Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

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"Dogmatic Feminism" Discussion Podcast (part 1)

Becky and Sam have an extended discussion about this week’s episode, covering material unused on the show and some of the responses we’ve recieved.

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.

Eric
Guest

I am enjoying the conversation. As an atheist male I feel that it is extremely important that the atheist community be free from misogyny, racism etc. How this is achieved is not a simple question. I heard Sam mention a few times that shaming was not an ideal method to deal with the problem. When confronted with shame I instinctually get defensive so it seems counterproductive but isn’t shaming or ridicule a common tactic used by atheists. Is shaming effective in one situation but not another. I don’t know myself. I would like to know what others think.

Donovan
Guest

Was nice to hear the additional discussion.

One question, and you might have said and I missed it, but what is ERV?

Thaumas Themelios
Guest
Holy crap, this is an excellent discussion episode! Guys, your comments about zero-sum and equilibrium of discontent, and ‘taste of your own medicine’, are *exactly* the issue. Perhaps it may seem a bit academic/theoretical, but if you check the link about the Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma (IPD) in one of my previous comments in the previous thread, you’ll find that it is directly relevant to what you guys are speaking about in this podcast. The point about IPD is that it is a non-zero-sum game, as opposed to zero-sum. This allows cooperation to actually do *better* than “I win” vs. “you… Read more »
mary
Guest

I liked your shout outs to me. It made me LOL. You guys are alright. Start talking about how bad religion is so I can start agreeing with you guys again.

Thaumas Themelios
Guest
@Eric: “isn’t shaming or ridicule a common tactic used by atheists. Is shaming effective in one situation but not another. I don’t know myself. I would like to know what others think.” Yes, it is very commonly used by atheists. I use it myself. But yes, it is definitely “effective in one situation but not another”. If you translate ‘shaming’ as ‘defection’, then according to the non-zero-sum model of social interaction I mentioned in my previous comment (the IPD game: see http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/prisoner-dilemma/#IteErr), then there are clearly times to ‘defect’ and other times to ‘cooperate’. How do you decide when to… Read more »
Thaumas Themelios
Guest
One additional quick comment, which I feel is very important for you guys to hear: I would extremely, extremely, super-duper strongly suggest that you do *not* adopt a critique of this situation based on the idea of ‘framing’. That is an enormous failure waiting to happen if you do. The reason is simple: The framing argument doesn’t work. You cannot force a peer to accept your ‘frame’, and if they don’t agree with it, and have strong opinions against it, then you will reach an impasse very quickly in the dialogue: Framer: “Well if you look at it like it… Read more »
Greg Laden
Guest

Oh no, you’ve been sucked into the vortex!!! Save yourselves now, run away!@!!!

But seriously, interesting discussion.

Paul
Guest
Just as the atheist community is vastly larger than the set of blog commenters, the set of bloggers–especially those at freethoughtblogs–should not be considered representative of atheism either. I had a run-in with Stephanie Zvan a while ago when I pressed her about her “Dear Dick” letter to Richard Dawkins. She vacillated between denying and confirming her intention to insult Dawkins. I carried the discussion as calmly and as rationally as I could, but I did not receive the same in return. Here is an example of one of my comments: ===== Stephanie, when I read the “Dear Dick” post… Read more »
Greg Laden
Guest
One think you folks need to know is that those of us who have been writing about these issues regularly have in fact been doing a lot of work to summarize, point to, link-farm, and otherwise make “entry points” into this discussion. Having said that, it is very true that people who have just shown up here, such as yourselves, could probably use a lot more guidance than is avaialble. There may be ways to do that. But, it is simply not the case that this sort of thing hasn’t been considered. Here is an example of a link farm:… Read more »
Greg Laden
Guest

Ok, where I said “here is an example of orienting post” I meant to include this:
http://freethoughtblogs.com/xblog/2011/12/15/making-sense-of-our-fights-on-the-internet/

Piggy
Guest

I see Laden is blogwhoring as usual. Anything for a few more hits. Get a job , please.

