AI: Shut up and listen

AI: Shut up and listen

One thing that I’ve been frustrated with over the last week or so is the constant need to explain and re-explain and tackle and re-tackle all the same arguments and strawmen that I’ve been explaining and tackling always.

Men insist they want to help, and I believe that they do… but where do you start with a problem that’s been a problem your whole life that you have to unpack in an elevator pitch to someone who’s been a part of your same society for just as long, if not longer than you?

Then, in the middle of demanding respect, we get told that if we want to be treated equally, we need to ask for it nicer. Don’t say anything that might upset the man you’re talking to, no matter how upset you are, or your application will be denied.  Don’t ask that men change their behavior, even if that behavior is a problem. Instead, change yours to make your needs more clear to men. Compromise, see? Explain, and re-explain why that’s not the issue.

If you’re upset about something, you’re asked to please lay  it out, logically and in detail, what exactly is upsetting, so it can be analyzed and determined whether your reaction to this specific incident is fair. Explain and re-explain why your reaction is fair.

I feel like we go through this a lot. It’s frustrating. It’s exhausting. Hopefully, in the end, we’ll come out as a better community. But, until then…

What are you tired of explaining? What are you tired of justifying? What do you want people to just get already? What strawmen do you want to just set fire to?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.

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Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

124 Comments

  1. The most exhausting one I’m seeing is this new “witch hunt” thing. Where by anyone who criticizes someone in the atheist community from a feminist perspective is initiating a “witch hunt.” Because commenting on blogs is the same thing as murdering innocent people based on hearsay.

    • The Geek Feminism Wiki is really helpful for some of these 101-type questions, not to mention the original Feminism 101 primer. Of course, though, neither of those things solve the problem that as someone advocating from a marginalized position, you are expected to be, yourself, an endless encyclopedia of everything. Because if you can’t draw from all of the world’s knowledge instantly, obviously you are wrong and your position is indefensible.

      • Ugh, that was me doing a reply fail. Sorry Christopher Taylor, not directed at you.

    • That one is ripe for satire. Don’t they realize that witch hunts were used to silence, imprison, and execute women?

  2. “What are you tired of explaining? What are you tired of justifying? What do you want people to just get already? What strawmen do you want to just set fire to?”

    That stereotype you see when you look at me has nothing to do with me at all.

  3. I hate explaining the difference between correlation and causation.

    • But how do you know that your repeated explanations are really _causing_ your annoyance?

  4. I’m tired of people who scan over my comments, freak out and react in a purely emotional way. I enjoy a good debate, but half the time I find words put into my mouth and people don’t ask others to clarify before responding. Also, if someone does not provide a link to a study when discussing a tangible topic, don’t pretend what you say is set in stone. In that case, it is just a friendly back and forth discussion, not a slam dunk (I include myself in these rules, obviously).

  5. “One thing that I’ve been frustrated with over the last week or so is the constant need to explain and re-explain and tackle and re-tackle all the same arguments and strawmen that I’ve been explaining and tackling always.”

    I think you might cut your workload by creating a Skeptchick glossary or Wiki. In the last few months I’ve been tripped up by not knowing what is meant by terms common in feminism such as “male privilege” and “the patriarchy”. I’m sure others are tripped up by skeptical terms and phrases that I take for granted. I’m sure there would be plenty of volunteers around here to help provide the content. I’d be willing to take “correlation and causation”. :-)

    • This exists. Google “feminism 101″, or “feminism for beginners” or “feminism for men”. It’s all out there. Geek feminism has one. There are also skeptic dictionarys out there too. Just do a little research.

      • I have done this, but these terms in particular don’t have precise definitions. So the average noob like me goes out finds a definition, uses it, and then gets told “That’s not what *I* mean by patriarchy.” It can be frustrating. Plus there are some things that are Skeptchick specific. Somethings like elevatorgate are easy to google, but other bits of history and local lore commonly referred to are not.

        I help run a website for electric vehicles. We had similar issues and eventually started a section for definitions, FAQs, and manuals. It not only made several of the discussions much shorter, but became one of the most popular parts of the site. About 90% of the content was written by users and only edited by us. It’s about the most time-efficient way we achieve our goal of education and outreach. And I never have to explain any more that the Hall Effect has nothing to do with a TV game show.

        • First, no glossary is ever going to solve the problem of “That’s not what *I* mean by patriarchy.” If you have a discussion that goes there (when you are using a definition that fits with all your research) then polity explain that you meant no offense, describe what you thought it meant, and then ask if the person would like to make any clarifications on what they mean. Feminists online and in real life are peppered with requests constantly from well-meaning dudes who want a beginners lesson about feminism … people who are not willing to spend 5 minutes on the internet figuring out what the basic definitions and terms commonly used in feminism are.

          Second, the other problem we’re dealing with here is a derailing tactic (google derailing for dummies). Requests for explanations, when the the person asking has no intention of spending time to figure things out by themselves are often just a way to kill the topic under discussion. Having a glossary or something to point to doesn’t help there either.

          I know how useful it is to have a FAQ and good documentation to describe a product, technology, etc. but that information dosn’t change depending on the person you’re talking to. This stuff is out there, freely available from a multitude of perspectives, but there is a different definition of “the patriarchy” for every person who knows about it. There is a different experience of “Elevator-gate” for every person who participated in it, read about it, fought about it, etc. There is no good substitute for research. People who care about the subject should be willing to do their own; take those lessons for a spin in public conversations and adapt their understanding. Do not wait to be spoon fed one person’s or one site’s perspective.

          Lastly, consider what an idea like that might sound like to someone who was thinking uncharitably, maybe because they had been dealing with sexist idiots demanding explanations all day, (standard disclaimer, I’m not saying you or men in general or specific said/though/meant anything like this, or that anyone thinks you or anyone else means this, this is just an example) “Hey, you getting fed up? That’s because you’re not doing it right! You should do a bunch of research and a bunch of writing for free, because it makes my life easier, and the lives of a bunch of dudes who are going to try to argue you down anyway. BTW, I’ll help with the manly subjects like logic and stuffs.”

          • Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

            “Lastly, consider what an idea like that might sound like to someone who was thinking uncharitably, maybe because they had been dealing with sexist idiots demanding explanations all day, (standard disclaimer, I’m not saying you or men in general or specific said/though/meant anything like this, or that anyone thinks you or anyone else means this, this is just an example) “Hey, you getting fed up? That’s because you’re not doing it right! You should do a bunch of research and a bunch of writing for free, because it makes my life easier, and the lives of a bunch of dudes who are going to try to argue you down anyway.”

            I think our situations are analogous. There have been arguments on our site on what sustainability and environmentalism and personal responsibility mean.
            The FAQ really does help unwind straw men and answer noob questions. Our situation is less analogous in that people who come to the site generally want to learn and we want to teach. Most of the threads are discussions, not disagreements. And believe me I would *never* advocate someone do a bunch of writing. I know how hard maintaining a website is. I spend 1/2 hour on spam every day. Like I said our users wrote most of the content. The hosts just worked on the stuff we are passionate about.

            “BTW, I’ll help with the manly subjects like logic and stuffs.”

            I could write a definition of male privilege, but I don’t think you’d like it. :-)

  6. I’m tired of this question when it comes to my new baby: “You’re not getting him baptized? How are you planning on raising him?”

    My long response involves discussing my disbelief and my wife’s beliefs. Also, that we’ll be giving him whatever skeptical, rational mental tools we can so he can make his own decisions later in life.

    My short answer I give when I’m too tired of the same old question: “We’re planning on raising him forward in linear time. Unless, we finally get that federal grant for my time machine. At that point, all bet are off!”

    I get the same amount of uncomfortable silence with either answer, so win/win in my book.

    • Probably the same type of stares I got when I answered the same question with “we don’t plan on razing he, we just added an extension.”

      “Oh irony, we don’t get that here any more. I was the only practitioner and I got tired of being started at.”

    • I find a hard stare and a “Why do you ask?” heads a lot of those questions off at the pass…

  7. Any and all arguments about using someone’s chosen name and pronouns, or about gender-neutral pronouns in general.

    All tone policing related to the same, or being misgendered, or excluded because I happen to be trans.

