Reddit’s Chauvinistic Atheists

There are few more prominent and thriving online atheist communities than Reddit‘s atheism subreddit. So it’s especially disgraceful and embarrassing to me to see so many of these atheist redditters prove they have more testosterone than brains. Jen McCreight, the committed, inventive, and inspiringly effective atheist activist, biology graduate student, contributor to The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas, creator of “The Atheist Barbie”, satirical scientist behind the viral anti-superstition phenomenon “Boobquake”, and ingenious, high profile blogger at Blag Haghighlights the sort of responses she got for complaining about the torrents of abusive comments her appearance has unnecessarily gotten when her posts have gone up on the site:

STOP TAKING EVERYTHING PERSONALLY. If you don’t want people to make fun of your looks take your picture off your blog. No one would ever know you were a woman if you didn’t constantly try to draw attention to your vagina. Grow up.

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Let’s see. You don’t want any comments about your breasts. One way to reduce the chance of that happening would be to have a picture that does not prominently feature your breasts.

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You have a picture of yourself on the side. The title of your blog is “Blag Hag”. You have an icon of a girl beside your header. It’s not a fair comparison.

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Ok so heres your problem. Reddit for the most part still has a large view that women dont exist on the internet. The second problem is that reddit also has the strange notion that when women present something or an image or information they some how try to tie in a picture of themselves…. I came here looking for a good article and right off the bat… Theres your photo… I didn’t have to click on an about you page or images. ITS RIGHT THERE trying to show something off. What is that, that your a woman? That you have a nice smile? What do you want me to think of how this is setup? Do I stop from the visual que to continue reading or do I get drawn to the pretty colors of the photo?

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But what’s really bizarre is that your blog is deliberately gender branded (titled “Hag” and featuring a picture of a cutesy girl at the keyboard), yet you complain when people notice your gender. But hey, it gives you something to blame other that yourself when you fail at something right?

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This won’t be popular, but you may want to reconsider complaining about sexist comments when immediately below your photo, you describe yourself (among others) as a pervert, and anyone who Googles you instantly finds “boobquake” attributed to you. You have every right to say what you want, but cannot be shocked when the idiots respond to a woman who brags about being a pervert. Probably confusing for the youngsters, making it more difficult to take you seriously.

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There is a simple solution to be not treated this way. Dont put up your photo in your blog. Dont tell your gender. Is it really necessary? Or on a second thought the comments like “nice boobs” are the better option? And you know this fact too, thus this post makes you an attention whore. (Or simply stupid for pointing out the obvious)

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Don’t post pics with tits hanging out and expect no reaction- NOT FUCKING ROCKET SCIENCE

This abuse comes from here and here.  Please make your voice known that not all atheists are misogynistic assholes who bully and degrade women.  It’s important both to confront the jerks and to let bold, talented, creative women know that both men and women will support them rather than abuse them when they speak up.

Finally, a small note:  when Dave and I were redesigning Camels With Hammers’ visual design we spent a morning looking at my favorite blogs and trying to find key visual techniques they all employed.  The first and absolutely clearest thing we noticed is every one of them had a human face, either in the form of a photo or a charming cartoon rendering of the main blogger.  And I realized, blogs are more instantly inviting and easy to relate to when you see a human face to orient you with respect to whose ideas you are being asked to read.  It is very hard to establish your credibility and your likability in a blogosphere infamously awash with unvetted opinions from creepy basement dwellers in their cheetos-crumb-covered underwear.  To demand that women not be able to show their faces without degrading sexualization is incredibly unfair to them.

But, don’t worry, Jen is still the smart girl we have loved and supported for a year and a half here.  And she has finally come up with a solution that both allows her to have a picture on her front page like all the major male atheist bloggers do, and to prevent “inviting” abusive male treatment.  You can see her brilliant compromise here.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Lyz

    Thank you for supporting Jen and outspoken atheist women everywhere!

  • Bracken

    You think that treatment is bad? You should have seen the hateful shit people used to write about Zinnia Jones whenever she’d put up a new youtube video. Reddit’s misogyny has nothing on its homophobia.

  • Kiwi Dave

    She’s a smart girl or a smart woman? (20 years old in April 2010.)

  • Daniel Fincke

    Ha! She’s a smart WOMAN—-I meant no condescension and apologize if any was implied.


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