Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Skepchick Privilege

Watson is now boycotting Center For Inquiry.

The details, in "So Much for Center for Inquiry", Watson explains:


A lot of people held their collective breath, waiting to find out if the board would issue an official apology, force Lindsay to issue a real apology, censure Lindsay in some other way, or take any strong action to show that CFI was going to recommit itself to addressing women’s concerns in concrete ways while marginalizing those who are harassing us.
[...]
If you’ve read that a few times, wondering what it says, allow me to clarify: it says nothing. It makes vague statements about equality and respect without mentioning anything about the harassment of women in this community and how Ron Lindsay has enabled it. It expresses unhappiness without mentioning what exactly they’re unhappy about: Lindsay’s talk? Uppity women complaining about his talk? Men’s Rights Advocates (MRAs) now supporting CFI while continuing to hate women? No idea. It also suggests that the “controversy” is about the conference, and not about 10 minutes of the opening talk of the conference, delivered by Ron Lindsay.
[...]
In a way, I’m glad they made it so very obvious that they don’t care. Had they written something complex and layered, doing nothing but promising something (anything), it would be much harder for me to say this: I’m finished supporting Center for Inquiry.

For the past two years I’ve worked my ass off to make their annual CSICon a success, by hosting their parties, getting the SGU and other popular speakers involved, helping them create a gender-equal schedule, coordinating a blood drive through Maria Walters, facilitating scholarships through Surly Amy, and just promoting the hell out of it. This year they have yet to issue me an invite. With this statement, it couldn’t be clearer: my participation is not wanted, in the exact same way that after six years of supporting JREF’s Amaz!ng Meeting, DJ Grothe made it clear they didn’t want me, either.
My haters like to pretend I organized some kind of boycott against Richard Dawkins after he attacked me, a lie that became so pernicious I edited in a statement saying I have not (facts, as usual, had no impact on the behavior of my haters). The boycott accusation was confusing on a number of levels but these two particularly: 1. Dawkins, not me, is the one who has made demands to organizers that I not share a stage with him (it’ll be interesting if he shows up on CSICon’s bill this year) and 2. there is nothing morally wrong with people calling for a boycott of something they disagree with or, in this case, something that actively causes them harm.

Just to knock those two statements out of the park:

  1. Dawkins not wanting to again be on a panel with Watson is a complete red herring. This information was not published nor advertised by organizers or by Dawkins himself for that matter. 
  2. Nobody has claimed that boycotts are morally wrong. 
Oddly enough, Dawkins making a private request to not be on a panel with his harasser is apparently "a boycott" in Watson's world.

The only thing Watson's critics have requested is a modicum of honesty - when you publicly announce to your fans that you're no longer purchasing Dawkins books, it's an endorsement of this action as acceptable if not preferable.

Watson feels she gets a free pass because she refrained from explicitly requesting her fans do the same and using the b-word ("boycott").

It's similar to a movie reviewer giving a film 10 out of 10, then saying that they are not actually endorsing the production because the reviewer did not actually ask his or her readers to pay money to see the film.

So clever. 

Watson continues:
With that last point in mind, fuck it: I’m boycotting and I hope you do, too. I’m not giving any more of my time or money to Center for Inquiry, just as I’ll no longer give any time or money to the JREF and Richard Dawkins.But in addition to this personal decision I’ve made, I’m actually asking you to do the same.

Oh, this changes everything!

Or not.

Watson continues:
Do not support an organization that does not have the courage to stand up for women. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. [this theme is a wagon she hopped on in her earlier article] If you are a speaker at a paid event for these organizations, cancel your appearance. If you regularly donate money to them, stop. If you work for them, look for a new job. I have a lot of friends and loved ones who currently do one, some, or all of those things, and I trust we’ll continue to be friends regardless of what happens. But I do think that continued support of CFI will send a message that it’s okay for a supposedly humanist organization to never take a stand to help the women in its community.
I hesitate to suggest where you should redirect your energies, because the last time I did that, I convinced many people to start supporting CFI, and we can see how well that went (sorry about that). There’s always Equality Now or Planned Parenthood or the SPCA I guess. They may not be directly about skepticism or secularism or humanism, but at the very least you can be fairly certain you’re helping make the world better.

