I've Moved!

Atheist Morality is now West Coast Atheist at Wordpress. Stop on by and feel free to comment over there!

30 September, 2012

Innocence of Muslims

When news broke out that an embassy had been stormed and people had been killed over a shitty, 14-minute trailer to a pathetic, bigoted indie film disparaging Islam, I was pretty mad.

Free speech should be protected even when offensive! There are limits that have been argued in the Supreme Court, but for the most part, there shouldn't be any suppressing of free speech, especially if it is offensive. Muslims in the Middle East don't seem to understand that, insisting that someone die for this ridiculous film. There response should be to use their own free speech to protest or ridicule the moviemakers, not kill people!

I was furious. You see Christians in the US doing crazy things, but for the most part, when someone insults their religion, they don't burn embassies and kill diplomats. The Onion had a post that, by not mentioning Islam at all, said a whole lot to me about Islam and the rabid reactions to different forms of art they find offensive to their religion or prophet.

In the last few days, though, I've been reading some blogs, talking to people, and have had to take a step back to really evaluate the situation.

First, news broke that the protests might have been a cover for Al Qaeda extremists. Next, I had a few conversations with others that mentioned the Middle East is not a place of free information. They have been protected from legitimate criticism for so long that the influx of media from the internet, so readily available on so many platforms, has left them reeling with the realization that the whole world doesn't live like they thought it did. This is a double-sided coin, of course, because it means they can finally see opposing views, but at the same time, it might shock them into a frenzy because they are simply not used to being disagreed with about theology.

Finally, they've never been able to learn that there is a difference between the state and the government. It wouldn't occur to them that a shitty, bigoted, low-budget film wouldn't be made by the government with the help and support of the majority of US Americans. In a way, this really is the "Innocence of Muslims." They have been sheltered to the point of ignorance about things like free speech, independent film, freedom of expression, etc.

Have I reversed my view? No, not really. I'm on the fence because I can point to this and say it's kind of a cop-out. People should know better than to kill other human beings over a movie, no matter how offensive it is. Then again, we've been over there killing innocent people for decades.

If Al Qaeda really was behind this and the reports of Muslims speaking out against the violence is true, then that definitely pushes me one way more than any new information could point me back toward my original, gut feelings about this incident. I'm not saying that I'm endorsing or excusing the violence, just that perhaps I was too hasty to jump down Islam's throat over this and should have waited for more information. If there's no Al Qaeda link, the killers are still at fault, but with the new perspective on their ignorance of criticism, I suppose I can at least see how a crowd like that could come together and start rioting. After all, rioting happens after football matches in the UK and no one blames the sport.

I want to know what you think. Is there enough to the US government's claim that Al Qaeda was behind this? If not, is the inability of the Middle East to handle insults a fault of Islam or simply a bi-product of their enforced ignorance? Perhaps a mixture of both? Would more denigrating images and movies create more rage or would it eventually desensitize Muslims in the Middle East? Have I missed anything else?

Leave your thoughts in the comments, as always.

27 September, 2012


I've gotten a lot of really awesome and supportive comments on my blog and I want to make a concerted effort to respond more often. I do work almost ten hours a day, but I just went down to four days a week (you know you're jelly), so I should have more time on my hands.

As always, please forgive typos and stuff. Sometimes I post from my phone and things get a bit...jumbled...

I could easily fix that with proof-reading, but where's the fun in that?

Thank you for reading! :)

Blasted MRA Working Hard For His Family. How Dare He!

Fucking god damnit. I am not an MRA. I disagree with a number of things that MRAs stand for, but I am willing to admit that they get some things right sometimes. This isn't because I'm an anti-feminist. I recognize the damage that patriarchy has done to women and men. I'm an equalist (a term I just made up recently; feel free to use it), so I want a society that treats all people with the respect they deserve.

I see feminists try to tip the scale toward women's superiority sometimes and I see MRAs doing the same thing with men and manliness (Both sides are poor to Trans people and that's a huge point of contention with me because I do not believe in binary gender). Both sides say things that bother me sometimes and both sides say things that really hit home sometimes. When I am forced to defend one side or the other, though, that's when I get pissed off.

PZ Myers wrote this gem titled, Why do I Despise MRAs?, which has all the trappings of a classic PZ strawmania attack. After a diatribe about MRAs and taking a stab at Reddit (he really shouldn't be on the fucking internet), he describes a post "written by a smug jerk who is busily congratulating himself on how he and MRAs in general are superior beings with a greater grasp on reality than those childlike women, who are deluded by all those glossy women’s mags they read, don’t you know."

