Monday, 30 September 2013

Thunderf00t has decided to talk about rape - Part 1

TRIGGER WARNING for every part of this many part post.

 

Phil Mason, aka Thunderf00t, a very popular YouTube atheist, has made a video called "TEACH THEM NOT TO RAPE!" It's 18 minutes long,  and if you've ever seen a Thunderf00t video, you'll be able to guess the tone. It's sarcastic, condescending, factually wrong and morally revolting. 
 
Yes, I'm biased. There are not harsh enough words in the English language to sum up what I think of Phil Mason.
 
But since Thunderf00t likes to claim that people call him a rape apologist and a sociopath and a misogynist without ever actually explaining why they think he's those things, and without taking apart every tedious PRATT* he fills his videos with, I'm going to do him the honour of rebutting every single argument in this disgusting mess of victim-blaming rhetoric.

Sorry, wait. At one point he says it's "not victim-blaming", so maybe I'm wrong. Let's see.

It begins:
So there's this very popular video going around at the moment that QUITE RIGHTLY highlights this dismissive attitude - particularly in the middle east and Asian regions - where women get this very short end of the stick when it comes to violence against women.
Right from the start, the irony meter is ticking into the red. He gives positive mention to a video critical of the dismissive attitude women face when they talk about sexual violence - at the beginning of a video which takes a dismissive attitude to women talking about sexual violence.

We'll gloss over the other little thing that opening statement does - the subtle relocation of violence against women as a problem affecting mainly "the middle east and Asian regions" -  and by implication not that big of a deal where most of Tf00t's audience live. But perhaps that wasn't calculated - maybe it's simply because the "It's Your Fault" video was made in India.

In any case, the part where he kind of agrees with anti-rapist educators is over (we're about 30 seconds in) - next up, the "HOWEVER..."

However, there is part of this video - which is a very widely seen message online - which from my seat is just so bloody stupid. And this is the sentiment that just because something is against the law, that you should under no circumstances take steps to reduce your risks in such an environment.

Got that? The first argument that Thunderf00t is going to tackle is the one that states "that you should under no circumstances take steps to reduce your risks in such an environment."

Now, by "such an environment" I can only conclude that he means the barbaric, anti-woman lands of the middle east and Asian areas. However, it's unclear as the rest of the video seems to talk much more generally about life as we know it in the enlightened and civilised west. So perhaps by "such an environment" he means "the world in general".  But I digress. The important thing here is the argument Thunderf00t is about to refute:

"Under no circumstances should you take steps to reduce risk".

This is what Thunderf00t thinks is meant by campaigns that say things like "Don't tell me how to dress, tell them not to rape." Thunderf00t believes - or pretends to believe - that feminist campaigns to shift the focus of rape education from potential victim to potential rapist are emphatically telling people not to take basic precautions.

As if women aren't already keenly aware of all the things they can and must do to minimise risk. As if women don't already take all the precautions they can and still get raped. 

Either deliberately, or out of mind-hosing intellectual incompetence, Thunderf00t misunderstands the reasoning behind the soundbite slogans he chooses to highlight. Women takes steps to minimise risks, get raped regardless, and then are told by authorities, friends, colleagues and wankers like Thunderf00t that if only they'd done just one more thing differently, it might not have happened.

The "Don't Teach Me, Teach Them" slogans are a response to decades of victim blaming,  not an attempt to make women think they're rape-proof, and only an idiot or a fucking prick would be unable to grasp that. And Thunderf00t is a very clever man who does science and stuff, so I guess he can't be an idiot.
Moving on to Irony Alert Number Many: after setting up that strawman, Tf00t uses the term "strawman":

I mean, the largest strawman here is this idea that we don't teach our children not to rape. MmmBOLLOCKS! Yes we do! Not only that, we teach them not to steal, not to murder, and to not do all sorts of other things. And yet curiously, rape, murder and theft still exist in society.

Maybe Thunderf00t's parents did teach him not to rape, steal and murder. That might have happened. I remember my parents telling me stealing was wrong; and I guess I got the idea that murder was bad pretty early on, perhaps from explicit instruction or maybe from TV crime shows. 

Seems those two lessons sunk in - but I don't remember my mum and dad ever specifically saying "Now son, we should talk about sex and consent." If sex was mentioned, it was in the context of how it can cause pregnancy. Neither from school or home do I recall ever hearing the word "consent". I guess somehow I did learn that consent was important, but I don't remember it actually being taught.
 
