Women in Secularism 2 is underway this weekend, with dozens of badass female leaders scheduled to take the stage. Things got off to an interesting start yesterday with the opening lecture, given by Ron Lindsay, the CEO of the Center for Inquiry. You can read the text of his talk in full here.

To summarize, Lindsay spends a good deal of time arguing against the idea that feminism as a movement has no significant internal disagreements, an absurd idea I have never actually heard expressed by any feminists, but I suppose Lindsay and I travel in different circles. Lindsay doesn’t mention who exactly has argued this point so I can’t check to see why on Earth they’d think something so obviously contradictory to reality. It seems impossible to me that a person could be involved in modern day feminism in any way without noticing the lively and occasionally contentious debates among feminists about topics like intersectionality, particularly with regards to the fringe radical feminists who hold openly transphobic beliefs.

Lindsay then moves on to what seems to be the crux of his talk: he has a serious problem with feminists who use the word “privilege” as a way to silence men – to tell men to “shut up and listen.”

But it’s the second misapplication of the concept of privilege that troubles me most. I’m talking about the situation where the concept of privilege is used to try to silence others, as a justification for saying, “shut up and listen.” Shut up, because you’re a man and you cannot possibly know what it’s like to experience x, y, and z, and anything you say is bound to be mistaken in some way, but, of course, you’re too blinded by your privilege even to realize that.

Lets be clear: there are, without a doubt, people who misuse the term “privilege” and there are those who use the concept of privilege as their sole point of argumentation. To give an example, recently Rhys Morgan criticized the transphobic RadFem conference on Twitter, and in return he got some ridiculous angry responses accusing him of being a male oppressor/rapist. When Amanda Marcotte and I supported Rhys, we were all called “pimp apologists:”

So there’s an example of feminists vehemently disagreeing with one another and an example of a feminist misusing privilege as a way to stop a discussion. And yet, it is absolutely not an example of anyone – Rhys, Amanda, or me – being silenced. That feminist did not start an entire blog dedicated to calling Rhys slurs. She did not open a forum for people to post Photoshopped pictures of Rhys in pornographic poses. She did not repeatedly threaten to kill or rape him. She did not organize a mob of people to do the same. Rhys was not hounded every day via Twitter, Facebook, email, and comments on his blog. He wasn’t disinvited from conferences where he was expected to speak. He didn’t quit his online activities in attempt to stem the flow of hatred coming at him. He didn’t consult the police when that didn’t work.

That transphobic radical feminist did not silence him, me, or Amanda – though to be very clear, I’m certain there have been transphobic feminists who have silenced transgender people, a group that is already marginalized and abused by society as a whole.

In his talk, Lindsay didn’t give any examples of men who have been silenced, though he has promised to provide some. In the meanwhile, the audience is forced to examine the only example provided: Lindsay himself, a white male who is CEO of one of the largest skeptic organizations in the world and who delivered the 30-minute introductory lecture at a women’s conference. There doesn’t seem to be much danger of his voice being silenced, though of course I may not be aware of some behind-the-scenes campaign to drive him into obscurity.

Meanwhile, nowhere in Lindsay’s speech did he mention feminists like Jen McCreight, who has been so bullied and harassed that she did in fact quit attending conferences and she quit blogging and being active on social media in the hopes the anti-feminists would finally leave her alone. They didn’t. That is silencing. Nowhere did Lindsay mention that every day I and other feminists get slurs, rape jokes, and death threats from fellow skeptics and secularists. That is an attempt at silencing, though it is an attempt that will not work until the day one person follows through on the threat.

When faced with my criticism of his tone deafness, Lindsay didn’t hesitate to include me in the list of feminists trying to shut him up. He seems to be confused, assuming any discussion about how race, gender, and other attributes influence our outlook and our biases is a call for people of privilege to have no say. This is quite obviously absurd – I myself am incredibly privileged as a white, straight, cisgendered, able-bodied, middle class educated American, but do I demand that I and anyone like me never engage in discussions of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or class? Of course not – I merely hope that we engage in these conversations with compassion and understanding, ultimately encouraging the people directly affected by those issues to have a voice and an audience. Instead of blogging on behalf of LGBTQ people, I set up Queereka and gave it to LGBTQ people to run. Instead of blogging on behalf of people with disabilities, I asked people with disabilities to tell their own stories. And at no point do I ever tell these people that the real problem is in the way they fight for their rights.

It’s a shame that with so many wonderful, inspiring women on stage at this event, the gut feeling I’ll be taking home is yet more disappointment and disillusionment in the leadership of the organized secular/skeptic movement.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org and appears on the weekly Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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244 Comments

  1. Avatar of Cygore
    May 18, 2013 at 11:48 am —

    The disappointing thing is that CFI is one of the better secular organizations out there.

  2. Avatar of Rillion
    May 18, 2013 at 11:49 am —

    I’m confused. How does saying that men are sometimes told to shut up because male privilege contradict or obfuscate the fact that women and feminists are also told to shut up? And isn’t it a bit odd to complain about man criticizing men being told to shut up and their opinions don’t matter because they’re male, while in the same post featuring a tweet which says exactly that?

    • Avatar of Jubal
      May 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm —

      Oh, I see. Perhaps try to read the article you’re commenting? It should shed some light on the questions you have.

  3. Avatar of
    May 18, 2013 at 11:55 am —

    It’s a women’s conference in the sense that the conference subject is ‘women in secularism’, not in the sense that only women may attend or speak. So the fact that Lindsay gave the opening speech shouldn’t really be a matter of note in and of itself, should it? Nor should the fact that he’s white. Can’t you just concentrate on substance without having to preface your remark with ‘white, male’ etc etc? You know that men are not the source of all evil, women not the fount of all goodness, feminism is not monolithic and many women happen to disagree with you.

    ‘Instead of blogging on behalf of LGBTQ people, I set up Queereka and gave it to LGBTQ people to run’ – well how very noble of you…and how very fortunate, those dear little LGBTQ people were.

    • Avatar of Will
      May 18, 2013 at 12:07 pm —

      It absolutely does matter that a white man gave the opening remarks at WiS2. The event is meant to be a place for women to voice their concerns. If it was just a white man giving the opening remarks, it would just leave a ? over my head. But when it’s a white man poopooing feminism and demonstrating his complete ignorance of the concept of privilege while simultaneously accusing feminists of silencing men? That’s a WTF? moment.

      See, the thing is, the substance is important, but you cannot separate the substance from the context–an older white man giving these remarks at a feminist conference. That matters–as much as you’d like to pretend that it doesn’t–because this is supposed to be a place for women’s voices to be heard, not a place for more of the same bullshit from white men.

      And I say all this as a white man.

      You know that men are not the source of all evil, women not the fount of all goodness, feminism is not monolithic and many women happen to disagree with you.

      Rebecca never said anything different from this. You’re really grasping at straws!

      ‘Instead of blogging on behalf of LGBTQ people, I set up Queereka and gave it to LGBTQ people to run’ – well how very noble of you…and how very fortunate, those dear little LGBTQ people were.

      As one of those little LGBTQ people (in fact, the admin of Queereka), I am very fortunate that Rebecca has set up Queereka. It takes a lot of resources and time to set up and run the server that hosts the site, it’s not free to run a site that gets thousands of hits per week, you know! I don’t think Rebecca is saying she’s noble or whatever other bullshit you’re trying to ascribe to her. She’s saying that she recognizes the value of letting people give voice to their own experiences, and she’s provided space for us to do it. I, for one, am super grateful for that. So I’d appreciate it if you’d stop trying to use us as a “gotcha” point against Rebecca.

      • Avatar of marilove
        May 18, 2013 at 12:10 pm —

        I don’t think Rebecca is saying she’s noble or whatever other bullshit you’re trying to ascribe to her.

        You mean metaburbia just loves straw men and grasping at said straw men? NO WAI.

        • Avatar of Will
          May 18, 2013 at 12:12 pm —

          I know, it’s a shocker, huh!

          Too bad he can’t just STICK TO THE SUBSTANCE!!!!!!!1!1!11eleventyone

      • Avatar of Mark Thomas
        May 18, 2013 at 2:32 pm —

        “But when it’s a white man poopooing feminism and demonstrating his complete ignorance of the concept of privilege while simultaneously accusing feminists of silencing men?”

        This entire sentence is almost entirely backward. The only thing you got right was that he’s a “white man” – but even that is incomplete, he is also “president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Georgetown University and his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.” He’s the guy running the organization which designed and is hosting the conference, I think his opinion carries more than a little weight here.

        The rest of that sentence looks like a deliberate misreading of his talk – assuming you heard it or read the talk he posted on the CFI blog. At no point did he poopoo feminism. The point of his talk, Rebecca’s analysis notwithstanding, was “the critical importance of advocacy for women’s rights, and how this advocacy was integral to CFI’s mission.”

        On the concept of privilege – he never defined the term as he understands it (and as a result you can’t charge him with complete ignorance of the subject) but he did say this, “it’s a concept that has some validity and utility.” Right after that sentence, he added this “it’s also a concept that can be misused, misused as a way to try to silence critics” which appears to be the reason Rebecca’s mad at him.

        But here’s the thing – based on my own experiences here, there are people who are more than happy to silence their critics. On another thread here I made – coincidentally – a similar point to the one Lindsay is making in this talk. Instead of discussing that point, marilove and others told me to fuck off, and I’m pretty sure you argued that I find another blog somewhere else.

        Now – no one, to my knowledge, stalked me or threatened me. But you certainly were not welcoming of my viewpoint, such as it is. This is what Lindsay is trying to combat.

        Contrast my treatment here with my treatment at the slymepit – which I do not endorse, btw. I decided to do a little online experiment after I was told to fuck off here, and posted a comment critical of something Justin Vacula had written over at that site. Not only did the commenters there not descend upon me like a pack of wild dogs, three of them actually agreed with my point and piled on him.

        This is not, again, an endorsement of that site, and it is just two data points (my experience here vs. my experience there posting on feminist issues) but these two data points, and Rebecca’s response to Lindsay’s talk, seem to confirm the point he’s making.

        Remember, once again, that this is the person responsible for putting this conference on. He’s charging into the discussion where others have stayed silent. And yet when he simultaneously offers a bit of criticism to a small part of the feminist movement, the result is that Rebecca is left feeling “disappointment and disillusionment in the leadership of the organized secular/skeptic movement.” I would suggest that says more about Rebecca than it does about Lindsay.

        Finally – read this portion of Lindsay’s talk, and if the shoe fits…

        “It’s the approach that the dogmatist who wants to silence critics has always taken because it beats having to engage someone in a reasoned argument. It’s the approach that’s been taken by many religions. It’s the approach taken by ideologies such as Marxism. You pull your dogma off the shelf, take out the relevant category or classification, fit it snugly over the person you want to categorize, dismiss, and silence and … poof, you’re done. End of discussion. You’re a heretic spreading the lies of Satan, and anything you say is wrong. You’re a member of the bourgeoisie, defending your ownership of the means of production, and everything you say is just a lie to justify your power. You’re a man; you have nothing to contribute to a discussion of how to achieve equality for women.”

        • Avatar of sallystrange
          May 18, 2013 at 2:59 pm —

          But here’s the thing – based on my own experiences here, there are people who are more than happy to silence their critics. On another thread here I made – coincidentally – a similar point to the one Lindsay is making in this talk. Instead of discussing that point, marilove and others told me to fuck off, and I’m pretty sure you argued that I find another blog somewhere else.

          Now – no one, to my knowledge, stalked me or threatened me. But you certainly were not welcoming of my viewpoint, such as it is. This is what Lindsay is trying to combat.

          See, here’s the thing. You and Lindsay are BOTH wrong. The stalking and harassing–that IS silencing. It leads to people speaking their mind less because they are afraid of the consequences. You are not afraid. You are still talking. Ron Lindsay is still talking. Clearly neither of you have been silenced. I understand you don’t LIKE it when people tell you that you’re wrong, lose patience with you, stop engaging with you, and even use *gasp* mean words in doing so! But that is NOT the same thing as actually being the victim of a silencing campaign of harassing emails, threats, and doxxing. So shut the fuck up.

          OMG, I told you to shut up! And yet it’s still your choice as to whether to take my good advice or not.

          • Avatar of Mark Thomas
            May 18, 2013 at 9:49 pm

            Rebecca is still talking. Every woman Lindsay invited to speak at this conference is still talking. You are still talking and, in places, yelling. But you and others here want me to shut up, or at the very least try to portray me as someone who has no logical argument.

            I’m fine with people telling me I’m wrong, in fact I welcome debate (which is why I come here at times). But how on earth is telling me to shut the fuck up any form of a debate?

            This is the debate, from Lindsay’s response to this very post: “Myers-Watson assume you should never question, you should never argue back, because the person from the marginalized group must have the expertise. I do not share that assumption, and I doubt its wisdom. Indeed, I think it is a horribly misguided, logically infirm understanding of communication.”

            If our goal is to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression, specifically in the atheist/skeptical community – and it should be – then lets get past all the fuck you’s and the shut the fuck up’s and rationally debate this issue.

            I for the life of me cannot understand why professed skeptics and atheists lose all manner of rational thought when it comes to an issue like this. If Lindsay’s argument has no merit – then it should be easy to refute! Use some of those skeptical rational thinking skills to do so. Then, because this is all about politics, persuade your fellow skeptics to follow you.

            Until the yelling stops, no progress can be made. Yelling divides, it doesn’t bring people together. Rebecca is pissed at Lindsay so she yells at him, he then gets pissed and yells back. Another schism is created and we divide into camps and descend into infighting over an issue which could be resolved calmly and rationally.

            Please explain to me how the fuck this is good for anyone.

          • Avatar of marilove
            May 20, 2013 at 2:47 pm

            What, you don’t think being harassed and threatened on a DAILY BASIS is not dividing? But you think being angry over harrasement and outright misogyny is dividing? Good. I’m glad it divides.

            The fact that you are brushing off the harassment and misogyny as if it’s no big thang, and making it seem like the anger towards such awful treatment, is the problem.

            Feel free to feel divided. You are not on our side.

