It’s almost as though my friend Emily had read this article by Rebecca Watson in which she chronicles some of the truly awful treatment she has endured within the rationalist/skeptic/atheist community on account of her being a woman.
But after a few years of blogging, podcasting, and speaking at skeptics’ conferences, I began to get emails from strangers who detailed their sexual fantasies about me. I was occasionally grabbed and groped without consent at events. And then I made the grave mistake of responding to a fellow skeptic’s YouTube video in which he stated that male circumcision was just as harmful as female genital mutilation (FGM). I replied to say that while I personally am opposed to any non-medical genital mutilation, FGM is often much, much more damaging than male circumcision.
The response from male atheists was overwhelming. This is one example:
“honestly, and i mean HONESTLY.. you deserve to be raped and tortured and killed. swear id laugh if i could”
I started checking out the social media profiles of the people sending me these messages, and learned that they were often adults who were active in the skeptic and atheist communities. They were reading the same blogs as I was and attending the same events. These were “my people,” and they were the worst.
It gets worse from there, with a cameo by Richard Dawkins. It’s an unflattering cameo of Dawkins, but when someone is as uncareful and irresponsible a thinker as Dawkins it doesn’t really surprise.
So Emily’s article the other day, “Women, Know your limits,” named after the Harry Enfield sketch she embeds, showed up as a nice, well, not riposte, per se, because Emily and Ms. Watson are quite simpatico on the question of whether or not women are capable of rational thought, but it was a nice follow-up.
A great passage from Emily’s piece:
Try as I might to stop it, my mind continues to wander to a halcyon future when liberal politicians acknowledge that women own small businesses, have investments, and worry about pesky things like job creation, debt, and runaway entitlement spending.
In that future, they also recognize that women are rational creatures, with thoughts on war and peace, education and energy policy, trial lawyers and unions. In other words, they recognize that there’s a veritable laundry list of issues we consider more important than government-sponsored birth control.
Heck, since we’re dreaming, let’s just go for it and imagine a day where all politicians show some real concern for women’s health by pledging to put some of those government research dollars to work studying the many links between birth control and cancer.
Baseline minimum, I’m hoping for a future where presidents of the United States don’t think it’s anything other than nauseating to equate the act of voting with losing one’s virginity…where fathers of two young girls don’t have campaign ads mocking abstinence…and where those entrusted with safeguarding the Constitution realize that women might—just might—be more worried about the government violating the First Amendment and depriving Christians of their right to live their beliefs than they are about seeing Big Bird lose his government paycheck.
Emily’s closer, and Ms. Watson could have gone this route also, is that the people they are writing about have a view not unlike that expressed in this Harry Enfield sketch: