Notes and Comment Blog

Guest post by Antonia Bookbinder on the normalization of misogynist ideology

May 27th, 2014 1:52 pm | By

I recall being a twenty-something woman and being tremendously attracted to one or another sexy, smart man. These men almost always friend-zoned me for being butch and sarcastic, saying how great it was to be friends with me because I wasn’t “really a girl” and whining about their far more conventionally feminine girlfriends. It hurt, a lot, and I eventually learned to avoid that particular sort of male “friend”. Somehow, though, I never ranted about how all men were evil or depraved or contemplated purchasing firearms to massacre popular students. This is mostly because I was never told that I had an inalienable right to male bodies. I was told instead that I should focus on enjoying life without a sexual relationship, that my sexual satisfaction or lack thereof was not the single most important fact of my existence, and that even good, fulfilling relationships were inevitably also complicated and painful.

When we teach boys (explicitly and implicitly) that they are incomplete or inadequate unless they have access to a woman’s genitals, that sexual relationships can be had by following certain manipulative rules, and that compliance with gender norms is required for satisfying sexual relationships, we teach children to become rapists and murderers. This is not to excuse men who perpetrate violence of the Isla Vista sort, but it is worth examining where such perpetrators come from.

Our collective failure to notice or address the prevalence of extremist misogynist ideology in mainstream culture creates more such men from today’s boys. Every time we hear and do not confront a child or youth repeating misogynist “humor”, and every time we avoid discussion of pick-up-artist ideas in our conversations about gender-related violence, we are each complicit in tomorrow’s Isla Vistas.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Their depraved emotions and vile sexual impulses

May 27th, 2014 12:02 pm | By

Amanda Marcotte has some thoughts on PUA ideology and Elliot Rodger.

This theory—that ordinary and worthy men are oppressed by women who refuse to have sex with them—was articulated in Rodger’s 141-page manifesto he sent to newspapers.

Women are incapable of having morals or thinking rationally. They are completely controlled by their depraved emotions and vile sexual impulses. Because of this, the men who do get to experience the pleasures of sex and the privilege of breeding are the men who women are sexually attracted to… the stupid, degenerate, obnoxious men. I have observed this all my life. The most beautiful of women choose to mate with the most brutal of men, instead of magnificent gentlemen like myself.

This sort of rhetoric is fairly common on some of the more embittered PUA forums, and the “men’s rights” forums that have quite a bit of overlap with them. 

And it is what it is. It’s not all that belief-defying that one very warped guy would take the rage and channel it into violence. It’s surprising that more warped guys don’t. (But many of course do it one at a time, in private, without a manifesto.)


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Rodger told the world exactly why he went on this killing spree

May 27th, 2014 11:09 am | By

Lindsay Beyerstein has a brilliant public post on Facebook that has 392 shares as of this moment.

I am so tired of ostensibly smart, liberal men pretending that there’s some deep mystery about why Elliot Rodger did what he did, or worse, that there’s something unseemly or self-serving about feminists pointing out that he was an explicitly misogynist terrorist. I read Rodger’s manifesto twice. I wish all English comp students could formulate a thesis and support it as clearly as he did.

Rodger told the world exactly why he went on this killing spree. He spelled it out in excruciating detail and sent his narrative of the killings to the media. In case that wasn’t enough, he made a series of YouTube videos to cement his narrative of his own crime in the public mind.

The only thing I would add to that is that there are a few ostensibly smart (but not liberal) women doing the same pretending – Christina Hoff Sommers, Cathy Young, Miranda Hale and other slime pit types, women like that. I haven’t seen one ostensibly smart, liberal woman doing that though…

Lindsay points out crisply that Rodger said why he did it; he said it very clearly; he said it repeatedly.

A person’s own account of their behavior is never the final word. But when the person outlines their motives as lucidly and in as much detail as this guy, that is the starting point for any reasonable interpreter. Yes, we can talk about mental illness. Yes, we can talk about gun control. But none of these factors negates the fact that Rodger was a textbook misogynist terrorist, on the model of Marc Lepine and George Sodini.

Is it “grandstanding” to say that? Is it “cruel”? Is it “selfish”? I can’t see it.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Same? Or different?

May 27th, 2014 9:55 am | By

So…this too is “spin” for “political purposes,” yes? Or not.


