Those “rape threats” and “death threats” are totally unique to the brave female atheists. [NB - sarcasm]
Becky jealous that babz is stealing her thunder:
So now someone wants me raped and another wants me 'hunted into obscurity'-Visceral, very nasty stuff.—
Barbara Hewson (@BarbaraHewson) May 08, 2013
Comparison to people trying to get Becky fired from SGU. Misogyny!
You must ask for evidence, that’s miss sogg iney
I’m sure the rad fems will rush in to defend her! Oh what’s that? She’s victim blaming and rape-apologising? Is it not possible, or even likely, this bile is coming from the fad fems?
Side note : violent rhetoric against RDawkins:
She disagreed with Justin in places, and as far as I can recall, I agree with her over Justin.
She did mention Becky and lift gate.
She mentioned Pee Zed and Greggy Weggy
She likes being a girl and wouldn’t swap.
Karla and Justin open the show by talking about the tantrum thrown by smellody’s club.
Use the secret link — I’ve had nothing but trouble trying to play the show from the site.
Discussion over at http://xochipilli2012.livejournal.com/11250.html:
Justin Vacula and Karla Porter recently launched a new podcast called Brave Hero Radio (with the tagline: As the Atheist World Turns, where discussion runs the gamut). Justin and Karla work well together, and while they share a similar perspective on many issues, I enjoy the fact that they aren’t just singing in unison. Each has their own viewpoint, and they are good exemplars when it comes to expressing disagreements in a respectful manner, whether with their guests, or each other.
(The intro is kind of kick-ass, too. Just sayin’!)
Brave Hero Radio’s guest on April 6th, 2013 was Maria Maltseva, who writes the blog Skeptically Left at the Skeptic Ink blogging network, where Justin blogs as well. I first encountered Maria as “BluHarmony” and one of the many players in the online Atheist/Skeptic “schism” surrounding “elevatorgate” and its aftermath, typically identified with the non-(A+/FreethoughtBlogs/Skepchick) side of the…errrm…dispute.
For the sake of discussion, I’ll refer to the RK Watson side as the GFF (gender-feminism friendly) team, and the more reasonable members of their opposition as the EFF (equality-feminism friendly) team. I realize this is potentially an over-simplification, and that there may also be “Team Misogyny,” “Team All-Men-Suck,” etc. which also contribute to the drama.
Maria impressed me early on with her focus on the actual arguments, with little of the name-calling that has plagued both “sides” of the conflict. Although I have heard Maria on other podcasts, this was the first time I got to hear her express herself at length, which was a real treat.
If it isn’t obvious, I am more inclined towards Maria, Karla, and Justin’s position within the so-called “schism” discussion than with their opponents. But as I don’t identify as “Atheist” (I’m a former born-again, biblical-literalist, young-earth creationist Christian, whose current reality-tunnel models an agnostic/pantheist orientation informed by Buddhist and related teachings), I am not strongly invested in “promoting” atheism, or fostering its “success” per se. However, as I strongly support the ideal of a secular society, and recognize that atheists are a fucked-over minority in the United States (where I happen to live at present), I support same causes as many skeptics and atheists do.
Now commenceth the riffage…
(All times are based on the downloaded version of the podcast)
02m00s – CFI’s “Open Letter to the Secular Community“
I read the letter, and it seems like a good start–for people who need to play “follow the leader.” To borrow from a rich collection of teaching, across several cultures, the so-called Golden Rule, the idea of treating others as we would like to treated, seems the most “reasonable” approach, and were we all to commit to it, such letters would be unnecessary.
I suppose CFI deserves some credit taking this action, given that one of their prominent spokesmodels has done some weird shit and aligned with the GFF camp.
The responses from Secular Woman, American Secular Census, Skepchick, and perhaps more to come, didn’t surprise me at all. First of all, by going out of their way to say “Thanks, but no thanks!” they were able to steal a little thunder from the initiative, and direct more attention to themselves, and why not? These organizations distinguish themselves by being contrarian, to the extent that it accentuates their “no quarter for the Patriarchy!” narrative. So long as the threat-narrative can be stoked and inflamed, donations and moral support will continue.
Karla made a great point about the missed opportunity with Secular Woman not taking a leading role here. And Justin rightly challenges the obvious fact that “feminism” is not monolithic, but multifaceted, with a wide range of “schools,” several in strong disagreement with each other. In terms of what they are “objecting to,” I suspect that it’s the idea that any of the online-women claiming “harassment” might have any responsibility for what has happened to them–which fits in with the “blaming the victim” trope.
20m20s – “If you’re looking to be offended, you’re going to be offended.”
Maria makes a good point here, that if we like someone, we’re likely to overlook behavior that we would denounce in people we don’t like. I haven’t read the Kurzban book you all mentioned later in the podcast, but I plan to read it, with the expectation that it may help me understand this tendency in myself, as well as others. Is this a form of “confirmation bias?”
I had a negative impression of Rebecca Watson years ago, just from hearing her contributions to the TGU podcast. I didn’t know about Skepchick (beyond her mentioning it), what she did at conferences, or that she was even “famous” in the online skeptic/atheist community. I found her surprisingly uninformed on many of the topics targeted by her trademarked snark. I also found some (certainly not all) of her feminism-based arguments, un-skeptical. Point is–I have to wonder if my “confirmation bias” influenced me to prefer Team EFF? (I didn’t have a particularly positive vibe around PZM either; he seemed a bit of a “rude jerk” to me, well before July 2011.)
25m30s – Responses to Mudslinging
Maria and Karla discuss the difficulties they face in maintaining their commitment to a civil and respectful communication style online, and that not being able to “lash back in kind” can leave one feeling weak.
I have never had much of an audience for any of the blogs I’ve done over the last decade or so, so I’ve never been the target of any spirited campaign of opposition–much less, online abuse. So I have no real life experience in this regard, and cannot say for certain how I might behave if placed in a similar situation. But my real life experience tells me a couple things. One is that it’s always best to avoid sinking to the other person’s level in an argument, once they start throwing mud. This can be really hard when one’s feelings are involved, with the understandable urge to strike back. Of course, if someone comes into your house, takes a dump on your floor, and then hangs around waiting for a reaction–you might want to show ‘em the door.
The buddhist in me tries to be compassionate with people, even really unpleasant people. There’s a person with the handle “LeftSidePositive” in the comment thread for the Skepchick article linked above. They are channeling some serious bitterness there, particularly in an ongoing exchange with “Andy Ewing,” who either has the patience of Job, is possibly a “sub” in the BDSM scene. Was LSP having a particularly bad day that day? Is that their typical behavior in comment threads? I have no idea.
After I got over my initial, visceral reaction, I wondered, “What the fuck happened to this person to make them so angry and hateful? It must have been really, really bad to have resulted in that.” And I’m sure they aren’t the best (or worst?) example of this sort of thing. My point is–people that behave that way online make themselves look bad. I realize there are some pseudo-intellectual debates on some websites, including the blogs of the more prominent A+ supporters and detractors, that try to make a case that being vicious and unkind to people is totally justified, “when they deserve it.” (Anyone questioning such antics are labeled “tone trolls.”) I’m not buying it–but as I say, I don’t have experience in this area. Maybe I’ll be defending my bad behavior as “righteous” some day? And to be completely honest, my “visceral” reaction to LSP was kind of violent. (I’m kind of embarrassed right now.)
I would hope that one can be critical, even mocking, of someone else’s (bad) argument, without making it personal, i.e, about the individual making the argument, or some presumed “class” that favors it. I say “hope” because I can imagine some would say there’s pretty thin line between the two–the argument, and the person making it, depending on the individual. More data may be needed.
31m50s – Flock of Dodos and “Mean” Atheists
Maria mentions the evolution vs. intelligent design documentary film, Flock of Dodos (recommended viewing, guys! I was surprised that Justin and Karla hadn’t heard of it. My library has it. Yours might as well.) where marine biologist and filmmaker Randy Olson concluded that although he was persuaded by scientists’ arguments supporting evolution, he found the creationists to be nicer people. This observation may be relevant to the issues and social interations surrounding “the schism.”
Maria: “…I think that’s part of the problem with the atheist movement–we’re just so mean, and so self-righteous. We tend to believe that we’re better than others. Just because we don’t believe in God, that doesn’t make us better.And just because religious people believe in God, doesn’t make them worse, and moreover, doesn’t make them stupid. Because, religion is an emotional thing. We are not logical about emotional things. None of us.”
This is really important. As much as I admire intelligent thought, and the application of reason, I recognize that we humans are emotional animals, who are still driven by a lot of “stuff” that we are usually not completely conscious of. When I encountered my first “internet atheists” (where the lack of personal accountability enables all manner of unskillful social behavior), I was dumb-struck by how rude and arrogant many of them were. Anything resembling “empathy” had long ago “left the building,” leaving a weird, oxymoronic “self-righteousness” in its place.
As I alluded earlier, I’ve discovered that merely suggesting (in certain online discussions) that we all conduct ourselves with more respect, civility, and empathy–gets shouted down as ”tone trolling,”
The fact that we are fundamentally, emotional beings, must factor into how we interact with each other. Extra care is required online, where many of the verbal and visual cues are missing, not to mention physical accountability, that would normally steer us clear of physical and emotional violence. Because someone “hurt” us, (or tried to), our blood gets up, and we want to strike back. Then we intellectualize the event after the fact, trying to persuade ourselves and others that we were justified somehow.
Please note that I’m not suggesting that we never dare risk “offending” people either. Sometimes I need to be told an unpleasant truth for my own good. Whether I am hurt by it or not, at the end of the day, is actually my responsibility–no one else’s. However, there’s no reason why we cannot (try, at least) to be more empathetic and kind with one another–even those with whom we have strong disagreements.
There seems to be very little discussion about pragmatic approaches for gaining insight into our cognitive-emotional-somatic processes in atheists circles today. The one “big name” atheist that has addressed it on some level (24 minute mark on) is Sam Harris, and he’s received a bit of eye-rolling for that (among other things, of course). Because some of these processes, techniques, and philosophical outlooks have their origins in “spirituality” or what people categorize as “religion,” the average skeptic believes s/he need examine it no further. They argue that such things are not “reality-based,” as if any among us can definitively state what reality actually is. That’s just being arrogant, in my book. But I’ve already admitted that I can’t be a “skeptic in good standing” given that I welcomes me a certain amount of “woo” into my life.
33m37s – “The Feminists Have Convinced Me I’m Not One Of Them” blog post
They’ve Finally Done It! The Feminists Have Convinced Me I’m Not One of Them was probably the first of Maria’s articles that I ever read, and I found it very compelling–not least because it was written by a woman who seemed self-aware, committed to women’s equality and reason, and all the while cognizant of the potential damage being done to women’s equality by radical feminism–a conclusion I was reaching myself at the time I first read the post back in February 2013. In a way, I have to thank Rebecca Watson for “curing me” of my own, unexamined “feminism.” She didn’t exactly cure me, but the event and on-going fallout motivated me to read some of the work of a variety of feminist writers, as well as some of their critics’.
I used to belief that the “men’s rights movement” was nothing more than a bunch of disgruntled, “traditionalist” guys who wanted their stay-at-home, does-all-the-cooking-and-cleaning, Stepford Wives back. Some MRAs seem disturbingly, weirdly bitter about women, speaking in terms of being “at war” with the entire sex/gender. I can’t go along with that, at all–but people like GirlWritesWhat and Warren Farrell have certainly given me some things to think about.
I am far more comfortable with the term “gender egalitarian,” but appreciate that some people wear the feminist label without carrying its radfem baggage. But due to this baggage, I no longer like to use the term. However, I’m trying not to get too distracted when it is used by others, though I may ask them to clarify what they mean by it. Sometimes this opens up a new discussion involving the word “misogynist,” and things just keep getting more and more “interesting.”
50m30s – “Why Does Rebecca Watson Get So Much Sexist Abuse Via The Internet?” blog post
This article was probably the second that put Maria “on the map” for me as a truly exceptional and articulate voice for Team EFF. Justin made a point during the show about how the tone of an article can influence the comments, and that certainly seems to be the case here. It may be “woo” to say “like attracts like,” but as a metaphor–it works here. The comments to this article are by and large well-reasoned, and with one or two exceptions, stay on topic without getting odious. Impressive!
I’m curious whether Maria heard back from Rebecca, or had any confirmation that she read this. Further, I wonder whether anyone on Team GFF has ever “reached out” (even through “back channels”) to anyone on Team EFF, or vice versa? This may be a rhetorical question as few seem comfortable about “fraternizing with the enemy” in public, as I witnessed the other day on a long Twitter exchange between Justin and a member of Team GFF, where he was unsuccessful in convincing her to be a guest on Brave Hero Radio. She seemed really concerned about her Feminist SJW Cred being “damaged” by being associated with Mr. Vacula, (scourge of feminists everywhere). Even though the exchange was extremely guarded, I commended her for trying.
54m00s – Privilege doesn’t work as Team GFF thinks it does
I’ve been so removed from left-wing social justice activism that I never even heard the phrase “Check your privilege!” until I did some reading on the A+ Forum. I have long understood that being a white, educated, male growing up in the 70s has given me certain advantages. And I’ve seen Seattle police deal with black men in similar circumstances very differently than the did with me. But at the same time, I’ve been hassled by police (Orange County CA) in the middle of the day, walking along a sidewalk, breaking no laws, for having long hair, unconventional clothing, and a bamboo flute! What happened to my “privilege” then? I suppose if I were black it could have gone a lot worse.
In other words, it’s by no means cut-and-dried. For the concept to be useful, one needs to be somewhat thoughtful about it. But the way it’s used on the A+ Forum and certain Team GFF blogs amounts to ad-hom-by-another-name, where who (they think) you are is more important than your ideas or arguments. It’s basically a rhetorical muzzle that shits all over the “classes” that it pretends to protect. Team EFF member noelplum99 did a very good video on the subject, and I just saw another good one today on the same subject by YouTuber Correctrix.
58m40s – If you’re the “wrong guy”
This may have been the quote from Maria that inspired me to do this article: “If you’re a guy, and you’re the wrong guy–you’re the guy that the woman is not attracted to, then the set of rules that apply to you are ENDLESS (and you have no idea what they are, because they’re different for every woman).” (It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma…which I just learned was originally uttered by none other than Sir Winston Churchill, a contributor to this very podcas!)
01h00m40s – The Elevator Incident
The caller made an interesting point about Rebecca Watson’s feelings of discomfort with “elevator guy” being a missed opportunity for her to examine her fears, and perhaps become more self-empowered as a result. We actually don’t know whether she didn’t do that–but the way she’s framed the incident after the fact, as being a victim of a boorish solicitation that “sexualized” her, suggests otherwise.
We feel what we feel–but we can make choices as to what we do with those feelings, and then we suffer (or enjoy) the consequences. Rebecca chose to make an issue of the encounter–and whether her “Guys, don’t do that!” only applied to her “fans” or to men in general, it matters little now how she originally intended it. The thing has taken on a life of its own.
By the same token–assuming Elevator Guy didn’t just want to talk, wasn’t he simply acting on his feelings? Why demonize the dude for being attracted to a woman he found interesting? Sure–he could have chosen a different course of action, which would have led to another set of consequences. For him, had he said nothing, maybe his self-confidence would have suffered such a blow that could have had negative consequences affecting the rest of his life? Or maybe he was simply–drunk?
Neither he, nor Rebecca need to be “wrong” in this circumstance. But the incident has become the “Archduke Franz Ferdinand incident” kicking off the Skeptic/Atheist Gender War, dutifully fulfilling the need for an historic antecedent required by later combatants. (And if the guy was someone RK had her eye on during the evening, someone she thought was hot or “interesting,” who knows? Another wedding at TAM, perhaps?)
