Robyn Pennacchia takes a look at sexism in gaming & atheism & similar as a matter of people in counter-cultural “communities” thinking they get a pass on little foibles like sexism precisely because they are counter-cultural. That’s a very important point that should get more attention and emphasis.
She found it in political activism when she was just a sprout. She got frustrated and pissed off and ended up leaving activism because of it. Then there was the “lit scene.”
There’s been a lot of attention, recently, paid towards sexism, sexual assault, harassment and misogyny in certain counter-cultural or non-mainstream groups. Specifically, the gaming community, the atheist community and, now, the alt-lit community.
One thing all of these groups have in common is that they are primarily populated by men who think they are not “bros.” Usually, they consider themselves intellectuals. Often, said men have a perma-vendetta against the sort of men they consider “bros.” For the most part, they’re not “alpha-males,” they weren’t jocks in high school–they were, more often, nerdy or even shy.
They are always the first to lock arms with you and rail against sexism coming from these other types of men. They are always happy to poke fun at Pat Robertson saying something horrifically misogynistic. They like to think of themselves as “the good guys” and the jocks and bros as “the bad guys.”
That that that. We’re different, we’re better, we’re special. We’ve seen the light, we’ve thrown off the shackles, we’ve spat out the Kool-Aid. We’re enlightened. We’re the roving coyotes, not the huddled sheep. We’re awake, not asleep. We’re cool. It is not possible that we are anything reactionary or clueless or unhip. We’re out there on the high wire, dancing and floating. Feminism is the boring repressive old Mommy who makes us get down and set the table for dinner.
I’m glad that more attention is being drawn to issues of assault, misogyny and sexism in these communities. It’s important. It’s also a lot harder than calling out Rush Limbaugh, because none of us have to live with Rush Limbaugh. I want to make these spaces safer for women, because we have as much right to them as men do.
It’s not just bros and jocks and finance dudes and yuppies and Christians and Republicans who are shitty to women. Being part of a counter-cultural or progressive community does not give you a free pass to be shitty to women without being called out on it. We need to hold our own communities to an even higher standard than we hold those in the opposition, we need to welcome criticism, and we to realize that the ones who call out shitty behavior in these communities are not the threat, but that those who protect it and shield it from criticism are.
We need to hold our own communities to an even higher standard – wouldn’t you think that would just be a truism? When the Catholic church and the military and the NFL and fraternities and universities are so notoriously bad at doing anything about rape within their ranks, wouldn’t you think rebel groups such as atheists and skeptics would be all the more keen to define themselves against that revolting precedent? Yet here we are, with the Big Name Atheists lining up to trash the people who try to do that. Do they really think that will work out well over the long haul?