Over the Edge…

One woman with a man’s name tale of annoyance, criticism, research, decision making, and discovery on the topic of feminism.

I have been pushed! Pushed to write my thoughts on feminism. For the past year I have heard about feminism and skepticism. Which normally, does not bother me. Feminism, serves a very important purpose when pointed in the correct direction. Today, I wonder if feminism is still going in the correct direction. Apparently, members of our own community are putting us women in a submissive and inferior role. There are several women in our community that are leading the charge vocally and thank goodness they are there to tell me how to feel about it! At least this is the impression I have been left with. I have been wrangling with and hashing out my own thoughts over the past several months. I keep biting my tongue, holding myself back. I hold myself back because; I have only been a member for the skeptical community actively for a short time. I keep waiting for someone more established in the community to speak up for those of us that do not feel the same as the popular opinion. No one has spoken up, which possibly means I stand alone… That is a very scary position to be in.

I have seen and experienced many instances of sexism, but not within the skeptical community; at least not enough to make me start ranting about it. In high school and college, I worked a job where there were no female cooks, and no female managers. That is till my last two years there, they had one. I just left a job where it was ruled by men but run by mostly women. As an added twist, I am a woman with a man’s name. I have run into instances of “disappointment” that I am a female. My favorite is the Marines. Makes me laugh every time I think about it. Back then I wasn’t laughing, but now I can. The male recruiter was very chipper and couldn’t wait to talk to the Dale, who took the ASVABS. Till he finds out I’m Dale. The sound of disappointment was unmistakable! It then became an awkward conversation of what I plan to do and intense encouragement to continue with my plans to go to college. In fact that was how it was for almost every recruiter. The poor Marine just didn’t know how to hide it.

Being married is an interesting variation on sexism. I am married; therefor, I must share the same opinion as my husband. If he is asked to do something, people assume it is the same as asking me if I want to be a part of it. Sorry, I don’t agree. If you ask my husband to participate, then you have only asked him. You want me to be a part of something; going through him doesn’t do you any good. We are two independent people who happen to be married. We do mostly our own thing, with many instances of shared interests. These are just a few examples of my experiences.

When I went to TAM7, I was so nervous. I was afraid that angry militant skeptics ready to kick ass would surround me. I was not concerned about angry men or creepers. I made other plans as insurance against a ruined vacation. During, TAM7, I never felt so relieved to find militant skeptics a rarity. I found the community inclusive and welcoming into the fold. When my ideas were challenged during conversations I did not feel it was because I was a woman, but because I was not able to fully substantiate them. I had a good time and left excited. It was after the TAM7 conference I decided, I wanted to be more involved. Slowly, in a turtle like manner, I have been trying.

In my efforts to become more involved, I have come across a few things that have annoyed me. One of those things, is the possibility of feminism in skepticism is losing its way a bit by nitpicking members of our community needlessly. What I mean is, when women themselves do things that do not necessarily promote equality, and then criticize others for doing the same thing.

Starting with the most recent example: Brian Dunning’s cover art. From Brian’s own mouth “It’s a Fleetwood Mac Parody”. Many people saw it as a parody and many people did not. While, I personally do not like the cover art from an artistic standpoint, I did not think of the “submissive position” of the woman. At least, I didn’t until it was pointed out to me that the cover suggested I had my “place” at the feet of a man. The same article talks about how the Skepchick calendar being different. Really? How so? Is it different because there is another calendar full of skeptical men? So, we equally objectify each sex and that makes it okay? In the same article, porn was mentioned as being okay. Quote from the author: “I don’t even think there is anything wrong with much of pornography when placed in the correct context.”  I am curious, what the right context is as I have not found porn to be “female friendly”. Again, I didn’t think about it till it was brought up. Before this point, it was just PORN! I was not checking it out for its commentary on the state of our society and how it affects or objectifies women! *

One other thing that has bothered me is the whole Angry Vagina Workshop. I just don’t understand how an angry vagina is a positive and relevant activity towards feminism. How and in what way were making vaginas relevant to feminism? To think people paid money to hear a talk on feminism and for about an hour, possibly more they did … then got to make vulgar crafts! ** Now, from what I gather from the attendees and a blogger, some did enjoy it and thought it was humorous. Others did not and left disgusted. I am not anti-vulgar humor and I am all for tension relievers when the topic gets too heavy. However, when people have paid money to hear a talk, I would have like a little more discretion in the choice of tension reliever. There are far more professional ways to go about it and stay relevant to the talk.

