SSC On Feminism


Various people online, especially atheist blogger Topher Hallquist but also some people on Tumblr, are trying to take statements of mine out of context to paint this blog as violently anti-feminist. In order to avoid having to spend a bunch of time defending myself against each specific accusation, here is a general statement of my beliefs to clear the record.

I do not identify either as feminist nor as anti-feminist. The feminist movement contains far too many viewpoints for me to be able to attach a simple “I’m for all of these!” or “I’m against all of these!” to the category as a whole. My specific opinions are that I am:

1. Pro-choice
2. Pro-universal-free-contraception
3. Pro-gay-marriage
4, Pro-sex-worker
5. Pro-trans rights
6. Pro-trigger-warnings
7. Neutral on affirmative action (I’d prefer it be done based on poverty directly rather than on characteristics that correlate with poverty like race and gender, but I recognize that’s not likely to happen any time soon)
8. Neutral on, leaning toward anti-, affirmative consent laws
9. Anti-banning-pornography.

That I believe things like “women are people” and “women should have the rights to control their own lives just like men” should be so obvious I am vaguely offended that I am being forced to spell them out.


One of this blog’s recurring themes is highlighting bad statistics and poorly done studies. Many of these tend to come from feminists trying to build support for feminist ideas, and I admit I have been vocal in calling them out on this. Some posts I’m particularly proud of:

1. A widely-shared re-analysis of a study showing that women were unfairly excluded from fields with high perceived required ability, demonstrating that when you adjusted for obvious confounders it showed nothing of the sort.

2. A re-analysis of the efficacy of anti-rape public awareness campaigns showing that despite some poorly researched articles to the contrary there’s no evidence that they work.

3. Being the first to mention that a popular article on rape statistics got its numbers wrong by a factor of 22,700x.

4. Social Psychology Is A Flamethrower, a more general description of the failure modes with some of these kinds of studies.

While I could have just pointed out the flaws in each individual study without mentioning the pattern surrounding feminist studies in particular, I felt it was important to note that “feminists trying to prove feminism true with studies” is an unusual danger zone the same way that “religious people trying to prove their religion true with studies” is an unusual danger zone.


I’ve written several posts supporting feminism and ideas in the same general territory, of which I am particularly proud of:

1. This post highlighting the most robust statistics proving the existence of race and gender-based discrimination in various fields.

2. This post in support of trigger warnings, which to my surprise and delight actually convinced a good number of anti-trigger-warning people to change their opinions.

3. This post on transgender issues, which Zinnia Jones described as “a cis person [making] a philosophical argument about trans stuff that’s probably better than anything I’ve ever written”

4. The Anti-Reactionary FAQ, of which Part V tries to debunk some PUA stuff and crunch the numbers on why women having careers is not going to produce a dysgenic spiral.

5. Literally Inconceivable, in which I argue (against a Patheos Catholic blogger) that contraception does not increase abortion rates and that we need better access to effective contraception.

This blog also continues to host the Anti-Heartiste FAQ by my ex-girlfriend Ozy (but I take credit for encouraging them to write it!) one of the longest and most complete refutations of the red-pill/PUA worldview on the Internet.


On the other hand, I think there’s a whole corner of Internet feminism – the Jezebel, Gawker, and Modal Tumblr User faction – which is really scary. It’s the kind of feminism that sends death and rape threats to the administration of universities they don’t think are feminist enough, calls in bomb threats to disrupt anti-feminist meetings, lobbies governments to prevent justice for male victims of rape, or just comes up with increasingly tenuous philosophical justifications for why the rest of us are not allowed to notice or condemn these things. The kind that calls anyone who disagrees with them “shitlords” and “human garbage”, loves “male tears”, and tries to portray any argument they don’t like as “women-hating” or “rape apologism”. The kind that takes delight in bullying the weak, usually in fatphobic and ableist ways, and uses feminism as a fig leaf to cover up their behavior.

This strain is absolutely not the entirety of the movement – but it has become a big enough piece of the movement, and sufficiently dangerous to anybody who doesn’t share their views, that I think it really needs talking about and can’t be dismissed as “a few bad apples”. So just as gay people sometimes complain about “Christians” in a way that doesn’t necessarily mean the millions of Christians who are totally okay with gay people and fight very hard for gay representation in their churches and the wider society, so I will sometimes complain about “feminists” in a way that doesn’t necessarily mean the millions of feminists who follow good discussion norms and treat other people with respect. I’m trying to generalize less now and be much more precise about how I mean only a certain strain, but I have left the older posts untouched. If you think that’s unfair, I hope you are equally concerned every other time someone uses a group synechodically to refer to a common and worrying strain within that group (eg “The problem with Wall Street bankers is that they…”). I think feminists themselves invented/perfected this sort of synecdoche under the hashtag #NotAllMen.

Posts where I discuss my problems with feminism:

1. A Response To Apophemi On Triggers, where I argue that although there should be safe spaces for feminists which don’t tolerate anti-feminist views, there should also be communities that aren’t like that and tolerate all views.

2. Radicalizing The Romanceless, where I argue that the feminist idea of “Nice Guys” has gone way beyond its supposed meaning of people feeling entitled to relationships and turned into a way of mocking unattractive or poor-social-skills people for not being able to get dates, a sort of 21st century “Ha ha, you’re still a virgin, you loser” with a halo and impeccable feminist credentials. Then I say it is no coincidence that these people end up hating feminism and turning to movements like PUA and Red Pill, so maybe feminists should stop doing this.

