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Richard Dawkins, Lindy West, and the Cartoon Video of Great Hatefulness

Is Richard Dawkins using his bully pulpit to bully feminists?
Is Richard Dawkins using his bully pulpit to bully feminists?

Almost three years ago, a feminist activist committed what many not-so-impartial observers apparently see as an unpardonable sin: she was less than polite to a small squad of Men’s Rights activists at a demonstration in Toronto. At least one of these gentlemen caught her outburst on video, and uploaded it to YouTube.

You know the rest: the video went viral, and the activist, a red-headed woman known as Chanty Binx (or “Big Red,” to the douchebag army), found herself suddenly transformed into “The Posterchild of Everything Wrong with Feminism,” as one of her haters put it. Her face has become ubiquitous in antifeminist memes, and she’s endured nearly three years of harassment.

Earlier this month, antifeminist YouTuber Sargon of Akkad — who makes his living pandering to some of the internet’s worst lady haters — posted an animated video by another antifeminist YouTuber in which an angry Islamist and an angry feminist sing a song explaining that they pretty much believe all the same things. (For some reason, this nonsensical theory is something that a lot of antifeminists have convinced themselves is true.)

The angry Islamist in the video is a familiar racist stereotype, complete with “funny” accent. [Correction: He’s evidently supposed to be a parody of this guy, known as Dawah Man, a legitimately terrible person you wouldn’t think atheists would have to strawman in order to criticize..]

The angry feminist, meanwhile, isn’t a generic figure; she’s an especially crude caricature of Binx, spouting nonsense that neither Binx nor any other feminist actually believes: the video ends with her encouraging the Islamist to rape her, because it’s not really rape if a Muslim does it, dontchaknow.

It’s a vicious, hateful little cartoon made worse by the fact that these words are being put in the mouth of a real woman who’s been the target of a vast harassment campaign for years.

Yesterday, Richard Dawkins, apparently seeing this horrendous video as a clever takedown of some brand of feminism that he must think actually exists, shared it with his 1.3 million Twitter followers:

Dawkins-tweet

Dawkins, a well-respected scientist-turned-embarrassing-atheist-ideologue, has become notorious for his endless Twitter gaffes. But this is plainly worse than, say, his famously pathetic lament about airport security “dundridges” taking his jar of honey; his Tweet contributed to the demonization of a real woman who’s already the target of harassment and threats.

The awesome Lindy West pointed this out to him in a series of Tweets and linked to one of my posts cataloging some of the abuse Binx got after the video of her went viral.

In a series of eloquent and angry Tweets, she made clear to Dawkins how and why he was misusing his huge platform and contributing to an atmosphere of hate online. Dawkins, alternately indignant and defensive, ultimately took down the offending Tweet, but not before making other Tweets that were nearly as bad. Dawkins can’t even do the right thing without being a dick about it.

Let’s watch Lindy at work:

 

Lindy West ‏@thelindywest like literally what is wrong with you @RichardDawkins RETWEETS 47 LIKES 337 Lamentation Smythethank god it's overMargaret PlessAllison ElaineRachyAlice Pinegabs ❁GORILLA SUITNINA 5:19 PM - 26 Jan 2016 Reply Retweet Liked More Tweet text Reply to @thelindywest @RichardDawkins Who's in these photos? Lindy West ‏@thelindywest Jan 26 the complete ideological horror show aside, that is a caricature of an actual real woman and you are feeding her harassment @RichardDawkins

Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins 7h7 hours ago @thelindywest I didn't know that. Who is the real woman? 1 retweet 5 likes Reply Retweet 1 Like 5 More View other replies Lindy West ‏@thelindywest 7h7 hours ago Here: https://www.wehuntedthemammoth.com/2013/04/15/canadian-feminist-activist-receives-death-threats-and-other-abuse-after-being-targeted-by-mens-rights-activists/ … @RichardDawkins View summary 16 retweets 55 likes Reply Retweet 16 Liked 55 More View other replies Lindy West ‏@thelindywest 7h7 hours ago It would serve you well to research the people & movements whose support you accept & whose propaganda you disseminate. @RichardDawkins