Endorsing Planned Parenthood is a step forward for Skepchick, who previously endorsed AU as the last best hope for women's rights. Planned Parenthood is a lot less bizarre of a choice.

In any case, there you have it. Rebecca Watson is now boycotting CFI and admitting to the existing boycott of Dawkins and JREF. This is something the Skepchick clique should have disclosed months if not years ago.

But it's ultimately up to them. Skepchick and FTB can boycott whoever they want, and they have a right to be snide about it.

Yet what is extremely telling about this baloney about boycotts?

It is dripping with privilege.

Just a few examples:

Watson writes: "[CFI's letter] expresses unhappiness without mentioning what exactly [we're] unhappy about"

Why it's privileged: Essentially Watson expects her criticisms of an organization and its director to be summarized and mirrored in full.

For those keeping track, Watson's oft-retweeted criticism of CFI is quite simply (direct quote) "Very strange to open #wiscfi w a white male CEO lecturing women about using the concept of privilege to silence men."

It would seem CFI was to somehow relay this mature critique of its CEO in its letter. The organization essentially owes Watson a platform.

Watson writes: "This year [CFI] have yet to issue me an invite [to CSICON]."

Why it's privileged: Watson has already been invited to CSICON. Not only has Watson been invited, but you have been invited as well. How is this possible? It's an open event.

When Watson states that she has not been invited, presumably she means she has not received free round-trip tickets from Brooklyn to Tacoma, Washington along with a customary speaker's fee.

Let's be clear: Watson expects an invite before the organizers have even completed the conference website.

One imagines Watson checking her email waiting wondering why she hasn't been giving a speaker's slot.

Once Watson realized CFI wasn't going to give her a soapbox and she was going to have to attend a CFI conference as one of the secular proletariat, she threw a fit of public boycotts.

Watson, in her position of privilege, expects two things from an organization in return for her support: money and a platform. It's all about the coin with these "social justice" activists.

It's rather humorous to watch these "rationalists" expose their Victorian sensibilities.

No invite to speak? No travel expenses covered? This is a disrespect! How dare they!

Until next time, on as the skeptical world turns...

13 comments:

  1. "Do not support an organization that does not have the courage to stand up for women."

    Well, f*ck, considering the low bar for what constitutes the kind of harassment and attack that people like Watson need standing up for, we'd never sit down again!

    Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Watson writes: "[CFI's letter] expresses unhappiness without mentioning what exactly [we're] unhappy about"

    Why it's privileged: Essentially Watson expects her criticisms of an organization and its director to be summarized and mirrored in full."


    This is completely disingenuous. Watson did not decide about her boycott because CFI didn't address one of her tweets, but rather because CFI didn't address any of the many criticisms of Lindsay's speech, including an open letter from a majority of the speakers at their conference, and a public statement from one of their major promoters, Secular Woman.

    Watson writes this in her piece:
    "Dozens of letters (including one signed by the majority of Women in Secularism speakers) were sent to the Center for Inquiry’s Board of Directors, begging them to do something to restore CFI’s reputation as a humanist organization that cares about women and their ongoing harassment."
    And it is clear that this is what she is reacting to. No matter what your opinion of RW is, misrepresenting the issue in this way is dishonest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The criticisms follow a general theme - Ron Lindsay was apparently a jerkface. What was CFI supposed to write in response? "We're sorry our director wasn't entirely ingratiating towards you."

      If this criticism of CFI's response happened in a vacuum, (and it was leveled by people that actually attended WiS 2) I'd be inclined to agree with you. But CFI has simply learned their lesson from the last letter:

      http://uberfeminist.blogspot.com/2013/04/how-skepchick-and-atheismplus-make.html

      Only a painfully silly organization would try to put focus on anything Watson has to say.

      Also I would like someone to attempt to defend Watson's expectations of a speaking position at every conference CFI happens to be hosting...

      Delete
  3. Haha nice way to prove you have no clue what she and pretty much every sociologist means by the term "privilege" ... Wouldn't it be a good idea to learn a little about the subject given you are so keen to criticise?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Given that your little clique changes the definition of that word daily to suit their whims, it's fair to assume it's a mirror of one of those past uses in an ironic fashion.

