[EDIT: I failed in writing this article. I have written an explanation of that failure here. I am not going to remove this article because, like everyone, I have to learn from my failures.]
My sister had big tits. Like huge. I remember her blowing out her sixteenth birthday cake and accidentally leaving two huge boob impressions in the cake. They were big enough that they caused her back pain. They were big enough that they had to be reduced through surgery. And they were big enough to bring out the really gross in boys.
Personally, I didn’t give a crap about my sister’s breasts. She was my sister. They could have been shaped like Alfred E. Neuman for all I cared. But I saw how guys were to her. They spoke to her chest. They accidentally brushed up against her a lot. They wanted to date her because of what they thought they could do to those breasts, and not because of who she was. And my sister, though she was nothing like me, was a great person. All of this crap frustrated her beyond belief, and it is with great joy that I can say she wound up marrying one of the best men I have ever known and living happily ever after.
But all that behavior really disgusted me. I swore I would never be That Guy, and I think I’ve done an admirable job of treating the women in my life. I just don’t understand why people have to act like that.
Rebecca Watson (oh yes, THAT Rebecca, the troublemaker who goes out of her way to ruin everything for everyone forever by *gasp* telling guys it’s not okay to be creepy and gross) posted a frustrated rant the other day about a picture of a fifteen year old girl holding up her Christmas present, a copy of Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan. This was posted in the r/atheism reddit, and it became the source of a lot of really disgusting misogynistic comments, never mind entirely inappropriate given the age of the girl. She was disgusted.
And you know what? She’s fucking well right. Even if you rule out the age of the kid, a picture of a pretty female does not make it okay for thousands [edit: this is an exaggeration on my end, please take it as such] of creepy guys to start talking about how many holes she has. That’s despicable, and we’re better than that. Only we clearly aren’t.
Now, not all atheists are misogynists. Nobody’s saying that. What Rebecca was saying, and what I’m reiterating and many others have as well is that misogyny is a problem in the atheist community. And it’s a problem we don’t need and I would hope don’t want. Life’s hard enough being an atheist, why do we need to make it worse for ourselves by not stepping up when we see behaviors that are disgusting and demeaning within our own?
Nobody is saying this is a problem only with atheists, but that’s one of the quickest rebuttals out there. Yes, the problem exists in other spheres of influence, but why does that excuse our allowing it to happen in ours?
If you think it’s okay for those kinds of comments to be associated with us, if you think it’s okay to call Rebecca a lesbian bitch whore, if you think it’s okay to treat women like second-class citizens, then I don’t want you around me or my friends. I’m tired of people asking why there aren’t more women at atheist events. We know why. We have done a piss-poor job of creating an environment where they feel like equals. We have created the situation by assuming that they are there because they clearly want to touch our privates.
Me, I like having women at atheist events. Not because dude that girl is hot and I bet she wants to do me, but because women are people with different experiences than mine and often have interesting things to say. So my promise to the women in my world is this; when I see misogyny, I’m going to punch it in the teeth. I would expect others to join me in this. I will be there to keep you safe and stand up for you when others are acting like it shouldn’t be a big deal or like you’re just misunderstanding. Bullshit. I’m in your corner. If I want to have you around, it’s because of who you are, and not because of what you look like.
[edit: At no point in the above post did I say that all or even most reddit users are misogynists. At no point in the above post did I say that all or even most atheists are misogynists. At no point in the above post did I say that misogyny is an atheist problem. It is a problem in the atheist community that should be addressed, and a problem in many areas of society that should be addressed. At no point in the above post did I say that people didn’t have the right to say these things, I said I wasn’t going to put up with it.]