Why it is still important to speak out against hate directed at women

by Michael Nugent on January 1, 2013

Thunderf00t has published a video in which he includes me on a list of people who he claims have been “bullied or cajoled” into what he calls “a bullshit PC appeasement position” regarding feminism.

In my case he is referring to an article I wrote last August for Skepchick, without being either bullied or cajoled, as part of a series on speaking out against hate directed at women.

I’m republishing that article here, because it is still important to speak out against hate directed at women, regardless of your opinions about the internal politics of the atheist movement.

Speaking out against hate directed at women
First published August 2012

We should not tolerate, in any of our online or offline communities, any sexual harassment or abuse or threats of violence against women that we would not tolerate if they were directed against our family or close friends. On the Internet, many women face a pattern of online sexual harassment, including rape threats, in the technology, business, entertainment, atheist, skeptical, pop culture, gaming and many other online communities.

This can cause women to feel hurt and frightened, to hide their female identity online, or to retreat altogether from the Internet. And this can in turn affect other aspects of their lives. Our online identities and online networking are increasingly important to our social lives and careers. And our friends and employers may see this hate speech when searching online for information about us.

Professor Danielle Citron of University of Maryland school of law has written extensively on this issue. She says that cyber gender harassment can involve a perfect storm of threats conveying a desire for physical harm, doctored photographs, privacy invasions, lies, and technical sabotage. She reports that, from 2000 to 2010, more than seven in every ten victims reporting cyber harassment were women. And when men were harassed, it was often for being or seeming gay. She argues that legal changes were crucial in the battles against domestic violence and
workplace harassment, and that we should reframe cyber gender harassment as a civil rights violation.

We must actively tackle this problem in each of our own communities. Doing this is one part of how the atheist and skeptical communities can start to become more inclusive, safe and supportive, and I’ve written elsewhere in more detail about how we can discuss this reasonably. We should also create a united front of online activists from different online communities, to properly research the impact of this abuse across all online communities, and to work together to find the best ways to eradicate it.

Most men have no idea of the relentless nature of this type of online abuse, and how devastating the cumulative impact can be. Because most men don’t get the same type of sexual abuse as women do, and because the Internet can seem to be an artificial environment, we can easily become desensitized to abuse that would outrage us if it was aimed at our sisters or friends or daughters or wives or mothers.

You may sincerely believe that people are exaggerating the scale and impact of this abuse, or that it is prudish or victorian to be concerned about it. Or you may see it as a trivial problem that goes away when you turn off your computer. If any of these thoughts cross your mind, you should consider some actual examples of what this abuse really looks like, and imagine experiencing this from the perspective of the victims.

Emotional trigger warning

Warning – there are lots of emotional triggers here, but many people are unaware of the extent of the problem so I think it is important to give examples. If you don’t want to read the examples, skip to the next section headed “This is a pattern of behaviour”.

In 2007, top technology writer Kathy Sierra got a series of online threats, including “I hope someone slits your throat and cums down your gob”. When she blogged about them, the threats intensified, and she cancelled her speaking events and closed her blog.

In 2007, the online group Anonymous published the personal details online of a nineteen year old video blogger, along with doctored photos of her face on naked bodies, and the threat “We will rape her at full force in her vagina, mouth and ass.”

In 2008, when entrepreneur Alyssa Royse wrote a critical review of a Batman movie including branding ideas, she got a stream of abusive comments including “You are clearly retarded, I hope someone shoots and rapes you”.

In 2009, a Wyoming man posted a Craigslist advert in the name of his ex-girlfriend, saying that she had fantasies of being raped by “a real aggressive man with no concern for women”. Another man responded by breaking into her house and raping her.

In 2010, an eleven year old Florida girl was accused online of having had sex with a local musician. She made a profanity-laden video response, which triggered intense online bullying against her, and she had an emotional breakdown online.

In 2011, Rebecca Watson highlighted the online abuse that she gets as a blogger on Skepchick and as a podcaster on SGU, including “You deserve to be raped and tortured and killed. Swear I’d laugh if I could watch.”

In 2011, when a fifteen year old girl posted a picture on Reddit of herself holding a Carl Sagan book that her mother had given her for Christmas, adult men posted hundreds of crude comments about ways that they would like to have sex with her.

In 2012, the pattern continues. Since Anita Sarkeesian started a project to highlight how video games portray women, some gamers have threatened her with rape, violence and death, and have created an online game where you can beat her up.

Sherri Shepherd, co-host of The View, recently filed a police complaint against @DaCloneKiller who tweeted to her that “somebody should drag u in a back alley and rape you”. She will have to subpoena Twitter for @DaCloneKiller’s identity.

Then we had “Is it immoral to rape a Skepchick because they are so annoying?”, an unfunny joke aimed at a small group of identifiable women, that is even less funny against the background of this relentless stream of online abuse of women.

This is a pattern of behaviour

This is a pattern of behaviour, not a series of isolated incidents. It is gradually becoming less acceptable to sexually harass or threaten women in real life. But that message has not yet reached the Internet, where anonymity and hostile debate and absence of oversight make it easier for
us to evade responsibility for our actions.