Richard Dawkins @RichardDawkins May 24

“What’s so wrong about hating? Its just evolution, and how their chemicals react to such things.” Are you really that stupid, or pretending?

Richard Dawkins @RichardDawkins May 24

Sorry, it seems my sarcasm needs spelling out. It’s usually aimed at Western liberals who patronisingly excuse atrocities as “their culture”

Richard Dawkins @RichardDawkins May 23

What is especially depressing is that the demand comes from STUDENTS. Pathetic, brainwashed little twerps.

Demand for Iranian actress to be flogged, because formally kissed on cheek by President of Cannes festival

It’s all so frightfully political! How cruel that is!

Or is it? I haven’t seen anything from Zara or Hale saying it is.

Why is that?

H/t for the idea to Michael Nam.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

How dare you treat Rodger’s murders as political?

May 27th, 2014 9:07 am | By

You may think The New Misogyny (as, I’m told, David Futrelle calls it) and the harassment and threats and sometimes plain old violence that go with it are a problem, but there are those who think the problem is instead noticing the link between misogyny and harassment—>violence.


Steve Zara @sjzara

That video seems thoughtful and describes real problems for women, but I think the leap from masculinity problems to murder is too much.

Miranda Celeste Hale @mirandachale

What angers me re: that video & the hashtag &Valenti’s op-ed etc. is the cruelty of the women who think this tragedy is about *them*

Steve Zara @sjzara

I think you are homing in on what disturbs me – it’s about trying to spin tragedy for political purposes.


Steve Zara @sjzara

. I get deeply uncomfortable when it’s put to me that a view or campaign position is beyond any criticism, any discussion.

Melynie Withington @MelynieAZ

Same thing with gun control campaigners.

Andreas Draganis @ADraganis

to play devils advocate here: when are they allowed to weigh in, only after directly affected by tragedy?

Steve Zara @sjzara

Surely, all the time, because their issues are general. It’s the linkage with tragedy that seems odd.

So what is happening here is that women or feminists are “trying to spin tragedy for political purposes.” So Rodger’s murder-spree was a simple tragedy, it was in no way political, and it’s bad, suspect “spin” to view it as political.


Why would that be the case? How could that be the case? Given the manifesto and the videos and especially the just-pre-murder video, how can his murders not be political? I suppose it’s conceivable that he just felt like murdering some totally random people and the pre-murder video was a misdirection…but it’s not very plausible.

I think when somebody makes a video announcing a plan to murder and reasons for the murder, and then commits the promised murder(s), we’re allowed to take that announcement at face value.

We do that when jihadists make pre-murder videos, I think.

Even without videos and manifestos, certain kinds of murder are pretty unmistakably political. The murder of James Byrd, the guy in Texas who was dragged behind a truck and battered to death, was pretty unmistakably political, despite its random quality. The murder of Matthew Shepard was pretty unmistakably political.

Or take the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. Would a Steve Zara frown in concern at people who “spin” that particular “tragedy” as political? Would a Miranda Hale express anger at the “cruelty” of the black people who think this tragedy was “about *them*”? I hardly think so.

But when it’s women? Oh that’s different.

Why is it different?

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Oh gawd no not Leonard Shlain

May 26th, 2014 6:10 pm | By

Apparently the anti-feminist crowd have only just discovered Leonard Shlain’s ridiculous book The Alphabet Versus the Goddess. That’s odd because it was published in 1998; I remember finding it in a bookstore and skimming through it and laughing a disdainful laugh. That was before I had a blog to do my laughing on!

There’s an article about it on this Amazon-linked site.

Shlain frames the premise:

Of all the sacred cows allowed to roam unimpeded in our culture, few are as revered as literacy. Its benefits have been so incontestable that in the five millennia since the advent of the written word numerous poets and writers have extolled its virtues. Few paused to consider its costs. . . . One pernicious effect of literacy has gone largely unnoticed: writing subliminally fosters a patriarchal outlook. Writing of any kind, but especially its alphabetic form, diminishes feminine values and with them, women’s power in the culture.

He defines the feminine outlook as a “holistic, simultaneous, synthetic, and concrete view of the world” and the masculine as a “linear, sequential, reductionist” one characterized by abstract thinking, while recognizing — as Susan Sontag did decades earlier in condemning our culture’s artificial polarities— that “every individual is generously endowed with all the features of both.”

