I know we've had already several discussions about misogyny in the atheism movement, at least I remember clearly the very long discussion we had about "Elevator Gate," possibly the most polite and rational discussion I have seen about misogyny in the atheism community (at least, in the English-speaking atheism community). I was reluctant to bring this new storm up, basically because I do get tired of "Yes, but..." type of answers, they make me lose a little bit of faith in humanity. And I don't mean "faith" as in belief in the absence of evidence", but as in "confidence", and "trust". Briefly, a 15 year old girl proudly posted a picture of herself (her smiling face only) holding her very religious mom's Xmas gift to her: a copy of the book "The Demon Haunted World" by Carl Sagan. Nice! A sign that her mom is respecting her daughter's position and even stimulating her to read interest stuff by a prominent scientist and freethinker. All is good. But, no, she was immediately assaulted with comments about her appearance, and what the various losers in that forum would like to do to her various orifices (read this post if you are interested in the very lewd, violent details, if you feel an urge to get your stomach turned). When somebody points out she is 15, well, the jerks continue by saying that in some countries 15 is legal, and that in any case it is her fault for posting a picture of her face, not just the book! According to these guys, this is a sign of female stupidity because guys would have photographed just the book cover, not their faces! (of course, several picture immediately brought up pictures of humans looking very much like males, holding copies of books they got as presents or they love!).
So way to go, guys! A young girl becomes an atheist, wants to join the discussion, and instead of feeling welcome, she gets bullied and sexualized in a violent manner. And, as Greta Christina says, please no "Yes, buts..," anything that starts with "yes, but" is the wrong response to misogyny. Read her entire post, it is really very good).
The problem that started on Reddit at r/atheism has spread into Freethoughtblogs.com and is really a shame, because now that we finally got rid of Mabus in the online atheist community, we have now to deal with a new "baby Mabus". according to PZ Myers, although this time the lunatic is an atheist who has been bullying many people, not just women, in several atheist social networking sites, including Atheist Nexus. His true identity has been outed by PZ Myers, here. I do not agree with revealing any personal information in the internet but if you follow several threads, in this case it may have been justified, because of the threat of stalking at an actual atheist convention. Apparently the "atheist Mabus" has his own site and a band of followers who have been targeting prominent female atheist bloggers and the men who take the female bloggers' side, such as PZ Myers. If you want to read more about what's happening at Freethoughtblogs.com, you can read the excellent blog post by Lousy Canuck, or Ed Brayton's post, or JT Eberhart who tried to stay out of the misogyny in the atheism community messy subject as much as possible.
The reason why I'm bringing it up (reluctantly) is two-fold: 1) because it brings up the interesting point, worthy of debate and careful thought of what constitutes censorship and what doesn't, as in "why is moderation needed in online forums", and I personally think that while censorship should be avoided as much as possible, however moderation is needed to stop bullies, to ensure that everyone feels welcome and that the site doesn't get taken over by trolls who don't have a life or any sort of social skills and/or too much time in their hands; and 2) because I'm proud to say that nothing of the sort could have happen in our social networking site, because we would have nipped it in the bud, and I think I speak for all the administrators and moderators here.
This is a sad state in commenting in general. I don't know why people comment in ways that they would be ashamed to say or do in real life.
Yes, it is sad, and perhaps the best strategy is to ignore them, but unfortunately at this point I think they can't be ignored anymore, and someone needs to call attention to the problem, because it is a serious problem.
I think what happened is truly awful; I am very glad that on AU there are intelligent administrators and moderators because I'm not so sure how I would have responded to that...
Thanks for commenting, Marianne. You hit the nail in the head. The reason why we need moderation is to avoid chasing away people who loathe that type of confrontation, or who would feel bullied, or who would feel that it's not worth belonging to a site where such blatant written violence, targeting a specific group, is allowed.
Atheist men are still men (not an excuse), and we need to learn how to police ourselves. This kind of thing gives ammunition to our detractors who believe you have to have religion to have morality. On cannot underestimate the stakes here.
A very good point, Bill. I think it's important for people to express themselves, but this kind of behavior will turn many people off from atheist sites, and rightly so. It gives free ammunition to theists, too, as you point out. I have heard the complaint that atheism in America is basically represented by a bunch of immature, lonely young white men who lash out at women and minorities just to hide their own inadequacies, all under the veil of online anonymity. I do not think the description is accurate at all, but I can see how a superficial perusal of online atheist sites can lead many people, especially those "sitting on the fence" with respect to joining an atheist "community," to reach that conclusion.
I think only a minority of atheist men display such behavior, but because the "bad apples" make a lot of noise, and are so vitriolic and verbally violent, abusive bullies, they seem to be more than they actually are.
It doesn't take many loud rude individuals to drown out the rest. It is going to be a process, educating these young men. It is going to take another revolution, like women's liberation, but for men. I'm not sure what all has to happen, but where women evolved, now men have to catch up.
Meanwhile, in 90% of the world's population, there has been little progress for either sex. Somebody needs to lead. If atheists can't get there act together and become real leaders, the religious zealots will be happy to do it!
Some of them are not young at all, actually, like the bully who has been harassing PZ and other bloggers. That's even sadder. I have a lot more tolerance for young people. We all had to grow out of childish habits and thoughts, and insecurities of the teens and twenties.
The problem with men's movements is that so far they are mostly in counterpoint to feminism, simply misogynistic. Guys who think women are taken away thrir rights and taking over the world. If you read the sites of the MRA (Men's Rights Activists), you would facepalm all the way through the site. In theory, once we accept equality, there would be no need for women's rights, or men's rights, or gay rights, simply human rights, which, as you rightly point out, are lacking for way too many humans on our planet.
It would be perfect if atheists could take a position of leadership. Secular humanism is trying to do that already. I personally think secular humanism is the answer. We have to take care of one another, and of people who are not as fortunate as we are. And not because it's a freaking commandment, but simply because it is why makes us human.
It came out empty, doone...
I like a lot that picture; it says it all. I'd like to know when it was taken (the way those little girls are dressed up ?)