Everyone needs to calm the fuck down part 2

I’ve been absent from the Internet for a few days, so it caught me a little by surprise to find out TGA has become a part of the huge conversation regarding atheism and sexism in general happening in our quaint little community. So rather than it be a reference to the swearing (which I can safely say is always abundant), the topic everyone is going ape-shit over is whether or not sexism is rampant in the atheist movement.

The story originated from a meeting that happened at the American Atheists’ Southeast Regional Atheist Meet (let’s work on figuring out some acronyms here, people). It seems a woman asked the all male panel if there was any sexism in the movement, and then some crazy shit happened. Basically the panel acted like dicks, and the woman – now feeling humiliated – went to cry for in the bathroom for 20 minutes.

PZ Myers wrote about this as well, and the title (Feminist hypersensitivity or masculine obtuseness) created its own tiny firestorm. So here I am like an idiot thinking everyone is over-reacting over the “vagina” language when the real conversation is about sexism in the background. And while my original post was addressing this, when I finally got around to reading what was happening, it dawned on me how it might be perceived. I’m happy to report, however, the title is still in line with what I think we all need to do, which is calm the fuck down”

Look, I think the question of “is there sexism in atheism” is a little unfair. The better question is simply: are men still sexist? And because the answer is both yes and no, depending more on the individual than the gender as a whole, you realize this entire conversation has avoided the issue that we, as humans, create in and out-groupness. Even in our more rational movement, the unfortunate composition of mostly men can sometimes fuel a bit too much testosterone and way too much out-groupness in regards to women.

However, and this is key here, I still feel as though there is a serious lack of humor if I find myself unable to use more colorful and imaginative language if I’m going to playfully insult people. This tells me we’ve stopped being reasonable and we’ve simply created more out-groupness by our over-reaction to it. The best way to deal with it is to recognize it happens, but also it is something we can discuss, and occasionally disagree on in the finer details. And that, my friends, is only possible once we calm the fuck down.

NOTE: If you feel the need to defend your arguments in terms of what qualifies as sexism, might I suggest you attempt to deal with some of the more unreasonable arguments floating around. I don’t care if people on the blogosphere think I’m sexist; I’m not trying to be anyone’s friend, and if they dislike my sense of humor then I couldn’t give a rat’s ass. However, the honor of some of you members might also be challenged!

Comments (24)

  • avatar

    Ryan Harkness

    If they went to acronyms, American Atheists’ Southeast Regional Atheist Meet would be AAS RAM. Say that out loud and tell me what you think :p

    I’m just glad interesting conversations are being had at atheist gatherings

  • avatar

    Brandon

    Wow. I didn’t think this topic would blow up like this.

    For the record, I don’t think you’re a sexist and I doubt that anyone who “takes offense” thinks you’re a sexist. Making a sexist comment doesn’t make someone a sexist. I think what people have been saying in other posts is that you made a sexist comment.

    I mentioned my wife in the comments of another posts who called you sexist because you said about a person who was whining that they were a “bleeding vagina”. Does she really think you’re a sexist? Honestly, I don’t she cares but she just would have rather read other blogs and listen to other podcasts that use more intelligent language to describe people.

    Also, it’s the words you use that turn people off, it’s how you use them. If you were to call me a vagina cuz you don’t like me that is different than when a person is whining and complaining, they are a “bleeding vagina”.

    It’s the association to a negative characteristic that people say is sexist. Not the word.

  • avatar

    Richard

    People are always going to find something to get their panties in a bunch about. Let them do so, and then we can have a bit of a verbal brouhaha about it. One learns a lot from argument, and I’m sure those people have some decent points about language and its sexist undertones. And of course those of us who like to use that language in a way that might offend them have our points to make as well. I don’t see the harm in letting it play out. And I hope this is further proof that a forum would be a good thing, clearly we have a lot to discuss/argue about.

  • avatar

    Caren Wallace

    I’m super happily married to a very funny “asshole” and that’s part of the reason I keep returning to this site. I’m glad to know you won’t change your style Jacob. You are appreciated!

  • avatar

    Joey3264

    good job man! :)
    the way I see it, its important to understand that not everyone speaks in a polite tone, its an unpleasant but simple truth.
    folks do need to chill out though, it feels like people WANT to be offended nowadays…

  • avatar

    Bryan Elliott

    I don’t think language strongly imposes gender bias, and I don’t weigh opinions in a way such that male opinions are more valued than female. So my solution: ignore it; I don’t personally find the arguments for sexism in atheism* convincing, and those expressing concerns will either have their concerns heard or will be roundly ignored.

    * Higher than normal? Or just the basic range of sexism present in everything? I ask this: Is there higher than normal sexism in the feminist movement? Or is there just the normal rate of sexism with the gender dynamics weighted to match the population?

  • avatar

    Nick Hudson

    The question “is there sexism in atheism” is not unfair, it’s pointless and irrelevant. There is no doctrine exclusive to or indicative of atheism, and without such it can hardly be said to have any particular viewpoint on any subject outside of it’s single defining question concerning the belief, or lack thereof, concerning the existence of a deity.

