Three posts on CFI about the Women in Secularism Conference – May 17-19

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My Talk at WIS2 – May 17, 2013

There has been some discussion, including many tweets, about my talk today at Women in Secularism 2. I think some of the comments have been highly misleading. One of the principal points of my talk was the critical importance of advocacy for women's rights, and how this advocacy was integral to CFI's mission. This is something I emphasized at the beginning and end of my talk. You wouldn't realize this from some of the comments. Anyway, here is the text of my talk (note the video recording may differ slighly, as I did not read it word-for-word; also, grammar and punctuation probably are amiss in places, as it was intended for my eyes only).

Let me begin with a reading, a reading that should be familiar to many of you, it's from 1st Timothy chapter 2:

“Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. 12: I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. 13: For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14: and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15: Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty”

If you take out the references to Adam and Eve and salvation, similar pronouncements could have been made, almost surely were made, across the globe, from one to two to three thousand years before Paul write those words. And similar pronouncements were common at least up through about 1800 in the Christian west, and analogous pronouncements are still being made today in much of the Islamic world.

The suppression of women, their treatment as inferior, subordinate beings has a long history, encompassing virtually all human cultures. When precisely did the subordination of women begin? We can't know with any certainty; some anthropologists speculate it began with the development of agriculture, and that a similar hierarchy did not exist in hunter-gatherer culture. Whether that's true or not, the fact remains that the subordination of women has been a critical and common feature of human civilization for thousands of years. By contrast the slow, and very much incomplete, process of achieving equality for women has been a phenomenon of just the last couple of centuries.  …

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A Few Examples of “Shut Up and Listen – May 18, 2013

So I gave a talk yesterday afternoon in which I emphasized how horrible it was that women had been suppressed for thousands of years, and, on many matters, had been instructed to remain silent.  As I stated at the end of my talk, this enforced silence robbed women of their humanity, and I indicated that CFI was committed to working toward a society in which the autonomy of women would be respected and, among other things, they would be free to express themselves however they wanted. 

But that is not what people wanted to discuss; instead, a number of people took strong exception when I expressed concern during my talk that the concept of privilege sometimes was being invoked to tell people to “shut up and listen.”  Tweets during and after my talk complained I offered no specific examples. 

Two quick responses.  First, my talk was over its allotted time limit as it was, and my concern about the misuse of privilege was not the primary focus of my talk, as already indicated.

Second, there are examples you can find on the internet through a few minutes search.  For myself, when I drafted this portion of the talk, the two examples I had in mind were a presentation on privilege that was given at the Heads meeting in January and a statement by PZ Myers.  I am not going to identify the speakers at the Heads meeting, as the meetings are supposed to be confidential, but if you ask around, other people will confirm that there was a lengthy discussion of privilege, and within that discussion there were examples of how members of  “privileged” groups should be quiet and just listen to those in the non-privileged group when the latter were discussing their experiences. …

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Watson's World and Two Models of Communication – May 18, 2013

Rebecca Watson inhabits an alternate universe.  At least that is the most charitable explanation I can provide for her recent smear.  Watson has posted comments on my opening talk at Women in Secularism 2.  It may be the most intellectually dishonest piece of writing since the last communique issued by North Korea.

Her distortions begin with her second paragraph, when she states that “Lindsay spends a good deal of time arguing against the idea that feminism as a movement has no significant internal disagreements.”  I expended about 200 words out of a 2,420 word text posing the question about whether there are significant divisions within feminism.  In other words, I spent 90% of the time talking about other topics.  The next time Watson asks me for a “good deal” of my drink, I will leave her an ice cube.

Second, she says she has never heard anyone take the position that there are currently no significant divisions within feminism, which I assume is fairly translated as no divisions worth debating.  Yet Watson is aware that just a short time ago, the organization Secular Woman rejected the Open Letter that was endorsed by most leaders of secular organizations, in part because it implied that there was a legitimate ongoing debate about the meaning of feminism.  The Secular Woman response to the Open Letterstates, in pertinent part:

“It is confusing, therefore, that this same letter suggests that a significant problem with online communication is centered on the ‘debate’ about the ‘appropriate way to interpret feminism.’ At Secular Woman, the principle that ‘feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression’ (Hooks, 2000, p. viii) is taken as a given, and not a topic for debate.”

Next, Watson claims the “crux" of my talk was the problem I have with feminists using the concept of privilege as a justification for telling men to “shut up and listen.”  This claim is false.  No reasonable person could possibly describe the crux of my talk as dealing with this issue.  Instead, the crux of my talk dealt with the millennia-long history of the subordination of women and how CFI was committed to working toward a society in which women would have “complete social and civil equality and equal economic and political opportunity.” . . .

