Are we seeing the end of the JREF/CFI/Etc Misogynarchy? (Moar Updated)

Update: Never mind, Never mind! Scientific American Blogs has taken down Dr. Stollznow's post. So, I guess everything is OK now! False Alarm, everyone go home. Nothing to see here.

Say you are a woman in the Skeptics or Secular movement, professional, possibly working for one of the big organizations. If you are sexually harassed (or worse), the way you get your voice heard is, apparently, to blog your heart out, or use an anonymous tumbler.

That is wrong. Organizations such as JREF and CFI should have been places that were safe, and that would facilitate and amplify your voice as needed.

But CFI and JREF have been run by members of the Misogynarchy. So that has not been possible.

With recent revelations and events, perhaps the Misogynarchists will move aside and those with 21st century, instead of 19th century, sensibilities in these matters will take over and organizations that claim to support rational thinking, humanism, and such will stop being brokers of meat markets and instead be places where progressive voices can be heard and women (and men) can be not only safe but also find advocacy.

I once suggested that DJ Grothe resign. I now demand it. People seemed to be less intent on suggesting resignation for Ron Lindsay after he royally screwed the pooch a couple of months ago by forgetting his role as a leader, but now, really, he should too. Not because of these new revelations. But because the whole damn patriarchy has to go.


If you don't know what I'm talking about, I've provided a list of essential links, in the order you should read them, below. Enjoy. Or, more likely, get a little sick to your stomach and then perhaps break something or feel really sad for a while:

Added: Ron Lindsay's response defending CFI.

More like this

If available, could you please present a comprehensive list of these "misogynarchists" who have to be removed from their positions?

Also, if possible, a comprehensive list of those who will replace them?

By Claus Larsen (not verified) on 07 Aug 2013 #permalink

There's DJ Groethe who has shown that he likes sexual predators (may even be one with his "lol I want to watch you get gang raped" statement he made to someone) and actively hates women.
There's Ron Lindsay

That's a start. And we can worry about replacing later. Removing awful people isn't contingent on whether we can find anyone to replace them. Only an idiot would think replacing people who are awful at their jobs hinges on finding someone better.

I agree with Dbp, getting rid of misogynists is more important than finding people to replace them with.

I once worked for a CEO who the stockholders and the rest of management wanted to replace, but he would lurch the company from one crisis to another because no one wants to replace a CEO during a crisis. This is exactly what misogynists in positions of power will do.

By daedalus2u (not verified) on 09 Aug 2013 #permalink


Thank you for your response.

No one can feel safe, then, and you won't tell us who are slated to fill the positions.

Could you at least tell us who is in control of this grand scheme?

By Claus Larsen (not verified) on 09 Aug 2013 #permalink

Claus, you are being ridiculous. But that is sort of like saying "Ice is cold."

Anyway, I don't think the argument that there needs to be a change in leadership has anything to do with the need for some successionist scheme. The broader community as well as these organizations have vast and diverse talent. The idea that Ron Lindsay or DJ Grothe are irreplaceable is absurd.

Of course, each of these men and others in charge have something important; links to funders. That is why (I assume) they are where they are. It may well be that those who fund CFI, JREF, and other organizations have no problem with what appears to be a widening scandal.

It is funny, though to see the same people who demanded instant action when one of the largest organizations in the world had internal sexual harassment and abuse issues, now having those issues, on a much smaller and seemingly much more manageable scale. (And different issues in some other ways as well)

I had an epiphany this morning, which I thought I would share.

I just realized why issues of consent for sex are so controversial in Skepticism.

Because the default mindset in Skepticism is always “I don't know”.

If you haven't asked the question “do you want to have sex with me” in unambiguous terms and in a place and under circumstances where your potential partner feels safe enough to say “no”, or even “hell NO!”, then you are doing it wrong and are not a Skeptic and you don't care whether a “yes” or “no” is voluntary and uncoerced.

That is why there was so much push back against Rebecca Watson in elevator gate when she said “guys don't do that”. She wasn't telling guys to never ask women if they want to have sex, she was saying only ask that question at a time and in a place and under circumstances where a woman would feel completely safe to say “no”, because if she doesn't feel safe, then it is coercive. Maybe not as coercive as gamma-hydroxybutyrate, a knife or a firearm, but it is still coercive.

This isn't a big deal for guys who are mature in their Skepticism. They use cognition and reason to determine their actions. They only know things by going from facts to conclusions by using valid logic. If you don't have an unambiguous answer to an unambiguous question, as a Skeptic you have to default to “I don't know”.

This is also why there is so much push back. Because in Skepticism, the default is always “I don't know”. Skepticism should be a place where if a woman is unconscious and so obviously can't say “yes, I want to have sex with this specific person who has asked”, she has not consented to sex. If she is cognitively impaired by excess alcohol, she has not consented to sex.

Once you explain it, it becomes, “oh right, duh”, like many things in Skepticism. Of course, non-skeptics want to maintain their non-skeptical world view because they benefit from it by having sex with women who have not consented to having sex with them. All Skeptics are better off without them. Certainly female skeptics would be better off, but so would male skeptics. If every place where there are Skeptics becomes a safe and non-coercive place, then everyone of good will benefits.

There will continue to be push-back by pseudo-skeptics. They will continue to gas-light, to confuse, to increase the noise-to-signal ratio so they can use their real default, “all that matters is what I want”.

That is the whole point of the misogyny. To increase the “noise” so that even non-misogynists are perceived to be misogynistic. If misogynists make women feel unsafe everywhere, then there is no place that non-misogynists can ask them if they want to have sex. Misogynists don't care about the answer, so it doesn't matter to them. A toxic environment only inhibits the non-misogynists.

Top-down power hierarchies can only be "safe" when there is a powerful agent at the top of the top-down power hierarchy. But then it is only as "safe" as the safety of that agent. If the agent is a misogynist, then so is the whole organization. If there is no hierarchy, then the agent at the top does not channel the power of the organization through his/her agency.

By daedalus2u (not verified) on 10 Aug 2013 #permalink

Oops sorry I see it is already there. I did not recognize the name and thought it broke after your post...

I agree that this is a big part of the pushback against Rebecca Watson. I'm not so sure if it explains why a certain percentage of men at skeptics events are clueless about this stuff, but it could be.

Actually, sailor, I'm pointing to a different post. At the moment I can't edit posts, add new ones, or even moderate comments because the Scienceblogs back end is dead.

Greg, are you going to the Atheist meeting in Boston?

By daedalus2u (not verified) on 10 Aug 2013 #permalink


Who could you see replace Lindsay and Grothe?

By Claus Larsen (not verified) on 11 Aug 2013 #permalink


Surely, you must have given it some thought.

By Claus Larsen (not verified) on 11 Aug 2013 #permalink