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Posted by on Oct 2, 2012 in Atheism, Drama, Feminism, Freethought Blogs, Progressive Politics, Religion, Socialism, US Politics | 36 comments

Are The Bloggers on Skepchick and the Freethought Blogs Network Stupid?

I’m sure you don’t need me to answer this question for you, but with all the gossip and trash-talking lately, I thought this might be a good time to clear things up. The answer is categorically no. First of all, the bloggers on FTB are a diverse group of individuals with different goals and priorities, and they can’t all be painted with the same broad brush. Second, the Freethought bloggers are some of the most intelligent people I’ve encountered in my life. Typically, they know exactly what they’re doing and why. And finally, they have a point. I may not agree with them when it comes to tactics and other behaviors, but women have been treated abysmally throughout most of history, and are still harassed, dismissed, and sexually assaulted on a regular basis today. Moreover, some women really are afraid of men. This is something I did not fully understand before “Elevatorgate,” but I realize it now. Although personally I see such fears as unreasonable, it is pointless to deny that they exist. The question should be what causes them and what we can do to help alleviate them, and poking fun at women for having them isn’t helping. I also agree with the majority of Freethought Bloggers on social justice issues, although once again, I don’t think their approach is effective. What the entire situation amounts to is a similar political agenda, but different strategies. (And yes, I admit it, there are some personalities blogging on the FTB network that I’m not fond of. But this is not a conflict that can’t be resolved: for me, a simple apology would suffice.)

That said, the FTB bloggers and, even more so, their commentariat, have a huge blind spot:  feminism. They feel so passionately about this issue that they’re unable to think about it critically enough to note the constant contradictions and inconsistencies in their positions. This is obvious to most onlookers and fuels the endless accusations of hypocrisy leveled against them, yet it is completely lost on those already actively involved. Also, the FTBers seem similarly blind to the fact that “male privilege” is not the panacea they believe it to be. Men suffer their fair share of injustices too, and if you set modern feminist theory aside for a moment, it’s easy to see that in many ways some Western women are more “privileged” than most men all over the world. Yet it is exactly these privileged Western women who are doing most of the complaining now, while the rest of mankind is merely trying to survive.

Finally, the political issues I’ve mentioned above are not tied to atheism in any way. Define atheism however you like, but the above paragraphs pertain to politics, not the absence of gods. And though religion has helped keep women down throughout history, it has not been the primary cause. Rather, the primary causes have always been female biology and child-bearing responsibilities. Women’s rights issues were not taken seriously until women became able to control their own reproduction, and freedom to choose remains the key to gender equality today. So it saddens me greatly to see the political right threatening women’s reproductive choices while we’re bickering about proper manners in elevators and the publication of public addresses instead.

So let me ask you another question. Are the religious stupid? The answer is categorically no. First of all, the religious are a diverse group of individuals with different goals and priorities, and they can’t all be painted with the same broad brush. Second, the religious are some of the most intelligent people I’ve encountered in my life. Typically, they know exactly what they’re doing and why. And finally, they have a point. In an uncertain world, it’s nice to have a crutch, even if that crutch turns out to be imaginary. That said, the religious have a blind spot, one that exists for emotional reasons, much as it does for many of the bloggers on FTB.

