Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

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The Problem of Dogmatic Feminism

Join Becky, Eileen, and Sam discuss the firestorm of discussion surrounding sexism, harassment, and safety in the freethought community.

There are show notes, and there will be more show notes as this goes on, please check back in for updates.

The blog posts Stephanie Zvan points out as educational, on her blog:

UPDATE 6/128:25 PDT:
As you might imagine, there’s been a lot of discussion, and perhaps even controversy over our take on this subject.   Since we jettisoned a lot of our actual content in favor of a discussion with Stephanie Zvan and our lack of discussion on those points has been mentioned, we’ve taken the time to produce another podcast to explain more of our position and respond to some of the criticism.  It was recorded early this morning and will be released in at least two parts:

“Dogmatic Feminism” Discussion Podcast (part 1)

Further updates will include links to the other parts, and these sessions will be in the podcast feed.
Also, discussion:
Unsurprisingly, the FreeThoughtBlog community is less than happy with our commentary, and has some criticism.  We discuss it in the podcast feed, but here are the direct links to that criticism:

 

Update 06/14: 

There’s some more discussion on this episode and the first part of our extended coverage, but it appears as trackbacks now, so feel free to check them out.   The final part of our Tuesday morning discussion is now also available:

“Dogmatic Feminism” Discussion Podcast (part 2)

About the Author: Sam Mulvey

Sam Mulvey is a producer and the technical brain behind Ask an Atheist. He is a collector of vinegar varieties, vintage computers, antique radios, and propaganda.

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156 Comments on "The Problem of Dogmatic Feminism"

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Guest
“To the hosts of AAA, try creating a login for FfTB and don’t give any hint as to who you are, this way the bloggers and their fans won’t show you any special treatment. Pretend to be a man. Then, start asking questions against their group-think and see what happens to you. Eventually you’ll be called a misogynist troll, MRA, rapist, rape-supporter, rape-apologist or other crazy stuff, even if you have a valid point.” I created a login over at FTB, I’m no one important in any way to the community, and I was clear I was male. I asked… Read more »
Sally Strange
Guest

What evidence is there that the people who’ve been alienated aren’t people who SHOULD be alienated? For example, Mr. “Franc Hoggle.” Are you telling me that we shouldn’t be trying to alienate people like him from atheist/skeptic conferences? From the community in general?

Jenea
Guest
Thanks for the calm and reasoned discussion on the show. While I don’t agree with everything said, I definitely heard and agreed with the sentiment that we should be able and willing to helpfully educate the well-meaning but less informed among us. If someone has a sincere question asked respectfully, why wouldn’t we help them out, even if the question seems preposterous? I do have a nitpick I want to discuss, even if it gets lost in the larger thread. On the show, you say that proposed conference policies that require speakers to refrain from sexual contact with attendees is… Read more »
trackback

[…] appeared in a comment by John Greg on that Ask an Atheist […]

Daniel
Guest

Thanks for the episode. I am a little surprised at the comments but I think this topic was something that needed to be brought up. I know its probably off topic but I wanted to ask if you think the sister show Atheist experience would agree with this? I notice they can often times come off sounding a lot like PZ, for good or for bad.

Munkhaus
Guest

Yes, enjoyed the episode; little bit too excited in parts though, and couldn’t really bring out those arguments thoroughly. But well done in any case.

Ps Sally Strange is a known troll from other blogs.x

Greg Laden
Guest

Great Episode!!!

I started writing a comment but it turned into this:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/xblog/2012/06/12/ask-an-atheist-takes-on-dogmatic-feminism/

Amphigorey
Guest

Yes, if by “troll” you mean “widely respected commenter.”

CommanderTuvok
Guest

Amphigorey

No, that is not what he meant.

Nice try, though.

Zengaze
Guest

Martin from axp already blogged about the related issue:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/2012/05/31/no-dj-grothe-should-not-resign-from-jref/

Zengaze
Guest

Posted to early, that link was for Daniel who asked about the axp view.

