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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Spence
Guest
Justicar, I’m responding to a comment you made on a completely different thread (here) because of the abortion of a threading policy here means we are having to track conversations all over the place. Spence, I’m not sure anyone’s objected to Sam wanting to have some rules for discourse here. The points that have been made is that without posting said rules or some indication, it’s a bit silly to chide someone for not following them. And, more to the point here, to say that ‘starting now’ he’s not going to allow the continuance of calling other people cunts –… Read more »
franc hoggle
Guest

I’d like to see something equivalent to this pointed out on ERV –

http://i.imgur.com/JvZqn.png

Then you are an absolute moron.

I wouldn’t go to TAM now if it was across the street from me and free. I’d just load up on more ammo, in case any of you cretins got the wrong idea of what I think of sexist garbage like you.

Considering the innocuous criticisms that vanish within minutes in FTB revisionism, I find it very amusing that this has been there for a day. One can only assume that this kind of dialogue is acceptable.

franc hoggle
Guest

Sorry, here is the link to #10361 –

http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/06/13/the-great-penis-debate/#comment-90145

Yes, Zvan the Entitled that you don’t provide a hotline for.

John C. Welch
Guest
“One of the things I’ve often lauded our movement for was that we didn’t mutilate genitals, fly planes into buildings, burn books or threaten people when we campaigned against those that did.” Were people threatened? Yes. In fact, one person at FTB, Laden, has been working, slowly, but studiously, to actively get Abbie thrown off/Censored by NatGeo, and even emailed her dept. head to get her in trouble there. That is threatening behavior. Yet no one, NO ONE at FTB cares about that in public. I guess it’s what Abbie deserves. PZ said that Abbie is lying about being censored… Read more »
franc hoggle
Guest

This post is interesting too –

http://freethoughtblogs.com/xblog/2012/05/25/hahahahahahaha/

It holds the distinction of being the first blog deleted by management from FTB. It is only a few weeks old. Well after Greg Laden stated he would “ignore” the female known as Bluharmony.

Why was it deleted? It was yet another personal attack on Bluharmony.

Yes. FTB is really against attacks against women.

Caveat: Women that don’t step out of line.

Thaumas Themelios
Guest
@Justicar, from here: “I did not mean to imply you were issuing the suggestion as some kind of edict. ***But if that’s the reading that attends it, then mutatis mutandis and voila.***” May I humbly suggest that you take the time to reflect on what you’ve just suggested to me, and ponder how it might apply to your seemingly never-ending conflict with certain other folks, and also how it might influence the perceptions of even would-be friends and allies such as Sam, Becky, and Mike. Mutatis mutandis and all that and a bag of chips. 😉 “I think it’s a… Read more »
Iamcuriousblue
Guest
A big thumbs up for the Dogmatic Feminism 2 podcast. You had the *exact* critique of the Geek Feminism model policy and the proponents of it that I do, both from the anti-sexual bias of the language contained therein and the over-the-top insistence on the part of its proponents that this exact policy be adopted. (Often by the same people claiming the mod-ability of the policy as one of its strengths!) I will point out that Greta Christina, to her credit, has recently posted an example of an anti-harassment policy from a San Francisco polyamorous convention that by its very… Read more »
Thaumas Themelios
Guest
Continuing with Justicar: “How do I know they’re not capable of having all grown-up like conversations on ‘important issues’? … How do I know? The same way one finds out how it is another converses: I’ve talked to them. If one takes Ophelia’s cited example from above: she’s conceded out of the gate that it won’t do at all for her if I’m reasonable, polite and rational. She won’t be able to respond in kind, for she doesn’t want to see me as any of those things.” Yes, I’m aware that some people in this are deeply entrenched, and Ophelia… Read more »
John C. Welch
Guest
Thaumas: Doesn’t much matter. Ophelia and her buds have shown that we are unworthy of any basic consideration, and that any tactics, including attempts to shut down our websites, or remove our ability to feed and house ourselves are perfectly fine, because we have committed the unforgiveeable sin: We don’t buy into their bullshit. If you wish, research the concept of Scientology’s “suppressive persons” and “fair game”. Laden is especially enthusiastic about the latter. A rather large chunk of FTB has behaved in a despicable, hateful manner, employing tactics that no one at ERV has even thought to try, tactics… Read more »
Thaumas Themelios
Guest
By the way, the video embedded in the link that Franc posted earlier on “The Great PenisGate Debate” is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xpy661iGE4 The embed at Almost Diamonds doesn’t allow you to go directly to the YouTube page, which sucked, so I searched for it specifically and found that direct link. It’s a very good debate, and the ending of the debate, when Wendell leaves, is emblematic of the whole problem of specifically *dogmatic* feminism (as opposed to feminism in general). I left this brief comment to illustrate: “Wendell: “I’m just a guy who reads the blogs.” And look how misinformed he… Read more »
Thaumas Themelios
Guest
John C. Welsh: “Doesn’t much matter.” As far as I can tell, that is the only sentence that seems to apply to the meat of what I’ve said. Could you be more specific about what exactly I’ve written that you are feeling dismissive of? Quotes would be very helpful. Because I’ve written several long comments now, and also on different threads (though I foresee that we’ll all be sticking to this thread from now on), and it’s not at all clear to me what you are referring to. BTW: I am quite familiar with the Scientology stuff. I don’t follow… Read more »
Thaumas Themelios
Guest
Wow, things appear to be moving very fast now. Or maybe I’m just catching up on the blogz, I’m not sure. Anyway, a couple of important links: Please watch how the rumour-mongering machine works. Posted in most-illuminating-first order, so that you can see just how badly people are failing at basic skepticism: The rumour debunked (so you can see more clearly the failures of skepticism that lead to its formation): http://www.skepticalabyss.com/?p=31 The most-recent source of the rumour: http://freethoughtblogs.com/xblog/2012/05/30/perhaps-it-is-time-that-dj-grothe-resign-as-the-president-of-the-jref/#comment-72094 In the very same thread, only *three* comments later, the target of the rumour clearly explains that the rumour is false: http://freethoughtblogs.com/xblog/2012/05/30/perhaps-it-is-time-that-dj-grothe-resign-as-the-president-of-the-jref/#comment-72101… Read more »
Justicar
Guest
Thaumas, may I return to you the invitation that you reflect on what I actually wrote? I granted that it could be read as applying to you; you now write as though it need be. It doesn’t. That the piece in particular was addressed to you in response to your having addressed me (itself a response to my having addressed you) is not to say that you are the subject of each sentence that’s in it unless otherwise specified. That said, I will endeavor to be more clear when writing to you. You suggested that the ‘lulz’ vector wasn’t particularly… Read more »
Anne C. Hanna
Guest
To the cast: I get that you’ve got real lives and all, and don’t have the time to moderate things here extensively, but I just want to make sure that you’re aware of what’s happening in this comment thread — your approach to this issue, no matter how well-intentioned, has essentially driven away almost everyone except the ERVites. I know you’re not fond of them, but pushing away the feminist bloggers has meant that they think this is a “safe space” for them to continue their hate campaign, and that, in turn, drives away everyone else. So the stance you’ve… Read more »
Justicar
Guest
Okay, this kind of henpecking is getting tedious. Thaumas, try being somewhat consistent. You write to Welch: “Questions: 1) Is it your goal to actually change the current situation, or are you happy if it continues indefinitely? 2) Do you think it will get better on its own, if everybody keeps doing what they’re doing on your side and theirs?” And to me you write: ““I think it’s a bit off to say that the ‘lulz’ isn’t of utility to people out there.” Ah, but did I say that? No. “Remember, no one strategy for refutation works for everyone.” I… Read more »
Justicar
Guest
Anne C. is at it again (mind if I just call you Anne? Thanks!) “I get that you’ve got real lives and all, and don’t have the time to moderate things here extensively” I get that you’ve got real lives and all, and don’t have the inclination to make sure that everyone I don’t like is locked out of anywhere I’d like to be so that I can have a ‘safe space’ . . . on the internet. “your approach to this issue, no matter how well-intentioned, has essentially driven away almost everyone except the ERVites. ” Your approach on… Read more »
Justicar
Guest

Oh, Anne, I forgot. My mistake. Here is the feminist approved response to your concern that some feminists might be alienated from something:

“What evidence is there that the people who’ve been alienated aren’t people who SHOULD be alienated?” (as enumerated by SallyStrange)

