Over at Skepchick, another leader in the skeptical community has responded to Surly Amy’s question. This time, it’s Dale McGowan, Executive Director of Foundation Beyond Belief. It is a great essay, and you really should go over to Skepchick and give the whole thing a read, but here’s the nail being driven home if you’re pressed for time:
For the past year I’ve been shaking my head in sick disbelief at the abuse many women in the freethought movement are getting, but I’ve stayed silent. I’m not talking about the discussion of gender and privilege itself, which (to my surprise) still needs to happen in some depth, but at the insane, hateful attacks, including literal threats of rape and murder, that are raining down on the Skepchicks and others taking part in that important discussion.
Silently shaking my head does nothing. The women under this kind of attack can’t hear my head rattling, so they can only assume I don’t care, when I actually care deeply. I think it’s the difficulty of putting this massive, deranged genie back in the bottle that keeps so many of us quiet. But that’s a poor excuse that only keeps the victims feeling isolated and besieged.
Fortunately I don’t have to deal with the whole genie to do something useful. I don’t have to go back to the elevator and work my way forward, defending and countering and challenging and apologizing and repairing my way down to the present. I can start right here and now by saying out loud that violence and threats of violence – physical, verbal, emotional – are completely out of bounds, no matter what the topic, no matter what your opinion. They don’t speak for me, not one tiny bit, and they don’t belong anywhere near the rational community we imagine ourselves to be. Once we establish that, we can begin to pull the lessons of the late 20th century forward – none of this is new ground, after all – and have this important discussion.
The bolding of the middle paragraph there is mine. Because that is exactly where I was two weeks ago. I wasn’t blogging when “elevatorgate” happened, but I followed the story, understood Rebecca’s point, and didn’t think much of it. When the backlash hit, I was disgusted by the outpouring of blatant misogyny. I may have commented on a thread over at Skepchick stating my support. I don’t remember for sure, but I signed up there around then. I created a folder in my bookmarks called “Stuff that pisses me off” where I stuck links to some of the worst of the hate, to deal with if I started blogging again. But in the end, all I did was sit there silently shaking my head.
And as Dale says, if that’s all I do, no one can hear my head rattling.
Thanks Amy, not only for asking this question, but for all the work you and the other Skepchicks do. I’m through agreeing with you only silently.
It’s time we all speak up.
Dale McGowan; another skeptical/atheist leader I just gained a ton of respect for.