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Written By: Ron Lindsay
continue to source article at centerforinquiry.net

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  1. Is this the same Rebecca Watson who refused to ever again share a stage with Richard Dawkins because he took the piss out of her for Liftgate? I wonder who that will hurt most? Given the articles above, I can’t help feeling more satire is one the way (well, if anyone can be bothered).

    • In reply to #1 by God fearing Atheist:

      Is this the same Rebecca Watson who refused to ever again share a stage with Richard Dawkins because he took the piss out of her for Liftgate? I wonder who that will hurt most? Given the articles above, I can’t help feeling more satire is one the way (well, if anyone can be bothered).

      I was telling an atheist friend about The Unbelievers and was a bit surprised when he told me he wasn’t interested in seeing it. Why? Well he has a daughter and doesn’t like what he sees as pompous, egotistical, sexist and misogynistic currents among the New Atheists. I was taken aback but he put me onto a couple sories on the Elevator story and its aftermath. I followed various trails through the blogs act. and the more I read about the response to Rebecca Watson, the more disgusted and ashamed I got of some of those people who even have public roles.

      I can’t wait to see or read where Richard Dawkins “took the piss out of” Rebecca Watson: please put up or… you know. Given how well Dawkins uses the English language, wouldn’t language like that be more appropriate on a bathroom stall? There’s been such a hysterical reaction to Rebecca, it makes me think there’s way more “men” suffering from castration anxiety (join Pablo Picasso) and who fear the vagina with teeth than I ever imagined.

      • So much mind reading going on. People so sure of others motives and identifying them as dishonourable. This is Minority Report pre-emptive thought policing.

        I may be boorish but my motives are clean. The name calling of “misogyny” based on imputed motives for an action that reasonably has a number of motives is disproportionate and net destructive of attempts at resolution. I may have lower empathy and social skills than you (I really do if in reading so far you have taken against me), but thats just part of the averaged out deal with my brain chemistry. I’ve worked hard to manage that as all intelligent lower empaths (more often men) do. But you high empaths with your “mind reading” skills sometimes don’t realise that those skills don’t necessarily deliver the right answer.

  2. Generally do just shut up and listen, it’s not my job to fix feminism. Would like to see the ideology become a bit more coherent and science based though because I already share many values with feminists.

  3. I’ve voiced my opinion on special interest groups before and I’ll say it gain. Equality begins with accepting that we are all human. I will support a human rights group but not a special interest group. There is only one fight here, equality for all and not equality for women or black people or gay people or disabled people or white people or brown haired people or left handed people.

    • In reply to #3 by aquilacane:

      I’ve voiced my opinion on special interest groups before and I’ll say it gain. Equality begins with accepting that we are all human. I will support a human rights group but not a special interest group. There is only one fight here, equality for all and not equality for women or black people or gay…

      An ideal position to take in an ideal world where human rights groups would no longer be necessary. It however fails to take into account that some groups have been getting the short end of the stick for centuries and another group – women – for millennia. This discrimination being based on their “inferiority” as inscribed in the “holy” scriptures of the predominant religions governing the lives of women all over the world.

      So perhaps at least the door should be left open to discussing whether some compensatory measures are in order to correct for this long-standing imbalance. To just give a pragmatic pedestrian example: imagine it were suddenly decreed that all women in Saudi Arabia were now allowed to drive. Should we just hand them the keys and say go for it? Would you consider it special interest pampering to provide driving lessons, especially lessons that compensate for the disadvantage of learning how to drive as an adult as opposed to as a teenager?

      How would you wish to approach the rape culture rampant in the US Armed Forces? Pretend that men and women are equally being victimized?

      • In reply to #6 by godsbuster:

        In reply to #3 by aquilacane:

        Should we just hand them the keys and say go for it? Would you consider it special interest pampering to provide driving lessons, especially lessons that compensate for the disadvantage of learning how to drive as an adult as opposed to as a teenager?

        This is a terrible metaphor for social discourse and comes off as hugely condescending to women. People take the lessons they need and as they see fit. Here’s my probably crappy metaphor for your approach. Before talking in public we need to fit these stabiliser wheels on so you don’t fall over and get hurt….

        How would you wish to approach the rape culture rampant in the US Armed Forces? Pretend that men and women are equally being victimized?

        Sweden gets it right I think. Every incident gets reported and broad definitions are used. But why is this related to the above?

        • In reply to #7 by phil rimmer:
          In reply to #6 by godsbuster:

          In reply to #3 by aquilacane:
          
          Should we just hand them the keys and say go for it? Would you consider it special interest pampering to provide driving lessons, especially lessons that compensate for the disadvantage of learning how to drive as an adult as opposed to as a teenager?
          