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh fuck off. It’s just the same old shit, you jackass, dressed up as nicer and more spirachool. There is no “feminine outlook” and that “holistic, simultaneous, synthetic” crap is just another way of saying too stupid to think clearly.

Shlain writes:

They coexist as two closely overlapping bell-shaped curves with no feature superior to its reciprocal. These complementary methods of comprehending reality resemble the ancient Taoist circle symbol of integration and symmetry in which the tension between the energy of the feminine yin and the masculine yang is exactly balanced. One side without the other is incomplete; together, they form a unified whole that is stronger than either half. First writing, and then the alphabet, upset this balance. Affected cultures, especially in the West, acquired a strong yang thrust.

You know who else talks like that? The Vatican.

What is especially interesting is that Shlain was writing in 1998, when the internet as we know it — a medium that lends text and image seemingly equal gravitas — was in its infant stage. The golden age of web video was nearly a decade away, as was the invention of the smartphone camera and its constant connection to the web. Could it be that the world wide web, especially the image-heavy ecosystem of social sharing, would emerge as an equalizer of gender dynamics?



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

That he had personally witnessed

May 26th, 2014 5:13 pm | By

Update: oh and there’s also PZ’s account. So that’s two non-anonymous sources.

Slime pitters are all agitated, asking me in unapproved comments if I have a source for the non-anonymous allegations of Shermer’s sexual harassment. I’m pretty sure I’ve already posted this, and I’m not here to do homework for the slime pitters, but all the same – here it is again.

Jason. Last November. Carrie Poppy and the Nay-sayers.

Carrie Poppy has been extraordinarily well-placed in some of the bigger scandals regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault recently, in having been employed as communications director for JREF and having resigned after six months due to, let’s say, philosophical differences with DJ Grothe, president of the organization. Well, if you can classify her stating her reasons for leaving as mere philosophy, being his “constant duplicity, dishonesty, and manipulation”.

So people rushed then to attack Carrie Poppy, to destroy her as an irrational harpy with a bone to grind and an axe to pick against Grothe. So when she recently decided to suggest that women should generally stay away from TAM because the JREF was unlikely to treat any incidents with any level of seriousness, people naturally resorted to the same trope — that she was trying to destroy TAM and JREF.

Only the strange thing is, the corroboration of her claims came from those very people that you’d least expect. The ones who have been trying to naysay the whole thing all along.

Carrie was tight-lipped about why at first, but the nay-sayers brigaded as they normally do. When asked what JREF / TAM could do to make things better:

The answer is going to sound very vague and like the JREF *must* already be doing this, because who in their right mind wouldn’t? But from my vantage:

1. Do not allow people who have assaulted others at your conference, or you have reasonable suspicion that they have done so, back at the conference.
2. Take women’s complaints (and any victim’s complaints) seriously. Investigate them fully.
3. Have an infrastructure for reporting complaints, where people feel safe and listened to.

These are reasonable complaints, and her putting them forward here suggests she knows that, at least when she was in a position to see it, that they were not in place. She’s evidently seen enough to know this is a trend, not a one-off.

But people keep pressing her for evidence or at least concrete examples, and she eventually talks to her lawyer:

Hi everyone. I just spoke to a lawyer about sharing this information with you, and feel comfortable telling you this one thing (though it is one of several):

D.J. Grothe told me and others, repeatedly, that he (DJ) had personally witnessed Michael Shermer groping a female TAM speaker’s breast, unprovoked and against her protestations. She has confirmed this, since. D.J. continued to invite that speaker to TAM in subsequent years. D.J. has stated this much over and over. So please, do feel free to ask him yourselves.

(By “that speaker,” I meant Shermer.)

That’s where. That’s my source. It’s DJ Grothe, via Carrie Poppy.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Attitudes that are all around us

May 26th, 2014 4:54 pm | By

Sasha Weiss at the New Yorker on #YesAllWomen. She first reads Rodger’s “manifesto”:

The first half of the manifesto is lucid and reflective—we see glimmers of a happy boyhood and an affectionate, curious personality—which makes his spewings of misogyny and hatred in the second half even more chilling. He wanted to abolish sex, thereby equalizing men and ridding society of women’s manipulative and bestial natures, and to lock women in concentration camps so they would die out. (“I would have an enormous tower built just for myself, where I can oversee the entire concentration camp and gleefully watch them all die,” he wrote. “If I can’t have them, no one will, I imagine thinking to myself as I oversee this. Women represent everything that is unfair in this world, and in order to make this world a fair place, women must be eradicated.”) His idea was to imprison a few select women in a lab, where they would be artificially inseminated to propagate the species.

