Over It.

February 15, 2013

I've read some of Eve Ensler's work, I've attended performances of her acclaimed play The Vagina Monologues, and I wrote about her in my 2003 book Media Mythmakers: How Journalists, Activists, and Advertisers Mislead Us; she came up in my research of activists who use misleading statistics to support their social agendas.

Ensler reappeared on my radar again a decade later with a new movement she created called One Billion Rising. She planned to spark a "revolution" in which one billion women (actually, several thousand) danced on Valentine's Day around the world to speak out against rape and violence against women. (The "one billion" is a reference to a statistic she cites claiming that "one in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime" and that "One billion women violated is an atrocity. One billion women dancing is a revolution").

Why dance-instead of, say, volunteer at a local domestic violence shelter or meet with lawmakers to increase penalties for physical and sexual assault? As Ensler explained to Amy Goodman on her Sept. 24, 2012, appearance on Democracy Now! "One Billion Rising is basically saying that the time has come for women across the planet and the men who love them to do an outrageous, disruptive dance action that makes it so clear how many women have been raped... and that if we rise together we will understand that it concerns us all."

I had mixed feelings about the idea; on one hand as a strong supporter of women's rights I support her goals of reducing rape and other forms of violence against women. On the other hand as a skeptic, as someone who values truth over ideology, and as someone who has researched some of Ensler's claims and found them to be factually wrong, I had serious reservations. I have always had little patience for slacktivist petitions, feel-good, do-nothing social stunts and movements, and their ilk. I have criticized many such "efforts" publicly over the years, including anti-bullying campaignsanti-child abuse campaigns, and even pro-democracy fighters in Iran.

I don't criticize these campaigns because I am against them (or somehow pro-bullying, pro-child abuse, or pro-oppressive dictatorship); in fact it's exactly the opposite. I criticize them because they have little or no chance of success, since the protests are based partly on myths, misinformation, and often a grotesquely exaggerated belief in their influence. I don't like seeing people pretend to address and solve social problems; I like seeing people actually address and solve them. And the same goes for violence against women. Will women doing a dance in different parts of the world really improve anyone's life or reduce physical and sexual assault? Ensler seems to think so, while I am...skeptical.

Ensler wrote a poem about the movement called "Over It," which has appeared in many places including the OneBillionRising website, the Huffington Post, and elsewhere. You might want to look at it. I decided to write my own poem about my own personal feelings on the topic.

 

 

Over It (for Eve Ensler)

Benjamin Radford


I am over rape.

I join mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, and lovers in condemning rape and all manner of violence against women.

I am over the hundreds of thousands of women in Congo and elsewhere around the world still waiting for the rapes to end and the rapists to be held accountable.

I am over the 100 innocent women attacked, disfigured, and killed by their husbands and boyfriends in Pakistan each year in acid attacks.

I am over brave teenage girls being targeted for assassination by fundamentalist Muslims in Pakistan for demanding the right of girls to get an education.

I am over teenage girls being denied access to contraception by fundamentalist Christians in America.

I am over the fact that many women (and men) think that only men rape, and only women are raped.

I am over the hypocrisy of a prominent feminist anti-rape activist like Eve Ensler writing a play describing "a good rape." There is no such thing as "a good rape." All rape is bad. It is never deserved, nor asked for, nor good; it is always bad and wrong. Always.

I am over exaggerated and alarmist statistics being used to scare the public about any social agenda-whether I agree with that agenda or not. The real numbers are alarming enough without exaggerating them. One rape is just as much of an injustice as a billion rapes; one rape is too many. (1)

I am over the fact that up until January 2012 the federal government's rape statistics did not include male victims of rape-and that Department of Justice studies estimate that one in ten men have been raped in prison, with no resulting outrage.

I am over "don't drop the soap" comments, and people who think that anyone raped in prison deserves it as part of their punishment.

I am over the fact that Native American women face far higher rates of sexual abuse than White women, yet receive little concern or attention-including from rape advocacy groups.

I am over the forces that deny women who have been raped the right to have an abortion.

I am over women being silent about rape, because they are made to believe it's their fault or they did something to make it happen.

I am over the myth of "the passivity of good men," suggesting that many or most men are complicit in rape culture when in fact most men are not rapists, and condemn those who are.

I am over the male bashing often inherent in feminist writings and slogans; "All men are rapists" is neither true nor fair nor helpful.

I am over the wanton slinging of labels like "misogynist" and "sexist" and "sister hater" and "gender traitor" and "rape apologist" to people who dare criticize feminists. Plenty of feminists disagree with each other.

I am over social activists, including those whose causes I support, who value emotion and anecdote over truth, facts, and critical thinking.

I am over thin-skinned "feminists" who blithely and intentionally confuse legitimate questions and criticism of their facts or claims with misogyny and sexism; it is insulting to real victims of misogyny and sexism.

