So once again, the topic of gender equality has had to be dragged out and explained one…more…time… (1) (2) (3) (4) (5). The last article (5) by Greta Christina is especially pointed (if you haven’t read it, do so right now). In the comments, an astute reader posited that the misogyny issues we are grappling with is our “hot-button” issue for our community, just like pedophilia is Catholicism’s hot-button issue. These types of events are unfortunately bound to happen once a community has a large number of members (expected value increases), but how the community reacts to such events is not just a matter of probability. It says something more fundamental about the community.
When we look at the priest sex abuse scandals, there doesn’t appear to be (to me at least) that there is much internal conflict within the church on how to deal with this. Catholics mostly seem to just brush it away (“They aren’t really Christians”), and chalk it up to a few bad apples. This says to me that the average Catholic does not care about this issue, and by extension does not care about solving this issue. Very few Catholics are actually pedophiles, but by not taking an assertive stance against that incredibly small minority that are, Catholicism as a whole has been hurt, with membership declining faster than other denominations (6). Normally I would be incredibly happy to see church membership declining, but this is not a good reason why.
In many ways, the issues we face with misogyny in the atheist community appears to be having a similar, if somewhat muted, effect. When one of our movement’s best bloggers writes a post about her desires to rage-quite the movement (7), there is a problem. The number of actual misogynistic assholes in the movement is, I’m sure, quite low, but when we don’t try to address these issues when they come up, we make our movement weaker.
There is hope though. Beginning with Elevatorgate, we are beginning to speak up about these instances. Progress is being made. I have certainly learned a lot from the discussion of these events. While I wouldn’t consider myself as having been misogynistic like the guys that were discussed, my views on feminism and the state of female equality were definitely skewed. It has been through these discussions that my opinions have changed for the better, and I doubt I’m the only one.
(1) Watson, Rebecca. “Reddit Makes Me Hate Atheists.” Skepchick. 27th December, 2011. Available: http://skepchick.org/2011/12/reddit-makes-me-hate-atheists/
(2) McCreight, Jen. “The straw woman of the skeptical movement.” Blag Hag. 2nd January, 2012. Available: http://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag/2012/01/the-straw-woman-of-the-skeptical-movement/
(3) Mehta, Hemant. “Accounting for Accumulation.” Friendly Atheist. 5th January, 2012. Available: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/01/05/accounting-for-accumulation/
(4) Christina, Greta. “Why “Yes, But” Is the Wrong Response to Misogyny.” Greta Christina’s Blog. 29th December, 2011. Available: http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2011/12/29/why-yes-but-is-the-wrong-response-to-misogyny/
(5) Christina, Greta. “Two Questions for DJ Grothe.” Greta Christina’s Blog. 9th January, 2012. Available: http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/01/09/two-questions-for-dj-grothe/
(6) “NCC’s 2009 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches reports decline in Catholic, Southern Baptist membership.” National Council of Churches. 23rd February, 2009. Available: http://www.ncccusa.org/news/090130yearbook1.html
(7) McCreight, Jen. “Drama.” Blag Hag. 10th January, 2012. Available: http://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag/2012/01/drama/
P.S. Sorry for the lack of updates lately. I’ve been swamped at work plus the traveling for the holiday’s, so I have had very little time for much else. Things should be more or less returning to normal over the next week or two though.