Monday, June 17, 2013

Team Twitter Feminism is not happy

Breaking news from Amanda Marcotte, in a post on Rawstory titled "The Center For Inquiry Likes Atheism’s Cranky White Guy Image, So Screw You Ladies".

Here’s an update on the Center for Inquiry situation for those who are following.

"The situation" is whether or not Ron Lindsay gets the boot.

That is what the Center for Inquiry is doing by releasing this cowardly “both sides” statement full of bureaucratic doublespeak that is really beneath people who claim to be for “free inquiry” and even features the namby-pamby statement, “Going forward, we will endeavor to work with all elements of the secular movement to enhance our common values and strengthen our solidarity as we struggle together for full equality and respect for women around the world.”
 Seems like a fair statement from the CFI.

Marcotte finds a problem:

The problem with that statement is that “all elements” of the secular movement most assuredly do not share the “common value” of “full equality and respect for women around the world”. Sure, the pro-harassment folks that are trying to drum feminists out of the movement say they do, but then again, so do Republicans who are trying to craft laws banning abortion and trying to end the Violence Against Women Act. Skepticism is supposed to be about clearing out the bullshit, and if you do that, what you have are two factions that really, truly have a fundamental disagreement over the issues of diversity and mission within the secular movement. One side, the feminist side, believes that the movement should strive to make itself more diverse, in no small part by putting more emphasis on secular issues that have a broader appeal to women and people of color and by aggressively fighting off reactionary elements within the movement who make public skeptical spaces uncomfortable for women by engaging in sexual harassment. The other side thinks the movement should ignore feminism and that sexual harassers should be given preferential treatment over their targets when it comes to who should be made unwelcome. It’s really pretty straightforward. As such, if you believe in women’s full equality and respect, there really is only one side to take in this fight: The feminist side.

Here are the list of things that are simply absurd in this paragraph:

  1. Apparently "feminism" is one monolithic block, and it happens to agree with whatever Amanda Marcotte says. 
  2. Opponents of Marcotte think sexual harassment is cool. To the contrary, sexual harassment is not cool, and PZ should cut it out. Other things that aren't cool: rape culture.
  3. Marcotte has evidence to support the idea that Republicans don't support women's rights - stating they are anti-abortion rights and anti-VAWA. But Marcotte does not provide any evidence to support her argument that "the other side" do not support women's rights.
Marcotte continues:

In fact, that’s what CFI was doing when it decided to host Women in Secularism. Let’s be clear: The anti-feminist faction disapproved of the conference even existing. A handful of anti-feminists specifically showed up at the conference with the intention of disrupting it, which they were mildly successful in doing insofar as Ron Lindsay helped them out. They flooded a Twitter hashtag dedicated to the conference in hopes that people would be unable to follow what was going on there. There isn’t going to be peaceful co-existence with them. They want feminism and all its claims, particularly about the full equality of women, to go the fuck away. And they will do whatever it takes to get that done.
It's simply a lie that people disapprove of the conference existing. The very same conference happened last year, and no one cared.

What changed?

Well, there happened to be a full year of complete and utter nonsense from the usual cast of characters.

Basic history of events:

July 2011 - Elevatorgate. All things considered, these were calm waters.

May 18 - 20, 2012 - Women in Secularism 1

July 12-15, 2012 - TAM 2012, where all the Harriet Hall stuff happened. and the 'feminists' had a lot of bad things about DJ Grothe for some reason. Also remember what Marcotte had to say about Harriet Hall.
October 2012 - Petition against Justin Vacula authored

December 2012 - Ophelia Benson writes an article that essentially chastises Michael Shermer for not getting it.

March 2013 - Donglegate. And the corresponding events with EllenBeth Wachs and Julian.

Then Richard Carrier goes full-on Atheism+ at the American Atheists convention.

April 2013 - Rebecca Watson responds to the open letter from secular leaders. Richard Carrier continues to call people CHUDs.

May 17-19, 2013 - Women in Secularism 2

Within all this was also a full year of Atheism+ "social justice" bent on the excommunication of the "evildoers".

For a full review of what has happened in the past several months, read the rest of this blog or visit this site  for a concise description of some events.

All one really needs to grasp: Marcotte is entirely dismissive of the events of the past year - probably because she isn't aware of them. Marcotte thinks Women in Secularism 2 happened in a vacuum, and people criticizing it are criticizing feminist organization as a concept. This is wrong.