Some people insist that we can say what we want because the Internet has its own rules, while others argue that the right to free speech, even when hateful, must be protected. When New Statesman wrote an article about the Anita Sarkeesian case, a commenter named AllyF provided this counter to that argument:

“What you fail to understand is that the use of hate speech, threats and bullying to terrify and intimidate people into silence or away from certain topics is a far bigger threat to free speech than any legal sanction. Imagine this is not the internet but a public square. One woman stands on a soapbox and expresses an idea. She is instantly surrounded by an army of 5,000 angry people yelling the worst kind of abuse at her in an attempt to shut her up. Yes, there’s a free speech issue there. But not the one you think.”

There is also the wider context of sexism in general. If we as men faced this pattern of sick online abuse simply because of our gender, I suspect that we would urgently take action to tackle the problem. If we fail to take the same action when women face this problem, our inaction reinforces prejudice and discrimination against women generally. We may not mean to do that, and we may not even be aware of it, but the impact of our inaction remains the same.

Tackling sexism is a complex problem, with no magic answers. We should rigorously analyze the extent of sexism in our communities, both online and offline, and we should test and refine the best ways to eradicate it. But we must not deny that it exists, or reinforce it with prejudice and discrimination. Instead we should actively work to create inclusive, safe and supportive communities, in which we can live together as equals, regardless of our race, gender, sexuality or ability levels.

And we should work together on this so that, ultimately, we never again have a fifteen year old atheist girl excitedly posting online about her Christmas present of a Carl Sagan book, then reading crude comments about adult men wanting to have sex with her, and having to respond: “Dat feel when you’ll never be taken seriously in the atheist/ scientific/ political/ whatever community because you’re a girl. :c ”

Some sources for this post:

{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ophelia Benson January 1, 2013 at 6:54 pm

A very timely re-posting. Thank you!

2 anon January 1, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Re: Trigger Warnings:

Actual feminists have actually recognized trigger warnings for what they are: patronizing, condescending calls for speech policing and message enforcement, plays on a victim card, and not conducive to speech or to feminism.

You should google it and then stop being an ass.

3 CanuckAmuck January 1, 2013 at 8:02 pm

“Thunderfoot did a video”? I shouldn’t have bothered dignifying his patently bizzare accusations with any sort of response, but having missed your excellent article the first time around, I’m glad you did.

4 CanuckAmuck January 1, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Wow, it sure didn’t take long for TF’s frothing acolytes to rear their ugly heads.

5 oolon January 1, 2013 at 8:17 pm

When Thunderf00t had his melt-down from being kicked out of FtBs his fans on his blog had no answer to why you and many other leaders in the movement were writing for Skepchick.org. As far as they were concerned FtBs and Skepchick.org is the 7th level of atheist hell and the only way you could have been persuaded to write for them is via threats and bullying. That was the bizarre assertion back then and it seems he has come up with nothing new, like you agree with them, so that must be the truth. Denialism at its best, if the facts don’t meet with your presuppositions then make them fit!

6 Michael Nugent January 1, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Thanks, Ophelia, Canuck and Oolon.

Anon – interesting to note your priorities about what is important in the article.

7 EssBee January 1, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful and inspiring message. As a young woman in the skeptic/atheist movement it is reassuring to know community leaders will stand up against irrationality and discrimination!

8 Audra January 1, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Thank you for writing this and thank you for posting it again. I am not one of the targets of harassment but just witnessing it has been truly horrifying. The only thing that has kept me from abandoning “the movement” is the group of men and women who speak out against the harassment and sexism.

9 Martin January 1, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Biggest non-surprise of the day: Fake “real feminist” MRA permavirgin posts petulant whine as “anon.”

Way to stand up and be counted, soldier!

10 Adam Lee January 1, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Thanks for the repost of this wonderful article. It’s depressing to think that basic decency and common sense about how to treat other people has become a highly controversial and polarizing statement, but there it is.

The really bizarre part is how Thunderfoot and others are settling on the position that we can’t be saying this because we actually believe it, that someone must have somehow coerced or blackmailed so many prominent atheist men into speaking out against misogyny. This is black-helicopter territory, folks. I’d love to hear what leverage they think the evil feminists have over so many of us, that they can force us to make statements we don’t truly believe.

11 anon January 2, 2013 at 12:30 am


I think you’ve bought a beautiful sweater but it’s made out of dental floss not out of the cashmere you were sold.

I can’t argue that from afar your sweater looks wonderful, and with that nice smiling clown face, but perhaps if I show you a couple of snags, or places where the dental floss still has light night’s beef on it, then one day, you may be able to be more discerning about what you buy.

In this case, you really should read and think about “trigger warnings”.

Are they helpful? Are they needed? What do they imply? Who uses them? What do others think of them? Is there a hidden agenda behind them?

I think this is just part and parcel of being a savvy consumer of media and critical thinker, and I recommend you try to be just that! It’s a healthy part of skepticism!

I’ll give you a place where you can start, Amanda Hess’ article http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist/2010/04/16/trigger-warnings-and-being-an-asshole/

12 EssBee January 2, 2013 at 12:36 am

Hey Anon 12:30: Just ignore the trigger warning, it’s obviously not meant for you. Anyone insulted by a trigger warning needs to get over themselves, and for those who have undergone trauma the warning is a courtesy. That ax you’re aching to grind is imaginary.

13 Miriam January 2, 2013 at 12:59 am

Seconding EssBee. Think trigger warnings are useless? Don’t use them on your blog. End of story. Most of the people who think they’re useless have either never suffered from PTSD or anxiety, or have been lucky enough to be able to recover from PTSD or anxiety.

