that the big picture of atheist activism is more important than an internal communications tone problem. Good day.

  • Its not so much the disagreement as the telling men who are being sexist to keep on doing that and the telling women who HAVE had bad experiences to STFU that’s the problem… but then again this has been said, and said again on just about every comment and post so now you’re just being willfully blind.

  • So you’re saying people should be able to speak out against things with which they disagree and not get trashed? Interesting.

  • Silo Mowbray

    Like Crissa says, absolutely he’d be ridiculed for being raped. Prison rape of men is still the subject of jokes and lots of “he had it coming to him” sentiment. I stupidly used to think otherwise, but there is nothing even remotely funny about a man being raped by another man. Rape in all of its forms is horrible.

  • The Captian

    Sigh, your kidding right? You need me to explain all of that to you, and in a comment forum formate at that?

    Look, I gotta go back to work so just to use a bad ( i mean really bad, and based on automotive stereotypes) analogy to quickly try to make that point: The prius owners of the skeptic community constantly seem to be telling the camaro lovers (of both sexes) to get the hell out unless they act just like them.

  • The Captian

    If you type it in Textedit (or word?) first, then cut and paste it in that happens a lot. I don’t know why? But it happens to me too. 

  • Anonymous

    It’s very very simple.

    Mallorie wasn’t the one stuck on the elevator with the creep.

    Sexual harassment and violence against women aren’t hypothetical situations.

    If you don’t get that freedom from harassment is a basic right for women or if you don’t think that’s relevant then there’s no way anyone will be able to explain to you how puerile your complaint is.

  • The Captian

    Like I said what I find “interesting” is how the “trashing” is done mostly at women who take positions like Mallorie.

    So your saying you think any anyone who speak out against things HAVE to be trashed? What,  you can’t “discuss” or “disagree” in any manner other than “trashing”? What are you 8?

  •  No man should ever approach a woman in an elevator.  You have to question this?


    When I ask a large number of women I know, and they aren’t absolute about it, but rather say “Well, it depends on a lot of things”, then yes, I do question it, because it seems that while that statement is true for a lot of women, it is not true for just as many. So it is a subjective statement, not one that can be objectively proven to be always true in all situations for all people. Given that, yes, I do in fact question your assertion that it is ALWAYS true for ALL women in ALL elevators in EVERY situation, because your assertion to the contrary isn’t correct. Ergo, it is a subjective thing, and highly questionable when presented as hard fact. 

     Look, John, you are quite probably not a rapist.  5 out of 6 men aren’t rapists.  You probably aren’t even a creeper.  You’re probably a really nice guy.


    Sometimes. Quite often i’m an loudmouthed opinionated asshole. Other times I’m something else. Mostly because I’m a person, and people are complex animals that you can’t easily sift and categorize like they were iron ore. But why does my personality, or lack thereof matter in the least? I’ve no idea about your personality, nor does it matter in this case. Mr. Rogers would be wrong were he to have made the assertion you are.

     But rapists and creeper don’t wear signs identifying themselves as such.  You know who had a nice, attractive appearance and boyish charm?  Ted Bundy.  And women know that.  Women spend a lifetime learning that.  That the guy who comes across as charming may very well be a rapist.  And so, that until you know a bit about a guy, you consider that a possibility.  

    Ted Bundy actually creeped a lot of people out, if you read up on him. It was that people ignored their own instincts on him. However, if you actually look at statistics, (I know, I know, how dare I bring data into things of feeling and emotion), the stranger on the street is FAR less a danger than the person you know. So in terms of rape/sexual assault, it’s that nice guy you know who’s the greater danger than the stranger on the street. It’s the weird old uncle who you should watch out for far more than random people in elevators. But that doesn’t make for good press. 

    Also, it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that your assertion that Rebecca speaks for ALL women ALL the time with regard to elevators is simply not true, yet it is okay for her to say that, and not Mallorie. That would be the problem here, not Ted Bundy.

     You don’t go out on a date with a guy you met on the internet without leaving identifying information about him, in case you don’t come home.  Because they still don’t know where Donna Jou Jun’s body is.

    And yet people go home with random strangers they meet on the internet and in bars by the millions with nothing bad happening. Why is that? Well, because again, random stranger is less of a worry than person you know/family member. Here, since you love da anecdotes:

    my family moved to miami in 1970. I left there on what became a permanent basis in 1986. I lived through the McDuffie riots, Mariel, Cocaine Cowboys, Overtown riots, on and on. Bodies in the river, all of it. Pretty much everyone in my high school graduation class had seen a dead body in an inappropriate location. One of my school’s teachers, Beth Kenyon, was kidnapped and killed by Chrisopher Wilder. Another good friend was stabbed and decapitated when her boyfriend went nuts. Note that in neither case were these women killed by strangers. They were killed by friends and aquaintances. In fact, in a period of lawlessness and extreme violence, when I worked on the edge of Overtown, I was attacked/mugged…zero times. The reason I remember those two is because a) I knew them and b) they stood out, because even in a violent place like Miami in the 70s and 80s, people getting killed at random was not the norm. But again, anecdotes, which don’t say there is NO danger from random dudes. Just that people blow that crap out of proportion, because well, it’s easy to do so.

    In Donna Jou Jun’s case, this wasn’t a random person. This was a guy she had talked to for over a month, and like a lot of crazy people, he managed to hide that well enough for her to trust him. He was someone known to her, just like Jerry Sandusky was known to the kids he assaulted. Why? Because it’s easier to attack someone who trusts you, their guard is down, they’ll do things they’d never otherwise do. 

    Also, this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that your assertion that Rebecca speaks for ALL women ALL the time with regard to elevators is simply not true, yet it is okay for her to say that, and not Mallorie. That would be the problem here, not the person what offed Donna Jou Jun.

     You don’t let yourself be separated from the crowd.  Like in an elevator.  Because you can be backed into a corner.  Seriously, when I was a teen, we were told not to get onto an elevator if a man was already on it.  And that if you were alone on an elevator and a man got on, to get off.  He might be setting you up to be attacked.  I think that this was before they put alarms on the stop buttons.  


    Okay, and that has what to do with the fact that your assertion that Rebecca speaks for ALL women ALL the time with regard to elevators is simply not true, yet it is okay for her to say that, and not Mallorie. 

    The fact you got some advice not based on evidence, but on fear doesn’t change that. Can situations like that be dangerous? Of course, and you’d be foolish to dismiss that, but that does not mean that every woman agrees with you, nor does it mean that they are wrong or stupid to disagree with you. There are a lot of women who have different methods of handling those situations, and as long as they work, they’re not wrong either. Your tactics are correct for you. You are not every woman on the planet, and I know rather a few that would turn anyone smaller than The Rock into a bloody smear if they tried something. Their tactics are correct for them and you’re not wrong to disagree with them.

    But again, why is it okay for Rebecca to claim speakership for all women, and not Mallorie? If it’s wrong for one, shouldn’t it be wrong for all?

     I understand how horrible it must be to realize that many women you meet are at some level afraid of you.  I realize that it negates everything you do to live life as a kind and considerate human being.  I know it’s unfair that you are tarred with the same brush as criminals and sociopaths.  But I am less concerned with hurting your feelings that with being raped.


    It hurts me not at all, because I’m not a rapist, i’ve never raped anyone. Nor am I a potential rapist, idiot theories about rape switches thoroughly discounted. Nor am I going to spend a lot of time reading people’s minds, because I cannot. I will behave in the way my morals and ethics guide me, while not assuming I am the only right person on the planet, and if there is a need to change, I shall. However, why is it okay for you to assume I’m maybe Ted Bundy from cradle to grave, (because after all, if I’m alive, I could, in (bad) theory, rape someone), and yet, any assumption I make about women as a gender en masse is wrong? 

    Indeed, based on numerous studies, I should assume that all women may assault me, with a weapon. 

    From a NIMH-funded study in 1985, conducted at UNH:

    Between 1975 and 1985, male-against-female domestic violence decreased, while women’s violence against men increased. In Straus and Gelles’ second study, in 1986, 1.8 million women suffered assaults from a husband or boyfriend, but two million men were assaulted by a wife or girlfriend.

    I should also fear women killing my children:

    Mothers kill their children. After surveying murder cases in large urban counties in 1988, the U.S. Department of Justice reported that women made up more than half the defendants (55 percent) in cases involving parents killing their offspring. (1994-95 U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics Publications Catalog, publication #. NCJ 43498, “Murder in Families

    According to a 2006 UF study, I should definitely fear any woman I date:

    According to a more recent study, women are equally physically abusive as men in relationships:


    and so forth. Yet, were I to espouse that all men should treat women, ESPECIALLY women they know as potential abusers until “proven” otherwise, (by what mechanism no one will ever know), the howlocaust would be huge, and right, because it’d be a damned stupid thing to say, even though the data supporting such a stupid statement is not small. 

    Maybe that mindset doesn’t really bother me because I live in the real world, where a bit of caution for all is never a bad idea, yet I don’t confuse that with living in fear that the guy on the train next to me is WAITING TO KILL ME AT ANY SECOND, because the data shows, that’s just not true. It’s the same reasons I don’t worry about bear attacks in airports in the U.S. Maybe it doesn’t bother me for reasons you don’t wish to consider.

     All I can suggest is that you try to imagine what it would be like if something awful happened to men on a regular basis.  The kind of soul-destroying, life-changing thing that rape is, but it happened to men.  A lot.  So that one in three men would have this done to them during their lifetimes.  And you could never know who might do it to you and when.  So you spend a small part of your thought processes every day looking at the people around you and considering those bigger and stronger and more powerful than you, and are you alone, do you have an escape path, what in your pockets is a potential weapon?


    Ah, the “you’re not a man you don’t know fear” gambit. So wrong. From…hmm…let’s see, from 3rd grade until I graduated high school, i was regularly beaten up, in class and out, (Hey, I was a fat kid, I deserved it), by the girls too. That whole “never hit a girl” thing? Man, that sucks when a cheerleader decides to take a stick to you. By the way, while sticks and stones, (yeah, had rocks thrown at me too), hurt like hell, they don’t always break your bones. Oddly, that’s not a comfort. Anyway, yeah, regular beatings from kids, drunken verbal abuse from the ‘rents.