He quotes a self post that was made by a man who is dealing with a wife who has had trouble adjusting to motherhood. Does he quote anything representative of the post itself? Of course not. It's PZ Myers we're talking about here.

What we see in PZ's post is a male listing a number of things he does throughout the day to keep his family together because his wife is having such a rough time. He mentions his ten-hour workday and six-figure salary, which is apparently nothing compared to what his wife does all day. PZ writes:
This guy does nothing. His wife is on non-stop baby duty all day long, while he’s off interacting with adult human beings who do not poop in their pants and expect him to clean them up, and who speak fluently of phenomena more complex than “play with me” and “feed me”.
Apparently, PZ already know exactly what this man's job entails and as long as it's with adults who don't need diapers, it's nothing compared to what his wife does all day.

PZ continues:
This guy blithely tosses all the child care responsibilities on his wife for 10 straight hours a day, then claims he does everything, and can’t understand why she’s depressed and exhausted...
 He then attacks the guy for addressing a commenter who asked why the man doesn't just get a divorce. PZ actually attacks him for giving reasons why he wants to stay to try to make it work. 

Yes, folks, this man is stressed, his wife has a serious depression problem going on and PZ is angry because the man wants to stay, his first reason being, "We don’t fight and our home life is stable, so I think divorce would likely make things a lot worse for her." Damn him!

The husband lists a couple of other reasons, but they are all valid and honest and his feelings are his alone. PZ doesn't get to decide whether or not he should be able to have them or express them in the subreddit!

Just the post was annoying enough, but low and behold! The assholery going on was far worse than I imagined! I went and actually read the guy's post, which I'm convinced PZ failed to do.

Here's what I found, folks, and it's actually a very interesting issue because his family would actually garner support from a lot of feminists (unbeknownst to the FtB feminazis who wouldn't know a women's rights issue if they were slapped in the face with a uterus).

A quote from the self post:
Those of you who have kids will know that the first little while is tough, unglamorous and grinding. But what my wife had expected was this. She'd been trained by years of rhetoric to believe that motherhood would be a beautiful, tranquil paradise entirely composed of moments like this. The screaming, shitting monster who allowed us three hours' sleep a night was something she was totally unequipped to deal with.
What that is, folks, if you click on the links, is the hyped up, glamorized illusion of motherhood that was shattered for this poor man's wife. This is exactly the kind of thing that anti-feminists use to fight the liberation of women. It gets worse. You know that poor mother sitting at home all day with babies she didn't expect would be so hard to raise while her husband was gone for ten hours?
Two years later, she's back at work and still miserable. She's successful, but at the cost of not seeing much of our daughter. She's put on weight and she's bone tired at the end of the day. Every part of her life is a protracted battle against what she was led to expect in the face of reality. 
Yes, you read that right. This woman is now balancing a career and a family. She fell victim to the anti-feminist "Superwoman" ideology that says a real woman should be able to do it all. Now that her illusion is shattered, her husband is left hurting and confused as well, doing the best he can to make it easier for her.

So now the image PZ paints of a poor, fragile thing sitting at home all day babysitting is a bit different, isn't it? If what the husband does for ten hours a day is nothing compared to child-rearing, what is it exactly that this woman is doing at her job for however long she's there? Would PZ suggest she do a little more real work and stay at home with the kids? We're walking a fine line here, now.

The redditor recognizes that it's not his wife's fault for her disillusionment and is spot on about how she came to hold these lofty ideas about motherhood and womanhood. He deserves some credit for what he does, support for sticking with it, and a pat on the back for being brave enough to express his feelings, which men are told they aren't supposed to do in our patriarchal society.

And PZ Myers calls this man a "self-centered asshole."  Let that sink in.

I'd like to thank WoolyBumblebee from "Is God a Squirrel?" for originally tweeting this story. Go check out some other posts, including this hilarious one about women's subversive pants pockets. After reading the shit PZ was spewing, you all deserve a little humor. (Sadly, though, the pockets post was in response to an actual, real life person complaining about how the iPhone being made longer was a dis' to women). Cheers!

25 September, 2012

Art and Responsibility.

I've had some interesting conversations lately regarding rap and the behavior of its listeners. My own opinion is that young people often use music to rebel and try to take on the persona of the entertainer whose music they listen to. You see this with heavy metal, rap, emo -- just about anything.

