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TAM9 Harassment New Information

First off: Anyone who has had an incident at TAM, however small, should write it down and send it to DJ (djgrothe@randi.org) ASAP.

DJ’s explanation of the event:

Hi Ashley, I was wracking my brains trying to place the incident you are blogging about. So we looked up in our database of last year’s attendees anyone fitting the description and location of the man you mention in your blog post, and I believe we now know who it was: someone who was being asked to leave the private speakers reception (he wasn’t a speaker, nor invited to the reception, and appeared drunk).

DJ goes on to say he was confused because I thought I’d meant the guy had been kicked out of TAM not just from the reception.  DJ e-mailed me the guy’s Facebook profile and I confirmed that it was the correct guy and DJ asked for a full report, which I have sent him.  I assume that with an official written report, at this point DJ will have to stop saying that there’s never been a report.  I suppose it will now be that there’s only ever been one report.

Phil Ferguson, of Skeptic Money, is the person who brought the guy to DJ’s attention:

This was at the speaker reception. There was one person that was not supposed to be in the room (i do not know if he was even at TAM) he was rude and talking to several ladies with inappropriate language. I told you about him and you took immediate action and talked to the gentleman and you took him from the room.

The guy was a TAM attendee, he was wearing his badge and was in TAM’s database.

I want to reiterate that my complaint is not about how DJ handled this, he handled it swiftly and efficiently and everyone in the room was impressed.  He also made the effort to find out who it was and get a report after I wrote my blog post.  He is absolutely to be commended, he is doing a great job of handling these things when they arise.

The problem is that he’s going around saying that women are making unfounded complaints because there has never been a report of bad behavior at TAM and women like me, who complain about bad behavior on blogs, are why other women aren’t going to TAM and that’s my fault.

TAM felt it was important enough to kick the guy out of the reception, but did not think it was important enough to get detailed accounts or write down what happened, even though several people congratulated DJ for doing the right thing.

Since there are a number of incidents, detailed after this, where JREF staff helped someone who complained about behavior but DJ has no knowledge of any reports of behavior, I recommend that when they help someone who complains verbally they make a note of it and make sure they understand what happened, so that DJ has a more accurate record of what his staff has actually done and what incidents have been acted upon. I think many people, myself included, made the assumption that telling someone on the staff what was going and them acting on it means that you’ve reported the incident, but apparently if you did not write it down, it doesn’t count.

From PZ:

someone had blown through the nearly empty hallways while a session was ongoing to make lewd remarks to someone sitting at the tables; it was reported, I heard, and I joined in with another fellow to look for the “gentleman”…he’d escaped, so it didn’t happen? There was also an incident on twitter in which a prospective attendee threatened to grope Rebecca Watson on an elevator at TAM; I thought his registration was revoked

From Kitty Mervine:

I had an issue at the Del Mar [pre-DJ], was handled very well by two members of the JREF staff and South Point. I’m not kidding, my hair was set on fire. So well resolved except he showed up at South Point at the Del Mar. I talked to the South Point security and they assured me ONE WORD from me and he would be OUT. (and they had no clue WHO I was, but this guy is in their “data base” as a bad one). They were even “do you want us to remove him now? Do you feel uncomfortable?” The man was NOT attending TAM, he was simply at the Del Mar with his wife and talking quietly, so I said “no”. But later a security person from South Point (she informed me she was a veteran) came over to check with me again. I was “no I’m fine”. I would say South Point security has as their first goal the comfort of all their guests. A person can just be making you feel uncomfortable, and South Point will react quickly. I admire them so much.

And what follows are several other people’s memory of the speaker event that I talked about in my previous post.

I was a little surprised, since the day before (or within a couple of days before) I tagged him in a comment where I referenced how well he handled that situation, and why I took that as a good sign for how well the JREF was handling policing TAM. … Well, it wasn’t just you. Jenn had the exact same experience as you with the same guy at the same time. And I’m relatively sure it was made clear that it was as much of an issue as it was because the guy was going from woman to woman.

This guy was being very
persistent in his attentions to you, and then to Jamila Bey. Possibly to
other women as well, although I didn’t witness that. I didn’t see him
grope anybody, but I did see him follow you around persistently and  be
very invasive of your physical space. I remember that he was drunk off his
ass. I didn’t personally witness DJ escort him out of the room, but I
heard second-hand that that’s what happened.

I remember the guy. He was definitely violating our personal space and hopping from woman to woman

I clapped DJ on the back and the other guy who helped kick creeper dude out. I can’t wildly speculate as to how insignificant was this event or how widespread were events similar such that none can be recalled, but it was memorable to me. And this wasn’t three women looking for something to bitch about- this guy was egregious enough to be obviously a nuisance (at LEAST) to the entire roomful containing both genders.