      Most people are intelligent enough to understand that, but I've dealt with you in the past oolon, and have no such misgivings about your capability.

      Here, let me also use something from your parlance: Your absolute willful stupidity in order to play the fool and act offended is a trigger for me. Stop. =)

      Delete
    2. priv·i·lege
      /ˈpriv(ə)lij/
      Noun
      A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to one person or group of people.

      She expects to be flown out to a conference and for CFI to have affirmative action against Lindsay because he said a couple things that she doesn't wholly agree with. So, you know what, you're right, it's not privilege, because that being her privilege would mean that she has accessibility to those things. So she's not privileged; she's whiny, vain, self-centered, and acts like a spoiled 7-year-old who got a maroon dress for her birthday instead of a slightly *darker* shade of maroon dress.

      Delete
    3. "Privilege", as I understood it, was a specific, special advantage given to an individual or a group.

      "Privilege", as I learned it from SkepChicks and FTB, is simply not being mistreated. Every instance of "privilege" they ever described was simply an instance of me not being mistreated by the majority.

      I don't get harassed by cops the way that black men do - hence, I have privilege. Right? Think about what a sickening thought this is. It's not the case of black men being mistreated--no, its that I'm being given special treatment. That's what it MUST mean for it to be a privilege not to be harassed by cops.

      Since I don't have a womb, I don't have to worry about legislators trying to enact laws that outlaw abortion - hence, I have privilege. But is this correct? It is, rather, a case of women being disallowed their rights to control their bodies.

      It is not a privilege to not be mistreated. It is a right, a right everyone should have. If I have a special privilege, it can be taken away. But to remove this privilege means I would be mistreated--so fuck that. How about instead, we treat people fairly? Then we can all be "privileged".

      Delete
    4. I certainly hope they promote Oolon to "Groom of the Stool." He has most definitely earned it.

      Delete
  4. Rebecca Watson is a brat. The CFI has shown that it has a strong backbone and will stand up for open debate and free inquiry no matter how loudly a clique of bullies tries to silence dissent. I am donating to CFI for the first time to thank them for standing by Mr. Lindsay.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good riddance!

    JREF, Dawkins and CFI can get back to the business of Skepticism instead of pandering to the business of Feminism.

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  6. >>(and it was leveled by people that actually attended WiS 2)

    Also disengenuous. A majority of the speakers at the conference criticised it. From tweets and blogposts surrounding this, It is indisputable that many conference attendees also reacted.

    This was not just about Watson, not just about her reaction or ego. Perhaps her boycott decision was in part irractional, but you're still misrepresenting the issue.

    As for:
    >> I don't get harassed by cops the way that black men do - hence, I have privilege. Right? Think about what a sickening thought this is.

    No it's not. No one is criticising privileged people for having privilege. The criticism is that because of one's privilige, one's understanding or awareness of the issues of underprivileged groups will be diminished.

    Taking your example, a black person would have good reason to ask you to check your privilege if you dismissed his worries about the danger of a possible police search, because "police are nice guys, just doing their jobs", when his experience has been completely different, due to his race.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Majority of those complaining about WiS 2 in comments, tweets, did not attend the conf.

      I will let the person that made the second comment respond to that.

      I will repeat my statement - "I would like someone to attempt to defend Watson's expectations of a speaking position at every conference CFI happens to be hosting..."

      Delete
    2. > No it's not. No one is criticising privileged people for having privilege.

      Are you making an active effort to not address the points that are actually being raised?

      > Taking your example, a black person would have good reason to ask you to check your privilege if you dismissed his worries about the danger of a possible police search, because "police are nice guys, just doing their jobs"

      So, in other words, white privilege is being ignorant.

      Why are they even concerned about [second person] making ignorant statements?

      Why is saying 'check your privilege' superior to, say, 'look it up, cops can be assholes'?

      > when his experience

      Personal experience is not magic. As an example, a minority might remember a bad experience relating to a police search, but that doesn't mean that the experience took place *because* they are a minority.

      Privilege simply does not imply ignorance. It would only do so in a world where 'personal experience' is the one and only way of knowing, which is certainly not how this world works.

      Delete