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A quick factchecking of yet another list of “misandrist” quotes reveals the same old MRA sloppiness and dishonesty

He's making a list, but not checking it once.

He’s making a list, but not checking it once.

The MRAs have a new list! A list of evil, man-hating quotations, that is. This list, put together by A Voice for Male Students, has a rather pretentious title: “The language of misandry in academia: a collection of quotes by faculty members, students, and administrators.”

And it comes with a rather high-minded introduction by list-collator Jonathan Taylor, declaring that

misandry in academia is not merely a collection of infrequent and disassociated anomalies arising from individuals uninfluenced by supportive or acquiescent peer groups. On the contrary, it is culturally pervasive in academia in a way that cannot be reasonably characterized as incidental or coincidental.

Indeed, Taylor hopes that his list will be

a useful resource for those new to men’s issues in academia. It should also be useful to advocates as a “go-to” resource for identifying and referring others the kind of hostile learning environment that has become pervasive in certain academic circles.

Given all this, you might expect his list of quotes to be a little more carefully vetted than the typical cut-and-pasted lists of Terrible Feminist Quotes that are passed around on the internet by antifeminists. You may recall that when I and a few others fact-checked one of these lists a while back we discovered that many of the quotes were either taken out of context in a misleading way, or made up, or taken from fictional works. Or were from people no one had ever heard of an who might not have been feminists at all.

Even a quick glance at Taylor’s list reveals that it has a lot in common with these lists: alongside a number of quotations from well-known radical feminists like Catharine MacKinnon and Mary Daly, he includes quotes from little-known academics and an assortment of random student activists, one of them identified only as “Ginny.” How typical are any of these views in academia? Taylor makes no attempt to find out.

The list doesn’t confine itself to feminists, quoting from one “traditionalist women’s college group” and even from Margaret Thatcher.

And many of the quotes are scanty — simple one liners — which leads me to wonder if there is anything in the context that makes these sometimes shocking quotations a bit less shocking.

Still others aren’t actually “misandrist” at all.

I don’t have the time or the energy to fact-check all of these quotes — nor do I have access to the academic journals many of them came from.

But several of them grabbed my attention, and I was able to track down the original quotes in context — only to discover that Taylor’s abridged quotes completely distort their original meanings.

Let’s start with this truncated quote from Marilyn French:

“As long as some men use physical force to subjugate females, all men need not. The knowledge that some men do suffices to threaten all women. He can beat or kill the woman he claims to love; he can rape women…he can sexually molest his daughters… THE VAST MAJORITY OF MEN IN THE WORLD DO ONE OR MORE OF THE ABOVE.”

- Dr. Marilyn French, The War Against Women, p. 182, her emphasis.

This seems shocking: Is French really suggesting that the vast majority of men either beat, rape, or kill women and/or molest their own daughters?

Actually, no. Those little ellipses in the quote are a clue that there’s more to the story here. When you look at what French actually wrote, you can see that her claims are not actually shocking at all. Here’s the original quote, which you can find for yourself by looking up the book on Amazon and going to page 182 of the preview available on the site.

As long as some men use physical force to subjugate females, all men need not.  The knowledge that some men do suffices to threaten all women.  Beyond that, it is not necessary to beat up a woman to beat her down.  A man can simply refuse to hire women in well-paid jobs, extract as much or more work from women than men but pay them less, or treat women disrespectfully at work or at home.  He can fail to support a child he has engendered, demand the woman he lives with wait on him like a servant.  He can beat or kill the woman he claims to love, he can rape women, whether mate, acquaintance, or stranger; he can rape or sexually molest his daughters, nieces, stepchildren, or the children of a woman he claims to love.  The vast majority of men in the world do one or more of the above

As you can see, French’s argument is completely different from what the truncated quote would suggest. But quoting a feminist suggesting that the majority of men might “treat women disrespectfully” isn’t very exciting, is it? Let’s pretend she said something hair-raising instead!

It’s clear that Taylor didn’t get the quote from French’s book directly; when I searched for the quote online, I found the exact same truncated version, with the same ellipses and the same CAPITAL LETTERS on an assortment of right-wing and antifeminist sites, in one case attributed to the wrong book by French. Clearly he got the quote from one of these sites — Conservapedia, perhaps? — and didn’t bother to spend five minutes trying to fact-check it as I did. It’s also pretty clear that whoever edited the original quote down did so in a deliberate attempt to misrepresent what French said.

The next bit of fact-checking was a bit more straightforward, because this time Taylor provided a clickable link to the source on Google Books. Here’s the quote:

“Politically, I call it rape whenever a woman has sex and feels violated.”