  • Adriana

    Yes, middle-class/upper-class women in the world (not just Western world; in many countries in Asia, too) are more privileged than most men, and people in general, in non-developed countries. But this is NOT because they are women, it’s because they are not poor, uneducated, or living in theocracies. That does not mean that even privileged women are underprivileged when compared to the mean in their societies. Even in the United states, women make less than men for comparable work, and even in fields like science, where people are supposed to be objective, there is no equality of opportunity due to females being perceived as less competent (recent study: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/09/14/1211286109). Not to mention that domestic violence is still a big problem. So what’s wrong with focusing on feminism? Women’s equality is still an important subject, even in the best circumstances, such as those in developed countries. Of course, in the rest of the world, the situation is much, much grimmer for women. I was watching “Half the sky” yesterday in PBS, great program to raise consciousness of what it is like to be a poor female in many countries.
    It saddens me too, to see people fighting in the internet over whether feminism is evil or a worthy cause, worth debating or discussing. I though this was a done deal when I was in my 20s. Now my kids are in their 20s, and it seems that we’re still discussing women’s rights, and berating people for thinking that feminism is still an important issue. Politically, the right-wing nuts are foaming at the mouth worse than ever. Agreed. However, I don’t think that if we discuss feminism over the internet, among privileged women and men, it means we are letting the wingnuts win. It’s nor either or. Both things can be done. Case in point, you apent time writing this blog instead of fighting those threatening our reproductive choices.

    I honestly do not understand what you are talking about, when you call feminism a “blind spot”. Maybe because I have no idea what the squabble is about.

    • bluharmony

      Two points: First, there’s more to freethought than feminism. Second, I agree that equality (gender, racial, and sexual) is an important subject to address; rather, my concern is with when, where, and how. Feminism itself is not a “blind spot.” But looking at it in a very rigid way without allowing for difference of opinion or approach is.

      • Adriana

        Sure there is more to freethought than feminism, much much more, and there is of course room for all kinds of political opinions, many of which I disagree with. But who cares if some bloggers choose to focus on feminism? If it’s the most important issue in their mind, why not? It’s their blogs. I’m glad you’re clarifying that feminism is not a “blind spot”, because this is exactly how you wrote it. There are many types of feminist ideologies and flavors out there. But feminism itself, as in “women’s rights” and “women’s equality” is certainly an important issue, even among privileged women like us.

        • bluharmony

          I fully agree with everything you say. When I say that feminism is a blind spot, I mean that it’s a blind spot only for (some) FTBers. To fit in with the FTB crowd you must believe in their type of feminism, done their way, and approved by them (even when it’s completely arbitrary — for instance, it’s OK to post my home address online, but not one of theirs; it’s OK to call me a bitch, but not one of them; and so on). Anyone who fails to fall in lockstep is viciously attacked. And among those attacked — threatened, defamed, smeared via google, doxed, made fun of for being old or mentally ill, subjected to real life consequences involving employment and reputation — are many feminists who share most of FTB’s alleged goals. I really don’t know what to call this behavior, but it’s very real, very harmful, and has serious consequences for many people.

          • Hambil

            I know what it’s called. Either trolling, or just being an asshole. Putting out peoples real life information without their permission, name calling, almost everything you named can be found on troll boards like 4chan. I admit to not ever visiting the place you speak of, but given what I just heard I’m in no hurry to, either.

    • Ryan Grant Long

      Unfortunately the particular brand of on-line feminist “activism” (if you can call it that) under discussion here usually consists of little else besides using blogs to personally attack people and misrepresent their points.

      If bloggers wanted to tackle income disparity that would be a valuable discussion. But if you have followed any of the drama going on in the recent year or more, you would see that some bloggers (who, despite having little to no background in gender issues, have somehow positioned themselves as feminist spokespeople) are much more interested in provoking Internet flame wars and calling people names.

      I see certain bloggers attacking people – including other liberals and other feminists that just happen to have a different take on things – and it’s just a huge waste.

      • bluharmony

        Not to mention how harmful and hurtful it is. Which, I guess, is the intent?

    • Rystefn

      “Not to mention that domestic violence is still a big problem. So what’s wrong with focusing on feminism?”

      There’s one small part of the problem, right there. Domestic violence isn’t a feminism issue at all, it’s a humanism issue. Depending on which study you look at, women are anywhere from slightly in the majority of victims to substantially in the minority of victims.

      Pointing out this fact around Skepchick or FTB will get you labeled a “Men’s Rights Activist” and berated for being anti-woman.

      The problem isn’t focusing on feminism. The problem is focusing on feminism so obsessively that it becomes the only issue. The problem is pretending universal issues are feminist issues. The problem is putting ideology above facts.

