Pages Menu
TwitterRssFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted by on Apr 3, 2013 in critical thinking, faith, gender | 78 comments

Secular Woman – Dogmatic feminism within the secular community

 

For months, many in the secular community have been critical of discourse associated with very vocal advocates of those who speak and write under the banner of feminism (the squeaky wheel indeed gets the grease). Rather than engaging in critical inquiry, feminists have frequently shut people out of discussion and villified their ideological opponents and persons skeptical of feminist claims; dissent and dissenters — no matter how well meaning — are portrayed as sexist, misogynistic, anti-woman (although criticism of feminism is not hatred), rapists, and rape apologists. Men who are skeptical of feminism are often labelled as ‘mansplaining‘ and ‘speaking from male privilege.’  Women who challenge the rhetoric associated with feminism are branded as chill girls, gender traitors, and sister punishers.

While vilification of dissent and dissenters is often not conducive to inquiry, the worst element of feminism in the secular community may be its dogmatic nature. The best recent example of this can be found within a release from the feminist organization Secular Woman - an organization which purports to “amplify the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women.” Secular Woman’s board of directors, including President Kim Rippere and Vice President Elsa Roberts, wrote (emphasis mine),

“At Secular Woman, the principle that “feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression” (Hooks, 2000, p. viii) is taken as a given, and not a topic for debate.  As a secular feminist organization committed to understanding and exposing societal constructs that contribute to the inequality of women and other oppressed groups, we have no desire to listen to, respect, or continuously debunk overtly sexist viewpoints. Just as most scientists are not interested in debating the beliefs of creationists, we are not interested in debating gender-biased, racist, homophobic, or trans*phobic beliefs. [...] Those of us working to challenge systemic sexism should be under no obligation to listen to or be more charitable to our opponents.”

Secular Woman removes itself from the arena of reasonable discussion in a community which is supposed to value rationality, critical inquiry, and spirited debate aimed at reaching truth. Secular Woman absolutely refuses to engage with, listen to, or be charitable to their “opponents” who conveniently are labeled as “gender-biased, racist, homophobic, or trans*phobic.”

Secular Woman portrays those who disagree with their particular dogma as irrational – as if there can be no reasonable disagreement between critical thinkers. Even if it happens to be the case that all of the beliefs Secular Woman holds are justified and true [or whether they really are "working to challenge systemic sexism"], placing themselves outside of critical discussion and debate is not the way for a rational person (or a professional organization) to behave.

All of this dogmatic behavior from Secular Woman, interestingly enough, follows the posting of (and was a response to) “The Open Letter to the Secular Community” – a document signed by many leaders of prominent organizations within the secular community who call for more civility in online discussions which partially notes,

“The secular movement as a whole is friendly, welcoming, and committed to the use of reason and evidence as a means of resolving disagreements.”

“We seek to promote productive debate and discussion. We firmly believe open and candid discussion is the most reliable means of resolving differences of opinion and bringing about needed change.”

“…we should apply the principle of charity, which tells us to aim our argument against the best interpretation of the opposing arguments rather than picking off weaker versions.”

“We can become better at disagreeing by treating each other like reasonable human beings.”

I used to believe that feminism was, as I have been told, ‘the radical notion that women are human beings too’ and a movement for gender equality, but when paying attention and being skeptical of feminist organizations, prominent feminists, and feminist assumptions, I have hardly seen this. Rather, I have frequently witnessed dogma, irrationality, demonization of male identity, and extreme intolerance toward women who dare to disagree.

I have also been told that the ‘extremist rhetoric’ within feminism is confined to ‘extremists’ who have no clout, but that has similarly been falsified.

Perhaps there are some, as I am also told, ‘good feminists’ out there?
Perhaps ‘not all feminists are like that?’
Perhaps some humanists and gender egalitarians who do not imitate the discourse coming from Secular Woman and nevertheless label themselves as feminists?

I hope these individuals, if they exist, will speak up against dogmatic feminism and discard the ‘feminist’ label. I refuse to label myself as a feminist because its name has been sullied beyond repair. I will be happy as a humanist, a gender egalitarian, and a skeptic who is willing to change any and all of my beliefs — much unlike Secular Woman — provided good reasons.

Fare thee well, feminism.

Dogmatic feminism has no place in the secular community and, if left unchallenged, will continue to poison the community. Secular Woman is not the way forward for women (and men) in the secular community who value compassion, charity, critical discourse, and open-mindedness. I encourage members of Secular Woman to withdraw their membership and discontinue support. Follow Karla Porter‘s lead:


Secular Woman has much to learn from the secular community and from the Center for Inquiry whose mission statement is worth noting here (emphasis mine),

At the Center for Inquiry, we believe that evidence-based reasoning, in which humans work together to address common concerns, is critical for modern world civilization. Moreover, unlike many other institutions, we maintain that scientific methods and reasoning should be utilized in examining the claims of both pseudoscience and religion. We reject mysticism and blind faith. No topic should be placed off limits to scrutiny—certainly not fringe science and religion, which have an enormous influence on beliefs and conduct.

We also maintain that values are properly the subject of study and discussion as much as empirical claims. The Center for Inquiry studies and promotes human values based on a naturalistic outlook. Ideological doctrine and religious dogma have no more right to dictate our moral norms than they do to influence scientific research.

As always, feel free to comment below. Unlike Secular Woman, I have a desire to listen to people who may happen to disagree with me and encourage critical dialogue.

  • http://karlaporter.com/ Karla Porter

    Twenty-three signatories from twenty-two organizations and the only one that specifically represents women’s issues gave the effort the finger and said adiós. I’m still shaking my head with disappointment. Imagine if General George Washington would have said, “Nah, I don’t want to cross the Delaware.”

    • Outwest

      Then Trenton would still be held by the British?

      • http://karlaporter.com/ Karla Porter

        Yes and we would be eating fish and chips and singing God save the Queen. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the British – I am just glad Washington stepped up.

        • http://twitter.com/jeh704 Outwest

          I was just trying to be funny. Your point was well taken by me.

          • http://karlaporter.com/ Karla Porter

            Got it! I was just emphasizing..

      • https://twitter.com/#!/OffensivAtheist bismarket

        Maybe the Atheist community (if it existed) wouldn’t keep banging on about Feminism so much & got back to dealing with the more important stuff. This last year or so i’ve started to wonder why this particular issue (when there are so many other more important things to be dealing with) has taken centre stage so often?

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

      Well there was obviously something about the pledge specifically supporting gender equality and condemning threats that rubbed them the wrong way.

      For some reason.

      • http://karlaporter.com/ Karla Porter

        You never answered what color wizard hat you want.. =)

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

    “racist, homophobic, or trans*phobic beliefs.”

    But there are some FEMINISTS who hold those beliefs. What do they not understand about this? Feminism is a very broad sphere of thought – a collection of ideologies ranging from reasonable to completely absurd. It is NOT monolithic. They keep pretending “feminism” is just a synonym for “equal rights”, so that they can then cast anyone who disagrees with all or part of their particular ideological beliefs as somehow being opponents of equality. It’s bonkers.

    Also I must say, I really enjoyed being lectured on power and oppression by them yesterday on Twitter, because as a gay person whose rights are literally being debated right now in the highest court of the land, I obviously have no understanding of those things.

    That last paragraph was sarcasm.

    • EllenBeth Wachs

      “racist, homophobic, or trans*phobic beliefs.”

      “But there are some FEMINISTS who hold those beliefs. What do they not understand about this?”