Rodger’s fantasies are so patently strange and so extreme that they’re easy to dismiss as simply crazy. But, reading his manifesto, you can make out, through the distortions of his raging mind, the outlines of mainstream American cultural values: Beauty and strength are rewarded. Women are prizes to be won, reflections of a man’s social capital. Wealth, a large house, and fame are the highest attainments. The lonely and the poor are invisible. Rodger was crazier and more violent than most people, but his beliefs are on a continuum with misogynistic, class-based ideas that are held by many.

The ones that jump out at you from the tv screen if you pay any attention.

Elliot Rodger earned the fame and infamy he wished for through his act of violence, and now everyone can read about his grotesque ideas. #YesAllWomen offers a counter-testimony, demonstrating that Rodger’s hate of women grew out of attitudes that are all around us. Perhaps more subtly, it suggests that he was influenced by a predominant cultural ethos that rewards sexual aggression, power, and wealth, and that reinforces traditional alpha masculinity and submissive femininity. (This line of thought is not intended in any way to make excuses for Rodger’s murderousness, but to try to imagine him as part of the same social world we all live in and not as simply a monster.) The thread has produced over a million tweets, and they are by turns moving, enraging, astute, sorrowful, and terrifying. Even though most of the tweets do not directly mourn the people Rodger killed, the tweets accumulate into a kind of memorial, a stern demand for a more just society. 

It would be good if we could have that.



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

A lit review

May 26th, 2014 3:45 pm | By

In that same post of Futrelle’s he does a quick review of Twitter assholes explaining away any connection between the actions of Elliot Rodger and the popular sport of misogyny.

When a white supremacist murders blacks or Jews, no one doubts that his murders are driven by his hateful, bigoted ideology. When homophobes attack a gay youth, we rightly label this a hate crime.

But when a man filled to overflowing with hatred of women acts upon this hatred and launches a killing spree targeting women, many people find it hard to accept that his violence has anything to do with his misogyny. They’re quick to blame it on practically anything else they can think of – guns, video games, mental illness – though none of these things in themselves would explain why a killer would target women.

In the case of Elliot Rodger, who set out on Friday night aiming, as he put it in a chilling video, to “slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blonde slut” in a popular sorority house at the University of California, Santa Barbara, some Men’s Rights activists and other manospherians are doing their best to convince the world that misogyny had nothing to do with it.

On A Voice for Men, for example, Janet Bloomfield (who goes by the name JudgyBitch), notes that Rodger killed more men than women…


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Known for his fierce criticism of Islamist militias

May 26th, 2014 3:35 pm | By

More shit news, via the BBC.

Prominent Libyan journalist Meftah Buzeid, known for his fierce criticism of Islamist militias, has been shot dead in the city of Benghazi.

He was the editor of the Burniq newspaper and had regularly appeared on television challenging the rise of such groups since the 2011 revolution.

The choke hold gets tighter and tighter and tighter and tighter.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Rodger’s utopia

May 26th, 2014 3:24 pm | By

David Futrelle starts a post on Elliot Rodger with a horrible chart he says Rodger posted.

A chart posted by Elliot Rodger, giving his chilling spin on a manosphere meme depicting supposed female "hypergamy"

I couldn’t even figure it out at first, but then I did.

But his killing spree had nothing to with misogyny. Never forget that. It was just his own individual quirkiness.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

A major public face of the secular movement

May 26th, 2014 12:15 pm | By

Oh gee, the things you find when you glance at the site stats, which show links from other sites. Like this time a bunch from the JREF forum, which surprised me enough that I went to see why. The why? It’s Damion Reinhardt gloating over the fact that Michael Shermer is still popular in skepto-atheo land.

I know that we mostly talk about the accusations levelled against Radford (so much publicly available data to comb through!) but I’d like to pause to consider a hypothesis about the accusations levelled at Shermer.