The Skepchick’s have been keeping an eye on feminism and have been doing good work. Their efforts to promote skepticism, vaccination, and suppress the Age of Autism ads have been fantastic! However, when going after others for their miss steps, maybe a once over in your own mirror would be a good thing. It would be a good thing for all of us in the community to take a step back and say, “Am I living in a glass house? Should I throw this stone?”  I am guilty of it myself, I am sure of it. Are we losing our way and hindering our own goals every time we attack one another for sexism? My gut feeling is yes. However, we all know what anecdotes and guts mean… fat load of nothing.

Ever since TAM7 I have felt the community to be one of equality. I have only mentioned two events that have irked me the most. I have not seen or felt discriminated against till I was told that I was. I do not like feeling like I am being told how to feel.

While I end this article hear to keep it from being unbearably long; absolutely nothing personal is meant in this article. I have just decided to hash out my thoughts and feelings publicly. I love the good work people such as the Skepchicks have been doing and can wear my skepticism with pride because of their work. As I have mentioned in the opening line, I am going to keep working through my thoughts, good, bad, and ugly. This will be a series of articles to see where this woman ends up on the other side of the journey.

* Disclosure: I agree with Amy.  I don’t have a problem with most porn. It just struck me as odd in the context of her article.

** Disclosure: The name of the workshop was Feminist Skepticism, it was not Angry Vagina Workshop.  I did not attend workshop.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized on by .

About Dale Roy

Recently retired physical science teacher. Going for Masters Degree for Science in the Public thru the University of Buffalo Married to Sc00ter Looking to be more involved and active member of the skeptical community now that I have time.

35 thoughts on “Over the Edge…

  1. Eosine

    I have never felt objectified in the skeptical community.. no matter how much I try to be :P I always feel equal in skeptical community, I mean :D
    I’m pretty sure the Dunning Cover art was a partnership idea between Dunning and his wife, if not her idea, so I will be asking her about that at TAM!
    Excellent read, thank you!

  2. LarianLeQuella

    Great write up Dale. I will repeat what I said at the JREF forums:

    I try to stay out of these debates as much as possible. Not because I am dissinterested, or I in any way condone sexist behaviour, but because as a man, I really don’t think that I can contribute as much to the debate as those who are activelly fighting sexism, or those who are purportedly supporting it.

    Maybe because I was raised in Sweden, and in a female dominated household, but to me, gender has absolutely no meaning in how a person is treated or viewed, and I leave it at that.

    As to the subject of the picture in question and reactions to it; sorry, I’m not worked up. It’s your battle to fight or not fight as the case may be. I’ll stand back, and out of your way, and let you all have your say.

  3. masalaskeptic

    I’m a little confused by a couple of points you make: First, you say “There are several women in our community that are leading the charge vocally and thank goodness they are there to tell me how to feel about it!” and “I keep waiting for someone more established in the community to speak up for those of us that do not feel the same as the popular opinion.”

    Let’s set aside for a moment that these two things contradict each other (do you want someone else to speak for you or not?), if you are specifically referring to Amy’s post on Skepchick it was my impression that she was positing HER opinion and indeed, asking for what others think. She also acknowledges that this is a complex issue:

    “It can be argued that there is just no way to put out an image of a nude woman without reducing her to an object in a heavily male dominated arena such as the case with the current climate of organized skepticism. I acknowledge that it is a complicated issue but I still feel strongly that there are much better ways to do things than what we have been exposed to here.

    What do you think?”

    I guess I see Amy’s post as a starting point to a discussion, which she thought was an important one to have. I did not see any huge sweeping generalizations or her speaking for the rest of the female skeptical community. But I did see that others agreed with her. Lots of people agreed, some disagreed. That’s OK.

    Dale – just because you personally don’t see an issue with the cover art, doesn’t negate the way it was perceived by other people – male and female – in the community. I think that was what Amy was trying to get at. She wasn’t attacking Dunning; she was trying to bring the discussion to light. I think conversation is probably the most important component to this entire discussion. PZ Myers had a great article (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/02/feminist_hypersensitivity_or_m.php) about the importance of just listening when women are discussing feminism. He was directing it at men, but I think it’s true for everyone.

