ActivismFeminismGuest BloggersSkepticism

Guest Post: Harassment Happens

It’s happening again. The skeptical blogosphere is filled with discussion and debate around harassment at skeptical conferences. In particular, some folks have come out to discuss specific incidents of harassment at TAM. We’ve asked one of the people who reported a harassment incident at TAM to tell their story as a guest post here. Lee’s story is below.

I am sure I don’t need to say this but I will anyway: This is a tough topic. Please keep comments civil and remember the Commenter Code of Conduct.

Lee deLay is a student shortly to be working towards a Masters in psychological research methods, They are focusing their research (and blogging) on gender and sexualities. Lee also is active in the online social justice community where they are actively working to end oppression and work together – privileged and target – to change the system.

Trigger warning: Reports of harassment, sexual harassment, misgendering, and dehumanizing.

When people come out about harassment either to talk about their experience or to report it they are met with a variety of responses, some good – some bad. From pity to compassion, support to denial the person speaking on the subject will see it all. When I reported someone for harassment last year at TAM, I knew I was potentially opening myself up to people misconstruing what I said, telling me I was lying, dehumanizing me, misgendering me and otherwise attacking me for my words. I understand that I have the privilege of being willing to stand up and speak anyway so when I started getting messages saying that people were talking about what happened I needed to look. Lo and behold I was right – in the year since TAM my report has been forgotten, mangled and spread. I am not going to name names, I am not going to tell you who my friend is – deal with it. If they want to come out, if they want to respond it’s their choice and I will not make it for them.

At TAM9 last year, I had someone repeatedly come up and try to talk to me, not entirely surprising – conversation and networking is a huge part of the conference. This person made me really uncomfortable in a variety of ways from standing too close to various comments that they made. I asked them to leave me alone, to back away from me, I asked multiple times. Other people asked on my behalf. Nothing happened. The person still got in my personal space, still insisted on talking to me even when I told them to leave me alone. I should have reported them then but, due to a variety of reasons, I didn’t. Next thing I know I am walking into the Del Mar and see them standing there, with a camera, facing up, on a monopod. No big deal right? Well… it was at their ankle. Facing up. I don’t know about you but my first idea was that it was there to take upskirt photos. Did I see them take a picture? No, I didn’t want to get that close to them and didn’t want to wait to see it happen. I was uncomfortable with it but wanted to confirm so I asked a friend. My friend thought the same thing immediately and we went to have security called; security talked to the person with the camera and life went on.

The problem is that the earlier harassment continued and I found out that it was happening to my friend too. We had heard that it was happening to others but no one else was willing to report it, so we did. We went and found a JREF volunteer and they brought us to a security person for the JREF (or that was my figuring anyway) and we were assisted in writing out our experiences for a formal report. We each had over a full page of incidents. DJ Grothe came to talk to us about it and we were told that it would be followed up on, that the person we were reporting would be asked to leave us alone and that we would be emailed after the event (it was the last day) with what actions were going to be taken. We were satisfied at the time that our report was being taken seriously; the problem is that apparently it wasn’t. I never heard back from the JREF on my report. My friend emailed them enough to have heard back though I can’t speak to what that conversation entails.

Flash forward to now, nearly a year later when multiple incidents of harassment are being talked about – some reported and some not. We aren’t being taken seriously. We are being told that we are misrepresenting what happened, that it wasn’t a big deal, that we should be more skeptical, that we need to present “proof.” Really? What a chilling effect on people coming to events – if an incident happens then we get the third degree from the community by reporting or talking about it? Way to promote a safe space for harassment and an unsafe space for people who feel uncomfortable with the way a situation is going. I should be safe to say ‘hey, what you said or did made me uncomfortable, could you not do that’ and have it listened to. If you don’t listen, I should be able to take it a step further by reporting it and have it listened to. What shouldn’t happen is me being questioned on if it ‘really happened.’

You may have noticed I don’t use gendered terms for this because yes, harassment happens to more than just women. I myself am gender fluid, I use they/them pronouns, I get harassed both because I am not willing to put up with oppressive language and because of my gender – both the real one and the one I am perceived as being. Most people know me as female, I largely look female, congrats everyone – I am willing to out myself for this because of this next point. Harassment effects everyone, male, female, non-binary, trans*, cis and everything in between. Harasser and victim both are harmed by this system. Why? Because this stuff hurts our friends, family, the people we are around. Because we have to worry that if it ever happens to us that no one will believe us. Because we have to worry that even people who claim to support us will interrogate us over and over as to what happened. This isn’t okay. We need to foster a situation where if something occurs that makes us feel unsafe we can report it. Anonymously, semi-anonymously or in public we need to feel safe reporting what happened. Even if the result is someone (or the person who feels uncomfortable) goes up the the person and says ‘hey, that is making someone uncomfortable, could you stop’ and it happens. The behavior stops, done.

Instead things like this are said: (thankfully this comment was removed by the blog but it serves the point)

Plenty of women can be incredible liars. They exploit the current legal environment to demonize men they deem enemies… Its imperative that the skeptical community push back hard on these disgusting beings.

Yup, disgusting beings, incredible liars, exploitative, demonizing men, all in one comment. This is the level of push back we get from speaking up. I know not all cis-men are sexual harassers, I know there are cis-women, trans* people, non-binary people who harass people too but I hate to say it: cis-men you’re the privileged ones here. Come collect your people and make sure they know this stuff is not okay. You see a cis-woman, a trans* person, a non-binary person doing this stuff you come find one of their own to come collect. I think you will find that there is a difference in the response you get. We know that harassment, especially harassment largely happens to those who are perceived as female and who don’t look like they fall in the binary.

We need to create a system where people know how to report things, we need to know that reporting is safe, we need to know that reasonable actions will be taken. We need something like this; on the initial report the person doing the behavior will be told ‘someone has complained about x behavior saying it makes them uncomfortable, please stop that behavior and those like it else further action will be taken and you may be asked to leave.’ Wow, look – gives people who didn’t realize their behavior was making others feel unsafe a chance to change it and makes the person who reported it feel like it was taken seriously. Now, if another report comes in, of the same or similar behavior – the next action is taken. Frankly I think it should be to ask them to leave but it is up to the organization. Now realize please; another ‘don’t do that’ isn’t another action – it’s a slap on the wrist and sends us back to step one – where people don’t feel they can report things because nothing will happen.

This goes beyond sexism, this has to do with the whole system. I am not a feminist (shocking I know), I don’t identify with that label because what I do goes far beyond the aims of most feminist activism. My aims are to destroy the whole oppressive system and rebuild a new structure – not something based on a hierarchy that puts people above others, that is willing to systematically dehumanize people, but something based upon meeting peoples needs, upon mutual learning and respect, where people and their cultures are recognized, where research actually takes into account the people they are researching, where people appreciate others and don’t appropriate. This starts with stopping this stuff. With making sure that we create an environment where this behavior is not okay by anyone. Genderfluid, female, male and everything else under the sun know this stuff is not acceptable. So that when someone reports harassment they aren’t immediately a ‘hysterical female.’ Instead, the systematic harassment doesn’t happen because we know that we can say ‘hey, not cool’ and it stops. Done. It doesn’t need to escalate because the person’s opinion is listened to and respected. Spooky I know. Now, why don’t we all check our privilege and work together to make a better community that welcomes people instead of driving them away?

A note on language: Since many people don’t know the terms ‘cis,’ ‘trans*,’ and ‘non-binary’ I am giving a quick definition:

Cis – a person whose gender identity matches the gender they were assigned at birth.

Trans* – a person whose gender identity doesn’t match the gender they were assigned at birth, whose body doesn’t match their internal body map, and more. (This is complex and many people who might fit in this don’t ID as trans* – their choice not yours.)

Non-binary – A person who doesn’t identify as male or female, a person whose gender changes between genders etc. These are genders like gender fluid, agender, pangender, gender queer and much more.

Featured image courtesy Cake Wrecks. All other images courtesy the book “Agitate! Educate! Organize! American Labor Posters,” taken by Surly Amy.

Masala Skeptic

Masala Skeptic

Maria Walters (a.k.a. Masala Skeptic) has spent a lot of time in ‘furrin parts,’ including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Pittsburgh. Although her passport is from India, she’s spent most of her adult life in the United States. She currently lives in Atlanta and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

Previous post

Skepchick Quickies 6.19

Next post

AI: For the love of god please help me


  1. June 19, 2012 at 11:20 am —

    Yes, it would be hard to prove that the man in question was actually taking upskirt photos at the time. However, in a very significant way, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that his behaviour made people uncomfortable, and that the JREF handled their complains in an unprofessional and incompetent way. His taking upskirt photos would made the situation worse; if it so happens that he wasn’t, it wouldn’t make the situation good, not by a long shot.

    I already had no intention of going to TAM again. Fly across the country to have the pleasure of choking on stale cigarette smoke and watching Randroids jack each other off about not believing in Bigfoot? No thanks. The current debacle is just the icing on the cakewreck.

  2. June 19, 2012 at 11:46 am —

    I’m glad someone gender fluid has contributed. It’s not always a male/female issue. What if it was a woman harassing a woman?

    I haven’t been to any events, but if there’s such an upheaval over an archaic male/female dynamic, it doesn’t bode well for anyone else “alternative”

  3. June 19, 2012 at 11:55 am —

    Even if the dude was ‘just joking around’, as in “ha-ha, look, I could photograph your genitals/underwear, but maybe I won’t” that still would make many reasonable persons very uncomfortable.

    Disclaimer: yeah, a person who wears pants every day might be less bothered than a person in a skirt. I get that. Ponder a minute, anyone who doesn’t.

  4. June 19, 2012 at 12:07 pm —

    I’ve been lurking here since early 2006, but this is the issue that finally made me break my silence and make accounts here and on FtB.

    This is just to important for me not to get involved.

    Masala Skeptic: I’m totally with you on your vision of a new society.

    • June 19, 2012 at 12:14 pm —

      Perhaps “society” is not the right word, but I am in total agreement in any case.

    • June 19, 2012 at 12:27 pm —

      Thanks! Although since this is a guest post, Lee really should be taking the credit, not me :)

      • June 19, 2012 at 12:36 pm —

        Ah sorry! I misread the top of the post. A lot of things suddenly make sense now (such as why you were suddenly a guest poster.)

        Lee: I completely agree with YOU about this. :)

  5. June 19, 2012 at 12:21 pm —

    I wonder…. do events like this draw the a$$holes who do this kind of thing in greater numbers, or am I just blind to it b/c I’m a (admittedly privileged cis-) guy and it doesn’t happen to me? I know there’s going to be guys who will say, “I don’t do this sort of thing, so it’s not my responsibility.” But it is. I think one thing the male segment of the community needs to do is, in current language, “man up” (or “cowboy up”, or whatever…. in cycling we keep it sex/gender inclusive by saying, “harden the f*** up”) and refuse to tolerate this behavior when we see it. If you (meaning any random guy) want to stop hearing sexual harassment complaints then summon the courage to confront a guy who’s being a creep. I’m not talking about adopting some sexist chivalrist code of conduct. I’m saying stand up with the women who are being harassed and do your part to stop it.

    • June 19, 2012 at 12:29 pm —

      Honestly, I don’t think this is all that common. I think these are edge cases and the majority of attendees at TAM and other conferences are well-mannered, polite and awesome. But when these edge case scenarios occur, it’s important to make sure they are handled so that the conference continues to be awesome and full of great people.

      • June 19, 2012 at 4:20 pm —

        But when these edge case scenarios occur, it’s important to make sure they are handled so that the conference continues to be awesome and full of great people.

        Just to dot the i’s and cross the t’s: it’s important to make it clear that this sort of behavior is not going to be tolerated _before_ it becomes common.

        Once the idea gets around that what we might call “frat-boy” behavior is acceptable in a venue, it’s already too late to fix things.

        This also means that you have to take steps against the less egregious stuff, such as sexist presentations, booth babes, etc.

        • June 19, 2012 at 4:45 pm —


          Does the word Tailhook mean anything to anybody?

          That is the end product of looking the other way.

        • June 22, 2012 at 4:00 am —

          fratboy behavior. Is that something all frat boys engage in.

      • June 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm —

        Thank you for saying this!

        This is exactly what I needed to hear today. You reminded me that there is so much more to our community than harassment and conflicts. My mood changed from frustration to optimism when I read it. You reminded me that we have something worth fighting for. :)

  6. June 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm —

    //Fly across the country to have the pleasure of choking on stale cigarette smoke and watching Randroids jack each other off about not believing in Bigfoot? //

    lol, spot on.

  7. June 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm —

    “I asked them to leave me alone, to back away from me, I asked multiple times. Other people asked on my behalf. Nothing happened.”

    ^Not cool one bit.

  8. June 19, 2012 at 2:26 pm —

    First this should not have happened to you. I’m glad that you had the guts to go get security and have them make the camera guy put his camera upwards. It is a ridiculous defense to say he was just “holding it that way.” Who in world would hold a camera by the floor in the middle of a convention? In my opinion you were correct and proactive.

    Him not leaving you alone was reason enough for him to be bounced out of the event. And in my opinion he should be banned from attending future events. Women are not paying to go to TAM to have to deal with things like this.

    DJ Grothe and JREF need to examine their choices in handling this event and I’m happy that you have chosen to publicly document and make available to us the details of the event. It is important but must have been a bit difficult to have to rehash the details again. Thank you for your bravery in doing that.

    Reading through this blog I was happy to see a gender fluid person contributing and taking the discussion away from binary gender talk.

    And then you did it. You got sexist. And I was disheartened. What in the world is “I hate to say it: cis-men you’re the privileged ones here. Come collect your people and make sure they know this stuff is not okay.” supposed to convey?

    The push back in a lot of these cases is not coming from men who don’t believe you, or men who think you are lying. It comes in many cases from men who don’t like being demonized and grouped in a category the same way you yourself reject being lumped into a category of liars and manipulators.

    To think you wrote that sentence, read it, and reread it and then chose to post it is stunning to me. Because it reveals, as I have said elsewhere, a glaring blind spot in the views of many, who push for gender equality, of demonizing cis gendered men and holding them culpable for the actions of the few that behave this way.

    Cis gendered men are not responsible for the actions of “their kind.” If you rewrote that sentence and changed it from “Cis gendered men” to “Gay Men” I hope you might see how offensive it is. If you wrote to gay men that trying to pick up men is sexual harassment and then wrote:

    “I hate to say it: gay-men you’re the privileged ones here. Come collect your people and make sure they know this stuff is not okay.”

    I think you would be outraged at such a sexist statement. I suppose you will accuse me of pushing back by asking you why you felt the need to include such a sexist comment in the midst of a plea for respect for gender issues?

    As for me, as the mother of three sons, I am tired of watching male bashing and lump summing of men go on. I teach them to respect all people. They do. But they are very often not treated with respect and expected to tolerate it. I truly don’t understand.

    • June 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm —

      LOL, what. Pointing out the privilege of largely straight, white men is not sexist. Do you have any idea what sexism is? Men are generally privileged, far more than women. This is truth. This is not sexism. Indeed, this is sexism at its very basic. Additionally, while sexism can harm men, you cannot be sexist toward the privileged group. Sexism doesn’t work that way (just like racism doesn’t).

      The push back in a lot of these cases is not coming from men who don’t believe you, or men who think you are lying. It comes in many cases from men who don’t like being demonized and grouped in a category the same way you yourself reject being lumped into a category of liars and manipulators.

      Are you serious here? So, let me get this straight; The harassment and then the denial of harassment is not because men don’t believe us, but because … we’re demonizing us. That is so blatantly “blame the victim” I’m not even sure where to fucking start.

      Cis gendered men are not responsible for the actions of “their kind.”

      • June 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm —

        *this is sexism at its very basic.

        Feminism, not sexism. D’oh.

      • June 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm —

        not because men don’t believe us — “don’t believe them (the men)”

        Clearly I hit the wrong button before I could review my post :D

      • June 21, 2012 at 1:00 am —

        That kind of assumes that any group is privileged in a static, essential unchanging way. Women and people of color are perfectly capable of holding power. They generally don’t, but sometimes they do. On smaller scales, at different times and under different circumstances that dynamic changes.

        There’s nothing privileged about your gender when it means being left to die in the lethally cold waters of the Atlantic. I can’t accept a definition of racism that doesn’t cover hunting people of a certain race down, dragging them from their homes and butchering them in the streets. I don’t think it matters to the children watching their parents getting hacked to death with machetes that they as a group hold more political power and wealth.

        I guess the real problem I have with this view is that it assumes that men control everything that matters. They don’t, they’ve just convinced everybody that anything they don’t control doesn’t matter and that’s not true.

        • June 21, 2012 at 1:49 am —

          I’m not * entirely* sure who you’re replying to, but keep in mind that we’re coming from a Western point of view and a Western culture. Things can certainly operate differently in other cultures. I don’t know enough about that to really say. That said, I do know enough that, IN GENERAL, men have the privilege, white men in particular.

          Also, a lot of our discussions lately have particularly been about the Skeptical community, and that something that needs to be considered in some discussions.

        • June 22, 2012 at 11:27 pm —

          Hmm. “Lethally cold waters of the Atlantic”, eh?

          Modern oceangoing vessels carry enough life raft space and life jackets for all occupants. Also, there was a study not that long ago showing that, in fact, women have had a decidedly lower survival rate in disasters at sea than men.

          Here’s a link to a BBC News article, which in turn links to the report itself:

          Sorry to veer off like that, but that thing you’re describing has nothing to do with male privilege and certainly doesn’t refute it.

    • June 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm —

      Hit a wrong button, so let me continue from the last blockquote.

      It’s interesting that you are appearing to quote something someone said (“their kind”), when on one at all said or even implied that all of mankind is “responsible” for “their kind”.

