Standing Up to Gender Bullying

5 Jan

You’ve probably seen this Tumblr post already, but I thought I’d share it anyway.

In summary: Kristen, a woman who works as a shift manager for Gamestop, recently witnessed a father trying to bully his son, age 10–12, out of buying a purple game controller along with a game with a female protagonist. Luckily, the boy’s elder brother, a high school wrestler,  stepped in and stood up to the man. Kristen also comforted the boy by assuring him that “There’s nothing wrong with what you like. Even if it’s different than what people think you should.”

Kudos to the big brother for not only standing up to his bully of a father but encouraging his younger brother to be himself. And of course Kristen, who is already challenging gender stereotypes simply by working in such a male-dominated environment, deserves praise for being brave enough to give comfort to a kid who needed it despite the fact that the child’s father had shown himself to have anger issues and violent tendencies. I have seen many kids being treated poorly by their parents in my years working retail and waiting tables. It is all too easy to look the other way for fear of pissing off the customer and getting in trouble.

Last but not least of all, a big hug and hearty pat on the back to the victim of the gender bullying himself. Not many 10-year-olds have the courage to say simply, “This is what I want, ok?” while being bullied, especially when the person doing the bullying is an authority figure threatening violence.

Given the recent backandforth over the Riley Maida video, I thought sharing a post where the victim of the gender bullying is male would help illustrate that we who support Riley and her argument are fighting for more than just a toy aisle that has colors besides just pink in it. We’re fighting to stop what those segregated aisle’s often lead to: gender stereotyping and bullying.

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57 Responses to “Standing Up to Gender Bullying”

  1. Ben Radford January 5, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    Bravo to Kristen and the kid’s brother… It’s amazing that anyone would get upset over a purple game controller. Why in the world would a father or anyone else care what color the thing is? If the kid was about 12, his father would probably be in his 30s or 40s, I’d think. You might expect that sort of gender-stereotyped bullshit from someone in their 70 or 80s who grew up in the 1950s, but from someone younger? Ridiculous. As Julia noted, he probably has emotional and anger issues or something.

    • julian January 6, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

      Not comfortable speculating on whether the man has anger management problems but

      Who the fuck doesn’t like purple?! It’s the most awesome fucking color on the spectrum!

    • Sally Strange (@SallyStrange) January 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

      Yeah… it’s so weird, isn’t it, that these “gender role” thingies STILL EXIST and cause people to express judgments about the colors of toys children choose!! It’s almost like Riley the 3-year-old was on to something!

  2. shefightslikeagirl January 5, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    Gives one hope. 🙂

    Julia, could you explain for me what you mean by “gender bullying on the other foot”? I don’t quite follow. Thanks.

    • Julia Lavarnway January 5, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

      I only meant that these last few days with the whole Riley on Marketing thing we’ve been mainly focusing on girls being gender bullied. Here’s an example of a boy being gender bullied. Just reiterating that it’s not just about the color pink.

      • She Fights Like A Girl January 6, 2012 at 12:38 am #

        Okay, thanks. It just sounded a little strange, like when people say “reverse [whatever].” Bullying is…bullying. I hope in this case the kid sees the literally thousands of reblogs on this story and feels armored.

        • Julia Lavarnway January 6, 2012 at 11:02 am #

          Now that you point it out and I’m giving it more thought, titling this post “Gender Bullying on the Other Foot” wasn’t wise. It made sense to me at the time in relation to the whole Riley Maida debate, but taken out of that context it more easily implies a gender bully being gender bullied him-/herself or something like that. Thanks for making me think about it a little more critically, DC. I’m going to change it.

          • SheFightsLikeAGirl January 6, 2012 at 11:13 am #

            I like the change; makes it less “male v female” and more “bullies v everyone else.”

  3. slpierce January 6, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    The father’s attitude might amaze some, but just from what I’ve read on comments here, on SkepChick, and pretty much all over the web lately, this kind of thing happens a lot, from playgrounds on up. I myself have stood up for my nephews when their fathers (in their 30s and 40s) have expressed contempt or have mocked the boys for anything that the boys like that is “meant for girls.” No violence, not even the threat of it, thankfully.

    I know that anecdotes aren’t evidence, exactly, but considering that I have 4 nephews, with 3 fathers among them, 2 of whom have had bad attitudes about their sons liking “girly” things – this leads me to believe that these attitudes might be pretty pervasive. Please note that I am coming from more of a feminism/social justice angle, less of a straight-up science angle.

    I’m not saying, nor would I ever say, that marketing is the sole reason for these sorts of gender-norming attitudes, but they are part of it. These attitudes aren’t created in a vacuum.

    I love that there are people (including the older brother, who had to go home with this guy) who are willing to stand up for those who don’t want to be put into strict gender categories. And I love people like the younger brother, who stands up for what he wants, even while crying. And my oldest nephew, who once said, “Yeah, I want a tea set. So what?”

