Silence is seen as approval

Doctor NerdLove also talks about the bullying of women in geek culture.

Cold hard fact: geek culture has a problem with women. We have shown it time and time again. Tess Fowler. Anita Sarkeesian. Mattie Bryce. Zoe Quinn. Lea Hernandez. Colleen Doran. Gail Simone. Kate Leth. Laura Hudson. Jennifer Hepler. Alice Mercier.Courtney Stanton. Elizabeth Sampat.

Whenever the subject of how women are treated in geek culture comes up, people will immediately rush to dismiss and diminish and derail the conversation. They will argue that everyone takes shit online. Or that women just need to learn to grow a thicker skin because this is how the big boys do it. There will be people who want to say “it’s important to note that guys get this too!” or rush to complain that it’s not all men who do this. They will want to play “devil’s advocate” or complain that they don’t harass women so it’s unfair for people to bring it up because it’s “tarring men with a broad brush” or maligning otherwise well-meaning dudes so just shut up about it already because it’s not really a problem anyway because theirfriend is totally a woman and is cool with this shit and never gets threatened.

And so on and so on, and it’s all bullshit.

Because when people rush to qualify how it’s “not all men” or “it’s not a problem”, it’s a way of distracting from the two real issues at hand.

First: that it’s directed at women specifically because they are women. I write a lotabout feminist issues. I even have my own dedicated haters who crop up in the comments to complain every time I talk about anything smacking of feminism. And not only do I not get even a hundredth of the shit that Asselin has – or Lea Hernandez or Kate Leth or any of the other women I’ve mentioned earlier – but I’ve never had rape threats directed at me. Nor have 99% of the high-profile male writers and bloggers who cover the same issues. Nor do any of us get the same volume of violent threats. Or the stalkers. Or the harassment. Because for women, this doesn’t just stay on the Internet. It follows them  everywhere.

The second is that when people argue or derail the conversation about it, they’re trying to distract from the fact women are being threatened in order to shut them up. To make them go away. To chase them away from the community entirely. The “Beat Anita Sarkeesian” game wasn’t about refuting her arguments, it was about making the scary woman who (they think) is going to rob them of their gaming T&A go away. The harassment that Zoe Quinn faced for her game Depression Quest was because people wanted to make her stop talking. Jennifer Hepler had her children threatened because people didn’t like what she had to say about Dragon’s Age 2, a game she helped write. Janelle Asselin gets rape threats for criticizing a comic book cover. Kate Leth – an outspoken critic of the casual harassment and misogyny in geek culture – gets targeted by men who are determined to “punish” her for… making comics they don’t like.

Hating and bullying women is the cool thing. How did that happen?

Doctor goes on to say that just not bullying isn’t enough, because silence just enables the bullying.

…just “not being that guy” isn’t enough. If you don’t want to be tarred with the same brush as the cancerous assholes who target the women in our community, you need to speak up. Because this isn’t women’s problem. This is a man’s problem. It’s men who are the cause and it’s men who can and need to be the solution.

Because our silence is enabling them. Our silence is seen as approval. It’s validating their shitty behavior because nobody is speaking up against them.

And that is true in the community of atheists and skeptics, too.

See, we have the platform. We have the voice. We have the male privilege that says male voices have more impact, that we aren’t dismissed as easily. And we need to use it. We have to be the ones who make geek culture a place where this sort of toxic hate and abuse of women is unacceptable. Do not let this behavior go unremarked. Push back against idea that belittling, harassing or abusing women is somehow a masculine virtue, that it’s acceptable because “Internet, lulz” or “guys just being guys”. Marginalize these people. Isolate them. Excise them from the community – we don’t need them, we sure as shit don’t want them.

Atheists and skeptics please note.



  1. says

    Hah! But atheists and skeptics are totes specialer because I, a man, have received rape threats.

    But only once I started supporting feminism.

  2. fhdauhfiosf says

    “I’m an intelligent liberal man, how DARE you accuse me of tacitly supporting sexism, that’s extremely offensive and is a total derailing of the argument, you know!”

  3. sobkas says

    It’s hard to criticize your own community, fear of being rejected by it might be problematic.
    But on the other hand, fact that You can’t express what you think in it, shows that you are already marginalized. So, in the worse case scenario nothing of the value will be lost.

  4. dmcclean says

    It’s awful.

    I’ve moved out of the software industry and into more of mechanical engineering/industrial control engineering and if anything it is even worse.

    I am trying really hard to get more young women involved with the local high school’s robotics team that I mentor. I will say that I’ve never overheard one of the kids abusing another, and that the general culture around the events with regard to both feminism and other aspects of ethics is phenomenally good. It’s actually staggering sometimes.

    But the attitude that “it’s more of a guy thing” is really entrenched among some of the parents, teachers, and mentors. I’ve had talks with several people about this.

    By that age it has had a very strong influence on the young women themselves. The resulting segregation is disheartening.

    It’s entirely possible that they are abusive towards one another when I’m not around. And it’s a certainty that some non-participants are abusive toward the participants about their participation, in a way that is much more abusive towards the young women than it is towards the young men. But since my involvement is outside school hours I don’t directly observe that, and it probably happens largely when teachers aren’t in the room to call it out.

  5. johnthedrunkard says

    Of course, men are being ‘tarred.’ But not by feminists. Pulling the fire alarm is not the same as being an arsonist.

    There are REAL fires being set. The men setting them are truly deranged and dangerous,and no ‘real man’ should waste a single breath on fake ‘brotherhood’ with these vermin.

    But not ‘walking past’ isn’t really enough. How many men really see the roiling hatred that these pigs show to the women they want to silence and intimidate? We aren’t getting rape threats, even CCd.

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