          • Avatar of punchdrunk
            May 20, 2013 at 3:12 pm

            @Mark Thomas:
            In the interest of assuming ignorance instead of malice:
            http://skepchick.org/page-o-hate/

        • Avatar of punchdrunk
          May 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm —

          People asked you to leave, or at least stop assplaining everything at us, and you didn’t. You still haven’t.
          What unique insight do you think you have to offer us here? We’ve read the novel you’re writing. We’ve argued your points ad nauseum with hundreds of commenters. (or maybe a few commenters with sockpuppets, whatever)
          What do you want us to say? We’re tired of the arguments, tired of the arrogance, tired of the dismissal.
          It looks like you just want to needle us. We’re not going to reassure you of your rightness or smartness, which seems to be the only reaction you’ll accept.
          If you’re just typing to read your own words back, you can do that all by yourself.

        • Avatar of Will
          May 18, 2013 at 3:45 pm —

          The fuck are you still doing around here? I thought skeptic blogs shouldn’t be engaging in politics? I thought you were LEAVING TO READ ABOUT SCIENCE?

          • Avatar of Mark Thomas
            May 18, 2013 at 10:02 pm

            I did. But having read Lindsay’s speech and Rebecca’s response, I felt the need to comment. It’s an extension of my earlier comments, however, because I was making almost the same point. This is what engaging in a political debate whilst abandoning skeptical critical thinking skills does – it divides. This mess is good for no one – least of all skeptical, atheist women. Was Lindsay wrong for bringing this up? Perhaps, but by not engaging his argument in a rational way, Rebecca drastically compounds his error. She had an opportunity to move the debate forward, she didn’t.

            Read what Steven Novella had to say on this whole argument back in Jan/Feb. That’s how you build bridges and move forward, not this bullshit.

          • Avatar of Will
            May 19, 2013 at 1:34 am

            What the fuck makes you think I want to build bridges with anyone? Why in the hell would I want to work with people who actively bully, harass, and silence people they disagree with? And why would I want to build bridges with people like you who are fucking hypocrites who tell us not to engage in politics but then can’t keep your fucking mouth shut about your own politics?

            Fuck off already. Seriously.

          • Avatar of marilove
            May 20, 2013 at 2:50 pm

            BUT WILL! We must be super nice and not angry at people who threaten us, but man, oh, man, if we get angry at death threats or rape threats? We are yelling and dividing and we need to stop. We need to be super, duper nice to people who clearly don’t give as hit about us.

            Mark? Fuck offffff. Go away. GO BE DIVIDED ALREADY, PLEASE. DIVIDE YOURSELF! I welcome it, quite frankly, if it means you’ll go away.

            I really don’t care what you have to say and I really have no intentions of fixing any sort of bridges with you or masturbation man.

          • Avatar of Melanie
            May 20, 2013 at 8:00 pm

            Mark, this whole taking the high ground from your claimed perch on the fence is dishonest, as you proved in your comment before bailing on the last post you dropped in on. Please stop with the whole wide-eyed “I just want what’s best for the movement” schtick. The only reason you want us to build bridges is so that you have something to live under. Your benefit of the doubt has been deservedly revoked.

            Pro tip: Inserting out of nowhere anything along the lines of “I’m not a member of the slymepit but gosh golly gee they sure treat me more civilly over there” is a tell.

          • Avatar of Nick Gotts
            May 27, 2013 at 9:04 am

            The only reason you want us to build bridges is so that you have something to live under.

            :D :D :D
            Your own? If so, permission to steal?

          • Avatar of Melanie
            May 27, 2013 at 1:52 pm

            Nick, Go for it. It’s mine, although I would be surprised if no one else thought of some variation on that. There’s just too much evidence out there that it’s true.

        • Avatar of onamission5
          May 18, 2013 at 9:54 pm —

          You are curious why we don’t want to have to continually debate our basic humanity and explain the same things over and over again to people who obfuscate and shift goalposts and build straw people. You think we owe that to you– or anyone– for what reason, exactly? How does doing so benefit us in any way?

          • Avatar of delphi_ote
            May 18, 2013 at 11:54 pm

            I would absolutely love to hear an answer to this question. When someone writes that much on someone else’s blog, and several people take the time to read it and respond, you’d think basic manners would compel them to read and think about the responses. Sadly, I know you won’t get an honest answer.

          • Avatar of onamission5
            May 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm

            @delphi_ote:
            Oh lookie there, crickets. Apparently not only will the question not get an honest answer, it gets no answer at all.

          • Avatar of delphi_ote
            May 22, 2013 at 9:43 pm

            @onamission5 Our hearing crickets happy chirping away would imply he was quiet at some point…

      • Avatar of vexorian
        May 19, 2013 at 8:07 am —

        Next TAM should be opened with a cryptozoologist asking the audience not to silence them by saying “there is no evidence for that”

    • Avatar of marilove
      May 18, 2013 at 12:08 pm —

      You are seriously one-note, you know that?

      And did you NOT read the entire post and is THAT why you missed where she ALSO described herself as *GAPS* WHITE?

      You’re boring.

      • Avatar of Will
        May 18, 2013 at 12:13 pm —

        Oh, and also the part where she demonstrated that feminism is not monolithic, that some women are assholes (towards Rhys and trans* people), and that women disagree with her…….

        But why STICK TO THE SUBSTANCE™ when you can just make shit up, amirite?

    • Avatar of sallystrange
      May 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm —

      Noting Lindsay’s race and sex is a way of explaining why he got the privilege thing so wrong. His Bayesian priors differ from people who experience discrimination, which is why he doesn’t see the connection between privilege, discrimination, and why he needs to STFU sometimes.

      People who claim to “not see” race or gender are basically announcing that their opinions are worthless because they lie about what they see. People who claim that race and sex don’t matter are ignorant and wrong.

      • Avatar of punchdrunk
        May 18, 2013 at 1:20 pm —

        Race and gender are irrelevant – just treat everyone like a white man.
        You know, pretend they’re a *normal* person.

        • Avatar of maudell
          May 18, 2013 at 10:04 pm —

          “Colour blind” people are more likely to be white, and the claim of treating “everyone like a white man” is correlated to racism. Here’s one study, but it’s been demonstrated many times (look it up yourself if you want more than one study, use the Google).
          http://news.illinois.edu/news/10/0421online.html
          But you should up your trolling talents, the association white man/normal is not credible.

          • Avatar of punchdrunk
            May 18, 2013 at 10:46 pm

            Your snarkometer might need recalibration.

          • Avatar of Jack99
            May 19, 2013 at 1:52 am

            All this because Rebecca dared to say
            “Very strange to open #wiscfi w a white male CEO lecturing women about using the concept of privilege to silence men.”
            Then we get “Don’t be so histrionic.It’s all about Rebecca and her self-promoting feuds again.”

            Well, I have made my own judgement about who is the drama queen and who is being silenced here.

          • Avatar of Jack99
            May 19, 2013 at 2:49 am

            ^ misplaced comment please ignore.
            Maudell, do you realise how ironic your accusations are? You were talking to one of the best troll hunters and link queens on Skepchick!

      • Avatar of delphi_ote
        May 18, 2013 at 11:25 pm —

        New rule: skeptics can’t use “Bayesian prior” unless they’re actually talking about an actual probability distribution. This is getting ridiculous.

        • Avatar of Will
          May 19, 2013 at 1:36 am —

          Thanks for that, Bill Maher. Glad you came to set us all straight.

        • Avatar of sallystrange
          May 19, 2013 at 3:22 am —

          You wanna do a probability spread for the likelihood that Ron Lindsay has directly experienced sexism and/or racism? I’m game.

          • Avatar of delphi_ote
            May 19, 2013 at 8:22 am

            “Bayesian prior” has a mathematical definition. Every time I read it used in a context like this, it’s like reading Deepak Chopra talk about quantum mechanics.

          • Avatar of sallystrange
            May 19, 2013 at 5:16 pm

            Well, we know at least a couple values to plug in – the likelihood that Lindsay has direct experience of being silenced because he is a woman or a person of color is zero. Now, we just have to figure out what hypothesis you want to test for and then we can fill in the rest. What do you think? The likelihood that Lindsay knows that the fuck he’s talking about when he talks about privilege? The likelihood that Ron Lindsay knows better than any given woman what actual silencing looks like? There’s nothing wrong with a little fun, friendly back-of-the-envelope calculations. This is giving me an idea, actually…

          • Avatar of Moniqa Aylin
            May 20, 2013 at 4:18 pm

            Nomination for Bad Chart Thursday!

    • Avatar of Greg Laden
      May 18, 2013 at 1:32 pm —

      I would have thought that the second WIS conference would have a woman giving the opening speech. Having said that, I’ve not heard the argument from the organizers as to their programming choices.

      • Avatar of cityzenjane
        May 18, 2013 at 10:33 pm —

        I don’t think it would have been a problem if what Lindsay said had not been so clueless and at the same time so confident.

  4. Avatar of John-Henry Beck
    May 18, 2013 at 12:19 pm —

    I got to have a bit of ‘fun’ with a tweet from someone claiming that just using ‘white male’ in criticizing Lindsay’s talk was racist. Over the night someone else jumped in to claim that his societal status has “fuck all” to do with his talk. There’s quite a lot of disconnect between those talking about privilege and those who don’t accept it.

    • Avatar of Will
      May 18, 2013 at 12:25 pm —

      There’s quite a lot of disconnect between those talking about privilege and those who don’t accept it.

      For real. But isn’t that why they loved his speech? Because they heard a white man get up in front of a feminist conference and say privilege doesn’t exist and it’s just a shut-up word (which isn’t exactly what he was saying, but that’s what they hear!). It’s confirmation bias and it plays perfectly into their worldview.

  5. Avatar of Bear TheDad
    May 18, 2013 at 12:22 pm —

    I can understand that disappointment and disillusionment with the leadership. But never forget that you are a voice for all of the rest of us who support you and agree with you. Don’t stop fighting the good fight, Rebecca!

  6. Avatar of sallystrange
    May 18, 2013 at 12:36 pm —

    I love the part where he’s like, “I don’t mind listening but it makes me REAL MAD when you tell me to shut up!”

    Like, you can’t see how listening and shutting up are connected? I.e., not shutting up means you can’t listen? Really?

    • Avatar of Will
      May 18, 2013 at 12:40 pm —

      It’s like the ultimate tone troll, huh?

      “I’ll listen, but only if you ask me nicely!”

    • Avatar of delphi_ote
      May 18, 2013 at 11:27 pm —

      Especially when your version of not shutting up involves you just telling everyone how things are.

  7. Avatar of scribe999
    May 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm —

    I read his transcript last night after I saw the relevant tweets, and I was uncomfortable with it as much as I was uncomfortable with Rand Paul’s lecture to Howard Univ. students. It reminds me of a friend of mine who always has to bring up “reverse racism” whenever we’re discussing racism as a societal ill. Sure, does it happen that African-Americans could be racist as anyone else? Of course. Is it something worth discussing when discussing institutionalized racism? No, unless the point is to deflect and derail.

    It’s also interesting that “privilege” is a “useful concept”, but arbitrarily so. Such as when DJ Grothe, on Ronald Lindsay’s Facebook page, went for the old “poisoning the well” fallacy by pointing out the concept as “trickle down Marxism”. Ironic considering his “left-libertarianism” that speaks against corporate and state “privilege”. Stating that if the concept is meaningless if applied to all things…but being rather coy as to what it should apply to.

    Also, regardless of what examples are procured, is that not more of the “personal experience” data that Lindsay states does not make one necessarily an expert? And is it safe to say that there is enough empirical data to show that white males do still hold a level of affluent prestige that women and ethnic minorities do not maintain? I understand Lindsay isn’t overtly attempting to silence anyone in return, and as with so many well-meaning members of the privileged class he’s trying to be solicitous, but if one acknowledges that there isn’t a level playing field, asking all the players to “play fair” just isn’t.

    This is the whole point of “shut up and listen” as a meme if he’d pay attention. It isn’t about shutting down conversation. In his attempt to dispute the meme “Listen, listen carefully, but where appropriate, question and engage” he misses the point of a tilted field. Just as in race, the problem isn’t that the privileged aren’t willing to listen. They miss the part of “where appropriate to question and engage”…the part he SHOULD have elaborated on. Too often, the interrogation and aggressive engagement is foremost on the questioner’s mind…not the listening part. Shut up THEN listen THEN engage. If you spend enough time scouring the news, you will find stories of black on white hate crimes. This isn’t going to make it necessary for us to have a long, national discussion about racism against whites. That silencin’ door mostly swings one way.

    Still, I hope you enjoy the rest of the conference, notwithstanding. Some wonderful people I know are there as well.

  8. Avatar of timberwraith
    May 18, 2013 at 12:54 pm —

    So, let me get this right.

    A conference ostensibly created for the purpose of addressing women’s needs, perspectives, and representation in the secular movement is opened by a guy who attempts to dissuade people from using the concept of male privilege in ways that he feels silences people. Oddly though, the reason why such a conference is such an important occurrence is because the secular/skeptic/atheist movement has been having major issues with sexism and male privilege and this has fostered an atmosphere in which women have felt ignored and silenced.

    So, how does this guy expect to promote a welcoming atmosphere for women in his organization and the larger movement by engaging in such behavior? This kind of action reeks of the usual ways in which so many people in the movement have attempted to excuse and rationalize prejudicial behavior toward women and a host of other minorities. Given his behavior, I can’t help but harbor the suspicion that he’d rather the whole problem quietly disappear so that no real effort or discomfort is necessary. In the larger context of a movement that has gone completely off the rails in relation to its treatment of women, this bodes ill.

    • Avatar of Bruce McGlory
      May 18, 2013 at 4:30 pm —

      It’s seem fairly obvious that Lindsay doesn’t want to foster a more welcoming environment for women. Of course he wants the problem to disappear. He wants women to shut up and listen to him. The fact is, the only way to make the problem disappear is to drive away women or drive away bigots. Lindsay chose option 2.

      • Avatar of Bruce McGlory
        May 18, 2013 at 4:31 pm —

        Lindsay ~didn’t~ chose option 2.

      • Avatar of cityzenjane
        May 18, 2013 at 9:25 pm —

        No…I think he just doesn’t spend much time in the comments sections of the interwebs where all the crap happens… I think he’s clueless – and thinks he’s making a relevant point. Problem is – he travels in a hot air balloon 6,000 feet above all the turmoil. He’s not impacted because he has no idea what women in tech, gaming, atheist, occupy, and just about every other group that exists out there which is male dominated… It touches him in no way that is significant.

        He has his feelings hurt when people suggest he should talk less and listen more on these topics.

        As if he has more to teach me about my life than I have to teach him…

        • Avatar of Bruce McGlory
          May 19, 2013 at 9:49 am —

          “He’s not impacted because he has no idea what women in tech, gaming, atheist, occupy, and just about every other group that exists out there which is male dominated… It touches him in no way that is significant.”