14 Michael Nugent January 2, 2013 at 1:02 am


Seriously? You read that article, and the most important thing for you to mention was the existence of a trigger warning, before a detailed list of threats or attacks against women?

Can I ask, was there anything else in the article, apart from the trigger warning, that you felt was worth you being concerned about?

15 Finisterre January 2, 2013 at 1:20 am

Great article, thank you. It’s a sad reflection of our culture that it takes a braver man to stand with women these days than to attack them.

Here’s an explanation of why trigger warnings are useful from a bona fide feminist over at Shakesville: http://www.shakesville.com/2010/04/on-triggers-continued.html. I’m glad you’re using them, Michael.

16 John B January 2, 2013 at 1:24 am

Are trigger warnings an issue which deeply vexes you, Anon? Are you passionately concerned that trigger warnings are a problem?

Or are you just an anti-feminist looking for anything, anything at all, to attack feminism with? Let’s be honest, it’s this one, isn’t it?

17 anon January 2, 2013 at 1:25 am


Did you read what I wrote?

I think you’ve been sold a bill of goods. I think you have been overeager to purchase that bill of goods.

There have been many people, and many women especially that have written to critique that what you write about. There is little I could possibly add to that conversation.

But I can point out one salient feature of that which you purchased that I can point to. And I can show you that that feature is flawed, and not what you think it is. And that you don’t have to rely on me for that, there are feminists that you probably respect that will tell you the same thing.

Instead of coming on like a locomotive head on to your locomotive, maybe I can change your direction slightly. Educate you a bit. And eventually through small changes in direction you won’t drive your damn train off the bridge that washed out 20 years ago.

“Can I ask, was there anything else in the article, apart from the trigger warning, that you felt was worth you being concerned about?”

I have two daughters, slightly older than the girl that was harassed in the “You dun goofed / backtrace” video. I feel for that guy, and I am saddened that he died of a heart attack soon after.

I know how cruel the Internet can be. I know I would never want my kids to be attacked that way. And I realize that on today’s Internet my kids could easily make a mistake like that that could change their lives forever.

But that’s not what thunderfoot’s video was about, and it’s not what elevatorgate was about.

I have the feeling that it doesn’t matter what I write – it would never change your beliefs.

But I can tell you that plenty of adult women have written plenty in opposition to Rebecca Watson, to Anita Sarkeesian, and to others in your list.

I might agree with 95% of your statement, but your statement was used to prop up a phony baloney war about a phony baloney and her behavior on stage.

So you write your Apple Pie and Baseball statement, and you don’t show a lot of critical thinking except being mean is lousy, and you let it be used in a whole bunch of Internet Drama to divide people that ostensibly have many similar goals, not to bring these two groups back together.

Um, I don’t think that speaks very highly of you.

I don’t think there’s anything I can say to change your mind. I believe you have drunk the Kool-Aid.

I suspect any change in you will come from within, and so, I can point out that Trigger Warnings are considered bullshit, and wonder if you have enough curiosity and intelligence to think about that for awhile.


18 EssBee January 2, 2013 at 1:46 am

Anon, it certainly does help….demonstrate your aptness for long-winded nonsense. Your attempt at ‘education’ comes off as derailing petty bull. What’s the point?

19 jose January 2, 2013 at 3:24 am

Clearly you have been bullied and cajoled into writing this post. Don’t worry, we know the TRUTH behind the bullied words!

hehe. That’s the charm of conspiracy theories: counterevidence equals evidence!

20 Ermine January 2, 2013 at 7:44 am

Ah, but Anon’s long-winded babbling -does- make it obvious which side he’s coming from, at least. Yep, he’s another Rebecca Watson hater, yet another misogynistic ass trying to silence women from voicing perfectly reasonable concerns, like “Guys, don’t accost women alone in elevators at 3 am, and -especially- don’t try to invite them up to your hotel room “for coffee” after you’ve been in the same room with her while she spoke for hours about how she didn’t like that sort of objectification. Don’t do that.”

Thank you for making it so clear which side of the problem you’re coming from, st least. I will now give your words exactly as much thought and respect as they deserve.

So, who wants ice cream? Damnit, I’m all out, and I can’t even blame anyone else for eating the last of it, I know it was me! *grump*

21 Joe January 2, 2013 at 8:08 am

Anon, if you want people to take you seriously, you are going to need to make some actual arguments. Try answering those questions of yours:

Are they helpful?

The author of the article you linked to seems not to have much opinion either way, but the person they quoted certainly think they are helpful, as do a number of their commenters. Unless you can provide an argument as to why they are harmful, it sems to me that they should be used, even if they are helpful for only one person.

Are they needed?

They aren’t needed by me, but then, I’ve never suffered a traumatic experience. The person quoted in that article you linked to certainly thinks that they are needed.

What do they imply?

I’m not sure what you are getting at with this one – to me they imply that people suffereing from PTSD, for example, can suffer from panic attacks if they read descriptions of events reminiscient of the trauatic event they experienced. That seems retty reasonable to me.

Who uses them?

Authors? Blog writers? People who care about their followers mental well-being? Again, what is your point?

What do others think of them?

Well, I don’t use trigger warnings (I’m not a writer) so I guess I’m an “other” and I think they are fine. I’ve heard others argue in favour and against them, but the arguments in favour have always seemed more solid to me.

Is there a hidden agenda behind them?