But hey, this is all anecdotal, right? Just because consent wasn't something mentioned to me when it could or should have been doesn't mean it's the same for everyone. Maybe they very effectively teach consent in schools these days. Or maybe kids just naturally know all about it. Maybe everyone's totally clear on what consent means and how important it is.

28 comments:

junego said...

Thank you for wading through Tfoot's dreck and exposing his many...um, fallacies?...bigotries?...inconsistencies?...all of the above and many more problems. I gave up (and unsubscribed) after his appalling performance at freethought blogs about feminism. I had been uncomfortable with his anti-Muslim rhetoric for some time, but that fiasco broke through my inertia about my subscription.

I can't stomach watching his hateful rants any more . You are doing a true kindness by saving me from having to watch this one ;-D

I hope you will also put up more YouTube videos soon, too. I really enjoy you're humor (humour in Brit spell?)) and your opinions.

Robert said...

Thank you for actually taking the time to refute this garbage.

Robert said...

Thank you for actually taking the time to refute this garbage.

David Sourblaze said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike Booth said...

Yeah, that was a really ugly thing to say so I'm afraid it's gone. You're welcome to make the same point without the final paragraph.

Mike Warren said...

I think you misspelled a word "os"

QuantumOverlord said...

Somegreybloke; I do actually agree with thunderf00t here. His latest videos outlines some of the reasons:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAfXC-Gwl0M

I really don't want this to get childish though, I will NOT be unsubscribing from you because I like so much of what you do. I would just say that I don't much like that because I disagree with you, you imply that I lack 'basic human decency'. If that was not the intention, I apologize. I am a feminist by the definition the majority of feminists use, but I prefer the label 'egalatarian' i.e equal rights and opportunities regardless of gender.

Sorry I have to labour this (but because I am not a fan of A+, FTB or radical feminism). I am NOT an mra/mens right activist (any more than I am a women's right activist if you want to be semantic). I do not subscribe to girlwriteswhat, and I do not always 100% agree with everything thunderf00t says either. And obviously I don't think you are a nazi :).

QO

Yoda Chubacca said...

I think there are things to be said and biases to be struck down. Though many of the points in your vlog are valid, I think some of the points that thunderfoot makes are also valid. In some instances, I've been called a rape apologist even though I advocate no such behavior. There is a measure of fervent sort of patriotism towards the feminist movement that strikes me as being similar to nationalism. There are issues on both sides of this issue and I think we're all sort of pointing at an enlightened era but are in different sides of the same vehicle going the same place. Although, you admit your bias, I think it's an extreme set of biases to suggest that his position is that of rape apologetics or victim blaming. I think that there are issues with feminist extremism and rape apology, but expressing your opinion more frequently against one does not mean you advocate the other.

Unknown said...

As a subscriber to both your channels, I think it's a little sad that both sides claim to be rationalists, and both descend into ad-hominem attacks - also each "side" ignores the well constructed parts of each others argument in favour of picking out the slightest inconsistency and blowing it out of all proportion. How about leaving the personal hate aside and actually listening to each other?

Huck Hound said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtoFfJ4DokA

Huck Hound said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RoryGreen said...

This post appears to be mainly arguing with the tone and manner in which 'Thunderf00t' makes his argument rather than contending his assertion, and rightfully so. Although I have not watched any of his videos before, I can immediately see that the man has a hugely overinflated opinion of himself and his intelligence, much like Richard Dawkins, which you addressed in your recent video.

The only point you really oppose in this post is about the education of people to 'not rape'. I disagree with you here. I remember very clearly that every year of my time in secondary school, I received lectures and/or timetabled lessons covering various issues related to sex, violence, alcohol, and what is meant by consent. It was explained very clearly to me that sex, without the other party's consent, is rape.

Either my state school had a different curriculum or people fail to accept that a large proportion of men have very unscrupulous moral standing. I believe the issue here is more to do with disgusting human nature than education. Those who wish to murder will murder, those who wish to steal will steal, and those who wish to rape will rape, independent of any education in place.

The main direction from which to combat this issue is attacking this culture of blaming victims. Imposing harsher penalties and developing systems so incidents can be reported and taken seriously would also help greatly. I have no idea if such systems are in place. The valid point relating to education here (in my experience) would be that it is not taught what to do or where to go if you are a victim of rape.

