The Misogyny Wars are a series of controversies related to misogyny and feminism which we have to deal with in atheist and skeptic communities. This page tries to track this ongoing military campaign and the part PZ Myers plays there. 
Harassment in the skeptic communityEdit
We know there are men connected with the skeptical community who aren't respectful of women, here's PZ on one amazing character. The not-so-Amazing Atheist self-immolates. Sadly there are other men who make problems for women online,  The MRA even decided to make fake rape claims.  The evidence is clear to anyone who looks at various unpleasant websites.
- So what should we assume?
- Should we assume when those skeptical community rogues and other rogues meet women offline they stop unpleasantness, then behave with total respect and consideration?
- Should we assume none of the difficult men or other likeminded men ever attend atheist conferences?
- Should we assume everybody at atheist conferences desists from any bad behaviour that may have happened online?
- Should we assume even after spending a long time at a bar no man at any atheist conference ever says anything inept, nerdish or malicious to any woman?
- If you really imagine all that what planet have you been living on?
We can't always tell definitively which complaints are true but overall there are too many complaints and it's likely that a high proportion are true.
Women aren't by any means the only group that can face harassment. Therefore the American Atheists have decided on a policy aimed at protecting all participants and specifically several minorities are mentioned.
|“||American Atheists does not tolerate harassment of or by conference participants in any form. Prohibited conduct may include but is not limited to harassment related to gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, sexual images in public spaces (not related to convention sessions or materials), deliberate intimidation, stalking, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. Racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic conduct will not be tolerated.||”|
The Woman Problem, a thread on Pharyngula in which women were asked to contribute suggestions to increase participation in atheist/skeptic movement activities. (Note: This post currently lacks comments due to the Natgeo switch, so the most important part of the thread has been lost.)
The beginning of Elevatorgate, the controversy centered on Rebecca Watson. 'Deep Rifts' Or 'The Humanity Of It All'... Part 1 is a post by blogger Suirauqa exhaustively documenting the major incidents of Elevatorgate.
The controversy over harassment policies begins, in the wake of comments by Jen McCreight about an informal network of women who communicate about harassment incidents involving male speakers.
DJ Grothe, president of JREF, weighs in, and TAM spins off into its own controversy.
In Medias Res: how to find the plot if you’re just tuning in is a post by Jason Thibeault at Lousy Canuck, advising people who are not fully informed about the controversy over harassment policies on how to get informed without irritating people who have been involved from the beginning. The comments contain further useful advice and links.
Harassment policies campaign – timeline of major events from Lousy Canuck contains links to major blog posts in the controversy about the enactment of harassment policies at atheist/skeptic conferences.
Thunderf00t joined FTB, and almost immediately, he vehemently argued that harassment policies at conventions are unnecessary. He got banned from FTB, but he later got access to some FTB-admin e-mails, provoking further controversy.
Did Michael Shermer rape anyone? We don't know.  Statistically over 90% of rape allegations are true  and PZ Myers supports the complainant. Rape allegations that appear false are sometimes the result of pressure from authorities to deny a rape that actually happened  or other psychological pressure on vulnerable rape victims. 
It's probably obvious but trigger warnings for dealing with sexual assault and rape.
First a quote from PZ:
|“|| (...) She doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else, so she’d like to get the word out there. So she hands the information to me. Oh, thanks.
Now I’ve been sitting here trying to resolve my dilemma — to reveal it or not — and goddamn it, what’s dominating my head isn’t the consequences, but the question of what is the right thing to do. Do I stand up for the one who has no recourse, no way out, no other option to help others, or do I shelter the powerful big name guy from an accusation I can’t personally vouch for, except to say that I know the author, and that she’s not trying to acquire notoriety (she wants her name kept out of it)?
I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do, I can do no other. I will again emphasize, though, that I have no personal, direct evidence that the event occurred as described; all I can say is that the author is known to me, and she has also been vouched for by one other person I trust.
