If You’re Getting Discouraged…

If you’ve been getting discouraged lately by all the horrible bullshit, and by all the people who want to cover their eyes and pretend the bullshit isn’t real, and by all the people who would rather blame the victims of the bullshit rather than consider the possibility that it might be real… I bring you this comment, recently made by SheerDistaste at The Atheist Experience.

Don’t stop at the first two sentences. Keep reading.

You know what? This whole feminism crap that all of FtB has been going on about ever since that elevator thing pisses me off.

Do you know why it pisses me off?

Because it’s rubbing off on me.

Back when it started here, pretty much all of the articles talking about feminism, harassment at conferences, rape culture, whatever I found to be ridiculous overreactions to inconsequential bullshit.

Then after reading these articles for about a month, eventually 1 in 10 I would say “that’s actually a good point”. Then it was 2 in 10, then 3. As of now it’s about 8/10.

And furthermore, often when I am reading something, or talking to someone, or watching something, etc. completely away from FtB, I’ll find myself thinking “that’s sexist” or “that’s really offensive and degrading to women, I don’t support that at all” – when before I wouldn’t ever have these thoughts. And whenever I get these thoughts I get annoyed because I’m starting to sound like PZ Myers or whoever or one of his flunkies here… yet these things keep popping into my head, more and more frequently!

You guys (and girls) are slowly turning me into a feminist, and that pisses me off a lot.

Dear SheerDistaste,

First of all — thank you. A whole lot of us really needed to hear that right about now.

Second — yeah, I’m pissed off too. Swallowing the red pill can really, truly suck. It’s hard to see how shitty the world is sometimes. It’s hard to see how deeply sexism has burrowed into all of our brains. It’s hard to see people denying even the possibility of unconscious sexism, because they don’t want to admit that they or the people they care about are perpetuating it, and don’t want to do the hard, never-ending work of uprooting it. It’s hard to see rape culture in action, perpetuated by otherwise decent people who would no doubt be outraged that you think of them as perpetuating rape culture. It’s hard having your eyes opened to sexism… and then, as a direct result, having your eyes opened to racism, and classism, and ableism, and xenophobia, and homophobia, and transphobia, and all the other isms and phobias that permeate our brains and our culture. And it’s really, really hard to see how often the bad guys win.

On the other hand…

You get to have authentic relationships and connections with people of all genders. You get to live your life without constantly worrying about “Am I a real man?” or “Am I a real woman?” You get to not live in a constant state of cognitive dissonance. You get to expand the kinds of people you can have friendships and relationships with, and not live your life in a bubble of people who are almost exactly like you. You get to know that you matter, that you’re one of the people who’s making the world better. And you get to have some incredibly smart, funny, courageous, compassionate, dedicated, insightful, freaking awesome people in your life.

I’m giving myself a pep talk here, as much as I’m giving you one. This has been a shitty, shitty couple of weeks, and a shitty, shitty couple of years, and right now I’m feeling very discouraged and demoralized. So mostly, I want to say “Thank you.” Thank you for being willing to change your mind about something difficult. And thank you for saying this. A whole lot of us really needed to hear it.

And I’m putting out a call for comments. If you became a feminist, or became more of a feminist, because of all the writing and speaking and video-making and podcasting and other work that so many of us have been doing about it? Please say so here. If you’ve been emboldened to speak out more about feminism by other people speaking out? Please say so here. And if you can think of other reasons why you’re happy to know and understand about feminism, despite it often being painful and angry-fying? Please say so here. I think a lot of us could stand to hear it right now. I know I could.

Comments

  1. says

    It pains me to think you ( and all the other wonderful bloggers) don’t get to hear about the lives you affect with your work as often as you should. If you had asked me a year ago what I thought about feminism I would have shuffled my feet and declined to comment because “as a man, I don’t really think I’m entitled to an opinion” the worst part about this mind set for me was how open minded I though I was being.
    Then I attended Skepticon 5 and got the chance to hear all the amazing talks. While I only saw a few talks about feminism, it created a drive in me to understand more about feminism and the more articles I read the more I understood that I needed to not just be apathetic about women’s rights, but instead needed to be an ally whenever and where ever I could. I’m happy to stand behind those with more wit and understanding and simply offer what support I can for these issues, and while I obviously can only speak for myself, I’d be willing to bet there’s a multitude of people who feel the same.
    Keep up the good work Greta, we all appreciate it. Particularly those of us who wouldn’t have come around without the insights from this blog. I’d never claim to be an expert after a year of learning, but I’m certainly able to confidently answer the question posed at the beginning of this statement.

    All the best.

    ~Christopher

  2. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    I have always considered myself a feminist (or at least a supporter of feminism), but it wasn’t until I discovered all these great voices here and elsewhere (like you, Greta… and Ophelia and Rebecca and PZ and Stephanie and Miri and Surly Amy and I better stop or this will just keep going and going…) that I fully started ACTING like one. No more “oh, who’s it gonna hurt” sexist jokes… no more remaining silent when people attack women, PoC, or LGBT people… actually walking the walk, instead of just talking the talk. And I’m so grateful to all of you who helped me do some much needed self-reflecting and get there. Thank you.

  3. fivupmushrume says

    Seriously. How can you not become a better feminist and a more vocal one at that, after reading through years of FtB (and older blogs of the same individuals back before FtB)? The personal stories and the endless examples of bewilderingly clueless assholes really makes the whole sexism thing pretty damned obvious. For the love of all that is good: You’re right; Keep going; Don’t stop; Fuck anyone that gets in the way.

  4. says

    I remember quite vividly arguing against some of the basic ideas of feminism when I was in my early twenties. I was dating a girl who was taking a gender studies course and I thought some of the ideas she was sharing were silly. I was never an MRA. I was just inexperienced and ignorant.

    I never really had a great epiphany about sexism in our culture. It was a gradual change for me which was influenced by many sources. I can definitely say that Freethoughtblogs and Skepchick were important resources for me. It was (and still is) very helpful to have the ideas of feminism presented to me using the style and rigor of skepticism.

    I’m really glad this network exists.

  5. says

    I have been there. I was one of those “feminism is not about equality but political correctness” types, who thought that I got to make sexist jokes because I was being totally ironic and not-actually-sexist. Whenever I came across something about privilege or rape culture, I’d say: “this is silly and overblown.”

    Then Elevatorgate happened.

    My first reaction was: “Huh? Someone tried to pick her up and she declined. Nothing else happened. What’s the big deal?”

    In fact, it wasn’t Rebecca who convinced me otherwise. It was the deluge of commenters who reacted like she proposed to preemptively sterilize every male on the planet (all the while accusing her of blowing things out of proportion). Then I started to think “ok, something is wrong here” and started paying more attention.

    And by paying more attention I started to notice things I hadn’t previously noticed.

    And here I am, two years later, fully aware that the world sucks even worse than I had previously thought. But, hopefully, I have perhaps grown a better person myself.

  6. says

    Yeah… I used to not be as enlightened as I am now. I wasn’t aware of splash damage, and I only had a rudimentary understanding of privilege. My language has improved, for one thing.

    I think the biggest thing I’ve learned, the one that’s really most important to me and my dealings with others, is that I’ve learned that real people’s lives and experiences aren’t a debate or a philosophical abstraction. If someone tells me that their personal experience is X, who the fuck am I to disagree or argue with them about it? I don’t have a right to demand excessive amounts of evidence to accept that someone’s firsthand knowledge trumps whatever logicking I’m doing in my imagination. I don’t have to even really understand things, it is OK to just take someone’s word for it on a lot of things. And for the love of all that’s nonexistent and holy, I have FINALLY stopped trying to score points at the expense of other people’s feelings. You can be factually right all day and half the night, and still be dead-wrong and a complete shithead.

    I’m a lot less of a shithead than I was a few years ago, thanks to all the good folks I’ve met here.

  7. brucemartin says

    Thanks, Greta. This post makes a great point. I’ve always thought of myself as a guy who is trying to be a feminist, but I have learned a ton of stuff from FtB about how it involves so many situations and considerations. I’m very grateful to all of you for really improving my education on this very significantly. I am a straight white male, over 50, ex-Christian, with two “elite” science degrees. I feel that it’s really only in the past two years that I have really understood some of what is involved with feminism and gender equality. I also had no idea that so many commenters are mentally stuck in junior high school.
    Let me also put it another way. I really really enjoyed TAM two years ago. Last year, I felt a bit queasy about being there, but enjoyed buying some Surly-Ramics and Carolyn Porco’s anti-harassment shirt in person. This year, I drove to Las Vegas and enjoyed hearing you, etc, at SSA-west, but didn’t even consider going to TAM.
    While I’m talking about my education, let me also give a shout of thanks to Natalie, Zinnia, etc, for starting to give me a clue as to what is meant by the word Trans, which I didn’t really understand before. Maybe I’ve just led a sheltered life, but its good to know more. Please keep educating us — we don’t have time to go back to college, and FtB is better than most courses anyway. And I teach at one myself.
    Thanks.

  8. Pieter B, FCD says

    I’ve considered myself a feminist from quite early on. I was a charter subscriber to Ms Magazine. I was never an activist, but I tried to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

    The last few years have refined my feminism, made me aware of my privilege, and changed the way I express things; e.g. I no longer say “No means no and once is enough,” but “Only yes means yes.” I also kick myself about the many dumbass things I’ve done and said over the past 40 years, all the while considering myself a feminist.

    I would dearly love to track down the first woman who publicly rebuked me for making a sexist remark over a PA system, because I’d like to thank her for the wakeup call. She made a point of telling me after her anger subsided that she had been making not a personal criticism, but a political one. It took me a long time to understand what she meant, but it was a catalyst. You and the rest of the FtB crew plus the Skepchicks and others have kept the reaction humming along.

    I continue to learn, and I thank you.

  9. says

    Add my name to list of people who became feminists “because of all the writing and speaking and video-making and podcasting and other work” that you and other FtBloggers have been doing about it. Until two years ago, I was vaguely pro feminist, but I more or less thought that feminism has achieved its goals and (at least in “the west”) was no longer necessary. I was aware that there are still problems, especially with things like underrepresentation of women in the sciences, but I tended to think of that as somebody else’s problem. Your writing, as well as that of people like Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Zvan, PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson, etc. opened my eyes to the sexism that is still so pervasive in our culture and made me want to do something about it. Thank you!