3. Untitled, in which I continue on that theme and say that feminists are particularly cruel to male nerds for much the same reason jocks are particularly cruel to male nerds – because they’re weak and bad at defending themselves – and that complaints about “nerd entitlement” are more based on finding an ideological justification for this behavior than on any facet of the real world.

The quote Hallquist is taking out of context comes from the second of those articles, where I describe some essays as “blurring the already thin line between feminism and literally Voldemort”. In my defense, that was in the context of someone else starting a very extended metaphor between different aspects of social justice and various fantasy characters, which I just continued. I also think you will be a little more sympathetic to me when you look at the essays involved.

I ask only that you take all of this work as a gestalt before deciding to form an opinion of me based on any one part of it.

71 Responses to SSC On Feminism

  1. DrBeat says:

    No, this is bullshit. You should not have to provide credentials or bona fides, because the accusation against you is bullshit and also what you have aptly described as The Worst Argument In The World. Only even worse, because the category it attempts to sort you into doesn’t actually have the negative qualities it claims.

    “He doesn’t assign universally positive affect to the word I use to describe good things! Drive him out!” is not an honest argument and it is not a fair argument.

  2. BD Sixsmith says:

    “We have a small movement with big ambitions, guys. What should we do?”
    “Alienate one of our more prominent advocates for unrelated reasons?”

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I don’t think any serious important EA people are trying to alienate me. It just sort of emergently came up, and then became an interesting piece of drama people latched on to.

    • DrBeat says:

      The dude who prompted this, making it “the issue” of whether Scott should be expelled for his Wrong Thinking, not only expressed the same sentiments about destructive feminism in an earlier post on his own blog — he quoted Scott to do so.

      • JerhumeBrunnenG says:

        Are you referring to the article Real life is an enormous social justice-free bubble which references Untitled (On Scott Aaronson and “Entitlement”), and begins:

        If you’re not familiar with the toxic online subculture that calls itself “social justice,”… ?

        Or has this dude been quoting Scott even more than I’m currently aware?

        • Adam says:

          I’m just gonna say I agree strongly with that guy. I’ve only been following this blog for a few months, but prior to doing so, I didn’t even know social justice was a thing (or red pill, for that matter), and I even literally took a few courses on feminism as an undergrad. Granted, that was before Twitter and tumblr even existed, and I still don’t have a Twitter account and only use tumblr to follow porn rebloggers, but it wasn’t long ago as measured in actual years.

          Point being, I really don’t get the feeling this type of thing is very pervasive outside of an Internet echo chamber (a very broad echo chamber composed of many communities that don’t agree on much except spending much of their time and effort devoted to building Internet communities, but still an echo chamber).

  3. Elissa says:

    I don’t actually think you are Scary Anti-Feminist, nor do I at all think you should be shunned, but I think Chris Hallquist definitely doesn’t want you shunned either? He said as much? This seems like an overreaction? And framing this as “people want to kick Scott out of EA for not being feminist enough” seems calculated to rile your audience?

    (if this comment makes you mad at me pls send email so I know to feel bad ok)

    • Alexander Stanislaw says:

      And framing this as “people want to kick Scott out of EA for not being feminist enough” seems calculated to rile your audience?

      I don’t think Scott did this.

      • Anonymous says:

        Not in this post, no…

      • Elissa says:

        A couple of commenters above seem to have gotten the idea that’s what this is all about, maybe because Scott says things like “If you want to agitate to get me shunned on the basis of my supposed anti-feminist credentials…” and this and this.

        • Not That Scott says:

          I have an impaired empathy module, and I physically winced on reading those two things you linked. Every word screams fear to me; stark terror radiates from those posts like some kind of strange celestial object composed of atomic fright instead of hydrogen.

          You may recall Scott is “massively, massively triggered by social justice”, due to that incident where people staged protests trying to kick him out of college and sent him death threats, driving him to suicidal thoughts, because they misinterpreted his anti-racist joke as a racist joke.

          Seeing a social-justice-flavoured complaint that he’s a meanie who makes feminists feel “unwelcome” in Effective Altruism (a topic he’s partial to) is already upsetting. Seeing Chris label him an anti-feminist, present a poor picture of his feminist credentials, and remark that people have been seriously discussing a blanket ban on anti-feminist people in Effective Altruism is nightmarish.

          (Before you reply that Chris did say banning Scott is a bad idea, please imagine how effective those statements would be at stopping an outrage mob demanding Scott be excluded from EA. Cause I bet that situation or something like it is what was running through Scott’s head when he wrote those Tumblr posts – which, seriously, can’t you see the visceral fear in them?)

          • Elissa says:

            …sure, reading those tumblr posts did evoke a strong anxiety reaction in me. Hard to suss out exactly how much of that is mirror neurons vs “oh crap, Scott is triggered and holding a loaded internet, put down the internet Scott.”

            Your main concern here is that I wasn’t empathetic enough? I care about that, but I also think anything I might say along the lines of “hey, I can see this has you very upset,” followed by substantive disagreement, risks coming off as pretty patronizing. If in analogous future situations Scott would prefer that I validate his feelings that way, or some other way, I hope he’ll tell me so. I like my friends to tell me how best to communicate with them.

            I guess I’m just not sure what you want me to say here. I still think the “people want to kick Scott out of EA for not being feminist enough” framing is really unhelpful.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Maybe people should just grow out this whole “muh feelz” thing. All of this “welcoming”, “inclusiveness”, “triggers”, etc. creates unproductive drama. Just grow a thick skin, ignore minor attacks by low status folks and stand your ground on major attacks.