    Any attempts to ‘fix’ asexuality.

    Any place where they’ll only accept you if you were “born this way”.

    • Any place where they’ll only accept you if you were “born this way”

      Being looked at funny when I reply “I was born naked and covered in blood. That’s doable”.

      (yes, I get sick of that one too)

  8. This is the conversation that I would give anything never to have again:

    “What is it that you feminists WANT?”
    “[Attempts to explain]”
    “So what you want is [strawman]?”
    “[Re-frames initial explanation]”
    “Wait, so what you want is [even more ridiculous strawman?]”
    “[Attempts to clarify explanation further]”
    “You feminists just can’t decide what it is you’re after”
    “[attempts telekinetic murder through the internet]“

    • This. Near constantly this.

      Of course it doesn’t help that I always get into this discussion while drunk, as it is the only time that I forget that this his how 90% of these arguments go. The rest of the time it’s too tiring to have them

      *sigh*…

  9. I’m tired of explaining that my sexual alignment (pan, but I include bi here) EVEN EXISTS. Particularly in the context of fictional characters demonstrating attraction to one gender, then later another, and people getting tetchy about the “inconsistency”/”retcon.”

  10. I’m totally sick of all the godbots who refuse to accept scientific discoveries because they refuse to even attempt to understand them. Those ones who always comments on news stories regarding evolution with, “oh, well they only found 4 bones, so how on earth can they make any conclusion from that?” (then they don’t stick around to find out the answer).

    As a scientist, I’m always amazed by what we know, and my first instinct when I see a new study that seems to reach conclusions from relatively little evidence is to ask, “how do they know?”, THEN go and find out how they know. There are very good reasons why we know what we know if you would only wait for the answers.

  11. I am sick of being asked “where’s your evidence” as if not having the statistics immediately to hand means it isn’t a problem, just because I don’t happen to have a 40 page dissertation *in my hand*. I know it’s really just a derailment, but I get it soooo frequently, and often when I am not in front of a computer. Really! MEN – DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH! If you are saying that that sexism, misogyny and sexual abuse are not a problem, YOU are making the extraordinary claim!

  12. People in Skepticism tend to demand peer reviewable “evidence” for everything. If you can’t produce it for all to look at, we can’t verify that it’s true right? You feminist women need to do a better job of rigorously presenting evidence your case, else can we really believe you? <– I hate that.

    • This. And the plural out anecdote is not data applies to science not to social justice, saying it does is just derailing.

      That and atheists do not worship Satan you dumbass, no more than you worship Papa Smurf.

      • And the plural of anecdote is not data applies to science not to social justice, saying it does is just derailing.

        Ehm, I really don’t mean to be in any way derailing, but science is a way of pursuing knowledge, even knowledge pertaining to social justice. To those who see science as the ideal way to gain knowledge the quote applies to more or less everything…

        Anyway, I’m not saying that anecdotal evidence should be dismissed in conversation as untrue or not to be considered because of its anecdotal nature. What I am saying is that you shouldn’t distinguish between science and social justice in the way you do. The social sciences are relevant to social justice and social justice and its principles and requirement is researchable and relevant to the social sciences.

        I’ll finish by saying that in any given conversation I’d prefere peer-reviewed evidence and statistics over anecdotes and I may ask for it if it’s relevant to the conversation, but if it isn’t producible there and then I’ll stil listen to what is being said. When extraordinary claims are made (or claims I feel I need a little more prompting to believe) I usually search the web for evidence myself, post-conversation.

        • Of course peer reviewed studies and experiments are the best evidence, but this phrase is quite often thrown out during conversations about social justice to dismiss claims.

          Claims that are far from extraordinary I might add, that coupled with the fact that women’s issues get short shrift in academia and you start to see a pattern of insisting on peer reviewed evidence for everything but those you (rhetorical you) wish to be true.

          In these cases it is clearly used as a “shut up”, that is what I was talking about.

        • That depends a huge amount on the context. Responding to “a number of my friends found the event uncomfortable because of the sexual harassment they experienced” with that comment is explicit denial and derailing. It’s completely irrelevant, and science really doesn’t have a solution to offer (ways to establish that the people really did feel that way, proof that demanding said proof will strongly discourage further claims, yes, science can do that. Deal with the problem? Not so much).

          But as a general response to a general claim, sure. That’s when scientific approach can be excellent. From “What’s the best way to find out whether the problem exists and how bad it is?” to “what’s the most effective way to deal with the problem and reduce its future prevalence”, hard science FTW. Well, in this case, “do a literature search” type science rather than “come up with a research proposal” science.

        • //I’d prefere peer-reviewed evidence and statistics over anecdotes and I may ask for it if it’s relevant to the conversation//

          Poppycock.

          I assume you’ve never been a victim of a the subject matter being discussed here, so let me share an anecdote. There was one time after working at a haunted house that I ended up catching a ride with a co-workers who claimed they was going to a party. In reality his plans were to take the women in the car and tie them up and verbally/sexually threaten them, and they did that. They expected me to take part in this (I’m male) but instead I tried to fight them and got tied up myself and driven around to scary woods all night and threatened with violence and bodily harm and the women were threatened with sexual violence all night.

          They eventually ran out of gas near their home and they all walked to their house when they did at which point me and a few of the women walked out and walked to one of the girl’s houses.

          When I reported the incident to my employer the next day they literally said to me “Are you sure it wasn’t just a joke, are you really sure this happened? We’re going to need to verify and if you want to press charges you’ll have to go to the police and prove your case”

          Yeah, and you know what? I didn’t want to deal with that and neither did the girls, so those of us who weren’t charmed by the offenders just quit.

          But do you see how your point of view leads to victims of sexual harassment not getting justice? Our company told us “we can’t do anything without evidence, and it’s all on you, the victim, to do all the legwork to prove it without any evidence before we can”

          Most times victims are just traumatized from being victimized and often really don’t have the means to provide evidence to the contrary, not without initiating a “he said she said” war with the offenders where the victim might get blamed themselves.

          So yeah, your viewpoint is wrong dude. Especially when an overwhelming majority of women say “I’m being harassed”.

          I mean seriously Mr. Skeptic, is it really SO unclear to you that this is a problem that must be dealt with proper anti-sexual harassment rules & enforcement regardless of what evidence the victims can produce?

          • //I’d prefere peer-reviewed evidence and statistics over anecdotes and I may ask for it if it’s relevant to the conversation//

            Poppycock.

            Time to burn a straw-man :/

            But do you see how your point of view leads to victims of sexual harassment not getting justice?

            No I don’t. I assume you assume that I mean anecdotes should be dismissed as untrue or not relevant in sexual harassment cases, but I agree that the legal and social treatment of such claims is wrong in many cases. Your company should have taken such a claim seriously and if possible investigated the matter themselves or involved the police on your behalf. Thats what I think, not that they were right in asking you to provide falsifiable evidence to support your case.

            So yeah, your viewpoint is wrong dude. Especially when an overwhelming majority of women say “I’m being harassed”.

            My viewpoint is that peer reviewed studies and experiments are more reliable sources of information in general than anecdotes ‘dude’. That is the viewpoint I expressed. If you would please point out the connection to harassment I’d be inclined to listen, thank you.

            I mean seriously Mr. Skeptic, (you may call me Beyond or Lars if you prefer) is it really SO unclear to you that this is a problem that must be dealt with proper anti-sexual harassment rules & enforcement regardless of what evidence the victims can produce?

            No, it is perfectly clear and I don’t think I suggested otherwise. In fact, in your case (and others) the police should be obligated to and do have the means to find evidence supporting your case. I don’t know how the police operates where you live, but ideally you should just have to tell them what happened and let them take care of the rest. It’s not a perfect world though :(

            Now, this is more related to how we conduct ourselves in discutions than to the subject matter. It’s just that I feel ofended by your portrayal of me and I know I’m being a little crass because of it. I would like to know why you were led to assume these things about me and I’d like to apologize if I’ve actually said something suggesting what you seem to be assuming.