      Yes, there certainly are. These are the “radfems” that a lot of US get accused of being all too often. I had the unfortunate experience of running across a bunch of them in a facebook group. They are a nasty bunch. They are radical extremists. No doubt about it. Every group will have some.

      I agree, Ryan, I doubt any oppressed person enjoys being lectured to by the oppressor.

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

        To be fair if I’m going to criticize Secular Woman for presenting feminism as monolithic, I think that can also be said to some degree of Justin’s piece here. He doesn’t typically make any distinctions between different feminism ideologies, but tends to argue against simply “feminism” and “feminists”.

        And to his question, where are the feminists that are not “like that”? Well, I know some people who have identified as feminists (e.g. DJ Grothe) who nevertheless get slammed on blogs and accused of misogyny, etc. Being a lefty queer in Madison, WI, naturally I know lots and lots of self-described feminists in real life. But they aren’t on twitter yelling at people, most of them have better things to do. Some of my friends work in domestic abuse centers, some of them do community outreach and education for women’s and queer issues, etc.

        So I do agree with Justin that it seems like the discourse on-line is dominated by unreasonable people throwing around insults. That is a problem, and I wish more feminists could enter this particular on-line discussion surrounding feminism and the secular community (but as we’ve seen, they tend to get shut down and shunned for disagreeing just like anybody else does).

        But I would suggest to Justin that the on-line drama does not represent the whole of feminism. It certainly in no way resembles anything I experienced in my college gender studies courses. And most of my friends in real life just see feminism as the “radical” notion that women should be equal. Unfortunately they don’t have popular blogs or twitter accounts.

        • http://profiles.google.com/remoparallel Clarence Woodworth

          I’m afraid this answer which boils down to “not all feminists are like that” on the part of you and Ms Wachs just won’t do at all.

          A:When “shared parenting” legislation is opposed by most groups of feminists including NOW as any ‘fathers rights’ group such as Fathers 4 Families could tell you – http://www.fathersandfamilies.org/enews/cv/enews-20120614.html

          B. When feminists often have trouble allowing males access to ‘victim support’ services such as for physical or sexual abuse even though these same feminists often receive taxpayer money for said services: http://toysoldier.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/feminists-support-services-and-male-survivors/#more-8174

          C. When feminist groups claim only females can be raped and get this codified into law : http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Only-men-can-be-booked-for-rape/Article1-1021702.aspx

          And closer to home it was feminists who helped the CDC define “forced envelopment” as not rape as Mary P. Koss is detailed doing here :

          http://www.genderratic.com/p/2551/male-privilege-defining-male-victims-out-of-existence/

          I quote: “Although consideration of male victims is within the scope of the legal
          statutes, it is important to restrict the term rape to instances where
          male victims were penetrated by offenders. It is inappropriate to
          consider as a rape victim a man who engages in unwanted sexual
          intercourse with a woman.”

          Here’s a real world result :

          http://www.genderratic.com/p/836/manufacturing-female-victimhood-and-marginalizing-vulnerable-men/

          D. As for civil liberties, well if one considers Jill Fillopovic a feminist:

          http://toysoldier.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/the-presumption-of-guilt/

          Of course feminists also pushed hard for rape shield laws (and have been noticably silent on things like Federal Rule of Evidence 413) that are sometimes overbroad :

          http://daltondailycitizen.com/local/x1221097368/Life-after-accusation

          “Georgia’s rape shield

          Georgia’s rape shield law — 24-4-412 of the Georgia Code — prohibits
          the accuser’s sexual past from being introduced into evidence. Green
          said that while his accuser’s past was kept secret, his own supposed
          past — including unrelated incidents in which he allegedly behaved
          inappropriately with other female family members — was brought out for
          all to see.”

          In this case, like in the famous cyber rapist case (Oliver Javanovic) relevant information (in this case the fact that the DNA test results were less incriminating if the jurors were allowed to know that the accuser had sex with other men, in the Javanovic case emails in which the accuser discussed her desire for BDSM) was kept from the defense due to a poorly written or interpreted rape shield law. Meanwhile Georgia (like the Feds), in order to increase the chance for convictions allows testimony about previous allegations against the defendant EVEN if they were acquitted or these accusations never brought before a court. Is this fair? We don’t allow such testimony in any other crime. This is a special rule that disadvantages rape defendants. I don’t know if feminists are merely paternalists had any hand in drafting such rules, I do know the rape shield laws are feminists babies.

          Anyway, I could easily go on. The point is -whatever an individual feminist believes – her political organizations, legal societies (Feminist Law Guild, anyone?) and online and offline spokeswomen (that Amanda Marcotte has a large feminist following should be a total disgrace to anyone who calls themselves a feminist EVEN IF they don’t believe in equality and merely believe in pushing for women…instead, being a ‘feminist’ is Amanda’s gig) all say what they are for, and it often has little or nothing to do with equality under the law.

          • jjramsey

            I’m afraid this answer which boils down to “not all feminists are like
            that” on the part of you and Ms Wachs just won’t do at all.

            Why? They *aren’t* all like that, not even close. I admit, much of what I learned about feminism I learned from reading stuff on Girl-Wonder.org. This includes a blog post where the writer complains that the female-on-male rape of Green Arrow was not acknowledged as such, but rather described as an infidelity or betrayal. So no, the “women can’t rape men” thing isn’t a feminist thing, not universally, anyway.

          • http://profiles.google.com/remoparallel Clarence Woodworth

            jjframsey:
            The point is you have to define your political movement. What it is for, and what it is against. If anyone can be a feminist then the word means nothing. And if you define your movement that does mean that you have to police it. Even the rational/skeptic community has to do some ‘policing’ – that is get rid of people who refuse to apply rationalist and skeptical tools to their thinking even about their own dogma. Here’s what I often find feminists do: Claim credit for everything good done in the name of feminism, but “That’s not my feminism!” when someone brings up the fact that feminists in India just basically got it codified into law that men can’t be raped by women. In short, take the goodies but assume no responsibility for the bad parts. Why do you think Men’s Rights Acvitists and so many self-proclaimed egalitarians (and for people who want to keep the ‘feminist’ label egalitarian feminists) exist? Because as feminism is practiced in politics, academia, and in most of the media, it hardly seems to do anything but exist to codify female privileges and other double standards into law, while often deliberately ignoring or excluding male victims of the problems they purport to fight *male victims of domestic violence are a good example* or of the (sometimes unanticipated, sometimes I bet not) side effects of their own policies. See the (almost all) male victims of poorly written or overbroad Rape Shield laws for example. To your average feminist they literally don’t exist, and this is partly because the political and intellectual “leaders” of the movement deem it essential not to worry about them. If you want to change things like this, you need new leaders or new talking heads.

            By the way, while I’ve been to GirlWonder.org (and sometimes I think they are full of shizzle and sometimes they have a point or at least an interesting post) I dare say Mary P. Koss is far more representative of feminism than they are. She’s certainly someone you should both know about and worry about, that is if you give a crap about what feminism is supposed to stand for.

          • blondeintokyo

            Clarence, do you seriously think feminists should police their movement and kick out anyone who doesn’t agree with their ideals? How, pray tell, can they actually do that? That’s like saying Christians should all believe the same things if they want to call themselves “Christian”, but we all laugh at those Christians who say, “Well, that person who said that racist/homophobic thing isn’t a “real” Christian.” We know good and well that though they are all Christians, they all have differing views. It’s therefore beyond ridiculous to claim that all feminists must believe the same things or they aren’t “real feminists”, or that the “real feminists” are somehow able to kick people out of their group and then deny them the use of the “feminist” label.