Ho: Anonymously accusing someone of serious sex crimes (at a rageblog website) will make it difficult for the accused to continue as a major public face of the secular movement, in the company of high profile luminaries such as Dawkins, Tavris, Harris, Goldstein, Pinker, etc.

Ha: Such accusations, in the absence of some corroboration and investigation, carry little weight outside of the social justice wing of the secularist movement.

I’m going to say that there seems to be some preliminary evidence in favour of rejecting the null hypothesis:

Naturally, some of the folks over at FtB are rage vomiting about their collective inability to take Michael Shermer down for good.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

A bad dude

May 26th, 2014 11:10 am | By

Here’s one I didn’t know about – Todd Kincannon, Tea Party honcho from South Carolina. Crooks and Liars is one source for this tweet (and there are others):

Right Thinking Wingers: Todd Kincannon Edition

I was so impressed by that that I looked him up, and found a Salon article from January.

All the evidence indicates that Todd Kincannon, a former South Carolina GOP operative, is a bad dude. Not only in the sense that he frequently tweets things that are hostile, bigoted and dehumanizing — whichhedoes — but also in the sense that he’s quite likely a sexual harasser, too. A real winner.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, to find that Kincannon, who regards himself as some kind of Twitter provocateur, has caused an outrage on Twitter with his latest barrage of hate-tweets. But instead of focusing his ire on Trayvon Martin, trans* people, or U.S. veterans, Kincannon has set his sights on Wendy Davis, the Texas Democrat who is currently in the midst of running her underdog campaign to become the next governor of the Lone Star State.

Let me guess – he gave careful explanations for his disagreement with her policy proposals?

Ok that’s enough of a sample for me. There’s plenty more there.

Good that we don’t live in a misogynist culture, isn’t it.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Attitudes that generally put down women

May 26th, 2014 10:41 am | By

The Wall Street Journal reports on #YesAllWomen – not with anything earthshaking to say, but it’s interesting that it reports on it at all.

Hours after a shooting rampage in this coastal college town that the alleged gunman said was “retribution” against women who’d rejected him, a woman launched a conversation on Twitterabout what it’s like to feel vulnerable to violence.

“As soon as I reached my teens, I didn’t feel comfortable being outside in the evening on my own street,” the woman wrote in one of her first posts under a Twitter hashtag called #YesAllWomen. The woman declined to be identified for this article.

The hashtag had garnered more than 500,000 tweets by Sunday afternoon, according to Internet analytics firm, making it the most active on Twitter.

Oh no! Grandstanding!! Selfishness!!! Talking about misogyny just because a shooter created a misogynist video just before going on his shooting spree!!!!

Comments started pouring in as soon as the hashtag was started, with women from around the world—including Saudi Arabia—chiming in and using the hashtag as a vehicle to air their feelings on issues from criticism of their dress, to men’s behavior. (A response from men quickly started under the tag #NotAllMen).

And from women eager to disassociate themselves from the filthy feminism.

On Sunday morning talk shows, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said deputies who visited Mr. Rodger weeks before the shooting at the request of family members, concluded that he wasn’t a threat. “At the time the deputies interacted with him, he was able to convince them he was OK,” Mr. Brown said on the CBSprogram “Face the Nation”.

In a 141-page document posted online, Mr. Rodger described the visit, expressing relief that they didn’t search his room, which was filled with weapons and ammo. “That would have ended everything,” he wrote. Instead he was able to convince them it was “all a misunderstanding,” the manifesto says.

So it turns out he wasn’t completely lacking in social skills. He couldn’t get women to like him, but he could convince sheriff’s deputies that he wasn’t a threat. B+.

#YesAllWomen has especially touched a nerve, in part because Mr. Rodger’s video exemplified attitudes that generally put down women, Ms. Sklar said. “It’s not just about violence against women, but the attitudes that were so chillingly on display in his video–that he was unfairly deprived of attention from women, which was his due,” she said.

That is correct. It’s not healthy – it’s not healthy to have a culture in which it’s just normal for group X to express endless venomous hatred of group Y in public. Not healthy, not productive, not the way to foster peace and kindness among people.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

He was a gentle, charitable man with no enemies

May 26th, 2014 9:38 am | By

Another horrible news item from Pakistan – Dawn reports that a US-based doctor in Pakistan to do humanitarian work was murdered as he visited an Ahmadi cemetery.

