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Posted by on Sep 13, 2012 in Drama, Feminism, Freethought Blogs, Philosophy, Progressive Politics, Science, Skepticism | 50 comments

Do You See A Misogynist In Your Toast?

Wikipedia, along with the sources cited therein, broadly defines feminist theory as the philosophical extension of feminism, encompassing two key principles: “(1) [that feminist] research should focus on the condition of women in society, and (2) [that feminist] research must be grounded in the assumption [] that women generally experience subordination.” Post-modern feminism goes even further, and rejects the claim that only rational abstract thought and scientific methodology can lead to valid knowledge. In other words, feminist theory, in at least some of its iterations, explicitly rejects science and rational thought. This is why I am mystified when certain science advocates view feminism and postmodern and/or Marxist feminist theory as the only logical conclusion of rationalism and science. Confused? You should be.

I’m guessing that most of the people reading this already know that homeopathy is ineffective at worst and a placebo at best. But what if we were to conduct research on homeopathy in the same manner that feminists conduct research on feminist theory? First we’d have to assume that homeopathy is, indeed, effective. Then as evidence, we would need to view every positive effect experienced by anyone taking homeopathic remedies as irrefutable proof of our assumption. Thus, homeopathy would be considered an effective remedy despite the countless times it has no effect at all. Is this logical? I think not. This does, however, seem to explain why certain feminists see misogyny wherever they look. Since they’ve accepted the subordination of women as a basic premise, any manifestation of conduct that could even remotely be construed as misogynistic only serves to further support the assumption. What’s worse is that since it’s already presumed that women are subordinated, any attempt to advocate for equality is immediately seen as misogyny. After all, treating unequals equally can often be unjust. Thus, at its most extreme, merely questioning the presumptions inherent in feminist theory becomes a moral sin.

Personal experiences are valid to the people who experience them. As fellow human beings we should take the personal experiences of others into account even when they differ from our own. Learning how to relate to and empathize with others is the hallmark of healthy social interaction. But this doesn’t change the fact that personal experience, without more, is mere anecdote and must be treated as such in scientific endeavors.  And it doesn’t mean that when someone cries “Misogyny!” it’s necessarily there.

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  • Mike C.

    I remember a woman accusing me of being “misogynist” because I disagreed with her about how an organization should be run. Sometimes I have seen real misogyny, but I’ve seen one or two cases where I knew damn well it was simply being used as a bullying tactic to hush disagreement and shame others.

    But really, you also bring up something that skeptics (including myself) see in others: confirmation bias. Someone has a presupposed notion and sees only proof of that notion everywhere they look, ignoring other possible causes and factors.

    I’m a skeptic but also a hardcore humanist; it’s part of our fallible nature to fall prey to something like that, no matter how smart and rational we think we are. We always need to be stopping and questioning ourselves from time to time.

    • It almost seems like certain feminist theories are constructed specifically to dismiss the existence of confirmation bias, but yes, we’re all prone to is, and it’s hardest of all to see in oneself. There’s also the issue of fulfilling prophesies here — if you unfairly treat men like misogynists often enough, that’s what they become.

      • This would actually be a great thing to study: Does adherence to a dogmatic ideology such as the brand of feminism of A+ers cause one to be more prone to falling victim to confirmation bias (or vice versa)? Probably being prone to conf. bias will lead you to dogma, but it’s also possible that it goes the other way as well. I would be fascinated to see someone study this.

  • [1] Post-modern feminism goes even further, and rejects the claim that only rational abstract thought and scientific methodology can lead to valid knowledge. [2] In other words, feminist theory, in at least some of its iterations, explicitly rejects science and rational thought.

    [2] is not an accurate re-phrasing of [1]. [1] remarks that post-modern feminism rejects the claim that that only rational abstract thought and scientific methodology can lead to valid knowledge. [2] claims that that feminist theory, in this iteration, rejects science and rational thought.

    By rejecting the claim that rational thought and scientific methodology are the only ways to derive valid knowledge is completely different from rejecting rational thought and scientific methodology. It may be only one word, but omitting it from your rephrasing completely changes the meaning of the sentence.

    • I’ll grant you that it’s not an exact restatement, but after wading through tons of feminist theory & literature, it is my conclusion that some iterations of postmodern and modern feminist theory do, indeed, reject rationalism, as well as anything that could be somehow tied to “masculinity.” Moreover science rejects conclusions based on anecdote, which results in incompatibility anyway.