The fact of the matter is that men and women criticize Women in Secularism 2 because it wasn't about women. It was about a specific group of people putting forward their specific political opinions.

By claiming not to pick sides, the CFI leadership* ended up picking the side of the pro-harassers who oppose greater reach and diversity for the secularist movement. That is their choice, and they are too cowardly to admit it. If you have any doubts, look at the reactions out there: Feminists are dismayed, while people who want to stomp feminism out of the movement are elated. Real world evidence should trump empty bullshit on this account. Especially if you call yourself a “skeptic”.

Once again, the "feminist" viewpoint is to claim greater reach, without actually proving it.

It would seem Marcotte's argument is this: Agree with me, and the females will flood into the secular movement.

It is a rather curious opinion, as it is glaringly obvious that Marcotte and her comrades are not celebrities in their own right and do not command a considerable following. Nor would it seem that their opinions are particularly popular among women.

Setting aside the gross immorality of choosing the side that opposes diversity and supports harassment over the side that does the opposite, I have to reiterate how stupid this decision is politically. The pro-feminist faction that sees secularism as part of a greater tapestry of modernism and progressivism that includes feminism, anti-racism, and humanism generally is exponentially larger than the side that just really hates religion but doesn’t really care for the people most harmed by it. Pandering to sexists means picking the side with way fewer and frankly stupider people on it. I looked at some Twitter accounts to get a general idea of what this decision means for CFI. Rebecca Watson, who is now boycotting CFI in response to their cowardice, has nearly 30,000 Twitter follorws. PZ Myers, who is Team Feminist, has over 135,000 followers. Greta Christina, who has also written a post denouncing CFI for this, has over 7,500 followers.

Lots of the usual nonsense packed into this paragraph.

First there is the contention that Marcotte's opponents are racist harassers. Apparently there are a bunch of evil white guys that aim to bring down 'feminism'.

Then there is the statement about 'anti-racism'. If you recall, Richard Dawkins is racist according to these 'feminists'.

Finally, there is this ridiculous accounting of Twitter "follorws".

Indeed. PZ Myers, "Team Feminist". We are surely doomed.

In any case, Marcotte's Twitter math is simply wrong.

Marcotte's mistake is thinking that the "harassers" she interacts with on Twitter are somehow "ringleaders".

When one steps back and looks at how the atheist/skeptic movement is really made up, the conclusion must be that the group of people that haven't bought into the Atheism+ ridiculousness far outnumbers the true "social justice" believers.

The perspective Marcotte has only allows her to see the people that disagree with her most vehemently. Then, Marcotte brands them king of the "others":
Meanwhile, the ringleader for the pro-harassment team is under 1,000 followers, and 850 of them he probably got for no other reason than his dogged harassment and abuse of feminists.
If you want an effective movement with a broad reach, this is roughly the dumbest move you could make. However, if your goal is to reinforce the public’s belief that secularism and atheism particularly is nothing but a bunch of misanthropic white guys whose only real goal is feeling superior to believers but who don’t care about making real change in the world, well job well done. And fuck you.

It's interesting that Marcotte projects her own beliefs about the secular movement onto the general public.

Where would the general public get this idea?

Probably from the recent popularity of "the four horsemen". Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris and Dennett.

Who are they to Marcotte? "Misanthropic white guys whose only real goal is feeling superior to believers but who don’t care about making real change in the world".

*To be clear, their staff is still the same great group of people they always were, and I hope people don’t take this out on them.
It's an interesting footnote to put on this article. A big shout out to the CFI staff for being awesome!

Why is it here?

Why, to support Melody Hensley, of course. She works for CFI-DC, doesn't think "chill girls" is an insult, and is largely seen by 'feminists' as the leader-to-be as soon as the white guys get out of the way.

Hensley's current Twitter background:

So here lies the solution to the problem.

The problem being that the public thinks secularists are a bunch of Ayn Rand-loving Libertarian misanthropes!

What the public doesn't understand is that secularism is a bunch of red-clenched-fist hello-1960s bra burners that read a lot of Dworkin!

All this time, one supposes the public thought they were Christians.

Thankfully, Marcotte has cleared things up.


  1. "PZ Myers, who is Team Feminist, has over 135,000 followers."

    The one thing about going full EB Wachs, you now check everything. :)

    Only 24% of his followers are valid

  2. As someone who strongly believes in fostering a survivor mentality over a card carrying victim-hood, I'm so glad to see you coming out of this acting like a survivor.