    What else…oh, had a guy hit me with his car, because I rode my bike in front of him at a stop sign when he was already stopped, had two guys in a car try to run me down because apparently I shouldn’t have been walking down the street my house was on(?). A few years of various levels of sexual assault between 3rd and 5th grade. In fifth grade, one kid took such a delight in beating my ass that they moved me to a different teacher, because the one I had said it was my fault. (This includes it being my fault when he was trying to push me over a railing on the second floor of my school, onto the concrete below. Evidently I should have let him? Not complained so damned much?)

    Oh, every day I rode the school bus home in High School, there was the “chase john down and terrorize him/Beat his ass” game. When the bus driver is letting you off the bus first, telling you to run like hell and doing her best to give you as much of a head start as possible before the assholes manage to force their way off the bus, something’s messed up. Oh, you can complain, but it was the 80s, this whole “anti-bullying thing” hadn’t taken hold.

    I’m sorry, what was it I didn’t understand?

    (also, men get raped a lot, even outside of prison. It’s just underreported, and hey, the FBI didn’t even count it as rape until 2011. So yeah. It happens.)

    And none of this, NONE of this, not even my personal youthful horrorshow has ANYTHING to do with the fact that your assertion that Rebecca speaks for ALL women ALL the time with regard to elevators is simply not true, yet it is okay for her to say that, and not Mallorie.

     And if you can’t wrap your mind around it, try reading this:http://kateharding.net/2009/10


    I did. Was unimpressed by it, but then again, I don’t do fearmongering. ALso, it’s titled wrong. It should be Schroedinger’s POTENTIAL rapist. For it to be Schroedinger’s rapist, you have to assume all men have ACTUALLY RAPED someone, until proven otherwise. It’s a horrible abuse of schroedinger’s theory, and, maybe if you ponder that, you might understand why being told “you’re a rapist until you prove otherwise” makes some folks twitchy.

    Also, schroedinger’s (potential) rapist has nothing to do with the fact that your assertion that Rebecca speaks for ALL women ALL the time with regard to elevators is simply not true, yet it is okay for her to say that, and not Mallorie.

  • Ad hom for the win!

  • If he was threatening he would not have asked her. No threat means no danger. She got hit on turned him down and he went his way.

  • I’m not “threatened” at all. Nor am I claiming to speak for anyone. But that wasn’t my point, not that you care. 

    My point was, why is it okay for Watson to claim spokesperson for the world’s women, yet not Mallorie?

  • Why is Mallorie’s evidence invalid, yet the OP’s evidence correct? Both would seem to be anecdotal.

  • Yet what you said isn’t what Rebecca said. There was no “high Chance” or “similarity” in what she said. 

    So again, why are Rebecca’s claims of absolute correct behavior for all women all the time correct and good to make, yet Mallorie’s incorrect and wrong.

    Should not the same standard be applied to both women?

  • So why is it okay for Watson to speak to ALL men for ALL women, and not Mallorie? 

    Should not the same standard apply to both?


     I don’t know if she speaks for all women but I can guess most women are firmly down on the against side when it comes to threatening and creepy behavior.


    Yes. They are. The problem is, not all women classify threatening and creepy behavior the same. Yet you’re pretty clear that if they don’t classify it in a way you agree with, they’re wrong.

    Seems kind of messed up when the whole thing is subjective.

  •  It’s very very simple.


    evidently it isn’t, since you seem to be unable to accept that not everyone views a given  situation the same way.

     Mallorie wasn’t the one stuck on the elevator with the creep.


    and so maybe Watson wasn’t speaking for all women? Maybe, she was speaking for herself, and the subset of women who agree with her. Yet to call her out on that error is some kind of misogynistic assault, while calling Mallorie out for the exact same error is a blow struck for what is right and good. 

    Seems simple to me, the same standard should apply in both cases, since both views are subjective opinions and interpretations. But maybe that’s just too simple.

     Sexual harassment and violence against women aren’t hypothetical situations.


    Didn’t say they were, that’s your strawman. I’m saying that a subjective opinion about behavior doesn’t apply to everyone. That doesn’t make the holders of that opinion wrong, but nor does it make those who disagree wrong either. Yet, you and others keep saying that it is impossible to disagree with Rebecca’s opinion on this, because she spoke for ALL women ALL the time to ALL men and is TOTALLY correct, yet Mallorie, doing the same thing from a different angle, speaks for NO ONE but herself, to NO men other than the ones she knows personally, and is TOTALLY wrong to say what she said. 

    Shouldn’t the same standard apply to both?

    Clearly not in your world.

  • Anonymous

    However there is I think there is a real ‘I’m all right so screw you’ libertarian contingent attracted to atheism. The kind for whom male privilege is such a fundamental part of their self-image that any woman who asks to be treated with dignity is seen as a threat.

    Wow, you just nailed something that I’ve witnessed sooooo many times in Skeptic discussions and on Skeptic message boards.  You really articulated that beautifully…..someone else described this attitude/behaviour as it being like they’re wearing a ‘badge of honor for being an a**hole’ 🙂  And with some of the people you’re describing, it’s not just in relation to women, but to everyone)

  • Even if it was on twitter, only she took the liberty to read it. If it offended her so much, don’t read her work anymore? Or at least try and give a decent response, and not sound so hostile for an opinion which, I think, wasn’t even worth being hostile to. The tone of the response was dramatic, and I think the same message could have been presented without it.

    Regardless, I don’t think either Wells or Mallorie speak for me. Why do we need petty “rules” men must follow for *all* women? How about a guy talks to me how he feels is appropriate, and I let him
    know (respectfully) if anything he says is making me feel uncomfortable? Like I said, most of the time what was said wasn’t even meant to be an offense to begin with. The catty tone just felt uncalled for, is all.

  • Anonymous

    It’s often been commented on how welcoming the atheist community is of LGBT folks.

    And from Greta Christina’s experience, the reverse isn’t quite the same:


  • Yeah, cause this is what I said!  Another straw woman.

  • BobtheRobot

    I haven’t finished reading everything I_Claudia has written (because there is so much) but I think I agree with her.

    While I do think that sometimes people overreact or the like, I think it is a very dangerous thing to make blanket statements about issues where it is very clear that many claims of problems are very real and very serious.

    Frankly, my experience on the matter is limited. I personally don’t really know any feminists, and part of me doesn’t like the idea of being villianized for being a man.

    But… is that what feminists are doing? I don’t know. I’ve always thought that women’s movements were about social justice and it’s always seemed to me like the right thing to support.

    In my own personal life, I recieve quite a bit of villianization, but that has less to do with my penis and more to do with the fact that I am both arab and look like a troll. People are crossing the street not to walk next to me because they are worried I will mug them or explode, not make dick jokes. But that’s a seperate issue; sorry to tangent.

    I’m not sure. I don’t think that because something is hard that we should just throw up our arms and give up in frustration and I don’t think that my own personal experiences are enough for me to be able to decide what is right or wrong for other people in different circumstances (or even in similar circumstances).

    I think that because this is an important issue, we should devote more thought and work towards it, and not less. I did not like the part (or parts, I forget) where she said, “Don’t ever change.” or something like that. To me, I think that is the part where she said, “Don’t try to learn. Don’t ever consider the idea that you could be wrong. You are perfect.”

    And I think that line of thinking is bad. I think that sort of ideology promotes problems and creates problems all on its own.

    I do like the general contention of, “Women are human beings first and females second.” but I think the reason it was recieved so badly was because that message, which I believe is the main message she wanted to deliever, was caught up in the message that all men are perfectly awesome and if there is a problem it’s a woman’s fault. And I don’t think that she meant to do that.

    I think it probably is something derived from her personal experiences and so on. I don’t really think that it makes up for it, but at the same time it does make me think of her as simply someone who is mistaken or misguided or in need of further learning (or some sort of combination) rather than someone who is a villian and deserves my hate.

    What I mean to say, is the I think I should try to sympathize with her as an imperfect human being rather than allow myself to be too furious with her. I know I myself have also said things (often while thinking of specific life experiences or specific people) which were basically terrible blanketing statements of a similar nature. (I am remembering something about vegetarians as I write that.)

    But having said that, I think it’s important to be loudly challenge all ideas and I think that is being done here (and elsewhere).

  • Anonymous

    Here’s a little word for you John, context. If you think about what it means then you’ll be able to answer all your own questions

  • The Vicar

    Sorry, shouldn’t post when I’m that tired. That’s CHRISTOPHER Hitchens, of course.

    Where the heck did my brain pull “Richard” from?

  • The Vicar

    Not arguing, precisely, but it’s a reply to the original post. And the “why” is basically “why not”? If Penn Jillette’s message is important enough to rate a blog post, then it’s important enough to comment upon, yes?

  • Ronlawhouston

    This post and the comments remind me of why there is such a high divorce rate.

    Female:  You aren’t listening to me.  You need to be sensitive to my needs.

    Male:  I am listening and I’m sensitive.  Hey, could you pass me a beer the game is on.

  • And I’m not surprised you reduced persistent sexual harrassment to an “internal communications tone problem.”  I specifically pointed out EJC’s post to show you and others what could be done to make women feel more welcome (since you asked multiple times) , yet when I offered a specific solution, you claimed 1) it’s not worth trying to defend minorities because there will always be assholes, 2) I wasted people’s time in discussing it, and 3) women who are affected by this and bring it to light are whiny little girls who can’t comprehend the importance of more wide-sweeping issues.  Fuck you and your cookie.

  • EJC

    Wow. A zinger. Shot to the nuts.

  • EJC

    Yes of course. I am whining. That is what it is.

  • EJC

    Oh okay, Mr. Barometer of Internet etiquette. Thank you. I was going to call Miss Manners, but you saved me the time. Many MANY thanks.

  • EJC

    Well, are your legs shaved or not?

    Jesus, just answer the question dumplin’, and then we can all move on.

    And brazilian? Fully shaved? or au naturel?

  • EJC

    Me <— Big Meanie.

    Whatever you need to tell yourself. Honestly, you are among the most humorless and frightening 'tards around here, because if you really read what you advocate, you advocate the EXACT same thing the religous idiots advocate, which is MIND and thought control. I could substitute your words into a xian rant and they would ask for the same thing, just on different sides of the fence.

    People like you scare me because you work yourselves up into this oppressive lather always thinking you know best, just like religious fucks.

    Am I being a prick? You are damn right I am, because frankly, you are so fucking uptight that you must be dealing with permanent constipation.