Lindy West ‏@thelindywest 7h7 hours ago One might even argue that it's a basic responsibility concomitant with wielding such a large and powerful platform. @RichardDawkins 21 retweets 114 likes Reply Retweet 21 Liked 114 More View other replies Show more Zoë “Shitpost” Quinn ‏@UnburntWitch 7h7 hours ago @thelindywest @RichardDawkins oh good he's promoting a guy who built a career off of stalking and harassing me and my family 19 retweets 86 likes Reply Retweet 19 Like 86 More View other replies Lindy West ‏@thelindywest 7h7 hours ago Richard, this is not a thought experiment for us. It's not an ideological pissing match. @UnburntWitch @RichardDawkins

Lindy West ‏@thelindywest 7h7 hours ago It is a constant, violent, unprovoked, psychologically damaging barrier to full engagement with the world. @UnburntWitch @RichardDawkins 21 retweets 83 likes Reply Retweet 21 Liked 83 More View other replies Lindy West ‏@thelindywest 7h7 hours ago You make yourself complicit in that system by validating and amplifying the voices of our harassers. @UnburntWitch @RichardDawkins 22 retweets 100 likes Reply Retweet 22 Liked 100 More View other replies Lindy West ‏@thelindywest 7h7 hours ago Please stop, or at least do so with full knowledge of the scope, history, and implications of your actions. @UnburntWitch @RichardDawkins

After what was apparently an unsatisfactory response from Dawkins — I couldn’t find his Tweet, if there was one — West repeated and expanded upon her basic points. [EDIT: The unsastisfactory respose, West tells me, was that Dawkins posted a link to one of the videos of Chanty Binx at the Toronto demonstration.]

Lindy West ‏@thelindywest If this is your response, please go on record, explicitly, that you believe women you dislike deserve rape & death threats. @RichardDawkins

Well, that got his attention:

Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins 7h7 hours ago @thelindywest What the hell are you talking about. When have I ever said any such thing? 7 retweets 34 likes Reply Retweet 7 Like 34 More View other replies Lindy West ‏@thelindywest 7h7 hours ago Did you read the link that I sent? Posting this video implies an endorsement of her abuse (and will definitely amplify it). @RichardDawkins 9 retweets 71 likes Reply Retweet 9 Liked 71 More View other replies Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins 7h7 hours ago @thelindywest No. What link? Somebody told me who she was. I was about to delete my original tweet. Then I looked up the Toronto vid . . .

Lindy West ‏@thelindywest 7h7 hours ago I sent you a series of tweets. Feel free to read them in my TL. Here is the link again: https://www.wehuntedthemammoth.com/2013/04/15/canadian-feminist-activist-receives-death-threats-and-other-abuse-after-being-targeted-by-mens-rights-activists/ … @RichardDawkins View summary 16 retweets 67 likes Reply Retweet 16 Liked 67 More View other replies Lindy West ‏@thelindywest 7h7 hours ago Then you looked up the Toronto vid and...felt like that woman deserved what she got? That's exactlly what I'm talking about. @RichardDawkins 7 retweets 77 likes Reply Retweet 7 Liked 77 More View other replies Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins 7h7 hours ago @thelindywest I think she deserves nothing more than ridicule. I would never shriek "Fuckface" at her. But I would laugh at her. Ridicule.

So there you have it: when informed that a tweet of his will almost certainly worsen the vicious harassment faced by a young woman whose only “crime” was being rude to a couple of MRAs in public, Richard Dawkins, a one-time winner of  the American Humanist Association’s Humanist of the Year Award, replies by saying that “she deserves nothing more than ridicule.”

West replied:

Lindy West ‏@thelindywest Please don't insult me by pretending you don't comprehend the gravity and scope of this conversation and your complicity. @RichardDawkins

Lindy West ‏@thelindywest 7h7 hours ago Great. Good job. If you leave those links up you are fomenting further abuse, and that's a choice you should own. @RichardDawkins

Dawkins then decided to suggest that perhaps Binx was, you know, crazy:

Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins 7h7 hours ago @FulcrumAmber @thelindywest Perhaps mentally ill, to be charitable. Anyway it's disgraceful that she's apparently received violent threats. 1 retweet 8 likes Reply Retweet 1 Like 8 More Lindy West ‏@thelindywest 7h7 hours ago First of all, mentally ill people are fully capable of holding and expressing valid, well-considered, justified opinions. @RichardDawkins 48 retweets 214 likes Reply Retweet 48 Like 214 More Lindy West ‏@thelindywest 7h7 hours ago 2nd of all, you know nothing of this woman's mental state but her anger. Armchair diagnoses are presumptuous and insulting. @RichardDawkins 37 retweets 159 likes Reply Retweet 37 Like 159 More Lindy West ‏@thelindywest 7h7 hours ago And thirdly, it's exactly this spectrum of misogyny--dismissiveness to outright abuse--that feminists are angry about. @RichardDawkins

Dawkins ultimately agreed to take down his Tweet linking to the execrable video. But he offered no apology. And he went on to suggest that just maybe Binx had … threatened herself.

Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins 7h7 hours ago Having learned that the woman in the joke song is a real person who has been disgracefully threatened with violence, I'm deleting my tweets. 65 retweets 436 likes Reply Retweet 65 Like 436 More Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins 5h5 hours ago Maybe I'm naive. Can't believe anyone's as nasty as her. Nor that anyone would threaten her. Nor that anyone'd lie about being threatened.

User Actions Follow Richard DawkinsVerified account ‏@RichardDawkins Richard Dawkins Retweeted Boltzmann Is this really true? How depressing. But it would explain a lot. Richard Dawkins added, Boltzmann @NameIsBoltzmann @RichardDawkins People lie about being threatened all the time these days. Some have gotten caught threatening themselves.

We’ve seen this, er, argument before.

sharkethics

Does Dawkins have any conception of just how much abuse women like Chanty Binx get? If she were sending herself all the threatening and harassing messages she gets, she wouldn’t have time to eat or sleep.

And I wonder if Dawkins thinks she drew the caricature of herself that was used in the video he retweeted.

Thoughtful as ever, Dawkins made sure to remind his 1.3 million followers that Binx still deserved all the mockery they could deliver. Just not the death threats please!

Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins 8h8 hours ago @YourSluttyGF Yes, she deserves abundant mockery, the more the merrier. But she doesn't deserve violent threats. Nobody does.Richard DawkinsVerified account ‏@RichardDawkins @cleanpulse @YourSluttyGF I don't feel the smallest bit guilty. She deserves mockery. But if there's a risk of inspiring violence, NO NO NO!And he begged his readers to think about the real victims here — those people, like him, who might have to curtail their mockery somewhat because their terrible, terrible fans might be inspired to hurt someone.

Richard DawkinsVerified account ‏@RichardDawkins PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't EVER threaten anyone with violence. We should be free to use comedy/ridicule without fear it may inspire violence

RIP, Richard Dawkins’ comedy career.

Is Dawkins actually unaware that by punching down at a woman who’s already been the target of a three year harassment campaign he almost certainly is contributing to the threats he claims to deplore? It’s hard for me to believe that he could be so naive. But the alternative explanation — that he knows full well that he’s encouraging the harassers — is even more disquieting.

One good thing has come out of this ugly episode today: The Northeast Conference on Science & Skepticism has un-invited Dawkins from its event this year. A post on the group’s website today explains:

The Northeast Conference on Science & Skepticism has withdrawn its invitation to Richard Dawkins to participate at NECSS 2016. We have taken this action in response to Dr. Dawkins’ approving re-tweet of a highly offensive video.

We believe strongly in freedom of speech and freedom to express unpopular, and even offensive, views. However, unnecessarily divisive, counterproductive, and even hateful speech runs contrary to our mission and the environment we wish to foster at NECSS. The sentiments expressed in the video do not represent the values of NECSS or its sponsoring organizations.

We will issue a full refund to any NECSS attendee who wishes to cancel their registration due to this announcement.

The NECSS Team

Good for them. The atheist movement needs to stand up to the haters and harassers in its midst, including those like Dawkins, who may not directly harass or threaten but who use their huge platforms to amplify and embolden this hatred and harassment.

It would be nice if Dawkins were to actually learn something — a little humanity, a little humility? — from this incident, but when it comes to the subject of feminism Dawkins seems incapable of taking in new information, much less learning anything from it.

EDITED TO ADD: And now, as if to prov what I just said in that previous paragraph, Dawkins is now second-guessing his decision to take down his tweet linking to the video, because GamerGaters are telling him that Chanty and I made up the evidence of the abuse she got.

dawktakeback

NOTE: Lindy West has a book coming out soon. Pre-order it below!

CORRECTION: I added  a bit noting that the Islamist in the cartoon video is supposed to be a parody of a real person.

EDIT: I added a line about Dawkins tweeting a link to a video of Chanty Binx at the Toronto demonstration.

