For a number of years now, Skepchick.org, FreeThoughtBlogs and some associated sites have been portraying the online skeptic and atheist community as rife with misogyny and unwelcoming to women. This attitude has particularly been encouraged by persons who are considered to be at the higher echelons of those named sites.
These people appear to have uncritically and wholly accepted ideas of gender feminism (as opposed to equity feminism) and have been making factual claims made to support gender feminism which can be found to be wholly incorrect through the application of critical thinking and considered research. These people have also been wholly resistant to the application of any critical thinking in relation to this ideology and the claims made.
The adoption of this ideology, and surrender of principles of critical thinking, has been accompanied by a divisive approach of attaching unwarranted labels such as “misogynist”, “MRA”, “chill girl” and “gender traitor”. These labels are generally, if not always, levelled only on the basis that the person labelled has applied critical thinking to the ideas underlying the ideology of gender feminism and the polite expression of disagreement or scepticism at the factual claims or narratives espoused by the gender feminists within the atheist and skeptic community. The unwarranted attachment of these labels has then been used to justify otherwise unwarranted claims that those people at the sites are being harassed or harangued by the persons so labelled. The conduct unfairly labelled as harassment is then deemed grounds to ban or block those people are ‘harassers’ on the sites purporting to be the face of the atheist and skeptic community to the rest of the world.
This behaviour, which is often directed at new people who are not aware that this behaviour is endemic to the sites named above, drives away potential members and discourages existing members from continuing to be actively involved. Those driven away include a large number of women, who do not associate with the gender feminist ideology and cannot uncritically accept ideas just because these ideas support their own opinions about how the world should be. Those driven away will also include those in other minority groups who consider there is an unwarranted and petty focus on the unfounded claims of oppression or harassment by those at the higher echelons of the community (being those who are being paid within a funded system of a profitable website to blog and opine about atheist / skeptic issues and including those who are in leadership positions in otherwise respected secular organisations, such as the Centre for Inquiry).
When sweeping and unsubstantiated claims are made that harassment is occurring on a large scale both within the online community and at conventions, without any apparent evidence and based only on the expression of disagreement with ideas, it also makes the community unappealing to women who are unfamiliar with the behaviour perpetrated by those at the named blogs and consider that they may be at physical risk if attending conventions or participating in the online community.
When those in the groups named above drive the participation downward with their conduct, they damage the atheist / secular community as a whole and also damage its generally accepted goal of secularising our societies. Secularising our societies would have benefit in many cases to women’s rights issues (including but not limited to issues of abortion and contraception that have become particularly concerning in the United States recently).
In short, the organisations named above are damaging their own stated feminist goals and are damaging the goals of the atheist / skeptic community as a whole.
We ask that those in the groups named above, and those associated with them, return to the community’s roots of critical thinking and the respectful free exchange of ideas.
- Skepchick.org, FreeThoughtBlogs
Return to critical thinking and respectful free exchange of ideas
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