Females, especially younger women and girls, are not as welcome in the Atheist Community as are men. There are indeed many women who are atheists, and many of those are quite active. But to be a woman active in the atheist community, two things are almost always, I think, true: 1) You are not allowed to forget that you’re a woman before you’re an atheist, and not in a good way but in a stereotyped, sexualized, objectified and exploited way; and 2) one of your main jobs as an activist, blogger, writer, or speaker, may very well be dealing with sexism not only generally but in your particular field of interest as well.
I would not have thought this necessary but I was wrong. A “Community” is like a neighborhood. Pertinent to the present discussion, no matter how many female-welcoming (or even indifferent) people live there, and no how many non sexist, non misogynist, pro-feminist, female-friendly places, subgroups, places to go or places to be or things to do there may be in that neighborhood, if many of the street corners and parks and other public spaces are habitually occupied by groups of dick-headed immature women hating misogynists who harass and bother and abuse any women that show up in that neighborhood, then the neighborhood is not welcoming to women. A community is like a neighborhood, and our community (of atheists or skeptics) is a lot like that neighborhood I just described.
And what I’m saying here applies as well to the Skeptical Community, quite possibly because the Atheist and Skeptics communities have quite a bit of overlap.
I have proof of that last point: That female atheists address issues related to sex and sexism more than men. I looked at the last three substantive (i.e., not a random YouTube clip) posts of all the male bloggers at FTB.com and the last six of all the female bloggers (there are so many more male bloggers that I was worried about sample size) and categorized them. Here’s the chart I came up with:
I don’t assume that women are doing relatively more sexism related blogging becuase they are women per se, but rather, because they are reminded constantly that this is an issue, to a larger extent than are men. Which is why this is an issue.
We commend the cuttlefish for being so even tentacled in treatment of different topics.
This observation about not being welcome is brought into sharp focus by the recent treatment of a young freethinking female about the age of my daughter who put a picture of herself holding a book by Carl Sagan, with a caption indicating that her religious mother had given her this book, on the atheist redeit forum.
The name of the book was The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark And indeed, it turns out that reddit is the demon haunted world! As you know by now if you read any of the blogs on this network that she was verbally abused numerous times by the sophomoric testosterone driven scum that call themselves men who make up an unknown but not small enough percentage of our community.
You may also know by now that Rebecca Watson wrote a blog post about this, and then, of course, Rebecca became the object of verbal abuse by the usual subjects.
When all that happened, I was disturbed and annoyed and I planned a blog post. Part of that blog post was the chart I provide above. The rest of the post is lost, in two ways: 1) In the malarial ague of several days bed ridden, half conscious, barely cognizant of reality. Well, OK, I had a bad cold and was on facebook alot, but you get the picture … and 2) Everybody else said all the stuff I wudda said but better.
So in homage to my colleagues, Rebecca started off the critique of the patrislime with this: REDDIT MAKES ME HATE ATHEISTS and she was mad because as you can see it is in all caps. Blag Hag tossed out a short and timely comment. PZ Myers (Pharyngula) was even shorter. Ed Brayton expressed something most of us felt and gave up on his own gender. Johhn Loftus spoke up In Defense of Rebecca Watson. Ophelia Benson went to the hardware store and got some disinfectant.
Jason wrote a post that ended up being one of the hubs for this conversation.
Justin Griffith wrote a post called “A nuclear exchange with the USSR could have looked like this” which I honestly thought was about this reddit maneno, but it wasn’t. It was about, well, a nuclear exchange with the USSR and what it would have looked like.
Stephanie Zvan talked about “Hate Atheists” … that fragment of the phrase Rebecca used to title her post. Greta Christina chimed in with a post titled “Why “Yes, But” Is the Wrong Response to Misogyny” which has had over 700 comments so far, though if I know this community I suspect (but I’m only guessing here) that there were several hundred trollish misogynist verbal attacks from the usual suspects which were summarily deleted. PZ Myers then chimed in again to point out that this whole thing is a conspiracy by us to get more page views, or something.
Mike Haubrich just posted an expose of an actual example of an actual atheist community actually attempting to be more welcoming to women in a way that demonstrated how good intentions must be carried out with more consideration and skill than often happens.
JT Eberhard agreed with Greta. Maryam Namazie problemetized the concept of the atheist community rather brilliantly, and Christina, who has stayed out of this until now, stopped staying out of it.
I talked about this incident with my daughter and she more or less shrugged it off, and suggested that by now the girl on reddit probably has too. And in fact, that may well be true. But that is not a “Yeah but” situation. Here’s the thing. If you are a guy (talking to the guys here) and some chick on the internet says, like, “Hey, tell me all about how you want to fuck me” that does not really mean (from your persepctive, not hers …. I’m talking to and about you) that it is perfectly OK (especially on a public forum like Reddit where other people are busy being evolved humans) if you then proceed to discuss your sex organs, her orifaces, and various actions, acts and activities.
A woman can not give you her permission to rape or abuse her physically or verbally. If she does say something you interpret this way (and it may well be sincere) and you follow through, you are just as wrong as if you carried out your abuse without being “egged on” or “tempted” or “told it was OK.” And if all she does is to show you a books she read, then you really should behave better than you tend to. Do you understand this?
No, I didn’t think so. So, I can make it even simpler for you if you like. When it comes to dickish moronic behavior like we’ve seen in this case … (click the Play button on the video)