Atheism Vs. Feminism

“Feminism is an entire world view or gestalt, not just a laundry list of women’s issues.” -Charlotte Brunch

There’s been a bunch of drama lately on one of my favorite blogs, Blag Hag. Jen has been discussing the problem of sexism in the atheist community for awhile. She’s written more posts on the subject but these will give you an idea.

Jen let a couple of attendees of the recent American Atheists  Southeast Regional Meet write a guest post about their experiences regarding the treatment of women in the atheist community. While they mostly had good things to say about the Meet itself (good attendance, good panels), they had problems with the panel that addressed how to get more women into the atheist community.

The reaction to that post is pretty godawful (read the comments). It’s a veritable who’s who (what’s what?) of stereotypically misogynistic reactions. “You’re overreacting,” “You’re being hysterical,” “You’re taking things too seriously,” and, of course, “Why are you upset about getting hit on? I, as a man, would love to get hit on.”  Jen deals with a couple of the comments in another post.

(There’s some disagreement over the “facts of the case,” namely what actually happened during one of the panels which the author’s complain about specifically. Jen later removes that section until she can watch the video of the event.)

Jen writes two follow up posts on the mess. The first talks about her frustration with the situation and the second addresses her frustration with all the responses, both official and in the comments. I completely understand her annoyance and disappointment.

If you’re concerned about getting more women involved in your organization, then dismissing the complaints of women in that organization isn’t really marketing yourself well. Trying to justify men’s lecherous behavior by dismissing as “biological” is an insult to men and women, and it’s about two steps away from making women wear burquas. Telling women they are “overreacting” is absurd; either you want to hear about what you can do to improve the situation or you don’t. And look – if you’re a woman and you aren’t insulted or bothered by whatever other women are complaining about, that’s spiffy. But it doesn’t mean those women’s feelings are illegitimate.

The comments on Jen’s second post are even more disappointing. A whole bunch of people whining about how they aren’t going to apologize if they don’t think they did anything wrong. Multiple people stating they are allowed to question the legitimacy of these complaints. It is, frankly, extraordinarily disappointing from a group of people from whom I expect more.

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