    Different people see sexism in different places. Are some people overly sensitive? Of course. But this is a highly sensitive topic. Even among my own peers, I find I have disagreements on what’s funny when it comes to topics like this. It’s really important to remember that there’s really no black and white here; there are only shades of gray.

    I thought Amy was trying to make exactly that point, which was why she discussed the Skepchick calendar and other examples of nudity. This wasn’t about Dunning specifically; it was about the fact that before you make a piece of art, parody or not, that depicts nudity and particularly depicts submissiveness, it’s important to put some caution and thought into the reaction you’re going to get across the board.

    Should Dunning have not published this piece? Probably not. Should he have put a little more thought into the reaction he might get? Perhaps. He certainly shouldn’t be as shocked as he seems to be when people don’t agree entirely with his ‘artistic’ choices. It is, after all, the Internet :)

    1. Dale Roy Post author

      “I’m a little confused by a couple of points you make: First, you say “There are several women in our community that are leading the charge vocally and thank goodness they are there to tell me how to feel about it!” and “I keep waiting for someone more established in the community to speak up for those of us that do not feel the same as the popular opinion. Let’s set aside for a moment that these two things contradict each other”

      I don’t think that those two contradict each other at all. The first part mentions “several women” as in, not a minority speaking up about what they view as sexist. These women of “majority” (if you will) seem to tell the population how they should feel about it.
      Being new, I didn’t feel it was really my place to speak up. I waited for someone more established, not because I want them to speak for me. I thought at the time of my hesitation someone more established would be better equipped to deal with the backlash and negative remarks.

      “if you are specifically referring to Amy’s post on Skepchick it was my impression that she was positing HER opinion and indeed, asking for what others think.”

      Funny, because like most skepchick articles, the comments seem to be people agreeing, and those that disagree getting beat up by replies.

      “Dale – just because you personally don’t see an issue with the cover art, doesn’t negate the way it was perceived by other people – male and female – in the community.”

      One thing that I’ve noticed since posting the story was that
      nearly all of it was positive. The other thing that was interesting was that a number of people pointed out that they feel that Brian Dunning is targeted by the skepchicks and give a number of examples of other male skeptics, prominent ones, that are more sexist in an outgoing way, and knowingly being demeaning towards women.

      I thank you for taking the time to respond.

      1. masalaskeptic

        “like most skepchick articles, the comments seem to be people agreeing, and those that disagree getting beat up by replies.”
        “One thing that I’ve noticed since posting the story was that
        nearly all of it was positive.”

        So, it’s not OK if people who read our site mostly agree with what we say, but it is OK if people who read your article agree with what you say? :) Well, in that case, we have MORE people who agree with what we say than you do! SO NYAY! :D

        Seriously though, I think we’re straying off the topic. You said that in your main post that the Skepchicks (and others) were telling you how to feel about this topic. All I said was that I saw no evidence of any Skepchick telling anyone not to think. Amy was trying to make a point, based on her opinion and, yes of course, she will defend and clarify this opinion. But her major point was to provide a forum for discussion and I think she did that.

        Also, I want to address the whole concept of “I didn’t feel it was really my place to speak up.”

        This makes me horribly sad. I hope we (at Skepchick and in other skeptical blogs) don’t EVER promote the idea that you have to be an established voice in order to give your opinion. I personally find that the Skepchick community is very welcoming to new voices. Sure, like anywhere on the Internet, we have trolls and things get unpleasant on occasion. And we certainly have a tone that isn’t for everyone. But I think that in general, the skeptical community is very welcoming to new voices. I hope I’m not wrong!

        1. Travis Roy

          I’m generally going to stay out of this whole thing, partially because I’m a guy, but mostly because this is Dale’s topic and don’t want to interject. But I did want to make a comment about one thing you said about Skepchicks being welcoming.

          During and after TAM7 I heard some comments about Skepchicks being cliquey, both while hanging at the Del Mar and on Twitter. I remember seeing a tweet by Carie being rather dismissive of those claims and I replied saying that Dale also got that impression (she wasn’t on twitter at the time and couldn’t respond herself). Personally, I have no problem breaking through those walls to introduce myself but I could see where one would be very intimidated by the front they seem to put up at the conferences I’ve been at.

          Also, reading through comments on Skepchick there does seem to be a lot of ganging up on opposing views. This is somewhat unavoidable, I’m guilty of it myself.. But from an outsider looking in and reading through those comments, I know I’ve been put off from commenting due to fear of backlash. Some of it I would even say seems disappointing. The latest example I can think of is Rebecca’s reply to Kitty’s comment linking to Dale’s article here. Rather than addressing the issues she insulted Dale’s grammar on this article and then was dismissive of all her other points.

          Just an observation I wanted to point out.

          1. masalaskeptic

            Really? We were all just at NECSS together. There were several skepchicks there and I don’t think anyone had any issues approaching us.

            We’re all good friends, yes. And on the rare occasions we get to hang out together, we do. That doesn’t mean there’s a wall we build around ourselves and I work pretty hard (as do the others, I think) to try to be approachable.

            Also, regarding Rebecca’s comment – I think that’s a problem of communication. Dale’s article *does* have some grammar and spelling errors. It means that you have to work extra hard to understand her point. Not everyone has the time to do that. As a writer, I am extraordinarily cautious of this because poor language means a) I don’t make my point as well and b) I look bad and it detracts from the actual content I’m trying to put forward.

            Rebecca could probably have been more diplomatic about it but Kitty was using this post as an example of an opposing viewpoint and it does take a good deal of work to get past the writing and actually read through and understand what Dale is trying to say.

          2. Travis Roy

            “There were several skepchicks there and I don’t think anyone had any issues approaching us.”

            If they had a problem approaching you, they wouldn’t have approached you and you wouldn’t know.

            I was just giving an example of what happened at TAM7, I also heard the same criticism at TAM8 and I think it’s impossible to make everybody happy and there will always be people that think you’re not approachable just based on their own personality.

            Regarding Rebecca’s reply.. I just think that her reply was hugely dismissive and, well, unskeptical of her. It did nothing to move the discussion forward.

          3. masalaskeptic

            True, we wouldn’t know. Except for the people who insist we’re cliquish. I don’t really know what we’re supposed to do about it. All I can say is, we do our best to be open and friendly. And if someone has a problem and doesn’t tell us up front, there is literally nothing we can do about it, but we still have to deal with the ‘you’re cliquish’ stigma because “I heard from someone in some place that someone thought that they’re rude or cliquish or whatever’. It’s more than a little frustrating.

            And as I said, Rebecca’s response may not have been diplomatic. BUT IT WAS NOT UNTRUE. The grammar issue is a valid one. I think YOU’RE being unskeptical by not addressing it. Get past the emotion of your response that someone was a little rude to your wife and look at the actual issue.

          4. Travis Roy

            I’m not sure I’m being emotional. I think I’m more annoyed that rather than address the issue, she was dismissive. The dismissive-ness of the points of the article I think annoy me more than the crack at Dale’s grammar.

          5. masalaskeptic

            And I’m out.

            Thanks for playing. Once again, you’re quibbling over the way something was said, as opposed to dealing with the content of what she meant.

            It’s been fun. I have other things I need to get to. I hope I have done some good in showing what our perspective is on this though.

            p.s. “Annoyance” can be construed by some as an “emotion”

          6. Travis Roy

            “Once again, you’re quibbling over the way something was said, as opposed to dealing with the content of what she meant.”

            I’m sorry, but isn’t that EXACTLY what Rebecca did on her site?

          7. masalaskeptic

            No.

            She said that the article was confusing and difficult to understand because of poor grammar. She also said that it lacked credibility because Dale commented on a workshop she didn’t actually attend and asking questions that haven’t really been referenced.

            Nobody responded to any of those things. You guys jumped on the fact that she mentioned the grammar and ignored the rest. And btw, the grammar thing? Is relevant.

            If you want an example, I’ll give it. The first sentence of this post is not an actual sentence. It’s a fragment, without a verb. Even if it’s supposed to be a subtitle, it still doesn’t make sense because the possessive isn’t in place correctly.

            This makes for a confusing read. It muddies the content of what you’re trying to say. So don’t be surprised if people don’t take the time to really think about what you actually meant or give up early on.

          8. Travis Roy

            She can’t have an opinion based on what others have said about the workshop, or the images of the workshop that have been posted?

            I was with her when people that walked out were telling her about it, were they biased, sure, but we also talked to people that loved the workshop. Based on both of those reports she formed an opinion on the workshop and was happy she didn’t pay for it.

          9. masalaskeptic

            Also, do you see the trap that is set for us?