Do find some evidence to answer SallyStrange’s proposition. =^_^=

franc hoggle
Guest
Anne C. Hanna (#10381) June 16th, 2012 at 15:43 I know you’re not fond of them, but pushing away the feminist bloggers has meant that they think this is a “safe space” for them to continue their hate campaign Anne, you throw around the word “hate” way to freely. You also presume way too much of what people think. You want “hate”? – http://phawrongula.wikia.com/wiki/Hate_talk_leading_to_violence_talk I’d like you to point to an equivalent type of conversation outside of FTB. These comments are entirely acceptable there – they are no anomaly. Love your blog byline – The first principle is that you… Read more »
franc hoggle
Guest
If you think I’m referring to you and you use phrases like “baboon” about bloggers on FTB, I’m asking you to reconsider using them. It sounds misogynistic to many people regardless of your reasons I need to hear the rationale for this. I really do. It appears to me that everything is now “misogynistic” until blessed and approved otherwise. So, as the responsible party for creating the term “baboon” I want to know how you arrive at this nonsense. Here is the etymology of “baboon” – Etymology of “baboon”: This is my fault. The precise origin was “baboon board” to… Read more »
John C. Welch
Guest
Anne’s latest, tl;dr version: “There are people here I dislike, for they are of ERV. Therefore, nothing they say can be of not-hate. Make them leave or I and my clan shall depart these premises forth…WITH” Standard FTB ad him. It would explain why Ophelia can’t explain why publishing emails sans permission is horribly, horribly bad. Unless she does it, then it’s alright. The conflict in Ophelia’s views on publishing email sans permission was brought up by one of ERV, ergo, it is invalid. Lying is always bad. Unless it’s lying about one of ERV. Then it’s okay. You get… Read more »
Iamcuriousblue
Guest
Anne C. Hanna says: I get that you’ve got real lives and all, and don’t have the time to moderate things here extensively, but I just want to make sure that you’re aware of what’s happening in this comment thread — your approach to this issue, no matter how well-intentioned, has essentially driven away almost everyone except the ERVites. I know you’re not fond of them, but pushing away the feminist bloggers has meant that they think this is a “safe space” for them to continue their hate campaign, and that, in turn, drives away everyone else. So the stance… Read more »
Iamcuriousblue
Guest

I’d say a mob of angry, pack-traveling, hostile savanna monkeys is a pretty good analogy for much of the FTB commentariat.

Those who find the comparison unfavorable would perhaps be better directed to try and change the utterly toxic atmosphere at the FTB blogs in question rather than getting pissed at those who are pointing it out.

Steersman
Guest
Becky, Ask an Atheist is to be commended for “taking the bull by the horns” on this issue. And likewise for your editorial [June 7th] which started the ball rolling and in which you said: Is our womanhood and feminism so holy that we cannot and will not open ourselves to criticism, discussion, and questions? … Good Atheist Feminist is characterized by reverence for some holy sacrament of outrage … Which I think was rather brave – particularly considering the firestorm that has subsequently erupted – but which very much hits the nail squarely on its head. But relative to… Read more »
John C. Welch
Guest
Steersman: That’s the root of the issue, at least for me. There is, in my world at least, and I don’t think I’m alone, or even in a male-only group, a HUGE difference between “Damn, Jane’s being a real bitch today” and “All women are just stupid bitches”. The former is pretty clear. Jane’s done something to piss me off. He twin sister isn’t being a bitch today just because she’s female, or Jane’s twin. It’s all about Jane. If you swap out “bitch” for “asshole”, the sentiment is unchanged. You can argue until doomsday, but I can’t see being… Read more »
Jay Eldridge
Guest
Boy, I am getting so sick of the so-called “free-thought” blogs and podcasters! This discussion, seems to me, to have done nothing but to segregate people into various groups depending on what someone blogged or reported in a podcast. I doubt I have any desire to attend any conferences due to this insane antics of people. I listened to one podcast that stated a female blogger was stating that there was this list she knew of with a listing of speakers who were predatory and females needed to stay away from, yet, she also stated that there had not been… Read more »
franc hoggle
Guest
Steersman (#10412) June 17th, 2012 at 15:33: Now in the absence of evidence that that “global” application of the insult is in fact the case Bingo. This nonsense, and it is the nonsense of opportunism because it is so easy to milk appeal to emotion from, is limited to, surprise, surprise, north America, more specifically, the USA, and even more specifically FTB. What is being witnessed here as a sense of entitlement to exercise cultural imperialism – dictating language use to all of the lesser beings outside of the US. This thought is expressed perfectly in this FTB comment –… Read more »
Steersman
Guest
John C. Welch, You can argue until doomsday, but I can’t see being pissed off and rude at one person as hating their gender. Agreed. Curious how it is, as you suggest, that most men when they hear someone – male or female – call some other man a “prick” or an “asshole” their response is going to be something along the line of, “Really? What did he do?” and not, “HOW DARE YOU CALL ME AND ALL MY BROS PRICKS???”. Maybe an innate difference in the sexes, although that doesn’t seem right either as the former seems the far… Read more »
John C. Welch
Guest

Steersman:

Well, the point was, once you start giving words magical powers, why stop at those? Also, the whole “cunt”, or really, *any* word as a Word Of Power is kind of a stick in the eye of skepticism.