      • Moreover science rejects conclusions based on anecdote, which results in incompatibility anyway.

        That’s not precisely true. Science rejects the use of anecdotes to support positive arguments, but uses anecdotes (or single data points) quite comfortably as counterexamples.

        And counterexamples is typically where the “lived experience” idea comes into feminism — “say all women are blahdeblah? Well I’m a woman and I’m not, so you’re wrong.”

        Science, and logic, are perfectly cool with that kind of anecdote.

        I’ll grant you that it’s not an exact restatement,

        It was a completely different statement. And if you wanted to make that different statement, fine, but you have to support it with something else.

        (If I say, for instance, “I don’t think omelettes are the only way to make eggs” I am in no way saying that I am anti-omelette. Quite the opposite, potentially.)

        • The point goes to the larger scope of feminist theory being grounded in female subordination, and the error of assuming the conclusion (or exclusively positive evidence of the conclusion as mandating the conclusion). Also, there’s nothing about science that mandates political feminism or vice versa. As to concluding that feminism focuses on personal experience rather than empiricism, just take a look at the atheist community and what the feminists are offering. Do you see any data or logical reasoning? If so, please point it out. Sure, the feminists say they support science, but they condemn people who try to use any sort of empiricism to address or evaluate feminist issues. This is, in fact, what’s been tearing the community apart. Those of us who favor logic, skepticism, and science are being labeled, trashed, shamed, and marginalized — in a pro-science movement! The only “science” that’s being advocated appears to be hashed to death issues like why douching is bad for you or why talking to your face won’t make it more attractive. I mean, seriously? There are plenty of female scientists doing extraordinary work, why aren’t we talking about them? In fact, why are we belittling them (e.g., Abbie Smith)?

          I’m not dismissing personal experience or “herstory,” either, but merely pointing out the problem of confusing it with science. This is why history and science departments are constantly at war with women’s departments on campuses. We really don’t need to be fighting this war in a rationalist, pro-science movement. There are plenty of better fora for it.

          Also, do you not see the irony in asking me to provide empirical evidence for a completely tangential and personal conclusion? Is that only necessary when an assertion runs contrary to feminist beliefs?

          As for anecdotal evidence, I’ll just refer you to wiki and concede that sometimes it’s relevant, though those circumstances are beyond the scope of this discussion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anecdotal_evidence.

          • Also, do you not see the irony in asking me to provide empirical evidence for a completely tangential and personal conclusion? Is that only necessary when an assertion runs contrary to feminist beliefs?

            Are you even talking to me any more? When did I do that?

            (Pointing out that, in paraphrasing a sentence, you drastically altered its meaning [or potential range of meanings], is not the same as what you claim I did above. I asked you to support your claim — you are the one inserting “empirically” into this. And if you cannot rationally support your claims, even personal ones, I’m done here.)

            Regarding your broader point: I have, to date, not seen any valid empirical arguments presented against feminist claims in the atheist blogosphere. Debaters have frequently claimed the scientific high ground, yes, but while quoting poorly done studies or wildly misinterpreting their conclusions. Point me to a single instance in which an argument contrary to feminist theory was put forward with valid empirical evidence and the arguer was dismissed. If this has happened, I’ve missed it, but then I’m not reading every blog.

            That said, I’m a feminist because I am quite familiar with the research literature relevant to the various claims of feminism, and they’ve held up so far. (Feminist claims regarding sexist humor and rape jokes, for example, are almost without exception supported by the research that’s been done.)

          • Which feminist claims are you referring to? Be specific if you want a rebuttal. I don’t disagree about sexist jokes, and the data on wage gaps is unclear. In any case, women are at a disadvantage because they often end up working two jobs instead of one. Then again, they’re also shown to spend most of the money earned. That’s still not an equalizer when it comes to the hours worked, however, since they do so in their scope as caretakers for the family.

            Now show me how asserting victimhood helps women get ahead in life and overcome sexism. Is there data for that?

            Or show me how accusing a man of mansplaining or misogyny furthers feminist goals. Is there data for that?

            Show me data showing that atheist conventions and/or TAM are more dangerous than walking down the (non-dangerous) streets of Seattle, where I live or going to UW, where the frat parties can be extremely misogynistic. (In other words, provide evidence for Blag Hag’s assertion.)