  10. says

    I’ve definitely become more of a feminist since EGate. I used to believe that the best way to “solve” sexism was to encourage gender-neutrality in every situation, and that there were no such thing as “women’s issue,” just “people’s issues.” Writers like Natalie Reed, Jen McCreight, the Skepchicks, Dan Fincke, JT Eberhard, and the countless writers to whom they’ve linked have shown me that there is a lot more out there than what I knew. Mostly, I’ve learned to take a less cavalier attitude toward other people’s problems. It’s really difficult to see beyond your own neighborhood, but the skeptic community has been helping.

  11. says

    My passive participation in the online atheist community (reading lots of blogs, rarely commenting) has changed me from pro-feminist to feminist, from a supporter to (I hope) an ally. And while it does suck heartily to see how bad things are (how bad things have been for such a long time), it just makes me want to create the kind of movement that I naively believed we had before my eyes were opened by the vicious and hateful response to what I thought was a helpful and constructive piece of advice about how not to treat people in elevators in the dead of night.

    I can’t quite wrap my head around how discouraging this must be for people directly effected by it, so I hope this doesn’t come across as completely clueless, but I definitely think this is an especially difficult moment in a much longer process of positive change, individual growth, and institutional reform. Perhaps I’m just being naive again, but I think every time one of these discouraging controversies erupts, more people’s eyes are opened. It may be a long and difficult road, but I think the white hats will continue to accrue more and more support inexorably as time goes on.

    I wouldn’t dream of blaming anyone who feels that, for whatever reason, they need to walk away from this movement. Losing good people is hard, but people have to take care of themselves first and foremost. However, no matter how many individuals decide to walk away, the fight will continue. There’s no way it could fail to do so. There will always be those of us (more and more as time goes on) who see inextricable connections between feminism and atheism. Feminism isn’t going to cease to be an issue, and as long as it remains an issue, it will continue to grow in strength and support. The mental gymnastics required to sit on the wrong side of this fight are ultimately not sustainable.

  12. Rey Fox says

    I’ve learned an awful lot from the FTB universe before and during the FTB years. I’ve always thought of myself as an egalitarian progressive enlightened guy, but it’s taken FTB to get me to understand what that really means and entails and to walk the walk more effectively.

  13. spiffo says

    When I was in highschool / college, I was actually a pretty bitter and angry guy, who felt he was owed a relationship for being such a nice great guy. Felt cheated. I fit the capital-N Nice Guy stereotype to a T. I once unironically quoted Ladder Theory. I creeped out people that I didn’t know, and had no idea why, so I just stewed in this sort of boiling pot of resentment. I was otherwise a pretty decent dude, just not when the subject of women / dating came up.

    One day I was hanging out with some friends and one of my closest female friends was having a pretty bad day and was talking about sexism and I (turns out mistakenly) thought I had offended her. She said later that I didn’t, but the subject was sexism / feminism, so I started reading. Just trying to understand, “Okay, so women have had experiences entirely differently than my own”, and eventually learning HOW different they have been. I took in an understanding of the 101-level concepts, and I started reading and listening to female voices in communities. People telling stories. Women explaining concepts. Rebecca Watson’s always-funny snark. The passionate posts of the women on this blog network (including (in fact especially) yours, Greta).

    My understanding grew. I became aware of the biases I was unknowingly harboring. I became aware of the unfairness that society doles out to women, and started to understand some of their frustrations. I stopped worrying about those awful masculinity issues, and also started having meaningful relationships with people. Turns out that giving a genuine shit about more people makes it easier to do that! And of course I started noticing the sheer misogyny in society, and saw that I could have easily been one of those MRA types guys if I were steeped in that hate for a bit longer.

    I don’t get a cookie for this of course, I just want to write this out to thank you for your writings. I became a better person not just about women, but also about race, trans issues, disability, and other axis of privilege.

    Also shoutout to Rebecca Watson, Amy Roth, Greta Christina, Stephanie Zvan, Miri from over in Brute Reason, Dana Hunter, Lindy West, all the women from TheMarySue, and anyone I’ve forgotten. Thanks for writing, despite a bunch of dipshits who would rather you disappear and leave things just the way they are.

  14. imnotandrei says

    I brought my feminism here, rather than getting it from here — but every one of these posts on all of these subjects has been a “This is why we fight!” reminder, a reminder of how many of us there are, how well we can fight, and lots of new ammunition for the battle.

    Thank you, thank you all.

  15. says

    I’ve considered myself a feminist for a long time but it became much more important at uni. Greta, where you made a personal difference to me was with regards to walking away from my church. I won’t say religion because damn, shit was fucked up and it still hurts five or six years later. I don’t know what I believe these days, except that it’s much less certain than I thought it was. Stuff I thought was ‘meh’ I now see as very messed up, but that doesn’t mean I feel okay about walking away, and I still argue with the god I’m not sure exists.

    What I really wanted to say though was thank you to Improbable Joe. This

    And for the love of all that’s nonexistent and holy, I have FINALLY stopped trying to score points at the expense of other people’s feelings. You can be factually right all day and half the night, and still be dead-wrong and a complete shithead.

    is pure gold!

    I know a guy who took a philosophy degree and insists on using logic at the expense of other people’s feeling and experiences. He told me that his argument about trans people couldn’t possibly be wrong when I know for a fact that the trans people I know IRL and online would be mightily offended and would be able to explain much better than I where he was making his logical fallacy. He makes me want to scream, and I get tired arguing with him, so I walk away and he gets to think he’s won. :-(

    In other words, I’m glad you’ve learned.

  16. mezzomino says

    I’ve been a lurker in skepticism/atheism/feminism for years now. I’ve been reluctant to be more of an activist or to be public about my feminist beliefs because I’ve seen the way women on the internet are treated, and I’ve seen the way “liberal” ideas are attacked in the area in which I live. As a student and as someone who intermittently struggles with depression I don’t have the time or emotional energy right now to deal with that kind of backlash on top of everything else. I have deep respect for everyone who continues fighting despite the trolls, threats, and assholes.

    I’ve never been against feminism, but reading things here on FtB and at Skepchick have encouraged me to embrace the identity and to make some new goals in life. I find it easier to recognize my own sexist, racist, classist or ableist thoughts and to acknowledge that they are not good, and actively work on changing my world view. I have always felt uncomfortable when I hear rape jokes or other tasteless humor that punches down, but now I don’t feel that I have to laugh just to fit in. I’m not afraid to say, “Hey, that’s not cool.” I see others doing things that are consciously or subconsciously oppressive somehow, and I want to change it. Sometimes I even debate a little bit, if the person seems generally reasonable, even though I despise arguments.

    So although I am mostly a giant coward, and I will probably never be a leader in feminism, taking in all of the blogs and videos and podcasts has made me realize how much I really do agree with them. It’s made me a (hopefully) better and more aware participant in the world.

  17. Bjarte Foshaug says

    Greta, I can honestly say that it was your book Why Are You Atheist So Angry? that introduced me to FTB, and as a result I was already paying close attention when the whole “Blacklist” hysteria erupted in the aftermath of the first Women in Secularism conference. I was, of course, aware that Rebecca Watson had gotten a lot of crap for the comment that has is now my gravatar, and that the closest thing I had to a hero at the time (now one of my least favorite people on the planet) had made a complete ass of himself with his incredibly petty and childish “Dear Muslima” comment, but I hadn’t really been paying attention until the spring of 2012.

    And what I saw disgusted me to no end. I saw feminists like yourself,Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Zvan, and Jennifer McCreight make ridiculously reasonable arguments for things that shouldn’t need defending at all, and I saw the absolute dishonesty of the slimepitters and MRAs who misrepresented your position as “labeling people as misogynists and bullies only for disagreeing with you”. I was paying attention when DJ Grothe blamed the feminists who were talking about sexual harassment for scaring women away from TAM rather than blaming sexual harassment itself. I was paying attention when Russell Blackford blatantly lied about the “talibanesque” dresscodes that nobody had suggested, and it made me very, very angry. It still does.

    So you are having an impact. I am a better person because of you and all the other wonderful feminists out there, and I thank you..

  18. Cipher says

    Yep.
    I’m a better scholar and a better person as a result of knowing the stuff about feminism and intersectionality I’ve learned in the past few years. I’ve started speaking out about people saying -ist things, started talking to my family when I see toxic assumptions hurting them. And I’ve started taking responsibility for educating myself about the oppressions in which I am complicit, and trying to step up.
    Here’s the big personal one I only realized last night: I’ve changed my standards, my expectations, and the way I do relationships in such a way that for the first time in my adult life I am in a romantic relationship where I cannot imagine the other person ever putting his hands on me in anger. Ever! And it’s sad that that’s surprising and a major thing, but for me it really is huge. Just in general I trust myself and my instincts and I assert my boundaries, which I didn’t before. And while as we all know that’s not always enough to keep a person safe, it changes the way I experience the world in a positive way, just knowing I have a right to it.
    Moreover, as a result of my learning here about feminism I’ve also branched out in a major way into learning about disability rights and neurodiversity, which in addition to being important in its own right also has helped me to deconstruct a lot of internalized ableism that was hurting me, and has also prevented me from stepping all over my friends like a jackass. So, very happy. Yes.

  19. says

    I’ve always believed that whatever men want to do, women should be able to do to. The reverse too; it was always a given. I didn’t understand why we weren’t there yet. It’s been a decade-long run of pulling my head out of my ass.
    - 1st understanding all the BS that, at the end of the day, added up to little more than 18-y.o. me wanting to get laid. I had to be honest about wanting that first, then I had to fail at “picking up chicks” because all the manipulation felt wrong, then I had to not care. This is important. I had to care more about making friends than getting laid.
    - 2nd was getting over my nice guy complex, because frankly, that shit is fucked up. The notion that I was entitled to certain relationships with cute girls and deserved access to their bodies because I acted a certain way… Gah! I still can’t believe I used to think that.
    - 3rd was probably ElevatorGate. At first I didn’t get it. After reading more blogs I wasn’t sure… and then it became clear how clueless the commenters were… a pattern emerged. And this problem would compound itself over and over. It was a real eye opener to realize that I will probably never have to worry about somebody forcibly using their penis on me, but this is the world women live in, and if it happens to a woman she gets blamed for it, and that YES this is still worth fighting about even though women are facing greater rights violations all over the world.

    I strive every day to be a better person. Bloggers like you make me effective in that effort. I am so ashamed that I ever had it so wrong in so many things; it makes me mad even. When I see other guys not get it, I feel sorry for them now. Without change, they will never have as strong relationships as I have, or have the capacity to make good decisions about building friendships with women who they may or may not find attractive. You and bloggers like you enable the men you sway to have better lives.

