The Glass Ceiling in Atheist Circles - Few Women in Positions Of Power
#13
Okai, from the replies I got, I am sure I did a horrible job of explaining the hypothetical situation I prodded on.

This post is only the history, i.e. the comments that went back-n-forth. My reply comes in the next post.
So if you already know what happened, pass on to the next post.

Suraj Wrote:Just to play devil's advocate (regarding that blog link / dog-gecko story) because I am curious as to how this could play out: "I am a religious person, you making making fun (read: criticize) of my beliefs is not fair", do we listen and stop? No matter how poorly argued a stance it is, it is a *real* concern for the religious.

Just curious. As for the admin issue, I have a slightly different opinion; will post it on the forum.

Response 1

Sunil Wrote:That analogy isn't a good one, in fact it's the reverse of what it should be - religiosity confers privilege, not atheism. Atheists are the marginalised group. So the analogy should instead be -

[Atheist] "I'm an atheist, you're excluding me by talking about how spirituality makes one a moral
person. I'm moral but I don't believe in god".

[Religious person, dismissing concern] "It doesn't matter. God believes in you."

PS please be wary of playing devil's advocate. It's the last of the derailing tactics in the DfD link above. The reason it's often a derail is that it takes what is a serious matter that harms people and turns it into an academic discussion - and of course it is the person with privilege who gets to do this.

Suraj Wrote:Okai, now we have a discussion rolling. smile

Before I address your point of view, ha, yes, I did say up front why I did mention the "Devil's advocate" clause. I am not, in the least, worried about criticizing religion and do so in a fairly open manner. I am not discomfitted by putting the religious in an uneasy position at least when I am on a topic/debate with them. Nor is the case that I put forth meant to be anything more than an "academic" discussion. All I want to do is explore the level to which this "privilege" can be pushed or if indeed it is a matter of big concern in many cases (it definitely is an important issue in particular case as Elevatorgate showed us, I agree).

Okai, now you say that as atheists, we are the marginalised group. Not entirely important to what I wanted to put across. Here is the thing, as a student of science and one who applies reason rather than emotion, I _know_ I think better, more rationally than someone who is high on religion and in a general a better person (yes, privilege?).

Now knowing that and a lot about religion, when I criticize the religious, the most common response I get isn't that "god still loves you" but rather a desperate demand that I don't criticize or tone it down a bit. Of course this is coated in words like "don't make fun of my beliefs, you don't believe in them so you wouldn't understand". This scenarios is an extension of what the author of the blog has written. That their beliefs are being questioned *is* a real concern for them. and the author is calling for protection on almost any such opinion (that might have some consensus, at least).

While I am all for equal rights for women - not just on paper, but in practice. And I do understand that the author really wants to put that across. It does work in clarifying the case of women having a hard time walking on the streets (simplified, for brevity's sake) but it remains an unnecessary or rather over-burdening requirement to _understand_ each and every other person's opinion AND act accordingly. In a certain way, it also demands political correctness which isn't acceptable because not everyone's opinion is correct. It is correct for "male privilege" to a certain degree.

A comment in between which I believe is directed to Ajita

Arjun Ishwar Wrote:Good job, talk about making an impact!

Response to my 2nd comment:

Ajita Wrote:Are you really comparing criticizing religious ideology with sexism?

I will give you the benefit of the doubt in this comment because you've been around on this group for a while, but your arguments make it clear that you are REFUSING to get it, and the "devil's advocate" and claim of "academic" discussion are diversionary tactics.

The story that you are referring to is not trying to convey that the powerful should respect the beliefs of those not in power. It is to point out that the powerful can be unaware of their privilege and therefore affect the RIGHTS of those not in power. That said, it is an analogy, and like all analogies it has its limitations.

One problem with your argument is this misunderstanding of yours:

"Here is the thing, as a student of science and one who applies reason rather than emotion.."

No, you apply emotion as well. We all do. You cannot help yourself, because emotions are an integral part of how the brain works. I don't want to go into this too deep because we have debated this point multiple times, here and elsewhere. This point goes to what I said in my previous comment about values premises. There are always values premises involved in any human action. When you claim that you do not have any, you are only REFUSING to acknowledge them. Read what Geetha wrote above.

The idea of criticizing religious belief being equivalent to not recognizing privilege doesn't hold up when look at it for what it really is. The former is about freedom of expression. The latter is about denying rights to someone else. Do you support the persecution of the religious in the name of criticizing religion? Do you support preventing them from worshiping? If you do, then you would be right in using the comparison. But as most of us recognize (because of our values premises), those actions would be fascistic.

