Friday, 26 October 2012

Failing at Feminism; A How-To Guide

Right, can we get something straight here, do we think?

No one who insists that a woman should be protected from unpleasant messages, from invitations to coffee, or from criticism because she is a woman is any kind of feminist. If you put your opinions out there in a public forum, those opinions are subject to dissent and mockery – ownership of a vagina doesn't change that. More shockingly, I contend that even people who own [hushed whisper] penises are allowed to disagree with you. No, really. I know that sounds radical.

Rebecca Watson has appeared in Slate this week to bitch some more about how hard it is to be her – an educated, white, middle-class American woman whose rights are protected under law.

She claims she's been “grabbed and groped” at atheist conventions, and if that's true then THAT – I completely acknowledge – is out of order. But guess what? I get groped from time to time in bars and clubs, and on trains too. Do I blame that on the clubbing community? Do I blame it on commuters? Er, no – I blame it on the people who grope me. I'm not sure how that's difficult to understand. And no one's denying such people exist, by the way, even among the atheist community.

As for the rest of Watson's claims, that she receives nasty emails and tweets... well, so fucking what? I stated a few weeks ago in a tweet that I've never received abuse from other atheists. Since posting THAT tweet, I have. And again – so fucking what? What sane reason could I possibly have to think I can say something people won't like in a public space and expect not to get shit for it?! I've been getting sexist comments, sexually graphic messages, even direct threats from religious people for years. Do I blame the religious community for that? Again, no – because the vast majority of religious people don't behave like that.

I think the most galling part of that Slate article is the way Watson's wedged Richard Dawkins in there. I've suspected for some time that she's far more interested in creating a platform for herself than in fighting any kind of social injustice – I mean, the only right she seems to be interested in is her own right to piss and moan about how tough she has it, and she doesn't seem to have noticed that nobody's denying her that. I wish Dawkins hadn't sent that “Dear Muslima” note, not because I think he's wrong but because his doing so has given this shamelessly self-absorbed and deeply manipulative pseudofeminist more exposure than her opinions ever deserved.

Incidentally, she's given herself away dreadfully with her criticism of Dawkins' “Dear Muslima” comment – I'm astonished she didn't realise it before submitting her piece to Slate. She's slammed Dawkins for telling her – legitimately - that Western women haven't got it as bad as women in the Islamic world... ON THE SAME PAGE as telling us about this incident:



so essentially, a message saying “you don't have it that bad, stop moaning” is OK if it comes FROM her... but not if it comes from someone else TO her. She's allowed to shrug off male circumcision on the grounds that it's not so bad as female circumcision, but Richard Dawkins isn't allowed to shrug off an invitation for coffee on the grounds that it's not so bad as getting beaten.

Right then.

(As it happens, I agree with Watson that female circumcision is probably more damaging most of the time than male circumcision – although I'm sure plenty of people disagree with me and I'm quite happy to discuss that. But I also agree with Dawkins that being beaten is worse than being invited for coffee; if Watson wants her point about relative harm to be valid, she has to at least consider the possibility that Dawkins' precisely analogous point might be valid, too.)

I sincerely hope Richard Dawkins will not be tempted to respond, because Watson doesn't deserve his notice. She's not a sceptic and she's certainly not a feminist; she's a self-serving, immature individual who's worked out that throwing the word “misogyny” around can get her exposure in – for example – Slate magazine (for which, by the way, I am disappointed in Slate). The fact that this tactic works is far more of a comment on the community calling itself skeptical than all her stories about nasty emails could ever be.

I don't need the patronising protection of Watson and others of her view, and I resent the implication that she speaks for me because I'm a woman too. I am not a weak, defenceless little creature hiding in the corner from all the nasty men, and I don't need to be rescued and patted on the head by anybody, not even another woman. Seriously; I can look after myself, thank you.

So, men; we all know how Watson thinks you're allowed to act, speak and think. Basically, you're not allowed to – not if Watson is present. I happen to think that's a little unreasonable, so here are some guidelines I set out should you happen to care what I think (unlike Watson, though, I don't make the assumption that you do):

1: Say what you like to me. If you disagree with me, say so. If you want to call me a cunt, go for it. I won't necessarily pay a blind bit of attention to you if the latter is how you choose to approach me, but I won't stop you doing it. Why would I? It's just a word, and as someone opposed to blasphemy laws in all forms it'd be pretty hypocritical for me to then turn around and say “but you have to be polite to me”.

