Feminist blogging & putting atheists on a pedestal

You need thick skin to be a blogger – or really, to interact with people on the internet in general. The “Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory” sums up why pretty well. One way I keep my sanity is to not read the comments when people share my posts on sites like reddit, though sometimes I slip up out of curiosity. Let me just say, the Encyclopedia Dramatica article on boobquake is so unflattering, it’s flattering.

Usually I’m okay. But I’ll admit, sometimes the trolls and assholes can get to me, especially if I’m already in a bad mood for some other reason. I have a better time handling douchebaggery here, since my readers tend to eviscerate the comments reeking of stupidity. But it’s not foolproof.

If there’s one thing that will ensure I’ll have a bad day, it’s posting about feminism.

Until now, I couldn’t figure out why sexist comments here upset me so much.

It wasn’t because they were shocking – they’d fill up the antifeminist bingo card almost instantly. They’re so predictable that some of my readers will even preemptively comment with stuff like, “Misogynistic comments and oblivious sexism in 3… 2…1…” And when I see those tired arguments elsewhere, I usually just facepalm and move on.

It wasn’t because they were popular – I deal with a much lower frequency of assholes than “official” feminism themed blogs. And I have many supportive, understanding, and empathetic commenters who help restore my faith in humanity.

It wasn’t because they disagree with me – religious apologetics or conservative viewpoints don’t make me want to tear my hair out anywhere near as much.

It wasn’t because they were rude – in fact, the obviously trollish ad hominem attacks (usually about my appearance) are the easiest to brush off.

So, why? Why do the horrible comments about feminism literally make me want to scream, but equally horrible comments about atheism or science just induce mild frustration? I figured it out when sexist comments were recently aimed my way at an atheist meeting. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard such things in person, but it was the first time I’d heard it in person at a godless gathering. It clicked.

I expect better of atheists.

I’ve put us up on a pedestal.

It makes sense why I would think this way. Based on personal experience, non-theists do tend to be less sexist than the general public. For one thing, we lack the anti-woman rules perpetuated by most major religions. On the contrary, humanism is explicitly supportive of gender equality. It’s also hard to be a sexist skeptic, since there is no evidence to support sexist ideas. Ideologies that support gender equality and skepticism go hand in hand (even if you want to debate the name said ideology should have, because the “f” word gives you hives). And it’s hard to be an unskeptical atheist. Most atheists don’t believe in god precisely because they’re skeptical of religion and the supernatural.

Unfortunately, there are exceptions. Even though we don’t have sexist religious tradition, we can still pick it up from our surrounding culture. And not all atheists are skeptical, nor do all skeptics apply that skepticism to every area of their life.

So when I see some of my predominantly godless readership perpetuating the same fallacies, it’s frankly disappointing. I had deluded myself into thinking we were above that – that I could feel totally comfortable within this group – but I was wrong. If I toe the line and keep criticising religion, I’m fine. But if I dare to mention women’s issues, I’m effectively told to get back in the kitchen. It brings the worst out of people.

Some days it can really bring me down, but ultimately it just motivates me even more. It illustrates why combining my interests in feminism and skepticism is so important. It’s not just about showing women why atheism and skepticism is the better option for women, which I still would assert. It’s about showing skepticism why sexism is not rational, and making the atheist movement more welcoming to women.

I’m critical because I know we can do better. It may take a lifetime to find out, but hopefully I’m right.

Win a free copy of The Atheist's Guide to Christmas!

Usually I have a rule about No Christmas Stuff Before Thanksgiving, but I’m breaking it for this special occasion – the American edition of The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas is coming out next Tuesday, on November 2nd! It’s not just any godless book; I’m one of the 42* contributors! There will be a (hopefully) humorous chapter by yours truly called “Gifts for the Godless.” This is my first time having a creative piece published, so needless to say, I’m super exited. Not only will I be alongside people I look up to like Richard Dawkins, Phil Plait, and Simon Singh, but it’s for a good cause – all author advances and royalties go to the Terrence Higgins Trust.

November 2nd also happens to be my 23rd birthday. Since I can think of no better present for myself, how about I give a present to you? …And by that I mean “My editor is hooking me up with a couple free copies to give away at my discretion, how about I distribute them in a fun way?”

So, time for a contest!

Write new lyrics for an old Christmas carol that have a godless or scientific theme.


  1. Post your entries in the comments. If you’re one of those people who’s still having trouble commenting, feel free to email your entry to me.
  2. Make sure to include an email address when you log in or in the body of your post. If you win, I need to contact you about a mailing address.
  3. Arbitrary bonus points will be awarded for things like humor, Blag Hag inside jokes, and singing your song or making a video.
  4. And really, my rules are lax – if you want to remake a famous Christmas-themed story or poem, or do godless lyrics for the dreidel song, I don’t care. Really, just make something in the spirit of the contest that you think I’d like, since I get to pick the winners.

Entries are due Monday, Nov 1st at 5pm PST. I’ll announce the winners the morning of the 2nd!

And remember, the American edition is different than the version that came out in the UK last year. There are a bunch of new authors, like me. So even if you have that version, you may want to check out the new one!

*Yes, that choice of number is intentional. Don’t you want to win it even more?

I now have the right to bitch about politics

I’m registered to vote in Washington! Now I just need to figure out what crazies I need to avoid before filling in the bubbles.