Gem Newman
Guest
I’d like to briefly chime in (as a bearded, white, male atheist who is privileged as all hell) to say that I’ve never really felt talked down to by any of the parties in this discussion, and I have in fact been put much more on edge by many of the comments made by D.J. Grothe than by Rebecca Watson, Stephanie Zvan, Greta Christina, Jen McCreight, or anyone else. Of course, your mileage may vary. Now… Normally I wouldn’t mention it, but because so much of the discussion has revolved around framing I figure that it’s topical, so here goes:… Read more »
Iamcuriousblue
Guest

@18 min: Just where is the “secret ERV hidey-hole” because when one googles it and goes over there, they’re not even remotely discussing this topic. No sure, somebody may have said something about Rebecca Watson last year that people are still carrying a grudge over, but for the rest of us, is it really obvious that ERV is the portal to hell? Direct links, please!

Munkhaus
Guest

I must apologise, but I’m about to drag things down to Greg Laden’s level: he is one of the most crude, dishonest simpletons you could have to misfortune to meet on the internet. What can you expect from someone who thinks nothing of calling Steff McGraw a rape apologist just because she disagreed with Watson.
Disgusting.

Notung
Guest
I appreciate the discussion and in the main, agree with your position. It is an important issue and needs to be discussed calmly, rationally and freely if we are to get close to a desirable resolution. However, I think your casual dismissal of ‘the ERV people’ was rather unfair. I myself post there – I’ve tried discussing the issue at FTB but find that my attempts to politely discuss the issue are met with personal attacks and unnecessary vitriol. I don’t get that at ERV. ERV hosts the only continuous discussion of the issue that is truly free. It should… Read more »
CommanderTuvok
Guest
Iamcuriousblue, A lot of the open thread at ERV (remember – it is just a thread, the rest of ERV is about science issues and stuff) is people like me satirising and making fun of people from FfTB, calling them out, asking difficult questions, pointing out hypocrisy and double standards, etc. People from FfTB think they are above criticism and scrutiny, but are eager to dish it out. Not one of the regular posters at that ERV thread is a “misogynist”, “MRA enabler”, “sister punisher” or any other silly label the FfTB horde want to tarnish others with. You can… Read more »
Iamcuriousblue
Guest
“A lot of the open thread at ERV (remember – it is just a thread, the rest of ERV is about science issues and stuff) is people like me satirising and making fun of people from FfTB, calling them out, asking difficult questions, pointing out hypocrisy and double standards, etc. People from FfTB think they are above criticism and scrutiny, but are eager to dish it out.” I tend to agree that much of FTB fit’s that description. I’d go so far as to call Jason of Lousy Canuck outright abusive. (And, yes Greg, if you’re reading this, there are… Read more »
VMR
Guest

This is mainly about the accumulated biases resulting from the echo chambers of blog threads. It’s the Pleistocene era all over again, where strong psychological forces act to produce group coherence. “We good, they bad.”

It’s completely obvious from an outsider’s perspective that the people on both sides are in a psychological snare. People spend too much time on blogs. Ride a bike.

Sally Strange
Guest
Re: the “misogyny problem is obvious” comments You somehow got the impression that feminist FTB bloggers are saying that it’s huge and obvious in the atheist community. I guess you missed what they, and I, have been saying over and over again: it’s not that it’s huge and obvious in the atheist community. It’s that it’s huge and obvious everywhere. Do you not see inequality permeating our culture? If not, can I ask you whether you see any further need for social justice activism? Civil rights, gay rights, etc.? I mean, the other day I was riding my bike and… Read more »
Katie G
Guest

Thank you so much for opening this up civily. I’m so tired of hearing how I’m a misogynist and traitor to my sex for pointing out that we can’t label all flirtatious attention as harassment and that a policy to prctect women shouldn’t include making men afraid to introduce themselves. I also want our community to move above sexism but I and others have already been shunned, insulted and diismissed just for asking questions.

ChasCPeterson
Guest

people like me satirising and making fun of people from FfTB, calling them out, asking difficult questions, pointing out hypocrisy and double standards, etc.

Where “etc.” can be interpreted as ‘generally being a bunch of juvenile jackass’s assholes’. Don’t forget that part. Edgy intentional cruelty as humor and lots of insider 4channy giggles about the Others. I’ve read your stuff, Tuvok; Jonathion Swift it ain’t.