          Right. And given his shermer-like meltdown at being told he might not know everything about everything, its safe to assume that he isn’t interested in expanding the movement,increasing diversity or outreach. So, why he still wants to be the leader of CFI is confusing. Why not join an org who caters only to the people he wants talking and wants to listen to? Something that only admits middle aged white guys who never stop talking and other white guys who really, really like listening to that?

  9. Avatar of Jack_Gladney
    May 18, 2013 at 1:03 pm —

    I WILL NOT BE SILENCED SIMPLY BECAUSE I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!

    • Avatar of sallystrange
      May 18, 2013 at 3:09 pm —

      *snif* You’re a #bravehero, my lad, bravely standing up for your FREEZE PEACH rights.

  10. Avatar of
    May 18, 2013 at 1:05 pm —

    ‘ If it was just a white man giving the opening remarks, it would just leave a ? over my head. But when it’s a white man poopooing feminism’

    Except: it was the CEO of CFI, so not at all weird for him to deliver the opening remarks. A conference about women in secularism is not limited to contributions only from women. He didn’t pooh-pooh feminism: perhaps his take on feminism just differs from yours, @Will. I’m completely add odds with intersectionality and the reification of the ‘Patriarchy’ myself and I maintain not only that my position is more coherent than yours – which you’ll disagree with, doubtless – but that to remain, or in your case, achieve, intellectual respectability you really must allow for the possibility of debate and difference about such matters.

    And @sallystrange you might think you’re saying something clever when you throw in ‘Bayesian priors’; you’re not. You’re making an assertion about his, individual, experience and psychology that you can’t possibly back up. Perhaps. just perhaps, such an assertion might make sense about any group, taken as a group. It’s indefensible and incoherent when made about a single person.

    • Avatar of Will
      May 18, 2013 at 1:18 pm —

      Wait. So it’s okay for you to bring up his identity (CEO of CFI), but we need to ONLY FOCUS ON THE SUBSTANCE™? Hypocrite much?

      At a conference about women in secularism (or, more specifically, about issues important to women in secularism, not necessarily about the women themselves), it’s antithetical for a man to get up and complain about how feminists tell men to shut up and listen. That’s putting the focus on men’s experiences, not on women’s experiences.

      I really couldn’t give two shits about what you think about patriarchy, by the way. Lindsay’s speech was not about a difference of opinion about patriarchy, it was about his hurt feefees that people have pointed out how his privilege makes certain things invisible to him, and the only way he will begin to recognize them is to shut up and listen.

      • Avatar of
        May 18, 2013 at 1:49 pm —

        I can hardly believe you’re so incoherent. No, on second thoughts, I can.

        His position as CEO of the CFI is obviously germane when it comes to giving the introduction. The fact he’s male, not obviously germane. There’s no hypocrisy. One thing’s relevant, the other not.

        his privilege

        See, that’s where we’d differ. This analysis of ‘privilege;. As I said, it may – just may – be coherent when talking about group differences: but it’s a huge leap to make an assertion about an individual. It’s a simple point and I’m surprised you don’t get it. Let’s take an analogy. Women as a group aren’t as tall as men as a group. That is, the median height of women is less than the median height of men. Doesn’t tell me much about your height compared to Rebecca’s now, does it?

        Do you understand now, do you think?

        • Avatar of Will
          May 18, 2013 at 2:03 pm —

          What you’re saying is that only certain aspects of his identity matter–the ones that support your position. We are all aware that he is CEO of CFI and that’s why he gave the opening remarks. I still think it was a questionable thing to do regardless of the content of his speech. Why? Because he’s a man and this conference is about women’s concerns. Even if his speech had been more supportive, I still would have preferred that a woman give the opening remarks. Why? Because this is a conference about women’s concerns.

          Just because you think his gender is irrelevant does not mean that his gender is irrelevant. A man explaining privilege to feminist women (and he didn’t even get it right) as the opening remarks at a conference that is organized because women’s voices are silenced or ignored in this movement is rather in contradiction to the purpose of the conference.

          See, that’s where we’d differ. This analysis of ‘privilege;. As I said, it may – just may – be coherent when talking about group differences: but it’s a huge leap to make an assertion about an individual. It’s a simple point and I’m surprised you don’t get it.

          Look, jackass, I get that that’s your point. I just think it’s complete horseshit. The fact that I can walk down the street without worrying about being profiled because of the color of my skin, or without being catcalled because of my perceived gender, is an individual benefiting from group privilege. Individual people benefit from group privilege.

          Your analogy is stupid and flawed because privilege isn’t about group aggregates, it’s about the imbalances of power that are bestowed upon certain individuals based on their membership in certain groups.

          You very clearly do not understand what privilege is.

          • Avatar of
            May 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm

            No, Will, i’m not saying that only certain aspects of his identity matter. I’m saying that in this context only some are undeniably salient.

            >Individual people benefit from group privilege.

            Some do: some don’t. Some benefit less, some benefit more. Some who benefit on one axis of privilege lose out on other axes, or for other reasons, or because of their own interaction with the innumerable facts of their lives.

            Not all men wander around with a single Privilege adhering to them. Not all white males carry the mark of Cain and have no concept of disadvantage of suffering. You simply cannot move from the group to the individual in that way: in other related spheres any attempt to label an individual, a priori with the measured and indisputable facts about a group is, rightly, met with the most outraged response.

            > bestowed upon certain individuals based on their membership in certain groups.

            But unless you have some God-like calculus that tots up all the benefits and disadvantages of an individual, taking into account your favoured axes of power and every other not counted in your conveniently limited universe your claim they enjoy this reified ‘Privilige’ is simply unwarranted as a matter of fact. It can only apply, if it applies at all, to groups on average.

          • Avatar of Will
            May 18, 2013 at 3:40 pm

            No, Will, i’m not saying that only certain aspects of his identity matter. I’m saying that in this context only some are undeniably salient.

            A distinction without a difference. And hypocritical, since you told us not to look at context (his race and gender) but only substance. A “simple point” that you don’t seem to grasp.

            >Individual people benefit from group privilege.

            Some do: some don’t. Some benefit less, some benefit more. Some who benefit on one axis of privilege lose out on other axes, or for other reasons, or because of their own interaction with the innumerable facts of their lives.

            Oh, so now you do support intersectionality. Guess you’re not “completely add [sic] odds” with it after all, huh? Oh, and now you’re admitting that privilege does affect individuals. Cool.

            Ron benefits more from his male privilege because of his race, his cisgender status, etc. Sure. I have no problem with that. They compound and intersect with one another. Absolutely.

            He still benefits from social advantages of being a man, something women do not. So if you take a woman who is the same age, socioeconomic status, race, sexual orientation, able-bodied status, etc., as Lindsay but the only difference is that she is a woman and he is a man, he will experience social advantages that she will not. That is privilege.

            Not all men wander around with a single Privilege adhering to them. Not all white males carry the mark of Cain and have no concept of disadvantage of suffering.

            Actually, all men do benefit from male privilege. That’s the nature of privilege, that being a member of or even being perceived to be a member of a group bestows upon you certain advantages. Talk to some trans* people about their experiences with privilege before and after transitioning some time.

            I also find it hilarious that you lecture me about the possibility of white males having a concept of disadvantage considering I earlier told you I am the admin of Queereka and am “one of the little LGBTQ” people. I’m aware of what disadvantage is like. Which is why I shut the fuck up and listen when other marginalized people speak up about their experiences. I don’t know what it’s like to be discriminated against or marginalized because of my skin color or my gender or my dis/able-bodied status–I can empathize because of my own experiences, but that doesn’t mean I really know what it’s like for other marginalized people.

            You simply cannot move from the group to the individual in that way: in other related spheres any attempt to label an individual, a priori with the measured and indisputable facts about a group is, rightly, met with the most outraged response.

            But I’m not moving anything anywhere. You just don’t understand what privilege is. Privilege is not about group averages. It is the social advantages bestowed upon individuals because of their membership (real or perceived) in a group. It’s not about finding some common group average and applying that to individuals–that’s not what’s going on.

            But unless you have some God-like calculus that tots up all the benefits and disadvantages of an individual, taking into account your favoured axes of power and every other not counted in your conveniently limited universe your claim they enjoy this reified ‘Privilige’ is simply unwarranted as a matter of fact. It can only apply, if it applies at all, to groups on average.

            I’m beginning to think you also don’t understand what the word “reify” means. Anyway, that a person is oppressed or marginalized along multiple axes does not mean that they have ZERO privilege. It’s not a zero-sum game where one privilege cancels out one marginalization.

            How about this. Give your definition of privilege. I’ve defined it a couple of times, but you keep ignoring that and sticking to this attempt to label privilege as an ecological fallacy. So define it in your own words for us and give us an idea of what, exactly, you’re talking about.

    • Avatar of sallystrange
      May 18, 2013 at 2:52 pm —

      And @sallystrange you might think you’re saying something clever when you throw in ‘Bayesian priors’; you’re not. You’re making an assertion about his, individual, experience and psychology that you can’t possibly back up. Perhaps. just perhaps, such an assertion might make sense about any group, taken as a group. It’s indefensible and incoherent when made about a single person.

      Oh really, you think I’m making some sort of extraordinary claim by asserting that white men who live in America are unlikely to have direct experience of sexism and racism? Tell me more.

      • Avatar of
        May 18, 2013 at 3:11 pm —

        @sallystrange you’ve undoubtedly redefined ‘racism’ to mean only that prejudice exercised by the more-powerful over the less-powerful, the definition favoured by certain nth-rate humanities courses. I have no strong objection to that redefinition. Words change their meaning.

        It does mean of course that your question is deeply dishonest because by definition a white man in the US couldn’t experience racism or sexism. But white men can experience prejudice and disadvantage because of their sex, yes.

        Still, this isn’t my point and it wasn’t yours either until I presume you realised the meaning of what you’d written. You wrote;

        >His Bayesian priors differ from people who experience discrimination, which is why he doesn’t see the connection between privilege, discrimination, and why he needs to STFU sometimes

        Which clearly implies that he cannot have experienced discrimination, which is obviously incorrect; that this ‘fact’ explains why he doesn’t agree with you; and that he should ‘shut the fuck up’.

        No part of my objection to this nonsensical statement has anything at all to do with your reply to me.

        • Avatar of sallystrange
          May 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm —

          Which clearly implies that he cannot have experienced discrimination, which is obviously incorrect; that this ‘fact’ explains why he doesn’t agree with you; and that he should ‘shut the fuck up’.

          No part of my objection to this nonsensical statement has anything at all to do with your reply to me.

          Yes, I am using the definition of racism and sexism as defined by the sociologists who study these sociological phenomena.

          Yes, by definition, white men cannot directly experience sexism and racism–i.e., discrimination, negative stereotyping, etc., as a result of being non-white and non-male.

          Lindsay’s remarks revealed a large gap in his understanding of the concept of privilege–a gap that overlaps with the gap in his knowledge about what it’s like to experience sexism or racism.

          Whether Lindsay has experienced disadvantages for being white and male is irrelevant. The subject at hand is sexism. He was wrong about privilege as it relates to sexism, and these gaps in his knowledge help us understand why he’s so freaking wrong. It’s actually a charitable treatment of his remarks.

          • Avatar of
            May 18, 2013 at 3:51 pm

            @sallystrage racism isn’t a ‘sociological’ phenomenon. That’s putting the cart before the horse. Sociology may study facts about society and its organisation of course: it doesn’t make those facts ‘sociological’ facts. Any more than malaria is a medical fact.

            But anyway I see you’ve accepted the utter disingenuity? of your question, whether a man has expereinced sexism. By your own *defintion* it’s impossible. So the point of asking that question was…?

            And back to the point: not everyone in the world, you might have gathered by now, accepts your rather esoteric, sophomoric analysis of society, sexism, racism, advantage, disadvantage, the ‘Patriarchy’ and so on. Your cult-like Great Loyalty Oath Crusade is alternately tedious and risible.

          • Avatar of Will
            May 18, 2013 at 4:00 pm

            “Sociological” can mean more than “relating to the discipline of sociology.”

            See definition 2 at dictionary.com: dealing with social questions or problems, especially focusing on cultural and environmental factors rather than on psychological or personal characteristics: a sociological approach to art.

            In this sense, racism is a sociological phenomenon because it is a phenomenon dealing with a social problem.

          • Avatar of sallystrange
            May 18, 2013 at 5:08 pm

            Exactly. Racism is a label for a particular set of social interactions embedded in society/societies. It is a phenomenon of society and social interactions. Therefore it makes sense that the people who study it are sociologists. Not that studying it or being a sociologist makes you automatically correct–there’s a lot of room for elitism and academic blindness–but the output from that field is pretty consistent and useful, in general.

    • Avatar of onamission5
      May 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm —

      Soooo, a conference about women in secularism should be people (aka, men) sharing their opinions on women regardless of the validity of those opinions and not women talking about what it is like to be a woman in secularism. This conference wasn’t *for* us, we got that wrong you guis, it’s *about* us.

      Kind of like when you have a meeting for LGBT folks to talk about their issues with X, it’s totes important for those LGBT folks to give straight and cis people plenty of room to talk at them about their issues rather than listen to them talk about their own lived experiences. Especially if those het folks don’t get queer issues at all or only half understand but think they’ve got something new and fresh that LGBT folks have never heard before. Those folks should get to share the stage, yup, absolutely, it’s not silencing AT ALL to have people who don’t fucking get it telling you how you experience your life wrong and why their perspective is totes equal to yours.

      • Avatar of
        May 18, 2013 at 7:27 pm —

        >a conference about women in secularism should be people (aka, men) sharing their opinions on women

        This was simply the CEO of the organisation hosting the conference giving the introductory speech. Perfectly understandable. Don’t be so histrionic.It’s all about Rebecca and her self-promoting feuds again.

        Lindsay, Groethe, Dawkins, Vacula, Paula Kirby, Penn Jilette, Ben Radford, Harriet Hall and Stef McGraw

        Have I missed any?

        • Avatar of cityzenjane
          May 18, 2013 at 9:27 pm —

          What I hear you saying is…

          I lost this argument badly but am too embarrassed to skulk away so…

          REBECCA WATSON BLAH BLAH BLAH….