      That said, if a man doesn’t speak out against sexism, even subtle sexism — he is indeed part of the problem. If you ignore sexism and you are part of the privileged class you are part of the problem. If you deny that sexism exists, you are part of the problem. If you deny that women are being harassed, and call them liars, you are indeed part of the problem — and being hugely sexist to boot.

      of demonizing cis gendered men and holding them culpable for the actions of the few that behave this way.

      Interesting that you are concerned more about the men here, than the woman who were called liars by these men.


      Perhaps if these men stopped trying to deny sexism and harassment exist, then we’d stop talking about it.

    • June 19, 2012 at 3:08 pm —

      On the one hand, Bridgette, I can understand what you are saying. One the other, though, I must respectfully disagree. My eyes have only been recently opened by the issues here. I don’t like receiving blanket blame for something a few of the boorish representatives of my “group” have perpetrated, but the reality is that I was blind to what was going on. I was blind to the fact that so many women face some degree of subtle (or not so subtle) discrimination or harassment, things I don’t experience because I am a male. I used to say, “well, why are you yelling at me for this…. I didn’t do it… I would never do it…” In a way this is a cop-out. It’s like the person who denies they are racist after making racist jokes because “they have black friends”. The reality is that the greatest pressure anyone experiences in society is through peers, and unfortunately, a lot of the idiots who do this kind of stuff only see people in their own subgroup as peers. Thus, the single most effective way to change this behavior is for someone in their own peer group have the courage to say, “cool it, man… that’s not appropriate.”

      • June 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm —


        I also know a couple of other guys here have had similar “revelations” (if you will). Anyone care to share?

        • June 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm —

          *Raises hand high*

        • June 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm —

          I actually met this person (without camera or at least it was put away or being held in a conventional manner) at the Del Mar last year… After a brief conversation, I started to get a very creepy vibe and edged away as quickly as I could. Didn’t do anything else, though. Later, or maybe it was the next day, I saw him standing around, looking alone and pathetic, as though no one would talk to him, and almost felt sorry for him, but not enough so that it overcame the creepiness repulsion. I don’t know what if anything I should or could have done at the time, maybe just kept my eyes open (difficult after 3-4 Widmer’s)

          There were other people who struck me as only slightly less creepy, but I didn’t know if I was being unfairly judgmental. But it worries more more that there may have been stuff going on that I didn’t notice at all. I found out just a month ago that a friend who was there but I hardly saw all week, spent most of her free time in her room because she seriously creeped out.

    • June 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm —

      You seem to have missed the sentence right before the one you quoted;

      I know not all cis-men are sexual harassers, I know there are cis-women, trans* people, non-binary people who harass people too but I hate to say it:

      You also seemed to have missed the reason given for the quoted line;

      I think you will find that there is a difference in the response you get.

      There are very few people saying that all cis-men are harassers, and those who are reside on the far fringes. Teach your kids to respect all people, that is great, but what is being said here and what has been said over the last year and a half in no way negates that. Quite the opposite actually.

      • June 19, 2012 at 3:22 pm —

        Isn’t amazing how meaning and intention becomes far more clear when you keep things in context? Huh.

    • June 19, 2012 at 3:29 pm —

      Since you evoked gay men, and Josh the spokesgay hasn’t replied yet, I will!

      I’m gay and cis-male, and I can tell you that no matter how you raise your 3 sons, and what lessons you instill in them, they NEED TO KNOW how to stand up against sexism, because they will encounter it.

      Trigger warning, I think (not sure how these work yet)

      Last year I went on a road trip with a (mostly straight) rugby team that I play with. On the bus, about 30 guys who I’ve seen be wonderful and supportive with their girlfriends and wives were suddenly making jokes about who needs to be raped, who shouldn’t be raped, who they would rape and exactly why (is it a pity rape? An “educational” rape? etc). I watched decent, stand-up guys who are pillars of their communities, wonderful and gentle, say these things and, during the weekend, cheat on their wives and girlfriends in New York City.

      Basically, normal guys are surrounded by sexism all the time and participate in it as a matter of course. Your 3 sons will encounter this and participate in it. It is normal and it is celebrated. It is considered a part of “male bonding”.

      This is not just straight guys. I’ve endured some very uncomfortable conversations with gay men, and I’ve even (ashamedly) participated. Maybe gay men don’t talk about rape, but we do our share of slut-shaming, dismissing, and insulting women too.

      I can’t believe that celebrating a rape culture is a good thing, I want to see science that says that this sort of “male bonding” is positive, and then I want to see more science. Because I can’t believe that it does anything other than reinforce several destructive and divisive elements of our culture that are harmful not just to women but to everybody.

      It is perfectly okay to tell cis men to step up, because cis men NEED TO. You have no idea how insanely easy cis men have it in the world and how routinely cis men trample the rights and dignity of others, without even knowing that we’re doing it.

      On that bus with the rugby guys, and at the male-only gay events I’ve been at, there isn’t anyone else there to point out what’s wrong with this attitude except for cis men. Making sure that these private places can build male bonding without resorting to kicking someone else who’s down is probably the best thing guys can do to fight sexism.

      Because out of the 30 guys on that bus, at least one of them took all that joking seriously, and is just a little more certain of himself that no matter how badly he treats the women in his life, she probably deserved it.

      Your sons WILL face this.

      • June 19, 2012 at 3:37 pm —

        Hey now! I thought Will was our unofficial spokesgay?!


        • June 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm —

          I will gladly step aside. I’m not much of a pinch-hitter anyway. :) You guys are all intellectual giants at this stuff compared to me. I’ll just be the waterboy and make sure everyone’s hydrated.

          • June 19, 2012 at 3:47 pm

            I was only joking. :) The more we hear with different experiences, the better!

          • June 19, 2012 at 3:47 pm

            **The more we hear from people with different experiences…

            WTF? I am having issues functioning today, clearly.

            Anyway, I don’t know that I’ve seen you comment before; welcome aboard!!!

          • June 19, 2012 at 4:01 pm

            No offence taken at all. :) Is Josh the official and Will the unofficial?

            I’ve been mostly-lurking here for about a year (via scienceblogs and freethought blogs just about when elevatorgate happened) but I am sometimes “quiet”, so I’m not surprised you missed me. :P

          • June 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm

            We are more than happy to have several awesome official Spokesgays!

        • June 19, 2012 at 4:17 pm —

          No, I’m the “Man-Fairy.” At least, that’s the title I was given by some mansplainin’ troll a while back. =D

          No need to step aside, quietmarc. There’s room for all us homos ’round these here parts. ;)

          • June 19, 2012 at 4:30 pm

            Your response reminded me of one of my favorite exchanges from Friends.

            Joey: If Homo Sapiens were really HOMO Sapiens; is that why they’re extinct?

            Ross: Joey, Homo Sapiens are people.

            Joey: Hey, I’m not judging.

      • June 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm —

        You have no idea how insanely easy cis men have it in the world and how routinely cis men trample the rights and dignity of others, without even knowing that we’re doing it.

        YES! And Bridgett, you have several MEN agreeing with this.

        And as a disclaimer, because I’m sure you’re going to bring this up: We are not talking about all men. Some men are fantastic. But most men aren’t really all that aware of their privilege — that’s because they are privileged. That’s part of their privileged. That’s how privilege works.

        That doesn’t make them bad guys, or men that harass or rape. I’m sure the majority of these men are otherwise awesome. That doesn’t mean they *aren’t* part of the problem, though.

        This is where education and out reach comes in.

        But denying that men may very well not be aware of their privilege DOES NOT HELP. Indeed, the first thing that needs to happen is for men to acknowledge their privilege, as several have already done here. These men are no longer part of the problem; they are part of the solution.

        • June 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm —

          Marilove, in my comment above where I mention my possible obliviousness, I didn’t use the word “privilege”, but that’s exactly what it is. Being safe while ignoring what’s going on around you. It’s not a bad privilege to have, the problem is that everyone doesn’t have that privilege.

          I think privilege works most effectively when the privileged people are unaware. If they start questioning the situation, it starts breaking down. And hey, questioning… Skepticism!

          • June 19, 2012 at 4:37 pm

            Yep — you’ve nailed it!

          • June 19, 2012 at 8:06 pm

            It’s impossible for everyone to have privilege, though. As soon as the same capacity is given to everyone, it ceases to be privilege.

            This is part of the problem with some folks who object to men being called out on their behavior. There is no actual way to address it without somehow “penalizing” men, since they’re set up on an artificial raised plateau. We cannot bring women up the plateau; it’s too small to fit everyone. Men have to come down from it, down to the ordinary earth.

    • June 19, 2012 at 6:10 pm —

      Speaking as a cis hetero male, I’m not in the least offended by the comment. Because it’s true, that’s where the larges percentage of offenders are, in my “group”, and yes, I agree that those of us who are not (or trying to not be) assholes should be on the look out for this kind of behavior, not because women need saving but because they need our cooperation.

      It wasn’t a personal insult.

  9. June 19, 2012 at 3:00 pm —

    Come collect your people was the part I felt was sexist. As was the comment Rebecca Watson made when she posted about elevator guy and wrote “Guys don’t do that”

    You had so much to say (and it appears a lot of anger) towards my comment and wrote it down quickly. So I can reasonably surmise that you didn’t pause at all to consider what I stated. And because of that you seem to have missed the point.

    Telling men they are part of the problem of sexual harassment simply because they happened to be born with a penis, is a sexist statement.

    Most men I know would not sexually harass a woman. And as evidenced by Haley’s own story, men do intervene and try to stop it very often when they witness it going on.

    Sexual harassment happens every day. And it should be stopped.

    But writing to men in a way that suggests they are collectively responsible for the actions of “their people” is sexist.

    • June 19, 2012 at 3:41 pm —

      Are you responding to me? And of course I am angry at you victim blaming. IT’s bullshit. I have every right to be angry.

      Come collect your people was the part I felt was sexist.

      Wait, what?! I have no idea what this even means. No one said anything about collecting anyone.

      “Guys don’t do that”

      How is that sexist? Wow.

      Telling men they are part of the problem of sexual harassment simply because they happened to be born with a penis, is a sexist statement.

      Have you actually read anything we’ve stated? It’s becoming clearer and clearer to me that perhaps you’re not really reading. No one has said that men are part of the problem because they are born with a penis. I NEVER made that statement. You keep making shit up: STOP IT.

      What I actually said, and what other shave said, is that if you don’t speak up when you witness sexism, you are part of the problem.

      And as evidenced by Haley’s own story, men do intervene and try to stop it very often when they witness it going on.

      No fucking shit, Sherlock! That is what I SAID! Exactly what I said!

      Sexual harassment happens every day. And it should be stopped.

      Kind of hard to put a stop to it when people like you are trying to blame women for the harassment. “Women aren’t being ignored because men don’t believe them; women are being ignored because women are demonizing men!” That’s what YOU said; exactly what you said. And it’s wrong. And hugely sexist. And victim-blaming. It’s interesting to me that you’ve yet to respond to my response to your initial claims, here.

      You are part of the problem.

      You may need to do some basic research on sexism and feminism, because I don’t think you have much of an understanding of those subjects.

    • June 19, 2012 at 3:46 pm —

      What I am saying is that ALL men have a responsibility, regardless of who they are or what they think. There are spaces were women cannot go, and those spaces are ugly.

      I am saying that from my own personal experience, every single guy has and will participate in sexism, whether he knows it or not, and we all have a responsibility to do that.

      Most guys will never rape or harm a woman, but ALL guys will be a part of encouraging someone who will. This is a huge problem and even well-meaning guys need to do more.

      Trust me: I am a man, and I am -as a man – assuring you that we currently do NOT need to be defended against sexism as a group, except for in the ways that sexism hurts everyone. Telling cis men to step up is NOT harmful to the men, and there are a lot of really decent guys who are still a part of the problem and could do with a reminder that they have mothers and wives and sisters and daughters who could use a little help.

      • June 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm —

        I agree. But as a singularly obtuse man, I could use some suggestions on ways to step up. My options appear to be limited, but I want to help.

        • June 19, 2012 at 3:54 pm —

          -If you see a friend or family member use sexist language, speak up. This can be as “innocent” as a joke. This does not just mean you only speak up when there are women around; indeed, it’s probably most important to speak up when women *aren’t* around.

          -If you witness someone being harassed, contact the appropriate authorities. We’re not saying you need to physically confront every asshole, because that’s not always safe (for you, or the harrassee).

          -Be aware of your own language and the way you treat people. Maybe it’s just as simple as trying to stop using gendered insults like “bitch”.

          -Continue to speak out in online forums as you are dong. :)

          • June 19, 2012 at 4:20 pm

            I’m on board with all that (although I tend to use “bitch” as a gender-neutral insult these days). I can’t remember the last time someone told me a rape joke — I can’t actually remember the first time.

            That’s all pretty passive, though. If I am part of a group that unknowingly encourages others to harass or assault people, I need to know how I am doing that and how to stop.

          • June 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm

            First, stop using bitch.

            Then, just pay attention to the way your circle of friends and family treats and talks about women. That’s the best place to start, really.

            I’m not sure what else to tell you… I’m not always great with the details. ;) Maybe someone else will have a better chance at answering your questions?

        • June 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm —

          I agree…I need more ways to step up. I’m struggling with that myself. Mostly, I feel like a coward, because I was on that bus for about 16 hours each way, and did I say one single thing to let these guys know I don’t like rape jokes? No. Granted, surrounded by 30 rugby players is maybe not the safest place to speak out, but it’s exactly what’s needed.

          Right now, I’m making a point of avoiding using gendered insults and making sure that my friends know that I don’t appreciate them, whether or not there are women present. I am letting it be known that I am not a safe place for that kind of attitude, no matter how benign, and that it’s something I take seriously.

          But really, there are resources out there. It’s difficult to start from scratch, and it’s tough to not keep putting the responsibility on the women in my life to teach me how not to be sexist, but IMO it is worth doing.

          • June 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm

            I don’t think on the bus is the right time to speak up.

            Among friends or colleagues? Or perhaps at a conference among other like-minded people? Yes.

            With a group of possibly dangerous men? Nah. We’re not asking you to put your life at risk, here.

            Speak up when appropriate. Work hard to make sure you’re respecting women (and men). That’s all we ask. We know individuals can’t do everything.

          • June 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm

            Yeah. Still doesn’t feel great to be silent at times like that. I’m getting better at bringing the subject to the forfront of conversations, though. Eventually I’ll either have all my friends avoiding gendered insults or I’ll stop being invited to parties, but at least I will be less complicit.

          • June 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm

            I don’t think it’s fair to expect all men to always stand up against sexism in every situation.

            Being aware of your privilege really is the first step.

            If you’re super, duper shy and can’t handle confrontation (which I understand), then start discussing it online! Confront sexism in your favorite boards, or in your favorite X-Box game, or when you’re playing WoW.

            Start with your little brother. Or your cousin. Or whatever.

            It’s also helpful to talk to the young women in your life — sisters, nieces, cousins, daughters of family friends.

            It’s not always about confronting the assholes on a bus. The small stuff matters, too.

        • June 19, 2012 at 8:23 pm —

          The cure for “obtuseness” is education. Learn about the prevalence rates of harassment, sexual assault, and rape. Discover how trivially the reports are often taken, even those where substantial direct evidence or multiple witnesses are available. Study the behavioral dynamics that shame and silence women from speaking about these issues.

          Then, once you’ve done that, start informing others about what you’ve found.

          • June 19, 2012 at 11:39 pm

            Yes, very good points!

      • June 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm —

        And if I sound angry, it’s because I am. It makes me angry every single time that a really great, generous, caring and compassionate guy says or does something assholish that makes life just a little bit more difficult for my mom, my sister, and my best friends.

    • June 19, 2012 at 3:47 pm —

      I must just be thick-headed. What about Rebecca’s “guys, don’t do that” was sexist?

      Are you assuming that she was addressing it to men exclusively because she said “guys”? Because I read that as colloquial — the equivalent of “y’all don’t do that” if Rebecca had been from the South.

    • June 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm —

      “nd as evidenced by Haley’s own story, men do intervene and try to stop it very often when they witness it going on.

      I mis-read that and gave you too much credit the first time around, apparently.

      “Men do intervene” — some. But not most. Most PEOPLE don’t intervene when shit goes down.

      Also, just because we have one example of a man stepping in, doesn’t mean the majority of men do. How do I know this? Because I’ve been harassed, and most of the time, no one steps up (male or female). Shit sucks.

      Additionally, ONE STORY does not mean that every man intervenes. Seriously.

      First of all, DJ Grothe clearly likes to deny that harassment exists. He is not intervening. I can also come up with some other examples if you like. A lot of examples. But I’m sure you’re aware that they exist.

      You are not being at all sincere, are you?

    • June 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm —

      Telling men they are part of the problem of sexual harassment simply because they happened to be born with a penis, is a sexist statement.

      And assuming that the thing that makes someone a man is that they are born with a penis is cissexist. People in glass houses and all that. (And marilove is absolutely correct: you’re the only person who has made that suggestion.)

      But writing to men in a way that suggests they are collectively responsible for the actions of “their people” is sexist.

      What definition of “sexist” are you operating under, exactly? Directly after the part you are so hung up on, the OP said the same thing about cis-women, trans* folks, and non-binary folks. They rightly point out that the response will be different among these groups. This is not sexism by any definition that I’m familiar with.

  10. June 19, 2012 at 3:46 pm —

    Bridgette, get your head out of your ass. You’re on the Lynyrd Skynyrd side of the “Southern Man” argument. Are we really revisiting these old gems as if they are still remotely excusable or relevant? Have you been under a rock? Really….