    • SheFightsLikeAGirl January 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

      I agree. I still see this sort of thing fairly regularly myself. (I sew, and I regularly see males of all ages getting teased by their families, and the staff, at craft stores.) It speaks well of the older brother for several reasons, including the fact that he’s not at all shy about showing his nurturing side.

      My occasional disappointment is when our conversations about these situations get framed as Male Issues or Female Issues, rather than Human Issues. Clearly, people get it from both sides.

  4. John Greg January 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    Hmm.

    It seems to me that the original post is just a bit too nice to be completely believable. Doesn’t anyone else feel that this story is just a tad apocryphal?

    Yes it is a good thing to criticise bullying, of any kind. Yes it is a good thing to expose such discomfitting behaviour. Nonetheless, I am skeptical.

    I try to practice critical thinking, not overly successfully I might add — it is hard work. When I come across a story that just sounds too good to be true, and that describes a range of behaviours (the original poster’s) that in my experience (singular and anecdotal, I know) only exist in hindsight and fiction, I tend to question its authenticity.

    I see no one here or there has yet questioned the authenticity and/or veracity of the original poster’s tale. Some questions:

    1. On what grounds do we assume that this story is true?
    2. On what grounds do we base that judgement on?
    3. On what grounds do we assume that this is not an apocryphal tale?

    There is, in my opinion, a disturbing trend in all of the various so-called skeptic community blogs I visit, to wit:

    1. A marked and increasing lack of or avoidance of critical thinking.
    2. A conscious, dogmatic, and intentional shaming of bloggers and commenters who practice critical thinking and legitimate skepticism, especially when it does not follow the given blog’s ideological paradigm.
    3. An intentional avoidance of skeptical perspective in favour of community support and ideological conformity.
    4. A lack of demand for evidence over unsubstantiated anecdotal claims.

    One of the most important, perhaps the single most important aspect of being a skeptic is to practice rigorous critical thinking. And such behaviour is becoming increasingly hard to find in the online so-called skeptic community.

    On the positive side, I would like to join the voices supporting Julia for acknowledging that “it’s not just about the color pink”.

    • slpierce January 8, 2012 at 12:06 am #

      Shall we assume that the original poster is lying just because none of us were there? You seem to be saying that someone standing up for his little brother is too good to be true, that a sales clerk being nice to the brothers after witnessing such a thing is too good to be true. Seems less like “rigorous critical thinking” and more like pessimism, to me.

    • rroseperry January 8, 2012 at 12:55 am #

      Well John, the woman who made the post is on tumblir, so it would be fairly easy to go over and ask her if the veracity of the story is the main thing that’s bugging you here.

      However, if you’re using this particular story as a hook to express concerns about conversations in the skeptic community, go for it. Though, I think it would be more useful, to the point to actually give examples of the trends you suggest are problematic.

    • Julia Lavarnway January 9, 2012 at 11:23 am #

      “I see no one here or there has yet questioned the authenticity and/or veracity of the original poster’s tale. Some questions:

      1. On what grounds do we assume that this story is true?
      2. On what grounds do we base that judgement on?
      3. On what grounds do we assume that this is not an apocryphal tale?”

      There is a difference between being a skeptic and being a cynic. If your first inclination is disbelief without any evidence for that conclusion, you are being cynical.

      Occam’s razor tells us that the simplest explanation is usually the right one. A cursory look around Kristen’s tumblr makes it obvious that it is a legitimate account of a real person. (There are photos in her “about me” section, including one of her at Gamestop with her fellow employees, and there are many posts on the site on a wide variety of topics.) Are you suggesting that the tumblr account was faked for the sole purpose of passing a story around the Internet about gender bullying? That sounds like a conspiracy theory to me.

      • John Greg January 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

        “There is a difference between being a skeptic and being a cynic. If your first inclination is disbelief without any evidence for that conclusion, you are being cynical.”

        All good points. And yes, to some degree I am cynical of human behaviour.

        But what I am proposing is not to approach all anecdote as automatically completely suspect, but rather as neutral and inviting of critical thought and skepticism to determine to what degree it is true or not.

        “Are you suggesting that the tumblr account was faked for the sole purpose of passing a story around the Internet about gender bullying?”

        No, not at all. I am saying that the story sounds, to my ears, just a tad too good to be completely true. That does not mean I do not believe the original posters exists. It does not mean I think there is no truth whatsoever to this strory. It means I am skeptical of the strory being wholly true as presented in terms of the various behaviours exhibited by the varius participants. The good guys, so to speak, are wholly good; the bad guys, so to speak, are wholly bad. That just does not match reality as I have experienced it.

  5. nwoslave January 8, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    There is little to no chance this event actually took place. No boy will ask for a “girl colored” controller because children don’t associate colors with gender. A father will let his children get what they want and not demand a certain game which he probably knows nothing about.