            FYI, I call myself a feminist, and I don’t believe any of those things you are attributing to “all feminists”. What you are doing is building yourself a straw feminist and parading it though town while trying to convince everyone it’s an actual, real person.

          • http://profiles.google.com/remoparallel Clarence Woodworth

            blondeintokyo:
            Please don’t try the old ‘straw feminist’ bullcrap with me. I never said ALL feminists. But I do say that what an explicitly political movement is is declared by its political organizations and other socially influential organizations and talking heads that act in its name. Indeed, the Powers that Be in feminism (such as the head of NOW) are real feminists in every way that counts. You, a private individual, no matter how well-meaning you may be don’t get to define a term that existed before you were born and is currently claimed by people and organizations far more influential than you.

            If you don’t like what they do you have 4 options:
            A. Speak up about it, and declare they are betraying feminism.
            B. Attempt to reform said organizations
            C. Leave the title of feminist to those who are (according to you) misusing it
            Or
            D. You can continue to keep the label and do none of the above and I will continue to point out that this makes feminist essentially a meaningless label. Thus I will continue to define the said influential people and organizations(after all THEY affect my life and that of my brothers – YOU do not) as feminists and misandrists and you can whine about it all you want.

        • http://westcoastatheist.wordpress.com/ Katie Graham

          It’s too bad that Secular Woman are not leaving any room for debate because I’m getting a lot out of this article and the comments critiquing it.

        • Astrokid NJ

          The key issue for those of us looking at feminism from the outside.. is what Clarence mentions.. the female-favoring and male-hating laws and public policies that have been passed by the political organizations that identify as feminist, and lobby with the Govt. Here are titles of recent articles by Hoff Sommers

          In making campuses safe for women, a travesty of justice for men.
          Domestic violence myths help no one
          Baseless Bias and the New Second Sex: Claims of bias against women in academic science have been greatly exaggerated. Meanwhile, men are becoming the second sex in American higher education.
          No Country for Burly Men:
          That an emergency economic recovery program should be designed with gender in mind is itself remarkable. That, in current circumstances, it should be designed to “skew” employment further towards women is disturbing and ominous

          Do I worry about those individual issues, or about the flavors of feminism that they emanate from and whether some foot-soldier feminists are well intentioned?
          Funny you point out that Justin and co have critiqued monolithic feminism and not mentioned specific flavors.. but you yourself fail to identify which flavor of feminist you are.. or DJ is. When you guys dont go around identifying with the particular flavor, why should the rest of us care?

          Either way.. Our critiques are directed at the core components of mainstream feminism.. such as the PatriarchyTheory of historical oppression of women (but not men), Male Privilege that trumps female privilege pretty much all the time, Rape Culture, Glass Ceilings, XXX Gender Gaps that are always impacting women. None of these holds up under skeptical analyses.

          Note that we have not even talked about the extremely disturbing radfems such as radfemhub that openly say they want to exterminate 90% of men.. we are talking mainstream feminism.

          How can anyone side with an ideology that has a record of destruction? We chastize religion when it does it.. How much flack did the Vatican take for the child-abuse issue? Why arent you well-meaning feminists directing it at the feminist harm done to men? None of this is new.. I recently came across an article written by a woman in 2003
          Feminism’s Third Wave by Angela Fiori

          If there is ever going to be any restoration of sanity, it’s decent men who have to lead the way back and first by understanding what all the upheavals of the 1960s are now costing them (not just the sexual revolution which turned today’s dating women into prostitutes). Keep in mind that running after sociopaths while simultaneously claiming that “There are no good men left” is just the latest twist in this 40-year-old female Superscam – and the tip of the iceberg at that.
          A good start would be to look at how the 52% female portion of the population got classified as a minority and thus eligible for unofficial affirmative action. A second interesting question is how the sex with the higher life expectancy got its own wing in most hospitals (along with children). A third angle would be a comprehensive study of the family court system to see how the average man’s probability of winning custody of children stacks up to the average woman’s. After that take a look at which demographic group is most fervently eroding the Second Amendment and leading the charge toward the full federal takeover of U.S. health and day care. (All of these latter horrors would never have been a reality in Canada without the decisive support of women at the ballot box.)

      • http://westcoastatheist.wordpress.com/ Katie Graham

        There’s also the more common and less agressive idea in feminism that boys are dangerous and need to have their behavior modified at young ages. “Girls rule, boys drool,” so to speak. Not that it hasn’t been reversed for centuries for women, but I can’t get behind the idea that doing the same thing to the “oppressor” that was done to us is any way of achieving equality.

        • http://profiles.google.com/remoparallel Clarence Woodworth

          I’d be careful about assuming about how girls and boys were raised across time and cultures, esp since it’s always been the case that most of the people raising those children in their earliest years were female. Boys were raised far differently in Athens than in Sparta for example, and that’s just the example of the Greek penninsula during one particular period of ancient history.
          Men and women’s ‘gender roles’ have always given them both responsibilities and powers, and the last time in Western history that women were being literally sold as chattel, men were too.

          • http://westcoastatheist.wordpress.com/ Katie Graham

            You’re talking about slavery, I presume, which I think is a completely different discussion to have. I don’t like it when feminists use the analogy and I don’t think you should either. What you had for years in Western culture was dowry, which was the opposite of “selling women as chattel,” or bride price (both are terrible concepts). Dowry was an amount paid to the groom by the brides family to care for the woman. Almost like a pay-off to cover the extra burden of having her around. Both slavery and these marriage customs are disgusting institutions, but I don’t think they can be easily analogized.

          • http://profiles.google.com/remoparallel Clarence Woodworth

            Well, Katie, I’d suggest you read a serious history of marriage. There were REASONS that men and women were treated differently in marriage and they weren’t all religious reasons and they didn’t always advantage the man. For instance in England for several hundred years , men could sometimes be imprisoned for things their wives did. More to the point the world that these marriages took place in was a far harsher place for both women and men to try and survive alone. With no criminal forensics and very small, if any, police forces mind you. This is the world in which most of the marriage customs formed for most of human history. It wasn’t all stupid , and it certainly wasn’t all designed to keep women down.

          • http://westcoastatheist.wordpress.com/ Katie Graham

            I understand that there have been many ways in which gender roles have oppressed men in some ways, but even those were set by other men in power. I’m not defending the kind of feminism that teaches men they are mindless brutes, but you’re not going to gain any sympathy from me for the plight of men. They’ve been able to move about freely in the world much more so than women. I don’t like feminists or MRA’s who play the victim game to try and bring the other side down. While I’m sure it wasn’t all “designed” specifically to keep women down, it still came from a place of power over women as property. The muslims in Pakistan throwing acid on women and keeping them in Burqas aren’t doing it to keep women down; they honestly think they are protecting them.

          • http://profiles.google.com/remoparallel Clarence Woodworth

            Then it would be nice, Katie, if you would tell Muslim women to stop policing other muslim women’s dress. Customs like that are rarely policed from a singular point ‘on high’, and they require significant support from both men and women to keep going.

            And please, stop with the ‘move about more freely’ crap. Maybe that’s true if you don’t count the zillions of times throughout history states have demanded months or years of their lives and possibly the ultimate sacrifice from them. Notice, I’m not blaming women alone for this, but I am saying that ignoring it makes your view of the ‘history of men’ a bit rosey.