  11. June 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm —

    Let’s stop telling men to call out sexists, and white people to call out racists, and able-bodied people to call out ablism. Because the bigots really listen to the people they think are less than human.

    Yes, men have to call out sexism. No, it isn’t sexist to say that. Sexism doesn’t work that way.

  12. June 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm —

    Ah, most PEOPLE don’t intervene, that I agree with and it is why I took offense to the “come collect your people” comment.

    The problem with sexism isn’t that men don’t step up, it is that people let it slide. Sexism is often treated as if it’s a joke or that people are over-reacting. Also plenty of women contribute to sexism in the world. This is not a problem that belongs to the cisgendered males in the world. It is a cultural phenomenon that affects all of us.

    Segregating men into a separate category and holding them accountable for the actions of those in the same category is sexist.

    Just like a statement that says “I know that all black people don’t steal, but black people, come on, come get your people”

    is hideously racist. Popping on an insincere disclaimer does nothing to change the nature of the statement.

    The fact that some cannot even for a second take a moment to consider how that statement is sexist, is part of the problem of the backlash that comes up when people do share their stories.

    When we generalize we hurt more people. We don’t solve problems. We create problems.

    That works across the board.

    • June 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm —

      NO ONE SAID “come collect your people”!!

      Stop making shit up.

      The onus is on men to speak up, though; not women. Women are already the bearer of a lot of sexist crap. Women often CAN’T speak up, where men often CAN, depending on the situation.

      No one is segregating anyone; we’re just pointing out privilege. Privilege is a real thing. Why do you keep denying that it exists?

      Do you understand feminism and sexism, at all?

      The statement WAS NOT SEXIST.

      You, however … ugh.

      • June 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm —

        Really? Did you even read the blog?

        It says

        “I know not all cis-men are sexual harassers, I know there are cis-women, trans* people, non-binary people who harass people too but I hate to say it: cis-men you’re the privileged ones here. Come collect your people and make sure they know this stuff is not okay. You see a cis-woman, a trans* person, a non-binary person doing this stuff you come find one of their own to come collect. “

        • June 19, 2012 at 4:27 pm —

          Ah, I must of glossed right over that; I apologize!

          That said, I think she was mostly saying that in frustration. And it’s still not sexist.

          This is what she meant:

          Men are privileged. Period. All men are. (It’s a bit more complicated than that, but we’ll leave it at that.)

          What she is asking, is for men who understand their privilege to help educate other men, especially when they see other men use sexist language, or harass, or whatever. That’s it. Keep an eye out, because plenty of men use sexist language even without thinking about it (and again, that doesn’t make them bad people). It’s part of our culture, really — even I have to stop myself sometimes! I’ve even had other women AND MEN point out MY sexist language! None of us are immune, but men are more likely to use sexist language (as an example) if they are not aware of their privilege.

          And it IS the responsibility of men to point that out, and to help stop that behavior. You cannot expect the oppressed minority to curb the behavior of the privileged. It’d be great if that always worked, but it usually doesn’t. We HAVE to have men aware and making changes. Otherwise shit *won’t* change.

          And if you are a man and you witness another man use sexist language and you have a chance to speak up, but don’t choose to — you are part of the problem. Note: As I’ve said above, we don’t expect anyone to put themselves in any danger. Gauge the situation.

          Also, the best place to start? With your friends and family!

        • June 19, 2012 at 4:32 pm —

          And the first VERY IMPORTANT STEP for any man is to acknowledge and accept their privilege.

          While I think you’re totally correct in saying that “come collect your people” is probably not the right way to phrase it, I’m pretty (99.9999%) sure she was just trying to state that men need to accept their privilege, and then help other men to accept the privilege, and that this is their responsibility.

          I don’t think she’s a professional writer, so while it’s fine to point out problematic language, I would also suggest you give her a little slack and not cry “SEXISM!” just because she didn’t word something perfectly. And regardless, it’s still not sexist.

    • June 19, 2012 at 4:32 pm —

      Bridgette, I apologize if I personally have come across as hostile. As I’ve said, this is an issue that makes me angry, and I’m very passionate about equality. I’ve been fortunate to have had several opportunities to learn about oppression and how it works, so I think I’m a bit more educated than average on issues of social justice.

      I think that people being angry, though, is natural, and these kinds of conversations, even in good faith get heated.

      But for some of us involved in this issue, we see a very clear connection between seemingly innoccuous behaviours and comments and the very real violence that happens every day. There will always be violence and problems with social justice, but there are concrete actions people can take that help to minimize the frequency and harm that violence and oppression can cause. To us, these actions are sometimes really simple and low-cost but have a big pay-off, and it’s frustrating that ideas so simple as, say, develop and advertise a harrassment policy get reactions like 1000 comments of sexist abuse and hostility.

      When faced with that, people get angry.

      You said: “The problem with sexism isn’t that men don’t step up, it is that people let it slide.”

      People, men, women, and those who don’t fall squarely on the gender binary, all have a stake in this. You’re absolutely right.

      What’s missing from your comments, though, is that while women (cis and otherwise), gay men, gender-fluid people, and everybody else who -isn’t- a straight, cis-male all have very clear stakes in this, for cis-straight men, they benefit from the status quo. Because we’re human animals, it is really, really difficult to get any of us who have a bit of power or privilege to give it up.

      Basically, while all these people have very tangible reasons to want change, straight cis (white) men have very tangible reasons to NOT change.

      There is a LOT of literature all over the place about how privilege works, the difference between “punching up” and “punching down”, etc, and it would be a good idea to review that stuff (there are some links in this very comment thread, but do a search for feminism 101 and there’s some good stuff).

      Men as a group don’t need to be defended. Trust me. It’s like seeing the 98lb weakling getting sand kicked in his face by the bodybuilder and then scolding the weakling for making a fuss because the bodybuilder is probably a nice guy.

      It’s theoretically possible for men to become an oppressed group, but right now, here (most of Planet Earth) we are not there yet, not even close.

  13. June 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm —

    I also would like to point out all the disgusting comments that have been directed towards me, by people promoting tolerance and teaching respect.

    Interesting that you are concerned more about the men here, than the woman who were called liars by these men.

    You are not being at all sincere, are you?

    That is so blatantly “blame the victim” I’m not even sure where to fucking start.

    Bridgette, get your head out of your ass.

    Nice. Really, and I didn’t say any of the things you are accusing me of saying, I’m pointing out the sexist statement in the passage.

    I have spoken to everyone respectfully. I haven’t cursed or yelled or flamed. So the reaction in and of itself is quite telling.

    • June 19, 2012 at 4:16 pm —

      Bridgette, you’ve come onto a feminist blog without seeming to have a basic understanding of feminist definitions of things like sexism.

      When POC call out ‘white people’ are they racist? When disabled people call out ‘the able bodied’, are they being ablist? When queer people call out ‘straight people’, are they being straightphobic?

      You’re being ridiculous.

    • June 19, 2012 at 4:28 pm —

      One person told you to get your head out of your ass, and while that maybe wasn’t totally appropriate, it wasn’t name-calling.

      No one has said anything “disgusting” that I can see. I certainly haven’t.

    • June 19, 2012 at 5:04 pm —

      “Please stop responding to me and speaking for “everyone” and their patience. I have been nothing but respectful and polite to you while you have ranted and insulted me relentlessly.”

      Bridgette you are going to lose this argument. Not because you don’t have a point, but because debate about feminism is no longer tolerated here. You saw the responses. You are not arguing about matters of opinion or even matters of fact, you are debating The Truth. To a lesser degree you are also debating semantics. After quite a bit of reading on the web I learned that baked into the definition of male privilege and all that it says and implies about men is that it is, by definition, true. If you argue with any part of it you are, by definition, wrong. Even though you agree in every substantial way with the problem being discussed here and the remedy you are still so wrong you must be called names. If you persist in continuing to be wrong you will be banned.

      Here’s the shocker: I’m okay with this. The skepchicks and their most active followers are free to construct the environment within the forum that suits their desires. What it is currently is a fairly narrow slice of feminist thinking where people who share this style of thinking can get together and accomplish some cool things. What it is not is a place where people can come to learn. You are expected to be knowledgeable about this brand of feminism before you get here and you must not disagree. If you don’t share the ideology you will be shouted down or driven a way. Over time this has turned the forum from a place for the free exchange of ideas to a fairly impressive echo-chamber. The end result is a group that is very unified, hardcore, and intolerant of different views no matter how slightly different they are. Who am I to say, however, that this is not the best way to advance the cause of feminism? I cannot.

      • June 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm —

        We expect people to understand the basics of feminism, sexism, and privilege. That’s it.

        We are certainly not an echo-chamber. We’ve had plenty of disagreements and debates on the subject before. Porn for example — I imagine I’m pretty liberal in regards to porn, unlike most people here (which is cool).

        What we aren’t is Feminism 101. I think we’re just tired of “debating” the very basics of what sexism is.

      • June 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm —

        You know, just the other day I went into a forum for medical professionals and explained what I think they should -really- be doing about cancer. You know, because I saw this show once about it, and it seems to me that the medical establishment really isn’t doing enough to fight cancer.

        But you know what? When I spoke up, they didn’t listen to me. They told me that I needed to learn more about medicine before I could participate in the discussion. Talk about an echo-chamber! I even went to wikipedia and read a bit about cancer! Well, I skimmed. But still, why did they treat me like I was some ignorant oaf who had no place at the table? I’ve been affected by cancer, don’t I have a stake in it?? Damn asshole doctors.

        My point, Dave, is that there is actually an entire field of study around the issue of sexism and broader issues of social justice. And just like a medical community would not take an amateur’s opinion as seriously as they would someone who has studied the subject, it’s the same way here.

        But if you think it’s just an echo chamber, why do you keep coming back?

        • June 19, 2012 at 6:19 pm —

          But if you think it’s just an echo chamber, why do you keep coming back?

          Mostly for the skepticism. I read the feminist threads to gain understanding. I still consider myself a feminist even though I may get some argument here on this point. These topics give me things to discuss with my wife and friends. Also a lot of very interesting and admirable people hang out here. Lastly, but not least important, I think Skepchick is stronger with a greater diversity of views.

          And before I forget again: Kudos to Masala for trying to calm things down a bit.

      • June 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm —

        Bridgette you are going to lose this argument. Not because you don’t have a point, but because debate about feminism is no longer tolerated here. You saw the responses. You are not arguing about matters of opinion or even matters of fact, you are debating The Truth.

        That’s bullshit.

        I have repeatedly asked for Bridgette to provide definitions and explanations for how she is using certain words so I could better understand where she is coming from. She has so far refused to do so but instead focuses on how people are disagreeing with her in mean ways. This is not a debate about feminism, and your flippant dismissal of the valid disagreements with her demonstrates your lack of understanding of what’s going on here.

        Even though you agree in every substantial way with the problem being discussed here and the remedy you are still so wrong you must be called names. If you persist in continuing to be wrong you will be banned.

        That’s clearly not the case since your ass hasn’t been banned. What rubbish.

        What it is currently is a fairly narrow slice of feminist thinking where people who share this style of thinking can get together and accomplish some cool things. What it is not is a place where people can come to learn. You are expected to be knowledgeable about this brand of feminism before you get here and you must not disagree.

        That’s so wrong. I’ve had plenty of disagreements with people here and on Queereka who were not banned. For example, I disagreed with Yessenia on Queereka the other day that sexism cannot be directed at men. I don’t agree with Bridgette here on the same thing she claims further down in the comments here. Others may agree with that statement. It’s fine. What we don’t do is speak out loudly on issues we are not informed about. That’s the problem that I see with this discussion–Bridgette has demonstrated a lack of knowledge about feminism. Not a particular “brand” of feminism, but feminism in general. I highly doubt that all of us here who constitute the “active followers” agree completely in our understandings of feminism. And that’s okay! It’s not the disagreement that’s the problem. It’s the ignorance.

        Over time this has turned the forum from a place for the free exchange of ideas to a fairly impressive echo-chamber. The end result is a group that is very unified, hardcore, and intolerant of different views no matter how slightly different they are.

        I always find it so ironic how people come here and express their dissent about how dissent isn’t welcome here. Again, total crap.

      • June 19, 2012 at 5:24 pm —

        Shit, davew, if half of what you’re saying was true, you would have been banned long ago. :D

      • June 19, 2012 at 8:41 pm —

        I’d like to second quietmarc’s response that the issue here is ignorant people deciding to jump into a sociological topic with next to no background whatsoever in the concepts and research on the issue.

        Would you tolerate that on any other scientific matter? We get the same type of stone-walling and derailing that biologists and geologists get from Creationists, climatologists get from denialists, astronomers from astrologists, and so forth.

        A huge part of the issue here is a basic failure to agree that there are certain premises which have been already proven, and don’t need to re-debated continuously in every single thread and post. Among those are that sexism and sexual harassment are real, not fictional, and far too common. Another is the acceptance of patriarchy, that social attitudes play out for the relative advantage of men over women. This is where privilege originates from.

        To deny those particular premises, and play tu quoque with accusations of sexism against the people trying to deal with it, is damaging to the discussion. It actively works against progress and distracts everyone from the actual argument.

        • June 19, 2012 at 11:42 pm —

          Thank you so much for explaining this so well. And your other comments.

  14. June 19, 2012 at 4:24 pm —

    Hey y’all! Let’s keep everything civil, ok? I know this is a frustrating issue but we can disagree without name-calling. Thanks! :)

  15. June 19, 2012 at 4:29 pm —

    Again, if you read my statement I did not blame Haley. I clearly made sure to acknowledge what happen to her. I completely believe her and respect her for speaking out.

    However, the discussion is about men’s reactions to the statements. Don’t you think it is odd the reactions to Elevatory guy were so hot?

    Why? Well some men are disgusting jerks and should be accounted for as such.

    Others are angry about being lump summed into the category of “sex offenders” when they haven’t done anything. Men do speak up. Men should be encouraged to speak up. Quietmarc’s posts share reasons why and good examples.

    But if you want to have a discussion and open understanding, you don’t start off by generalizing or blaming men for the actions of other men.

    Doing so makes progress slow going. Sexist statements hurt everyone. The more important issues here are ways that women are not believed or dismissed for reporting things that happen.

    I like that both Rebecca Watson and Haley shared their experiences and how it made them uncomfortable and frustrated.

    However, part of the backlash is, in my opinion, based on distrust of women who seem to be male bashing without realizing it.

    Lumping men into a category and telling them “come get your people” means to me, that men are responsible for preventing other men from sexually harassing women.

    I disagree. I think we as people are all responsible for stopping sexism, racism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination.

    We need to speak up when we see it. When ever we see it. No matter how small. We need to speak out and say “hey wait, stop, that’s sexist.”

    Which I have done in this forum. And the reaction to that might explain why people don’t speak up when they see any form of sexism.

    I’ve been attacked for pointing something out that I think is sexist.

    How interesting. No wonder people don’t speak up.

    • June 19, 2012 at 4:35 pm —

      I am so done with you. Clearly you don’t even have a basic understanding of the Elevator incident, let alone feminism and sexism.

      I’m done arguing with you, unless you try and educate yourself on these subjects.

      Newsflash: Telling women that the reason men are ignoring their sexual harassment claims, or the reason that men think women are lying about sexual harassment, is because women are “demonizing men” is just so, so, so, wrong. And sexist.

      Maybe someone else will have a better time with you, because I honestly can’t deal with this ignorance.

      • June 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm —

        We need to learn to talk about men treating women like shit without talking to or about ‘men’.

        Good luck with that.

    • June 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm —

      The more important issues here are ways that women are not believed or dismissed for reporting things that happen.

      See, this is what I take issue with. Yes, speaking up is important. Yes, believing women and not dismissing them is extremely important.

      You know what else is important? Not letting men do this shit in the first place. What I mean by that is when cis men are hanging around with each other in groups, it is incumbent upon the other cis men there to correct the sexism and rape apologia that comes up. I’m a big flaming homo, but I’ve been in groups of cis men and quite often the straight men will start talking about women in really horrifying ways (and they often think because I’m gay that I must really find women repulsive). Guess what? There’s no women there to speak up or say anything. So, yes, it is my responsibility as a feminist, as an ally, and as a freaking human being to speak up and say something.

      The problem with what you’re taking offense to is that you’re operating from the assumption that all parties are equally privileged. That is simply not the case. It is not racist if a person of color tells me that I should speak to a bunch of other white people at an event because they are harassing and talking shit to people of color. You better believe my reaction will not be “Oh my god, why are you so RACIST towards white people? You hurt my feelings!” If that is my reaction, then I’m part of the problem.

      Part of being an ally is listening when oppressed people speak. So when someone says “hey cis guys, why don’t you help correct these other cis guys because they certainly aren’t listening to anything I’m saying as a woman/trans* person/genderqueer person.” If your response to that is “how dare you assume ALL cis men are this way?!”, then you’re part of the problem.

      • June 19, 2012 at 4:49 pm —

        I adore you.

      • June 19, 2012 at 5:01 pm —

        Yeah, my heart skipped a beat here. My own peer group, which includes people who educate autistic kids and anti-poverty/LGBTQ activists, use “bitch”, “cunt” etc, all the time.

        I was at a bear (bears are big, hairy gay men for the uninitiated) camping event this weekend and on the drive home when I mentioned how “men only” events sometimes make me uncomfortable because of all the casual misogyny, one of my friends responded with “Well, I’ve been in groups of all women and they are pretty awful about men, too.”

        Well, yeah, women will gripe about men: we get paid more, we get to speak more, and we get all the cool jobs and movie roles. It makes sense for people to be resentful of that. It doesn’t make sense for us to kick others when they’re already down. Why is this so complicated?