    When promoting a genderless political agenda it’s best to keep the “tall tale” within the scope of possibility.

    P.S. I sell genderless striped flying pigs that readily recite Hamlet and weep openly at Mozart’s Requiem. Pixels make it true!

    • slpierce January 9, 2012 at 10:55 am #

      Children DO associate colors with gender, because of marketing and because of their parents’ opinions. You’ve never heard a child say, “I can’t wear/play with that – it’s for [the other gender]?” I have heard it quite a bit.

      And (GASP) fathers can play video games too. The father brought up “Dead Island,” which is a pretty popular game right now. Why do you assume that the father wouldn’t know about it? Or that a father wouldn’t try to block his son from getting something the father perceives as girly?

    • Sally Strange (@SallyStrange) January 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

      Just so everybody knows, this guy was named “Troll of the Year” over at manboobz.com.

  6. John Greg January 8, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    slpierce said:

    “Shall we assume that the original poster is lying just because none of us were there?”

    No, and I did not say that the original poster was lying. I merely presented it as a possibility — as is the possibility that the original poster is not so much lying as adding to the goodness, so to speak, of the event; gussying it up as it were.

    “You seem to be saying that someone standing up for his little brother is too good to be true…”

    No, not the brother, the original poster. And again, I am merely presenting it as a possibility, not an absolute.

    “… that a sales clerk being nice to the brothers after witnessing such a thing is too good to be true.”

    I merely presented it as a possibility.

    rroseperry said:

    “However, if you’re using this particular story as a hook to express concerns about conversations in the skeptic community, go for it.”

    Yes, that is probably my primary concern.

    “Though, I think it would be more useful, to the point to actually give examples of the trends you suggest are problematic.”

    That is a valid request; however, I think it can be satisfied by you, or whomever, spending some extended time following a range of posts and comments on, for example, any of the Freethoughblogs blogs. To actually go in a collect links to would be dauntingly time consuming, and would not really net any better result than time spent following those blogs.

    • slpierce January 9, 2012 at 10:50 am #

      You are the one bringing up the problematic trends. Therefore the onus falls on you to provide examples. Coming on here to bring up what you see as a trend of avoiding critical thinking (implying, from what I can see, that you don’t think that THIS blog examined the story critically enough) and then telling people to find their own examples of what you brought up reeks of concern trolling.

      • John Greg January 9, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

        “… implying, from what I can see, that you don’t think that THIS blog examined the story critically enough….”

        Yes, that is my thought on this story.

        As to providing some examples, I have provided three links in my reply to rroseperry down below.

        • Julia Lavarnway January 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

          There is absolutely nothing in the tumblr entry or on the tumblr account itself that gives any indication that the story was fabricated. You complain that the “The good guys, so to speak, are wholly good; the bad guys, so to speak, are wholly bad.” It is completely possible that the father was having a bad moment and that the behavior Kristen witnessed is anomalous to his typical behavior. But Kristen was relating one incident during one day in that family’s life that probably transpired over 2–3 minutes max. Not many people show more than one or two facets of their personality in a single incident/event/whatever you’d like to call it. Were you expecting in-depth character analysis? This is real life, not a Margaret Atwood novel.

          • She Fights Like A Girl January 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

            WHY is is even a fight? One person who wasn’t there says “I dunno, maybe it didn’t happen.” Another person who wasn’t there says “I think it did!” Neither apparently have first-hand knowledge of the reporter; both have exactly as much authority to make their claims. “This is real life…” Yeah? Are we all just going to dig our heels in on every single comment thread?

            • Julia Lavarnway January 9, 2012 at 10:55 pm #

              I try to be open to criticism and take suggestions seriously, whether with the blog’s name, tagline, and color of the font or the blog’s content itself. Most recently I changed the title of this post in part because your comments made me rethink it. I’m not sure why you have the impression that I “dig my heels in” on this blog as a rule.

  7. slpierce January 9, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    P.S. The author posted regarded the veracity of her story here – http://sweetupndown.tumblr.com/post/15385257095/answers-to-some-of-your-questions

    Not saying it’s proof, just saying your concern has been noted. And should anyone doubt that she works at GameSpot, she has pictures of her and her crew on the “About Me” section.

  8. rroseperry January 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    @John Greg

    Your response seems oddly disingenuous. I’m guessing, though it’s guessing because you don’t give any details, that you’re bothered by the recent discussions/arguments/flamefests on sexism in the skeptical community. I don’t understand why you don’t just say that. The only reasons I can think of (off the top of my head) are:
    1. You aren’t sure that what you’re finding problematic is going to be assented to on this blog, so you’re keeping a lowish profile, but registering your discomfort.
    2. You know that what you’re finding problematic is not regarded as a problem on this blog, but as a worthwhile and important conversation to have, but you don’t want to be tagged as a bad guy.
    3. Can’t think of 3

    It seems to me that if you want to have a conversation about trends, then you have to step and say what you mean, rather than vague waving in the direction of meaning. You wouldn’t have to dig up a pile of links. You could have done what I did in that first paragraph, so I’m not sure what your goal is here. In terms of evidence, I think that in the most high profile discussions – Elevatorgate and Reddit’s response to the young woman with her Xmas gift, there’s a ton of evidence that skeptics may not be as egalitarian as they’d like to think they are.

