Welcome to part nine in my ongoing series where I reach out to the men in leadership positions in the secular communities to get their thoughts and advice on how to deal with and move forward from the hate and harassment we have seen directed at the women in our communities of us in recent months.

Today, I bring you the words of Michael Payton. Michael is the National Director for the Centre for Inquiry, Canada.

Michael comes at the problem by way of an anecdote that shows how some can begin to understand the concepts of privilege and oppression through personal experience while others can experience this through empathy. Though sadly, many have yet to learn these lessons.

Michael’s story after the jump.

From Michael:

As a leader much younger than many of my peers I find it difficult to add anything that has not already been said. Perhaps more importantly I’ve noticed a very strong trend in the recent posts from other leaders. All of us without exception so far, have been white and male. Fundamentally, I feel it would be inappropriate to make declarative statements about harassment endured by women. Even if I have seen it, and it’s effects myself firsthand. In many ways I feel it would exacerbate the situation for women to have me comment on their lived experience. Because of this I think it would better for me to ask a question about our movement rather than make a statement.

In the province of Ontario, the government funds both a public school system and a separate religious Catholic school system. In 2009, we began to see a string of suicides of Gay youth in High Schools. Many of them were taunted, teased, beaten up, driven out of their schools and in some cases even their families. In response our Education Minister stated that schools had to allow Gay Straight Alliances as support groups in all publicly funded schools: including the religious ones.

There was enormous political backlash to this resolution from religious right in Canada, which is otherwise relatively docile compared to their American counterparts. They lobbied, they held public demonstrations, they held parades, they jeered at committees and fought against the Bill at every opportunity. Sitting in the back benches of the public legislature, listening to their testimony I often felt like I had been transplanted back into the 12th Century.

Fellow volunteers and friends at CFI rallied to provide a voice for these kids in opposition of such hatred and bigotry. Outnumbered, overworked and exhausted we eventually won. The Bill was passed and I am proud to say that thanks to our efforts there will now be safe spaces for gay kids in all Ontario Schools come September.

When the victory was announced we arranged a modest victory party at the home of one of the organizers. Speaking to one of the students who had his club disbanded by Catholic Trustees, I told him how sorry I was that he had to go through this experience at such a young age. He was only 14.

He paused in thought for a moment and then replied that he wasn’t sorry. He told me that this experience had given him something that he wouldn’t have gotten in any other way: the experience of being oppressed. He grew up as a male, in a white, rich, suburban area. For most of his life oppression was something that happens only to other people. Speaking to me that afternoon he said he now felt a deeper connection to other oppressed people. Perhaps it’s something you can only learn through being driven from home, attacked by teachers, and shunned by peers and politicians alike.

After listening to him, I began to think about our own movement. Why haven’t we learned this lesson? All of the vile threats, the harassment, the anger we express not just to our opponents but even to each other. Did we forget that many of us too have been shunned by our families and lost our friends? Yet thousands of us visit these same terrors on each other every day. For some reason, instead of building a community based cooperation, tolerance and support, we’ve become a group of verbal thugs. We have become our own oppressors.

We are supposed to be the voice of reason. We’re supposed to be the smart ones, free from bigotry and dogma. If that were true, how could we have let this happen?

Michael Payton is the National Director for the Centre for Inquiry, Canada.

Prior posts in this series can be found by clicking the links below.

Speaking out against hate directed at women: David Silverman

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Dale McGowan

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Ronald A Lindsay

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Nick Lee

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Barry Karr

Speaking out against hate directed at women: David Niose

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Matt Dillahunty

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Jim Underdown

More to come.

Amy Roth

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and writes about vegan food. She is the founder and president of the Los Angeles Women's Atheist and Agnostic Group: LAWAAG. Follow her on twitter: @SurlyAmy or on Google+.

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67 Comments

  1. Avatar of a-jay
    August 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm —

    Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for oppressed people to become oppressors themselves. One example that comes to mind is the government of Israel, which consists mostly of Jews that have a long history of being oppressed, and who are currently oppressing the Palestinian people.