2: (This one goes for women too.) If you would like to ask me for coffee - or even for sex - ask me. Really, it's fine. I'm quite capable of saying “no” should I wish to. Being attracted to someone is not a problem; in fact, some biologists and anthropologists have advanced the opinion that it's normal and even necessary.

3: Just think about it before you touch me. A touch on the arm or a playful nudge probably won't bother me if we're getting on, but a hand on my arse probably will (unless we're really getting on). Use your common sense; read my body language, listen to what I'm saying, put yourself in my place - and if you think physical contact would be unwelcome don't make it. I'm not an alien, I'm just a person. If that's too complicated, then wait to see if I touch you first – fairly or not, being female means I don't have to worry so much about making you feel intimidated (although I will, of course, also refrain from touching you if it seems likely to be unwelcome).

4: The above said, don't touch my breasts or my crotch however well you think we're getting on. If I'm OK with that level of physical contact, you'll know about it and we won't be at a damn convention.

5: This is the most important one, really; 99% of you don't need to worry about these guidelines. You're fine. The vast majority of you are not misogynistic gropers and you already think of women as, y'know, real people. And let's face it; the 1% of men who do think it's OK to grope a woman without her permission basically have no interest in how women would like them to behave, anyway. So carry on as you are, and don't let yourself get suckered into thinking women are feeble little things who'll be scared if you talk to them. THAT is condescending and sexist, and THAT pisses off reasonable women.

40 comments:

  1. Seen Watson's post-Dear Muslima tweet?

    http://i.imgur.com/5Iwri.png

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    1. ...some people have called her a cunt for some reason.

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    2. I hadn't. It's not a confirmation of my suspicions, but it's certainly a corroboration.

      Ugh.

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  2. " ... I sincerely hope Richard Dawkins will not be tempted to respond ... ".

    I think the fact he hasn't means he's sized up the likes of Rebecca Watson pretty darned quickly.

    " ... in fact, some biologists and anthropologists have advanced the opinion that it's normal and even necessary. ... "

    ROFL! Excellent point.

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  3. Don't take this the wrong way, but I love you. xo

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    1. Is there a wrong way to take that? Delighted, lovely, thank you. ;)

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  4. Awesome post. I think your writing should be getting way more visibility. If only such thing were more based on merit; because one look at what's been popular in our community tells us that sadly this appears to be less and less the case each day.

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  5. "The above said, don't touch my breasts or my crotch however well you think we're getting on. "

    Watched an interesting program by Dawkins where he described his experience in hippy California. One memory was of a hippy fella walking down the street fondling all the passing hippy womens breasts as he past them - with not one wit of discomfort from them. Would they be justified to write a post like yours saying what a special snowflake you are for not allowing that without a nod and a wink?

    You have different expectations from your social interactions from Rebecca Watson etc. What is right for you is not necessarily right for all women and vice versa, plainly. You criticise her for saying how women and men *should* act in a given situation while doing that yourself. What she finds objectionable is not a problem for you...

    Why do we need to conform to her or your view of how to interact? Both are perfectly valid, and if you move in RWs circles you know to be a bit more respectful of boundaries than if you move in your circles. These two viewpoints can co-exist and her presenting her viewpoint does not mean yours is invalidated. I would personally default to RWs view when in new company as I don't know what is acceptable - but that is me personally and I tend to try and avoid social faux pas. Maybe you are of the Aleister Crowley'ian perspective and like to bite the host(esse)s hand and take a shit on the floor when in new company. All is permitted (Within the remit of the law) the difference between yours and RWs view will be purely the choice and style of the person in that social situation.

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  6. Lucy, you are a brave hero.

    Brave, because you will be in the cross hairs. Justin Vacula dared to criticise Becky and he was portrayed as a sinister stalker. (he blogged on Becky's attempts to scold Sharon Hill for following @angrySkepchick, she did it via Amy)
    Then I was portrayed as a predator for having the gall to take the mickey out of her. (tinyurl.com/heroSlander)

    At one time, Becky was excellent on SGU. I could have never predicted this insanity.

    I hope that she comes to her senses one day, and that people are forgiving. Maybe she's just indoctrinated by radfems, in the way that Scientologists are coerced into doing things.

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  7. "Lucy, you are a brave hero...Brave, because you will be in the cross hairs"

    Sorry have I wandered into a real 'war', I didn't realise you had anything to lose apart from at worst (Or best from your pov, I'd guess) a verbal crucifying from an FTB'er or a Skepchick. How horrifying!