        • June 20, 2012 at 10:30 am —

          Ha! You made me lol with the deadpan definition “big hairy gay men,” Marc. :)) Be quiet less, please. I like ur talkin’.

          —Josh, the real, Official, Corporate-Branded SpokesGay

          • June 20, 2012 at 10:35 am

            I struggled, Josh. Because the bear community is pretty diverse itself and I left out a lot of subgroups (including myself! My chest is virtually hairless!), but I’m glad it got a lol. :)


      • June 19, 2012 at 7:14 pm —

        This. Thank you, Will. :)

    • June 19, 2012 at 4:49 pm —

      I’m prepared to continue this discussion for a little while if you’re amenable Bridgette, because I don’t really feel like you’re all that far off from getting it, but it might be one of those cases where you can’t quite see something because it’s right in front of your face, if that makes sense.

      You said: “Lumping men into a category and telling them “come get your people” means to me, that men are responsible for preventing other men from sexually harassing women.”

      Well, aren’t we? At least for our part?

      I hate to keep going to my personal experience, because I really don’t have any numbers on hand to back up my anecotes, but men in general are letting people down. There are amazing and wonderful exceptions, and if you’re surrounded by these men, then you are lucky and please let them know you appreciate the work they do.

      But in cases where there are men and only men, sexism slides. It slides so often and so hard that water theme-parks are jealous. Guys, when it is just guys, not only let other guys be sexist, they actively encourage it.

      Add one woman, and the attitude completely changes. But if it’s just guys, it is ugly, ugly, ugly. Not always, but often enough.

      My sense is that if you did a survey of who is working hardest to prevent sexism, you will see that, on average, guys are doing the least.

      I really, really get not wanting to generalize and lump people into groups, but when talking about society and culture you have to. Even though we are all individuals, we are also social animals and we behave in groups. It isn’t abnormal or wrong to look at trends within demographic categories and to make observations or recommendations about it.

      Most of the people here know and understand that most guys are nice guys. No one wants to demonize guys.

      But it’s a fact that if you look at the averages across the groups, it is guys who are not pulling their weight. Guys need to do more, and someone needs to tell us that.

    • June 19, 2012 at 6:05 pm —

      Just a quick thing, can the misgendering stop? I’m lee, not haley (which isn’t even my full name anyway) and I’m not a she I am a they. Thanks.

      • June 19, 2012 at 6:44 pm —

        Thank you for the clarification. Sorry about the misgendering. I’m terrible at this. I admit it. I try and I fail all the time. I’m also terrible at remembering names.

        Just remind me (you don’t even have to be nice about it), because I will inevitably forget. :)

      • June 19, 2012 at 10:23 pm —

        I sincerely apologize for misgendering you, you made it quite clear in the passage and the other passage. I thought lee was just a nickname and was calling you Haley based on your other posts on facebook.

        I do try to be very conscious of this and know I slip and fall with binary gender identification. I have recently retrained myself to start using “THEY” which believe me was difficult since that is a grammar habit it took some time for me to stop doing in the first place.

        People should be respected for how they self identify. I try to do my best to be mindful of this.

        I also was wrong to write “born with a penis” and wanted to correct that as well since is was terribly cissexist.

        Again please accept my apology and know that I am trying to be part of the movement that brings an awareness to this issue.

    • June 19, 2012 at 6:23 pm —

      “The more important issues here are ways that women are not believed or dismissed for reporting things that happen.”

      Are those the most important issues here? Because you could have fooled me. I thought, from your comments that the most important issues are how we’ve miraculously managed to oppress the oppressors, with a heaping helping of ‘you guys are so mean to me’ on the side. With all your long comments about our sexism and rudeness, I almost forgot there was an OP. Nice job.

      • June 19, 2012 at 10:58 pm —

        To me the issue I am addressing is WHY so many men seem not to care, to blow it off, to say women are exaggerating, to be annoyed and not get involved when they should.

        I am also concerned about the incredible amount of backlash that has come of both Lee and Rebecca Watson’s comments and requests for respect which they deserve. So maybe you are confused because you think I’m saying something I’m not saying.

        As a woman I’ve experienced extreme sexual harassment and mild. And what is interesting to me is that the extreme harassment was not stopped any more than the “joking” was.

        For example, I reported a boss once for sexual harassment. He would “joke” at company meetings by asking me to reach up on the shelf to get something down and then turn to the other men and say “Wow good thing we hired her, huh? We need to have her do that every day!” Haha joke? Or not.

        But he also stated that I was too uptight and needed a “good Sicilian ass fucking” to calm down.

        When the other men at the job were interviewed about his treatment of me, none of them recalled what was stated. They didn’t want to implicate themselves I guess.

        The guy wound up fired. Many men have sat in silence, like these four men did, and never said anything. Were they waxing their cis privilege? I don’t think so.

        I think they were shocked and didn’t know what to say. Only when I started standing up for myself did any of this happen.

        During the interview for the harassment issue, (no law suits no money) I was accused of misunderstanding things and misremembering. I know what it is like to be in this position. The woman I worked with ALSO didn’t remember the ass fucking comment. Even though she was shocked that he said it to me and discussed it with me afterward.

        I could somewhat understand what was going on in them being worried about their job. I quit during the interview to show them I wasn’t worried about that and was telling the truth and had nothing to gain. The reason I finally reported the jerk is that I saw him doing it to another woman and I was motivated to say something.

        In the end the man was fired for “losing his temper” not for sexual harassment. So this is something that has been of interest to me for some time.

        What I have noticed is that involving men by implicating them as guilt by association tends to make some men not want to get involved. I know they knew he was sexually harassing the staff. Yet they stepped away from that and took what course they thought was easiest.

        I want men to get involved. I want men to help and to speak up. I don’t consider a cisgendered man someone who is automatically complicit in this behavior.

        What I do think is that a lot of men don’t know how to speak up without being backlashed themselves. Just as quietmark’s experience showed. They are shocked into silence. And by speaking up they can start to change the tide.

        So I think it is very important to encourage men to do this and to recognize how hard it might be for some of them to do so. I also think it is important to distinguish between those who are willingly complicit and those who are unsure of how to move forward.

        Teaching people with compassion for their flaws rather than excoriating them for their flaws.

        Women have every right to be angry, to rant to lash out to complain. Women should not feel the need to be polite in the face of such a subjugating brutality. (I’m not sure if I want to say women here, so excuse me if that is inappropriate)

        But I also think that men should be encouraged to be decent people by recognizing that they are capable of this rather than denigrating them by association.

        • June 19, 2012 at 11:59 pm —

          Hey Bridgette, thanks for clarifying all this. It’s a debate I’ve seen a lot of on a lot of subjects, the idea that sometimes people are so aggressive that they alientae potential allies, and it is a real and legitimate issue.

          Unfortunately, there’s an opposite issue where we’ve seen that being polite, respectful, and following the rules very often doesn’t bring the necessary attention and social pressure to an issue for there to be change.

          The sad truth is, you can write 10,000 words of well-reasoned, respectful, thoughtful stuff and the people who NEED to change will read it, say “oh, that’s nice,” and then go back to their everyday lives. But you get one person to say “Die cis scum” and suddenly you have discussion and, yes, vitriol, but you also wake up some well-meaning people who hadn’t realized just how bad things are and then they DO change.

          I hold to the idea that it takes a multitude of approaches to get the social change we need. We need peace-makers and calm reasoned speakers to reach out to people who respond to that, and we also need people who will shout and yell and (figuratively) punch, because some people will only respond to THAT.

          This site leans more towards the second example, and (IMO) is very, very good at it. It is a lightning rod, and it stirs up a lot of shit, but it also attracts people like, say, me, who respond well to this sort of controversy.

          I don’t think it’s right, in an absolute sense, to trade one abuse for another. I don’t think we’re any better off if its men taking the hits and women are in charge. But because of the power dynamics we have, and the shared culture and history of sexism and oppression, things that might certainly be offensive in one light are actually beneficial in another light. It sucks to always have to think about context, but these issues are messy and context is important.

          People are free to disagree, and I hope that if the skepchick approach doesn’t work for you, that you still keep working for equality, because I think you definitely have the right end goal in mind. I do suspect, though, that you are still unaware of the staggeringly huge amount of research and thought that’s already been done on this subject, and I hope you can get your hands on some good resources to help clarify some of the concepts in the social justice wrld. It’s an amazingly interesting field of study on top of actually being useful for examining the ways you look at the world.

          • June 20, 2012 at 12:44 am

            I’m posting a reply here because I can’t figure this out. But I also wanted to apologize to quietmarc for spelling his name wrong.

            I agree 100 percent in what you and marilove are saying. It can’t JUST be polite conversation. And let me tell you that I am not always a polite person.

            One of my most favorite things in the world to do is to physically confront short men who are being rude or abusive to women.

            I have a ‘tall privilege’ I’m quite mindful of. It protects me and gives me safety that shorter more petite women don’t always have. And I respect and understand this privilege and mention it always when I share my experiences. Because it’s important. Life is MUCH easier for me as a woman because of it.

            I am not as likely a target. I can’t tell you how good it feels to intervene when I see a man being disrespectful or bullying a woman or trying to physically intimidate a petite woman (or person for that matter)

            Ex A store next to a store I ran, was owned by a husband and wife couple. The man screamed at the woman one day and shoved her and then smashed the cash register off the shelf. I watched this happen and called the cops on him. Then I walked up to him and said “hey little man, you wanna fight? You wanna push people around, well bring it on MOFO because I will rip your ass up one side and down another in about two seconds flat.” When he tried to defend his temper tantrum and make excuses, the cops were there and didn’t buy any of it.

            It felt GOOD to get that angry and to get in his face and to step up. The woman was mad at me for getting involved and calling the cops but I didn’t care. It made my day just to watch the look of shock on his face that someone stopped him in his tracks.

            So I do agree that there’s getting mad, real mad and flipping out and showing anger and being enraged and it is important, absolutely important to do this. Cisgendered men need to see this.

            At the same time I think I’m just saying, are we creating allies or are we making people not want to deal with it. Must be a balance.

            Ex. In some ways although I’m a strong advocate for transgender people and people in the gay community I find that sometimes I screw up. Like I did in this thread. Because the paradigm isn’t there yet, I’m still confused, I’m not doing it right.

            If I get educated on how to do it right and reminded about my blind spots, this creates progress. If I get accused of being a hateful person I will likely just shut it down and step out and stop trying.

            That’s what I think is happening.

          • June 20, 2012 at 1:57 am

            Can you explain how we’re NOT keeping things in balance? Because you’re criticizing us for being angry, yet then you say it’s okay to be angry, but wait, not that angry.

            And then you say that we need to keep things in balance, which implies that we’re not. How are we not keeping things in balance?

            All we’re asking for is that men don’t harass, and then if they do, women are believed when they report the harassing, and the harassment is taken care of.

            We’re also not confronting men and screaming at them about their privilege. We discuss it here, and in other blogs, just like anyone discusses everything else

            And can I ask: Would you insist there be balance when we’re talking about racist behavior? Why is it suddenly something we have to treat with kid gloves?

            Ah! That’s right! Because many straight, white men get offended whenever we even mention a hint of their privilege — just like DJ Grothe was when people pointed out that his denial of the harassment, and calling women liars, and saying (and he ACTUALLY said this) that the women were just trying to explain away sexual exploits they now feel guilty about.

            All we ask is that GROWN UPS take responsibility for their behavior, and that they don’t call grown women liars, and that they speak up when they see discrimination or inappropriate behavior — or they at the very least don’t join in with all the other asshats and insist that the women are lying.

            That’s all that we’re asking. And we’re NOT asking too much. I don’t see how else we can keep things “balanced” without going backwards.

        • June 20, 2012 at 12:12 am —

          Man, all of this sounds way too much like mansplaining. Ugh.

          Do you *honestly* believe every man forgot that your boss made inappropriate jokes and remarks to you (and likely to other people)?! You make it seem like this wasn’t uncommon. No one suddenly “forgets” that their boss is an inappropriate jack ass.

          Either they were too afraid to say anything because they didn’t want to lose their job, or they didn’t think the behavior was a problem. The first isn’t all that great but I do have sympathy as I have been there. The second, though? That is unacceptable.

          I am confused about your usage of shocked. The first time, you say the men who witnessed and did not admit to witnessing the harassment were “shocked” into silence. Shocked by what? What was said? Or that it was reported? Or that someone could be fired for such a thing? Or … what?

          Then you say the woman was so shocked she actually talked to you about it. So, which is it — shocked into silence, or so shocked you can’t help but talk about it?

          The third usage … to be honest, I can’t make heads or tails of that entire paragraph.

          There is NO WAY we can have male feminist allies who do not confront their privilege. You can’t call yourself a feminist, or even just an ally, while denying that your own privilege doesn’t exist.

          We NEED to be able to talk about privilege. We need to be able to talk about how even very good men hold privilege, without always understanding that.

          So I think it is very important to encourage men to do this and to recognize how hard it might be for some of them to do so.

          And here’s the mansplaining!

          We have done this. In this very discussion, in fact! I have actually made a point to recognize how difficult it can be for some people, and that we shouldn’t expect everyone to be able. I even gave examples of small things you could do that might make it easier (practice makes perfect!).

          I also think it is important to distinguish between those who are willingly complicit and those who are unsure of how to move forward.

          And here it is! “You are talking about sexism and privilege! You are saying that EVERY man is a rapist! You hate men! Misandry! Misandry!”

          It’s just never enough, is it? We need to be strong. But not too strong. We need to be passionate. But not too passionate. We are totally allowed to be angry. But not TOO angry, mind. Just enough. And be careful not to piss off the privileged. That would be awful.


          • June 20, 2012 at 12:53 am

            I don’t know all of the specific terminology that you are using. Mansplaining sounds like something I don’t know.

            I want to be clear that this isn’t about making excuses for men not getting involved. But understanding why they might not. The guys in my example were nervous wrecks when I reported the boss. The company had to fly someone in from “headquarters” and it was a huge deal. They went over the store in every single department and the men and women who worked there were nervous that they’d get caught screwing up at work. So I’m sure that this is why they didn’t back me up.

            I’m suggesting that we understand that white male cisgendered men might have all the power but they don’t always have the guts to stand up against other men. It’s a vicious cycle.

            Also since someone asked what you say to a man who is being sexist

            Say ANYTHING. Just say something. Give a look, step away from them. Say “dude really?” Say “I can’t believe you just said that.” Say something. Say anything.

          • June 20, 2012 at 2:00 am

            I’m suggesting that we understand that white male cisgendered men might have all the power but they don’t always have the guts to stand up against other men. It’s a vicious cycle.

            Yeah, except, like I mentioned in the very comment you just fucking replied to, we have said that it’s sometimes hard to speak out. Thank you for stating the obvious. Again. After we’ve already made a point to make sure we include that in our arguments to make sure that omitting it isn’t used against us. Not that it matters ‘cuz you’ll just try and pretend like we don’t understand this simple point.

            You are impossible.

          • June 20, 2012 at 2:01 am

            Also, if you don’t understand a term, google is generally the very best place to start!

          • June 20, 2012 at 2:16 am

            Also, I think some of our points are hitting home, and that’s great. I also don’t disagree with everything you say.

            But the problem comes in when you keep repeating certain things.

            It all basically comes down to you saying we need to be nicer. Or something. Which is just not helpful, nor realistic.

            Yeah, sure, some of us here aren’t super nice and sugary sweet, but this is just one blog among many others. The people who post don’t necessarily agree with the commenters. And the guest post here isn’t necessarily representative of everyone here or in the skeptic community as a whole.

            Sometimes it feels like when any woman in the Skeptic community speaks out against sexism, a shit storm happens.

            Look here, one little remark at the end of this post that Lee may have not been perfectly clear about, and that I initially missed, and you focus in on it immediately. The whole post is derailed and we’re suddenly trying to explain to you the basic concepts of feminism/sexism. We’re no longer talking about the main point of this post.

            Suddenly, even a *little* bit of expressed frustration against the patriarchy, after a HUGE post about really terrible and creepy harassment, is The End of the Discussion, and Feminism as We Know It.

            It’s not at all helpful.

            Not to mention you trying to claim that we DEMONIZE MEN. This is an actual quote from you.

            The harassment that Lee explained was completely lost on you, but the anger that she expressed — that ANYONE would feel in her situation — is “demonizing.”

            It happens every time.

        • June 20, 2012 at 8:00 am —

          Just to clarify, what you said here is precisely what the phrase “come collect your people” means. People noticing, responding and holding accountable other like people. Men holding men accountable for their words and actions women doing the same, trans* people, all of us. I spend a lot of time in the POC social justice community and that’s the vernacular we use for the concept you’re saying. It also means that guys, you see a woman harassing someone – find another woman to intervene if you can. Not a diss on anyone but many marginalized groups get rather pissed at stuff that looks like others “white knight”ing them. If you have to intervene do so but if possible don’t step on others toes who are already dealing with the problem. Especially if they are an “in-group” member. Gang ups and white knighting are not needed or good to do.

          • June 20, 2012 at 10:06 am

            Thank you Lee, and (because I haven’t said it earlier) thank you for sharing your story. This whole debacle gets worse and worse and I’m sorry that you’ve had to play this role on it.

            Bridgette> Do you understand what Lee is saying here? Their use of “collect your people” is in-group language, a call to people of a certain demographic, who know and understand the realities of that demographic to take action.

            This, and because you don’t know certain terms (eg “mansplaining”), signifies to me that you really haven’t been involved in -this- particular conversation for very long (you may have been in similar conversations elsewhere, but they would have their own unspoken rules, jargon, and quirks).

            Because you’re new, until you get up to speed you may have to just take peoples’ word for it on some issues, like whether Lee was being sexist or not.