As I recall, DJ was approached because a drunk man was repeatedly bothering women, and it was my impression at the time that DJ either personally asked him to leave the reception, or saw to it that someone else escorted him out. I agree that he was ejected just from the reception and not from the entire TAM conference. I don’t recall the exact words that were used, so it’s possible that what DJ took away from the conversation was merely that someone was drunk and disruptive, but I know that it was clear to all of us that he was harassing women specifically, and we all believed that that was the reason this action was taken. As Jarrett said, we all were impressed at the time that the incident was taken seriously and we thought it was handled well.

To reiterate the specifics, I remember that he reached a certain level of extreme that had Ashley and Jen (I believe it was only the two of them standing together at that moment) that finally another gentleman (whose name I don’t recall) decided to go get DJ and explain the situation to him, as, in a way that’s not remotely surprising given everything we normally hear in these situations, Ashley and Jen were not comfortable stirring up MORE trouble on their own.

That said, I wasn’t privy to the conversation that this gentleman had with DJ, so it is purely ASSUMPTION on my part that he described the situation accurately. It’s possible he merely stated that the guy was drunk and obnoxious. I do recall overhearing DJ ask more than one person if they knew whose guest he was, implying he was trying to track the person’s validation for being at the reception, and shortly thereafter I noticed the man in question had been successfully removed.

So among a reasonable number of people it was known that this person was drunk, obnoxious, talking three inches from the faces of any women he could get near, and saying suggestive things to them. What I can’t say for certain is how well this was communicated back to DJ in the process of informing him that this man was harassing the women at the reception.

Harassment at TAM9

EDIT: More information in a follow-up post

So, Greg Laden has a post on FtB about DJ Grothe making some kind of horrible comments about how women who complain about harassment are making women afraid to come to conferences.  And that, as far as he knows, he is unaware of any reports of harassment.  Which is weird because I was sexually harassed by a guy last year at the TAM9 speaker’s reception, as were some other women, and the guy was kicked out for it. And I was told that it was DJ himself who made him leave.

From my recap last year:

That evening I went to a presenter’s reception, and got to spend some time hanging out with a lot of awesome people who were going to be speaking, including Debbie Goddard who I had not previously spent much time with.  But there was a drunk british guy from Shrewsbury who would not leave me alone.  I hate wine breath.  And I was not nice to him, but he kept following me.  He was so annoying that every time I tried to escape and enter a new conversation, everyone who was in that conversation would leave and leave me stranded.

He also kept touching me, which I found very disconcerting.  Fortunately, I was eventually rescued, and he was asked to leave, but it was pretty gross.

I guess it didn’t mean much to him at the time, or he forgot, or didn’t realize that it wasn’t just that the guy was annoying, it was that he was inappropriately touching me and backing me into corners and asking me to have sex with him after I told him to stop, or that DJ wasn’t who kicked him out and it was someone else on the TAM staff.  In fact, I was impressed with TAM so much for ultimately intervening that I didn’t want to go into explicit detail of exactly how gross the guy had been to me, for fear of making TAM look bad.

In any event, someone was harassing me and someone from TAM made it stop.  I’m sure part of it was that I was really upset, but I was touched that they’d fixed the problem so quickly and proud of them for doing so.  And, probably because it was very upsetting at the time, I am currently upset that apparently no one at TAM remembers or took note of it — like somehow it didn’t count because it happened to me?  Because I and the other woman harassed were speakers?  Or I didn’t write something down?  Like I should have written up a report?

But if that didn’t count as a report of harassment, I’m not sure what to think of DJ’s claims that there’s never been one, other than he’s playing with semantics.  Here’s his comment from FB (bolding is mine):

It is true that harassment issues are much discussed in some quarters of the skeptics and atheist and other allied movements (all generally for the better, to the extent the emotionally charged issues are tempered with evidence) but to my knowledge there has never been a report filed of sexual harassment at TAM and there have been zero reports of harassment at the TAMs we’ve put on while I’ve been at JREF.

Of course that doesn’t mean such didn’t happen, but of 800+ responses to our attendee survey last year, only three people said they were made to feel unwelcome by someone at the event: one, a man who didn’t like all the magic; two, a woman who was ridiculed for her veganism; and three, a conservative who didn’t feel welcome because of what he saw as an undue emphasis by speakers and attendees on progressive and leftist ideals. (One woman at the event did, however, complain to staff that she felt she may be harassed by someone in the future, and felt uncomfortable about the man, and while we are concerned about such concerns, she didn’t complain of any actual activity that had happened that the hotel or security or law enforcement or others could take action on.)

I believe I understand the impulse to protect people from harm (this is a strong motivation for skeptics, after all) but telling newbies that they need to be on guard against so-called sexual predators at our events, or that the movement or movements are “unsafe for women,” may be a sure-fire way of making some women feel unwelcome who otherwise would feel and be safe and welcomed. As for policies, I think Ben is on the right track. We are all against harassment or bullying of any kind, sexual or otherwise. Any incident of harassment or assault should immediately be reported to security and law enforcement, and JREF staff and the hotel staff stand ready to assist should any regrettable incident ever occur, God forbid. But again, no such incident has ever occurred at TAM to my knowledge, and I believe that bears mentioning in current discussions about how prevalent are the unnamed “sexual predators” at various atheist and skeptical events.

