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Posted by on Dec 1, 2012 in Uncategorized Posts | 30 comments

An Open Plea to Advocates of Atheism Plus, Apologize and Then Start Over

Atheism Plus is described by its Wiki page like this:

Atheism+ designates spaces, persons, and groups dedicated to promoting social justice along with skepticism and critical thinking, and countering misogyny, racism, homophobia/biphobia/transphobia, ableism and other such bigotry inside and outside of the atheist community.

Atheism as such includes none of those ideas, being merely a lack of belief in gods; Atheism Plus is essentially an answer to the “now what” question that focuses on treating prejudice as woo.

“We are…
Atheists PLUS we care about social justice,
Atheists PLUS we support women’s rights,
Atheists PLUS we protest racism,
Atheists PLUS we fight homophobia and transphobia,
Atheists PLUS we use critical thinking and skepticism.”

“It’s time for a new wave of atheism … that cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime.” Link

Now you should know that I agree with the ideals of Atheism Plus most emphatically. If this is Atheism Plus then it seems to be very helpful to the cause of atheism.

So why would anyone criticize it? After all, the way religion marginalizes and mistreats minorities is an excellent reason to reject religion. This is one of the main reasons I debunk Christianity, because of what it has done, and continues to do, to the marginalized minorities in our midst.

What’s the big deal? Plenty. Read more below:

The Ignorance.

The ideals of Atheism Plus have been expressed by the late Paul Kurtz, a giant of a man in our generation. They are reflected in the organization he started, The Center for Inquiry, and his writings. They have also been reflected in three Humanist Manifesto’s. So there is really nothing new here. People who think it’s new are ignorant.

The Label.

For one thing there is the “Atheist Plus” label, which has an us/them feel to it, that is, you are either with us or you are against us with no apparent middle ground. Even Ed Brayton doesn’t like the label:

I’m very happy about the whole Atheism+ idea because I think anything that focuses our attention on issues of social justice is a good thing. But I’m not going to go around calling myself an atheist+, I’m just going to call myself an atheist. And no one is going to try to drum me out of the movement for choosing not to take such a label. I don’t really care about labels; I care about what people are actually doing. And if you’re fighting for social justice, we’re on the same team. But let’s bear in mind that there are lots of different teams under this broad umbrella, with a different focus and a different set of priorities. Let us each focus on the things we care most about. We’ll be more effective at them as a result. And let the broader movement benefit from our efforts. Link

The Lack of Evidence.

The fact that women do not attend atheist conferences as much as men is not necessarily evidence that women are being discriminated against. The fact that the bestselling new atheist authors were all men (i.e., the four horsemen) is not necessarily evidence that women authors or speakers at conventions are being discriminated against. After all, as bestselling authors people wanted to hear what they had to say. The fact that heterosexual men desire companionship and sex with women is not necessarily sexist or misogynistic either. These things should go without saying, but I say them anyway. We should emphasize the things that need emphasized in proportion to how important they are based on good solid evidence. Case in point is that I don’t know of a single leading atheist/author/blogger who doesn’t embrace the ideals of Atheism Plus. Almost all atheists agree with these stated ideals, and the ones who don’t should probably be ignored as the ignoramus bigots that they are. Atheists who disagree are probably nothing more than online trolls with no more influence than what we give them.

The McCarthyism

There is a McCarthy-like attitude where other atheists are accused of being sexist or misogynistic usually based on very little or no evidence, like “guilt by association,” and other such things. Some are being accused of these crimes just because they disagree with the same things I am mentioning in this post. Damion Reinhardt has satirized this with a list of “known” sexists.

The Immaturity.

There is at the present time quite a bit of immaturity among advocates of Atheism Plus as noted by Avant Garde, which includes verbal abuse, bullying, lying, hypocrisy, equating disagreement with misogyny, among other objections. So if I were to say just one thing to Atheism Plus advocates then it would be this: Grow up. If you want to appeal to more and more atheists then “don’t do that.”

The Unnecessary Divisiveness.

This brings me to the divisiveness of Atheism Plus. Sometimes we must divide from people we cannot associate with any longer. But since most all atheists already embrace these same ideals Atheism Plus is unnecessarily divisive. What many skeptical and atheist leaders disagree with is whether their organizations should focus on these ideals. Take for instance the democratic party in America which has been pragmatic in the last half of the last century by including all minority voices who disagree with the majority, even though some of these minority voices disagreed with the others in emphasis if not in substance. Why not do the same in the atheist community by including us all in our common goal? We need all voices. If not, and if we aim for “all or nothing” we’ll usually get what we want, nothing. That’s the extreme form of the problem we might face if we take a “my way or the highway” approach. Politics, is after all, all about compromises. And we’re talking about politics.

Other important Objections

A few other objections to Atheism Plus are argued by Notung, like how do we decide what does or does not count as social justice for atheists? We disagree on a lot of issues. Given that we do, then to require atheist organizations to focus on social justice requires mission drift, which would essentially minimize what they each do best and cause them to divide into smaller groups. There already are, for instance, movements that support these extra causes. Link.

The most scathing critiques to Atheism Plus I have found come from two writers here at SIN. Rebecca Bradley previously admired PZ Myers and Freethought Blogs, but upon a deeper investigation changed her mind, saying,

I went over to Pharyngula and at last began reading the comments. Went back and read up on Elevatorgate, paying attention this time. In the next few days, PZ more than answered my question, and in the negative… Those involved in this bizarre behavior included about half of the Freethought bloggers, their Skepchick buds, and a shifting population of faithful commenters. Their demons – the targets chosen for pelting in the stocks – were increasingly men and women who might otherwise be regarded as allies and even heroes, including prominent atheists and skeptics. The concentration of vitriol, the insularity, the attacks on newcomers, chimp-style grooming of insiders, demonization of dissidents, and shrill adherence to a tight-lipped, zero-tolerance creed of “social justice,” were all ways to bind a community. It was, moreover, a community based not on reason and the examination of ideas, but on the knee-jerk application of a peculiar bigotry – any of us who were deemed to fall short were offered no empathy and no quarter, and attempts at self-defense or even rational discourse just compounded our douchebaggery in their eyes. The phenomenon began to look more and more like either a mass case of borderline personality disorder, or a cult. In fact, the recent spinoff into Atheism+ looks like a cult with a mass case of borderline personality disorder. Link.

In a very hard hitting critique, The Prussian, who is a Ph.D. candidate at an important UK university, weighed in as well. After comparing the treatment Abbie Smith received by the proto-type Atheist Plussers and how Rebecca Watson was received, he wrote:

Miss Smith first fell into disrepute when P.Z. Myers started moaning that there were insufficient women in the skeptic scene. Abbie wrote that she was horrified by the idea that she had been asked to participate in the “scienceblogs” community because of her ovaries rather than her ideas. It will surprise no one that this is the opposite from the stance taken by Watson.

This little incident is the key. A person of accomplishment hates the idea of being judged by physical characteristics; a person of mediocrity craves it. It might wrongly be supposed that there is a contradiction between Watson’s vulgar self-promotion and her hysterical pseudo-feminism; in fact, they are the same. They are two ways of trading on her sex, since she fears above all being judged for her ideas and achievements. People like her crave an automatic acceptance based on physical characteristics, and desperately needs to be assured that any contempt is because of her sex rather than her mediocrity. Conversely, Smith, a fully fledged scientist, revolted at the idea of being reduced to her meat rather than her mind.

Now why is such a person as Watson venerated by the A+? The same principle applies; to a man of chronic insecurity, one living in fear of his own irredeemable pointlessness, a person, and above all a woman, of earned pride and real achievement is someone to be feared and hated, for her existence is a challenge and a threat. Conversely, a nonentity who has nothing to offer beyond the physical can be idolized safely. This is why in the FtB poll of the most important female atheist, Watson receives ten times the votes of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a statement of stark, staring insanity by all other lights.

This veneration of the physical over the mental could only appear in a movement that was bankrupt on mental terms (no person of self-esteem wants to be praised for bodily structure!). Link.

The Prussian further blasts “Pontiff PZ Myers,” arguing he is a coward, liar, arrogant blowhard, bully and fool, since he is the source of this unnecessary divisiveness among atheists:

Long before “Atheism +” was even a figment in its advocates’ minibrains, I learned to recognise and hate Myers for what he is. If there is anyone who is emblematic of this corruption, it is he.

While I personally do not think PZ Myers or Rebbeca Watson are enemies of mine in any way and consider them instead allies and friends in our common fight against religion and social injustice, I do think Myers is a hypocrite when it comes to women’s issues, especially with regard to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whom he numbers as one of the top five worst atheists. The Prussian reminds us that

the only reason Myers blog is as well known as it is, is the patronage of Richard Dawkins. Naturally, the instant Dawkins got fed up with Watson’s self-pity, Myers dropped him with nary a second thought, and joined in the defamation with no hesitation.

Now remember Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s background: victim of FGM, escapes one of the most anti-woman societies on earth, works her way from cleaner to MP on a platform of defending women’s rights, and has to live her entire life under threat of death for taking up that cause. While Myers is perfectly happy to slap his paws to the keyboard over the offer of coffee to Watson, he is willing to go along with the defamation of a woman of that quality. Link

In his last post on this The Prussian thinks this all matters because,

Justice is not something to be esteemed lightly. When I read the treatment dealt to Miss Smith or my colleague or Ed Rybicki, when I read the smearing of Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Richard Dawkins by people who contribute nothing, I feel my muscles lock, my teeth grind, and bile scorch the back of my throat. In other words, I get angry, very angry indeed.

I am also sickened. My revolt against Christianity was in no small part because I disliked the idea that simply attending prayer twice a day, or once a week, was a substitute for actual achievement. Somehow the A+ crowd have reached a lower level: they prefer intentions to actual achievement. Take a look at their statement of purpose. They are pro-women’s rights. So they help organize funds for the local battered women’s shelter? Help support RAWA? No, instead they… well, you know this.

This involves a visit to a place the A+ers may have heard of, known as “the Real World”. In that distant realm, religious fanaticism has returned in a terrifying form. All across Europe we’re seeing the rehabilitation of the sort of parties we thought we got rid of at Nuremberg. Further east, the Russian Orthodox Church is the clerical arm of the Putin autocracy (and there is a significant amount of the opposition to Putin that thinks him just too liberal and bleeding heart), and in India we’ve seen Hindu fascism that may yet give us a nuclear war. Overshadowing all of these is the terrible menace of jihad, tens of millions strong, a movement that has notched up three genocides in my lifetime alone, which may soon have nuclear weapons. In this background, advocates of Reason will have a stiff fight to have any voice whatsoever.