            There IS TOTALLY a place here at skepchick to challenge writers if you think they are being racist/sexist/ablist/etc, but to start challenging things as basic as vocabulary, something that has evolved and developed in this community over time, it requires a bit of awareness and consideration for the shared history of the community, as well as a willingness to learn something about the very complex subject matter, even when you feel like you already have a firm grounding.

            Is it possible for you to table your concerns about that one phrase in Lee’s guest post for now? There will certainly be a better place to discuss the language we use.

            Also, is it possible for you to re-read the post but remove that one sentence and see what you think, if you do agree or not? I don’t know that there’s patience available to handle whether “your people” is sexist or not with so much else going on.

            It may have been wrng for Lee to use that particular phrase, it may not have, but the main discussion is more about the TAM situation, and harrassment at conferences and in the skeptical communities at large. And right now, the men are doing just fine….

    • June 19, 2012 at 9:00 pm —

      “Others are angry about being lump summed into the category of “sex offenders” when they haven’t done anything.”

      Who was said to be a sex offender? It’s because you state an egregious mischaracterization of the argument as though it were fact that some people have so much trouble taking you seriously.

      You are very probably, like many of the complainants, incorrectly understanding someone’s analogy. Since you brought up Elevator Gate, I’ll take an educated guess that the analogy is Schrodinger’s Rapist. Here’s the punchline for you: SR doesn’t mean all men are rapists. It means that some men are rapists, and women can’t tell who until it’s too late. That’s a very, very serious problem when you’re the one in danger of being raped. In order for others to feel safe in that context, it would be an excellent idea to stay away from taking any action that is indistinguishable from a precursor to assault.

      That’s it. That’s the whole purpose of the analogy. It has nothing to do with declaring all men as evil, or criminals. Describing it that way is an egregious error, and is likely to be used against you as a demonstration of bad faith and/or poor comprehension.

    • July 6, 2012 at 8:45 am —

      Did you miss that *LEE* clearly stated that they use they/them pronouns? You are misgendering and misnaming them at the same time that you are protesting “I completely believe her and respect her for speaking out.”

      No one is an LGBTQ ally who persists in misgendering (and even more egregiously, misNAMING) LGBTQ people.

  16. June 19, 2012 at 4:47 pm —

    White cisgendered men are definitely privileged. I understand that.

    I have been an ally for the LGBQT community for over 25 years. An aggressive ally. And I always speak up.

    But in pointing out a sexist statement I have been cursed at, attacked, called a liar, been told I’m uneducated and ignorant. Told that I am “making things up.”

    Ironic to say the least.

    • June 19, 2012 at 4:52 pm —

      Do you actually understand feminism and sexism? Because I just don’t think you do. This isn’t a feminism 101 class.

      Everyone has been VERY patient with you, but you’re still not getting it. Perhaps it’s time for you to do your own research, educate yourself, then come back when you have a better understanding of the subject matter.

      But from what I can see, you’re not even really trying to understand or educate yourself.

      Additionally, once again, there was nothing sexist with that statement. At all. I can’t help you if you can’t understand that. Because you can’t understand that if you don’t understand sexism in the first place!

      Stop with the tone-argument. Stop derailing by trying to lecture us on our town. It’s not helpful.

    • June 19, 2012 at 4:55 pm —

      I provided you with a link to show exactly why you were being ignorant in your claim of sexism. It’s up to you to decide if you want to learn why you were wrong. And you are wrong.

    • June 19, 2012 at 4:55 pm —

      Okay, let’s unpack this a little. I’m sorry that your feelings were hurt by people’s language. I’m not going to defend what anyone else said–I’ll leave that up to them. What I will say is that being told you are uneducated and ignorant and people not believing you is not being called names. It is people expressing their opinion about the reasons you could be wrong in your assertions. If they do it in ways that you feel are rude, okay, that’s a different topic (and it’s tone trolling–you really must get past the notion that tone is what’s most important in what people are saying/writing. It’s not. You should pay attention to the substance.)

      So let me lay it out for you in the most polite way I know how: I disagree that you pointed out a sexist statement. I think you’re operating from a place of misunderstanding and you’re being defensive of cis men for no valid reason. This is coming from a cis man who agrees with the OP. I don’t think you’re making things up–I think you’re utterly misinformed. I want to encourage you to read past the tone of people’s posts and look to the substance. I’ve asked you for the definition of sexism that you’re operating under. Instead of providing that, you are talking about how people have hurt your feelings.

      If you want to carry on and have a meaningful and productive discussion, I’m certainly willing to do that. But part of that means you have to get past the hurt feelings and the tone trolling and respond to the substance. I’ve posted substance and you’ve yet to respond to any of it. This does not give me high hopes that you’re carrying on this discussion in good faith.

    • June 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm —

      You’ve also been apologized to and people are trying to make you understand what is going on. I understand that this is a highly charged issue but if you can take a step back, you may be able to see that folks are trying to have a reasonable conversation and have admitted when they’ve gotten things wrong.

      They’re also trying to discuss the language and context around the section you took issue with so I hope you can get past your initial issues and move forward with the discourse.

  17. June 19, 2012 at 4:58 pm —

    Please stop responding to me and speaking for “everyone” and their patience. I have been nothing but respectful and polite to you while you have ranted and insulted me relentlessly.

    I personally think that “come get your people” (remember when you said I was making that up even though it’s posted two scrolls up the page in the original post, would you like to apologize for that or not) is a sexist statement so I pointed it out.

    That is all I have done. And I tried to say that I do think everyone should always speak up about sexism. I also think quietmarc’s experiences are helpful in sharing the reality and opening up eyes.

    I think men should speak up. That statement doesn’t bother me. I think the entire gist of the blog post was wonderful except for that one sentence.

    I still think that one sentence is sexist towards men. So I guess we’ll agree to disagree. I am just the type of person who when I see sexism or racism or misogyny or misandry or homophobia or discrimination in any form, will speak up.

    So I signed up and I did. Good luck to you in your conversation. Have a great day. :)

    • June 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm —

      Yep. It’s clear to me you don’t understand sexism at all. Or what the OP was trying to get across. You just wanted to lecture and rant and tone-troll us. Nice. Real nice.

      You’re not being at all sincere, nor are you attempting to discuss this issue in good faith. Will is 100% correct on that feeling.

    • June 19, 2012 at 11:25 pm —

      “misandry” LOL

      • June 19, 2012 at 11:47 pm —

        Yep. I noticed that, too.

        She really, really doesn’t get it.

    • June 20, 2012 at 10:45 am —

      Well the problem is this. Although there may be some discrimination towards A man or some occasional unwarranted stereotypes or expectations against men as a whole in some situations, they’re pretty few and far between.

      And what happens is anytime men are called out on bad behavior, they tend to get upset and pick one little point like the one you picked and say “GAHH MISANDRY, SEXISM!!!” and it distracts from the huge injustice that was called out in the first place and almost turns the blame around on the victims.

      And that’s why people are raging against your argument, because this has happened many many times, harassment has been spoken out against and it’s been flipped around on the people speaking out on it.

  18. June 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm —

    Also I do understand that you can’t be sexist towards men, or racist towards white people. I am not used to using the terminology as specifically as some of you. But please understand I do understand the point that it can’t be “sexist” because it’s directed at men.

    However whatever you want to call it, it is discriminatory against men. I suppose if I had said that, it might not have come across the same way. But I do think that I would have been treated the same way.

    • June 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm —

      How is it discriminatory to ask the privileged (in this case men) to speak up when they see their fellow men being sexist?!

      That’s all she was saying. That is NOT DISCRIMINATORY!

      I don’t think you understand the word “discriminatory”, either, because asking (expecting) men to acknowledge and understand their and privilege then help other men acknowledge and understand their privilege is not discrimination. LIke, even a little.

      I understand, and even acknowledged, that her wording was problematic, but I (AND OTHERS) have gone on to explain what she actually meant, because it’s a very, very, very basic concept within feminism. STOP focusing on her exact words, and start focusing on her meaning, which we have explained to you several times already.

      • June 19, 2012 at 5:10 pm —

        That’s not what I said. I said the specific sentence lumped men into a group and made them responsible for “their people.” The rest of the post I agree with completely. I don’t think you actually read it or you wouldn’t have insisted that no one said “Come get your people.” because it’s written right there. Anyways.

        • June 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm —

          I did read it. Three times, actually, because I missed it the first time. I still think my interpretation is way closer to it than yours.

          Also, you may want to do some research on “patriarchy” — it might make this easier for you to understand. When we speak of “men” we are generally talking about the patriarchy, which often means men but not always.

          Googling “Feminism 101” may help.

      • June 24, 2012 at 12:14 pm —

        *they. *them. *their.

    • June 21, 2012 at 3:00 pm —

      So, wait, you’re cool with the “sexism against men is impossible” thing but you think this thing that sounds sexist but really isn’t is an example of that thing that doesn’t exist?

      I don’t buy that sexism doesn’t happen to men; I’ve had to consider the possibility of a prison term in a male prison.

      I’m very curious as to how you could have to to accept that idea but still make some of the arguments you’re making.

  19. June 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm —

    Also, last comment, I apologize for not posting in order. I am not used to the way the posts show up on here and seem to responding to people when I’m mostly responding to marilove.

    Also thanks Will for your comments. I will keep them in mind. I’ve never heard of “tone trolling” before.

    • June 19, 2012 at 5:10 pm —

      It’s confusing for EVERYONE, so no worries there.

      This may help:

      Just remember, content is the (usually) more important than tone.

      Also, it’s not okay to tell oppressed groups to stop being angry about being oppressed. Anger is normal.

      I apologize if you felt I was being rude, but I’ve never called you a name. I don’t think you’re arguing in good faith, and I don’t think you’re particularly educated on the subject of feminism or sexism. It’s not our job to educate you on the basics. It really isn’t.

  20. June 19, 2012 at 5:39 pm —

    Thank you for your kind comments. Believe it or not I do understand feminism and I take issue with some of it and understand I see things in a different way. So I’m not here trying to troll or to change anyone’s mind.

    The point about the echo chamber is telling. But I’m not here to join in.

    I wanted to say something about Rebecca Watson’s “Guys don’t do that” because it bothered me as well.

    I’m not saying men are not sexist or that men should not speak up. Nor am I saying they are doing great in their support of women. I do agree that they need to improve as a group. So do we all.

    For example I have recently stopped being friends with people who are against gay marriage. I believe that not speaking up and not creating consequences for bigotry perpetuates it. Being tolerant of bigotry is wrong. I understand more than you think I do.

    However, Elevator guy and Camera guy have created a bad backlash. PART of that backlash, I can obviously see is a bunch of sexist sarcastic jerks. Yes I’m talking to you Richard Dawkins.

    But another part of it for me, seems to stem from a real frustration with men being treated like crap as a general rule of thumb.

    I’m not speaking for all men. Some men can handle it. But some men I think, in my opinion, resent being treated this way so they try to lash back. or maybe just ignore it, or dismiss it.

    All I am saying is that if we want more men to be on our team we need to let them be on our team and stop shoving them over to the other team of “The men.”

    In using language that isolates men as part of the bad guys it creates a divide between us and them instead being about us all as people, as human beings who are all effected by the sexism in the world. It’s not just something that harms women. It hurts all of us.

    Off to work. So no responses.

    • June 19, 2012 at 5:52 pm —

      Maybe you’ll see this tomorrow or later, but I have a BIG PROBLEM with this:

      But another part of it for me, seems to stem from a real frustration with men being treated like crap as a general rule of thumb.

      No one is “treating men like crap as a general rule of thumb.” Telling men to stop harassing women, or to stop being sexist, which is all we are doing, is not treating men like crap.

      Additionally, trying to claim Rebecca’s off-hand remark as somehow treating men like crap is such bullshit. It was an off-hand remark. She wasn’t making any kind of grand statement. She wasn’t being sexist. AT ALL.

      You seem far more concerned about women “treating men like crap” by pointing out (blatant!) sexism … instead of being concerned with the sexism itself.

      Why do you seem to compare pointing out sexism and privilege as treating men like crap? It’s not! In fact, shouldn’t that be the way we treat men? We should *expect* them not to be sexist!

      Pointing out privilege is in no way “treating men like crap”.

      • June 19, 2012 at 6:12 pm —

        I agree completely with marilove, and I still think you (Bridgette) are not thinking about the inequalities created by privilege. There is not an equal power relation there, and as long as you’re operating under the assumption that there is, then you’re not going to get very far.

        And, I should just say that as one of “teh menz” I feel quite welcome in this community and in feminism more generally. Why? Because I don’t take people’s oppression personally and I look for ways that I can use my own privilege to subvert that oppression.

        For example I have recently stopped being friends with people who are against gay marriage. I believe that not speaking up and not creating consequences for bigotry perpetuates it. Being tolerant of bigotry is wrong. I understand more than you think I do.

        Saying “I’m not friends with people who don’t believe in gay marriage because I’m an LGBT ally” doesn’t really do much for me as a queer person. Those people are still in the world, and I still have to deal with them. Really all it does is make it so you don’t have to deal with it–and that’s a function of your straight privilege. Now, instead of being confronted with it regularly and using your privilege to subvert and counter that, you just pretend it doesn’t exist in your life anymore. And you think that by not being friends with the person you’ve made consequences for them. But really, all you’ve done is allowed them to continue on with their thinking unchallenged because now they’re not surrounded by people who will speak up.

        I’m not saying that we should all go out and become friends with people who have the polar opposite views from us or something, but I don’t ditch friends based on them holding problematic positions. I use my knowledge and my privilege where applicable to challenge them to think more critically and analyze the problems with their positions. That will do more to aid oppressed people than ignoring them ever will.

        So while I appreciate that you are a queer ally, I would just say that unintended consequences are very important things, and your actions may not be working out in the ways that you think they are. I hope this sheds some light on why some of us think you’re not quite as educated about these issues as you claim to be.

    • June 19, 2012 at 7:28 pm —

      I honestly think the only guys who could possibly be “offended” by Rebecca’s “Guys, don’t do this” are guys who do that.

  21. June 19, 2012 at 5:49 pm —

    Okay…. reading through this past discussion (sorry wasn’t a part of it… power went out and I still rely on a router) but there’s something that’s striking me, and striking me hard. The Rugby trip story really got me thinking about this. What the fuck is up with all the rape talk? I mean, really…. I was in the Navy for 8 years, usually in all-male units, and the talk could get really trashy, but we never discussed things like “education rape” or “pity rape”, or any of that. I’ve also noticed a lot of the comments towards RW and GC in the matter of the elevator or Ms. Ahlquist in the prayer banner issue involve some degree of punitive rape. What is up with this? Why is this a casual conversation piece now? Sorry… a little off topic, maybe, but this disturbs me. It really really does.

    • June 19, 2012 at 5:59 pm —

      Wait, what?

      The only time Rugby was mentioned was when quietmarc was talking about an experience HE had. Something HE experienced, where he felt he should have spoken up, but for whatever reason couldn’t, because the group of men he was around were being highly sexist. He never mentioned anything about the navy, or that his experience was universal to all Rugby teams. Just that he witnessed blatant sexism with a Ruby team at that particular time. He was using an anecdotal story to help explain one way how he acknowledges his own privilege. That’s it.

      Also, in regards to the elevator incident, Rebecca never, ever claimed the man’s intention was to rape. Indeed, she’s stated that likely wasn’t on his radar at all. IT wasn’t SHE who brought rape into the mix; it was OTHERS who got offended that Rebecca dare point out the man’s inappropriate behavior. Lots of people felt that, because Rebecca was pointing out the inappropriate behavior, that she was claiming the guy was a rapist — which isn’t true at all. This is NOT part of the “casual conversation piece” — it’s instead a complete misinterpretation of what happened, and what Rebecca was trying to say. The problem of course is that people just keep acting like that’s what Rebecca meant, so as time goes on, the discussion gets muddled and less specific.

      • June 19, 2012 at 6:08 pm —

        I think they are meaning in general – eg like with the rugby team – rather than in the thread specifically.

      • June 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm —

        oh, no, Marilove, I wasn’t trying to imply rugby in general, just that one story. and I didn’t mean that the person was threatening rape, but a lot of the commenters whenever the issues get brought up mention rape as a punitive measure. I just get irritated that the word and the idea seems to be getting tossed around a lot more casually….

      • June 19, 2012 at 6:12 pm —

        I read this comment really differently. I thought the commenter was appalled at the anecdote and upset about the rape threats that women who poke their head up inevitably are subjected to. I didn’t read it as them dismissing the rugby story or thinking that talking about fears of rape were wrong. I thought they were just expressing distress at the fucked up reality of misogyny and rape culture. SickSadWorld and all that.

        Care to clarify, runningknows?

        • June 19, 2012 at 6:15 pm —

          You hit the nail on the head….

          • June 19, 2012 at 6:28 pm

            Dammit! Sorry for the double post; just want to make sure you see this:

            Well, shit. NO WONDER I was so confused!

            I apologize. It makes much more sense now, and I largely agree with you.

    • June 19, 2012 at 6:05 pm —

      Those were my made up terms. I’m apologizing for the descriptions, because, well, ugh….

      “Education rape” is to teach a woman a lesson. “Pity rape” is to rape a woman who is ugly so that she can know what sex is like. I have no idea what the guys making these comments are thinking when they make them, I just kind of lumped them into categories in my head.

      I have no idea if this is new or not. I didn’t play organized sports as a kid, and didn’t discover rugby until I was in my mid-twenties, and that was playing on an all-gay rugby team. My first ever experience of actually being on a team with mostly straight guys only happened three or four years ago (I’m turning 35 next week), so I can’t put those experiences in context.

