Dawkins, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways

You’re with it by now, right? Lauren Nelson (Lake?) loves Richard Dawkins. She wrote a crappy post, got called out on it, then on her blog told us how we got it wrong, that she loves him but he could do better. It’s all been said, in comments, on twitter, on other blogs, … but … I don’t want to be left out!!!

So, there was this: Richard Dawkins Fails Spectacularly on Feminism and Islam – Lauren Nelson, on Friendly Atheist. This is the Dawkins tweet she gets off on:

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsOver 1200 comments and a ton of tweets reject the message of that post, and a large number point out why.


Dear Lauren,

What follows is a list of your fuck-ups, Lauren. I would have posted this on your blog, but you’re screening comments. For ones you think you can deal with? Even if so, you’re still failing (agree to disagree, my arse). I know you’ve put up an abuse deflection shield that Klingons couldn’t break down, so I would have made my responses here kinder. But, fuck it, your own ego (LOL, see below) is preventing you seeing things any way but your way. Even your regular allies are denouncing your post, giving you a swerve, pretending you don’t exist, face-palming so much they have headaches (I know this, because I too have the mind reading powers you seem to have).

Onward: a summary of where you went wrong. I say ‘summary’, but, fuck, nearly every sentence. You’re first two sentences I’d agree with, and I could quibble over the next two, but as for the headline and much of the rest:

  1. Richard Dawkins Fails Spectacularly on Feminism and Islam – No, you failed, right out of the blocks, with the headline.
  2. Dawkins is a wealthy white Western male dictating what just under a billion women – No he didn’t dictate anything.
  3. He’s relying primarily on mainstream media accounts of what it’s like to be a woman living in Middle Eastern countries – No he isn’t.
  4. But what Dawkins, and many critics of Islam’s relationship with women, forget … – Nope he (we) haven’t forgotten – how could we?
  5. There are many more lived female experiences within this far-from-homogeneous culture of faith, and not all of them are ugly or oppressed. – Yet New Atheists like Dawkins are lambasted for comparing religions? LOL.
  6. But beyond the arrogance of assuming all women experience Muslim life the same way – No. That wasn’t assumed in that tweet or anything else he’s said or written that I’m aware of.
  7. .. is the ignorance of assuming that Muslim feminism doesn’t already exist. – No. That wasn’t assumed in that tweet or anything else he’s said or written that I’m aware of.
  8. In other words, Dawkins is way late to the party. – No. He’s been writing about Islam and the status of women in Islam since at least The God Delusion. Longer than you, Late Lauren.
  9. The Muslim feminist revolution is well underway, and even a cursory amount of research (Richard? Meet Google.) would have demonstrated as much. – Oh my fucking great aunt! Lauren, research Dawkins before telling Dawkins to research stuff. And, the ‘well under way’ contradicts other statements you make.
  10. His prior arrogance is compounded by the fact that he somehow thinks he is bringing something new to the table – Arrogance? Or impatience? But that aside, where do you get the idea he thinks he’s bringing something new to the table? Looks like he’s giving support to feminists he’s aware of.
  11. … the implication being that these poor non-Western women of color could not possibly have figured this out before now and without his help. – Nope. Didn’t imply that. That’s your implication Lauren. It popped into your head, and you thought it was Dawkins idea?
  12. In this sense, at least, Dawkins is in good company. Western feminists have historically, erroneously, assumed they are the only ones up to the task. – No he doesn’t, and I don’t know western feminists that do either. Where do these ideas come from? Sometimes outsiders are in a better position to help, when the oppression of the insiders is so great. One commenter pointed out South Africa and apartheid as an example. Even so, that wasn’t in the tweet.
  13. Ignorance was bad. Arrogance was worse. But Dawkins’ biggest offense rests elsewhere: ego. – Nope. To all of those. I think, Lauren, you mistake impatience at this torrent of crap for ego. If there’s any ego here it’s yours, and you’re busted. The ignorance is yours.
  14. He pretended not to hear those informing him of the existing feminist movement – How do you know that? Mind reader? And, if he’s already aware of it what’s the point?
  15. He shrugged off those who pointed out that, as a white Western male, he might not have the best perspective on what non-Western women of color might want. – Shrugged off? Evidence? Or did he ignore demands for what was already in the tweet: “What can we do to help?” is a fucking expression of that.
  16. He was derisive and belittling. – When deserved. I would too. But not in that tweet. And on your blog you only show one additional tweet from him, post your post.
  17. When you offer someone “help” and they decline, it’s hardly productive to berate them for turning you down. – Not when done with the ‘ego’ (yes, Muslim feminists can express their Islamic supremacy ego too) that doesn’t merely decline, but flat out rejects his input entirely. So much for your belated claim that old white men can have an opinion and offer help when you’re using such rejections as support for your case against Dawkins.
  18. If Dawkins wants to help, here are some practical suggestions – Well, you could have written a post that simply started and ended right here. So, even this is late in the post, Late Lauren. But hold on, here come the dumb qualifiers …
  19. He should educate himself … He should donate … He should use his wide network … – Who’s dictating now? Yes, I know your use of ‘should’ is advisory, not demanding, but look how easy it is for you to use terms that can be taken the wrong way, in a post in which you took a decent tweet the whole fucking wrong way. Fuck.
  20. He should use his wide network to signal-boost – In case you missed it (and you did, spectacularly) that is what the tweet was doing.
  21. But most importantly, he should start by listening to the people he aims to assist. – What can we do to help? Listening!
  22. For a man who values logic, you’d think that at least that last part would have occurred to him already. – It clearly has. But not to you. But then you don’t appear to value the logic or reason, or evidence.

And that’s before we get to the Anne Theriault crap.

But, I’ll end on a positive note. You provided links to some people I didn’t know about, and maybe Dawkins didn’t either, who knows (you don’t). Cheers.

On second thoughts, not so positively, you could have just embedded the tweet and said, “Hey, Dawk’s, great tweet. On the money. Here’s some links that might help.”

3 thoughts on “Dawkins, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways

  1. I was scratching my head when I read that Lauren Nelson post on Hemant’s blog.

    Dawkins has said some dumb things, but this didn’t seem to be one of them. And that title line in the Nelson post seemed way over the top.

    So maybe there was some subtle point that I was missing in what Dawkins wrote. So I read the Nelson post, hoping that it would enlighten me. It didn’t.

    I guess I should put it down to a spectacular fail by Nelson.

  2. She digs the hole deeper, by responding on her blog, ignoring nearly all the objections made about the FA post, even making out a different agenda entirely. Just the sort of behaviour that many critics of some feminists have been making, except on a grand scale:

    http://rethinktherant.com/2015/07/27/atheisms-next-frontier-is-intersectionality/

    Lot’s of unapproved comments on her blog, lots of Twitter blocking, even posting a trail of tweets that only she is replying to – trying to convince herself?

    Hemant even quickly drummed up another post, in the name of ‘balance’, just to stop the backlash he was getting for hosting the Nelson post:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2015/07/27/there-was-nothing-wrong-with-richard-dawkins-tweet-that-islam-needs-a-feminist-revolution/

    ‘There was nothing wrong…’ being the theme of most of the tweets supporting Dawkins. A few tweets were clearly siding with Nelson, just because, well, Dawkins, I suppose.

    Meanwhile, the usual retweeters are giving it all a pass as far as I can tell: Aslan, Hasan, Greenwald, Werleman. Even Myers is preoccupied with his own meltdown.

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