          • Avatar of onamission5
            May 18, 2013 at 9:51 pm

            Also, woman who takes the time to explain something in super simplistic terms with a touch of sarcasm = histrionics. Gosh. If that’s histrionic, I wonder what me being calm would look like?

        • Avatar of Veronica
          May 19, 2013 at 1:19 am —

          You seem to be suggesting this all happened in Rebecca’s head when in fact a lot of people reacted in more or less the exact same way when hearing the introduction. Myself included.

          Though I’ll admit I just though at the time he was being dumb and I wanted the actual speakers to come on so we could get to the people actually knowing what the fuck they were talking about. That’s what this conference has been about. A lot of amazing women being able to spend entire talks addressing important issues rather than spending half of them explaining basic feminism first.

        • Avatar of Bruce McGlory
          May 19, 2013 at 9:35 am —

          Nope, your list of misogynistic bigots and their clueless supporters is complete.

        • Avatar of marilove
          May 20, 2013 at 3:39 pm —

          Seriously? Histronic? JFC.

    • Avatar of delphi_ote
      May 18, 2013 at 11:30 pm —

      Even your prose is insufferably arrogant.

  11. Avatar of Handbasketexpress
    May 18, 2013 at 1:15 pm —

    Metaburbia, it was so nice of you to illustrate Jack Gladney’s point. *slow clap*

    • Avatar of Bruce McGlory
      May 18, 2013 at 4:24 pm —

      metaburbia ‘s seething hatred and contempt for women practically screams its so obvious.

  12. Avatar of oolon
    May 18, 2013 at 1:24 pm —

    I can’t believe how wrong he got it when Paul Fidalgo wrote a really good post on it ages ago. http://freethoughtblogs.com/nearearthobject/2013/01/26/shut-up-and-listen/

    He works with him in some capacity presumably, Paul also got the usual Twits on Twitter calling him a bully for telling white men to shut up. Can we kidnap Ron and replace him with Paul? I mean they are both old white guys and we know they all look alike so no one would notice ;-)

  13. Avatar of ambidexter
    May 18, 2013 at 2:10 pm —

    Ron did an excellent job of mansplaining privilege and got it wrong. Maybe he needs to shut up and listen when privilege is being discussed.

  14. Avatar of Melanie
    May 18, 2013 at 2:29 pm —

    I love how Lindsay explains not starting with a formal welcome. Perhaps starting with “It’s a privilege to speak to you today” would have ruined the SURPRISE!

  15. Avatar of flewellyn
    May 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm —

    Rebecca, I totally get that you, as a feminist woman, are not telling Ron Lindsay to shut up. You’re not silencing him.

    I, on the other hand, am telling Ron Lindsay: SHUT UP. BE SILENT.

    Maybe, since I’m a white man, he’ll listen to me. If not, duct tape time.

    • Avatar of yiab
      May 18, 2013 at 3:47 pm —

      Am I the only one who finds this duct-tape commend inappropriate?

    • Avatar of delphi_ote
      May 18, 2013 at 11:33 pm —

      Also: shut up, because it’s embarrassing to anyone who labels themselves “skeptic” or “humanist.” He sure as hell doesn’t speak for me!

  16. Avatar of Nathan
    May 18, 2013 at 3:45 pm —

    I’m actually comfortable with the idea that WiS has all-women speakers. Considering what this conference is about, I think that’s fundamentally a good idea.

    That said, I’m also not totally uncomfortable with the fact that the president of CFI gave the opening talk. That seems to be a norm at conferences in general, that the head of the hosting organization gives the introduction.

    That, I think, is where Ron went wrong. He should have given an introduction; welcoming everybody to the conference, talking a bit about what CFI has done for women, giving a brief timeline of where we’ve come to since WiS1… why he decided to lecture us on tone and “silencing of men” I’ll never understand. It was strange.

    My tweet that ended with “*whistles* *explosion*” about Ron’s was highlighted in Justin Vacula’s Storify on this. I hope it’s understood that this was an illusion to my opinion that Ron failed/bombed, and not that I want him to be blown up (I obviously don’t).

    • Avatar of cityzenjane
      May 18, 2013 at 9:32 pm —

      I wouldn’t have minded him opening the conference if what he actually said with regard to men, feminism, privilege – wasn’t complete – crap – letting me know how clueless he is.

      Another man could have spoken very well to the topics… It’s not his gender that’s the problem. It’s his unexamined privilege… OOOOPS there I said it. He equates feeling like people don’t want to hang on his every word – WITH the attacks women online undergo. It’s *fucking* clueless.

      I LOVE CFI. It makes me incredibly sad that he’s so unfortunately uninterested in going deep on the topic. I think he needs to take a back seat because the times demand it. His perspective – or lack of it – smells like three day old beer. It’s just awful.

      • Avatar of Nick Gotts
        May 27, 2013 at 9:48 am —

        Perhaps Lindsay is confused as between the concepts “Opening speech” and “Keynote address”. The role of the opening speaker is to say, more or less:
        “Welcome everybody, it’s great to see you all here, at the conference to discuss this very important and interesting topic. I hope you have a productive meeting, and a really good time. We’re not expecting a fire drill, so if you hear the alarm, please proceed outside immediately. Locations of the nearest restrooms are indicated by the signs to the rear of the auditorium. If you have any practical problems or questions, please contact one of the conference staff, who can be recognised by their [insert colour] badges. I now have the great privilege to hand over to X, [optionally insert eulogy of X] who will chair the first session. Thank you very much.”

  17. Avatar of punchdrunk
    May 18, 2013 at 4:12 pm —

    One of my favorite things here is when commenters like metaburbia show up spoiling for an argument, repeatedly intimate that we’re
    stupid, then act shocked and appalled and so, so disappointed (tsktsktsk) at the hostile reception.

    • Avatar of Will
      May 18, 2013 at 4:14 pm —

      Hehe yeah. They always think they’re original, too. As if we haven’t had these same arguments multiple times before.

      I’m also pretty sure metaburbia has no interest in an honest conversation. He’s anti-Rebecca and that’s why he’s here (it’s obvious from his twitter feed).

      • Avatar of Bruce McGlory
        May 18, 2013 at 4:26 pm —

        His clear misogyny derangement syndrome is about way more than just Ms.Watson. But, she’s a convenient target of his hatred, malice, lies and hypocrisy, because she’s the fashionable target. male supremacist bigots are always cowardly, and only attack in groups or in safe anonymity.

        • Avatar of
          May 18, 2013 at 6:34 pm —

          What lies? What hypocrisy? What male supremacy?

          Such strawmen. All piled together.

          incidentally, I’m not in a group and I’m not anonymous. Use the name I’m posting here. get to my Twitter stream – as Will already has, I believe – and from there to one of my websites and my G+ stream. Short of inviting you round to my house for a cup of tea I couldn’t be less anonymous. But hey, you don’t actually give a fig for the facts not do you. Despite my not being at all anonymous here you write that I am because it suits you to lie.

          • Avatar of Jack99
            May 19, 2013 at 2:54 am

            So you’re happy not to deny hatred and malice then?

          • Avatar of Bruce McGlory
            May 19, 2013 at 9:37 am

            I suppose its easier to cry “you lie” instead of acknowledging that your subtext is loud and clear. or that everything you say makes it perfectly obvious that you have both only a vague understanding of the issue and the incredible arrogance of someone who knows little but speaks often. Of course, I’d expect nothing more from a lying bigot.

          • Avatar of Pete Schult
            May 20, 2013 at 5:28 am

            I’m not in a group and I’m not anonymous.

            I think both claims are open to dispute. You are correct that you use a handle here that you use in other places that give more information about you, so you are not, strictly speaking, anonymous, but your handle on posts here does not hotlink to them, so there is a degree of anonymity in that you do not make the path to further information about yourself as easy as possible. OTOH, you are not the only person in this thread without a hotlinked handle, so on that level, I think we can view the question of anonymity as irrelevant.

            However, you are in groups, whether you admit it or not. From your G+ page, I gather that you are at least friendly to libertarian/conservative policy: quoting Edmund Burke favorably, posting a link to news about a MOOC in a favorable way, and so on. Your spelling leads me to conclude that you went to school, at least, in a country other than the US, and some of your comments lead me to the UK as that country. Various posts on your blog give the impression that you work as a technical professional in software—something not at all inconsistent with the image I got from your comments in this thread where you seem to bring a black-and-white literalism into the conversation that prevents your learning just what words like “privilege” mean in conversations like this one.

            Now, do the labels “libertarian”, “British”, “technical professional”, and “aficionado of serious music”—together with whatever other labels we might apply to you—give a complete characterization of David Jones/metaburbia? No. Are any of those labels completely accurate descriptions of aspects of you? Probably not (and I’d guess that that is what you mean by saying that you are not in any groups). But for purposes of relative privilege, none of that matters. Others will perceive you as and label you as a white, male technologist and may defer to you or expect others to do so on the basis of that (admittedly) shallow characterization. That is an aspect of white male privilege.

            Yes, the world is continuous and full of overlapping probability distributions, but we humans make it discrete and put labels onto things. The fact that you do not feel part of any groups is irrelevant. Other people will assign you to groups in their minds and will grant you privilege or marginalize you on the basis of their assignment. And there will be a cultural consensus on what that assignment is.

      • Avatar of
        May 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm —

        I interested in an honest conversation. I also</em< think that Rebecca's been consistently damaging. The two are not mutually exclusive and again, it's rather cult-like of you to suggest they are.

        What do Lindsay, Groethe, Dawkins, Vacula, Paula Kirby, Penn Jilette, Ben Radford, Harriet Hall and Stef McGraw all have in common, Will?

    • Avatar of
      May 18, 2013 at 5:18 pm —

      I’m neither shocked nor appalled at the hostile reception. I fully expected it.

      • Avatar of Martin Wagner
        May 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm —

        Hmm, let me see…accusations of “cult-like” behavior on the part of anyone disagreeing with you…check.

        Passive-aggressive declaration of martyrdom over fact people are challenging you…check.

        Do you think you might be able to work the phrase “Brave Hero” into your next comment? That way I’ll have Bingo and win the toaster oven!

      • Avatar of punchdrunk
        May 18, 2013 at 5:37 pm —

        I predict that if I poke you with a sharp stick, you will be provoked.
        That’s one way to be right.

    • Avatar of delphi_ote
      May 18, 2013 at 11:43 pm —

      His handle is a typo. He meant “masturbia”. Reading his posts is disturbing, but he’s obviously very pleased with himself.

      • Avatar of Jack99
        May 19, 2013 at 2:59 am —

        We probably all thought it but were too polite to say so…

        • Avatar of delphi_ote
          May 19, 2013 at 11:12 am —

          He put on the makeup, wig, and red nose. I’m just here to laugh at the clown.

          • Avatar of Melanie
            May 19, 2013 at 11:16 am

            Meh. He’s a terrible juggler.

        • Avatar of Jack99
          May 19, 2013 at 3:16 pm —

          I was being facetious – the notion of us all being too polite :)
          Ah well – Melanie’s here now !

    • Avatar of marilove
      May 20, 2013 at 3:50 pm —

      And then they call us histronic. It’s so typical. Can’t they at least try something original?

  18. Avatar of
    May 18, 2013 at 5:10 pm —

    @Will:

    >Which is why I shut the fuck up and listen when other marginalized people speak up about their experiences. I don’t know what it’s like to be discriminated against or marginalized because of my skin color or my gender or my dis/able-bodied status–I can empathize because of my own experiences, but that doesn’t mean I really know what it’s like for other marginalized people.

    The fallacy here is that a person – any person – subject to some for of disadvantage necessarily has more insight, more understanding, and is more able to express that, than any other person not personally disadvantaged in that particular way. Do you see?

    • Avatar of onamission5
      May 18, 2013 at 5:36 pm —

      Holy shit you’re deliberately obtuse. Yes, people who are living their lives have a better understanding of what their lives are like than someone not living that life, particularly when there is a lack of accurate social models of that person’s circumstances.

      • Avatar of punchdrunk
        May 18, 2013 at 5:40 pm —

        But maybe they didn’t read about it in a book or study it in a lab. Then it doesn’t count.

      • Avatar of
        May 18, 2013 at 6:30 pm —

        Not necessarily. Mauvais fois. But I don’t expect you Yahoos have ever read de Beauvoir. Or Swift.

        • Avatar of greenstone123
          May 18, 2013 at 9:18 pm —

          Calling people yahoos, clever. I am sure you think that is quite clever with your Swift reference. Very clever indeed. You sound very refined. I am impressed. (Sarcasm ensues…)

        • Avatar of cityzenjane
          May 18, 2013 at 9:35 pm —

          riggggggggght….I read de Beauvoir when I was sixteen….

        • Avatar of delphi_ote
          May 18, 2013 at 11:36 pm —

          Fortunately, the way you write will prevent anyone from ever reading you.

        • Avatar of coelecanth
          May 19, 2013 at 1:40 am —

          But I don’t expect you Yahoos have ever read de Beauvoir. Or Swift.

          People like metaburbia won’t value you unless your experience is congruent to theirs, and they won’t shut up about it. And thus you have a lovely example of why we need conferences like WiS, where such voices are indeed temporarily silenced to allow folks with other experience sets to speak in peace.

          • Avatar of
            May 20, 2013 at 6:20 pm

            The insinuation of your comment is that only women are thick and/or uneducated. Did you mean to say that?

          • Avatar of marilove
            May 21, 2013 at 9:50 am

            When the fuck did coelecanth imply that at all? Like, even a little? Please explain, because I’m not seeing it. All coelecanth is saying is that it doesn’t mean you’re uneducated if you haven’t read the books YOU, masturbator man, have read.

            You are the thick one. Yikes. It’s kind of sad and pathetic, really. You should be really, really embarrassed right now. Of course you’re not, because you’re delusional.

        • Avatar of Will
          May 19, 2013 at 1:42 am —

          Yes. Feminists would never read de Beauvoir! Totally irrelevant to feminism!

          You never answered my request to provide your definition of privilege. I wonder why that is! Perhaps because it will demonstrate how completely fucking clueless you are?

        • Avatar of Bruce McGlory
          May 19, 2013 at 9:40 am —

          LOL oh of course you need to think that because you’re a bigot. And bigots quite literally NEED to believe everyone else is wrong and stupid and beneath them because of their crippling inferiority complexes. You’re worried everyone will find out what a bitter, angry loser you are, and so you lash out in hate and desperate cling to the illusion of any kind of superiority. Once again, you out yourself with your desperation.