No idea. If it’s a hidden agenda, I wouldn’t see it, would I?

I’ve answered them, now you go.

You also said:

“There have been many people, and many women especially that have written to critique that what you write about. There is little I could possibly add to that conversation.”

Then link to them! You can’t just say that people agree with you and leave it at that, you have to provide evidence of this.

“And I can show you that that feature is flawed, and not what you think it is. And that you don’t have to rely on me for that, there are feminists that you probably respect that will tell you the same thing.”

You aren’t doing a very good job of showing this. I’m not even entirely sure what you are talking about. Is it still trigger warnings? Once again, you have failed to link to these people who supposedly support you.

“But that’s not what thunderfoot’s video was about, and it’s not what elevatorgate was about.”

The majority of this article wasn’t written in response to the the Thunderf00t video, and was at best tangentially related to elervatorgate (in that it is an example of hate directed at women). I don’t see how this is relevant.

“you don’t show a lot of critical thinking except being mean is lousy”

That’s what you take from this? That the various incidents Michael talks about are people being mean? When kids at school called me names once or twice, that was mean. Rape threats go a little beyond that.

Frankly, if you fail to provide any evidence whatsoever to support your view, then you are going to convince no-one to change their views. If you reply with evidence as to why trigger warnings are bad, then I will happily consider it.

22 Eoin January 2, 2013 at 9:00 am

I came across Thunderfoots video/rant the other day I didnt watch till the end as I found it rather paranoid and quite hateful. Thanks for highlighting the issues many female bloggers and contributers face. Online mysogyny is a real problem glad you and athiest Ireland are willing to speak out and stand up against this hateful online reality. I salute you sir. Skepchicks rock! yours etc

23 Karin January 2, 2013 at 10:26 am

For heaven’s sake, how can anyone be so paranoid about trigger warnings? They serve the same purpose as the warnings to “sensitive viewers” before strong images are shown on the news.

Excellent post by Nugent, however.

24 John Morales January 2, 2013 at 11:07 am

I see anon has answered Michael Nugent’s inquiry:

M: “was there anything else in the article, apart from the trigger warning, that you felt was worth you being concerned about?”

A: But that’s not what thunderfoot’s video was about, and it’s not what elevatorgate was about.

I guess anon failed to note the opening: Speaking out against hate directed at women
First published August 2012.

25 Prepagan January 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm

It is most certainly important to speak out against hatred directed against any group of people and there is clearly plenty of evidence that there is a great deal of pretty disgusting stuff being directed against women on-line with many examples happening in parts of the secular/sceptical community.

However, while Thunderf00t may have dropped your name into a list on the YouTube video to which you linked, there is nothing in that video that comes across as constituting, supporting or promoting ‘hatred towards women’.

There is frustration at the extent to which he believes that the promotion of feminist ideology in the secular/skeptical movement is damaging but nothing remotely describable as hatred towards women.

Personally, I believe that ideology (of any sort) and scepticism make for poor bedfellows but unfortunately any suggestion along those lines appears to be met with cries of misogyny when the ideology in question is feminism.

We should absolutely stamp out acts and demonstrations of hatred against women but that must not be at the expense of criticism of ideology and dogma and unfortunately there is way too much conflation of the two at the moment.

26 A Hermit January 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Thanks for re-posting this Michael; and for bringing the same calm, clear reasonable light to this subject as you do in your other writing here.

I’m still astounded at the number of self described skeptics who seem to be more upset that women are talking about sexism and harassment than they are with the sexism and harassment…

27 Martin January 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm

There is frustration at the extent to which he believes that the promotion of feminist ideology in the secular/skeptical movement is damaging

When Tf00t decides it’s worth considering whether rampant, frothing misogyny in the secular/skeptical movement is damaging, I will start giving a damn about his frustrations. For now, claiming that the people speaking out against hatred and threats and appalling behavior towards women are the ones “damaging” the movement will land you squarely on any rational person’s douchebag list.

28 Anon23 January 2, 2013 at 7:54 pm

On the subject of triggers… I was not allowed to attend fireworks celebrations on the Forth of July, because my dad, who suffered the misfortune of a tour in Vietnam, didn’t want to relive the sensation of having a rocket hit his barracks. Us kids were also under strict instructions not to wake him up suddenly (i.e. no running into the room and screaming like an idiot on Xmas), because he didn’t want to hurt anyone accidentally.

If someone were stupid or callous enough to throw fireworks at my dad’s feet, and he didn’t break your neck, I probably would have. So I suppose the question is, which scum-sucking op-ed columnist at the Washington Times will have the balls to say that people can throw fireworks at veterans, because it’s condescending of us to coddle their PTSD.

29 Ms. Daisy Cutter January 2, 2013 at 9:13 pm

Well, you see, Anon23, sexist assholes are fine with respecting wartime PTSD, because war is manly. (Except when women in the service have PTSD, which means they should have stayed home and baked cookies.)

Also, the first anon is misquoting that Amanda Hess article. The supposed “feminist” who called trigger warnings condescending is Susannah Breslin, who is actually anti-feminist. Jezebel, being a Gawker Media site, is hardly a feminist site, even if some of their content is feminist in nature.

30 Mike January 2, 2013 at 11:43 pm

..”as part of a series on speaking out against hate directed at women.”