    This just goes to show that we always have to work to stop oppression and expand people’s empathy.

  2. Avatar of mrmisconception
    August 3, 2012 at 1:33 pm —

    I’ll just put this here.

    EMOTIONS OVERRULE RATIONALITY AT CFI: CANADA

    It might be helpfully informative.

    • Avatar of zylla
      August 3, 2012 at 1:37 pm —

      Is that supposed to be a link?

      • Avatar of mrmisconception
        August 3, 2012 at 1:43 pm —

        It was supposed to be, didn’t work appearantly.

        Let me just put the link straight up;

        http://skepchick.org/2011/11/emotions-overrule-rationality-at-cfi-canada/

        • Avatar of zylla
          August 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm —

          Ah, there it is. Thank you!

        • Avatar of Tokugawa Miyako
          August 3, 2012 at 1:56 pm —

          This link is only barely relevant and appears to be posted only to personally damage the writer of of the above blog entry.

          Firstly, it is outdated. It is a description of events that took place months ago and the situation at CFI Canada has changed since its posting.

          Secondly, it only mentions Payton once close to the end. It refers to him as a “mens’ rights activist”. This statement is simply false. Payton was involved with Trottier’s podcast but vocally disagreed with Trottier on most of his men’s rights positions, defended feminism and no longer associates with Justin (beyond CFI activities) or Justin’s MRA work. It should also be noted that Katie Kish, the author of the post you linked to was also involved with Justin’s podcast.

          The post also describes him as being “of questionable character” without providing any examples or evidence to illustrate her point. This makes me suspect some sort of personal bias.

          Seeing how CFI Canada has been working hard to reestablish itself following the chaos it went through and has been involved in good work such as the above mentioned GSA struggle, we should really be responding to the work done by the organization now rather than continuing to spread misinformation/biased information in order to continue to slam them for what happened in the recent past.

    • Avatar of Richard Huffman
      August 3, 2012 at 2:16 pm —

      *pats the passive-aggressive troll on the head and places a cookie in its grubby little paws*

      • Avatar of mediumdave
        August 3, 2012 at 2:55 pm —

        Something tells me that there can’t be too many badgers named Richard Huffman out there… care to drop me a line? ([email protected])

      • Avatar of mrmisconception
        August 3, 2012 at 3:41 pm —

        A link to this blog, that pointed out possible connections to MRA (not the only accusations I have seen, BTW), after a response in which he did not address the threats against women directly at all is irrelevant?

        Well I think it is a piece of the puzzle, if that makes me a troll then so be it.

        And @Tokugawa Miyako, when you have to say repeatedly that you detractors are misrepresenting you then maybe it’s not your detractors who are mistaken. Just a thought.

        • Avatar of Tokugawa Miyako
          August 3, 2012 at 5:01 pm —

          The problem that I see is that the detractors are posting the same links over and over. They are to this blog entry, written by some who I don’t know but who may be biased based on the content of the entry and links to the Pendulum Effect podcast that Payton was a part of. When I listened to the podcast, I heard 2 things from Payton: the regurgitation of news stories and him arguing with Justin. This isn’t enough for me to write him off as MRA. If there is other evidence, I will reconsider my position. But the fact remains that no matter how many detractors make a statement, it does not make that statement true.

        • Avatar of Tokugawa Miyako
          August 3, 2012 at 5:04 pm —

          And also, I do think this entry is relevant to the women/harassment issue. It’s a little more round about than we might expect, but the last point especially about the hostility within our own movement was much needed, IMO. I feel that even talking about the harassment issue drew up a lot of unhelpful vitriol that may have done more harm than good (see the Thunderf00t situation).

          • Avatar of mrmisconception
            August 3, 2012 at 5:56 pm

            Your points are fully valid, I just thought it was relevant to the situation. I did not know that all of the other stories are echoes though I am not surprised.

            Posting that link was not meant as an attack and it wasn’t my finest move. I recalled CFI Canada having links to MRA and wondered if they were related to Mr. Payton so I did a quick search and found that story.