The doctor was in Pakistan on a short visit to do voluntary work at the Tahir Cardiac Hospital, a private institution that he himself helped build a few years back.

And that’s his reward.

The Wall Street Journal has more.

An American doctor of Pakistani origin was shot dead in central Pakistan by unidentified gunmen on Monday, police said, in an attack that appeared to target him because of his membership in the minority Ahmadiyya religious community.

Dr. Mehdi Ali, 50, was walking with family members in the town called Chanab Nagar, also known as known as Rabwah, in the Punjab province, at around 5 a.m. when two gunmen on motorcycles shot and killed him, police official Tariq Warraich said.

Good old religion, motivating outgroup hatreds for thousands of years. Thank you, religion; that’s so useful.

The Ahmadiyya community’s spokesman, Saleem Uddin, said Dr. Mehdi, an Ohio-based cardiologist, had arrived in Pakistan on Saturday for a week of volunteer work at the Tahir Heart Institute, a hospital run by the community.

“He was a gentle, charitable man with no enemies. We don’t know who could have done this, but everyone is aware of the campaign against our community,” Mr. Uddin said. “They have killed someone who came back to Pakistan to help the people here, regardless of their faith.”

Mr. Warraich, the police official, said there had been no threats to Dr. Ali or the Tahir Heart Institute recently. However, another police official in Chanab Nagar, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said extremist organizations regularly distributed fliers against the hospital.

“We often see pamphlets and posters that say it is against Islam to be treated at this hospital because it is run by Ahmadis,” the police official said.

Dr. Ali is survived by his wife and three sons. His wife, his wife’s cousin, and one of his sons were walking with him when he was killed, said police and community members.

That’s so sickening, and heart-rending. Dr Mehdi does a good thing, so fanatics tell everyone not to make use of that good thing because of a trivial meaningless religious difference, and for good measure they murder Dr Mehdi.

People, do good things, not bad things.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Men as people but women as

May 26th, 2014 9:26 am | By

This is a good one…

because the media present men as people but present women as sexual objects

Embedded image permalink

Now of course that could in theory be a misleading because unrepresentative selection of Rolling Stone covers. It could be that a representative selection of Rolling Stone covers would show an equal number of men posing with strategic clothes left off and a seductive facial expression, and an equal number of women head and shoulders face front with shirt on looking thoughtful/sullen. That could be, in principle. But in reality?

You be the judge.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

What elephant in what room?

May 25th, 2014 4:44 pm | By

On the other hand, more cheerfully, I’m seeing a lot of good mini-essays (which is to say, paragraphs) on Facebook by angry male friends expressing their anger at all the anxious misdirection oh no don’t look at the misogyny look over there at the purple rabbit in a fedora.

Like Martin Robbins for example, who gave me permish to quote him.

A man who was part of a community of extremists who hate women, wrote a manifesto about his hate for women, then went to a female sorority house to kill women.

But it definitely wasn’t about his hatred of women. Oh no sir, it was because of his Asperger’s, or some undefined mental illness. It clearly had nothing to do with his hatred of women because he killed men too, on his way to the female sorority house. More men than women in fact if you count them up. And even if it was related to misogyny, we probably shouldn’t talk about it because hey, if we air these sort of views publicly the terrorists win.

That’s one of several I’ve seen, and that’s just among my friends and just the ones I’ve happened to see. There’s a lot of fedupness – male fedupness – with this “it wasn’t misogyny!!” bullshit. Never doubt it.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The ideology behind these attacks

May 25th, 2014 4:30 pm | By

Laurie Penny has an angry piece in the New Staggers about misogyny and the rush to deny that misogyny makes any difference to anything.

This is not the first time that women and unlucky male bystanders have been massacred by men claiming sexual frustration as justification for their violence. In 1989, 25-year-old Marc Lépine shot 28 people at the École Polytechnique in Quebec, Canada, claiming he was “fighting feminism”. Fourteen women died. In 2009, a 48-year-old man called George Sodini walked into a gym in the Pittsburgh area and shot 13 women, three of whom died. His digital manifesto was a lengthier version of Rodger’s, vowing vengeance against the female sex for refusing to provide him with pleasure and comfort. Online misogynists approved.