Yet the Myers tendency is determined to make this impossible. Put yourself in the shoes of a student who listens to Myers rousing call for solidarity, and in consequence decides to stand up to Islamic intimidation. And when she is arrested, accused of racism, and threatened with expulsion by her University, she looks to him for solidarity and finds him not merely failing to provide it, but actively piling on – what view will she likely have of organised atheism?

He concludes by saying:

If any atheist movement is to survive and change, in reality, the minds of many, it has to demonstrate that it is in fact willing to take on the worst menaces. I’m sorry to remind people, but we stand outnumbered a thousand to one. The only thing we have going for us is the ability to appeal to human reason and cause people to change their minds. They will not do so if they see atheists as nothing more than a crowd of spoiled, self-pitying, self-important deadheads. Link.

No wonder Ed Clint then Maria Maltseva and myself have all declared the original hate filled Atheist Plus movement to be dead in the water.

We wish advocates of Atheism Plus well only in so far as they go back to the drawing board and think it through much better. I’m sure they’re already doing this, and that’s good news. It isn’t a bad thing for them to apologize and start over. I think that’s what they should do if they want more credibility, but then I’m not them.

  • Zardoz

    The first thing I thought of when I saw the term “Atheism Plus” was “plusgood”.  I guess people don’t read George Orwell anymore.

  • http://twitter.com/Eshto Ryan Grant Long

    The single apology I ever saw from any of these people came in the form of a private e-mail to me from Ophelia Benson, attempting to apologize for the role she played in an unfortunate (and very public) facebook argument I had with Greta Christina, which in turn led to several (again, very public) incendiary posts on FTB by people who know nothing about me, misrepresenting me, selectively quoting me, outright lying and accusing me of being a misogynist.

    I told Benson (publicly) via twitter that when you attack people in public like this, it isn’t enough to offer a secret apology under the table where nobody else can see it. I want the apology to at least be as public as any of the attacks.

    I’m not holding my breath.

  • ElevatorGATE

    You are a brave hero.

  • ZedZero

    I think Rush Limbaugh and PZ have a lot in common. Rush was a leader of sorts (a public gasbag) for a while but, events over ran him and because he knows which side his bread is buttered on, he joined the lemmings in their cliff diving spectacle this election season. I see PZ the same way, a blowhard atheist who got caught up in his own “internet” fame and is now looking for a cliff to jump off from.
    I am fairly certain Rush knows his lemmings are idiots but, doubt PZ has figured it out yet however, being a public gasbag is profitable so we may never know.
    John, you are right about the inept politics. I would add that women and gays don’t need our help. They are better a politics than we are. We need them  more than they need us. The self righteous arrogance of A+ is galling.

  • zenspace

    A very good complilation of a lot of detailed and excellent commentary. Unfortunately, it is an entreaty that will fall on deaf ears. Worse, it is far more likely to invite more meaningless ridicule. The FtB and related crowds are too deep in their self-made hole to behave in any other way, lest they seem a traitor to their stated cause and turn on each other.

    Of all the recent blog posts on the topic, in my view, The Prussian hits the closest to the true mark on pretty much every point regarding the overall mentality of the FtB associated groups. In doing so, the point is made that these are not people you can reason with, nor will they respond to even the most heartfelt and sincere offer of an open hand. As long as they believe their own hype, and the hit money keeps coming in, anyone outside their self-defined circle will remain an utter anathema to them.

    Ardent Skeptic, in responding to Ed Rybicki’s recent guest blog post on the Lateral Truth page,  made the very pertinent observation that “My husband has done an analysis of the comments made at hatespaces like FtB and found that it’s really just a few people talking to themselves. The impact they have in the real world is next to nil.” This is the point to keep in mind. It is like watching a bad tv show – turn the set off and it stops bothering you. I turned off the FtB and related channels about nearly two years ago when it dawned on me that they were deteriorating on a number of levels. I never heard of all the fuss until late September of this year when a friends blog happened to weigh in on the topic and, out of curiousity, I waded back in. Of course, the result was that I received the same abusive treatment as everyone else that tried to reason with them. Left alone to their own devices, it is most likely they will just fade away as people in the atheist community continue to learn how dysfunctional they are. I’ve now shut them off for good. I won’t even follow any link that goes to one of their pages.

    I really dislike being this negative on any topic, but I am convinced that, given the nature of the personalities involved as openly displayed within that group, that there is no future down that path. A far more positive approach would be to actively build bridges towards everyone listed on Damion Reinhardt’s ‘Sexist List’ and incorporate them directly into the Skeptic Ink group as friends and even guest bloggers as has been done in some cases already, such as with DJ Grothe, as that is where the real talent lies.

    There is a way to keep moving positively forward. Extending a hand to FtB and their ilk is not it.