  • You’re not even trying to think at this point. Sure. Why is Rebecca’s context all-encompassing despite no actual proof to support that, yet Mallorie’s is inferior crap?

  • Yeah, I advocated mind control.  Fuckwad.

    You’re consistently one of the nastiest, least logical posters on this site.  I used you as an example because you made a really stupid comment that perfectly proved my point about how women are treated on these boards, and how people (don’t) react.  Sorry it went right over your head.  I could give two shits about what YOU actually think about me (it was Portlander who called you a “big meanie,” BTW).

    Before you worry about the stick in my ass, I suggest you remove the telephone pole from yours.

  • It might have hurt if you had any.

  • Wait,t his doesn’t sound like Hemant. Oh wow… how long have their been this big of guest posts? Probably forever, but I didn’t notice before. I guess I would expect this type of near-screaming flame wars on mostly-feminist blogs but on here I just feel disappointment. -1 point.

    Apparently there is a disconnect on the meaning of the original post. there is a HUGE difference between “I love you guys so don’t change for anyone” and “every other person’s opinion is invalid”.  The first is the entire point of her entire post. The second is extrapolated by people who are seeing what they want to see.

  • Terabyte06

    I’m beginning to understand more and more as I read my favorite atheist blogs’ comment sections, that the only real difference between religious thought and atheist freethinking is the preacher.  By that I mean religious people are told what to think and who to hate by the preachers in their church; atheists are told what to think and who to hate by their favorite bloggers.

    When a person presents a dissenting view to the one of the blogger, an entire army of fanboys attack.

    People.  It’s OK to have an opinion different than someone more famous than you on the Internet.  You aren’t going to get laid more often for siding with the female side on an atheist blog (sometimes this is true in real life, but not here).

    As for Mallorie’s post, she seems to share the viewpoint of a few of my closest friends (who are also female).  One of them actually laughed out loud when I showed her Watson’s video about Elevatorgate.  Women just want to be equal.  No more, no less. 

  • Anonymous

    Well I already did, in a way. It was in response to a previous incident, but it’s mostly applicable to almost all of them. That said I’d be happy do to others if Hemant wanted 🙂

  • Honestly, I’m pretty sure most people don’t even know that’s a word.

  • *snrk* Did you become a guard?

  • To be fair, Miss Manners probably wouldn’t put up with your crackpot fuckery, either. That’s why she’s called Miss MANNERS and not Miss Internet Troll.

  • Anonymous

    “I’m sorry, what was it I didn’t understand?”

    Pretty much everything

  • Anonymous

    Widen the context John, read Claudia’s post everything will become clear.

  • Brian Macker

    Who are you to tell everyone else what is funny? What is not funny is that the prison system has a bad track record, or that a particular person was raped. However, these jokes do make me laugh. Like the “This is your asshole, this is your asshole after spending time in jail for shoplifting sign”. The Rob Schnieder movie Big Stan is one long prison rape parody yet I found it hilarious. Especially that his main concern about our prison system was that he would be raped.

    It’s called black humor. Monty Python’s movie the holy grail is full of such jokes. In some cases they are thing I shouldn’t laugh at if they happened in real life but I would. For example a rabbit attacking someone and actually managing to sever a jugular. If the person was pestering the rabbit I might not be able to contain myself.

    Sorry, I don’t share your PC correct attitudes and frankly it reminds me of the drab seriousness of Puritans, or the Amish. No one is forcing you to laugh or participate but don’t assume it’s about moral depravity, or something.

    Laughing at a prison rape joke is not the same thing as laughing at (and ignoring) an actual rape charge.

  • Brian Macker

    Then it shouldn’t have been attempted to be used as evidence that the entire atheist community is misogynist now should it?

  • Brian Macker

    How do you know they are straw men? In fact there are complaints being made about jokes. Apparently black humor and vulgar jokes are not allowed. Certainly there are situations where such are inappropriate but the complaints are very poorly made and amount to blanket bans on large swaths of humor, in every situation.

    Did she address every cop ain’t in every situation. No. But she’s making one of the same mistakes the other side is. Not being specific enough. That doesn’t mean it is an a straw man argument. It works for the argument it addresses. You want her to address additional topics then ask her.

  • Brian Macker

    How do you figure? How about you actually support such claims instead of just assuming you are preaching to the choir.

  • Charles Black

    Let me get this straight. Just because you believe there are boundaries between the genders that one gender should be treated as second class?
    You be a doormat & a coward in real life too.

  • Charles Black


  • Brian Macker

    Well actually they are being trashed for being slutty. Every pure woman should be offended by any sexual proposition made, however veiled, on an elevator for the good of all womankind. Anything less undermines the narrative that all men are pigs, and danger merely for being larger (on average than most women).

    You can be sure that elevator guys actual size doesn’t matter. No one said this was OK behavior for shrimps.

    Actually very little of what has been claimed makes sense and sounds like post hoc rationalization.

  • Charles Black

    We’re not telling you to be ashamed to be male.
    The only reason you seem to be on this blog is to be a dick towards everyone here, especially towards women.
    Perhaps you’re confusing that “sense of entitlement” to the demand not to be treated as crap due to my gender.

  • Brian Macker

    “A Man” sounds like a bigot. Mansplaining? I’ve only hear that used when the logic was valid and the goal was to demean the commenter for their gender without actually addressing it.

  • Sharing my experiences and preferences in no way invalidates the experiences and preferences of others.
    If person #1 wants to say “XYand Z happened to me and I never want anyone to do it ever again” I have just as much right to say “I dont mind XY or Z, and you are welcome to do XY and Z around me to your heart’s content.”
    I’m sorry, you ladies do not get to make The Authoritative Handbook Of OK Conduct. Your preferences are not mine, and mine are clearly not yours.  
    You also do not get to decide what demands have been made, and claim I am addressing a non-issue. This is a fucking world wide movement, with subsets and branches and little holdouts in the corners of who the fuck knows where. If you think the grievances you just so happen to agree with are the only ones out there, I am sorry, that is obviously absurd and illogical.  If you think this is incorrect I would love to know why guys give me an “oops” look when they say “cunt”. Its certainly not because I gave them the impression that my delicate ears couldn’t handle that series of sounds.

    With the exact same right that you allege systematic inequality and demand change I voice my experience of having never been held back because of my gender, and express a desire not to dilute the movement in order to make it “appeal more to women”.

    Lastly I’ll state what is my most overlooked point, mentioned above. I feel that systematic change to make the movement appeal more to women is not just a discussion about making sure women aren’t actually raped. I am pretty sure no one here is saying “rape is awesome”.  I know I am not.
    “Making the movement appeal more to women” often leads down the road of what amounts to a PR change that significantly alters the movement to dress it up for women. I find this intensely insulting. I suggest you re-read my letter with that in mind. Hence “I like you guys the way you are” etc. I do not need to be catered to because of my gender. I don’t need to be lured in to liking science, its already fucking awesome. I hope that makes more sense to you now.

    Side note to people following this:
    I have no desire to state and restate my intent in various parts of my letter, if you find I have said things here, but not elsewhere that is simply because this was the best venue for those specific points, not due to back peddling, or flip-flopping.  Naturally the same goes for other responses, if this specific reply lacks points made in another reply to a different person that is because I felt those points best addressed the person I was speaking to.

  • The whole issue is that it’s her word … against no ones.

    We can’t verify what happened.

  • Of course women can rape men – that’s not up for debate here.

    My point, is that if this is sexism, it’s sexist towards MEN.

  • We’re arguing over something that has no data.
    Some skeptic women claim they feel marginalized – others, like myself feel accepted and valued.

  • ” No man should ever approach a woman in an elevator.  You have to question this?”

    I’m a woman, and I question it.

  • I’ve seen it happen.

  • Brian Macker

    So and if a man announced he was tired and going to bed and an acolyte followed him on an elevator and said something like, “Don’t take this the wrong way but I liked your ideas and would like to discuss further over coffee in my room” then would it be a big deal even I she was larger than him, or had not actually talked with him all night. Nope. No larger lesson would have been draw other than that someone was attracted to someone else and socially awkward.

    You know it is kinda fishy that she claims not to have spoken with him but expected him to know she was retiring from a bar at four in the morning with absolutely no desire for sex. If she didn’t speak with him then how would he know.

    You understand that one function of bars is to get drunk, horny, and make pick ups, right?

    Perhaps he gets more tail than you. I knew one guy as a young man whose strategy was to quickly proposition as many women as possible. He wasn’t tall, particularly attractive, or intelligent. Went home with a girl on a high proportion of nights. It made me mad actually. What the FUCK!!!!! This guy was a total pig. Not only that but he had a distracting eye tick.

    So even her claim that she was just trying to help the pitiful elevator guy score is a questionable notion.

  • Drew M.

    In fairness, it’s tiny. Is there any way to crank up the font size?

  • Drew M.

    Wait, isn’t that Thunderdomeism?

  • His Shadow

    “Of course the woman is allowed to feel uncomfortable – but that doesn’t make this a sexist issue.”

    You have got to be kidding. The incidents in questions are directly related to the conduct of men towards women and the assumptions and assertions being made by some men and women with regards to how some women feel about being propositioned by relative strangers. The more virulent tirades directed at Watson, for one example, are based entirely in sexism. 

  • Brian Macker

    When they are subjective. You going to question my tastes in humor, food, and offense at the behavior of others? If I’m offended or not is subjective. Just because I am offended doesn’t mean the behavior that offended was criminal, immoral, or even objectively offensive. Not every girl is offended by under the circumstances described, or threatened.

    Some women clutch their purses around black men alone on the elevator and some do not. I don’t think that even if the majority do that is any reason for black guy to wait for the next elevator.

    Her point that she isn’t offended by certain behavior, like being hit on at conferences, lays false the idea that these are opinions on objective, not subjective tastes.

  • Brian Macker

    You ask a lot of effort of me to figure out what your point is. I’m finding myself not making the effort. Care to put the effort in yourself?

  • Wealth has little to do with acceptance into Harvard. Legacies are a small fraction of the student body, and most of them have exemplary records. Harvard offers generous scholarships (I know, I received one for my grad degree there) for students who can’t afford it, and Harvard is FREE for undergrads whose parents make less than 80k a year. Not perfect, but they’re doing a decent job.

  • “Oh, my virgin fucking ears.”

    Your ears fuck virgins? Impressive.