          • //Your company should have taken such a claim seriously and if possible investigated the matter themselves or involved the police on your behalf. Thats what I think, not that they were right in asking you to provide falsifiable evidence to support your case.//

            Well they didn’t, there was a ferocious demand of evidence and that’s why this attitude of “where’s your proof” is BAD. Because it’s used to
            1. Push back the legitimacy of a harassment claim if there person hearing it doesn’t like the claim
            –OR–
            2. Allow people running an organization, company, or conference to avoid having to make change, especially if it’s combined with #1

            //My viewpoint is that peer reviewed studies and experiments are more reliable sources of information in general than anecdotes ‘dude’.//

            Well duhhhh. Clearly. Do you not think everyone here already knows this?

            //That is the viewpoint I expressed. If you would please point out the connection to harassment I’d be inclined to listen, thank you.//

            So listen to this:

            Why it’s frustrating is that the way you are presenting it, it comes off as saying “meh, we need better evidence from the women claiming this” and within the Skeptical atheism community, this is how it’s used.

            What I’ve never heard you say is “in spite of many many pieces of anecdotal evidence of discrimination, we need non-discrimination policies to be strongly enforced and need to double our efforts investigate to find deeper evidence in SUPPORT of the claim”

            //In fact, in your case (and others) the police should be obligated to and do have the means to find evidence supporting your case. I don’t know how the police operates where you live, but ideally you should just have to tell them what happened and let them take care of the rest.//

            Again obviously you’ve never been a victim before otherwise you’d know the police often don’t do this at all, they put the burden on you to show them why they should do anything to investigate at all. And part of it stems from this “you have no real evidence other than what you say” attitude.

            //I would like to know why you were led to assume these things about me and I’d like to apologize if I’ve actually said something suggesting what you seem to be assuming//

            Because you come here with the opposite attitude of the point of the post. Much more to tell than to listen. Refer to the graphic in the picture as to why this causes frustration.

          • Well duhhhh. Clearly. Do you not think everyone here already knows this?

            I was just responding to a post that said otherwise, and it was cleared up pretty fast that I misunderstood when I assumed mrmisconception meant what he said as a general statement.

            It comes off as saying “meh, we need better evidence from the women claiming this” and within the Skeptical atheism community, this is how it’s used.

            That is not at all how I meant it and I’d appreciate if you don’t project faults of the Skeptical atheism community on me as an individual without making an attempt at getting to know me first.

            What I’ve never heard you say is “in spite of many many pieces of anecdotal evidence of discrimination, we need non-discrimination policies to be strongly enforced and need to double our efforts investigate to find deeper evidence in SUPPORT of the claim”

            I’ll come right out and say it then. In spite of the anecdotal nature of much of the evidence of discrimination, we need non-discrimination policies to be strongly enforced and we need to double our investigative efforts to find evidence to support victims of harassment and discrimination.

            Because you come here with the opposite attitude of the point of the post. Much more to tell than to listen. Refer to the graphic in the picture as to why this causes frustration.

            It feels like you’re telling me more about myself than you are listening to what I’ve actually written. Please read my original post as a comment to the sentence “And the plural of anecdote is not data applies to science not to social justice, saying it does is just derailing.”, not as a critique of victims of harassment. And know that mrmisconception responded pretty fast and I now get what was meant and agree with the sentiment.

            You don’t seem to be in a mood to believe me, but I came here to listen and despite my conversation with you I’ve done more listening than telling, even if I havent told you that before now. Just because all you can see is my comments doesn’t mean thats all there is to me :/

            To clarify about the police: I was talking about how it should be, not how I think it is. I’m not quite that naive despite the fact that I haven’t been a victim of any serious offense. The point is that I do not support the views and attitudes you are assigning to me.

  13. The other thing that I don’t necessarily hate, but I get frustrated by is the lack of discussion of sexism in minority communities.

    The white male is (in my mixed-race eyes) purveyed in this forum as the only man who doesn’t get it. Wrong wrong wrong, sexism is HUGE in minority communities and I believe sometimes here at Skepchick this problem is not payed attention to, or even somehow that just because minorities know a little bit about what discrimination, that minority men aren’t sexist.

    This aggravates me because my mother is mixed race east-asian/indian and when we visit either of our relatives here in the US or abroad, I notice that especially in the first-generation families that my young female relatives are definitely often viewed as less by their parents and the boys are given better treatment. Also, yes, us minority guys CAN BE SEXIST.

    So personally I wouldn’t mind if Skepchick would allow me to have a woma I personally know who’s writing a book about the problem of high suicide rates among first generation Filipino women (due to sex based discrimination) to write a guest post here.

    I think it would open a lot of eyes into different dimensions of sexism that white people have not encountered.

    • Please send us her information. This is something we would be very interested in.

      • I’ll speak to her directly and if she’s interested, I’ll have her contact you directly.

        • Thanks. Have her mention you. We get a lot of spammers offering to write a guest post for free.

          • Okele Dokele

    • I think that is one of the many reasons Heina’s insights into Islam are so important, because it focuses some discussions about sexism on a community which is mostly made up of POC.

      And I would LOVE to read what your friend has to say. First-generation Filipinas in Japan was one part of my senior thesis paper on assigning blame in the sex industry.

    • “So personally I wouldn’t mind if Skepchick would allow me to have a woma I personally know who’s writing a book about the problem of high suicide rates among first generation Filipino women (due to sex based discrimination) to write a guest post here.”

      As an American-born Filipina, I would be extremely interested in reading that guest post because I had no idea there’s a high suicide rate among first gen Filipinas in the States, although given my own experiences as a first-gen American born Filipina, it doesn’t surprise me in the least. The sexism I’ve personally experienced within the Filipino community is tied very tightly to ingrained ideas of gender roles and I wish there was more examination and unpacking of those attitudes and what it means for those of us in those communities.
      At the very least, sexist notions about “proper female behavior” within that community have had a huge influence on how I viewed gender roles and it’s been a really long and continually-evolving process unpacking that crap for myself because of how it’s wormed its way into my subconscious. And it’s even harder trying to talk about how sexism specifically manifests in that community when we’re STILL fighting about whether sexism is even a problem within American culture at all to begin with.

      dr. dr. professor, does your friend have a website/blog where she covers this at all? Or does she have a release date for the book yet? I’d love to read it.

      • Hey pint, I don’t know if she does, we’re more acquaintances from our children being friends than friends ourselves, so I’ll check that.

        What I’d like to add to your discussion there is that a lot of first gen minority communities often have gender roles prescribed and lead a lot of the women in them to suffer prolonged discrimination because of it, which you rightly say, lasts a long time. It’s rife in my extended family.

        Frankly I think Skepchick sometimes has a focus too much on the white experience. As a minority, I see that it for a long time has talked a lot about the dynamics of sexism that middle class white people experience but not a lot about how women in non-white communities experience sexism. I think they’re trying to bring that more to Skepchick and would welcome that with open arms, so I’m hoping to get more coverage of that.

        You know things like:
        - Women’s experience in high poverty communities
        - Women’s experience as first generation minority Americans or Europeans
        - What it’s like to be a minority AND a woman and the double rush of shit they get for their sex and race simultaneously.

        Hopefully that post if my friend is willing to do it will kick off some inspiring discussion on the matter of sexism in minority communities as well.

        • I agree. We do need more non-white women’s voices.

          Which is why you should also start a letter writing campaign to Debbie Goddard to get her blogger ass in gear and start writing some shit here.

          • Will do!

  14. EVERYTHING! This goes beyond skepticism and atheism but since I work in a customer service department, and I have to explain thins multiple times to multiple people. As it’s my job, I don’t mind so much repeating myself as most people are friendly, but what I hate is when I have to explain myself multiple times to the same person, inside the company or out. It’s indicative of the fact that people just don’t want to get it unless you can fit it into a single short sentence that sounds clever. But things are complicated and no one wants complicated.

  15. Well, I recently read an article from a blog the other day that suggested women should stay in groups, confront their harasser etc to avoid avoid harassment. But I didn’t see “don’t harass people” listed as one of the ways to reduce harassment.