            Finally, prove to me, with data, that someone like Dawkins or Blackford hates or dislikes women (is a misogynist).

            Also, I would like you to support the commonly made assertion that feminism is the logical conclusion of skepticism, made by many, including Rebecca Watson.

          • Seriously? Your response to me pointing out an error in your development of your argument is to ask me to defend a whole bunch of things that I haven’t even claimed are true?

            Now show me how asserting victimhood helps women get ahead in life and overcome sexism. Is there data for that?

            Did I claim it did? I presume you can, y’know, quote me on that?

            Or show me how accusing a man of mansplaining or misogyny furthers feminist goals. Is there data for that?

            Did I say it did?

            Show me data showing that atheist conventions and/or TAM are more dangerous than walking down the (non-dangerous) streets of Seattle, where I live or going to UW, where the frat parties can be extremely misogynistic. (In other words, provide evidence for Blag Hag’s assertion.)

            Why should I provide evidence for an assertion you even admit I didn’t make? Have I said that I agree with this? (Can you directly quote Blag Hag saying this also? I’m just curious as to where she made this specific claim.)

            Finally, prove to me, with data, that someone like Dawkins or Blackford hates or dislikes women (is a misogynist).

            Did I claim they were? I’m actually not familiar with Blackford at all, really, and I don’t think Dawkins, who I am more familiar with, is a misogynist. I think he’s privileged, and I think he’s said some stupid things — but why are you asking me to defend a claim I’ve never made? (Or do you claim that “Dawkins is a misogynist” is a basic tenet of feminist theory.)

            Also, I would like you to support the commonly made assertion that feminism is the logical conclusion of skepticism, made by many, including Rebecca Watson.

            This is the only thing out of your entire list that you could potentially claim I actually proposed as true, so congratulations on making a relevant point. I can only reiterate that, in reviewing the literature of the relevant fields, I’ve found most feminist claims largely supported. Not all feminist claims, which is to be expected, as feminism is not a monolith, but enough of the widely held ones to see feminism generally as an outgrowth of skepticism. That’s how it worked for me. I can’t prove this to you without doing an entire review of several fields; if there is a specific tenet generally held by feminists that you think doesn’t hold up to skeptical scrutiny, I’d be happy to debate that here or elsewhere.

          • Sure: Privilege — it applies to groups, not individuals, and actually tells you nothing about a person — for instance, the fact that Dawkins was sexually molested by a man as a child.
            Mansplaining — It’s an excuse to dismiss arguments without consideration. Men have empathy and can understand where women are coming from when something is sufficiently explained.
            Patriarchy — While it’s true that males tend to hold more positions of power even in the West, this dismisses the fact that women have influence over men (and also dismisses the growing number of women in positions of power). While patriarchy was almost a given before women were give the vote, it’s at the very least on the decline now.
            Oppression — Western women are not oppressed. They have the same opportunities as men and discrimination is AGAINST THE LAW. Granted, I don’t think that’s enough, and I support affirmative action, but that’s not an issue of oppression. I was oppressed as a Jew in Russia as a child — big difference to *really* be a second class citizen.
            Rape Culture — Rape is a crime with severe penalties, not a culture. The fact that rape remains difficult to prove is a problem that requires real solutions, I agree, but we’re living in no more of a rape culture than an assault culture or murder culture. Sexual harassment is a crime as well. It’s a crime with specific elements and not whatever any single woman decides it is.
            I can go on…

          • Egbert

            I think both men and women are still oppressed in society due to the way it’s structured, and mainly due to our acceptance and obedience of authority. Radical feminists see some of this oppression but choose the wrong enemy, the other 50% of oppressed people.

          • Yes, I think we’re all oppressed by society in some way, and realizing this leads to compassion, empathy, and a more just world. But I’m not sure we can do away with this kind of societal oppression any more than we can do away with human nature. It’s the glue that holds us together and keeps us in check.

          • Helen

            Personally, I don’t regard men as any sort of enemy. I regard certain elements of culture as dangerous and damaging. I regard certain elements as more oppressive to women – for example, the verifiable and factual existence of a gender based wage gap.

          • Privilege — it applies to groups, not individuals, and actually tells you nothing about a person — for instance, the fact that Dawkins was sexually molested by a man as a child.