Let me get more specific. You said that the religious argument often is:
""don't make fun of my beliefs, you don't believe in them so you wouldn't understand"
Of course this is a silly argument, but only as long as you are not forcing them to listen to your criticism of their beliefs. The people whose beliefs you criticize have a choice to not listen to your criticism of their beliefs. If you forced your beliefs on someone, most atheists would say you have no right to do that.
I will revert back to an analogy I used in my previous comment. A White slave owner has the right to express his belief that slavery is good. He can express it all he wanted, in "academic" settings, playing "devil's advocate". But he has no right to create and perpetuate the conditions where the slave's beliefs in freedom and equality cannot be realized.

Finally, enough with this here. Further discussion will be on the forums (link is in the opening statement to this thread). Please refrain from commenting further here, another more appropriate forum has been provided. This discussion has served its purpose in the group, and the air needs to be cleared here so that we can discuss other subjects relating to our cause.

And a follow up response, directed at me.

Rakshi Wrote:// I _know_ I think better, more rationally than someone who is high on religion and in a general a better person (yes, privilege?).//

No. Privilege is not about personal self-esteem. It is about the rights and privileges society/ societal conditioning confers on you to such an extent that it becomes the prism through which not only do you see the world, but the world sees you too. Privilege is about a power that is invisible.

Let me try and contextualise this to a situation in India. Men do not *HAVE* to think twice before getting on a crowded bus. That is the privilege of gender. And *not having to think twice* about it, is the invisibility of such privilege. It comes with the territory.

Women, by virtue of their gender, among other things MUST go through a process of putting oneself on guard, for something as 'normal' as getting on a crowded bus.

Now this is what transpired on facebook.

Lesson learnt: need to add more clarity to comments. My reply follows. (will take a short while)

Cheers,
Suraj
'The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.' - Carl Sagan
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#14
Quote:Are you really comparing criticizing religious ideology with sexism?

---No, absolutely not. I will never undermine the gravity of issues related to sexism. My original question, nor the follow up comment, has (or rather: wants) nothing to do with elevatorgate and every issue which women have to face on a daily basis.

Quote:I will give you the benefit of the doubt in this comment because you've been around on this group for a while, but your arguments make it clear that you are REFUSING to get it, and the "devil's advocate" and claim of "academic" discussion are diversionary tactics.

--- Continuing with how I started my comment, I also clarify that I understand what the author of the blog wanted to convey. Oh wait, and diversionary? What hidden agenda would I be pursing here or why would I attempt to nullify attempts to increase, actively, awareness amongst men to issues we tend to overlook because 'we don't understand what is cold'? and I merely used Sunil's term "academic". I am exploring a hypothetical (and perhaps rationalizable?) situation. All I didn't get was that the second to last paragraph. This part:

from the blog Wrote:So, quite simply: don’t be that dog. If you’re straight and a queer person says “do not title your book ‘Beautiful Cocksucker,’ that’s stupid and offensive,” listen and believe him. If you’re white and a black person says “really, now, we’re all getting a little tired of that What These People Need Is A Honky trope, please write a better movie,” listen and believe her. If you’re male and a woman says “this maquette is a perfect example of why women don’t read comics,” listen and believe her. Maybe you don’t see anything wrong with it, maybe you think it’s oh-so-perfect to your artistic vision, maybe it seems like an oversensitive big deal over nothing to you. WELL OF COURSE IT DOES, YOU HAVE FUR. Nevertheless, just because you personally can’t feel that hurt, doesn’t mean it’s not real. All it means is you have privilege.

-- I will, eventually, elaborate why I don't entirely agree with her (assuming that its a She, given the force and clarity with which the message was conveyed) on this.