    Justin Vacula has suffered more than anyone, actually losing his position in the SCA... As a volunteer... All of which could have been avoided just by apologising to the section of the atheist community which he had alienated. Personally I couldn't imagine a more horrible fate for anyone! Those terrible bullies!

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    1. "Apology" implies that he was wrong. He was not.

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  8. Lucy's rules of social engagement are the norm. If we want to change the norm, then we need to go about it some other way than by vilifying those who aren't even engaging in the behavior complained of.

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  9. Lucy, I agree with most of the things you wrote and think it's a great, extremely well written argument, but I'm going to have to disagree with your saying that Rebecca is "failing at feminism".

    She's not, she's doing exactly what feminism preaches. She's putting her feelings and desires as a woman above everyone else's, she's rallying for support when anything she considers misogyny or oppression happens, and she dismisses men's problems and issues as non-important.

    That's what feminism is, despite claiming it fights for equality for all genders it only focuses on and cares about one of them, casting the other as the permanent oppressor.

    She wasn't failing at feminism, she was excelling at it, and the very common claims "that's not what feminism is about" or "she's not really feminist" that happen a lot in the gendersphere sound like desperate attempts at salvaging a broken ideology.

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  10. Shouldn't this post be titled "Attention Seeking: A How-to."

    Not Rebecca, of course. She's long been well-known and respected in the Atheist/Skeptic community.

    I mean SoggyMog, whose only claims to fame are that she was once retweeted by Dawkins and that she occasionally gets linked for heaping maladroit abuse on more notable people.

    So good job there. Keep building that platform.

    Pity you can't seem to build it honestly, though.

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    1. Yeah, can you tell us what Rebecca Watson is known for within the atheist/skeptic community?

      For the life of me, I can't think of anything that stands out. Well, except Elevatorgate. Has she held classes about science like Dawkins? Made speeches about scepticism and religion like Hitchens? Has she inspired people to see the errors in religious practices and look past their delusion? Or, is it that she simply rehashes arguments that she's made again, and again, and again, about allegedly sexist and misogynistic comments to her from atheists and sceptics? What did she do before she became "well known and respected" within the community?

      As far as I know, the way her website got off the ground was selling nude/pin-up calendars of her and her fellow Skepchicks. That was back in 2006/07. Any other accomplishments we should be aware of? Maybe having a theme called 'Wild West Bordello' at TAM8 where she, by the way, filmed with relative glee a simulated blowjob? Oh, but that was a whole year before she felt sexualised in that manner. Nevermind. She must have had a change of heart. Seriously, though, what has she done to merit being "well known and respected" within the atheist/skeptic community?

      Delete
    2. Yes, Rebecca's latest article bears a strong resemblance to Donald Trump's latest college-records-for-charity challenge: "Look at me! I want some more attention!'

      This is the only skill Watson has ever demonstrated. Whether she's 'respected' for it is debatable.

      Delete
    3. "whose only claims to fame are that she was once retweeted by Dawkins and that she occasionally gets linked for heaping maladroit abuse on more notable people."

      That's not true, I once got yelled at by Joan Collins in an art gallery in Cannes.

      Delete
    4. Jedibear, you came here and clearly had a chance to read the actual argument presented and respond in a substantive fashion. Instead you chose to hurl meaningless ad hominems that could literally be directed at any lesser known blogger who ever had the audacity to respond to another, better known blogger.

      Delete
    5. I have to agree with pitchguest. I had no idea who she was prior to elevatogate, other than occasionally seeing mention of her on PZ's blog, but even then there was never any actual information about her. It was not until elevatorgate - and PZ's truly unhinged freakout at anyone who did not buy the party line - that I even found out who she actually was. And since finding out, I am still trying to figure out why she has such clout. Personally, I think PZ has a crush on her - I can't think of any other reason that he would have acted like he did. He attacked Thunderfoot, for crying out loud!

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  11. But now that I've got my personal attack out of the way, there's still the problem of the reasoning.

    Ad hominmem fallacy (Rebecca Watson is an attention-seeking bitch *and therefore is wrong*.)
    Straw-man argument (The bulk of the argument is directed against a parody of the opposing position.)
    Red herring fallacy (Dawkins' argument that Rebecca *should shut up* because FGM is worse than being propositioned in elevators is unrelated to Watson's argument that (male) circumcision is not as bad as FGM.)

    Maybe the writer should learn to do skepticism *properly* before building a major following. Just saying.

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    1. You have accurately noted many of the fallacies Rebecca Watson employs on a regular basis, and yet she still tries to label herself a 'skeptic.'