Last year we had 40% women attendees, something I’m really happy about. But this year only about 18% of TAM registrants so far are women, a significant and alarming decrease, and judging from dozens of emails we have received from women on our lists, this may be due to the messaging that some women receive from various quarters that going to TAM or other similar conferences means they will be accosted or harassed. (This is misinformation. Again, there’ve been on reports of such harassment the last two TAMs while I’ve been at the JREF, nor any reports filed with authorities at any other TAMs of which I’m aware.) We have gotten emails over the last few months from women vowing never to attend TAM because they heard that JREF is purported to condone child-sex-trafficking, and emails in response to various blog posts about JREF or me that seem to suggest I or others at the JREF promote the objectification of women, or that we condone violence or threats of violence against women, or that they believe that women would be unsafe because we feature this or that man on the program. I think this misinformation results from irresponsible messaging coming from a small number of prominent and well-meaning women skeptics who, in trying to help correct real problems of sexism in skepticism, actually and rather clumsily themselves help create a climate where women — who otherwise wouldn’t — end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe, and I find that unfortunate.

Women and The Internet

It has long been a truism in the advertising world that men may make the money, but women control the purse strings, just watch any episode of Mad Men. All you have to do to see the truth of this is to look at those popular Old Spice Body Wash commercials, here’s a product aimed solely at men with commercials aimed primarily at women.  Even with this conventional wisdom, you might be surprised to know just how skewed the internet is to women users.

The majority of users on all social networking sites, especially Facebook and Twitter,are women, and women spend 30% more time using them than men.  55% of mobile social networkers are women.

Looking at Groupon stats, over 3/4ths of their users are women.  And that stat is similar across most online shopping and coupon services, from obvious sites like Etsy to more surprising ones like Chegg, a textbook rental service.  Social and casual gaming (think Farmville and Angry Birds) is also dominated by female users.  The numbers are staggering.  Not only are women the majority users, they are by far the most interactive and social.  Women maintain larger and more in-depth relationship circles on the web.

What does this mean for you and why am I throwing so many stats your way?  Well, for a start, it means that when you’re advertising online, you should be aware that women are going to be the most important and influential demographic to aim for.  Are you testing your products on women?  Are you taking into account what women respond to, what they’re looking for, and what turns them off?  Do you have women on your team?  So many tech companies are dominated by men, if you’re looking around you at a sea of male faces, you need to reach out to women, especially in your social marketing strategy.

More information, stats, and inspiration available here from the incredible Aileen Lee .

Sheryl Sandberg looking Badass

Gratuitous picture of Facebook's COO looking Badass

OCFA Conference 2010; Where I met PZ

I’ll give you all the links up front, and all the pictures at the end.

All the pictures are here.

9:20 Phil Zuckerman
10:00 Edward Tabash
10:40 Brian Dunning
11:20 William Lobdell
Lunch 12-1 with ‘Tabletalk’ table discussions
1:00 Michael Shermer
1:45 PZ Myers
2:30 Dan Barker
3:15 Stephanie Campbell
4:00 John Shook
4:45 Joe Nickell
5:30-7:15 Dinner

—–

The conference was in Costa Mesa, and I’m in Glendale, feel free to map it, suffice to say it takes about an hour fifteen to do that drive.  I decided I wasn’t going to kill myself and try to get there at 9 since I didn’t really know any of the morning speakers and I didn’t want to get up at 6AM on a Saturday.  So I got there around 10:45 and got through the whole check in thing to catch the second half of Brian Dunning’s talk.  He was talking about the Virgin of Guadalupe and I confess my interest was not sparked by the topic.  Which is just as well as it gave me time to get my bearings.

The conference was held in a community center adjacent to a local public library.  It was a smallish venue, and everything was contained within one large room.  This was a little awkward because the vendors and speakers were in the same room, so if you wanted to go look at stuff you had to do it either as quietly and unobtrusively as possible or in short bursts between speakers.

After Dunning was finished, I met up with a guy I met on Meetup.com who had said he was also going and sat up front with him.  So the first talk I sat through entirely was William Lobdell.  Lobdell is a very dynamic speaker, and I really preferred the speakers who focused on sort of broader strokes and the whys and what we can do about it, not just simple facts.  And I am always drawn to stories of how people lost their faith.

Then, it was lunch time, and I walked across the street to Quizno’s because I’m a picky eater and I doubted they were serving a sandwich I would eat.  There was a very strange homeless guy who sort of followed me and I bought him a sandwich.  Don’t tell my mother, she gets freaked out by those things.  Ran into an interesting guy, I want to say from Riverside, who was also at the conference and eating at Quizno’s.  Apparently Riverside has the biggest Atheist community like ever.