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TinyAntsGoingToEatMe
TinyAntsGoingToEatMe
6 years ago

It’s bitterly ironic that many atheists idolize Dawkins, and themselves. Part of the problem with conservative religious institutions is that you can’t criticize the bible, you can’t question God. So as our understanding of the world evolves, the rules can’t.

If we can’t criticize Dawkins because of “all the good” he’s done, it creates the same lack of social evolution as is present in religion.

I

Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

@ pandapool

Yeah, the violence/conflict thing should be obvious (but amazingly it isn’t) but I’m also thinking of ‘lesser’ things. For example, I personally don’t care if religious congregations separate by gender. But we have ‘faith schools’ here. Should outsiders interfere if girls have to sit at the back of the class or are excluded from certain subjects (there’s a bit of a controversy about that here at the moment)?

I think this is a wider debate than what this thread is about, hence my not wanting to derail. Having said that, I *love* when we start out on some topic and end up taking about dinosaurs and history! 🙂

Orion
Orion
6 years ago

Theories on why misogyny proliferates among American atheists, especially “movement” atheists.

For many Americans the face of religion is female. Women are far more likely to attend church than men are. Anecdotally, it seems that mothers and not fathers usually decide where or if their children go to church. I also get the impression that Sunday school teachers and youth group leaders skew female. You end up with a bunch of teen boys who think of church as a place to get bossed around by women. If they go to college, they find that in their new peer group, church seems to be a “girl thing.”

Also, I think asshole atheists have a natural affinity with misogynists because they say the same things about their targets. Women/the religious are allegedly irrational, manipulative, prudish, unscientific, hypocritical, and either too compassionate or too image-conscious.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

The thing is though, if people within the in-group – in this case, atheists who at least superficially share some some characteristics with Dawkins et al, and who can frame a discussion in credibly non-theistic terms – refuse to “own” the problem of misogyny in atheism, how does it get fixed?

Ditto if feminist or pro-feminist men refuse to recognise the sexism baked into traditional masculinity.

I would love to fix misogyny. In movement atheism or any other segment of society. How? What am I supposed to do about it other than acknowledge it and speak out against it?

That’s the problem with the term “own.” It suggests we have control over other people’s actions when we only have control of our own.

History Nerd
History Nerd
6 years ago

I think lots of people are into “movement” atheism because they like the “do what thou wilt” type of morality, it gives them illegitimate certainty about various moral and philosophical questions, and they can define themselves as “rational” over against everyone else and avoid challenges to their views. Ironically, that’s why lots of people are attracted to religious fundamentalism also, except that the religion’s moral system happens to work well for them with a few rationalizations.

Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

@ WWTH

It suggests we have control over other people’s actions when we only have control of our own.

A lot of the time, all this “own it” rhetoric is just putting the onus on the people with the least power to actually effect change; often the actual victims of the problem.

It can sometimes be a backhand way of saying “if you’re that bothered about it, you sort it”. It’s just blame shifting.

Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his, she/her pronouns)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his, she/her pronouns)
6 years ago

@Alan

Well, with the faith school thing, it seems like it would be a topic of discussion around the people within the, um, “British faith school community”. But as it is something within the “British education community”, i.e. everyone who has ever been in school in Britian along with the people within the “perceived as female as a child in Britian community” should have the right to intervene because a child should have equal access to education regardless of their preceved gender.

If it’s against their religion (or if they’re just being sexist assholes) for certain children not to attend certain classes because of their preceved gender while they are in a country or whatever in which all children, regardless of gender, are allowed and given rights to access to a full education while they are only getting some, then, yes, people outside the “faith school community” have the right to intervene.

And yes, children being denied education because of their gender elsewhere in the world also deserve intervention on heir behalf, but it has to be done with the help of their community. People outside of the community should aid in helping, not take over the helping.

Ben Finney
Ben Finney
6 years ago

The angry Islamist in the video is […] evidently supposed to be a parody of this guy, known as Dawah Man

Thanks for the correction. You link (anchor text “this guy”) to a video but currently that link is just to the same cartoon parody. Did you mean to link to a video of the actual person Dawah Man?

Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

@ pandapool

People outside of the community should aid in helping, not take over the helping.

It is an interesting topic with no easy or obvious answers. To take your example above for instance, there are all sorts of issues. What if the culture as a whole adopts what we perceive as a bad idea? Take FGM (I know a lot of the work against that does come from people within the community, but let’s assume for this exercise that the whole community was for it). If we intervene are we imposing values? Is there ever a justification for “protecting people from themselves” or is that horribly patronising and denying peoples’ agency?