    I felt a bit condescended to that he thought women didn’t know these tips already (well, me at least, I can’t speak for everyone). And I tried to explain that sometimes these tips can be more harm then good. One of the reasons I personally don’t bring up my experiences with harassment is(well I do in cyber space), because people will use these tips to blame me for it. Like “Why were you not in the group? Obviously it happened because you left the group.” So, I suggested he add in “don’t blame women for not following said tips” at the very least.

    I know he meant well, but I just don’t think he understands exactly what happens and what many women like me (I know it’s not everyone) go through when stuff like this happens. So, I’m tired of trying to explain to folks what goes on in these situations.

    And I’m tired of pointing out that they suggest victims (and I think they can be both men and women but women get the brunt of it) should modify their behavior, but harassers aren’t told (not nearly as much) to stop it. Kind of reminds me of “Just world hypothesis.”

    What do I mean by harass? In my experience, it’s been when strangers start touching, following and not listening when I say no or stop.

    Another thing I hate explaining is that flirting is not harassing. I like being told “You look very pretty” or “come here often?” or “Hi my name is.” That’s very very different from *boob touch* :P

    As some one who usually does the hitting on, I can appreciate how intimidating it is to hit on people, and have to deal with rejection. I think both sexes should do hitting on. Instead of one sex seemingly always being expected to hit on and one expecting to receive. I think a lot of problems like this arise because we aren’t (most men and women) privy to the others’ experiences.

  16. What’s driving me nuts at the moment is special pleading and double-standards deployed by men reacting against feminism. If some creationist doesn’t understand evolution, we hold them responsible for not bothering to do any basic research. But if some guy doesn’t know the first thing about feminism, or can’t figure out how to talk to half the human race, it’s women’s fault for being uppity or mysterious or whatever.

    So guys: if you don’t know how to talk to women — half the human race — like they’re people, or if you’re clueless about how the lives of women — half the human race — differ from the lives of men, or if you don’t know what feminists mean when they use words like “privilege,” you know what the antidote to ignorance is, right? You make an effort to learn.

    PS – “Explain to me again why you’re a human being” is not a good-faith effort to learn.

    • Yes, a thousand times, yes.

  17. As for what I’m tired of explaining: that having privilege doesn’t mean your life is easy. That haven’t privilege doesn’t mean you are fully privileged, rather than privileged in one specific facet of your being that we just discussed. Even the “privilege as gaming on the easiest level” analogy, with its incredibly helpful use of “easy levels mean you start with more maps unlocked than those playing on harder levels” to illustrate privilege, often just gets a whiny response of “But I’m poor/had other disadvantages! How dare you say my life is easy!”

  18. As a word of encouragement can I say that you and Rebecca and much of the women’s skeptic community are getting through to us sinners. I have learned much and I hope I am better for it. Your advocacy is important and I hope you can find the strength to keep going.

    If, as a sympathiser, I stay lurking in shadow, it is because of two reasons: the first that I feel I lack the tools to really participate in these arguments, other than with the occasional ‘attagirl’. And second, the earliest lesson I learned was to shut up and listen to the women…

    …which I think I’ll do now.

  19. I find it exhausting to explain to people what a good deli is with a proper reuben sandwich. There are so many imitators. I get thoroughly exhausted shooting them all down. Just figure it out already. It will make all our lives happier.

    Other essentials for the deli are at least two types of pickles served as you sit down and a proper potato knish.

  20. I’m exhausted trying to explain to people that having privilege doesn’t mean that one’s argument is invalid.

  21. “Then, in the middle of demanding respect, we get told that if we want to be treated equally, we need to ask for it nicer.”

    This is the most ridiculous bullshit behavior I’ve ever heard of. I can’t believe my fellow male skeptics actually believe this.

    Equality isn’t something to be asked for, nicely or not.
    It’s a fucking human right.

    THAT is what I want people to GET already.

    It’s a simple concept, really. So simple in fact, I bet a creationist could figure it out. Well, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch…

    I say don’t hold back your frustrations, Elyse.
    Don’t let the fucktards keep you from saying what NEEDS to be said.

    We all need to come out and say that this shit pisses us all off and that it won’t be tolerated.

  22. I am frustrated by the lack of understanding that we have for the limits of empathy. Empathy can only take you so far. It is impossible for me to grok what it is like to live as a women in a world teeming with predatory men. No matter how hard I try I cannot experience what it is like to be a black person or native american in the USA, or to have cancer.

    Yet most of us think that imagining ourselves in the shoes of another for a few minutes is all the insight we need to be experts on the problems of people who live their entire lives worlds quite foreign to our own. Have a little humility!

    Speaking to my fellow men now. You do not know what it is like to be a woman at a conference or anywhere else. And women do not know what it is like to be in your hormone drenched male psyche. Stop pretending that you can calmly and objectively think your way through these issues. You cannot. I cannot. Listen to what these women are saying with mindfulness that there is a gap in your understanding that you cannot bridge with your imagination.

    • “You do not know what it is like to be a woman at a conference or anywhere else. And women do not know what it is like to be in your hormone drenched male psyche.”

      We’re really not that different. It’s a matter of degrees and means, not essentials, and there are tons of outliers. Women have hormones and libidos and men can be sexually harassed and assaulted. Our differences are mostly experiential, not innate.

      Please stop with the ‘women could never understand the profound and vast nature of the male libido.’ Women get horny, and men bond with children. (the other side of the ‘hormones make us alien’ argument)

      • “Please stop with the ‘women could never understand the profound and vast nature of the male libido.’ Women get horny, and men bond with children. (the other side of the ‘hormones make us alien’ argument)

        Wow, did someone try to pull that card on you before? What I am saying is we live in our own societally defined domains and biologically distinct configurations. Lifetimes of distinct experiences make it difficult to appreciate each others perspectives. (I do not deny the areas where men and women are or can be alike.)

        When I was young I thought I could bridge that gap completely by exercising empathy. It is natural to overestimate your ability to empathize. While empathy is a wonderful and necessary tool it will fail in many situations because you cannot supply it enough background to give it proper scope.

        This lack of understanding does not excuse us to act inappropriately. My reference to male hormones is not a plea for any kind of special treatment for men who do stupid things. (But I am qualified to say that I function much better now that I am not so overdosed by my own gonads.) I do believe that men will behave better when they quit thinking that they know what it is like to be a woman. Substitute any strong cultural or biological divisions between people. We work together better when we do not assume we can read each others minds.

        • “Substitute any strong cultural or biological divisions between people.”

          I’m not denying cultural differences, but the biological arguments are shit. Like I said downthread, the ‘our minds are just different, it’s biology!’ has been used to justify racism, as well. The races are biologically diverse in some ways, but we seem agreed that that doesn’t make any profound difference.

          I don’t disagree with the thrust of your contention – you can never truly put yourself in another person’s situation – but what does that have to do with gender?
          I can probably understand the mindset of an American man than I could the mindset of a woman in North Korea. Our shared experiences are far, far, more important that our biologies.

          • *better understand the mindset

          • You are so right to be concerned that there are those who would try to justify abuses based on perceived or real differences between people. I of course want people to treat each other better, not worse.

            As for biological differences between sexes being “shit”, well it depends on which differences, but in no case should we allow abuses based them. I totally agree that we are far more alike than different. We live on a sexuality spectrum, so none of what I have said about sexual divides should be hard coded into legalistic classification schemes for people. I would hope that my assertion that we cannot know each other as well as we might think would lead a reasoned and compassionate person NOT to discriminate based on broad categories like race and sex.

            Of course we know that “reasoned and compassionate” does not describe everyone.

    • @Jim Sky: I disagree that empathy has the limitations you mention. Empathy is a human constant unless you posses a pathology that is identified as an absence of empathy. So IMO empathy is only limited by how it’s used as a tool to learn, moderate, and grow, and how empathy is developed within the individual who values a rational and reasonable life. I guess what I’m trying to say is that empathy is not just what brings you to the party; empathy needs to be your partner for the whole evening, and sometimes that partner may say “shut up, you’re blowing smoke out of your ass”.