          This is a terrible metaphor for social discourse and comes off as hugely condescending to women. People take the lessons they need and as they see fit. Here’s my probably crappy metaphor for your approach. Before talking in public we need to fit these stabiliser wheels on so you don’t fall over and get hurt….

          How would you wish to approach the rape culture rampant in the US Armed Forces? Pretend that men and women are equally being victimized?
          

          Sweden gets it right I think. Every incident gets reported and broad definitions are used. But why is this related to the above?

          Yes, those privileged Saudi women who were sent to boarding school in the West and learned to drive
          there as teenagers won’t want to avail themselves of a free driver’s ed program that the government might make available. That you find making such a program available for an entire population of women who has been and continues to be prohibited from driving problematic is strongly symptomatic of developed world, dare I say, male, privilege and complete obliviousness to what it might be like for individuals -women or men-who into late adulthood have never had any exposure to motor vehicle operation.

          But do take this little exchange here as a letter of introduction to those Republicans in the U.S. forever in search of “expert” witnesses they can trot out to vilify and discredit Affirmative Action. You’d be wined and dined.

          As for Sweden getting dealing with rape right, read up on the Julian Assange manhunt and think again.

          • In reply to #40 by godsbuster:

            I have no problem with the driving lessons. You may recall that you used it as a metaphor, which I said was terrible, by being condescending about quite another skill.

            Assange’s problem was the malicious use of the broad rape laws for political ends. What part of their rape laws are you against?

            And you never answered my question about the pertinence of the issue of rape in the US military.

    • In reply to #3 by aquilacane:

      I’ve voiced my opinion on special interest groups before and I’ll say it gain. Equality begins with accepting that we are all human. I will support a human rights group but not a special interest group. There is only one fight here, equality for all and not equality for women or black people or gay…

      Actually there is no “one fight” and there is more to fight for than “equality”…..there’s the question of justice as well.

  4. To deny a woman’s speech because she is a woman is a double insult to Enlightenment values.The crime of the denial is, if anything, aced by the astonishing negative presumption of what she may say or think, because she is a she, when she is a person before anything else. To presume that she has no insight into or experience of x or y because she is a she is a mind reading presumption too far.

    A lesser problem of domestic violence, say, is that of men abused by women, but to presume that women cannot speak to this from the experience of it, of women’s abuse of men, just because they share the gender of the abusers under discussion is to miss that children are often the ones most harmed by the occurrence of DV in the home. Indeed the very vulnerability of the young makes them likely more harmed than the battling elders. Thus women may speak with perfect authority of lives broken and misery caused by such abuse. Women in so many ways may have been damaged by women’s abuse of men. Fortunately it is the lesser problem of DV.

    When very young we learn about turn taking. This is a wonderful principle because there is no judge in life to regulate what we do when we are having a conversation but we all recognise the fairness of having your turn. If we are not having a conversation but rather more a rally then that seems a pity…

    • In reply to #5 by Neodarwinian:

      Rebecca Watson. I never heard of her until recently. Of course I pay as little attention to ideologues as I possible can. Seeing one of her youtube videos was enough for me.

      Please specify exactly what ideology are you referring to so we know what you’re talking about? The atheist (esp. new atheist), skeptic, humanist movements all qualify as ideologies. She’s interesting and refuses to put up with the misogynistic bullies and perverts whose over-representation at atheist events and in online harassment makes one question being publicly associated with any event or place they congregate. She has more balls than any of them. And she was quite right to take Richard Dawkins to task for his unrepentant bad behavior and the poor example he set. There are too many morons who will take encouragement from it and I doubt he would want anyone to misinterpret him and act out on despicable ways. I think anywhere you don’t hear a peep instead of support or critique, you may be seeing evidence of decomposed granite.

  5. My favorite paragraph, really excellent:

    “But enforced silence is also a way of robbing someone of their humanity. Part of what allows us to give meaning to our lives is the ability to exercise certain core freedoms, such as freedom of conscience, freedom of association, freedom of expression, and reproductive freedom. We need these freedoms to take control of our own lives, to give shape and direction our own lives; otherwise, we are just going to be forced into a role that has been assigned to us.”

  6. Thanks for providing these ridiculous postings in one place. You only get their surealism when you can see them as a flow. Maybe you could also post Ms Watson’s post in the middle for full context?

    Naturally I assume their purpose here is to highlight the weirdness of the CFI CEO (a paid office bearer) who:

    • wouldn’t welcome attendees to his own event,
    • didn’t introduce the speakers or discussions and
    • turned a welcome address into an agenda driven speech at odds with the aims of the conference
    • excused himself from the dinner to continue to write blog posts critical of speakers at his event
    • used the banner and resources of CFI to continue a personality based diatribe.