  • An Ardent Skeptic

    Since Zen space mentioned the stats I will include some here.  This was at the height of elevatorgate when Richard Dawkins left his “Dear Muslima” comments.  They were included in a blogpost I wrote about the incident at the time. 
    http://www.skepticismandethics.com/2011/07/on-naming-names-and-tuning-tones.html

    Here’s the pertinent bit:

    “My husband analyzed the comments on the three Pharyngula posts and found that of the 2,981 comments, 32 people account for 1,517 of those comments, and 35 for 511.  That’s just 67 people doing most of the talking…”

    Since then, my husband has rerun his analysis four times on both FTB and Skepchick and the number of people commenting has dropped considerably.I tried subtly suggesting in July 2011 that saying “Sorry” might be a good idea.  Nobody took me up on my suggestion: http://www.skepticismandethics.com/2011/07/my-favorite-words.htmlIt didn’t work then, and it’s not going to work now.  Why?  Because we have proven, with Gelato Guy, that we don’t accept apologies.  We use them to pile on more ridicule and demand a pound of flesh.    People who don’t accept apologies, tend not to give apologies because they must consider them useless.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/E353JCTXVTLW6ET2E5WDEESJT4 Jeff

    Atheism+ has nothing to do with atheism. It’s a clique of single-issue fanatics that wish to divert the dialogue & energy of this tame little community into their pet issue. They don’t do atheist issues. They play the social crusader role within the safe, friendly PC confines of the atheist community.

  • ThePrussian

    “Now you should know that I agree with the ideals of Atheism Plus most emphatically. I”  Well, I don’t.  Or at least not with one.  ”Social justice” is for people who aren’t interested in the real thing.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/jack.rawlinson.98 Jack Rawlinson

    When a person has a problem , the first thing they need to do before they can fix it is recognise that they have a problem. I don’t think the A+ crowd are going to be capable of doing that. Because they are convinced that everyone else has the problem, not them.

    They will wither and die. It’s happening already.

  • Karmakin

    It’s going to take more than an apology.  I think your post is a fairly narrow view of the situation, and as such I think it misses some things. There’s a very real problem with the ideology that A+ either is at or is moving towards (although I think there are some very real differences of opinion that so far are being glossed over).

    What’s missed is the larger scale of the problem. That is, that A+ has fit itself into a larger community, often referred to as “Social Justice Warriors”, or SJW’s for short (as opposed to MRA’s, of course). I know that when it first came up, the warning bells came on for me, because I’ve seen this before, and know that I want no part of it, from either a movement/policy/ideological point of view OR a community point of view. But, over the last few weeks I’ve been doing research on the subject…and it’s pretty scary. You can see SJW work in action in parts of the “Social Justice” community on Tumblr, or ShitRedditSays on Reddit, or the Slacktiverse or wherever. There’s quite a few in that community (that’s now A+) that desperately wanted to be part of that movement, and now they have their opening…but it’s not universal, of course. (As someone mentioned the private apology from Ophelia Benson, that’s someone who I think disagrees with a lot of this stuff but doesn’t want to burn social bridges, which I understand…I think they’re going to get burned ON her eventually, and I really hate that, but I’ll get back to that)

    The problem with the SJW community comes right at the core. The entire base of the movement is incorrect. It’s not based solely around equality…it’s based around a specific model of equality. The embracing of an “oppressor/oppressed” mindset…where either you’re someone who is oppressed or someone who (often actively) oppresses others not like you, is simply not usually correct. It’s not always wrong…as an example, I think that religious groups can and do act like active privileged groups who seek to maintain and expand that privilege…but it’s not universal. Far from it. The bigger problem with this sort of thing, is that it makes those group designations the main part of your personal character….which of course is the absolute core of sexism/racism/every other “ism” in the world pretty much.

    And then on top of that, pretty much everything seems to be reduced to gender. Although other things do come into play sometimes (when convenient), it’s mostly just gender. And one way gender at that.

    So what’s the opposition to it..that sexism/racism/etc.isn’t a problem? Well, I guess there’s some (there’s always going to be a traditionalist movement), but much of the opposition is in other models of equality. That is, the belief that…keeping it to gender to make it easy, as that’s the main conflict here..strict gender roles were pretty necessary for society at a given time. They weren’t placed by men or by women, they grew pretty organically. As society grows and evolves, there’s less need for many/most/pretty much all of those strict gender roles and we can jettison them. But that means getting rid of them for men as much as for women. And it also means that “privilege” (I dislike that term, as generally I find that the concept of underprivilege is more useful than overprivilege), goes in every which direction..at least in terms of gender…race tends to be more one-sided of course..

    In any case, the end result of A+ will be that it’ll continue to burrow into the larger SJW community, and it’ll make people who don’t feel comfortable or have disagreements with the oppressor/oppressed mindset over time into targets as well. That’s what’s happened before and that’s what will happen again.

  • http://twitter.com/iamcuriousblue iamcuriousblue

    That indeed is the core problem with A+ and the larger “social justice” atheist community around Skepchick and FTB. They claim opposition comes from the mere fact that they’ve taken on social justice question as part of their approach to atheist activism. When in fact what’s alienated a lot of people is not the mere fact that they’ve taken this subject on, but that they’ve reduced it to a party line and narrow ideology, and then further go on to claim that their party line is an absolute objective truth that anyone applying objective reasoning and scientific evidence would inevitably arrive at. The sheer hubris of that claim is staggering, especially given that their “evidence” amounts to little more than a list of links over on the Pharyngula Wiki.