      • Adriana

        Can you please provide a link to which study shows that women are not the overwhelming majority of victims of domestic violence? The only statistics I could find by googling is 85% of domestic violence victims are women:
        http://www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet(National).pdf
        or
        http://www.scientificjournals.org/journals2009/articles/1420.pdf (this ones cites a DOJ 2008 study that says 95% of domestic violence victims are women)

      • bluharmony

        It’s good to see you here, Rystefn. I won’t ever label you as anything but a friend.

        I haven’t seen all of the studies, but I suspect that most domestic violence victims are women and children. But that doesn’t mean that men don’t experience domestic violence as well, though usually (not always), physical strength works in their favor.

  • I honestly do not understand what you are talking about, when you call feminism a “blind spot”. Maybe because I have no idea what the squabble is about.

    This is a big part of the problem. There is a huge amount of context behind Bluharmony’s post, and perhaps it is not very evident to someone coming to this issue for the first time.

    It really is not about ‘feminism’ at all, but about the behaviours of people (many people, and from ‘all sides’) in ‘the movement’ who happen to be discussing some contentious topic. It so happens that the issue du-jour happens to be connected to feminism, but it really could have been anything. The real problem is how people deal with others who have conflicting opinions in a discussion. There are ways of dealing with conflict that escalate the conflict (that’s what’s happening now, mostly), and there are also ways that reduce and/or resolve conflict (this is what we need more of).

    What we’re seeing is an ever-increasing escalation of conflict back and forth, and the conflict spreads around and lays waste wherever it goes. That is the problem.

    The problem with witch-burning isn’t ‘witches’ or ‘witchcraft’. The problem is ‘burning people’. The problem is lack of self-skepticism.

    • bluharmony

      Excellent comment. I really don’t get why we can’t just sort it all out and reconcile. We need atheist arbitration, as it were. The differences are so minor (and it’s interesting that those with major political differences aren’t even involved).

    • Copyleft

      Self-righteousness is more addictive than the finest cocaine.

  • AshleyF

    The perpetual-victim crowd that makes up a huge part of FTB doesn’t deserve a shoulder to lean on. I don’t see why you’re giving them one.

  • AshleyF

    And I hate to sound rude, and no, I am not being a troll, but your entire article sounds like a piece of ass-kissing designed to heal some old tensions so that you can get back in with some of the people that previously shunned you.

    • bluharmony

      If you hate to sound rude, then why do it? The people you speak of did not “shun” me; I was perfectly accepted until I chose to disagree with them. Nor do I plan on changing my position any time soon. I think women are adults and should be treated as such. At the same time, it is obvious that some women are indeed concerned about their safety. They may not be the most vocal ones, yet they exist and their feelings deserve to be acknowledged. In any case, if you think that anger and constant bickering is a solution to anything, then that’s your problem and not mine. As for the “people that previously shunned” me, I’m sure they’re bashing me as I type this. I’m a frequent target due to somewhat obvious vulnerabilities.

  • I lurked on FTB for quite some time before they now apparent raucous. I disagree with a variety of viewpoints on blogs…that I can handle. What I will not abide, however, is a continued uncivil verbal assault on everyone who happens to disagree with the OP, the OP’s friend(s) and anyone the OP happens to admire.

    It is absolutely ridiculous to see individuals calmly analyze others’ fallacious arguments and then break out the ad hominems the instant someone says anything like, “I’m not sure I agree.”

    Even worse, when challenged on the use of invective, several individuals doubled down and claimed they (or someone else) was entitled to use horrific language and thinly veiled threats simply because they are members of “oppressed classes”.

    Look at the way Daniel Fincke was treated in the comment section when he made explicit his policy on “no personal attacks and/or verbally abusive language, etc.”.
    I read comments from others on the same blog network turn their verbal abuse upon him. Not just from commenters, but from blog authors.