      This is why she fails at skepticism.

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  12. Good article Lucy. Thank you for this.

    Would it be overly optimistic of me to infer that, as Rebecca Watson is still going on about a relatively harmless episode nearly 18 months ago, there have been no subsequent egregious acts of misogyny in real life since that time in atheist/sceptic circles?

    Are we now now left with the general background noise of internet trolls and jokers?

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    1. Actually that's an interesting point, Pagan. Surely if women are being perpetually groped and harassed and intimidated at atheist/skeptic conventions as we're told we'd have fresher - and more significant! - incidents to discuss than someone getting asked for coffee well over a year ago?

      Hmm.

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  13. Oolon: Intentionally touching a woman's breasts without permission is sexual assault. It's illegal. Asking someone to coffee is, well, normal.

    JediBear: I think you need to review logical fallacies, since they're inapplicable to the arguments Lucy has made.

    Altair: That's why I've given up the word feminism -- I don't want to be confused for the Watson types.

    Pitchguest: Yep, Watson's "career" is made of nudie books, bordello parties, and imagined victimhood. While there's nothing wrong with that, I really don't see what it has to do with either atheism or skepticism. Her only real accomplishment has been shredding the movement to bits. It's sad to see liberals falling for this nonsense. And it's also sad to see her rehashing what happened a year and a half ago in Slate, without any rebuttal allowed.

    As for Lucy, she's terrific.

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  14. I recently read Watson's article about the elevator incident, and honestly I thought she overeacted. I know I'm a man so typically anything I say against feminism is potrayed as sexist. That being said, a man asking you up for coffee for the obvious desire to fuck you isn't sexist, that's a guy respecting the fact that you have a right to say "no" to his asking you up for coffee for the obvious intent to bang you. I understand she may have felt uncomfortable, or nervous, but that sounds more like a personal problem on her self esteem rather than any fault of that mans in the elevator.

    I feel for Rebecca because in many ways sexism does prevail in skeptic communities, similarly to any other community or group that has more than one sex in it. Sexism even prevails among male or female only groups, man on man, female on female, and vice versa, similar to racism and so on. I notice in many regards she exagerates what is done to her specifically, but it is easy to see something as more grievous when it is done to you than when you are reading it being done to some one else.

    I haven't read SoggyMog before but I related to her article better, especially in regards to the Dawkin's point, because let's be real women in America just don't have it as bad as women in the middle east, it's true. It's also true male circumcision is not as bad as female mutilation, though objectively they are similar, such things are subjective and personal, and subjectively, the clitoris mutilation is much more painful than the removal of foreskin.

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  15. Er, 'her personal problem on her self-asteem'? I understand that it is believed that American men are much more "civilised" and respectful towards women (myself living in India) but how safe can a woman, in any society feel next to a drunk man who wants to 'bang' her(word used above)? I believe she was pointing out the ineffectiveness of her long talk on feminism, on simply not being heard by people she thought related to her. Is that so bad?
    Am I to believe that American society is the logical goal for all "super patriarchal" societies, that the fight against stereotypes and thoughts stops there? Dawkins is definitely a great scientist, thinker and writer but is that a way to become untouchable to critique?
    Would the gentleman who commented just above this one be that generous to poverty and deprivation in America just because there are poorer, more sad places in the world? "let's be real the homeless in America just don't have it as bad as the homeless in the Ethiopia, it's true"
    Some of the best literature on the world's problems comes from people who go through it. Maybe not Rebecca Watson, but to discredit her line of argument this way doesn't seem right.

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  16. Option 1
    Watson politely declines an invitation for coffee from a man in an elevator.
    Both parties continue about their lives as though nothing interesting had happened.
    Result: No Elevatorgate.

    Option 2
    Watson politely declines an invitation for coffee from a man in an elevator.
    Later, she casually uses it as an example of what she considers inappropriate behaviour from men.
    Other bloggers and commenters, both men and women, express disagreement with her over the extent to which the behaviour was inappropriate.
    Watson responds to their comments and accepts that they are quite within their rights to set their own boundaries but stands by hers.
    Result: No Elevatorgate.

    Option 3
    Watson politely declines an invitation for coffee from a man in an elevator.
    Later, she casually uses it as an example of what she considers inappropriate behaviour from men.
    Other bloggers and commenters, both men and women, express disagreement with her over the extent to which the behaviour was inappropriate.
    Watson responds to their comments by dismissing these bloggers as ignorant misogynists. She goes further, using her next public engagement to shame a member of the audience for disagreeing with her, accusing her of "parroting misogynist thought."
    People point out Watson's poor behaviour.
    Watson acknowledges her poor behaviour and apologizes. Her supporters acknowledge her mistake and support her apology.
    Result: No Elevatorgate.