I don’t know the answers, but I’d love to hear what people think.

Imperator Kahlo
Imperator Kahlo
6 years ago

@WWTH

I would love to fix misogyny. In movement atheism or any other segment of society. How? What am I supposed to do about it other than acknowledge it and speak out against it?

That’s the problem with the term “own.” It suggests we have control over other people’s actions when we only have control of our own.

I would agree that “own” is not a great term, hence the scare quotes. I also agree that it’s impossible to control other people’s attitudes and actions, but I took Brony’s original point to be that we should acknowledge problems within our community – take ownership of those problems – and, if we have the energy, power, resources, and will to do so, work towards changing them. Largely by, as you say, acknowledging and speaking out against it – I mean, how else do you change attitudes?

@EJ(TOO)

Women need to own Christina Hoff Sommers.

Feminists need to own Cathy Brennan.

Yeah, it doesn’t really work. I agree with you.

Yeah, but Christina Hoff Sommers isn’t perceived within and without the global community of women as being a prominent figure representative of women, in the same way Dawkins is a major figurehead of atheists. And intersectional feminists do accept that trans-exclusion has been and continues to be an issue for feminism, and a lot of energy and ink has been spilled on the topic. So in a way, feminists do own Cathy Brennan (and CHF).

TL;DR “own” is a crappy choice of words, but I believe community members, particularly the privileged or socially powerful among them, have an obligation to not actively dissuade discussion of toxic attitudes and norms within their community.

Wow, even my TL;DR is TL;DR.

Kirbywarp
Kirbywarp
6 years ago

Oops, yeah, I meant The Boondocks. XD Thanks for the clarification, Lorcan Nagle.

@Alan Robertshaw:

My thing actually wasn’t so much on intervention or leaving alone, but more about who is in the best position to have a conversation about a topic. It’s the same idea as inviting women speakers to talk about women in atheism, rather than having a bunch of men on a panel trying to figure out why more women don’t join. Sorta.

The thing I learned/realized from my thread is that language or concepts brought up by a member of a community come across much differently than if the same things are brought up by an outsider, and for valid reasons. That clip I mentioned called all the cartoon black people in the audience a bunch of n-words; coming from a white person trying to criticize black culture, that’d be ridiculously offensive. From a black person that is part of that culture, inherently invested in trying to improve things rather than blame the culture for being terrible, not so much.

I guess this ties to intervention in the sense that if you are trying to intervene in a problem between a group of people, and you aren’t part of the group, you’re gonna have issues. You may not be able to use the same language someone from the group might use in a non-offensive way, if only by virtue of the fact that you as an outsider aren’t seen as someone inherently invested in the outcome.

A religious person talking about sexism in the atheist community might be seen as dissing atheists, and an atheist might feel obligated to distance themselves from their fellow group members. An atheist talking about the same issue has more of a feeling of “this is something we all are trying to work through, so let’s work through it.” Then its easier to talk about the issue and not feel like someone is tarring “atheists” with a broad brush.

rugbyyogi
rugbyyogi
6 years ago

@Auntie Alias

Disagreement is one thing but when it’s delivered with contempt, insults or name-calling, that’s when it’s a problem. That’s what dogpiles look like and why I continue to denounce them.

This is the same disingenuous argument made by manosphereans who conflate harassment or threats with disagreement. At least be honest about what is taking place or you’re in gaslighting territory.

Totally agree. I have seen a few threads recently where I think it’s got really bad and said nothing and felt bad for not saying anything Having been on the receiving end of it, I felt I probably shouldn’t speak up either because I’d be perceived as unreliable or that it would open it up again. But that ain’t right either.

Anyway, then I note that Gavan has come in almost straight after me and he really is a troll. Very unfortunate.

Kirbywarp
Kirbywarp
6 years ago

@weirwoodtreehugger:

I would love to fix misogyny. In movement atheism or any other segment of society. How? What am I supposed to do about it other than acknowledge it and speak out against it?

That’s the problem with the term “own.” It suggests we have control over other people’s actions when we only have control of our own.

I’ve been taking it to mean “recognize that this is an issue at all and that it’s something that we can address in our capacity as people in the atheist community, and be supportive rather than dismissive when people try to take steps to address it.”

Kind of a low bar, but… you know, a bar that far too many people fail to meet.