I took my sandwich back across the street and there was a seat open next to meetup guy who was sitting with PZ, but first I wanted to say hello to my twin.  There was a guy there wearing the same shirt as me, and interestingly enough he and the guy he was sitting with, lime green Alaskan, would end up being the people I sat with at dinner.  Anyway I said hello and they graciously offered me a seat but I wanted to go sit with PZ.

So I sat with PZ during lunch, which was really half over by the time I got back with my sandwich.  But it was an interesting group.  Talked about why we call evolution a theory and why changing the name to something like “law” is letting the terrorists win.  Here’s where my former math major instincts made me probably a bit too ferocious about the fact laws involve math equations and there’s no mathematical way of predicting evolution.

Post lunch and it’s Michael Shermer, the aforementioned Jonathan Pryce doppelganger with the arrogant swagger, and I can’t for the life of me remember what he talked about except that it pissed some people off.  If anyone was there and remembers, tell me?

Then it was PZ and he went out of his normal field and talked about astronomy and William Herschel.  And posed the simple answer to the days topic “Can science and religion coexist?  Yes.”  And made many many jokes about stepping all over Dan Barker’s time.  And then he talked about neanderthals and people having sex.  What I like about PZ when he speaks is that he seems like he’s going to be a stuffy non-offensive professor, but he’s someone who’s genuinely at ease with both himself and the realities of human nature.  In other words, he likes to talk about sex with neanderthals.

Dan Barker spoke and, again, his was a story of de-conversion so I found it pretty interesting.  His book has been recommended to my by Amazon but it didn’t strike me as interesting til I saw he talk.  He spoke mostly towards lawsuits, particularly the one against the National Day of Prayer.  As someone who finds the intricacies of constitutional law interesting (nerd!) I thought this was interesting.

I did not find Stephanie Campbell that interesting, not because she’s a bad speaker, but because her talk was so focused on the facts of the case of Texas Education and not about anything broader reaching.  The entire thing ended with a Vote for your School Board plea that I guess was somewhat universal, but it felt very much like a lecture.  And this is a topic, education and the south, that I find generally interesting, but I guess it was just that it was all about Texas and not about why it was happening, or the players involved, or how it impacted people.  Just the facts, ma’am.  I was also sad that there was only one woman speaker.  Where are all the ladies at?  Clearly I need a book deal so I can be invited to conferences to be snarky about religion.

John Shook surprised me and was, I thought, the most interesting and compelling speaker of the entire event.  He was so interesting that I briefly entertained the idea of sitting with him at the speakers dinner instead of PZ.  He’s a philosopher and is of the opinion that philosophy, not science, is the natural opposition to religion.  And he used a term “a-theology” as that which is most directly opposed to theology.  He recognized that the more insidious religious ideas are those that are constantly moving the goal posts, because they accept science and then turn it into religion.  Anyway, if they end up selling DVDs of this or it ends up on youtube, I’ll link to it.

The day ended with Joe Nickell who talked about the Shroud of Turin.  PZ had just talked about it, so I was up to date on the facts.  He’s an interesting guy.  After he spoke, I talked to him when we walked over to dinner and he’s one of those guys who is determinedly open minded.  In a way where you worry that they’re too open  minded, but he’s dedicated enough to the scientific method that he seems all right.  But he doesn’t judge things as a whole, only specific incidents.  Like if a woman is possessed, he would go and look at her specifically rather than looking at possessions as a whole.  He doesn’t consider himself a debunker, but rather an investigator of supernatural claims.  It’s a fine distinction, and I’m guessing it wins him points with the people he’s investigating, but I found it interesting that he is so committed to not being dismissive of people’s bizarre claims.

And then was dinner, which I’ve already talked about, and after dinner I went home because it was a long drive and I didn’t want to spend another 50 bucks to stay for the rest of the program and not get home til one in the morning.

Phil Zuckerman asks the tough questions of other speakers

Brian Dunning on The Virgin of Guadalupe

William Lobdell on becoming atheist

This guy was super friendly

Michael Shermer

Very Angry at Michael Shermer

Alex Uzdavines introduces PZ

PZ doing something interesting with his hand

Dan Barker seems like the most impossibly nice fellow

Stephanie Campbell wishes to mess with Texas

As a survivor of Southern Public Education, I ask Stephanie a question

John Shook being very compelling

Joe Nickell knows how to say JAHYsus

Joe Nickell's reproduction of the Shroud of Turin was scary as fuck

The shot of the whole table at dinner

Me and PZ and Lime Green Alaskan and my twin and in the distance you can see Phil and Cute Blonde in Glasses

Didn't stay for this, but does it look a little Last Supper to you too?