            “Skepchicks say XYZ and tell us what to think”
            “Well, have you tried to have a discussion about it”
            “NO, because they won’t have a discussion about it and beat up anyone who puts forward a competing opinion”
            “Have you tried?”
            “No, coz I hear they’re cliquish”
            “DO you have any evidence for this?”
            “No, but that’s what I hear so I’m not going to approach them”
            “Then how will they know they’re doing something wrong.”
            “AHAHAHAH THEY WON’T. THIS PLAN CAN’T FAIL.”

            :)

        2. Dale Roy Post author

          ” like most skepchick articles, the comments seem to be people agreeing, and those that disagree getting beat up by replies.”
          “One thing that I’ve noticed since posting the story was that
          nearly all of it was positive.”
          So, it’s not OK if people who read our site mostly agree with what we say, but it is OK if people who read your article agree with what you say? Well, in that case, we have MORE people who agree with what we say than you do! SO NYAY! ”

          This made me laugh out loud! too funny. That is not what I was trying to convey. However, I see how that could be taken as such.

          “Also, I want to address the whole concept of “I didn’t feel it was really my place to speak up.”
          This makes me horribly sad. I hope we (at Skepchick and in other skeptical blogs) don’t EVER promote the idea that you have to be an established voice in order to give your opinion. I personally find that the Skepchick community is very welcoming to new voices. Sure, like anywhere on the Internet, we have trolls and things get unpleasant on occasion. And we certainly have a tone that isn’t for everyone. But I think that in general, the skeptical community is very welcoming to new voices. I hope I’m not wrong!”

          It is funny (funny weird, not funny haha) that you say that. As the comment from Rebecca herself was a personal attack and was dismissive. ( I wanted to leave her out of it and give her the same consideration she gave me,) If a group is open to new voices, that example is a funny way of showing it.

          I read some of your groups articles and the majority of the opposing views are not being welcomed. If you agree, the impression I get from commentary is WELCOME!
          Disagree “Well go buggar off, what could you know”

          I also have to agree with paperskaters remark on twitter: “It’s sexy when we do it, it’s sexist when you do it” in response to rebecca’s commentary on amy’s article to someone who pointed out the bordello party.

          which is exactly the point of my article.

          Maybe I am getting off track, but I am glad we are having this conversation. Thank you for taking the time. I hope you and I will come to common ground.

          1. masalaskeptic

            I am not here to defend Rebecca but I will say this: posting on another site and then being upset when someone else links to your site and that link isn’t read is not really participating in the discussion. If you have something to say, say it in the comments in Skepchick. I bet you’d get more interaction there.

            Is it possible you’ll be ‘ganged up on’ or dismissed? Sure. Welcome to the Internet. There’s a danger of that on any site.

            As I have said before, I think we try to promote a strong, welcoming community on Skepchick but we don’t always succeed. We do take it relatively seriously the one rule: attack the idea, not the person. I would be surprised if anyone attacks you personally, but your ideas are up for debate.

            We like that.

          2. Dale Roy Post author

            I think I am confused.
            When do you consider an opinion ok?
            You mentioned that Amy was stating an opinion on an image and how it made her feel. You accept it as such. However, I stated an opinion that that makes me feel there seems to be a double standard and it’s not ok…

            You tell me how sad you feel that I felt like I needed to be more established. Then you attack me when I provide an example of why I might not feel welcomed into the fold.

            You continue to attack me, not on the point, but on the grammar. All I have to say about that, is I never once said I was an english major, I never once said I was a great writer. I do however, do my best to fix the errors I see.

            You must have stopped reading newspapers and others blogs being such a stickler. It is a wonder you took the time to read mine at all. :)

            (on a side note: I found it interesting that other commentators were able to see the point with out having to pull out a Dale to English Dictionary. )

            So, I am interested in finding some sort of common ground with you. I wonder where that would be.

            Maybe we can start by clearing up a few things in the conversation between you and I:

            1. I do not have a problem with Amy, nor was I attacker her
            personally. I said, I didn’t see the problem with brian’s
            picture.

            You have your right to an opinion and I understand where others are coming from when they say they have a problem with it.

            2. So why did I say something about Amy’s article?
            * The mentioning of the calendar that has women
            posing naked. The mention of there being a men’s
            calendar.

            * Some would argue that this is still objectifies people.
            That is what I was trying to convey. Sure you can
            argue the difference is in the posing, the lighting the
            whatever. It is subjective to the person isn’t it.