      • I am all for nuturing and using empathy. Its the main glue we have to hold society together. I think if you removed it you’d have zombie chaos.

        But if empathy is perfect why try to improve upon it? I don’t see why say it doesn’t have limitations? Maybe we are just defining it a bit differently.

        Great avatar.

        • I fully agree empathy has limitations, but what a wonderful and essential tool it is. I also believe empathy can be fostered and developed so as to be more effective with some conscious effort. And thanks, Cobra Bubbles has been my cartoon alter ego and avatar for many years.

  23. My least favorite strawman, or the one I find mkst frustrating, when trying to confront sexism, homophobia, or etc is hearing “its jusy a joke/expression/word”. If its so thoughtless than there inlies the problem. And that’s before I even break the “joke, expression, or word” down.

  24. Hey, ladies, it’s biology when we objectify and demean you! Can’t fight SCIENCE!

    Passive holes and property, it’s Nature’s Way!

    Women’s minds are just ‘different’! EVOPSYCHEVOPSYCHEVOPSYCH

    Did you know that men and women are biologically different? Bet you didn’t think of that!

    It’s just amazing that ‘science’ backs up millenia of oppressive and abusive beliefs. We’ve given up those old racial arguments, but not the gender ones.

  25. Us and Them

  26. Depression. I’m tired of explaining to people that it’s not something i can just get over, that it causes most of my other problems like weight, social anxiety, diabetes, high blood pressure, and so many other things with it sounding like an excuse. It’s all pervasive and most people just can’t understand that.

  27. I’m tired of dealing with “angry middle-aged white dudes,” as one fellow volunteer put it about our organization’s board of directors. She quit in frustration at their endless sniping and email diatribes over trivial issues. “They either didn’t believe me or didn’t listen to me.” Yup. And now I’m thinking of quitting, which will leave the org with a miserable 20/80 female/male split on the board. I’ve been getting emotional, ranting, angry emails, which are preceded by disclaimers of “I’m just making a suggestion” and “to be coldly logical”. No, you’re not. Really, you’re not. And I can either stay on the board, do a ton of work, fight a ton of email battles, or I can just shut up. Guess which one is easier? Guess which one gets women a reputation for “randomly” quitting?

    Argh. Rebecca, my deepest sympathies for the people who make you prove, over and over and over again, that, yes, sexism is alive and well, even among those who consider themselves well-informed, well-meaning, and ever so logical.

  28. I hate having to explain over and over again that I don’t want to hear boring anecdotes in support of completely absurd assertions…particularly at work!

  29. I’m a member of a club that’s 90% straight, white and male, and I’m tired of hearing the guys talk about how “diverse” the club is – especially when they say we’re “diverse in the ways that matter.”

    I’m also tired of men who pretend it’s my job to babysit them into NOT being blatantly sexist. It’s not like you’re hearing this for the first time, dude; you just didn’t listen.

  30. When I tell people that I have OCD, so many of them will say “Oh, everyone has a little of that.” No, most people do not have OCD. I guess they think I’m ashamed of my mental illness and they’re trying to make me feel less weird, but I’m not ashamed in the first place so it just sounds like they are trivializing my disease. No one would ever make such a ridiculous claim about by physical disease, hypothyroidism. Funny that.

    I’m also annoyed by people judging the symptoms of mental illness based on the most publicized or most severe cases, although I place a lot of the blame on reality shows trying to pass as documentaries. No, not every hoarder is exactly the same and it’s quite possible to have hoarding to varying degrees. It is important to recognize the symptoms of those trapped in their own homes, but many people with real, legitimate, clinical hoarding still have relatively clean homes are affected to varying degrees by the illness.

  31. I’m a stay-home mom, and about twice a year I (and several other stay-home moms I know) have conversations that go like this:

    Someone I barely know, (friend of a friend I met that one time), “ZOMG! I forgot that I’m leaving the country tomorrow, and my kids are out of school!!!!! Are you available? I mean, since you’re not doing anything anyway.”

    Me, “Sorry, I don’t have time.”

    Someone I barely know, (Looking incredulous), “Are you sure?! I reaaaalllly need help with this. I don’t know anyone else I can ask to do this!”

    Me, (checking my calendar), “No. I’m booked. What about your husband?”

    Someone I barely know, (Angry. Thinks I’m lying.), “He has to work! Since you DON’T work, I thought you could do it!”

    sigh….
    I have been legitimately busy with prior commitments whenever this has come up in the past. Thank FSM for that.

    • WOW! that is so unbelievably rude, why would some one think it was OK to impose on you like that? And every SAHM I know works, they don’t get paid for most of it but they definitely work. I am a work outside the home mom, my choice, my sister is a SAHM of 4 and she works as hard as I do and she has more commitments than I do, some due to her children but many due to her community involvement. I just don’t get the cluelessness of some people, and the entitlement…

      • It’s the same type of person who discovers that I am a SAHM and immediately assumes that I can’t possibly contribute to any discussion about, say, politics or current events. They drift away to go talk to the cool kids, then wander back to ask if I can babysit for them. I have an ongoing internal debate about how to label myself. Some SAHMs may not have busy schedules and may welcome the opportunity to provide impromptu childcare for relative strangers, but not anyone I have ever met.

        • Ugh… or the idea that you should go find “mommy friends”.

          1. I don’t want to be friends with anyone who is older than 7 and still uses the word “mommy”.

          2. I don’t want to be friends with someone based on our shared vaginal experiences.

          3. I want friends who add something to the conversation that is not kids. I spend ALL MY FUCKING TIME with kids. When I go see friends, I want to talk about not kids. I want to talk about adult things. I already know that Lloyd is the green ninja. I’ve had this conversation already. How about that transit of Venus!

          • RE #2, and some mommees are toxic. Literally. The anti-vaccine people for example.

            And #3, yeah. I just want some adult conversation. We can even talk about kids for the first few minutes just to catch up, but after that I’d prefer not to go though the entire Star Wars Lego taxonomy again.

  32. I am tired of taking large amounts of time to express myself very carefully and even politely, only to have someone completely misconstrue it (“Whoa, did you really just say [something I totally did not say]“).

    Then the discussion just becomes me trying to express myself in simpler and simpler terms using more formatting to try to make it clearer until I suspect by the end I will just have one boldfaced word with a 1 in front of it in the hopes that I can get across that one word.

    And of course as patient and calm as I remain, and as carefully as I choose my words, it always turns out the purpose of this exercise is to try to pick out contradictions in what I say after making me explain the same thing in different ways over and over.

    I also hate it when I take a string of insults gracefully and then finally get frustrated and let some sort of quip slip out and the person I am talking with IMMEDIATELY jumps on it as if I am being so rude and unfair.

  33. Well, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. This idiom dates back to 1744, however, it should be noted that unlike nearly every other idiom this one does not have an interesting story behind it. There was never a fellow in a tri-cornered hat with an old timey flycatcher trying to get enough flies to grind into some sort of primitive ink. That means that in two and a half centuries nobody has ever come up with a better example of something positive one might attract with honey than flies. That seems very appropriate.

    I think it’s appropriate to get angry. We’ve been nice and our voices are still drowned out by a vague recollection of something Andrea Dworkin said in the seventies or some completely made up anecdote about a woman freaking out over a guy holding the door for her.

    • So basically I’m tired of explaining that what horrible misogynists say feminism is doesn’t override what actual feminists say it is. And that most people saying terrible things about feminism have never spoken to or read the words of an actual feminist outside of quotes by right wing talk show hosts.

    • I like to remind people that you may attract more flies with honey than vinegar, but horseshit attracts more than both put together. Works on both the literal and figurative levels.