I get e-mail; How not to talk to an atheist

This is an email I got from someone I was debating on a facebook thread. We were talking about how the Catholic church needed to stop being so secretive and punish the molesters and let local governments prosecute the crimes and he said why shouldn’t they punish the homofags and adulterers and I said the church could do whatever it wanted to its own members but that in America that behavior wasn’t illegal because the church didn’t dictate morality.  And it devolved from there.

I think evangelicals or born-agains or Christianists or Crispies or whatever you want to call them don’t really understand people who have actually thought about their beliefs rather than accepted them on blind faith.  They say things that they think are meaningful but have no meaning for someone who doesn’t have any belief whatsoever.  This is a service to them, so they understand how they come across.  I doubt they care how they come across, but maybe they do.  First, the letter in its entirety, then, with comments.

Dear Ashley,
Sorry, I thought it more appropriate now to respond with a message.

BTW, I’m an XXXX graduate. I was a XXX Fraternity and have that mark of shame branded on my ankle, though I do love many of the friends I made in the fraternity.

The judgments of the Old Testament are nothing in comparison to what the Holy Spirit has revealed will happen when Christ comes to judge the world in the book of Revelation. According to Revelation, people will beg to be stoned to escape God’s wrath. Christ also makes many references to this as well in the gospels.

So the question that this whole discussion leads to is one of belief or unbelief. Was Jesus Christ a fraud and liar? If he was a fraud then I’m a fool and I’m wasting my life. If he was who he claimed to be then I’d encourage you to read the gospels, and see how often he calls people to repentance.

Also, Christ did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill the law. The Old Testament laws you mention are only understood rightly in the context of the gospel of Christ’s resurrection. The law is there to make us aware of our sin. We are all guilty. But in Christ we are washed and made clean. Your soul and mine are tainted, and we deserve the wrath of God. But God is merciful and gracious, and has sent given us a means to be spared our just punishment. Scripture reveals that God is holy, and there is not one of us that does good (Psalm 14). The sacrifices of the Old Testament point to the sacrifice of Christ. All of the blood of goats and lambs cannot save any man’s soul, but they are markers which point to Christ, as prophesied in Isaiah. The laws of the Old Testament are harsh judgments, but again, nothing in comparison to what Scripture reveals the wrath of God is like.

We may think that the God I believe in is not like that. Again, the Old Testament is full of the history of Israel’s idolatry, worshiping false gods. Things haven’t changed much. They just take on a different form in our postmodern world.

Morality will never bring peace to this world. Notice how the more laws we make, the bloodier we become.
Feminism has its victory and we slaughter babies in their mothers womb and men more and more see women as objects of sexual pleasure.

There is no true peace outside of Jesus Christ. As a fellow artist, you may some day find that art will leave you hungry, and empty, always wanting to do more. We think that the next success will lead to our satisfaction, but it is an empty well.

I write this not to be right. I don’t care about winning arguments, and frankly, I’m pretty bad at it as you could tell.
I don’t care about conservatism and political movements. But I do care that people know the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ and pray that they will come to know the incredible and lasting joy of the Lord.

All of the world’s experiments of unity through diversity are failures…just look at a college campus. But there is true unity in Christ, since he makes his own all brothers and sisters in him. In Christ we are all made equal in what Christ does for us, not in what we do.

Blessings,
XXX

———–

And with thoughts.

Sorry, I thought it more appropriate now to respond AKA proselytize with a message.

BTW, I’m an XXXX graduate. I was a XXX Fraternity and have that mark of shame branded on my ankle, though I do love many of the friends I made in the fraternity.

K, much as I hate Greek life and think tattoos are tacky, mark of shame?  Really?  I’m already so creeped out I don’t want to read the rest.

The judgments of the Old Testament are nothing in comparison to what the Holy Spirit has revealed will happen when Christ comes to judge the world in the book of Revelation. According to Revelation, people will beg to be stoned to escape God’s wrath. Christ also makes many references to this as well in the gospels.

Read: Blah blah blah End Times blah blah.  Yeah, I read the Left Behind novels… started, and then it got too stupid.  Here’s the thing, who wants anything to do with the dickhead God who did all of those things in the OT and is going to do all those things in the future?  He may be ineffable, but a dick move is a dick move.  Trying to scare me into worshipping God isn’t going to work.

So the question that this whole discussion leads to is one of belief or unbelief. Was Jesus Christ a fraud and liar? Or did he even exist?  Did other people make up myths around a real guy?  Let’s not assume he’s the bad guy here.  If he was a fraud then I’m a fool and I’m wasting my life. True. If he was who he claimed to be or who other people later claimed him to be  then I’d encourage you to read the gospels, and see how often he calls people to repentance. I’ve read the book, I have yet to be enlightened as to why I’m supposed to believe it.  And that was an if phrase, meaning you’ve gotta prove your side before I have to do anything.