            I mean, he’s Scott Alexander, possibly the most high-status person in the whole rationalist/EA community.
            If the SJWs were plotting to get him shunned in a way that could reasonably succeed, he could just write a little post saying something like: “The EA community may have succumbed to SJW entryism. Consider withholding your donations until the matter is settled.”. Then GiveWell and the other EA charities either start hounding out the SJWs or they fold shop.
            I know, this is a kinda jerk move, but sometimes costly punishment is needed to deal with people who will happily defect against you as much as they can get away with.

    • gattsuru says:

      I’m not sure that’s what Scott is accusing Chris of doing that, but I’m also not sure how you’re reading “more careful about endorsing, or seeming to endorse” (as opposed to people in That Thread or in private, which seems obviously true and uncontested by Chris) — especially in a context where you had to click a link from an unrelated quote — as anything other than shunning. “Refusing to interact with people in specific contexts” is kinda the textbook definition even when it’s not universal, and when you need make sure not only the immediate discussion but also any addition nearby discussion is removed from a topic, it’s hard to avoid universality.

      I’ve not been terribly impressed by a lot of Scott’s writings on feminism, but Chris seems be straddling a line of chalk definitions rather inelegantly here. ((This isn’t helped by an is-isn’t typo on Chris’s most recent blog post on the topic.))

      • Elissa says:

        You lost me.

        Edit: Ok, I still think something has gone wrong with your syntax, but I gather you just mean that people being “more careful about endorsing, or seeming to endorse” Scott’s controversial critiques of feminism is substantially the same as shunning him. I disagree with this. One can certainly be more careful without being dishonest or casting anyone out; for example, Ben Kuhn apparently really doesn’t endorse the content his commenter objected to, and on reflection, he wanted to make that clear. I see nothing wrong with that.

        • gattsuru says:

          Sorry, attempted to clarify, Scott’s post here is probably more clear and was written by a sentient human.

      • Carinthium says:

        Requesting clarification, or perhaps a link if there is one, to your views in particular. I’m curious to know more about these objections.

  4. Vaniver says:

    Scott, this is a solid response, and I’m glad you posted it. Focusing on yourself and your actions is the correct way to respond to criticisms, and from my point of view, you have handled yourself well, both here and elsewhere.

    Do not change yourself to please Hallquist or others like him; remain principled and you will keep the love and admiration of those who see clearly and think deeply.

    • Liskantope says:

      I agree that a straightforward “this is what I believe” post seems like the best way to respond. Whether one disagrees with Hallquist’s general conclusions about Scott’s attitude regarding feminism after reading and considering this post is another matter. I personally had and still have some sympathy with Hallquist’s overall impression that Scott’s approach to feminism hasn’t been sufficiently charitable, although this post did make me feel a bit better about a couple of things.

      • Evan Þ says:

        Seconded. Scott’s recently been emphasizing the negative sides of feminism, so I can understand how people who haven’t delved into the archives can get an unfairly anti-feminist view of him.

        (Speaking of which, Scott, you might consider making this show up somewhere other than a Tumblr link?)

  5. roystgnr says:

    There needs to be a link to In Favor of Niceness, Community, and Civilization somewhere here. That most nicely summarized your opposition to the self-destructive insanity of “we have a good cause, so we should spread it via deceit, because there’s no way that could backfire horribly!” (not an actual quote – for obvious reasons the people who hold inchoate versions of this view aren’t capable of articulating it so accurately)

    Also: I didn’t see this post on my RSS feed, but only via a Tumblr link. Not sure whether that was an oversight or intentional.

    • Evan Þ says:

      Also: I didn’t see this post on my RSS feed, but only via a Tumblr link. Not sure whether that was an oversight or intentional.

      This post also doesn’t show up on the homepage http://slatestarcodex.com , or in the list of posts in the Archives. I’m guessing that’s intentional, but I’m not sure either.

      • Sniffnoy says:

        Yes; I initially assumed this had been posted and then quickly deleted (but was still up for some reason — I should have noticed that, the other time he deleted a post it did not somehow stay up), my comment above was basically posted as a reason not to delete this…

      • coder says:

        It is posted as a WordPress Page rather than a Post. Notice the URL also doesn’t have the date it’s published, it has no categories or tags, and the formatting is slightly different (no date under the headline). Pages are intended for non-date-oriented material like an About page with a bio, a Contact page, maybe a list of Best Posts, or something about a specific project the bog author is proud of.

        So best guess is Scott just wanted this page to stand rather than fall down the front page, and it’ll probably get linked to from the sidebar or About page.

    • Evan Þ says:

      If we’re talking about links that should be included…

      Here’s a post where Scott sympathizes with Booth’s assassination of Lincoln. No, really, after quoting one of Lincoln’s worse jokes, he says, “If John Wilkes Booth had to suffer through that riddle, then I don’t blame him.”

      Or, maybe Scott sometimes exaggerates for effect in his blogging.

  6. ozymandias says:

    Scott, Topher did not “agitate to get you shunned.” He said multiple times in his post that he does not think banning all anti-feminists is a good idea, and specifically mentions that he does not think banning you is a good idea. I mean, you couldn’t have at least linked to the post so people could check it out for themselves?

    And, frankly, I think this post and its comments is evidence *for* the claims in Topher’s post. You interpreted a post that specifically and repeatedly talks about how it does not want to kick you out of anything as advocacy for kicking you out of effective altruism, which is an extremely uncharitable interpretation of a pro-feminist blog post. And this entire comment section is people being knee-jerk defensive of you without considering whether the accusations are remotely justified. (You’ve said yourself you’re irrational about feminism! Why is it slander when Topher agrees?)