As my dad always says, “If you didn’t vote, you have no right to bitch.” And what’s a blogger good for if they can’t bitch? ;)

(Also, it seems sort of wrong that I can link to my dad’s blog instead of just quoting his witticisms. What have I done?!)

Summing up the cultural difference between Seattle and Indiana

This morning I’m going to “Smut and Eggs,” a gathering of awesome people to watch gay porn while eating brunch. Then tonight I’m going to the gay bar by my house to sing karaoke with a guy who’s actually not gay, but just shares my appreciation for gay culture (aka fabulousness). And then next Friday I’m going to Hump!, “The Pacific Northwest’s biggest and best amateur-and-locally-produced porn festival” and pet project of Dan Savage.

…I’ve come a long way from a one-gay-bar-city and anti-porn evangelical Christian events. Trying to hold back the tears of pervy joy…

A reminder on how to make women feel welcome

In light of my recent posts, I thought it would be good to redirect you to an older post I wrote: “Want more skeptical atheist women? Defend us.”

Though I have an addendum. To all the ladies and guys who are incredibly annoyed by ignorant sexism: We need to stick together. I know it’s hard. Our immediate reaction can be “Well, I’m never going back to that group again!” But all that does is continually remove the good people from the community. Instead of having no community, you can have an awesome one just by showing up and speaking up to the assholes.

I know there are lots of cool people in the Seattle Atheists. Some were there last night but didn’t hear what transpired. Maybe they would have called out these guys if they were sitting at my side of the table. But I also met a lot of awesome people at the dinner with Greta Christina – and it was maybe 60% female!

But you know what? I haven’t seen them since.

I haven’t been in Seattle long enough to know why, but if it’s because they got sick of stuff like what I experienced last night, I don’t blame them. Why keep going back to something that makes you feel uncomfortable and unwelcome?

Well, I guess my argument is that you can make it more comfortable and welcoming.

So no, I haven’t given up on the Seattle Atheists. Last night one of their officers asked me to speak for them eventually, and I’d still love to. And Guy 2 sent me a very nice email this morning apologizing for not calling out the sexist douchebaggery. Admitting something is wrong is the first step to improving a community.

This is why women don't come to atheist meetings pt. 2

Guy: They’re [aka my boobs] attractive. I mean she’s attractive.

Guy 4: *very politely and respectfully asks me about my views about feminism and men participating it*
Me: *has intelligent discussion with Guy 4 about feminism, describing the differences between first, second, and third wavers, and explaining that it’s called that partially due to history*
Guy 3: I thought feminism was just about hating men.
Guy 4: *starts talking to someone else*
Me: No, that’s just a stereotype. Some feminists may act that way, but that’s not because they’re feminists. Just like there are some atheists who hate religious people and act like jerks, but that doesn’t mean all atheists act that way. Feminism is about equality between the sexes.
Guy 3: Then why call it feminism? That implies men are better.
Me: Well, like I said, part of it is historical. But men are still more privileged than women, so it’s still called feminism.
Guy: But sexes already have equality.
Me: *head explodes due to the irony of this with his previous actions*

Now, I’m not saying all atheist guys are like this… Guy 4 was very nice to talk to. But I was the only female at this meeting, and if I didn’t have an incredibly high tolerance for this type of stupidity or an incredibly high desire to be a part of an atheist group, I probably wouldn’t come back. Not all guys are like this, but some of the good ones could have called out the jackasses.

This is why women don't come to atheist meetings

Guy: *holds up phone like he’s taking a photo of me*
Me: Uhhh… *moves aside* Are you taking a photo?
Guy 2: No, he’s comparing you to your boobquake photo.
Guy: *nods and grins* Nice. *shows another guy*
Guy 3: Lookin’ goooood.
Me: *blank stare*
Guy 3: What? It’s not harassment since we’re not in a workplace.
Me: >:/

This is right after I wondered out loud where all the other female members were, since I was the only one there.

I don't get fashion

The clothing information from my photoshoot just went up. Holy crap.

Strenesse cotton wrap top, $220; Pamela Robbins, 914-472-4033. Joe’s Jeans cotton blend jeans, $158; joesjeans.com. Old Navy synthetic ballet flats, $20; Old Navy. Her own necklace.

Just to remind you, this is what that outfit looked like:
$158 for a pair of jeans? $220 for that shirt?! I’m glad I didn’t know that when I was putting it on, or I probably would have destroyed it due to my nerves of trying not to destroy it. I just… don’t understand fashion. I’m not paying more than $30 for a shirt that simple, and when I’m splurging on jeans I’ll shop at The Gap when they’re having a sale.

I could probably concoct that identical outfit for less than 50 bucks. Are these pieces incredibly durable? Are those super famous brands that I’m just oblivious about? Is this like when I watch America’s Next Top Model and don’t understand why they’re screaming happily about something?

The only thing in my price range were the Old Navy shoes, and those were casually destroyed during the shoot. They didn’t have flats in my size, so the just cut the backs off of these. I was wondering why they were so unfazed by destroying their property – it’s because they were worthless compared to everything else!

Oh, and the necklace isn’t mine – it was one of the staff’s. I was wearing my gray Scientific Method Surly Ramics that day. I tried to negotiate getting it in, but failed. Sorry, Amy!

And my outfit was cheap compared to the rest.
Most expensive dress: $1,250
Most expensive shoes: $1,095

I think everything in my closet isn’t work a thousand dollars. Gah.