            3. Angry Vaginas/Vulvas
            * I didn’t attend the conference. I think it would be
            questionable credibility to hide that I didn’t attend. I
            was open on that fact.
            * Again, I fail to see how angry vulva crafts is a positive
            promotion of feminism. I really doubt I would
            understand the reason more, attending.

            4. The point: What is good for the group is not applied
            equally. That is my opinion.

            I pointed out the things that I find send a double message or didn’t reflect positively towards feminism. I finally spoke up and pointed out that some things bother me.

            Where do we go from here?

  4. sabrinacat

    I’m a little hesitant to respond because any discussion I’ve had about feminists on general skeptic forums tend to get ugly quick when I express my own views as a feminist. I don’t hate men (in fact, my husband is a feminist), but I do acknowledge the existence of patriarchy (and kyriarchy), Rape Culture, and gender socialization. (And one of my favorite blogs is Sociological Images: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/)

    Brian’s cover is Fleetwood Mac-ish, but neither cover for the Rumours album (which is the closest I could find to his) has a naked woman in a submissive slave pose, so it’s kind of a weird/bad parody. But then again, I do have an issue with using naked women to sell stuff (e.g. Tom Ford’s advertising campaigns, PETA, and most major magazines). The skepchick calendar is not immune to this either.

    For me, feminism is a way to have a dialog about issues that I may find sexist/racist/classist/etc. I agree with you in that just because someone tells you to find something sexist does not mean that you see it that way, but it is good to have an open discussion about social norms and other stuff in a feminist context. Feminism is made of many people with many different opinions, and debate is important.

    When I was younger, there were many things that I did not view as inherently sexist (or racist or any other -ists), but then as I learned more about feminism and started to view the world with a feminist/skeptical context, my norms changed. It’s true of my skeptical beliefs too–before I became immersed in the culture, I believed in things like psychics and astrology, but now my view of those subjects has changed considerably.

    Also, one little thing that bugs me: The “angry vagina” thing is more accurately titled “angry vulva.” You could technically see a vagina on most of those things, but they’re mostly vulvas, and I wish that people would just get the anatomy correct. It would be akin to referring to one’s face as a nostril.

    1. Dale Roy Post author

      ” I’m a little hesitant to respond because any discussion I’ve had about feminists on general skeptic forums tend to get ugly quick when I express my own views as a feminist.”

      Funny, that was the reason why I hesitated to write the article.

      “I learned more about feminism and started to view the world with a feminist/skeptical context, my norms changed.”

      That is what I am in the process of doing. Learning more, exploring, and figuring out where the process will take me.

      “Also, one little thing that bugs me: The “angry vagina” thing is more accurately titled “angry vulva.” ”

      I hear you, but angry vulva just doesn’t have the same ring to it. ;-) just being cheeky here.

  5. jaznet

    You are not alone, Dale. And I’d just like to say that I often say and do things that some people would probably consider vulgar, rude, offensive, and sexist…and I am a girl. Why do I do them? Because I have a sense of humor. Maybe a strange one, but a pretty good one in my opinion. If I wanted to live in a world where people were afraid to be creative, take risks, or push buttons, I would never have moved out of my parent’s crazy, conservative, religious, cult-like household. As far as Amy’s article not attack Brian… Well, maybe she didn’t mean to. Maybe she just wanted to have an open discussion, but when I point out something someone did in the past that I didn’t like and then basically say….ha…look….it’s kinda like this other jerky thing this person did before. And… wait…they did it again?! That’s not the way I start any kind of healthy discussion. I’m not going to claim to know anything about what Brian meant with the photo, because I don’t, but I think more people in the skeptical community should stop being such tight asses because they are worried about being politically correct and offending people. Why are so many female skeptics able to hold deep grudges and push rational thinking to the curb to gang up on someone for something like this? I don’t know, but I am not offended by the picture, or by Brian Dunning in the least. In fact, I would have posed for that picture. I seem to be in the minority based on a lot of the comments I read on the skepchick site. But, geeze, if you don’t want to be treated like a submissive girl, stop acting like a bunch of sissy cry-babies.

    1. Dale Roy Post author

      Jaznet, I am glad you feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic. I thank you for your reply and support.