@EJ (The Other One)

Women need to own Christina Hoff Sommers.

Feminists need to own Cathy Brennan.

I think the key here is that you can’t be expected to “own” a particular person or a particular organization. You “own” structural issues or statistically common problems that individuals display.

Atheists don’t need to “own” Richard Dawkins, Dawkins is just a famous and pernicious example of the sexism that does need to be “owned.” Insert a better word for “own” if you like.

Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

@ kirbywarp

Yeah, all sorts of things to consider aren’t there?

I mean, for me, the n-word discussion is a pretty obvious one. It’s black people who’ve been affected by it, so it’s totally theirs to use/deal with as they wish (that’s not to say there’ll be a consensus within the community of course, but that is something white people can butt out off). There may well be a good faith argument for outsiders having a valid input though (although I can’t think what that might be)

I have my usual ‘holding multiple totally contradictory views’ thing going on of course. I hate paternalism (the road to hell etc,) but I hate standing by when I think someone is suffering.

It’s perhaps easier in animal rights (which is where I get passionate). But there’s a lot of debate around what “voice for the voiceless” actually justifies.

Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his, she/her pronouns)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his, she/her pronouns)
6 years ago

@Alan

Well, I’m pretty much against FGM and circumcisim and any sort of elected surgery on children without their consent.

Most of the time, FGM is done to babies who cannot consent to it. The problem wouldn’t be the fact that FGM exists but the fact that a needless operation is done to a child.

And such operations aren’t done just in countries outside of the west. Plenty of intersex people have had surgery done on their genitals even without the consent of their parents within the US (and likely many other countries which think FGM in any other context is horrible) to adher to strict “what part of the gender binary should you go under” shit.

So, what needs to be done is to let EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE GODDAMN WORLD realize that children have the right to bodily antonomy as much as an adult has. People wouldn’t bat an eye at a child getting circumsized would fucking lose their shit if an adult was forced into a circumsition and that’s fucked up.

So that’s a world wide community problem with the way they view children, not just FGM. An adult can undergo FGM is they want and consent to it but a child should not have to go through that.

Tessa
Tessa
6 years ago

littleknown

Yes, I’m aware; I’m one of those atheists, and the wording of “needing to own” misogyny within atheism came from Brony, someone I admire, who stated that they were an atheist.

I happen to think that it would be slightly problematic for a feminist Muslim to say that all Muslims “need to own” the misogyny of misogynist Muslims.

In the same way, I think it’s problematic for atheists to say to other atheists that they need to “own” the misogyny of the misogynist atheists.

I don’t really agree with the idea that there is something about atheism or Islam that makes them more compatible with misogyny, and for me, that’s sort of where “need to own” language leads.

On the contrary: I don’t feel like Dawkins speaks for me, I would “excommunicate” him if I could, and I would like all of the help I can get.

I do think there’s something about Dawkins and Harris followers, etc., thinking themselves immune to the folly of human emotion, that makes them susceptible to building giant castles around irrational positions. But I don’t think this is something that I, as an atheist who has never felt this way, and who has consistently fought against them “flying my flag”, so to speak, need to “own”.

But I might just be seeing that phrasing differently than how it was meant.

I don’t think anybody is saying the “act of being an atheist” is more compatible with misogyny, but the history of atheism as a movement kinda is. Started by mostly bunch of white guys (originally highly educated individuals of privilege), encouraging more white guys to join them. As the group got more diverse other groups wanted a voice, so the old guard and supporters got louder and more aggressive. So, the question is, does the atheist movement foster misogyny more than progressiveness?

When people talk about “owning” (or at least when I do), it’s not that it’s inherent to atheism as the act of not believing in gods, we mean that this is what’s become of the atheist movement, we have to accept it and try to change it.

Kirbywarp
Kirbywarp
6 years ago

@Alan Robertshaw:

Maybe the simplest thing you can say is that if you’re going to try to intervene, the very first thing you should do is listen to the group and figure out what members are already trying to do to fix the issue. If it’s literally nothing, then that’s one thing, but if there is something then your primary duty as an interventionist would be to help the existing efforts.

Which I’m sure someone else has already said.

Hambeast, Social Justice Beastie
Hambeast, Social Justice Beastie
6 years ago

Whoa, I go off for a few days to work on cleaning out my dad’s house and look what happens!

