Michael Nugent has been accused of being “bullied or cajoled” into his support for women in the atheist movement. It’s strange that people think a small group of bloggers have that much power and influence, and it’s also obvious that anyone making that accusation doesn’t know Nugent at all. So he has written a post denying that he has been pressured, and repeating the seriousness of the problem.
There is also the wider context of sexism in general. If we as men faced this pattern of sick online abuse simply because of our gender, I suspect that we would urgently take action to tackle the problem. If we fail to take the same action when women face this problem, our inaction reinforces prejudice and discrimination against women generally. We may not mean to do that, and we may not even be aware of it, but the impact of our inaction remains the same.
Tackling sexism is a complex problem, with no magic answers. We should rigorously analyze the extent of sexism in our communities, both online and offline, and we should test and refine the best ways to eradicate it. But we must not deny that it exists, or reinforce it with prejudice and discrimination. Instead we should actively work to create inclusive, safe and supportive communities, in which we can live together as equals, regardless of our race, gender, sexuality or ability levels.
And we should work together on this so that, ultimately, we never again have a fifteen year old atheist girl excitedly posting online about her Christmas present of a Carl Sagan book, then reading crude comments about adult men wanting to have sex with her, and having to respond: “Dat feel when you’ll never be taken seriously in the atheist/ scientific/ political/ whatever community because you’re a girl. :c ”
I can tell you why he takes this position, though: because he is a decent human being. That also tells you what I think of the people who oppose this new emphasis on equality in the atheist/skeptic movements.