Justicar
Guest
I am curious, dear Sam ‘lol, I troll my own blogs and insult the mentally handicapped’ when you say that you ‘knew’ the first to respond would be the crazies (not the FfTBers). Have you failed to notice that, despite your claim otherwise, the first response came from the FfTBers? Thomas Lawson is easily enough found in this glowing spotlight post by PeeZus Myers: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/02/22/why-i-am-an-atheist-thomas-lawson/ Moreover, if you’re sincere in wanting to reduce the insults women have to endure for being women, you should probably have a talking to with the FfTBers people inasmuch as ‘slimepit’ is *looks around* Abbie’s… Read more »
Justicar
Guest
Oh, hey, Sally Strange. Yes, I do see some inequality in the community. In particular, I note that you’ve gotten away with, “What evidence is there that the people who’ve been alienated aren’t people who SHOULD be alienated?” in a way that DJ Grothe couldn’t have if he’d asked about the supposed women who are claimed to be being alienated. And, um, please stop dirtying the name of my gay brethren and sistren by trying to equate the actual legal debarment of marriage equality we suffer to that of some women who may or may not be lying about how… Read more »
CommanderTuvok
Guest
Chaz: Where “etc.” can be interpreted as ‘generally being a bunch of juvenile jackass’s assholes’. Don’t forget that part. I’ve seen your name somewhere in the FfTB universe. Do you hail from the Baboon Board? If so, you’ve some nerve talking about juvenile behviour. Edgy intentional cruelty as humor and lots of insider 4channy giggles about the Others. What cruelty? Nothing compared to the FfTB tactic of bullying. I’ve read your stuff, Tuvok; Jonathion Swift it ain’t. The Tuvok-MKG co-scripted Laden’s Way won awards. Wittily mocking Laden’s ‘looking down the nose’ atitude towards his trailer park neighbors. Swift would have… Read more »
Justicar
Guest
Sam ‘I troll my own blog, and the mentally handicapped’: my statements are rhetorical. Indeed, if pressed, each proposition’s truth value is trivially demonstrated. Do learn to distinguish between semantic and syntactic reasoning, for this will be a curative salve to your misunderstanding of what is rhetoric. Nor do I much care about being banned from a program which out of the gate concedes it would prefer to troll its users, and the mentally handicapped, than to have the pretense of honest discussion. Again, I don’t hold this too much against you as you’ve not yet made the mistake of… Read more »
Justicar
Guest

Err, that first should have read ‘my statements are *not* rhetorical’.

Stretchycheese
Guest
Thank you for the interesting discussion on this issue. A female atheist blogger Miranda Celeste Hale wrote a great post a while back called called “Feminists can be bullies too” of which I highly recommend. http://mirandaceleste.net/2011/07/03/feminists-can-be-bullies-too/ I think her comments capture the essence of what many of us perceive as dogmatic gender identity politics that pervades much of the FTB at the moment. She wrote: “If a woman agrees with the major tenets of what is generally considered “mainstream” feminism but doesn’t feel comfortable calling herself a feminist (because of the baggage associated with the word), this does not mean… Read more »
John Greg
Guest
Sam said (to Justicar): “I’m asking you to watch your language usage. Understand it or don’t.” Sam, would you care to spell out your language usage rules? Or do we have to guess? I looked, but could not find a link that took me to any sort of diction guidelines. Seriously, Sam, if there are no diction guidelines posted, how do you expect anyone to follow them? I would also like to repeat the invitation to post at the endless thread at ERV. Yes, you might find it ugly, and/or offensive, at times. But despite the distortions and outright falsehoods… Read more »
Justicar
Guest
Oh, Sam. I’m sorry if I didn’t read ‘rhetorical’ to be ‘profanity’. Moreover, as I posted at ERV’s place (to correct Ophelia Benson’s chicanery about why I write one way at Miranda Celeste Hale’s blog and another at different places) is that I follow a blog’s posting guidelines. Miranda has one posted for people to read which delineates the rules of the road. I fail to spot a similar one here. Following your treatment of Michael Kingsford Gray, I’ve even clicked the ‘cast’ link to see if it could be there found, and it isn’t. I like discovery as much… Read more »
Anne C. Hanna
Guest

@iamcuriousblue, I posted the names of some of the relevant ERV threads in a comment on the previous thread, but now I’ve googled them up just for you. Here are the links:

http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2011/07/29/the-monument/
http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2011/08/06/have-you-ever-met/http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2011/11/26/periodic-table-of-swearing/

There may be others since then; I don’t really know. Once Abbie let those threads grow into what they’ve now become, I stopped my regular reading over there, and I now try to visit as little as possible.