What you only see with rap, though, is this projection of the artist's persona onto an entire minority group. Metal is not associated with all the ills in white culture, but rap is blamed for sending a message glorifying violence, misogyny and crime for black youths.

I've been a fan of gangsta rap since I was eleven. My parents were newly divorced and I was angry. I rebelled and the music was comforting to me. Not only did some of the lyrics tell me that there are people who have it worse than me, they also told me that I wasn't the only person who could get angry at life, parents, society, or whatever else it might be. I knew I wasn't alone in my rage, but there were other ways to channel that anger.

What a lot of people don't understand is that there is more to the lyrics than glorifying crime, chasing women and participating in violence. I could point to numerous Tupac songs that subtly detail the faults of a criminal lifestyle, or that simply describe the cynicism of a community still economically segregated years after the Civil Rights Act. People who write off rap as violent, useless music are obviously missing the point (and the people that say it's not even music at all don't realize how racist they sound).

Gangsta rap ended with the nineties. Hip-hop gained popularity, and while there are some artists still doing a tough-guy act, they don't have the story-telling capabilities of their predecessors and popular music has watered the genre into a hit machine where a catchy hook and lyrics about making money are mass produced to make more money. This, in a way, is more damaging than the entire era of gangsta rap, because now almost no one is talking about the social issues.

I know the objection I'll get next, so I'll jump right in and say it was the media that killed Tupac and Biggie. The sensationalism of East Coast/West Coast conflict resulted in what I suspect were crazed fans taking things into their own hands. A conflict in white music like that which occurred between Tupac and Biggie wouldn't have garnered as much attention. Our society holds a preconceived notion about the violence and aggression of black people. (After all, isn't it telling that Dimebag Darrell's death wasn't circulated for months as an example of why white people need to tone down metal?

This all leads me to the title of the blog. Despite the poor race relations in our country, if we put all of that aside, when is an artist responsible for the actions or behavior of their fans? Many people defended Marilyn Manson after Columbine, but are quick to blame rap personas on the destructive behavior of some black youths. Do artists have a duty to be careful of what they produce? How far does this responsibly go? Furthermore, just to be totally cliche, how does one discern that life is imitating art, rather than the other way around? Is it more or less likely that rap artists were describing an impoverished environment rather than encouraging one? And just to tie this post in with atheism, if your opinion is that artists are responsible for their fans, what does this say about Christian music and the bigoted actions of some believers? What responsibly does other secular music have in our society?

That's all for tonight. I'm about to throw on some Wu Tang and go to bed.

24 September, 2012

Stop Defining Me By My Vag

I'm tired of all the attention my vagina is getting. It does not define me, make me who I am or give me any merit over anyone else. I'm defined by my actions and choices, and if those actions and choices are bad, I don't get a pass just because I have a vagina.

What is with the pseudoscience move to link a woman's entire mental health and well-being to the treatment of her vagina? This "magic vagina" bullshit, peddled as feminism, is as damaging as "stay at home and be pregnant" bullshit from conservatives. Naomi Wolf has written a book that, according to reviews I've read, is a perfect example of this oppressive "Super Woman" garbage that has created a backlash against real, equality-seeking feminism. (If my local library gets a copy, I'll take some antacid and try to stomach this bullshit so you don't think I'm unfair attacking a book I haven't read, but I'll be damned if I'm going to pay for that shit).

What is a Super Woman? It's the idea that a woman must have a career, be powerful, and still do all those womanly things that her "role" requires of her in order to be a strong woman. It's apparent in the copy/pasta posts on facebook that list characteristics that normal people would find either unsubstantial or downright rude. ("My house is messy, so what? I'm not afraid to speak my mind, even if I'll be called a bitch" erm, that's great, but do you have any tact?).

This idea that women have to be in-your-face, tough and overweight in order to be happy doesn't help to retire the problems that women face, such as unrealistic beauty in media, the prohibiting of women on the front lines, the pervasive notion of women's weakness, etc. It just makes them look like they're trying too hard to be superior. What does it say to women who are naturally skinny? What does it say to women who like to be fit and exercise or who are staying healthy to avoid a family history of diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol? ? What does it say to women who like to dress up once in awhile and use those magazines for ideas rather than to project some false ideal onto themselves? (I'm not sold that magazines cause poor body images, but that the poor body image is already there and the magazines reflect what women themselves are looking for).