            I don’t disagree with his statement, I just noted that it wasn’t direct.

        • Avatar of Richard Huffman
          August 3, 2012 at 6:49 pm —

          (apologies for the duplicate comment in moderation, logged in with a different account than the one I previously had. >.< Also, this gave me the opportunity to catch up with the entire thread)

          It was a from-the-hip reaction to the balance between the tone of your words and the all-caps title, which is an odd way to present things if you're just trying to present information. I overreacted, though one thought: anyone can troll, anytime, and I sincerely felt the presentation was designed to evoke a reaction. My bad.

          Also, having gone round and round over at ZJ's blog and getting nowhere, I was a little quick to rant.

          • Avatar of mrmisconception
            August 3, 2012 at 7:03 pm

            No problem, as for the allcaps that was a result of highlighting and pasting the title from the original post and not noticing that it was allcaps. Pure laziness on my part, I suspect the colon in the title may be what borked the link as well.

            If this type of thing was dropped here by an unknown entity I might have assumed it was trolling too, like I said below not my best move.

      • Avatar of marilove
        August 3, 2012 at 4:04 pm —

        lol yeah he’s not a troll. that’s kind of hilarious, really. new here?

  3. Avatar of zylla
    August 3, 2012 at 1:36 pm —

    Whoa. Powerful.

  4. Avatar of mouthyb
    August 3, 2012 at 1:42 pm —

    mrmisconception: The link is borked.

    Payton: If you’re reading, I think it’s worth telling you that you can appropriately condemn sexual harassment without co-opting the experience of women. Absolutely, one cannot speak of others’ experiences for them. But one can, as you were doing, remark on its inappropriateness and demand better behavior.

    And kudos for your actions, both in writing this and in standing up for LGBT students.

  5. Avatar of captaintripps
    August 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm —

    I’m finding it hard to believe that that Michael Payton is the same person as this.

    • Avatar of Richard Huffman
      August 3, 2012 at 2:52 pm —

      The difference is between a focus on an offhand, ill-advised tweet someone sends (of which billions are sent each day) and looking at a substantially larger slice of someone’s experiences.

    • Avatar of Tokugawa Miyako
      August 3, 2012 at 3:01 pm —

      How can you compare one badly worded and clearly frustrated tweet to an entire blog entry? Especially when, if you read the tweets surrounding the one that Zinnia showed, you’ll find that context and what was actually meant by the tweet was completely misrepresented by Zinnia.

      • Avatar of GideonBanner
        August 3, 2012 at 4:29 pm —

        I was trying to look into it yesterday but I admit I’m not good with twitter. Can you fill the unenlightened in on what the context surrounding it was?

        • Avatar of Will
          August 3, 2012 at 4:32 pm —

          Click on the link that captaintripps provided. Make sure you also read the comments as there’s some other information in there.

          • Avatar of GideonBanner
            August 3, 2012 at 4:36 pm

            I’ve read it and theres the one on Benson and PZ’s blog I was hoping for something that could lead me a little closer to the wider context. I guess I’ll try to find something in the 180 comments…

          • Avatar of Will
            August 3, 2012 at 4:43 pm

            The thing is, the people who have been saying stuff like what Payton posted on twitter have been saying it in response to the majority of FtB bloggers supporting Skepchick/Rebecca, being pro-social justice, and supporting/lobbying for sexual harassment policies. It’s relevant because, whether Payton meant to or not, he expressed his sentiments on twitter in the same way (using the same language) that many MRAs and “slime pitters” have. So, yeah, it’s a little disconcerting to say the least.

            This coupled with his previous associations with MRA activities makes some people nervous (and probably a little confused).

          • Avatar of GideonBanner
            August 3, 2012 at 4:46 pm

            Ok no still not understanding me…. I totally understand that I read freethought blogs a fair bit. I’m also canadian and conscerned about the state of the canadian atheist skeptic movement. What I’m interested in is this part of the original post.

            “Especially when, if you read the tweets surrounding the one that Zinnia showed, you’ll find that context and what was actually meant by the tweet was completely misrepresented by Zinnia.”