    In other news, yes, you are right and Mallorie is wrong. In fact, Mallorie is a victim blamer who makes excuses for guys who threaten to rape 15 year old girls. (Check out Greta Christina’s “irrational cunt” post if you doubt me.) I’d say she’s more than wrong, she’s a terrible person.

  • 1. Pay attention to misogynists. Observe their speech patterns and their patterns of behavior.

    2. Adopt speech patterns and patterns of behavior that are easily distinguishable from those of misogynists.

    3. Whenever you witness a misogynist doing or saying something sexist, speak up and say that it’s not cool with you, could he please keep his sexism in his brain, at least while you’re around.

    4. When women talk about their experiences with sexism, LISTEN.

    It’s not hard, except the first part requires paying attention to genuine misogynists, which can be stomach-turning. I recommend http://www.manboobz.com.  

  • Brian Macker

    I don’t think she was that clear. I find zero credibility to the idea that was the precise message, and that the guy heard it. Why bother asking? That is unless he is one of those guys who like a challenge. In which case her protests would tend to attract instead of repel.

    How does she know he was in the audience when she made such statements? Maybe he was on a separate track, or in a different talk at the conference. Maybe he showed up late. Maybe he just happened to be in the bar and overheard her talking with some people.

    So much fishy in this story. Certain not enough to condemn the atheist community as a whole, or deduce it as the reason women don’t go to atheist conferences. Sounds like an equally invalid argument for why women don’t go to bars. They do. It’s only a reason for some women, at most.

    So many, many holes.

  • Brian Macker

    “No man should ever approach a woman in an elevator.”

    I just asked my wife whether she agreed with that and she asked, “Why not.”

    I then said, “You have to question this?” and she said, “What the hell.”

    I said, “Because you might be raped.”

    She just smiled at me like I was an idiot.

    BTW, we both have personal experience with rape and abuse. You really sound like you are parroting some ideological assumptions instead of thinking critically about this. Critical thinking requires asking all the kinds of questions being raised that are being squelched by charges of “misogyny”, “privilege” and “mansplaining”.

  • His Shadow

    So disagreeing with the obvious straw men in Mallorie’s article is now “all Hell breaking loose”? We’d be better able to discuss these matters if every disagreement wasn’t contorted into an epistemological grudge match. Leave the light switch thinking at the door, please.

  • TheEcoDude

    That is a straw man. She’s proven some complaints to be subjective personal tastes.

  • BobtheRobot

    And what I forgot to consider, in my arrogance, is that I might be wrong.

  • Brian Macker

    Pretty clear she’s talking about certain people and certain behavior. That’s the charitable interpretation. Pretty silly to assume she thinks ever atheist guy goes around making fart jokes and propositioning random women. She’s just saying she has no problem with it.

  • Brian Macker

    You must like a challenge.

  • Brian Macker

    Being creeped out on the elevator by a veiled invitation for sex doesn’t count as either sexual harassment nor violence against women. Some would consider it a complement and leave it at that. It’s not like he was her boss.

    The conditions for harassment are’t there either. It would have to be repeated, or singular with the clear intent to aggravate.

    Notice that I’m not dismissing you on the ground that you are female. I will say that I don’t respect you because you don’t seem to be able to think clearly,and deduce properly.

    Asking her might have been rude, or I’ll advised but it’s not criminal. Sexual harassment, harassment, and violence are all crimes.

    You want to give charm school lessons at atheist conferences then go ahead. Just don’t make it out like we are a bunch of criminals.

  • Brian Macker

    Sounds like the unsupported claim an angry and irrational misandrist would make. See where this goes?

  • Brian Macker

    Why ask someone to not do something they were not doing?

    Suppose I told you that the reason guys avoid girls who are into horses is because there is anecdotal evidence that some at getting sexually arises in the saddle? Suppose I told girls in general this was a problem and not to do it if they want a boyfriend. That women interested in horses tend to be obsessed and pay more attention to the horse than the man.

    Isn’t the sheer stupidity of the false deductions, prudishness, and gross over generalizations enough of a reason to object without assuming you must be “threatened” by such charges. Just because you have a pony avatar doesn’t mean you are an oversexed bestiality lover, and that every guy has such prejudices.

    What if I wrote an article titled “Ponies make me hate women”?

    That is how ridiculously these concerns are being communicated.

  • Anonymous

    Suck my cock

  • Brian Macker

    She didn’t make the generalizations you are claiming. She pointed out that much of the behavior being complained about doesn’t bother her. Elevator guy would flatter her.

    She’s not claiming a female was never gang raped on stage at skepticon.

  • TheEcoDude

    Care to share all your false assumptions and invalid deductions used to come to that outrageous conclusion? You do realize she never mentioned the 15 year old. Give us all the steps otherwise you are just blowing smoke and making false charges.

    I took the effort to look up the Greta article. Doesn’t support your claim.

    You appear to be the terrible person at this point.

  • Anonymous

    Holy crap Brian you are the Christopher Hitchens of mansplation except for the erm compelling argument thing.

  • Anonymous

    You were the creepy guy in the elevator weren’t you.

  • Brian Macker

    Ever hear of a self affirming belief. Yeah, “the patriarch” is behind it. She had to post it because otherwise she her survival was in danger. Conspiracy theory much? You think “The Patriarchy” has a bomb strapped to her in her bra?

  • Brian Macker

    Bigot. Not only do you apparently hate libertarians, and assume they are motivated by selfishness, but you assume that anyone who disagrees with you on the issue is one. PZ would be proud.

  • Anonymous

    Misandrist? Is that even a word?

  • Brian Macker

    Never been to any atheist group that was run like that. Example please?

  • As I said in the comment, they were stories told in confidence. I’m not sharing those.

  • Brian Macker

    Wow. You’re pretty off base, aren’t you. You are as bad as Watson with all her gross over generalizations. This is just a few squawkers as far as I can tell. They are right about certain things to. You are not helping at all. You are the mirror of Watson.

  • Brian Macker

    STFU, troll. How about you post under your real name coward?

  • YEah. How dare I be able to relate to living every day in fear because people were ACTIVELY TRYING TO HARM ME, and once I wasn’t in ACTUAL DAILY DANGER, no longer acting as though I was.


  • Still waiting for that proof of yours, where Watson was clearly only speaking for herself and some women, not all women to all men.

    You seem to be rather busy not showing it.

  • Ah yes. The rational response to someone challenging a story with no real proof behind it. Clearly, you sir, are a giant among skeptics.

  • Anonymous

    “So and if a man announced he was tired and going to bed and an acolyte followed him on an elevator…”

    The situation you’re describing would make me uncomfortable, and I can imagine mentioning it in a Tweet. I don’t make YouTube videos or say much about my personal life or social interactions when I blog the way Watson does, though, but if a man described that situation and says “don’t do this,” I wouldn’t think ill of him.

    “You know it is kinda fishy that she claims not to have spoken with him but expected him to know she was retiring…”

    It seems from her video and the blog post I linked that she projected it loudly enough that anyone hanging out with the group would have heard. I’ve never met her personally but from watching some of her talks online, I get the impression that she’s the kind of person who would make an exit. And it seems to track that the guy who followed her was also paying attention to her. Not exactly resounding evidence, but we are picking a part an anecdote. I’ll say that if her story is accurate, than her discontent at the situation is valid and leave it at that.

    “You understand that one function of bars is to get drunk, horny, and make pick ups, right? 

    Perhaps he gets more tail than you.”
    I’m not really sure how to approach that line of argument. I’m aware of how bars work, but hotel elevators seem like a different category. And I really don’t care that some men sleep with more women than I do via a strategy of making as many of them uncomfortable as necessary before succeeding. I’ve known guys like that before, and I’m not bothered by the fact that I’m not like them.

  • Brian Macker

    Actually his motivations in opposing government mandated recycling are valid, and not at all motivated by douchbaggery. He just likes to mock economic ignoramuses in the process because you are so sanctimonious. As you just demonstrated.

    You are in fact incredibly ignorant about forestry and you conclude instead that not only Penn but all libertarians are douchebags based on your ignorance. Hate to tell you this but the amount of timber in this country increased long before forced recycling. For reasons you are totally ignorant of. Like privatization of once public lands, and changes in agriculture.

  • Well, I was thinking more in the “THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE” sense, but Thunderdomism works too. Also, Tina Turner > Christopher Lambert.

  • Pete

    Brian – you say “You know it is kinda fishy that she claims not to have spoken with him but expected him to know she was retiring from a bar at four in the morning with absolutely no desire for sex.”

    The context of the story in the original video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKHwduG1Frk&feature=player_embedded#t=258s) makes it fairly clear that the guy in question was at the bar when she announced she was exhausted and going to bed. Unless (a) you think it was sheer coincidence that he ended up on the same elevator as her, and (b) that he phrased his proposition as “I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk more” despite not listening to what she’d been saying at the bar immediately beforehand.

    RW’s words in the video also emphasise the point of her presentation and (presumably) also the conversation(s) she’d been in at the bar: “Um, you know, ah, I don’t really know how else to explain how this makes me *incredibly* uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4am, in a hotel…  elevator… with you… just you… and, I… *don’t* invite me back to your hotel room, *right* after I’ve finished talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualise me in that manner… so, yeah.”

  • I um, did? And again, you haven’t, not even tried to answer a simple question:

    Why is Rebecca’s assumption of title of  Speaker for All Women To All Men “correct” and yet Mallorie’s is “incorrect”. If it’s wrong to assume your viewpoint is reflected by all women, (and comments from women on this point prove Rebecca and others saying she speaks for ALL women is in fact, incorrect) for one, then it is wrong for all, barring proof to the contrary. 

    Since it has been clearly, and definitively shown that Rebecca is not in fact, speaking for all women with regard to the elevator incident, then clearly she was wrong to do so. If Mallorie is wrong for her assumption, then Rebecca must also be wrong for her identical assumption. That assumption has been proven incorrect, and yet you insist that if I somehow keep widening my view, (or more correctly, just ignore comments from women who disagree with Rebecca), that somehow, all this inconvenient data won’t matter, and I’ll see how Rebecca’s assumption is actually correct.

    Doesn’t work that way sport. I’ve got data on my side on this. If Mallorie’s assumption was incorrect because we can prove that she doesn’t speak for all women, than Rebecca’s assumption is just as incorrect because we have the same level of data showing she does not in fact speak for all women.

    You going to stop trying to hand wave this shit and just admit that data and facts are not going your way anytime soon?

