Paula Kirby and the Sisterhood

In Feminism and Women Atheist Activists, part I and II, I mentioned Paula Kirby‘s involvement in the Elevatorgate controversy. She has remained relatively silent on the issue with the exception of her substantial post on Why Evolution Is True a year ago. This week she produced a more robust commentary titled The Sisterhood of the Oppressed. It’s well worth reading if you have the time. Like many members of the community, she emphasizes the toxic discourse promoted by Freethought Blogs.

The dissenting response to Rebecca Watson et al. was initially reactionary and defensive, but as the controversy has developed, so has the “other side,” which seems to agree that a section of the skeptic and atheist communities are engaging in bullying behavior, hence the twitter hashtag #FTBullies. If you want more detailed coverage, I suggest looking at Gurdur’s post on what he refers to as the Hobbesian civil war among atheists.

Kirby is now asking for messages if you are sick of the bullying behaviour. Some of the messages point to distinctions between different types of feminism (Freethought Blogs is associated with radical feminism) and the need to focus on real issues. Ed Brayton, owner of Freethought Blogs, is calling for Kirby to be shunned:

I’d honestly never heard of Paula Kirby before this, someone had to tell me who she was. But anyone who uses ‘feminazi’ and ‘famistasi’ in this manner has lost all credibility with me forever. She should be shunned by the atheist community for it.

Shunned? Really? This follows on Greg Laden’s resignation and the ejection of Thunderf00t for “behavior towards other members of the community.”


10 thoughts on “Paula Kirby and the Sisterhood

  1. FTB is most certainly not associated with radical feminism. Taslima is and maybe Sikivu, but Natalie, Greta, Richard, Dan and several other have written articles criticizing radical feminism for being sex-negative and transphobic. Support of anti-harassment policies is not considered a radical position.

  2. FTB is most certainly associated with radical feminism and by many people. Just check out the #FTBullies hashtag on twitter. Try saying something against rad fem ideology on pharyangula, you’ll soon find out.

    • If radical feminism is associated with FTB the same way communism is associated with Obama, the statement makes sense but isn’t evidence of anything other than lots of people not knowing what they are talking about. Can you point to anything specific anyone really said or explain what you think radical feminism is?

  3. Democratus Reno: To be honest I just felt like correcting you, and I have no interest in getting into a discussion about this since this will get neither of us anywhere. If you are interested search and you don’t know her already check out SaltyCurrent’s comments. She’s a hoot. Toodles.

  4. That’s a pretty standard move in my mind: point to diversity and heterogeneity as a way of avoiding general criticisms. I haven’t used the word dogma in this post, so I feel no need to address that, but a monolithic ideology (ideological adherents always have a distributions of attitudes) is not necessary for making general statements about a perspective or movement.

    There’s an individualistic bias to Reed’s post, which embraces heterogeneity on the one hand while flattening feminism as a social and intellectual movement by attributing only one unifying tenet to its various ideologies. This is a way of curtailing criticism: if you’re skeptical of one facet of the movement(s), e.g., radical feminists, you are skeptical of feminism itself (women’s rights) because feminists aren’t a homogeneous group.

    The critic is left responding to individuals despite the fact that those individuals share certain conceptions that can be identified with particular ideologies.One can make general statements about radical feminism as a variation in feminist identity, e.g., particular elements of feminist theory, the way oppression manifests through patriarchy, concepts adopted from Marxism (false-consciousness), women’s enabling behavior (gender traitorism), gender situated knowledge, the male gaze, etc.

    • Who on FTB has used narratives of gender traitor-ism, false consciousness or gender-situated knowledge? That Natalie post was firmly against the latter, in fact. Taslima did argue the first two, but everyone disagrees with her. The male gaze is a media criticism idea and as such rarely comes up on FTB, but I don’t see how it’s very radical, nor is the patriarchy as a concept. What do you think original flavor feminism looks like?

  5. Also, I’m not sure how pointing to diversity could not be valid. If someone is criticizing feminist for being anti-porn or anti-het-sex, I would think pointing out that the vast majority of feminists also think those positions are wrong and possibly contrary to feminism would be very relevant. That’s what Natalie is addressing: People who point to some other feminist saying something she disagrees with and expecting it to be a blow against feminism in general.

    If someone said that atheists are disingenuous assholes and pointed to Pat Condell to prove their point, would you point out that you and most atheists are non anti-immigrant and don’t endorse borderline white-supremacist political parties, or would this be avoiding the question?

    • I might turn my response into a blog post because it will likely be too long for a comment. When I am next near a computer (currently on my phone) I will throw something together.

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