- Dr. Catharine MacKinnon, Feminism Unmodified, p. 82.

Curious about the context, I clicked on the link and saw that she was defining rape in this way as a sort of thought experiment rather than as a legal category:

mackinnon

While this is not quite as dramatic a misrepresentation as the chopped-up French quote, the context here changes the meaning of the quote quite dramatically.

One more quote in the list caught my eye:

Consent as ideology cannot be distinguished from habitual acquiescence, assent, silent dissent, submission, or even enforced submission. Unless refusal or consent or withdrawal of consent are real possibilities, we can no longer speak of ‘consent’ in any genuine sense.

- Dr. Carol Pateman, “Women and Consent,” Political Theory, vol. 8, p. 149.

I’m not going to bother to fact-check this one, because, well, this argument is completely reasonable: if a person cannot say “no,” or cannot withdraw consent, then we really aren’t talking about genuine consent at all, are we?

Taylor claims to be fighting “misandry” in the academy. It looks to me — in these examples, at least — like he’s fighting against straw feminists and a meaningful notion of consent.

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Posted on November 3, 2013, in a voice for men, antifeminism, lying liars, misandry, misogyny, MRA, oppressed men, radfems oh my, rape culture, straw feminists and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 193 Comments.

  1. …damn, I bbcode’d.

  2. Ignotussomnium: It was pretty much exactly the same for me.

  3. @Shadow and Cassandra The thing is that women make a convenient industrial reserve army for capital, since they can be drawn into production when times are good and then made into a scapegoat when times are bad. This is one reason there’s so many conflicting views in the media about women and their role. On the one level they are convenient for capital as an reserve set of workers and a means to expand the economy as extra proletarians yet on another level they need to raise the next generation because if capital runs out of the working class it is in trouble.

  4. Honestly, I think the racism of post 911 USA combined with the backlash against having a black president is emboldening the sexism because racists tend to be sexist, not because they are separate phenomena. Intersectionally, white men are getting re-balanced along two axes – race and gender – but they still hold the majority of positions of power, and so some of them are trying to use that power to consolidate their position as much as possible. There is class stuff there, too, but it seems to play into using overt vs covert racism/sexism to move the Overton Window? Dunno, my analysis is less clean with class.

    The high contrast between states and rights in states based on current political affiliation is telling, I think, in terms of how this is playing out within the population of white men themselves.

  5. Hmmm. This may be very garbled. Going to try to organize this thought:

    What Shadow said about the recession combined with what leftwing fox said about implicit bigotry and what CassandrSays said about ambient misogyny. Second Wave feminists accomplished a lot. Really, it was a massive change, and it’s impressive. But it’s almost, people see those big changes, and think, well, women aren’t discriminated against! Women can do whatever they want! Same with POC and the Civil Rights Movement. Look, we have a black president! Racism is over! But even though some of the more overt stuff is gone, people don’t really see the ambient, implicit, background prejudice because it is ambient and implicit. And anyone who points it out is called a whiny “professional victim,” because it’s not overt. And people don’t understand how this kind of unexamined prejudice does impact people in much the same way that explicit prejudice does. In some ways it’s more insidious because people don’t see it.

    And when you do have explicit racists and misogynists and homophobes and trans*phobes, they are considered outliers and radicals not to be taken seriously, and anyone who does take them seriously is just being over sensitive.

    And nobody really cares anyway, because “we” have much bigger problems, like the economy and terrorism and “important” shit like that, so why are you whining when you really don’t have that bad? So it’s easier to dismiss the problems POC and women and the LGBTQ community face as unimportant.

    And it almost like its hip to be prejudiced anymore, because being “politically correct” has become shorthand for “vapid bleeding heart over-sensitivity.”

    So, maybe what I’m trying say is, a combination of complacency and backlash vitriol?

  6. And it almost like its hip to be prejudiced anymore, because being “politically correct” has become shorthand for “vapid bleeding heart over-sensitivity.”

    This is why I’ve come to appreciate the term “factual correctness.”
    People can dismiss political correctness, because that’s all about dogma and enforcing ideas, but factual correctness? How can you dismiss factual correctness without coming across as if you’re all about dogma and enforcing ideas? Then you have to actually point out why it’s not factually accurate, and that means you have to investigate it, which means you find out that it is, in fact, factually correct.

  7. katz | November 4, 2013 at 1:18 am

    Obviously I’m disinclined to go for the “people are more accepting of homosexuality because they’re less religious” explanation, partly because I attend one of those churches with rainbows on our signboards, but mostly because changes in religious belief have been tiny compared to changes in acceptance of homosexuality.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/1690/religion.aspx

    (I separated out the link so that it would remain available in the blockquote for this reply.)