  • AdrianR

    I tend to stay away from these discussions because they always leave me thinking that being an atheist and practicing critical-thinking don’t overlap as much as I think they should.

    It just seems like most people are committed to certain narratives and will spin every situation to make it fit.

    I think the ElevatorGate incident was the perfect example where so many things were assumed (he heard this, and knew that, and followed her creepily, and had exactly these intentions, etc.) with no real evidence of anything.

    Having said that, I think this comment is a fine example of how you would expect critical-thinkers to handle discussions like this and just wanted to let you know.

  • The Other Weirdo

    If every man listened to every woman every time she said No to a date request or whatever, there’d be an awful lot of lonely women.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Umm, excuse me, but isn’t asking people back to a private space SOP for trolling bars looking for “dates”? Are you sure you want to go that route? If men were suddenly to decide that, for their own personal safety, it’s unwise to continue asking women back to private spaces, where would that leave women?

  • Rich Wilson

    I’ve read that half a dozen times trying to deduce anything other than a  “she says no but she means yes (wink wink)” meaning, and I’m not seeing it.  I’m tired.  I must be missing something.  PLEASE show me my stupid on this one.

  • Guys actually know stuff. We talk to each other a lot, and point out errors in judgement. Really, we’re not semi-retarded tabula rasa waiting for women to program us.

    As for specifics:

     I think every guy should know that hitting on people in elevators or small enclosed spaces has a high chance of being uncomfortable.


    No one has denied this. But the idea that ALL women feel this way is incorrect, and proven so, yet how many people keep defending that proven-wrong concept. SOME women do in fact feel that way, SOME women do not. Yet plenty of people tell me I’m wrong for stating it that way, yet never, ever get around to being able to clearly explain WHY that statement is wrong.

     I think every guy should be told that asking someone back to a private space entails similarity to predatory behavior.


    It also entails behavior rather necessary to making a successful, non-creepy pass, unless you want people to only have sex in public places, which, just EW. The fact that a single behavior, “Hey, would you like to come back to my place” can be both creepy, dangerous, welcomed, awesome depending on the recipient, the offerer, and a host of nigh-uncioncious clues does not make any one interpretation singularly right or even superior and certainly not in ALL cases. Even you barely allow for positive interpretations of that behavior, and that’s of some interest, because it implies a rather faulty assumption or set of assumptions in your thought process. Why is that the “first” interpretation that should be made?

     Or don’t you think that every guy should know, and we shouldn’t bother telling any guys, because a few might already know?


    Yes, that’s right, guys know nothing until a woman tells them. Sigh.

  • solarsister

     It’s not the article she was referring to. Read further into the comments and you’ll see where Mallorie crops up making some truly disingenuous and misleading comments and making excuses for violent rape jokes directed at a FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD GIRL.

  • I’ll state right up front that I’ve considered some of the concerns voiced by women who’ve felt harassed to be a bit overblown and dramatic.  But I realize that this is not because they’re oversensitive, but because I’ve become desensitized.  For example, when I lived in Texas I heard rumors of “street harassment” in DC and NY and wondered, coming from a “friendly” state in which it is considered good manners to nod a casual “howdy” to everyone, what those women found so objectionable in simply speaking to a man who spoke to them.  And then I moved to DC and quickly learned that the “mistake” of eye contact with some men was an invitation to be accosted, and that they might actually attack you if you didn’t respond favorably to their jeers, or even if you did.  Given this experience, a man asking me to his room for “coffee” might be a welcome reprieve.  But while I am not intimidated by a man coming on to me in a closed elevator at 4 a.m., I certainly understand why another woman might be. 
    I found your essay to be mocking and dismissive of these women’s experiences, especially given the fact that unchecked abusive language sometimes escalates to violence, even if it begins on the Internet.  Oh, I realize you were careful to frame your essay in terms most likely to make the objects of your mockery seem like hypersensitive kill-joys who can’t take a joke.  But the comments that motivated Greta and Rebecca’s posts weren’t in response to a bad fart joke (and you know this), but to many comments and situations, the cumulative effect of which are violently threatening and stalkish.  And these women aren’t asking to be “catered to” because they ask people not call them cunts, whores, bitches, or threaten to rape them with blood or tears as “nature’s lubricant.”  And what’s funny about that, really?  It may be satisfying in a dominating, dismissive way, but funny?  C’mon now.  Not everybody gets off on being debased, not everybody has a “thick skin.”  And this is not an “anti-man” thing.  I’ve had to check women-on-women aggression, and once endured the Twilight Zone experience of intervening between a man and over-aggressive woman.
    Abusive language does have a chilling effect on its objects.  I_Claudia made a very good point in noting that homophobic comments are well-policed by Hemant and other bloggers.  I’ve also noticed (with satisfaction) that racist comments disappear and/or are sufficiently defused.  And nobody accuses the bloggers of creating a conduct “handbook.”  They just handle the foolishness and we all move along.

  • A Portlander

    No. I did not ask what could be done to make women feel more welcome. People are responsible for their own feelings (or is that only what men are taught?). What I asked is how we’re supposed to curb the behavior of an element that gets off on causing outrage. The difference is that one is a problem, and the other is your reaction to that problem. If someone can’t exercise self-control and rise above provocation, I’ll deride them as whiny regardless of their sex.

    As for solutions to misogynist bullying, “punch him in the nose” doesn’t work over the internet, and isn’t
    justifiable short of physical self-defense in the real world, so we’re
    left with “ignore the bully and he’ll go away”–or at least fade into background noise. That will only work if we make a commitment, as a movement, to staying on topic and tuning out irrelevant chatter.

  • You must be an intellectual dullard unworthy of any respect, since you demonstrate your lack of reading comprehension.  I expect anyone with anything interesting to say to be able to at least read.  You can’t, so see if I pay your opinion any serious mind, beyond a nice giggle before bed.

  • Fitzy

    You atheists get way too worked up over nothing.

    You don’t agree with religious institutions being tax exempt*? Big deal. Get over it, crybaby.

    *Feel free to insert your religious pet peeve of choice

    The problem with your comment is that it isn’t actually an argument against what was written here by Megan. Instead you’ve glossed over it and resorted to name calling and shushing. Just like many religious people I know who would rather not argue for or against an argument on its merits.

  • Unless a woman’s experience with sexism is Mallorie’s, which is to say, little to none beyond guys talking like guys.  I’m sure she felt raped and oppressed.  Or didn’t, cause she and most females aren’t the delicate and petrified flowers you want to make them out to be.

  • Fitzy

    If they aren’t straw men, then she should have addressed her words towards a specific person, article, forum, etc. 

  • Fitzy

    I hate to break this to you, but a lot of the things we atheists argue against would be considered subjective by many religious people. 

  • SphericalBunny

    Actually, speaking as someone who has been threatened for *daring* to say ‘no, cheers’ to a mere verbal come-on…you’re wrong. Not in most cases, not in that particular case, but it does happen.

  • SphericalBunny

    So, let’s accept that what Watson + Mallorie did were the same; namely they generalised all men and all women, yes? (Not sure I agree, but sake of argument) The difference is in the effects.  If Mallorie was saying (to all men) ‘don’t change your behaviour’, it presumes that there is definitely no sexism in atheism, or at least none that any woman should be concerned about, and the best result is therefore the continuation of the status quo. I would take issue with there not being a problem with sexism in society, and I do not agree that atheism is exempt from this. Also, the article reeks of ‘I’m a woman, I haven’t seen it/don’t care/can put up with it – so should you other women’.

    If Watson was saying (to all men) ‘Don’t hit on women in elevators’, it presumes that all women will feel intimidated about being approached in lifts, because all guys that do this are definitely creeps. The worst part about this advice that I can see is that  men can avoid being seen as creeps for this specific behaviour, women won’t have to bother with whether the guy on the elevator creeps them out or not, and men and women can hopefully have a bit more interaction where there’s less risk of either of them feeling weird, and hopefully mutually satisfying sexy times (or even just a nice chat with coffee) can ensue.

    Yes, generalisations are quite often unhelpful, yes, opinion pieces should be clearly marked as such, but I definitely see more harm coming from Mallorie’s piece, and more benefit from Watson’s. Feel free to explain if/why you don’t agree…

  • Anonymous

    i guess you want me to hold your hand to walk to school or feed you cornflakes in the morning. (thanks for the set up and the opportunity to provide another punch line)

  • Meagan, scroll down this thread to where I’m told to shave my legs (which got upvoted) and asked if I have a Brazilian after making a suggestion on how  to cut down on the trolling.

    You seriously don’t see how that marginalizes women?

  • ‘Now, the problem as I see it is when people get emotional about the
    issue and make a general statement, for instance that women are either
    “special” and should be  treated in a “special” way or that there’s no
    issue and they’re just nagging.’

    That’s a bit of a strawman.  Who is saying that women should be treated in a special way? Certainly not the feminists as they are going for equality. It’s also one of the same strawmen that Mallorie Nasrallah used in her letter, and she didn’t exactly act very well about being called on it.

  • So it’s her fault for feeling uncomfortable and trapped in an enclosed space when a man hit on her? 1 in 5 women being raped, according to the CDC – and I think 1 in 3 being assaulted – means that a hell of a lot of men do not take “No” for an answer.

    Think about it. This means that if you have the average 200 friends on Facebook and half or so of them are women, that means about 33 or so have been sexually assaulted  and that about 20 of those have been raped or had rape attempted on them. It would be statistically possible for none of the women you know to have been affected like that, but it would almost be a miracle if you didn’t even know one.

    Which ones do you think they are? Give how women who get raped are blamed for it being their fault, do you think it is surprising that they would not have mentioned it to you, or maybe even deny it when the topic came up?

    Or do you think that it’s OK to minimize a woman’s concern that she might become one of those 1 in 3 or 1 in 5?

  • So when Mallorie Nasrallah basically derides feminists for asking for special treatment, even though that’s not what they are asking for, you’re saying that it’s not a strawman argument?

    I think you may not know just what a strawman actually is.