    He was told, on more than one occasion, that he had no right to tell others ON HIS OWN BLOG that they wouldn’t be allowed to verbally attack/abuse others on that same blog. Examples used were “fuck you” and “go eat a dick”, etc. Apparently, if one isn’t allowed to tell people to “fuck off” on a blog devoted to philosophy, then clearly the blog author is simply a privileged white male with no understanding of the needs of the oppressed…..or something like that.

    • bluharmony

      Yeah, all he wanted was to keep the discourse civil. And he was one of the true believers that the “oppressed” must have their own voice to express themselves, but that “expression” got so out of hand that no discourse was occurring at all.

      I mean what is there to debate when someone says, “Keep it civil”? My comment policy is at the top of my blog and it works like this: my blog, my rules (within the broader scope of the network’s policies).

      It’s pointless to add that Western middle-class white women are not oppressed in any real sense of the word, of course.

  • No, the people over at FtB aren’t idiots, but we have to remember that just because a person isn’t stupid, that doesn’t mean they apply their smarts to every aspect of their lives. Clearly, and I’m speaking specifically of the feminist Atheism+ crowd, they have severe emotional attachments to their views and those emotional ties have clouded their rational judgement.

    I will also agree that there are some women who fear all men, just like there are some people who fear dogs or the number 13. These are not simple fears, they are phobias, they are, depending on the strength and severity of the fears, bordering on paranoid schizophrenia and require medical and psychological attention, not a fanclub that sits around and sings kumbayah. These individuals need help, not a sympathetic cadre of well-meaning sycophants who are happy to cater to their particular paranoia as a means to some emotionally-saturated social end.

    That’s the problem in a nutshell.

    • bluharmony

      I think it might be an even bigger problem that some are using these fears to their personal advantage, and with no regard for others.

  • JRS

    Good post and good followup clarification on the matter of the ‘feminism blindspot’.

    While feminism is the ’cause celebre’ that finally cracked FTB, i’ve observed the deterioration of the group for some time now. I was a regular visitor for several years and even joined in with the occasional commentary and ‘pharyngulation’ of religious polls. Over time I noticed a growing presence of a certain caustic presence within the group and gradually lost interest as my comfort level went down. The place just didn’t feel good or even constructive anymore. Elevatorgate and all that followed simply confirmed my own unfocused suspicions were true.

    The great irony that no-one seems to have realized is that the very element that they are now railing against was, in many ways, a home grown problem. Pharyngula was pulling these people in like a magnet even before the FTB group was created. As long as they were focused on a common ‘enemy’ (the religious) no one seemed to notice or care. Once the topic of feminism was tosse dinto the mix, suddenly part of the group turned on itself, which shouldn’t have surprised anyone who was really paying attention. The rest, as they say, is history.

    I took a while for the existance of the controversy to reach my attention, not being involved as I once was. Once I did learn of it i started visiting the (now) FTB bloggers I used to frequent and was stunned at what had happened and what was still actively taking place. My reaction, after a very brief venture into the mess in an attempt to perhaps restore some semblance of civility and reason to the discourse, was to suffer the very same attacks , vilification and marginalizing that so many others have reported. It was clear the FTB has no understanding or apparent willingness to understand or recognize the very real part they played in constructing the very circus that is th esource of their complaint. My reaction? Eliminate anything to do with anything FTB related. Instead, I sought out the more moderate reasoned voices such as this site and subscribed here instead.

    Seeing as I’m making the rare (for me) effort to write this, let me add a few more observations that I’ve made that had a very real effect on how I reacted to the whole thing. Some of these you and others have already commented on, such as the hard core ‘us and them’ attitude of the FTB personalities with their zero tolerance of anyone having the temerity to offer the slightest disagreement. Another that I’ve noticed while surfing the web researching the topic and visiting various blog sites and youtube commentaries, is that there is a more-or-less clearly defined group of FTB (maybe a dozen or so?) that materialize on all of these posting to attack anyone who disagrees or offers a counterpoint to the FTB position. It really is quite remarkable to see in action. I’ve come to refer to them as the FTB Flying Monkeys. No dissenting commenter will go untouched or unscathed.