Also, Christ did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill the law. The Old Testament laws you mention are only understood rightly in the context of the gospel of Christ’s resurrection. The law is there to make us aware of our sin. We are all guilty. But in Christ we are washed and made clean. Your soul and mine are tainted, and we deserve the wrath of God. But God is merciful and gracious, and has sent given us a means to be spared our just punishment. Scripture reveals that God is holy, and there is not one of us that does good (Psalm 14). The sacrifices of the Old Testament point to the sacrifice of Christ. All of the blood of goats and lambs cannot save any man’s soul, but they are markers which point to Christ, as prophesied in Isaiah. The laws of the Old Testament are harsh judgments, but again, nothing in comparison to what Scripture reveals the wrath of God is like.

Creepy.  And underlines my point that God is a dick.  I like the christians who think God is love and hippies and stuff.

We may think that the God I believe in is not like that. Yes!  Like those hippies!  If a god commits evil acts what makes him not the devil?  Again, the Old Testament is full of the history of Israel’s idolatry, worshiping false gods. Things haven’t changed much. They just take on a different form in our postmodern world.

Yeah, difference between worshipping a false god and not worshipping.  And, had there not been so much to make me tune out already, I’d have tuned out here.  This guy seems to think Paganism and atheism/agnosticism/skepticism are the same thing.  Which is straight up uneducated.

Morality will never bring peace to this world. Notice how the more laws we make, the bloodier we become.

The hell does this even mean?  I’m seriously.

Feminism has its victory and we slaughter babies in their mothers womb and men more and more see women as objects of sexual pleasure.

Let us dismiss for a moment my stance on abortions and sex, but let’s talk feminism.  You’re really going to talk to a woman and say that men are better than women and then expect her to listen to anything you say?  You’ve got to ease into those things, lure them into religion with cookies and songs, then spring the whole “Women should be submissive and worship men” thing after they’re already in.  And religions, even Christian ones, don’t all agree on the abortion thing, there’s the whole “breath” thing or the whole 40 or 90 days thing.

There is no true peace outside of Jesus Christ. As a fellow artist, you may some day find that art will leave you hungry, and empty, always wanting to do more. We think that the next success will lead to our satisfaction, but it is an empty well.

Condescending.  Oh so condescending.  Why is it so difficult for the Jesus lovers to accept that some people can have fulfilling lives that are about living their life not trying to please some guy who’s not very good at explaining what he wants or why in an attempt to make the theoretical after life better?

I write this not to be right. Well, thank God he knows he’s wrong.  I don’t care about winning arguments, then why are you arguing? and frankly, I’m pretty bad at it as you could tell. Well, there’s a moment of bright shining honesty.

I don’t care about conservatism and political movements. Except the ones I’ve mentioned in this letter like feminism and abortion policy.  But I do care that people know the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ and pray that they will come to know the incredible and lasting joy of the Lord. Vomit.

All of the world’s experiments of unity through diversity are failures…just look at a college campus. Again, what does that mean?  And what does it have to do with anything?  And… just what?  But there is true unity in Christ, hence the complete lack of sectarianism.  I forgot that all Christians were exactly the same and had exactly the same beliefs.  since he makes his own all brothers and sisters in him. In Christ we are all made equal in what Christ does for us, not in what we do.

Blessings,
This reminds me of a vice principal i had in public school who always said “Have a blessed day.”  This really got my goat for two reasons.  A) the whole George Carline stop telling me to have a nice day and B) The unnecessary religiosity of the statement.

In other news, I’m now an ordained minister with the First Church of Atheism, meaning I can officiate weddings and stuff.

Project Runway! Season 7

I’m very excited that there’s a new season of PR starting tonight because last season sucked.  Reasons this season will be better:

1. It’s in New York again.  LA sucked.

2. Michael Kors and Nina Garcia are in like every episode.

3. It couldn’t be worse than the last season.

4. Heidi is preggers.  This always makes it better for some reason.

5. The gays over at Project Rungay say it’s awesome and they’ve seen episode 1 already.

Quote I’m most looking forward to: “I’m sweating like a Baptist preacher!”

What I’m doing today

Reading the live blog of the Prop 8 trial: http://prop8trialtracker.com/ It’s fascinating, the arguments are incredibly well-crafted on the pro-gay marriage side.  The judge is whip smart and seems to be really curious as to why the state is in the business of marriage in the first place.  I’d always sort of been leaning that way, that religions should be in the business of ‘marriage’ and states in ‘civil unions’.  They’re making some good arguments as to why the state does do ‘marriage’, I’m almost convinced, even.

God I want to be able to watch the trial.  The most amazing argument from the trial is essentially a feminist argument.  That the roles in marriage have been made gender neutral and equal, so what marriage is is going to be changed less by gay marriage than it was by equality of the sexes.  I’ve always felt that gay rights were a natural extension of women’s rights.