    There are, however, dramatic shifts in three columns. “Protestant” drops since 2000–52% to 41%. The second is the boom of the non-denominational Christian column–from 2% up to 10%. And finally, we have a jump from 9% to 14% in the ‘None’ column.

    What I suspect (and yes, this is very much me spitballing from an examination of those numbers) is not that “People are more accepting of homosexuality because they’re less religious,” but rather, “People are less religious because they are more accepting of homosexuality.” The biggest bleed-offs are from mainstream Protestantism and Catholocism–historically two of the biggest opponents of gay rights.

    So as younger church members have grown up, and realized that Pastor Bob and Father Fred are telling them that Uncle Joe and his husband Jerry are going to burn in Hell, they don’t necessarily stop believing entirely (though likely, some do), but they DO decide to give Bob and Fred the heave-ho, because Uncles Joe and Jerry are freakin’ awesome. This leaves them in that non-denominational category. Still got faith, but they can’t find an existing theology that actually fits their beliefs about the fundamentals–ie, right and wrong.

    Now, that said, there likely is some degree of spiral-effect; the children of these folks are still more likely to be gay-friendly, and probably still more of them will drift into the “None” column, simply because they aren’t getting that Sunday school reinforcement of the faith.

  8. Freemage:

    Sorry, it just doesn’t add up. Sure, there’s a 5% rise in the “none” category between 2001 and 2012, but in the same range the gay acceptance numbers jump 13% for under-55s and a whole 19% among over-55s. So a good two-thirds of the rise in acceptance must be among people who consider themselves religious.

    Even if we add that entire non-specific Christian change (6%) in there as well, we’re still only at 11% and a good bit shy…but assuming movement from Protestant to non-specific Christian is correlated with greater acceptance of homosexuality is very dodgy, given that the Protestant category includes a bunch of large gay-friendly denominations (Episcopalians, Presbyterians, us good-guy Lutherans) and the non-specific category includes groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mennonites, and Eastern Orthodox.

    I’d also expect a more marked decrease from the Catholic column, the biggest single gay-unfriendly denomination, but the 2% decrease we see is pretty much insignificant, especially since it’s part of a much longer trend.

  9. This is why I have such huge issues with the idea that science can answer any question. I mean, beyond the obvious objection of “ok, scientifically speaking, which colour is superior: green or blue?”

    I’m a fan of scientific answers, they’re useful and enlightening, but they’re not the be all and end all of question answering, and you need to be aware of the biases you have when going into the question.

    QFT and don’t I wish some people could get that little fact hammered into their heads!

  10. Haven’t read all the comments so I don’t know if everyone’s seen the “rebuttal” over at A Voice for Male Students (Trigger Warning: images of lynching)

    http://www.avoiceformalestudents.com/david-futrelle-co-all-in-a-tizzy-as-avfms-exposes-misandry-avfms-dissects-their-obtuseness/

    It’s just so damn nonsensical.

  11. @HeatherN
    Oh, good, they included the ol’ pearl of wisdom that “lynchings in America are proof of misandry! Also, what is racism? No, never heard of it.”
    Verily, we are rebutted. Time to pack up shop and turn our tools over to the MRM.

    I have to wonder, when your original argument is that someone (French) is accusing the majority of men of threatening, killing and raping men, and it’s pointed out that the list of things that “the vast majority of men do” contains mere disrespect… how is it rational to pretend that it was not a quotemine? And how does saying that the full quote accurately points out that a wide range of behaviours are involved in subjugating people count as 1) a defence against accusations of quote mining or 2) evidence of misandry?

    I’d really like to be able to be forgiving and recognise that a lot of people are inept when it comes to rational discussion, but the guy claims to be “a former college instructor of composition and argumentation,” so… what? Was he just terrible at his job, or does he make arguments like this while knowing that they’re vacuous?

  12. sparky: I remember being called a traitor for protesting the Iraq War (2nd Iraq War? Gulf War II? Does it have an official name?)

    Operation Iraqi Freedom

  13. katz: There are, of course, gay-friendly Protestant denominations; I’m aware of this, as I used to be an Episcopalian (former acolyte, actually) and my mom still is.

    But religion in America can be remarkably susceptible to geography. In some parts of the country, it’s difficult to go church-shopping for churches outside a specific range on the Christian spectrum. (Anecdata time. I’ve got a friend from Huntsville, Alabama. When she was going to Germany for a class trip in high school, one of her teachers told her, “Now, you might not be able to find a church over there.” She replied, “Oh, it’s okay–I’m a Lutheran.” Teacher: “Well, that’s what I mean, they may not have those over there.”)

