Exploring the Gender Disparity on Daylight Atheism

As part of my fifth anniversary post, I included a survey where I asked readers to list their gender and their age, mainly just to satisfy my own curiosity. The results of the age poll, to my pleased surprise, formed a very neat bell curve (I have more computer-savvy older readers than I had guessed!).

This wasn’t the case with the gender survey, however. I was expecting there to be a gender disparity, and there was, but it was much larger than even I had anticipated. With the poll now closed, the final results stand at 81% male and 19% female, with about 1% who don’t identify as belonging to either category.

Granted, this isn’t a scientific poll, and there are lots of different factors that could have biased the results. Nevertheless, I think this huge gender disparity is a result that’s in need of explanation, and like any good scientist, I’d like to propose several different hypotheses to test.

Hypothesis #1. There’s a large male-female disparity in atheism generally, and the poll results simply reflect that fact.

This hypothesis is almost certainly part of the truth, but it can’t be all of the truth. According to the ARIS researchers, the non-religious segment of the American population is about 60% male (the percentages may be different in other countries, but I expect that a majority of my readership is American). Thus, if my visitors were a good statistical sample of the population, I’d have expected that same 60-40 split. But the gender disparity on Daylight Atheism is greater than that, which means there must be some other cause at work.

Besides, this hypothesis doesn’t really explain the gender disparity as much as reiterate it. Why is it true that nonbelievers are predominantly male?

Hypothesis #2. There’s a male-female disparity on the Internet generally, and the poll results simply reflect that fact.

Again, I think this hypothesis is part of the explanation, but only a small part. To further satisfy my curiosity, I cross-referenced the data for people who answered both polls, which yielded an interesting pattern:

MaleFemale
< 18103
18-215014
22-3016646
31-4010517
41-507317
51-606511
> 60426

As you can see, although there’s a gender disparity in every age group, it’s substantially larger among respondents above the age of 30. Below that age, men outnumber women by about 3-to-1, while above that age, it’s more like 6-to-1.

According to Pew surveys, it’s true that more older men than older women are online, but this only applies to those above the age of 65. In all younger age groups, the percentages are virtually identical. Therefore, it’s probably not a general, society-wide pattern in internet use that produced the discrepancy on my site.

Hypothesis #3. Men were more likely than women to vote in this poll, producing skewed results.

This possibility could be generalized to the hypothesis that women are socially conditioned to be less likely to speak up, to identify themselves, and to make their voices heard, especially when in the presence of men – something often noted by feminists. But while I think this may be a problem in general, I’m skeptical that it played a major role on this blog.

As I said, this poll wasn’t scientific, and it’s possible that differences in self-reporting might have further tilted the outcome. But on a blog, everyone’s comments occupy an equal space; no one can interrupt, shout down or talk over anyone else. It’s not even obvious what gender other commenters are, unless people deliberately comment under their real names or choose a gendered pseudonym. Whatever unequal social pressures may exist on men and women, could they really extend to something as simple as clicking a button on a poll?

Hypothesis #4. Something about the subject matter or content of this site, in general, appeals to men more than to women, or makes women feel as if they’re less welcome than men.

This is the hypothesis that I find the most plausible, and the one that troubles me most. Am I doing something to make atheist women feel unwelcome or uninterested?

If so, I’d like to fix that. But I don’t know what that thing might be, and I don’t expect it would be easy for me to discern it. After all, it’s difficult to notice your own presuppositions, except in the rare cases where circumstances are designed to bring them to the fore. But once they’re pointed out to you, it’s usually possible to deliberately make an effort to compensate for them.

That’s why, if you have an opinion about what I should be doing differently, I’d like to hear it. I’m especially interested to hear from female readers, although – and I mean no offense by this – you’re the outliers!

