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Dec 30 2011

More pushback against systemic misogyny within our respective communities

I’m sure you’ve seen quite a few of the posts that have sprung up about Freethought Blogs lately in the wake of Rebeccapocalypse 2. Posts like Greta Christina’s “Why ‘Yes But’ Is the Wrong Response to Misogyny” or Maryam Namazie’s “We are not an atheist community”. Excellent conversation abounds, but I do hope you’re looking at trackbacks and such. Otherwise, you’re missing conversation elsewhere. Here’s two you should read.

Elyse Anders posts a Skepchick Afternoon Inquisition called “Why chicks gotta be so dumb?

Here at Skepchick we take on all kinds of controversial topics. We talk about alt med, Scientology, Shamwows and Twilight, feminism, diversity, insect eating, the Pope, Intelligent Design, grief, Santa Claus, GLBT issues…

But something strange happened this year. Suddenly we were faced with the reality that we had been playing it safe for years. We had yet to unleash the fury of truly divided and emotionally charged topics like elevator etiquette and not threatening to rape kids. Until this summer, I thought I was all brave and shit for taking on the anti-vaccine movement. Turns out, I’m a bore who plays it safe.

Sasha Pixlee asks if the greater atheist communities suffer from “A conspiracy of crybabies or the comfortable shelter of apathy?

We have all heard the many, many incidents of sexist and misogynist attitudes and actions women report experiencing at our meetings and online. We have numerous examples of prominent male skeptics and atheists exhibiting behaviors that many women say make them feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. I believe that what we choose to do with these facts speaks volumes about who we are as individuals and as a community. The response from men seems to break down as follows:

  1. Oh my lord, I never realized how bad things are. What can I do to help change this terrible problem?
  2. I’m not a sexist and anyway I know those people you are complaining about and I’m sure there has to be a less horrible explanation. Plus, even if this is true it’s just a few bad apples and shouldn’t reflect on us as a group.
  3. Those bitches are crazy feminazi whores. No one would ever want to fuck them and they just want attention. I’m a skeptic. I think critically. Everyone knows women are less rational than men and they should just shut the fuck up and stop causing problems. Also, tits.

We don’t have a single unified community, we inhabit a gigantic Venn diagram where atheism overlaps greatly with humanism, which is in turn practically identical to the set of people who count themselves as feminists. It’s possible to be an atheist and not give a shit about women, just like it’s possible to be an atheist and believe in Ouija boards. Being an atheist does not mean you’re right about everything — just look at Bill Maher, who doesn’t believe in the germ theory of disease. But dammit, when we make our own communities, we have every right to say “if you want to participate, you need to shout down the misogynists when you see them.”

The fact that so many people on Reddit have looked at this instance of a fifteen year old girl getting rape threats for posting her picture and are outraged, is heartening. Those people may see this as a problem, and make r/atheism a safe place for women to be. Then again, they may not — the trolls may win, and women might only henceforth participate if they keep their genders secret, entrenching the misogyny. We agitate because we want a closely allied community to take the more humanist path, but they are not us. If you want to watch a fifteen year old girl get told that “blood is nature’s lubricant” and shrug, then you might be welcome there depending on how this fight goes… but you’re damn well not welcome here.

3 comments

2 pings

  1. 1
    VeritasKnight

    For some reason, your last statement kinda reminds me of this story I read in 20th Century Lit. I’m damned if I can remember the name and the author, but basically, in the future, the gender of the child could be chosen and the child could be fertilized in an artificial womb – as a result, there were almost no women left, and those who were left masqueraded as men, which entrenched the idea that there were no women, so who would have female children…etc.

  2. 2
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Sasha forgot

    2a. I’m really against misogyny, but this isn’t it. This is just a bunch of kids on the Internet that don’t know any better (and YouTube/4chan/World of Warcraft is worse). Believe me, when I see some real misogyny, I’ll be the first to criticize it. Being whiny and complaining about all this just makes you look bad and does nothing for the cause. Oh, and Rebecca Watson is over reacting again. Bitch.

    (There’s also a 1a: those who think this particular instance is really bad and say they want to help, but when you pointed out a slightly less egregious example last week, they were quick to take the 2 or 2a position, and thus fail to actually help to the degree it’s needed.)

  3. 3
    evilDoug

    and as an example of 2a., as Ibis3 notes, we have
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2011/12/29/why-yes-but-is-the-wrong-response-to-misogyny/#comment-49067

  1. 4
    Females Are Not welcome in the Atheist Community | The X Blog

    [...] there was this, this, this, this, this, and this. I’d give you more detail on that but I’ve gotta get [...]

  2. 5
    The Atheist Movement is Full of Misogynists » Oolon's Dumping Ground

    [...] Of course my own example was the nearest  http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2011/12/30/more-pushback-against-systemic-misogyny-within-ou… [...]

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