Axp like PZ? Bloody hell no….. Or if it has I’ve been reading a different blog

Iamcuriousblue
Guest
Thank you so much for saying something that really needed to be said! This kind of ideological dogmatism is endemic on Freethought blogs, unfortunately. While I think there are a few like Uncredible Hallq that distance themselves from the typical mentality there, for the most part FTB is dominated by bloggers for whom skepticism and atheism are joined at the hip with adherence to a very extreme kind of leftist ideology, and the mindset that those who do not adhere to these ideologies, particularly feminism, are the enemy. And while calling PZ Myers a “Communist” does involve a certain amount… Read more »
Justicar
Guest
If by ‘widely respected’ you mean ‘well known as one of PZ’s yappie lapdogs’, then yes. Though, I must confess that, I see some promise in Sally’s most recent lucubration; viz., the feminist certified response to someone whining about feeling alienated is now “What evidence is there that the people who’ve been alienated aren’t people who SHOULD be alienated?”. Inasmuch as the FfTB people are ever vigilant ensuring the community is one of equality, it would seem appropriate, on Sally’s rubric, to ask that any women who claim they’ve been alienated by DJ Grothe must present evidence that they aren’t… Read more »
Alfonso
Guest
These people have been moving the goalpost since day 1. And their latest is the pinnacle of goalpost moving: You haven’t been here since the beginning, so your opinion on the matter is irrelevant and uninformed. That is, unless you agree wholeheartedly with our rhetoric. In that case, the fact that you just found out about this is completely inconsequential. Also note how they’re angry “because they’ve dealt with this issue for over a year now”, as if it wasn’t a fact that their consistently hysterical responses to each issue is always drenched in outrage and self-congratulatory snark. And could… Read more »
Thaumas Themelios
Guest
@SallyStrange: “What evidence is there that the people who’ve been alienated aren’t people who SHOULD be alienated?” “Should” according to what standards? And whose? Why should we have to alienate anybody? Do you have a good ethical reason for doing so? “For example, Mr. “Franc Hoggle.” Are you telling me that we shouldn’t be trying to alienate people like him from atheist/skeptic conferences?” Yes. Likewise, we shouldn’t be trying to alienate you either. Again, why should we alienate anyone? “From the community in general?” Yes. I happen to be part of the community in general, and I have no desire… Read more »
Thaumas Themelios
Guest
By the way, I don’t support many of the snipes that have come from Franc, Justicar, Michael Kingsford Gray, et al. Not that I think they are specifically ad homs, as they are generally accompanied by actual points of argument. I have used (and continue to use) such tactics regularly. However, my objection here is that I do not think they are effective tactics at this point, and in this conversation/debate. This is a pragmatic argument about resolving conflict without contributing to the escalation of said conflict: I get it. It’s entertaining. It’s fun. It’s intellectually stimulating to come up… Read more »
franc hoggle
Guest
Sally Strange (#9998) June 12th, 2012 at 08:06: For example, Mr. “Franc Hoggle.” Are you telling me that we shouldn’t be trying to alienate people like him from atheist/skeptic conferences? From the community in general? Oh, I wholeheartedly with you – I should be banned. If you go by the narrative that Myers and his baboons have constructed over time. In fact, prior to me, they had limited their demonisation and character assassination to women female gender traitors. In a way I guess I should be honoured that I was a prototype for their subsequent attacks on Penn Jillette, Ben… Read more »
Iamcuriousblue
Guest

It seems FTB thinks “ERV” is a the Den of All Evil. However, in spite of such claims, when I go over to this blog:

http://scienceblogs.com/erv/

– it looks pretty innocuous to me. There are no recent posts there on anything to do with this issue. Could ERV’s detractors please explain just what is so inflammatory about it? Or have I linked to the wrong blog.