            I tried reading the posts around it but I’m not used to twitter and I find it a bit of a mess. I was hoping I could get a clarification on the surrounding tweets that nuance Payton’s comment.

          • Avatar of Will
            August 3, 2012 at 4:49 pm

            I see. Sorry for the confusion. The way you worded it above seemed like you didn’t understand the context of Payton’s tweets.

            Carry on! ;)

          • Avatar of Tokugawa Miyako
            August 3, 2012 at 4:56 pm

            As I read the comments on Zinnia’s blog post, I become a little confused. No where in the Twitter fight between Payton and Cromwell was there any evidence that Payton was critical of FTB for their stance on women or the Thunderf00t issue. People are making this assumption and I can understand why they’d be nervous, but I think it’s a very hasty assumption to make. We don’t know exactly what the criticism is about. It may have little, if anything to do with those topics.

            We should be cautious about writing people off based on speculation.

    • Avatar of Tokugawa Miyako
      August 3, 2012 at 3:03 pm —

      Also, you can’t believe that someone critical of FTB would stand up for women and minorities? How does that add up?

      • Avatar of Will
        August 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm —

        Question: Why would someone be critical of FtB in general? There’s an assload of blogs over there. Don’t you find it the least bit odd that the vast majority of the people who criticize FtB as “groupthink” or whatever have been associated with or known as MRAs and slime pitters? They say the same thing about Skepchick (which is why Amy was bullied and harassed to such a degree–it’s a matter of association with Rebecca that people were “being critical” of her for, not anything Amy herself has actually done or said).

        So, sure, it’s not surprising that someone who is critical of FtB might write or say something that appears to be in support of women and minorities. It just also doesn’t give them a pass to be free of criticism, either.

        • Avatar of Tokugawa Miyako
          August 3, 2012 at 5:09 pm —

          I’m sure that Payton had some reason for his criticism of FTB. Or maybe he was just pissed at one or two bloggers and shot off an angry tweet exaggerating his dislike (how many times have we all done things like this?) I think it should also be noted that after Crommunist replied to Payton’s tweet, Payton pulled back and said that he didn’t actually mean for that tweet to be insulting. I really don’t know what the story is here, but it was a single tweet that a lot of people seem to be reading a lot into. That alone makes me raise an eyebrow about how much critical thinking we’re doing here…

        • Avatar of Tokugawa Miyako
          August 3, 2012 at 5:15 pm —

          Also, I mean nothing offensive by this and I can understand why this association is being made, but just because most FTB (or Skepchick) critics are MRAs and Slime Pitters does not mean that they all are.

          If we immediately make that association because we can’t possibly imagine why someone would be critical of X group, I’m worried. If there actually were a legitimate criticism to be made of FTB (I’m not sure there is) and it was written off by the assumption that the person voicing the criticism was a member of a batshit crazy group without evidence, that’s disturbing. Opposing batshit crazy groups of people is fine, but we can’t let their sieges turn us into reactionaries who are unwilling to take criticism when it’s legitimate.

        • Avatar of Richard Huffman
          August 3, 2012 at 6:52 pm —

          Just an answer to your question about why someone would be critical of FTB in general: as humans, we’re not rational critters. A bad experience with one part of a site can sour you to the whole thing, and lead to hasty, overbroad generalizations (the number of bloggers who denigrate YouTube as a whole, when there are some very solid vloggers there who engage in substantive discussion in both video and comments comes to mind – speaking as one of those uncivil YouTubers :D).

    • Avatar of Jackal
      August 3, 2012 at 4:44 pm —

      I’m also surprised. Payton disparaged the entire FTB network as unreadable group-think. The “group-think” characterization has mainly come from Tfoot supporters and Rebecca Watson haters. Tfoot’s first post on FTB, and the start of his disagreement with the other FTBloggers, argued that misogyny and harassment in the Secular community was too small of an issue to warrant discussion, so the FTBloggers should stop writing about them. From this post, we see that Payton disagrees with Tfoot, and posting here implies that he isn’t a Watson hater. So I’m left wondering what prompted his tweets. Which issues does he think have fallen to uncritical group-think on FTB, and which TFBloggers are unreadable?