  • I really don’t understand why you are saying “Rebecca Watson dictated behavior to ALL men about how they should NEVER approach a woman on an elevator, ANY woman ever?”
    I’ve just watched the video again, and she says:
    “Just a word to the wise, here, guys… don’t do that. Um, you know… I don’t really know how else to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4 am, in a hotel elevator with you, just you, and I… don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.”
    Seriously, where exactly do you see that she said men should never approach women in elevators? Yes, she said “guys… don’t do that.”, but then she went on to explain how it made HER feel uncomfortable and how SHE was creeped out and how SHE felt uncomfortable. She never said, “so, bottom line, men, do not, ever, approach a woman in an elevator”.
    Now compare this to what Mallorie said. She wrote “I had a nice experience and no negative one, and you don’t have to change for ME”. And then she goes right on to say “and you don’t have to change for ANYBODY ELSE”.
    Do you see the difference?

  • Well, assuming this is actually an attempt at serious discussion, (if so, forgive my suspicion, but this entire Nukular Howlocaust is rather low on such things), then first, we have to decide what we mean by “harm”, and that this isn’t a terribly cut and dried issue. 

    I think there’s a bit of a strawman in the “Mallorie is dismissing any and all reports of sexism” bit. I take her point as “by and large, people in the skepticism and atheism movements are cool, don’t let the demands and actions of an unfortunately loud minority force ALL of you to completely change who you are.” I’d have to agree with that. While it’s clear there are all too many sexist dipwads in the skeptic/atheist groups, I haven’t seen a lot, well, any really, evidence, (as in actual proof, not just “this one time, at TAM…”) that by and large the majority of people in those are sexist and misogynistic. 

    (side note: the overuse and abuse of “misogyny” really needs to end. All impolite behavior from a man or men to a woman or women is not misogyny. The word is rapidly losing any value because it’s turning into “any thing a man does that involves a woman that I DON’T LIKE.”

    I also have some issue with the continual equation that disagreement = dismissal. It is entirely possible for there to be women who haven’t run into sexist behavior in the groups, for a variety of reasons. First, setting aside *blatant* shit, (ala “If you want to speak at TAM, you gotta put out”), a lot of “sexism” is subjective. Some women will look at dirty jokes as sexist, others won’t. Neither view is necessarily right or wrong, just evidence of different definitions for the concept. You can’t even get into “professional” behavior because, well, all professions are not the same. I’ve worked for:

    a major university
    a life insurance company
    an advertising company

    I can tell you that the standards of “professional” behavior between the three have rather a lot of variance. So we have an issue here with a behavior that while theoretically can have a fairly consistent definition, when you start asking people about situations, is all over the friggin’ map. Clearly, Mallorie and Rebecca have different definitions.  I don’t think either is wrong, as long as they aren’t actively trying to require anyone to “behave”. I think Rebecca loses a bit here, she’s a tad more imperative in her “don’t do that” than Mallorie is in her “don’t change for me”. But people will disagree here, as they do. So in mallorie’s case, I disagree with your presumptions of what she’s saying, which leads to other disagreements on her essay.

    In the case of Rebecca’s statement, I think there’s some unintended consequences that you aren’t seeing. Aside from the provable incorrectness of her central point, (all women dislike this,  therefore all guys that do this are creeps), there’s another message in this: Women are helpless when confronted by a man. This isn’t blind conjecture mind you, there are a lot of people on your “side” who have implied, or explicitly said this. Greg Laden is particularly egregious there. 

    This is, to me, an important issue, because it starts us down the road of infantilizing women. If I treat all women as being completely unable to handle being asked to coffee in an elevator, (and let us for now, not try to read minds in this case. We don’t in fact, know what the guy “really” meant. He might have wanted sex, in which case his “don’t take this the wrong way” was “Don’t think of me as a creep, but”, or he might NOT have wanted sex, in which case “don’t take this the wrong way” was “I’m not trying to have sex with you.” If you’re going to insist that all such offers must always mean sex, then I’d say you have some personal issues with interpersonal relationships that need examining. Since we can’t read minds here, and we have no direct proof, only here say, we’re stuck with a somewhat ambiguous phrase. Had he been more explicit either way, then things would be simpler, if not easier.) then we start down a rather silly road.

    I’ve seen put forth, in a serious manner by Watson supporters that:

    1) You should not even get ON an elevator if you are a man and the only occupant is a woman. (this is rather silly in the case of a building with only one slow elevator)

    2) If you are a man in an elevator and a woman gets on, you should immediately get off, without a word to her, even though it’s not your floor. (what if she has her arms full. Kind of a jerk move. But, when you make everything binary, nuance dies)

    Secondly, does this only apply to offers that might be able to be immediately taken as sex? What if the offer was for coffee in the morning in the hotel lobby? Same situation, slightly different offer. Do you just not talk to women at ALL on elevators? Not interact with them at all? What if their arms are full, do you do nothing until they explicitly ask you to push a floor button for them? “Don’t hit on women” sounds like an easy rule until you remember the original incident was kind of ambiguous. So how do you practically implement this? Well, the only way I can see is “don’t speak until spoken to” if you’re a guy on an elevator with a woman, because you can’t tell if she’ll take ANY attempt at conversation as a prelude to harm. (Schroedinger’s Rapist explicitly says that all women view all encounters with strange men as a potential attack situation so “what floor do you need” can be taken as “I want to know what floor you’re on so I may harm you later”. Yet another reason why that entire supposition is just bollocks.)

    Do we apply this to all enclosed spaces? What about parking lots? Streets? It’s not the kind of rule that ONLY applies to elevators in certain situations. If so, it’s a rather silly rule.

    So it seems men have a choice: assume women are all of a mind and if you are alone with one you don’t know, don’t speak unless spoken to, and do as little as possible to even acknowledge her presence. Be as obviously unthreatening as possible etc. I dunno about you, but if I get on an elevator, and the only other person on it doesn’t interact with me AT ALL, or barely minimally, THAT is going to creep me the hell out. 

    Do you begin to see why this kind of thing can’t work? Not as an absolute anyway? You’re now thinking of women as being unable to handle any kind of interaction with a man in a 1:1 situation where both are strangers, because you have to assume that she will view any interaction as a possible prelude to harm, (I find that the majority of people on Watson’s side here view “Shroedinger’s Rapist” as some kind of Truth, and it’s pretty clear it drives their view on things, so I go with that. If you don’t, I apologize for the assumption.) That’s the ONLY way this kind of absolute rule will work, it ends up becoming the backing theory for it. In meaning well, you end up infantilizing women.

    If you take EITHER viewpoint as THE ONLY RIGHT ONE AND ALL OTHERS ARE WRONG, neither works worth a damn in the real world. Actually, that applies to almost any viewpoint on subjective issues. 

    So here’s the issue maybe: Stop thinking in absolutes? Maybe start making the assumption in cases like mallorie and watson, “They’re speaking for themselves, and maybe some others, not everyone.” Maybe allow for different experiences being equally valid, and don’t require that everyone agree to one point of view or the other. Possibly realize that someone seeing a situation differently than you doesn’t make them WRONG, it makes them DIFFERENT.

    Take the title of this post: “your friend is wrong”. Wow. That’s nice. I mean, it’s unprovable, and arrogant as well, since the OP is writing from the idea that her view is superior to Mallorie’s. That’s kind of silly, because no, it’s not, for anyone but her. Nor is Mallorie’s POV superior for anyone but herself.

    I think, in their own ways, both women meant well, but both made errors in communication. Watson has less excuses as she a) has a bloody degree in Communication and b) makes her living doing that. A “Pro” has less margin for error in such things, she should have known how her statement would be taken by many, and certainly not be surprised that not everyone agreed with it or her.

    Finally, maybe the rest of us have some responsibility for the latest howlocaust as well. Possibly, when reading things, instead of looking for reasons to get angry about them, calm the hell down, and don’t make assumptions designed to piss ourselves off. When someone disagrees, don’t take a disagreement to mean you’re wrong, and when you disagree, don’t say that your disagreement makes THEM wrong. Maybe try, even if occasionally failing, to respond instead of reacting. Everyone’s guilty of that in this case, myself included. (A rather blatant example was Jen McCreight (among others) writing what looked to me as an epic slut-shaming piece about Mallorie. She may not have intended to do that, but it really comes across that way. I wonder if Mallorie weren’t as attractive as she is, would the reaction have been the same?) Maybe allow for multiple correct viewpoints and interpretations when you’re talking about a subjective issue? 

    It’s less fun, and a lot more work, but ultimately, more constructive.

    Or we can continue as we are, and look stupid doing it.

  • Welcome to the world of subjective issues. See, I read both watson’s and mallorie’s statements differently. When you say “guys…don’t do that” there’s not a lot of wiggle room. That’s not “maybe you should think twice”, that’s “never ever do that.” Absolute. 

    You see it differently, fair enough, it’s subjective, there’s no one right answer. 

     Now compare this to what Mallorie said. She wrote “I had a nice experience and no negative one, and you don’t have to change for ME”. And then she goes right on to say “and you don’t have to change for ANYBODY ELSE”. 
    Do you see the difference?

    actually, she said:

     With all of my heart I beg you: Do not change. Do not change for me, do not change for someone else. You’re 
    wonderful, just the way you are.

    I read that as “don’t change *just* because I or *someone* else tells you to”. We tell people that all the time. Don’t change who you are as a person just because someone else tells you to. In fact, we tell women this constantly: Don’t stop liking things because people say women shouldn’t. Don’t become a different person because the person you’re in a relationship with tells you to.

    We say it to men all the time: Don’t hide your emotions away because someone else, or even everyone else tells you to. Don’t allow society or some group to pressure you in to doing something that you feel is wrong.

    We say “you don’t have to change for ANYBODY ELSE” rather a lot as a society, sometimes we even mean it. So why is Mallorie saying it wrong? You feel it is wrong, I don’t, we have, obviously, different backgrounds and worldviews that lead to a different view of the same issues.

    How about this: neither of us is wrong, just different? Let’s go back a few months and excluding the “IMMA RAPE YOU HUR HUR” morons, because one doesn’t take the opinions of obvious troll lackwits seriously, nor use them as anything but targets for mockery, or the calling of legal authority, let’s look at “elevatorgate”. 

    Let’s also pretend that I, and many others weren’t lying when we said we didn’t actually have a problem with how Watson felt about that incident or what her takeaway was, just that we disagreed with her. (I clearly cannot speak for everyone not on your side, but I’m confident I’m accurately representing many with that statement.) You can do both. You can disagree with someone’s feelings on an incident without telling them they aren’t allowed to feel that way, or you’re wrong for feeling that way. (In truth, I, and many others didn’t really care until Watson’s dick move towards Stef McGraw. I absolutely think that was incredibly poor behavior, *regardless* of how polite or not the language was, and have yet to see any countering point of view that I can even begin to agree with. Had that not happened, things might have been different for many. Let’s assume I’m not lying about this, agree or not.)