    • Avatar of complexconjugate
      May 18, 2013 at 10:37 pm —

      The main problem (as I see it) with having a male speaker open a conference primarily about women’s experience with/in skepticism is that, while he may be perfectly competent to comment, he is not as able to tell us what they are. That would be like if an American opened a conference about living in, let’s say, Chile. He is not a woman or engaged in the study of women’s experiences; women will tend to be much more qualified to speak, simply because they are better informed on the issues. When men’s experiences come up, the reverse will be true. You say that assuming the marginalized have more understanding is fallicious – in general you may be right, but they almost certainly have more understanding on this particular topic, because they have been practically engaged with the material their whole lives.

  19. Avatar of Tom Foss
    May 18, 2013 at 7:12 pm —

    I’ve seen the “shut up and listen” thing used before. I’ve never seen it used to mean “shut up forever and never say anything ever at all,” only “don’t assume you know better about other people’s experiences.” You know, don’t assume to have expertise that you don’t necessarily have. Seems like the head of a skeptic organization should know a bit about things like the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    • Avatar of
      May 18, 2013 at 7:17 pm —

      I saw a Tweet from Stangroom today wondering who’d read the original Dunning-Kruger paper and musing that there was quite a lot of scope for some very heavy irony. I see petards being hoisted.

      • Avatar of brownian
        May 18, 2013 at 7:53 pm —

        I saw a Tweet from Stangroom today wondering who’d read the original Dunning-Kruger paper and musing that there was quite a lot of scope for some very heavy irony. I see petards being hoisted.

        That’s…awesome. You are aware, aren’t you, that you don’t know what a petard is or how it’s used (in life or in metaphor)?

        From one Yahoo to another; have you read Shakespeare?

      • Avatar of ambidexter
        May 18, 2013 at 7:55 pm —

        Jeremy Stangroom is an excellent authority of Dunning-Kruger, seeing as how he suffers from that malady himself. Or is that what you meant by “very heavy irony”?

      • Avatar of delphi_ote
        May 18, 2013 at 11:48 pm —

        You’re trying way too hard. Ayn Rand’s writing was less obviously pseudo-intellectual.

        • Avatar of
          May 19, 2013 at 9:36 am —

          Ayn Rand’s writing was less obviously pseudo-intellectual.

          Wouldn’t know. Never bothered reading her. There’s less of an obsession about her over here in the UK. Nobody takes her seriously. Life’s too short to plough through her rubbish.

          I see you found time to read the great sage though. Time on your hands? Thought there might be something to her? Ran out of other things to read? Recovering cult member? That’s it, isn’t it. From one cult to another…

          • Avatar of coelecanth
            May 19, 2013 at 10:29 am

            And once again metaburbia demonstrates his precision guided confirmation bias. Books that he’s read are IMPORTANT, books that he hasn’t can be dismissed without examination. Why, it’s almost like metaburbia has some sort of cognitive dissonance going on that only the finest motivated reasoning can keep at bay. Nah, that can’t be it, he’s far too self aware for that to be it…. Oh wait, my mistake.

          • Avatar of delphi_ote
            May 19, 2013 at 11:21 am

            There’s a book you haven’t read? Well, I guess that makes you a yahoo. Or a hypocrite. Or both!

            But, yes. I read books I disagree with. It’s called “intellectual honesty”. You should try it sometime.

          • Avatar of marilove
            May 20, 2013 at 3:56 pm

            Even I’ve read it and I’m socialist as they come. Why not read something you wouldn’t necessarily agree with? It helps with certain conversations.

            I even read a Danielle Steele novel once because it was at my apartment. I had other books to read but whatever, it took like, an hour. It was terrible. But kind of worth it, for some strange reason.

  20. Avatar of Robert
    May 18, 2013 at 7:19 pm —

    I was following #wiscfi while working Friday and dumbfounded by the opening speech. Even more dumbfounded when I read the speech itself.

    You have an amazing opportunity to back people who have been bullied, silenced and harassed and instead you say “but wait, I want to redirect things here, maybe if I talk about being silenced you people will understand how bad it is to talk that way when asking for somewhat important things like, uh, the right to be treated as a person.”

    The whole speech was just so completely unaware of what it was actually communicating. I would’ve seen it as a great speech 10 years ago mind you, but then again, 10 years ago I was a “nice guy” who thought I could process everything and better represent people’s views if I re-expressed them myself, etc. in other words I didn’t listen..

  21. Avatar of Blakut
    May 19, 2013 at 12:12 am —

    Most of the stuff i know about feminism is from this blog. Rebecca did a great job showing me things in a new perspective (i am a man). That being said, i’ve realized some time time ago that if i have opinions that differ from those of a few people who comment here, it’s best to keep them for myself.

    • Avatar of delphi_ote
      May 19, 2013 at 12:19 am —

      Why?

      • Avatar of Will
        May 19, 2013 at 1:49 am —

        Because we demand people back their shit up, I suppose? And sometimes we get a little feisty? Who knows. It’s the same old “them hysterical wimminz r so mean!” bullshit anyway.

        The thing is, you’re not just entitled to your opinion around here–you’re entitled to what you can argue for. And if people don’t buy your argument, they say it without mincing words or beating around the bush. I’ve had disagreements with people in the comments many times (even before I was a writer) and I’ve never had issues because I wasn’t a mansplaining jackass and because I learned to listen to people and not demand evidence for their experiences of marginalization. If you’ll notice, most of the strong disagreements around here stem from a man who starts digging a hole and then keeps on fucking digging after he’s called on it. There’s at least two examples of that in this very thread. =P

        • Avatar of delphi_ote
          May 19, 2013 at 8:28 am —

          Or maybe he’s shutting up and listening. Not likely, but I thought I’d at least ask.

      • Avatar of Blakut
        May 19, 2013 at 6:06 pm —

        Look, where i come from feminism is in its infancy. Being a man interested in feminism is difficult cause i can’t tell this to my friends. Over the years i realized that i agree with what feminism wants to do – or better said, with what part of feminism i understand and know. Problem is when i ask a question here sometimes people assume that i have an ulterior motive or something: Will for example says about me that i think it’s the “them hysterical wimminz r so mean!”, which is not true. Everything i stand for now i’ve reached through reason and careful analysis. This meant questioning those things that most of you now, on this forum, already hold as true. For me it is not always like that. To understand a thing i must doubt it and try to contradict it.

        • Avatar of Will
          May 19, 2013 at 7:00 pm —

          I, for one, am glad to hear that you’ve opened your mind to feminism. I recognize that it takes a lot of reading, listening, and studying. It won’t be perfect, and I am glad that you can stick around and see past the passionate discussions. Get comfortable with being called out, being challenged, being told that you have unrecognized privilege, and work on taking those things in stride. Because if you’re truly are on board with feminist praxis, you first must recognize that as a man it’s not about you. There are places and times to discuss men’s issues, and feminist circles usually isn’t one of them (and when they are brought up for discussion in such circles, they should be brought up by women on women’s terms).

          If I may offer some advice…

          If you’re worried about calling yourself a feminist around your friends, that’s understandable considering the baggage attached to the word in many circles. But you don’t have to be like “hey, I’m a feminist!” to make a difference. Listen to how they talk, watch how they act, and call them out on sexist stuff–point out their unrecognized privilege. Do the work of an ally–you never have to even bring up the “f” word.

          Concerning people thinking you have an ulterior motive here–look at this thread. Look at the way metaburbia engaged here. That is really, really common in feminist spaces. Around here, we tend to keep newer commenters at arm’s length and that can often lead to harsh language because we’re constantly dealing with the same shit and it gets really old really fast. So, even if you have the best of intentions, recognize that perhaps you’ve said things that people with ulterior motives often say. Please recognize that you are not entitled to our trust, we do not owe you the benefit of the doubt. You must earn it. The way to do that is exactly what you’re doing. Read, listen, learn, be vocally supportive, don’t take it personally. =)

          Everything i stand for now i’ve reached through reason and careful analysis.

          This is good, but the thing is, we don’t all have the luxury of reason and careful analysis. Many of us are marginalized, and it’s not something we get to step away from and look at from a distance. It’s not a thought experiment–It’s real and it’s part of our everyday experiences. So, in addition to using reason and careful analysis, you can also be empathetic. Perhaps the things you should think about doubting and trying to contradict are those things that seem most like common sense to you. In that way, maybe you will begin to see how there are systems of oppression set up that are quite invisible to those privileged aspects of our selves. And once you start to see them, you can help fight to destroy them.

        • Avatar of marilove
          May 20, 2013 at 3:58 pm —

          I think we’ve butt heads before but I’ve gotten used to you, at least, right? I don’t hate you. I’d recognize mastrubator man any day as someone I would not want to talk to, but you seem like a good dude. Ya know? I mean you’re not masturbator man, by any long or short shot. So you know. :)

        • Avatar of delphi_ote
          May 22, 2013 at 10:11 pm —

          Will and marilove are both badasses. I don’t always agree with them, but I respect both of them a lot. Every time they’ve disagreed with me, I’ve come away with a lot to think about. Coming from a position of privilege, it’s very healthy to be challenged in this way. If they jump down your throat, odds are they’re doing you a favor.

          They’ve also had to put up with a lot of bullshit. When they’ve experienced hostility, they couldn’t just stop commenting on a blog to make it go away. They had to live it. Remembering that helps me be patient and not take things they say personally.

          • Avatar of Buzz Parsec
            May 22, 2013 at 10:42 pm

            “When they’ve experienced hostility, they couldn’t just stop commenting on a blog to make it go away.”

            One of my favorite privileges. And good proof by counterexample of the falsity of Mr. Bates claim.

    • Avatar of sallystrange
      May 19, 2013 at 3:26 am —

      i’ve realized some time time ago that if i have opinions that differ from those of a few people who comment here, it’s best to keep them for myself.

      Funny how you don’t mention anything about the content of the differences that cause you to keep your opinions to yourself.

      “I have a different opinion. There is no evidence to support my opinion, but it is my opinion.”

      That’s not going to get you very far. EVEN IF (and I know this will come as a bitter shock to you) you are sincerely convinced of the rightness of your opinion.

    • Avatar of
      May 19, 2013 at 9:32 am —

      Most of the stuff i know about feminism is from this blog

      Then I strongly recommend you read a book or two

      • Avatar of Will
        May 19, 2013 at 11:10 am —

        For once, you’re right, but not for the reason you think you are.

        There are many fantastic books on feminism out there, as well as many other fantastic websites. My guess, though, is the books metaburbia would recommend probably aren’t the ones most of us would recommend. =P

        I highly recommend the work of bell hooks, especially Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center and Feminism is for Everybody. I also recommend Estelle Freedman’s No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women for an insightful look at the history of feminist movements.

        • Avatar of
          May 19, 2013 at 11:37 am —

          Yes, I noticed nobody seems to have read de Beauvoir, Still, I’ll add your recommendations to my Amazon wishlist for light holiday reading in a month or two. Should be great fun.

          • Avatar of coelecanth
            May 19, 2013 at 1:08 pm

            Not very good at observation are you?

            *cityzenjane / May 18, 2013, 9:35 pm Reply
            riggggggggght….I read de Beauvoir when I was sixteen….*

            And not so good at thinking thing either I might add. You have no way of knowing who’s read what unless they tell you. But noooo, you take silence as a confirmation that no one here has read de Beauvoir. Hmmm, let me think, I’m pretty sure there’s a name for that, oh yes: Argument from ignorance.

          • Avatar of cityzenjane
            May 23, 2013 at 2:30 am

            What a gasbag you are….

        • Avatar of Blakut
          May 19, 2013 at 6:19 pm —

          Thanks i’ll try to find them

    • Avatar of greenstone123
      May 19, 2013 at 10:14 am —

      @ Blakut: I appreciate your effort in learning a new perspective. It is difficult and challenging and something many people don’t bother to take on in their busy and crowded lives. There are a great many places to learn about feminism. Personally, I need topics, such as feminism, grounded in something that is tangible to me, such as a carefully woven story. I don’t follow a lot of blogs, but enjoy this one as it is as times challenging for me to digest and is grounded in real events happening right now. There are a great many different mediums that people use to communicate such topics, visual arts, plays, tv, songs, comedy. I wish you luck in finding how feminism best works in your life. For me it has been a journey. I have commented here on Skeptchick and have had people disagree with me. I purposely post knowing that my opinion, science, world view is colored by my personal experiences. It is when I have received challenging comments that have impacted me the most. I appreciate that others take the time to explain their personal experiences, science, point of views, etc.

      • Avatar of Blakut
        May 19, 2013 at 6:18 pm —

        I’m doing my best. I am skeptic before all else, i try to make decisions and form my world views based on reason. Skepticism turned me away from religion, kept me sane, made me a tolerant person – i used to be pretty racist in my teenage years, and made me interested in feminism. Looking back now, i realize i still have a lot to learn. Problem is when i meet with other skeptics i realize that i have to say that i agree with a some opinion which i don’t know much about so they don’t shun me. Then i can research it myself and see what i think. For example: i used to doubt global warming. I wasn’t a crazy denier, i just wasn’t convinced – partly my fault for not being well documented. When i raised the topic with other people, their reaction was not pleasant. So i didn’t question anyone’s opinions about it anymore, i went and read papers and articles by myself. So now, especially among feminists, i don’t question their opinions and beliefs because they might think i do that because i’m against them or something.

        • Avatar of Will
          May 19, 2013 at 7:12 pm —

          It sucks that people shun you for not knowing. There’s always the option of saying “I don’t know much about this, I will reserve judgment until I learn more.” You don’t have to agree just to agree. But that is different from disagreeing because you don’t know. “I don’t know much about feminism, therefore I disagree with you that sexism is still a problem” is not an argument someone who identifies as a skeptic (or anyone for that matter) should be making. “I don’t know much about feminism, I need to learn more. Do you have any suggestions for where to start?” is where it’s at.

          So now, especially among feminists, i don’t question their opinions and beliefs because they might think i do that because i’m against them or something.

          This is one of those things that plays into stereotypes about feminists, and it’s one of those things that would probably get your ass chewed out around here normally. You can disagree with the opinions and beliefs of feminists. What I think you’ve run into is probably being dismissive or skeptical of people’s experiences with marginalization. I’m, of course, not saying that people who are marginalized have some objective understanding that is the be-all-end-all explanation; what I’m saying is that generally people’s experiences with marginalization are not a one-time thing. We experience it on a constant basis, so we are usually keenly aware of what’s happening to us.