          • http://westcoastatheist.wordpress.com/ Katie Graham

            I don’t pretend that women in Muslim countries and even here in the US don’t pressure women to uphold traditional roles, but what those women are doing is making their daughters uphold the rules fhat have been put in place by rulers, governments and leaders who have been primarily men and who put those rules in place to take ownership of women. To pretend that isn’t the case is aburd. That being said, the answer to this from feminists shouldn’t be to put manhood down, which is so often the case in radfem ideology.
            Rewriting history to paint these traditions and rules as some kind of structure that’s ruled by women to oppress men is as silly as blaming everything on “patriarcy.” It’s a mirror image of feminist dogma, is what it is. If you can’t look at it objectively, you can’t begin to fix it, no matter what side you’re on. Objectively, even though men have suffered from traditional gender roles, they’ve had more benefits from it in the past than women until very recently in history. The MRA’s job should be to make sure the roles aren’t reversed, not to rewrite history where they are innocent victims.

          • http://profiles.google.com/remoparallel Clarence Woodworth

            “Objectively, even though men have suffered from traditional gender
            roles, they’ve had more benefits from it in the past than women until
            very recently in history. The MRA’s job should be to make sure the roles
            aren’t reversed, not to rewrite history where they are innocent
            victims.”

            Surprisingly, you’d have quite a bit of trouble proving that first sentence there in any kind of ‘objective’ fashion. However I am in full agreement about the second sentence. However, feminists have done plenty of rewriting of history themselves. I bet you are not very familiar with the history of ‘violence against women’ laws. Hint: they aren’t a new thing from the 1960′s. Here’s a blog with some more information: http://unknownmisandry.blogspot.com/2013/03/domestic-violence-was-not-tolerated-by.html

            In short, there are tons of disinformation out there on both sides and people need to take a skeptical and careful approach when making widespread historical claims.

          • http://westcoastatheist.wordpress.com/ Katie Graham

            Unless you think more power, money and freedom can’t be measured to be more beneficial than less of those things, I suppose.

          • http://profiles.google.com/remoparallel Clarence Woodworth

            Katie:
            Many serfs and peasants couldn’t own money. A Queen or Abbess had more power than a commoner or peasant man in the middle ages. A white woman in the south of the US could often get a black man lynched or hung based merely on her uncorroborated word. Once again, not some universal unilateral thing between woman and men throughout all time and places. “Freedom” was much less widely distributed in the past than it is today. Often the rulers (or sometimes a ruling class or caste) had near absolute freedom to do as they wanted, just about everyone else owed some fealty to someone. You’d do well to carefully study (and I don’t mean just using a woman’s studies text) the history of the franchise in the United States. Who got to vote and what the qualifications were varied all over the place by State and time. And once again: women were never drafted, and a draft is pretty much a form of slavery but slavery in which the people controlling the slaves have no responsibility or expectation of keeping them alive.

            Oppression Olympics is tiresome, but if you want to continue to play, I’m fully willing to be game.

          • http://westcoastatheist.wordpress.com/ Katie Graham

            No shit those other power structures existed, but within classes at every level, you still had men in charge. Maybe in charge of other men, and ues there were quirks like your examole of a white woman getting a black man lynched, but for the most part, men were in charge. They could and would physically, lawfully and financially prevent the ability for a woman to be independent from a man. It happened, but it was rare.

          • http://profiles.google.com/remoparallel Clarence Woodworth

            Men were in charge? Unilaterally, everywhere? There were no Queens? No woman was ever the “Power behind a Throne”? No male ruler ever considered the needs of females or privileged females (or even just his ‘personal’ females such as the Queen or daughter he loved) over males in any way? Damn, chivalry sure must have had no influence over European societies for example. Treat women well? Pishposh! Bros before Hos!

            You seem to think most societies in the past were ‘andrarchies’. Set up BY and FOR men and where all legal and social structures unilaterally privileged all men over all women. Not even ancient Athens (long regarded as one of the most ‘chauvinistic’ societies ever to be on this Earth) would quite fit THIS description. Heck, I dare say the Marxist class analysis that divides humans into competing sexes was hardly an idea for most societies in the past. Men and women had ‘their place’ based on what most seemed to want, what religion said, and what the constraints of childbirth and constant warfare entailed.

          • http://westcoastatheist.wordpress.com/ Katie Graham

            Yeah. Even most queens were beholden to the power of men. That’s made pretty clear throughout history.

          • http://profiles.google.com/remoparallel Clarence Woodworth

            Well, that’s not really a reply. Most male Rulers knew not to piss off the ladies. For one, unless you can force rape upon them – no sex. For two, some other power hungry male might gather a bunch of husbands (including most of your guards of course unless all you had was Eunechs) and brothers and overthrow your butt. Most men sort of have this protective instinct towards the women in their lives. And women were not all wilting flowers waiting at home to be rescued. Does it surprise you to find out that the ladies of Paris led most of the riots that led to the Storming of the Bastille and other early parts of the French Revolution?

            Then there’s the influence of a man’s mother. Quite a few male Rulers have been to put it bluntly: “mama’s boys”. Do you believe such emotionally castrated men ruled for the sake of other men or for the sake of trying to please a living or dead mother or maternal figure?

            Anyway, women have always had influence both direct and indirect in every society that has ever existed. Complaining that a ruler also had to consider the wishes of males is just as silly as complaining that a ruler had to consider the wishes of females.

          • Astrokid NJ

            The problem is that you dont understand (or pretend not to understand) female agency. This is very typical of women. Luckily for onlookers, there’s GirlWritesWhat’s piece on The tyranny of female hypoagency

            You use your pussy power to accomplish a whole lot of shit. Day in and day out.

            For an instance of female agency, go read through the Tender Years Doctrine, and see how one wealthy woman was able to turn child custody from default Father to default Mother in the 1870s.

            We do understand that you dont have sympathy for the plight of men.. nor do we look for them.. after all most of you women are solipsistic assholes. Yeah.. I will keep the insults coming as long as you insult us MRAs in seemingly polite terms. Fuck you for arguing that MRAs are playing the “victim game”, after you as a woman have been the recipient of feminism’s own victim game that has been debunked legitimately on many sites and books. MRAs have listed the areas of discrimination against men. I dont see you demolishing any of the points Clarence mentioned earlier. This discussion is not about asking for sympathy, but to establish facts.

          • http://westcoastatheist.wordpress.com/ Katie Graham

            Pussy power? Doesn’t that concept take away your own agency? Ha! You’re the exact mirror image of the radfems, right down to resorting to name calling in response to “seemingly polite insulting.” Being held as chattle, unable to vote, hold jobs or make a direction for oneself in life doesn’t come from magical pussy power. How about instead of rewriting history, you start addressing actual issues with gender inequality, like child-support, report rates of male rape, machismo, etc. Admitting thay women had it really bad for a long time shouldn’t threaten you or devalue those issues.

          • Astrokid NJ

            So tell me again.. you “hate the feminists who play the victim game” right? By claiming they were chattel, unable to vote, hold jobs.. gender-inequality? You are above “them” right?

          • http://westcoastatheist.wordpress.com/ Katie Graham

            Nice false dichotomy! Either they were victim playing or they were chattel. Nice try, but you are missing a whole lot. I don’t blame you, maybe I’m not clear enough.