    • John Greg January 9, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

      rroseperry:

      My two primary concerns regarding what I see as negative and harmful trends in online skeptical communities, especially such sites Skepchick.org, and several of the Freethoughblogs blogs (for example, Pharyngula, almost Diamonds, Lousy Canuck, Butterflies and Wheels, Blag Hag, Greta Christina’s Blog, and The X Blog) are as follows:

      1. Fundamental dissent, disagreement, and criticism with the overarching ideological position of each of these blogs specifically, and Freethoughblogs generally, is highly discouraged and usually results in very harsh insults such as “I hope you get fucked by a dead porcupine”, and several other such charming phrases, and also frequently leads to editing of posts, deletion of posts, and banning of posters.

      The primary Freethougblogs argument for those actions is that deletions and banning are done to remove so-called trolls, so-called MRAs, and other strongly de-railing or disruptive individuals. The problem is that in the majority of cases, the actual editing, deletion, and banning occurs when the blog owner simply disagrees with or does not like the poster. And the terms troll and MRA have become completely useless in their extreme overuse by these folks: disagree with one the feminists statements, you are labelled a privlidged, sexist, mysogynist MRA automatically.

      2. On most of these blogs (blogs whose members we must remind ourselves pride themselves on supposedly adhering vigorously to critical thinking and skepticism), anecdotes from favoured bloggers and commentors, especially such individuals as PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson, Ophelia Benson, Jen McWreight, Amanda Marcotte, Stephanie Zvan, and a few others, are almost universally accepted as indisputable evidence and fact and any non-Freethoughblogs member or other irregular poster is vilified for, as I have done, questioning the overall veracity of such anecdotes claiming fact (as has happened here as well). Yes, there is the occasional disagreement from within the ranks of the echo chamber, but for the most part that is simply not the case.

      Again, I think it is important to point out again that I am not saying these anecdotes must be viewed as totally, or even partially false; I am saying that all anecdote provided as evidence should be critically questioned, before acceptance, to determine the degree to which it is factual and truthful, or otherwise. I admit to being rather confused that such a straight forward statement of what I’ve always understood to be a fundamental founding principal of the actions of critical thinking and skepticism should call up so much disagreement. Perhaps I am just not stating it clearly.

      Lastly, I have not provided links to specific instances because it is my opinion that almost any thread within those blogs will contain examples of what I am talking about. Nonetheless, here are three to get started with:

      a. (http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/01/03/mallorie-nasrallah-says-i-like-it-when-mencallmethings/)
      b. (http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/01/token-women/)
      c. (http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/01/03/so-this-is-what-skepticism-has-come-to/)

      • Julia Lavarnway January 9, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

        I fail to see what any of the above has to do with either my blog in general or this post in particular. I know that you wondered on another forum if your comment pointing out the pink (actually purple) background of my page would “see the light of day” (comment number 448, if you don’t recall). As you yourself have to admit, it most certainly did. So again, what does the above have to do with this blog?

        You conclude with, “Lastly, I have not provided links to specific instances because it is my opinion that almost any thread within those blogs will contain examples of what I am talking about.”

        Sorry, John, but “yeah, there are examples that prove my point somewhere in these thousands of blog comments” doesn’t count as evidence, and as far as “OH SNAP!”s go, it’s pretty weak. I’d like to see you try that on a judge in court sometime.

        • John Greg January 10, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

          Quite right, Julia, It does not have anything directly to do with this post, but it does answer rroseperry’s queries and implicit requests for clarification. Should I not have answered those queries?

          “yeah, there are examples that prove my point somewhere in these thousands of blog comments”

          That is not what I said. You are now actively misquoting and misrepresenting what I said with the implicit intent to misrepresent my argument and my point of view. You are arguing in bad faith. I honestly thought that this blog would avoid such intelectual dishonesty.

          What I actually said was: “”Lastly, I have not provided links to specific instances because it is my opinion that almost any thread within those blogs will contain examples of what I am talking about.”
          What that signifies is that in my opinion it does not require links because virtually all of the threads in those blogs by those bloggers present examples of what I am concerned about. But then I nullified my own reticence by presenting links — which you also ignored in your rebuttal.

          slpierce, yes, of course I see where you are going. As I said above, I was answering rroseperry’s queries and implicit requests for clarification.