    Anyway, like I said, a great resource – thanks.

    As a newcomer to this board I look forward to the post which will highlight the great talks at Wis2 – I assume that is on the way soon? Or are you waiting for the videos so you can do the speakers proper justice. I think they will be available in a week or so.

  7. Having a Women in Secularism conference is a great idea, and if it was easier for me to get to I would have liked to have gone. We shouldn’t ever fail to recognise the wonderful, equal contribution that women make to atheism, secularism and skepticism.

    Regarding Ron Lindsay’s posts – the talk he opened the conference with was firmly pro-feminist, with (as any interesting talk should have) some points of concern. He ended with “I look forward to the conversation”. This is how an organisation that sees itself as a ‘centre for inquiry’ ought to do things. With conversation, argument, reason, inquiry.

    What followed wasn’t a conversation. I’ve seen (many) calls for his dismissal, accusations of trying to ‘appease misogynists’. I’ve even seen him called a ‘joke’ and a ‘raging misogynist’ (I am not making this up). To some, this might be surprising. To me, not so much. For the last two or so years this sort of thing has been the norm. Attacks on character. Told to ‘stop’ and ‘shut up’ simply because it’s considered that his skin colour and sex ought to preclude him from having an opinion.

    This isn’t a problem that will go away any time soon. It’s time that civil and respectable discourse becomes a non-negotiable part of secular conferences. For this to happen, certain big names in atheism, secularism and skepticism need to break their silence and speak out in support of people like Ron Lindsay (and the many other targets of these ‘social justice’ hobbyists), who dared to disagree on some small points.

    How can we laugh at fundamentalists for their poor reasoning and decry their sometimes vicious actions when we’re tolerating this sort of thing in our own ‘community’?

    • In reply to #12 by Zachary Sloss:

      Having a Women in Secularism conference is a great idea, and if it was easier for me to get to I would have liked to have gone. We shouldn’t ever fail to recognise the wonderful, equal contribution that women make to atheism, secularism and skepticism.

      Regarding Ron Lindsay’s posts – the talk he op…

      ……..

      “One thing you may have noticed already is that I did not give you a formal welcome to Women in Secularism 2. Of course you are welcome here. We’re very happy to have you with us, but this is something you know already, and, although I don’t want to appear ungracious, why take up time to state the obvious … “

      vs

      “Welcome everybody, great to see you …. “

      ……..

      Has anybody ever heard a ‘welcome’ like this at a commercial conference for a minority group? No really, think for a moment before going on. While thinking, factor in that he went on to criticize the very premise of many of his speakers’ world view – so his welcome is not embedded in a benign or jokey context.

      Ron wasn’t listed as a speaker. His job as CEO was to provide the opening remarks – ie welcome the paying guests, hype the speakers, ra ra the event in general, thank everybody and get the show on the road.

      If he wanted to debate and decry key elements of his audience’s philosophy then fine. Just do it after doing your job of ensuring a professional welcoming and enjoyable conference.

      A CEO of a NFP hosting a sensitive conference (already surrounded by tension and controversy) has responsibilities different to (say) Myers and Watson – at a purely professional level.

      If I was his board I would question his views, discipline him for lack of political acumen and probably fire him for his performance as (a paid) Chief Advocate / CEO of CFI and host of CFI WiS2.

      If I was Ron I would claim it to be a piece of ironic performance art – “I will lecture a captive group of feminists on the evil of telling people to shut up and listen – at an event specifically designed to provide them a voice.”

      That would be truly brilliant.

      • In reply to #13 by brive1987:

        In reply to #12 by Zachary Sloss:

        Having a Women in Secularism conference is a great idea, and if it was easier for me to get to I would have liked to have gone. We shouldn’t ever fail to recognise the wonderful, equal contribution that women make to atheism, secularism and skepticism.

        Regarding R…

        Sort of like Dear Muslima?

  8. I would like to highly advise that anyone forming a strong opinion about Ron Linsay’s response to Rebecca Watson actually read what Rebecca Watson wrote. He grossly misrepresents it.

    The quote from Secular Woman was also far from the intent of SW in making that statement.

    Essentially, a few people were unhappy with his opening remarks because they thought that the focus was way off. His response to that criticism unfortunately greatly escalated this annoyance into conflict.

    It’s really very unfortunate. I hope that the focus in the public discussions about the conference would shift from this to the conference itself. I hear it was absolutely wonderful, and I look forward to going next year if I can.