  6. Avatar of Will
    August 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm —

    @Tokugawa Miyako

    I get what you’re saying, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable. I also don’t think it is unreasonable to post links and comments pointing out Payton’s problematic history. I’m definitely willing to take his words in the OP at face value and give him the benefit of the doubt. If other people are not comfortable doing that, I can certainly understand that sentiment, too.

    • Avatar of Richard Huffman
      August 3, 2012 at 6:46 pm —

      Just a thought: you say his “problematic” history as if there’s a problem there. I’m not certain where the problem is….

      • Avatar of Will
        August 3, 2012 at 8:03 pm —

        You’re not certain why his past involvement with MRA activities could be a problem for people concerned with social justice?

        • Avatar of Richard Huffman
          August 3, 2012 at 9:13 pm —

          I’m really trying to be delicate about this, and am worried I’m going to get a shitstorm of criticism, but you realize that the “activities” (being on a podcast run by Trottier, being associated with Trottier) are the exact same activities Katie Kish (who is not an MRA) was involved in?

          • Avatar of Will
            August 3, 2012 at 9:25 pm

            You didn’t answer my question.

            I don’t care what Katie Kish is or is not involved with as she didn’t just write a post about hatred directed at women.

            So I will ask my question again: Why are you uncertain that his past involvement with MRA activities could be a problem for people involved with social justice? What is it exactly that you see as nonsensical about that?

        • Avatar of Richard Huffman
          August 3, 2012 at 9:35 pm —

          I’m disagreeing with your premise, which that there is something extraordinary about his contact.

          If you want to play that game, you ignored my implicit question, which was “what is the problem that makes you say his past is problematic?”

          • Avatar of Will
            August 3, 2012 at 9:43 pm

            The reason his past is problematic has been pointed out by myself and by others here and elsewhere. You refusing to acknowledge that is not the same thing as it not being answered.

            At this point, I’m just going to assume that you’re trolling and not genuinely interested in having a conversation.

        • Avatar of Richard Huffman
          August 3, 2012 at 9:44 pm —

          Let me ask it more specifically: What *exactly* are you characterizing as “MRA activities” that are problematic?

          • Avatar of Will
            August 3, 2012 at 9:49 pm

            Go read the links that have been provided. I am not going to sit here and rehash all of it because you’re too lazy to do it yourself. It’s plain as day in the links provided in this thread how he’s been associated with MRA people and activities in the past. That fact alone is enough to warrant a reasonable suspicion of his post provided here. If you don’t agree, that’s fine. I don’t really give a shit.

            I’m done playing games with you.

        • Avatar of Richard Huffman
          August 3, 2012 at 9:53 pm —

          I have read the links, multiple times. What you’re alluding to is circumstantial at best.

          Fine, have a good weekend.

          • Avatar of Will
            August 3, 2012 at 9:57 pm

            What is this, a fucking court of law? There is no need for direct evidence and proof beyond a reasonable doubt for people to be suspicious and uncomfortable. His past associations and his recent use of similar MRA language on twitter are enough to warrant those reactions. It’s not as if people are calling for him to be beheaded–they’re just weary of him.

          • Avatar of mrmisconception
            August 3, 2012 at 11:31 pm

            He lied down with MRA dogs, are we supposed to feel bad for him now that he is itching?

  7. Avatar of sallystrange
    August 3, 2012 at 7:17 pm —

    Regarding Payton’s tweet: if he didn’t want to be mistaken for a person who hates FTB because he hates the whole idea of the skeptic/atheist movement embracing humanist principles, especially feminism, then he ought to have avoided mouthing the exact same criticism voiced by the people who hate FTB because they dislike feminism. He should have been specific in his criticism rather than general. And he should have kept in mind that his past association with MRAs (which have been declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center) would naturally cast doubt on his claims to not support the anti-feminist FTB hating faction.

