Feminism, Harassment, Conferences, and Assholes on the Internet
Yeah, I know, I never write anymore. Life and all that.
Recently there have been quite a few articles, twitter posts, and blogs about harassment in the atheist/skeptic community either at conferences, on the web, or in real life. It is depressing to see thoughtful, intelligent women leave the online communities they are so integral to (or created outright) because of ignorant, incessant, and cowardly bullying. It is also, sadly, not surprising that the women and men who stand up to these (mostly anonymous) bullies just end up with tens, hundreds, or in some cases thousands of letters and comments making threats and insinuating violence against them.
In real life, hearing about ordeals like this one or this one made me feel like I had to write a quick post to say:
What the fuck is wrong with you guys?
I realize you want to have sex with these women - why else would you start talking to her on the bus? You sure as fuck wouldn't ask *me* what *I'm* reading, even if you didn't see my wedding ring. And really, pulling your dick out in a bar and forcing the girl you want to have sex with to touch it? How many times has that actually worked? Has that EVER worked? I mean, on women you didn't pay to fuck you.
When I was in university we had a guy who hung with us whose pick-up methods were, shall we say, questionable at best. He would essentially ask women directly if they would come back to his place to fuck. His argument was that it saved everyone time; those who weren't interested would tell him to get lost or just walk away, and the very small percentage who said yes, well, he just saved a few hours of dancing and small talk.
At the time I remember thinking that he was a nice guy but I certainly wouldn't want him dating any of my close female friends (I have no sisters...or brothers for that matter). This was the extent of the scummery we dealt with. It seems that now, however, threats of rape and violence are rampant within the anonymous haven of the internet, and at conferences - none of which I have attended yet - there are policies being loudly proclaimed to keep the women safe and the clueless dummies from waving their dicks around like semaphores (or biting women's legs).
I get that in bars, alcohol gets involved and people's boundary identification systems perhaps get a titch off kilter. I have been in a bar before and had a woman in front of me turn around, look at me, then grab my crotch. It was awkward and I put an end to the situation quickly, but this is vastly different from what most women have to endure in a similar encounter.
Reversed, the man is usually larger, stronger, and physically intimidating. In the horrible stories linked above, one woman sat on the bus unable to do anything to stop the terrific abuse being hurled at her while the other was forced to touch the penis of some perveted asshat even though YOU SHOULD NEVER PULL YOUR DICK OUT IN A BAR AND FORCE A STRANGE WOMAN'S HAND ON IT.
That's really one of those things like, "Do Not Use Hair Dryer In Shower"; it's something you never thought you'd need to point out, but here we are, standing in the shower with a bunch of fucking morons and their hair dryers. And somehow, we're getting yelled at and threatened for telling the fucking morons to either get out of the shower or let go of the electronics.
The admittedly vague and circuitous point of this post is to say that I am firmly in the corner of the atheism plus crowd, the inclusive crowd, the humanist/rationalist/skeptic crowd who loves women and treats them as equals on all fronts.