    • In reply to #14 by M. A. Melby:_

      I read it and do not see the misrepresentation. Watson saw a mole hill and proceeded to try and build it into a mountain and failed. Ron is right to address the issue of “check your privilege” stifling/stopping inquiry and discussion. I’ve been in debates with hundreds of creationists and dozens of climate change deniers and not once have they attempted to end the discussion by telling me to “shut up and listen” but that’s the number 1 tactic w/the FTBers/AtheismPlussers and why I’ve not visited or posted on PZs site since Elevatorgate.

  9. The men in this apparently dysfunctional family need the women around way more than the women need the men. The women want the crap that they’ve been putting up with like that want another hole in the head. They are nicely telling the men that there are too many holes as it is. They are giving the warning that they will just walk away and leave the holes to play with themselves. They’ll be joined by plenty of men who decide they’d prefer better company.

    • In reply to #17 by whiteraven:

      The men in this apparently dysfunctional family need the women around way more than the women need the men. The women want the crap that they’ve been putting up with like that want another hole in the head. They are nicely telling the men that there are too many holes as it is. They are giving the w…

      As is evidenced even on this page neither women nor men fall into a single category here. If this is the palpable case is it not sexist to stereotype all women as a mutually agreeing single group and the males as divided? How is this muddling rhetoric helpful?

      • In reply to #23 by phil rimmer:

        In reply to #17 by whiteraven:

        The men in this apparently dysfunctional family need the women around way more than the women need the men. The women want the crap that they’ve been putting up with like that want another hole in the head. They are nicely telling the men that there are too many holes…

        I spoke in generality; if you will, insert an editorial correction “with various exceptions I’m not able to categorize or quantify, but a reasonably intelligent reader should get the gist of what I’m saying”. The less worthy the topic, the more I’m inclined to dispense with extreme precision and just speak in the unqualified generality of the majority of posts do. It’s not worth the effort.

        As for how things divide between male and female, take a look at the demographics on Dawkins and Harris websites available from website activity tracking sites. Both sites show women have either not come through the door or have walked away. As for men, who make up the majority it might be harder to judge, but I can point to one well-informed friend who has very high opinions of some of Hitchen’s and Dawkins’ work but who eschews contact with the rest. I can also speak to decisions about financial gifting that have been negatively affected. Does anyone care what I do or think? Nope, not anymore than the telephone company or medical institutions do. But I care and this is the best I can do about it.

        • In reply to #32 by whiteraven:

          In reply to #23 by phil rimmer:

          I spoke in generality.

          And still do, when, in fact, the details matter critically. You, of all people in this conversation, should know the unfairness of being roped into another’s generality. Why are you happy with such laxity in important matters?.

          Does anyone care what I do or think?

          What!?

          Nope, not anymore than the telephone company or medical institutions do. But I care and this is the best I can do about it.

          No its not the best you can do. You could care about the quality of our conversation and trust it, when fed our best efforts, to help us both achieve a little more mutual understanding.

          • In reply to #36 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #32 by whiteraven:

            In reply to #23 by phil rimmer:

            I spoke in generality.

            And still do, when, in fact, the details matter critically. You, of all people in this conversation, should know the unfairness of being roped into another’s generality. Why are you happy with such laxity in imp…

            Important? Sure. Nuanced? No way. Rebecca Watson was wronged and should have gotten an apology from someone I’m really disappointed to see is not big enough to give it. She’s been harassed and assaulted by robotic ants who aren’t big enough to crawl up her leg much less do what they’ve threatened.
            There is no nuance. It’s reprehensible and arguing about how I put something is running away from that stark and simple truth.

            I had been thinking of opening a Discussion on these issues but thought it had a good chance of being rejected for what ought to be obvious reasons. I hadn’t gotten to how to formulate it and now it’s been overcome by this blowhard. Thanks Ron!

            I wouldn’t have wasted so much time and effort writing far too much when so many blurt out one sentence sound bites that are often vitriolic slogans, attempting to be precise, well-written, well-referenced, reasoned, eschewing gutter-speak, direct, and critical of things that I think need to be brought to account…pause for breath…if I had not cared about the quality of discourse. I pay attention to spelling, grammar and indulge in irony and other forms of humor that amuse at least one of us.

            In case it has gone unnoticed, comments in News and Discussions are frequently presumptuous in speaking in generalities against or for various contingents.

            I don’t have any obligation to do anything more than what I want, have time or energy for. I have put a little effort into those things and if anyone wants to get their shorts or panties in a knot and ignore it, fine with me. Someone else can try to get through, or not. I’ve got nothing to say someone else can’t say better. If I’ve been redundant, at least I’ve repeated what I thought up instead of what someone else did.