    If he didn’t want to be perceived as throwing in his lot with the anti-feminists then he did a very bad job communicating.

  8. Avatar of Handbasketexpress
    August 3, 2012 at 9:44 pm —

    What if was co-host on a podcast advocating white power and interviewed and work with people who promote the idea that reverse racism is a real problem that we all need to fix and those darn equal rights activists were the real problem? What if I was friends with and well respected by members of the Klan? Then a couple years after that podcast a shitstorm of racism directed mostly at a certain set of bloggers was raging and I decided to insult them. Would anyone doubt my motives?

    • Avatar of Richard Huffman
      August 3, 2012 at 9:51 pm —

      Wow. Just wow.

      You really think that’s a fair comparison?

      Never mind. I know the answer to that.

      • Avatar of Will
        August 3, 2012 at 9:55 pm —

        It looks fair to me as they basically replaced sexism and racism and the Klan with MRA groups, and that’s basically Payton’s history.

        I’d ask you what’s unfair about it, but i know the answer to that.

        • Avatar of Richard Huffman
          August 3, 2012 at 10:03 pm —

          1. He was a guest, not a co-host.
          2. He has (in the links many people have provided, specifically on Canadian Atheist’s blog) publicly said he is not involved in the MRM.
          3. He made a stupid comment about the blog network, he didn’t insult the people.
          4. Twitter could not be better designed for thoughtless hasty generalizations unless it was directly wired into your brain, making the amount of weight put into this insult by y’all to be absurd.

          tl;dr You know nothing.

          Amy, thank you for this series, and my apologies for making this worse by arguing with those who have no desire to do anything but be angry.

          • Avatar of Will
            August 3, 2012 at 10:25 pm

            You:

            2. He has (in the links many people have provided, specifically on Canadian Atheist’s blog) publicly said he is not involved in the MRM.

            The comment you linked:

            Michael Payton has ceased his “men’s rights” activities.

            So while he may not be involved with MRA stuff now (which I don’t think anyone here has said that he is), he was in the past.

            In response to your third and fourth points, see Sallystrange’s comment above.

      • Avatar of sallystrange
        August 4, 2012 at 12:22 am —

        The Southern Poverty Law Center thinks it is a fair comparison. And it’s kind of their job to know these things. Do you disagree with their assessment?

        http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2012/spring/a-war-on-women

  9. Avatar of Handbasketexpress
    August 3, 2012 at 9:49 pm —

    “What if I..” typo.

    “We have become our own oppressors.” – Seriously? Who is this “we”?

  10. Avatar of Handbasketexpress
    August 3, 2012 at 10:05 pm —

    Richard, in what way is it different? I replaced one kind of hate group with another. If Payton no longer wishes to be associated with MRAs, then it is up to him to make that crystal clear. He has not.

  11. Avatar of Handbasketexpress
    August 3, 2012 at 10:09 pm —

    Richard: All I can say is that I completely disagree and think you are doing mental gymnastics to excuse this guy.

  12. Avatar of Handbasketexpress
    August 3, 2012 at 10:12 pm —

    Ceasing his “MRA activities” ? That’s your argument? Really?

    • Avatar of Richard Huffman
      August 3, 2012 at 10:14 pm —

      My last post here: No, that’s the specific you asked for. Given that what I’m arguing against is hating on someone essentially for making a stupid tweet that includes the word groupthink, I suspect we’re on a par.

      Bye!

    • Avatar of Tokugawa Miyako
      August 3, 2012 at 10:55 pm —

      Even if he was MRA in the past, it doesn’t mean that he’s still sympathetic to them. I was once very religious. Now I am an atheist who speaks out against religion.