“When men kill women, the underlying reason is almost always an unfulfilled psychosexual need . . . to men celibacy is walking death, and anything is justified in avoiding that miserable fate,” wrote “Roissy in DC” of the Pittsburgh killing, as reported by Jezebel in 2009.  “At least it is implied that feminism is to blame and he is taking a last stand,” said another. “I had been waiting for this (almost thinking I had to do it myself) and I am impressed. Kudos.”

The ideology behind these attacks – and there is ideology – is simple. Women owe men. Women, as a class, as a sex, owe men sex, love, attention, “adoration”, in Rodger’s words. We owe them respect and obedience, and our refusal to give it to them is to blame for their anger, their violence - stupid sluts get what they deserve. Most of all, there is an overpowering sense of rage and entitlement: the conviction that men have been denied a birthright of easy power.

And it is what it is. It’s not something else. It’s absurd to be in denial about it. When people create public rage-rants about X set of people and say they’re going to kill X set of people and then immediately go out and kill some of X set of people, it’s not delusional or “ideological” to connect the rants and threats with the killing.

Why can we not speak about misogynist extremism – why can we not speak about misogyny at all – even when the language used by Elliot Rodger is everywhere online?

We are told, repeatedly, to ignore it. It’s not real. It’s just “crazy”, lonely guys who we should feel sorry for. But as a mental health activist, I have no time for the language of emotional distress being used to excuse an atrocity, and as a compassionate person I am sick of being told to empathise with the perpetrators of violence any time I try to talk about the victims and survivors. That’s what women are supposed to do. We’re supposed to be infinitely compassionate. We’re supposed to feel sorry for these poor, confused, vengeful individuals. Sometimes we’re allowed to talk about our fear, as long as we don’t get angry. Most of all, we mustn’t get angry.

We have allowed ourselves to believe, for a long time, that the misogynist subcultures flourishing on- and offline in the past half-decade, the vengeful sexism seeding in resentment in a time of rage and austerity, is best ignored. We have allowed ourselves to believe that those fetid currents aren’t really real, that they don’t matter, that they have no relation to “real-world” violence.

I haven’t. I haven’t allowed myself to believe that at all, and I don’t believe it. I don’t think it is best ignored; I think it’s best challenged and defeated, including driven underground if that’s possible. No, I don’t think it’s “healthier” to let it expose itself so that people can argue with it; I don’t think that’s how it works. I think the more it “exposes itself” the more recruits it gets and the hotter the rage gets. I think the whole thing needs to be fucking stopped, by shame and lost jobs and ostracism and every other social tool in the arsenal.

We have been told for a long time that the best way to deal with this sort of harrassment and violence is to laugh it off. Women and girls and queer people have been told that online misogynists pose no real threat, even when they’re sharing intimate guides to how to destroy a woman’s self-esteem and force her into sexual submission. Well, now we have seen what the new ideology of misogyny looks like at its most extreme. We have seen incontrovertible evidence of real people being shot and killed in the name of that ideology, by a young man barely out of childhood himself who had been seduced into a disturbing cult of woman-hatred. Elliot Rodger was a victim – but not for the reasons he believed.

Misogyny is nothing new, but there is a specific and frightening trend taking place, and if we’re not going to accept it, we have to call it by its name. The title of the PUA bible belies the truth: this is not a game. Misogynist extremism does not exist in a mystical digital fairyland where there are no consequences. It is real. It does damage. It kills.  And this is no longer a topic where abstraction is anything approaching appropriate.

But…still we are told to shut up about it. Even by some women.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Seasoned rabble-rousers

May 25th, 2014 11:54 am | By

There’s a nice article at The Humanist about the Women in Secularism conference.

Lindsay’s opening remarks stressed CFI’s commitment to equality and added that “stirring up trouble…is how we advance as a movement.” A panel of writers and bloggers discussed online activism and the power and pitfalls of a viral hashtag like #bringbackourgirls. While some criticize the passing along of a Twitter hashtag as superficial activism, panelists saw it as using one’s privilege to elevate the voices of the less privileged (in that case raising awareness of the missing Nigerian school girls).

Moderated by Lindsay Beyerstein, the panel included Soraya Chemaly, Amy Davis Roth, Zinnia Jones, and Miri Mogilevsky in one of the best discussions of the conference. A successful panel can happen as if by magic sometimes, but I think really relies on an integration of expertise, personal experience, and articulation. That chemistry was working here as the panelists discussed online campaigns they’d led or been part of and the backlash they endured as a result.