    Lastly, curiousity got th ebest of me and I went over to the atheism plus web site and surfed the various discussion threads for a while. I nearly broke out in hives. I an hard pressed to describe an environment where the Orwellian governing concept was so insiduously put into play. It is political correctness gone insane.

    The saddest part of the whole picture is that their style of aggressive activism is doing far more harm than good. One of the truly interesting – and I think telling – things I noticed in my wandering about the web is the apparently growing number of women bloggers, posters, commenters and video makers speaking out against the FTB/A+ behavior an dpositions.

    It will be interesting to watch how all this plays out.

    • Chill Chick

      That pretty much echoes how my opinion of Pharyngula and the “freethought” blogs in general has evolved. I used to read and enjoy Pharyngula every day. But when PZ pulled his crackergate stunt, I thought, wait a minute, that’s a pretty dickish move. I mean, I think the whole eucharist thing is stupid, but this isn’t the way to respond. Then after elevatorgate, the rot really set in. I was simply stunned by the level of mouth-foaming hatred against men – all men – from the flying monkeys as you call them. I stopped reading regularly at that point, I checked back a few times and the hatred had only gotten worse. Then there was all the stupid shit happening at TAM, with Greta Christina seeing a standard piece of photographic equipment and jumping to the conclusion that its only possible purpose is to take pictures up women’s skirts. And she calls herself a skeptic and critical thinker! And the less said about Surly Amy, the better. I swear, some people make me embarrassed to be a woman.

      • bluharmony

        I never approved of that kind of treatment of the religious, either. It’s shameful to treat other human beings that way. There’s no need to respect harmless religious beliefs/acts. But certainly there’s a need for tolerance of human frailty and error.

    • Clare45

      I totally agree, JRS and I am very glad you made the effort to post your comments. Feminism is the “cause celebre” of FtB as you put it, but it is also a big red herring. There is more evidence for this in some of the above comments. If it wasn’t about feminism, some other manufactured or exaggerated problem would probably occur. Some of the posters on that site are simply being used because they are aggressive and paranoid and good at over-reacting to any perceived slight. There are also the “yes” people-I was going to say “yes men”!- who don’t like to make waves and go with the flow in order to be popular. The main players are far from stupid. They are scheming and manipulative power brokers. It really is a version of “Animal Farm”. They have tried-mostly unsuccessfully-to belittle respected people like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris,Paula Kirby, Abbey Smith, and now Justin Vacula, to name just a few. When one issue settles down and discussions die off, then a new witch hunt is started. Fortunately, the mainstream atheist movement is not behind FtB, Atheism + et al. and I expect that with the latest (Justin V) fiasco, they have simply dug themselves a bigger hole.

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  • JT

    Shhh, keep it down. Next thing we know, Sallystrange will show up here, and then it’ll all be over. She’s like that girl from The Ring movie: she never sleeps.
    Anyway, this was another good post, Bluharmony, keep it coming.

  • That said, the FTB bloggers and, even more so, their commentariat, have a huge blind spot: feminism. They feel so passionately about this issue that they’re unable to think about it critically enough to note the constant contradictions and inconsistencies in their positions.

    We’ve had this out before, bluharmony — I provided numerous peer-reviewed studies to support a number of the major feminist claims presented by the bloggers at FTB and other feminist atheists, you provided none to dispute them, nor were you able to point out any actually inconsistencies. Yet you still claim that it is the bloggers and commentariat at FTB (including myself, in the latter) who are unable to think critically, who have a blind spot?

    So it saddens me greatly to see the political right threatening women’s reproductive choices while we’re bickering about proper manners in elevators and the publication of public addresses instead.

    False dilemma. It is possible to care about women feeling unsafe in elevators and at conferences, about people posting addresses online, *and* to fight for the right to choose.

