Why do the atheist and skeptic communities foster misogyny and racism?

Tweet by Richard Dawkins in defense of rapist Michael Shermer.

There has been a great deal of discussion on the constant stream of misogyny and racism coming from the leading figures of the atheist community (Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss) and the skeptic community (DJ Grothe, Ben Radford).

The minority of representation of women and POC in the leadership and speaker lists of atheist and skeptic organizations is also an obvious result of the misogyny and racism in these organizations. The reactions to other events, such as the harassment of Rebecca Watson, has made clear that the atheist and skeptic communities are, by and large, against women.

I have seen a great deal discussed on these issues. I have not, however, seen a lot of discussion as to the why. People (like Sam Harris) have tried to argue that the issue of low representation of women and POC is the result of some inherent lack in the part of women and POC. This of course is misogynist nonsense.

One thing both these communities have in common is nerd culture. While one does not have to be a nerd to be an atheist or a skeptic, there is certainly a strong association between the two. It is well known that scientists have far higher rates of unbelief, and in general it seems likely that love of science and technology entails higher rates of unbelief as well.

The problem is that nerd culture, while glorifying science and technology, is very toxic and masculinist. There is a strong correlation between nerd culture and rape culture. The controversy over video game sexism and the attacks against female journalists, designers and programmers, as well as the depictions of women catering to the male gaze in video games and comic books, have demonstrated that.

Nerd culture means living in a world of male fantasy and rejecting the right of females to exist.

They live in a world of perpetually scantily clad superwomen who fight crime in ninja lingerie and kevlar camisoles. They live in a world where super-soldier women strike anatomically impossible fighting stances that show off not only their ample asses but their massive breasts. They live in a world where happiness is a harajuku schoolgirl getting the tentacle rape she so desperately deserves. They live in a world where the once feisty and feminist-era proud Princess Leia is nothing more than a cosplay centerfold.

Nerds are represented in the media as lovable weirdoes, so it may seem harsh to associate nerd culture with rape culture. But I defy any defender of nerd culture to name one aspect of nerd culture which is not demeaning or annihilating of female existence and female perspective.

Another thing they have in common is ultra-rationalism, which I have previously described. The ultra-rational is characterized by the belief that one is more rational than most people, while exhibiting irrational traits brought about by overconfidence. Because they adopt one position on a consciously rational basis, they take it for granted that their positions are based on reason, when this is generally not the case, or at least not noticeably more than non-atheists or non-skeptics.

One characteristic of ultra-rationalism is a complete bungling of the concept of burden of proof. They believe that personal experience, even when not used to prove a scientific point, is automatically invalid. The inevitable result of this mindset is that accusations of sexual harassment are trivialized or rejected, while “scientific” conclusions about women based on “just so” stories are widely accepted.

It is somewhat understandable that atheism is ultra-rational, since it is after all a reaction to theology, which has adopted all the trappings of logical argumentation (although, sadly, not the intellectual rigor that should go with it).

The third thing they have in common is white privilege. There are very few POC in these communities. Nerds tend to be white people who have the luxury of not needing a strong sense of identity (beyond being nerds), unlike POC and immigrants. For many people, religion is an identity and a community, and atheism does not measure up to that standard.

I don’t know about skeptics, but atheists certainly look down on other cultures, especially Islamic cultures. Accusations of Islamophobia have been issues at various prominent figures, including Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.

While I agree that the term Islamophobia is inadequate to describe this attitude, I certainly think bigotry and white privilege are good words when Richard Dawkins makes tweets like this, or Sam Harris says things like: “We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.”

Richard Dawkins, who has made himself a leading figure of atheism and evolution, is now also known for his misogynistic attitude, exemplified in his Dear Muslima mockery of a sexual harassment victim,
and his otherwise bizarre and illogical statements, such as when he called for tolerance of “mild pedophilia” or when he tried to classify rapes as “bad” and “worse.”

Of course, his ultra-rational defenders believe firmly that Dawkins is making perfectly logical statements, even though this is the kind of stuff we expect from someone who’s slipping away from reality.

What is the solution? It seems so far that the only viable solution is a “new wave” of atheism to replace “New Atheism.” Atheism+ is certainly a step in the right direction, although it may turn into the same kind of insanity as the “social justice” tumblr groups. That much remains to be seen.

Andrea Dworkin – Pornography Happens to Women (1993) (TW)

A stellar speech.

Phil Robertson on raping and killing atheists.

Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot ‘em and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?’ Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.’ If it happened to them, they probably would say, ‘Something about this just ain’t right.’

“Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson explaining his rape fantasies about killing atheists

Some strips from Poorly Drawn Lines.

From Poorly Drawn Lines (1, 2).

Teena Brandon- the full story.

This entry details the real, full story of Teena Brandon, whose death has been used by the transgender community in a sick, depraved manner. She was a victim of incest and homophobia, and her suffering should not be exploited by transgender people for their own twisted woman-hating political agenda.

Is motherhood a privilege?