    So if you were raised fundamentalist, or even one of the more hard-core Baptist sects, then you decide to change faith, you may not be able to find one conveniently. Instead of leaving, you go the non-denominational route. Others no doubt shift WITHIN the Protestant category; and still others may even push their denomination to make the switch themselves.

  14. … woah. I wasn’t expecting *that*.

  15. (Anecdata time. I’ve got a friend from Huntsville, Alabama. When she was going to Germany for a class trip in high school, one of her teachers told her, “Now, you might not be able to find a church over there.” She replied, “Oh, it’s okay–I’m a Lutheran.” Teacher: “Well, that’s what I mean, they may not have those over there.”)

    My brain just exploded …

  16. My only thought is that why would any intelligent,self-respecting(okay I know they don’t acknowledge the existence of such) woman would want to have anything to do with someone who has less empathy than a lentil.

  17. I don’t think they do, unless from a really strong sense of schadenfreude in watching these idiots’ contortions. Game is all about pushing boundaries to find the vulnerable. It’s a rape strategy.

  18. lol @ not being able to find Lutheran churches in Germany (someone needs to brush up on their church history).

    But I’m not arguing with your reasoning–I’m saying that the numbers do not support it. The growth in that category would be insufficient to explain the gay-acceptance trend even if all mainline Protestants were gay-unfriendly and all non-specified Christians were gay-accepting, but they aren’t, so the percentage of people who left a gay-unfriendly Protestant denomination for a gay-friendly non-specified church is going to be less than 6%, and so the correlation is going to be even weaker.

  19. I would just love to see Martin Luther’s expression if someone told him that story.

  20. So… WW2 distorted a lot of things.

    If you look at films/books before the war women were a lot more equal than they were after the war.

    What I think happened is that the combination of 10 million+ men returning to the workforce, and reduction of the distortions in the economy as a result of war production meant there was an absolute reduction in available jobs, and keeping women in, “men’s work” wasn’t socially acceptable.

    As the economy reccovered (helped by the Marshall Plan, and the distortions caused by the Cold War) there was; as a result of the gains labor had made up to the ’30s, enough money to make the ideal of, “the nuclear family” (that cornerstone of Victorian Morality), something which could be afforded on a large scale.

    Then we got the ’70s. Not only was there the indulgence of the youth born after the war (the Baby Boom was a return to normal, not so much a sudden increase, as a contrast to the depressions in birthrate caused by 1: the Great Depression, and 2: WW2; which also caused a large increase in educational investment at the primary/secondary level; to go with the increase in the post-secondary level created by the GI Bill).

    We also had the changes caused by the increase in available income to the middle classes from Social Security. The greatest boost to the economy from SS was that people no longer had to spend so much keeping their parents alive. Married to the prevalence of Defined Benefit Pensions (again, see unions) and a huge number of people (male and female) were sent to college.

    Where a lot of them asked, “why is society so screwed up?” The Vietnam War just made it more obvious things were screwed up.

    Then we got fucking Reagan, (who started his political career narrating a propaganda album against Medicare; doctor’s wives were supposed to gather other women in their neighborhoods to listen to it, so they would tell their husbands how bad it was).

    And he killed the Air Traffic Controllers Union (expanding on Taft-Hartley) and started privatising every damn thing; and got into bed with the fundies (whom he didn’t much like, but hey they voted for him, so…).

    So I wonder what would have happened without WW2, because the Soviet Union wouldn’t have been so large as to be seen as the sort of existential threat it became.

  21. (Anecdata time. I’ve got a friend from Huntsville, Alabama. When she was going to Germany for a class trip in high school, one of her teachers told her, “Now, you might not be able to find a church over there.” She replied, “Oh, it’s okay–I’m a Lutheran.” Teacher: “Well, that’s what I mean, they may not have those over there.”)

    Different anecdata: A friend went on a school trip to Bavaria. They collected everyone and told them to line up; where they started asking religious affliation (this was middle 1980s, there was a lot of nervous reaction). The reason… there was a state tax on some religions. When they got to my friend she told them Lutheran.

    They didn’t know what she meant.

    Not only different terms, but I’ll wager the belief systems of Germans who think of themselves as “followers of Luther” are quite different.

  22. From the AVFMS response:

    Ah, but she wasn’t talking about a singular person, Futrelle. She was talking about women as a political class and the concept of consent itself, regardless of any situational interpersonal context. That’s why she does not refer to “consent’” in unqualified terms – like normal people do – but instead as “consent as ideology.”

    In other words, to Dr. Pateman consent is a concept that only exists in the minds of ideologues. By referring to consent as “an ideology” and placing herself in opposition to it, she is disagreeing with the concept of consent itself.