    Please keep fighting. It means so much.

  20. says

    I have learned a lot from everything you guys have written. I didn’t actually explicitly identify as a feminist until very recently. Elevatorgate and everything that has been written since helped me understand feminist issues immensely better than I did before. I’m finding myself unable to be particularly articulate about how at the moment, but I can at least add my voice to the chorus of, “Yes, you help.”

  21. says

    For me it started over a decade ago reading Ophelia’s comments at the old TPM forums. Thankfully, she never had to address my comments directly, but many of the people she did call out held views too close to my own for comfort. And as she dismantled their objections to being called out again and again, I recognized that my own objections were just as poorly thought out.

    I like to think I’ve come a long way since then, and reading FTB and other sites, I realize I still have quite a way to go. But knowing where our blind spots are is a big part of fixing them, so thank you. Thank you to all the bloggers out there who continue to fight the same battles. You are making a difference.

  22. says

    Thanks for this post Greta… I really needed to see these responses. I’ve been online making the case in various forums since about 1989. A long long long time…and yes feeling VERY VERY discouraged lately – especially when I see young dudes…tell me what “internet culture” is…as if I haven’t been online…maybe 5 hours a day for the last two decades…(Not always arguing mind you..it’s my career.)

    I have wished out loud so so so many times that I wanted men to step up in these conversations and show the young ones how to be funny, warm, anti-sexist, anti-racist etc… actively. How I wanted them to intervene when I saw people getting trolled off the net…

    That is NOT how it always was. I was there with the grey beards and gray manes – when we all started talking about this new utopia…what it COULD be. Sometimes it shines through…sometimes in comment threads like this I think… it’s still possible.

    The net could make us more humane and genuinely open….not less.

  23. Eric Riley says

    Add another name to the list – the discussions about ‘privilege’ have been especially enlightening for me. I think it was somewhere of FtB that I heard, “if a discussion about privilege is not making you [in your privileged state] uncomfortable, then you aren’t really thinking about privilege.” Some of what I have heard, and some of the truths about my own previous behavior I’ve forced myself to think about has *not* been comfortable, but I believe that it is making me a better person for the effort.

    Your writing *does* have a positive effect!

  24. Al Dente says

    I got into feminism through a rather round-about manner. I was badly bullied in grade school and high school and have a bitter anger towards bullies. Like so many men, I thought most of the problems women had were settled. Sure the glass ceiling still exists but the woman who was hired on the same day as me to an equal position gets exactly the same paycheck I get.

    Elevatorgate happened. The bullies came out in strength to bully Rebecca and her supporters unmercifully. Damn was I angry. Then I had to ask myself why was I angry? People were bullying women and a few men over what? I started doing some reading and talking to people. I mentioned Schrodinger’s Rapist to my adult daughter who, while she didn’t know the term, recognized the condition immediately. She told me a few stories that surprised me, especially since I had been present at a couple of those instances and hadn’t noticed anything. My daughter said: “I’ve always known you were clueless about how women are treated.” I took that as a challenge. I’m trying to become less clueless.

    And I still hate bullies.

  25. says

    In high school, I was a straight-up “Nice Guy,” with all the thinly-veiled assholery and manipulation and entitlement that entailed. I got better (thanks in part to my eventual-wife), but it took a good long while.

    I had forgotten until recently that I was asked in my senior year of college to contribute an essay to the school’s feminist magazine, based on my work as a liberal opinion columnist and an outspoken proponent of gay rights. Looking at it now, it’s a stunning case of well-meaning cluelessness and patronization, with this being a stand-out passage toward the end:

    Nothing will hurt the cause more than to let it be dominated by radicals and fanatics. Certainly there are “man-haters” among the feminist movement, a small minority to be sure, but a loud one. They, and others on the fringe, must be kept on the fringe, lest they damn the whole movement.

    Around the same time (according to date stamps; I’m really not sure), I wrote this stunning bit of dumbassery, and others similar to it.

    So coming out of college, I had an inkling of reality and was open to feminist ideas, but hadn’t actually been exposed to any of them. I thought every dumb thing to fall out of my fingers onto a screen was revolutionary and important. I took token steps toward understanding, following Feministing and Feministe until I ultimately stopped–they were too humorless and “PC”, naturally (I’ve recently started following both again). It wasn’t until the last few years that that’s changed for me. Reading blogs like this one and Skepchick and Pharyngula and eventually Almost Diamonds and Butterflies and Wheels and John Scalzi’s “Whatever” and others has introduced me to the vernacular and the key ideas of the field, like privilege and microaggressions and intersectionality. I read bell hooks’ “Feminism is for Everybody” earlier this year, and I’ve been branching out my reading to cover other social justice topics as well. I can’t watch things anymore without noticing the race and gender issues, good or bad, I’m sure some of my friends wish I’d stop talking about them. But it’s just another aspect of critical thinking, just like how I can’t turn off my analysis of bad science in media or promotion of nonsense.

    If I can put in a shameless plug, I talked about some related issues on my blog yesterday, specifically in response to some of the recent horrible bullshit. Just because some of us can go many years without noticing its smell, that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

  26. says

    Greta,

    I used to be a libertarian who sneered at those silly feminists. I was an atheist, and absolutely enthralled by Richard Dawkins. Then the whole incident in the Irish elevator happened, and although I didn’t get what all the fuss was about at first, I started reading what you and others had to say and, frankly, never stopped. You were correct. About all of it. You taught me to check my privilege, to empathise, and not just project. You taught me to value other human beings, at first regardless of sex and gender, but later regardless of race, class or age as well. I came into the movement a libertarian atheist, but now come out a properly leftist humanist, who is introduced by his friends as ‘Dom the feminist’.

    Please keep on doing this. You made such a difference in my life, and there’s nothing I could do to pay it back, so I’m paying it forward instead.

    Dom

  27. says

    Absolutely you and FTB, Skepchicks, Elevatorgate, etc., have made a huge difference in my willingness to stop being silently outraged and to start speaking out. I’ve always been opinionated, but afraid of hurting feelings and of someone not liking me or getting angry at me if my words anger them. I hate confrontation. But I’m so disgusted by the bile and hypocrisy of anti-feminists, and just the deliberate cluelessness of some of the fence sitters that I’ve started wading into comment threads and weighing in without worry that I’m going to offend people who have already been so offensive in their comments that I wonder what planet they’re from… I’ve also learned that there are people who will argue like verbal Terminators with very set scripts. They will not deviate, they will not answer your questions, and they Will. Not. Stop. Because they assume that if they get the last word, they’ve proven their point. All they’ve proven is they have more time to waste than I do… so I’ve learned when to stop feeding them. Anyway, long winded way of saying you and people like you have helped me shed my fear and to be an active part of the solution.

  28. robyn slinger says

    A few years ago, I was rather oblivious to the reality of feminist issues and of everyday sexism (and all other isms). Sure, I was all for gender equality and whatnot, but would have not thought much about, say, posting a sexist joke somewhere if I found it funny.

    Well, no more. And it was people like you and PZ (and many blog commenters here and there) who made me understand better the topic, recognise ordinary sexism, and generally think about it. Thank you for making me a better person.

    Special thanks to you, Greta: I can’t remember how I stumbled upon your blog in the first place, but it was most definitely here that I entered the rabbit hole.

  29. sarah00 says

    I’ve definitely been influenced (hopefully in a positive way!) by reading the blogs here on FtB and in other places.

    I’ve been really lucky in my life, I’ve never felt discriminated against for being female and I could easily imagine that without the influence of these blogs I’d believe my experiences are the same as everyone else and dismiss people who have had problems as being ‘whiners’ or something.

    I can really relate to the comment that sparked this post, although I’d say I’ve always called myself a feminist. However, before I started reading blogs I thought it was an obvious and uncontroversial thing to say. The more I’ve read the more I’ve realised how hopelessly naive I was. The whole sexism thing that’s exploded recently has made me less likely to actively engage in the ‘community’ (though to be honest I’m a perpetual lurker anyway) but I’m definitely more vocal in ‘the real world’ and more willing to stand up to sexist (and homophobic or racist) comments and actions. In the past few months I’ve been to my first abortion-rights demos and my first secularism conference (the Empowering Women one in Dublin). If it wasn’t for blogs like this I’d never have gone, but if the trolls have done one positive thing it’s to show me that the world is not equal yet and we owe it to ourselves and others who can’t to stand up for our rights.

    Greta, thank you!!

  30. Knabb says

    I’m still very much a lurker here most of the time, but FtB, among other sources has had some impact on me. While I’ve never been anywhere near Nice-guyism or MRA bullshit, there are certainly areas where I’ve improved pretty drastically (I bought the whole “personal responsibility” mantra far more than I should have, and wasn’t exactly reliable when it came to abortion rights support). The biggest of these is that, in person, I am much more capable of speaking up – and when I do, I do so much more effectively.

  31. says

    If you became a feminist, or became more of a feminist, because of all the writing and speaking and video-making and podcasting and other work that so many of us have been doing about it? Please say so here.

    I’m saying so here. My wife finds it funny that I care more about feminism than she does, but she doesn’t read these blogs or see a lot of the shit that happens every damn day.

    My interest began with reading Isis the Scientist and Zuska waaay long ago on scienceblogs, but I only started to understand feminism (pre-Elevator, too) thanks to Ophelia Benson, Greta Christina and Rebecca Watson. I’m sure I don’t grok all the intricacies yet, but you (and others) are all helping me to. So thanks!

  32. says

    Happy to add my 2 cents, Greta. I read FTB almost daily, but have never commented before. With all the shit that you, Ophelia, Jen, PZ, Steph, and others have had to put up with lately, I want to let you know just how much I appreciate your taking a stand against this crap, and that I proudly stand in unity with all of you. In contrast, the big names that have been sexually harassing women, or shouting down anyone who speaks out against them…well, they aren’t worthy of being leaders in any atheist movement that I want to be a part of, and their supporters can just fuck off, too.

    I thought that by now, women would be making this movement an absolute juggernaut. Given the patriarchal nature of all of the Abrahamic religions, I figured women would be leaving all of them in droves, and just assumed that Atheism would be welcoming them with open arms. I just didn’t expect that many of those open arms would be more interested in copping a feel than working together. The shitstorm that’s been going on ever since Elevatorgate is something I didn’t see coming, because I naively assumed we all wore white hats, and were all rational, kind, compassionate human beings. This relentless, systematic harassment of anyone who speaks out against sexism, harassment and misogyny, absolutely infuriates me. I’m amazed you’re able to withstand the constant barrage, and am saddened when a voice like Jen’s is silenced. I’m also really worried about the burnout factor and the potential loss of some of the best and brightest voices we have.

