Another great post in Amy’s series, this one from Phil Plait.
What the hell is going on in the online community?
If you’ve been reading or paying attention at all to any of the online cultures like skepticism or general geekery (scifi, gaming, convention-going, and so on), you’ll have seen astonishing and depressing displays of sexism. That’s been true for a long time. But recently some sort of sea change has occurred, and what we’re seeing now is a marked increase in outright misogyny and thuggery.
The examples are so distressingly ubiquitous I hardly need point them out. A woman gamer wants to make a documentary showing misogyny in video games, and she gets rape and death threats. Rebecca Watson calmly and rationally tells men not to hit on women in enclosed spaces and reaps a supernova of hate and irrational vitriol. And now we’re seeing death threats, rape threats, all kinds of violent threats, against women who are simply trying to improve the way they are treated at meetings as well as online.
This. Must. Stop.
I second that!
There was also Michael De Dora’s last week, which I never caught up with.
If you are among the people who have been the target of criticism for supposedly making sexist remarks or acting in a misogynistic manner, think about all of this. Have you rejected arguments simply because they are coming from a woman? Have you disrespected women? Was it simply because of their sex? Have you afforded women the same respect you feel you would afford all human beings? Have you tried to put yourself in any of these women’s shoes? Have you treated women as you would treat yourself? Have you let sexism and misogyny slide when you could have tried to stop it?
These questions represent a crossroads for the secular and skeptic movement, as many good people are questioning their involvement. I understand and sympathize many of their points of view, and direct this message to those who consider themselves on some other “side” of the argument: imagine the message it would send and the potential consequences both within and outside the movement if secularists and skeptics finally collectively stood together against sexism and misogyny, and for equality of the sexes and fair treatment. I dare say it could be historic.
Women have experienced and to continue to endure social oppression and harassment at the hands of men – even within the secular and skeptic communities. It’s time for us all to condemn this unacceptable behavior. It’s time to articulate as a community why the sexes, and indeed all people, should be treated fairly and equally. And it’s time for us to act in accordance with this thinking, to treat one others with kindness and empathy. Otherwise, not only will women continue to face poor treatment, but we might also see the end of the already fragile secular and skeptic movements.
Which is the idea behind Atheism+, as I understand it. It’s not to exclude and shun allies, it’s to inspire allies to declare themselves allies. Yes, granted it is to exclude and shun proud vocal misogynists, but how is that a bad thing?