Also following the NBC nonsense.  Maybe the entire thing is an attempt to get free publicity and increase viewership.  I’ll tell you, I’ve developed a healthy respect for that Conan O’Brien character.  And not just because he picks apples with Mr. T.

http://www.tmz.com/2010/01/12/conan-i-want-to-work-for-nbc/

My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction.

Fair enough.  Of course, he’s even better on the intro to his show last night, in which he ripped NBC a new one.  My favorite line was “NBC announced that they expect to lose $200 million on the Winter Olympics next month. Is it just me or is that story hilarious?”

Lost Weekend

I had a weekend that was no good for writing. I’ve set myself a deadline of end of Thanksgiving holiday for a rewrite of Bible Con and a Polished first draft of Dyke for a Day. I had time to work on it this weekend because all of my editing projects are floating in nebulous waiting for other people to do things. But I didn’t work because my shoulder is messed up. This didn’t make it impossible to write, but it was really uncomfortable to sit in front of my computer or look down. It’s still killing me. Maybe I should start dictating.

Instead, I just watched a lot of Christopher Hitchens. I try to imagine the God/No God debate from the other point of view and find I just cannot. Cannot imagine it. I suppose I am like Hitchens, I never lost my faith, I just realized I didn’t have it. I was eight, I found all my teeth that I’d lost in my mom’s room (why she kept them, I don’t know). And there it was, proof that there was no tooth fairy. And that meant no Easter Bunny, no Santa Claus, and no Jesus.

I am going back to Columbia, SC this weekend. Doing the red-eye Wednesday night/Thursday morning. I’m seriously considering trying to raise money and film my feature in SC. I think it could be done for a modest budget, and I think the idea of a Native Daughter shooting in SC is something that could raise some money. I have a lot of connections there, including with the university. I hold secret hopes that somehow I could tie it into the university and get a lot of young people involved with the production. There aren’t a lot of opportunities in film in South Carolina.

Maybe I’ll get some writing done on the plane. We’re going to not put odds on this.

I started watching Jeeves and Wooster. I highly recommend it.

100 Favorite Female Characters OnScreen

This was actually really hard.  I could shoot you off 100 dudes in no time, but I had to do a lot of IMDb surfing to find these.  So, who am I missing?