  34. Please lets get off our horses that stand really really high and admit to ourselves that we all have some traits of sexism, racism, religiousism or whatever. I have two teenage daughters that were astounded that I confessed to them that I am an ___ist in probably every category, at least to some degree. They were astounded, being teenagers they now know everything and always will. But as you get older, you realize you do make decisions, opinions, and actions based on someones sex, color, race, religious preference or whatever. That is how we are programmed to protect ourselves. We teach our kids “stranger danger” in our schools, how much more tribal thinking can you get. Keeping those tendencies out of our judicial system is the challenge. My kids thought the only legitimate reason to discriminate should be based on “personality” because somehow this was in your control. I challenged them to go out today and be completely different and see how in control of their personalities they are and offering them to read Sam Harris’ Free Will to explain why this would be almost impossible without a severe blow to the head. And to all of you who say without a doubt that you are not an _____ist, I offer the book, “Being Wrong” by Kathryn Schulz for some fun reading. There are reasons that being polite or nice will have more influence on someone’s ideas, but I will be the first to admit it is not my first weapon of choice.

  35. Getting picked on any time I post anything even vaguely related to the skeptical movement (as if I am responsible for/guilty of any and all transgressions the movement makes as a whole), and having to explain my belief systems in order to not be lumped in to one of “those”.

  36. I’m tired of explaining that not every insult is an ad hominem fallacy, and that yes, sometimes it is important to talk about a person’s character. By all means, let’s dissect and eviscerate the arguments of your Deepak Chopras and Kevin Trudeaus and Ray Comforts and Mike Adamses, but we don’t need to treat them like they just popped up on the radar and that what comes spewing out of their mouths and keyboards is going to suddenly be something other than bullshit. If someone has repeatedly shown that they’re a liar, a fraud, a nutjob, etc., then it’s perfectly fair and reasonable to say so, and it doesn’t make one a bad skeptic to A) express emotions (frustration, anger, incredulity, disappointment) or B) draw conclusions from induction.

    Further, I’m tired of explaining that you don’t get a free pass out of addressing arguments or reasonable questions because you think your opponent used some words that you might not be able to say on TV. I’m tired of explaining that addressing style over substance is a fallacy, and that getting all haughty and hot and bothered over some mean tone or naughty words, such that you stomp out and say “good day, sir!” does not make you look more mature. It makes you look like you have no rational response and will take any excuse to exit with the high ground.

    • Well said.
      My problem is that mediums in particular bother the shit out of me. I think that what they do is horrendous and totally awful. It’s immoral and disgusting. I want to smack them and I don’t know how to talk about it without getting all yelly and foamy.

  37. I have three things I’ve become exhausted explaining and re-explaining:

    Just because you don’t respect a person’s belief doesn’t mean that you should automatically disrespect that person, or that it’s wise to be dismissive and condescending when discussing that belief
    “I am not convinced that any god exists” is not a claim
    It is in fact possible for members of an out-group to be bigots, but asking in-group members to acknowledge their privilege is not an example of out-group bigotry

  38. I’m sick and tired of explaining to Christians who want to remind me, as if I didn’t know, that “we’re not all like that,” that there’s nothing I can do about it. Clumsy sentence. Sorry.

    I wish that the Christians who wish to point out that they are “nice” (unlike all the horrible untrue ones out there) would take their beef to “all the bad Christians.” If you want it known that Christianity really is somehow this world of nice and reasonable and charitable and non-preachy, take it to the fundies. Take back your church, if you think you can.

    But if I talk about a specific instance of discrimination or annoyance or abuse, your derailment (but what about me!) is not wanted, or helpful to either of us.

  39. When people make a comment and spend hours insisting literally everyone in the thread is misinterpreting them or twisting their words or lack reading comprehension. At that point, it’s probably time to revisit your opinion and realize that it’s either badly expressed or–if you’ve already reworded a few times and it’s still happening–you may just be wrong.

    Also true in real life. “Don’t criticize my driving; people do that all the time and it’s getting really annoying.” If it happens so often, maybe it’s time to make an honest assessment of your driving skills and realize that when you’re passing a semi on the outside lane of a mountain road with a steep dropoff and heavy wind at 70mph in my car, you are not immune to criticism.

    Okay, that one was really specific.

    • Somewhat OT, but:

      Your hypothetical reminds me of driving with a relative of mine. She is just plain scary behind the wheel – a bad driver of the “heehee, irresponsibly swerving onto the shoulder (toward the ditch and cliff face on the other side of the ditch) to freak out my passengers while doing 30km/h above the speed limit on winding back-country roads is ever so fun!” variety.

      There’s a reason why my driving record has a single fender-bender that was the other driver’s fault (seriously, I was stopped trying to turn left in an unfamiliar vehicle in rush hour, and the other driver thought I was being too slow when I didn’t jump at an opening of one car length and rammed my rear), while hers has four accidents, all of which were ruled at least 50% her fault and none of which came in under $1200 in damages. There’s also a reason I don’t let her drive me anywhere anymore.

      And like the person in your example, she’s entirely convinced there’s nothing wrong with her driving. Nope, nothing. Everyone else is reckless idiots (when she has a crash or near miss) or over-reacting.

  40. I’m being driven mad by every one of these conversations that we have here and elsewhere that goes hundreds of comments over days and weeks, and then immediately following in the next one of these conversations the entire thing is whitewashed of any context or meaning and is described as “if you disagree with those people, they engage in witch hunts and try to destroy you personally!”

  41. You are not complimenting people by cat-calling them! It is disrespectful!

  42. I’m also tired of explaining how the U.S. graduated income tax works…SERIOUSLY! Google it, people!

    • In that same vein, I’m tired of explaining that there is no one in the United States who “doesn’t pay any taxes.” Except, I suppose, people who never buy anything, work, or live anywhere.

      But especially when people throw the comment at illegal immigrants, who still pay sales tax and property tax, even if they only ever get paid in under-the-table cash.

      • Illegal aliens are able to pay federal income tax, incidentally. They can file a return and declare even their cash income. Like anyone else, when they don’t, they are committing federal tax evasion.

        I think when people say some folks don’t pay any taxes, they are referring to the federal income tax. That’s the context, usually, where I hear the line spoken.

        Sales taxes are paid to state taxing authorities, not the federal government. So, when we’re talking about federal tax policy, sales taxes are irrelevant.

  43. I am so tired of the assumption that having Social Anxiety and/or shyness means that someone is a total introvert who does not want to be around people! I am in the flippin middle of extroverted and introverted, leaning more towards intro- (and is that even natural or is it a result of my social anxiety?) and I have social anxiety. It f-ing SUCKS, and it’s exhausting and depressing, wanting to be around people but being afraid of social situations. I like my alone time, but I crave social interaction. If I could master my SA, I would be a social butterfly.

    • I think its natural because I have a very similar problem. I like socializing with people I know but getting past my anxiety of embarrassing myself/feeling stupid every time I open my mouth, makes the MAKING friends very difficult. My daughter calls me “social awkward” and I suppose that’s a good description.

      Sometimes I actually think I am too self centered because I worry about what others think of me too much, maybe they don’t think of me at all. And then my mind starts the running in circles chasing its own tail thing again.

      I have forced myself to start asking people over for game night(yeah Flux and Walking Dead!), cards and dinner/pizza every couple of weeks (Tequila Tuesday!). Dealing with 2 or 4 people at a time is easier than big crowds, where I just find a corner to hide in unless there is someone I know well already.

  44. I’m seriously tired of the expectation that I should drop everything and reading article #3021 on some tangential to feminism, and give my thoughts on it to some guy who really doesn’t get it. You know what? My time is MINE. I don’t have to reading everything you forward to me on Facebook and give you my thoughts. FUCK OFF.

  45. “I think that all good, right thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that all good, right thinking people in this country are fed up with being told that all good, right thinking people in this country are fed up with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not, and I’m sick and tired of being told that I am”
    Python, Monty

    • Now that is funny!

      Wasn’t Tracy Lords the porn star that was found to have been making sex films while underage?

      • HAHAHA PORN STAR! AMIRITE! Good one. I bet she’s never heard that one before.

        • Oh, I’m sorry. I wasn’t actually joking or teasing her about it. I should have just asked if that was her real name or if it was a “screen name.”

          Did I commit a faux pax?

          • //Oh, I’m sorry. I wasn’t actually joking or teasing her about it.//

            So you mean you’re just stupid?