    The quote from Pateman basically means that “habitual acquiescence, assent, silent dissent, submission, or … enforced submission” are merely part of consent as an ideology and do not constitute real consent. Nowhere in the quote does she imply that consent is a purely ideological concept. Are they this stupid?

  23. Ally: Are they this stupid?

    Yes.

    And when they aren’t, they are that mendacious.

  24. Regarding hypermasculinity, trust me, it’s in the gay world too. From what I’ve seen, people seem to be okay with queer men… as long as they don’t “act queer.” You know, good ol’ red-blooded American boys! There’s a LOT of it, so I have absolutely no problem understanding that gay rights might be improving, but gender roles are still iron.

    Also, queer/trans rights has been HAULING, especially since the AIDS epidemic. I mean, gay trans men weren’t even acknowledged to EXIST until 1988. Whenever anyone asks me if I’d want to go back in time, I always shake my head and go, “HELL NO.” Shit, any time before I was born, I’d be fuckin’ HOSED.

    And big lolz at the poor Lutheran in Alabama. I’m from Texas, and while I was in a big city with a bunch of denominations, as a kid, I was only aware of two Christian denominations: Southern Baptists and Catholics. (Which was what my mother and father were brought up as, respectively.) And that… pretty much sums up a lot of the landscape.

  25. How quaint. Once again, that article does link to sources here, and does present snippets of those sources, but still twists the words just slightly and marches right past most others without comment.

    I’m not a genius debater or even particularly intelligent, but even I grasp that Liz Kelly quote about a “Continuum of pressure” means something entirely different than it is presented as, and I found the original quote to point that out… to which the response is taking what I wrote about that amended, original quote and pretending it applies to the version of the quote on his list.

    But that’s a lie. The actual quote from the actual book doesn’t end at “Sex”, it ends a few words later at “There is no clear distinction, therefore, between consensual sex and rape, but a continuum of pressure, threat, coercion and force. The concept of a continuum validates the sense of abuse women feel when they do not freely consent to sex and takes account of the fact that women may not define their experience at the time or over time as rape“.

    Plus, the lead in also kind of shifts the entire thing rather bloody radically towards a reasonable, nuanced approach to rape.

    Mendecious. Specious. Spurious! This is actually outright lying in a source collection with ample evidence thereof. Weaksauce.

    Plus, my original comment included a line that indicates that false accusations are terribad (which they are) and that rape is terribad (which it is) so claiming that that no one said so is also a lie.

    And the best part? I wrote that, in a 174 word comment reply to this amended, rebutal article…. which the site owner deleted without answering.

    Smooth. Master debater there.

  26. Seen that happen.

    Had a bunch of reactionary Catholic spouting false doctrines (as in their interpretation of what was/wasn’t acceptable for a Catholic university to do was plainly hypocritical, and driven by a secular agenda).

    I took them to task.

    They never published it.

    p.s. for what it’s worth I didn’t expect them to allow it out of moderation; They are a fairly large, for such things, web-presence, and I was being all sorts of unfair, like quoting doctrine. So pointed to their piece, and made my reply in my Lj.

  27. katz | November 4, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    lol @ not being able to find Lutheran churches in Germany (someone needs to brush up on their church history).

    But I’m not arguing with your reasoning–I’m saying that the numbers do not support it. The growth in that category would be insufficient to explain the gay-acceptance trend even if all mainline Protestants were gay-unfriendly and all non-specified Christians were gay-accepting, but they aren’t, so the percentage of people who left a gay-unfriendly Protestant denomination for a gay-friendly non-specified church is going to be less than 6%, and so the correlation is going to be even weaker.

    Okay, I think I’m explaining myself poorly, based on the above, because it shows I’ve failed to convey my position. The bolded portion is the exact opposite of what I’m trying to suggest.

    My spitball hypothesis is that when people in a conservative faith are confronted with some sort of challenge to their beliefs, they really have four choices:

    1: Remain in the church, trying to effect change from within (or, alternately, just trying to ignore the cognitive dissonance).
    2: Change to a new church, one that has a closer alignment with their changing views of right and wrong. This won’t have any effect on the Protestant numbers, really, since people will still identify as Protestant (but a former Southern Baptist may now be an ELCA Lutheran).
    3: Maintain a spiritual faith, but abandon organized religion based on an inability to find a church matching their new take on things. If many do this, the “Christian non-denominational” category will increase.
    4: Go for some flavor of agnosticism/atheism, and leave faith behind. If many do this, the “None” category will increase.