I’ve got to say, this finger-pointing at such an innocuous source is only helping confirm my opinion of many of the FTB crowd as essentially a bunch of paranoid loons.

franc hoggle
Guest
For the benefit of those that may be dubious about the claims above, here are screen caps of just some of the loose stuff I have lying around – http://oi46.tinypic.com/34zce3q.jpg There are plenty more. I’ve written about these attacks in more detail on my blog. Really, they are the tip of the iceberg, and in comparison to some of the attacks against women in the community by Watson, Myers and the baboonketeers, it is fairly trivial. They can’t, for instance, attempt derail my university tenure, or sabotage my job interviews. But they have tried this with others. As with priests,… Read more »
Phil Giordana FCD
Guest
Hello everyone, Slimepit denizen here. I discovered AAA via ERV, and I really enjoy it. But Sam: ERV has not been “invaded”, as you say. There is an on-going, diverse discussion going on in those long threads, and if you try to ignore the bad werdz, there are a lot of very valid points, as far as skepticism is concerned. We argue, we bicker, we insult, but we also admit error, apologise if mistaken, and so create a zone of real dialogue, without prejudice towards prior comments or places of comments. No censorship or post editing either. Try reading from… Read more »
Iamcuriousblue
Guest
“They can’t, for instance, attempt derail my university tenure, or sabotage my job interviews. But they have tried this with others.” Such tactics are fucked-up and McCarthyist no matter who does them. I myself have been similarly “fucked with” by internet feminists who thought they were fighting the good fight. No less a figure than tenured “Feminist Law Professor” Ann Bartow thought it would be very clever to “out” me under my full legal name (and call me a “porn lover”) in Michigan Law Review because she didn’t like my contributions to Wikipedia. And in the context of last years… Read more »
bluejohn
Guest

Just wondering when James Onen’s (freethought Kampala) comment will appear. He has already posted the best chronology (and perhaps FAQ) of the history regarding this topic.

SG
Guest

Just listened to this episode today, thought it was great.

Just now read this comment thread and then Stephanie Zvan’s educational “Flirting Is Easy” blog post. Wow, does she come off as an asshole in the comments. The amount of bullshit is too depressing for me.

Becky & Same were brave to take this up! I am looking forward to listening to the follow-up content which I’m about to download.

Dylan from Belmont, MA
Guest

I daren’t enter such a heated discussion. I just wanted to say thanks for the shout-out on the show.

sacha (proud to be thought of as a gender traitor if FTB is the alternative)
Guest
sacha (proud to be thought of as a gender traitor if FTB is the alternative)
“Why be rational when you can rationalize” – Nectar “If you don’t keep the ERVites out of your comment section, you are making your blog an uncomfortable place…” – Laden That about sums it up, doesn’t it? Don’t question anything. It may make someone uncomfortable. Poor feminists, weak, insecure, victims who cannot handle questions. Just shut up and agree. Don’t you dare make them uncomfortable! Don’t you know what they go through on a daily basis?! “No one the right to not be offended” -Hitch ___________________________________________________ “Move on to a different topic. You weren’t prepared to handle this one, it… Read more »
Anne C. Hanna
Guest
It strikes me as pretty grotesque for the anti-feminist brigade to award themselves the mantle of Hitchens. He earned his stature by using his wit to argue against the privileged and in favor of those who were being harmed by that privilege. ERV’s tenants are doing precisely the reverse, all the while styling themselves as brave crusaders for free speech and free thought. I agree that no one has the right not to be offended, but sometimes, just sometimes, the ones going out of their way to give offense are not actually the good guys in any given situation. Consider… Read more »
sacha (proud to be thought of as a gender traitor if FTB is the alternative)
Guest
sacha (proud to be thought of as a gender traitor if FTB is the alternative)

Anne C. Hanna –

You squawk about my “awarding myself” Hitchens?
I have a feeling you will regret that statement once you watch this:
Have a look

Hitchens vs Feminism

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpA7pfR0FIc&list=FLvE-xisFJg9zE2TEtiBiaYA&index=5&feature=plpp_video

You haven’t read much of his work, now have you?

Thaumas Themelios
Guest

Oops, looks like the discussion is over here now.

Hi Anne, I had written two comments in response to your comments, but since that thread is now closed, maybe you could respond in this thread? Here are links:

http://askanatheist.tv/2012/06/13/a-response-to-ophelia-benson/#comment-10238

http://askanatheist.tv/2012/06/13/a-response-to-ophelia-benson/#comment-10242

The Devil's Towelboy
Guest
Anne C. Hanna (#10246) June 14th, 2012 at 22:26: “It strikes me as pretty grotesque for the anti-feminist brigade to award themselves the mantle of Hitchens. He earned his stature by using his wit to argue against the privileged and in favor of those who were being harmed by that privilege.” Uhuh. I must be stupid or something. This item from Zvan confuses me – http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/06/11/the-problem-of-dogmatic-feminism/ I sent the show an email. […] The response I received wasn’t particularly inviting. Any listener is welcome to call between 3 and 4 pm Pacific time. We stream live at our website. Our… Read more »
KiwiInOz
Guest

Thaumas. Hear, hear!

