"If you said things a lot nicer people would listen to you! You're hurting the movement!"

Friendly feminists who usually say things nicely (and aren’t shouting, calling people male tears, all men die, smile quite often):

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All she did: Made her own vlog supporting women’s rights.

Recieved: Horrible comments about her appearance, people telling her to shut up, women and feminist jokes, the regular.

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All she did: Make her own vlog talking about sexism within video games and media.
Received: Death threats, rape threats, “not a reeel gammer!”, has had her pictures photoshopped into porn. 

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All she did: Made a vlog talking about female atheism and experiences within the atheist community as a woman. Had an elevator incident and said this in a neutral, if not light tone.

Recieved: Death threats, stalking, sexual harassment, lots of rape threats, accused of “poisoning” atheism with feminism.

Tone doesn’t matter. If you speak out, as history repeats, misogyny will rear it’s head. Angry tones do not cause hatred of feminism or misogyny. Misogyny just reacts badly to outspoken women.

PLEASE SIGNAL BOOST: Warning about Disabled Skepchicks Blog and Call for Help

Hedgehogs, I need your help. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that we need our help.

A few days ago, my husband brought to my attention that the popular skeptic blog Skepchick was planning a sister site for disabled people. This was apparently due to a kerfuffle (and from what I can tell, not the first one) over ableist language being used on the site. Excited at the prospect, I applied. Only the find out that the very first conversation in the comments went like this, verbatim:

Nancy: 

Hi Sara – what about a parent of one (or more) disabled/autistic children. Can they apply?

Thanks!

Nancy

Sarah: Hi Nancy! That’s a good question– I’d say apply & we’ll figure it out from there. :)

I’m sure I don’t have to explain to any one of you why this bothered me. But I spoke up, pointing out that autistics absolutely do not care to have parents speaking for us and even linking to the blog for Autistics Speaking Day. 

That post sat in the moderation queue for three days. When it finally appeared, no one responded to it. Not even Sarah, who is supposed to be running this site. I wrote another post, pointing out further why this lack of response was so upsetting. Aside from being accused of things I have not done and still having my concerns completely ignored, still I have not been properly responded to by the person who is supposed to be running the damn blog. Nothing. Not a word. As if my feelings and the feelings of autistics just don’t matter. I have, as you might imagine, withdrawn my application, because who wants to work with someone who doesn’t care enough about your feelings to respond to you?

So this blog is two things. First, it’s a warning. If this blog ever goes live, I caution you all to stay away from it. They haven’t even begun yet and already they’re showing oodles of ignorance when it comes to people with developmental and cognitive abilities and an utter lack of caring for our concerns. It very likely will not be a remotely safe or welcoming place.

The other thing is a call for help. Despite doing things like linking to Autistics Speaking Day, I’m being accused of speaking for all autistics, as if there aren’t actuallyhuge amounts of us who have very real issues with parents speaking for us. So I’m asking you, if you have the spoons, to please go there and tell them exactly how you feel about the idea:

http://skepchick.org/2014/02/disabled-write-for-us/

This warning and call for help is for every and any person with a cognitive or developmental disability, not just autistics. These people believe they have so much right to disagree with us that they can just ignore what we say.

Well, I’m tired of being ignored. I’m tired of being treated like I’m so little of a human being that my opinions don’t matter at all. Skepchick is a big enough site to do so much harm to our cause, and I refuse to sit here and let them do it.

I can’t tell you how much pain I’m in right now. I want to crawl in a hole and never stop crying. I want to sit on an island and watch the world burn. I can barely see for the tears. I’m scared, because I’m little and they’re big, and part of me knows I can’t win. But I can’t not fight, either. This blog has become too important to me. It’s helped me so much, and I know it’s helped other people. I can’t sit in silence while people who are not disabled like we are presume to make decisions for us. 

Because that’s happening every day and it’s hurting so many people. Even when I’m silent, even when I can’t cope, I watch. I see the things all of you talk about, the way you’re treated, how you fight and fight and people won’t listen and this…this was a chance for the truth to be heard, from our own mouths and our own fingers, and they don’t care. So I have to speak. I have to speak for all of us who have been abused, who have been killed. I have to speak because if I don’t, there’s no way to stop this cycle.

Help me tell them to stop the cycle. Please, I’m begging you, help me tell them that solidarity is not just for neurotypical people. That we are done letting other people speak for us. Please.

Watch on inside-the-monolith.tumblr.com

Can’t really see this enough times

Then women started telling me stories about sexism at skeptic events, experiences that made them uncomfortable enough to never return. At first, I wasn’t able to fully understand their feelings as I had never had a problem existing in male-dominated spaces. But after a few years of blogging, podcasting, and speaking at skeptics’ conferences, I began to get emails from strangers who detailed their sexual fantasies about me. I was occasionally grabbed and groped without consent at events.

And then I made the grave mistake of responding to a fellow skeptic’s YouTube video in which he stated that male circumcision was just as harmful as female genital mutilation (FGM). I replied to say that while I personally am opposed to any non-medical genital mutilation, FGM is often much, much more damaging than male circumcision.