Anne C. Hanna
Guest

@iamcuriousblue, I just posted a comment with links to some of the relevant ERV threads, but it’s in moderation because of the links. Also, I apparently typoed and two of the links got stuck to each other, so there’s that too.

The names I know are “The Monument”, “Have you ever met Kyle’s mom?”, and “Periodic Table of Swearing”. Google “ERV” along with each name and the post will come right up. There may be more, but those are the ones I remember off the top of my head.

Justicar
Guest
If one actually cares to know the ERV history of this saga, one should read Abbie’s original post ‘bad form, Rebecca Watson’. Do note that was July 1 last year. By July 3, she (and Miranda Hale) were already labeled as ‘gender traitors’. For those who won’t read it: Abbie was calling out Watson for pulling the same stunt on Stef McGraw that Casey Luskin (the creationist from Discovery Institute) pulled on Abbie at a conference. It’s interesting that she starts off linking and noting that one day those infamous ‘they’ people are going to take away her vagina license… Read more »
Thaumas Themelios
Guest
“Given the way most atheists feel about dogma, it struck me as unnecessarily combative to call out participants in this discussion as “dogmatic”. Becky and Sam might argue that “dogmatic” is an accurate description, but they’ve both just spent quite a while talking about how important it is to frame the discussion in such a way as to prevent the other participants from getting defensive. Thoughts?” [Answering a comment not directed at me…] If I were trying to use framing and to defend framing, you would indeed have caught me in a bind. Fortunately, I’m not using or defending framing,… Read more »
The Devil's Towelboy
Guest

You should all listen to Greg Laden. He spends 18 hours a day googling his own name hoping someone has mentioned him. Leaving non-comments in places like this linking back to his blog is all he has in this world. For pity’s sake, please listen to him…

franc hoggle
Guest

@Thaumas Themelios you keep pointing us towards a document at Stanford philosophy encyclopedia regarding the Prisoner’s Dilemna. You have reminded me of something else from Stanford that is also quite relevant to our situation: The Stanford Prison Experiment –

http://greylining.com/2011/07/17/the-watson-circus-and-reflections-on-the-stanford-prison-experiment/

In fact, I find it creepily relevant.

Daniel
Guest
Another great episode. This might be lost in the discourse or I might get in trouble for it but I think it needs to be said that both sides have their skeletons in the closet, just one side is better at not letting their skeletons get out. Its easy for us to point out misogyny in the atheist community and agree that it needs to change. Though, when it comes to the demonization of men it seems that its acceptable, at least in some parts of the free thought community. Why are things like “scrhodingers rapist” or ,every man is… Read more »
Bruce McGlory
Guest

“Why are things like “scrhodingers rapist” or ,every man is a potential rapist until proven otherwise, accepted so easily?”

*headdesk*
*headdesk*
*headdesk*

I’m no longer surprised at feminst frustrations with the atheist movement. What a bunch of dumb fucking assholes we are if this is the blatantly dishonest mischaracterizations of what has been said.

This is fucking embarrassing.

Notung
Guest
I agree with Bruce that Daniel has mischaracterised one side of the debate. However, calling him names like ‘dumb fucking asshole’ and so on does not help anyone. Perhaps he isn’t as familiar with the debate as you are. Perhaps he’s read the ‘wrong’ things and hasn’t read the things you think he should have read. This is what you were talking about on the show – one shouldn’t get frustrated with having to regurgitate and defend the ‘101’ material. It means that you’re a better activist. I’d also add to that that if we are continually made to examine… Read more »
Thaumas Themelios
Guest
“Why are things like “scrhodingers rapist” or ,every man is a potential rapist until proven otherwise, accepted so easily?” “What a bunch of dumb fucking assholes we are if this is the blatantly dishonest mischaracterizations of what has been said. ” And, as if I needed evidence that questions are not welcome, voila! the evidence appears without any effort on my part. This is an example of *tame* ostracism, complete with ‘mind-reading’ of intentions (“blatantly dishonest”; you know that for certain, Bruce? No possibility you could be wrong? You are certain enough that you’re willing to ‘defect’ on Daniel, someone… Read more »
Thaumas Themelios
Guest

