Rebecca Watson exposes some seriously vile behavior in the atheism sub-Reddit, a torrent of misogyny and rape jokes aimed at a 15 year old girl who had committed the terrible crime of being attractive and posting a picture of herself with a Sagan book that her mother gave her for Christmas despite being religious.
You know, I pretty much stayed out of the whole elevatorgate situation. I had, and have, many thoughts on the subject but mainly I’m sad to see all the heat and polarization that it generated obscure the basic message that Rebecca has been trying to get across for the past couple years. When she says that we need to make some changes to help women feel more comfortable in the secular community, she is absolutely right. And this is a perfect example. When this girl tried to involve herself in an online community of atheists, it was made perfectly clear to her that her only use is as a sexual object. And that’s a real problem.
That whole thread is an embarrassment, not just to atheists but to men in general (and no, that doesn’t mean that all atheists or all men engage in such behavior — something I shouldn’t even have to say as a member of both of those groups). Read the whole thing; if it doesn’t sicken you, I don’t know what to tell you. It should be a big wake up call for all of us that we need to have a serious discussion about this and we need to do some real self-policing. That kind of behavior simply should not be tolerated in our community under any circumstances.
The primary group I’m involved with, CFI Michigan, has thankfully had few such problems. I think that’s because of the tone of respect set by the group’s leaders, and I think having women in positions of leadership is a big part of setting those expectations.
And let me make this clear before anyone comments: Any hateful comments aimed at Rebecca will be deleted immediately and you will be banned. I don’t have a problem with reasonable, civil disagreement, but I’ve also seen that the mere mention of her name has often provoked a flood of the same kind of idiocy criticized above. It will not be tolerated here, not for a minute.