I am over blaming TV, movies, magazines, and video games for real-life violence-including violence against women. Just as sexy clothes do not cause rape, violent and sexual images do not cause rape; rapists cause rape.

I am over the simplistic idea that women are raped by heteronormative, hegemonic patriarchies instead of by criminals.

I am over the myth that society as a whole "accepts violence against women and girls," as Ensler claims. The reality is that physical and sexual abuse of women has been dropping dramatically for decades and continues to do so. (2) There is much more work to be done, but there is no shame in putting the facts in perspective.

I am over people mistaking dancing for social justice or activism; real change comes from funding social services for victims of rape and domestic violence, family services, and so on.

I am over the idea that women doing a four-minute dance is going to stop a young mother from being beaten by her alcoholic boyfriend, or increase the number of social workers on the streets of Detroit or Delhi, or help parents overcome meth addiction. A four-minute dance is not going to "shake the world into sense." Women deserve better; they deserve real answers and real help-not faux activism, ineffective e-petitions, or dancing flash mobs. 

If people want to do the dance, that's great, but I hope it won't be seen as a substitute for actually doing something real and tangible for the men, women, and children in communities around the world.

 

As for me: I'm over it.

 

***

 

Notes 

(1) The correct statistic is not that one billion women will be raped in her lifetime (as Ensler said in an interview on Democracy Now!), nor that one in three women "will be raped or beaten" in her lifetime (as Ensler states on the One Billion Rising web site), but instead that one-third of women "has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused" in her lifetime (as referenced in the study linked to on the web site). "Otherwise abused" includes "homicide, intimate partner abuse, psychological abuse, dating violence, same-sex violence, elder abuse, sexual assault, date rape, acquaintance rape, marital rape, stranger rape and economic abuse." All these are serious, legitimate problems, but not all of them are physical beatings or rape (nor even involve men). This is important because mischaracterizing the statistic as reflecting women either being "raped or beaten" harms victimized women instead of empowering them by not reflecting the true diversity of forms of abuse.

 

 

(2) For example "From 1990 to 2005, sexual abuse substantiations went down 51%" and "From 1992 through 2005, physical abuse substantiations declined 46%" (p. 122-147) in Childhood Victimization: Violence, Crime, and Abuse in the Lives of Young People, by David Finkelhor, 2008, Oxford University Press. As two-time Pulitzer prize nominee Steven Pinker notes, the best data "shows that in thirty-five years the rape rate has fallen by an astonishing 80 percent, from 250 per 100,000 people over the age of twelve in 1973 to 50 per 100,000 in 2008.... [Yet] rather than celebrating their success, anti-rape organizations convey an impression that women are more in danger than ever" (p. 403 in The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, 2011, Viking Books; see also pp. 394-415 in the same book for a detailed, fully-referenced analysis of the significant drop in domestic violence, and other forms of physical and sexual abuse). For more on the misuse of sexual and physical assault statistics by social activists, see Damned Lies and Statistics, by Joel Best, 2001, University of California Press; Once Upon a Number, by John Allen Paulos, 1998, Basic Books; and my book Media Mythmakers.

 

Comments:

#101 Melody Hensley on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 11:55am

Classy of Mayhew sharing private messages when we were friends. She didn’t disagree with that statement either.

If I had saved all the messages I had from her and shared them with the public (which I never would) there would be quite some ugly things said about people in the movement.

The fact that she saved that message and shared it is obsessive and vindictive, especially when she did 95% of the talking. I was trying to help her out during a difficult time before I realized her friendship was a oneway street. Class act that one.

#102 Sara (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 11:56am

*until when

#103 Melody Hensley on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 12:02pm

Sarah, I wrote one tweet five months ago and deleted it. I made that tweet, because you were harassing my friends for speaking out against harassment and I was sick of it. I deleted it, because I didn’t want my followers to have to see the drama.

Since then you have been blogging about me. You go to every thread on the internet you could find and to talk about the horrible deleted tweet. You talk about me nearly every day on Twitter. I have remained relatively silent. You are obsessed. You are harassing me. Leave me alone. I will not apologize to you.

#104 EllenBeth Wachs (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 12:08pm

Sara, I am not presuming to know what other treatment you get. I am discussing the one thing you bring up repeatedly. That is the only thing I have knowledge of because it is the only thing you seem to want to talk about, everywhere, all the time.

Where on earth do you get that I said anything remotely similar to the words you put into my mouth??

What I get Sara, is that I have never attacked you and for you to state that I have is a blatant lie. Where, please where have I tried to bully or intimidate you? 

I have ever only tried to have civil discussions with you.

Your attitude speaks for itself. Got that?

#105 BobbyJo (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 12:11pm

You feminazis love telling lies and obfuscating and using hyperbole. Why should anyone believe a word you say?  You are the world’s most notorious liars. You have no credibility. Your whole ideological foundation is based on lies and blind conjecture. What reasonable person would give you the time of day? You certainly love hurling false accusations and name-calling your critics, like the childish buffoons you are. Just shut the Hell up already.

