No Misogyny Because … Head in Sand

This tweet was retweeted by Richard Dawkins’ Twitter account yesterday:

Good for you Lucy. Good for you. There are numerous women who have, but I’m glad you’re not one of them.

The problem, however, with this tweet is of course the second sentence. Lucy seems to be saying that either is the abuse imagined, i.e. that the recipients interpret the abuse as sexist while it is actually just for laughs or something. It is a little tricky to treat death and rape threats as funny jokes, but I suppose if you’re naive enough you could manage it. The other option is that the abuse women receive online is caused by women assuming these people are misogynists, therefore the sexism is really the victim’s fault for being so uppity. The classic victim blaming that we so often see of rape victims.

So yeah, Lucy. You’re full of shit.

… and Richard Dawkins retweeted it.

Sure, boys and girls, stick your heads in the sand. The world is full of sexists and racists and homophobes and what have you. The skeptics/atheist movement is made up of real people too. They may be less hateful than the Christian right-wingers, but they are far from innocent. People will keep standing up to the abuse and the bullies. If you want to hide behind the bullies and defend them, then fine. We’ll put you with them and go our separate ways and make our own movement or something.

18 Comments

  1. I had a long Twitter conversation with Lucy and to my disappointment she accused those women who have received sexist abuse of thinking that all men are misogynists and pigs and that they should ‘wait until you have observed the behaviour & don’t go looking for it’. A number of people jumped into this conversation and accused women of lying or that it wasn’t fellow atheists that were doling out the abuse.
    It was disappointing that in a community founded on being a rational, intelligent human beings that so few people can say ‘Hang on, there might be a problem here’ instead of leaping to ‘They are all lying’.

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  2. @Riayn, I think we all need to frame the discussion in a more rational way, because I see a lot of unsubstantiated accusations thrown around from both sides. That people might be denying the presence of sexism just because they haven’t seen it and jumping to the conclusion that it doesn’t exist, might be well true. But the totally opposite position, that we should accept all claims of sexism without any evidence for them, is not a good one either. Ok, let’s fight sexism, bigotry and the other stuff that is bad, but let’s not forget to live up to our own standards.

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  3. A couple of years ago, I was probably around the same ballpark with regard to feminism that Richard Dawkins is. If that version of myself sensed that a woman I was about to talk to already thought I was a misogynist, how would that make me act?

    Maybe more tense, a bit stilted, even a bit offended. But sure as hell not sexually abusive or misogynist.
    If you think about it for a minute, it’s completely idiotic.

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  4. “The other option is that the abuse women receive online is caused by women assuming these people are misogynists, therefore the sexism is really the victim’s fault for being so uppity.”

    Those alarm bells rang for me too. Like “assuming misogyny” is what causes harassment. Not, you know, people who overstep boundaries and harass others.

    Next time I get harassed by a complete stranger, i.e. someone who I have no background information on with regards to whether they are a misogynist or not, remind me to apologise to them after.

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  5. I hope Dawkins understood that tweet as something long the lines of “the internet misogynist trolls might not be atheists or not people who participate in the community.”

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  6. Translation of ballpointpen’s post:
    I don’t see the problem, therefore it does not exist and you’re all whining about nothing.

    Did I miss anything?

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  7. Veronica, is she a new moron as rebecca “elvator” watson is?

    You morons are really a nice crew here. Sometimes I am really ashamed I have anything in common with imbeciles such as you, even if it is an insignificant matter as (non)-religious affiliation.

    Oh what a bunch of feminist morons. Glad to live in Europe.

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  8. Hi Enzo, thanks for your insightful feedback. Yes, if the elevator comment makes Rebecca Watson a moron, then I suppose I am too.

    I’m not sure where in Europe you live, but I live in Europe too. The country I live in is at least a little more progressive when it comes to both atheism and feminism than the US, so I too am glad to live here. It is far from perfect though. But we’re working on it.

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  9. Much as I’ve enjoyed some of Richard Dawkins’s writing, he’s shown himself to be clueless when it comes to issues of equal rights for women. And it always bothers me when people take this “it doesn’t happen to me, so everyone else must be lying/bring it on themselves”. I haven’t been targeted for street harassment, but I don’t claim that just because it doesn’t happen to me that it’s other people’s fault when it happens to them. Thanks for posting this!

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  10. A man holds a door open for a woman. The woman thinks that

    1. He is respecting her as a person.

    2. He understands the daily struggles women face and is trying to help out in whatever small way he can.

    3. His patriarchal training makes him disrespect her power as a woman.

    4. It puts him in a better spot to toxic gaze at her fine caboose.

    5. Perhaps he has a sprained ankle and doesn’t want his hobbled gait to impede her (or anyone).

    6. He plans to slam the door on her as a prelude to a vicious sexual assault.

    7. He mistook her gender and thought he was helping out a fellow man.

    8. He must like my shoes.

    A man holds a door open for a woman. How the woman reads this act and reacts will affect if and how he ever holds a door open ever again.

    A man holds a door open for Lucy Wainwright…awesome.

    A man holds a door open for Purple NoiZe…?

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  11. I don’t usually have a problem when a man holds the door open for me, unless he’s going out of his way to do so or is exaggerating the gesture, which is irritating. If I don’t feel comfortable brushing by him for whatever reason, I usually take the door from him. If I hold the door open for a man, and he hems and haws and refuses–now *that* is a bad sign. I’ve got no patience for men who insist on gender-dances.

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  12. Instead of addressing TheBiboSez’s false dilemma which ends in an attempt to put the responsibility here on the woman, I’ll just state the two relevant scenarios instead.

    1. A man or a woman holding the door open for a man or a woman because it is polite or helpful in that circumstance.
    2. A man holding open a door for a woman because he is keeping the outdated and sexist tradition that women are incompetent and fragile and needs help for everything.

    2 is the problematic one.
    It is not always easy to judge which one is at play though.

    This whole opening doors dilemma is a distraction anyway because this whole topic is about sexual harassment, not about opening doors.

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