By Sasha - 13 Jun 2012

Help us find harassment policies.

We’re still working on building our list of secular/skeptical/science events with harassment policies. It’s grown some since we started, but we need your help. Even if you don’t know about the policy, please comment here with the name of an event you attend or organize and, ideally, a link to their webpage. I’ll do the work of tracking down a policy they may have that we can’t find.

I think this is a non-controversial but important step. The more it becomes the norm for our events to articulate their willingness and desire to make everyone welcome the better things will be for everyone who attends. (After we have a good frip on harassment policies I hope to start a similar resource for disability accommodations.)

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By Sasha - 11 Jun 2012

Donate to SSA and get a sweet new nickname

I’m a big fan of the Secular Student Alliance. For more than a decade they have been helping secular students organize for mutual support and activism. They provide resources to students, educators, and alumni to make schools safer and more welcoming for secularists. They are a true grass roots organization that is training and empowering the next generation of secular leaders and thinkers. They are also more diverse than most secular groups with older memberships. All this is awesome stuff and I’m a moral as well as financial supporter.

Running an international group that does everything the SSA does takes money. It takes the help of people like me and you. This week is SSA Week, where the SSA is trying to raise $100,000 by June 16th. Right now SSA supporters Jeff Hawkins and Janet Strauss have pledged a $250,000 matching offer. What that means is that every dollar you donate is doubled. This is amazingly generous of Hawkins and Strauss and this week is our chance to make a huge difference in the future of secularism.

Like a lot of bloggers I’ve created my own fundraising page for SSA Week. Like a lot of bloggers I’m offering a personal reward for those who donate. Between now and June 16th, if you go and donate through my page I will create a personalized nickname just for you! I’m actually pretty good at nicknames. My younger brother is named Frank but I started calling him Dewey and now we all do. You too could have an awesome nickname! Just go donate $5 or more, and be sure to opt in to the “Honor Roll” so I can see who has made a donation. I’ll be updating this post with the awesome nicknames people have received. (If you would like to donate without a sweet nickname, you can definitely do that. If you would like your donation and nickname to be private, just send me an email with your receipt and you’ll get your nickname privately.)

Sweet Nicknames for people who have donated:

  1. Christopher “The Swingin’ Vegan” Baker
  2. Sarah “Broslayer” Moglia
  3. Benjamin “Osmium Ben” Stonier
  4. Anne “The Professor” Sauer
  5. Brianne “Nomadic Lens” Bilyeu
  6. Kate “Juice” Baker
  7. “Cavalry” Carl Tracy
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By Zeke Russell - 04 Jun 2012

Response to angry “Let’s Be Friends” poem by male poet.

(More Than Men has addressed “the friendzone” before. Here’s a poem on a related topic by the Slam Master of Mill City Slam in Lowell, MA. – Sasha)

I know
that if anyone saves me in my hour of need
it will be one of my ex-girlfriends.

One ex-girlfriend
got me a job
when I was destitute.

My ex
Michele
who is a nurse
treated the cut on my arm
when I didn’t have health insurance
it would have gone septic she said
if I’d waited any longer.

My ex Rebekah
is a lawyer
haven’t needed her yet
but I will.

All these women
still in my life
still sharing
something

Maybe I learned it from my folks
married for two years
divorced for 25
when my father died
no one wept
harder than my mother.

And I know
it can tear you up
to see an old lover
with someone else
it’s bad if they’re happy
it’s worse if they’re not.

But here’s the secret
when they ask me
during the break up
if we can still be friends
I know they’re trying to make an easy out
but I laugh
because I know something they don’t
they can’t sell me something
I’ve already got.

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By Sasha - 01 Jun 2012

We Need to Talk: Harassment and hookups.

As I wrote on Wednesday, I don’t see how there is anything controversial about events having or enforcing policies about harassment. We’ve even started building a list of existing harassment policies at conferences as a resource for event organizers, attendees, and speakers. Unfortunately it does seem like a lot of people do think these policies are a bad idea for our events.

One reason I’ve seen given in opposition to harassment policies is that they are prudish and they inhibit the ability for adults to express their sexuality. Basically they say that these policies have a “chilling”  effect on skeptics and atheists meeting and having sex at conferences. Others argue that not having and enforcing these policies have a “chilling” effect on women attending in large numbers.