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I did not accuse Topher of “agitating to get me shunned”. I said he was “trying to take statements of mine out of context to paint this blog as violently anti-feminist”

      Other people are discussing getting me shunned. I very much avoided attributing that opinion to Topher, something you seem to have missed before deciding to post your comment above. I’ve edited the post to make the lack of Topher-accusation clearer, but I think you’re looking for trouble here. Please stop accusing me of being untruthful, stop implying I didn’t read Topher’s post, and generally stop.

      I did not want to link to Topher’s post because I don’t want to reward him with page views or attention for having written it. I think he is needlessly fanning the flames of an internal-EA issue in a very provocative way in order to create drama, ruin my reputation, and ruin the reputation of EA. I think a reasonable person would have noted that I have been very quiet about feminist issues for several months now and tried to address this issue more quietly instead of publicly sensationalizing it and me. I would prefer to discourage that kind of thing rather than start a toxoplasma of rage thing.

    • DrBeat says:

      He is agitating to get Scott shunned. He’s saying “We shouldn’t ban him, but we should Do Something about him”. He is completely mischaracterizing Scott’s views in order to put him into a category he ALSO completely mischaracterizes. He’s not defending people’s rights to disagree with this one ideology, he’s saying “Now now, obviously they are wrong and shouldn’t be allowed to do that, but we don’t have to go so far as banning them altogether.”

    • ozymandias says:

      Thank you for editing the post.

      Multiple commenters seem to have interpreted your post as saying that Topher wanted to shun you (see: BDSixsmith, Dr. Beat), so I don’t think my objection was as looking for trouble as you imply. But I am pleased that I misinterpreted you. 🙂

      • Scott Alexander says:

        Thank you for a good response that prevented this thread from becoming a flame war and activating my “continue to defend self while getting more and more upset” mode.

      • BD Sixsmith says:

        I didn’t mean to imply that Hallquist wanted our host shunned. But it remains true that if one charges somebody with writing rants, spewing vitriol and being the kind of person one should avoid appearing to endorse – even in part – one is liable to alienate them. (That’s how I’d feel, anyway – as, it appears, would others.)

  7. I have witnessed a conversation in which an effective altruist who took issue with another effective altruist for being anti-feminist discussed with others whether to take this up with the event planners (such that hopefully the anti-feminist would be excluded). That was the basis of my post a few days ago saying that I had a strong visceral negative reaction to discussions of whether it was a good idea to kick out anti-feminists. Topher expressed surprise that this was within the Overton Window and I shared chat logs with Topher to convince him of this. Scott was not the subject of that conversation. I have not witnessed any conversations suggesting that we ought to kick Scott out of effective altruism. I don’t think anyone has argued we ought to kick Scott out of effective altruism.

    However, if people were commenting on Ben Kuhn’s blog posts to say “I think this is a great post, but find it ironic that you start with a quote from theunitofcaring, one of the least welcoming people I’ve encountered in the movement. Being a woman I find it pretty alienating to read theunitofcaring’s posts, and the more often I see her vitriolic posts about feminism being endorsed by people in EA the more I question whether I can stay in the movement.” and then other effective altruists were endorsing this as a totally reasonable expression of discomfort justified by my bad behavior, I would delete everything I’d written on the internet ever and contemplate suicide, so Scott’s reaction strikes me as comparatively very reasonable. (Still an overreaction, arguably, but we’re working with people here, and it hurts people to be told they’re so terrible that the fact anyone associates with them is driving others out of the movement.) Not acknowledging this is going to come across as callous and hurtful.

    More importantly: Posts to the effect of “here are some feminist ideas I’ve incorporated/want to incorporate into my activism” are a thousand times more effective at making feminists feel welcome than posts about how to be more welcoming. In general, instead of ‘how do we be more welcoming’, try directly posting content that we expect to appeal to the people we desire to welcome!!!

    To the extent we need to have a strategic conversation at all, here’s how I feel about it: I run one of the more active EA groups (two meetups/week with average attendance of ~10 and ~20 respectively, several MIRIx and guest speaker events this year which drew far higher attendance) and we have approximate gender parity. I really wish that people who think it’s important to accomplish this would talk with me about how I accomplished it, and I’m profoundly frustrated that this doesn’t seem to have occurred to any of them. In fact, none of the women I know who lead EA groups, and who have often successfully made those EA groups inclusive and gender-balanced, have been consulted in the ongoing discussion about how to be more welcoming, and I’d really urge anyone who is interested in that conversation to reach out to us.

    • blacktrance says:

      I run one of the more active EA groups (two meetups/week with average attendance of ~10 and ~20 respectively, several MIRIx and guest speaker events this year which drew far higher attendance) and we have approximate gender parity. I really wish that people who think it’s important to accomplish this would talk with me about how I accomplished it, and I’m profoundly frustrated that this doesn’t seem to have occurred to any of them.

      Hypotheses, in decreasing order of charity:
      1a. People don’t know that any EA meetups have approximate gender parity, and just assume based on their (generally correct) priors that these kinds of events are mostly male. If they knew, they’d ask you how they accomplished it.
      1b. The commenter that started this discussion on Ben Kuhn’s blog is an SJ-influenced feminist, and Typical Minded into assuming that other women are as put off as she is by the level of endorsement of Scott’s writings in EA circles. She and people like her would be surprised by EA meetups with gender parity.
      2. In the context of the rhetoric of people in the original commenter’s ideological environment, “welcoming” means “SJ” and “women” means “SJ feminists”. It’s not interesting whether a space has gender parity (at best, it’s a minor curiosity), what matters is that it subscribes to SJ ideology. (I know this is uncharitable, but this is supported by the original commenter’s assumption that a woman is a feminist.)