    This is important stuff, and it’s damned well worth fighting for, since I want no part of any movement led by assholes who put their sexual gratification ahead of the greater good of the movement. You, PZ, Stephanie, Ophelia, Jen, Jason, Dana, Rebecca, Surly Amy, Adam Lee and others like you are the people I look up to. It was such a pleasure meeting you at last weekend’s conference (my first), because you’ve been inspiring me for the last 5 years. The least I can do is let you know that I’ve got your backs and will be ever more vocal in speaking out against the sexist bullshit and avalanche of abuse you’ve been up against.

    Please do your best to take care of yourself and I’ll do my best to stay angry!

  33. Espen Joris Gottschal says

    I’ve definately changed for the better due to Gretas writing. It’s taken some time to sink in, and can be quite depressing sometimes, but I see sexism in more and more places. Your patience has paid off in my case, and the wonderful clarity of your writing is not wasted on deaf ears.

  34. says

    I can’t say that the last couple years have made me a feminist because I would still hesitate to call myself one, but I have never believed that women should be treated any different than men. I used to assume that women got a little more shit than men online just because there’s always a few assholes who revel in being assholes.

    What the last couple years have done is show me how wrong that opinion was.

    I don’t know how you all put up with the shit that you do but I’m glad you have the strength you have so maybe the next generation of women has it better. Or, you know, maybe this generation can have it better, how awesome would that be?

  35. stephaniezierenberg says

    Bingo.

    This is very similar to how it happened for me. I already considered myself feminist prior to Elevatorgate, but everything that’s transpired since then has made me more aware of how deeply entrenched the -isms and -phobias really are.

    Not only do I see it more clearly and more frequently, but I have an idea now of what I can do to combat it, even if only in my own social circle and sphere of influence. I’ve had the hard conversations with my own friends and family, and while it sometimes ends badly, I’ve been fortunate enough to see some positive changes. It’s almost like “trickle down feminism” at work, and I really have to say that it’s because of you guys. Thank you. =]

  36. piegasm says

    Reading you and the others around FtB has absolutely turned me into a feminist as well as reading many of the regular commenters. Prior to stumbling upon this place I would have been the type of person to wonder why it was unreasonable to advise women not to get drunk at parties, especially if they’re around men they don’t know well. Now I recognize that kind of thinking as a load of hideous, victim-blaming bullshit. I’ve been really inspired by so many people crawling out of the woodwork over the last week or so to offer their support and to share their own stories, not to mention people like Caine and Pterryx and others whose names I’m forgetting who seem to be bottomless wells of information.

    Like you said, it’s not easy when you learn all this stuff and suddenly it feels like you see bigotry in everything. So many people you used to admire turn out to be not so admirable. Words you used to use without thinking about it aren’t appropriate anymore. You have to think a lot harder about how you word things. It’s all worth it though. We’re having conversations now that couldn’t have happened maybe even a few months ago. They’re difficult conversations but they’re happening.

    You all are awesome people.

  37. lorigb says

    I’ve gone from, ‘Pssht, why do we still need feminism?’ to fiercely identifying as a feminist, mostly because of Greta, PZ, and the Skepchicks, as well as the regular commenters on these blogs who spend so much time fighting against the misogynistic assholes who regularly descend upon any post mentioning feminism. It’s led to me calling out my friends when they say things that support rape culture and victim blaming. It has caused some uncomfortable situations, but I certainly haven’t lost friends over it, and some of them have even started to come around to a more feminist point of view.

    I’ve recently moved to Chile, and it’s frustrating dealing with the machista culture here. Even though my boyfriend says he doesn’t want to be machista, I still regularly have to call him out on things. I’m not sure I would have the courage/knowledge to do that if it weren’t for y’all (even if it is harder to explain the concepts to him in Spanish than it would be in English).

    I have learned a ridiculous amount here. I hope to keep learning, and putting it in use in the little ways I’m able. You all have made a huge difference.

  38. whiskeyjack says

    I guess I should clarify my previous comment. Feminism never made me feel like a victim, or made me think “the patriarchy” was out to get me. I saw men as I saw most women — playing their part in a huge production that no one really had the script for. I always thought that they, like most women, were just reacting to the situation they were in without really analyzing it or questioning their roles. In fact, I balked at being identified as a feminist due to its baggage — really, I just wanted to point some things out to some people and let nature take its course, assuming for some reason that people would do the right thing.

    I do feel disillusioned these days by the response to people criticizing these roles they play — men and women. I find these responses horrifying in principle, really. But this whole debacle starting with that damn elevator comment and continuing up to this day, has radicalized me. It’s not enough to gently point out problems as let people work things out. They won’t work things out — they’ll keep doing what benefits them most, even if that’s just not thinking about it too much. You have to get up in their face and insist that they check themselves.

    So now I call myself a feminist. And all those horrible things that people think feminism does to a person — makes them “hate” men, makes them question sexual advances (“Does he like me, or am I about to be raped? Am I, socially, legally, physically, emotionally, going to be made a victim if I don’t run away RIGHT NOW? Maybe I should just stop having sex at all”) makes them resent their position in life, makes them wave signs and scream and get all touchy when someone makes a joke or snaps their bra strap — feminism never did that to me.The backlash did that to me.

    I am the monster they created, and I’m their own nightmare of a woman.

  39. seraphymcrash says

    “I’m not a feminist because feminism is about putting women over men, and we should all just be equal”

    It shames me to admit that I used to believe that. It was the writers at skepchick and FtB that brought me around, and now I proudly am a feminist, and if I had to choose between atheism and feminism in some weird hypothetical situation, I would choose feminism (especially after the recent behavior of the leaders of the skeptic orgs).

    The specific moment that really brought me around was Richard Dawkins. Dawkins was responsible for my becoming an atheist and my becoming a feminist I guess. Of course it was his flagrant sexist response to Rebecca Watson that really opened my eyes, and also destroyed any respect I had for him.

    It’s sort of funny, because I see comments and topics saying things like “There are no women in atheism” and I realize that most of my daily reading is from female atheist writers: Greta, Stephanie Svan, Ophelia Benson, Ashley Miller, Kate Donovan, The entire Skepchick Network, Amanda Marcotte, Dana Hunter, Jen McCreight, and more besides.

    So thank you to all of you!

  40. CaitieCat says

    I brought my feminism here; though I’d been nominally committed for 20 years to the concepts, it was Shakesville and my friendship with Liss McEwan, as well as the enormously valuable time I spent as a contributor and mod there before burnout and depression stopped me, that made me the feminist I am today.

    But I have found a home here, and an audience willing to listen when I say, “Hey, wait a minute, that’s kinda $GROUP_ist, isn’t it?” And here is where I found a way to reconcile my personal experience of “atheism: the place white het cis men go to complain about gods and BITCHEZ” with my feminism, and where I found the idea of “atheism+”, which combined atheism and an intersectional approach to feminism that I have found comfortable and supportive.

    So while I was an “advanced” feminist before I got here, I’ve still managed to learn a fair bit in the nine or so months I’ve been reading and commenting here. FTB has become a place where one can get both Feminism 101, and postgrad studies of feminism, and that’s really been useful for me.

    Plus, i’ve come to really like some of the people here, beyond just respecting them immensely. There are plenty of people around here whom I’d feel comfortable inviting to stay in my home, and there aren’t many places in the world I could say that.

  41. Fetchez la Vache says

    I can still remember feeling very, very, VERY uncomfortable when I first came across the idea of “rape culture”. It seemed waaaaay out there …. but I kept reading. Shakesville, Ana Mardoll, Captain Awkward, Greta, Ophelia, Rebecca, PZ, and many others. I read the MRA rants, the vitriolic responses to what should be “no duh” statements (“Don’t do that.”) Result? I’m not the guy I used to be – THANK GOODNESS. And thanks to those bloggers, and their stalwart commenters. Some blogs I read for entertainment, these I read because they make me a better person.

    THANKS!!!

  42. Infophile says

    You – and a lot of people like you – have certainly made a change in me. While I identified as a feminist since high school, all the work you’ve done has helped make me a much better feminist. I’ve realized poor aspects to my character in the past (such as a Nice Guy (TM) phase in my first year of university) and worked to correct them. I’ve made an effort to speak up, even if just a little, when people make sexist jokes in a social context (my preferred method is to snark at the ridiculousness of the underlying implications to many of these jokes – it gets the point across, but doesn’t start a fight. If people get defensive, they’re a lot less likely to change their minds, so I try to make points in a manner that raises as few defenses as possible.). So thank you – you have indeed made a difference.

  43. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    E-gate hit when I was in my first year of grad school. I’d left fundamentalist xianity 7 years before that, and I was slowly shedding the fundamentalist idea that feminism is about selfish women destroying the family and denying her “special place” in creation. I suppose I was passively feminist–I cared about equality, but I hadn’t read a lot of feminist theory.

    When E-gate happened, that all changed. I began to read feminist theory. I began to read feminist blogs. I read FTB more regularly, and began engaging in the comments sections. I began to deconstruct grad school texts using critical feminist theory. And, when I began to teach, concepts like objectification and rape culture made their way into my classroom.

    I don’t think E-gate and the FTB response made me a feminist, but I can say that the pushback (the shock of seeing all that misogyny) raised my consciousness and radicalized me.

  44. 마이크 says

    Thanks Greta. Before this thing started blowing up, I wouldn’t have described myself as feminist, but that would only have been because I didn’t understand what the term meant or how it was relevant to me.

    This part made me feel so warm and fuzzy:

    “You get to have authentic relationships and connections with people of all genders. You get to live your life without constantly worrying about “Am I a real man?” or “Am I a real woman?” You get to not live in a constant state of cognitive dissonance. You get to expand the kinds of people you can have friendships and relationships with, and not live your life in a bubble of people who are almost exactly like you. You get to know that you matter, that you’re one of the people who’s making the world better. And you get to have some incredibly smart, funny, courageous, compassionate, dedicated, insightful, freaking awesome people in your life.