      With that said, I think I understand what you mean, but I can’t say I agree with all of your sentiments. I do want to avoid making people feel alienated or put off by staying away from strong comments such as “sissy cry-babies”. As I do not want to dismiss or belittle anyone who may actually experienced harassment with in the community.

      For future possible articles; I will be reading the links provided by masalaskeptic and sabrinacat.

      I have also printed up and will be reading the following articles: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/06/the_woman_problem.php

      http://www.phact.org/articles/misc/women.php

      This is a hot botton issue, the article seems to fly in the face of popular opinion and with many people’s actual experiences. While in the end everyone may or may not agree with my results, I would like the majority of the people who read my articles to have the impression of respect. That is my goal at least.

  6. jaznet

    Dale, I got a little worked up as I was typing. I wasn’t referring to anyone in particular with that comment…I was referring to a vibe I have felt from people. Thank you for wanting to keep things professional and respectful. Great article and comment replies, by the way. I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  7. idoubtit

    I keep my thoughts on this mostly private and don’t engage but, I was asked twice to speak up publically so here I go…This issue has been traveling across many websites, in private discussions, at conferences and on email lists. My comments below reflect those across the spectrum of outlets, not necessarily here.

    Dale, you should not feel isolated in your views. You have broad support. Thank you for having the courage to speak out when you knew it could get messy. I think many of us have chosen to stay out of it because it goes round and round and causes some hard feelings. It is assumed that certain orgs or outspoken individuals represent the entire group of women in skepticism, especially for those new to the events. This is NOT TRUE. We are diverse. We FREQUENTLY disagree. I appreciate that Maria and Carrie (Skepchicks) and Heidi (Shethought) have been welcoming to the dissenting views. We need more than two women-focused websites. Or, better yet, we need none because I hope this becomes a non-issue someday. While some issues are worth the squabble, this one, for me, is not for the following reasons:

    1. Scientist/skeptic groups don’t make women feel dumb or inferior or just a body. If this WAS happening regularly, then there would be an issue. I claim experience on this as a scientist in a male-dominated workplace and long-time skeptic. (Note: I was involved prior to the major orgs having websites and there were NO women my age at these cons. So, one could say I’m a bit seasoned.) This skeptic sexism issue (about behavior, language and imagery) is no bigger a deal than you find across modern western society. I’d even say it’s less because you dealing with a more learned, considerate, liberal group of men and women uninfluenced by religion – the #1 means by which to justify mistreatment and suppression of women.

    2. Much of the gossipy stuff on other sites and offline about particular people is based on stories, “Oh, I can tell you stories…” I can tell you stories too but they only have a true meaning for me. I don’t want to hear others’ stories, really. They are not evidence, they are hearsay. Unfortunately, if you have a personal issue with an individual, it is up to you to deal with it. Call him an ass if he deserves it. It will be empowering and good for your self-esteem. I am APPALLED at the notion that we should call people out in public forums. If you want to go on and do that, feel free but it’s juvenile. I would suggest a more professional way to handle such things than finger pointing and name calling.

    3. This is a topic where we have emotions based on our past individual experiences, beliefs, and tolerances. There is no right answer when it comes to feelings. So, we get a bit confused about how to speak on it. And, we don’t really know the person we are commenting about. It is too easy to take some remark or behavior out of context and form an opinion of a person from just that. Even trying to discuss online or in a set time frame may not work. As a result, we end up defending people we know well and giving less of the benefit to those we don’t.

    Here is how I choose to handle hot button issues. I consider the situation/behavior/event and see if it’s worth speaking up or if it will just bog me down. I consider how much effort I’m willing to put in. Most issues, I walk around. I leave it be. [Think of a few other prominent women skeptics. They are not getting caught up in this navel gazing. They move on ahead with more important, positive work.] Often, ignoring a person/event/blog post is effective. I’ve stopped following some blogs because they just got me upset. I now visit only when there is something worthwhile to read and thus avoid a sense of overall dislike for that person or group. Hope this adds some perspective. Feel free to contact me whenever. I’m glad to talk. http://idoubtit.wordpress.com

    1. Dale Roy Post author

      ” There is no right answer when it comes to feelings. So, we get a bit confused about how to speak on it. ”

      I agree that dealing with feelings a difficult discussion to have. It almost feels like the rational rules for debate/discussion is hard to apply and is retrofitted at best. Which doesn’t really work either.