Do policies regarding appropriate behavior at events inhibit anyone’s ability for consensual sex at these events? Is it the responsibility for skeptic and atheist event organizers to facilitate or even take in to account the ability of attendees to have sex at their events?

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By Sasha - 30 May 2012

Harassment policies are a good thing

When asked what to do to make skeptic and atheist events feel more safe for women attendees and speakers, Stephanie Zvan blogged about a pretty simple thing to do: institute, publicize, and enforce anti-harassment policies. This is such an obvious step that I’m surprised every event doesn’t have a clear policy in place. While there are some wild-eyed contrarians (and possible assholes) who think that harassment policies are oppressive and horrible, most people seem to agree that they’re a good idea and Stephanie’s post is making some real progress.

I think having a clearly stated, publicly posted, and evenly enforced policy is a no-brainer for anyone organizing an event. No only does it make it clear to attendees that you take their safety and comfort a priority, but it also helps organizers cover themselves in the case something happens. Not to mention it protects people from false accusations. These are all reasons why workplaces have these policies. These are all reasons we should have them at our events. To address the claim that harassment policies are “prudish” or “sex negative” I can offer my own non-prudish, sex positive testimony that it’s very much possible to meet, flirt, and proposition, and have sex with someone at an event without violating a harassment policy. I’m not the smoothest person around, either. If I can manage it, I believe you can too. Believe in yourselves!

I think this new attention on harassment policies and how easy they are to find is a great thing for our communities. Elyse Anders wrote on Skepchick about a negative experience she had at an event. The great takeaway from that is that despite the jerks who caused problems for her and another speaker, people came away with a lot of respect and appreciation for the event organizers because they had a policy and they enforced it when it was needed. We can’t stop people from being horrible, but we can make it clear that we don’t tolerate bad behavior and that can make a huge difference.

Other than typing a bunch of hot air, what are we doing about this here at More Than Men? We’ve started a page where we will collect links to the harassment policies for skeptic, atheist, and science conferences. Please check it out and share what links you can. I’m starting with the few I know of without being able to do any research today.

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By Jason Thibeault - 28 May 2012

Making casual bigotry cost, with minimal splash damage

Avoiding messes makes you adorable.

In real life, I can be hot-headed. I can speak before thinking, and sometimes this involves a notable lack of decorum. That sometimes bleeds through onto my internet dealings, but I do make an effort to keep that to a minimum.

I am also very intolerant of intolerance and bigotry — I really hope that fact bleeds through, because it’s pretty much at the core of my character. I’ve dressed down co-workers and acquaintances for ridiculous bits of bigotry in the past, even at potential personal cost. Two specific incidents spring to mind immediately: “that’s so gay!” used to refer to something the woman didn’t like, and “what does WIFE stand for? Washing, ironing, fucking, et cetera!” from a friend’s newly-introduced male fiancee. In both cases, I tried to register disapproval in such a way that it was both about their words being unacceptable generally, and because I was personally offended. In the latter case, my friend — let’s call her Laura, which is neither her name nor initial — and others were present, and she did not chime in, so the encounter ended effectively immediately after I registered my disapproval. The conversation moved on from there.

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By Sasha - 25 May 2012

We Need to Talk: Where are we wasting our time?

In Wednesday’s post I implied that a lot of people think that combating sexism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and ableism are too political and are not really something that skeptics should be worried about. Obviously I disagree but there are well known skeptic speakers who definitely think that those are not a part of “scientific skepticism” and we should instead only talk about ghost lights, psychics, and how stupid Catholics are. The idea seems to be that there was a “skeptical canon” established some time in the mid-20th century and that if we apply skepticism outside that we’re doing skepticism wrong or are “being political” and not rational. On the other hand, lots of skeptics I know think that, for example, cryptozoology is kind of silly and is a waste of time.

What topics make up this theoretical “skeptical canon”? What topics do skeptics spend a lot of uncontroversial (within skepticism) time on that you think are a big waste of time?