            And I’m not going to waste any more time responding to trivial criticisms that are conveniently blind to the main thrust of my comments.

            HEY! Just had a thought about that critique about repeating myself: Mom is elderly and has profound hearing loss. I repeat myself many times day. It could have been a conditioned response.

          • In reply to #38 by whiteraven:

            In reply to #36 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #32 by whiteraven:

            The OP is about the need for men to just shut up about certain topics, because as a group they can have no authority on a subject or that they are the cause of the problem. Underlying this is the principle of essentialism. Because of Y chromosomes (say) all men are like thus and so.

            The failure to recognise the huge variability within such formal groups and the right to be treated as an individual, runs to the very core of the problem. It is the very root of sexism, divisiveness and the breakdown of conversation. No side issue. You are simply wrong to co-opt all women into an offended whole on this issue.

            The Rebecca Watson incident? A nothing teased into a something by a spiral of misunderstanding and thoughtlessness. Turn off the malice and the group detectors and things start to look fixable…if you have the time or the inclination.

          • In reply to #41 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #38 by whiteraven:

            In reply to #36 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #32 by whiteraven:

            The OP is about the need for men to just shut up about certain topics, because as a group they can have no authority on a subject or that they are the cause of the problem. Underlying this is the princip…

            Some might not realize that you have insulted me by false accusation but you have. Malice: the intention or desire to do evil; ill will. If you didn’t know better, I forgive you as is my wont and spare you from a malicious slashing.

          • In reply to #41 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #38 by whiteraven:

            In reply to #36 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #32 by whiteraven:

            The OP is about the need for men to just shut up about certain topics, because as a group they can have no authority on a subject or that they are the cause of the problem. Underlying this is the princip…

            Sorry, I forgot to add this. A more careful reading of the item #32, first paragraph, will make my position clear. I think (1) Dawkins’ behavior was wrong and he owes at least to Ms. Watson an apology, (2) Some of the treatment of Ms. Watson was by misogynistic men, some not unknown surprising and others who are cretinous unknowns, (3) The failure – to the best of my knowledge – of prominent leaders to denounce that behavior is irresponsible, unworthy and can only lend support to those who do it.

            As far as I’m concerned that is really what’s at issue and everything else is a distraction. Choosing to ignore that focus on peripheral complaints amounts to driving the discussion into a cul-de-sac or ditch. Done. Over and out.

    • In reply to #17 by whiteraven:

      The men in this apparently dysfunctional family need the women around way more than the women need the men. The women want the crap that they’ve been putting up with like that want another hole in the head. They are nicely telling the men that there are too many holes as it is. They are giving the w…

      Whiteraven, part of me is tempted to go through every one of your ridiculous, vicious, and conspiracy-theory-esque comments on this thread, responding to and thoroughly debunking every one of your baseless claims, but it would like shooting fish in a barrel. Also, although I’m a rhetoric teacher, it’s not my job (nor is it anyone else’s job) to teach you how to argue in a reasonable, rational, and charitable manner. But I will say one thing, in response to the excerpt that I’ve quoted above. Listen closely here: you most certainly do not speak for “the women” in whatever movement (atheism/humanism/secularism/etc.) you’re referring to here (no one does- each person speaks only for themselves). The fact that you presume to and dare to is jaw droppingly-galling. Please stop.

      • In reply to #30 by mirandaceleste:

        In reply to #17 by whiteraven:

        The men in this apparently dysfunctional family need the women around way more than the women need the men. The women want the crap that they’ve been putting up with like that want another hole in the head. They are nicely telling the men that there are too many holes…

        I’ll speak in generalities if I choose and if you can’t grasp the distinction between that and presuming to speak authoritatively for some group, I’m sorry. I don’t see so much demand for nuance in the general comments directed at religion, islam, and so forth but it’s good to know someone is monitoring those discussions too. As for presumptuousness, there are much bigger fish to fry than me.

      • In reply to #30 by mirandaceleste:

        In reply to #17 by whiteraven:

        The men in this apparently dysfunctional family need the women around way more than the women need the men. The women want the crap that they’ve been putting up with like that want another hole in the head. They are nicely telling the men that there are too many holes…

        Please do. Given the explicit threats of rape and murder Rebecca Watson got, I am now seeing the continuing pile-on as symbolic of a gang rape which is being countenanced by people who ought to speak out against it but remain silent. I allow that the pile may not be uni-gender because at the very least, enablers do exist. I remember the contribution Phyllis Schlafly made to the women’s movement.

        • Whiteraven, I don’t mind you committing intellectual suicide here, but please take the effort to learn how to quote properly. We don’t need to see your previous comment over and over again.
          As for everything you have said; “what is asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence”.