    Combine this with an utterly toxic ingroup/outgroup mentality and a sentiment that the remainder of the secularist movement are a bunch of vile misogynists or meek fence-sitters who won’t stand up to misogyny (see Rebecca Watson’s Slate article for pagefulls of this) and that the best defense is a good offense, and you’ve got the beginnings of a nasty little cult.

  • http://www.facebook.com/albert.doyle.58 Albert Cornelius Doyle

    I’m with you all the way, except for the tooth-and-nail defense of Ayyan Hirsi Ali.  She’s the
    female version of Tarek Fatah, a self-congratulatory self-loathing ex-Muslim
    neocon who makes a living out of bashing fellow Muslims on behalf of petro-colonialism.   How she differs from Herman Cain and Clarence Thomas and Allen West and Phyllis Schafly and Log Cabin Republicans eludes me.  She’s corrosive, classist, imperialist, disingenuous, and I can think of nothing she’s ever advocated as an MP and fuckwad pundit that won’t make the lives of Muslim women in poor Arab countries more difficult.  Here’s an alternative take on her professional victimhood, which strikes me as similar to what you (justifiably) accuse Rebecca Watson of cashing in on: http://www.leninology.com/2012/10/meme-logic.html

  • WetCoastAtheist

    Sure, go ahead and try to be the peacemaker, but do realize that you are trying to make peace with a rattle snake … in other words, it doesn’t work.  Quite frankly, I’m not ready for peace with those fucking pukes.  If and when they apologise, I will consider it; until then they can go fuck themselves.  

  • Astrokid NJ

    Fascinating.. I didnt know about SJWs. What are their origins in the real world?
    My reading leads me to believe that the widespread victimhood mentality of large-enough populations coupled with with vicious lashing out.. comes from some sections of the powerful political Left. And it has been around for several decades now in the real world, as described by Tammy Bruce in The New Thought Police.  And such attitudes are being birthed and nurtured in the universities as can be partly seen at Foundation for Individual Rights in Universities.  I am tempted to think there’s a connection between all these.

  • Ronlawhouston

    I do agree with what others have said.  In order to apologize you must feel you have done something wrong and have a least a bit or remorse.  Somehow I don’t think that is the case here.

  • http://twitter.com/safeguardnda Safgard Endea

    I am, in a strange way, grateful for Atheism+. I am grateful because it
    showed me an unpleasant truth: there are thugs in every group, without
    exception. The language employed at A+ was often abusive and pejorative.
    If you complained about this, you were “tone-trolling”.

    There is a larger problem here, and it’s the way that people are
    written off so easily on the Internet. This is not a democracy, of
    course; you can run a blog however you wish. But the ability to so very
    easily write someone off, without giving them ANY serious consideration,
    is detrimental to your own ability to think rationally. The Internet,
    and social media in particular, has enabled the creation of insular
    little communities of yes-men. Penetrate into these communities, and you
    might inhale the contagion whereby you’ll come to think it’s perfectly
    acceptable to see something you don’t like, block it, and never have to
    look at it again.

    It’s just too easy. The point of skepticism is to think critically;
    the point of science is to have no opinion, but to see the world as it
    really is to the best of your ability. What happened at A+ should not be
    forgotten. It should serve as a reminder that there is, in every group,
    the capacity for dim-witted thugs to take hold. All they have to do is
    play the demagogue and they’ll get a few fools to follow them.

    Any apology they offer would be hollow. I previously held enormous respect for Watson, Myers and Greta Christina. They were, if nothing else, interesting. But how very quickly these “victims” became bullies! I don’t respect that, and it’ll take more than an “I’m sorry” to win my respect back. Not that they care, I’m sure. Who am I, after all?

    A tone troll, nothing more.

  • Karmakin

     Well..the “political Left” you’re talking about has relatively little to no actual political power to be honest. But yes, the SJW movement does for the most part come from, or at least is allied with those politically isolated groups on the far left (I say that as someone who is a “leftist”…or I might be better described as a consumer demand hawk).

    Critics of SJW’s would claim that the origins as well as the growth stems from academic gender study groups, but I’m not convinced of that actually. I mean the intellectual base is there, to be sure, but culturally….

    I consider myself a feminist, and have been a part of feminist communities online for a while. Part of the reason I do consider myself that, is that to be honest, the oppressor/oppressed dynamic was considered to be a bit of a strawman position, more or less, and what was embraced was an anti-strict gender role view of combating inequality (which I agree with). However, unfortunately over the last year or so, for whatever reason, there’s been an embracing of the O/O worldview. The question that you’re asking is why.

    If you ask me (who I admit, is horribly biased), I would actually argue that it’s a reaction to traditionalists inside (and outside) the MRA movement. Now personally I think it’s a stupid reaction…yeah we’ll show them by becoming exactly who they say we are!..but that’s neither here nor there. There’s also that the O/O worldview goes hand in hand with the insider/outsider group dynamic which, for all it’s problems does create a powerful group emotional response, albeit unstable in my opinion.

    Anyway, that’s my take on all this. Sorry for the long posts.

