Paul Fidalgo has a great contribution to Amy’s series. (That’s Amy Davis Roth, Surlyramics Amy. Just in case you’ve forgotten.)
There’s this movement, the skeptical/atheist movement. Why are we in it? Various reasons.
Some are moved by social justice and civil rights, some by a devotion to reality and truth, some who simply want a community of intelligent, creative folks, and of course there will be some who want a faction to join in order to combat a nefarious “other.”
Ah yes that nefarious other. I try to make the nefarious other be a thing rather than a set of people, but do I always succeed? Of course not.
But for some folks, that kind of factioning isn’t enough. It needs to go deeper. There needs to be an enemy. What is so deeply saddening to me is that for many who consider themselves part of this community, the enemy is women. And why? Because they’d like you to stop threatening them with rape and violence and treating them like chattel, thank you very much. I know. The nerve.
Also because women are so handy for the purpose. It’s such a quick and easy way to big up the self, if you don’t happen to be a woman – you can just remind yourself that you’re not stupid or weak or treacherous or whiny or manipulative or sly or bitchy or a cunt or slutty like those awful women.
So what I think might be helpful here is a distinguishing between those who simply operate in the skepto-atheosphere (on and off-line) and those who consider themselves part of a movement. Because you can be a skeptic and you can be an atheist and also be a rotten person who thinks little of your fellow humans who happen to have a double-X chromosome.
But I don’t think you can be part of this movement.
I know, I don’t get to decide these kinds of things. But if I did, it’d go something like this:
This movement (not merely the community of heretics, but the movement) is about lessening the power of religion, superstition, and credulous thinking because we want to live in a world guided by facts, science, and reason, because (and here’s the part I might lose some of you) we want to live in a world that maximizes human happiness, morality, freedom of thought and expression, and equality. Atheism and skepticism for their own sakes are not “causes.” They are not, in and of themselves, worthy of a movement. But we pursue these goals because we know they will bring about a society in which we are more free and equal, and in turn we will be more fulfilled and enriched as a result.
Yes. Atheism without morality, freedom of thought and expression, and equality? No fucking thank you. Yes this means giving up the delicious pleasure of bigging up the self by reminding it that it’s not like that horrible other – but you know what? It’s worth it.
So here is my opinion (not necessarily that of my employer). If you don’t share the goals outlined above, if you think it’s cool or funny or even necessary to debase or threaten women, then you’re just not part of the movement, even if you think you are. Because if making a fairer, better world is not your goal, then what are you fighting for? The right to terrorize people? The right to feel superior? Them’s small fries, my friend. You can do better.
Yes they are, and yes you can.