  13. Avatar of doodlebug
    August 3, 2012 at 11:10 pm —

    I vague followed the previous CFI Canada blow up and was curious about this so I’m just looking into it now. I do want to say, not commenting on anything to do with twitter or FTB, that there are 2010 Pendulum Effect podcast episodes available here:

    http://www.podfeed.net/episodes.asp?id=16377&ct=1

    ~18 min into episode 17 (Ep17: News & Views Around the World – Where’s Dad on the Birth Certificate, Unmarried Fathers + Sexual Violence Against Men) Payton has this to say:
    I think the right way to go is to term it as part of what can be termed as feminist theory. That really what both feminists and us are against, or should be against, is traditional gender roles that place burdens on people, or place societal value on people that has nothing to do with their natural rights or democratic rights, but rather, fullfilling certain gender roles that I think are hopelessly out of date and hopelessly unrealistic.

    He then talks at some length about how it would be a mistake Men’s Rights Activists to set themselves against feminists because they are fighting for the same thing, while at the same time acknowledging the blatant hostility of some MRA groups. Keep in mind this was in 2010 before the whole MRA thing really exploded on the net.

    Anyway, I just found this and have only listened to that one podcast but I found him well spoken, reasonable, rational, not at all afraid to call another man on what he thought was overstating the MRA case and, frankly feminist.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception
      August 4, 2012 at 12:03 am —

      And from the show notes for episode 12 (July 3, 2009) of The Pendulum Effect here. “It is important to realize that while men have, given their lives in this case, to women’s rights, it would also be nice to see women standing up for men’s rights” -Michael Payton

      So we can play find the quote all day, there is a link in his past to MRA activity that is problematic, if that is strictly in his past then he really should make that known unequivocally.

      His reply here, that does not address the threats and intimidation that this series is about directly, is not the way to do that.

      • Avatar of doodlebug
        August 4, 2012 at 1:17 am —

        First, I don’t have any particular issue with the quote you mentioned because I don’t think that women standing up with men to help push for a change in how society sees men is contra to feminism at all. Not all people who see legit problems with the rigid gender roles forced on men are foaming at the mouth misogynists anymore than Andrea Dworkin or Valerie Solinas defined feminism. And I fully grant you that the absolute viciousness of MRAs is absolutely deplorable, but I think it’s a grave mistake to dismiss every point put forth. There are voices of reason, few though the often seem to be, who make very valid points.

        I come from a family that has a history of both prostate and breast cancer (much social support for the women, zero for the men), where the boys have all been circumcised in infancy and where teenage boys have been the victims of incredibly violent bullying (at the hands of more matcho male counterparts). My guys friends are generally soft-spoken geek guys who were all bullied. And at the same time, I’ve been the victim of assault, endless sexual harassment and come from a family where women have been raped and murdered. I am intensely aware of the need for support for feminist causes, but I don’t see how that cause is in anyway diminished by acknowledging that men suffer too. Not necessarily to the same extent, but for the same reasons. I am a feminist and I am not a misogynist-apologist in any capacity.

        As to his blog post, instead of just reiterating what was said, I think he was taking a different tack and appealing to those critical of the any harassment policy by drawing a parallel to a situation of which we are all aware and which we all agrees is deplorable and thereby trying to get the detractors to empathize with the situation and change their minds as opposed to just saying the behaviour will not be tolerated (which I think was poorly but essentially covered when he said: I find it difficult to add anything that has not already been said.)

        Anyway, that’s all I wanted to say. I don’t generally post as I don’t like getting into disagreements with people, online or in person. I’m just a big fan of empathy and alliances that further our causes.

        • Avatar of mrmisconception
          August 4, 2012 at 2:44 am —

          I am really not trying to argue with you.

          I will say that, if it were taken on its own, your interpretation of the quote I posted would be fair. However it was in the introduction to a podcast who’s team he had just joined, a podcast that took a very particular view of equality, who’s motto was “From Bias to Balance, Gender and Diversity from a New Perspective”, and on which his segment was called “who is fighting for men”.

          In that context “men’s rights” means something specific, if however that quote was from before he joined that podcast then we are back to having a troubling connection in his past that he has not dispelled.

          I hope that Mr. Payton is a good guy that simply used to associate with people he wouldn’t today but considering that Justin Trottier is still a spokesman for CFI Canada (and hasn’t apparently left his MRA ideas behind) and given how he has handled himself on Twitter recently you can color me skeptical.