            Yes, and we frequently say, for instance, “Dawkins is privileged” as a shorthand for “Dawkins belongs to these groups (white, male, straight, etc.) which have these privileges.” Does that mean that privileged people can’t also belong to marginalized groups, or have difficult lives, or have bad things happen to them? Of course not. Do you really think that feminism, as a general rule, holds that view?

            Mansplaining — It’s an excuse to dismiss arguments without consideration. Men have empathy and can understand where women are coming from when something is sufficiently explained.

            Mansplaining is not an element of feminist theory. It’s a neologism invented by feminists in the blogosphere, sure, and used on feminist blogs, but it’s hardly some kind of central tenet of feminism.

            Patriarchy — While it’s true that males tend to hold more positions of power even in the West, this dismisses the fact that women have influence over men (and also dismisses the growing number of women in positions of power). While patriarchy was almost a given before women were give the vote, it’s at the very least on the decline now.

            Hence why the most recent waves of feminist theory concern themselves more with kyriarchy and ideas of intersectionality.

            Oppression — Western women are not oppressed. They have the same opportunities as men and discrimination is AGAINST THE LAW. Granted, I don’t think that’s enough, and I support affirmative action, but that’s not an issue of oppression. I was oppressed as a Jew in Russia as a child — big difference to *really* be a second class citizen.

            You equivocate between three ideas here: oppression, discrimination, and being a second class citizen. While related, these are not the same. Regarding discrimination, sure, it is against the law, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen and isn’t still a problem. Women are still discriminated against, even if it is illegal, so it is still an issue that needs to be addressed.

            Now, no, western women are not in general treated as second class citizens in the sense of, say, Jews in Russia, or women in the Middle East. But I think the hundreds of anti-choice bills in state legislatures this past year alone, seeking to deprive women of basic rights to bodily autonomy, demonstrate that we still have some problems there to be fixed.

            Rape Culture — Rape is a crime with severe penalties, not a culture. The fact that rape remains difficult to prove is a problem that requires real solutions, I agree, but we’re living in no more of a rape culture than an assault culture or murder culture. Sexual harassment is a crime as well. It’s a crime with specific elements and not whatever any single woman decides it is.

            Rape culture is a theory describing a number of phenomenon. Rape, as you are correct, is a crime. Rape culture is an attempt to theoretically describe a number of phenomena in our culture. For example, studies show that one of the major psychological barriers that prevents women who are the victims of the most common forms of rape (rape by a friend/family member/acquaintance) from reporting rape is belief that they are not “real” rape victims, as real rape is alleyway-at-night-etc. rape. This is a cultural myth that has been shown to have real repercussions for reporting rates.

            For another example, another aspect of rape culture in feminist analyses is the claim that “no means no” is a poor strategy as, culturally, women feel obliged to say “yes” or “maybe” even if they really want to say “no.” Studies have supported this.

            Studies have also supported the claims that our stereotypes regarding sexual histories affect who reports rape: women with extensive sexual histories are less likely to report rape for fear of being disbelieved due to their history. (Shield laws have helped this somewhat.)

            Studies have shown that people who score more masculine on the BSRI (Bem Sex Role Inventory) are more likely to believe in myths about rape.

            A major review of the literature found that belief in rigid gender roles and adversarial sexual beliefs predicted higher levels of rape acceptance.

            This is just a smattering of the research, and rape culture is merely the explanatory model that looks at these and sees that in many of these instances, it is myths and stereotypes (which are, after all, culturally perpetuated phenomena) that contribute to these problems with rape reporting, acceptance, etc.

            Saying “rape isn’t a culture it is a crime” just completely misses the actual definition of what rape culture is.

            This post will probably get caught in moderation, but I wanted to include links to studies. Hopefully you’ll see it in moderation!

            REFERENCES
            http://psp.sagepub.com/content/23/3/295.short
            http://www.springerlink.com/content/q2148372h4vk0170/
            http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/4499524?uid=3739952&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=56302292173
            http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3081921?uid=3739952&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=56302292173
            http://das.sagepub.com/content/10/3/293.abstract
            http://www.middlebury.edu/media/view/240971/original/sable_article.pdf
            http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/jhamlin/3925/4925HomeComputer/Rape%20myths/Real%20Rape.pdf

          • This is actually an intelligent substantive post. You posited some theories from various schools of feminist thought. Which ones does science fully support? Since very few *thinking* feminists fully agree, which ones have their definitions and mix of feminist theories just right? Because almost all the feminists on FTB would claim that women are, indeed, second-class citizens. Are they wrong? And why was Dawkins attacked, since the privilege of not being molested didn’t belong to him, but apparently did belong to RW? Merely because he was born male, white, and old? As applied, that’s basically an ad hominem argument. Logic doesn’t like those. And there’s a huge difference between actual and perceived privilege. Dawkins didn’t actually have the privilege ascribed to him in that specific case.