An interesting article Michael. When will we see a series on speaking out against hate directed at men? You don’t need to look far to find it. I see it everywhere and nothing is said. Take for an example of many, a recent comment on Twitter with the hash tag destroy the joint. “Dead men don’t rape”. That is acceptable? Or being “bedevilled with the curse that is being male”. Acceptable? When I see this type of rubbish from men I am proud as a man that they jump on it, as I do. Whenever I see ignorant or hateful or childish comments from women, the response from women is always the same, “you go girl”.

If you see any of it and respond, you will be censored. No opposing views are allowed. Try it for yourself. I give up with trying civil discourse re hate. The response is always censor, delete, run, hide. Women lose my support, until I see women start to stand up against ignorance and hate from other women.

I wouldn’t have even bothered wasting my time responding to this if you weren’t a man. I have tried voicing concerns to women. This post would simply not appear. No opposing opinions allowed.

31 Iamcuriousblue January 3, 2013 at 8:13 am

So, is simple disagreement with the kind of hard-line ideological feminism pushed by the FTB/Skepchick crowd constitute “hate directed against women”? Because this is what many of the partisans and ideologues of the “social justice” camp are asking us to believe, and it is this claim that those of us on the other side of the issue are dissenting against. If you really buy this line of reasoning, then would you also similarly argue that dislike of hard-line Marxism represents “hate directed against the working class”? I’ll also point out that if you really hold to this line, Michael, you most certainly have a partisan stake in “internal politics of the atheist movement” and are pretty far from an impartial actor.

32 Iamcuriousblue January 3, 2013 at 8:20 am

Ermine @ 20

Righhhht, because the entire argument is simply *all about* Elevatorgate. Not like disagreements of substance have arisen since that point.

For fuck’s sake, there ought to be a moratorium on invoking Elevatorgate at this point *on either side of this issue*. It is the ultimate in flogging a dead horse, and a sure sign you are not to be taken seriously.

33 Joe January 3, 2013 at 8:23 am

Michael lists ten examples of hate directed at women. Not one of them is “simple disagreement” (unless you classify things like “You are clearly retarded, I hope someone shoots and rapes you” as simple disagreement). Unless you can provide examples of this simple disagreement being classified as hate then you really don’t have a leg to stand on.

34 Iamcuriousblue January 3, 2013 at 8:31 am

Joe – I would say that some of the earliest commentators on this thread are people who have built their recent blogging career on conflating disagreement with their politics with outright misogynistic harassment. I’ve had enough of the partisans outright say this to me directly that I take them for their word. –sarcasm– Sorry I didn’t save an archive of direct links, because, of course, most people who write on the internets do that. –sarcasm–

35 Joe January 3, 2013 at 8:38 am

If you are going to make a claim about something, then you should provide evidence to support it. I’m not asking for pages of links to every example you’ve ever seen, but surely you remember the title or subject matter of one or two blog posts so that I can google them.

36 Iamcuriousblue January 3, 2013 at 10:54 am

OK, Joe, you want what but one example, here’s a fresh one from professional victim, Amy Roth, who’s seemingly never encountered a word of disagreement that she hasn’t interpreted as outright harassment directed against her and other women:


Really, the mentality displayed in that and other statements I’ve seen from her leave only two possibilities – 1) she’s not arguing in good faith, or 2) she’s seriously fucked in the head.

37 Joe January 3, 2013 at 11:47 am

I take it the disagreement you are talking about in this case is Thunderf00t’s video? I think that Amy is perfectly justified to consider it hate, seeing as the section pertinent to her consists of misinformation and personal attacks (see Michael’s most recent post). The video just by itself may not be all that hateful, but keep in mind that quite a number of people have used this mis-information in the past, affecting Amy’s reputation. It makes sense to me that she would consider this kind of behaviour hateful – either they are deliberately misrepresenting her, which is hateful, or they are stupid.

38 Iamcuriousblue January 3, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Joe – In a word, bullshit. It is Amy Roth who has been on an ongoing campaign to smear other people’s reputations, notably Harriet Hall, who’s mere act of wearing a t-shirt that Amy didn’t approve was spun into a tall of aggression and assault against poor victimized Amy. (In my estimation, Harriet Hall is owed a great big apology by Amy Roth – not that she’s ever likely to get one.)

There is no campaign of harassment against Amy Roth. Only her ongoing almost psychotic level of paranoia toward practically anybody who disagrees with her, and the encouragement of this awful behavior by those who apparently have an interest in demonizing their opponents on the thinnest pretext.

She reminds me of the Abigail Williams as portrayed in “The Crucible”, somebody who throws wild accusations at people, giving others of ill will an excuse to do their worst. That this is the behavior of so-called “rationalists” is that much more scandalous.

39 Luna_the_cat January 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm

@Iamcuriousblue —

What color IS the sky in your world?

When you have rewritten an obvious history to suit yourself as much as you just did there, I don’t think you can actually call yourself a “skeptic” or rational thinker with any truth. And yeah, that is kind of a hateful misrepresentation of Surly Amy, too.

40 Prepagan January 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm


I think I’ve spotted the problem here.

You are clearly using the OLD definition of “Hate”. I think you’ll find that the same memo that re-defined “misogyny”, “rape” and “threat” probably made mention of the ‘Hate’ upgrade as well.

Until you get used to the new definitions I’d suggest operating on the basis that “Hate” is now synonymous with “unpleasantness” and “impoliteness”.

