I recently appeared on an episode of the comedic Antisocial Justice Podcast hosted by @zoejen_ and @beargie.
Listen to the episode here by streaming or downloading.
The one and only Justin Vacula (not VacUla) was kind enough to lend us some of his time. We used it to make sex jokes. There was talk of racial reparation, atheism in America, and other overwhelmingly cheerful topics. We also talk a little about the upcoming TAM con (that both Zoe and Justin are going to) and, of course, lament the stupidity of certain SJWs.
I will not discuss all of the problems within Jordan’s piece within this page (There is so much wrong packed into this one post, I could write an entire novel-length systematically dismantling everything that’s wrong with it. But I don’t have time or energy for that today…), but will discuss problems concerning Jordan’s assertion that wondering whether victims of rape are telling the truth is evidence of and/or promotes ‘rape culture.’
Jordan defines rape culture as “an environment in which rape is highly prevalent, normalized and excused by society’s media, popular culture and political figures […] perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, which creates a social culture that disregards women’s rights and their safety.” Mere wondering whether people who allege to be raped, according to Jordan — as it seems from her piece — is evidence of and promotes ‘rape culture.’
Jordan’s wording, “wondering whether victims of rape are telling the truth,” is problematic because she assumes women [note that her definition of rape culture specifically mentions women and excludes men – intentionally or unintentionally ‘erasing’ male victims of rape] who make allegations of rape are victims of rape just because they say they are; the use of the word ‘victim’ betrays a bias within Jordan – that hearing testimony is enough for Jordan to believe someone actually is a victim – regardless of any evidence supporting allegations or demonstrating innocence of the accused and that, which must follow, that an alleged rapist really is a rapist – all on mere testimony.
Jordan could instead write about — and rightfully criticize — people who hastily dismiss claims of rape without sufficient reason to do so, but does not. Wondering whether someone is a victim of rape is not hastily dismissing claims of rape or “disregarding women’s rights and their safety,” but rather is a reasonable response to a very serious allegation. One may wonder and later believe someone who claims to be raped [upon obtaining sufficient evidence], for instance; wondering and hastily denying are not equivalent.
Skeptics — those who, at the very least, should withhold judgment about a claim if there are no salient reasons to believe a claim — should ‘wonder’ about allegations of sexual assault and even ‘trust, but verify‘ when this is deemed appropriate (and the burden of proof, by the way, is on a person making a claim – one need not ‘disprove’ something if there is no evidence to ‘prove’ it.
A bearer of information, though, can be an unreliable source – especially people who claim to have been raped but have a history of false allegations and behavior which would diminish one’s credibility. A story about sexual assault may, for instance, lack credibility if the person claiming to be assaulted contacts the alleged perpetrator following the alleged rape claiming they enjoyed themselves, wanting to arrange future meetings, etc.
Even when there is no reason to actively doubt or outright deny a claim, it is good practice to withhold a judgment until evidence — something much more than mere testimony — supporting a claim is offered, especially when the consequences of holding a belief are dire. Allegations of rape, for instance, can lead to extreme consequences…even if a person accused is later found to be not guilty and/or the person making an allegation retracts an allegation (people often remember allegations and fail to notice/not remember retractions and false claims).
Once again, as is usually the case, a feminist casts people who actively question their beliefs as horrid. Disagree with, question, or even wonder about the ‘approved mode of thinking’ and you are a ‘rape apologist’ misogynist who disregards women’s rights and their safety. Rather than having a productive conversation or discussing ideas, feminists often attack people – attempting to dismiss them from a discussion.
Sadly, reasonable conversation with feminists like Ashley Jordan (although she may ‘prove me wrong’) is next-to-impossible because, as I mentioned, personal attacks are the order of the day and discussion is absolutely refused despite open and honest invitations to have discussion from those who dare to disagree [or wonder]. One feminist, Amanda Marcotte, in a stunning dishonest display, even released her own debate challenge but then refused to honor it.