          In general, I think we should be able to agree that everyone can speak for themselves, but don’t have the right to speak for whatever minority group they represent(are women really a minority? I thought they were half the population).

          In my opinion, Lindsay’s post addressing Watson was needlessly inflammatory, but other than that I don’t see any problem with it.

          • In reply to #35 by MahouShoujoMaruin:

            Whiteraven, I don’t mind you committing intellectual suicide here, but please take the effort to learn how to quote properly. We don’t need to see your previous comment over and over again.
            As for everything you have said; “what is asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence”.

            In g…

            We don’t need to see your previous comment …” Right, uh huh. I’m glad there is someone who can speak for everyone. Please do not presume to talk to me about speaking for other people. I might not succeed, but as a long time student of mathematics I do aim for consistency. At least I try not to blatantly contradict myself.

            Sorry but I don’t live for the approval of RDFES users and usually try to come up with my own lines instead of parroting what I heard or read from the mouth of prominent atheist authority figures who are men (sorry if I’m overgeneralizing, but you get the point).

            I don’t like being stoned, but it can’t always be avoided; it’s what the islamists would do to me. :)

          • In reply to #37 by whiteraven:
            Ah, you’re a math student. Why didn’t you say so earlier? Now that changes everything, of course. I mean, normally one might think that you were wasting electrons with silly nitpicking and being willfully obtuse, but if you are a math student, then that shines a different light on things.

            Oh wait

            ….right

            It doesn’t. What’s next, are you going to correct some word I misspelled?

  10. Moderators’ message

    A reminder to all users before things get too heated that the aim on this site is for discussions and disagreements to be argued rationally, reasonably, calmly, intelligently and courteously.

    Users are welcome to argue whichever side of this topic they wish, provided they comply with this basic requirement and avoid personal abuse of those who disagree.

    The mods

    • In reply to #18 by Moderator:

      Moderators’ message

      A reminder to all users before things get too heated that the aim on this site is for discussions and disagreements to be argued rationally, reasonably, calmly, intelligently and courteously.

      Since Elisabeth Cornwell signed the Open Letter to the Secular Community on behalf of the RDFRS, perhaps you should think again about hosting a blog entry that starts by claiming a fellow secularist lives in an alternate universe, is ‘intellectually dishonest’, distorts, and is comparable to North Korea? Ron Lindsay (despite signing that letter himself) is not being reasonable, calm or courteous. It’s hard to know where the limit is, when the initial post seems to have overstepped the bounds the site and author have both previously urged on others. Can we compare Lindsay to countries we think other readers don’t like? Can we call him ‘dishonest’? Can we suggest he is disconnected from reality?

      Please advise.

      • In reply to #22 by MurielV:

        Living in another universe is a great way of saying you don’t see what I see. Why not?

        “Intellectually dishonest” is not an accusation of lying but of a moment of irrationality. “Distorts” isn’t “intentionally distorts”. We all have cognitive biases. North Korea? Possibly thought policing? We all over extend here wishing we could stop people thinking some particular way when the decent limit is call them only on their behaviours.

        Challenging stuff but reasonable points in a discussion IMO.

  11. The nature of women in religion can be summed up by the biblical myth about how the first woman came into existence, via the rib from the first man and proof then that woman cannot survive without the help of the man.

  12. What concerns me most about these constant feminist flame-wars is that they may actually be pushing women away from secularism. Most American women don’t want to be identified with feminists and I’m beginning to see why.

    • In reply to #24 by Peter Grant:

      What concerns me most about these constant feminist flame-wars is that they may actually be pushing women away from secularism. Most American women don’t want to be identified with feminists and I’m beginning to see why.

      Yet I think we must keep trying to mutually engage over this until feelings can have a measured presence at the rationalist table and an understanding is reached over the very broad manufacturing tolerance in humans for empathy. This latter is as dangerous in excess as it is in deficiency.

      • In reply to #26 by phil rimmer:

        In reply to #24 by Peter Grant:

        Yet I think we must keep trying to mutually engage over this until feelings can have a measured presence at the rationalist table and an understanding is reached over the very broad manufacturing tolerance in humans for empathy.

        Not sure I understand this correctly, but I think we agree that one can distance oneself from ideologies while still remaining open to and accepting of all sorts people.

        This latter is as dangerous in excess as it is in deficiency.

        Agreed. I suffer from an excess of empathy, but fortunately am able turn it off when it becomes too debilitating.

  13. I was trying to figure out who the author was. I figured it was a female, but I think it is Ron Lindsay.

    I did not enjoy this. It seemed to focus on the petty, trivial and personal, what gay people might call a bitch fight.