I am a USian who is an atheist and I don’t tell many people, either. I live in a very Christian part of California. As in local businesses advertise on cable TV with “faith” as part of the business name.

I used to practice paganism, but fell out of that, too. I’ll tell you, though, my pagan friends and family were great about it while I’ll never mention the paganism or atheism to certain family members for fear of attempted ‘reprogramming’.

I’ve also followed a lot of this over on FTB and have heard quite a bit about Dawkins’ tweets. I read the “Dear Muslima” comment on Pharyngula in real time, so I wrote Dawkins off back in ’11. At first, I thought it was someone misusing his name as a handle!

We simply NEED to come up with an official term for “a troll who assumes we’re all women and yells incoherent nonsense at everyone, then finds out one commenter is a white cis man and proceeds to address only him, while trying to pit him against all other commenters and giving him awkward compliments”.

The description is too long, and the phenomenon is too common and specific for us not to have a short and snappy term for it.

This behavior icks me out and fascinates me at the same time, kind of like coconut crabs, so I suggest that. I don’t much like the idea of immortalizing a troll by naming it after them. I know, not fair to coconut crabs, but I can’t think of anything inanimate that affects me the same way. Besides, won’t someone think of the sea lions?

Auntie Alias
Auntie Alias
6 years ago

@rugbyyogi

There’s a tendency around here to justify it by saying that trolls or possible trolls are fair game. I’ve been around here on and off for a few years now so the community knows I’m not a troll yet I was on the receiving end of a dogpile once, too. No one spoke up so that added insult to injury. It’s really a shitty feeling.

Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

@ pandapool

I picked FGM as an example because it was the first thing that came to mind. You make some great points though. I very much agree with your views on FGM. I’m much more ambivalent on male circumcision though.

Just goes to show there’s not necessarily any obvious consensus on such issues. I also subscribe to the philosophy that there can be multiple alternatives that are all reasonable, so it can be impossible to settle on an objectively ‘right’ solution on many topics.

Like I say, don’t know the answers; but maybe at least we can explore what the questions might be.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

I would agree that “own” is not a great term, hence the scare quotes. I also agree that it’s impossible to control other people’s attitudes and actions, but I took Brony’s original point to be that we should acknowledge problems within our community – take ownership of those problems – and, if we have the energy, power, resources, and will to do so, work towards changing them. Largely by, as you say, acknowledging and speaking out against it – I mean, how else do you change attitudes?

Agree. I hope it didn’t come off as me accusing you of making unreasonable demands of anyone. I was more just riffing off the concept of “owning” the behavior of other members of a demographic you’re a part of. The deliveryman came to the door so I just posted without reviewing my comment and on a reread it looks way more accusatory than I intended.

It is particularly a bad word choice in a feminist space. Because a lot of the population is going to be feminist women. I’m way more likely to be the target of a harassing misogynistic atheist dudebro in an atheist space than I am to be a perpetrator of it. Ultimately men are going to be misogynists because they’re men who have been socialized into a patriarchy. Not because they’re atheists. Or Christians or Muslims. Or gamers or football players. I don’t know how much feminist women can really do to “own” men’s misogyny, you know?

Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

@ kirbywarp

Oh yes indeed. Unless it’s an absolute emergency, checking whether your help is actually needed is a fundamental condition precedent.

Although I bet there are other views even on that!

Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his, she/her pronouns)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Jackie; currently using they/their, he/his, she/her pronouns)
6 years ago

@Alan

That is why you need to help the community and not just try to tackle the situation as an outsider because the community would have more insight to the problems and many of the possible angles to correct it.

And I don’t quite understand your ambivalence on male circumcision. I mean, I know it isn’t “as bad” of FGM but it’s still taking away a child’s right to bodily autonomy when done without consent.

Imperator Kahlo
Imperator Kahlo
6 years ago

I don’t know how much feminist women can really do to “own” men’s misogyny, you know?

Word.

David N-T
David N-T
6 years ago

Re Ownage

While I agree that it’s unfair for someone to be held responsible for someone else’s actions, I do think that there are some situations where a person should own the consequences of someone else’s actions if they had a high enough level of involvement. For instance, I would ask that, say, a radio host that goes on xenophobic, racist rants where he talks about how someone should really do something about these people own the actions of one of his followers when they lash out violently at the radio show host’s targets. Granted, I don’t think that atheism writ large should own the actions of Dawkins, but I do think that there is a sub-branch of it that really should do a whole lot of soul searching.

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