By the way, I have already stated in a previous comment that I also do not support the snipes of folks like Franc, Justicar, et al. See http://askanatheist.tv/2012/06/10/the-problem-of-dogmatic-feminism/#comment-10027, in case anyone was still wondering.

franc hoggle
Guest
http://askanatheist.tv/2012/06/12/dogmatic-feminism-discussion-podcast-part-1/comment-page-1/#comment-10128Bruce McGlory (#10124) June 14th, 2012 at 06:00 has a spasm – *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* I’m no longer surprised at feminst frustrations with the atheist movement. What a bunch of dumb fucking assholes we are if this is the blatantly dishonest mischaracterizations of what has been said. Who needs “mischaracterizations” when you have hysterics like PZ Myers vomiting up gibberish like this? “The problem, as we’ve seen in online behavior by the self-centered pigs, is that there’s no shortage of men (and women!) willing to form a support group for misogyny and rape culture.” — Myers in a post about… Read more »
Jami
Guest

Thank you for taking the time to discuss a rather difficult topic in the atheist community. I’ve been wanting to see this perspective brought to light for a while now, and you guys are very brave for broaching the subject. The dogma and the shunning that often occurs around feminism is just disheartening, because I see people arguing with each other who are really on the same side and should be working together. As always, you handled it quite diplomatically.

Many, many thanks!

Sally Strange
Guest
I thought your cancer analogy was really funny, in a *headdesk* kind of way, Sam–you spent several minutes describing how “we’re all on the same side of this, but there are these deep academic debates about how best to approach it.” Then you stop yourself and say, “but I’m not trying to say that there are no sexists out there. I mean, obviously there are sexists, we’ve experienced them. There are sexists, and there are atheists who… are bad around women.” So really, you do appear to be trying to convince someone–us? yourself?–that there are no sexist atheists. I think… Read more »
Daniel
Guest

I would be happy to hear somebody explain scrhodingers rapist and why I am wrong about it. That is just how I had interpreted when I heard it a year ago, or atleast, how I had seen it used in discussion with others.

Thaumas Themelios
Guest
SallyStrange: “So really, you do appear to be trying to convince someone–us? yourself?–that there are no sexist atheists. I think mostly you’re trying to convince yourself; otherwise you wouldn’t be sort of going back and forth within the space of a few minutes, first saying “us” doesn’t include sexists, then saying that it sort of does, then backpedaling a little bit with your language by using softer language when you’re talking about atheists. ” This is a classic example of unskeptical ‘mind reading’ of others’ intentions (also known as the ‘fundamental attribution error’, or FAE. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_attribution_error). “you made it… Read more »
Daniel
Guest
Adding one more thing. I don’t think I am mischaracterizing when I say there are definite skeletons on both sides. I don’t think it needs to be said but don’t misunderstand, when it comes to changing the skeptic meetups to make people feel more safe/comfortable for everyone I am all for it. What I am saying is while we can get together and agree that misogyny is wrong and needs to change, I don’t think the same thing can be said for things that demonize men. We can point out the ERVs and the misogynistic posts and say its wrong… Read more »
Justicar
Guest
Notung, you might not have been around Abbie’s place July 19, 2011, 11:37 am. That was when PZ responded to Abbie’s actual really for reals stalker guy who the police didn’t believe really existed when Abbie tried to file a police report by quoting her angry response to people comparing her stalker situation with being as bad as Watson’s 12 seconds in the elevator of death and then recommending to Abbie that if only she’d read Schroedinger’s Rapist, then she’d finally take her place right at PZ and Watson’s side. Abbie wrote (as quoted by PZ): “Did you stop to… Read more »
RB760
Guest
Paul (#10069) Thanks for sharing! I read your exchange with her. I thought you were very reasonable and you kept your cool. For that, she called you a “poor, confused child” as a way to dismiss you, then she evaded the questions like a Republican in an interview. Also, this brings up another point. They called Richard Dawkins “Dick”, but they got upset when someone called Rebecca Watson “Twatson”. I know their response to this would be some rationalization, to where they were just using “Dick” as a shorter version of his name, but still, we all know what their… Read more »
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