—What do you do when someone pulls the pin and hands you a grenade? by PZ Myers Emphasis ours
Another woman complained that Shermer kept her drink glass full, a common rape tactic. Richard Carrier works out how refilling a glass could have happened.
|“||You finally get to meet a big celebrity, for the first time, someone you really love and admire, and you’re at a party having drinks together, sitting at a table. He shows a lot of interest in you, asks you lots of questions, listens intently. Your conversation is so animated, in fact, his focus on you so engaging, that you don’t even notice that he keeps filling your wine glass, and you don’t realize how much you’ve had.||”|
At least since the Myers grenade exploded women know they should not focus only on how much they admire Shermer but also on what he may do with their glass. Remember this could have happened, we don't know for certain if Shermer did it.
- What would the misogynist blogosphere have done if a female blogger has taken this up rather than PZ? Sarah Jones suggested that rape accusations should be taken seriously and got death threats for that. 
- What would the misogynist blogosphere have done if the complaining women themselves had taken this up?  Are we surprised the complaining women would rather not be named?
|“||Only, somewhere that script got flipped: it’s more grievously harmful to name the person [alleged rapist] on the off chance that they fall into the ~6% of false claims than it is [beneficial] to screw up that person’s chances at harassing or raping even more people. The cries of “innocent until proven guilty”, which are appropriate in a courtroom or when facing jailtime, are brought up — which are never brought up when someone tells you to watch out for that person who picked your pocket. The cries for physical evidence drown out the testimonial and corroborative evidence that are brought forward.||”|
|“||A woman PZ has met and finds trustworthy asked Carrie Poppy for a reintroduction by email to PZ. Carrie did that and bowed out. Then this woman, whose identity is being shielded by PZ (from someone who, as we can see, doesn’t have the strongest dedication to getting the details right) told PZ her story of being raped by Michael Shermer. PZ published the story as is. (...) Updated to add a second bit of musing: How hard is it, really, to say “I’ve never done any such thing and I resent the living hell out of the accusation”?||”|
|“||This idea that we should completely ignore these accusations (...) simply and entirely because they come from unnamed sources? It’s ridiculous. We don’t apply that standard to any other reporting, on any other topic. There are reasons that unnamed sources stay unnamed. Especially when they’re making accusations against powerful people.||”|
|“||I happen to find myself on the opposite side, having heard and experienced too much behind the scenes to believe in Shermer’s innocence, but I don’t begrudge those without that knowledge for wanting fair legal representation of Shermer.||”|
Ashley Miller notes that those opposing Michael Shermer have a record of working to help the skeptic movement and fight misogyny in order "to make skepticism better."
|“||Ah, so donating to this is not, in fact, an attempt to help Shermer get decent representation, but rather a way to condemn unnamed victims who come forward with their stories. Got it. Out of curiosity, what is the appropriate way for a reporter to deal with a story from an unnamed source who is known and trusted, whose story and reputation is vouched for by multiple others?||”|
—Ashley F. Miller 
Brian Thompson formerly of the James Randi Educational Foundation agrees there is a problem with Shermer.
|“||I know enough women who have been harassed by @BTRadford and @michaelshermer to know it's not "gossip". These men are garbage people. Refering to Shermer specifically, Thompson adds in another tweet: @CounterApologis @lousycanuck I know two women who have been generally creeped at by him, one woman who was groped by him. .||”|
|“||Several people online claim to have witnessed his skirt-chasing in general (even propositioning a married woman while her husband was elsewhere in the same room) and evidence of his propensity to have multiple simultaneous ongoing affairs (some of which one source claims his wife eventually became aware.||”|
What happens if a husband finds out and unfairly blames his wife? Blaming the victim is too frequent whether a woman is attacked  or merely propositioned. All this if true suggests Shermer was thinking primarily about his own sexual gratification and wasn't too concerned about the possible effects on the women he targeted.
|“||What he did is sleazy. Even in what I think is the best case scenario, [that what he did was less serious than rape] given the preponderance of evidence so far. To me it doesn’t seem like he cares (now or then) about how he may have harmed this woman, or that whatever he did to harm her might be something he should apologize for and make right and stop doing in general so as to ensure he doesn’t harm anyone else (and it does sound like there are already other victims).||”|
- Has Shermer done "nothing wrong--legally or morally" as he himself states in the webpage that asked for donations to his legal fund?  