    If this holds, then in times of dramatic social change, you’ll see the effects of 3 & 4, but not in full proportion to the degree of attitude shift (since some folks will opt for the first two options, instead). And that is what we see here–a gain of about 11 percentage points spread between those two categories, which is, as you note, less than the percentage of people who actually changed their minds on gay rights.

    The Catholic numbers are probably the biggest stumbling-block, here, which you pointed out–they should come down more. One possible explanation–I’ve encountered far more ‘cultural Catholics’, who identify as such even though they haven’t set foot in a church for a decade or more, than other denominations. So a disillusioned Baptist might opt for “non-Denominational Christian”, while a disillusioned Catholic would still identify as such.

    Note one thing that, if accurate, this suggests to atheists like myself–we CAN’T just sit around and argue people out of their faith. Our best hope is actually pushing social-justice agendas, because those cause the kinds of societal shifts that produce the introspection that results in a decision to leave the faith entirely. In short, the Asshat Atheist brigade aren’t just shitty human beings, they’re even shitty at being atheists.

  28. Crap… ignore that, bookmarking (so I can keep my place in the thread) and it got jumbled.

  29. Not really related, but why do you guys call it “the spreadhead”?

  30. Why do these guys ALWAYS write in the same forced, pseudo-intellectual, eighth-grade style language? It’s as if they write what they feel, and then go through with a thesaurus and replace all the three-letter words with eight-to-ten letter words. Cringe.

  31. I’ve never seen “spreadhead” before.

  32. Freemage: Sorry, I did misunderstand you; earlier people were suggesting that a decline in religious belief might be the explanation of the trend. Of course “people’s personal beliefs may affect their religious affiliation” is a perfectly sensible thesis.

  33. And this is why correlation is not causation ^.^

  34. RE: Freemage

    Our best hope is actually pushing social-justice agendas, because those cause the kinds of societal shifts that produce the introspection that results in a decision to leave the faith entirely.
    O_o Why would I want there to be more atheists?

  35. See, I want to push social justice because it’s just.

  36. Our best hope is actually pushing social-justice agendas, because those cause the kinds of societal shifts that produce the introspection that results in a decision to leave the faith entirely.

    Plenty of people are both religious and SJ-oriented. Hell, I became a UU so I could be part of more organized activism.

    In short, the Asshat Atheist brigade aren’t just shitty human beings, they’re even shitty at being atheists.

    Apparently I’m shitty at being an atheist, since I just can’t summon any fucks to give about other people believing in the supernatural. Thanks for reminding me why I’ve never felt comfortable in movement atheism.

    @Pecunium I’ve seen “spreadhead” a few times. I don’t think everyone uses it, but I see it enough that I wonder what it’s about.

  37. LBT: “Our” there was not meant to mean my fellow posters here, but rather, my fellow atheists and I. I certainly don’t expect folks who are not atheists to care about this.

    Pecunium: Well, yes, same here. But my point was that the Asshat Atheists aren’t even succeeding at enlightened self-interest, let alone altruistic conduct.

    emily: I acknowledged that there are plenty of SJ-active churches. My point was that the conservative churches are often the source of direct opposition on SJ issues. So, expanding pro-SJ attitudes means more people leaving those specific churches–which, in some cases, means more atheists.

    As for not caring about other people’s beliefs or lack thereof… I’m not saying you should. “Atheism” isn’t a social-justice issue, obviously. I would argue that secularism–ie, the old “Church/State separation” bit–is an SJ issue, but I argued that even when I was a believer myself.

    I personally believe that some supernatural beliefs have very specific harmful consequences on the social justice level; but I’m perfectly willing to not fret about someone’s beliefs that don’t fall into that category.

  38. RE: Freemage

    “Our” there was not meant to mean my fellow posters here, but rather, my fellow atheists and I. I certainly don’t expect folks who are not atheists to care about this.

    I AM an atheist. I repeat, why should I want more atheists?

  39. I say this because actually the most trolling I’ve gotten have been from other atheists. You seem to have a higher faith in their non-assholery about trans and mental health issues than I do.

  40. I’ve got to parrot LBT here. I am an atheist, yet I have no real desire to see more of us.
    You hear a lot of stories of how isolating it is to be an atheist in religious communities… I never felt that around religious people – I live in a fairly secular part of the world. I have, however, felt it in atheist communities. Mention that you believe that women are people, and half of the supposedly intellectually superior people around you will act as if you just told them you believe in dowsing and accuse you of being irrational and brainwashed, while firing fallacies off like they’ll explode if they hang on to them. Almost all of the other half just shut up, and you’re left with about three people trying to reason with a group who quickly turn to demonising Rebecca Watson and refusing to discuss the actual issues.

    I’m far more interested in cultivating decency in those around me than atheism.