  45. Alex says

    I’ve been lurking on your blog for months, Greta, but your call for comments on this post finally had me sign up to say something. Of all the people who led me down the path of becoming a feminist and becoming aware of all the various -isms, -oginies, and -phobias, I must give you the greatest credit. Thank you for everything. This is my story:

    While I have never been actively misogynistic, I too have become strongly affected after getting in contact with feminist writings (and all the other -isms, -phobias, as well as the -oginies). I guess the change for me has mostly been about my own awareness. Catching myself when sexist thoughts would enter my head, and stopping myself from just accepting those thoughts uncritically. Noticing how a lot of the behaviors I’ve just taken for granted in most people has sexist, transphobic, ableist or some other forms of negative overtones.

    Unlike SheerDistaste, I did not get pissed at what was happening to me, but rather I started getting pissed at “everyone” else. Like SheerDistaste, I would notice other people’s sexism a lot more, and instead of accepting it or even going along with it, I’m now being strongly disgusted by it. Sadly, I must confess that while I no longer partake in or condone the offensive behaviors, I also don’t actively speak up against them, in fear of becoming ostracized in the all-male work environment I am in. I’m awkward enough being the introvert that I am, and I’m not sure I could handle the additional stress of being an outed feminist in my already very minimal and hard-earned social circles (cf. my introversion). At least my friends, family and co-workers are mostly unintentional in their occasional bad utterances and behaviors… *sigh*

    Ironically, it’s thunderf00t’s fault that I started down this path to enlightenment. I was a big fan of his series on mocking creationists, so I subscribed to his YouTube channel. Then one day, he started posting videos criticizing feminism. At first, as a follower of his and a fan of his previous videos, I pretty much took what he said to heart. Automatic respect given to the things said by people you admire, a terrible source of bias, and one I’m annoyed with myself in not catching sooner than I did.

    In fact, had he left it at one or two videos, that might’ve been it. But he just kept going on and on about it. Eventually, it occurred to me what was happening: I was uncritically accepting something based on nothing more than by whom it was spoken. My “transformation” truly began when, after my realization, I went over to Rebecca Watson’s channel in order to hear her side of the “Elevatorgate” incident. Nothing short of shock can describe my reaction to how much this thing had been blown out of proportion by people like thunderf00t. All I could really find her saying on the matter was “Don’t do that, guys.” At least before the misogynist shitstorm around the incident started.

    It pretty much just escalated from there. Already being a fan of you, Greta, from your atheism activism, I stopped skipping over or skimming your feminism posts, and started taking them seriously. I started reading the skepchick website archives. I started getting more educated about the shit trans people have to deal with, reading and following the writings of Zinnia Jones and reading a lot of the posts made by Natalie Reed.

    I feel like I just wrote a whole lot, but when I think about it, this story is extremely abridged. The larger and most important points are there, however. The story isn’t over, though. My enlightenment continues to this day, and again I want to say thank you, to you and everyone else who do their best to spread the word and speak up against these atrocities that keep occurring in our supposedly egalitarian western culture.

  46. linford86 says

    Greta,

    I am a white, cis-gendered male who has become a feminist because of posts that you and others have put online since Elevatorgate. I’ve blogged for some of that time, and often find myself now blogging about things which are tangentially related to these issues. In fact, my latest post was about triggering: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Area_51

    I am really angry that there are so many people in our movement who have done so many horrible things. I am even more upset that many of these people are individuals that I used to idolize. I have a picture of myself with Michael Shermer on my Facebook from when I met him at Reason Rally. I was star struck when I met him. Now that I’ve heard what he’s accused of doing, it’s so difficult to deal with.

    Much the same was true of Thunderf00t, who prior to the debacle he caused on FtB, I also used to idolize. I have another picture of myself with him from Reason Rally and, at the time, I thought that it was so cool that I got to actually meet him. Now I feel differently, to say the least.

    I used to dream of working at CFI. Now I don’t know how I feel about that.

    I feel like my heros have been revealed as villains.

    But thank you for this blog post. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only person whose been affected by all of this for the better.

  47. says

    I was just thinking about this the other day, oddly enough. I saw these two guys wearing utterly douchetastic shirts reading: Cool story babe. Now go make me a sammich!

    My immediate reaction was a (silent) “That’s misogynistic.”

    It occurred to me a while later that there was a time when I would have found that shirt funny. A lot of that change in perspective is due to, well, a number of things, but you guys have ALL been a significant influence on me.

    Thank you.

  48. yiab says

    I’ve considered myself a feminist as far back as I can remember, just like my entire immediate family. Nobody I ever met seemed to me to be mistreating women (or any minority group). I can’t say my understanding of feminism or any related concepts was anything but shallow, though. I was confused by elevatorgate, until I started to see some of the hateful reaction to it, and that started to wake me up to how far from an equal world we are, as opposed to how close my sheltered upbringing seemed to be. Since then I’ve taken some time to explore a few of the basic concepts and begun to learn what it means to be a feminist in today’s world.

  49. Dana Hunter says

    <3 you! One of the people you good people changed for the better, and I will always be grateful for you. Always!

  50. Suido says

    I always considered myself a supporter of equal rights, and I thought myself fairly well informed on gender issues. Ha. Having studied engineering and only dabbled in blogs and opinion pieces in newspapers and the like, I now know that I was woefully uninformed, and that’s thanks to FtB.

    I found it thanks to PZ, and I’ve stayed for the diverse, passionate and amazingly informative array of bloggers.

    Thank you.

  51. Suido says

    That seems a bit wierdly phrased. I was woefully uninformed, which I now realise thanks to FtB. Blaming my phone’s awkward display of the text input box for my half hearted review before submitting.

  52. fwtbc says

    I’ve always had feminist leanings, but it’s only been since reading Melissa McEwan’s “Terrible Bargain” that I’ve had a fire under my arse to speak up and not be passive.

    I very quickly found lots of other great feminist voices online, yours amongst them and have learnt so much. I feel I’m a much better person than I used to be.

    I like to think I was already on the right side of things when “Elevatorgate” happened, and it’s because of the hard work of people like yourself that I can say that, and even still, I have no doubt I learnt more during that time just from hearing others speak out and share their unique perspectives.

    I hope one day I may get to meet you so I can thank you in person.

    End of gushing.

  53. triple3a says

    Yes, this.

    This is what is beautiful about intersectionality. It makes the utopias we all imagine that much more possible. None of us is perfect, but it’s the striving for authenticity that makes us that much more wonderful.

  54. says

    I was pretty much on the fence before Elevatorgate, but after lurking at FTB for the last few years, I now identify as a feminist. The thanks for this go to pretty much all the bloggers and commenters here.

  55. fuzzycthulhu says

    While I don’t put my self in the camp of borderline mysogynist pre-Elevatorgate, I think my biggest crime was not paying enough attention to feminist issues- which is a crime, to me, since as a man I have a capacity to affect a real change, just in my own behavior and thinking.

    But then, when I started to think of myself as really awesome for being so enlightened, I paused for a moment. I thought to myself,

    “Take your right hand and reach over your left shoulder and give yourself a pat on the back. Good? That’s the only one your going to get, so stop expecting a prize for not being an asshole.”

  56. says

    The outspoken advocacy of people like you have made me feel like I am welcome in skeptical communities–a resource that makes a huge difference in confronting my religious upbringing. I can not tell you what a gift that is.

  57. Rieux says

    Sure: I was a feminist before I ever ventured into atheist/skeptic spaces, but the recent unpleasantnesses (which is to say, the recent increase in the public visibility of what has clearly been a longstanding misogyny problem) have made me a much more committed feminist. I always knew I benefitted from some significant male privilege, but only recently has it been made clear just how significant that privilege is.

    The same recent events have also considerably decreased my enthusiasm for being part of the atheist/skeptic community, alas.

  58. HappyNat says

    Several years ago I would have considered myself pro-equal rights for everyone, how could I be sexist, I was a sociology major after all? But since e-gate the work of the folks o FTB and skepchick have really opened my eyes and I see so much more bullshit women have to deal with. It’s really meant a lot to me as I have a daughter and son and I will use what I’ve learned (and continue to learn) to teach them as they grow up. So you all haven’t just changed me you have helped the next generation.

  59. believerskeptic says

    Sure: I was a feminist before I ever ventured into atheist/skeptic spaces, but the recent unpleasantnesses (which is to say, the recent increase in the public visibility of what has clearly been a longstanding misogyny problem) have made me a much more committed feminist. I always knew I benefitted from some significant male privilege, but only recently has it been made clear just how significant that privilege is.

    The same recent events have also considerably decreased my enthusiasm for being part of the atheist/skeptic community, alas.

    Wow. I could have written that myself, word for word.

  60. E H says

    Greta,

    I discovered your blog, and by extension the atheist blogosphere, as a result of stumbling upon your “Comforting Thoughts” piece at a time when I really needed to read it. Your unbelievably smart, thoughtful writing has since shaped my thinking on a number of subjects, and I have you to thank for introducing me to the rest of the courageous writers and thinkers who became FTBers and FTB allies. I would have called myself a feminist before all of this, but the recent scandal and the turmoil of the last few years have taught me SO MUCH about the relevance and importance of modern feminism – what it means to real women and men living in the world today. Can’t write more now, but please know I have done and will continue to do my best, in my own life, to translate that knowledge and sense of purpose into action.

    Thank you.

  61. Blobulon says

    You have given me so much Greta. Over the years I have become a better person because of your incredible writing. Thank you.
    Between you and others at FtB, the Skepchicks, and the wonderful people at Shakeseville, I am proudly a feminist.
    I really wish that all of atheism was A+.

  62. says

    Back in the days of yore (college) I had some Nice Guy and libertarian leanings. I got slowly more liberal on various things over the years, though, even before finding The Atheist Experience online and quickly falling in to the atheist/skeptic realm from there. It was back in 2009 that JT Eberhard pointed me at Pharyngula. From there I found you, Greta, and also, Blag Hag, and Butterflies and Wheels, and then Skepchick from Rebecca Watson’s appearance at Skepticon 2. I hadn’t know much about feminism before, though I figured a lot of the public view was mostly stereotype and exaggeration.

    So, yes, I know a lot more now, after Freethought Blogs formed, about feminism and other social justice stuff. Coming from the skeptical angle it’s all made a lot of sense. Especially with Greta making it easy to understand and very accessible and relatable.

    I’m one of those that found the backlash from ElevatorGate quite surprising. All that skeptical thought seemed so great and clear and egalitarian. I figured we could mostly have some rational disagreements… So much for that.

    One thing about all the nastiness of the last couple years, though, besides a little disillusionment, is that I’ve learned enough from all the posts having to be written on sexism and racism and all that I think I’ve learned enough and gotten enough confidence to speak up on it some myself.