            Also, you do understand that I would have to first accept a very specific type of feminism before acquiescing to its definitions of terms already adequately defined by most dictionaries? Once again, you’re putting the cart before the horse. Assuming that Western women are oppressed doesn’t make it so.

            I understand what rape culture theory is, and I don’t buy it at all. It contradicts my own experience and that of the women I know. Further, it’s an excellent illustration of the problem. Unless you already believe these things, you’re not going to see them. Why not? Lack of common experience. Feminists seem to do a lot of mind-reading to support their claims about what women really mean, really think, really feel, and really want. But the fact that most of us are not feminists (in that sense) is evidence that their theories are quite likely wrong.

            People are individuals. For that reason, feminists shouldn’t go around assuming that women can’t say “no.” I don’t know where they’re getting their samples, but there’s a large possibility of selection and confirmation bias, and, if anything, their argument goes to morning regret (as further analysis of the same studies has shown).

            In any case, you do a much better job of supporting your arguments than most, and you seem to have nothing but the best intentions. Also, I fully agree with you about the Republican platform in respect to women’s rights. I think that’s what we should be fighting rather than each other over non-falsifiable, theoretical points. Of course that’s a political position, and not an atheist or scientific one, but it’s a position truly worth fighting for.

          • Also, I fully agree with you about the Republican platform in respect to women’s rights. I think that’s what we should be fighting rather than each other over non-falsifiable, theoretical points. Of course that’s a political position, and not an atheist or scientific one, but it’s a position truly worth fighting for.

            Yes — I care far more about this than whether someone calls themself a feminist or not.

            (In a way, though, I’d argue it can be an atheistically and scientifically informed opinion: most of the movement against birth control and abortions is fueled by religiosity, and most of the arguments against them are rife with pseudoscientific crap.)

          • Helen

            “we’re living in no more of a rape culture than an assault culture or murder culture.”

            Sure, victims of murder and assault are routinely disbelieved, vilified in the press and have their ‘morals’, clothing and intoxication levels scrutinised. It’s why 11 year old girls who get physically assaulted by two grown men are positioned as asking for it, leading to the perps getting only 11 months. It’s why 13 year olds who get ‘murdered’ by a group of men get comments like “Those poor boys, it must be so hard on them.”

          • Helen

            sorry 40 months.

          • These stories make the news because they’re a variation on “man bites dog,” having spent 5 years in superior court and two years in appellate court, I’ve never seen anything like it. Everything possible is done to protect the victims, and rape shield laws are generally effective. Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that this is anecdotal evidence, and there will always be people who act like jerks.

  • Egbert

    I used to think feminism was based on equality, or in other words an extension on liberalism. But since liberalism itself comes under attack in the postmodern critique, for being a dominating universal narrative, then postmodernism also attacks feminism for the same thing.

    The idea that the problem is ‘misogyny’ rather than ‘inequality’ turns critical liberalism into cynical liberalism, not only subverting itself but turning it from rational to irrational, much like the ‘war on terror’.

    I don’t believe misogyny has anything to do with inequality, rather it’s the power dynamics of the powerful and rich over the less powerful and poor. That is the real enemy, not men.

    • I agree with your framing of the problem.

  • Shadow of the Hedgehog

    Hi Maria. Big fan or your blog and of Skeptic Blogs, but I wish you guys would move on from the A+’ers. They’re not a movement, they’re an unpleasant coffee klatch. They are so wrapped up in navel gazing, purity tests and call out culture that they are completely ineffective(did you see the debate on how to shuffle the letters GLBT so that no one group feels alienated?). They’ve already driven some of my favorite(and one of my not so favorite)FTB bloggers away-unfortunately to Patheos and not here.

    I just think this tempest in a teapot is becoming too big a distraction. Just my opinion FWIW.

    • Egbert

      I think it’s a lot more serious than that. Given the dangers of atheism and politics in recent history, we can’t afford to naively organize ourselves in a way that repeats the mistakes of the past. Besides, atheism plus might still be potentially dangerous and harmful, we can’t just ignore it.