    • Jim in AZ

      You say you’ve “provided numerous peer-reviewed studies to support a number of the major feminsit claims…”. Would you please privide a link or links to those studies?

      I’ve never seen anyone over @ FTB do the same, although they claim those studies exist. Of course, I don’t hang out on blogs all day, so I may have missed the actual citations.

    • bluharmony

      You are not typical of most of the commentariat on these blogs. You are polite, intelligent, and you provide evidence for the arguments you do make. But considering the many different schools of feminism, all with studies supporting them, how do you know that you have your mix of feminism just right? In any case please provide empirical support for the following assertions, all of which have been made on FTB:

      It’s wrong to ask a woman to coffee in an elevator.

      It’s wrong to talk to a woman in an elevator.

      It’s wrong to take the same elevator as a single woman.

      It’s wrong to talk to a woman in an elevator at 4AM.

      It’s wrong to proposition any women in an elevator. (Note, I’m not suggesting that it’s a *good idea,* it isn’t. But it wouldn’t bother me.)

      It’s wrong for a man to walk on the same side of the street as a single woman (even though you can better protect her from harm that way).

      It’s wrong to treat a woman as an equal to a male.

      It’s wrong to not treat a woman as an equal to a male.

      It’s right to instruct nerdy men on how to get women up to their hotel rooms where it would be easiest to rape them (Pharyngula).

      It’s right to publish my home address in a hate thread about me.

      It’s wrong to publish Amy Roth’s home address in a thread referencing her.

      It’s right to harass women online and try to get them fired from their jobs (or make them virtually unemployable) via various online and offline methods.

      It’s wrong to harass women online by calling them bad words.

      It’s wrong to put buttons on the left side of women’s clothing because that makes them easier for men to undress.

      It’s wrong to compliment women on their looks at conferences.

      It’s wrong to pose nude in calendars.

      It’s sexually empowering to pose nude in calendars.

      It’s good to send women to conferences.

      It’s bad to send women to conferences.

      Atheist conferences are more dangerous than anywhere in the Seattle area.

      Atheist conferences are no more dangerous than any other place.

      A man is always more privileged than a woman.

      Harassment is constant at atheist conferences.

      All atheists who aren’t feminists are misogynists.

      Situational privilege is irrelevant.

      Situational privilege is relevant.

      Pornography is evil.

      Pornography is fine.

      Women don’t need men to reproduce.

      Women don’t need men to create men.

      Male brains are female brains damaged by testosterone.

      Women are as strong as men.

      Women are not as strong as men.

      Propositioning a woman in the wrong place and taking no for an answer is sexism, objectification, and misogyny.

      Attacking people online is a good way to get them to support your cause.

      Men should cater to women’s irrational fears.

      Men should ignore women’s concerns if they’re not feminists or if they don’t agree with you on some random feminist issues.

      Men’s arguments are invalid because of privilege.

      Men’s concerns are inconsequential.

      Ignoring men’s concerns doesn’t cause the sort of resentment that is likely to harm women in the long run.

      In rape cases there should be no presumption of innocence.

      It’s right to call people who disagree with you on feminist issues the most vile names possible and to suggest suicide and self-rape. In fact, even words like “bitch” (Laden’s blog) and “attention whore” (Benson’s blog) are appropriate for the likes of me.

      Genered slurs are OK when FTB feminists use them.

      Gendered slurs are never appropriate.

      Self-empowerment is a bad thing.

      Not feeling oppressed is a bad thing.

      Social justice, as defined by a select few, is the direct result of atheism.
      ____________________________________________________

      I’m looking forward to your list of cites. Please note that I am pro-choice, support affirmative action when reasonable, support better rape shield laws, do not believe that women are paid equally for their work, and do not believe that women’s “traditional” jobs are compensated fairly. I agree that sexist humor can be harmful, but don’t think prohibiting it is the answer. Nor am I suggesting that all women should simply pull themselves up by their bootstraps to become equal. Rather, I’m suggesting that education and the legal system are presently the best ways to address women’s issues. And for this misogyny, apparently I must be destroyed, left without work, and put out on the streets, as that’s what can easily happen to me as a result of certain FTB feminists’ actions, which have been taken with the knowledge that I have no family, and have had to deal with a rape, abuse, and a serious disability for most of my life. Enjoy yourself.