  63. Eric O says

    I always considered myself a feminist in the sense that I believed that women shouldn’t be actively discriminated against because of their sex, but I find it distressingly easy to imagine myself being on the anti-feminist side of the divide (though I probably would have made a point of calling myself an “equity feminist”, distinguishing myself from the “gender feminists”). What changed that, I think, is that I started reading (pre-FTB) Blag Hag. SheerDistaste’s experience closely mirrors my own.

    Occasionally, Jen posted about feminism. At first, it felt like an annoying diversion on an otherwise good blog, but after a while, I found myself agreeing with her. Not only did I begin to understand concepts like privilege and patriarchy, but I also started to become aware of the uglier side of the skeptic/atheist community.

    This is why I was particularly distressed when Jen was forced to take the big long break because of the constant online harassment that she was facing. Her blog made me a better person and I probably wasn’t the only one to benefit from it. I’m grateful to her and I’m still angry at the people who have effectively silenced her.

  64. Fabulous Disaster says

    Yeah, add me to the list. You see, I used to say two things, “I’m not an atheist, but I don’t believe in god,” and “I’m not a feminist, but I absolutely support equal rights for women.” You, along with Jen, Rebecca, and the other usual suspects, were one of the ones who helped me figure out both were kinda dumb. I haven’t actually changed my views on women’s issues much, but I’m now a whole lot more aware of why they’re important.

    The original “don’t do that” thread was the lightbulb moment for me. Encountering the anti-feminist fecal golems with only the most vague resemblance to humanity was what finally gave me incentive to do some serious reading. And I figured out that, as it turned out, I’d been a feminist atheist for a couple decades without understanding that. Thank you for giving me a reason to do that.

  65. John Phillips, FCD says

    Being a white 61 year old male growing up in the UK in the 50s and 60s I saw my mother struggle to bring us up with no little or no help, financially or emotionally, from my father so have always considered myself a feminist, or at least pro-feminist, and tried to not be intentionally sexist. However, reading initially Pharyngula, both PZ and his horde, and then yourself and the many others here since PZ and Ed created ftb, I realised that I was often unintentionally sexist, if only in the way I sometimes expressed myself. I now am much more conscious of what I say and write and the affect it can have on others. I also have a much better understanding of the many problems the various subgroups under the LGBT umbrella suffer from. So all in all, starting with Pharyngula and then moving to here has made me a much more aware person so if I do occasionally screw up now, I have a much better understanding of why. So for that, I thank you one and all, bloggers and posters alike.

  66. MadHatter says

    Let me just add another voice to the “you made a huge difference” chorus. I grew up as a strong feminist (I thought). But I had also come to believe, despite my own experiences, that things weren’t so bad. There were still injustices of course, but it’d work out. That we needed to focus our energies on more obvious problems instead. I probably wasn’t too far from being a “chill girl” in some of my thoughts about feminism.

    Reading FTB, particularly since the elevator episode, made me sit up and take notice again. It also made me reevaluate experiences in my own life in a new light. I’ve learned a great deal about privilege, and I think had my eyes opened to the various -isms in the world. I’ve learned a great deal about LGBT, most especially trans- issues and I hope I’m becoming more sensitive to such things.

    What I’ve seen throughout the skeptical blogosphere has discouraged me, but it has also made me a lot more sure that I’m going the right direction. At the same time though, I derive a great deal of encouragement from the bloggers here. That these issues are being openly talked about makes such a difference. Thank you.

  67. deema says

    Hi Greta
    Long-time lurker de-lurking to say I feel the same as SheerDistaste, although I hadn’t realised that was my personal development arc until I read this in someone else’s words. So yes, thanks to you, PZ, Jen, Rebecca, Skepchicks and many, many more courageous & persistent bloggers and writers, I have become much more of a feminist than 2 – 3 years ago.
    My understanding is changing from an occasional nebulous ‘oh, that’s doesn’t seem right’ to a more frequent ‘I know it’s wrong because….’. This confidence in my understanding has allowed me to find ways of challenging sexism at work and also speaking out to my nieces and nephews to encourage them think about what they see and experience.
    So, thank you … you make a difference.

  68. callieq says

    I am discouraged and frustrated? Yes, very much. Its maddening to watch people fight to keep their privilege while beating their chest about how downtrodden they are. But, if I’m honest, the real reason I can be frustrated now is because I’m no longer terrified. Terrified of being found out as atheist, queer and, yes, feminist. I hid myself and my opinions for most of my life and from almost everyone I knew.

    That’s not true now. I am honest and forthright about who I am. I’m not loud and outspoken, but I’m proud of those who are. Those voices helped me realize I’m not alone, and that I can live my life openly. I’ll probably never pick up the bullhorn myself, but I’m free to express myself and argue against misogynistic BS when I hear it.

    Greta, you make me proud to belong to this @#$@ species. You make me want to live up to your example. Thank you.

  69. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I have a lot to say, but I need some time to put it together. I hope this thread sticks around for a few days.

  70. believerskeptic says

    My understanding is changing from an occasional nebulous ‘oh, that’s doesn’t seem right’ to a more frequent ‘I know it’s wrong because….’.

    Yes. Same here.

  71. jamessweet says

    And if you can think of other reasons why you’re happy to know and understand about feminism, despite it often being painful and angry-fying?

    Heh, nope, sorry to disappoint on that part. As a middle-class white cis heterosexual male, I can tell you from past experience that complete and total privilege blindness is kinda awesome.

    Just the other day, I was watching Despicable Me 2 with my kids, and instead of being able to chuckle at a sort of silly scene where an annoying one-off character gets a comeuppance, I found myself shifting in my seat and saying, “Well, that was a bit…rapey.” It kinda sucks.

    To extend your Red Pill analogy, just call me Cypher. :p Well, not entirely: I wouldn’t want to go back, because 1) I think the truth matters for its own sake, and 2) in the long run none of this shit is going to get better until enough people start opening their eyes to it, so therefore I’m pretty sure it’s the right thing to do… But subjectively? Yeah, I’m having trouble thinking of ways in which it’s subjectively better to worry about this stuff than it is to be completely and utterly blind to it. Sorry…. :/

  72. Patricia, OM says

    Please try not to become too discouraged! While this is dealing with feminism, I want to thank you in the most heartfelt manner for your courage in writing about grief. It is a taboo subject that people run from, but it comes to us all.

    I have been struggling to get back up after the deaths of every male family member I had. Husband of 35 years, 2009, father 2011, and the suicide of my brother in 2013. I am now the totally unprepared matriarch of a large brood of grieving women & little girls.

    Your writing, and PZ’s have helped me much more than is easy to tell. Hang in there.

  73. ronjaaddams-moring says

    Count one more who has gone from not realizing that I was thinking pretty much “Of course I’m a feminist – isn’t everybody by now?” a few years back to a more outspoken (and often frustrated) participator on the Internet and IRL.

    Is there a downside? Not really, but things do certainly change. To wit: I have been wondering (a bit, not much) what the people at the next table thought of my lunch with a good male friend, which to me felt normal and natural. Last Wednesday we were mostly discussing misogyny and serial rapists, Internet and IRL harassment, and protective and actively consent promoting group habits/cultures, and How To Get Men To Get It. Not excessively loudly, but the tables were close to each other…

  74. Walton says

    Pharyngula made me much more pro-feminist, and much more aware of sexism (and racism, homophobia and transphobia). I also credit some commenters there with my deconversion from libertarianism.

  75. Pieter B, FCD says

    Azkyroth @ 76

    I have a lot to say, but I need some time to put it together. I hope this thread sticks around for a few days.

    Azkyroth, you’re one of the many commenters from whom I’ve learned. Thank you.

    It’s not just the great bloggers that keep me at FtB, but also the community of commenters that let me look at the same thing from several perspectives.

  76. ck says

    As much as I’d like to credit this/these blogs with pushing me in the right direction, the truth is it was a TV show that absolutely horrified me that did it. There was a PUA game show that regularly came on directly after a show I liked to (half-heartedly) watch. I’m male, and had seen various PUA guides and such on the internet and pretty much figured they were nonsense, but seeing these assholes in action was something entirely different.

  77. says

    I’ve always considered myself a feminist, but reading various blogs (including yours and several others) definitely motivated me to read more about equal rights stuff, to make more of an effort to learn about the topics and history, and to write about it. Yes, I became an atheist as a result of reading blogs and books from the same writers. But even more important than that, in my view, is that I became more knowledgeable about a variety of topics. I had always believed that it’s the right thing to do to learn about equal rights/social justice issues and speak up in their defense, but I never knew where to start, other than just generally supporting it. In the last few years, I’ve actually been making more of an effort in these areas, instead of it just being something hypothetical in my mind. Thank you.

  78. says

    I’m a feminist because of awesome people like Rebecca Watson and Greta Christina and Jen McCreight and Martin Wagner and PZ and a whole host of others that I discovered through the skeptic community. Thank you.

  79. quanticsakura says

    Adding my trickle to the flood.
    The first contact I had with the atheist community (when I was still calling myself a christian, although I had given up on my church) was Boobquake. Therefore, thankfully, the voices I trusted in my entrance to atheism were hers, yours, and PZ’s – and I say thankfully because, coming from Evangelical Christianism and living in a country which thinks itself post-feminist when it is simple patriarchy-blind, I could easily have gone another way.
    As it was, I became atheist thanks to your writings, Greta, but feminism was a pretty long time in the making. I thought leaving religion behind was all I needed – of course the world outside it was equal for everyone, why shouldn’t it be?
    And then…elevatorgate happened. And I say it again, I was so lucky that I was a follower of your blogs and not others, because with my post-feminist mindset I could have so easily dismissed it. As it was, I had front row seats for the deluge that followed, and saw the true, ugly face of misogyny for what it was. I thank you, and all other FTB and Skepchick bloggers, for not hiding the hate you receive under the bed, although I’m sure it’s hard to put it out there for the world to see. This member of the world saw it, and it peeled away the pretty paper of “post-feminism” and showed all the darkness that lies beneath. And, having seen it, I had the tools to fight it.
    Now, I’m not very active in the american/international atheist community, but I am a part of a community in my home country. And when that hate finally trickled down to us, the open atheism facebook group where I was growing up as an atheist and trying my hand debating christians, when the sexist comments started coming from other atheist members instead of christian trolls, I wasn’t shamed out of the group, I wasn’t even surprised, I had seen far worse and knew how to handle it. And soon after, I and others created a feminism facebook group which is still going strong, although it suffers more attacks and trolling than the atheism group ever did, but where the discussion is always lively and there is always more to learn.
    So, there’s my journey, from patriarchy-infused “chill girl” (irony intended) to admin of a public feminism group, and I never would have gotten here if not for this ugly battle and the beautiful people who, like you, fight it so very fiercely. So thank you, Greta, thank you FTBloggers, thank you Skepchicks, thank you to everyone who rose their voices to say that no, being harassed is not normal or to be expected, in real life or online.

