Making Sense of Nonsensical Atheism+

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I was reading a post over on Aron Ra’s blog where his wife, Lilandra, made a post questioning people’s reaction to Atheism+.  Now while I really, really like both Aron Ra and his wife, I have a ton of respect for them both, I think this illustrates the point that, by simply looking in from a distance, it’s easy to miss the finer details that are extremely important.

I wouldn’t say if this was just an optional movement, like one the Atheist Community of Austin used to have, called something like Godless Gamers, which were atheists who happened to enjoy playing games.  These people were atheists + gamers and, so far as I know, didn’t look down on anyone who didn’t belong to their little group.  Atheism+, however, doesn’t act like that.  Not only do they openly view people who don’t subscribe to their beliefs as bad atheists, they consider them subhuman.  It’s not a group that you can belong to or not belong to at your whim, it’s a core movement that everyone must belong to and subscribe to or they don’t want you around at all.

To begin, I’m going to address a tweet and a comment made about said tweet by Lilandra.  This is a tweet made by Lucy Wainwright and retweeted by Richard Dawkins, among many others undoubtedly.  It said:

To which Lilandra responded:

Frankly, I don’t get the point she is trying to make. Why would people be making sexist, abusive comments if they weren’t misogynists?

Well, there are multiple answers.

  1. There are trolls on the Internet.  Yes, I know that’s hard to believe, but there are people who go around specifically making upsetting statements to anyone who is likely to run around screaming and crying and gnashing their teeth.  The overwhelming majority of people figure this out within minutes of getting online and ignore them entirely.  The Atheism+ movement has also figured this out, they are just using the trolls as “evidence” that their claims are valid.
  2. There likely are some small number of actual misogynists and anti-feminists in the atheist community.  Atheists are a very diverse group and there are likely members who are sexists and racists and anti-gay.  There are also clearly members who are misandrists.  This is not as much of a problem as the Atheism+ “movement” would have us believe however.
  3. That people like Wainwright are correct and there just aren’t that many people making sexist, abusive comments as some groups would lead us to believe.  In fact, I’d wager that outside of the Atheism+/hyper-feminist circle in the atheist community, the vast majority of women hold a view much closer to Lucy Wainwright than to Rebecca Watson.

Unfortunately, these supposed “abusive comments” very rarely ever see the light of day.  They’re claimed a lot but mostly, the non-involved public doesn’t get to see them, except for the clear troll posts that anyone ought to be able to identify and reject instantly.  Recently, Rebecca Watson posted a select few “threats” on her blog, yet when you really look at them, they’re certainly no worse than the Atheism+’ers themselves do over on their forums and blogs.  The majority are simply “you ought to get raped” comments, which, while vile, are certainly not threats that said individual has any intention of actually raping the recipient.  See “trolls” above.  In fact, there’s this absurd thing that went around their forums where they told people to “go die in a fire” or “have a dead porcupine shoved up their ass”, and in both cases, the Atheism+ crowd denied they were threats because they weren’t specifically saying they were personally going to do anything to the individual, nor were they encouraging anyone else specifically to do anything to the individual.  What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, so if it’s not a threat when the Atheism+ group does it, it’s not a threat when someone does it toward an Atheism+ member.  The fact remains that absolutely no “threat” has been considered so credible by anyone on the Atheism+ side that it’s been turned over to the FBI for criminal prosecution.  If they’re unwilling to do that, color me not terribly impressed.  In fact, the Atheism+ crowd were just being trolls on their own, proving they understand the concept and are all too willing to engage in it themselves.

So where is the problem?  A better question might be, where was the problem before Rebecca Watson opened her mouth about Elevatorgate?  Are we supposed to believe that nobody acted like this before some random guy asked her out for coffee?  Then the gates of hell were torn asunder and the misogynists, who had behaved themselves up until that point, suddenly invaded the atheist community?

I have no gender! I have no gender!

Or, did this very minor incident happen and because of the way it was presented by Watson and a small group of hyper-feminists, were there people in the atheist community offended, rightly or wrongly, by their words, and started trolling?  What came first, the chicken or the egg?  I’d say there’s probably some of both, after all, there had been some words about treating women a certain way spoken before Elevatorgate, but the majority of the backlash came after and from my perspective, it came as a direct result of the actions of the pre-Atheism+ crowd.  They caused it, certainly ignorantly, but once they saw what they had wrought, they decided to use it to further their aims.  They created a public outcry and then declared “look, there’s a public outcry, we’re justified in our position!”

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I entirely disagree with what they claim to want.  I think women ought to be treated equally and not exclusively as sex objects.  However, the simple reality is that women *ARE* sex objects and so are men.  Humans, like animals, have a strong reproductive drive, we are naturally going to look at those of the opposite gender and think “hey…”  That’s biology.  In addition, we are all culturally programmed to think in terms of reproduction and family and companionship.  Those things are the central component of society.  As I’ve written before, you have to have realistic expectations.  It’s one thing to want men to look at you as something more than a set of breasts and I wholly support that.  It’s another to want men to be entirely gender blind, like you’re a sexless mannequin, you’re just not being realistic.

But that really is what a lot of women who embrace third-wave feminism want.  In fact, if you go look at the Atheism+ forums, they’re supposedly having a wild discussion of finding a way for women to breed on their own so they can entirely do away with the inferior male “species”.  Yes, these people think this way.  And that’s the problem.  To go back to Lilandra’s question earlier, in the view of these Atheism+ loons, yes, there are misogynists and they are everywhere.  These people are paranoid, they think everyone is out to get them, they think every man is out to rape them, they think everything with a dick “sexualizes” them.  They think men, by their very nature, are entirely unable to control themselves, they are constantly plotting how to get into every woman’s pants and women, by their very existence, ought to be treated as entirely sexless creatures and no one should show even the slightest bit of interest until the women make the first move.  Women, of course, are entirely able to show as much sexual interest as they like in anyone they want, without anyone being able to complain.

And if that doesn’t seem kosher to you, you’re a misogynist and a rape-culture apologist and according to some, you ought to go back to the sewers that spawned you.

9 thoughts on “Making Sense of Nonsensical Atheism+

  1. Well said Cephus. The generalizations that were made by some in the A+ movement were what initially turned me off to it. While I find many of the troll comments that have been directed at people like Watson and McCreight to be utterly vile, offensive, and immature, they were given too much stock. Trolls need to be recognized for what they are, and dismissed accordingly. Personally, I don't much care what direction people want to take, and to have their atheism be a part of it. I am just going to continue doing my thing…
    My recent post Republican Atheists

  2. Nice post, and I agree. A+ seems like quite a nice thing, when you see AronRa (or his wife), or Matt Dillahunty talk about it.
    But then you take a peek at the A+ forum, and your jaw strike the floor as you realize that Aron and Matt must be almost completely clueless about what's going on. It's a hard thing to believe, the craziness of A+ and FTB is just so obvious and in-your-face, but what other explanation is there? I just can't bring myself to think that these people are knowingly dishonest about all of this.

  3. A critical point missed with the endless stream of supposed "threats" – how is it demonstrated that these threats actually come from atheists? It's the same as taking comments like "Die, bin Laden, die!!" and stating definitively it's from a Republican, or a xtian or a Budweiser drinker. There is one test for evidence amongst all of FTB / Skepchick / Atheism+, and only one – "does it confirm our biases?"

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