      It’s possible that I am on the Most Sexist Rugby Team Ever, but I doubt it. After seeing what people say online, and knowing what my own peer group says and does when we should know better, and a few other experiences here and there (eg, overhearing locker-room talk about beating women to keep them in their place at my local gym, etc), I’ve come to the conclusion that the majority of guy-only spaces have a huge potential for misogyny and that social pressures make it extremely difficult for people to respond against it.

      THAT said, I’ve found that -professional- all-male environments can be different. Not always, but maybe because of modern sexual harrassment polcies and the changes going on in corporate culture over the last 50 years, it is no longer appropriate to be AS sexist, or sexist in the same ways when you’re in an office environment.

      • June 19, 2012 at 6:13 pm —

        And I gotta say this, because it might get buried: the guys on my team are decent guys. I’m out to them, and they have at least on one occassion defended me against some homophobixc remarks from another team. That’s why it’s so upsetting to me, that really stand up guys who, when they are aware of what’s going on, really will have your back and stand alongside you.

        The very same guy who wanted to make sure that if I ever had any problems with homophobia was also one of the guys who were making rape jokes on the bus. If you asked him, he is totally for harrassment policies and protecting women from harm.

        It’s this cluelessness and general obliviousness that I think is the biggest obstacle towards equality and the best protection for the real predators out there. If I can’t tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys, what am I supposed to do?

        • June 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm —

          You’re on a roll today. You really nailed why this can be so frustrating: Even good men (and men!) can be sexist or use sexist language. That doesn’t even mean they ARE sexist; just that they are *being* sexist. And a lot of the time they may not be aware of it, because a lot of sexism is so damn normalized in our society.

          This is why it’s important for the more enlightened to speak up. It’s almost especially important to speak up around “good guys”. Because those are the people easiest to reach (some people are beyond reach), especially for most people.

          • June 20, 2012 at 12:03 am

            It appears that I have made it to midnight without putting my foot in my mouth, so I, personally, am amazed.

            Tomorrow is another day!

  22. June 19, 2012 at 6:01 pm —

    Maybe the most effective response to this harassment would be to photograph the perp and post his photo along with testimonials from as many of his victims as you could round up confirming what an ass-hole he is. Rather than boycott TAM, which does, after all, promote rational thinking, whatever its faults, why not demand a wall of shame at the next TAM along with an anti-harassment track where these kind of activities could be called out and the knee-jerk misogynist’s claims that the women are making all this shit up could be definitively refuted?

    Having a cadre of strong “take no shit” women pushing this agenda in all skeptical conventions would go a long way to making it easier for more timid women to attend such gatherings and to start to assert themselves when they are made similarly uncomfortable.
    It would also help further reduce the credibility of the misogynist lobby’s assertion that the women affected by harassment are just making things up or blowing them out of proportion.

    • June 19, 2012 at 6:05 pm —

      No. We shouldn’t do that. That’s no way to help.

      For the record, Sheriff Joe likes to utilize this (“WALL OF SHAME” the public state site for people who are *arrested* (not convicted)), and it’s not at all helpful and it doesn’t lower crime.

      We have to address the problem. This isn’t addressing the problem.

  23. June 19, 2012 at 6:25 pm —

    Well, shit. NO WONDER I was so confused!

    I apologize. It makes much more sense now, and I largely agree with you. :)

    • June 19, 2012 at 6:46 pm —

      No worries, Marilove, and no apology necessary… if I meant what you thought I meant I hope you’d call me on it! I apologize for being not entirely clear :)

  24. June 19, 2012 at 6:51 pm —

    Hi … the “guest poster” made a request, which I’m putting here so it doesn’t get buried.

    We have been mis-gendering them. Please use they/them or some other gender-neutral identifier.

    It’s an easy mistake to make. It’s hard to break old habits.

    Also, some of us (ME) tend to use “she” as their go-to pronoun. Which I’m learning isn’t always a good thing. :)

    • June 19, 2012 at 7:17 pm —

      Thank you for mentioning that. I was going to jump in and say something but I have been at the dentist. The guest poster is Lee and yes, it is preferred to refer to Lee as Lee or they/them.

  25. June 19, 2012 at 8:07 pm —

    DJ Grothe came to talk to us about it and we were told that it would be followed up on, that the person we were reporting would be asked to leave us alone and that we would be emailed after the event (it was the last day) with what actions were going to be taken. We were satisfied at the time that our report was being taken seriously; the problem is that apparently it wasn’t. I never heard back from the JREF on my report. My friend emailed them enough to have heard back though I can’t speak to what that conversation entails.

    See this is the part I think is the worst. You were told you’d get an email about your report and you never heard from them again. Most of what I’d like to see the JREF do is say: Here’s the policy we had in place last year, here’s how we modified it for this year based on how it worked last year. Also, we realize that we could have done much better on following up. Here’s how we’re going to improve that this year.

    I organize SkepchickCON and we had incidents last year. They were taken care of by CONvergence very well, but this year we wanted to be more involved with the policy and be proactive. I’ll be passing out information to our volunteers and all the Skepchicks and Mad Art Labbers on what to do if someone approaches them with a complaint. And we’ll have some conversations before, during and after about the things we did right and anything we got wrong, with an eye toward improving next year.

    Follow-up is the key here and I think it’s the biggest thing the JREF got wrong last year. I hope they’ll signal their interest in getting it right and then take the steps to get there.

  26. June 19, 2012 at 10:14 pm —

    An incredible story, indeed.

    Action is indeed needed.
    I like the idea that is presented:

    “My aims are to destroy the whole oppressive system and rebuild a new structure – not something based on a hierarchy that puts people above others, that is willing to systematically dehumanize people, but something based upon meeting peoples needs, upon mutual learning and respect, where people and their cultures are recognized, where research actually takes into account the people they are researching, where people appreciate others and don’t appropriate.”

    That is an excellent mission statement, and something we’re badly in need of.

    I’d like to think that in such situations I see happening, I could stand up along side the victim and stop the harassment.
    My uncle had to do this once in a store.
    Perhaps it can help set an example for others that we don’t need to stand back and let this insanity happen, but we can take action against it.

  27. June 19, 2012 at 10:33 pm —

    Thanks for sharing this. This adds some real life context to the discussion. It is easy to debate about sexual harassment in abstract until a face is put to it. Thanks.

  28. June 20, 2012 at 5:49 am —

    Marylove asked for revelations. Here is mine.

    Sorry, this will be long. I have a lot to say.

    First a little detour. (Trigger warning: rape (though only in general terms))

    The first time I ever heard about rape was when I learned what happened to Tori Amos. Man that hit me hard. I didn’t know I could care so deeply about anyone until then. How can anyone do something so evil?

    Since then, I’ve learned that three of my friends and one of my former classmates have been raped. And these are just the ones who have confided in me. I don’t know anyone who has been killed or even seriously hurt by anyone, but I know four people who have been raped. Two of them are close friends. And I live in possibly the most peaceful country in the world. Holy &*&$, this is insane!

    I find it extremely hard to understand how anyone can do something so evil. Violence and murder I can sort of understand, but to me sex has always been something so beautiful and intimate. How can anyone even think of using it to harm or punish anyone? I can hardly bring myself to think about it.

    There is another kind of rape which I find a little easier to understand, the one where one party is simply seeking pleasure, and doesn’t respect the other party’s boundaries, or simply doesn’t realize that the other party doesn’t fully consent. The difference in intent makes it hard for me to call this kind evil, although it is clearly still bad, and it could well be that it hurts the victim just as much. In addition there are insane concepts such as “corrective rape” or “pity rape”, which I can”t wrap my head around.

    So to the present situation. When Rebecca made the “don’t do this” remark, I though “sure, that’s good advice”, and then I quickly forgot about it. That guy was clearly clueless, but probably well meaning (in that he was at most looking for consensual sex, however bad his timing was), and I hoped he would get the message and send Rebecca an apology, and that would be it.

    The backlash against Rebecca shocked me. I may have been living in a bubble. I’ve found skeptics to be friendly and generous people who are deeply concerned about important issues. I’ve been to both TAM Londons as well as the first Kritisk Masse, and there my impression was confirmed. I had an amazing time at these meetings. I still think most people in our community are good, but it is increasingly clear to be that there are some who are not.

    Further, the backlash against all those who simply point out that there is a problem and suggest solution has made me deeply concerned. I am sad. I had hoped that as a community, we would be better than this. I am frustrated. But I am not angry. I am not sure why.

    When ElevatorGate first came crashing down on us, I was in a turmoil of emotions. “What? Are we not supposed to flirt even?” “How will I know if I harass someone?” “Oh no! Maybe I’m one of the creeps? I don’t want to be a creep! What can I do about it?” Fortunately, I kept this to myself and kept reading instead of throwing myself into the debate.

    As I kept reading, I learned what harassment is, and that it is depressingly more widespread in our society than I ever imagined. I had no idea. As a guy, I was blind to what was going on all around me. I am probably still blind to it, but at least now I’m aware of it.

    I gradually understood what feminism is really about, and that I am and always have been totally in line with this view, at least the version that Rebecca, PZ, Ophelia, Stephanie, Greg, Jason and all the others bloggers at Skepchick and FtB stand for. (I will still not call myself a feminist, for the same reasons as Lee, and because I have trouble with the term itself.)

    I learned what the patriarchy is, and that everyone is a part of it. Even me. This is best summed up by this cartoon:

    I have now come to a point where I feel informed enough to have a clear opinion about all of this, and to view it all at a distance without getting emotionally involved, and I realize that it is time for me to get involved.

    We have a deep conflict here, but I think it can be resolved. (I am probably naive, but naive may be what we need right now.)

    I suspect we all agree a lot more that we realize. Some people have been making hateful remarks, using slurs and belittling people and acting like donkey hats, but surely even these people want to belong to a friendly, welcoming community? I mean, who doesn’t? I further suspect that they act this way because they feel threatened, and feel like someone is trying to take over their community and force them to police their behavior in “ridiculous” ways.

    Can we reach these people? I’m sure we can reach at least some of them.

    I don’t know what I can do, but I will try to comment here and on FtB from time to time, For this, I’ve created a code of conduct for myself:

    – I will not use slurs
    – I will not call anyone names
    – I will never aim to win an argument, but instead enter the argument with the goal of presenting my point of view, and learning from the other person
    – I will ignore trolls when I realize that they’re just trolling
    – I will pull out if I get too emotional
    – I will pull out if I feel it’s not worth it
    – I will write each comment in a text editor instead of the comment box, and paste it in later, so that I have time to reflect on what I’m saying

    Today I am cautiously optimistic.

    To all of you writing about this, I’d like to let you know you’re getting through at least to one person! Thank you!

    • June 20, 2012 at 6:04 am —

      Marilove: I misspelled your name. Sorry. :)

      • June 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm —

        My real name is “Marilee” and everyone wants to put that “Y” there! Even my grandmother!

        Just don’t call me Mary. I will cut you! :)

    • June 20, 2012 at 8:16 am —

      Rutefrosk, an admirable list of goals and one that will be difficult. Especially the first two. Just to give you an idea of how hard in your post alone you use the word “insane” which is ableist /sanest (insane is a slur for being alternately mentally able and is used as a negative mostly) also, you use “man” for a neutral which is sexist (male as th default), this is just to give you an idea. There are lots of words we use regularly that have oppressive and slur-based meanings.

      As to your question on how not to be a creeper the answer is to listen and respect others opinions. If a person says no its done. Hell, I’d go so far as without a clear yes it’s done but that’s me. You’re flirting with someone and want to try more (like say a kiss) ask, clearly. They say no? Respect it and stay within casual flirt range. They tell you they aren’t interested in flirting then stop. They tell you they don’t want to talk to you then don’t talk to them. Poof, no more worries about being a creeper – listening to someone and respecting their opinion. No attempted coercion, no asking again and again, none of that. Merly, they said no time to move on from that. And a no to kissing isn’t a no to being friends just not a friend you can kiss. It’s hard since we’re raised in a society where not accepting an answer, where coercion are the norm. Even for little kids – a mom making a kid hug someone when they don’t want to slowly teaches them that making others do things they don’t want is okay and then we have to unlearn that. Good luck, it’s a joyful and painful process and mistakes happen. So worth it though.

      • June 20, 2012 at 9:31 am —

        “you use the word “insane” which is ableist /sanest (insane is a slur for being alternately mentally able and is used as a negative mostly)”

        Wow. I didn’t realize this. I would never use “insane” as a slur against a purson for this very reason. Here I clearly used it against an idea. It never occurred to me that this could have the same effect. Yes I see your point.

        “you use “man” for a neutral which is sexist (male as the default)”

        Did you mean where I said “Man, that hit me hard”? In my head, this “man” didn’t refer to a person, but was another word which simply meant “whoah”. My head was clearly wrong. Thanks. (Boy, you’re right that this stuff is hard. Wait, it happened again! Oh boy! Wait, oh no! Grmf.)

        In other news, I was introduced to the singular “they” as late as yesterday, and I’ve commited to using it where appropriate.

        I should have written my goals a little more clearly. What I wanted to say is simply that I won’t say “You idiot/nitwit/dumbass! etc.” in debates. I don’t do it in real life anyway, so it’s not an issue. I think I can just pop those two first points off my list.

        “As to your question on how not to be a creeper the answer is to listen and respect others opinions.”

        I do this. During ElevatorGate, I quickly came to the conclusion that I’m no a creeper by a long shot. Thanks for your help anyway.

        “Good luck, it’s a joyful and painful process and mistakes happen. So worth it though.”

        Thank you!

        • June 20, 2012 at 1:37 pm —

          I use “man” and “dude” a lot, much the same way you used man.

          Honestly to me, that’s way too much nit-picking. It’s slang and it’s not directed at people. It’s just and expression. I really, really wouldn’t worry about it. IF someone has a problem with you say, “MAN! Today was awesome!” then, um, well, yeah. I have a problem with that kind of word policing.

          • June 20, 2012 at 5:49 pm

            Yeah, I get frustrated about this too, as you could see in my little mental breakdown in the parenthesis. (This was my actual thought process.)

            So now I find myself agreeing with you. :)

          • June 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm

            Yeah, as a general rule it’s good to avoid gender-specific pronouns when you’re talking about general ideas or you’re unsure of what someone wants to be called.

            But “Man, you’re awesome!” is not a problem. If you *personally* don’t want to say something like that – awesome. But telling others to stop using that phrase is just pointless. It’s not going to change anything. I normally don’t like to throw around “there are better/more important things to discuss!” but I think in this case, it’s true.

            She did however make some good points about the use of “insane”. That said, even then it gets to be a bit too much.

            What about the terms idiot? Stupid? They, too, were once used for those who were mentally disabled or what have you.

            So, if you slip and say, “Man, these people are acting insane!” it’s probably pointless for someone to come in, point, shake their finger, and say, “Don’t use that word!” It doesn’t really help the conversation.

            If we’re talking about problematic language in a discussion, it’s certainly something to discuss. But I think day-to-day, certain common terminology really isn’t that big of a deal and it’s counter-productive to try and police words like that.

            Just be mindful of context, and company. That’s the best way to go.

    • June 20, 2012 at 10:41 am —

      I need to print out your code of conduct and tape it to my computer, I think….

  29. June 20, 2012 at 8:13 am —

    I have no problem with people getting angry with people who behave badly or stand by in silence. I have a problem with people generalizing men as a group as sexist based on the actions of other men. It’s got nothing to do with being nice.

    • June 20, 2012 at 8:31 am —

      I just realized at one point you mentioned that my comment that I know not all men are sexist was insincere – its not. I know that quite well, several cis men and trans men have been in wonderful solidarity for my work and ad doing work of their own in the sj community, they are wonderful advocates for anti oppression and people I am proud to be in community with. On the other hand there are trans men I know who are some of the most sexist people I know. Horizontal sexism from woman to woman happens too, again trans woman are some of the most horizontally sexist I know. However, men, especially cis men, are taught its okay and even desirable in a way women aren’t .also, men have the benefit of their privilege to call out this shit from a more secure place than most non-men. Cis-women aare at a better place then non cis-women and so should be doing this.

      In my view unless you’re actively working against oppression you’re colluding with it. No matter your gender – looking away, pretending it doesn’t exist, Being silent are all collusion and are almost worse than active oppression. Maybe just because it gives oppression a place to live and thrive even in some ways. Those who stand in solidarity and create anti-oppression spaces in their spheres of influence are a kind of ally. Sadly the majority of people aren’t in solidarity in reality. So a generalization that wmost men are sexist or are colluding with sexism is pretty accurate. Then again just replace men with people and it’s still accurate. As I said in my post – were all guilty. Direct, indirect, horizontal or collusion all this shit needs to stop.

      • June 20, 2012 at 9:41 am —

        Thanks for the personal response. I know very well that you are not insincere about that. I know that’s not what you meant. Many people here seem to think I don’t get your point but I do.

        The reason I’m speaking about it and pointing to that detail is because it is interesting to see such a pattern of anger in cis men for being called on their privilege. And it’s important to make them look at things from a different perspective. I want them to be willing to listen and to understand and to get involved.

        have white privilege. And I’ve had times in the past where someone I know was victimized by racism. It upset me to hear about it. I would always stand up. And there are times where I’ve colluded or not paid attention to what I’m doing or saying, assumptions I may have made, blind spots and bias. Things I do that I don’t realize hurt others. I am trying but I always fail in some way, in some ways I don’t even notice. Sometimes in ways that I do notice and learn from.

        I have also had people who were victimized by racism who seemed to turn on me, attack me for having white privilege and act like I was in collusion simply because I am white. That doesn’t come across to me as pointing out my privilege. It comes across as attacking me for the way I was born. Most privilege isn’t chosen but I’ve been attacked at times in the heat of a totally understandable frustration, and it made me not want to deal with it. It makes me feel guilty and uncomfortable and upset and overwhelmed and so I back away. I just try to avoid the whole thing instead of being positive about it and getting involved and being mindful and paying attention. I put the blinders back on for a while after that happens.

