For most of the past year or so on my blog I've been balls deep into counter apologetics, taking on every religious argument that crossed my radar. While that currently is and probably will continue to be the primary focus of my blog, that's not all I want it to be about. So let's talk about some social issues for a bit.
The atheist/skeptic/free thinking community has been divided over feminism for the past few years. AronRa spoke about this recently in a new video he put out about how stupid all this in-fighting really is and how bad it's making the community look. This is even more pressing when you consider that atheists are already one of the most despised demographics in the US. Our focus as a community should be in promoting the naturalistic worldview as best we can, and promoting free thinking devoid of religious dogma as the practical and healthy alternative.
I've generally avoided in-fighting other than making a few criticisms of what atheists sometimes do usually in the area of defending atheism. But this whole thing about feminism has gotten me riled up. If feminism is defined as equality between the sexes, then who today would be against that? Yes many republicans wouldn't but they're batshit crazy. I mean what normal person today would be against equality of the sexes? Part of my criticism of religion is that most religions are extremely sexist. And I can't use that as a counter-argument against religion if I myself am a sexist. So integrity forces me not to be a hypocrite on this issue.
With the issue of feminism we can see where the divide is. Free thinkers are suppose to be progressive, and so naturally you'd expect them to be all for gender equality. And I think most if not all are - at least in principle. The problem comes with what many people feel are extreme forms of feminism where previously accepted norms between men and women are no longer considered acceptable. This would be things like hitting on women in public and sexualizing them, as has been going on since the dawn of homo sapiens. There was the famous 'elevatorgate' incident of Rebecca Watson several years back that seems to have triggered this rift within the atheist movement. Some have said she's just a professional victim, and that she made a big deal out of basically getting hit on. As far as I can tell, she wasn't assaulted or verbally harassed. But how "unacceptable" was this behavior?
Look, I am a man, and I will be honest that I cannot help myself from sexualizing women. How can anyone look at someone they are sexually attracted to without sexualizing them? That doesn't mean that all women are are sexual objects. But for people sexually attracted to women, i.e. straight men and gay/bi women, we are going to look at women as sexual objects to some degree. We are all sexual objects to people sexually attracted to us. That's life. We just have to be mature enough to know that apart from consensual role playing, people cannot be treated solely as sexual objects in their lives.
But the issue is whether or not it is appropriate to hit on women in public areas. I say yes, within reasonable boundaries. I have actually hit on many women in public and it does sometimes work. I've dating women I've hit on in public. I've also made an ass out of myself hitting on women in inappropriate ways in pulic. And sadly, I have harassed women on the street before. There is an acceptable way to do talk to women in public and an unacceptable way to do it. But to say that a man should never hit on a woman in public under any circumstances is crazy. How are men supposed to get women? You can't always wait for "appropriate" social situations, sometimes you've got to just go for it. It is the debate over when and where and how it is appropriate for men to interact with women that seems to be so divisive.
I can't give you perfect answers, but I can say that what some feminists are saying regarding social interaction between the sexes is taking it a step too far. I also can't just say "boys will be boys." There are a lot of things males need to do to treat women better. I think it is something that mostly takes maturity. When I was younger I did a lot of inappropriate things that I no longer do now. I also think that through proper education things can change, just like they did with racism. Feminism naturally fits into the free thinking community, but it exposes some of the sexism that is still endemic in all walks of life, even amongst those who fancy themselves progressive and intellectual. It will be interesting to see where this will go in the next few years.
As AronRa said, we need to patch this silly internal dispute up as best as possible and remain focused on fighting the irrationality of religion and its champions who are our real enemy, and who seeks to destroy our worldview and everything we stand for. That's what I certainly will remain focused on.
Welcome to Atheism and the City. This blog is about exploring atheism through contemporary urban living. I live in New York City, the secular metropolis, and I have an avid interest in all things religion, science, philosophy, politics, and economics. I am an atheist, a humanist, a philosopher and a thinker, and the purpose of Atheism and the City is to write about my thoughts and experiences on the subjects and topics that I have a passion for. Feel free to respond to any post whether or not you agree.