  14. I started by reading Watson’s World and Two Models of Communication. He pretty much succeeds in abandoning the highest three levels of Graham’s Hierarchy of Disagreement. Putting it simply, this piece is a pile of manure. That’s sufficiently demotivating I’m left with no desire to stick my hand in and feel around for anything of value in this or anything else he wrote.

    It’s a shame that the anonymous submitter of three articles managed to get them all in one topic and got this approved while no counterweight was included. That says all we need to know about why it’s all there and why it’s all there. Shame on the cowards who are hiding behind anonymity on this. Maybe it’s time the religious zealots take in a different point of view available via Conservapedia

  15. godbuster,

    FYI
    “The Pentagon estimates that last year 13,900 of the 1.2 million men on active duty endured sexual assault while 12,100 of the 203,000 women in uniform experienced the same crime — or 38 men per day versus 33 women per day. Yet the Defense Department also acknowledges ‘male survivors report at much lower rates than female survivors.’”

    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/16/18301723-male-rape-survivors-tackle-military-assault-in-tough-guy-culture?lite

  16. Moderators’ message

    Again: in the interests of a rational, civil and constructive discussion, please make a particular effort to avoid emotional outbursts and personal remarks about other users of the site. These are in any case in breach of our Terms and Conditions, but it is all the more important to avoid them when the subject matter under discussion is contentious.

    Thank you.

    The mods

    • In reply to #44 by Moderator:

      Moderators’ message

      Again: in the interests of a rational, civil and constructive discussion, please make a particular effort to avoid emotional outbursts and personal remarks about other users of the site.

      Understood, but I thought everyone was playing nice.

      Besides, even if a little passion flairs up it is just an indication of the salience of the topic. I learned a lot from stopping my son and daughter fighting. I inadvertently delayed the moment when they finally learned to play nice. Relenting in my diligent interventions they sorted it for themselves pretty quickly.

      Two earlier feminism related threads were terminated stopping good conversations.

    • In reply to #44 by Moderator:

      Moderators’ message

      Again: in the interests of a rational, civil and constructive discussion, please make a particular effort to avoid emotional outbursts and personal remarks about other users of the site.

      Again: you, as moderators, are leaving up an emotional outburst by Ron Lindsay, which contains personal remarks, and then lecturing users about how they respond to it. This is cowardly and hypocritical of you, as moderators. This seems to be the first time Lindsay has made a post on RDFRS, and it’s a direct attack on a fellow secularist; you are condoning it, and riding a coach and horses through the Open Letter about civility that you claim to support.

      Despite your own Executive Director being one of the speakers at the conference, you haven’t said anything else about it. All you have about the conference is this pathetic attempt at self-justification by a man insulting a woman. Have you thought how bad this makes RDFRS looks? Your message is coming across as ‘we don’t care about women in secularism; but we have to help out the poor oppressed CEO of a major secular organisation who needs an extra place to insult one of the speakers at his own conference’.

      Sort our your act.

    • In reply to #44 by Moderator:

      Moderators’ message

      Again: in the interests of a rational, civil and constructive discussion, please make a particular effort to avoid emotional outbursts and personal remarks about other users of the site. These are in any case in breach of our Terms and Conditions, but it is all the more importan…

      Following up MurielV in #51, it might be germane if you were to address the question “How is it that this piece came to be published in its present form?” Muriel also points out a conflict of interest that makes one wonder whether Lindsay’s attack is being facilitated because of a personal vendetta. What a truly sad possibility to contemplate.

      This is a very unusual post. I don’t recall seeing a hatchet job since I started visiting this site. Whoever submitted it got 3 stories published for the price of one. Nice, can the rest of us do that or is it only allowed for special cases? It’s concocted out of three essays each with its own Read More link. They all link to Lindsay’s personal column. The source article for all that stuff is supposedly at the home page for Center for Inquiry? Well I just took a look there and I’m not seeing anything. So what is the source article, a bone to chase?

      Unless Lindsay can submit and approve his own post here, either he or someone created this and it was approved even though there is really no source for it. Would he have submitted his own work and then been to ashamed to admit it by revealing himself as the submitter? If not him, then someone went to a good bit of effort, the image was pulled in from someplace other than the CFI pages I got linked to, to advance his cause. What is extremely peculiar is why this site would choose to take sides and advance his cause without providing equal time, equal opportunity for his target to respond. This just seems like the decent and fair thing to do.

  17. In reply to #46 by cityzenjane:

    Yes, but only when feminism is used in it’s strictly definitional sense ie, “an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women”

    By this definition I am also feminist, but I still don’t want to be associated with most feminists.

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