41 Amii Lockhart January 3, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Mike @ 30 – You are testing my limits of empathy. Really, why am I not supposed to think ill of someone that spouts such awful, ignorant crap? I’m trying, though.

I think the twitter quotes you mentioned are abominable, but don’t count that, I’m a woman. I can’t think of a single woman friend I have that would ever support such hatred, let alone put it out in the world.

I want you to know though, that I won’t give up my support of men just because there are plenty of idiots out there who are men. Besides being incredibly douchey, it would also be irrational.

Nice of you to drop in with your poison, then make a hasty retreat. I appreciate knowing there are still such as yourself out there. I’ll use your comment as evidence of just that.

42 bluharmony January 4, 2013 at 8:23 am

“Actual feminists have actually recognized trigger warnings for what they are: patronizing, condescending calls for speech policing and message enforcement, plays on a victim card, and not conducive to speech or to feminism.”

Thank you for saying it. And thanks to all of you who don’t view women as so pathetic and weak as to be unable to stand up for themselves.

43 Mike January 4, 2013 at 9:03 am

Amii @ 41
“Really, why am I not supposed to think ill of someone that spouts such awful, ignorant crap? I’m trying, though.”

This is MY point.

“I think the twitter quotes you mentioned are abominable, but don’t count that, I’m a woman. I can’t think of a single woman friend I have that would ever support such hatred, let alone put it out in the world.”

Well SAY SOMETHING then. I see nothing. Ever. If I said “Dead women don’t..”, I would be lynched by men and women and rightly so. When it’s a woman, not a peep. Or, “bedevilled with the curse that is being female”? It goes on and on and not a peep. If you want me to stand up for you against ignorance and hate, let’s see you do it too. I only ever see you go girl, or silence.

“Nice of you to drop in with your poison, then make a hasty retreat. I appreciate knowing there are still such as yourself out there. I’ll use your comment as evidence of just that.”

Can you explain this? What poison? What retreat?

44 Amii Lockhart January 4, 2013 at 6:09 pm

MIKE: ““Really, why am I not supposed to think ill of someone that spouts such awful, ignorant crap? I’m trying, though.”

This is MY point.”

I don’t believe that is your point, Mike, because I was trying not to think ill of YOU for YOUR opinion. I was not trying not to think ill of all men because of your opinion. And that is MY point.

“Well SAY SOMETHING then. I see nothing. Ever. If I said “Dead women don’t..””

Where do you go to find this stuff? I’ve never seen anything like those quotes, and can’t imagine where they wouldn’t get a rise out of all sexes. Unless you are going to some site that is equivalent to A Voice For Men or similar. Direct me there, and then watch me say something. You act like those are everyday sorts of things you hear (like the crap women hear every day). Direct me to these places.

“Can you explain this? What poison? What retreat?”

The poison: “Women lose my support, until I see women start to stand up against ignorance and hate from other women.” AND “I wouldn’t have even bothered wasting my time responding to this if you weren’t a man. ”

My apologies on the retreat accusation. I somehow thought you were one of those who drop in with a loaded comment and say they’re going away. I’m not sure how I figured that at this point, but I do apologize.

45 Ess Bee January 4, 2013 at 6:18 pm


Judging something as ‘patronizing’ or ‘condescending’ is subjective. Trigger warnings may strike “some feminists,” you or whoever that way, but for others who have undergone trauma, who have PTSD, or anxiety they are helpful and considerate.

Trigger warnings are not ‘for women’, and no one is weak or pathetic because he/she benefits from them. That is an ableist and austere assumption.

46 bluharmony January 4, 2013 at 7:14 pm

I think you’re making an ableist assumption in and of itself, Bee. I’m really tired of the labels and stereotypes thrown around by the likes of you. “Leaders” in this community have been dishing out “accusations” of mental illness like popcorn, and plenty of people have been told to go and kill themselves. Why weren’t trigger warnings provided for any of this? http://www.theawl.com/2012/05/when-trigger-warning-lost-all-its-meaning

As for the premise of the OP, it’s based on several flawed assumptions. First of all, TF (correctly) states that there is no hatred toward women in the community. So why in the world would men in leadership roles suddenly be speaking out about something that doesn’t exist in unison (with the objection of many other women)?

Well, it works something like this: Pretend that a group in the community started complaining that a baby was killed. Then everyone who asked for evidence of the fact that this happened, since no evidence was initially provided, was instantly labeled a “baby-killer” and blacklisted. Next it was said in many places that anyone who didn’t openly renounce baby-killing was a baby killer. Many people who fell into this category were blacklisted too, one of them even being a community leader. Next a member of the group making “baby-killer” accusations, asked all other leaders to speak out against baby-killing. Well, since everyone finds baby-killing objectionable, why wouldn’t someone speak out against it? Moreover, look at what’s going to happen to you if you don’t? It’s not really a difficult choice, is it? So you’re going to speak out, or else… What people like Nugent fail to understand is that by speaking out, on request, like a robot, about something that doesn’t exist (at least not within the relevant community), what you’re really doing is enabling and giving tacit approval to the bullying tactics of the group making the baby-killing accusations. Just the fact that all the young women who initially spoke out against the behavior of the baby-killer accuser group have gone into hiding (and even taken their blogs offline) is clear evidence of this, BTW.

That’s what TF means by “bullied and cajoled,” and he’s absolutely right, Michael Nugent clearly has been. Doubly so if he feels the need to write this ridiculous post.