What I would like to see is a world where a woman can have a career, but no one applauds her for doing it just because she has a vagina. Her choices and actions should be judged on merit alone. Meg Whitman, when running for governor of California, was constantly introduced as a female CEO, because this is a rarity and so there's this automatic association with greatness because she acquired this position as a woman. In the end, some of her work was good and some of it was bad. Whether or not she'd be a good governor has nothing to do with her career as a CEO or her having a vag. In the end, she lost the election to a man who has actually done a pretty good job -- not because he's a man, but because his decisions and actions have brought about change.

My vagina is not magic. I do not possess some goddess-like quality that I can lord over simple males just because I can bear children and go to college. If I see a picture of a woman who is prettier, taller and skinnier than me (and photoshopped), I shouldn't feel pressured to pass judgement on my own self image or on her. If I end up having children and deciding to stay at home, I shouldn't be looked down on nor revered for not advancing my career. If I live with a husband and children and my house is clean or messy, it should be a reflection on the decisions of my family unit, not a credit to my own strengths or weaknesses.

In my household, my husband and I split housework to help each other reach our own personal goals and levels of comfort. For example, right now I'm working more hours and making more money than he is. When I get home at 5:45 in the evening, he cooks dinner. If the situation were reversed, I'd be glad to cook for him.

I am not my vagina. Feminists who try to glorify it are doing nothing for me or for equal rights.

23 September, 2012

Pagan Festival

Yesterday my husband and I attended a Pagan Pride Festival in Fair Oaks with a couple friends. There were talks on magic and the history of paganism, belly dancing and other activities.

Those who know me well know I used to be a solitary Wiccan practitioner. It was hard to join covens or be very open about it in the very conservative rural area where I used to live. I liked the ritual and openness of the craft. Rituals are created by the people doing them, not controlled by a manipulative hierarchy.

Many of the booths selling patches, bags and other merch had FSM logos and bumper stickers that included statements on the separation of church and state. Non-belief is often compatible with certain aspects of paganism because of this openness and many "orders" carry on rituals just to preserve ancient tradition. Belief is almost secondary.

That's not to say there's no woo going on at these things. A woman selling beaded jewelry explained to me that each item was charged during their creation and so a bracelet might have 12 hours of charge that came with it.

I was surprised, however, at how reasonable the prices of these different tools of the trade were. Online and at metaphysical stores, you often find some very inflated prices. I could have bought cemetery dirt for banishing spells for a dollar at one booth, whereas some online retailers sell it for fifteen to twenty dollars for the same sized bag.

I bought myself a white sage smudge stick and two feathers to make a fan. I also got some horns made of polymer clay and an awesome little masque with feathers and glitter that I ended up wearing to dinner, just for fun.

My husband was intrigued and enjoyed the day very much. My husband brought a pagan friend and I brought an atheist friend. We joined in with the closing ritual which was very fun and light-hearted, but you could feel the ancient roots of the chanting and burning of offerings. My husband's friend and I talked and we decided next time we all get together we're going to cast a circle because it's been years since I've done it and my friend wanted to know what it was like.

So I, an atheist, will be performing a pagan ritual sometime in the next month or two. It tickles me pink, really, but I think it shows how some religions are naturally more open than others. After all, how many atheists out there can perform baptisms or communion just for fun?

I'll be sure to include pictures of my tools when I dig them out of the closet (I still have all my homemade altar things for some reason). Until then, blessed be! ;)

20 September, 2012

Tour de Cure

This post doesn't have anything to do with atheism or morality -- just putting that out there up front. With all the Atheism Plus hullabaloo finally winding down, I don't want anyone to confuse my own personal activism with the main purpose of this blog (which was originally to combat the concept of biblical morality, but is now more of a general atheist blog).

In this coming May (I know, seems like a long way away), I'll be riding for the American Diabetes Association in their Tour de Cure ride.

I'm only doing the ten mile family ride because I'm an around-town biker, but not a serious cyclist. I am a runner, so I'm not totally unfit for the ride and I have months to train.

What I need from my readers is some ideas on how to increase my fundraising outreach. So far I've got the normal friends and family chipping in, but I want to get more people involved. I've already told my friends that I'll wear a Raiders shirt if I raise $500. As a third generation Forty-Niners fan, this would be a very shameful thing. Want to embarrass me? Chip in five bucks to get closer to your goal!