Quote:The story that you are referring to is not trying to convey that the powerful should respect the beliefs of those not in power. It is to point out that the powerful can be unaware of their privilege and therefore affect the RIGHTS of those not in power. That said, it is an analogy, and like all analogies it has its limitations.
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The idea of criticizing religious belief being equivalent to not recognizing privilege doesn't hold up when look at it for what it really is. The former is about freedom of expression. The latter is about denying rights to someone else. Do you support the persecution of the religious in the name of criticizing religion? Do you support preventing them from worshiping? If you do, then you would be right in using the comparison. But as most of us recognize (because of our values premises), those actions would be fascistic.
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Let me get more specific. You said that the religious argument often is:
"don't make fun of my beliefs, you don't believe in them so you wouldn't understand"
Of course this is a silly argument, but only as long as you are not forcing them to listen to your criticism of their beliefs. The people whose beliefs you criticize have a choice to not listen to your criticism of their beliefs. If you forced your beliefs on someone, most atheists would say you have no right to do that.
I will revert back to an analogy I used in my previous comment. A White slave owner has the right to express his belief that slavery is good. He can express it all he wanted, in "academic" settings, playing "devil's advocate". But he has no right to create and perpetuate the conditions where the slave's beliefs in freedom and equality cannot be realized.

-- negative. I am not talking about respecting others opinion because they are powerful or powerless. My initial statement of playing Devil's advocate is essentially for this purpose. Like you, I do not respect religious beliefs. But do people have right to follow whatever they want, absolutely. I will passionately defend their right do so. Freedom of expression is what I will stand by.

I merely extended on what the author's paragraph which I quoted above. While the author's words might have been used as a literary device, I find it to be misleading or incomplete or that they pale in comparison to the rest of her entry which I would wholeheartedly share with my friends. That one paragraph is really is as weak using my example - replace straight with atheist, queer with deeply religious and the comment with "don't make fun of my beliefs, you don't believe in them so you wouldn't understand". If I leave it at that, it would be just nitpicking her entry; wouldn't be fair. My point being that there would certain choices we make which would be offensive to others, which would push them away. Some fight back. (Like Sunil correctly noted, atheists are ones marginalized. We fight back.). But nonetheless, there *should* be argument. Neither side should be mum. In a funny and in a manner typical of Southpark, there is a fine example of why something might mean something entirely different to what other perceive http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/25...good-sense (the entire episode has something in relation to this whole issue).

Really, the only status quo should be one where each individual should be free to be themselves. That would ideal and we are far from reaching that state. The idea shouldn't be "listen and believe". That is too shallow and (unknowingly) calling for a state of affairs where eventually any offense must be met with "Oh sorry sir/ma'am, I didn't mean to be offensive" or any other line or act along those lines. The idea should be to actively understand reason for opposition and argue and wrestle with it. Its not through _just_ voicing of opinions (however true it might be) of masses that we should accept a mistake we might be unconsciously making. Perhaps sound reasoning is present in those voices or perhaps in other venues.

That's all I wanted to illustrate and it transpired into so many lengthy comments. Perhaps I should've been clearer.

To cover the less important part:

Quote:One problem with your argument is this misunderstanding of yours:

"Here is the thing, as a student of science and one who applies reason rather than emotion.."

No, you apply emotion as well. We all do. You cannot help yourself, because emotions are an integral part of how the brain works. I don't want to go into this too deep because we have debated this point multiple times, here and elsewhere. This point goes to what I said in my previous comment about values premises. There are always values premises involved in any human action. When you claim that you do not have any, you are only REFUSING to acknowledge them. Read what Geetha wrote above.

--- damn it, I should've been more specific! Of course, my actions are informed by my biases (through the multitude of ways by which my biases are confirmed/broken). I am not refusing that I don't have emotions. That would be absurd. I am not sure why you would assume that, but anyways. I was remarking up how I, in almost all cases, reflect on an issue by reasoning with it than letting my emotion - happiness, anger, sorrow etc - overcome the scenario. More often than not.

Quote:Rakshi --- Very quickly, I'd like to add something here.

// I _know_ I think better, more rationally than someone who is high on religion and in a general a better person (yes, privilege?).//

No. Privilege is not about personal self-esteem. It is about the rights and privileges society/ societal conditioning confers on you to such an extent that it becomes the prism through which not only do you see the world, but the world sees you too. Privilege is about a power that is invisible.

--- Thank you for correcting me. smile

Quote:Let me try and contextualise this to a situation in India. Men do not *HAVE* to think twice before getting on a crowded bus. That is the privilege of gender. And *not having to think twice* about it, is the invisibility of such privilege. It comes with the territory.

Women, by virtue of their gender, among other things MUST go through a process of putting oneself on guard, for something as 'normal' as getting on a crowded bus.

--- I do know this and I empathize. I am not oblivious to reality (and that the reverse almost never happens and is mostly a non-issue). That said, my question - is "check your privilege" enough here? To say 'yes' (which I doubt you would say) would be to say that as far as men _understand_ what women go through on a daily basis, its all good. Knowing one's privilege isn't enough, imho. Just my $0.02.