  • http://twitter.com/safeguardnda Safgard Endea

     The “bashing” you are talking about includes the practice of female genital mutilation exacted by a literalist Islamic nation which treat women like property. Bash it all day long. As for comparing her to Watson…that is a distinctly unfair comparison.

  • Astrokid NJ

    Dont be sorry for the long posts. Your insight is compelling and in good faith. I will at the outset state that I am anti-feminist and MRA, and state my disagreements.

    I consider myself a feminist, and have been a part of feminist communities online for a while. Part of the reason I do consider myself that, is that to be honest, the oppressor/oppressed dynamic was considered to be a bit of a strawman position, more or less, and what was embraced was an anti-strict gender role view of combating inequality (which I agree with). However, unfortunately over the last year or so, for whatever reason, there’s been an embracing of the O/O worldview.

    I also agree that the gender-binary was what needed combating.Warren Farrell contends that a gender-transition movement was needed.. for both men and women. 
    As an MRA, our contention is that feminism only worried about the female part, never analyzed how gender binary hurt men, and left men in the lurch. And even worse, blamed men for everything, and incrementally punished them in law. MRAs contend that the O/O dynamic was there right from the beginning.. look at the Declaration of Sentiments from Seneca Falls. Its Oppresive Patriarchy Lite.

    The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyrranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

    Look at second wave feminism.. maybe for a short period it had egalitarian concerns, but was very soon taken over by Radfems, and the Redstockings Manifesto is O/O Oppresive Patriarchy .. indistinguishable from what you see nowadays.

    III    We identify the agents of our oppression as men.  Male supremacy is the oldest, most basic form of domination.  All other forms of exploitation and oppression (racism, capitalism, imperialism, etc.) are extensions of male supremacy: men dominate women, a few men dominate the rest.  All power structures throughout history have been male-dominated and male-oriented.  Men have controlled all political, economic and cultural institutions and backed up this control with physical force.  They have used their power to keep women in an inferior position.  All menreceive economic, sexual, and psychological benefits from male supremacy. All men have oppressed women.

    And when some men figured it out and started speaking out, they were brushed aside. by people like Gloria Steinem no less.

    The Lace Curtain
    Hearing women’s internal stories – without hearing men’s – made the world seem unfair to women. Ironically, because we didn’t know men’s stories were being left out, the more we heard from women the more we thought we’d been neglecting women. Soon it became politically incorrect to interrupt her flow. So women’s stories became women’s studies, not to be interrupted by men’s studies.Graduates of women’s studies courses soon controlled gender related decisions in almost all large bureaucracies. When an issue about sexual harassment or date rape came up on a college campus, the feminists flooded the committees concerning these decisions, created the agenda, and decided who would be hired as consultants and speakers.The problem? Women with backgrounds in women’s studies were not only uneducated about men, but often saw men as the problem and women as the solution. They had demonized men. If someone spoke up against them, they weren’t just outnumbered, they were labeled sexist. And what we will see in this chapter is how that labeling led to the end of careers in the ‘80s and ‘90s as quickly as being labeled communist ended careers in the 1950s.The power of feminists to allow only a feminist perspective to be aired (in every field that dealt with gender issues) came to be labeled the “Lace Curtain.”

    In other words, what the Atheist community is seeing now is nothing new. Its just that the internet has made it all very apparent to the discerning skeptics as well. 
    Maria M (bluharmony) recently posted a link to “myth created by feminists”. 
    That blogpost effectively said that there was no male-on-female historical oppression of women, biology and untamed nature was the deciding factor as to how our cultures did division of labor, and we needed modern medicine to free women from reproduction constraints as well as massive expansion of tertiary sector of economy (i.e desk jobs) to get to where we are. Now the question is.. how long will society live in “myth of historical oppression”,  how long will men suffer from guilt and go on paying “reparations” to women?

  • Astrokid NJ

    If you ask me (who I admit, is horribly biased), I would actually argue that it’s a reaction to traditionalists inside (and outside) the MRA movement.

    They sure have reacted badly to the growing MRM, but the traditionalists have split from the MRAs a few years ago.. they dont agree philosophically.There are many reactions to the situation men find themselves in reaction to feminism.. over the last decade, they have distilled into separate groups.  The MRAs distanced themselves from the traditionalists a few years ago. The traditionalists no longer consider themselves MRAs, nor do the MRAs like to associate with the traditionalists. MRAs want to gender transition as well (and they individually have already done that). We dont want to support women even one bit. We will no longer execute the “protect and provide” roles. No chivalry either.

  • Vic

    Aren’t you intermixing MRA goals with MGTOW goals there in your last sentences? Maybe it’s just your phrasing and I’m interpreting it wrong.
    I agree MRAs overwhelmingly support the abolishement of the duties and obligations traditionally imposed on men, but in contrast to MGTOWs, after the societal transition to egalitarianism  it’s up to every individual how he or she is going about their life.
    A monogamous partnership between man and woman (or woman and woman or man and man) is still the most common form of living in the Western world, and who in this partnership provides what is up to every individual couple. One could still be chivalrous, or a provider, it should just be a free decision instead of a societal expectation.
    I think the MRA is, or should be, mostly about creating this environment of individual freedom.