This is likely to be a disputed position, but Forest Green Feminism believes so, and argues her point. She is very careful to point out that she does not deny male privilege or the fact that motherhood is a form of compliance, but she argues that beyond that motherhood does confer privilege over non-mothers.

First, the aggrandizement of motherhood is really about the favoring of sons — their creation, their nurture, their ultimate elevation into the power structure as high as they can go based on other factors, like race, class, and their own level of conformity. It is the duty of mothers to raise acculturated sons. Rape and male violence (down the hierarchy) are culturally-accepted norms. Mothers are to defend their sons against charges of rape and other forms of violence against ‘lessers,’ usually women but also marginalized men. And mothers do!

When I suggest that women’s loyalties must be to females, foremost, and against their misogynist sons, I get resistance. When I suggest that if a son rapes, is known to have raped, loyalty has to be to his victim, the female being, and he needs disowned, I hear, “How can you say this — he was born from my body, he is my child!?!” I can say it because it is high time our loyalties are to female humans. And I can say it because women defending the outrages done by patriarchy, even in the forms of their own sons, is a significant part of the problem. Patriarchy is maintained by unquestioned allegiances by the many, including the terribly-oppressed. All systems of subjugation can be reinforced this way (and usually are).

Second motherhood is, itself, loyalty to the norms of heterosexuality. I was at the time actually a part of the Great Lesbian Con into Motherhood. Lesbians everywhere were having children, and I wanted in! I read everywhere of women’s biological clocks and discovered I, too, had one! Is there an internal urge to procreate? There may well be, although I’m not convinced there is. Still, any valid urge or instinct is easily manipulable by incessant cultural pressure. Even more so if it’s subtle and proffered by members of your own minority group. The fact is that Lesbian Motherhood was an act of assimilation, complicity by its very nature. And I was a part of it. (Damn me!)

Third, motherhood brings rewards and attention at the expense of childless or child-free women. Women who eschew childbearing are “selfish,” and more.

Kristal Garcia, an MRA defending PIV.

I stated in a previous entry that there was almost no response to the PIV criticism issued by radfem, with one exception I found. The exception is this entry by Kristal Garcia, a woman who professes allegiance to the MRA woman-hating crowd.

Now, before I get into the entry, I do want to point out the irony of a woman being the only person with the intelligence to write a response to PIV criticism. Even when they believe in an ideology that upholds the superiority of men over women, women still end up proving they’re better.

I do want to point out, in case anyone else wants to read it, that her response is very condescending. She also misrepresents many of witchwind’s arguments, and uses MRA propaganda to support her position. I am not interested in her condescension, her misrepresentations, or her MRA bullshit, but I am interested in answering the substance of her replies.

Why, yes little radfem, me choosing to have sex does make sense. It makes so very much sense. You see, I am a human being and I have a brain. With this brain, I create thoughts. I analyze and recognize what feels wonderful for me and what does not. I use this brain to make decisions such as saying ‘Yes’ and ‘No’.

This was written in reply to witchwind pointing out that PIV is the main axis of female oppression, and that yet some women (like Garcia) willingly choose to be oppressed. Garcia’s reply is to use the concept of agency (i.e. blaming the victims) as a shield for oppression.

This is an inane reply, to say the least. The fact that Garcia chooses PIV is not merely a result of “what feels wonderful” to her, but also part of her indoctrination as a woman. Our preferences do not exist in a vacuum, but are the result of the combination of our personality and the way we are socialized. Men are trained by pornography to see PIV as the highest form of sex, and women are trained to want PIV in order to become “real women.”

As I’ve explained before, PIV lies at the center of the web of female oppression, in the middle of natalism, the abortion debate, and liberal feminism, which is the kind of feminism most women come into contact with. Behind every exhortation for a woman to follow her gender role lies PIV. So there’s nothing surprising in the fact that most women willingly submit to PIV: what’s surprising is that some women rebel.

The fact that any person approves or disapproves of anything does not make it the product of agency. All our decisions are conditioned by a wide variety of social constructs (including gender and sexuality) and their attendant beliefs. There is no place there for an agency “god of the gaps.”

[U]se that brain thing we women have in our heads and use a condom! Ta-da! It’s called taking responsibility for your sexual actions. Yes, when you have sex you can also get pregnant. Abortion is not something that comes from what you call ‘PIV’. That is a choice made by a woman to terminate a pregnancy she can also choose to keep the child. As for the rest of your prattle, sex can lead to death if you are not careful, yes. Both men and women have died from serious diseases and that is nothing to joke about. That is why condoms exist and being safe with sex is important.

Again with the irony: why is an anti-feminist using a liberal feminist argument (use protection and you can do anything! PIV is safe!) to make her point? Not to mention that the argument itself is simply wrong. The pregnancy rate with condoms over five years is 56%. Contraception used perfectly still has a pregnancy rate of 2 to 6% every year.

