Clarifying Yesterday’s Post (And Accepting The Criticisms)

Yesterday, I posted an article called Atheist Misogyny. There was a surprising amount of interest in the article, and a large amount of feedback both here and at Reddit. Much of this was criticism, some of it absolutely well deserved. I want to respond to criticisms and comments, and offer an apology to those whom I have offended by not being clear in the first place. I’m sorry, folks. It was not my intention to imply that all redittors, all atheists, or even the majority of either of those are misogynists.

For starters, I want to clarify my point. It is frustrating that I have to do this because it means I wasn’t clear enough in my writing in the first place. Misogyny is a problem with all people. It is in no way unique to atheism or reddit or the internet. I was focusing on the misogyny in the atheist community for a variety of reasons, but primarily because that is generally who reads this blog. And it’s a very small number of atheists, mostly friends of mine. Change begins at home, as they say, and I was hoping to raise the issue within my small but loyal group of readers.

But that’s not who read this. I rarely post on reddit and would not portray myself as an expert on reddit culture. I have posted a handful of articles there, mostly things directly tied to atheism, and I have never received a significant amount of traffic from the site. I did not really believe that this post would in any way be different, a few readers might catch it and hopefully (had I written it well) think about their own experiences in the atheist community.

One of the complaints I have had was that I was trying to build my karma and generate those massive numbers of hits that come from reddit. I can honestly say, that was in no way my motivation. I neither expected the attention, nor was I really prepared for it. In one day, we got about a third of the traffic that this site has ever seen, and all for an article that was in several ways poorly written. That’s not how I would want to promote the blog, and consider it a fall-down on my behalf.

The article in a lot of ways was intellectually lazy. At first I was surprised at the reactions of those who were angry about it, but then it was pointed out to me how it could be read, and I was embarrassed. I did not put in the time to frame the article in a way that would make my point clearly. I did not provide examples aside from the reddit posting, and that meant that people could only assume that I was speaking about reddit. I was not.

Yes, I have a reddit account, but I am anything but an expert. I was, for example, unaware that the atheism subreddit had made its way to the main page for all users. Obviously, that ignorance on my behalf changes that particular story, because it means that the original story about the girl was viewed by every redditor, and not just those in the atheism subreddit. This will grossly skew the viewing audience. I knew the post had made the front page of reddit, but wrongly assumed that it got there first and foremost by upvotes from the atheism subreddit. Assumptions are always a mistake.

But again, I was not trying to point the finger at reddit or the atheism subreddit. I wasn’t actually trying to point the finger at anyone, I just meant to say that I was tired of misogyny and would be shouting it down when I saw it. I focused on the atheist community because in my various atheist groups, I have seen it (though not often) and wish nothing more than for us to recognize and combat it.

As I wrote this, a comment came in which calls me to task on the naming of the article. I called the article Atheist Misogyny, and it rightly says that it’s ridiculous that I called it that and then went on to claim I wasn’t talking about misogyny in the atheist community. Again, this is a sign of bad writing on my behalf. I should have more clearly expressed that I was talking about my atheist community, and that I wasn’t saying that we were awful, just that we needed to be ever vigilant.

My community isn’t worse than the general public either, but I sincerely hope that we hold ourselves to a higher standard on matters like this not because these are issues all atheists share, but because they are issues that my atheist community does a generally good job with. I do not lump all atheists in here. I know atheists who are homophobic, but that does not mean the atheist community (or even my atheist community) are homophobic. And homophobia is a good example in another sense, because my atheist community is quick to stand up to homophobia in the same way that I am asking it to stand up to misogyny.

I made a variety of mistakes with that post. First and foremost, I never expected the level of traffic, and by not clarifying who I was talking to specifically, the message was lost. The point of the writing is the message, so clearly this was a big fail for me, and one that took place to a huge audience. I’m not proud of that. And I apologize both to my regular readers whom I assume expect better of me and to the people who read what I wrote and took it in a context I had not intended. That was not your fault, it was mine.

And yes, the tone of the article made me sound like the White Knight coming to save the world. That’s a prickish tone to take. I explained in the beginning of the article why it’s a particular button for me, but that doesn’t excuse the holier-than-thou attitude. I did not take that tone because I wanted to have women faun over me, contrary to many of the comments I received. I am lucky enough to have found the most amazing woman for me, and I would not trade her in for the world. Nor was I looking for the ego boost of having women congratulate me on taking a stand. To write an article about standing up for women with the intent on hooking up with them would be manipulative and misogynistic in its own right.