Chers,
Suraj
'The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.' - Carl Sagan
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#15
--as for the real reason because of which this thread exists, I do have a few thoughts. But not tonight. smile

'The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.' - Carl Sagan
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#16
(27-Jul-2011, 11:44 AM)quazifnatik Wrote: The idea shouldn't be "listen and believe". That is too shallow and (unknowingly) calling for a state of affairs where eventually any offense must be met with "Oh sorry sir/ma'am, I didn't mean to be offensive" or any other line or act along those lines. The idea should be to actively understand reason for opposition and argue and wrestle with it. Its not through _just_ voicing of opinions (however true it might be) of masses that we should accept a mistake we might be unconsciously making. Perhaps sound reasoning is present in those voices or perhaps in other venues.

That's all I wanted to illustrate and it transpired into so many lengthy comments. Perhaps I should've been clearer.

Then I don't think you've understood it yet. The thing the marginalised person is asking you to "listen and believe" is their reality - they live through it every day, and have been fighting and speaking up about it for decades. They might not want to "argue and wrestle" with you, because they've had that conversation a million times before. It's up to you to educate yourself about your privilege, and there are plenty of resources out there for you to do it.

Ironically, what you're advocating is essentially one of the DfD tactics I posted above - "If you won't educate me, how will I learn"? The act of demanding a discussion with the marginalised person - putting the onus on them to explain, explain, explain - is itself an exercise of privilege.

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#17
(27-Jul-2011, 01:50 PM)unsorted Wrote:
(27-Jul-2011, 11:44 AM)quazifnatik Wrote: ....

Then I don't think you've understood it yet. The thing the marginalised person is asking you to "listen and believe" is their reality - they live through it every day, and have been fighting and speaking up about it for decades. They might not want to "argue and wrestle" with you, because they've had that conversation a million times before. It's up to you to educate yourself about your privilege, and there are plenty of resources out there for you to do it.

Ironically, what you're advocating is essentially one of the DfD tactics I posted above - "If you won't educate me, how will I learn"? The act of demanding a discussion with the marginalised person - putting the onus on them to explain, explain, explain - is itself an exercise of privilege.

I am sorry, but I can't see what you what you are arguing for. I didn't say it isn't their reality. I didn't say they have to explain it to me, me specifically. I am not an arbiter/judge for others. If you are talking about the specific example of Male Privilege, sorry, I am not getting into that. I have not intended to argue with it.

As for the irony, no. Okay, here is another way I am going to try to get my point across:

How would you know you have a privileged position? By knowing that _you_ have fur or by know that you have fur and other person does not? Where is this input coming from? "To Listen and to believe" someone's reality just because they say it *isn't* enough. In the case of Male Privilege, the input comes from women who voice their opinion. Do we accept it just because they say it? No, I do not. I accept it from learning what they have been through AND by observing for ourselves what some people put them through and the sample space is large enough to come to a conclusion that it is true. That is how I know it true.

If I have not been sufficiently clear, I don't know what else it is that is confusing you to assume that I am putting the wronged one in a corner and asking him/her to explain.

-Suraj
'The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.' - Carl Sagan
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#18
What you're saying now is no different from what the article says. The request to "listen and believe" was not made in a vaccum - it was made after repeated explanations by the gecko to the dog, and when the dog still refuses to acknowledge his privilege - i.e. refuses to learn. Perhaps you're hung up on semantics.
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#19
(27-Jul-2011, 08:25 PM)unsorted Wrote: What you're saying now is no different from what the article says. The request to "listen and believe" was not made in a vaccum - it was made after repeated explanations by the gecko to the dog, and when the dog still refuses to acknowledge his privilege - i.e. refuses to learn. Perhaps you're hung up on semantics.

I stand corrected. Thanks.
'The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.' - Carl Sagan
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#20
quazifnatik,
In response to the question "Are you really comparing criticizing religious ideology with sexism?", you said "No absolutely not". But you were, even if it was subtle and caused more due to a lack of context in your comments. Of course you didn't say that they were analogous in every sense, but in order to draw the analogy you had to ignore a lot of what had been already discussed in that thread, as well as a lot of what the article had made clear. This is why you came off as trying to rationalize from a seemingly objective perspective. Let us look at what you said when you entered the conversation on FB.

