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Tokens or No Tokens

I’ve taken this post down because it was poorly thought out and I agree with some of the criticisms made about it. It doesn’t help the community and I have never been a fan of the drama. Having caused it was not my intent and I apologize. I think the whole award thing was probably a bad idea to start with.

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  • Greta Christina

    “In the comments section, Greta Christina made a case for the token nominee and that is something I will have to consider next year.”

    Shame on you.

    At no point did I advocate making a “token nominee.” What I advocated for was taking gender into account when considering your nominees. That is absolutely not the same as making a “token nominee.” “Token” implies that the nominee is not actually qualified, but is being included solely for their gender (or race, sexual orientation, etc.). Here, exactly, is how the exchange took place:

    You: “My question I guess to the female community, is would you rather I had taken gender more into account or remained gender neutral and let the chips fall where they may? I seriously would like to know.”

    Me: “DangerousTalk: Take gender into account. Because — among many other reasons — there is virtually no way that you can genuinely be gender neutral. We are all influenced, even if unconsciously, by sexism, including the tendency to see what men do as more serious and important than what women do. And as a result, women don’t get promoted as serious participants in society… and as a result of that, we don’t see what women do as serious… If we don’t make a conscious effort to be more inclusive of women, this vicious circle will continue forever. So please, yes, in the future, make an effort to be inclusive of women and to promote their work.

    (Ditto people of color, LGBT people, etc.)”

    Tokenism is not inclusivity. Shame on you for equating them.

    • http://twitter.com/DangerousTalk Staks Rosch

      I apologize if I misunderstood your position. That was not my intent.

    • Jason Bathon

      One would need to know the criteria of the selection process before an opinion could be made. It is here, that I feel, the error was made. The selection process was very vague, the submit process as well. Staks error was in not having a clearly defined submission, narrowing process, selection, and review process were all flawed.

      Staks should have had a nomination board, review board, and selection board, etc.

      That being said, I disagree with your stance that on “take gender into account”, “make a conscious effort to be more inclusive of women”, and “in the future, make an effort to be inclusive of women and to promote their work”.

      Taking ones physical attributes into account simply because they exhibit those attributes in a contest based upon merit (or whatever), would, I feel, be an unwarranted inclusion.

      If you change those statements into any other form of minority, you can easily see why one would not be for their inclusion and actually how it would do more to continue the subjugation of said groups than to help them.

      If someone said “take sexual orientation into account” or, “make a conscious effort to be more inclusive of the little people”, or “in the future, make an effort to be inclusive of hermaphrodites and to promote their work”, I feel we would be hurting the cause, not helping it.

      Again, I do not agree with his methods and many errors were made and the contest seemed mostly based on this one mans subjective opinion, but we can not force equality by supporting inequality.

      Unless you want to get into the whole gender debate and if that is the case, just open it up for ALL kinds of awards, female AotY, African American AotY, Asian American AotY, Gay AotY etc.

      If you feel he effed things up (and he did), then ignore his award and start a new one. Or of you are still so inclined, hold an award for the female atheist of the year. Regardless, the error here was the selection process in general, not the absence of inclusion of minorities, specifically because they are minorities.

      If an award is given out for just a general atheist of the year, physical attributes or other minority attributes should not be included, or even considered, as a determining factor. Whatever the criteria set up for the award should be, i.e. merit, influence, popularity (or whatever).

      • Argent Reivich

        “If an award is given out for just a general atheist of the year, physical attributes or other minority attributes should not be included, or even considered, as a determining factor.”

        and Ricky Gervais get picked before lots of eminent female atheists?

        How the fuck is someone like Neil DeGrasse Tyson overlooked?

        Because physical attributes or other minority attributes ARE included, or even considered, as a determining factor. But only so as to make sure that such award is bestowed upon the “right” persons.

        • http://twitter.com/DangerousTalk Staks Rosch

          I went over all that, but no one cares, so it doesn’t matter.

        • Guest

          Neil DeGrasse Tyson doesn’t identify himself as an atheist. To quote his facebook info – “Agnostic, though widely claimed by Atheists”.