        There are many men in this thread who have stated the phrasing didn’t offend them. There are many who say they don’t need to be defended. Good for them. They are strong enough to hear past the attack. They are allies and are secure in their place as an ally so they don’t struggle with that.

        But in this “echo chamber” there are many who agree with the ideologies and understand them very well. Outside this space there are many men who hear what is being said as “male bashing” “attacking men” “blaming men” “hating men.” When they see that they tune out. They think it’s extreme feminism or an us against them mentality.

        You may say I’m wrong or not believe me, but I’m telling you that I have personally spoken to at least 20 men who have stated they are tired of being blamed and treated as a predator. So they blow it all off as “making a big deal out of a small thing.” Exactly what the response was to Rebecca Watson’s elevator guy.

        So it got me to thinking, why? And what I’ve noticed is in these posts and commentary there is the subtle underscoring of “it’s all men’s fault.” or “Guys act this way” “this is what men do” “men are privileged and hurt women.” “men condone sexism.”

        If that’s the message they are getting along with the advice and story I can see why they tune it out. And that’s what surprised me about you writing those sentences. That you didn’t see that it could be off putting to men? So I think in some ways there’s a sort of double standard or blind spot in these discussion that causes a problem that I was trying to help solve by drawing attention to it.

        I didn’t expect to get attacked for trying to do that. But sadly it wasn’t surprising.

        • June 20, 2012 at 10:43 am —


          Please stop defending us poor men. Your sons, whom I am sure are quite wonderful human beings, do not need you to protect them, nor do the 20+ men you have spoken with who are tired of “being blamed and treated as predators.” You seem to be arguing from the perspective that all statements about sexism should be crafted with the utmost care to reach the maximum number of people, and never take the chance of offending someone by using a broad brush. You are wrong. There are a wide range of voices on issues like these, some quite careful in their wording and some not so much (in terms of potential offense). The same is true of arguments about the evils of religion, and pretty much any other controversial topic. One very important lesson your sons need to learn, as well as your 20+ male friends, is to look past the tone of a statement to what is truly being said. I disagree with your contention that the tone of this posting had any degree of “man-bashing”, but even if it did, the merits of the arguments are still there and totally valid. Until your sons can understand this, they will not be as enlightened as you seem to think they are.

          It is not the responsibility of the women (and men) who post here to couch everything they say in calm, measured tones. They are angry, and they have every right to be. Teach your sons, and those other men, to have the patience to read posts like these, even if they find them personally offensive. If they are as enlightened and free of bias as you presume them to be, eventually they will realize that the tone is simultaneously justified and also irrelevant to the fundamental argument. The only way to do this is for them to set aside their sense of entitlement and actually listen to what is really being said. It can take a long time, but it does eventually work. I know, because I am living it.

          Maybe your sons and other male friends aren’t ready for a site like this. The truth can be painful, especially when it exposes your hidden biases. I am sure there are plenty of places they can “hang out” on the internet that will treat them more gently. There’s honestly nothing wrong with that. But until they can read the posts on SkepChick in all their unflinching truth, they will still have along way to go before they are as enlightened as they need to be.

        • June 20, 2012 at 11:17 am —

          Brigette said:

          “I have also had people who were victimized by racism who seemed to turn on me, attack me for having white privilege and act like I was in collusion simply because I am white. That doesn’t come across to me as pointing out my privilege. It comes across as attacking me for the way I was born.”

          This reaction of yours right here is so telling to me and explains exactly why you don’t get what privilege is and why allies need to work around it.

          You cannot help how you were born and you cannot help what privilege you were born with. You can, however, choose to acknowledge that privilege and do your best to not let it affect your interactions with people.

          Does it hurt when someone accuses you directly of not being a good ally or being complacent in racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, cissexism, etc? Of course it hurts. No one wants to be told they’re a shitty ally. But you don’t get to decide how the people without privilege respond to you.

          Your choice to back away from helping those who are repressed because they aren’t treating you the way you think you should be treated is showing that you’re not as good of an ally as you think you are. It’s not an even playing ground you’re working on. You get the benefit of the doubt because you’re white or straight or cis. So when you talk to people and they get angry or rude or accusatory, it’s because they’re use to being treated as less than human, as less than a person. Yes, it’s not fair that they’re mean or rude, but can you really blame them after all the terrible things that have happened to them?

          You don’t get to choose what kind of ally you are. You quitting when the people you are being an ally for decide your actions aren’t in keeping with what they want from an ally, tells me you’ll only be an ally if it suits you and isn’t hurting your feelings, not because it’s the right thing to do and should be done in support of those who need allies.

          Straight, white, cis allies aren’t there to run the show, they’re there to support and help those who are being oppressed.

          • June 20, 2012 at 2:33 pm

            Precisely. We’ve got multiple cases of “fair weather” allies in this community, who give up and go home whenever someone says anything that could possibly be interpreted (however unfairly) as being mean to them.

        • June 20, 2012 at 11:17 am —

          This is my take on the men who are hurt by being included with the sexists: they are the ones being insincere.

          Yes, it sucks to have someone say something unkind, and to be told you are wrong, and to have to face judgement just because someone who looks like you did something wrong.

          But look, I’m pretty sure I’m a decent guy and that even if I hadn’t been exposed to social justice issues as much as I have that I would still be a decent guy. I’m polite and go out of my way for others, and have always believed in compassion for other people, no matter how different they are from myself.

          But it’s taken some -really- harsh words from people – friends and strangers – to point out some of the awful things I’ve said and done for me to wake up. Did it hurt? Yes. Do I regret being hurt? No.

          If it weren’t for people treating me like I was a giant asshole, I would have NEVER learned critical lessons about my own privilege.

          And at the end of the day, I was wrong, even though I was a nice guy. If I turned around and dismissed these concerns and nursed my hurt and scolded them for treating me “badly”, that would have been terrible and it would have come from a place of bad faith.

          Seriously, if ANY guy is offended, seriously offended, by anything that Lee said in this post, they are objectively an asshole. If a guy can’t get past his own self-interest long enough to see that this post is about a serious issue that is far bigger than his hurt feelings, then he is a jerk.

          That doesn’t mean he must always be a jerk, but he is a jerk while he is busy being offended here.

          There is nuance that you are missing in this discussion.

        • June 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm —

          You seem to think you need to defend men. And LGBQT folks.

          Even women can “white knight.”

          Stop it.

          As someone said, you can’t choose the kind of ally you are. That’s not your place. At all.

          IT’s clear you still don’t even have a basic understanding of privilege, since you seem to think that you can tell oppressed groups how they should feel and act. “TSK TSK!”

    • June 20, 2012 at 9:31 am —

      Bridgette, I really don’t think that’s quite the point. Nobody in the comments have called me or any of the other male posters here a harasser. They are not saying all men are harassers. What they are saying (if I understand correctly) is that most harassers are men, and that all men have a responsibility to call out instances of harassment they see. The folks who do harass don’t place the victim on an equal footing as they are, and see them as objects rather than subjects. Thus, men have a stronger opportunity in addition to a moral imperative to affect change.

      I personally believe there’s a biological aspect, too. Men, just by the nature of their biology, are meant to be aggressors. We’ve been able to, as enlightened humans, to leave behind the baser aspects of our biology in most cases, but not in all. I’m not trying to absolve men, but make them (us) realize that we have to overcome some of our more animalistic components if we want to have a good society. I’m also not saying that men are the only ones who do hurtful things due to our biology, but in our case, since we are usually more physically imposing, our hurtful things tend to be more physical and coercive.

      There is also history. Throughout history men have closed ranks to excuse their sins. We see it happen even now, when someone decides to call attention to these issues they are blanketed by blatantly negative and blatantly sexist comments from men. Comments I personally would never say to anyone, and neither would any man I call a friend of mine. Just because I don’t do it, though, doesn’t mean that I can stand silently by while others pile on. That’s tacet approval. I think it’s admirable that you have taught your sons to respect women (my feeling is that you’ve probably taught them to respect everyone) but the second part of that curriculum should be to have the courage to stand up, admit there’s a problem, admit that they aren’t powerless to affect change, and then go forth and make that change.

      • June 20, 2012 at 11:25 am —

        I personally believe there’s a biological aspect, too. Men, just by the nature of their biology, are meant to be aggressors. We’ve been able to, as enlightened humans, to leave behind the baser aspects of our biology in most cases, but not in all. I’m not trying to absolve men, but make them (us) realize that we have to overcome some of our more animalistic components if we want to have a good society. I’m also not saying that men are the only ones who do hurtful things due to our biology, but in our case, since we are usually more physically imposing, our hurtful things tend to be more physical and coercive.

        I was on board with you until this. This is patently false. It’s also something that men use as an excuse all the time. Men are not any more or less intrinsically aggressive, culture mediates whether or not expressions of aggression are sanctioned or stigmatized. In our society, the idea that men are “naturally” more aggressive is a naturalization of a cultural notion. It is not actually biological. This is clear if you look at the ethnographic record across societies. Cross-cultural studies that have looked at aggression (a culturally loaded term) show a vastly differing views on what constitutes aggressive behavior and what genders are allowed to express those behaviors. (See for example.)

        Also, your idea that we are “more enlightened” is false. It is based on a teleological understanding of social Darwinism, which is no longer an accepted paradigm. If you look at the ethnographic record, you will see that forager (hunter/gatherer) societies tend to be much more gender egalitarian. We are not evolving toward a higher state of enlightenment or consciousness–we are simply evolving, changing over time. Complex societies are not inherently better than simple societies–they are just different.

        • June 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm —

          From an endocrinology standpoint I have to respectfully disagree. Testosterone fosters aggressive behavior. We see it now in people with deficient testosterone (both male and female) who are treated with exogenous testosterone. Tends to increase sexual drive, aggressive behavior, and the inability to ask for directions (kidding on the last one). There is a societal aspect where the societal norm is permissive or non-permissive toward outward displays of aggression, but I believe the evidence points to stronger aggressive traits in males. Incidentally, I believe our American culture is strongly biased towards being on the permissive side of such displays.

          I would also argue about the egalitarian aspects of hunter-gatherer societies, but I’m on far shakier ground there because I’m not an expert on that and would be essentially spouting opinion rather than fact.

          Also, I don’t believe it should be used as an excuse. I don’t even think it should be a mitigating factor, as they say in court. We are not slaves to our biology unless we choose to be.

          • June 20, 2012 at 8:46 pm

            Disagreeing doesn’t change the fact that you’re naturalizing cultural behaviors and notions. If you had looked at the article I linked, it addresses the testosterone-aggression link on page 109. Here’s a short excerpt:

            One of the main arguments why males so often have been suggested to be more aggressive than females is the presumed testosterone-aggression link. The connection between testosterone level in human blood serum or saliva, and aggression, is not, however, established, and the testosterone-aggression link is very uncertain, as far as homo sapiens is concerned.

            It is not as solid as you make it seem. I’m certainly open to you pointing me towards some literature, but so far all you’ve done is argue from an idea of common sense.

            Both men and women have testosterone in their bodies. Of course there are biological implications for the levels of testosterone in people’s bodies. But you are using a loaded term (aggressive) that doesn’t mean the same thing everywhere and you’re universalizing it using biology. Increased sexual drive is not the same thing as aggression. Increased energy is not the same thing as aggression. If you think that women are not as aggressive as men, ask some teenage girls about aggression–or, better yet, read Rachel Simmons’ Odd Girl Out. Men and women can both be aggressive. They can also be aggressive in different ways, and these ways usually vary both within and across cultures.

            I would also argue about the egalitarian aspects of hunter-gatherer societies, but I’m on far shakier ground there because I’m not an expert on that and would be essentially spouting opinion rather than fact.

            Oh, I see. So you know nothing about the topic but you still disagree. Based on nothing but your own ignorance. Interesting.

            Foraging societies are egalitarian because there tends to be no hierarchical division within the bands. There is often a division of labor based on gender, but this does not necessarily imply inequality. Women bring in the vast majority of the nutrition for bands (upwards of 80%). If you think people in these small bands are not valuing the work of women in the same ways that the work of women is devalued in our society, you’re way off base. This is all pretty basic anthropology, and you can read this information in probably any introductory textbook.

            Also, I don’t believe it should be used as an excuse. I don’t even think it should be a mitigating factor, as they say in court. We are not slaves to our biology unless we choose to be.

            I believe you when you say you don’t think this. I was pointing out that, even if you don’t believe this, it’s a very common trope among MRAs and clueless menz that “it’s just my biology i can’t help it!”

          • June 20, 2012 at 9:55 pm

            “but so far all you’ve done is argue from an idea of common sense.”

            And this is why most evo-psych bullshit is so damn dangerous.

            Most of it is based on false knowledge, but doesn’t it just sound so *reasonable*? I mean, if you incorrectly consider foraging women in modern terms and make the modern assumption that their work wasn’t valued, you could start making all sorts of assumptions and opinions that sound reasonable but aren’t based on anything real.

            So, yeah, I’m with you. He’s clearly not an MRA, but he’s supporting their opinions without even knowing WHY (because he *feels* it is right based on some weird notions about evolution), and that’s really not that much better.

          • June 21, 2012 at 1:35 pm

            hmmm…. for some reason it’s not letting me reply to your last comment directly, Will, so I hope you see this, although with the weird way comments are posted I kind of have my doubts!

            . When I say that I don’t consider myself enough of an expert to address something it’s because I feel like I haven’t looked at the issue long enough to consider I can give a valid “learned” opinion. I’ve read a lot of the literature, enough to form a personal opinion, but in general social science isn’t a field I feel comfortable expounding on. Endocrinology is a little different, since I’ve done research in the the androgen field working under some of the top folks in that field (and no, I’m not saying it makes me one of the top people in the field, only that I know the literature well and I’ve seen clinical aspects of androgen, androgen deficiency, and androgen insensitivity). My disclaimer wasn’t trying to say that I’m completely ignorant, only that I’m ignorant enough not to give a more academic response to your objection.

            I did look at the link you provided, and I have several objections. 1)It’s a review 2) It’s old (18 is ancient in research terms) and so 3) The studies it reviews are very old. I also take issue with the methodology they used in the studies they report on.

            I do not rely on common sense to form my opinion. In fact, the first rule I teach my students is that “conventional wisdom ain’t so wise”. I form that opinion based on classes I’ve had, literature I’ve read, and lectures I’ve heard, but I’m out of date on current research. I’m certainly not a social darwinist but I do consider that we have progressed. We have fewer women dying in childbirth, fewer infants dying, fewer dread disease pandemics (although antibiotic overuse could screw us on that one), fewer wars (although the ones that take place are more deadly… NOT progress) and a lot of societies are more and more cognizant of the rights of all individuals.

            Lastly, have no fear… I’m certainly no MRA and as a straight white male I’m very aware (and very embarassed) at the level to which I’m privileged.

    • June 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm —

      We aren’t doing that. You keep saying we are, but we haven’t. Indeed, I and several others have tried to tell you that we don’t feel that way.

      DO WE REALLY need to make the disclaimer: HEY! Not all men are like this! We know a lot of awesome men!

      EVERY TIME we talk about sexism?

      Why is it assumed that we hate all men if we don’t explicitly say “lots of men are awesome”?! That’s bull shit, right there.

      This happens every fucking time we talk about sexism, or about problematic behavior. Each fucking time we’re accused of talking about EVERY MAN EVER.

      It is getting old. Please stop it.

  30. June 20, 2012 at 9:49 am —

    My sons do stand up. One of my son’s has an especially interesting perspective because they are half Egyptian. One son looks completely Egyptian. The other looks completely white. Blue yes, fair skin……typical white kid. And who do you think experiences more prejudice against Arabs? The white looking boy, because people don’t realize and say things in front of him all the time. So he has learned how to stand up more than my other son has. He will stand up against bias against the LGBQT community and others. He will say something. I want all men to know we need them to say something. That’s why I think it’s important to always be mindful of any sort of bias we may hold. In this case I do see a bias against men in general. I understand that talking about this as a concept of privilege is not the same thing. But as I have stated, outside the echo chamber it doesn’t sound the same.

    • June 20, 2012 at 10:11 am —

      Bridgette, this isn’t an echo chamber, from my understanding of the phrase. Please don’t use your ignorance of this community to dismiss the very valuable contributions being made.

      An echo chamber is a place where one dominating message is repeated mindlessly over and over again with everybody in agreement and no growth or change.

      There is plenty of lively debate and discussion here, and a huge variety of opinion. Yes, there’s a lot of backslapping and congratulatory behaviour when people here agree, but that’s because most people genuinely like each other but also disagree quite heatedly and frequently, so when people do agree they get excited about it.

    • June 20, 2012 at 11:36 am —

      This is my last comment to you because I have no hope that you’re making a good faith argument here. You’re ignoring everything people are saying and you keep harping on the same points that have been addressed ad nauseum. If you don’t want to learn from these discussions, that’s certainly your prerogative. But will you please stop repeating the same thing over and over? We get it, we know what your position is, and multiple people have expressed to you why they disagree. It’s time to move on.

      One last thing: you’re a hypocrite. You are so concerned with tone and talking to men in ways that won’t offend them, and then you come here throwing around misused terms like “echo chamber” to dismiss the opinions of the very people you claim to be allies with. You are using the language that oppressors use towards the oppressed and you don’t even freaking realize it. The idea that this is an echo chamber is exactly what MRAs and other clueless men say about feminism to dismiss it entirely.