That may not be much for a single individual, but it does mean that millions of people experience unwanted pregnancies every year due to contraception failure. And that doesn’t even include STDs! Condoms are better than nothing, by far, but they are not the “ta-da!” solution to STDs or pregnancy, and it does not mean you “took responsibility” for your actions. Taking responsibility for your actions must include understanding the risks of one’s actions, instead of sweeping them away with one inadequate response.

Sex is not violence. A man putting his penis inside a vagina is not rape. Rape is rape. Again, you say intentional ‘sexual’ harm of a woman- RAPE IS NOT SEX! Now, a violent assault on a woman yes, is rape.

The issue of rape aside, it seems that Garcia believes that imposing the risk of harm on someone is not violent. That may or may not be the case, but Garcia obviously is not interested in elaborating any further, so there’s nothing left to discuss. All we’re left with is a woman screaming “RAPE IS NOT SEX!” Again, a liberal feminist argument being used by an anti-feminist (perhaps Garcia is in the wrong faction?). Yes, clearly rape is about power, but it does involve forced sexual activity as well. Most of the time, very specific forms of sexual activity… some form of penetration, whether PIV or anal sex.

PIV increases immune system function, boosts fitness, flexibility, happiness, increased productivity, lowers blood pressure, lowers heart attack risk, improves sleep, eases stress, lessens body pain, improves women’s bladder control. A man does all of that with PIV, how much more respectful can you get?

I believe one huge “citation needed” tag is needed on this one. But yes, I imagine feeling more fulfilled in your social roles in general makes you happier and more at ease with yourself. That’s not a specific argument for PIV but an argument for better assimilating into society, no matter how. But it’s no sign of health to assimilate oneself into a sick society, not to mention the deleterious psychological effects of having to live as a woman in a society which considers women to be inferior. Better to just reject gender altogether, including the PIV mandate.

Because of insane women like you treating prostitutes as if we are mindless morons suffering from Stockholm syndrome instead of seeing us as the healthy sexually expressive humans that we are, women are being raped thanks to fem-nazi’s like you. That’s right. Women in Myanmar and Cambodia have their brothels raided by corrupt police who rape them, take their children from their homes and jail them. In Cambodia these women are put in ‘rehabilitation’ camps where they are raped, beaten and have poor nutrition and are slave labor. Because of creatures like yourself who say women like myself are incapable of thought, you have created unsafe work conditions for sex workers.

I have no idea how Garcia interpreted a discussion of PIV as an incentive for her to bring up prostitution, but again she’s parroting the liberal feminist party line for some reason. She attributes the persecution of prostituted women to radical feminists, but no radical feminist has ever advocated laws against prostituted women or has implemented violence against them. Radical feminists advocate the decriminalization of prostituted women and the use of public resources to give them the possibility of living a life away from prostitution, which 90% of prostituted women want to leave. The fact that Garcia is part of that privileged 10% does not make her experience all-important, as she seems to think. Again she seems to imitate liberal feminists, in that they despise and attack all non-privileged prostituted women (unless “mindless moron” is a term of endearment for her, which I cannot rule out given how condescending her entry is).

You are so detached from your power as a human being. I am subordinate to no, one nor will I ever be controlled… Women are not oppressed by men.

There, I think, lies the central delusion of MRAs and the arguments for PIV in general. Most of the time they do not come out and say something so stupid, and merely wax poetic about how wonderful and sparkly-shiny it is to pound their girlfriend or wife, completely disconnected from any social or ideological context. Of course any action can be justified, including genocide, if you dissociate it from context.

It would take an MRA woman, however, to make such a delusional statement as “I am not subordinate.” Does Garcia not wear any makeup? Does she not wear any feminine clothes? Given that she’s an MRA, I doubt that she dares to go against the fuckability mandate.

Of course MRAs blame the victim whenever women (or men, for that matter) are subjected to any oppression, so they can simply ignore all the systemic factors which we group under the name Patriarchy. In their place, MRAs have weaved a belief system made of lies and half-truths which blames women as a class for everything they think is wrong with society.

I have to say that Garcia’s arguments were much better than I expected, but that’s because she stole so many of them from her opposition:

“I choose to be degraded, so it’s perfectly valid!” and
“Contraception makes sex completely safe”- these two arguments are copied straight from the libfem playbook.
“Rape is not about sex”- this is a standard feminist slogan.
“PIV has so many health benefits”- given the total lack of sources and the wild claims, she must have copied this from some copy of Cosmo.
“Feminazis are causing the jailing and rape of prostituted women”- this is a pretty standard line from the pornstitution activist crowd, who are not MRAs by any means.
“Women are not oppressed”- this is perhaps the only substantive MRA argument presented. Not convincing to anyone who hasn’t drunk the misogyny Kool-Aid, but it’s there.

If her arguments are representative of MRAs, then MRA anti-feminism can’t be very substantive if it has to run under feminism’s dress to get any sort of rebuttal going. So I don’t think we have anything new coming from those quarters.

DEBATE: Pornland Author Gail Dines at Cambridge University vs Pornography Does a Good Public Service


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