Are MRAs and AVFM vile? Well, the ideas they spout certainly are. But no more or less than the behavior of certain “feminists.”

47 Ess Bee January 4, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Um, Blu…your reply is way off topic of what I originally commented on. You quoted a criticism of trigger warnings, and then said ‘thank you’ to the person who offered the criticism because he/she doesn’t ” view women as so pathetic and weak.” The obvious implication is that those who find benefit in trigger warnings are ‘pathetic and weak’. But it’s neither pathetic nor weak to be managing trauma or mental/emotional conditions. Hence why I said it is an ableist assumption: Any one who benefits from a trigger warning must be ‘weak and pathetic’ instead of perhaps ‘healing and managing a disability’.

So, what was my ableist assumption? I’m willing to admit if I made one, and apologize. I just don’t see it. And I wasn’t insulting you or anything, just calling for a bit more compassion and a broadened point of view on the issue.

48 Mike January 4, 2013 at 10:15 pm


It WAS my point and the only reason I posted.

You said you “find them abominable, but don’t count that, I’m a woman. I can’t think of a single woman friend I have that would ever support such hatred, let alone put it out in the world”.

I could say exactly the same re hate towards women. That I find hateful comments abominable, but don’t count that, I’m a man. I can’t think of a single man friend I have that would ever support such hatred, let alone put it out in the world.

The topic here is saying something and speaking out against it. Something I have always done for women but never ever see any back.

One of the two comments I read were on Twitter hash destroy the joint as I mentioned. Another was titled “Prevention to a Massacre” or the like. Retweeted by known feminists. Singling out men for killing beacuse we were bedevilled etc. When pointed out, removed. Mamamia, Twitter, everywhere.

I accept the apology for the retreat thing. No problems and thank you. I would have much preferred an apology for the poison comment. I still don’t see how that comment is even close to poisonous.
“The poison: “Women lose my support, until I see women start to stand up against ignorance and hate from other women.” AND “I wouldn’t have even bothered wasting my time responding to this if you weren’t a man. ”

49 Amii Lockhart January 4, 2013 at 11:15 pm

I guess I don’t get your point and you don’t get mine. They cannot be the same.

As I read your first comment, you essentially announce that you will no longer support women until you see them supporting you, and you follow that up by stating you only commented to a man because he was a man. That’s how I read your point. How else would one read comment #30?

And the reason I said, “don’t count that because I’m a woman,” is because you personally dismissed women by removing your support. And you can’t say the same thing because in my reply I assured you that I would not be removing my support of men. I’m baffled by your insistence they are the same.

Removing your support for half the population due to something as limited as your own personal experience and attempting to limit your discussions about it to men is poison in my opinion.

I will track down these Twitter pages you mention, but I don’t have a twitter account, and not sure what I can do about speaking out against it without one. I will not apologize for the poison comment, which hopefully will lend credence to the other apology by confirming that I do apologize when I feel I’ve done wrong.

50 Mike January 4, 2013 at 11:38 pm

“Removing your support for half the population due to something as limited as your own personal experience and attempting to limit your discussions about it to men is poison in my opinion.”

I made the point that if this article was a woman author, from my many experiences, my comment would simply not appear. That is why. I am forced into limiting my discussions, although I don’t. The women authors will not discuss. Only agreement with them is accepted. Anything else, censor, delete, run. Try it for yourself.

In removing my support I only come in line with women here. When I start to see women pounce on ignorance and hate like I do, regardless of gender, then I will support women. I see countless men stand for women and no women standing up for men. Only endless kicking and hate.

51 bluharmony January 4, 2013 at 11:50 pm

Bee: I think that the world “trigger” is obviously intended to broadly evoke whatever your particular trigger might be. An accurate title works better, perhaps with (graphic description of ____________) in parentheses. But I’ve seen, been, and worked with too many actual victims of PTSD to find any value in the constant use of “trigger warning” when referring to anything that might be upsetting to a woman. This is just another example of misguided feminist stereotyping.

It’s not that I lack compassion for actual victims, it’s just that I think the phrase tends to encourage victimhood where it doesn’t exist, and this is borne out in the comment sections of various relevant feminist blogs, where self-admitted non-victim women find various “trigger-warned” or “non-trigger-warned” posts “triggering.” This just isn’t how PTSD works in reality. For those who need help coping, some basic tips can be found here: http://ptsd.about.com/od/selfhelp/a/CopingTriggers.htm, and a professional therapist can be found for free through almost any university or through DSHS. Further, those who have been victims of a crime that they’ve decided to prosecute have a victim’s rights advocate at their disposal throughout the court process and even after.

But saying that what follows in a blog post might trigger you is either too broad to be useful or a reference to one’s particular triggering event, and thus, counterproductive. Please don’t misconstrue my feelings about this as a lack of compassion. I just vehemently disagree with this particular approach to “helping” victims. Coping strategies, not victimhood, are what must be taught.

52 bluharmony January 5, 2013 at 12:12 am

Here’s a comment left on another woman’s blog about the uselessness and harm of “trigger warnings.”

“No one disputes that PTSD has triggers.
No one disputes that, during recovery, avoidance of those triggers can be helpful.
The problem comes when recovery never comes, in part because the PTSD itself becomes a lifestyle.

Trauma victims must have as a primary goal complete and unfettered re-entry into normal adulthood, which includes the ability to engage on any topic you deem fit.