BTW,  Society is turning against you. Have fun with your decline and downfall.

#106 EllenBeth Wachs (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 12:18pm

lol- @BobbiJo using “feminazis”

#107 Astrokid on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 12:19pm

S.E. Mayhew@60 is spot on when she mentions the privilege a woman enjoys by not being held accountable.

But calling me a sister punisher chill girl Stepford wife known sexist who rags on Skepchicks to suck up to boys is okay as long as it comes from a feministTM.
Hensley would’ve long ago lost her position as director if CFI-DC if she were a man acting like this.

Since feminists are about “equality”, and ALL the discussions so far have been about how wimmin are “oppressed”, can I challenge the lot saner skeptics who identify as feminists.. for e.g Ben Radford..  why all the areas identified as discrimination against men.. are never ADDRESSED, esp in terms of real world activism/change?
In my earlier comments, I provided links to how VAWA is a huge discrimination against men.
Here’s another obvious example:
On Tennis and Female Nature
The prize money for female tennis is the same as the prize money for male tennis.. even though the ticket prices are lower (coz free markets decide what an object is worth), and the effort expended is lower (less number of sets played), and the quality is lower.
i.e female players are getting paid EQUAL for doing LESS work. Why?

Why this eternal gynocentrism when addressing gender issues? Is this really justice, esp for groups that claim to be evidence-based?

#108 SkepticReport on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 12:35pm

Melody,

I am sorry to drag you away from your preferred subject, but if you could answer a perfectly simple question, one that is essential to Ben’s article, it might clear up quite a lot of misconceptions about your own views regarding the campaign.

So, do you support the One Billion Rising campaign?

A quick “yes” or “no” will make a world of difference.

#109 EllenBeth Wachs (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 12:39pm

@SkepticReport you are acting as if Melody owes you an answer to your question.  She doesn’t.

How about you tell me who you are and what organization you represent?

#110 Pitchguest (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 12:41pm

#101:

Let me get this straight, Melody. You post an abusive tweet to Sara Mayhew implying she “rags on Skepchicks” to impress and get the attention of men, which you later delete, and the purpose of that deletion was so that you “didn’t want your followers to see the drama”? You mean it wasn’t the fact that it was a disgusting and sexist thing to say, especially going by your own rules (marking you as a hypocrite)?

So when Sara takes offense to it and you don’t apologise, and you keep repeating the same thing over and over (calling people “chill girls” and “sister punishers”), why shouldn’t she bring it up? I think it’s a great point of contention to the atmosphere you contribute to the Center for Inquiry. Also, by your definition what constitutes as “harassment”? Do you consider your disparaging comments to Sara Mayhew, Miranda Celeste Hale and now Ben Radford, to be “harassment”, for example?

The point is, you’re an Executive Director for CFI-DC. As for who carries more influence in the movement, you trump Mayhew by that admission. So why are you acting like a spoiled brat? So Mayhew was “harassing” your friends (with the liberal use of harassment I’ve seen from you, I would say it’s more passionate disagreement) and you call her a “chill girl”? What is this, ninth grade?

It’s no surprise to me that EllenBeth Wachs should ignore the maltreatment suffered by Mayhew by Hensley as well, considering their relationship. If you ask me, the people who are “ruining” this movement are people like EllenBeth Wachs and Melody Hensley who only care about people who share their views.

Off the top of my head, these are offenses Melody has accrued:

(1) Calling other women “chill girls” and “sister punishers” for not agreeing with her.
(2) Threatening to contact someone’s employers (Mykeru) if they didn’t fall in lockstep.
(3) Using her supporters she’d accumulated from her position within CFI to false-flag a YouTube video that she didn’t approve of, from a user she doesn’t like.
(4) Implying no one “gave a shit about” a prominent women blogger before she went for Rebecca Watson.
(5) Implying a fellow CFI associate is “fucking the CFI” and “ruining” the culture she’s been trying so hard to change.

Have I missed anything? Feel free to add up.

#111 Sara Mayhew on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 12:47pm

“You talk about me nearly every day on Twitter. I have remained relatively silent. You are obsessed. You are harassing me. Leave me alone. I will not apologize to you.”

Gas-lighting, another tactic Hensley likes to use against women. This is the kind of intimidation women use against other women; like Hensley trying to pull the “she’s crazy/obsessed” card on me or others.

“Classy of Mayhew sharing private messages when we were friends. She didn’t disagree with that statement either.”

No, I clearly ignored your trash talk,
http://www.saramayhew.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Photo-2013-02-17-2-04-34-PM.png
and when you did it a second time, that’s when I stopped communicating with you altogether.
http://www.saramayhew.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Photo-2013-02-17-2-07-17-PM.png

And I post these because ppl like EllenBeth say I’m lying about you, or you imply that I agreed with your belittling statements. It’s clearly not true, since I ignored your first slight to women and when you trashed talked someone again (Miranda) I no longer participated in messaging you.