            Women TODAY in western civilization have a lot more power than they ever have. Scratch that. WHITE women have more power than they ever have. Instead of using it to end inequality, radfems are using it to debase men. They get away with it by claiming they are still being victimized, but the victimization is this subtle, unseeable force that comes out in stand up comedy, video games and eating meat. That’s the kind of shit I can’t stand. Now you counter with “pussy power.” Sounds an aweful lot like patrarchy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RacingDad007 Michael Covarrubias

    Justin – I’m glad that you encourage critical dialogue,
    because I have a critique. Let me begin with the term “dogmatic”, as in
    “dogmatic feminism”. You say that like it’s a bad thing. If we were to use the
    term in another context, say “dogmatic atheism”, I think that would not be
    particularly controversial, especially among atheists. The basic tenet of
    atheism (there are no gods) is a dogma, one which every atheist I know would
    agree with. No controversy. There is no debate among atheists about this basic,
    dogmatic tenet of our beliefs. How about “dogmatic humanist”. Again, not very
    controversial. Most humanists would glad accept a dogmatic assertion that all
    people have an inalienable right to exist, without prejudice, in a world free
    from discrimination of any kind. These dogmas are readily accepted by most.

    However, we come to the troublesome term “dogmatic feminist”
    and now we seem to have an issue. If it is dogma that women, like other humans,
    have a right to live in a world free from discrimination, harassment, prejudice
    and abuse, no one would argue, right? Even a gender egalitarian should be able
    to get behind that, right?

    So why then, is dogmatic feminism an issue? Why are dogmatic
    feminists considered troublemakers? IF what they are saying is simply that they
    have zero tolerance for abuse AS WELL AS for those who ENABLE abuse, why would
    any reasonable person take issue? Perhaps its this notion of enabling abuse.
    Certain, there are those in the atheist community would consider ‘passive’
    Christians to be enablers of the ‘active’ Christians on the political right who
    would enforce their version of Christianity on the American democracy. I have
    been to American Atheists conventions and heard David Silverman and others
    speak passionately on the subject. Dogmatic atheists are in fact, (frequently)
    anti-theists who have no tolerance for those who, by their silence, tacitly
    support the christian status quo in America. I would go so far as to say that
    they believe there are no ‘moderate’ Christians .. only the dogmatic ones and
    their enablers.

    So if I may be so bold, I would suggest that there are some
    at Secular Woman and elsewhere, who may also believe that silence on the issue
    of abuse of women within the secular community is tantamount to silent support
    for the status quo. Silence enables bullies and others to maintain a largely
    patriarchal hold over the leadership and therefore direction of the secular
    movement in America. Their steadfast refusal to remain silent may be indeed be
    bothersome, and counter to the proposal for peace at all costs proposed in the
    Open Letter. But in the spirit of maintaining
    integrity to the very core values of feminism, indeed humanism, silence is not
    a virtue when injustices go unaddressed. Getting along in order to put on a
    united face in front of the theists is disingenuous at best. The issues raised
    by Secular Woman and others have not been resolved. Not by a long shot. To remain
    silent would imply consent with the status quo and that is something everyone
    should be able to understand and appreciate. There will continue to be push
    back and acrimony until men (males) and others admit that women continue to be
    abused and the secular community will remain divided until those who are the
    worst offenders are marginalized and sanctioned.

    Thank you for the opportunity to respond.a

    • Clare45

      From what I have read on the internet, there has been discussion ad nauseum on the issue of “abuse of women in the secular community”. I don’t observe any silence by atheists. There have been anti-harassment rules put in place at various conferences. What more do you want? Where is the evidence of continuation of abuse? How many people have been charged with sexual assault/harassment at atheist conferences, or even removed from the conference?
      As for on-line rude remarks and crude jokes, well that has happened on both sides of the “rift”. People who don’t like it can just switch off their computers or smart phones for a while. I don’t even have a Twitter account, and if someone insults me on Facebook (no-one has so far) then I can simply defriend them. No harm done.
      I used to call myself a feminist. No more. The term has become sullied. And yes, there is feminist dogma -a set of rules, written or unwritten. Just like the Christians. Maybe even Humanism has some dogma such as the Amsterdam declaration, but atheism- no. It is merely a position and lack of belief in any Gods. There are no rules and regulations or codes of behaviour (except at conferences and that is just to keep the feminists happy).

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

        The pledge Secular Woman refused to sign, and criticized publicly, specifically promotes gender equality and very clearly condemns threats and harassment.

        Indeed, what more do you want?

        • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

          Hell, the Open Letter even mentions “everyone,” “men and women,” and uses similar inclusive terminology throughout…but it has maybe one shortcoming because it excludes men in this sentence – “Some blogs and comments actually exhibit hatred, including rape threats and insults denigrating women.” If the phrase “denigrating women” were removed, this sentance could be more inclusive. I’m skeptical of these mentioned ‘rape threats,’ too, but the Open Letter is quite good. Everything can’t be to my liking and I am not going to reject it outright just because I have some minor quibbles.

      • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

        “What more do you want?”

        It seems that some feminists just want leaders in the secular community to be fully on board with their approaches. Perhaps they also want some secular shunning. Look at this comment from ‘LeftSidePositive’ on Skepchick:

        http://skepchick.org/2013/04/an-open-letter-to-secular-community-leaders/#comment-167078

        “… get the leaders in our movement to realize that sexism and harassment are not misunderstandings, and they won’t be solved by dialogue. They will be solved by making our environment unquestionably inhospitable to overt sexists, and to those with unexamined privilege. This would include ditching DJ Grothe, for starters, and making sure conferences don’t invite people who have said stupid, evidence-free shit about women, their abilities, and the value of their autonomy. It would include refusing to admit individuals like Justin Vacula, Ryan Grant Long, Reap Paden, and many others to even REGISTER for a conference, let alone speak at it. It would include showing that harassment gets you complete ostracism, and we reserve the right to decide how long it takes before we’ll give you another shot.”

        • Clare45

          Yes shunning. That sounds like something the Jehovah’s Witness or the Amish do.

    • Neil Terry

      Not a very good comaprison, IMO. “Dogmatic atheism” would still only comprise one “dogma”, that there is no god. And even on this question, while some atheists may refuse to debate creationists for practical purposes, most atheists are happy to explain exactly what they believe. Most are happy to explain why they believe it.

      Feminism, however, is the furthest thing from a simply stated belief on one subject, and it is disingenuous to portray it as such. There are many differing feminist “theories”, but some have decided for propaganda purposes that “feminism” is simply for example, “the radical notion that women are human beings.” But this is plainly not the case, there are widely varying meanings and theories of feminism. If everyone is calling themselves feminists based on “all women are people”, they might be more easily persuaded to accept any number of feminist theories, because if they argue, well, they’re not feminists, and thus don’t believe all women are people. I see it as a transparent rhetorical trick designed to limit debate when the philosophies of feminism meet the pavement of policy. If I accept the bullshit that feminism=equality only, then it will make it harder to oppose any other attached theory or policy suggestion.

      It is not honest to suggest that one must be a feminist or support feminism to be in favor of equality, or that being a non-feminist, or criticizing feminism is equal to promoting inequality or staying silent while evil is done. Nobody in the secular community is trying to silence women, and all kinds of people speak out against abuse, including some openly patriarchal christians. Silencing women and arguing with feminists about their dogmas is not the same thing at all, and it is just cheap theatrics to pretend it is the same. The world is not the black and white caricature you make it out to be. I’m not a feminist because of the large amounts of wild speculation, a-historical narrative, hostility towards scientific inquiry and skepticism, emotional invective, and piles of assumptions made about people, both men and women. I’m not a feminist because I’ve read too much feminist thought and seen too many half-baked feminist “theories”, much like how reading the bible helped me leave religion.

