Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rebecca Watson wants Twitter police

The other day, an asshole named [redacted] said this to Ophelia Benson:
Maybe a vial of acid would do you some good. You already look like you were set on fire and put out with a wet rake.

This upset PZ a great deal as it pushed him to recognize the fact that if the entire world were atheist, we would still have plenty of assholes. Conlon apologized, for what it’s worth (not much), and today PZ posted a bit of optimism:
Really. Look at American Atheists, the American Humanist Association, the Center for InquiryAtheist Alliance International and Atheist Alliance America, the Secular Coalition, the Secular Student Alliance, and the Richard Dawkins Foundation. They are not supporting these petty, resentful snipers; they are working towards a future in which those goons are irrelevant.
Unfortunately, his links only go to the main websites of those organizations and not to any evidence that those groups are doing anything that would make irrelevant those who harass many of us every day.
Do we expect these groups to police Twitter for you, Rebecca?
While many or all of those groups may be doing good things to advance the rights and freedoms of atheists, few have taken any large steps to stop what’s happening to women. Some of them, like American Atheists and Center for Inquiry, have instituted anti-harassment policies.

Oh, harassment policies. Great.
A few of them have employees who have participated in Amy’s essay series in which men speak out against harassment (specifically: Ron Lindsay, Barry Karr, Jim Underdown, Paul Fidalgo and Michael DeDora of CFI, Dave Niose [then] of AHA, and Dave Silverman of AA. It’s worth noting that Dan Barker of Freedom From Religion Foundation also wrote a piece). As far as I can see only one of them – AHA – prominently uses the term “feminist” on its site and in its organization in a way that takes it as a given that feminism is an integral part of humanism and progress.
So these groups have to both identify as feminist, and write about harassment of women, if they are to convince you they do not wish to see you raped. Does this make sense?

What is this, a high school class? Everybody gets to write an essay? What infantile bullshit.
(EDIT: Though I do want to note that CFI is sponsoring the Women in Secularism conference, for which it deserves kudos.)
Of course it does, because things like this are paying your bills.

For the most part, these organizations work on their causes while pointedly avoiding what they see as a divisive quagmire. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily, no. For years, I defended the JREF’s pointed disinterest in atheist topics because while I do think atheism is the natural outcome of skepticism and that the two are ultimately inextricably linked, I understand that there’s a benefit to an organization focusing resources on a particular goal while also appealing to a larger audience. But it would be silly to then congratulate the JREF on working toward some atheist or secular goal, just as it’s silly to congratulate these organizations that are not focused on fighting for women.
And then there’s the Richard Dawkins Foundation. Over on PZ’s post, I commented:
I guess if you’ve never been called a “feminazi” by Paula Kirby or had your inbox explode with rape threats thanks to Richard Dawkins, RDF wouldn’t look out of place on that list.
PZ replied:
I know that Dawkins’ comments have led to some very ugly results, and that Kirby just completely lost the plot, but considering that the RDF confines itself mostly to science education, I don’t think that organization as a whole is the ‘enemy’.
Could this be the day that the PZ becomes the enemy of the Rebecca? Allah be praised!
I could not disagree more, obviously. When discussing whether or not an organization supports “petty, resentful snipers,” it’s worth asking whether it keeps any on staff or whether the organization is named after one. Richard Dawkins’ comments have been the very definition of petty and resentful, including those he has continued posting on Twitter. Whether he’s retweeting victim blaming trash or coming up with his very own passive aggressive ways to denigrate a free vaccine program because Skepchick runs it, he has not only failed to stop the torrent of abuse aimed at me and other women in this movement but he has actively participated in it himself. And Paula Kirby of RDFUK has spent months defending her point that those of us asking for atheist conferences to be safer spaces for women are literally like Nazis and the Stasi.
Yeah, RD pointing out how hypocritical your organization is means he hates women. Don't offer me coffee, but run up and hug people because we're creating safe spaces here!
Regardless of what RDF does for science (and I’m not sure what that is, exactly, though I do know that they donate substantial amounts of money to other organizations that actually do things), they are not to be counted among organizations that discourage harassment of women.