    Option 4 (this one should sound familiar)
    Watson politely declines an invitation for coffee from a man in an elevator.
    Later, she casually uses it as an example of what she considers inappropriate behaviour from men.
    Other bloggers and commenters, both men and women, express disagreement with her over the extent to which the behaviour was inappropriate.
    Watson responds to their comments by dismissing these bloggers as ignorant misogynists. She goes further, using her next public engagement to shame a member of the audience for disagreeing with her, accusing her of "parroting misogynist thought."
    People point out Watson's poor behaviour.
    Watson continues to treat all criticism as anti-feminism and misogyny. She enlists her supporters to defend her bad behaviour and to do the same.
    PZ Meyers picks up the argument, Dawkins makes his famous dismissive response, and the whole thing blows up.
    Result: Elevatorgate.

    (with thanks to AvalonXQ)

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    1. I realize I'm a little late to the game, but this expressed my interpretation perfectly. Thank goodness there are people like Rebecca and PZ to tell me how to be a proper woman!

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  17. This is a fantastic blog. Your writing is very crisp and on target with the major issues facing nontheists.

    I found this ironically through Ophelia Benson, who for all her totally unnecessary, sneering condescension towards you, felt some obligation to post it at the end of the day. A look through the mostly infantile, off-handedly dismissive comments in her post shows what sort of ethos ftb fosters.

    Benson barely manages an on-topic rebuttal to you. I particularly like her tortured hair-splitting over whether condemning an insult like "fucking cunts" was a protection of women per se. Unlike us, Americans and Canadians do not appear in my experience to use "cunt" with any sort of general meaning so she actually missed a much better argument if she were more knowledgeable of English.

    Oddly she is best known for demolishing contorted postmodern arguments and religious apologetics in her two books, yet she is clearly a standard bearer for the feminist orthodoxies surrounding ElevatorGate, which rely ironically on certain postmodernist/poststructuralist themes like presumptive guilt as member of a 'privileged' group.

    At the same time Benson frequently bemoans the faux outrage of Islamophobia, yet when the right-thinking commentariat of A+ show up on her blog to muddle up discussion of Islam, her responses to them are typically very weak. Yet she seems to have that disproportionate, almost paranoid fear of the Christian right in America to the effect that they all live just a step from theocracy and a "new Dark Ages" (that is an actual quote from No Light on her blog).

    With a worldview like that, no wonder an inappropriate, but ultimately harmless effort to chat a woman up leads to such a broad meltdown.

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    1. Hi Rebekah.

      Thanks for commenting! I haven't seen Benson's reference to this, though - I shall have to have a look.

      xxx

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  18. I rarely even try to engage with the idiots on their own turf anymore because they will bait and taunt you right before banning you and then bad mouth you where you have no recourse to challenge. Just happened to Noel Plum the other day. Matt Dillahunty (full disclosure-Matt blocked ME from his Twitter for pointing out his early lunacy) was subsequently blocked/banned by the group he had previously been supportive of. It doesn't get any better/worse than that IMHO. Laughably ignorant. I note that Dillahunty has refused to "apologize" for making them look like the idiots we had been telling him they were, so that IS something. Al Stefanelli has seen the light since pouncing on Thunderf00t for "leakgate". He pulled the post bashing TF for same (and has stated it is the ONLY time he has ever erased a post).

    Slate is just a link-whore site of the lowest form. An upscale Huffington Post. Perfect match for Rebecca's bullsquat.

    For the record, I have never posted under any name other than my own, so at least they can't toss that grenade my direction. Neither have I called for violence against the agitators. I would like to see them politely shunned from skeptic organizations that I have been fond of for years though. She is NO skeptic.

    Enjoy.

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  19. Just want to say thanks for this. I used to identify myself as a passive feminist; I agree with the cause but wasn't active. With the blow back in the skeptic community from "elevatorgate" and the subsequent flocking to the echo room known as freethoughtblogs, I started finding myself arguing against feminists.

    It's nice to know that there are still feminists who understand what it means to be treated equally and fairly. I wish your blog got more attention.

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    1. Really, feminism has become so distorted and co-opted by radicals (who are inherently opposed to skepticism) that egalitarians are increasingly few and far between.