          • Dr., I think that using the name Tracy Lords, assuming that isn’t the user’s real name, may be offensive to some because it makes light of the fact that a 14 year old girl was exploited by adult, male pornographers in filmed and sold instances of rape. I found the use of the name curious, and I was wondering as to the person’s motivation.

          • //I found the use of the name curious, and I was wondering as to the person’s motivation.//

            Lots of debate on this blog about the core issue of sexism in society, and you pick on that issue? Kinda shows you’re not really here to support the mission or frankly, even learn what the mission IS before telling the community what’s wrong with it.

            However, take your time here as an opportunity to learn what these women are actually saying. I mean read this post again, read other posts, and REALLY take it in and give it critical thought, unbiased if you can.

            Once you’ve honestly thought about it, respond with any arguments you may have after that k? That’s what will really be listening on your part.

        • You can feel free to be as insulting and condescending as you like, if you feel that is a productive way to go about speaking to people. But, point of fact, I did not say anything to anyone about what was “wrong” with this community.

          I asked a question, but the question wasn’t posed to you.

  46. I suppose there may be an issue with the idea that “men insist they want help…” which appears to be a generalized and basic assumption of the note above. Well, as a man, I find that a tad bit condescending. This isn’t something that “men” as a group just don’t understand and can’t fathom. Some men, I’m sure, like some people in general, don’t have the cognitive functioning to “get” certain things, and others don’t care. But, to suggest that these issues are issues purely of men needing “help” to get what is perfectly obvious to you misses one basic thing: there is room for differences of opinion relative to many of these issues, like: what conduct constitutes sexual harassment? How pervasive is discrimination? What is “reasonable” under the circumstances? And, many other issues.

    I suppose what I get tired of explaining is that just because person A says something is the case, that doesn’t mean it is no longer a fit subject for discussion. And, even on issues of sex and sexuality, the discussion and debate isn’t over just because person A has “explained it.”

    • //what conduct constitutes sexual harassment? How pervasive is discrimination? What is “reasonable” under the circumstances? And, many other issues.//

      Well snickerdoodle, the issue is that people who have not experienced the above much or at all tend to say “that’s not harassment, that’s not discrimination, that’s reasonable” when it is harassment, is discrimination, and is NOT reasonable.

      What they are talking about is something like where a woman talking to a man says “‘A’ is sexist because reason Y and X”. The man immediately responds against it saying “no, A is not sexist and Y & X are invalid” without *truly* stopping to consider what the minority person was actually saying or what the merits are.

      So that’s what they mean when “shut up and listen” it means “don’t just immediately NOT consider what I just said and respond without thinking about it” which is what tends to happen over and over again here.

      Get it now?

      • Why are you resorting to calling me names? Have I done something to offend you? I’m listening. Please, explain why it is that you are being rude and obnoxious.

        Yes, I am sure there are people who don’t listen to a person complaining of sexual harassment, and merely knee-jerk by dismissing the case. But, to simply make the generalization that all discussion by men of what constitutes sexual harassment and whether specific instances are sexual harassment is a sexist stereotype.

        You might consider whether you, yourself, are not “listening” to valid discussion points, and perhaps you are simply adopting the position that once an allegation is made, that is it — if someone says something is sexual harassment, it is. And, all discussion to the contrary is “not listening.”

        Calling me “snickerdoodle” and asking if I “get it now” is language indicative that you have no desire to listen to me at all. That is your right, of course, and I honestly don’t care if you do, except insofar as we are having a discussion. If you care to have a discussion, I would only ask that you be polite and stop insulting me. Other than that, my ears are open and I look forward to being educated by you.

  47. It just occurred to me, too, as I contemplated the article above, that the title is “Shut up and Listen.”

    I thought about that carefully, and what it means for discussion and debate. It basically means, there isn’t any. “This is not a fit subject for further debate, because I’ve already explained myself. You’re wrong, and you just need to shut up and listen.” I think that is not discussion. It’s a demand for compliance.

    • No. It means LISTEN to what I’m saying before demanding I answer for things I’m NOT saying and to answer questions I’ve already answered. You cannot have an honest debate without shutting up and listening through parts of it.

      Nice try, though.

      • Certainly, good discussion and debate is fostered by both sides listening to what the other is saying. And, certainly any time either side of a debate requires the other to answer for things that have not been asserted, well, that’s generally called making up a straw man. That’s dirty pool.

        As for answering questions one has already answered, well, that depends on if you’re talking to the same person. Certainly, if you have to keep repeating yourself to the same person, then that isn’t a productive argument.

        That being said, just because you say something doesn’t mean a discussion/debate doesn’t involve exploration of what you said and it’s legitimacy, logic, and cogency. You may have said something several times, but if the other side is trying to point out to you exactly why they disagree with you on it, and perhaps to explain how you might not be right about it, there may be some repeating going on. Discussion/debate doesn’t mean “I said it, and that’s it,” regardless of the topic. IMHO.

        • “Listen” does not mean “agree”. “Listen” means “listen”.

          So, if I’ve explained something a million times, I’m probably tired of repeating that. If you had listened the one of the first million times, I wouldn’t have to keep repeating myself.

          This isn’t about stopping conversation. This is about getting a conversation to a point where a discussion can be had rather than having to rehash the old irrelevant misconceptions over and over.

          • I know what “listen” means. The colloquialism, “shut up and listen,” has particular nuance beyond that, though.

            But, I just agreed with you — that both sides of a discussion ought to listen to each other, carefully, in order for there to be good discussion and debate.

            I don’t know you. You may have explained something to others a million times. But, that doesn’t make it wrong for others who haven’t participated in your prior conversations from inquiring. There are many things I’ve explained many times, but I wouldn’t expect you to know about them all.

            One person’s “irrelevant misconception” is what another person may be taking issue with. That’s what I tried to point out in the post immediately above yours. You may say this or that is an irrelevant misconception, but the other person my think it’s plenty relevant and may be trying to get across to you that it isn’t a misconception. I.e. – those irrelevant misconceptions may still be up for debate.

          • skepchickmagnet:

            It is not our job to educate everyone on every little nuance of every part of feminism or sexism or skepticism or anything. There is a plethora of information online. Seriously. If you (general you) actually want to understand a subject, then you will make an effort to learn, and not just an effort to be told. Those aren’t the same things.

          • Yes, marilove, the obligation to educate oneself falls on each individual. One ought not start with the proposition, however, that “I am educated and well read, and those who engage in debate on the topic are not.” If one does that, then one makes the error of assuming one to be correct, because any criticism or critique must be coming from an unlettered source. It is, after all, conceivable that someone could be as well educated and well read as another person, and yet they could reach opposite conclusions on the same issue.

          • Looking a this I thought of something. I do think that yes, people need to educate themselves. But As skepchickmagnet notes, not everyone will have taken part in every discussion with you.

            Whenever someone says, “It’s not my job to educate anyone” my first question is “then whose job is it?”

            Especially someone like you folks at skepchick, who have taken the job of educating people — I mean, isn’t that why the web site here exists?

            That said, I also think there is a big difference between reading something in book and engaging with another person. I often find myself taking sort-of-contrary positions in discussions with people I otherwise agree with. Why? Because a book can’t answer questions the way a person can. It helps me understand why I think something is right. Or wrong. I liken it to sparring in the martial arts — if you never do that you’ll never know if your technique is is right and the dojo (with friends, presumably) is a safe space to do that in.

            So when I have to explain things for the zillionth time, while I do get sick of it sometimes, I sort of say to myself that maybe there’s an opportunity here, a chance to phrase something in a way I did not before. And I assume — or rather, don’t assume — that a) anyone I speak to is the least bit familiar with what I am about to say, since so many folks are not and b) that they are not stupid. It comes from being raised in a family where our positions (as leftists) were in the minority and much of what was on the bookshelf was utterly alien to everyone I knew. (The USSR still existed then).

            I agree it’s tedious. And yes, I hate doing racism / sexism 101 with people some days. But I would bet that in 1850 some people were sick of explaining that black people were human. For the zillionth time. Or in 1900 that women should vote. Sometimes you have to do things again and again. In one sense we who want to change things signed up for this. And I for one don’t want to just give up.