This is priceless. Why should feminists support SkepChicks, when they could support Ayaan Hirsi Ali's foundation, or NOW, or countless LGBT groups that have focus?

So while PZ finds optimism in the work these organizations do, I, for the most part, do not. I see anti-feminists who think those organizations stand for them. (Hell, I’ve seen misogynists cite feminist and Freedom from Religion Foundation co-founder Annie Laurie Gaylor as an inspiration.) I don’t think these people are stupid (though yes, many are – just look at the people populating my Twitter @ replies) – I think that secular organizations aren’t being loud enough in their support of women. I think often these organizations are being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century by a few progressive employees who want to do good at the risk of being seen as radical troublemakers.
Oh, now Annie Laurie is on notice until she writes something good about SkepChicks!
And that’s where I find my inspiration: not in the large organizations but in the individuals who are strong enough to stand up for what’s right despite the endless hateful shit thrown their way. People like Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Zvan, Greta Christina, and Melody Hensley. People like Surly Amy and all the other Skepchick Network contributors. People like Amanda Marcotte, who in December recounted what it’s like to be a writer who happens to be a feminist:
If the lion's share of your writings is 140 characters or less, you are not a writer who just happens to be engaged in feminism.
6PM: This is approximately the time the first tweet was out accusing me of “ignoring” the situation I had learned about an hour and some change before and had already drafted an intro paragraph about and started researching. I made fun of how weird that was…
6PM-until this morning: This results in an absolute torrent of abuse from wingnuts, many insulting my looks, making sexualized jokes about me, calling me a “hypocrite” for supposedly ignoring a story I was writing about. About an hour into it, I turn off Twitter because it’s distracting me from organizing my thoughts and also it’s really unnerving,
Pro-tip: also good to log out of Facebook as well when trying to be productive.
as a survivor of violence against women, to see folks like Ace of Spades get so excited at hearing about violence that they need to go find another woman to harass, to keep the thrill going. You know, under the cover of “outrage” about the supposed “ignoring” that’s going on.
The harassment Marcotte and other feminists experience is non-stop and at times overwhelming.
It's Twitter. The trending topics are pure garbage. Rebecca herself calls people "angry virgins" and rapists. The dialogue is idiotic and its participants are largely idiotic. It's like finding the nearest kindergarten and trying to have a debate. It takes no time at all to find a long list of "h8ers" or stalkers.

Rebecca's complaints are only amazing if you disregard this is reality for nearly everyone that participates on Twitter, XBOX Live, YouTube...

If everyone who was called a "faggot" on YouTube wrote a blog post about it, that's all the internet would be.
Hell, I haven’t written a substantial blog post in ages, mostly because I have 800 tabs open filled with anti-woman bile and bitter hatred that I feel deserves to be exposed, but there’s just too much, and focusing on all of it long enough to write a post is exhausting. But the more individuals who stand up to fight this shit, the easier it gets.
Citation needed. The more people that "stand up" to "fight" just compounds the problem. What kind of soldiers do you need, Rebecca, to police Twitter for you?
I could slack off on my blogging without worrying that the misogyny was going unanswered. I could take a break from supporting other women being harassed because I knew that there was a support network for them. I could block haters on Twitter without taking screen caps because now the Internet is flooded with the evidence of what we get every day.
But that’s because of individuals, not organizations.

Yes, please do screen cap everything bad that happens on the internet, and email it all to the male white knights that are Richard Carrier, PZ Myers, Greg Laden, and Ed Brayton. They'll be eager to save the princess from the YouTeenagers.

I mean, what couldn't we do with a million more PZ Myers? The internet would be a safe place again! Rebecca would be booked at a conference every weekend!

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