You don’t get to just delete the awful tweet, but then continue to call women “chill girls” and “sister punishers” who just want to get “in with the sexist men”, or claim my followers are all “crazy MRAs”.

So, no, it’s not a strawfeminist to say that there is a hetero-normal narrative of harassment being promoted, because claiming that women are being motivated to make critiques because they seek male attention, like Hensley claims, makes a hetero-normal assumption of these women.

And yes, Melody, I will come and point out that, unless you are made of straw, you’re wrong. I will because your slander won’t hurt me or my career, besides maybe not getting invited to speak at CFI events any longer.

#112 Melody Hensley on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 12:54pm

1) Chill girls and sister punishers isn’t sexist, it’s calling out the sexism of other women
2) How I handle cyberstalkers and online harassers is my own business
3) I don’t false flag. There is an option for bullying on youtube for a reason. If someone makes a video bulling me, I will use that option
4) Prominent blogger *before* Rebecca Watson? No.
5) Your reading comprehension was off on that one

I am no longer going to addressing harassers or be looking at this thread at all for that matter. It’s all very triggering for me.

#113 Sara Mayhew on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 12:58pm

Triggering cognitive dissonance…

#114 EllenBeth Wachs (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 12:58pm

Yes, you have “Pitchguest” An anonymous troll who never fails to feed the flames.

I have never ignored any maltreatment Sara may have received. To the contrary, I have acknowledged the tweet time and time again every time she brings it up.

I can tell you Melody is NOT the one that is acting like a spoiled brat.

How many times have you, Pitchguest, and your fellow slymepitters referred to me and my friends as “baboons” or much worse?  So give me a break.  Looking at the garbage that comes out of that cesspool, you people are the ones that are ruining this movement. The slymepit that is now home to many self-identified MRAs, by the way, (such as Astrokid) defending the doxxing and listing of women as enemies on the hate site AVFM.

#115 Melody Hensley on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 1:06pm

So one last correction: I did not say that about Miranda when we Sara and I were friends. (Thanks for refreshing my memory, Sara.) I said it *after* we were friends and I was trying to get her to stop trashing other women and associating with people like Miranda who was doing the same. That’s why I said what I did about Miranda. She got a fan base from all the Rebecca haters. It’s amazing people can do that these days.

#116 Sara Mayhew on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 1:14pm

One minute Melody says I agreed with her trash talk, now she says she was trying to stop ME from trash talking.

Back-peddle…

And now back to her regular program of trashing other women, attributing their accomplishments to shallow motivations rather than their talents and expertise.

#117 SkepticReport on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 1:15pm

EllenBeth Wachs,

You are quite right, Melody does not owe me, or anyone, an answer to any question. Why would she, she is only the Executive Director of CFI–Washington, DC and organizer of the annual CFI sponsored Women in Secularism national conference?

That is why I find it most peculiar, when you demand to know if I speak as a representative of any of the organisations I am involved with.

Thus, I must ask you to make up your mind: If you wish to demand that questions from people being involved with organisations are answered, you must demand it from all. Not just me, but also from Melody.

Will you do that, yes or no? Will you demand that Melody, as the Executive Director of CFI–Washington, DC and organizer of the annual CFI sponsored Women in Secularism national conference, has an obligation to clarify her opinion on the subjects she chooses to debate, the same way you demand that I clarify my opinion on the subjects I choose to debate?

#118 SkepticReport on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 1:16pm

Melody,

I am absolutely stunned to learn that you do not consider terms like “chill girls” and “sister punishers” sexist. You seriously need to check your privilege, not just as an educated woman in one of the most advanced societies in the free world, but also as the Executive Director of CFI–Washington, DC and organizer of the annual CFI sponsored Women in Secularism national conference. If anyone should know how sexist those terms are, you should be the first.

Be that as it may, I would still like for you to answer this perfectly simple question:

Do you support the One Billion Rising campaign?

A quick “yes” or “no” will make a world of difference.

#119 Karla Porter (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 1:18pm

I’m amazed at what is going on here. How does this kind of mud slinging end up on an organization’s website? Is there no communication strategy? Officers of the organization should not be permitted to respond with the type of emotional “I” first person language best reserved for personal spaces, as posted in comment #112. It’s completely unprofessional.

If visitors are posting content against the terms of use then those should be removed or perhaps even more appropriate, moderated comments would prevent a respected nonprofit organization from hosting a war on it’s blog.. If you need some best practices for addressing negative comments Mack Collier’s advice is a good place to start

#120 Pitchguest (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 1:20pm

#112:

Oh, you poor defenseless creature. You’re free to insult people, but when they insult you back, well, then it’s “all very triggering.” Tell me again how you became Executive Director.