Chemaly, a media critic and activist, made sharp points, one being that websites should see the comments to articles as part of their content and moderate responsibly or consider abolishing the comments section altogether, as Popular Science has done. After presenting a talk on gender and free expression (“It’s not that women talk too much. People expect us to talk less”), she led a panel on intersectionality and humanism with Jones, Mogilevsky, Heina Dadabhoy, and Debbie Goddard.

Does intersectionality—examining intersections between forms of oppression—spell mission creep for humanist organizations? Certainly people who join groups seek unity. For atheist and humanist organizations, anti-religious topics achieve that, but does discussing things like immigration, racism, and—yes—sexism disrupt it?

My view? Yes, it can, but what are ya gonna do? It’s inevitable, that kind of disruption. Why? Because when you work in a group for awhile, if you’re one of the kinds of people who gets more or less politely shoved aside, you end up noticing. That can’t be helped, nor should it be. Unity is good, but not always at the expense of equal treatment. (I say “not always” because there can be emergencies, when it may be reasonable to postpone equal treatment concerns.)

Erm ok warning for inclusion of erm complimentary reference to dear Self but I can’t help it because of all the others. (“Seasoned” is a lovely euphemism for “ancient”; I’ll have to use that more.)

If day one was driven by younger secular women working largely in the digital trenches, day two was carried by the more academic and seasoned rabble-rousers. Barbara Ehrenreich, Rebecca Goldstein, Ophelia Benson, Taslima Nasrin, Susan Jacoby, and Katha Pollitt made an all-star cast of secular women writers in discussing their own exits from the religious traditions of their childhood, their thoughts on why women are so polite when it comes to religion, and even delving boldly into the conundrum of multiculturalism. Joining them were former charismatic minister Candace Gorman, Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s Sarah Jones, Huffington Post Associate Editor Mandy Velez, Jezebel columnist Lindy West, and American Atheists’ managing director and The Citizen Lobbyist author Amanda Knief. (Comedian Leighann Lord performed at the evening banquet, which, unfortunately, I had to miss).

I’m not going to lie; that second sentence makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, however absurd it may be.

Other notable quotes from WIS III:

“[When considering Muslim feminists] I used to think, why are you trying to fix this mess? Just leave it! But now I realize their value in de-fanging religion. I view them with admiration as they try to fix the hot mess I left behind.” – Heina Dadabhoy

 “I have no respect for any religion.” –Taslima Nasrin

“There are bigger problems facing woman than Internet trolls, but who will continue to write about those women if female bloggers are driven off the Internet?” –Lindy West

“The degree to which [religions] aren’t dangerous to women is the degree to which they have been infiltrated by secularism.” –Susan Jacoby

I wrote some of those down too.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

A “duty to proselytize”

May 25th, 2014 10:53 am | By

There’s a police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma – an officer officer, a captain – who thinks he has a “duty to proselytize” – even in uniform, even on duty – anyone who doesn’t have the same religious beliefs as his. Huh. I would think he has a duty not to, because separation of church and state. If there’s any branch of government you don’t want proselytizing you, it’s the police or the military.

Fortunately, a federal appellate court saw it the same way. The ACLU explains:

In 2011, the Islamic Society of Tulsa organized a Law Enforcement Appreciation Day to show its gratitude for protection provided after threats to its mosque. As part of its longstanding community-policing initiative, the Tulsa Police Department requested some of its officers to attend, as they had for hundreds of other outreach events hosted by various religious organizations over the years.

One officer – Captain Paul Fields – refused, however, claiming his attendance would pose a “moral dilemma.” Even when in uniform, Fields argued, he had a “duty to proselytize” anyone who doesn’t share his Christian beliefs. Despite his supervisors’ assurances that no one at the event would be required to participate in any religious observations or express or adopt any beliefs, and despite their offers that he send a subordinate in his place, Fields wouldn’t follow orders.

In a unanimous decision yesterday, a federal appellate court rightly found Captain Fields’s claims to have no merit, agreeing with the Tulsa Police Department and theACLU. Though certainly entitled to his own deeply held beliefs, as a police officer, Captain Fields is bound to serve all members of the community, regardless of their faith.

Including, I might add, no faith at all.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)