    • Colonel Mustard says:

      I suspect few people actually care about gender balance (I was at the EA summit last year and I felt like it had a lot more gender balance than my compsci/maths classes at a top university, which is the right comparison group) but a lot of people want to be seen caring about gender balance. Could be wrong.

    • eqdw says:

      More importantly: Posts to the effect of “here are some feminist ideas I’ve incorporated/want to incorporate into my activism” are a thousand times more effective at making feminists feel welcome than posts about how to be more welcoming. In general, instead of ‘how do we be more welcoming’, try directly posting content that we expect to appeal to the people we desire to welcome!!!

      To the extent we need to have a strategic conversation at all, here’s how I feel about it: I run one of the more active EA groups (two meetups/week with average attendance of ~10 and ~20 respectively, several MIRIx and guest speaker events this year which drew far higher attendance) and we have approximate gender parity. I really wish that people who think it’s important to accomplish this would talk with me about how I accomplished it, and I’m profoundly frustrated that this doesn’t seem to have occurred to any of them.

      I’m a software engineer, the Officially Sexist Employment Category right now. On my team of 4 engineers, I’m the only cis man. If you count QA and management attached to my team, it’s 2 men, 1 transman, and 5 women. Bring in nontechnical management and it’s 3 / 1 / 7

      My company never had any gender politics/sexism initiatives whatsoever, but nobody’s ever noticed or cared or asked us how we do it.

  8. This is kind of a nitpick but the first paragraph of section IV is weak. You start out by writing that you’re against the Gawker/Jezebel/Tumblr feminists, but then you describe why they’re evil using a bunch of links which as far as I can tell outline a variety of isolated incidents of individual feminists being evil, in ways that probably 98% of feminists, even the horrible ones would condemn (e.g. making rape threats). What’s more, most of these links don’t seem to have anything to do with Gawker or Jezebel or Tumblr.

    I agree with you that said corner of internet feminism is horrible, but this paragraph doesn’t really do a good job of describing why and as it stands it’s sort of unfair, given that you could probably do this sort of cherry-picking for most large movements. I feel like people who are against you might call you out on this.

    But yeah, overall, I’m on your side and it’s frustrating that we live in a world where this post is necessary.

    • Sniffnoy says:

      I’ll second this.

    • Not That Scott says:

      I have a nitpick of your nitpick: I strongly doubt that if we collected 100 feminists, you or I would be able extract a clear condemnation of each of those events from even 50 of them. I suspect we’d struggle to get a clear condemnation of any of those events from at least 5 of them.

      But also, I agree with you that it feels like uncharitable readers will use it as a weak point. To that end, some evidence of a general trend here: ALL OF THE TRIGGER WARNINGS

  9. stargirl says:

    Scott should just ignore the complaints and keep posting about feminism imo. There are many reasons:

    1) Thousands of people, many of them quite smart (Bryan Caplan for example) find the feminism articles interesting and thoughtful.

    2) The articles increase Scott’s overall popularity. And Scott is a deserving writer.

    3) The Feminism articles are sufficiently well researched and reasonable that Scott is clearly not actively spreading falsehood. Even if Scott’s take on feminism is not perfect its not immoral for Scott to post those articles.

    4) Its not clear that Scott posting feminism articles is bad for EA’s popularity. Those articles are very popular and might draw people in EA at a high rate.

    5) The people who complain about Scott’s posts are never going to be happy.

    6) Scott censoring nudges social norms slightly in a bad direction.

    7) Scott is an extremely popular blogger and is more popular than his current detractors. Hence he can probably weather their attack. In addition Scott will probably get support from popular people (Scott Aaronson etc) if people really try to push him out.

    @Scott. Ignore the haters imo. Its the best for the world. Its the best for you. And it might be the best for EA.

  10. The Colonel says:

    If some people find Scott’s posts objectionable, they should feel free to abstain from reading him. That’s about as far as you can reasonably ask people to go. Scott is polite, charitable, and a good writer. He has probably introduced more people to EA than anyone else who doesn’t work full time for an EA movement.

    I wish people who objected to seeing feminists’ views attacked would disagree with Scott’s statistics, or highlight the errors of reasoning they presumably think he makes. As it is, we’re left with no idea what, other than one ill-chosen Harry Potter metaphor, his detractors disagree with.

  11. Rhino says:

    Whether Scott appears to be charitable or uncharitable towards feminism really depends on your outlook towards feminism and your perception of what proportion of feminists his critiques apply to.

    To evaluate the fairness of Scott’s stance towards feminism, it would be necessary to have extensive engagement with both feminism and criticisms of feminism. Judging Scott’s views on feminism would require judging feminism itself. Is this a healthy project for EA to get involved in?

    It’s very disturbing that people are seriously discussing banning “anti-feminists” from EA (or banning anyone, actually). Outside the social justice bubble, lots of people have lots of misgivings about feminism. Including many feminists if you catch them on the right day! Who decides who an “anti-feminist” is, and whether Scott is one?

    Virtually nobody identifies with the term “anti-feminist,” even people who rabidly criticize it 24/7. The term is commonly used by feminists to denounce their critics, homogenize them, and dismiss their perspectives. In this discussion, people may not intend it this way. But “anti-feminist” is a polarizing term, and I believe that its history explains Scott’s reaction here. It will really sting any critic of feminism who still has extensive agreement and sympathy with feminism, or interpersonal friendships with feminists.

    Quoting Untitled was definitively not pragmatic in a post about welcoming people to EA. But the resulting discussion seems really unfair, by reducing Scott’s view on feminism to particular quotes taken out of context, judging EA by its association with Scott, and now labeling Scott an “anti-feminist.”

    I realize that certain of Scott’s comments can be off-putting to some people, but people (including people sympathetic to Scott) need to realize that the more they talk about whether he is being “charitable” or “vitriolic,” the more they are getting pulled into the gutter of politics.

    Does criticism of Scott’s views of feminism in an EA context serve EA, or serve feminism? Or neither?

    I think the solution here is for everyone to try to keep EA and politics more compartmentalized:

    – Avoid bringing political posts (like Untitled) into discussions of EA unless appropriate to the context.
    – Institute strong norms against trying to police people’s politics in EA. If divisive behavior is incentivized, you will see more of it.
    – Be cautious when labeling people with political labels that they don’t agree with (like “anti-feminist”).
    – Notice when people are presupposing a particular political perspective in an ethical discussion.

    • Harald K says:

      Virtually nobody identifies with the term “anti-feminist,” even people who rabidly criticize it 24/7

      This is not correct. Unfortunately, “anti-feminist” is used both by people who criticize feminism from a neo-traditionalist perspective (e.g. Roosh V of Return of Kings) and people who criticize it from a gender egalitarian/anti-traditionalist perspective (e.g. Paul Elam of A Voice for Men). This is unfortunate because it leads to a lot of confusion.

      It doesn’t help matters that self-identified feminists also use it to describe regular traditionalist dissidents (e.g. Suzanne Venker) or even other feminists – I’ve seen TERFs argue that all non-TERFs are antifeminists. In fact, if you even use the term TERF, you’re an anti-feminist!

      But I agree with your conclusions.

      • veronica d says:

        I’ve encountered a number of self-avowed “anti-feminists” on this very forum, although I don’t remember who. It’s not a rare thing in this part of the Internet.

        I find that Scott’s insight and fairness drops much when he talks about feminism. Likewise, his standards of evidence go down the drain. Thus there might be good reasons for him to avoid the topic. On the other hand, I think it’s an important topic, and what he says on the issue often drives good conversations.

        I recall very ugly strains of “nerd misogyny” long before I ever heard of the “redpill” or even “PUA.” This stuff was around when I was in high school, which was long before the Internet was a thing. The “nice guy” phenomena was real. It took various ugly forms, including mocking a girl I knew who was gang-raped by her b/f and his friends, who were pretty typical “bad boys.”

        When my friend was raped, things such as the following were said about her: “She had it coming,” “I can’t feel sorry for her. She should have known not to date those guys.” On and on, stuff like that.

        At least one person who said that was upset that she would not date them. They said it out loud.

        “She chose them over me.”

        Furthermore, the interests and dignity of many young women in my school were dismissed by saying “She won’t fuck me anyway.” It was not only nerds who said this stuff, but they said it a lot.

        The term “freindzone” did not (so far as I recall) exist, but dudes talked about “just friends,” which was used with precisely the same meaning. “She only dates jerks” was an oft-repeated topic of resentment.

        I grew up in this toxic cesspool, and I was not surprised when online feminists began to respond to it.

        And yes, the discourse got very ugly, and I agree that simple nerd hate drives much of the conversation, along with fat-phobia and virgin-shaming. This stuff sucks and we should point it out.

        I’m glad that Scott talks about this aspect. It is important. His talking about it helped shape my views.

        But he goes too far and loses context. For example, feminists were not alone in this discourse. There were always shitty sexist men pushing back against the conversation. And so the conversation was always a broken cycle. I’m not surprised it got ugly.

        Yes, feminists need to rise above, but rising above is hard. Scott makes allowances for terrible men, but none for the women.

        In Radicalizing the Romanceless he makes a Google comparison between terms such as “redpill” and the broader term “feminism,” and tries to sell the difference as important. That is literally a stupid argument. I don’t think he would make it regarding any other topic.

        That’s like comparing the term “democrat” with “tea party,” and then arguing that social conservatism is new.

        Then he links to what is possibly the oldest “nice guy” article, this one: http://www.heartless-bitches.com/rants/niceguys/niceguys.shtml , where he criticizes the name of the site, completely ignoring why feminists might choose to be “in your face” about being uncaring bitches.

        Which is to say, he understands reverse discourse from angry men, but not the same from women.

        But anyway, read the article. To me it sounds entirely reasonable. I wouldn’t call it deep, but it was talking about a real thing in a sensible way.

        Scott entirely ignored its contents. His only interest was that it predated the term “manosphere.” As if that matters.

        (Note the terms “nerd” and “virgin” and so on are not found in that article. The anti-nerd stuff comes later.)

        This is from the comments section of that article. Note the date.

        … and in the “bitter bottom of the barrel” looney bin:
        Date: Sat, 8 Mar 2003
        Subject: Male Flame form :
        From: itbagu@yahoo.com
        COMMENTS: Thank you for your website. It is further confirmation of the general inaneness of women and why they should not be allowed free time to develop websites and express their views. I want to quickly comment on the articles relating to misogyny on your website. The “nice guy” theory you are puporting is only men that can not get a date believe that women want guys who treat them badly. The idea is that “nice guys” are insecure and weak, and they blame women for their inability to garner respect. But the truth is that men who have a lot of success with women and have many girlfriends will tell you the same thing about women. It is because they treat the women like crap that they are successful. They have only accepted this and play the game that women require in order to get what they desire. In fact, the “nice guys” resent the women because they need to be treated with contempt, not because of a misplaced contempt that the men feel for themselves. Thank you again for your website and keep up the work. You are doing a service to misogynysts around the world.

        That was 2003. The Game had not yet been published. The “redpill” (as a movement) did not even slightly exist. But the ideas were there. I remember them from shitty people in high school.