As a skeptic, I am willing to change any and all of my beliefs if provided sufficient argument, evidence, and reason to do so. Jordan, though, and her approach to feminism, do not allow for this. I am willing to revise my beliefs about Jordan and her approach to feminism. The ball is in your court, Jordan. I doubt a response will come, though. I wonder…
Writing for Jezebel.com, Lindy West mocked Caucasian Jeopardy contestants adding nothing to what could have been a productive discussion.
Lindy West, author at Jezebel.com, recently wrote a piece titled “Last Night On Jeopardy No One Wanted to Answer Qs About Black History” [see here without giving Jezebel pageviews]. This piece ridicules “all-white” Jeopardy contestants, as she makes sure to mention, who selected the category ‘African-American History’ as their final category in the Double Jeopardy round. West claiming contestants “avoided” the category and, through the title, did not want to answer the questions.
In other words, these kids were more confident in their knowledge of weird animals in New Zealand than black human beings in America.
The article — while it could have been a productive launch point for a productive discussion about Black History Month and the importance of African-Americans throughout history — mocks contestants and makes various dubious assumptions.
Rather than considering various plausible hypotheses such as ‘contestants selected this category last by chance,’ ‘contestants did not study Black History Month in preparation for the show and instead answered other categories first,’ and ‘contestants thought the questions would be difficult,’ West seems to find a problem which might not actually be a problem…and never really mentions what the problem is.
This is the type of ‘social justice’ frequently on display from feminists like Lindy West and websites like Jezebel.com: ridicule people, imply that there is a serious problem although plausible hypotheses suggesting there is no problem exist, offer nothing productive, and shame people. West contributes nothing positive, offers no solutions in her article, and fails to start a productive conversation.
Maybe I am unaware, but I hardly see individuals who claim to work toward social justice engaging in real-life activism such as working with community groups and volunteering for events. While writing can indeed lead to change in society, it often pales in comparison to on-the-ground work in communities…especially when writing is snark, ridicule, and shaming rather than educating, offering positive solutions, empowering people, etc.
Perhaps West could have instead written about problems which specifically impact the African-American community such as high secondary school dropout rates, incarceration rates, etc. Maybe she could have spoke about the lack of education about African-Americans in high schools. Hopefully West, in the future, will elect to — instead of ridiculing and shaming people — offer positive contributions.
Some feminists within the ‘atheist community’ continue to claim that their particular approaches cohere with skepticism, but words betray their claims.
Julia Burke, writing for the organization Secular Woman, dubs 2013 as The Year of Speaking Out, a “remarkable year saw an unprecedented level of public conversation about harassment, inclusion, intersectionality, and what it means to be a feminist.”
Many, including myself, in responses to these public conversations, had rid themselves of the feminist label because many who claim to represent it have polarized people who have a more rational approach to gender equality and humanism. The pie-in-the-sky ‘movement for equal rights of women,’ at least approached by many in the ‘online crowd,’ has been anything but.
Burke, in her piece, talks about what she considers harassment and some questions and/or conversations surrounding harassment. Various questions Burke proposes are antithetical to a skeptical approach, privileging an ideology and pre-established beliefs, especially under the umbrella of “trust, but verify.”
If someone claims to be a victim of [sexual] harassment, a proper investigation — cohering with a skeptical approach — which is disinterested (that is, looking to arrive at truth rather than arrive at a particular pre-established preferred conclusion) ought to take place.
Burke, though, in her piece, proposes the following question which suggests anything but a skeptical approach: “At what point is evidence adequate, and at what point does the search for adequate evidence protect, and harbor, misogyny, and how do we change that?”
If [sexual] harassment has occurred, a disinterested search for evidence should lead to the truth. Wondering whether a search for evidence ‘protects’ or ‘harbors’ misogyny suggests anything but a disinterested perspective and instead indicates that an inquirer is not interested in truth because other concerns are more important, interfering with concern for truth.