  80. says

    You can count me in, too. I think I have some natural-born feminism in me, but it needs to be cultivated and FTB among others is one good way to sort out bigger and smaller mental challenges, to weed out prejudices.

    And it is not only that I can be a better citizen treating everybody more equally, it is also about personal happiness and accepting yourself as you are, not conforming to the culturally established “real man” or “real woman” stereotypes.

  81. says

    As a dorky and not very confident teen I flirted with PUA techniques and Nice Guy syndrome before realising it was all bullshit by the time I’d left university. I’ve always had strong female rolemodels in my life (particularly my mum and my nan) and have always considered myself as a feminist but never really challeged negative attitudes towards women when I saw them. It is largely due to this blog and others like it that I realised the need for people to speak out and shout down the idiots of my gender who feel safe in displaying these attitudes publicly.

    There are still some aspects of feminism I don’t get (the need for words such as zir or womyn, etc) and as a man I doubt I ever will, feminism should be a movement led by and for women after all, but I want to thank you and the ftb network for giving me the confidence to proclaim myself a feminist, and to realise that not all feminists sound like Julie Burchill.

  82. says

    If you became a feminist, or became more of a feminist, because of all the writing and speaking and video-making and podcasting and other work that so many of us have been doing about it? Please say so here.

    Certainly. I’ll say I was at least on a good path to being a feminist before being exposed to this community. But there were certainly — how to put this? — behaviors in myself and others that I had not recognized as sexist before being educated by bloggers here (and other atheist feminist authors). (I so wish I had known 10 years ago what I know now.)

    I’d also like to take this as a bit of an opportunity to say to the women in the community to stay strong. I haven’t been voicing my support as much as I really should. I know I wouldn’t be able to handle all the crap you put up with without some positive feedback. (I’m rather the pathetic weakling, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic!)

  83. yhcmichael says

    For me all of this time interacting with secular feminists has taught me that feminism as a whole is a lot more extreme, hypocritical, close-minded and overly-sensitive than I ever dreamed. I thought the college feminists I knew were just bad apples, but sadly the fringe element of feminism is much bigger and long-lasting than I believed.

  84. John Horstman says

    I was raised largely in a Second Wave feminist tradition (my mother was heavily involved in civil rights, women’s rights, and anti-Vietnam activism), but it wasn’t until taking my first Women’s Studies course in college (and subsequently deciding to pursue a degree in the discipline) that I became involved with feminist activism (also, the different nature of contemporary problems, as well as new schema like rape culture, bodily autonomy/biopolitics, intersectionality, contextualized/bounded agency, active consent, and any broader connections to other social justice movements radically changed my conceptions of feminism and equality). I started reading FtB after that and, as with many other online fora, I find it helps greatly in continually refining my views, providing new information and theories and frameworks.

    For example, I had no idea the extent to which street harassment was a problem, either in the amount of it that occurs or the degree of harm it can inflict. Thanks to a critical mass of discussion that has only developed in the past couple of years in the online fora I frequent, I now know a lot more about the problem (and how to combat it) The topic never came up in meatspace discussions I’d had about feminist issues and activism because women were so used to it that they considered it unremarkable, while men who don’t engage in it are largely blind to it (an instance of privilege-blindness). It’s because of sites like and including FtB that I know a lot more about street harassment, which in turn helps inform my feminist praxis.

  85. BradC says

    For me, the discussion of sexism/harassment within the skeptical community not only opened my eyes to the reality of sexism and the necessity of feminism, but it also marked a significant milestone in my journey away from my evangelical faith.

    I was raised as a conservative “Rush Limbaugh” republican evangelical Christian, with all the baggage that implies (although my mother being a minister probably tempered my views compared to others in the church).

    Through an interest in astronomy, I hit the “skeptical gateway drug” of Phil Plait’s and his Bad Astronomy blog. I had barely begun to dip my toes into skepticism and explore some doubts about my faith. I was determined to take it slow and easy, though, and carefully evaluate one idea at a time (prayer, then healing, then inspiration of scripture, etc).

    But after Rebecca’s video and the resulting shitstorm, I was led through eye-opening articles by some amazing new writers to me: PZ Myers, Jen McCreight, Melissa McEwan, Greta Christina. I learned about concepts like privilege and benevolent sexism and gaslighting.

    As part of this process, I read the amazing article “SCHRÖDINGER’S RAPIST”. This article I found especially persuasive and powerful, along with one insightful comment by aliciamaud74 about a high school classroom exercise that asks: “how would you keep yourself safe walking to your car in a remote parking lot at night?” The girls scribble paragraph after paragraph, and the boys look around in confusion, not even understanding the question. This was a powerful image of how men and women can be right next to each other, and yet live in entirely different worlds.

    Your article, “WHY WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THIS: ATHEISM, SEXISM, AND BLOWING UP THE INTERNET” was the first article of yours I ever read, Greta. It really impressed me with its clarity, and I liked the little pictures you always included throughout the post :). I couldn’t help but follow your prior day’s link to your article “5 Faulty Arguments Religious People use Against Atheists (Debunked)”, and then I was hooked. I read literally every single article in the “atheism” category of your archive.

    Along with the growing doubts about my faith, the realization that I was completely wrong about feminism and sexism in today’s society was a jolt: if I was so wrong about that, what else might I be wrong about? (hint: just about EVERYTHING!)

    And just like that, the Gordian Knot was cut: if God didn’t exist at all, then all those other complicated questions (Does prayer work? What can I trust in the Bible? How do I know God’s will?) were moot. Why not deal with the root of the issue?

    It took probably another year before I felt like I could give a thoughtful answer to that question, and at this moment I am on the verge of coming out publicly as an atheist.

    Thanks, Greta, for your passionate and clear writing on this issue and so many others. I know that I have far, far to go (re-evaluating the foundations of literally everything I have ever believed isn’t a quick process), but I finally feel like I’m seeing reality for what it is, and not what just what I want it to be.

  86. says

    Dawkins has described his intentions with The God Delusion as “consciousness raising.” Well, via the efforts of my friends and fellow activists in atheism, I’ve had my consciousness seriously raised where gender equality and feminism issues are concerned, and I’m very grateful.

  87. says

    Before I started reading Blag Hag, Crommunist, Natalie Reed and you I wasn’t aware of the concept of privilege. I was certainly aware of racism and sexism in principle, and shocked and outraged by more egregious examples, but the sheer volume of the problems only hit me with your help.

  88. zhuge, le homme blanc qui ne sait rien mais voudrait says

    I don’t know that I have a long story, but I am definitely the person I am because of you, PZ Myers, Crommunist, Stephanie Svan, Jen McCreight, and the rest of the atheist feminist bloggers.

    I gave up on religion thanks to Richard Dawkins, and hung around his forums shortly before they went under(thank goodness). Afterwards, I drifted until I found your blogs(shortly before FTB was a thing, actually I had read some crommunist and then forgotten the name so was very happy when FTB came together.)

    Prior to this, I was definitely not aware of my privilige, I thought feminists, anti-racists, etc. were overreacting, I thought that politically, socially, etc. in all things being a “moderate” was best. It is obvious to me, now, of course, how wrong that was. Reading your blogs, especially in the aftermath of elevator gate, made a lot very clear to me. I had not understood the importance of social justice issues before, and I had a very bad and wrong idea of what SJ advocates believed and did. All of your writing changed my life. I try my best to speak up whenever I see racism, sexism, etc. I don’t see keeping silent, laughing along, etc. as not getting involved anymore. I see it as collaboration with reactionary, racist, sexist forces. And I do what I can to avoid them as much as possible. My mind is much more open than it was before. And while I wasn’t an MRA, I was probably painfully close to the stereotype of a “nice guy”.

    I do what I can to volunteer and donate to feminist, anti-racist, gay rights, etc. causes. I speak up when someone says something awful, and I let them know it is not ok. I use whatever positions of power I have to try and make my organizations safer places for women in minorities.

    That’s definitely thanks to you, and all the FTB bloggers who have changed my mind and empowered me. Because you didn’t just convince me that there were real problems, but that I could be a part of the solution. And I do my best to, and that’s because of you.

  89. says

    I spent a while when you first published this post trying to come up with a way to say how this discourse has influenced me without simply rambling until i was sure i’d gotten my point across (i don’t have the time). So it’s with some bittersweet convenience that i can now sum up fairly accurately that this discourse has been the reason that i don’t sound like JT recently has. Thanks.

  90. Arawhon says

    I was an atheist first and Pharyngula really cemented that. Then PZ started talking about Feminism and it made sense, and then Elevatorgate happened. After that I was full on feminist and with the move to Freethoughtblogs I found yours and all the others blogs here. You, Jen, PZ, Ophelia, and all the others who talk about feminism and Social Justice have clarified what it means to be decent human being, and for that I am forever grateful.

  91. ines says

    Before I discovered FTB:

    I was an atheist. I still am. I just learned to question my way of thinking, to examine my (lack of) belief.

    I was a feminist. I still am. I just learned to recognize sexism in its many varied forms, and in my own thoughts and acts.

    I was a humanist. I still am. I just learned to stand up for marginalized groups instead of disdaining racists, xenophobes, ageists, ableists etc. quietly in my thoughts. And learned to recognize the patterns of racism, xenophobia, ageism, ableism etc. in my own thoughts and acts.

    I was a misandrist. I no longer am. If this network of blogs has taught me one thing, it is that not all men are assholes. Mostly thanks to PZ and Jason, but also due to all the commenters who didn’t turn into raging misogynists as soon as a topic turned even remotely feminist.

    I learned so much here. Thank you.

  92. says

    SheerDistaste:
    If you are reading, my feelings echo Greta’s. Thank you for not only being willing to change, but also for refusing to keep your eyes closed AND for sharing with everyone.
    ____

    re: Greta’s call to feminists

    My interest began during a period of withdrawl from everyone and everything following the death of my best friend. I recall seeing Michelle Bachmann on CNN spout something about the US being a christian nation one night. My initial reaction was that she was lying. But for the first time in memory, I stopped and wondered if I was right. I thought I was, but how could I be sure.