        I remember them from myself in high school. I’m the one who said those things about my friend who was raped. She wouldn’t date me, perhaps in part because I never asked her out. I hated that. I hated her, myself, everything.

        I wonder if, back then, reading about “nice guys” would have helped me. I’m darn sure reading about the redpill would have fucked me up.

        • Hyzenthlay says:

          The Heartless Bitches article doesn’t strike me as a reasonable take on the issue, it strikes me as very one-sided and full of ugly stereotypes.

          It’s horrible that your friend in high school was blamed for her own rape. No one should be blamed for bad things that other people do to them. But I find it ironic that the article you linked uses the same kind of victim-blaming: If you have one bad relationship after another, the only common denominator is YOU. Think about it. What’s wrong with Nice Guys? The biggest problem is that most Nice Guys ™ are hideously insecure…a big red target for the predators of the world. There are women out there who are “users” — just looking for a sucker to take advantage of.

          In other words, if a Nice Guy gets abused by his romantic partners, it’s his own fault for being insecure/clingy/etc. (Interestingly, I have seen this attitude expressed toward Nice Girls as well, to a lesser degree, in books like “Why Men Love Bitches” and the like.)

          Redpill is horrible, but the Heartless Bitches type of worldview just seems like the female flipside of redpill. In fact, it seems like they’re saying a lot of the same stuff, just framed differently. “Stop being beta! It’s a turnoff!”

          Are there some people who claim to be nice but are actually bitter, resentful and entitled? Sure. The problem is that (as Scott has talked about in his posts on the subject) the perception that “introverted/insecure/nerdy” equals “bitter/ resentful/entitled bigot” has become a stereotype which spills onto everyone of that personality type, regardless of whether they embody those negative traits.

  12. Emile says:

    Gee, all this over some two-sentences-long anonymous comment! What happened to “don’t feed the trolls?”

    Scott, I think you’re overreacting a bit (I probably would too), and giving off a more negative impression of Hallq than he deserves; in Real life is an enormous social justice-free bubbl he seems just as concerned about rabid SJW and toxoplasmy of rage in general, and points to some good advice on that. People who only read your tumblr and/or this post might get the impression that he is attacking you much more strongly than he actually is (I got that impression, so read around a bit, and it seems it’s not such a big deal after all).

    Anyway, I hope it didn’t ruin your weekend 😛

    • memetiengineer says:

      Scott may getting a more negative impression of Chris’s post than it deserves because he’s had the life experience of feminists trying to kick him out of things for being insufficiently feminist in the past, and is self-admittedly triggered by the topic.

      That said, I think Chris’s post unfair to Scott, and overly generous to the anonymous commenter on Ben Kuhn’s post. Scott’s writing on feminism is somewhat less level-headed and charitable than his writing on most other topics, it’s true. But it is still *much* more level-headed and charitable than average for writing on feminism, whether for or against. I think it’s unfair to label Scott’s writing on feminism as “vitriol”, judge it based on out-of-context quotes, or label it as especially unwelcoming. So even though Chris’s post wasn’t as bad as Scott made it out to be, I still thought it was pretty bad.

      Admittedly, my gut reaction to the situation was “Scott Alexander is my precious baby and must be protected at all costs” so I might not be entirely objective on this. But still, I do think it was kind of unfair.

      I also hope Scott is not put off from writing about feminism entirely based on these kinds of criticisms, because I think his contributions are useful.

      (Like Scott, I agree with many feminist policy positions but do not identify with the term and am concerned about some of the worse aspects of the movement.)

      • Protagoras says:

        I like both Scott and Hallq, and wish everybody would just get along, but most importantly I agree that everybody should keep posting interesting things to the internet, even if other people occasionally get offended. Obviously, it’s best to try not to be offensive (as both Scott and Hallq do), but there’s such a thing as trying too hard.

        Myself, I agree with many feminist policy positions and do identify with the term, but am still concerned about some of the worse aspects of the movement (such as SWERFs and TERFs; looking at Scott’s list, I seem to agree with Scott about pretty much everything in his section I, except for whether to identify as feminist).

  13. vV_Vv says:



  14. Liskantope says:

    This morning it occurred to me that there’s an interesting disconnect between the way EA operates and the way this blog (and indeed most blogs!) operate. That is, EA seems largely focused on efforts like GiveWell, which searches around the globe and aims to determine which causes do the greatest possible good. Even if you personally feel more knowledgeable about and emotionally invested in, for instance, children with cancer in America, GiveWell might discourage you from donating anything to that. At least, this is my understanding, from my perspective as an outsider to EA (I hope this will change once my job situation improves).

    Whereas on the other hand, when you run a blog — let’s say, a blog which we already grant is dedicated to several choice subject areas — you are probably tempted to write disproportionately about aspects you’re most interested in or have personally encountered the most. Maybe there are millions more feminists who do “follow good discussion norms and treat other people with respect”, maybe feminism has a much longer history of bringing about extremely groundbreaking societal progress than it does of spreading toxicity via the internet, but this blog has put a strong focus on a current particular strain of internet feminism. And as far as I’m concerned, this is not only reasonable but the way a blog should be: writing, unlike charity, is far more effective when it focuses on what the author knows intimately and feels emotionally invested in. And I appreciate the fact that while I can find a hundred other places extolling feminism and all what it has done for us and what it is still doing, I can turn to SSC to take the time to critically scrutinize those strains of feminist rhetoric which I have doubts about.

    Maybe this weird distinction is in the back of the minds of some of those who are casting doubts as to who should be on the front face of EA. Anyway, just an idea.