If you are interested in whether an incident has occurred (and think it has), you should welcome investigations rather than questioning whether they should take place to begin with. If collected evidence shows that harassment has not occurred (or if there is no evidence supporting a claim), an honest inquirer ought to simply accept the results of a fair investigation [rather than claiming after-the-fact or before an investigation occurred that the investigation protected or harbored misogyny]. After all, a proper investigation would confirm a pre-established belief that harassment has occurred.
The feminist, suggesting that a search for evidence may protect or harbor misogyny, is not interested in truth, but rather is really interested in protecting or harboring a cherished belief – behaving very much unlike a skeptic.
A skeptic starts with the question, “Is there good reason to believe a claim?” A skeptic does not say, “Should we investigate this matter at all if the results might not show what we believe is true?”
A skeptic says, “I am willing to change any and all of my beliefs given sufficient evidence, argument, and reason.” A skeptic does not say, “A search for truth shouldn’t happen because it might lead to results I find to be unfortunate.”
Feminists should do themselves a favor and perhaps instead talk about why they believe a search for evidence may be compromised by particular beliefs rather than suggesting that a search for evidence would harbor or protect misogyny.
Feminists ought to also stop pairing sexual harassment with misogyny because cases exist in which men harass men, women harass women, and women harass men. Pairing sexual harassment with misogyny subtlety, as one may say, ‘render people invisible through language.’ Additionally, sexual harassment — regardless of the alleged perpetrator’s identity — might have nothing whatsoever to do with misogyny.
As always, feel free to leave your comments below.
Following a simple polite e-mail I authored, an event sponsored by Marywood University which specifically excluded male students is now inclusive.
Two days ago, I received an e-mail addressed to Marywood University’s Mental Health Counseling students — of which, I am one — containing an invitation for a school-sponsored volunteer opportunity. The e-mail invited students to work with girls attending high school through an initiative dubbed The Magnolia Project…but specifically excluded male students stating, “…only women counseling students will be able to take part in this volunteer opportunity.”
I was astonished upon reading this e-mail because many classes and a counseling conference I attended stressed the importance of counselors and counselors-in-training having what is considered multicultural competency – the ability to effectively work with diverse populations, fostered through experience and research.
Further, Marywood University Mental Health Counseling students are required (and encouraged) to volunteer with the on-campus organization Chi Sigma Iota. Unfortunately, most of the volunteer opportunities I have seen are not close to my home or place of work. Since The Magnolia Project, located in Wilkes-Barre, offers more options for students, it is additionally unfortunate that a portion of students — including myself — would be excluded.
Counselors and counselors-in-training should expect to work with diverse populations — high school girls included — and should not be specifically excluded from a volunteer opportunity because of a biological demographic. Marywood University — adhering to the values set forth in the Mental Health Counseling program — should simply not sponsor an event which specifically excludes a biological demographic.
Rather than ‘blasting’ Marywood University, charging them with discrimination, shaming people, and creating nasty online petitions [as is fashionable nowadays with the ‘social justice warrior’ crowd], I gave Marywood University the benefit of the doubt and believed that if I expressed my concerns change would happen.
I authored a simple e-mail, was later informed that there was a miscommunication, and was personally invited to volunteer for The Magnolia Project. A simple ‘awareness-raising’ e-mail resulted in change.
Kudos to Marywood University and individuals representing Marywood University for including men and not engaging in exclusion of people based on a biological demographic. I hope to volunteer and grow from the experience.
While I have not always agreed with decisions made by Marywood University — specifically the continued inclusion of a chiropractor who promotes junk science through distributed literature, claiming that chiropractic removal of “vertebral subluxations” can cure asthma and blindness (among many other maladies), at a student health fair — I am happy with the decision to now include men in a volunteer project. Hopefully the chiropractor can be the next to go.