I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on this topic, I'm far from it, but I do disagree with you when you state that people are not educated about rape. They are. This doesn't seem to prevent this issue.

ElDiablo said...

I don't actually see any rebuttal to any of TF's arguments here. You say that women take all precautions and still get raped as if it is refuting what TF said, but he said you can reduce the risk at no point did he say completely the risk so you are defeating non-existent arguments. You also seem to argue against things that TF apparently implies but doesn't explicitly state and interpreted it differently than what you seemed interpret it as so it would be best to refute things he actually says rather than how you interpreted them. I would agree that TF does have one problem and that would be his overestimation of human intelligence and morality whereby he seems to assume everyone inherently knows the golden rule 'treat others as you would like to be treated' hence the "bullocks".

ElDiablo said...

I don't actually see any rebuttal to any of TF's arguments here. You say that women take all precautions and still get raped as if it is refuting what TF said, but he said you can reduce the risk at no point did he say completely the risk so you are defeating non-existent arguments. You also seem to argue against things that TF apparently implies but doesn't explicitly state and interpreted it differently than what you seemed interpret it as so it would be best to refute things he actually says rather than how you interpreted them. I would agree that TF does have one problem and that would be his overestimation of human intelligence and morality whereby he seems to assume everyone inherently knows the golden rule 'treat others as you would like to be treated' hence the "bullocks".

Geodgie said...

Thank you and know you're such a welcome sight on this front.

Tf00t burned his last bridge as far as I was concerned back somewhere in 2010 maybe? Park51? DMDsomethingorother which turned into a puerile hate speech fest where racist and xenophobic vomit tried to capitalize from the cover and guise of protest to "defend free speech".

Somewhere before this I'd started to suspect he was a nobody, "empty suit", big talker, because he was dumping some seriously stupid shit about theology and the Bible (it was a "the Bible's not even true" strawman literalism fallacy-'it's not even true, so it's perfectly legitimate for me to attack believing Christians for what they believe based on how I literally interpret the Bible which is not even true over and above how they interpret this book which is not even true.") Envision the same logic Tf00t used here but applied to Harry Potter readers and what do you see? The Lalaland folk. You know, the Lalalanders like fundies who really think they've accomplished some homerun when THEY read Harry Potter and tell YOU what it says about you? That's Tf00t--card carrying Lalalander, full stop.

Around then he tried to hop a ride the Carl Sagan train, with an astoundingly, ABSURDLY poorly constructed "survey" he tried to conduct near some memorial plaque to Sagan. Not a clue what he's doing. Not a clue in his own head that he doesn't know what he's doing. He was as out of touch on that survey as that 16 yo corn fed nerd YT kid was who thought he'd proved the Noah's Flood Grand Canyon thing running his garden hose in the dirt in his backyard.

So let's skip ahead to today-his "feminism" thing. I can't even watch his videos anymore. They're a waste of my limited minutes on Earth life. Skipping ahead here for economy's sake through several of his earlier embarrassing efforts on the "feminists ruining atheism" thing, seriously...now he's trying to "make his mark" explaining to women about protective "signals"? and such shit? Because, of course, women this idea has never occurred to women! Thank you Tf00t! Who knew to worry their pretty little heads about that shit? Thank Gahd You're Here to Lead the Way!

Don't even get me started on the spit-your-coffee absurdity he introduced that amounts to "consensual sex until the man disappoints woman that he's not really a sexual superhero and she silently calculates, 'wtf! this isn't life changing, transcendent mind-blowing experience so it must be rape', but is it really if her physical body keeps saying you're a sex god give it to me Big Boy?" quandry. I hope this scenario came from some Hollywood bullshit themes that infected his brain. Rather than personal experience... and I mean that. And it's not out of character for TF to pull his BS straight from some dirt clod stupidified cultural meme-stream...I've seen him do it Lots and Lots of Times before this.

I unsubbed from him years go. Won't force myself to give him any more chances. So he's Pat Robertson to me now, or David Barton, or Rick Santorum, or even Gordon Klingenschmitt. I VALUE those that keep me abreast of these freaks...same when it comes to TF00t. Now if there was TFWatchblog, similar in kind to RWWatchblog....I'll order that every time I see it on the menu.

Vikram Radhakrishnan said...