    • Femme-Werewolf says:

      “…maybe feminism has a much longer history of bringing about extremely groundbreaking societal progress than it does of spreading toxicity via the internet…”

      It is an empirical fact that feminism has a much longer history of bringing about extremely groundbreaking societal progress. It predates the internet by well over a century. It’s on Wikipedia FFS. This is not obscure information.

      I can’t tell if you’re extremely ill informed or extremely intellectually dishonest. In an effort to be charitable, I’m going to assume it’s the former.

      • Hyzenthlay says:

        Look at the construction of the following sentence: “Sure, maybe capitalism has brought about important advances in technology and raised the standard of living, but unrestrained capitalism can cause extreme inequality and other social problems.”

        Do you regard the “maybe” as someone questioning whether capitalism has actually brought about technological advances, or are they using the “maybe” to signal that they’re about to qualify the statement?

        I think Liskantope meant it the latter way. I don’t think zie’s questioning that feminism has brought groundbreaking social progress.

        • Liskantope says:

          Yes, I meant it more in the latter way, using a very similar construction as in Hyzenthlay’s sentence about capitalism. I don’t doubt the fact that feminism has brought groundbreaking social progress.

  15. Liskantope says:

    I think feminists themselves invented/perfected this sort of synecdoche under the hashtag #NotAllMen.

    I am confused by this sentence. I thought the other side came up with the hashtag “NotAllMen” in order to (perhaps preemptively?) defend men against this sort of synecdoche? This is just a nitpick, though.

  16. bluthboy says:

    I am a researcher who came to this blog through statistics and methodology, but recently started reading your SJ posts due to this summary. I do not know much about how the SJ world works online (sounds lovely though) but you clearly do it valuable service. Your scientific analyses contribute to making SJ more empirically rigorous. This provides people with more honest and accurate tools for measuring and combating injustice, which can only make those efforts more effective in the long run. Your consistent calls for better behavior towards people resonates with a wide audience and encourages more people not to be afraid to join in the real world. Thanks for both, and I hope you continue.

  17. stargirl says:

    There were also demands the Scott stop talking about disability on Tumblr. Apparently because his views made EA sound ablest. This discussion of Ableism and disability was very high level, even if it was controversial. Apparently it annoyed enough people that scott got enough angry asks he publicly said he would stop talking about disability in order to make the asks stop.

    Here is the main post: http://slatestarscratchpad.tumblr.com/post/117358237511/so-im-really-interested-in-the-whole-effective

    This was on Scott’s personal tumblr. If someone wants Scott to stop talking about an issue they just want certain views to never be criticized. I am doubtful the community listening to those people will lead to good things.

  18. Galle says:

    So, as far as I can tell in this argument, nobody can seem to agree on what anyone else involved actually said or wants. Which makes me sad. I suspect that there probably isn’t enough actual disagreement to justify any sort of vitriol or, for that matter, accusations of vitriol.

    The original problem (some feminists finding things Scott has said about feminism off-putting) is much thornier. Personally, I agree with pretty much everything Scott’s ever said about the feminist movement (both positive and negative), but I can see how some people might find his criticisms off-putting and accidentally pattern-match them to misogyny.

    It doesn’t help that the social justice movement has a meme saying “anyone who says they question our methods but not our goals is really an enemy of our goals trying to trick you” and that Scott’s entire schtick is trying to question methods without questioning goals.

    The idea that Scott is less charitable to feminism than, say, neoreaction just confuses me. Scott clearly agrees with all the goals and many of the claims of the feminist movement, while disagreeing with most of the goals and claims of the reactionary movement. Maybe he needs to write a Not Anti-Feminist But Kind of Uncomfortable With Feminism FAQ? I dunno.

    • stargirl says:

      I think people are using different standards.

      Not being openly dismissive of neo-reaction = being charitiable to neoreaction

      Criticizing feminism, except in a way that repeatedly signals in-groupness (like veronica, ozy*) = being uncharitable to feminism.

      *Ozy zirself once deleted her blog because a group of feminists where openly “uncomfortable” with her writings. Among other things she was accused of playing devil’s advocate for positions where they are already enough devils. So even Ozy’s criticisms of feminism get accused of being problematic.

    • Adam says:

      It could be the relative prominence of views expressed in the comments as much as anything Scott himself says. I’ve been reading for much longer than I’ve been commenting at least in part because I’m of Mexican descent and, frankly, it felt like a place full of some pretty threatening ideas, probably not to me directly, but to my family and a lot of people I care deeply about.

      • Liskantope says:

        Maybe the concern would be better characterized as “Scott is more charitable towards neorationaries than he is towards feminists“. That is at least what I used to suspect, although this seems to have improved over the last year.

        It could be the relative prominence of views expressed in the comments as much as anything Scott himself says.

        Indeed, much of my worry a while back had to do with a concern that Scott was being too lenient towards some of the neoreactionaries in his comment sections.

    • vV_Vv says:

      The idea that Scott is less charitable to feminism than, say, neoreaction just confuses me. Scott clearly agrees with all the goals and many of the claims of the feminist movement, while disagreeing with most of the goals and claims of the reactionary movement.

      Scott is charitable to neoreactionaries as people while disagreeing with most their ideology, while he is critical towards (SJW) feminists as people while agreeing with a significant part of their ideology.
      I suppose this is because SJWs engage in the bad behavior that he describes in (IV) while neoreactionaries don’t.

  19. Kytael says:

    is there anything you’ve written about your position on affirmative consent laws? I assume
    it being about laws is an important distinction point from simply “affirmative consent”.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I was originally neutral because I figured nothing would ever make it to court; now leaning against after learning about this case