The response from male atheists was overwhelming. This is one example:

“honestly, and i mean HONESTLY.. you deserve to be raped and tortured and killed. swear id laugh if i could”

I started checking out the social media profiles of the people sending me these messages, and learned that they were often adults who were active in the skeptic and atheist communities. They were reading the same blogs as I was and attending the same events. These were “my people,” and they were the worst.
Watch on amazingatheist.tumblr.com
Why ‘Feminism’ is poisoning Atheism

I don’t normally use my blog to promote other people’s videos, but this is an important one. 

“Don’t Feed the Trolls!”

What you think it means: Just don’t reply to people or publicize their insults and they’ll go away! All they want is attention.

What it actually means: Suffer in silence. Read those emails about what a fucking cunt you are and then quietly delete them. Go lay in bed and cry until you don’t necessarily feel better but can at least pretend like you feel better so that we can all continue our lives blissfully ignorant of anything bad ever happening. The abuse will continue to come, because they don’t want attention – they are bullies. They want power over you. They want your silence, and they got it.

This unholy marriage of rape culture with the cult of forgiveness means that some people forget that actions should, and do, have consequences for very good reason. Certainly, there are issues with the American criminal justice system (alternatively, the prison-industrial complex). No doubt, forgiveness on the part of victims of horrendous crimes is sometimes helpful to them in their healing process. None of that erases the need to hold people accountable for their actions, and in the case of Steubenville, there is no dearth of documentation proving that a great wrong did not simply occur, but was actively committed by people sure that their actions would never be taken to task. How else to explain the lack of shame, the creation and sharing of evidence proving the crime, the sheer arrogance expressed in said evidence?

Though punishment is not always a deterrent at all, let alone the best deterrent, allowing for the forgiveness narrative to allow people who commit staggeringly heinous crimes to walk away does not exactly send the right message to those who believe themselves to be above the law, or even basic respect for others’ humanity, agency, and bodily autonomy. Most people behave with common decency because they are commonly decent, but they’re not the ones about whom we have to worry.

When popular blogger and Skepchick founder Rebecca Watson was banned from selling merchandise at Dragon Con, emotions ran high.

I’m redoing my link to today’s article because as convoluted, hard to follow, and messy as this story is, it’s an important story. And for anyone in fandom, it tells you all you need to know about the Reddit-based corner of the Internet that carries heavy overlap with science fiction fandom and other facets of geek culture.

To recap: because Rebecca Watson got hit on at 4am in an elevator in 2011, and because she talked about how uncomfortable it made her, the Skeptics community has consistently demonized her, along with any other feminist and intersectional voices within the community. The community members have essentially made hatred of feminist-friendly websites into a meme, much like the men’s rights movement. And now, after Skepchicks were asked to stop selling inappropriate merchandise at Dragon Con this weekend, Skeptics have poured their rage at Watson & co into a legal “defense” fund for an accused serial rapist.

This is so far beyond the pale of the misogyny I’m used to seeing in any other Internet community. And it’s coming from a community that prides themselves on being laidback, unemotional, objective, and rational.

Also, one of the most respected Skeptrack speakers at last year’s Dragon Con is currently accused of committing sexual assault against an attendee at a skeptics con last year.

So, uh. There’s that.

"…At the moment, tensions in the community are especially high because of a number of assault allegations made in August, when both prominent women and anonymous women came forward to identify respected male community leaders as men who had raped and assaulted them while attending Skeptics communities.

One of these men is Michael Shermer, who is alleged to have a pattern of getting women drunk at conference parties, and who allegedly raped one woman by, in her words, “coerc[ing] me into a position where I could not consent.” The backlash against FreeThoughtBlogs’ creator, P.Z. Myers, for sharing these allegations has been severe, while community members have rallied around Shermer, who is preparing to sue Myers for defamation. One community member, Emery Emery, created a legal fund on IndieGogo to help Shermer “defend his name.” 

Until Watson riled up the community on Sunday, the IndieGogo campaign hadn’t gotten much traction. A week in, it had only raised $1500 of its $5,000 goal. But then a YouTube video by user thunderf00t called “Why Feminism Is Poisoning Atheism,” uploaded on Thursday, urged viewers to “contribute to seeing P.Z. Myers get sued.” It gained 40,000 views, and as #Tablegate rolled on, numerous skeptics encouraged each other to donate to the fund for Shermer as a show of repudiation of Watson, the Skepchicks, and FreeThoughtBlogs. By Monday night, the fund had exceeded its goal by more than a thousand dollars.” [READ MORE]

Do you have sexy questions but you don’t have access to Google, a therapist, or a close friend who isn’t a complete shithead? Send them in to Jezebel’s new sexpert, Karley Sciortino – AKA “Slutever”! The edgy name should give you a hint about the edgy content in store for you. If you’re lucky, she might not suggest you sexually assault someone!

