Over on the RH Reality Check podcast this week, host Amanda Marcotte interviews Stephanie Zvan of the Almost Diamonds blog (which is far from her only claim to fame in the atheist/skeptical community) about the continuing problem the atheist/skeptical community has with sexual harassment, harassment in general, and internet tough guying directed towards any woman who has the nerve to object to being seen as first and foremost a potential sex partner when attending skeptical events, blogging, or even just commenting on message boards.
It gives a quick overview of the problem, and then talks about progress made, setbacks, and where to go from here. They talk about the strategy of “naming and shaming” the harassers, resorted to because of the apathy and in some cases outright hostility of some organizations when asked to institute harassment policies to protect women attendees. (Let it be known that I am a big proponent of the “name and shame” strategy. If you are a victim of harassment and have evidence, I am more than willing to help shame the living fuck out of these privilege dripping asshats.) They talk about the “slimepit” and the organized twitter group that attack any feminist who dares “invade” “their” movement, and the logic free arguments put forth by these Men’s Rights Atheists and skeptics.
I have to say that I am disgusted that we need to have an interview like this in 2013 regarding the atheist and skeptical movement. When “elevatorgate” took place and the backlash against Rebecca Watson for daring to suggest that hitting on a woman in a deserted elevator at 3 am may not be the most respectful thing to do started, I was in total shock at the anti-Rebecca (and anti-woman) bullshit that kept popping up, especially from some people that I had respected. Many true colors were exposed over this issue. I know that I stopped listening to certain podcasts over their reaction to it (a certain skit on Irreligiosophy that I am willing to bet was written by the old co-host sticks in my mind as one example. I know after listening to it the first time, I restarted it to make sure I heard it correctly, and then immediately unsubscribed from the podcast.) stopped reading certain blogs over it, and stopped respecting a bunch of people over it. (I will say that now that Leighton is no longer on Irreligiosophy, I have listened to it again. The direction that Chuck has taken it isn’t for me. I still listen when I run out of things to listen to, but it isn’t a priority. Not that I am criticizing Chuck over this, just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean he isn’t doing exactly what he wants to. Believe me, I know he isn’t recording the podcast to please me.)
I was surprised at how much the atheist and skeptical community was an “old boys club” and equally surprised at how much resistance to change is instilled in it. I know that the science fiction and tech worlds are also experiencing the same issues. Interviews like this one are important if only to draw attention to the problem. Women are not coming into the skeptical movement to fulfill your sexual fantasy. They are entering the movement because they are skeptics and atheists. Now that the movement is growing, and the internet and social media is making it easier than ever to find others of like mind, we need to abandon old tropes such as “women aren’t logical enough to be atheists” or that “women are so overcome by their emotions that they need woo in their lives” and realize that any truth to these stereotypes has more to do with the roles women were forced into over the past centuries than actual biology.
So go and listen to the interview of Stephanie Zvan by Amanda Marcotte here, and then get out there and smack down the first Men’s Rights Atheist you come across.
On a personal note, posting here is a bit sporadic during the summer months due to my hobby, which is hiking and lightweight backpacking. As it gets colder in PA, the posts come with more regularity. That being said, things may be a little bit weird here for the next few days. My work schedule is changing to Monday thru Friday, resulting in a very strange schedule for this week as I switch over to the new schedule. I plan on spending this weekend deep in the woods seeing how close I can get to an elk, so there won’t be any posts starting Friday morning through the weekend, and then instead of having Monday and Tuesday off I will be working, so I am not sure how my body is going to react to that. Gotta love third shift.
I’ll try to post something for the beginning of the week, if not on Sunday, even if it is just some pictures from the hike. And I’ll see if I can get a few posts up tomorrow so you have something to read.