  41. Me three. I’ve always been an atheist, way back to arguing about it with the minister during the brief period where my parents attempted to send me to Sunday School in kindergarten. While my circle of friends has always been heavy on other atheists and agnostic people I’m not seeing any reason why I should worry about the existence of religious people who aren’t using their faith as an excuse to work against social justice issues, or try to make less of them and more people like me.

    As an example of why, take Mr C’s favorite aunt. She’s a queer, feminist, socially liberal, pot smoking classic northern California hippie. She’s also Catholic. Would somehow making her less Catholic make her a nicer person or a better ally in terms of all the stuff I care about (and that most other people here do too)? I’m just not seeing it. She’s fine as she is, and in some ways I think her religion actually reinforces her social justice focus.

    TL;DR – If someone is a good person and a good ally their spiritual beliefs or lack thereof are none of my business.

  42. The idea that people promote ideas based entirely on their religion is wrong anyway; the ideals people form is based more on the values they were raised with, the social circles they exist in, and established ideas in the person (i.e. someone who is against homosexual behavior because they were raised with the understanding that is wrong and dwell in a social circle that disapproves of it will cull the bible looking for quotes on why it’s wrong.) I also think it’s bizarre how some atheists hold a dogmatic belief in a pseudo-scientific version of evolutionary psychology that’s more akin to social Darwinism, and will tell people who don’t share their exact worldview that they aren’t being rational.

  43. In my experience it seems more like religious people often adapt their religion to fit their personal value system by disregarding the bits that don’t work for them. Mr C’s auntie being a perfect example.

  44. Yeah, that’s what I was trying to get across. It’s not really the person’s religion that defines the person’s belief, but the belief that defines the religion.

  45. Here’s my thing about atheism: all that unites atheists is a LACK of belief in something. That’s a hugely variegated group of people! You’ve got Buddhists, and Jews, and people who worship gods as metaphorical thoughtforms and people who want nothing to do with deities but worship more minor supernatural entities. You’ve got UUs and skeptics and rationalists, and you have people like me who believe in gods for other people but want them nowhere near me.

    Last I heard, the ONLY thing atheists have in common is a lack of belief in a god or supreme being. Skepticism, rationalism, or common human decency aren’t part of the package. Depending on that definition, I may not even count as an atheist!

    Therefore, it’s absurd for me to want more atheists. It’d be like wanting more non-Republicans. Like, sure, in theory, sure, pushing social justice things would cause fewer people to accept some crap Republicans push. But there are plenty of horrible people who AREN’T Republicans, and the assholes will just join create some other party. (See Dixiecrats.) Or, more likely, the Republican party will change to take note of those social changes.

    A lot of religions have been around WAY longer than the Republican party. They would not still be alive if they didn’t adjust to social change. I see it way more likely churches will grow less douchey, rather than more people will become atheists.

  46. LBT: “Our” there was not meant to mean my fellow posters here, but rather, my fellow atheists and I. I certainly don’t expect folks who are not atheists to care about this.

    I don’t think anyone thought you meant posters here, Freemage. It was perfectly clear you didn’t. Nevertheless, count me as n’thing the “nuh uh” comments.

    You’ve acknowledged that SJ isn’t connected with being an atheist; that it’s not precluded by being a theist (or, presumably, any other variety of not-atheist). So what is it at base that makes you want to convert people – which is what it is – to atheism? Is it objection to the idea of someone having other beliefs at all, or other interpretations of life experiences?

    One thing this eagerness (generally) on the part of people so eager to convert others ignores is what it’s doing to those people. The assumption that THIS IS TRUTH is a load of baloney, whichever way it’s coming, but more than that, it’s fucking corrosive to assume in general that your belief system is going to make someone happier and more fulfilled or freer than the one they have. If their beliefs aren’t hurting other people, then fucking well leave people alone. Undermining someone that way is all sorts of wrong.

    Anecdata: I’ve had one run-in with a Spiritualist who was a capital-C Church type and didn’t like me not toeing her line. I’ve had no crap from people I knew who were born-agains and undoubtedly believed I was going to Hell. I have had crap from sundry Asshole Atheists who’ve sneered that I’m delusional and should see a psychologist.

    Curiously enough the actual psychologists I’ve talked to – and not hidden my life with Louis from, because it is the central, the most important part of my inner life – have been nothing but supportive.

    So fuck “needing to convert” people. It comes down to “I don’t like your beliefs” too often.

  47. Well, that was an impressive blockquote fail first thing in the day!

  48. Apologies, but I’m posting that again, hopefully without html fail, because I want it more readable. This “conversion” nonsense is really annoying me.