That is all.

God
Guest

Shut up heathens, get back to debunking me!

Justicar
Guest
lol @ god. Yes, sir. Sorry, sir. May I have another? Interestingly enough, remember when Ophelia ‘let me’ respond a couple of times in her post that was all about me, but then decided that four (I think four) replies was more than ample? What if AD had been ‘allowed’ to call, but they hung up on her mid-sentence? Would that be fair, or unfair? I can’t quite sort out how the rules of etiquette apply when you’re the topic. Is one entitled to speak? Is one supposed to be invited to defend one’s self? Or is one only allowed… Read more »
Daniel
Guest
Iamcuriousblue
Guest
Greg Laden writes: “If you don’t keep the ERVites out of your comment section, you are making your blog an uncomfortable place for all those people that they choose to target with their incessant harassment.” For fuck’s sake, Greg, have you considered the fact that other people might see the FTBers rhetoric as “incessant harassment”? Can you honestly say that Jason Thibault has contributed more light than heat to this “conversation”? Really? Please consider the fact that a lot of people are every bit as unhappy with the behavior and rhetoric coming out of your camp as you are with… Read more »
Anne C. Hanna
Guest
Becky and Sam, you mentioned in the supplementary shows (which I have now listened to) that you don’t really know who I am or where I’m from. The answer is, I’m not really anybody interesting, or from anywhere that’s particularly interesting. I read and listen to a lot of stuff, but I don’t usually have the time or energy to get involved in the twenty thousand bifurcating threads of nitpicking nonsense that one tends to get hit with every time one has the temerity to have an opinion on the internet, which is why you won’t see a whole lot… Read more »
Iamcuriousblue
Guest
It strikes me as pretty grotesque for the anti-feminist brigade to award themselves the mantle of Hitchens. He earned his stature by using his wit to argue against the privileged and in favor of those who were being harmed by that privilege. ERV’s tenants are doing precisely the reverse, all the while styling themselves as brave crusaders for free speech and free thought. Oh, come on! The left/feminist blogosphere pretty much *hated* Hitchens when he was alive, both for his interventionist stance on Iraq and Afghanistan, and the general political incorrectness of his rhetoric. (Though, interestingly, IRL, he was on… Read more »
Anne C. Hanna
Guest
Oh, and, Daniel, if you’re going to misconstrue the Schroedinger’s rapist analogy as badly as you clearly have, you are desperately in need of the *third* link down on a google search of the topic, which I again reproduce here for your benefit. http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/01/16/shuffling-feet-a-black-mans-view-on-schroedingers-rapist/ The “problems” you cite with the analogy are bullshit which has already been well addressed all over the place, if you’d only bothered to look, or, hell, even think about it from any perspective other than that of not wanting to have to actually to do the work required to treat other human beings with basic… Read more »
Anne C. Hanna
Guest
@iamcuriousblue, just to be clear, I’m done talking to you, seeing as how you don’t appear to actually be arguing in good faith any more, just trying to find some kind of stupid nitpick you can use to justify railing against feminists. @Daniel, and @Sacha, I’m probably done with you too, actually. I really only came over here to talk with the AAA cast, who seem to be mostly well-intentioned. Given that my lifespan is finite, I don’t see any point in spending any of it whatsoever on arguing with people who have already spent the past year demonstrating that… Read more »
Anne C. Hanna
Guest

(And, yes, I’m aware that I was foolish enough to address each of you first. That was clearly a mistake, given the nature of your engagement in this conversation, and so I’m correcting it now. Bye.)

