We don’t have to go looking

Amanda Marcotte is amusing about Sam Harris and his tantrum about horrid people saying he said something sexist and wrong and silly.

Nah, he can’t be wrong. He’s Sam Harris! And so he’s going to drown us in words to show how mean we are to criticize him about his suggestion that being female makes us less critical and ugh, getting a headache now. Let’s just get into it. His response is titled, “I’m Not the Sexist Pig You’re Looking For“. Indeed, as his comments showed, we don’t have to go looking for sexist pigs, as they happen to fall right in our laps. I would like, in fact, for sexist pigs to quit falling in my lap, honestly.

Exactly. He accused me of going looking for it, but not at all – I happened to see it (on Facebook, because someone posted the link – that’s a thing that can happen), and when I saw it, I saw that it was bad, and I responded to it. That’s all. No need to go sniffing for truffles.

He starts with saying the “estrogen vibe” thing was a joke. Okay, but that doesn’t change the fact that he suggested being good at the “critical posture” is inherently male, something you’d think that he would have learned is completely false in the days after this quote. Then this:

And when I shifted to speaking about atheists as a group, I was referring to active atheists—that is, the sort of people who go to atheist conferences, read atheist books, watch atheists debate pastors on YouTube, or otherwise rally around atheism as a political identity. I was not talking about everyone on Earth who doesn’t believe in God.

Yep, a lot more male than female atheists are active about it. This should be considered evidence not that women are less critical—they are just as likely to come to the conclusion that there is no god as men—but that there’s….something….unappealing about organized atheism. Perhaps the swiftness [with] which women are treated like biologically inferior helpmeets might have something to do with it?

Or even a lot to do with it? I know I’m feeling very wary of organized atheism and organized atheists right now.

…the acerbic tone that offends him so greatly that he goes into italics-bonanza mode should suggest perhaps that he is not as masculine and tough and women are not as soft and receding as he thinks. On average, even. Also, the reason a lot of women hated Hitchens is Hitchens thought we were inferior by dint of biology. I find that offensive whether you say it gently or say it acerbically. It’s the content, not the tone. Or, as the calm, rational manly man Harris would write, it’s the content, not the tone.

Or sometimes it’s both.

I gotta go. The manly atheists have worn me out today.


  1. says

    Women not paying attention to “things you think are important”…..are often not there -because as women we are still pulling the second shift. Women with families do not actually have a lot of extra time on their hands. That’s a non-sexist explanation about why we aren’t jet setting around the world to cons playing activist. And explains why a large chunk are not present.

    We don’t have the luxury. We are home taking care of the home, the parents, the kids etc…

  2. says

    Shorter Sam: “Just because I believe a lot of things that are sexist (here, I’ll list them for you) it doesn’t mean I’m a sexist. So untwist your knickers, ladies.”

    I’m glad we have all these manly atheodudes to demonstrate to the world that no, being an atheist/humanist/skeptic doesn’t confer enhanced social awareness or superior moral function any more than being a Christian does.

    Like, really fucking glad.

  3. says

    I wonder if Harris is going to bother to read, much less attempt to understand, the points that Marcotte makes. Because, ya know, unlike those people with the “estrogen vibe” going, he’s all open to valid critiques of his comments, and stuff, right?

  4. Blanche Quizno says

    I’ve previously made the same point CityzenJane is making – these events are not known for providing child care or for being scheduled at a time when women who have dependent children can make it. Child care still overwhelmingly falls on the children’s mothers, as does most of the housework and other chores required to keep the household running. Additionally, many mothers of dependent children are now also caring for aging parents. Where do they get the time to run off to atheists’ meetings??

    Considering how many women in the 20-60 age group are all tangled up with caring for children and making sure their needs are met, it astonishes me that this explanation for the relative dearth of women in this age group doesn’t seem to occur to these luminaries of the atheist/secular movements, who seem to feel that women in this age group won’t show unless the entire venue is decorated in fluffy pink, with breakout hug sessions.

    Do none of these atheist/skeptic men have children? Do none of them have children in the dependent age range? If so, then how could they not be aware of WHO is obviously staying at home taking care of THEIR children while they’re off manning the conventions and whatnot in true manly style? And if not, do they not even *know* men who have families??

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