[Call this the straw that broke the camel's back for multiple reasons.]

Re: Sexism & Misogyny in the Atheist World

Sacha: Why are you moderating comments?

Godless Grrl: To filter out spam, abuse, harassment, or comments that veer wildly off-topic.

If you've got a comment or question that's on-topic, I'd be up for hearing it.


Somehow, I don't think that's very likely if it falls outside of the "what I want to hear" parameters. I refuse on principle to respond to blogs that are posted publicly and moderated. It's at the point where I do a test post to see if it is in order to not waste time writing a response that could simply not see the light of day (hence taking it up in the forum where it's beyond ideological control). I'd suggest others do the same and boycott these items. There's no better way to shut down a free conversation or destroy the perception that it is open to all opinion (other than that which is in explicit agreement) than to make it moderated. There is never, despite all the self-justification, a good reason for moderating a blog here. Never. Open abuse and harrassment has pretty much zero tolerance and is dealt with. Spammers are nuked on sight. Off topic diversions are often entertaining and enlightening in manners that may not be apparent to all - that is the joy of spontaneous collaboration. So you are not really talking about moderation of the altruistic kind, but rather that which is selfish and personally subjective. Censorship is closer to the truth than moderation. Especially on this subject that will not die. Exactly why are you bashing this tub again? The rubble has only just settled from the last time. So at the risk of wasting time...

Godless Grrl continues: In recent months I've had the unfortunate experience of being on the receiving end of misogyny from a number of atheist men. When it comes from a theist it's not so surprising: not every theist is a misogynist, but enough religions are anti-woman that when I do experience it from theists, it isn't entirely unexpected. But I must admit that getting it from atheists rather blindsided me.

Well it's not all bad then. The sooner you rid yourself of the idea that all atheists are somehow guaranteed to be decent, honest, rational and intelligent human beings the better. The gravest cardinal sin that all atheists fall prey to if they are not eternally vigilant is that of "confirmation bias" after reading one too many studies telling them what superior geniuses they are. Atheists are just as capable of mirroring the entire gamut of human stupidity and they do so daily right here. In fact, you are even doing your bit now.

Call me naive, but I expect better than that from men who don't believe that god commands them to hate the fair sex. I also expect better from men who consider themselves enlightened freethinkers.

One has to assume you consider yourself a "freethinker" then. "Freethinker" is a term that like "liberal", "conservative" and "humanist" has lost all relevance to its original meaning to the vast majority of people here. Most folks use it as follows -

"I am entitled to my own free thoughts. You are also entitled to my free thoughts. You are not, however, entitled to your own free thoughts."

It is this kind of nonsense that then allows people to assume that things like comment moderation in public blogs is OK because, after all, they are freethinkers and exceptional enough to be able to judge what can be seen and what can be dismissed as inappropriate hostility from one kind of "-ism" or another. At no point will it occur that "freethinker" has now mutated into "doublethinker". That's the kind of realisation that's best avoided at any cost due to the risk of dissonance induced implosion.

I'm curious to know how common misogyny is in the atheist demographic, and whether or not it might be prevalent enough that women are discouraged from speaking up or joining in. Ladies, have any of you encountered misogyny from other atheists? If so, what was your experience, and what impact do you feel it had on you? Why do you suppose some atheists are sexist? Do you think it could discourage women from considering atheism, or discourage atheist women from becoming more active in the atheist community (discussions, groups, etc.)?

This was discussed ad nauseam here and here and has been one endless moan of varying volume ever since. It can be summarised as "There is a serious problem. We don't know precisely what it is, but it sucks and it's your fault. Why won't anybody fix it????" over and over and over. Not a single constructive thought anywhere, especially not on the external blog that started it all. The only thing that was achieved was a wholesale slander of the entire white male demographic of a|n and the permanent poisoning of an otherwise healthy and happy community by robo-feminist sausage machine rhetoric. Many of us, both male and female, were left scratching our heads and feeling decidedly nauseous. What was an open community now had a chill where speaking freely was suddenly not so free anymore. And now you want to scrape the scab off the wound that had almost, but not quite, healed.

Your whine is markedly similar by its sweeping amorphousness. Some unidentified "other", it would make just as much sense if you were leveling your accusations at Sagittarians. Vague unspecified atrocities committed by unknown people for unknown reasons at undisclosed locations and unexplained circumstances. It's just *they*. *They* hurt your feelings. Without explicitly saying so, again the male population of this site is being slurred as a whole.

Well, mull on this. Probability being what it is, it is highly likely that you've had your fair share of unpleasant encounters with blacks, asians or hispanics. Would you write a similar race specific piece in these cases? No you wouldn't would you. Because you would be too ideologically correct to venture there. But males are fair game. You're making my head spin. Could you explain *precisely* why one is OK but the others are off limits entirely?

And while you're at it, I would also like it explained why misogyny is a crime against humanity, yet misandry (yes that is a word, go fetch your dictionary) is perfectly OK and a trivial matter no one should have an issue with? And why it's OK that All Men are Bastards books and stationary, despite being so very yesterday, are still freely available on Amazon?, yet if someone were to release an All Women are Lying Two-faced Sluts product range, the world would stop spinning on its axis and lava would pour from the heavens?

I used to be perplexed as to why the many strong and independent women I've met over the years, who have built lives and careers all on their own without any outside assistance, all seem to cringe so much at the very mention of the word "feminist" - and often, without prompting, find the need to express the fact that they are not feminists. I am not perplexed any more. The despair was expressed quite succinctly in a personal chat with a member discussing this very blog (she pointed it out to me) -

I've not really ever experienced misogyny... idiots, sure
but I've never ever felt as though I could not speak up because I am a woman
Truly I can't think of one instance where I experienced misogyny
Not in the western world
not anymore
whine whine whine
plus it is such a ridiculous thing to say how strong and capable women are, and how emotional responses are not a problem, and then turn around and whine about misogyny
I have no sympathy at all for women in the western world... none... we have it better than we deserve


What the fuck, as a man, am I supposed to do when I hear this, and variations of the same, over and over? Women that have achieved so much and they sit there aghast watching this loudmouth, whining minority just ignore it all and reduce it all back to petty, mindless victim politics.

GG, it is not acceptable to just mouth off that you have received "some" misogyny from "some" members of the atheist community and then ask if others have experienced the same. You are not talking about anything tangible or quantifiable. As a statement it is about as meaningful as some race baiter saying "some" blacks rape "some" white women - there is no substance, nor is that the intent. The intent is to provoke a reaction. So it's not acceptable. If you have specific, citable instances of this kind of behaviour, then point it out [*]. No one here condones asshole behaviour of any kind. Making these vague accusations without backing them is is more or less implying that as a community we do. You are badmouthing all of us as a whole. So either put up and tell us explicitly where the problem is so we can fix it, or shut the fuck up. Stop picking this pointless scab.

[*] - To avoid confusion, much of the perceived misogyny is probably simply a case of you being spoken to as an equal - and not liking it. This does not count.

Tags: bitching, double standards, doublethink, misandry, misogyny, moaning, pointless crap, slander, whining

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well said, Rob
I wouldn't want someone to refer to me as an idiot immediately, though. Only if i persistently acted like an idiot. There has to be a nicer way of calling someone an idiot. If others want to do it that way, though, I'm fine with it.
Agreed, Susan. If you call somebody an idiot without verifying it first, then you're a jackass. And possibly an idiot.

In my humble estimation, the primary offense is to leap to a conclusion. Thinking and writing clearly is hard. Reading should be undertaken with some regard for the possibility of honest error, lack of clarity, insufficient caffeination, what have you. Persisting with folly, despite being gently corrected, is grounds for rougher treatment. But the gloves should come off in stages. If a poster has history, then the gloves may already be off due to a previous dustup. This may not be obvious to the casual observer.
Troll food not available
So remembering the original topic, one thing that does not seem to have been addressed explicitly is the damage done when we protect people from free speech, especially adults. First, it assumes that someone needs protected and automatically assigns them to victim status. It is not that we never have any victims in society, but we should not desginate it as the start position, or the converse, starting the dissenter in the position of an aggressor; before we even discuss it. This is not the same as arguing for someone who you find to be in the right, but protecting them from the argument all together.
For selfish reasons we should examine how shielding weakens the protected persons' ability to refine their skills in the realm of argument. Another side of this coin is the loss of what that person could have added if given the opportunity. Shielding women in this way is also sexist. One personal example I've discussed in the parenting group; I do not tell my boy not to hit girls, just not to hit people (exceptions are discussed). When he hears others say anything about hitting girls he's learned a valuable lesson, you shouldn't hit girls because you might get the one that hits you back.
Another aspect that has been touched upon (I think) is this protection also produces echo chambers that only further divides us and prevents resolution of actual issues; just look at current political news, at least in the U.S., for an example.
One last example, if we 'ladies' had been protected we would have all missed out on some exciting things in the conversation and if we expected it, we would have missed out on the other side. (Sacha and P.R.G.'s ability to tell someone off is not to be missed, the Nerds activity in other posts is polite, but also enjoyable - not to mention all the other contributors, both those with and without a vagina.)
Personally, I'm entirely against moderation because you cant censor someone in a conversation IE force them to shut up. The comments often have nothing to do with the OP anyway, and it is very arrogant of any OP to control an entire conversation between other free individuals JUST because they started the conversation.

Moderation, censorship, and all that is anti-free speech. If someone is being rude, just call them on it in the comments! If they are spam, report it to the board or tech guys. If you dont like what someone says, feel free to ridicule them.
Well, you can just overshout them, or walk/drive away, or hang up...but these are asinine things when done in real life, too.
Fred I understand your frustration, but this is not a typical public situation, it is an online forum. That said, a good look at the Westboro Baptist "Church" saga will show why ridicule is useful. One should have many tools for combating ignorance or intolerance and sometimes ridicule is the right one.
Freethinker and Felch go way back on this which is why I've just ignored the whole thing, but I've enjoyed chatting with you in other threads and thought it was worth it to take a moment to respond to your concerns.
Second, I would never support the UN's crackdown and in the U.S. votes do not count for rights* (especially if Judge Walker wins, and he wrote an amazing ruling on prop 8 here is a link to the full text) It is up to us to fight the right battles, for example, it is not about fighting against the W.B."C."'s right to say hateful things, but to fight what they say. That is why the U.S. is full of free speech zealots, it is something most of us very dear and take very personally and some of us even extend that to others no matter how much we disagree.
*There is a 'well technically they can' that goes with this, but I'm not making that argument at this time. It is a long one with too many dimensions.
At the risk of being pummeled, I venture that some comments are so void of useful content that they deserve to be deleted. Examples include, "Ha! First comment!", "+1", "ROFL", and anything that is so incoherent that its meaning cannot reasonably be extracted from the text.

I don't think deleting such comments detracts from free speech, but rather improves the signal to noise ratio. I'd prefer a comment system in which moderators (or the thread owner) could flag comments as hidden, but with a little plus sign to expand them if people really want to annoy themselves. I've seen some systems with publicly accessible "Like" and "Dislike" buttons, but those tend to devolve into partisan voting systems that even out around 50/50, without providing any real guidance about what comments make an interesting contribution to the discussion.
At the risk of being pummeled, I venture that some comments are so void of useful content that they deserve to be deleted. Examples include, "Ha! First comment!", "+1", "ROFL", and anything that is so incoherent that its meaning cannot reasonably be extracted from the text.

I hope you'll be pummeled, for the sake of equity. I made exactly the same suggestion, once, on another site, and it didn't take long for Godwin to knock at the door. I remember being told something like "improving the signal/noise ratio is like opening the doors to the gas chambers."
its a value judgment though..a super intelligent genius might reasonably consider all the "comments" as ridiculous and delete all but the most researched, cited, and eloquently expressed ones. Knife cuts both ways...
Mr. Spicer,
"improving the signal/noise ratio is like opening the doors to the gas chambers."

Jaume, you're welcome. I'm all about equality.

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