If we can come up with an answer to this question – if we can determine what a blogger like me should be saying or doing differently to appeal to women as well as men – this information will be beneficial not just to this site, but to the broader atheist movement, which is still struggling with issues of fairness and gender balance. By ensuring that we’re framing our message to appeal to all segments of the population equally, we can make the secular community larger and more influential, and in the long run, this can only be a good thing for us.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Serenegoose

    Honestly, I can’t think of anything. This was the first atheist blog I ever discovered, and I can’t say I can think of anything that I found negative about it from my own perspective, or anything that made me feel at all unwelcome. I don’t think that sounds especially helpful, but I really have no complaints at all. I guess the only hypothesis I have is that perhaps/since atheist communities in general aren’t seen as being very welcoming to women (???), you’re kind of paying for this perception even though you’re doing things right? I couldn’t say, I only have my perspective and random speculation to go on.

  • AnonaMiss

    I’d propose something of a sub-category of number 4: men and women generally use the internet for different things.

    This is well-documented in online gaming, with mostly men on MMORPGs and other PC games, and mostly women on so-called casual games like PopCap and Facebook apps.

    It could easily be that we’re both overlooking something offensive and off-putting that you’re doing on the site, but I haven’t seen anything here that made me personally feel unwelcome (not that I can speak for women in general on the issue). It’s not like you’re Christopher Hitchens or anything.

  • jemand

    As a female reader, and sort of building on what I posted before, I’m afraid there is a bit if a vicious cycle on here. Atheists often have SIWOTI syndrome, and I often have it bad. Your posts, themselves, when they touch on issues of women in the atheist movement, are usually pretty open to women and even feminist. However, I have noticed those are the comment threads that often explode, and given the skewed gender ratio, there are often a LOT more men talking on them than women.

    So, I know, knowing myself, that if I’m going to come here, I’m probably going to read the comments, and if I read the comments, there are probably going to be some dudes saying unenlightened stuff, whether they realize it or not, and knowing I can have some pretty bad SIWOTI and it’ll eat up most of my day, I may be inclined not to click through on my google reader, or maybe just skip your posts for awhile, etc.

    And also, these subjects AFFECT me, and my life, to a FAR greater extent than the men talking. When men get together and talk feminism, usually at some point the discussion is going to devolve into rape, or abortion, or something like that. And they will think they’re being objective, that women’s experiences are too biased and subjective, and men can have an attitude of detachment.

    That detachment is often tightly connected to values held in high priority in the atheist community, such as rationality, reasonableness, objectivity, forms of argument more likely judged correct, etc.

    However, I think it is INCORRECT. And, I think, these attitudes and values can undermine women’s voices in the discussion because they CANNOT detach themselves from the discussion, because it hits close to home, these issues affect them every day.

    Generally, however, I still come and read your posts, but they can take a greater measure of self control or psychological energy than I’d like to have put forward, and than some of the men have to have in order to read comments, and I can TOTALLY see other women who draw the cost/benefit line some other place.

    The problem is, it’s a vicious cycle, and I *really* don’t know what you, the blog owner, can do to fix it, because it just means that when you start off with some smaller skew, I think it definitely can get larger over time.

  • L.Long

    The two women I know most about are not involved with the atheist movement.
    the main reason is that…..
    atheism/deism who cares!
    Both are irrelevant!
    Most women KNOW were g0d is … right between their legs and 8″ higher.
    And for the sex perverts the name starts with a ‘U’ not a ‘V’.

    Women are busy doing work…raising kids or G’Kids…caring for our ‘little boy’ husbands. There are just so many hours in the day!
    I became active on blogging only because I’m babysitting my house waiting for it to sell so my evenings are clear. When I went to my daughter’s place I became involved with the G’Kids and no more blogging time, much less anything activity like meetings etc.
    Man or woman if involved with more then one kid ain’t got time or money.
    And for a woman it is worse, even without social programming, a woman who is the main bread winner has a load of guilt about not being there for the kids, so when home there is intense kid time.

    As a side issue the churches in many cases supply brain washing facilities er I mean daycare for mom’s at little or no cost that will allow them to socialize. So want more women active? Then supply this.

  • Grimalkin

    I’m a female reader. I can’t answer your question, but I can at least offer my own perspective…

    There’s been a lot of discussion about women and their involvement in atheism lately across the blogosphere, and it’s almost entirely been dominated by men who seem to think that the issue boils down to a couple hysterical femnazis getting fired up over semantics. While I’m not sure that Feb 10 was quite in that window, I’ve certainly been turned off reading any atheism-related blogs for quite a while because of this (there’s a backlog of almost 200 posts in my Google Reader’s “atheism” folder).