    Lastly, I disagree with MRAs succesfully weeding out tradcons in their ranks.
    First, the MRM is still relatively young and developped in other ways than e.g. feminism.
    Secondly, I’d say the lack of a written agenda hurts. Farrel’s work would be a fantastic base for formulating common MRA goals.
    These two issues create a problem, because every person who is merely critical of feminism or shares MRA issues is thrown into the MRM bucket.
    Thus masculinists, male supremacists or secret tradcons are often associated with the MRM, despite having very different objectives and views on society.

    Another concern: I know the manner of speech and tone on MRA websites can be rough and bawdy (and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that), but I’d also regetably say that MRAs regularly fail to point out misogynist content or comments and fail to police their movement (just like moderate feminists fail to police radical feminists).
    While that work can be a chore, it would do wonders for the public image of MRAs, which is still mostly coined by the contortion of feminists who want to keep a rival movement down (not to forget the general population still overwhelmingly associates feminism with equality and women’s rights and will jump to the knee-jerk defense of feminism of all forms), and without better self-policing MRAs will continue to make easy targets (whch they are).

    I’d go even further and say, that without some quick and decisive change, the reactionary elements threaten to overwhelm the progrressive elements of the MRM, but that’s just my personal opinion.

    Lastly, I want to link this blog which I think shows another important, looming danger for the MRM:
    http://venturephilosophy.blogspot.de/2012/11/6-rules-to-being-mra.html

     

  • Astrokid NJ

    Vic, Very fair comment.

    1) All these groups (PUAs, MRAs, traditionalists, MGTOWs, unclassifiables) have come up over the years due to distillation of philosophy/views.. which is a good thing. Since there is no central authority in the manosphere.. no central money raiser or organization.. we mostly cant do top-down weeding out.. and have to evolve through inter group fights. 

    The lack of a central authority is a BIG problem..  In fact, if you study MGTOW history and manifesto, apparently around mid 2000′s, several men got frustrated about the failure to get troops to work together and said.. ok.. Men Will Go Their Own Way..  and we will fight this as individuals.  Paul Elam calls this “men suffer from a disease called my-way-is-the-right-way”.  

    I associate myself with AVoiceForMen.com, and thats the closest to some authority figure, and they have a decent written agenda Mission and Values.  If you look at the Editorial Policy, it gives more clarity.  Through documented fights/debates AVFM has distanced itself from traditionalists, PUAs and the nebulous masculinists.
    Other movements didnt have this problem.. and I suspect one big reason is that of funding.  for e.g Second wave feminism took off in big way coz Gloria Steinem got plenty of funding to set up Ms magazine. If you watch the earlier vid I included of Tammy Bruce (ex-president of NOW Los Angeles), she talks about how they were in bed with the Democrat Party, as well as receiving 500K grant from the Govt when LA NOW was facing bankruptcy in late 90s.

    2) 

    While that work can be a chore, it would do wonders for the public image of MRAs

    Vic.. the earlier portion of your comment showed decent understanding of the MRM.. but I am lil bit surprised that you havent figured out the answer to this aspect as well.   The truth is that we will never be accepted by the mainstream.. because there are deep psychological forces at work here.  
    You know how Jared Diamond in “Guns Germs and Steel” has given a beautiful explanation of history NOT being arbitrary, but dependent on what resources were available to people dependent on geography etc.   Likewise, civilization so far is also the outcome of psychological forces in men and women.  We atheists know that humans are susceptible to supernatural thinking because of HyperActive Agency Detection.. built into us by evolution.  Likewise, a female-favoring device is built into both men and women.
    GirlWritesWhat talks about this very well in How feminism conned society, and other not so tall tales…

    Why is society so quick to assume the MRM is misogynistic and violent even when it isn’t, while assuming feminism is benign and beneficial, even when it it’s full of hate and sexism? A tale of how our instincts lie to us, and the objective truths we just can’t bring ourselves to face…

    In the YT vid, See the URL to psychology paper:    Gender differences in automatic in-group bias: why do women like women more than men like men?

    So.. the MRM goal is to just reach those vanguard men (and few women) who can see exactly whats going on.. like me if I may be bold enough to say. If enough numbers rebel against the system, the system WILL COME to the negotiating table. 
    Polite reasoning didnt help the Atheists did it?  It needed “militant” Dawkins and Hitch, didnt it?    Things are even worse for the MRM.   If the softest spoken Warren Farrell, Glenn Sacks, Stephen Baskerville of Fathers Rights couldnt do make significant dents in last 30 years..  the current MRM is what happens.

    Now.. I will come to your question..  ”Why not chivalry”?  Sure.. individual men can chose to do that..  if they wish.. and at their own peril. Its how we got to where we are.

    With this understanding..  if you still disagree..  now why dont you gimme names/links of the reactionaries. If its fair, I even urge you to publish it at AVFM.  Dean Esmay there is a very considerate man and calmer than Paul. He will give it a patient hearing.