      You have given me some things to think about. I know you didn’t want to comment or weigh in on this, I thank you for doing so.

  8. GrammarNaz

    Luurvly post, but should start with, “One woman’s, with…”, or “One woman’s (with…”, or even “One woman’s–with…”. (See obnoxious login…)

    On the other hand, “feminism” to the extent that it means that females are treated absolutely equally with males insofar as that pertains should be the starting point of any discussion. Previous posts have brought up women in the military; in an ideal world there should be no a-priori bias against women in the military. However, pregnancy is specific to women and is probably contra-indicated for combat. A realistic assessment of that situation is not anti-female.

    1. Dale Roy Post author

      Interesting point you make.

      As from my experience, I have to agree with the previous commenter’s point number 1.

      As for the military, women being pregnant would make fighting difficult wouldn’t it.
      That would be a fair reason in my opinion to have women not equal as far as combat is concerned.
      However, do they have to leave the military or would the military require them to stay at say a desk job for example. Would this be held against them when it is time to be considered for promotion in rank?
      Then is that considered fair? Say the woman has done all things equal to her male counter part with the exception of say 4 month difference in combat time due to pregnancy. Should she be held back for missing time?

  9. Laursaurus

    I read this post months ago. I thought, finally, a call for sanity from a female skeptic.
    Skeptchick has gone even further down the rabbit hole, which I’m sure you’re aware of. Ironically, rationality is nowhere to be found on that “skeptical” blog.
    An angry-victim mentality has evidently become so entrenched in their anti-sexism ideology, that no semblance of critical-thinking can be found on that site.
    The post that Travis was brutally flamed left me speechless. They have gotten away with their self righteous brow-beating for so long, that nobody dares to cross them. Even more bizarre, there were actually multiple comments praising the blogger for her delusional rant.
    I see little difference between the mentality displayed on that site and the various conspiracy theory websites. They see evidence of sexism everywhere. If you’re female and you don’t see it, then you’re just like the sheeple who believe the “official” explanation. Males that disagree with them are in on the conspiracy.
    Now comic books are in on the plot to brainwash society into the perception that women are mere sexual objects. Yes, it has gotten that ridiculous!
    I’m not even going to try to comment on that site because after being thoroughly flamed, i would be quickly dismissed as a troll. They don’t get it. If you put something up on the internet, it’s up for public discussion. A difference of opinion is not trolling.
    Anyway, I’m on an email discussion list with Travis, and I wanted to offer my support. Thank you so much for saying what desperately needs to be said. Sorry I am so late. But my latest lurk on Skeptchick inspired me to speak up. Better late than never, right?
    I hope you continue to bring a rational female voice to the mission of promoting skepticism. I completely support what you’re saying, Dale.

  10. Laursaurus

    I’m just re-reading my post.
    Sorry, it seems like I got emotional myself, which doesn’t fit with the tone you are attempting to set, here.
    Maybe since this is an old entry, nobody will come across it. Apparently, I got through moderation.
    Perhaps, linking to the posts I am reacting to might provide some context.
    http://skepchick.org/2011/06/ai-tell-me-how-i-should-feel/
    http://skepchick.org/2011/06/sunday-ai-kicking-ass-in-high-heels/
    The topic of both articles is emotional reaction. Both are purely subjective pieces that have nothing to do with skepticism, logic, or critical-thinking. My comments probably appear ad hom. I am frustrated that these individuals are so well established as the female voice of skepticism. How is skepticism any different from religion when the focus shifts from condemning artwork or spitting upon the society that treats women far better than any in history?
    We can do better, ladies. This includes me, too.

  11. Dale Roy Post author

    Hello Laursaurus,

    I read your comments, thanks for the support.
    I too was disappointed in the way Travis was treated with his comment. So much for the open to disagrement.

    Anyway, interms of the “kicking ass in high heels”, I fount that one particularly interesting. It could go both ways, you could treat it as brain washing with the thought “its a comic book what the hell” However, it is interesting that most male comics get the full set of armor and jumpsuits but the women must be in skimpy outfits.

    I am not exactly sure where I stand on this yet, but it is something to think about. Does fantasy send a message in reality or is it just all fun and games that affect no one.

    I agree with you that discussion should remain civil without being called a troll and skepticism should be applied in almost all situations… especially the ones that get us emotionally charged.

  12. Pingback: Opinion: On Staying Silent | Granite State Skeptics

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