      So you go on thinking that you’re some super ally who has no errors in thinking. And you keep on being concerned about how the menz will get butthurt over some blog posts and not be allies. But you know what? If they’re going to demonstrate their ally status in the same way that you are right now, I’m not so sure we need them.

    • June 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm —

      Bit confused on the “echo chamber” thing… I make a reasoned and careful response to your post, that’s not in keeping with any set “orthodoxy” this group may have (and, in point of fact, folks have already disagreed with me, and I have no issue with that… I can’t learn if I only listen to myself speak). And yet you say you’re here in an echo chamber.
      “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” -Inigo Montoya

      • June 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm —

        and, in case that was misunderstood, I don’t think this group has a set orthodoxy to begin with…. just wanted to be clear…

    • June 20, 2012 at 1:45 pm —

      You are the worst kind of “ally”. Ugh.

  31. June 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm —


    *whew* That was a close one. Hopefully Bridgette got here before there was any permanent damage. Well, damage to men, anyway.

  32. June 20, 2012 at 1:51 pm —


    We do not think all men are rapists. OR harasses. Or sexist. OR misogonyst

    We have told you this over and over and over again yet you keep ignoring us.

    Why is it that we can’t talk about sexism or problematic behavior without people assuming we are talking about EVERY MAN EVER?

    When talking about racism, do you expect the same level of ridiculousness?

    If someone was talking about how problematic racist language, would you demand that we were super duper nice about it and made disclaimer after disclaimer about how we don’t think everyone is a racist?

    This shit is seriously starting to piss me off.


    • June 20, 2012 at 2:00 pm —

      I’m pretty sure at this point that no matter how boldly we say this straight up, the first response will always be “you think all men are rapists.”

      Because, you know, that’s the set orthodoxy of feminists. No wonder people think we’re an echo chamber, when all they can hear is the echo of their preconceived notions of us coming back at them. Really drowns out the voices of us actually making our real points.

      • June 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm —

        I get the feeling she is projecting. A lot.

        Also, it’s completely telling that she thinks she gets to dictate the type of ally she is, or how those in oppressed groups view her, as an ally.

        Also, apparently when someone discusses racism, she IS automatically offended and assumes they are talking about every white person ever. Ugh.

        She has no idea what privilege is, but she’s infuriating because she thinks she does, and she’s not willing to actually learn.

        • June 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm —

          It’s the tone trolling that’s especially pissing me off. People patiently and politely explaining things, then as soon as one person expresses a tiny bit of frustration at how she’s totally not getting it but demanding that everyone sees how she totally gets it, she comes back with “everybody’s being meeeean.”

          Fuck that. She’d probably have fits if she ever wandered over to Pharyngula.

          • June 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm

            The thing about being a Skeptic is that you should be able to have a rousing, stimulating debate,e and disagree with people, and have people disagree with you, and talk abut concepts and things without getting personally offended.

            As marc mentioned above, any man who gets offended by anything in this post is just being an insensitive asshole. To take this kind of discussion personally is so selfish and, dare I say it, narcissistic, it’s almost astonishing.

  33. June 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm —

    Bridgette, I’m the lurker who told you to pull your head out of your ass. I admit it was a blatantly insulting way to point out the flaw in your reasoning and it was accepted in as such and called out accurately as such. I’m not apologizing. Maybe that’s petty of me, but here is what I meant by comparing your argument to the “Southern Man” argument. Remember the Neil Young song decrying the racially motivated injustice, constant threat of violence, rape and murder black Americans faced in the south at that time? Remember that he pointedly also decried the complacency of “southern men” that fed that system and kept it functioning? (If not, Google it.) Lynyrd Skynyrd answered his accusation in the lyrics of one of their songs, “Sweet Home Alabama”. There was more to it than that, but basically they were making the same complaint of Mr. Young’s observation and call to wake up and do something rather than continue to be a cog in the racism machine. Whether or not a white man personally lynched or raped someone, he could have contributed to an environment in which violent racist shitheads think their behavior is A-OK. If you stand back when racist jokes are told, do not call your family and friends out for not renting to people of color, if you ride the wave of white privilege and benefit from it, no matter blithely unaware you may be of your involvement, you are part of the problem. Only the privileged class can choose to change their behavior to fix the problem of inequality. In this case, the privileged class we are discussing are men. It is not sexist to say so.

    BTW, Skynyrd’s last tour was the God and Guns tour. Yea, you’re on that side of this debate.

    I’ve heard variation of your argument so many times. I’ve had to explain to white men that there is no “White History” section in our bookstore, because the just plain ‘ol “History” section covers mostly Anglo history anyway. They still left complaining that we were massive anti-white racists for having a “Black History” section. You know what? Those poor marginalized little cupcakes remind me of another group.

    How often do Christians scream that they are being persecuted for having to make room in the world for people with beliefs different from theirs? How often are LGBTQ folks and atheists told that they are, in fact, the true oppressors because we should be nicer, we should respect “both sides” of their bigoted arguments? How closely does that parallel with the MRA, rape apoligist, “What about teh menz”, “Partirarchy? What patriarchy?”, crap we’ve all been reading and hearing in our real lives?

    Bridgette, you’re making the same arguments here.

    So, yes. I was rude. You don’t even understand the terms you are using. You don’t know what sexism even is and yet, you are accusing this blogger of making sexist comments. ..and I see no reason to respond to that politely.

    I understand you have personal stories and experience with this. I have too. I remember clearly the age at which it was explained to me that I was not to sit down to the table until the men had finished eating and the time I was sent to the principal’s office for slapping a boy who was forcing a girl’s face into his crotch on the bus. (I warned him first. But pretending to make a girl felate him was just so funny to his friends that he refused to stop.) ..and I tell those gems because I doubt I have to mention much else for you to know where I’m coming from. What’s my point? Long after I had recognized that there was something very wrong with society, I did not know what sexism was. I did not know how much of it I doled out to other women (and myself) due to soaking in a sea of sexism from birth. There is a reason it has been referred to as “The problem with no name”. You’re experience does not equal full understanding of the problem you are trying to speak to. You criticized instead of asking for clarification or attempting to educate yourself. Whether or not you used naughty words, you were incredibly rude, wrong and seemed totally unwilling to take a time out to check yourself.

    I can only apologize that your obtuse criticism happened to be the straw on this camels back. I’m all out of nice. That’s not your fault.

    • June 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm —

      “I’m not apologizing.”

      I like you. You should stop lurking. :)

      Also, wow … I feel like I just learned something! That whole thing about Young/Skynard was fascinating. Thank you!

      Whether or not you used naughty words, you were incredibly rude, wrong and seemed totally unwilling to take a time out to check yourself.

      THIS. So much this. I’m tired of people calling others rude just because someone said “fuck”. Being very polite doesn’t mean you’re not being rude — it just means you know how to hide your rudeness behind a lot of nice words.

      That’s actually worse, imo, because it’s far easier to say, “But they are being so reasonable about it! So polite! Maybe they are right!”

      This brings me back to the golden age of LiveJournal, when the “snark” communities were very popular. There was one very commenter, I believe her name was pester who did this same bullshit. She was just so nice and reasonable sounding — all the while saying that adoption is evil (across the board), that children should remain in foster care if there isn’t a family member willing to take them, and that eugenics is totally fucking awesome. And people would listen to her, because she was just oh so polite. While calling adoptive parents evil.

      THIS is why tone-trolling is so frustrating. A few fucks does not mean someone’s argument is invalid. And we’re all adults here. If you can’t handle a few swear words without freaking out, then perhaps you should leave the discussion to adults.

      • June 20, 2012 at 4:41 pm —

        It’s okay to be passive-aggressively insulting and completely disingenuous, but, rude!?

        *faints dead away*

        • June 20, 2012 at 6:29 pm —

          Fuck, yes!

          (I normally never swear, but I thought I’d try it out. It feels weird.)

          • June 20, 2012 at 6:30 pm

            Ah, here I go replying to the wrong person again. Marilove, that comment was meant for you.

        • June 20, 2012 at 6:43 pm —

          I guess the thing that gets my goat (tee hee hee) is that in the general scheme of the blogosphere/commentosphere this conversion is quite tame, civil, and productive. Yet Bridgette seems to take great joy in repeating the same things over and over again while not listening to the arguments anyone else makes while blaming it on the “echo chamber”. If this was Greta Christina’s blog she would have long ago earned the dreaded “Thank you for sharing” from the Great One. We like sarcasm. We like lively discussion. We even like mild insult humor. Passive-aggressiveness, tone trolling, and general deafness to argument? Not so much…

      • June 20, 2012 at 5:29 pm —

        I don’t know if you are familiar with the Harry Potter universe, but this put me in mind of that character Deloris Umbridge.

        The name is not subtle I know, but she was oh so polite while being incredibly evil.

        • June 20, 2012 at 5:47 pm —

          Haha, YES! Good comparison!

          I know I’m kind of aggressive sometimes, but at least you know where I’m coming from, and that I’m being honest. I’m not hiding bullshit behind a thin, insincere level of “niceness”. I say it like I feel it, and even if you disagree with me, at least you know I’m being real. Fucks and all.

        • June 20, 2012 at 5:48 pm —

          I think that’s a pretty good characterization of the type.

  34. June 20, 2012 at 5:54 pm —

    This is off-topic, but I don’t know where else to ask.

    I’m new to participating in blogs. How do all of you keep up with the threads you’re commenting in? I find that I have to go back and check the page and search for my username and look below each comment for new replies to my comments. Is there a better way?

    • June 20, 2012 at 5:58 pm —

      Not that I’ve found. It’s not an ideal system, to say the least. They tried to make it more user friendly awhile back, but it didn’t take. Hopefully the overlords will give it another shot when they get a moment to breathe.

      These long threads get really hard to follow.

      • June 20, 2012 at 6:36 pm —

        Well, at least we have threads here, unlike most of the blogs at FtB, where you have to do “@ok #29:” etc.

    • June 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm —

      The new commenting system SUCKS. We all hate it. But they are well aware and are working on it. It’s just not a priority right now, which I understand.

      • June 20, 2012 at 6:37 pm —

        OK, so it’s not just me. That’s a relief!

        • June 20, 2012 at 7:26 pm —

          Sometimes I like to think that the internet was built on discovering ways to communicate in awkward formats.

          • June 25, 2012 at 2:45 am

            Hehe! :)

    • June 20, 2012 at 6:43 pm —

      Well, the comment system will not scare me away. This is the best blog ever. I feel at home here already. It could be because of all the generous and friendly people who hang out here who make me feel welcome, or it could be because I’ve been reading Skepchick daily for the last 6 years.

  35. June 20, 2012 at 6:33 pm —

    I actually think this is being taken way to lightly from a legal standpoint. The guy was trying to film up people’s dresses? In our state, certain types of voyerism are illegal and so is stalking.

    In college my apartment roomate bailed suddenly and I was forced to let a stranger be my roomate. Soon the cops actually stopped me on the street to ask me about him. He was peering in windows and following women. He’s in jail now.

    If this were my conference I’d take the offenders aside, ask them exactly what they were doing, make them squirm, play mind games with them and then toss them unceremoniously out into the street.

    • June 20, 2012 at 6:35 pm —

      Correction: he was in jail soon after. Sorry.

    • June 20, 2012 at 6:46 pm —

      I keep wondering how he held that camera. I mean, it was mounted on a short stick. And he was holding it. At ankle height. Eh, what?

      I wish someone would draw a diagram, because I can’t see how he could do this without bending over. Unless he’s really short, or has really long arms.

      • June 20, 2012 at 7:01 pm —

        Correction: Unless he’s had really short legs, or really long arms.

      • June 20, 2012 at 7:03 pm —

        Or was the camera strapped to his ankle?

        Super creepy in any case.

        • June 20, 2012 at 7:17 pm —

          I think it was on one of those unipods

          • June 20, 2012 at 8:19 pm

            That’s what I read, but I still can’t picture it. No matter. It’s an unimportant detail.

        • June 20, 2012 at 9:01 pm —

          I don’t know and I don’t have any interest in knowing.

          • June 20, 2012 at 11:41 pm

            Neither do I, now that I think of it. Sorry I brought it up.

        • June 21, 2012 at 2:12 am —

          You can look them up on youtube. I don’t know if I can post a link here but they are easy enough to find. Picture a single legged extension type stick you screw the camera onto the bottom and then you tilt it towards you. You can then extend the leg short or long in front of you to take pictures of yourself and someone without it being that dumb arm in the way pose.

          It’s a ridiculous assertion IMO that he was resting it by his feet.

          Btw when I come somewhere new I tend to be polite. I generally curse and have hearty conversation. No one has ever accused me of being polite. So your “tone trolling ideas” seem to be something you’ve had an issue with before and are dumping on me.

          Also, one of your members here used the term Echo Chamber which I thought was another lingo you use here. So I used it and got slammed for it.

          I liked the conversation about being a good ally. And like I said, I’m not trying to make excuses and I’m not blaming people for being angry. But it’s something to think about. That one sentence could have been left out and the entire blog would have been perfect.

          Or when Rebecca Watson talked about Elevator guy it could have been about “this upset me and was very inappropriate and pissed me off”

          Not telling Guys not to do something when “guys” didn’t do it. One guy did it. And she had every right to be mad at him.

          Anyway that’s all I really have to say. I thought this was going to be a lively place to post but I just don’t like meanspirited high fiving type commentary discussions. I also thought a lot more people would have posted here. So cheerio.

          Good luck to you all. You’ve given me some things to think about. I hope I’ve done the same.

          • June 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm

            Also, one of your members here used the term Echo Chamber which I thought was another lingo you use here. So I used it and got slammed for it.

            Did you read any of the responses to Dave, who did initially use “Echo Chamber”? All responses were explaining how we ARE NOT an “echo chamber”. And why are you taking terms that you don’t really understand and just tossing them out there? Because you like the way they sound?

            Also, ALL OF THESE TERMS are very basic feminism terminology that you would understand if you had any understanding of feminism.

            And finally, “Echo chamber” isn’t “our term” — it’s just a word people like to throw out when they want to complain about people not agreeing with their bullshit.

            I provided a link to a site titled Derailing 101. Did you look at it? So far, I am pretty positive you’ve not researched any of the terms we’ve told you to research, or clicked on any of the links we’ve provided to you. Someone else also mentioned this and you conveniently ignored them.

            That one sentence could have been left out and the entire blog would have been perfect.

            Oh, I see. So you only had a problem with ONE SENTENCE, but it was such a damn big deal compared to sexual harassment, that you had to derail our entire discussion and focus on that ONE little sentence out of hundreds of other sentences … why? Because you like to hear yourself talk?

            Not to mention we’ve already explained to you what she actually meant by that sentence — which was not what you initially assumed. Yet you keep ignoring that!

            As shill said:

            Let me say that “Guys, don’t do this” can be reasonably expanded to the words “Guys who do this, don’t do this.” It cannot be reasonably expanded to mean “Guys who don’t do this, don’t do this.”

            HOW DIFFICULT IS THIS TO UNDERSTAND? Jesus! And did you actually read the original post and the original video, or are you just going off of what *other people* have told you? Something tells me this is the case, which is seriously ridiculous.

            So your “tone trolling ideas” seem to be something you’ve had an issue with before and are dumping on me.

            Dude. Don’t tone troll. Just don’t. We point this out to ANYONE WHO DOES IT. You’re not special and we’re not dumping anything on you. We’re just telling you to stop it like we do everyone else.

            You’re impossible. You really need to do some research on feminism before you attempt to speak again, because it is very, very clear to me that you don’t have any understanding of the topic.

          • June 21, 2012 at 8:47 pm

            One question: Rebecca and Lee were both telling stories about their experiences where they were made to feel uncomfortable by someone.

            Whether they were right or wrong to use the words that they did, is there a particular reason why you feel they should – in addition to already having suffered the event itself – now be told that they need to watch what they say?

            Isn’t that kind of kicking someone when they’re already down?

  36. June 20, 2012 at 8:27 pm —

    I have been known to kick ass on standardized tests of English usage.

    Let me say that “Guys, don’t do this” can be reasonably expanded to the words “Guys who do this, don’t do this.” It cannot be reasonably expanded to mean “Guys who don’t do this, don’t do this.”

    My thanks to everyone who is willing to keep the conversation reasonable. :-)

  37. June 23, 2012 at 2:26 pm —

    It should be perfectly acceptable for a woman being harassed to punch or kick a man in the groin. If that happened all the time in public places, maybe harassement should stop.

    We do not tolerate child molesters and encourage children who are abused to speak out, why should abuse of women by men by any different.

    BTW, I can speak without bias because I am a cis-man.

  38. June 30, 2012 at 12:46 am —

    I’ve been called a creep for asking someone to coffee. I asked, not because I was looking to have sex, but because I liked their company, and wanted to continue the conversation. Sex wasn’t even on my mind.
    Once, a fellow classmate of mine made a particularly good point in class. After class I ran up to her, and began to compliment her on her thinking. I got shot down with an, “I’m not interested in you. Stay away from me.” It was the first and only time we had ever spoken outside of class.
    I’ve been on the receiving end of some sexual hate, and prejudice. I was in no way making a sexual advance, or being “creepy”. Unfortunately there is a prejudice, that all men want is one thing. Not all of us do.
    Is it a situation where harassment is so prevalent that it is the default assumption for people to make, when presented with a new situation? Or, is it an unbalanced fear of harassment that causes people to see it in every dark corner whether it is there or not?
    I’m asexual. I’m not attracted to either sex. I don’t participate in the barbarous mating rituals that the rest of you do.
    I know sexual harassment is real. I’ve suffered some of it myself. (stories for another time.) However, if you spend your life looking for it in every corner, you are going to see it in every corner. That doesn’t seem like a healthy way for a person to live… at least not to me.

Leave a reply