    • Eshtomail

      Greta doesn’t speak for all women. She doesn’t speak for the entire LGBT community. And she doesn’t speak for all feminists or those interested in gender equality. As much as she would like to.

      Why don’t you leave the poor guy alone, Greta. Do something constructive for a change.

  • http://www.facebook.com/yucca.brevifolia Chris Clarke

    Did Ricky Gervais make it to the list as a Token Unfunny Obnoxious Pig?

  • http://twitter.com/crushdmb Marilee

    ” In the comments section, Greta Christina made a case for the token nominee and that is something I will have to consider next year.”

    Wow. Just .. wow. You are basically saying that all atheist women are “token nominees”. I don’t even.

    • http://twitter.com/DangerousTalk Staks Rosch

      That’s not what I said at all! In fact, i said the exact opposite, but no one really wants to hear it. They just want to find someone to hate.

      • Oneiric

        Right… it couldn’t possibly be that you said something wrong.

        • http://twitter.com/DangerousTalk Staks Rosch

          Maybe I did say something wrong. Maybe I didn’t use the right words to express my thoughts accurately. Maybe I am actually wrong. I would like a rational discourse about that. I’m open to listening and learning. That is what is supposed to make our community better.

          • Oneiric

            I’m glad of that. I presumed the same and wrote out a more detailed response of what (to me at least) seemed off about your post..

          • Guest

            No, you’re not wrong. Everyone is going to try to misquote you, or use different contexts now, as a means to attack you (typical rad-fem tactics, coming from those who call themselves feminists).

            Being truly non-biased to gender/race/culture/whatever would mean to not consider those attributes, and to focus on the work they’ve done instead, when picking candidates. Perhaps your choices was who “you” personally thought were the best choices (mine would have been different), but still, you were not being sexist, or discriminating in anyway.

            Staks, you are right, and don’t let them bully you into their way of thinking.

            • http://twitter.com/DangerousTalk Staks Rosch

              As I have said, the choices were based mostly on the open nomination process with some poor editorial input from me. If I were picking my top five from scratch the list would have been very different and still gotten a lot of criticism mainly because I tend to focus more on outreach, legal, and PR.

  • Pingback: Tokenism Is Not Inclusivity | Greta Christina's Blog

  • John D

    Staks – you are doomed to be executed here. Using the word “token” is inherently evil. It is sort of like using the word “nigger”. It is evil through and through. Since you used this evil word you will now be executed by the guillotine of feminism. It’s been nice knowing you. Too bad you were trying to be funny… no room for that amongst the new new (morality police) atheists.

  • http://www.facebook.com/walldodger Wall Dodger

    Ah if I may say some thing.. Sir I don’t know you .. and I am glad I don’t… that was the most pious self centered Iknowbestandmyshitdon’tstink dribble I have ever read ….fucking ever… As the Brits say PISS OFF.. you person of the sewer mouth .. how dare you speak of “fucking “TOKENS”… fuck you.. …. BTW ELLENBETH has my vote .. I don’t mind taking on the Floridian crowd…see I have some balls … where’s yours..?

  • Anonymous

    Sometimes Bloggers are guilty of thinking the news is only in their small world, such as yours or another. Because you don’t look very hard for the source of information on EllenBeth you put bloggers above an actual Activist fighting religious nuts and actually changing laws and allowing atheists to ride on her coat tails of activism. Their lives become easier since she treads the water. That you’ve done this is an absolute sham. Good thing your awards are no more than a fictitious and make believe award carrying really no weight, much like a biblical verse. Take a look at this link for the Entire EllenBeth Wachs story and you will be changing your tune pretty fast, or you’ll bury your head in your screen and continue to be a keyboard commando.
    EllenBeth Wach’s full story that sets the record straight.


    • http://twitter.com/DangerousTalk Staks Rosch

      As I have stated before, I am a big supporter of EllenBeth, but my position on the AoF controversy is to find a mediator to help work it out peacefully and without lawyers. I hate internal drama.

  • Rosinerne

    “I noticed however that I didn’t have a token black candidate or a token female candidate.”

    Words have a way with you, sir.