  14. Avatar of absinthia
    August 4, 2012 at 7:48 am —

    After having criticized Mr. Underdown’s response, I don’t want to sound like I’m supporting this one, which is also weak just on it’s own merits, but I would like to point out that he did not have to respond to Amy’s request. He could have chosen to remain silent.

    My take on his response, as a stand-alone piece: It seems to me that the anecdote he includes suggests that he, too, has been blinded by privilege.

  15. Avatar of pipenta
    August 4, 2012 at 9:55 am —

    If someone has been blinded by privilege in the past, it is not necessarily a problem if they are now aware and making serious efforts.

    Aren’t we aiming for change? For reform? I was too young, too white, too removed to have been aware of the pivot point in the African American civil rights movement. But I am in no way removed from the GLBT civil rights movement and even this most recent electric pivot moment in which it is no longer automatically socially acceptable to be aggressively homophobic. Yes, there is a battle ahead of us. Yes, there are circles in which bigotry is championed. But also, yes, those circles are under attack and they KNOW IT. They are on the defensive. This is how change happens. Not easy. Not all at once. But such a change from when I was in seventh grade and the music teacher whispered implications to the class about Johnny Ray, nothing specific, nothing clear, just hints of something dark and twisted. Not to say that sort of thing isn’t happening even as I type this. However, now there are places in this country where she would be taken to task. There are places where her ass would be handed to her on a platter. And even if that teacher would still be a homophobe (and she might not, now that she has seen out individuals and an out gay culture no longer in the frightening shadows), she probably would think twice before blurting out her homophobic nonsense in front of her students. Here in Connecticut, I suspect she’d face some social tar and feathering. But it would likely not be necessary. In fact, I think it is highly likely that, looking back, she’d be ashamed of herself.

    Because people can learn. ALL OF US. Even white males who’ve been at the top of the food chain. We all have our assumptions. We all have our prejudices. Broad and nuanced empathy is a skill that requires practice.

    I, for one, am encouraged by all the hue and cry about the treatment of women at conventions. At first, elevatorgate seemed demoralizing. And the grotesque treatment of Rebecca Watson and her supporters feeds a cold rage in many of our hearts. But it has become a teaching moment. Even Richard Dawkins has contributed, albeit in an inadvertent way that will read historically, I think, as more of a banana peel slapstick moment than anything else. Elevatorgate was the steaming pile on the carpet. Some dogs look at it and say, I have never made a mess like that. Other dogs look at it and suddenly realize a bit more sensitivity is in order. And then you have those dogs such that, even if you grab them by the scruff of the neck and rub their noses in the mess, are still gonna crap on the rug. Sadly, with those dogs, you just can’t let them in the house…

    But yes, a teaching moment. What we had was a pile of crap. Now we got roses growing out of some of it. I’m encouraged. We all are capable of learning. It’s always a good day when some of us do!

    • Avatar of Buzz Parsec
      August 4, 2012 at 3:42 pm —

      “Elevatorgate was the steaming pile on the carpet. Some dogs look at it and say, I have never made a mess like that. Other dogs look at it and suddenly realize a bit more sensitivity is in order. And then you have those dogs such that, even if you grab them by the scruff of the neck and rub their noses in the mess, are still gonna crap on the rug. Sadly, with those dogs, you just can’t let them in the house…”

      +1 on your dog metaphor. COTW.

      I like to imagine I’m the first type of dog. At least, I’m pretty sure I’m not the 3rd. We need to keep discussing this in order to get the attention of the 2nd type.

  16. Avatar of benbradley
    August 5, 2012 at 6:36 pm —

    While not directly related to the OP’s comments, this may be of interest for those involved with skeptic and related conventions: After a harassment-related kerfuffle over recent weeks, Readercon does a turnaround and enforces its own strong anti-harassment policy:

    http://readercon.org/publicstatement.htm

    For reference, here’s an earlier description of the problem (the harassment AND the the initial lack of fully enforcing a clearly spelled out policy of permanently banning harassers):

    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/07/31/readercon-harassment-etc/

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