Monday, 7 October 2013

Thunderf00t In Mouth

There has, of late, been a disturbance in the atheist community; a schism has opened between feminists and atheists who think feminists are a bunch of man-hating crackpot dykes in plimsolls. I have noticed on my Facebook wall that my atheist weather-vane friend has posted several anti-feminist memes which have been appropriately welcomed by his atheist friends. Here's an example:

Photo: - P0J0

You could argue that this is pro-women's rights, but I think that defining 'Feminists' as overly-sensitive people who make spurious claims that ruin the lives of innocent men is anti-feminist. It's a logical fallacy: just because a = b, does not mean b = a; Andria Richards may be a feminist but feminists aren't Andria Richards (whether or not Mz. Richards was actually in the wrong).

This attitude is reflected by recent posts from vlogging narcissist, and nascent lion-tamer, Thunderf00t. He complains that using his real name is somehow cheap points scoring - his real name is Phil Mason - I don't see how I've scored cheap points here - maybe the game we're playing is "names that sound like words" and I got 'film ace n' for two and a half.

Many people prefer to refer to someone with a real name, one that is neutral and not a self-aggrandising title making you sound like some giant god. But: whatever.

Thunderf00t generally posts videos attacking creationism and religion; he has built a loyal following on youtube advocating Dawkins-style, in your face, out-and-proud atheism. His videos are useful if you don't really know what 'superciliousness' is, and want to experience it in it's purest form.

His attacks on religion have, at their heart, the certainty that simply being an atheist makes one rational; that rationality is not something one does but is something one embodies as an atheist. He condescends to opponents, whether they are deserving or not, and presents their arguments in their flimsiest state, before affirming his own rightness with unearned certitude. He takes rationality as fundamental to his being; reality as his sole province. I hold him up as the ugly atheist for this reason - that and his face.

Thunderf00t has, of late, been posting videos attacking feminism, and he has now moved on to dispensing his perfect wisdom on the subject of rape. Note to all men: do not presume to lecture women on rape. You end up looking like a fool. This is because you are a fool. So: shut up. This advice comes too late to save Thunderf00t from himself. Here is his 18 minute long journey into the land of the rape apologist.

Rebecca Watson, writer for Skepchick, posted a response, pointing out that Thunderf00t seems to think women a: need to be told to worry about rape, and b: should take responsibility if they have not done everything reasonable to avoid being raped (i.e. worn modest cloths; been unfriendly to potential attackers [e.g. all men]; not drunk alcohol; worn plimsolls; smothered themselves in bird lime, etc.) (one of the things about the concept "everything reasonable" is it is open to a vast array of interpretations - it might be considered rational to bathe in a sewer if it means you avoid getting raped).

One thing she missed was that Thunderf00t equates the action of rape with sexuality: he says we can as much teach children to not rape as we can teach them to not be homosexual. He ignores that rape is a specific activity, not a state of being. I am heterosexual; that is a state of being. I am not a rapist; that is a report of my activities to date. Unless he believes that sexuality is an activity and not a predisposition, in which case his argument falls apart anyway. Does he think that all rapists are compelled to rape by genetic predisposition? It is unclear.

One more video and we're up to date: Thunderf00t has responded with this condescending, self-aggrandising bollocks in which he resorts to the 'women are too emotional to be rational' trope, which is startling. He also continually insults Rebecca Watson and anyone who disagrees with him, with terms like "idiot", "batshit crazy" and "incapable of understanding." I lost count of the amount of times he said "emotional", so it's worth repeating here - "emotional" is man-code for "women can't be rational" - it's the oldest, most insidious way of undermining a female interlocutor. It's definitively misogynist. He may as well suggest she go upstairs with the other wives and let the menfolk talk over brandy, maybe adding, "You'll get confused otherwise, there's a good little woman."

As for the substance of what he says, he makes a grand total of one intelligible point: that he is advising a reduction in risk and is being unfairly pilloried for it. All he meant to say was that taking reasonable precautions to avoid rape can reduce the likelihood of rape. Unfortunately, he would have done well to remind himself of Socrates' wisdom: "All I know," said the wisest man, "is that I know nothing."

His analogies treat rape the same as getting pick-pocketed, burgled or run over, ignoring that rape is not an accident and not property crime; that rape is a personal, social risk to women, not because they wear certain cloths or get drunk, or don't smear birdlime over their hair and faces, but because they exist next to men (n/b men get raped, too, but that deserves it's own treatment elsewhere). He ignores the place rape occupies in human society and in the lives of every woman and every girl.

He ignores that rape is a choice that the rapist, and only the rapist, makes.

This is not a subject to be judged from one's ivory tower, but one to engage with openly, from the fully self-aware ground of one whose life has never been directly affected by rape and who, thus, doesn't have the first clue about it. Ignorance is understandable and forgivable. What is not forgivable is to not recognise the ignorance inherent in one's own perspective, and yet claim to be an agent of reason.

To be ignorant of your own ignorance while professing your wisdom is unwise. To not know when you know nothing is to know nothing at all.


  1. Is it a good idea to get drunk and black out in a frat basement?

    1. Is it a good idea to blame the victim?