    LBT: “Our” there was not meant to mean my fellow posters here, but rather, my fellow atheists and I. I certainly don’t expect folks who are not atheists to care about this.

    I don’t think anyone thought you meant posters here, Freemage. It was perfectly clear you didn’t. Nevertheless, count me as n’thing the “nuh uh” comments.

    You’ve acknowledged that SJ isn’t connected with being an atheist; that it’s not precluded by being a theist (or, presumably, any other variety of not-atheist). So what is it at base that makes you want to convert people – which is what it is – to atheism? Is it objection to the idea of someone having other beliefs at all, or other interpretations of life experiences?

    One thing this eagerness (generally) on the part of people so eager to convert others ignores is what it’s doing to those people. The assumption that THIS IS TRUTH is a load of baloney, whichever way it’s coming, but more than that, it’s fucking corrosive to assume in general that your belief system is going to make someone happier and more fulfilled or freer than the one they have. If their beliefs aren’t hurting other people, then fucking well leave people alone. Undermining someone that way is all sorts of wrong.

    Anecdata: I’ve had one run-in with a Spiritualist who was a capital-C Church type and didn’t like me not toeing her line. I’ve had no crap from people I knew who were born-agains and undoubtedly believed I was going to Hell. I have had crap from sundry Asshole Atheists who’ve sneered that I’m delusional and should see a psychologist.

    Curiously enough the actual psychologists I’ve talked to – and not hidden my life with Louis from, because it is the central, the most important part of my inner life – have been nothing but supportive.

    So fuck “needing to convert” people. It comes down to “I don’t like your beliefs” too often.

  49. RE: Kittehs

    I’ve had a lot of people try and convert me, or pray for me to “be healed.” (In my cynical way, I often consider saying, “You want to help me? Got a dollar?”) I find it very tiring and usually sic my husband on them. (Nobody can fight off evangelists like a Southern Baptist.) And I’ve actually known a lot of people from traumatic fundy backgrounds.

    It does happen, and more often from the religious than the atheists, just because of sheer numbers. But assholery, in my experience, has little correlation to level of religiousness.

  50. LBT – gods, yes, the odds of having someone go all religious on you would be much higher where you are; Australia’s very different culturally, at least in the cities. (We really need to legislate agin all those USian Mormons being allowed into the country, I swear!) And yes, assholishness doesn’t correlate with religion OR its lack.

    Love the idea of Mac frightening off evangelists. :)

    Personal rant about evangelical atheism coming: no need to read for most people commenting, ‘cos it’s not aimed at you.

    Thing that gets me with this is, we don’t have people going around trying to convert others TO religion on this site, or talking about how necessary it is. I haven’t spent time reading Christian, let alone fundamentalist, or any other sort of religious sites, so I haven’t read scads of their conversion rubbish.

    BUT I’ve seen plenty of the “we must convert to atheism” shit on other sites, and while nobody here now is an Asshole Atheist, freemage’s reference to this has riled me.

    Because – and freemage, I hope you’ll read and think about this – this sort of stuff is an attack I take personally, because it says, in essence, that my life should be rearranged to suit someone else’s non-belief.

    It says my marriage doesn’t exist.

    It says all the contact I’ve had with those who’ve passed over isn’t real.

    It says something as simple as the cuddle I had this morning, the feel of an arm around my shoulder, and a discussion of beard stubble, didn’t happen.

    And what does it suggest instead?

    Fucking NOTHING. Literally nothing.

    I’ve been there. I was atheist, or an agnostic so close it didn’t matter.

    Y’know something? It wasn’t reading atheist stuff that got me away from the idea of a Biblical God, or the horrors of that idea, the either-or black and white thinking. It was breaking away from the concept of an anthropomorphic deity at all, and it was what I’d call a Spritualist book, and Louis himself, who did that.

    That did wonders for my mental health, for my happiness and fulfilment. It’s even had benefits materially, because writing about it made me friends and has taken me to the US to meet them, twice.

    I have my own doubts and questions to deal with. I call it jerkbrain and the materialistic default in this country, and the ridiculous “it’s too good to be true” notion that seems to worm its way into everything. I’ve thought and thought about what’s real and since there’s no proof either way, and the evidence I’ve experienced is for me to interpret, nobody else, then I’ll go with my own REASONED conclusion, thankyouverymuch.

    When people talk blithely about how important it is for other people to be atheists, maybe they should just stop and think about what the fuck they’re actually suggesting, and pull their heads in.

    /steaming

    (Apologies if this turned into That Conversation, but given we’re not hiding the whole business of the Great Divorce, which seems to have been a large factor in That Conversation, I really wanted to get this out without hedging.)

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