I'm trying to think of other things. Tattoos are pretty much out, but I am open to the idea of an ADA logo on my ankle if I can get my fundraising into the thousands. I've thought of offering to shave my head, but i wouldn't wish that on the world (I'd make a very unpretty bald person). If you have any other ideas, leave them in the comments.

Oh, and here's the link to my page.

11 September, 2012

Social Justice

I really wish I could give my thumbs up to the Atheism Plussers out there, I really do. I grew up learning about different cultures, the mistakes our country has made by oppressing minorities and women, caring about people, other creatures and the environment. I've soaked up all the knowledge I could about the activists who paved the way for me. Some of my favorites include Ida B. Wells, Jane Addams, and of course, Marin Luther King Jr.

My family are Democrats from at least the Great Depression. My Great-Grandma, who passed away in February at ninety-six, told me she'd never thought she'd see the day a black person would be in the White House after all the horrible racism she'd seen in her lifetime. I was taught early on to empathize and to care, that no matter how bad I may have it, there's always someone who has it worse who I could help. 

I've rallied, I've canvassed and tabled for campaigns, I've donated time and money to different causes. I've argued and debated, I've even learned when silence is the best response. Social justice is a big deal to me. I wish I could point to a Atheism Plus and say, "Hey, now that's something I can join!" But I can't. 

Atheism Plus isn't just a club within the atheism movement with a focus on social justice. The founders of A+ are well known for witch hunts, public shaming of people who simply disagree with them, and for being very dogmatic in their approach to solving said social justice issues. They've stated they want to start an entirely new movement that bars people who don't adopt their stances from speaking or being leaders in the movement. I can't get behind dogmatism. It's why I left religion.

There's the other problem of my atheism itself not contributing to my views on social justice. I had them long before I was an atheist. The atheism movement itself is a social justice cause as atheists are the most mistrusted group in the US. 

So, for social justice and charity, I'll just have to go to the groups I've already been supporting whose goals are in line with my own (that I had long before I was an atheist). Kiva, American Red Cross, American Diabetes Association, American Cancer Society, California Young Democrats, and many others. If these causes are something my readers are interested in, I'll be glad to cheer them on, but if their movement for social justice is the atheism movement, I see no reason to exclude them for not taking on the laundry list from Atheism Plus. And if there are atheists who want to join Atheism Plus to do some charity work, they can go right ahead, but the moment they come spouting off about how some atheists don't belong in our movement because they aren't doing enough or they're not taking the same position on social issues, those Atheists Plus aren't doing anything for me or their causes.

09 September, 2012

Reading This, I Gave a Sigh of Relief

Russell Blackford at Talking Philosophy has an excellent post titled, On Vitriol and Mockery, where he continues his thoughts from a previous post. The post does well to describe the problems and benefits that come with using mockery to address misinformed opinions or judgements that are outright wrong. He points out that most of us are not very good at it and that the instances where this tool is useful are usually much less frequent than we imagine.

It's a very good post and I'm not a good enough writer to try to summarize it here, so go read it yourself. I'm still reading through the Tauriq Moosa articles he linked to: Part 1 and Part 2. Enjoy!

Email From Ronald Lindsay

UPDATE: I'm editing here without changing the text of the post because my father always taught me to take responsibility for what I say and write. I take back the statement that "someone is benefitting from a man not recognizing sexism." Lindsay clearly stated that Hensley's tweets could be interpreted as impugning the motives of Sara Mayhew and that is good enough for me because Hensley was, in fact, speaking for herself and not CFI. In a work environment, she would have been fired from any self-respecting organization, but this wasn't a work environment, even though such public positions can cause confusion. I apologize for my part in that.

Here is the text of the response I received from CFI regarding Melody Hensley's behavior:

"Dear Ms. Graham:

Your e-mail to the Center for Inquiry’s general inbox has been forwarded to me. Thank you for sharing your concerns.

First, permit me to say something about CFI’s general approach to discussion of controversial matters. We favor discussion. Candid, reasoned discussion is the most reliable means of determining which point of view may have merit.

However, we strongly believe that it is the merits of a position that should be the subject of the discussion. Personal attacks, insult, and invective inhibit discussion; they do not advance it.

Similarly, impugning someone’s motives is almost always, at best, an irrelevant sidetracking of a discussion. (There may be exceptions, such as pointing out that a favorable report on a drug has been funded by the pharmaceutical company manufacturing the drug, but again, this is the exception, not the rule.)