          • Julia Lavarnway January 10, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

            How on earth can you justify accusing me of misquoting you? I directly quoted the exact quote of “what [you] actually said.”

            My “yeah, there are examples that prove my point somewhere in these thousands of blog comments” was not me directly quoting from you, nor was it presented as such. If you want to accuse me of misinterpreting your direct quote (which I did, after all, quote in full), go ahead. But you have absolutely no grounds to accuse me of “actively misquoting” you and “arguing in bad faith.”

            • John Greg January 11, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

              Julia, what the heck do you think quote marks are for.

              “My ‘yeah, there are examples that prove my point somewhere in these thousands of blog comments’ was not me directly quoting from you, nor was it presented as such.”

              That comment explicitly and specifically suggests that you are both quoting my words and my intent. If you had intended otherwise, you should not have used quote marks, and you should have so stated. And even in that event, it is still a incorrect misrepresentation of my comment.

            • Julia Lavarnway January 11, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

              John, I’m sorry that none of your English teachers taught you the various uses of the quotation mark.

            • John Greg January 12, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

              The reply cascade tree on this blog operates in a slightly unusual manner, so I am not certain where this reply will show up. It is intended as a reply to Julia’s comment: “John, I’m sorry that none of your English teachers taught you the various uses of the quotation mark.”

              Julia, I’m sorry, but you are wrong. I have degrees in English, and academic and professional certifications in technical and other forms of professional writing, and I have been a professional technical writer since the 90s. So, in point of fact, I am actually one of the real-world professional authorities on this matter (spelling mistakes notwithstanding, LOL).

              From myriad resource books in my library, I quote from two:

              The Harbrace College Handbook for Canadian Writers:

              1. Use quotation marks for direct quotations (other than those set off from the text), for some titles, and for words, used in a special sense.

              3. Words, not phrases or whole sentences, used in a special or ironic sense, are sometimes enclosed in quotation marks.

              Science and Technical Writing: A Manual of Style:

              1. Quotation marks enclose material spoken or written by someone other than the author, or they give a word or expression special emphasis.

              2. Use double quotation marks to enclose primary quotations, and single quotation marks to enclose quoted or emphasized matter with a quotation.

              3. Put quotation marks around words or phrases, not complete sentences, that constitute new or special usage.
              _____
              It should be noted that these manuals are fairly old (as I no longer have need of them and have loaned the old ones out, I do not own current versions of such manuals as Chicago Style Guide, or APA), and in most current style manuals this rule has been superceded; it is now suggested tha writers use italics, not quotation marks, to set off special or ironic material.

      • slpierce January 9, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

        No one on this thread has insulted anyone else. None of the people you namecheck above have even commented here, that I’m aware of. This site is not one of the Freethoughtblogs.

        … so… you see where I’m going with this?

        • She Fights Like A Girl January 12, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

          We certainly have differing tolerances of what constitutes insulting.

          • slpierce January 13, 2012 at 11:09 am #

            Do we? Who was insulted (before January 9th, when I wrote the comment), and where? There have been disagreements and discussion, certainly.

      • Cara January 11, 2012 at 12:53 am #

        Shorter John Greg: Women should STFU about sexism because shut up, that’s why.

  9. rroseperry January 9, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    John,

    I think there are two different issues at work here. One I partially agree with you about. People on blogs, all blogs, tend to dogpile and follow the pack when it comes to controversial topics. I’ve been online since the early 90s, from Usenet on and it’s just a feature of the medium. Being skeptical (on some issues) doesn’t insulate people from pack behavior, even though you think it might. And telling people to get fucked with whatever is seriously messed up imo.

    At the same time, some of the name-calling that arose on the threads you linked came after someone had raised a question and repeatedly ignored the answers. Or jumped feet first into the thread without bothering to see what had been written earlier, much of which answered their concerns. This starts to get on people’s nerves after a while.

    The worst behavior, imo, is on Pharaygula, where PZ encourages a free-for-all slugfest. People don’t get shut down for being abrasive and so that blog has that culture. Greta C’s and Stephanie Z’s tends not to get as out of hand. As far as deleting posts goes, if someone’s got a clear posting policy, I don’t have a problem with that. It’s their living room after all and they hold the type of conversation they want, with the sort of people they want. You’ll note that on one of the most intense conversations on Greta C’s blog (freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2011/12/01/mencallmethings-pathetic-attention-seeker/) the guy who got banned, only got banned after some fairly violent language and Greta told one of her supporters to lay off on personal insults and name-calling.

    The other issue about the validity of evidence for misogyny/sexism I think is fairly clear. On that first link, the anecdotes are flying in both directions, but I think it’s fairly clear that although some women have not experienced sexism in their skeptical/atheist groups, other women have. If you’re going to call anecdotal evidence into question, as you seem to be doing here, then all anecdotes have to be suspect.