1. Abbey Bartlett, Stockard Channing (The West Wing)
2. Ainsley Hayes, Emily Procter (West Wing)
3. Anna, Jodie Foster (Anna and the King)
4. Anne Shirley, Megan Follows (Anne of Green Gables)
5. Annie Wilkes, Kathy Bates (Misery)
6. Ariel (The Little Mermaid)
7. Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)
8. Barbara Novak, Renee Zellweger (Down with Love)
9. Baroness, Anjelica Huston (Ever After)
10. Beatrix Kiddo, Uma Thurman (Kill Bill)
11. Belle (Beauty and the Beast)
12. Brenda, Bette Midler (First Wives Club)
13. Buffy, Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy)
14. Cady, Lindsay Lohan (Mean Girls)
15. Carrie, Sissy Spacek (Carrie)
16. Catwoman, Eartha Kitt (Batman)
17. Charlotte (Charlotte’s Web)
18. Cinderella, Lesley Ann Warren (Cinderella)
19. CJ Craig, Allison Janney (The West Wing)
20. Clarice Starling, Jodie Foster (The Silence of the Lambs)
21. Clarissa, Melissa Joan Hart (Clarissa Explains it All)
22. Cruella de Vil, Glenn Close (101/102 Dalmatians)
23. Danielle, Drew Barrymore (Ever After)
24. Debbie, Joan Cusack (Addams Family)
25. Eddie, Jennifer Saunders (Ab Fab)
26. Elena, Catherine Zeta Jones (Chicago)
27. Elise, Goldie Hawn (First Wives Club)
28. Elizabeth Bennett, Jennifer Ehle (Pride & Prejudice)
29. Elizabeth II, Helen Mirren (The Queen)
30. Elizabeth, Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth)
31. Elle, Reese Witherspoon (Legally Blonde)
32. Emily, Joan Cusack (In & Out)
33. Grace, Brenda Blethyn (Saving Grace)
34. Gracie Lou Freebush, Sandra Bullock (Miss Congeniality)
35. Gwen, Sigourney Weaver (Galaxy Quest)
36. Helen, Jamie Lee Curtis (True Lies)
37. Jane Tennison, Helen Mirren (Prime Suspect)
38. Jane, Susan Sarandon (Witches of Eastwick)
39. Jean Brodie, Maggie Smith (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie)
40. Julia Child, Meryl Streep (Julie & Julie)
41. Karen, Megan Mullaly (Will & Grace)
42. Laine Hanson, Joan Allen (The Contender)
43. Lamia, Michelle Pfeiffer (Stardust)
44. Laurie, Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween)
45. Leeloo Dallas Multipass, Milla Jovovich (5th Element)
46. Leontine, Fiona Shaw (Triumph of Love)
47. Lisa Cuddy, Lisa Edelstein (House)
48. Madeleine Kahn (Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, History of the World Part 1)
49. Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)
50. Marge, Frances McDormand (Fargo)
51. Marquise de Merteuil, Glenn Close (Dangerous Liaisons)
52. Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins)
53. Matilda, Mara Wilson (Matilda)
54. Matron Mama Morton, Queen Latifah (Chicago)
55. Melinda, Kristen Stewart (Speak)
56. Merryweather (Sleeping Beauty)
57. Mia Thermopolis, Anne Hathaway (Princess Diaries)
58. Mildred Hubble, Georgina Sherrington (The Worst Witch)
59. Miranda, Meryl Streep (Devil Wears Prada)
60. Miss Minchin, Eleanor Bron (A Little Princess)
61. Miss Perky, Allison Janney (10 Things I Hate About You)
62. Molly Weasley, Julie Waters (Harry Potter)
63. Morticia Addams, Anjelica Huston (Addams Family)
64. Mrs. Macbeth, Maureen Tierney (Scotland PA)
65. Mrs. Tingle, Helen Mirren (Teaching Mrs. Tingle)
66. Mrs. Wilkinson, Julie Waters (Billy Elliot)
67. Nina Garcia (Project Runway)
68. Ofelia, Ivana Baquero (Pan’s Labyrinth)
69. Patsy, Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous)
70. Pippi Longstocking (Pippi Longstocking)
71. Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
72. Princess, Mira Sorvino (Triumph of Love)
73. Principal, Joan Cusack (School of Rock)
74. Private Benjamin, Goldie Hawn (Private Benjamin)
75. Rainbow Brite (Rainbow Brite)
76. Raymond’s mother, Angela Lansbury (The Manchurian Candidate)
77. Ripley, Sigourney Weaver (Alien)
78. Sally, Catherine O’Hara (Nightmare Before Christmas)
79. Sally, Meg Ryan (When Harry Met Sally)
80. Samantha, Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City)
81. Sara Crewe, Liesel Matthews (A Little Princess)
82. Sarah, Jennifer Connolley (The Labyrinth)
83. Scarlett O’Hara, Vivien Leigh (Gone With the Wind)
84. Serafina Pekkala, Eva Green (The Golden Compass)
85. She-Ra (She-Ra)
86. Susan Stanton, Emma Thompson (Primary Colors)
87. Susan, Meryl Streep (Adaptation)
88. Terry, Joyce Hyser (Just one of the guys)
89. Tina Fey (Mean Girls, SNL, 30 Rock)
90. Tommy, Pam Ferris (Death to Smoochy)
91. Tracy Turnblad, Nikki Blonsky (Hairspray)
92. Velma Kelly, Catherine Zeta Jones (Chicago)
93. Veronica, Winona Rider (Heathers)
94. Victoria, Julie Andrews (Victor/Victoria)
95. Warden Walker, Sigourney Weaver (Holes)
96. Wednesday Addams, Christina Ricci (Addams Family)
97. Willow, Alyson Hannigan (Buffy)
98. Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman)
99. Xena, Lucy Lawless (Xena)
100. Yzma, Eartha Kitt (The Emperor’s New Groove)

Female Filmmakers; Women Directors

There’s an interesting article over at Film School Rejects which basically lists about a hundred films directed by women.  Now, I do appreciate that there are not very many women directors, or at least, not a lot of successful ones, but I do think that it’s useful to look at the entire field of filmmaking.  After all, directing is just one part of the puzzle — movies are written, edited, produced, and a million other things.  Even movies with leading females aren’t that common.  Statistics from San Diego State University.  Last Year (2008):

  • Only 6 of the top 50 grossing films (12 of the top 100 films) starred or were focused on women.
  • Women comprised 9% of all directors.
  • Women accounted for 12% of writers.
  • Women comprised 16% of all executive producers.
  • Women accounted for 23% of all producers.
  • Women accounted for 17% of all editors.
  • Women accounted for 25% of production managers.
  • Women comprised 44% of production supervisors.
  • Women accounted for 20% of all production designers working on the top 250 films.
  • Women comprised 5% of sound designers.
  • Women accounted for 5% of supervising sound editors working on the top 250 films.
  • Women comprised 1% of key grips.
  • Women accounted for 1% of gaffers working on the top 250 films of 2008.

Even film critics are overwhelmingly male:

In Fall 2007, men penned 70% and women 30% of all reviews.  Furthermore, of the newspapers featuring film reviews, 47% had no reviews written by women critics, writers or freelancers. In contrast, only 12% had no reviews written by men critics, writers or freelancers.

So what do I have to offer as a way to remedy this?  Not much.  There are some resources out there, but you usually have to pay money to join.  Or else they’re just not updated that often.

Go and be depressed now.

http://www.allianceofwomendirectors.org/

http://www.wif.org/

http://blog.moviesbywomen.com/

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