Let me turn now to the subject of your complaint, namely Melody Hensley’s tweet. To begin, Ms. Hensley was tweeting in her personal capacity, not as a representative of CFI. She uses her CFI-DC twitter account for official statements. That said, I recognize this distinction will not necessarily prevent people from attributing her personal comments to CFI.

With respect to the substance of the tweet, I would not characterize Ms. Hensley’s tweet either as “sexual harassment” or gender-based harassment. The tweet does not constitute a severe or outrageous denigration of another person on the basis of their sex. Rather, it is a criticism of viewpoints advanced by others.

However, the tweet could be interpreted as impugning the motives of those with whom Ms. Hensley disagrees. To the extent this is an accurate interpretation of the tweet, CFI regrets the implication. As indicated above, CFI does not consider the impugning of motives (again, absent evidence and relevance) to be a proper tactic in an exchange of views.

I hope this addresses your concern.

Very truly yours,

Ronald A. Lindsay"

Here is the text of my response. It speaks for itself, though I must point out here the irony that there is someone here who is clearly benefitting from a man not recognizing sexism, and it's not me:

"Dear Mr. Lindsay,

While I disagree that accusing someone of garnering attention of males for the sake of getting speaking attention constitutes a criticism of opposing views, I do thank you for clarifying that Ms. Hensley was speaking for herself and not CFI when she made those hurtful and baseless remarks on a public platform (which, to be fair, she erased). Thank you for taking the time to write me back.


Katie Graham"

Fighting for Women

A few years ago in an English class, after being broken into groups to discuss an essay, the conversation wound its way from feminism to rape. It was a small junior college in a small, conservative town full of bible-thumpers and rednecks who rarely ventured eight miles outside of the town they were born in. I wasn't actually surprised to hear the derogatory remarks that I heard, but it was still appalling.

"Why don't women just stop talking about rape, already? We know about it, we've fixed it. Feminists need to move on." Those weren't the exact words, but you get the gist. I lost it. I hadn't even admitted to myself at that time that the two incidents in my life of forced or coerced penetration had actually been rape, but their words still hit me.

I had invited the director of the Women's Center to speak at my Human Services class the previous semester. I had learned about an awesome awareness program called My Strength, which worked to clarify the definition of consent and give men a place to ask questions without judgement. Even with this knowledge, I didn't know that what had happened to me was a violation.

My attitude toward those girls was hostile, to say the least. It struck a chord and my voice raised and I was angry. I regret that today because all they really needed was an example -- an example I couldn't give them because I didn't know.

I bring this up because I'm constantly being equated with MRA's who don't want women talking about rape, trolls who make accounts on twitter just to get a rise out of feminist activists, and have been told I'm a traitor to my sex for speaking out against the hostility I see coming from some feminist activists. It's been implied that the group of people I connect with online are rape apologists because we think humor can bring sensitive subjects out into the light of day and get people thinking.

I'll be damned if I'm going to just shut up about this behavior and these unwarranted attacks. I know the discomfort of a random person touching my body without consent. I know the sting of a partner I trusted crossing "that" line and then laughing in my face, telling me to stop being a baby. I know the fucking difference between a stranger asking me for coffee and a friend giving me alcohol (and who knows what else) and suddenly finding myself far from where we started, not knowing how I got there.

I know the difference between a city street in broad daylight and the terror that was my own apartment. I know the difference between the warm welcomes of like-minded people at different conventions and the dark walk to my car after the festivities.

Yes, sometimes people are dicks at these things. Yes, there are disgusting trolls on the internet. Yes, there are people, even women, who don't want to talk about rape. But fuck you for lumping me in with those people for doing things like defending DJ Grothe or laughing at a Louie CK routine. Fuck you for trying to silence me when I don't find the low-brow humor on reddit to be the same as being threatened. Fuck you for the awesome women you've silenced while insisting you fight for women's voices. Fuck you for the people who are actually doing something about atheism in this country that you've tried to tear down to further your own internet fame.

And finally, fuck you for all the women who can't talk about rape and sexism because you've clouded the issue so much with your sheltered, privileged bullshit that no one can see the forest through the trees. Seriously. Fuck you.

08 September, 2012

Feminists Attacking Women

While doing the twittering today, I stumbled upon an incredibly well written blogpost by Sara Mayhew that did a great job of detailing why a person might be turned off by the nasty rhetoric of certain atheist feminists, but also really hit the nail on the head when it comes to my own views about feminist equality in the skeptic community.