      • I agree with both of you to some degree. Yes, there are more interesting and important things to talk about, but social justice is also important and shouldn’t be off limits. However, the type of feminism that has caught on in the movement can be very harmful, especially to women. As a woman who has been the target of many personal attacks for daring to express a contrary opinion, the drama is hard for me to ignore; and to some extent, irreparable damage has been done to my reputation based on nothing but threats and lies.

        Yes, I saw the LGBTQ letter rearranging proposal. So I am now putting them in alphabetical order: BGLQT. There, problem solved. I’m not sure how to solve the problem of the A+ certification proposal for conferences and organizations, though. Is that something people (and organizations) are just going to overlook?

        Finally, I’m simply interested in the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of feminism and its relationship to science. This has nothing to do with A+ or the movement per se, but my curiosity has been aroused by what I’ve seen and the ramifications it may have for society at large. Does scientific inquiry need a more feminine-based perspective? Doesn’t that run contrary to the notion that men and women are the same? Shouldn’t the perspectives become the same once women are no longer “oppressed”? Those are all questions I’m interested in seeing answers to — not because I want to fight with the FTBers, but because I think we’re dealing with an internally inconsistent philosophy that makes no sense.

        That said, I repeat that I am committed to women’s rights, anti-discrimination and anti-harassment measures, and affirmative action — but not to the point where we have *must* have 50% women at atheist conferences when there are significantly more male atheists in society than female. I am, however, also interested in the more basic question if why more men than women identify as atheists.

        • Egbert

          I read somewhere that the separation of the sciences from hard science and soft sciences is akin to the separation of the sexes from male to female. It’s rather an interesting and thought provoking claim, especially when the same can be said for the right left divide in democratic politics: the right being patriarchal and the left being matriarchal (at least that seems to be the suggestion of George Lakoff in his analysis of conservatives and liberals). Also we have yet another divide in art, as Camille Paglia observes. Then Freud demonstrates the power of the father and mother on our psychology, and then things begin to make a little sense.

          What I am suggesting is that our unconscious part, our irrational self, plays a much larger part in our lives than we realize, no matter how intelligent or rational we like to think of ourselves. If people start to act irrationally or insane, if they can’t see their own hypocrisy or contradictions, it’s because they’re human more than anything else.

          It’s probably why humans invented religion in the first place, so they would not feel responsible for their own insanities and evils. But humanism makes us have to accept our own dark nature, otherwise we start to believe we’re angels and everyone else is the demon.

        • Helen

          Out of curiosity, how do you know that there are more male than female atheists?

    • Darth Cynic

      “did you see the debate on how to shuffle the letters GLBT so that no one group feels alienated?”

      Your kidding, tell me your kidding…

      • I wish I were. And not one of them suggested rearranging the letters alphabetically, if I recall correctly. I wonder if that’s because the alphabet is evidence of female subordination too? Ugh.

        • Darth Cynic

          I’d seen various arrangements before and always wondered why they weren’t just put alphabetically as such would be more easy to remember. Though I would have thought it a triviality not worthy of any in-depth wrangling.

  • Peter M. Olsen

    One thing I will NEVER understand about any manifestation of feminism is this:

    I am a man, therefore I am misogynistic.

    This blanketed stereotype of hate is why feminism doesn’t, and will never, effectively work in society.

    I liken this to a religious belief system like christianity. As a whole, christianity has great, solid philosophy to offer one who is struggling:

    1. Luke 6:13…Do onto to others.
    2. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7….Love
    3. Acts 20:35….Better to give and receive

    ..and so many others. Radical offshoots of christianity would argue that those who are gay, non-white, or female are excluded. These minority voices are detrimental to achieving equality and love through being a christian (Chirst’s main message was that of love through acceptance, tolerance, and equality).

    In my opinion, the agnostic/atheist agenda is as, or more detrimental to achieving an educated dialogue between believers and non-believers then these radical offshoots are detrimental to the main message of christianity. For agnostics/atheists to dismiss the Bible, as a whole, is wrong and perverse.

    Likewise, the main (in my interpretation) tenet of feminism, as a whole, is equality is a virtue, and feminists must strive to make this world a better place by having gender and sexual equality for everyone. However, radical offshoots of feminism tend to espouse the threat of violence, the separation into an all-female “state” (being completely separate from males, male society, etc.), and advocation of a social/cultural revolution to incite an overthrow of “male” society.