Daniel
Guest
I don’t mean to start another big argument but I just wanted to comment on gender feminism/equity feminism at the wikipedia page link in this post here: Steersman “that I have been banned at A Voice for Men for having the temerity to defend feminism – particularly equity feminism as opposed to the more problematic – and dogmatic – gender feminism; ” personally, i am against lumping people into gender feminism/equity feminism because I don’t think they adequately define the different types of feminists. For instance, I agree with equity feminism on equality in politics and education, but I also… Read more »
Steersman
Guest
franc hoggle (#10420), “It offends us, therefore we demand that it also offends you. We will not negotiate”. Just a bit of intolerance there, isn’t there? Not to mention a little fascism. Although I suppose all groups tend to be fascist by nature or definition which always tends to be problematic – “power corrupts” and all that. Though a bit of a decidedly complex issue. For instance, Natalie Reed’s site that you quoted that comment from. She’s entitled of course to make whatever rules she thinks appropriate for it – her house, her rules – but they look more likely… Read more »
Steersman
Guest
John C. Welch ((#10423), Well, the point was, once you start giving words magical powers, why stop at those? Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is some of the finest and most powerful writing in the world, at least this side of the Atlantic. But it has scads of totem words. And we all use them: king, country, mother, father, etc., etc., most of which have varying powers over our thoughts and emotions and behaviours. The trick is, I think, to remember that, like many things, they make better servants than masters; that we need to be aware of their influences on us.… Read more »
Steersman
Guest
Daniel (#10426), I don’t mean to start another big argument but I just wanted to comment on gender feminism/equity feminism .. Likewise, although exchanging viewpoints and opinions seems conducive to solving problems; can’t make wise choices about which way to proceed without knowing the lay of the land … … personally, I am against lumping people into gender feminism/equity feminism because I don’t think they adequately define the different types of feminists. Agreed. But as you suggest there’s seems to be a fairly well populated spectrum, if not a bewildering one, of feminists. And while partitioning them into two groups… Read more »
Geste
Guest
What you guys don’t understand why “bitch” is banned yet “dick” is permitted, it’s because it’s the oppressed wiminz “pushing back” against the patriarchy, bitch is used to diminish a woman, a woman calling a man a dick is positive empowerment. This is where logic, reason, and skepticism are thrown out in favour of ideology. It’s also clear that the atheist movement has many sub sects. There are radical feminists who happen to be atheists, freethought blogs is a rad fem blog network, not a skeptic network, they have an overly grand opinion of their relevance and weight within the… Read more »
John C. Welch
Guest
Steersman: Ophelia has demonstrated, on any number of circumstances, including outright saying it, that she believes there are words so powerful that their mere utterance can: 1) Cause untold & instant pain amongst entire groups, including people thousands of miles away, who not only cannot hear said utterance, but do not even speak the same language, and so have no idea as to the meaning of the word. 2) Change, again, just by hearing the Word, how an entire group of people think and behave. For example, “cunt” can reduce women to mere husks, shells of humanity, and make every… Read more »
Spence
Guest
I just wanted to drop by and thank Thaumas Themelios for his astonishing patience at Greta Christina’s blog. Of course, every single one of your reasonable statements will be taken, distorted to some extreme that you never intended, and thrown back at you, plus you will receive insults quite incompatible with the commenting policy (but will be banned if you respond in kind), for that is how debate is conducted at FTB. (I would say thank you at that site, but any endorsement by a slimepitter is likely to get you insta-banned) (In fact I expect you’ll get banned at… Read more »
Thaumas Themelios
Guest
I would ask that folks here please check out the update post by Greta. I have posted several comments in the thread. In particular, I have posted this reply to Stephanie Zvan, which I would ask anyone interested in this topic to read and respond to, if they feel these are fair questions: From http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/06/17/update-clarification-correction-on-holy-fucking-shit/#comment-77261: Thaumas Themelios says: June 18, 2012 at 10:42 am Ah, Stephanie, thanks for commenting. There’s misrepresentation of what was said in this post. There’s misrepresentation of discussions elsewhere. Where? Please quote. There’s refusal to answer questions. Where? Please quote. Here are some questions for you:… Read more »
Thaumas Themelios
Guest

Oops, by ‘respond to’, I meant ‘respond to on Greta’s blog’, although I suppose responses here are welcome, too! I just want to see if we can make an honest showing of skepticism and questioning.

You may be right, Spence, and I appreciate your pointing it out. I’ll leave it up to the individuals to decide if they want to chime in. If I get banned, so be it. I have done nothing wrong.