    I’m still not sure what you’re getting at though, aside from the fact that people behave badly on the internet and some bloggers don’t make an effort to rein their respondents in. Are you suggesting that there aren’t problems of misogyny or sexism here or that the problems can only be real if they could be quantified in some fashion that didn’t rely on anecdote?

    • John Greg January 10, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

      I agree with most of what you say.

      One point, you said: “As far as deleting posts goes, if someone’s got a clear posting policy, I don’t have a problem with that.”

      I agree with that too, but the problem is that not very many of the blogs in discussion do actually present and more importantly adhere to a clear posting policy.

      “Are you suggesting that there aren’t problems of misogyny or sexism here or that the problems can only be real if they could be quantified in some fashion that didn’t rely on anecdote?”

      No, not at all. I just feel, rightly or wrongly, that there is a ever-decreasing use of careful critical thinking and actual intellectual skepticism in favour of dogma, narrow ideology, and emotional wrath in the skeptic / atheist / feminist community in general.

      And I think it behooves us all to be on the alert for that.

  10. rroseperry January 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    Jeez, I just followed that link of Julia’s. Fool me to think you didn’t have a history here or were arguing in good faith.

    • John Greg January 10, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

      Why do you imply that I am not arguing in good faith? Please be explicit.

      As for my history here, yes, I have posted a few times. I do not feel I have done anything wrong with those posts. Do you? Again, please be explicit. Your implications are vague and confusing.

      I must say I do get tired of being vilified for expressing these concerns, and even more so because along with the many other blogs I participate I am also constantly slagged, insulted, and vilified for participating in a blog that many folks find objectionable — guilt by Internet association, not action, strikes me as a pretty darn minor crime.

      • Julia Lavarnway January 10, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

        Are you implying that you have been vilified on this blog? If so, what made you feel that way? Please be explicit.

        • John Greg January 11, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

          Well, perhaps a tiny wee bit as in rroseperry’s comment “Fool me to think you didn’t have a history here or were arguing in good faith,” and maybe, to an even lesser degree, slpierce’s “then telling people to find their own examples of what you brought up reeks of concern trolling.” But that’s really just me being nit-pickety and somewhat pedantic and thin-skinned.

          Really it was more a sort of a sort of narrative sigh at the kind of misrepresentation my comments get on a number of other blogs I comment at.

      • rroseperry January 11, 2012 at 10:23 am #

        No, I don’t think that it’s your history here that’s the problem as much as the posts Julia linked to over on ERV, The attitude that you displayed over there, the dismissal of feminist concerns and the misrepresentation of incidents that I had followed (lurking) myself made me less likely to think that your motive here was a simple desire to encourage more critical thinking on these issues.

        It’s not a matter of guilt, there’s no crime here; it’s a matter of how you’ve presented yourself in other fora. I’m not vilifying you, but I have little reason to take what you say at face value.

        Finally, you’ve never made it exactly clear what we should be exercising intellectual skepticism about. Is it about sexism? Misogyny? Is it the emotional content of people’s posts, what exactly?

        • John Greg January 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

          Hmm. I posted a reply to this, but it seems to have gone astray. Perhaps I forgot to actually click the Post Comment button.

          Anyway, rroseperry asks:

          “Finally, you’ve never made it exactly clear what we should be exercising intellectual skepticism about. Is it about sexism? Misogyny? Is it the emotional content of people’s posts, what exactly?”

          Life, the universe, everything.

          In all seriousness, I think we should practice critical thinking and adopt some degree of a skeptical approach to just about everything — within reason of course.

          I think critical thinking and the skeptical approch should be taught in schools beginning as early as grade 1 or 2, and we should become so comfortable as to have it be deemed natural behaviour that we approach all important things we experience in our life skeptically and with critical thought well in hand.

          It is so, so, so easy to make the mistake of assuming our emotion and our flawed eyesight determine the reality of everything we experience, especially when such things as pareidolia, for example, show us so clearly just how flawed our unsupported perceptions can be.

  11. John Greg January 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    rroseperry said:

    “… the dismissal of feminist concerns….”

    That really is unfair, because it implies that I dismiss all feminist concerns, which is blatantly false. Yes, I dismiss some of the concerns that are often prominent on Skepchick, and some of the Freethoughtblogs because, in my opinion they are often fanatical, leaning toward RadFem (as in the RadFem Hub blatant misandrist lunacy (see: http://radicalhub.com/) ), and are often manufactured crises that are used to beat emotional breasts and avoid doing the real the work of concerted and difficult dialogue, disagreement, debate, and construction.

    I am not sure what issues you think I have misrepresented, but I suspect that that will only lead us to have to admit a disagreement in how we perceive these incidents.

    Although it clearly looks otherwise to many people on many blogs, my fundamental motive has for several years been to try and encourage legitimate critical thinking and legitimate skeptical outlook. What often happens though is two-fold:

    1. My opinions and perceptions are not always as well stated as I wish they were, and my comments are sometimes fuzzy, or incomplete leading to some misunderstanding — for the record, I find critical thinking very challenging and often fail at it; that does not mean that I should not proselytize it.