1) “Chill girls” and “sister punishers” aren’t sexist? It’s calling out the sexism in other women? Telling women they do things to get the affectiations of men is calling out the sexism of other women? What?
2) Cyberstalkers and online harassers? Then I guess I’ll put “revising history” on your list of offenses because if I remember correctly, *you* started that altercation and then you said “we know who you are” and “you know something about the government, don’t you? I don’t want to get them involved. Just stop.”
3) You don’t false flag. That’s good. But you told your supporters to false-flag, so by proxy that makes you implicit in that campaign. Or are you not aware of the policy on YouTube that explicitly prohibit that sort of thing?
4) ... You’re a champion of missing the point, aren’t you?
5) Was it? The verbatim quote is, “Please don’t fuck CFI. I’ve given my life to CFI. Speak out against Radford if you wish, but dammit he’s small potatoes. I’m working too damn hard to change the culture of this movement to have some dude write a sloppy anti-feminist blog and ruin it all.”

Seems you think you’re owed a lot, Melody. Maybe you should check your privilege.

#121 EllenBeth Wachs (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 1:21pm

“And I post these because ppl like EllenBeth say I’m lying about you, or you imply that I agreed with your belittling statements.”

Just read these posts. Sara? I have never said that. I am saying you are lying about me and my position in all of this!  I would very much appreciate it if you would stop.

#122 Randy (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 1:38pm

Unsurprisingly I find that the criticism against this article on other blogs has been totally mis-representative of the actual post.  I wonder if anyone actually bothered to read it.

#123 Pitchguest (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 1:39pm

#114:

I can tell you how many times I’ve called you a baboon, EllenBeth: zero.

There might be “garbage” coming out of the Slymepit, but to my knowledge we have never used the terms “chill girl”, “sister punisher”, “gender traitor” or “mangina.” The worst slurs (by your rules) are “cunt” and “twat”, something that people on “your side” can’t seem to keep in check either. (See Alex Gabriel and Rhys Morgan.) Also, phrases like “bitches ain’t shit” or variations thereof have never been uttered on the Slymepit. Misogynist rhetoric has never been uttered on the Slymepit. So why is it such a “cesspit” or “cesspool” in your opinion? Because we disagree with you. Because we don’t like you. Because we don’t like your ideas and how you present those ideas. Because it’s not an echo chamber.

But you just keep giving me red herrings. What about Melody? What about her offenses? You don’t find “chill girl” to be offensive? “Sister punisher”? You don’t find her invective against women to be destructive? You don’t find her tactics to label anyone who asks her questions she doesn’t want to answer “cyberstalkers” and “online harassers” to be dishonest? Case in point, when she began engaging Mykeru on Twitter, when he responded to her veiled threats, she pretended *she* was the victim. Are you going to give that a miss? Just because she’s a friend? Disgraceful.

#124 EllenBeth Wachs (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 1:48pm

“Misogynist rhetoric has never been uttered on the Slymepit”

That is the biggest bunch of poohucky. I have dozens of screencaps. The problem? You pitters are simply incapable of recognizing it.

#125 SkepticReport on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 2:01pm

EllenBeth Wachs,

How do you identify those you call “pitters”?

What are your criteria?

#126 Pitchguest (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 2:02pm

Alright. Send the screencaps to this address:

pitchguest @ gmail . com

I will look over the definition of misogyny, both the dictionary and feminist theory definition of the word. If the occurences on these screencaps should fall into any category, then I will acknowledge it.

#127 EllenBeth Wachs (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 2:05pm

What I find offensive is your dogged determination to hound her to the ends of the earth, Pitchguest. THAT I find offensive.  Melody doesn’t need to pretend she was the victim. She is the victim of a vicious cyber-mob smear campaign. Everywhere she posts, there you are, with your stock phrases and bull.

Sara I just find it rather sad that this consumes you so much.  I got raided by a swat team and was unjustly imprisoned for 7 days and don’t spend as much time talking about that as you do a tweet.

#128 Badger3k (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 2:08pm

Pitch - you know that won’t do.  Assuming she even did that, she would claim you’re lying about it all.  She needs to do what most refuse to do - post the evidence for everyone to see, along with why she thinks they reflect misogyny.  Otherwise, it’s all just he-said, she-said (or rather, angelic saint said, misogynistic male a-hole said, to use their vernacular.)

Ben, sorry to see you get dogpiled again, but keep up the skeptical work.  The real situation is bad enough without the hyperbolic radicals trying to make it worse and pushing their agenda where it isn’t needed or wanted.

#129 Renee Hendricks (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 2:10pm

#126 - Oh, Pitchguest. Don’t you get it? It’s a redefinition of “misogyny”. It includes things like not agreeing with a feminist or not liking them.