I just wish you could have made this blog post without all the ad hominem attacks on Tf00t. I mean, an opening statement that goes "Yes, I'm biased. There are not harsh enough words in the English language to sum up what I think of Phil Mason.", pretty much destroys all your following arguments. Besides, I fail to understand the vitriol and hate-spewing directed at a guy, just for misconstruing the phrase "Don't tell me what to wear, tell men not to rape" as meaning "Women should not be told to take basic, sensible precautions".
Indeed that's all it was. An 18 minute long monologue based on a misunderstanding of a slogan used by feminists. And that's all you had to address.. Not unnecessarily name-call and make yourself look petty in the process. As a side note, why use the guy's name, when he clearly prefers to go by an alias? That just seems petty and underhanded.

Tabitha Petchey said...

Mike Booth, you always make me feel better and also slightly worse at the same time. Also, why does there have to be an advert for a "men only" online game with a large-breasted woman at the top of this page? That's just taking the piss, isn't it?

Jim said...

This is pathetic. It's like Thunderf00t and people like yourself refuse to understand each other and insist upon reading evil into each others words.

It's obvious that Thunderf00t is simply advocating for people minimizing their risk. I don't understand how anyone can have a problem with that unless they were trying really hard to be outraged.

It's also obvious that Thunderf00t is only using a strict definition of rape that basically is a violent attack, and ignoring rapes that occur when someone doesn't heed another person's non-consent (be it through saying NO, being reluctant, being unable to consent, etc).

SILENTSAM69 said...

What a load of garbage. This blog can not seem to understand simple ideas. Thunderf00t never said anything wrong in his video, and your emotional reaction is garbage.
You twist words and try to change meanings to fit your screwed up ideas.

Tjaart Blignaut said...

"This is pathetic. It's like Thunderf00t and people like yourself refuse to understand each other and insist upon reading evil into each others words."

Slow clap to Jim above. I just can't believe that so called rational human beings are completely unable to have a rational and calm discussion about something.

Nobody likes rape, and if we are going to move forward as a society we need to have honest discussions about it.

It's so pathetic, the misunderstanding. Thunderfoot thinks the feminists want to sit down violent rapists and teach them not to rape, when in actual fact the idea is to teach teenagers.

I guess if teenagers are really that stupid (I know I wasn't) then we should teach them about consent. But "No means no" still applies!

My mother taught me what rape is and how to treat women, and schools were running the "No means no" campaigns in my days. If you have to resort to petty insults then you are not rational!

PC-PDX.com said...

stupidity and censorship : bravo, ASS

Adderall Apocalypse said...

looks like a lot of these commenters have(n't) been to derailingfordummies.com

I mean, I'm pretty sure that as long as you make an actual argument, using "insults" or "emotional appeals" doesn't "negate" that...

Universal Potentate said...

A civil discussion Part 1

While it seems to me that you're misinterpreting what TF said either deliberately or unintentionally, I'm more interested in WHY you're doing this.
I want to be clear. I do NOT mean to be antagonistic whatsoever. Simply analytical. If this ever comes off as hostile, that's not my intention.
In most of these discussions, all nuance is omitted. We join one of 2 groups: the misogynistic Male Rights Activists or the misandrist Feminists. Defending the group becomes the chief concern. While I think you have a strong bias towards the feminists, I want to be clear that I have NO bias toward MRAs, or at least no intended bias. I am trying to be neutral. Whether I succeed or not is entirely for you to decide.

This particular issue concerns me because there are elements left out of this discussion. The primary one is this: women attack men using the legal system. They falsify events for a variety of reasons. Maybe they want to save their marriage and blame their lover. Maybe they want to extort their boss. Maybe they just don't like the guy. Nonetheless, this happens and it's a HUGE and REAL fear among many men. Perhaps this hasn't affected you so you don't see it as a problem. But be very clear, the fact that women can merely suggest sexual harassment and that suggestion alone, even if shown invalid, can devastate a man's reputation, financial standing and personal life. There is a stake in getting rape and sexual assault correct.

Universal Potentate said...

A civil discussion Part 2

I do NOT believe that anyone on either side of this argument wants to see women hurt or a crime go unattended. Using terms like "rape apologist" is simply inaccurate and honestly immoral. It's best to not descend into guessing what someone's motivations are, especially when that only serves to drive a larger wedge in a sensitive topic. Instead, let's assume the other person has valid concerns and a unique perspective. Let's avoid the us vs them game.