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By Sasha - 23 May 2012

Why I am a Male Feminist

This is what misogynists think of men who support women. (Source: What Men Are Saying About Women)

About a month ago, I was asked by an anti-feminist MRA on Twitter why I “believe in feminism”.  I glibly replied that I am a feminist because I’m not a horrible person. The thing is, he’s not the only man who seems surprised by men who label themselves as a feminist and who work passionately toward equality for women. Perhaps I ought to explain where I am coming from and why this is important to me. Perhaps that will help other men understand why it should be important to them.

In addition to being a feminist I am a trans, gay, lesbian, and bisexual ally. I am opposed to racism and ableism. I am in favor of economic and social justice. Those of us live today have inherited a world that is globally unfair for billions of people. That has to change. Just because, for the most part, I am not amongst the groups who are discriminated against, oppressed, and punished for being “different” does not mean these are not issues I should care about. My rights are tainted and become privileges when they are denied to others. I want to see, and I am working for, a world where rights and opportunities are equally available to all.

I don’t buy the idea that some amount of injustice is tolerable because “that’s just how the world is.” As a skeptic and an atheist I am already bucking the system, I am challenging the status quo of irrationality and theism. It’s only natural that I should challenge the status quo that oppresses and disenfranchises some people for who they are and how they were born. To say that we skeptics and atheists should only use reason to challenge the way things are when it comes to bigfoot, UFOs, alternative medicine, and “psychic frauds” is a position that lacks empathy for our fellow human being. It lacks humanity.

I don’t buy the argument that we should avoid being “political”. The skeptic and atheist movements are deeply involved in politics. As human beings our lives are political. To say that we should challenge the political machinations of those who deny climate change and evolution or of those who pass laws based on religion, but that we should stay above the fray when it comes to rights for women, the disabled, and sexual and racial minorities is callous, hypocritical, and lacks humanity. To say that those fights — fights against people who use religion, faulty logic, and pseudo-science to make their cases — are “political” or are a “special interest” is wrong. It treats people who are different from us in some way (by being a woman, being trans, being disabled, etc) as less important than we are. It treats them as less than human. The position that climate change is something we can address but women’s access to healthcare is something we cannot is a position that smacks of privilege and sexism. It is based on the privilege of men to ignore the issue and it is sexist because it says that half of humanity can be left to fend for themselves.

Human rights are not a special interest and I am a feminist because I’m not a horrible person.

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By Anthroslug - 21 May 2012

Gender, Sex, and Where They Don’t Meet

[This article was first published on November 23, 2011]

My partner, Kaylia, has many friends who are part of the transgender community.  These are people who don’t fit the traditional gender roles in that they are living as members of the opposite sex, are undergoing medical procedures to change sex, don’t find themselves fitting into either male or female sex roles, or are biologically not clearly male or female to begin with.  The tendency in society in general (and here in Fresno in particular) is to treat these people with confusion, fear, and/or skepticism as to their gender or lack thereof.  Natalie of the Skepchick blog argues, with a good deal of success, that this is due to a discomfort that people have with having their notions of gender challenged.  While I agree, I think that it also comes from a basic miscomprehension of what, exactly, gender is to begin with.  Gender and sex are not the same thing, and this seems to be at the root of much of the problem.

I was first introduced to the concept of gender as something other than a synonym for biological sex during my freshman year of college.  This was a difficult concept to wrap my head around, having grown up in a time and culture in which we are in many ways obsessed with observing, reinforcing, challenging, and critiquing a binary male/female idea of gender.  The notion that there might be more than two genders simply did not compute because we only formally recognize two genders that roughly correspond to one’s genitals*.  While even my own culture’s notions of gender don’t quite line up with biological sex, the insistence otherwise tends to blind one to this and make it difficult to conceive of the idea that there may be more than two genders.

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By Sasha - 18 May 2012

We Need to Talk: Old Fashioned Values

Wednesday’s post only got one comment here on the site, but I’ve looked at the discussion elsewhere on the web. Some people have said that when I see warning signs for misogyny I’m really just being mean and hateful to people with old fashioned values. I would argue that in many cases “old fashioned values” are misogynist, racist, and homophobic, but apparently some disagree.

What are some old fashioned values that are used to perpetuate and reinforce bigotry? What are some old fashioned values that are worth keeping?

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