      There are certainly still SOME feminists who focus on equality; but being egalitarian is no longer synonymous with being a feminist. The two concepts are diverging rapidly.

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  21. I’ve noticed a number of persistent confusions surrounding this affair with Watson et.al. These consist of a.) Misunderstanding what distinguishes RadFem from other strains of feminism, b.) Differentiating individual behavior from group behavior, and c.) the validity of social concerns writ large vs the "female" concerns of individuals. I say "female" in quotes, because when an individual couches their subjective concerns or political opinions in a broader distinction like class, gender, or race, preferring to speak "as a woman", it has the effect of embellishing the authority of their subjectivity. Their opinion transforms into a more objective sounding opinion being shared by a class of people.

    For example, I can say "women feel x about y", and use this to substantiate my feelings as an individual. This is not itself illegitimate. I might genuinely believe that my feelings and circumstances objectively have much in common with others, but if I don't qualify my subjectivity, especially if critics address me as an individual, and I reply as if the class I am a member of has been "attacked", there is a rhetorical manipulation in the works. This kind of manipulation has been deployed by Watson et. al., but ironically, it is also common in atheist parlance at conventions and in many of "our" discussions.

    Blurring the line between self and group is a common mode of framing issues internally. We speak of "theists" and "the religious", because this shorthand is convenient for describing the ideological "Other". This is also the subtext at work in Watson's Slate article. It's the same manipulation of subtext to give an impression that the Skeptic community "has a problem with sexism", and at the same time, her "experiences are the proof".

    This is a way of baiting of her adversaries, because it creates confusion between two epistemological claims. Some think that the charge is against "Skeptics" as a group. Some feel that the charge is directed at men within the skeptic community. They expect a case to be made, case-by-case.

    This has been the primary preoccupation with the "particularist" view, that individual cases of misbehavior are the only legitimate basis for entertaining claims that the community as a whole has a problem. These people re waiting for statistical evidence of a trend, and named malefactors. They're enraged when data is not forthcoming, and they continue to hear charges that they as a group are guilty. What this expectation fails to recognize is that such criticism that "the skeptic community has a problem with sexism" is a bifurcated argument.

    On the one hand, there are particular claims of isolated incidents, but on the other hand is a social theory about patriarchy that "explains" how these behaviors function in society. This confounds those waiting to see points of sexist behaviors charted on a graph, followed by a linear regression to fit the data.

    The theory that "Skeptics have a problem with sexism" didn't begin with data, it began with ideology, and that ideology informs Watson's understanding of her experiences. Even if her anecdotes are insufficient, her worldview is. This is why, no matter how many times anyone brings up elevatorgate as “not involving personal harm”, the Watsonites accuse critics of "missing the point", or being uninformed about the symbolic significance of the behavior.

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    1. You should blog that, it's too good to be a comment :D

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  22. Hi,

    First of all, fantastic article, not sure if you'll read this since it's at the bottom of the pile, but good work anyway :) Just a few points:

    1/ FGM vs. MGM: Both of these terms describe a variety of practices from castration, penile subincision and clitoral amputation to more "minor" procedures such as circumcision and labio-ectomy.

    Obviously the former group can't really be compared to the latter group in severity, but we do have to remember that FGM doesn't automatically fall into the former and MGM doesn't automatically fall into the latter. It's also important to remember that both MGM and FGM exist within a larger context of bodily modification for cultural identity and aren't necessarily about control of one gender or the other (although this probably is the case with circumcision and clitoral amputation).

    2/ Well said about the name-calling. Personally I vote that stuff down. I see women doing it too but I think verbal abuse is more expected/taken less seriously in male groups than it is in women's. I don't think threats of violence are ok, but at the same time I don't take them seriously. If every person who threatened to kill me had actually tried, I almost certainly wouldn't be alive right now. But yeah, it just damages their credibility (and, unfortunately, the credibility of anyone making a similar argument).

    3/ "being female means I don't have to worry so much about making you feel intimidated" Er, try it :/. I guarantee you that men aren't the self confident gods old spice ads make us wish we were.

    4/ Groping, thank you for not identifying gropers as being representative of all men! So many feminists do, and it's pretty disturbing.

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  23. The thing about Elevatorgate is that it has led me to a fair number of women who adamantly do not identify themselves as feminists nor are they women who are pining for the old days.

    The importance of this is not that it is suddenly possible to not be a feminist while still being for equality, but that there are other people, even supposed victims, who support the goal without subscribing to the dogma and rhetoric.

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