There’s also an epistemological point in Michael’s post, which is interesting too.
The issue of the day is sexism/feminism and the debate is splitting down two rough sides: those who find religion immoral or irritating and want to campaign against it with no time devoted to anything else, and those whose objection to religion is part of a generally progressive agenda (frequently called ‘social justice’), and who feel that organised atheism is in danger of replicating the same old problems which religions have perpetuated.
Part of the problem here is that skepticism and feminism are coming from different traditions: feminism has historically been less concerned about evidence and more about consciousness-raising, while skepticism treats evidence as a gold standard and denigrates anecdotes (valued in feminism as ‘lived experience’) as meaningless. Many feminists treat a speaker’s identity as central to their credibility (this is where concepts like ‘mansplaining’ come in) while skepticism is about ignoring the identity of the speaker and focusing solely on the quality of evidence or logic they present. It’s easy to see how these different ways of looking at the world could magnify any argument and turn mild disagreements into longlasting bitter hostility, even before the current level of childishness, name-calling and abuse started.
I hope skepticism doesn’t treat anecdotes (and/or lived experience) as meaningless for all purposes and in all contexts. If it does, that sounds like what people mean by “scientism,” those who use the word without quotation marks, which I never do. Anecdotes are out of place in science, but they’re not meaningless in all senses and for all purposes. Anecdotes and their larger cousin, fiction, are often very meaningful. Imagine life without them!
Also, feminism is political while skepticism is epistemological. One is about what we value and how we think things should be; the other is about how we can figure out what there is and what we can know. They’re not radically different – feminism can be seen as skepticism about traditions and rules, for instance – but they’re not side by side in the library.