    Now, prior to this, I was an atheist. I came to that position using logic and reason. But I was not a skeptic. I knew nothing of freethinking. I did not even know what ‘secular’ meant. But something clicked in me and I decided to verify my gut feelings.

    I felt rather inept bc I dropped out of college in ’97, I am 38 now, and did not know how to search for accurate info online. With some assistance, I learned how to better search for info, and how to double and triple check info that I found.

    Emboldened by this newfound confidence, I started looking up all manner of topics: atheism, supplements, folk remedies, and more. I came across Quackwatch, the Skeptics Annotated Bible, Why god doesnt heal amputees, The Skeptics Dictionary and more. It was through this last one, IIRC that I somehow stumbled here.

    Here, here. As in Greta’s blog. Reading her old posts became a joy…something I looked forward to when I got off work. The clarity, the arguments, the passion…it was all so new, so amazing and so awesome to see someone lay things out so sensibly.

    From there, I branched out to various FtB bloggers, and found Pharyngula was a place I kept coming back to. I lurked a while before posting, and made the mistake of tone trolling with my first comment. Aquaria set me straight in a blunt, but polite manner (the latter I did not deserve). That resulted in lurking more. Clicking links. Thinking hard.

    I do not know when I started paying attention to feminist issues. “Guys don’t do that” had been uttered, but I knew nothing of it. I think I was avoiding it. Nothing that interested me. But then something curious happened.

    Actually, the trainwreck known as Thunderf00t burst onto the scene. Reading his first posts, and many of the comments, I started gaining an understanding of sexism, sexual harassment, rape culture and rape apology. This was a turning point for me. I started reading more articles about feminism. I started reading links to understand rape culture. My eyes were opening and so much of what I saw in the world was horrific.

    Looking back on my childhood, I had a degree of empathy for other living creatures. I did not want to step on frogs or ants, and would try to avoid doing so. I stood up for others occassionally in high school. Entering the workforce at 16, I often was someone people would lean on, to tell personal stories. Empathy has come fairly natural to me my whole life.

    I have never been the victim of sexual assault, but reading peoples stories and seeing statistics just horrified me. They still do. They horrified me bc the pain and suffering so many people have gone through was always my first thought.

    Around this time I started commenting more at Pharyngula. But I still refrained from speaking on subjects I knew little about. That changed as time went on. I began to speak up in favor of womens equality. I learned about gendered slurs and why they were wrong to use. I also began to understand patriarchy and kyriarchy. I saw the oppression of other queers like myself and how that intersected with other axis of oppression. Moreover, I started recognizing the culture at Pharyngula. I saw people standing up for my rights, for the rights of people with mental and physical disabilities, for womens rights, and so much more. I saw PZ Myers consistently standing up for the rights of the oppressed, despite the fact that he had so much privilege.

    This led to an increase in speaking out…not just about queer related issues, but other issues of social justice. I realized they were connected. I also began to join threads discussing rape and abortion. Isdues of consent and bodily autonomy began concerning me greatly. I also noticed that I was paying attention to politics much more. My social awareness was increasing. I also began to notice people around me. Not in the silly “I like to people watch” way, but more serious. How people interacted. How people spoke to one another. I started seeing everyday sexism.

    From there, the floodgates were just about opened.

    The last push I needed happened last year.

    In one of the many threads at Pharyngula about rape, Caine made a comment about men needing to speak up when other men engaged in rape apologetics. “Men sometimes listen to other men, rather than women” she said.

    That last little bit was all it took. From there, I proudly, and loudly embraced feminism. I am not in the best place financially, so despite a desire to be more involved in activism, I am limited at the moment. That has not stopped me from discussing isdues of rape, consent, patriarchy, rape culture and ingrained sexism. I work at a restaurant and have discussed these topics with many of the employees there.
    They know I am gay.
    They (mostly) know I am an atheist.

    And they know I am a feminist.

    And I am damn proud to be one.

  93. says

    Tom Foss @27:
    I know exactly what you mean about discussing these issues. I find myself trying not to constantly discuss this stuff around friends and coworkers, but to be honest, I do not tire of discussing feminism, racism, transphobia, homophobia and the like.
    My Facebook status updates over the last year are almost all related to various social justice issues

    I wish I had more meatspace friends who share my passion.

  94. Danielle St. John says

    Like so many other feminists, I spend a lot of my time angry. Angry that film and TV, things I’m wicked nerdy about and the very field in which I am hoping to find success, perpetuate these awful stereotypes. Angry that so few people even see it. Angry, sometimes, that I do, and am therefore even more angry because the friggin’ writers ruined a PERFECTLY GOOD MOVIE with one moment where they chose to take the “easy” way, making the one female in a group of men be the one that falls to her knees and sheds a tear. UUUGGGGHHH

    But y’know what? In the same way that if I were in a relationship with someone and I would want to know if they were mad at me, I am content that I have taken off the blinders. As she said in the article, the red pill is bitter and hard to swallow, but I’d rather know. I’d rather the ugly truth than the beautiful lie. Attitudes and beliefs built on beautiful lies are the reason society has gotten so far away from the point; it’s time to get things back on a better path.

  95. deadkennedy says

    Ive never commented on Ftb but registered just to support SheerDistaste.
    I always thought of myself as “woman friendly” but its only since elevatorgate that I have really come to understand the shit that women are still going through.
    I am now proud to call myself a 90% feminist , and for that 10% I apologist and promise to keep reading and learning.

  96. silverfeather says

    Just wanted to add my voice to the chorus.
    Before Elevatorgate I was one of those feminists who thought that we in America were in the final stages of wiping out misogyny. Certainly there wasn’t any within my chosen family of skeptic atheists. I mean, those guys are RATIONAL. Plus they know what it feels like to be discriminated against, so they are bound to really want to be fair minded right? You know how it went from there.

    But a funny thing happened over the course of my massive disappointment and righteous outrage. After lurking and reading links on the A+ forums I actually started learning about the Social Justice movement (you call it the 101 stuff)… stuff I had thought I already understood from an empathetic perspective… and my worldview got shattered/expanded. I’d never heard of privilege. I certainly didn’t think I HAD any.

    I was so wrong. I look back on some of the things I’ve said and done with a new lens and realize that sometimes I am a complete ass.

    I want to thank every one of you that has slogged through the venom and the threats, the tone policing and the JAQing off, the flat out endless supply of heartbreaking BULLSHIT on the interwebs – and within our OWN movement – to scream the truth so that people like me had the opportunity to hear it. I’ve always been interested in being the best person I can be. You gave me a whole new perspective on what that means, and a whole lot to work on.

    Thank you.

  97. says

    Hi, it was just the same for me.
    Reading feminist articles used to make me angry at feminists for overreacting that much, but it was a defensive state of mind because I felt picked on and told off on my own bullshit – even as a woman. Understanding took a lot of reading!; i wish everyone could be confronted to this kind of readings until they GET IT.
    It’s hard realizing you can be a sexist, racist, transphobic etc.person, and people take it the worst way possible when you tell them they sometimes are because of what they say, It takes a lot of re-questioning yourself and realizing you’re just being ignorant and not hateful in nature, and simply stopping using some offensive words and understanding why they’re offensive can make the difference between you being an ableist asshole or a tolerant person trying to make themself a safe place for everyone around them.
    I wish more people continue to write about these issues. I wish I could make people understand when I tell them off, before they yell at me “WHAT I’M NOT SEXIST IT HURTS ME YOU WOULD SAY SO”. I hope I could save them the steps I had to go through by sharing my experience with them but it doesn’t seem to work that way….

  98. nonserviam says

    I was the same way. Coming from a religious background (and now an atheist), it was part of that transition. My eyes opened up and many of my views on social issues started changing. Like SheerDistaste, it was really frustrating for me. For multiple reasons. Mostly, to see how blind I had been the whole time, and also how anti-feminism is so prevalent and how so many of these terrible views are so ingrained into our society in regards to women’s rights, gay rights, ableism, etc. When I was changing, none of my friends were, and none of them really have much. I think maybe slightly, because I do tend to share my distaste for their jokes sometimes, or will interject something when I don’t feel things are going in an appropriate direction. It’s frustrating to not see anyone else changing along with me, but I shouldn’t have expected any different, I suppose. I have made some new friends or gotten back in touch with some long lost friends that share my views now so that does help.

    It’s actually quite aggravating how much misogyny exists even in the atheist community. But we have to remember that every group has it to some extent, and the only thing atheists have in common is their lack of belief- it doesn’t mean they necessarily are skeptics or reasonable in other parts of their life. The reasons people have for their atheism range from very rational to very irrational reasons. I was just hoping for more, I guess.

    It’s quite easy to ignore all of this going on around you when you’re a privileged white Christian (well not now) male, and you’re brought up in a religion that teaches gender roles and really treats women as property. Now my life is like a 180 compared to my past. I can’t believe I ever lived how I did, so ignorant to everything. Reality sure can be depressing. Ignorance might be bliss for the individual, but it’s detrimental to everyone else as a whole. I’m so glad that my eyes have been opened now.

    I hope we as a society can learn to be less reactionary, maybe taking a mindfulness approach to conversations about typically “controversial” topics. Just the word “feminism” sets people off sometimes, and I hate that. I understand why it happens, as anti-feminists have successfully given it a bad name… I just wish it was easier to make people see the light. The media and other influences really try to polarize us, when it doesn’t have to be that way. We all have nuanced political views, and we should be able to openly and civilly discuss our social views. Of course, let me be clear, when it comes to women’s rights and gay rights- I am of the opinion that these issues don’t have “two sides”. I find opinions based on religion invalid, therefore there is only one side to be on and that is in support of human rights. Opposing human rights may be an opinion, but it should not be allowed equal footing just because we like to have “two sides to everything” now.

    To even think that years ago I used to laugh at or encourage jokes about women’s roles (the kitchen, etc) makes me sick to my stomach. I’m sorry I ever contributed to views that I now see were clearly anti-women and anti-equality. It took me a long time to break out of what I was brought up in (these were common things in Christian school, such as gay slurs and things about gender roles and such).

    Thank you, general atheist/feminist internet community for having information available on the web, and groups and communities everywhere (Tumblr in my case) that really helped me during my transition to atheism and for challenging my social views. You all were certainly a significant part in causing change in me.

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