In the first edition of “Slutever,” someone writes in concerned that facials (the kind with semen, not the kind at the spa, unless you go to one of those spas) are too degrading for women to participate in. Obviously this is a complex issue involving degradation, objectification, power dynamics, and OH JUST KIDDING you guys, don’t think about the implications of sex acts! Thinking ruins all the fun! If an act seems degrading but you like it, it’s best to just push all your negative feelings deep down inside yourself and pack it into a hard ball of self-loathing that sits inside your stomach forever:

I understand there are complex emotions involved in sex, so everything isn’t always black and white, but I also think that sometimes girls’ brains become so clouded by bullshit “feminist” ideals — “thou shall not be treated like an object,” “thou shall always be offended by men’s pervy remarks” (as if we are not equally adept at dismissing them, and dishing them out) — that we spoil our own fun.

Oh man, remember how much fun sex was before those “feminists” came along and ruined it with all their talk of a woman’s right to be seen as a real human being instead of a convenient hole? Oh, and that dumb “feminist” idea that it’s not cool for strange men to shout sexual come-ons at us on the street? It’s totally cool, ladies! We have the ultimate power of dismissal. Psh. “Feminism.”

(The “suggest you sexually assault someone” comes later in the article when the Jezebel writer tells a woman who wrote in to “never give up” on trying to stick her finger up her boyfriend’s ass during oral, even if she has already tried it and been shot down multiple times.)

I Did a Couple of Interviews This Week!

In case you want to hear me talk and talk, even more than I usually talk, I did two interviews with awesome gals this week! Topics discussed: How to become a professional writer, how to deal with internet trolls, how to develop your voice, how to not be a dick.

First, with Heina Dadabhoy for Skepchick:

I’ve gotten people who accuse me of things that are so off-base that they don’t upset me at all, they just confuse me. Is there anything you’ve been accused of doing or being that is so left-of-field that it has totally befuddled you?

One thing I (and any fat woman who writes about body positivity) get all the time is furious men whining about how I’m trying to “force” them to find fat women attractive. Settle down, boys! Don’t even worry about it! We will NEVER, EVER HAVE SEX. I’m already engaged to the world’s greatest dude who’s hotter and funnier than you AND thinks of women as human beings. So.

(Full interview HERE.)

And then with Hannah at The Pulp Zine:

Can you give me a little background on your career?

I graduated from Occidental College in 2004 with an ECLS degree (English and Comparative Literary Studies) and didn’t really have any ideas about what I wanted to do. Nothing had ever struck me, like, THIS IS MY THING. I studied English because I’ve always been an obsessive reader, but I never thought I was qualified to be a writer–someone who’s an authoritative voice, who builds beautiful worlds from scratch. I didn’t think I was driven or creative or interesting enough, I guess. So, after college, I wound up back in Seattle working as a cashier at the same place that had been my summer job. It was pretty demoralizing to realize that I was in exactly the same position I’d been before I worked my way through four years of higher education. At a certain point, it was time to take a leap…

(Full interview HERE.)

Also, I’ll be giving a talk—a Feminist’s Guide to Surviving the Internet—next week at the Women in Secularism Conference! More info HERE.

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TRIGGER WARNING: PRIVILEGE DENIAL, RAPE AND DEATH THREATS

For those of you that don’t know, Skepchick is a skeptical Athiest blogger who talks about a bunch of stuff, like Feminism, science and media and all that. She’s well known in the blogging world and has used her blog as a platform to discuss the misogyny she’s faced as a result of being fairly popular. A while ago she relayed a story about a man coming on to her in a lift, and she used this as a springboard to talk about why men need to learn to leave women in public spaces alone, especially confined public spaces. Perfectly reasonable, well made points where all she said (very nicely) was “don’t do that”. Here’s Dawkins’ response to that post:

Dear Muslima

Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and … yawn … don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.

Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so …

And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.

Richard

I don’t even know where to begin, but I think it’s important to point out Dawkins has attended conferences where Skepchick talked about recieving death and rape threats from men because of her blog. I’m done with this dude, and I encourage other Athiests to lok for new role models within the movement- I’m sick of these white, rich, het, cis men running it when they haven’t got the slightest clue about actual oppression or the mechanisms of kyriarchy.

Fuck you Dawkins. You do not represent me, my Atheism or my Skepticism. You’re a dick.

Watch on feminismisahatemovement.tumblr.com

Thunderf00t on Rebecca Watson’s tiny brain

Rebecca Watson’s declaration that she will now boycott Dawkins, in her article ‘The Privilege delusion’, for his comment in which he referred to the suffering of women in muslim countries to imply that Watson herself is privileged, made me wonder what the rules of using ‘privileged’ as an attack are. So I created this picture to show how it is done, in case someone invokes people less privileged than you to counter a ‘privilege’ accusation from you. I call this the triple-privilege attack.

Watch on scientiflix.com

Heroines in Young Adult Literature

The Heroines in Young Adult Literature panel at SkepchickCon 2013, the science and skepticism track of CONvergence, a sci-fi/fantasy conference held every summer in Minneapolis.

Panelists: Michael Levy, Kathy Sullivan, Joan Sullivan, Jody Wurl, and Ashley F. Miller

Copyright Skepchick.org
More info on SkepchickCon: SkepchickCon.com
More info on CONvergence: Convergence-con.org

Duration: 59:34

via Skepchicks.


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