    We, especially men, were told, and quickly, we’re not allowed to disagree, that any disagreement with Watson on this, in any way, shape or form, on any level was misogyny, and/or support of rape culture. Any woman who disagreed was a gender traitor. What a shock, a lot of people were pissed off by that. So the response is, “okay, we see there shall not even be a pretense of civil discussion on this, so fine, you want to play global thermonuclear war, let us lay waste to the land”. 

    lather, rinse, repeat. How’d that work out?

    At every step, both sides amped that shit up, because attempts to find compromise was slapped back. When you’re not allowed to disagree over a highly subjective issue, then it’s morton’s fork: agree, even if you don’t, and lie to both the world and yourself, or be called all sorts of names that are untrue.


    I don’t expect you to ever agree with my point of view on either watson or mallorie, and I doubt you’ll agree with mine. I don’t think that makes you wrong. I disagree with you, but you’re not wrong. Why, therefore, do the people not on your side have to be wrong?

  • JRB

    It’s pretty clear that Rebecca wasn’t
    speaking to ALL men.  She was speaking to
    the (hopefully) smallish group of men who weren’t/aren’t aware that making
    advances towards a woman you’ve previously had minimal contact with in an enclosed
    and isolated space is a great way to make her feel very uncomfortable.


    The fact that you think this includes all
    men tells me exactly which group you belong to.

  • Wait wait wait. I never said you were wrong about things that are matters of opinion. I only said I don’t understand how you can go from Watson feeling uncomfortable about something and expressing that discomfort to “she told all men to behave in a certain way”, and I think you answered that question quite reasonably.
    And I agree that a huge problem with internet discussions is that most people are not able to say something along the lines of “I understand, because of your good arguments, that I was at least partly wrong and/or that your opinion is more reasonable than me”, so that those fights become less about actually finding out what is right and more about gathering as much support as is possible on both sides. That’s why I try to not argue on the internet – I have only very seldomly seen people actually admitting that they were at least partly wrong.

    However, you replied to me very reasonably, so I guess I am going to continue this 😉

    >actually, she said:
    >”With all of my heart I beg you: Do not change. Do >not change for me, do not change for someone else. >You’re >wonderful, just the way you are.”
    read that as “don’t change *just* because I or >*someone* else tells you
    to”. We tell people that all >the time. Don’t change who you are as a
    person >just because someone else tells you to.
    (I don’t know how that quote thingy works, care to tell me?)

    Sure, that makes sense and I understand that her post can be interpreted in this way. But I guess you can also understand that it is pretty hard to not connect this statement with the very recent criticism of the treatment of certain women in certain places that are associated, in some way or another, with the American Atheism “community”, especially since she writes about a “recent[…] trend”. And if that connection is made, the whole thing leaves a different impression, one that has been pointed out numerous times.
    Maybe she really just wanted to point out that not all male atheists are bad people. Maybe she had read articles I haven’t read and got the impression that people were saying that all male Atheists are bad people and that all female Atheists their victions. But why did she have to do it in such an unfortunate, snide way? And why can’t she acknowledge that her piece could very well be interpreted as being apologetic of the horrible behaviour that has been pointed out? I don’t want her to apologize for anything, I think she might just have worded the thing unfortunately or a little to provocative. A clarification regarding that “don’t change for someone else” part and maybe an acknowledgement of the validity of experiences other people (mostly women) have had, even if she herself would have not been hurt by what happened to these people and even if she can’t confirm this trend in the communities she knows, would be really nice of her, though.

  • and the fact that you think of women as helpless to handle a pass in an elevator tells me so very, very much about you.

  • SphericalBunny

    Thanks for the reply; I probably won’t make another one since the nested comments thing will shortly make this convo into an unreadable string of letters.

    I take her point as “by and large, people in the skepticism and atheism
    movements are cool, don’t let the demands and actions of an
    unfortunately loud minority force ALL of you to completely change who
    you are.” I’d have to agree with that.

    Yes and no. Mostly cool? Yes. I still think it’s helpful for everyone, atheist or no, to be self aware and reflective of their own behaviour. Do people seem comfortable in your presence? Do they get equal opportunity to voice their opinions without being shouted down/talked over? Do strangers feel comfortable approaching you? (Feel welcome to apply these to either ‘side’). If no, there’s a problem and it might well be you. If yay, you probably don’t need to change – although as privilege theory points out, it’ll be a lot harder to tell. If you’re ok with atheism becoming another club for mainly white doodz (with occasional token female/ethnic minority), that’s fine, but please don’t expect women + minorities to STFU and not grief loudly about it. Women especially are used to being made to feel/treated as 2nd class in most religions – dammit, I want atheism to be better, and there is no logical reason why equality can’t prevail. This will need some serious self-reflection on the part of some – there are comments right here from people who think women are somewhere to stick their dick, rather than considering there are people who want to fuck each other.

    there’s another message in this: Women are helpless when confronted by a man.

    Valid point, there is a fine line between creating a space/culture where women are free to be themselves without coercion, harrassment, constantly being defensive etc., and poor widdle babies need looking after, and I do think it’s been crossed more than once in the surrounding discussions. However, I also believe positive discrimination is a good thing when what it does is provide the tools necessary for people to operate as they otherwise could were it not for the constant grind that curbs their ability and opportunities. That some people (Mallorie) don’t feel that is great, but how about everyone else? If Samuel L Jackson declared to white people he was doing fine, he enjoyed nigger jokes, and that they shouldn’t change, would that mean we shouldn’t bother with positive racial discrimination anymore?

    I’ve seen put forth, in a serious manner by Watson supporters that:

    The 2 points you listed, we agree, are not only impractical but downright silly. Your further musings follow from those points, so given what I’ve just said, I won’t touch them – except this –

    I find that the majority of people…[]…view “Shroedinger’s Rapist” as some kind of Truth,

    remove the capital ‘t’, and yes I do, but what I took from it was clearly different from your understanding, and probably off-topic. Just didn’t want to be disingenuous about it.

    I haven’t seen a lot,…, evidence, (…) that by and large the majority of
    people in those are sexist and misogynistic.

    That’s the problem with these things; whilst FGM is clearly bad, the elevator thing is just another little thing that’s not supposed to be a big deal. It’s the amount and build up of these little minor things that make them an issue. I certainly wouldn’t call the majority of people *intentionally* sexist + misogynistic – here, I found an article that describes it better  http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cocktail-party-physics/2011/07/20/is-it-cold-in-here/

    It’s probably worth noting that Mallorie herself seems to have noticed these things;

    As I’ve gotten older these subcultures have become more vocal about wanting to include more women, the discussion has become “how can we make the community more welcoming to women”.As a woman who has been here all along this is distressing to me,…(…)
    By forgetting to see me as a woman, you have treated me as an equal, as a comrade, as a friend…
    … keep trying to fuck me…

    That it’s not a big deal to her is fine; that she wants to keep the status quo which encourages men to see women as an ‘equal’ fuck puppet – not cool for those who disagree that that even entails equality, let alone respect, that she doesn’t want more women welcomed into the movement, is frankly bizarre.

  • Being an asshole, like you’re demonstrating right now, isn’t helping if you don’t want to be perceived as an asshole.
    But I’m sure you’re just one of those cool guys who doesn’t care about what people on the internet think of you… which is why you keep replying to this thread, right?

  • No, she’s advocating for some common decency, something you obviously don’t possess.

  • ischemgeek

    You realize there are issues with degrees of subjectivity. For example, people can subjectively debate the relative merits of two professional bands and there’s probably no “right” answer there. However, when you look at a band where the players first picked up their instruments yesterday and a band where each player has about 15 years of experience, there is a right answer even though you’re still talking about music, a subject that is well-accepted to have a large subjective component to it.

    In this case, sure there are some subjective parts to the issue, but there’s nothing at all subjective about, say, characterization of all people who complain about sexism in the community as “silly assholes” who deserve to be slapped.

    Nobody says that she’s not allowed to not be offended by certain behavior, what we’re saying is that she’s not allowed to tell the rest of us that we’re silly assholes who deserve a slap if we think something is wrong with, say, the rape jokes directed at the 15-year-old on Reddit, or the threats Watson has received, or the fact that in some parts of the Internet, that I have a vagina and two X chromosomes completely invalidates anything I want to say, or that when I disagree about anything at all where I currently live with certain people who call themselves “skeptics”, references are made to my menstrual cycle and my argument is completely ignored.

    I am not a silly asshole deserving of a slap because I think my arguments should be addressed on their merits, not on whether or not my boobs are pretty, my ass is too big or I’m on the rag. When Melanie addressed all men in the skeptic community and told them not to listen to people who tell them what they’re doing isn’t cool, and went on to say that she’d “like to slap the silly assholes who have given you the idea that you have mistreated me,” she was by extension calling me and everyone else who complains about the sexism that some of us actually do experience silly assholes. Whether or not that was what she meant, that’s what she said. I won’t judge her article on what I think she might have meant when she wrote it (I think she meant to address the men she associates with, but if that’s what she meant,  that’s what she should have written), I judge it on what she actually wrote.

    To reiterate: I am not saying that she can’t have a good time in the community. I am not saying that she’s not allowed to enjoy the jokes her friends make. I am not saying she’s not allowed to flirt and enjoy being flirted with. I am saying that she’s not allowed to dictate to the rest of us what we can do, what we should find funny and whether or not we can like flirting under a variety of circumstances. Furthermore, if she characterizes those of us who do have a problem with rape jokes, being literally patted on the head when we say something in a discussion, and having any conversation we’re in revolve more around our appearance or bodily functions than our arguments as silly assholes because we disagree with her point of view or because we’ve experienced things she hasn’t, she is wrong and deserves to be called out for it.

  • ischemgeek

    Speaking as a woman, I’d modify somewhat: No man should hit on a woman in any enclosed space unless he knows her personally and has been told by her that she would be receptive to such action by him.

    I wouldn’t mind my male commonlaw partner hitting on me in an elevator, for example. I would mind very much a stranger or a friend that I have no romantic relationship with hitting on me in one.

  • JRB

    You know that “uncomfortable” and “helpless” aren’t synonyms, right?