          The thing is, around here disagreement is not necessarily a bad thing. Again, though, you have to recognize the kinds of people that come into threads all the time to “disagree” when really that’s not at all what they’re doing. I disagree with people in comments, I disagree with other Skepchicks, and we talk it out. But I never tell them I disagree with their experiences, because it’s not something for me to agree or disagree with. I may disagree with conclusions they draw based on experiences, but that’s something different.

          So I guess this is all to say, don’t be afraid to speak up more around here, ask appropriate questions (e.g., “where can I find more info on this?”, not asking people to justify their humanity or experiences), when you disagree use first person and explain why, and if you’re genuinely open to conversation, look past any vitriol spewed at you and respond to the content. And if a marginalized person tells you to shut up and listen, then do it and don’t take it personally. Do it to learn and to grow. Do it to become a better ally.

          • Avatar of Jack99
            May 19, 2013 at 9:01 pm

            Will, this is such excellent advice, I was thinking maybe it could be linked to in the Advice for Commenters section. It seems to cover most of the aspects that come up on a regular basis (along with Marilove’s “Shit we Already Know”).

        • Avatar of cityzenjane
          May 23, 2013 at 2:33 am —

          It’s a good think to be skeptical….also be skeptical of the skepticism of self proclaimed skeptics….many are very prone it seems to believing their own hype.

          Keep reading, keep talking, and keep listening.

  22. Avatar of Jack99
    May 19, 2013 at 2:52 am —

    All this because Rebecca dared to say
    “Very strange to open #wiscfi w a white male CEO lecturing women about using the concept of privilege to silence men.”
    Then we get “Don’t be so histrionic.It’s all about Rebecca and her self-promoting feuds again.”

    Well, I have made my own judgement about who is the drama queen and who is being silenced here.

    • Avatar of
      May 19, 2013 at 9:30 am —

      But it is about Rebecca and her self-promotion, don’t you think? Hoe many more people do you think she’ll pick silly fights with? Any guesses on the next one? I think she’ll leave PZ until the very end and I don’t know the ‘community’ well enough to second guess. I’m looking at you folk to come up with a prediction here. Who’s next?

      • Avatar of Bruce McGlory
        May 19, 2013 at 9:42 am —

        Thank you for proving my diagonsis of you. Misogyny Derrangement Syndrome with a side of Bitter Angry Loser.

        • Avatar of
          May 19, 2013 at 11:34 am —

          You have me bang to rights. It’s as if you could look into my soul

          • Avatar of marilove
            May 20, 2013 at 4:00 pm

            You’re just a boring slympite troll.

      • Avatar of Will
        May 19, 2013 at 11:12 am —

        You still have not defined privilege! Guess you’re not really interested in a conversation, huh! Guess you’re only interested in talking shit! No surprise there.

        • Avatar of
          May 19, 2013 at 11:35 am —

          Happy to use your definition of the word. Not sure why it’s such a big problem for you. We all have dictionaries.

          • Avatar of Will
            May 19, 2013 at 11:43 am

            Because, you jackass, all the shit you were arguing earlier about privilege being about group aggregates is not what privilege is. If you agree with my definition, that privilege is the advantages bestowed upon individuals due to their membership (real or perceived) in certain groups, then everything you were arguing earlier about privilege being “reified” and a misused concept is entirely wrong.

            In other words, by accepting my definition, you concede the argument and thus demonstrate that you have no fucking idea what you’re talking about.

            Also, if you have nothing of value to add to the thread at this point, you might want to just fucking stop. Considering you have no idea what you’re talking about and you are now engaging in the typical Rebecca-hate bullshit reminiscent of the Slymepit, I am going to have to consider your actions trolling from here out. I tried to engage you in a good faith argument and you stopped engaging when I demanded you provide reasoning for your bullshit. Everything you’re posting now is useless, trolling bullshit. So, it’s probably a good idea for you to drop out of the thread if you want to continue to be able to post on Skepchick in the future.

      • Avatar of delphi_ote
        May 19, 2013 at 11:26 am —

        Hmm… maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss masturbia’s opinion on this. He is clearly an expert in self promotion and attention seeking.

        … nah.

  23. Avatar of lamuella
    May 19, 2013 at 4:45 am —

    I do have to wonder: if the conference had been about LGBT issues in secularism, would anyone have thought it appropriate to start it off with a straight cisgender speaker haranguing the audience about how they need to stop oppressing straight people?

    • Avatar of delphi_ote
      May 19, 2013 at 8:31 am —

      “I’m tired of black people using the idea of racial privilege to silence white men. You should listen to what we have to say.”

  24. Avatar of oolon
    May 19, 2013 at 8:47 am —

    Jebus, read Ron’s responses to this post. No actual examples of men being silenced! Then the bit comparing Rebecca’s writing to a North Korea communique is… Bizarre. Seems he has gone full Shermer with this one.
    (Why is it feminist women are called “special snowflakes” and “thin skinned”… Nothing experiences butthurt like a privileged white bloke being called out on his bullshit it seems)

    • Avatar of Bruce McGlory
      May 19, 2013 at 9:44 am —

      I noticed that too. Not one shred of evidence, just a lot of testerical whining, lying, pouting, and embarrassing himself. He attacks Watson with a mountain of strawmen, and lies. This is what passes as critical thinking to CFI? I am so glad I didn’t waste the money joining CFI.

      • Avatar of
        May 19, 2013 at 11:44 am —

        I’m trying to imagine being attacked by a mountain of strawmen. Would it spontaneously combust, do you think, @Bruce? Would it be stable enough? Would things nest in it? And are you being cis-something privileged by asserting straw-things can only be men? Surely strawpeople? And what about animal rights?

        You’re so right not to join the CFI. Still, their loss is Rebecca’s gain, eh?

        • Avatar of oolon
          May 19, 2013 at 4:55 pm —

          Shorter metablahbia “Ban me now so I can go off whining about feminists freezing my peach!”

          Seriously at least try and hide your trollish intentions and pretend to make a reply that is addressing anything in the thread.

          • Avatar of
            May 20, 2013 at 6:06 pm

            Again, @oolon, L’état, c’est moi.

            News for you: your narrow, dim, intolerant version of feminism as Great Loyalty Oath Crusade isn’t the beginning and end of feminism.

    • Avatar of delphi_ote
      May 19, 2013 at 11:29 am —

      Yea. And he explicitly said he didn’t have time to give examples in his talk. Why not in all these lengthy blog posts? Is he concerned we might run out of space on the Internet?

  25. Avatar of Radical Mon
    May 19, 2013 at 10:43 am —

    Considering how much I appreciate your writing and POV, I find it really sad that you fall into the trap of calling radical feminists transphobic. As much as debates within feminists circles can be educational and informative, the misconception that being critical of gender = transphobia is incredibly damaging. We want to abolish gender, not trans individuals. Gender indoctrination has fucked them over too.

    • Avatar of TCC
      May 19, 2013 at 12:51 pm —

      I don’t think that Rebecca Watson is saying that radical feminists are inherently transphobic, but the radfems that called Rhys Morgan a rapist and Amanda and Rebecca “pimp apologists” were definitely transphobic. (IIRC, one of them said that saying that trans* women are women was tantamount to rape apology because it forces lesbian to have to suck cock or some stupid shit like that. It hurts my head recalling that exchange…)

    • Avatar of Adrian G
      May 20, 2013 at 5:05 am —

      “We want to abolish gender” – That seems a bit extreme. You want to abolish gender because it’s just social construction?

    • Avatar of pneumo
      May 20, 2013 at 8:49 am —

      I always thought the whole point of getting rid of genders was to let all bodies represent themselves in any way they chose.

  26. Avatar of
    May 19, 2013 at 12:41 pm —

    @Will will you take away my ability to post here in future? Oh Noes! Oppression !!!!! What will become of me?

    • Avatar of greenstone123
      May 19, 2013 at 12:46 pm —

      Metaburbia, you could create your own blog. Expand on your ideas, not get so bogged down by the strawmen. What will become of you? :) Sounds like someone is getting ready to flounce. Greenstone cackles and waits in anticipation…

      • Avatar of
        May 20, 2013 at 5:12 pm —

        I have a few blogs, ta. On this one of mine you can grab yourself some homemade culture (we have had the piano tuned & acquired a new one since…)

        http://www.metaburbia.com/2011/09/20/anna-and-helen-play-schubert/

        and then learn all about my Darwin Twitter & Facebook streams which you’re welcome to follow / like.

        http://www.metaburbia.com/darwin/

        although I’m writing more on G+ these days. I suspect I might be the only one.

        https://plus.google.com/113934106958219608468/posts

        I only popped along here when I saw that Rebecca had yet again gone and needlessly picked a fight. You won’t agree with that of course but really, how many times does it have to happen before you see a pattern?

        I have no idea what ‘Greenstone’ is.

        • Avatar of greenstone123
          May 20, 2013 at 11:43 pm —

          My goodness you are so pompous! You have no idea what my thoughts are about Watson, feminism, the like. I don’t normally share them. But I engage where I like and comment where I like. You are under the misguided assumption that this site is one big group think. I would never have written the blog that she did following Lindsay’s talk. But I am not Watson! I write about birds. I appreciate her sharing what she sees from her perspective. She takes a lot of heat for sharing her experiences and perspectives. I think Lindsay was misguided to bring up what he did during the opening talk. (I can only assume his intention to bring this up during the opening of a women in skepticism conference and so far it stinks. And his rebuttals stink.) As a leader, I would expect Lindsay to say things like welcome guests and introduce the panel. Not grind an axe. It appears petty and he should be a leader. This is in fact what my opinion is on this. Not that you knew before I said.

          I appreciate what Rebecca Watson does for the skeptical community. Her and the crew have gone to tackle current topics. Feminism is important to me, but so is talk about the military, people from the Middle East and about Muslim faith, the spin-off of Queereka tackles issues that I had no idea about until they were introduced here at Skeptchick, the Mad Art Lab where art and science meet, and topics about poverty and disability. I feel more knowledgeable about feminism, military, and art topics so I am more likely to comment on those posts.

          BTW Greenstone (aka Chlorastrolite) is Michigan’s state gemstone. They are found in igneous rocks and are a mineral. I rock hound and I have many of them. I think they are beautiful.

          I think that you have come here to derail. I am not seeing solid, coherent arguments besides the likes of ‘Rebecca had yet again picked a fight’. Maybe she did, but maybe it is a fight worth having. It is not your place to tell her what to do. And by the way when I do pick up the ‘patter’ as you put it what would you have me do? Troll her blog? Tell her followers not to follow? What? I would never do these things.

          • Avatar of
            May 21, 2013 at 2:54 am

            >You are under the misguided assumption that this site is one big group think

            Weird, huh?

            > I am not seeing solid, coherent arguments besides the likes of ‘Rebecca had yet again picked a fight’. Maybe she did,

            Well, whenever I begin @Will and @Bruce seem more interested in throwing around nonsense. I don’t think they’re actually interested in a real conversation. Someone else here made the assumption that my politics veer to the right simply because I quoted Edmund Burke. How more anti-intellectual can one be?

            >It is not your place to tell her what to do

            Complete red herring. I’ve done nothing of the sort. See, this is exactly the sort of comment that demonstrates bad faith. You’re not interested in an honest discussion either, are you?

            > Tell her followers not to follow?

            And again. Never done it. Besides, what mysterious powers do you think I have?

            Look: here’s my position:

            * I don’t accept the common Sociology 101 analysis that relies upon ‘The Patriarchy’ and ‘Privilege’ and ‘Intersectionality’ to understand racism, sexism and other sorts of disadvantage and prejudice. I think they’re modish, largely unexamined fads that will blow away when the next generation of doctoral students need to win their spurs and I think the sophomoric over-enthusiastic adopters of these analyses tend to be ignorant of history and philosophy. This doesn’t mean I don’t have a great deal of sympathy for some strands of feminism and I might have thought it would be possible to have a discussion without finding myself on the wrong side of a Great Loyalty Oath Crusade

            * I think Rebecca has involved herself now in enough largely pointless online disputes for a quizzical eye to be turned her way and the question to be asked of her: Is this actually helpful?

            I started compiling a list:

            * Lindsay
            * DJ Groethe
            * Riched Dawkins
            * Justin Vacula
            * Paula Kirby
            * Penn Jilette
            * Ben Radford
            * Harriet Hall
            * Stef McGraw

            And I’ve just learned there are a lot, lot more names that could be added. Stangroom, for example. Russell Blackford. It just goes on and on.

            Is this all just a fight for justice by a strong, independent woman? That’s how she – and the people here – like to cast it. I think that’s implausible.

          • Avatar of greenstone123
            May 21, 2013 at 11:05 am

            @metaburbia : The questions were rhetorical. I wonder how you think is the best way to go about making social change and I was trying to prompt you to answer this, maybe it does not translate? I think your tactics are not working here, they come across as trolling and you seem pompous assuming the people here are not well read (or that they must be well read on the texts that you think are important). This Will and Bruce keeping you derailed from saying what your argument is, is absurd. It is the internet. We are two hundred comments in and you are just getting to the meat of your argument. Maybe next time you can open with your argument. I have nothing to say on the future of the feminist movement and how we will look back on this issue. I would agree that feminism is multifaceted and reducing it to catch phrases such as patriarchy and privilege is narrow. However I think they are a thing and that they do come into play in the social drama of life.

      • Avatar of
        May 20, 2013 at 5:13 pm —

        Ah. Greenstone. That’s you, that is. Going all 3rd person on me.

        • Avatar of marilove
          May 21, 2013 at 9:54 am —

          O_o it was really, really obvious from the context. You’re the kind of stupid that hides behind big words and lots of commas.

          • Avatar of marilove
            May 21, 2013 at 9:59 am

            And no commas, actually, not lots of commas? What the hell brain? I am running on no sleep. Misfires. That said, you’re just not particularly thoughtful. You just toss words out. It’s just. I feel embarrassed for you, honestly.

          • Avatar of delphi_ote
            May 22, 2013 at 10:15 pm

            And terrible writing. Don’t forget the terrible, terrible writing.

    • Avatar of coelecanth
      May 19, 2013 at 1:11 pm —

      And there you have it gentlefolk. Rather than continue to attempt to support his arguments or concede error metaburbia trolls for the banhammer. Intellectual honesty at it’s finest.

      • Avatar of Melanie
        May 19, 2013 at 1:16 pm —

        He’s been trolling for a ban since he first appeared on the Reddit thread, where he didn’t offer any substantive arguments either. So I guess he’ll go back and high four with his buddies now.