If you are still in recovery and avoidance is necessary, it is self-destructive to frequent blogs that contain triggers. And it is foolish to expect blogs to warn you that you might not be able to handle the content.

The aim of PTSD therapy is to become an adult again, not to become permanently child-like and in need of Mommy to make clear your path. It’s hard and painful work. Enabling an adolescent half-way point where being a victim becomes one’s identity is an evil act.

Compassion and nurturing soon becomes its own patriarchal structure, telling you not to worry your pretty little head about this important topic because you can’t handle it. You are imprisoning people, limiting them, in doing so.”

It would be good if the reasonable amongst us stopped hindering progress in the recovery of actual victims with needless hysteria and the unwitting paternalism/sexism propagated by men like Michael Nugent in his post(s).

See: http://trueslant.com/susannahbreslin/2010/04/14/trigger-warnings-dont-work-heres-why/?p=532?utm_source=allactivity&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=20100414

53 Ess Bee January 5, 2013 at 12:14 am

Blu, thanks for the response. I guess that makes sense, and I’m glad to hear that you have worked with and supported individuals struggling with trauma and related mental/emotional conditions.

I disagree, I believe the warnings are harmless at worst and helpful at best and therefor including them or not including them is a matter of preference. But I see where you’re coming from. I’m not bothered by people discussing their victimization or identifying as a victim. There’s no shame in admitting to having been victimized and figuring out your own path to recovery.

For anyone claiming to have been victimized or identifying as a victim who hasn’t actually experienced any corresponding trauma, it’s a non problem. There are always people playing the victim card, either consciously or unconsciously, in any group of people. Feminism is no worse or better, IMHO, so it’s a non-problem.

54 bluharmony January 5, 2013 at 12:47 am

Bee: I’m glad we can agree to disagree in a friendly way. I appreciate your viewpoint, and agree at least to the extent that some people indeed say that they find trigger warnings helpful, and it is certainly not my place or intent to invalidate their experiences. It’s always of concern to me, however, when someone unqualified tries to takes charge of someone else’s emotional well-being. The goal should be to help those suffering from PTSD recover and reach independence, rather than to vet and label online content for them in a few isolated blogs, a service that they will never find in other areas of the internet or their lives, and thus, should not be taught to rely on.

55 Iamcuriousblue January 5, 2013 at 1:21 am

This discussion also raises the other problem with trigger warnings, namely the not-so-subtle suggestion that one should be SHOCKED by what one is about to hear. Hence, I think trigger warnings should be regarded much the same way propaganda and other attempts to persuade based on appeals to emotion. Not to say some appeal to emotion is always inappropriate in an argument, but one should be wary of very obvious attempts to manipulate strong, visceral emotional reactions.

56 Iamcuriousblue January 5, 2013 at 1:24 am

#39 – Of course, Luna, because the surest definition of “rational” is that they agree with you, even when you’ve made no argument for your point whatsoever. Silly me for not keeping that in mind.

57 Ess Bee January 5, 2013 at 1:39 am

Blu, thanks for the conversation. You make some good points.

Curious blue: perhaps content notes/trigger warnings are better in some places than others? The impression I’ve gotten is that they are meant to help create ‘safe spaces’ where individuals who may be recovering from trauma can go to discuss current events and ideas with an expectation of sensitivity. Bloggers have the right to try to create such ‘safe spaces’ if they want to, but no one *has* to give content notes or seek out safe spaces.

I honestly don’t believe that content notes/trigger warnings are “very obvious attempts to manipulate strong, visceral emotional reactions.” The use of the word ‘manipulation’ implies intent, and it’s uncharitable to assume bloggers intend to manipulate visceral emotional reactions. The intention is to prepare and protect readers of content they may not want to read, like an ‘R’ rating of a movie, you can choose to continue or not with an abstract idea of the content. If the warnings *do* evoke such strong visceral emotional reactions it is probably unintentional on the part of the writers.

58 bluharmony January 5, 2013 at 4:39 am

@Bee: I agree that the intent on most people’s part is probably good, but to the extent the motivation for blogging or activism is driven, even in part, by profit, human beings will behave like human beings. Still, I’m willing to grant the presumption of good will when I have no evidence to indicate otherwise. That’s why I’m more empathetic to Sarkeesian than Watson, for example. (I also think that Sarkeesian makes some valid points about gender stereotypes — the subject of her master’s thesis — while Watson and the Skepchicks don’t understand feminism at all.) I also find what happened to the fifteen-year-old extremely disturbing, but it’s still either deceitful or ignorant to say that the response she got was triggered only by her gender and not her explicitly sexual comment, “Bracin’ my anus.”

Michael Nugent’s description of the four incidents I know of is woefully, but hopefully not intentionally, incomplete. While nothing those women did merited the *sexist* response they got, it does make me wonder what’s been left out of the other stories. If intentional, the incomplete information is manipulation too. In fact, his post entirely misses the points made by TF.

Very few of us, if anyone, is denying that women experience sexism in real life and also online. If anyone is denying this, they certainly can be shown differently with ample evidence to the contrary. And I wish that’s what we were doing rather than plowing forth based on ideology, misleading statements, and impressions alone.

Needless to say, men experience sexism and rape as well, though not in the same way that women do. And we’ve reached the point where ignoring legitimate complaints made by men causes a backlash against feminists and makes things worse for everyone. That is, for all women, everywhere, and for decent men, too.

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