Quote:Just to play devil's advocate (regarding that blog link / dog-gecko story) because I am curious as to how this could play out: "I am a religious person, you making making fun (read: criticize) of my beliefs is not fair", do we listen and stop? No matter how poorly argued a stance it is, it is a *real* concern for the religious.


You didn't enter the conversation with an acknowledgement of the problem, and, as had already been clarified by others (for example, in Sunil's links), a realization of how diversionary tactics are used to take away from the focus and intent of the subject of gender equality (which was the focus of the article).

Let me be clear- this is a moral issue primarily. There are moral premises involved that cannot be compromised by me, and I'm sure by some others who are involved with Nirmukta. Of course if we are being completely removed and objective, you would be right. But that is not the case. We all exhibit our moral inclinations with our actions and words. By entering the conversation the way you did, you had to exercise some moral judgements of your own. The fact that you later professed that you did not disagree with the actual point and conclusions of the article is relevant, but it does not change the fact that you did not think it important enough to state in the first place. Only in your later comment you specified that you agreed with the article as a whole and only disagreed with certain language in it. Therefore your initial argument was an attempt at rationalization, not a constructive approach to a better argument. It was Sunil's rebuttal that made you realize that you had made that oversight. This is not a bad thing. We all learn form each other, and I have made much worse errors in rationalization than this one.

(27-Jul-2011, 11:44 AM)quazifnatik Wrote: I am exploring a hypothetical (and perhaps rationalizable?) situation. All I didn't get was that the second to last paragraph.

Quote:I merely extended on what the author's paragraph which I quoted above. While the author's words might have been used as a literary device, I find it to be misleading or incomplete or that they pale in comparison to the rest of her entry which I would wholeheartedly share with my friends. That one paragraph is really is as weak using my example - replace straight with atheist, queer with deeply religious and the comment with "don't make fun of my beliefs, you don't believe in them so you wouldn't understand"
.

The thread in question had made it explicitly clear what the facts are regarding the issue in question. The issue is, you picked a part of the article that was admittedly poorly stated, and you used the example of criticizing religious beliefs. The context is absolutely important. I am not asking you to ignore the badly stated parts of the article (even if it makes it absolutely clear what the actual issue is, in the right context). But you could have been specific, after having made it clear that you agree with the thesis of the article as a whole, and offered more acceptable language to express why the article's general focus could be better stated in that paragraph that you disagreed with.

Quote:My point being that there would certain choices we make which would be offensive to others, which would push them away.

As stated on FB and here, this is not about offending someone, it is about taking away their rights. You later say that you agree with that point, and your only criticism was of the way it was stated in the article. Well, it was one small part of one article, and both the article and the comments on that thread had already made it clear what the actual issue was. It should have been clear that the issue was rights and not offense. In the case of your analogy with the religious person objecting to being ridiculed for her/his beliefs, it should have been obvious that both the article and the comments on that thread indicate that the rights of the religious person being taken away by forcing them to listen to your criticism is the real analogy (as I pointed out in a later comment on FB). Not the fact that they were offended. In essence, you refused to listen.

Quote:The idea shouldn't be "listen and believe". That is too shallow and (unknowingly) calling for a state of affairs where eventually any offense must be met with "Oh sorry sir/ma'am, I didn't mean to be offensive" or any other line or act along those lines. The idea should be to actively understand reason for opposition and argue and wrestle with it. Its not through _just_ voicing of opinions (however true it might be) of masses that we should accept a mistake we might be unconsciously making. Perhaps sound reasoning is present in those voices or perhaps in other venues.


Consider all what I have said above as a rebuttal to the above paragraph as well. Neither the comments on that thread, not the focus of the article in question, was trying to make the point that you are vociferously rejecting here.

There is another, contextual aspect to this whole thing. That is the fact that our group is founded on the principles you are arguing for. Nirmukta's very existence is in opposition of silly notions such as ""listen and believe". Therefore, in the larger context, that entire argument is a straw man (although if you pick out one small part of one of the articles that were quoted, it applies). But in the specific context, it just needed to be presented in such a way as to acknowledge that the article is correct, and that only one aspect of its language was being opposed. Given the context of the article, it is not asking to just "listen and believe". It is talking about how privilege prevents one from listening. It is talking about listening without allowing your privilege to interfere with how you perceive other people, taking their legitimate concerns into account. In fact, the article asks what you say we must do- that we "actively understand reason for opposition", but not just understanding why the less privileged are opposing their oppression, but also why the privileged are opposed to listening in the first place.

Quote:Perhaps I should've been clearer.

Yup.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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