      As soon as there is a “true feminism” that can be looked at rationally and usefully, be sure to let the rest of us know. I’ll still be condemning abuse of women (and anyone else) where I see it, but I don’t need a pseudo-scientific sociological religion to do that, despite what some feminists might like to believe.

      The Secular Woman response to a basic call for honesty and civility exposes the truth…even though none of the women involved are any more oppressed than anyone else in western society, the ability to name-call, shame, assign group blame, label people as woman-haters for any disagreement, and distort other people’s words is too important a tool in their quest for influence over others. That has nothing to do with equality or preventing abuse of women.

      • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

        “I’ll still be condemning abuse of women (and anyone else) where I see it, but I don’t need a pseudo-scientific sociological religion to do that, despite what some feminists might like to believe.”

        Yes, one need not identify as a feminist to oppose abuse of women or anyone for that matter. Some feminists will even say someone is a feminist if they are a humanist – again, there are some definitional disagreements here. If one can oppose abuse of humans while not being a feminist, it is clear that feminism does not have a monopoly on this position and that opposition to feminism is not “hatred of women” or whatever else imagined polar opposite may be put forth. In fact, not all feminists are women because many are men.

      • http://www.facebook.com/porlawright Paula Wright

        “As a secular feminist organization committed to understanding and exposing societal
        constructs that contribute to the inequality of women and other oppressed groups.”

        The claim that the brand of feminism they support is equity feminism is indeed a cynical
        misrepresentation of their aims and the above quote reveals this. The group is based on radical feminist ideology and as such, it’s focus
        is on dismantling patriarchy, these being the “societal constructs that contribute to the inequality of women and other oppressed groups.” and not on achieving equality. Using a quote from bell
        hooks is also illustrative that this group bases its philosophy on separatist, radical feminist lines, not inclusive, egalitarian ones. Radical feminism has nothing but disdain for equity feminism.

        But you know, I wouldn’t be surprised if the goal of these groups was to seize power of the
        feminist label and separate it completely from gender egalitarianism.
        If this isn’t a conscious goal then they should get Laura Mulvey on the case to construct an unconscious MO pronto, because this will be
        the result. Equity feminism, as women like Olympe de Gouges lost her head for, is dead. That is the legacy of these ‘radical’ dogmatic feminists.

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

      “If it is dogma that women, like other humans, have a right to live in a world free from discrimination, harassment, prejudice and abuse, no one would argue, right?”

      If feminism were monolithic, and that’s all it meant, there might not be a problem. Unfortunately it’s not reality. There are many schools of feminism, there have been several waves of it. Some feminist movements threw people of color under the bus to secure rights for white women. Some feminist writers are rabidly transphobic. There is currently a debate within feminism over whether to support sex workers’ rights or not. And there has always been tension between certain types of feminism and the gay male community.

      You’re making the same mistake Secular Woman does. They oversimplify feminism to mean “gender equality” (ostensibly, although I find some of the attitudes toward men they expressed on twitter yesterday to be rather sexist), completely ignore the history of feminism and the various conflicts that have occurred within it, and some that are still occurring.

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

        Also? In case you haven’t noticed, people are getting accused of sexism or enabling sexism for merely disagreeing. This destructive rhetoric has been used by “feminist skeptics” on-line indiscriminately, on social conservatives, MRA’s, as well as their fellow women, progressives and feminists. So no, Secular Woman is not justified in accusing anyone they want of sexism or enabling sexism just because they happen to not like something they said.

        • blondeintokyo

          No one is getting accused of sexism for “merely disagreeing”. That’s pure rhetoric. You know very good and well that people are getting called sexist because someone considers their views to actually *be sexist*, and they also gave perfectly clear reasons for why they these views are sexist.

          If you disagree with those reasons, that’s one thing; but to deny they even gave any reasons and are simply calling people out for “merely disagreeing” is intellectually dishonest.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bluharmony Maria Maltseva

      Everything that is either dogmatic or fundamentalist is an issue, including your examples. Dogmatic atheism? No way, and that’s why we say no to A+. Dogmatic humanism? No humanist has been stupid enough to try it except for the feminist faction, which had to break free in order to proselytize.

    • http://www.skepticink.com/incredulous Edward Clint

      I would oppose dogmatic atheism or humanism to the same degree as “dogmatic feminism” and I suspect that so would Justin (though I do not speak for him).

      “Dogmatic” does not mean “accepts a strongly supported proposition”. It means either 1) treating opinions as facts or 2) relating to dogma, meaning inviolable or unquestionable.

      As an atheist, I find the conclusion of atheism well-established. However, I am always open to revision of my opinion with new evidence. As a humanist, my humanist ideas are always open to revision with new evidence (though ideals are not, because ideals are not factual propositions).

      I would be glad to listen to anyone who has dissenting rational opinions (and in fact, I do, regularly) or evidence on any of these things. And even when I disagree with people, I find no need to disparage them personally or imply they are morally compromised.

      That is the difference between a dogmatic and nondogmatic but strongly-held belief.

      • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

        Yes, I would oppose ‘dogmatic atheism’ (if this means that one’s lack of belief in gods is unchangable) or ‘dogmatic humanism.’ Since atheism is a lack of belief, it’s difficult to picture it as dogma, but perhaps beliefs associated with atheism can be dogmatic. Atheism, though, is merely a conclusion, not a philosophy as Massimo Pigliucci correctly notes. See below for more of my thoughts, Ed. Thanks.

    • Erik Johansson

      “The basic tenet of atheism (there are no gods) is a dogma, one which every atheist I know would agree with.”

      You don’t know that many atheists then? Atheism is not the belief that there are no gods, atheism is the lack of belief in gods, there’s a very fundamental difference between the two.

      Furthermore, and more importantly, dogma in relation to skepticism is usually defined as something like “beliefs held as absolutely and/or unquestionably true”.

      Dogmatic atheism or humanism would from a skeptic POV actually be problematic and controversial. If we are not allowed to question a tenet like “there are no gods”, because we have accepted it as dogma, skepticism becomes impossible in relation to atheism*!
      The same goes for your humanist assertion.

      (*atheism as you’ve defined it)

      Please do note that we actually might come to the very same conclusion and agree with your assertion, while still rejecting your assertion as dogma. The problem with dogma in relation to skepticism is not the content of your dogma, but the way you get there and how you relate to it when you’ve gotten there.

      As skeptics, we need to be able to rationally discuss and evaluate all beliefs and values, especially our own. We cannot lock any of them away as absolute truths that we aren’t allowed to question. If we did, we would take away our ability to recognize bad or faulty beliefs.
      This goes for all of our beliefs, from basic human rights, to atheism, to skepticism itself, and yes, to feminism as well. We need to be able to test, question, examine, evaluate and inspect ANY and ALL ideas, that’s how we sort the good ideas from the bad ones. To me, that’s really the core of skepticism.

      • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

        “We need to be able to test, question, examine, evaluate and inspect ANY and ALL ideas, that’s how we sort the good ideas from the bad ones. To me, that’s really the core of skepticism.”

        Yes, this is very important and even, I think, more important than condemning the crude language which is said to permeate online discourse. While I would like discussion to be civil, open, and reasonable, we need to have the willingness to amend beliefs and examine ideas to have a worthwhile, honest discussion to begin with…although conversation with and about dogmatic individuals can be worthwhile for observers. Many of the same feminists, perhaps ironically, condemn ‘tone trolling’ while also demanding others treat them with respect [Secular Woman also notes "Those of us working to challenge systemic sexism should be under no obligation to listen to or be more charitable to our opponents."] How can one expect and demand charity if they won’t give it?

    • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

      I, as a skeptic, am willing to change any and all of my beliefs given good reason, argument, and evidence – this includes my thoughts on humanism, Christianity, and the existence of a god or gods. I am an atheist, in short, because I don’t find arguments for theism to be convincing; I find them wholly unconvincing after examination which still continues to this day. The proposition ‘there are no gods’ is not dogmatic – I am willing to change this position and will if good reason, argument, evidence is presented. Perhaps we are working under different definitions of the word ‘dogma?’

      I don’t mean to suggest a foundational/core position when I refer to dogma, but rather something that is unwavering. As I noted above, Secular Woman places themselves outside of discussion and is unwilling to change their positions on feminism which is not (or at least does not seem to be represented by), as you note, the proposition that people ought to live in a world free of x, y, z.

      Feminism is an ideology, an approach, concerned with looking at issues through a particular lens just like humanism is. I explain, in my post, what issues I have with dogmatic feminism and the shortcomings of feminist discourse in general:

      “I used to believe that feminism was, as I have been told, ‘the radical notion that women are human beings too’ and a movement for gender equality, but when paying attention and being skeptical of feminist organizations, prominent feminists, and feminist assumptions, I have hardly seen this. Rather, I have frequently witnessed dogma, irrationality, demonization of male identity, and extreme intolerance toward women who dare to disagree.”

      Even if our beliefs, or the beliefs of Secular Woman, happen to be justified and true, these values/beliefs should not be immutable – as the Center For Inquiry’s mission statement states. As an atheist, I will never say “My position is not up for debate and is taken as a given. I have no obligation to listen to or be more charitable to my opponents.” If they don’t want to debate, that’s one thing, but stating that a position is not up for debate is another.

    • Dave Kendall

      My litmus test for dogma is how someone reacts to evidence that debunks one of their claims. Someone who’s genuinely sceptical rather than dogmatic would examine that evidence, and if it proved to be correct, would then change their views accordingly. In my experience feminists fail at this just as often as theists.

      The constantly misquoted and misused wage gap statistics are a good example of that. I’ve repeatedly seen feminists (online and in the mainstream media) present the disparity in average income between men and women as an example of unequal pay for equal work. Coverage of the last “Equal Pay Day” provided plenty of examples of this, with the claim that European women “work 59 days for free” appearing in numerous headlines: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/27/women-work-for-free_n_2775267.html

      Of course there’s a real pay gap, and there are valid “feminist” issues regarding that, for example availability of childcare, or the social pressure on women to pursue certain careers. Unfortunately, those more complex issues often don’t get debated, as people who challenge the crude and incorrectly applied wage gap statistics are dismissed as misogynists defending discrimination.

      Feminists are particularly prone to spreading false claims, nonsense statistics and urban legends when they address the sex industry. Over the last year I’ve seen several examples of this just from the feminist arm of the American Humanist Association. For example, they’ve promoted thoroughly debunked research from “End Demand” prostitution prohibitionist groups and anti-porn feminists (e.g. claiming that the average age of entry into the sex industry is 12-14, that most sex workers are trafficking victims, and that there’s a proven link between pornography and rape). Dr Brooke Magnanti deals with many of these claims in her book The Sex Myth, which I’d highly recommend to anyone interested in this subject: http://sexonomics-uk.blogspot.co.uk/

      This “Skeptics on the Fringe” talk from Dr Magnanti focuses on debunking one particular feminist claim regarding strip clubs causing rape, and discusses why these “zombie statistics” hang around long after they’re discredited: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEbPYpjZcL8

      Another example was when the American Humanist Society named Gloria Steinem their Humanist of the Year in 2012. She used that as a platform for her “humanist” case against decriminalising prostitution, which included a number of claims that don’t hold up under scrutiny. For example, one piece of blatantly scaremongering misinformation repeatedly stated by Steinem was that women in Germany had to take jobs in the sex industry or lose their unemployment benefits. This has long been known to be an urban legend, but somehow it’s “mansplaining” to point this out: http://www.snopes.com/media/notnews/brothel.asp

      The problem isn’t that feminists like Steinem can express their opinions, the problem is that even within a a supposedly sceptical community there seems to be a real lack of debate regarding their claims. It doesn’t matter how well researched the criticism is, the same old rhetoric about misogyny (internalised in the case of women) can be used to dismiss it. It’s as if many feminists think that their ideology should be kept off limit for sceptical enquiry, and that’s what makes it look like a dogma.

    • http://westcoastatheist.wordpress.com/ Katie Graham

      Dogma implies an unchanging position regardless of evidence. “Dogmatic atheism” would be as ridiculous in the light of evidence for a god as feminism is when it makes claims that can’t be held up to scrutiny.

  • http://www.atheistrev.com/ vjack

    Justin, I think I caught a typo. In the sentence, “I have also been told that the ‘extremist rhetoric’ within feminism is confirmed to ‘extremists’ who have no clout, but that has similarly been falsified,” I think you meant “confined” instead of “confirmed.” I always appreciate it when people catch my frequent typos, so I thought I’d point this out.

    You raise some important points here. I’ve long been one of those insisting that what some of the dogmatic feminists say and do looks little like the feminism with which I am familiar. That claim is becoming increasingly difficult to defend, and yet, I still find myself hoping that feminism means little more than equality to most feminists.

    I’m not sure what to say about those who see “rape culture” everywhere and angrily accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being “rape apologists,” “MRAs,” or “chill girls.” Are they nothing more than the extreme fringe of feminism (i.e., feminist extremists) or has feminism really morphed into this sort of ideology? I’m not sure. I keep hoping that reasonable feminist voices will emerge to counter some of this stuff, but I have seen too little of it so far.

    • http://www.justinvacula.com Justin Vacula

      Thanks! A typo indeed.

      The popular and vocal voices of feminism I have been reading and hearing are putting this ‘extreme rhetoric’ out so much that this seems to be a mainstream view. I would like to see the ‘good feminists’ — if they are out there — speak up as I noted in the article, the comments here, and elsewhere. I know two voices, Annie Laurie Gaylor and Emily Dietle, who identify or have identified with feminism and do not engage in the rhetoric or vilification tactics we go abhor.

      As Ryan notes here in the comments, there are several approaches to feminism. I try not to look at feminism as a monolith (although it is alluring and the ‘extremist viewpoints’ seem quite popular).

      • http://www.justinvacula.com Justin Vacula

        Justin here ^^ Having some issues identifying properly with comments… Thanks again for your comment.

  • guy

    wow your a douche bag

  • guy

    dick

    • http://skepticink.com/justinvacula/ Justin Vacula

      Please keep the discussion constructive. Coming on here and typing “dick” and “wow your a douche bag” adds nothing to the discussion. If you happen to disagree, please explain your reasoning.

  • http://westcoastatheist.wordpress.com/ Katie Graham

    “We also maintain that values are properly the subject of study and discussion as much as empirical claims.”

    I can’t agree with that more. I know that these discussions, when done well and supported by evidence, are really, really productive for changing our society for the better. Shaming and calling out doesn’t convince anyone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kris-Weaver/1000416614 Kris Weaver

    You have to understand what MRA have been saying all along, feminism is nothing more then a female supremacist hate movement. The origins of American feminism can be found not with the Suffragettes, but within the Women’s Klu Klux Klan.

  • Arcus80

    Unless you are deeply into prescriptive language, words are defined by those who own them, usually by usage and association. The word ‘feminism’ is currently owned by radical feminists, which means that identifying with it without being a “rad-fem” either demands you either specify that you disagree with them or present your definition.