She writes:
The message of Dr. Hall’s shirt resonates with me because it addresses the most important thing to me about feminism and equality; that you can’t make assumptions about my thoughts, feelings, and experiences based on my gender. I don’t consider myself part of a subset of skeptics because I’m a woman. What I want is to be viewed as a human individual. My experiences aren’t going to be the same as yours just because we share the same gender.
At the bottom of the blogpost you'll see an update with some screenshots. I invite you to take a good look. Surly Amy herself tweets:
I'd make 1for @saramayhew 2 but she would then have to buy matching shoes&take instagrams and Id hate 2 waste her whole night. @CaraColeen
Buy matching shoes? Waste her whole night? If that's not stereotyping and denigrating to women, then I don't know how Surly Amy can be pissed off about a fucking shirt that expresses a person's desire to be known for their mind and not their vag.

Chiming in shortly after is CFI-DC director Melody Hensley.
@SurlyAmy @CaraColeen @saramayhew "Hey. I can get more attention, speaking gigs, and the bys will like me if I keep ragging on Skepchicks!"
All I have to say is WOW. I decided to tweet Melody Hensley to see if she had any idea that what she was doing is sexual harassment. I got blocked for my efforts. I wrote:
.@MelodyHensley You know what my job calls accusations of using male attn to climb the ladder? Sexual harassment. @saramayew
Well, I've sent a strongly worded letter to info@centerforinquiry.net because (obviously) sending it to the Director of CFI-DC will get nowhere. Feel free to do the same. Here's mine:
To whom it may concern,

I'd just like to let you know that I am shocked and appalled that the Director of CFI-DC would participate in the sexual harassment of a woman on twitter. 

Melody Hensley implied that because Sara Mayhew wrote a blog post defending a prominent skeptic for her views on gender equality, Sara was somehow using the controversy to garner male attention to get speaking gigs. 

Here is the blog post, with updates that include screenshots of Melody Hensley making the damaging accusation: 

I hope you treat this situation with as much seriousness as it deserves. I respect CFI very much and would hate to lose respect for an organization that does so much good, including the Intelligence Squared debates.

Thank you,

Katie Graham

03 September, 2012

Shit Like This, Atheism+

Being a student of ASL and a friend of people in the Deaf community around Sacramento, when I heard the controversy of A+Scribe, I immediately thought of the campaign CaptionTHIS, which is a movement to influence major internet sites with video to make closed captioning available universally. For some reason, A+Scribe feels it would be better to transcribe people's work without bothering too much about permission from the content owner and hosting it on their own site, generating traffic for themselves and saying that the content owner can go ahead and link to the A+Scribe site if they want.

Justin Vacula has a great video regarding the comments in a post on Freethought Blogs that will give you an idea of why a transcription service affiliated with Atheism+ might be controversial (even though A+Scribe insists it is not part of Atheism+), and what suggestions were made to resolve the issue of permission and copyright on the transcribed videos. Justin also reads the comments by Greta Christina flies off the handle for no reason and then makes a not-apology to the person who originally suggested that A+Scribe contact the content owners before transcribing the videos. I suggest you watch that video in its entirety (it's about 20 minutes) if you don't have any background on the issue.

Knowing about the CaptionTHIS campaign, I decided I'd ask the A+scribe twitter account what they thought. After all, with the controversy surrounding A+, one would think an already established, uncontroversial and unbiased group might do better to resolve these issues. A+ is so interested in social justice, but their first pet project is to start an A+ organization that is admittedly willing to disregard the wishes of content owners in order to reach their goal. It's sad.

After just one tweet to @aplusscribe, I got a knee-jerk, condescending response from user @many_miles_2_go.

So here's just one more example out of many over the last year where someone has asked a question or offered a solution to a controversy only to be treated like a troll and insulted. Here's an image of the conversation I put together. See for yourself.

A+Scribe and I didn't get to an agreement. It eventually descended into being told that A+ is all about defending people from the trolls and misogynists that are apparently running rampant as leaders of the atheist movement, and they ended up asking me if we could just leave Atheism+ alone (what exactly are we doing other than criticizing their divisiveness)? It got a little bizarre and they couldn't actually tell us what we were doing wrong other than pointing to the anonymous trolls that not only don't represent the detractors of A+ or of atheism, but are found in every demographic on the internet. I let them know how I get away with not being trolled (ignore the bastards and they have nothing to do), but I suspect the advice will fall on unwilling ears.