    2. My thoughts and opinions are quite often distorted and misrepresented by angry readers who are too impatient to actually parse what I have written, and/or too ideologically stubborn and emotionally angry to bother, and/or just to lazy to ask for clarification when they do not understanding something I have stated and simply prefer to yell at me.

    rroseperry also said:

    “Finally, you’ve never made it exactly clear what we should be exercising intellectual skepticism about. Is it about sexism? Misogyny? Is it the emotional content of people’s posts, what exactly?”

    Well, life, the universe, and everything, I would think. Seriously. I think critical thinking skills and a strong skeptical outlook should be taught in schools beginning in, seriously, grade 1, so that they become a thoroughly natural and consistent way of thinking about the world and our experience of it.

    • Julia Lavarnway January 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

      “My opinions and perceptions are not always as well stated as I wish they were, and my comments are sometimes fuzzy, or incomplete leading to some misunderstanding…”

      Maybe instead of accusing people of arguing in bad faith by intentionally misrepresenting what you said, next time you’d do well to remember this very quote of yours.

      Also, if your “thoughts and opinions are quite often distorted and misrepresented,” maybe you should work on bringing more clarity to your writing and, again, not jump to the conclusion that people know what your true meaning is and assume that they are maliciously misrepresenting that real meaning.

      Unless you say something truly earth shattering that cries out for redress, this is my last comment to you on this particular thread.

    • rroseperry January 12, 2012 at 1:12 am #

      John, I’m not sure there’s much point continuing this if you’re comparing the recent discussions on FTB and Skepchick to the RadFem Hub. The inability to discern differences in intent and ideology make me think that you’re not applying the critical thinking you admire to these issues.

      • John Greg January 12, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

        rroseperry, I am comparing only some, by no means all, of the various posts and comments on Freethgoughtblogs and Skepchick to the RadFemHub. Some, only some, by no means all.

        Let’s not fall afoul of black and white thinking or false dichotomies, please.

        • rroseperry January 12, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

          Well, let’s not.

          Why don’t you be explicit in your comparisons? I’m serious. Put up the evidence, otherwise I’m done.

          • John Greg January 12, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

            Okay, fair enough. But give me some time. I’ve followed many of these blogs for seveal years, so tracking down some of the choicer threads may take some time. I will try to get up at least three links by some time tomorrow.

          • John Greg January 13, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

            rroseperry, as promised here are three links to start with. I will try to get more for you sometime next week (in particular, rants from Greg Laden, Stephanie Zvan, Ophelia Benson, and PZ Myers).

            But, as I say, these discussions cover many years, and quite often one must follow a particular blog post and its comments for several days before the radfem slant begins to squirm through.

            This first link points to an article by Rebecca Watson on Skepchick.org that I think has some very clear moments of radfem bombast and misandry:

            http://skepchick.org/2011/07/the-privilege-delusion/

            This is a second article at Skepchick that, in my opinion, follows the general lunacy of the Radfem movement in overlooking rational discussion for the sake of emotional returns, misandrist shaming, and other frequently groundless nonsense — I am not referring to the primary focus of the article, i.e., the deeply objectionable comments of some of the reddit commenters, I am referring to Watson’s ludicrous generalisations and her and several commenters’ misandry posing as so-called feminism:

            http://skepchick.org/2011/12/reddit-makes-me-hate-atheists/

            Anything posted by skeptifem is guaranteed to be raging misandry, and she is an admitted misandrist. I incude her becaus she is a frequent and generally strongly supported commenter on Freethoughtblogs, and has been “interviewed” as a potential feminist heroine on Skepchick:

            http://skeptifem.blogspot.com/

            • rroseperry January 13, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

              John,

              I’m on a train on my way to LA for the weekend. I probably won’t have a chance to read the links or give you a substantive response for a couple of days at the very earliest.

              Thanks for providing the links.

  12. John Greg January 14, 2012 at 12:30 am #

    rroseperry, at the risk of sounding obsequious, thank you very much for engaging in this dialogue with politeness, respect, and honesty, even though we probably disagree. I am in no hurry, so please take your time in rebuttal.

  13. rroseperry January 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    @John Gregg

    Ok, so I’m back home drinking coffee and I’ve had time to read and think about the links you posted. I’m going to focus on the content of the posts and not the comments. I don’t think it’s fair to hold a blogger responsible for the words of the random and semi-anonymous people who comment on their posts.