    It’s much the same way “liberal” and “conservative” in the common American parlance bears no resemblance to the actual content of the words, and are distinctively different from how they are used in Europe.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/OffensivAtheist bismarket

    I’d never heard of them until this storm in a teacup. If they happen to have some Atheists members of their Feminist organization, big whoop, an offer was made, they rejected it. I suggest we all just carry on & let them disappear back into the obscurity they crave. It’s not as if they’ll be missed. (NOT the only group of people, that suddenly came to mind as i wrote that, lol)!

  • Astrokid NJ

    Another idiot who operates under the cover of ‘There’s no need for debate.. its a clear case’ is Roy Speckhardt of the American Humanist Association.. Some Arguments Just Don’t Have Two Sides
    who spews the bile that is typical of feminists, and even the tactic followed by SecularWoman by claiming that their position is rock-solid and any opposition is kinda like the evolution-creation debate.

    This dynamic is also seen when “men’s rights advocates” push back strongly against equality for women over perceived threats to their own rights. These MRAs are the intellectual descendants of those who justified their arguments for male superiority with Bible quotes like Timothy 2:11-12: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” Their complaints of misandry and “reverse sexism” mimic the cries of “reverse racism” following the days of racial emancipation. Just as those who want creationism taught in public schools have resorted to unscientific intelligent design arguments, the MRAs are trying to back-up their prejudicial claims with unscientific conclusion-first thinking.

    Even though women’s rights issues like equal pay and protection from domestic violence should not be topics up for debate, MRAs insist upon voicing their opinions on the issue–and too often the media and others listen. Since the foundation of their opinions is that of religiously sanctioned discrimination and blatant sexism, MRAs and their allies should be ignored like other fringe groups

    And Yet the hollowness of their Gender Pay Gap claims has been demolished time and again.. and question on this very blog. And Re: VAWA.. that goddamn discriminatory-against-men piece of legislation whose basis has been trashed by academics since the very beginning.. as well as some women who have seen it up-close.. none of these are MRAs mind you.. for e.g
    Laurie C, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a children’s rights advocate and former social worker VAWA Must Be Renamed, Rewritten to be Gender Neutral

    And this fool Roy Speckhardt says that such voices should be ignored. So much for Free Inquiry. This community has its share of bigots.. and in high places. And guess who tweeted their support for his article? https://twitter.com/SecularWoman/status/300645774730084352

    • Dave Kendall

      I’m not surprised to see an article like that from someone in the American Humanist Association. Not only have they repeatedly given awards to dogmatic feminists like Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan, and Deborah Sweet, they also have their own “Feminist Caucasus” to push radical feminist ideology. Anyone who thinks I’m being unfair in labelling them radical feminists should have a look at their site, who they give awards to, and the causes they support: http://www.americanhumanist.org/What_We_Do/Feminist_Caucus

      I’d expect a sceptical organisation to fact check their sources and offer balanced information on controversial topics, but when it comes to matters of feminist dogma there’s little sign of that from them. For example, they endorse Christian NGO The Polaris Project as the place to “learn about sex-trafficking at home and abroad”, when in reality many of their statistics have been thoroughly debunked, and many people disagree with their methods. Rather than providing a selection of viewpoints on pornography, you’ll just find a link to this biased feminist article: http://www.americanhumanist.org/HNN/details/2012-04-a-humanist-argument-against-pornography

      Like the causes of the wage gap, these are subjects where the questions aren’t settled. Despite what they say, this isn’t comparable to evolution vs creationism, where the scientific evidence for one side is overwhelming. Yet groups like that often present their position as being so beyond dispute that other points of view don’t even have to be entertained. The question is how these feminist ideologues managed to get so much influence within the the American Humanist Association and other supposedly sceptical organisations?

      I often disagree with MRAs, but sometimes they seem to be only people who are actually examining feminist claims, rather than accepting them uncritically. Debate is healthy and disagreement shouldn’t be demonised.

  • GeorgeLocke

    Few would argue that creationist arguments should go unanswered, and many science advocates will find it worth their time debating the issues, but we need not expect all of them to do so.

    I find nothing objectionable in the Secular Woman quote. The evidence is in. Sexism exists. An organization devoted to “amplify[ing] the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women” need not be expected to debate whether such amplification is necessary. This is not to say that such debate is useless or that it shouldn’t occur. It should occur, but given that the overwhelming body of evidence to support the premise, not all those acting on it should be expected to defend it.

    • http://www.justinvacula.com Justin Vacula

      Sure, sexism exists (and not only against women), but this is not what up to debate according to their release; their perspectives concerning feminism are above reproach. This is a serious problem as I explain.

      • GeorgeLocke

        I don’t see that. They say “feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression” is not up for debate. They say they are not willing to entertain “overtly” biased arguments. That doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to discuss edge cases, and it certainly doesn’t mean that “their perspectives concerning feminism are above reproach”.

        • Astrokid NJ

          And that definition of feminism itself is up for debate.
          Based on its actions, I define feminism as the never ending project to improve the woman’s condition without giving a damn about the corresponding man’s condition. More details Gynocentrism Theory
          Another definition based on its actions: feminism is paternalism/protectionism exported from the private sphere (home) to the public sphere (workplace etc)

          The side effects of this project have been terrible for men.

          Following Against Our Will and The Women’s Room, everyman became a rapist;
          following Anita Hill, everyman became a sexual harasser;
          following Jennifer Patri, everyman became a wife batterer;
          following the first Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America report from the AAUW, every college man became a roadblock to women’s achievement;
          following the Mary Koss-Ms. Magazine Rape Campus Survey, every fourth woman became a sexual assault and rape victim of men;
          following Testosterone Is Not Cost-Effective, everyman became a waste of space.
          Second- and Third-Wave Feminism have both contributed to the perception that feminism is a hate-movement that morphed from “Feminism is the Radical Notion That Women Are People” into “Feminism is the Radical Notion That Only Feminists Are People.”
          - Rod Van Mechelen

          The facts are pretty clear to those who have studied the feminist onslaught and the demonization of men (Thank you Justin for saying ‘demonization of men’.. you are the only one in the skeptic circles using that phrase). The only thing left is to understand Why.

          Why is a man willing to attach weight to the allegation of male-on-female discrimination. Where does this stem from? Is he the kind of person who would discriminate? Does he know people who do.. where are the documented cases of such?
          Why is a man willing to believe that he is good but other men are morally deficient.. in a way that women arent? (just a rhetorical question. Its due to the ‘Women are Wonderful’ effect).
          I hope enough men realize that The Other Man is You

          • GeorgeLocke

            Your position is that Secular Woman should be obliged to argue this point with you?

          • Astrokid NJ

            They are the ones bringing their ass into the secularism community..a community that values debate, free speech etc.. and they bring a feminist ass which historically conflicts with the mentioned values. And when Justin et al started a conversation with them on twitter, they revealed their usual colours.
            Think of this as an exposè.

  • ZohChee

    I haven’t been through all the comments, so this may have been discussed already, but in the paragraph which currently reads “I have also been told that the ‘extremist rhetoric’ within feminism is
    confirmed to ‘extremists’ who have no clout, but that has similarly been
    falsified.” did you intend “confined” where “confirmed” appears? Important article in any case–thanks!

    • http://www.justinvacula.com Justin Vacula

      Fixed, thanks!

  • Pingback: Response to Greta Christina's views on conference policies - justinvacula.com | justinvacula.com

  • Pingback: When feminism is incompatible with skepticism - justinvacula.com | justinvacula.com