  48. I’m sick and tired of explaining stuff about my chronic illness. “So you want to do something that you said last week you couldn’t? Make up your mind!”

    If my lungs would make up their minds, I’d be happy to. Arg. Thankfully, this one is becoming less of an issue as my control improves, but still, annoying.

    On the gender front: Sick of explaining why ‘get me a sammich’ jokes (and jokes with variations on that theme) are not cool.

  49. Elyse and all Skepchicks,

    I have struggled with concepts such as “male privilege” and with your education in these matters I thank you. After reading a lot on this site, you have certainly raised my conscience regarding the daily oppressions that women, LGBT, minorities, etc.. face. I hope I’ve made some progress. Ungod bless you.

    That said, there is one subject I have the most difficulty in accepting. I’m an atheist and I generally do not think that atheists are an oppressed group. I think atheist women are oppressed because of sexism, misogyny, etc.. Similarly there is oppression of atheist LGBT and atheist African Americans. But atheists as a whole? If billionaire atheist Bill Gates tells me his sob story of his “oppression” by theists I will have a real tough time to “shut up and listen” given that his white, heterosexual, male privilege drowns out any injustice he has perceived over his unbelief. Sorry, but my heart weeps a lot more for a theist African American lesbian. Can someone educate me in this regard so I can change my tune?

  50. I’m tired (apropos of the income tax bit above) of explaining how economics and government work to some folks. That is, I meet people all the time who seem to think that the labor market is absolutely frictionless and that we can

    a) teleport at no cost to get a job somewhere
    b) pick up skills like Neo in the Matrix (that is, instantly)

    I mean really. I usually have this conversation with a dude in the tech industry.

    I’m also sick of explaining how the courts work to people who say “follow the Constitution” — usually in relation to the Affordable Care Act. The number of people I have run into who have said that the courts’ job is not to interpret laws is staggering. Was nobody listening in 8th grade civics?

    And I am tired of explaining to people instances where the USA wasn’t the end all and be-all of goodness, and that good intentions were never part of the equation for say, killing as many Filipino insurgents as possible or bombing the Vietnamese or handing a ton of money to every tinpot dictator who says “I kill terrorists.”

    I am tired of running into people who are so blithely ignorant of the history of colonialism and seem unable to get their heads around the idea that, you know, other people in other countries might react to US troops the same way we would react to foreigners with guns attacking us. It’s like, “you mean they aren’t just waiting for our liberators? Who knew?” Like maybe others are just as proud of their heritage as we are.

    Aaaargh.

  51. I follow a guy on Twitter who is all about atheism, as am I . Yesterday I saw him tweet, “Shout out to all the beautiful atheist women on Twitter. You have brains and beauty,” with a naked pic of a woman holding “God is not Great” and dropping the bible with the caption “Reason is Sexy.” My reply of “Thanks, but if it’s reason that is so sexy then there is no need to objectify women through this naked pic,” was met with two condescending, smarmy replies of him categorizing me as “one of those” and “schooling” me on the history of the picture.

    It frustrates me because his replies automatically put me in a subgroup of atheists he just didn’t like, mostly women who give a shit about being treated differently. He’d never post a shout out to all the hot atheist dudes or a naked pic of a skeptic with “The God Delusion” over his groin, so why is it so much to ask that he take into consideration that women don’t want to be a subgroup of the atheist movement? It seems like a lot of atheist men just want women in the atheist community to entertain them with their boobs while agreeing with all their lofty, wise opinions.

    I’m not trying to generalize, but I’m also tired of being viewed as a sex object and being made a more valuable potential sex thing because of my atheism.

  52. Oh, there’s a long list of shit I wish people would just get.

    -Providing studies to have men who don’t want to believe there’s a problem refuse to read them or dismiss them as ‘not real science’. Yo, assholes, if I bothered to spend the time to research that shit because you were whining about there not being proof, you read it and fucking learn.

    -Being ignored as soon as people find out I’m female, because we all know women can’t really perform rigorous thought. I wish there was a way to roll up my degrees, certificates, publications and awards and smack people with them.

    -That when I hand in a paper, send a program or turn something in, it’s my fucking work. Don’t joke about my boyfriend doing it for me, or quiz me hard (out of nowhere) because you just know it can’t be mine. It’s not funny.

    -That social science concepts do matter, and are an integral part of ethics and being ethical. Nothing steams me quite like being told by some asshole that they can’t possibly understand social science concepts (and shouldn’t, natch, because who cares about that weird shit) when 10 minutes on google scholar would answer their questions. It’s one thing to be asked for clarification and another thing entirely to be asked to explain entire, complicated concepts because someone can’t be arsed to do research on it.

    -That my sexuality does not and should not make me an impromptu teacher on the subject. I don’t owe anyone anything.

    -That the presence of my breasts does not invalidate, alter, add or substitute for content. I spend substantial amounts of time in professional settings having people gawk at, stare at and comment on my breasts, which is really fucking annoying when I’m giving a presentation.

    -That it’s really not a compliment to talk about what you want to do to me in front of me, and not every conversation I wish to have with people I know needs to be about sex.

    -That harassment law exists, and it’s a part of each worker’s responsibility to be aware of those policies.

    -That diversity and income equity is more productive, allows for more innovation and is greatly more competitive that creating a White sausage fest and defending the borders against all them weird people.

    -That laziness in thought becomes laziness in deed. If you can’t be arsed to be a willing part of learning in your environment, to be thinking, self-reflective and willing to be wrong, chances are good you’re doing something shitty.

    -That no matter how kinky I may be, it’s foolish to infer inferiority and/or servility to me because of bedroom habits.

    -That saying something shitty and then joking about me ‘hurting you’ is often not funny. Don’t joke about raping me, or insult me, and then try to make me out to be overly emotional because I responded.

    -That no one is only one thing. Seriously. I am a professor and a student and a lover and a researcher and a chef, etc. I am capable of complexity, and so is everyone else.

    -That calling me a bitch/slut/whore/cunt is not ever going to make me ashamed of myself, but it may allow me to practice some of my invective skills.

    -That yes, that person on the MVP boards in TF2 is female, and so talking about what you want to do to girls on an open mic just makes me shoot you more. And giggle. Opening your mic to expound on what you like to do to vaginas, or what you think women are good for, etc, is NOT ACCEPTABLE. And I’ll enjoy shooting your ass for it.

    *pant, pant* I could go on. I’m generally tired of explaining myself to people. I mean, fuck, as a woman half my fucking life has been spent explaining myself because the other person seems to believe that their gender makes them able to constantly interrogate my motives, intelligence, behavior, emotions, and thoughts.

    I don’t owe anyone shit.

    • Your comment is made of win. Thank you for posting it.

  53. //This is about getting a conversation to a point where a discussion can be had rather than having to rehash the old irrelevant misconceptions over and over.//

    This. The point is, if you come to this blog, might want to read around a bit before you start staunchly stating why the viewpoint is stated in the blog is wrong somehow.

    //what conduct constitutes sexual harassment? How pervasive is discrimination? What is “reasonable” under the circumstances? //

    Yeah you might have your own idea on this, but have you taken any chances anytime in the recent past to really read this blog or just listen to a good deal of women describe what they see as sexism, or are you just ready to start making claims from a male standpoint as to what is and isn’t harassment?

    See THAT is the issue here. You haven’t taken the time to listen first.

    So my ultimate suggestion for you if you want to learn is Lurk Moar…

    • The only point I made was that there is room for discussion of those issues.

      Your assumption that I haven’t read many pages of this website is incorrect.

      It appears you make the assumption that I must not have read much around here because I think “//what conduct constitutes sexual harassment? How pervasive is discrimination? What is “reasonable” under the circumstances? //” are questions that someone can reasonably take issue with under given circumstances.

      That, to me, is a bigger problem than “not listening.” Assuming I must not have read up enough before joining the conversation is just declining to discuss the issue at all, or assuming that your opinion must be right because you must be more informed.

      That results in avoidance of discussion, and it gets replaced with arguments over who has a legitimate right to participate in the discussion at all.

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