01h07m30s – Anita Sarkeesian – “Believe it or not, I like her”
“Good onya, mate!” (Maria) for mentioning this. So often we assume because someone takes a particular stance on one issue (or person), that we automatically know, or can reliably predict, where they stand on others. I need to clean up my act here. It will keep me from going ballistic over Hummers with Greenpeace stickers on them.
I don’t care much for Ms. Sarkeesian myself, and I’m talking, the “media personality.” Under the right circumstances I imagine we could enjoy a ball game, or a video game, or a nice cup of coffee (in a public place, of course). This ambivalence may be largely due to my (growing) opposition to (or mistrust of) radical feminism. I thought she was very manipulative with how she publicized the “attacks” she received vis-a-vis her Kickstarter program, which allowed it to far exceed its funding target. I’ve give Anita mucho credit for being a very skilled marketer, though. It seems to me that both she and RKW promote themselves as “victims of Internet misogyny” to personal advantage.
I’m probably not being very “skeptical” relying in YouTube videos for my information, but it just so happens that I’ve been on YouTube a lot more recently.I’m probably not being very “skeptical” in looking to YouTube for “hard information.” It just so happens that I’ve been on YouTube a lot lately. The two videos by YouTuber Investig8iveJournalism might be nothing more than hatchet jobs by a Sarkeesian h8er, but they happen to conform nicely to my confirmation bias about Anita Sarkeesian. Bad. Skeptic. ME!
Maria makes the interesting point that Anita Sarkeesian has made her aware of the “sexist” nature of some things that she (Maria) hadn’t previously thought of as sexist. (An example would have been helpful here.) It reminds me of a video clip of Rebecca Watson (during a Google hangout) in the thunderf00t video Why ‘feminism’ is poisoning atheism , where Rebecca suggests that skeptical women are being victimized by our “misogynist culture,” but they don’t realize it.
It’s interesting how we can “re-frame” things after the fact, a part of the healing process people suffering PTSD (speaking from personal experience here). I imagine there is some plasticity to this process, and that we can re-frame experiences in more-healthy, and less-healthy ways. I would argue that people enjoying their self-empowered lives should resist being ”re-educated” to feel victimized, or at least recognize that the person attempting to do so may have an agenda of their own.
I love how Maria confesses: “I adore cows. I think they have the saddest, most beautiful eyes. But they also taste damn good.” Kerr-BLEWEY!!
The Kurzban book sounds intriguing–the video linked to his name above for bringing up the Kurzban book. I just borrowed a copy from the library and hope to gain some insight from it. (For the YouTube video-oriented, watch/listen to Kurzban discusses the topic, and respond to questions.)
01h19m15s – “Rape Culture,” Steubenville, and “anti-Rape Culture”
The “rape culture” argument by certain feminists is one of the most offensive aspects to their ideology for me, because it “muddies the waters” and makes having a real conversation on how to prevent sexual assault very difficult. It’s about as useful as saying we have a “violence culture,” or a “militarized culture,” or a “reality TV-obsessed culture.” I agree that the fact that we have the laws that we do, and that “victim-blaming” is no longer socially acceptable, suggests that the US is, at the very least, taking very good steps to deal with these issues.
I’ve never been to India, but I have female friends who have made several trips there–and they would concur with Maria’s singling out that country as a better example of this. But even India is struggling to make women more safe from rape and violence, galvanized by the 2012 Delhi Gang Rape event, and the protests that followed. Given the situation in India, or some Islamic countries (where victims are forced to marry their rapists), or what’s going on right now in The Congo–the application of the term “rape culture” by feminists in “first world” countries almost seems obscene.
Great job Karla, Justin, and Maria! The show was very informative, on a range of topics, with an awesome book and video recommendation. I hope my thoughts here have contributed to the larger discussion, and I look forward to participating more in the future.
As the brilliant, if controversial, post-modernist philosopher T.J. Kirk signs off:
Peace. The Fuck! Out!!!