- Can Shermer explain to us why he contradicts what Carrier and Christina both write about him?
- Alternatively can Shermer explain what his personal moral standards are? Can he explain why feels the unpleasant behavior Carrier and Christina both accuse him of was not morally wrong?
Shermer's moral standardsEdit
In Feb 2013 Michael Shermer published a long text about science and morality, this was close on six months before PZ Myers' grenade exploded. The text shows what Shermer wanted readers to believe were major elements in his moral philosophy. All this was before Shermer knew he would be accused of several acts that he himself earlier wrote are decidedly immoral.
- What do you do when someone pulls the pin and hands you a grenade?
- PZ Myers’ Grenade, and Anonymous Accusations vs. Unnamed Sources: The “Deep Throat” Analogy
- Michael Shermer: Rapist or Sleaze?
Before the PZ Myers grenade exploded Shermer understood the harm rape does to the victim and understood that adultery harms the partner who is betrayed. Below is what he wrote in Feb 2013.
|“||How do we know that rape and adultery are wrong? We don’t need to ask God. We need to ask the affected moral agent—the rape victim in question, or our spouse or romantic partner who is being cuckolded. They will let you know instantly and forcefully precisely how they feel morally about that behavior.||”|
—Michael Shermer 
Before Shermer was accused of propositioning a married woman in an unwelcome way he understood women frequently dislike such attention. Shermer wrote the quote below in 2010.
|“||Most men are much more receptive toward unsolicited offers of sex than are women. Most men, then, in considering whether to approach a woman with an offer of unsolicited sex, should not ask themselves how they would feel as a test (“Let’s see, how would I feel if she asked me for sex? Terrific! So she’ll probably feel the same”), they should ask female friends.||”|
Does a man really need to ask if a married woman likes to be propositioned while her husband is in the same room? Most people would know without asking that such propositioning is neither pleasant nor polite. Shermer suggested asking first, keeping quiet looks like a better idea.
If Michael Shermer doesn't deny all the above accusations from Myers, Carrier and Christina many readers will wonder what type of a person Shermer really is.
Shermer threatened legal action and tried to silence PZ  but that didn't work.
I also think that Shermer needs to be reminded of a little online phenomenon called the the Streisand effect – when you try to muzzle the internet, it has a tendency to bite…Shermer didn't ask for legal funds but got them.  The fundraser included a nasty rape joke where generous contributors were offered a bottomless glass of wine, with Emery “who will not be drinking but keeping your glass full.” This was a reminder how one woman complained about Shermer repeatedly refilling her glass. 
So will there be legal fireworks? At least if this comes to court there's a chance we'll find out more one way or the other what really happened. Still with every month that passes a lawsuit looks less likely.
Shermer suddenly claimed he knows who the accuser is though later he tried to backtrack.
|“||In a personal email to me Shermer categorically denies these accusations. If what he said about his accuser gets out, it will be apparent to most all reasonable people that PZ Myers published a bold-faced lie. He recklessly tried to destroy another person’s reputation without regard for fact-checking.||”|
- So was the allegation a total shock to Shermer as he claimed in the 'Cease and desist' letter? 
- Alternatively does Shermer know his accuser as suggested in the Loftus blog?
All this could be the undoing of any legal action. If the court accepts that Shermer knows an accuser the court will also accept PZ Myers reported truthfully that someone accused Shermer of this heinous act.
|“||Shermer seems to be admitting that he knows someone really did accuse him and PZ didn’t just make it up. That goes against the narrative in his cease-and-desist letters and that most of Shermer’s defenders are using. If he admits PZ was repeating an accusation that was was actually made and acted in good faith, his whole case falls apart without PZ naming anyone.||”|
- If there are legal fireworks the story will almost certainly get more coverage. Newspapers and other news outlets are not now publishing this material but will be far less reluctant to publish details over court proceedings. Shermer may well come to regret any legal action against PZ Myers that he takes.
- If there are no legal fireworks those who contributed to Shermer's legal fund and perhaps wanted to hurt PZ could be deeply disappointed.