#130 Justin Vacula (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 2:22pm

Melody Hensley talks about how online discussions ‘trigger’ her. This is quite odd considering that she continues to engage in discussion with her detractors and even interacts with people on Twitter whom she blocks after she alleges they are harassing her. In the above comments, Melody interacts many many times.

This doesn’t sound like honesty or expected behavior from someone who just can’t handle discussions with her detractors. If it’s really so bad, one would expect Melody to never engage, right? Right?

She should step down from her position at CFI if she can’t deal with the public.

#131 Pitchguest (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 2:25pm

#127:

Everywhere she goes, I’m there? I’m *hounding* her? Oh dear. But didn’t you show up, too? What does that make you?

By the way, are you actually telling someone else what to do with their time? You?

#132 Pitchguest (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 2:28pm

#127:

However, again, I repeat the request for you to send those screencaps of misogyny on the ‘Pit to this address,

pitchguest @ gmail . com (without the spaces, obviously)

I’m interested in what you think constitutes as misogyny. And if, you know, they correlate with any known definition of misogyny (either dictionary or feminist theory), well, then, c’est la vie. I’m not one to back down from my word.

#133 skepteaser (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 2:43pm

Why does the CFI hires bullies and puts them in position of power where they can more easily harass their targets?

What has feminism of the radical and intolerant brand espoused by Hensley to do with the CFI manifesto?

#134 Feanor (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 3:13pm

Holy playground, Batman! We got a bunch of schoolkids with dictionaries calling themselves skeptics!

#135 Stargazer on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 3:16pm

I don’t know why CFI tolerates Melody Hensley, not only are the things she says outright sexist, but she even threatened someone’s job.

#136 Hero on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 3:29pm

Re: #101

Again, the theme of “obsession shaming”. That, like calling someone a hyper skeptic, is an attempt to stigmatise exemplar skeptical enquiry. It doesn’t hold water.

#137 Hero on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 3:32pm

Re: #101

Melody Hensley claims that she and Sara Mayhew used to be friends

Then, in #103 she gets Mayhew’s first name wrong.

#138 loyalb (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 3:35pm

Remember the Kony2012 campaign? And how awesome it turned out for its organizers when some of their claims didn’t stand up to skeptical scrutiny, despite the actual situation being bad enough to make the exaggerations completely unnecessary? Eve Ensler isn’t doing feminism any favors with her misleading use of statistics.

As for the protest itself, I couldn’t disagree more with Mr. Radford. For one thing, women face the worst conditions in totalitarian countries that deny them a voice to protest their treatment. If Ensler’s protest does a little to give them that voice, it’s worth it. There’s also no reason to believe that Ensler doesn’t devote significant time and resources to more concrete activism.

#139 Amphigorey (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 4:07pm

Slymepitters and their ilk can learn terms like “check your privilege” and “hetero-normal” (although, little hint: it’s “heteronormative” or “heteronormativity,” not “hetero-normal,” so they obviously don’t learn THAT well), but they clearly have no idea what those things actually mean. They just have learned that you can use those terms in an argument, so that’s what they do.

It’s kind of cute. It’s also adorable that some of them think that the Slymepit is not, in fact, full of misogyny.

#140 Pitchguest (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 4:14pm

#139:

Yes, well, you can assert it all you like. However it would be nice if you could prove it. I’ve asked EllenBeth to provide the screencaps which she claims is evidence for the supposed misogyny on the ‘Pit, but so far I haven’t received any in my inbox.

You’re free to do the same. If you want to prove me wrong, all you have to do is link to the specific URL on the ‘Pit where misogyny is present or take a screencap and send it to this address,

pitchguest @ gmail . com (without the spaces)

#141 John Brown (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 4:26pm

#139

Oh, bless you little cotton socks, Amphigorey.

Is there anyway you can, you know, prove your assertions instead of just reverting to a priori verbal formulas? 

For example, who would be the “ilk” of the Slymepitters? How do you know people who disagree with you don’t understand the premise behind “check your privilege?” Do you have proof of the Slymepit being “full of actual misogyny,” other than your say-so? 

Do you know what’s adorable? Precious little “skeptics” like you coming onto a board and just making things up and then insisting that everyone believes you because…privilege…or something. 

You’re boring. Your schtick is boring. Your writing style is boring. Your reduction of everything which requires nuance and skepticism into trite little a priori verbal formulas is boring. 

Please. For the loe of everything which is good in this world, at least attempt to reply with something substantive.

#142 Jason (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 5:05pm

You’re right Ellen, what you said is nothing compared to the kind of abuse that feminists get (even on this thread). Being compared to nazis, etc. is far worse. I don’t disagree with you there.

That doesn’t mean that you added to this dialogue constructively by posting your bit about being “over him.”

I’m on your side philosophically. I think Ben doesn’t quite understand rape culture and that he’s wrong about a number of things. I think the feminists he’s arguing against in his post don’t—by and large—exist in the skeptical community.