    And re: that venture philosophy blog.. that author is an idiot I have run into earlier.. you will find 2-3 comments from me on her blog.. few more comments of mine she didnt let through.   She has the brain power of a child.. I invite you to debate her on some gender-issue she disagrees with.. see what she does. 
    for e.g “myth of historical oppression of women”. 
     OR bring up some obvious Father’s rights issue..  say joint custody of children.
     OR men have no reproductive rights (i.e Her body her choice.. sure..  but why his wallet, her choice?) (You can already see her response to this in her post..  condom. thats it. Indistinguishable from feminist answers)

  • Astrokid NJ

    BTW.. in the quote I included above from GWW where she claims that “Why is society so quick to assume the MRM is misogynistic and violent even when it isn’t”..
    my intention was not to say that there’s no misogyny in the MRM. There is.. and GWW herself made a great compassionate and insightful vid on that..

    Angry Misogynists

    My intention was to point out that even the smallest thing is termed misogyny. for e.g GWW herself has been attacked as misogynist..  and she’s one of the mildest persons.   The FTB baboons did that to the rest of you skeptics/atheists.  Some of the skeptics/atheists did that to  NON-MRA anti-feminist skeptics.  Now the question is.. will they do it to the MRM as well?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/E353JCTXVTLW6ET2E5WDEESJT4 Jeff

    Ducking in for a random observation…There is a civil, polite conversation going on above this post on SkepticInk between a feminist & an MRA where information & viewpoints are being exchanged. ^^^THIS^^^is how intelligent freethinkers with differing viewpoints communicate on an open forum. Contrast this with what goes on elsewhere.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SU3L6O6MNAPXLBIGJGEX5NW5UQ jqb

    Thank you for this. It is important that leading freethinkers like yourself and Michael Shermer speak out strongly on this so that people do not think that the FtB crowd are the majority or are in the right. But *they* will not hear you because “the recent spinoff into Atheism+ looks like a cult with a mass case of borderline personality disorder”. Many of these are otherwise good people who have come under the influence of a psychopathology, and they will take this criticism of their behavior as just proof that you are their enemy. This will be reinforced by the fact that various people who don’t share your social justice principles will (have) post here or link to here, making you guilty by association in the eyes of the cult.

  • Monty Cantsin

    “the point of science is to have no opinion, but to see the world as it really is to the best of your ability.”
    Saliently well said.

  • Sienna Lox

    I disagree that the IDEAL is divisive. The McCartyhism and kicking anyone out who was a victim of that is “divisive” yeah, but its only divisive if you dont agree with social justice. Atheists who support social justice ARE INCLUDED automatically. Even if they join. Unless, of course, they are trying to say that anyone who hasnt joined the forum is on the other side.

    The quote “With us or against us” is also divisive, but yeah, the idea of social justice and tying atheism into it is as divisive among atheists as social justice is among PEOPLE. I don’t mind being divided away from people who are not for social justice.

    The rest of the criticisms seem okay, not that I read it all :P

  • Alan Rick

    Well said, good sir. Well said

    As a serious, fundamentalist
    believer of some 40 years (now an ex-fundy), I know exactly what you
    mean. I have noticed all the things you write about here, and like you
    it fills me with revulsion. I literally got knots in my stomach from
    reading what is nothing more than religion wrapped in secular robes.

    From my religious background, I see the A+ movement is the
    right idea but the wrong implementation because of its cult-like approach. If you don’t agree with it, it’s because you
    are a rationalist heretic or an atheist blasphemer, so to speak. And the same kinds
    of hysterical condemnations follow it that follow religion.

    I am
    sure they have no idea how much they have in common with religious
    fundamentalists. Their words and actions demonstrate a potential for
    becoming yet another one true ideology, with all the dangers inherent in
    such thinking. The world has no need of that. It needs humanity to
    grow up. If growing up means abandoning religion and embracing reason,
    that is a byproduct, not the goal; nor is it the motivation. Atheism is
    nothing more than a byproduct of rational thinking.

    Sam Harris
    makes a great point about not needing to call ourselves non-theists for
    the same reason we don’t need to call ourselves non-astrologers.
    Humanity growing up is not about being a non-theist; it’s about humanity
    being rational and doing the right thing because it is the right thing.

    Well, tha’ts my 2 cents.

    Cheers!
    Best Regards

  • http://www.facebook.com/giuliano.taverna.1 Giuliano Taverna

    I just gave the atheism+ forum a try. I’m convinced the people there have the best intentions, but I simply couldn’t stay. Their restrictions on speech went beyond sensitivity into the realm of obscurantism, and their unwillingness to discuss the unique problem of political Islamic fundementalism and its devastating effect on our secular brethren in the middle east is unbearable. I have far more solidarity with the likes of Ayaan Hirsi Ali than any of her sanctimonious critics. The same goes for radical groups like Femen, who you would think, would be natural allies to an organization started on the basis of combating sexism.

    And I have to add, I disagree with the attempt to minimalize sexism within the atheist subculture. I’ve seen it, and the more I look into things, the more obvious and glaring it becomes. That is a problem, though I don’t see how atheism+ in its present incarnation does much to solve it.

    I hope, that I will have the opportunity to rejoin the movement, should it opt for a more rational and liberal path. I must stress that their goals are admirable and they shouldn’t be subjected to un due criticism. They certainly aren’t comparable to 1984, as many of the comments here would imply. They didn’t make me leave or try to get a forced confession out of me, I simply decided to leave.

  • Wendy

    Holy Shit… BRAVO… you read my mind. I often think I’m alone in my impression of the atheist plus “cult”. Kudos to you!