        • Avatar of coelecanth
          May 19, 2013 at 1:27 pm —

          What? WHAT!? A pretentious, vacuous straw-Vulcan of a skeptic has a history of this behaviour?! I’m shocked, shocked I say!

          I’d go on, but somehow I’ve managed to drive my tongue clean through my cheek. I mite painful that.

          • Avatar of
            May 20, 2013 at 6:02 pm

            @coelecanth If you have to point out you’re being ironic it sorts of fails at first base, don’t you think? Just from a question of style. it’s so clumsy.

        • Avatar of
          May 20, 2013 at 6:01 pm —

          I have buddies?

          • Avatar of Melanie
            May 20, 2013 at 7:37 pm

            You don’t? I’m sorry. Maybe you could join a club or take a class or something. Macrame?

          • Avatar of coelecanth
            May 21, 2013 at 10:52 am

            Thanks for your comment, seriously. The obliviousness of someone criticising style while using the twitter ampersand in nested comments was a delicious laugh out loud moment.

  27. Avatar of coelecanth
    May 19, 2013 at 1:31 pm —

    Er,I’d like to trade this A for an I if I could. Thanks ever so much.

  28. Avatar of Improbable Joe
    May 19, 2013 at 3:10 pm —

    Ron Lindsay was totally silenced this weekend: he gave a big speech, did lots of Tweeting, posted several blog entries, got to shmooze with people, was put up in a nice hotel and ate fancy meals… and all paid for by CFI. I wish someone would fucking silence me like that!

  29. Avatar of Lyr
    May 19, 2013 at 6:38 pm —

    Lindsay is a freakin’ huge crybaby.

  30. Avatar of dr. dr. professor
    May 20, 2013 at 2:07 pm —

    This just goes back to the core issue that men always conflate feminist points as a personal attack on them.

    • Avatar of Jules McWyrm
      May 20, 2013 at 4:12 pm —

      OMG! At the risk of proving your point, could you please not say ‘always’?

      • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
        May 20, 2013 at 6:48 pm —

        Haha, oh the intricacies of speech. This is another point is that often people don’t argue genuinely, they exploit semantics in order to just win.

        I believe the Skepchick authors actually do a great job of addressing people’s points for what they are in their discussions and NOT exploiting semantics for their ability to just sway people towards their point of view. Case in point this article where Rebecca says “yes sometimes use privilege in order to stifle an argument, BUT THE MAN OPENING A WOMAN’S CONFERENCE MADE THIS AN EARLY & STRONG POINT ABOUT THIS BEING A SILENCING TACTIC, HERE IS WHY IT IS NOT SILENCING, AND HERE ARE EXAMPLES OF WHAT SILENCING IS. THEREFORE I REFUTE YOUR POINT, NOW WATCH AS PEOPLE TRY TO SILENCE ME FOR EVENING COMMENTING ON YOUR POINTS.”

        That to me is a balanced & CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. The fact that 159+ comments of debate have happened is indicative that “silencing” is skewed towards women.

        • Avatar of Jules McWyrm
          May 22, 2013 at 5:24 am —

          dr. dr. professor: I am in agreement with Rebecca’s points in this post and also agree that she did a fantastic job of arguing her case. I am certainly not ‘exploit[ing] semantics in order to just win’ as I don’t really disagree with anything you’ve said.

          • Avatar of marilove
            May 22, 2013 at 6:32 pm

            Then why the pointless, off-topic nit-picking when it was quite clear what he was trying to say? He was being snarky, jeesh.

  31. Avatar of
    May 20, 2013 at 5:34 pm —

    ‘ I gather that you are at least friendly to libertarian/conservative policy: quoting Edmund Burke favorably’

    @Pete Schult are you really so narrow minded, so – basically – stupid as to think that quoting Burke reveals anything about my political leanings? Really.?

    This is David Marquand:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Marquand

    FBA, FRHistS, FRSA (born 20 September 1934) is a British academic and former Labour Party Member of Parliament

    Here he is in The Guardian on his hero. Edmund Burke.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/sep/11/edmund-burke-hero-david-marquand

    Have a read and educate yourself.

    • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
      May 20, 2013 at 6:54 pm —

      I’m friendly towards certain economic libertarian policies. I don’t think anyone is saying that libertarianism is anti-feminist or racist at its core (my Indian family is pretty economically conservative, so yes, brown people are on board with it too :P).

      I would personally say, as an Indian person that it’s partially a white people idea that all minorities are of liberal leanings.

      I think what is being said by the person who brought that up is that, yes you are unfairly characterized sometimes, but this doesn’t really constitute silencing, nor does it take away the privilege you have, nor should it preclude you from listening to the concerns of marginalized groups.

    • Avatar of Pete Schult
      May 21, 2013 at 2:44 am —

      Again, your trolling shows that you don’t address the substance of your critics’ arguments against you. The specific labels I deduced (except for “male” and “white”, perhaps) are not relevant to my argument. They are relevant for how well you recognize yourself as the example I was trying to use to illustrate privilege. Thus, my pedagogy failed somewhat (one failure I was aware of almost immediately after posting was that I had forgotten that “conservative”|en-GB ? “conservative”|en-US, but that, too, was immaterial).

      Again, the specific labels in my examples are irrelevant. The point was to illustrate and make clear a definition of “privilege” as used in social justice oriented groups. That concept involves the cognitive structures that people form with the labels and the social dynamics that result from the cognitive structures. To make that clear to you, I tried to use you as an example, but it seems that even when people try to meet you half way by making the discussion somewhat about you, you aren’t satisfied and insist on insulting them for not having broken through your obtuseness.

      • Avatar of
        May 21, 2013 at 3:24 am —

        >Thus, my pedagogy failed somewhat

        This phrase is going to keep me amused most of today as I sit in dull meetings. Particularly enjoyed the ‘thus’. Thanks.

        >The point was to illustrate and make clear a definition of “privilege” as used in social justice oriented groups.

        See, I do know this I just don’t accept it. for a whole host of reasons including the fact that it commits a logical fallacy.

        > and insist on insulting them for

        I called you stupid for claiming that, by my quoting Edmund Burke, I was demonstrating right-leaning sympathies. Rather than, as I was in fact doing, celebrating the marvellously-expressed sentiments of a famously interesting thinker’s speech about the nature of representative democracy. And when you did that you were in fact being stupid – and still are because you still think it’s about a difference in conservatism between the UK and the US.

        • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
          May 21, 2013 at 7:20 am —

          But unless you have some God-like calculus that tots up all the benefits and disadvantages of an individual, taking into account your favoured axes of power and every other not counted in your conveniently limited universe your claim they enjoy this reified ‘Privilige’ is simply unwarranted as a matter of fact.

          lol, the written style of your posts read like this “I am going to use a bunch of run on sentences with 5x more adjectives than I need in order to make simple points.” and it makes your posts SO tedious read. Try using less verbal filler when you argue.

          And to the substance of your argument, you argue in such a way that is self serving to your ego above all. It sounds like you are trying to show off how awesome of a skeptic you are for disagreeing with Rebecca, but what you fail to do is take time to actually take a read of the content here and consider the perspectives of the women in this community. Instead of doing that, you just jump in with your long held prejudices and start throwing around bowls of word salad to validate your prejudices.

          Nobody is telling you here “agree with EVERYTHING said”, they just want you to take a fucking second to honestly listen before you ramble on.

          • Avatar of
            May 21, 2013 at 7:45 am

            >And to the substance of your argument, you argue in such a way that is self serving to your ego above all.

            Er…you think that is addressing the substance, do you? Do you really? Really, really?

          • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
            May 21, 2013 at 8:11 am

            Er…you think that is addressing the substance, do you?

            Yep, I think your ego is a HUGE factor in what you’re saying.

          • Avatar of marilove
            May 21, 2013 at 9:56 am

            If he didn’t have all the stupid fluff, he’d have nothing at all.

        • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
          May 21, 2013 at 7:28 am —

          And speaking about Rebecca and her habit of “getting involved in largely useless online debates”:

          What Rebecca is showing, is that discrimination towards women is often though to limited to the domains of the religious and right leaning social circles. However, what she shows is that it is alive & well even in left leaning communities such as organized atheism and skepticism.

          And if you think she’s complaining about nothing when she points this out, well, that goes a long way in proving her point.

          • Avatar of
            May 21, 2013 at 7:44 am

            >lo

            Yeah, ‘lol’, eh? lol lol lol.

    • Avatar of Pete Schult
      May 21, 2013 at 2:54 am —

      Dr Dr Professor’s reply to you leads me to believe that I need to be explicit about something. None of the labels I was deducing for you (again, except “white”, “male”, and “technology professional”) have any relevance to my argument except as attempts (failed ones, apparently) to flesh out an example. Even those three are only relevant insofar-as they make you a member of groups with relative privilege in our society, so they too only matter for the example.

      If you were a conservative of any stripe, that would not imply that you didn’t understand the concept of privilege, nor would it imply that you were anti-feminist. In no way was I trying to use the labels to imply any sort of guilt by association. They were for purposes of an example.

  32. Avatar of immir
    May 21, 2013 at 8:13 am —

    Oh god, I hate how these people talk.

    “He didn’t pooh-pooh feminism: perhaps his take on feminism just differs from yours, @Will. I’m completely add odds with intersectionality and the reification of the ‘Patriarchy’ myself and I maintain not only that my position is more coherent than yours – which you’ll disagree with, doubtless…”

    THAT- that wheedling, whining, pseudo self-deprecation schtick.They all seem to do it. They also love clunky sentence structure, using phrases like ‘doubtless’, ‘perhaps’ and ‘that of’ along with weird old-fashioned terms like ‘scurrilous’ and ‘lockstep’. Also, this particular guy is not a fan of commas. I had to read what he wrote a couple of time to get what he was saying. Others love to use caps where there is no need! Capitalizing ‘Men’ seems to be common for some reason. And don’t get me started on their over-zealous use of scare quotes.

    “… but that to remain, or in your case, achieve, intellectual respectability you really must allow for the possibility of debate and difference about such matters.”

    And this! This awkward, uncomfortable attempt at humour. Is it humour? I dunno, but I feel icky reading that. Have you ever watched Play School, or Sesame Street and felt really weird watching the adults dance around and sing and do stupid shit, and you get this real sense of embarrassment FOR them because the experience is so humiliating for them? THAT is how I feel when I read their ‘jokes’.

    Seriously, I was just over at Lindsay’s blog reading his response post and the comment section is TORTURE to read. Long, rambling, bloated walls of text; not to mention it is riddled with MRAs who are just tickled pink that ‘someone finally stood up to the feminists and told them what for!’.

    Feminist people seem to be better communicators. Funnier, snappier, more concise writing and certainly more coherent. Just sayin’.

    • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
      May 21, 2013 at 8:55 am —

      Yeah, I don’t know who started the myth that writing long paragraphs with abstract adjective filled, multi-subject sentences somehow makes you a good skeptic.

      One thing I’ve learned working as an aerospace engineer and later as a software engineer is that it’s best to speak straightforwardly and concisely if you want people to understand complex concepts. What tends to happen of course is the reverse, people speaking in an abstract runon fashion about simple concepts.

    • Avatar of
      May 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm —

      >I had to read what he wrote a couple of time to get what he was saying

      I’m sure you did.

      • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
        May 21, 2013 at 3:04 pm —

        //I’m sure you did.//

        Again, lol, just because most people find your writing hard to read doesn’t mean they’re stupid, it means you’re a shitty writer. For instance:

        >>I called you stupid for claiming that, by my quoting Edmund Burke, I was demonstrating right-leaning sympathies.<>>Rather than, as I was in fact doing, celebrating the<<>marvellously-expressed sentiments of a famously interesting thinker’s speech about the nature of representative democracy.<>And when you did that you were in fact being stupid – and still are because you still think it’s about a difference in conservatism between the UK and the US.<<
        Your third sentence uses AND to refer to something in the first sentence. First off, this is a grammatical error. Secondly, it requires the reader to refer to the first sentence again to understand what you're actually talking about. That is not an intelligent way of writing, it's just grammatically incorrect and confusing. In general, in most languages, you're supposed to write how you talk, and nobody talks like that.

        Understanding all of that, perhaps you can grasp why we're calling your writing bad. You don't sound smart, you sound like someone who needs a writing tutor.

      • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
        May 21, 2013 at 3:08 pm —

        I’m sure you did.

        Again, lol, just because most people find your writing hard to read doesn’t mean they’re stupid, it means you’re a shitty writer. For instance:

        I called you stupid for claiming that, by my quoting Edmund Burke, I was demonstrating right-leaning sympathies.

        Weird division of clauses creating unnatural pauses in speech. You write English like it’s German, and the only reason German has to do that is because it has V2 word order. English word order is almost exclusively SVO and so breaking up sentences like that is unnecessary and it because it makes them difficult to read.

        Rather than, as I was in fact doing, celebrating

        Another strange division in clauses, creating an unnatural pause.

        the marvellously-expressed sentiments of a famously interesting thinker’s speech about the nature of representative democracy.

        Unnecessary overuse of descriptive adjectives, obscures the main point. How does saying “famously interesting” help you make the point in that sentence? It doesn’t, it just elongates the sentence for no good reason.)

        And when you did that you were in fact being stupid – and still are because you still think it’s about a difference in conservatism between the UK and the US.

        Your third sentence uses AND to refer to something in the first sentence. First off, this is a grammatical error. Secondly, it requires the reader to refer to the first sentence again to understand what you’re actually talking about. That is not an intelligent way of writing, it’s just grammatically incorrect and confusing. In general, in most languages, you’re supposed to write how you talk, and nobody talks like that.

        Understanding all of that, perhaps you can grasp why we’re calling your writing bad. You don’t sound smart, you sound like someone who needs a writing tutor.

        • Avatar of
          May 21, 2013 at 3:20 pm —

          >Understanding all of that, perhaps you can grasp why we’re calling your writing bad

          Er…I really don’t mind what you think of it. As a matter of fact you’re wrong about grammar but I don’t care in the slightest if you don’t like my style of writing, Feel free.

          So why do you think Rebecca gets in all these fights?

          • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
            May 21, 2013 at 5:53 pm

            //So why do you think Rebecca gets in all these fights?//

            Because any criticism she makes is followed by a flash mob of angry people who don’t like having their prejudice or privilege pointed out. The reaction she gets as much more intense (to the point of threats, rape jokes, personal harassment) than someone delivering a non gendered criticism. And the yes the fact that she continues to speak her mind is the right thing to do and a brave thing to do.