But he does have a few good points and that doesn’t make our side perfect. There’s too much tribalism, too much anger, and too little patience.

If the point was to vent on this thread, then our side has accomplished that admirably. I doubt we’ve done much to change minds or advance our philosophy.

I suppose either is a legitimate goal, and I’m not criticizing you for doing what is well within your rights (especially with the amount of abuse you face).

I also don’t think I’m being unfair in pointing out how antithetical those attitudes are (as well as the other “feminazi + mccarthyism” side) to constructive debate. That does not mean feminists are “as bad” when it comes to destroying civil dialogue, they’re not, but we contribute to it too.

It’s not black and white, and there’s little attempt on either side to stem the tide, so to speak.

#143 EllenBeth Wachs (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 5:19pm

@ 142 “That doesn’t mean that you added to this dialogue constructively by posting your bit about being “over him.”

You are absolutely correct. I wasn’t trying to add positive dialogue. I was merely stating my position.

@140 Pitchguest, it will be a cold day in hell before I email you anything. That being said, it took me all of 20 seconds to find the picture of Sarah Palin photoshopped with a penis in mouth and in her hands.  How many times is the word “cunt” used? Oh, that’s right, you have a member going by that name and Gumby called Ophelia a “cunt” just today. Those are simple examples I can find within seconds.

#144 CommanderTuvok (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 5:30pm

Amphigorey and Ellen Beth Wachs. We’d really appreciate it if you could site examples of this “misogyny” that you speak of. Ellen, you claim to have screen shots? Well, let’s have them.

Pitchguest, I don’t think they will supply any evidence. They want to keep their definition of “misogyny” as vague as possible, probably because they know we could find examples of “misogny” of the definition they would make up, on their own sites. Remember when Winterwind posted at BlackSkeptics how the RDF site was “racist” according to his/her rather loose definition? Somebody then pointed out similar “racist” comments at Pharyngula and other FTB sites, and suddenly Winterwind backpedaled and went very quiet.

This is typical of these people. They put forward fallacious and non-standard definitions of what is racist/sexist/misogynist, etc. but suddenly those definitions don’t apply when we catch them red-handed.

PS - Melody Hensley is constantly criticising other people on Twitter. However, when people criticise Melody it sudddenly becomes “harassment” and she blocks them. Hardly the behaviour befitting someone in her position. Also, Melody has never at any time condemned the harassment of Justin Vacula, and has refused to publically welcome him to WiS.

#145 CommanderTuvok (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 5:33pm

EllenBeth Wachs,

Do you regard Rhys Morgan as a misogynist for using the term “cunt”? Will you publically call out the Novellas for using the term “twat” on their show?

#146 Jason (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 5:34pm

Question for the other feminists here: if we accept that insults that include a person’s gender as part of the insult are sexist (bitch, etc.), what makes “sister punisher” or “chill girl” not sexist?

They are terms exclusively for women to insult them. I don’t see how this doesn’t fit the general criteria of gender based insult.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t point out people’s internalized sexism, racism, etc. Coining a term for it lurks into the territory of gender based insults though.

#147 Miranda Celeste Hale (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 5:44pm

I had no intention of commenting here until someone alerted me to the fact that Melody Hensley was discussing me in an uncharitable (to put it as kindly as possible) and dishonest manner. If anyone wants to insult me online, that’s their prerogative (whatever floats their boat and all that). They can choose to insult me, and I will choose to ignore them. Dishonesty is different, though. When someone (Melody, in this case) propagates untruths related to my actions and my character, I have no choice but to point out the dishonesty.


- For example, in comment #115, Melody said:

“I was trying to get [Sara] to stop trashing other women and associating with people like Miranda who was doing the same” - this is untrue. I have not and do not “trash” other women (and the same applies to Sara, but she’s clearly able to defend herself and does not need me to do it for her). I don’t know why Melody thinks that I do, but she is wrong.

- Another example, from comment #112 and from comment #115, in which Melody said:

“4) Prominent blogger *before* Rebecca Watson? No.” (“Prominent blogger” here refers to me)”

“She got a fan base from all the Rebecca haters. It’s amazing people can do that these days.”


In addition to being belittling and mean, Melody’s assertions are simply untrue. I’ve never written a word about Rebecca Watson on my blog or elsewhere, and I have no clue why Melody thinks that I have (and, somewhat relatedly, I’ve never interacted with Melody in any way, so I’m unsure as to the source of her animosity towards me). In the summer of 2011, I did write one blog post criticizing the attacks against Richard Dawkins that various Skepchick bloggers engaged in on their site, and, that same summer I wrote a similar blog post criticizing various feminist atheist bloggers (not the Skepchick bloggers this time) for the vitriolic nature of the attacks and silencing attempts that they leveled against Dawkins *and* against anyone who openly disagreed with their assertions and claims. A few months ago, I made both of those posts private (I didn’t delete them- they’re just private) as I was tired of receiving unpleasant and nasty emails from people who felt the need (even after a year had passed) to lecture me/insult me, etc., for writing those posts.