With that in mind, women want to protect themselves physically and emotionally. And they should be able to. However, what SHOULD be in this world is not what IS. It is fair to give counsel to women that they should take measures to prevent their own harm. No one, including Thunderf00t, is stating that they DESERVE to get raped if they fail to take certain precautions, only that certain precautions are prudent.
I personally never got the idea he thought proper education about boundaries and consent was a BAD thing for men. He simply was trying to say "Don't treat all men as if they're violators." I do not believe most men are willing to rape someone. Many men feel it's their fault simply because they're men. Some emotional healing needs to be done on this topic.

Further, there is something called "bad sex." This arises from miscommunications or even mental impairment. In the US, once penetration has been consented to initially, it is assumed until the act has been completed. In areas of the UK, this is not true and consent can be revoked at any time. There is a clear legal discrepancy about how to define rape (especially date rape) between 2 adults, even who have engaged in consensual sex. I bring this up because this grey area is something which is best discussed openly and without a massive amount of anger, name-calling and assumption attached to it. Otherwise, the bad behaviors will continue to harm women and the legal system will still continue to unduly harm men.

My concern is that Mike Booth's comments injure this important Grey Area. Mike seems to be Some Black & White Bloke when dealing with this grey area. The Rebecca Watsons and Thunderf00ts of the world need to create an open dialogue where they clearly discuss their fears and hopes. I doubt that the remedies they seek for these situations differs greatly. But because they've separated themselves into camps, they might be horrified more by the prospect that they actually agree.

Mike, do you genuinely want to be part of the problem or part of the solution? If part of the problem, then carry on. If part of the solution, then encourage this nuanced discussion. Avoid misrepresenting the intentions of Thunderf00t's videos. Perhaps even acknowledge that you're misrepresenting them … which would be an act of tremendous, but necessary, humility.

Yours truly,

~ Anthony

Geodgie said...

My gawd.

I think I have an idea how to resolve the debate. Psychotherapy. With so many of TF's defenders sounding like Glenn Beck's toady crazies, rational argument is pointless.

Look, men.....it's not that hard, okay? Stop Treating Women Like They're Captivated Children. That's why TF's the jackass on the shelf on this one. Stop telling them what they should think, or what they should or shouldn't do so they "won't get hurt". (Imagine how TF would view similar advice by Islamic clerics. And imagine how he would view advice by empirical researchers-oh wait, nevermind. We don't have to imagine that-we know from experience he'd either cherry-pick from it or ignore it completely.)

Furthermore, Stop Making Excuses. Above all, Stop. Just Stop. Treating. Women. Like. They. In. Any. Way. Shape. Or. Form. Answer. To. You.

I'm sick of it. I'm sick and tired of the excuses and the obfuscations and the whining. If your definition of "being a man" involves women (or men) who are "supposed" cooperate (or dissent) by doing such-and-such? Your definition is wrong, okay? Your right to "be a man sexually" ends at masturbation. Anything else? Requiring the body of another person? You need AGREEMENT from the other party. Consent! If you're so pathologically panicked the other person will capriciously withdraw consent after the fact, then damn it have them sign a contract. If you had wait until they were intoxicated, or cornered, or extorted, or primed by guilt to get them to sign it, well lawyer up, as they say. Because you just might need it. You Violated Them!!!!

Knuckleheads like TF and half your comment section? Need to sit down and shut up. They're not only not protecting women, they're misinforming people at risk of becoming perpetrators because nobody ever taught them any different.

Kevin Solway said...

I didn't see anything in TF's video which blamed victims, and therefore I think you are totally wrong, and morally at fault, to be accusing hims of being a "victim blamer".

When publicly accusing a person of rape, one should be absolutely certain that the person is in fact guilty of the crime. Likewise in this case, and you don't have such certainty. All you have is a wish and a prayer.

Alex Reynard said...

"and then are told by authorities, friends, colleagues and wankers like Thunderf00t that if only they'd done just one more thing differently, it might not have happened."

Well, it didn't take long for you to start lying about what TF actually said.

K IRA said...

Thunderf00t: Minimise your risk. Rapists don't care how you dress, they target you because you seem vulnerable.

Graham Murkett: Thunderf00t is clearly taking a condescending attitude, he blames victims, and does lots of other terrible things that go to show that I never paid any attention to what he said and will mischaracterise what he did say.