  • JRB

    …and the fact that you had to so fundamentally alter my words to make your point tells me so very, very, very, very much about the strength of your argument.

  • Lots of things make me uncomfortable. Lots of things make lots of people uncomfortable. Such is life. But, because I’m uncomfortable about the sound of a quarter rubbing across a formica counter, or the sound of a dull  #2 pencil, I’m not telling everyone on the planet how to behave over it. I’m an arachniphobe of the highest order, even HEARING about the little bastards creeps me out. But I don’t get to tell everyone HEY! STOP TALKING ABOUT, OR LOOKING AT, OR ACKNOWLEDGING THE EXISTENCE OF SPIDERS, even though it really creeps me out. Because my needs aren’t, as it turns out, all that important. 

    If someone’s deliberately doing something JUST to make me uncomfortable, that’s a different issue, but accidental uncomfortable? What the hell, who am I that everyone must care what makes me uncomfortable? When did I, you, or Watson become that important to anyone. Maybe if we stop assuming everything revolves around us, life gets just a little easier.

  • JRB

    Okay, by that logic if I whipped down my pants and started playing with myself in public, it would be totally cool as long as I was doing it because I
    was enjoying it and not because I was trying to _intentionally_ make people uncomfortable.

    Wait… no… that doesn’t seem to be how
    society works.

    Oh, right. 
    If an action is expected to make a large enough portion  of people uncomfortable we recognize
    it as inappropriate regardless of whether the uncomfortableness is accidental
    or intentional.

    (And yes, I get that people don’t have the
    right to never feel uncomfortable and that there are times when actions considered by social norms to be inappropriate must be done… blah blah blah… but being able to hit on woman in enclosed, isolated spaces is not something I
    really consider a moral imperative.)

  •  Really? 
    Okay, by that logic if I whipped down my pants and started playing with myself in public, it would be totally cool as long as I was doing it because I
    was enjoying it and not because I was trying to _intentionally_ make people uncomfortable.


    Oh aren’t you precious, you’re using the “EVERYTHING IS EXACTLY THE SAME” game. I’m surprised you didn’t go full stupid on it, with “WHAT IF I RAPE SOMEONE???” So really, not only did you use a stupid analogy, (illegal behavior compared to legal behavior), but you didn’t even have the spine to floor it. If you’re going to go stupid, don’t piss around. 

     Wait… no… that doesn’t seem to be how
    society works.

    Oh, right. 
    If an action is expected to make a large enough portion  of people uncomfortable we recognize
    it as inappropriate regardless of whether the uncomfortableness is accidental
    or intentional.

    And of course, you’ve interviewed every woman on the planet who uses elevators, and can show that they all dislike someone approaching them in a polite unthreatening manner in an elevator. Or even a majority.

    Oh right, no, you haven’t. Your sole data source is a youtube video, with you and her other fans going REBECCA WATSON IS RIGHT. Of course, that’s what you’re *always* going to say about everything she does or says, so it’s a bit redundant.

    See, when you’re saying things like “if an action is expected to make a large enough portion of people uncomfortable…” maybe you should be able to ACTUALLY SHOW THAT beyond the circle jerk response in a pitifully small group on the internet.

    But you’re a skeptic you don’t need data or to show your work, all you need is an anecdote from authority, and You Are Right.

     (And yes, I get that people don’t have the
    right to never feel uncomfortable and that there are times when actions considered by social norms to be inappropriate must be done… blah blah blah… but being able to hit on woman in enclosed, isolated spaces is not something I
    really consider a moral imperative.)

    I haven’t said it’s a moral imperative. I said discomfort does not require an entire gender to change their behavior especially when said discomfort is not shared by all.

  • skeptifem

    god damn it, there are still people arguing about the elevator? This community is fucked.

  • JRB

    Can’t really reply right here, so I’ll reply to the first one and see first one.

  • Antonov An-225

    link please

  • JRB

    (The reply to this is a comment somewhere in this thread where things were about to go single letter per line on my browser.)

     Of course I don’t think all woman are made uncomfortable by a pass in an
    elevator.  That is why I specifically wrote “portion”, not “all”.  Unlike you, I actually listen to the
    words woman use and I can see that while many say that they are
    uncomfortable in that situation some say that they are not.

    And while this opinion is largely limited to the dozens to hundreds of
    woman who make up the skeptic websites I regularly visit, this issue is
    about an incident that happened at a skeptic conference.  The very same
    conference these very same woman who are overwhelmingly expressing this
    opinion are going to attend.

    While I recognize this level of proof might not stand up in a peer
    reviewed journal it would certainly get a lot farther than the
    absolutely nothing you are bringing to the table.

    (I’m going to have to point out that having twice completely changed key

    parts of my argument  in order to make a point does not bode well for
    the strength of the argument you are trying to make.  You even seem to
    acknowledge that this isn’t the argument I am making but only after
    arguing against the argument you admit I am not making.)

    Then there’s the part where you use way too many words to claim I was
    making a slippery slope argument when in fact I was just re-applying
    your “logic” to show you that society does not work the way you were
    trying to argue it does (i.e. that making someone uncomfortable is only inappropriate behavior if that was the intent).  The reason I didn’t use rape as my example is
    because I wanted a behavior that would make many (but not necessarily all (and trust me, I know a handful of people who would not be uncomfortable with me playing with myself in public)) people uncomfortable.  Rape
    doesn’t make people uncomfortable — IT ACTIVELY HARMS THEM AND IS AN
    ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST THEIR PERSON.  The fact that you didn’t even
    stop for a second to realize that makes me really, really concerned.

    I am now going to point out the irony of you attacking me for claiming
    to know how all woman feel (which I didn’t actually do) and then
    claiming that your opinion represents the behavioral choices of the
    “ENTIRE [male] gender”.  In fact, I’m so enjoying the irony that I am
    going to just copy and paste your own words (with the appropriate

    “And of course, you’ve interviewed every [man] on the planet who uses
    elevators, and can show that they all [have to an overwhelming behavioral urge to hit on woman in enclosed, isolated spaces].

    right, no, you haven’t. Your sole data source is [your ass].”

    And then there’s that especially terrible part where you try and dismiss
    me as some sort of blind Rebecca Watson ideologue.  Dude, I have no
    problem saying that I do not like Rebecca Watson.  With the exception of
    Steve Novella, I find the entire SGU crew extremely unlikable to the point that I
    have failed to make it though any of their podcasts despite a number of

    The fact that the original point was made by Ms. Watson is irrelevant to me.  I can dislike someone but still respect them enough to recognize when I agree with them.  That you would claim that the only woman saying that the elevator situation makes her uncomfortable is Ms. Watson (in a thread full of examples of other people saying the same thing) worries me.  The fact that you would suddenly include her name in such a DRAMATIC and VITRIOLIC fashion worries me even more.

    I don’t have to rely on the authority of some random YouTube video to tell me what makes woman uncomfortable.  I have plenty of woman in my life and after reading through this thread they all agree on one thing:  you’re not very bright.

  • Some people STILL don’t get this??

    The gist of the whole thing was this: guys, this is NOT the way to approach women, as most of us will likely feel weirded out when a guy we’ve never spoken to before chooses to get on an otherwise empty elevator with us at 4am to ask us back to his hotel room.

  • Re: elevatorgate, I’m not sure why so much focus gets put on the ‘elevator approach’, as if she said that talking to a woman on an elevator is wrong/bad etc. The point is that she’d never spoken to this guy before, and his first attempt at conversation with her was in the elevator (as opposed to in the bar, or wherever) and was an invite back to his hotel room. Rebecca didn’t verily say unto thee ‘no man shall ever approach a woman on an elevator’.

    While I don’t happen to view every man as a potential rapist, nor do I fear men in general, there are certain behaviours that tend to be red flags for some women. I’d imagine this depends on previous experience. However, it can be pretty fairly stated that many women will see ‘elevator guy’ as a red flag (regardless of his actual intentions, which of course only he is truly aware of). Rebecca merely pointed this out – hey guys, a lot of women are going to find this creepy. I had a similar thing happen, and I found it weird – guy didn’t speak to me all night, or even acknowledge my presence (and he was with my group of friends all evening), yet as soon as I was away from the crowd, on my own, at the end of the night, he jumped in with a proposition. Sorry, that’s a red flag to me. If a guy behaves that way bc he’s socially awkward, shy etc, then I feel bad for him, bc most women are going to (justifiably, IMHO) think he’s creepy.

    Re: Mallorie, the issue seems to be that she mischaracterized the issues that some women in the skeptical community are concerned with… ie: it ain’t dick and pussy jokes 🙂

  • Agreed. If you’ve been chatting each other up, flirting etc, go for it. If it’s the first time you’ve ever spoken to the woman in your life, then be aware that she’ll probably think it’s weird, possibly threatening (depending on her past experience).

  • Agreeing with SphericalBunny – it does happen. Also, the threatening part includes the fact that she didn’t know they guy, and although he’d been in the bar (though not as part of her group), he chose to follow her to the elevator after she’d left the bar and ask her to his room. What is threatening about this? It gives the impression that he’d been watching her, and waiting until she was away from other people. Regardless of his intentions, that is creepy.

    As for no threat = no danger, the danger bit can come with no warning at all. I once lent a stranger on the street a lighter (he asked, I handed it over, it was daylight, no apparent threat) and he proceeded to light a cigarette, hand the lighter back, follow me while undoing his pants, grab me, and try to drag me down an alleyway. I fought, broke free, ran into a store and people there called the cops, who were nearby and nabbed him.

  • Mateus Justino

    SMH. Wrong thread.

  • Mateus Justino

    So what are people supposed to do about it if you feel offended by something that somebody wrote on the Internet to get a rise out of you?

  • Mateus Justino

    How is it not special treatment to demand that the a community changes so that people will not be offended by jokes on the Internet?

  • Earl Shide

    That’s exactly what it is, Brian. Unnecessary demonization of men. If you’re a man, you’re a sexist/rape apologist/misogyinst. If you’re a woman, you’re ignorant/ support misogyny/a gender traitor.


    Does it really need to get this low? For what?For what really? This is Joseph McCarthyism now.

  • If you think this issue is just about jokes on the Internet, I would submit to you that you haven’t been paying attention and thus don’t really know what the problem is.

    But for the moment let me assume that you simply miswrote and that you do understand the issue is sexism, not dirty jokes. How is asking to be treated equitably asking for special treatment?

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