    Although feminism’s message of female self-reliance is an excellent tool to help girls understand their academic, social, and human responsibilities as they grow into adults, the radical offshoots tend to tear apart these positive constructs and create more harm than good.

    • All atheists are different; I have no interest in deconverting anyone or making fun of anyone for their beliefs. But here’s a fairly complete list of anything that can be construed as moral or good in the Bible: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/good/long.html. It’s not very long. On the other hand, the bad? Oh my.

    • I am a man, therefore I am misogynistic.

      This blanketed stereotype of hate is why feminism doesn’t, and will never, effectively work in society.

      There may certainly be feminists who feel this way. But this is hardly an accurate description of feminism generally.

      In fact, outside of extreme second-wave separatist communities, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a feminist espousing that position.

    • Copyleft

      Aleph raises a fair point. Few feminists will claim “You’re a man, therefore you’re a misogynist.”

      It’s far more common to be told, “You disagree with ME/a woman, therefore you’re a misogynist.”

  • Clare45

    Regarding your comment: ” I’m not sure how to solve the problem of the A+ certification proposal for conferences and organizations, though. Is that something people (and organizations) are just going to overlook? ” I am becoming a bit concerned that recent conferences seem to include many of the A+ supporters and do not ask people such as yourself and Abbie to speak, or maybe they have and you have declined. Rebecca Watson and Greta Cristina were speakers are a recent conference in Canada for example, and no-one said boo. They were invited by the Canadian Humanists.

    • I don’t have much interest in speaking, nor have I’ve been asked, except for once at DragonCon, long before this drama erupted. And I did, indeed, go and speak at that time. Abbie gets speaking engagements fairly regularly, but not nearly at the same level as Cristina or Watson. Considering that Abbie has relevant credentials and the latter two have none, I find that unfortunate.

  • Zed Zero

    I spotted one the problems in argument recently. A feminist restated an argument complete wrong and accused the other person of finding her XX chromosomes inadequate. It was bizarre. It then occurred to me that we are sometimes talking to conspiracy theorist who are a bit or a lot delusional.
    These conspiracy theorist happen to be largely female and see a massive conspiracy of men plotting to oppress women. Unfortunately these nutty people are polluting the conversation badly as I have also noticed that these type of people are obsessive an will generate mass quantities of posts.
    Disclaimer: Nothing I am discussing implies a judgment as to merits of feminism just that a normal distribution of mental anomalies exists in the feminist community.

    • Egbert

      I’m not entirely convinced by this, I’m afraid. Political activists are naturally obsessed about things (so am I) without necessarily being deluded. Of course the blind will lead the blind, but it’s important not to think of our opponents as ‘other’ and demonize them. I think some might begin to realize their delusions soon, and it will only be the really fanatical and deranged that will persist on in their beliefs.

      • Vic

        I agree, I think it is very important not to demonize the other side or dismiss their arguments entirely.

        While this happens regularily to MRAs and egalitarians by feminists, it would be the wrong action to dismiss arguments from the feminist side. That would lead to the SAME problem we have now, just with different culprits.

        Where possible, we have to rely on empirical data

        IRL I get very open-minded and civil responses to MRA issues from feminist or unaffiliated people. Feminists are a group as diverse as any other.

        When I hear how a MRA issue is, in fact, another form of misogyny or a result of patriarchy, I usually go along the lines of “Okay, unrelated to who is responsible, historically or present, can we not take action against this now?”
        As long as people get help who didn’t get any before (or where it was difficult to obtain), at that point we made a step forward as humans.

        All this talk of different philosophy and polito-sociology might be good for something, maybe in the long run, but people suffer here and now.

        And no matter what “extra-marxist-feminist-anti-frankfurt-school-whatever-cambrisge-circle” might be talking about during their sunday meetings, and no matter how smart they are and how little I understand them, my respect and support will always be with those who take political, financial or even just vocal action to change something in their local community.

        Okay, I reread the last part and this might sound more negative than I really feel about this. But I’ll leave it now.

        • The only problem with that approach is when the actions taken are hurtful (even to the marginalized group) and counterproductive in the long run. You have to think things through at least that much. Otherwise, I agree with you completely. Fancy theories and fancy words do little to help those who are suffering right now. Same goes for internet flame wars.