Notung
Guest
if you’d only bothered to look, or, hell, even think about it from any perspective other than that of not wanting to have to actually to do the work required to treat other human beings with basic decency. This is the kind of hyperbole and personal attacking I’m talking about. Also, simply linking people to things doesn’t really help if they disagree with those links. What’s important are the reasons for believing. If a believer in God challenges my unbelief, I don’t just link them to some blog posts. No – I argue my case. That is true whether I… Read more »
Daniel
Guest
@Anne C. Hanna I have read that one too, and unfortunately it doesn’t address my points either. Let me break it down for you so that you know what I mean. Here is his central point: “Bringing this example home, men in the freethought movement have a decision to make. They (we) can rail against the hypocrisy of claiming to be anti-sexist whilst engaging in sex-based prejudicial behaviour, or we can recognize that if we want to be accommodating to women we have to make some adjustments to how we behave. It comes back to the central question: do we… Read more »
Daniel
Guest

Well, I see that you are done now after I wrote my reply. I was almost thinking you might come around. hah hah goodbye anne 🙂

Anne C. Hanna
Guest

Oh, and, as an addendum to my comments above, here’s another interesting thing that just came up yesterday in regard to the TAM/Grothe flap:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/06/14/those-meddling-kids/

Seems to me that the problem at TAM is definitely bigger than what DJ’s memory and statistics might suggest…

Anne C. Hanna
Guest

And yet more — a code of conduct from a polyamory conference, presumably a very sex-positive and pro-hookup environment, via Greta Christina:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/06/14/sexual-harassment-and-the-opensf-conference-code-of-conduct/

I get that you’re not opposed to harassment policies, but I point this out as an example of the fact that there’s ongoing and often very sex-positive discussion about this, and it’s not just all about dogmatically picking on men.

SmJ
Guest
In my entire online life, which goes back to the 90s, I’ve hardly ever commented anywhere. I generally prefer to lurk, rather than get involved. I’m not really sure if doing so now is a good idea or not, and probably won’t comment again. I have been reading many atheist (and feminist) blogs for many years; well before all this came up. While I would generally describe myself as egalitarian, I don’t particularly like labels, and tend not to apply them to myself. Like Anne, I consider myself a nobody in this, and my voice isn’t really important here either.… Read more »
Thaumas Themelios
Guest
Excellent comment, SmJ. I, for one, am glad you spoke up. Though both Anne C. and yourself have said to the effect, “I’m no one important,” I would disagree in both cases. If anything, voices like yourselves’ need to be listened to more than ever, being the voices of people trying to sincerely help come to some sort of reasonable resolution to the us vs. them infighting. Positively resolving this conflict (and conflict in general) is far more important than perpetuating it. As such, I would say yours are some of the more important voices in this issue. In particular,… Read more »
Iamcuriousblue
Guest
Anne C. Hanna “@iamcuriousblue, just to be clear, I’m done talking to you, seeing as how you don’t appear to actually be arguing in good faith any more, just trying to find some kind of stupid nitpick you can use to justify railing against feminists.” I could really care less. I don’t think you’ve been doing very much “talking to” so much as “talking at”, anyway. Sorry you didn’t find my argument “in good faith”, but I stand by it. In the specific post I responded to, you made an argument in which you were wrong on a clear point… Read more »
Iamcuriousblue
Guest
There’s a new post on Greta Christina’s blog (actually, a signal boost for something that was posted a couple of weeks ago on a smaller blog) that I think deserves some attention: http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/06/15/holy-fucking-shit/ If this is accurate, it’s the most serious and substantial criticism of DJ Grothe’s role in responding to sexual harassment at TAM. The allegation is that there is an attendee who is well-known for taking upskirt photos of women, has had his camera seized by hotel staff for doing so, and yet this person has been able to attend TAM for multiple years even after his behavior… Read more »
sacha - Gender Traitors International
Guest
sacha - Gender Traitors International
hahaha Anne C Hanna writes a tome of rhetoric, then adds 5 more comments on top of that, then says she is done with us. Better get in the last words, Anne. I don’t see Hitch being at all misogynistic, even in that clip, but I knew *you* would. It just proves my point that you haven’t read much of his work, so yes, I’ll award myself Hitchens. “I’d rather take pride in adopting my idols’ noble qualities rather than their more disreputable habits, thank you very much. ” A misogynist is your idol. I think he would tell you… Read more »
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