John C. Welch
Guest

Thaumas:

There are a group of people who cannot post on Greta’s site. I’m one, because I was a “bad person” somewhere else. Not on Greta’s site, but elsewhere. So i’m out. Same for justicar et al.

franc hoggle
Guest

And Thaumas, there are some that just don’t post on principle. I find it satisfying that I do not post there, yet somehow always get blamed for ‘socking’ whoever is branded as the latest ‘troll’. Shows their paranoia in full flight.

John C. Welch
Guest

I have to say Franc, that’s a level of mastery that should be acknowledged and admired. You’ve gotten to the point where you need make no move, yet they commit and react as though you had.

Well done sir, well done.

Steersman
Guest
John C. Welch, Ophelia has demonstrated, on any number of circumstances, including outright saying it, that she believes there are words so powerful that their mere utterance can … that’s what she and the other prats believe. Not at all disagreeing with you – at least in a view somewhat broader or less hyperbolic than the one you described. Although it would probably help – Ask an Atheist might appreciate it as well – if you were to provide the relevant quotes and links. In any case and as a matter of fact, as I indicated in my first post,… Read more »
Iamcuriousblue
Guest
I guess what needs to be done moving forward is to look at how other centers of power/influence can be created within the atheist/skeptic community, both on and off the internet. Right now, FTB and Skepchick are two networks of popular blogs that just due to the sheer numbers of readers, end up with a lot of influence. And unfortunately, when these networks develop a certain groupthink that becomes disproportionately influential, to the point where they can start demanding that the rest of the community fall in line behind their consensus. Hence, I think other blog networks, well-distributed podcasts, YouTube… Read more »
Geste
Guest
Iamcurious, what needs to happen is that ftb needs to be called out on their dogma, and called out continually, to the point where people coming into the movement immediately recognise it for the antithesis of freethought that it is. A group of bloggers on that network are hellbent on making atheism a religion to serve their political agenda, this cannot be allowed to come to fruition. Atheism and skepticism as movements is open and must remain open to the whole political spectrum. The silencing of dissenting voices (though I note they have put the gallows in storage during the… Read more »
franc hoggle
Guest
Geste (#10462) June 19th, 2012 at 01:29: A group of bloggers on that network are hellbent on making atheism a religion to serve their political agenda, this cannot be allowed to come to fruition. Indeed. And nowhere does this religiosity at FTB stand out quite as clearly than in their idea of “infinite punishment for finite transgression”. The folks at FTB aren’t content at mere shouting – as has been documented with disturbing regularity, they seek to destroy people – they mount complaint campaigns to ruin professional reputations and seek to destroy people’s livelihoods. It is a level of malice… Read more »
Cheron
Guest
Late to the game I know but my first comment seems to have disappeared, almost as if I was silenced for just asking questions or something. Not that I think you would do that since you spent quite a lot of time shaking your fists at FTB for banning people. Anyway on to the podcast. I’m listening to dogmatic Fem pt2 and right from the start you are wrong. Anti-harassment policies are new to TAM, and thanks in no small part to FTB bloggers 10+ events will have one FOR THE FIRST TIME! They are not yet something you get… Read more »
Iamcuriousblue
Guest

“The folks at FTB aren’t content at mere shouting – as has been documented with disturbing regularity, they seek to destroy people – they mount complaint campaigns to ruin professional reputations and seek to destroy people’s livelihoods.”

Franc –

I don’t doubt that this happens, especially given how hateful some at FTB are, but can you point to some links documenting some examples of this? The usual MO of the haters at FTB is to deny any and everything that might have been done by “their side”, so it’s useful to be able to point to something concrete.

franc hoggle
Guest
Iamcuriousblue (#10591) June 22nd, 2012 at 20:50: The usual MO of the haters at FTB is to deny any and everything that might have been done by “their side”, so it’s useful to be able to point to something concrete. http://phawrongula.wikia.com/wiki/Phawrongula_Wiki It is a problem – those who observe or try to participate at FTB will soon notice that the whole site is a fluid under constant revisionism – reality is modified to suit what it is desired to be in any given day. So the mantra when dealing with them is “screencap first, think later”. That wiki is an… Read more »
Becky Friedman
Admin

http://askanatheist.tv/2012/06/13/a-response-to-ophelia-benson/comment-page-1/#comments

Cheron, the only other comment we’ve received from you was submitted on 6/14 at 11:26 am on the post above. There’s nothing pending in the queue.

Rilian
Guest

Men have said to me that it’s in their male nature to act a certain way, and when those behaviours are prohibited, it’s maleness or the male identity that is being prohibited.

vexorian@gmail.com
Guest

Why is it that it has become so hard to contest the dogma that dogmatic feminism is indeed dogmatic?

wpDiscuz