      • That’s quite a list — but I’m (a) a mathematician and (b) a linguist, so I’m simply not willing to take statements out of context, nor am I willing to postulate context without any evidence of what the context is.* I’m more than willing to have this conversation, but I’m not interested in debating statements that don’t have any explicit source.

        I certainly regard with disgust anyone who has shared your address online or used gendered slurs against you. I’m not in the business of defending everything FTB does, whether bloggers or commenters. I’m simply interested in presenting as best I can the scientific case for those aspects (which, I think, third wave largely consists of) of feminism which are empirically supported.

        *I’ll note, as an example, that the first several you quote are generally used together, not separately as your list implies. The question of whether it is right for *any* man to ask *any* woman for coffee in an elevator is a different question to whether a man who has listened to a woman talk about how she doesn’t like to be propositioned like this should follow her into an elevator at 4a.m. and do so when she is in a foreign country are very different questions. And however you feel about the answers, pretending that the first has been discussed when it is in fact the second is misleading.

        • Chill Chick

          I always wonder why people emphasize that elevatorgate happened in a foreign country. I’ve been to Ireland and you’re probably much less likely to get raped there than in the good ol’ US of A.

          • bluharmony

            Beats me — it’s a First World, English-speaking country. Europe isn’t exactly a scary place, although the men do tend to be more touchy-feely there, or at least that was my experience when I was young. Particularly in Italy and France. Far less so in the UK.

            But if we get back to the elevator incident, there’s no evidence that it happened other than Rebecca’s words, and her story is inconsistent due to 1) her alleged face blindness, 2) the photo taken by PZ, 3) the impossibility of knowing what someone else is thinking, and 4) the impossibility of knowing what someone you’ve never talked to has heard.

            But let’s use it merely for the sake of an example. A lawyer friend of mine likened it to a summary judgment motion where you assume that all the evidence presented by the non-moving party is true. I’m not sure it would pass that test either, due to the inherent inconsistencies. But still, if I were a guy, having seen what I’ve seen on the web recently, I’d never talk to a woman in an elevator again. Which is probably a bit of a loss for women like me, but it’s not much of one, so I really don’t care, at least not about that.

            It does hurt women in the terms of being seen as equals, though, and that’s something I care about a lot more.

        • bluharmony

          True enough as to the first four factors(and probably a few others that I failed to mention); I’m just trying to figure out which combination of circumstances makes the elevator incident sexism, objectification, and/or misogyny. I’ll concede that someone could feel objectified by any combination of these (or other) factors,* but that’s a subjective emotion, not an objective fact. I didn’t get into this mess by arguing about any of the issues you brought up.** I largely agree with your main points, so I don’t see why I need to present evidence against them, even if I don’t think that “rape culture” is the best way to describe the way women are treated.

          What got me into this was the indignation I felt when one prominent feminist used the speaker’s podium to attack another feminist for “parroting misogynistic thought” and for failing to recognize “objectification,” when that subject wasn’t even brought up in the original video describing the incident –sexualization was. My second crime against womanhood was that I found Myers’ and Laden’s instructions to men on how to treat women infantilizing and patronizing (as did a lot of other women, though most of us have been silenced through heaps of abuse).

          *RW lived in the UK for two years prior. The hotel was well-lit and fully booked, and it’s quite common for hotel guests to get up at 4AM. Someone is always up in a hotel, and if your victim is only going up one floor and you’re trying for a quick grope, you should probably get started right away.

          ** I’ll save my arguments about rape culture and privilege for another time except to say that the concept of privilege should not be used to dismiss an otherwise valid argument. Also categorizing people based on their perceived privileges often leads to assumptions about them that are flat out wrong.