    A better question would be “Are there sexist atheists?” An the answer is yes, because there are invariably going to be sexists in any grouping of people of significant size. But to assume that atheism itself is sexist simply because some atheists, no matter how prominent or esteemed they may be, might hold sexist views is ridiculous. It’s no different than asking “Is mathematics sexist?” because some high profile mathematicians hold or express sexist views.

  • avatar

    kay

    @Brandon ” she just would have rather read other blogs and listen to other podcasts that use more intelligent language to describe people”. Spot on.
    Your comment was very smart.

  • avatar

    MightyFooda

    I like how the story goes that a chick Atheist whines about sexism then get’s made fun of and spends 20 minutes crying in the bathroom. Take from that what you will…..

  • avatar

    NastyHeathen

    Ah, always good to log on and have something funny to read about :) This chick needs to realise that some guys just suck, and some chicks suck too. I hope she likes my use of ‘chick’…

  • avatar

    Richard

    How did Bryan Elliot get a picture by his name? I want one.

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    I’ve started editing the comments to be able to include their gravatars. Hopefully I’ll also be able to add twitter icons as well.

  • avatar

    Andy Scott

    “Upload directory doesn’t exist.” >:(

  • avatar

    Dick

    I’m a 20-something guy, so I hear the kind of language you use (and much worse) all the time. I’m not shocked or horrified by it, and I won’t crusade against your use of it.

    BUT, it IS fucking sexist, and both you and I know it is. I’d much rather be called a dick than a pussy. In fact, I’m usually amused or even flattered to be called a dick, that is never the case when I’m called a pussy.

    I don’t know the history behind your atheism, but I assume you grew up under some kind of faith. If you could be honest enough with yourself to examine your core beliefs and decide you are an atheist, I should think you have it in you to honestly examine your use of language and your views on women. By telling everyone to “calm the fuck down” and saying everybody is over-reacting, you are attempting to shutout all debate. You are being intellectually dishonest with your readers and yourself.

    So to make myself clear, because I just know the kind of reaction I’m going to provoke, I am not saying stop using terms like “sobbing vagina” or “bleeding vagina” if that’s really what you want to say. I want you to seriously think about why people are objecting to your use of it, and why they think it’s sexist. I want you to hold off on dismissing them as being “language police” or as being hypersensitive. I want you to think about why places like http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com exist and are criticizing you.

    Be sexist if you want, but don’t be surprised when you’re called on it.

  • avatar

    Razzle

    Some words like sexist have lost meaning. Objections to the word usage should refer specifically to why that term is damaging.

  • avatar

    TheDean!

    Well, what’s the problem here? Some people are unfortunately sexist. More there is a hell of a lot more sexism in Christianity than there is in Atheism i’d reckon.

  • avatar

    MightyFooda

    Hey “Dick”, you whiney little bitch (and just to be clear I am using the term bitch in reference to a prison bitch). Please bring up ONE instance of sexism by Jacob Fortay. Just ONE. Sexism is not using words like bitch and pussy. It’s degrading the opposite sex, stating weakness, inability and inferiority. When does he do this? Seems to me like you are getting hung up on words that are part of every day venacular where the meaning has OBVIOUSLY evolved. I can call someone a pussy, bitch, cunt, bleeding vagina, tit-tard or douchey-mcdouche douche without any hint of sexism. However, if I said “this female is genetically predispositioned to be less intelligent than a male”, well that sir, would make me sexist.
    I think his point of get over it was more the fact we have real issues to worry about, not people like you being lil ass hats. And this is coming from someone who has 7 sisters and a wife who watches the lifetime movie network. I KNOW what I’m talking about. I’m sure your blow up doll has informed you greatly on the subject, but she’s wrong, sir.

  • avatar

    MightyFooda

    And Dick, isn’t you saying you would ratherbe called a Dick than a Pussy actually proving your OWN sexism???

  • avatar

    Razzle

    Perhaps you guys are operating from different definitions of what sexism is.

  • avatar

    Moxie

    I’m personally not offended by this kind of language; nor do I find it sexist. I have to agree with the commenter who said when we respond to criticism with “calm down” or ” you’re being hypersensitive” it saps the potential for interesting debate or discussion.

    I’m not the type to get into heated debates, but I do enjoy seeing them unfold.

  • avatar

    Vladimir

    I’ve ran into a few cases of certain women going ballistic over wording, but not the essence of the conversation.

    Also, I know this college of mine in the university. She goes to great lengths to separate gender from sex. So, calling her a woman would actually offend her. The irony of it all… :P

    Anyway, feminism has many flavors. Some feminists are just difficult people to handle. I usually just avoid them like the plague and don’t give them any attention or publicity. Those that are cool to talk to and hang around with(maybe even have a good intellectual argument from time to time, and disagree in a civilized fashion) will get nothing but praise, help and friendship.

    But I will also swear occasionally, mentioning genitals. Sometimes on purpose just to infuriate those difficult people.

    So, keep up the good work and don’t feel the need to justify yourself.

  • avatar

    jeannie

    is calling someone a “bleeding vagina” not sexist as calling someone a “fag” or a “faggot”?

  • avatar

    Jas

    It has nothing to do with religion or ideology, men are just men. This is why I don’t keep their company, unless they show they are intelligent people who don’t need to bring others down to feel good.

  • avatar

    June

    Well, I have to say that I now support moderate Christianity because it supports women.

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