That’s it. Other than those two posts, I’ve written nothing else related to this issue, and, as I said, I’ve never written a word about or said anything about Rebecca Watson. I’m baffled by Melody’s assertions to the contrary, especially because they move beyond untruths (i.e. the claim that I’ve written/said negative things about Rebecca Watson) to belittling, demeaning, and rather malicious claims that:

1) I had no “internet presence” (for lack of a better phrase) and had no readership, etc., until a certain point (“a certain point” is awkwardly phrased, I know, but I don’t know how else to refer to it, since Melody is discussing something (my supposed attacking of Rebecca Watson) that *never actually happened*). Melody’s assertion is false. I had a successful blog and wrote for various sites long before I’d ever heard of Rebecca Watson. And Melody knows that to be true, so I’m particularly baffled by this claim.

2) That I have a “fan base [of] Rebecca haters”. Again, this is false. I don’t think I have a “fan base” at all (what does that even mean?), and, if I do (in the sense of “audience”/“supporters”, etc.), they read, listen to, and support my work because they find it interesting and informative, not because they (and who is “they” here, anyway?) dislike someone who, once again, despite Melody’s many assertions to the contrary, I’ve never written a word about, let alone a disparaging word.

3) (this one relates more to the messages from Melody that Sara previously posted on her blog than to the comments that Melody has posted here) That I somehow leveraged/used to my advantage my alleged, make-believe (again, it *never actually happened*, despite Melody’s many assertions to the contrary) “attacks” against Rebecca Watson as a way to “get attention” or get opportunities to speak at skeptic events, etc. Again, this is false (do you see a pattern emerging here?). My responses to #1 and #2 apply here, too. As with all of Melody’s disparaging claims against me, these are absolutely untrue and imaginary.

(And as a brief addendum: as I mentioned above, Melody is free to insult me all she likes. I will ignore those insults unless they are blatantly untrue and propagate misinformation about me (as do the ones mentioned here). But I do want to mention one thing. Melody has, on multiple occasions, made ridiculous and vicious claims about both Sara and I (and perhaps other women, too. I don’t know that for sure, so I will focus solely on Sara and I here), such as that we supposedly actively seek the “approval” and/or “attention” of “sexist men” (or that we aren’t really interested in the skeptical activism and work that we do, and are instead involved in skepticism solely to court the sexual attention of men and reap the reward(s) (whatever that even means) that supposedly result from obtaining that attention), that we “attack” other women in order to receive some sort of reward(s) (?), that we are “anti-woman”, that we’re sexists, etc. (and on and on). These particular insults are difficult to ignore, not only because they’re false, but also because they are so incredibly belittling and so utterly demeaning. Ultimately, though, I think the one thing that stuns me the most when I think about these insults is that they remind me so much of the belittling and demeaning things that older male professional colleagues have said to me at various points in my professional life. It was wrong for those men to insult me in this way, and it is equally wrong for Melody to insult women like Sara and I in this way. And, in a way, it’s almost *more* egregious (and certainly more ironic) when Melody does it, as she claims to want to make secularism a more inclusive environment for women and is obviously an outspoken feminist, whereas the men who insulted me in this manner had no interest in promoting equality for women, etc.)

I’ll stop here. I hope that my comment cleared up some of the blatant falsehoods that have been spreading in this comments section (in Melody’s comments) and at various other places on the internet. Again, insults are one thing. Dishonesty is something else altogether. And if you propagate untruths about me in a public forum, rest assured that I *will* come and set the record straight (I’d rather stay as far away from this pointless drama as possible and get on with the work that I do, but, when I have no choice but to comment on something (as is the case here), then so be it.)

#148 EllenBeth Wachs (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 5:48pm

and Vacula, what you said here is outrageous and despicable. Melody can deal with the public. Your hate screeds and videos are not legitimate criticism as much as you try to frame them that way.

The cyber-swarming going on here is really disgusting. I recognize many names from the slymepit THAT is how I know they are slymepitters.  The mob mentality to gang up on and attack the designated target and try to take her down is pathetic.

And spare me painting Mykeru as a victim, puhlease.

#149 EllenBeth Wachs (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 5:53pm

I will not engage with a person that refers to me as a “baboon”

#150 John Brown (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 5:53pm

#148

Ellenbeth Wachs: It’s almost as if the cliches are hidden within your keyboard just waiting to pop up on the screen once your fingers touch the keys. You really should change your macros. It’s getting boring and trite.

Outrageous. Despicable. Screeds. Cyber-swarming. Slymepitters. Mob mentality. Gang up on. Attack. Designated target. Take her down. Pathetic. 

/yawn

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