What should we do?Edit
What do you do when someone pulls the pin and hands you a grenade?
Well one thing you don't do is try to brush rape allegations under the carpet, serious accusations merit thorough investigation. We need to make it clear that the skeptical community isn't a safe place for those who abuse women. PZ Myers claims others in the skeptical movement are guilty of denial and cover up over sexual exploitation of women.  Greta Christina plans action when she knows more. 
We should be better than those who do wrong in the name of religion.
We should learn from the Roman Catholic child abuse scandal. Covering up the problem just made it worse, priests tempted to harm children had little incentive to exercise self control and men tempted to harm children had little incentive to avoid the priesthood. Then when finally the scandal couldn't be contained a great many high ranking Roman Catholics who weren't themselves child molesters were blamed (rightly) for allowing abuse to continue.
We shouldn't allow abuse of adult women, in the same way the Roman Catholics shouldn't have allowed child abuse.
- We can't prevent it that there are allegations about serious abuse of women in our organisations though we don't yet know what proportion of allegations are true.
- We can avoid being complicit in abuse and can avoid sweeping allegations of serious abuse under the carpet. Suggestions that the story was made up don't look likely.  PZ Myers had a case for bringing this up, potential victims of someone who may be a serial rapist have been warned in a way that strives to safeguard the anonymity and safety of the woman who trusted him.
Now let's not forget nothing has been proved against Shermer to the standards of criminal courts. Let's not forget either this article focuses on what PZ Myers and his supporters, especially at FreethoughtBlogs write. Readers looking for the other side should search elsewhere.
Convicted sex offenderEdit
A convicted sex offender called Cecil Fuson caused problems for Rebecca Watson, this time we know because he's on the sex offenders, register.  Ophelia Benson supports Rebecca.  We're getting to know the murkier parts of the Internet.
After late August there were few new developments over Michael Shermer and neither side said very much new. Still Shermer's legal fund was getting donations. The fund closed on September 19th 2013. 
Drunken fantasies and moreEdit
There's an accusation that after drinking DJ Grothe said Skepchicks, 'want pussy' and went on to fantasize about drugging and gang raping a man.  There is also an allegation that Grothe is holding up publication of potentially life-saving research on vaccine outreach because he is sensitive about the bad joke allegation.  For the time being readers will have to make do with a summary of the vaccine survey.  How does PZ feel about all this? One thing we do know, PZ is is pleased he won't have to attend a lecture by Grothe on of all subjects, Secular ethics. 
Accusations were also made against Lawrence Krauss but as of September 2013 there is no clear evidence. 
Several women accused Bora Zivkovic of pressuring them to talk about sex when they would have preferred to talk about other subjects. Since Zivkovic had power to advance or possibly to break the women's careers this was seen as abuse of power as well as harassment. PZ said he was pleased that the science community dealt with the matter and acted to protect women, he hopes the atheist community will learn from this and do more to protect women in future.  
A close friend has written that Bora has been diagnosed with Asperger,  he may not have understood the distress he was causing if this is correct. By contrast "Martin Robbins, who writes about science and other interesting things for The Guardian, Vice and New Statesman." suspects Zivkovic is cunning and manipulative.  Zivkovic has lost his job and suffered a great deal. Zivkovic's Aspergers makes him vulnerable in some ways if he has the condition and it's hard for outsiders to decide whose right and whose wrong.
People with better social skills than those with Asperger frequently have get away with far more than Zivkovic did, it's an unjust world.
- Debunking 6 Myths About Asperger Syndrome This doesn't give information about Zivkovic personally but explains how people with Asperger can be socially inept.
A man, possibly Michael Shermer tried to assault Dr. Pamela Gay sexually, the perpetrator and location are (so far) unnamed.  PZ is concerned about the frequency of these events and the harm they cause women. 
