Posting the conversation in response to this from the Nirmukta FB group:
Well done, Ajita. And it was thanks to the shout-out PZ Myers gave in Pharyngula that I reached 'Nirmukta.'
3 hours ago · Unlike · 2 people
I don't have a dog in this fight but I am struggling to see why this is an issue. Other than a disbelief in supernatural, what other restrictions are imposed on the admins of this group? If you start with gender, how about sexual orientation -- are there any homosexuals in the admin group? How about left handers? Seriously though, unless the group charter enforces it, gender has nothing to do with the efficient running of any group.
Now if you seriously think there is sexism going on, then first you have to show that the gender of the admin has anything to do with the meritocratic nature of a group in the first place. Moreover, you have to have enough data to support that females are being prevented from achieving the admin status. And finally, using PZ Myer's response is simply an appeal to authority -- has nothing to do with the veridicality of the issue.
about an hour ago · Like
Let's start with this. https://sindeloke.wordpress.com/2010/01/13/37/
I'm sure the others will take it from there:
about an hour ago · Unlike · 1 person
All - please take it to the forum, not here. Ajita has posted the link above.
about an hour ago · Unlike · 2 people
OK, here we go. I'll present some reasons, but I'm sure as usual this is not going to go over easy.
Firstly, yes, you do have a dog in this "fight". If you didn't, you would have NO reason to oppose the events that transpired. Unless, of course, you were just using the phrase for rhetorical effect, in which case, ignore this bit. You are a male, I presume. The outcome of this "fight" affects you. It continues to perpetuate the male privilege (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male_privilege
) that we enjoy.
"If you start with gender, how about...."
Whataboutery. Yes, there are other inequalities. But we are talking about this one. And this one is PRETTY DARN OBVIOUS.
"gender has nothing to do with the efficient running of any group."
Efficiency is not without its values premises. We can argue that the British were rather efficient rulers of the Indian state, in their own way. The plantation owners of the Southern United States were pretty efficient in their use of slavery to produce goods. The value premises of equality and freedom declare that the sort of efficiency described in those two examples cannot hold water in any civilized conversation.
Now, of course, the two examples I presented are far more extreme. But the point of the analogy was to demonstrate that there are always premises involved, and the "efficiency" argument is misleading, especially given the point you made: "unless the group charter enforces it". In civilized society, there are many ideas that are enforced without explicitly stating them. That is the essence of being cultured. Sometimes these premises are not clear, often due to privilege and ignorance of how it works to affect others, but that is why we have discourse.
"first you have to show that the gender of the admin has anything to do with the meritocratic nature of a group in the first place."
This just doesn't compute. It doesn't seem to be logically coherent. I think what you actually may be saying is that the group should be a meritocracy, and that gender shouldn't be privileged.
Well, I am saying that gender is privileged, and it is the male gender that is being ascribed a privileged place in this group, as in much of society at large.
"Moreover, you have to have enough data to support that females are being prevented from achieving the admin status. "
It astounds me that people think this is a logical argument, when it is in actuality a profoundly sexist one. It is the same argument that White supremacists use when talking about affirmative action- Blacks are just too stupid/criminal/perverted. It is also of the same form used by "upper castes" when denying affirmative action to the "lower castes". Essentially, it is an argument born out of ignorance about how privilege works. It is ignorance of psychology. It is ignorance of how institutionalized and historical factors affect how individuals perceive society.
In the post on the forums I posted two articles on the glass ceiling for women, and how male dominated society prevents women from reaching positions of power. If you had read it, you may not have said what you did. But I'll explain a little.
The psychology of sexism if complicated, but it is somewhat well understood. Gender roles are not just biologically determined, as we men, because we're the ones in power, like to think. They are also culturally determined to some extent. There are experiments that demonstrate that, for instance, priming women with hope against conventional thinking can get them to perform better in math. Priming them by reminding them that women do worse than men usually at math, makes them do worse. Watch this talk, you may get some pointers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-X62CBTv44
We all suffer prejudice. Harvard's project implicit has a program that demonstrates how bad this problem is. http://implicit.harvard.ed
For example, even Black people associate negative stereotypes with other Black faces. These are the ways in which social conditioning affect our social roles. And this is how male privilege works to keep women out of positions of power.
Finally on this point, this whole debate about women in positions of power in the atheist movement is not new. The standard arguments about there being fewer women atheists has been shown to be inadequate in explaining the discrepancy in women and minorities in positions of power, for example at atheist conferences. In the last few international atheist and skeptic conferences, conscious efforts were made to address this problem. While there are plenty of female atheists who have done a lot to advance the cause of atheism, it is the men who are considered the leaders of the movement. Here's one list of women:
To take one telling example, Dan Barker and his wife Annie Laurie are co-presidents of the freedom from religion foundation in the US, the largest freethought group in the country by membership. This is a big organization. Annie Laurie has said that Dan is the one who gets invited to conferences, TV appearances, talk shows, radio shows, podcast interviews, talks etc etc. But the fact is, the organization was actually founded by Annie Laurie and her mother many decades ago, way before she met Dan. In fact, Dan was an evangelical preacher when they met, and she was instrumental in his conversion to atheism.
And they both co-host the FFRF's podcast, and she is as sharp or even sharper than he is.
"And finally, using PZ Myer's response is simply an appeal to authority"
Did anyone use PZ's response to make the argument? You seem to misunderstand the appeal to authority, and it is your invocation of it here that is the fallacy. PZ's has said a lot on the subject of male privilege. But in the post I made on the forums (if you bothered to read it) I present my case very well, and just pointed out PZ's involvement because it worked to get the implicit sexism on that thread to stop. I did mention PZ's involvement because PZ agreed with me, but that hardly makes PZ the authority here, does it? It's not like I referred to PZ's prior arguments to make my case. I made my case BEFORE PZ weighed in.
If you knew some of the many arguments we have had here, you'd know that we have discussed this before, and there is no need to PZ to make my case for me.
But take a look at that thread in the atheism group. Who STFU after PZ came in and made his points? Not those of us who PZ agreed with, but those who didn't think there was any problem here. That is, when the authority figure came in and made his decisions, it is those who espoused YOUR view who backed out. Of course, they may still disagree. But that only makes it further clear that they view a male authority figure as a leader.
In fact, the very reason why I invited PZ to come in and shake things up is because I knew that sexist chauvinists would only listen to someone like him, and would hesitate to spew their snide privileged comments. Disgusting, but true.
Finally, I am not interested in carrying on this conversation forever here. I have better things to do. But OUR group has a clear charter regarding our mission, which includes promoting equality. There is a limit to the amount of prejudice we can put up with. The information has been made available. The choice is yours.
Male privilege - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Male privilege is a sociological term that refers quite generally to the special rights or status granted to men in a society, on the basis of their sex or gender, but usually denied to women and/or transsexuals.
10 minutes ago · Like ·