    And I’d like to make sure you understand what framework I’m using going into this reading.You’re asserting that these posts exhibit radical feminist ideology and misandry. Radical feminism, in probably the simplest sense, has two main ideas, that the oppression of women is the fundamental form of oppression and that an analysis of patriarchy is key to understanding, explaining, and eventually getting rid of that oppression. Misandry, is a prejudice against men and is (compared to misogyny) a fairly recent coinage to parallel misogyny, which has a much, much longer lineage. In looking for evidence of this in the links, I’ll be looking for general statements against men as a group, not specific men or specific subsets of men. If that doesn’t work for you, I suggest you stop reading now.

    Evidence number one: Rebecca Watson’s post, “The Privilege Delusion”

    Watson lays out her development as an outspoken feminist in the atheist and skeptic communities. She specifically describes the incidents and the stories that got her to where she is now. in no way does she say, “All men are sexists!” or even “All atheist men are sexists!” She does say that it has been her experience in atheist communities with atheist men that have pushed her to speak out. Unless you’re saying what she said never happened, that the women who emailed her about their discomfort never wrote, that she made up that screenshot, there’s nothing to be skeptical about here.

    Oh and she says that she’s not going to read Dawkins anymore. She doesn’t call for a boycott. She’s made no organized campaign against him. She did point out that he pulled a classic derailing move when he wrote about what became Elevatorgate. And seriously, he was an asshole.

    There’s nothing particularly radical here, nor is there misandry

    Evidence number two Rebecca Watson’s post “Reddit Makes Me Hate Atheists”

    You wrote “I am referring to Watson’s ludicrous generalizations and her and several commenters’ misandry posing as so-called feminism”

    Ok, let’s take a look at the post. Watson says at the outset that the large subreddits are full of bigots and assholes and that R/atheism is no exception. Then she posts the evidence of R/atheisms response to Lunam’s post. And you know? They sucked. And what was worse, many voted up the most violent and sexist of the comments. Watson also pointed out the difference between the response to the young woman and similar posts from young men. She ends the post with the following quote:

    “R/atheism is a huge community of atheists, and here is an example of a young woman attempting to join it, to get more involved, who is sexualized and mocked for being a girl. Why would she ever want to be a part of any atheist community, if that’s how she’s treated? The next time you look around your atheist events and wonder where all the women are, think of this and know that there are at least some of us who aren’t willing to just accept this culture without trying to change it.”

    Again, not much in the way of ranting about the patriarchy or women’s oppression here. There’s also a commitment to the atheist community, to want to make it better. Where is the posing? Where is the misandry if she points to the real and seriously fucked up actions of people on reddit? If you’re whinging that she didn’t type “some” in her title or scurry about saying that all atheist men aren’t like that, I think you need to get over it. It’s crystal clear that she’s talking about a specific thread, the posters on that thread and the people who voted them up. If she were dismissing all men as hopelessly evil, she wouldn’t keep swinging away at this mess.

    Again, no evidence of misandry or radical feminism.

    Evidence number three: SkeptFem at skeptifem.blogspot.com/

    This was new to me, so I needed to read the FAQ. And yes, she’s a misandrist by her own admission. She’s also pretty clear about why she is. She also makes a very clear distinction – “It isn’t that I blame men who don’t do this stuff for the actions of men who do, but most men don’t seem to see anything wrong with it. The vast majority think that the milder behaviors in this list are totally acceptable and in effect endorse the shitty behavior of other men by not speaking up about it.”

    Ok, this is a fair call in terms of her misandry, but is it a fair call on her influence? And, is there not a place for radical feminism in skepticism? I guess that’s what you’re saying.

    But it seems as though you’re saying there’s not any place for even the most moderate and mainstream of feminism either, because that’s what Rebecca Watson is. You’re saying that every claim a woman makes of sexism must be scrutinized because apparently it’s an extraordinary claim, like Bigfoot or the autism-vaccine craziness.

    It’s not. Sexism is real and it’s pervasive.

    I wonder why, if you value critical thinking, you haven’t turned it on your responses to all of this. Why does Watson’s message, which is basically, “Guys, knock it off” so unhinge you? What gives here?

    I’m polite and all out of habit, not because I particularly respect what you’ve written. In spite of the long posts, I don’t think you actually think about these issues, except in a reflexive debate club sort of way. So I guess were done here, unless you want to start demonstrating some of that skepticism and less of that jerking of the knee.

    • John Greg January 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

      Well, as you have specifically described, defined, outlined, and constrained not only my points of view, but the intention and goal of perspective and motive, and so forth … yes, indeed, we are done.

    • Julia Lavarnway January 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

      So well said, rroseperry! Sarah (slpierce) and I happened to be having lunch together when your comment came in for approval. I read your comment aloud, and there were a lot of “Yes!” “That’s right!” and “Exactly!” coming from both of us. Thank you so much for your articulate and well-thought-out responses. I am very much looking forward to seeing more of your writing.

      And I just cannot help myself from pointing out this entry from Karen X’s blog More Women in Skepticism, which was the first thing that came to my mind when John thanked you for being so “polite.”

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