One of the common comments made was to point at the girl in question. I have heard that she started it. I don’t know if that is true or not. Certainly, she was warned in a comment to brace herself for the comments and replied with “bracin’ mah anus”. That was unfortunate, but I don’t really see that as inviting the creepier comments that came after.

Misogyny is wrong, and I plan on calling it out when I see it. However, my article didn’t communicate that. Because of lazy writing, I wound up unintentionally pointing the finger where it does not belong. I am very glad for those who read the article and got what I was saying, but I am far more frustrated at myself for not being clear enough or thorough enough in my post. I was called to task because of that, and rightly so. I’m sorry to all who were offended by my lack of clarity and laziness.

I will not comment on the overall reddit community or the atheism subreddit because I cannot. I’m not familiar enough with them to do them justice. I will say that my atheist community is an excellent one, but there is always room to improve, and I would like for us to lead by example.


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About biguglyjim

Like a caterpillar that spins a coccoon and emerges as a walrus with a mohawk, Big Ugly Jim has become something unexpected. Raised a fine young Christian boy in the city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Jim began to question his teachings, first evaluating the wisdom of other religions and eventually realizing that none of them seemed any more accurate than any other, and not a one of them made a lick of sense. Today, Big Ugly Jim is a musician, a Business Analyst with Large Oil Company Whose Name Is Not Important, a music promoter with the Calgary Beer Core, a writer of fiction and non-fiction, a prick, an atheist, a father, an ex-husband, a role model, a horrifying vision in a red speedo (or at least he would be, if ever that happened which IT WOULD NOT), an announcer, and soon to be an officiator of weddings. Also, he's nice and does dishes. Jim continues to live in Calgary, spreading his filthy doctrine of free, critical thinking and appreciation for music.

7 thoughts on “Clarifying Yesterday’s Post (And Accepting The Criticisms)

  1. There is in fact an innocent mistake being made here, but it wasn’t publishing your original article. It was letting the whiners derail a perfectly reasonable discussion.The worst thing about misogyny isn’t the actual active creeps — though they are utterly inexcusable. The worst thing is the millions of men who may not say those abusive things, but who swarm like angry bees whenever someone makes the slightest suggestion that men as a group might have a collective responsibility to challenge them.Without them, the real creeps would be isolated, identifiable, and unsupported by men at large.The fact that so many Atheist men, and so many men on Reddit, rose up to argue with the criticism says to me that this IS a problem all atheist men and all men on Reddit are failing to confront successfully. They spent time arguing over their hurt feelings that they could have spent writing criticisms of the truly horrible crap on that reddit thread. The fact that they chose the former speaks volumes.

  2. I actually think your article was pretty damned awesome, and was wondering what it was that you felt the need to apologize for or clarify.  (And I”ll come back and read more posts)

  3. We all make mistakes, Though it’s awesome of you to correct yourself and clarify.Not everyone would, and for that props to you sir.Most of the rabble has nothing to do with atheism, If watson learned that and quit mis-labeling things (much like pz myers..) then they’d in all likelihood get alot more support. When you try and point it at a single demographic, you are implying (like it or not) That they have an issue, or a more serious issue then other groups.Instead of working collectively some people are pointing their fingers at individuals/groups which will do nothing but wind people up and occasionally bust out the tar and some feathers.

  4. Jim, I’m biased.  I’m your friend.  I also am a bit of a thinker, and that is due in no small part to knowing you.  Right or wrong, I chose not to misinterpret your writing.  I knew what you meant, and can’t ignore the intention behind your article.  Thanks for addressing the issue.  I won’t thank anyone for trying to call you out on petty technicalities when there’s real problems to discuss.  I look forward to reading many more of your articles, and hope that your audience continues to expand.

  5. Jim, You are doing great work here, don’t listen to the whiners. Much like Muslims, the bad are inadvertently sheltered by the apathetic. It happens, it’s unfortunate.Oh, and keep up the bible reading – I love your snarky take on the biblical nonsense.Peace!

  6. Chris Clark was dead on in his comment. Couldn’t agree more.As a female feminist, I want to thank you for your effort in dismantling the structures which disempower certain people and groups over others. Thanks for an interesting read, and please continue ‘punching misogyny in the face’ when you see it and make an attempt at ‘scattering the bee’s’ don’t let them make you doubt yourself ever.

  7. You’ve got nothing to apologise for – your first post was awesome. I’d also like to agree with Chris Clark, and also say that I’ve seen this happen countless times when anyone dares to mention sexism. There is an almost desperate thrashing and squirming as many (too many) men rush to deny, deny, deny. The people that are suggesting that this 15 year old was ‘asking for it’ are particularly sickening.

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