So yet another accusation has surfaced against Michael Shermer. Does he still insist he's done nothing wrong.
|“||Hi everyone. I just spoke to a lawyer about sharing this information with you, and feel comfortable telling you this one thing (though it is one of several): D.J. Grothe told me and others, repeatedly, that he (DJ) had personally witnessed Michael Shermer groping a female TAM speaker’s breast, unprovoked and against her protestations. She has confirmed this, since. D.J. continued to invite that speaker to TAM in subsequent years. D.J. has stated this much over and over. So please, do feel free to ask him yourselves.||”|
We still don't know for sure if Shermer will bring legal fireworks over the rape allegations published in August 2013 but with every month that passes legal action looks less likely.
PZ drew our attention to this. The chupacabra beat must be a valuable and difficult one and the critics are responding, Oh, lord, the stupid.
Let's see how it pans out.
A note to those who say they oppose sexism and misogyny in the atheist-skeptical movement, by Pharyngula regular SC (Salty Current), summarizes some common responses to the discussion of sexism and misogyny.
- ↑ Massimo Piglucci named these affairs Misogyny Wars in a post on Rationally Speaking. Piglucci believes some but not all in the atheist-skeptic movement have difficulties over women. Piglucci called for fair and objective policies, that complaints should be investigated rationally without assuming one side or the other is automatically correct. Piglucci believes conference organizers have a responisbility to do the necessary work that thorough investigation involves. Piglucci condemned clear harassment but claims it's sometimes hard to tell borderline harassment from acceptable flirtation. Piglucci hoped for sensible middle of the road policies which neither forced women to put up with unpleasantness nor left men continually fearful about breaking vauge and ever shifting rules. The misogyny wars
- ↑ Goodbye for now
- ↑ Fools fail, f*ck their own sh*t up
- ↑ Atheists should have good rules for behavior
- ↑ What can I do over the Shermer issue? I know even less than PZ does about these allegations. I can't say what happened one way or the other, I'm just reporting what I've read notably from Pharyngula and other FreethoughtBlogs.
- ↑ Fake rape?False Rape Allegations Rare, But 'Damaging Myths' Harm Real Rape Victims, Says CPS' Keir Starmer
- ↑ I Am a False Rape Allegation Statistic
- ↑ One Reason Why False Rape Allegation Statistics Are So High
- ↑ Taxi sex attacks: John Worboys' victims win payout bid This is unconnected with Michael Shermer but it shows the unnecessary stress police can put onto rape victims.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Michael Shermer: Rapist or Sleaze?
- ↑ Opting Out
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Rape jokes and Reputations
- ↑ The web of trust: Why I believe Shermer’s accusers
- ↑ Shermer Speaks
- ↑ Mark Felt a.k.a "Deep Throat"
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Michael Shermer Legal Fund
- ↑ Michael Shermer accused of sexual harassment against women by Brian Thompson, former employee of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF)
- ↑ Blaming the Victim
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 Michael Shermer Legal Fund
- ↑ Michael Shermer’s Note on the Legal Fund
- ↑ Towards a Science of Morality
- ↑ The Ask-First Principle: How to Tell Right from Wrong
- ↑ Shermer Sends Cease and Desist Letter to PZ
- ↑ Gregory Greenwood
- ↑ I’m Just a Member of the Community
- ↑ Last word for now
- ↑ John W. Loftus
- ↑ 28.0 28.1 More foot-gunning in the Shermer debacle
- ↑ Demand for Cease and Desist and for Retraction
- ↑ Ace of Sevens
- ↑ Painfully close to the truth
- ↑ Processing: The Sexual Harassment And Abuse Floodgates In General… And CFI In Particular (UPDATED AND CORRECTED)
- ↑ PZ Myers and false rape accusations
- ↑ He clearly has a legitimate, vested interest
- ↑ Getting to Know My Critics: Cecil Fuson, Sex Offender
- ↑ Against – against against against
- ↑ The sexual harassment floodgate has opened, and I add my own trickle
- ↑ DJ and Me
- ↑ D.J. Grothe threatening legal action against WTinc
- ↑ A vaccination survey
- ↑ Oh, those secular ethics
- ↑ More names are named.
- ↑ Do better. Please just do better.
- ↑ Gossip & scandal galore in science blogging
- ↑ Roots and bitters
- ↑ Missteps on the road back
- ↑ 
- ↑ The assault always happens twice
- ↑ Carrie Poppy and the Nay-Sayers