  • Oneiric

    You implied that Elevatorgate wasn’t really worth much attention with that throwaway line “that hardly is worthy of atheist of the year”. Do you really mean to reduce the contributions of Rebecca Watson to ‘only Elevatorgate’? It’s ideas like that make female atheists, my girlfriend included, uncomfortable about attending atheist events. We needed Elevatorgate. We needed people to acknowledge that there’s a problem with sexism in the movement. If anything Rebecca did more for the actual movement with that one thing than half the people on that list.

    Seriously, what contributions have Ricky Gervais and George Takei made, beyond being celebrity atheists, that dwarf all of Rebecca’s activism online and offline? (I’m only talking about Rebecca here, and not the others you mentioned, since I’m most familiar with that issue and have seen firsthand how it makes women in the movement uncomfortable. But this applies to most of the women you dismissed for rather vacuous reasons).

    Do you get that whether you’re doing it consciously or not, you’re reducing any female candidate to token status at the same time as dismissing actual female candidates for trivial reasons.

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  • Zebralily

    I have a lovely, intelligent, and well-meaning husband who, despite his progressive bent and love for social equality, occasionally slips up and says something that rings subtly of anti-feminism or even racism. I think this comes from his background–white male between the ages of 18 and 55 (from Mississippi, no less); in short, he is part of no minority, as I suspect you are.

    You see, it’s been my experience with him (and with plenty of men like him) that no amount of well-meaning and reading up can really open the eyes of a non-minority to the visceral, deep-rooted rage pejorative terms provoke in people who do belong to a minority group. They know, intellectually, that a term like “token” or a concept like “tokenism” is a big hairy deal, but they don’t feel it and maybe never will. Maybe they will always need to be just that much more careful about what they say, and how they say it, than others. I’m not saying that’s you to a T, Staks. But if it is, read on.

    Because I don’t want to shorten my lifespan, I’ve determined that rage is not always the best response when my husband puts–no, jams–his foot in his mouth. After the party or hangout where he’s said something embarrassingly contemptible, I pull him aside. I explain that he said something awkward; I remind him why it was socially unacceptable; I remind him that he doesn’t actually hold the bigoted beliefs of the kind of person he just acted like; I ask him if he *understands* why what he said was wrong. I don’t do this because I think he’s a child (nor are you). I do this because I know he *does* mean well, and I want to make sure he speaks and acts with the same integrity.

    So, Staks, if I’m drawing the right parallel here, the most important thing to take away from all the hating in the comments is that you understand why the whole concept of tokenism was a crap one. Maybe you needed to be reminded. And maybe, like my sweet, weird husband, you are one of the people who always needs to have that extra filter, that extra check on what you say before you say it. I can’t speak for all the women here, but as long as you understand, you’re cool with this one.

    • http://twitter.com/DangerousTalk Staks Rosch

      Actually that doesn’t describe me at all and clearly you and others didn’t understand what I was taking about when I used the term, “Token.” That is why I took this post down. Clearly I didn’t articulate the issue well. People seem to think that I was saying the exact opposite of what I was actually saying and that is never good.

  • Sally

    No. The award thing was a great idea to start with. And you didn’t do anything wrong, from what we can tell. It was Greta who tried to bully you into thinking that you did something wrong. Sneaking anyone in because of their race, gender, sexual orientation is wrong. To do this is to say that some people need special help because they are inferior.

    I can come up with a list that would be different, and it still wouldn’t make me wrong for it. She wanted to imply that you had biases, but how could she? She doesn’t know what you were thinking. For her to accuse you of anything based on that shows that she’s crazy.

    You tried to do something fun, something to show appreciation to some great people out there, and Greta tried to portray you as a monster for it.

    You should not have to apologize, and you should not feel bad. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s not your fault, and you are the victim here.

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  • Steve Schuler

    Screw Greta Christina. She is only stroking her own ego by writing ‘diversity violation summons’ in her self-appointed role as a vigilante diversity cop. She plays not only the role of cop, but acts in the capacity of judge and jury as well. She’s doing the same nonsense again having targeted yet another hapless victim to publicly excoirate for hosting a ‘Best of Atheist (blogger, author, twittter, etc.)’ contest that doesn’t meet her standards for diversity.

    Oh well, in the larger scheme of things this all amounts to less than zero.