            It’s a huge embarrassment that this level of harassment (not debate, harassment) happens in so called ‘enlightened’ circles. And you are part of that embarrassment. In terms of sexism, you’re not much different in some respects than some right wing American evangelicals.

            Also your writing style is definitely shit. I’m glad you plan to keep it that way though, it’ll ensure people continue to ignore your poorly thought out points.

          • Avatar of marilove
            May 22, 2013 at 6:36 pm

            He’s wrong but you don’t say why, shocking! Shocking.

            No one expects perfection in comment sections; I mean, clearly, I am queen of typos when not on my computer. At the same time, you are REALLY hard to read because you’re a reallllllllyyy awful writer.

            The reason it matters is because you clearly think you’re amazingly smart, and you keep trying to imply that we’re all stupid because you read some books and you assume we haven’t read them too. It’s ridiculously ironic.

          • Avatar of cityzenjane
            May 23, 2013 at 2:49 am

            If you make this about Rebecca you do not give a shit about women in skepticism or any of the other arenas I mentioned where this crap goes on day in day out. It ain’t about Rebecca…the only reason she stands out is because she takes no shit – and the trolls hate her for it.

        • Avatar of marilove
          May 22, 2013 at 6:34 pm —

          Talk linguistic nerd to me, dr. *fans self*

          • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
            May 23, 2013 at 1:48 am

            Yeah I bet you need a fan with all the hot, smelly air this narcissist has been spewing.

      • Avatar of delphi_ote
        May 22, 2013 at 10:29 pm —

        SSdtIGNvbW11bmljYXRpbmcgaW4gYSB3YXkgbm9ib2R5IHVuZGVyc3RhbmRzLCBzbyBJJ20gb2J2aW91c2x5IG1vcmUgaW50ZWxsaWdlbnQgdGhhbiB0aGVtLiBXYWl0LCB5b3UncmUgY2xlYXJseSByZWFkaW5nIHRoaXMgcmlnaHQgbm93LCBzbyBJJ20gbm90IGxvb2tpbmcgYXMgaW50ZWxsaWdlbnQgYXMgSSBjb3VsZC4gIEkgc2hvdWxkJ3ZlIGVuY3J5cHRlZCB0aGlzIHVzaW5nIGEgb25lLXRpbWUgcGFkLiAgVGhlbiBJJ2QgYmUganVzdCBsaWtlIG1ldGFidXJiaWE6IGltcG9zc2libGUgdG8gZGVjaXBoZXIh

    • Avatar of
      May 21, 2013 at 3:17 pm —

      But taking off your Northrop Fry hat for a second or two: what’s your explanation for Rebecca’s continual spats? A brave fighter for the cause of woman against The Patriarchy? Ir that it?

      • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
        May 21, 2013 at 5:58 pm —

        Also you didn’t debate with an open mind. You came in here with a chip on your shoulder acting like an asshole. Are you that socially retarded to expect a calm reaction after that?

        • Avatar of
          May 21, 2013 at 6:21 pm —

          So, the women who have been at the receiving end of Rebecca’s vitriol: were they annoyed at having their ‘privilege’ pointed out?

          Incidentally, I wouldn’t dream of calling these circles ‘enlightened’. A bit of hubris on your part there, I think.

          > In terms of sexism, you’re not much different in some respects than some right wing American evangelicals.

          And you’ve concluded this because I think Rebecca’s provoking rows to increase traffic to her blog? That’s sufficient to conclude I’m sexist? Or was there some other evidence?

          >Also your writing style is definitely shit.

          I do like the fact you’ve adopted criticism as a sort of hobby. Any update on your understanding of grammar?

          • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
            May 21, 2013 at 8:58 pm

            So, the women who have been at the receiving end of Rebecca’s vitriol: were they annoyed at having their ‘privilege’ pointed out?

            Rebecca debates with a hard hand at times, true, but why does this make her so controversia?. Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and George Carlin all spouted harsh opinions, but they didn’t regularly get the characterization of evil bastards that Rebecca gets. They also didn’t get the high volume of scary harassment and threats she did. The mere fact that she’s so controversial makes it apparent that yes, the patriarchy she talks about is real, and it’s a problem. And yeah, sometimes women are on the side of status quo, so what? That doesn’t make pompous male privilege not exist.

            And you’ve concluded this because I think Rebecca’s provoking rows to increase traffic to her blog? That’s sufficient to conclude I’m sexist? Or was there some other evidence?

            Dude, every other sentence you type into Skepchick.org’s database shows me you’re sexist.

            I do like the fact you’ve adopted criticism as a sort of hobby. Any update on your understanding of grammar?

            Your humor sucks too.

          • Avatar of marilove
            May 22, 2013 at 6:38 pm

            So, the women who have been at the receiving end of Rebecca’s vitriol: were they annoyed at having their ‘privilege’ pointed out?

            How is her style of debate any different from Dawkins or Hitchens? Are you a fan of these two people? I bet you are.

            So why are you so uncomfortable when a WOMAN is aggressive, forward, passionate, and doesn’t back down from her convictions?

        • Avatar of Jack99
          May 21, 2013 at 6:26 pm —

          Aw, DDP, don’t spoil it all! Judging by his blog, the past couple of days are the most fun he’s ever had on the internet.
          Standing room only in the comments section, that’s for sure.

          • Avatar of
            May 21, 2013 at 6:34 pm

            Well thanks for dropping by. Did you follow @cdarwin?

            https://twitter.com/cdarwin

            It’s worth it – four years or so of the Beagle voyage coming up. Great fun.

          • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
            May 21, 2013 at 9:13 pm

            Aw, DDP, don’t spoil it all! Judging by his blog, the past couple of days are the most fun he’s ever had on the internet.

            Yes, I visited as well, and noted his super-sized ego. It’s funny that he criticizes Rebecca for having a big head when the guy thinks himself more clever than Dr. Who.

          • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
            May 21, 2013 at 9:14 pm

            Aw, DDP, don’t spoil it all! Judging by his blog, the past couple of days are the most fun he’s ever had on the internet.

            Yes, I visited as well, and noted his super-sized ego. It’s funny that he criticizes Rebecca for having a big head when the guy thinks himself more clever than Dr. Who.

  33. Avatar of immir
    May 21, 2013 at 9:07 am —

    To try and sound smart

  34. Avatar of Emily Fischbach
    May 21, 2013 at 6:38 pm —

    The sad thing is that it happens both ways. And sad to say But Dr. Dr. Prof is right. There are many in the skeptical community who seem to feel very threatened and uncomfortable with women even being at these conferenences. Let alone having them speak on such issues about the silencing treatment they get. I would suggest that we take some of Rebecca’s advice and try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. For example, getting harassed, threatened to the point of driving a person out of a community they love, all because they share their experiences? Im sorry that people dont want to see the uglier side, but its there. ignoring it will not make it go away. So.. dare I call for some constructive comments on how to improve the skeptical community so that is friendly and welcoming to ALL people? and how to not have a firestorm when the dirty laundry gets aired out? but to discuss it calmly like the rational beings we are? (or at least are supposed to be)

    • Avatar of
      May 22, 2013 at 2:41 am —

      This is just rubbish. There’s no serious, sizeable, significant number of people who feel ‘threatened’ or ‘uncomfortable’ with women or with women at conferences. When you find yourself writing such plain nonsense don’t you ever stop to think what bizarre thought process has led you to that conclusion?

      threatened to the point of driving a person out of a community they love

      And I really wouldn’t try to attribute to a bit of online nastiness someone’s serious mental illness – unless you have an astonishing new theory about the etiology of case depression, in which case I’d suggest publishing in a good journal..

      how to not have a firestorm when the dirty laundry gets aired out

      That’s it, is it? The many, many arguments Watson’s provoked are down to her bravely confronting the truth?

      • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
        May 22, 2013 at 6:15 am —

        And I really wouldn’t try to attribute to a bit of online nastiness someone’s serious mental illness – unless you have an astonishing new theory about the etiology of case depression, in which case I’d suggest publishing in a good journal..

        Again, your humor & writing is not cultured, it’s just low quality.

        This is just rubbish. There’s no serious, sizeable, significant number of people who feel ‘threatened’ or ‘uncomfortable’ with women or with women at conferences. When you find yourself writing such plain nonsense don’t you ever stop to think what bizarre thought process has led you to that conclusion?

        Your sexism is clear right here. Please keep talking & further reenforcing Rebecca’s points.

        • Avatar of
          May 22, 2013 at 7:51 am —

          >Again, your humor & writing is not cultured, it’s just low quality

          I give you permission not to laugh.

      • Avatar of delphi_ote
        May 22, 2013 at 9:39 pm —

        Give it a rest. You’re gonna go blind.

  35. Avatar of jose
    May 21, 2013 at 11:49 pm —

    ” I’m certain there have been transphobic feminists who have silenced transgender people, a group that is already marginalized and abused by society as a whole.”

    On the contrary, it’s radfem2013 that won’t happen because transgender people campaigned against it along with men’s rights activists, with whom they agree that women with views they hate shouldn’t be able to organize, assemble or speak at all (otherwise they wouldn’t try to prevent the conference from happening. Mere disagreement doesn’t do that. I disagree absolutely with republicans, but I don’t try to sabotage the republican national convention). Sorry, but it is factually true that radical feminists are the ones silenced by transgender people, not the other way. It’s transgender people the ones who constantly report every blog, youtube channel, twitter account etc. which defends views they hate. The amount of detransition videos that get removed (or that the author removes after the predictable couple hundred comments) is also a cause for concern.

  36. Avatar of randomobserver
    May 22, 2013 at 4:52 am —

    That feminist did not start an entire blog dedicated to calling Rhys slurs. She did not open a forum for people to post Photoshopped pictures of Rhys in pornographic poses.

    No, she didn’t do that to you and your friends, but count yourself as lucky that you weren’t worth the attention. However, one woman on YouTube, who had the temerity to disagree with Terri Strange (aka Iremythpurr, NuclearNight, and several other handles) in regards disagreeing with Strange’s opposition to legalizing prostitution, found an OK Cupid page made of her *infant daughter*, with choice comments about liking being fucked up the ass. And I remember her banter with another friend of hers in one of a YouTube comments section of a video about the beating of a trans woman at a Baltimore McDonald’s, basically gloating over how cool it was that a “man” was getting what was coming to “him” for trying to enter a woman’s bathroom. Terri Strange’s reputation one of the YouTube communities worst online bullies precedes her.

    If you’re somehow trying to make a point that even the worst TERFs are in some way better than MRAs, you couldn’t have picked a worse example.

  37. Avatar of KellyM
    May 26, 2013 at 12:58 pm —

    Just got back from dropping off my over two-page letter of protest to the CFI Board of Directors. Had to drive twenty whole miles to find a Post Office with Sunday hours. I even used a Maria Goeppert-Mayer postage stamp to illustrate my dedication to the cause of feminism, or to illustrate that I way way overthought this. I’m a longtime member of CFI, so the letter might even make a teeny tiny difference. Fingers crossed.

  38. Avatar of Phillip Hallam-Baker
    May 29, 2013 at 4:41 pm —

    Attempting to exclude people with dissident views occurs in ALL social groups to some extent. So it is always going to be possible to find anecdotes. The more important question is whether this is dramatically worse among modern feminists than other political groups.

    My personal view as a man is that you girls don’t intimidate me into silence and I haven’t noticed recourse to ‘conversation stopping’ gambits. Now back in the 90s when Dworkin and MacKinnon were in business things were very different. MacKinnon is a Marxist and has a nasty tendency to resort to Maoist modes of argument. Dworkin was considerably worse, her standard opening gambit in a ‘debate’ was to refuse to talk to men at all because ‘they all want to rape me’. And I am absolutely not making that up. She really was exactly the ludicrous caricature that Rush Limbaugh and co love to hate. Which is of course why Reagan’s attorney general Ed Meese was so keen to promote them as representatives of feminism in general.

    But it wasn’t just feminism where that sort of approach was tolerated in the 80s. There were similar figures trying to set themselves up as the sole legitimate interpreters of pretty much every part of the liberal/progressive movement with varying degrees of success. In the UK a group called the militant tendency used a similar strategy to attempt a takeover of the Labour party. They essentially took over a voluntary movement by being really unpleasant and nasty to people of different opinion.

    I really don’t see that on the left/progressive side any more and it isn’t even much in evidence in libertarian circles. But the movement conservatives have it, oh boy do they ever.

    But that is not the question I came here to answer. I came across Rebecca’s video on why girls like to shop on you tube and posted a reply to one of the comments. As the original commentator replied to each of my comments in turn the thread became, well here is the last post in the series:

    “If you love rebecca f***ing watson so much maybe you should ask her out for coffee and tell her all about how you bravely and without thought for your own safety defend her with your doctorate on youtube.How many times man? Please just f**k off, I don’t have the inclination to help egotistical hamster-r*****s promote themselves. You keep twisting what I say, I cant be any clearer than this: GO SUCK A STOCKINGFUL OF GOAT SEMEN. And yes, before you say it, I know you have a doctorate from oxford.?”

    Modifications made to avoid the bad language filter. I think that rather proves the point she makes in another video. I didn’t think that there was a logical fallacy hircus semine, but it turns out there is.

  39. Avatar of Matthew Groizard
    June 25, 2013 at 4:12 pm —

    Every time I read through a Skepchick blogpost I find the same two people (Marilove and Will) throwing insults at anyone who they disagree with. I imagine their combined efforts are actually doing a great deal of harm to the movement they champion.

    Here’s a couple of nice ones from Will: “What the fuck makes you think I want to build bridges with anyone?” and “Fuck off already. Seriously.” And from Marilove: “You’re the kind of stupid that hides behind big words and lots of commas.” and “Feel free to feel divided. You are not on our side.”

    Can I ask the reasonably minded people on here to start reporting these two because they are absolute trolls of the most toxic variety and they are hell bent on pissing people off and deepening gender divides, not on trying to bring us all a step closer to understanding one another.

    • Avatar of Will
      June 25, 2013 at 4:36 pm —

      Yes, nevermind that my comments were directed at 2 trolls from the Slymepit!

      • Avatar of Matthew Groizard
        June 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm —

        Two wrongs… besides Mark Thomas never slung any mud, he just disagreed with you. I’ve noticed that’s not something you react to well.

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