          • Egbert

            Both seem to have emotional issues, perhaps mental disorders, which amplifies when there is confrontation to a point where a kind of schizophrenia is triggered.

            Many years ago, I could split the atheist community up between the emotionally damaged who wanted to ‘hurt’ back at their perceived abusers, while other atheists enjoyed the game of rational debate. It’s a toxic mix, especially when atheists are manipulated by irresponsible entrepreneurs who see the community as a chance to exploit for attention or profit.

            The major drawback of atheism is that it is not easy to put any positive emotional investment in it, unlike theism.

        • Helen

          I totally understand what you are saying – however, again, like feminists, MRAs have been discredited by fringe members.

    • Helen

      I’m a feminist and I’ve met feminists that claim i’m not a feminist because I:

      * Am hetero
      * Work full time
      * Wear makeup
      * Shave my legs

      That doesn’t mean feminism / equal rights is inherently bad. It means a few nutters are involved who are using it as a way to prop up their ailing egos by following the tenets of one group.

      • I fully support equal rights, as well as some equalizing measures for both women and minorities (e.g., diversity programs). I also support your right to express yourself as a woman and as a human being in whatever way you choose.

  • Egbert

    This is wonderful. The Atheism+ Survival Guide:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utzzHvBOihs&

  • This and other posts make me realize that I’m probably not a “feminist” by any modern definition. Civil Rights history has always fascinated me and since I’ve been able to vote, I’ve supported politicians and platforms that work toward equality.

    Without starting a new movement or suggesting that anyone adopt the label themselves, I’ve started calling myself an equalist rather than a feminist. I like how it sounds, I don’t know if it’s already been used or not, but if anyone asks it simply describes my own wishes to live in a society where people no longer have advantages over others based on where or how they were born.

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  • mrcanada976

    The fundamental problem in baseless accusations of misogyny is inequality in the mental space to express oneself demanded by postmodern feminism.

    For example, feminists find it perfectly OK to express opinions about men from womens’ point of view, but when men do the same from a mens’ point of view about women they accuse men of misogyny or sexism.

    This pops up a lot in discussions about dating and relationships. Generally, we as people often come up with general constructs about complex issues and operate on the basis that we beleive these constructs to be true most of the time. “All men want from a woman is sex” is a common construct women operate on in the dating world and they use this construct when approached by a man, they are wary and flush out his true intentions. Yet nobody would accuse a woman who says that of misandry.

    However, turn that around, and a common construct like “I will stop dating a woman if she doesnt have sex with me by X dates” and a man can rapidly be accused of objectifying women and misogyny. In reality it is just that there are many women who will happily let a man pay for date after date with little intention of advancing the relationship beyond platonic friendship, and some men, having been burned like this, want physical confirmation that the woman is involved with intent. Even describing to many feminists this problem that men face in dating will label the man as somehow in the wrong.

    Sickeningly, what the feminists are failing to address when accusing a man of being misogynistic in the above context is that there are women who intentionally mislead men for gifts and free dates. The men are trying to protect themselves from a common problem perpetrated by women upon them. In effect, the feminists are saying defrauding a man is somehow OK in dating, and when a man points out the injustice, he must therefore hate women.

    Back to my original point. Just like women, men need to be free to speak from our unique perspective, and sometimes that is going to be in the form of general constructs about women which we, through our own experiences, find to be true most of the time. Just because we posess an operating construct that generalizes women does not mean de facto that we hate women. Sometimes that constuct may even be generally negative, such as “women on their period are unpredictable”, but again this doesnt mean we hate women or know that there are women who are not unpredictable on their period.

    Postmodern feminism is a war of thought. There is nothing more telling than when a lecturer was brought to toronto to speak on mens issues, the university refused to allow the student group to pay from university funds. When they raised the money themselves, feminists picketed, blocked ticketholders from entering, and accosted the attendees. In the video, you see one young man trying to enter, and when he says he wants to learn about mens issues because he had two friends commit suicide in the past year, the feminists shout back at him that feminism addresses suicide and that he should go to a womens centre to learn about it and not to this lecturer who “supports rape culture”.

    I watched the entire talk and he was not promoting hatred against women but rather analyzing the issues boys face from childhood into adulthood and looking at ways to address those problems.

    This war of thought needs to stop. Men and boys have a different perspective and we need to be able to address them from our own point of view and in our own language.