    Aside from that, you’ve mentioned quite a few possibilities and dismissed each as “not enough.” While I agree that each, on its own, is not enough, they do add up.

    Hypothesis #3 isn’t far-fetched. Remember, socialised behaviour doesn’t stay neatly compartmentalised. If we’re raised being constantly cut off, treated like our opinions aren’t interesting, and being told that we’re “too aggressive” every time we try to take an equal share in a discussion, that’s what we’re going to learn. Even in writing when we can’t be interrupted, we’re still going to apply the social behaviour patterns that we’ve been taught. Even in filling out a poll, we won’t bother because “no one’s interested in _my_ input.”

    #4 is far more subjective. Women are a very diverse group and you’re not going to be able to write content “to appeal to women” (although you’re welcome to try changing the blue theme for something with more pink in it, maybe add some unicorns or sparkles…). Personally, I read your blog because I find the content interesting. Another woman will think differently. Similarly, I’m sure that there are many male atheists who have found your blog and didn’t find that it appealed to them.

    Don’t think of us as a demographic to be appealed to. We’re far too broad a category and doing so is only half as silly as trying to appeal to “human readers.”

  • Clytia

    I’m a female regular reader. I can’t think of any reason for the huge gender disparity. Unlike #3, I don’t usually read the comments, so I haven’t noticed anything that could piss me off. I like this blog, I find it perfectly welcoming to women. Sorry, I’m probably not much help.

  • Mrnaglfar

    If we take the 60/40 split of male/female atheists at face value and assume further that this site is accessed exclusively by atheist readers, (which is probably not true, and could be a point worth checking into, see below) you would be looking at a 20% disparity compared to the population at large.

    I don’t know why hypothesis four makes you feel uncomfortable, however. I know you aren’t doing anything to try and make women feel unwelcome – quite the contrary. It could just be the case that – for a number of reasons – your site appeals more to men than women. Perhaps that 20% disparity could be partially (largely?) accounted for by the fact that women tend to be more slightly more religiously inclined than men; perhaps it could be accounted for by men (atheist or otherwise) being more likely to actively seek out intellectual conflicts, or at least be more likely to actively get involved in them once they come upon one; perhaps – while men and women tend to use the internet to similar degrees – men and women tend to use the internet for different things. Not that it’s exactly a point in men’s favor that we might be more likely to go on websites to have arguments that go on for days with strangers that rarely reach resolution.

    All of those seem to be plausible hypotheses, and my guess is were they to be taken into account, that 20% disparity would probably shrink to statistical insignificance. It goes without saying that you’d still be left with the issue of explaining the “whys” of the hypotheses, but I certainly don’t think much (if any) of that 20% is accounted for by anything you’re personally doing to make women feel uninterested.

  • siri

    I’d just like to second everything jemand said. Seeing atheist (and non-atheist) women constantly dismissed, ridiculed, and devalued, told that we’re overreacting or overemotional, does not make me want to participate in atheist communities.
    To me, it’s less about avoiding sexist content (though that’s certainly an important and worthy goal!) and more about creating a safe discursive space. There is an audience of smart, engaged atheist women online, and we don’t want ‘pinkwashed’ content–most of us just want to be taken seriously and respectfully. We can handle disagreement, but when we have to fight so hard just to have a voice in a discussion that is about us, as recent events have demonstrated so dramatically, we have to wonder if it’s worth the effort.
    That said, I do enjoy this blog quite a bit, and it’s certainly not one of the worst offenders. It means a lot that you’re asking these questions, and I hope you’ll continue to be willing to seek their answers.

  • archimedez

    Further data re Ebon’s Hypothesis # 2:

    (Excerpt)
    “More Women Online
    APRIL 9, 2007
    Women outnumber men online, and it’s likely to stay that way.
    eMarketer estimates that there will be an estimated 97.2 million female Internet users ages 3 and older in 2007, or 51.7% of the total online population. In 2011, 109.7 million US females will go online, amounting to 51.9% of the total online population.”
    http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1004775

  • Suzu

    As one of (I’m sure) many uncounted female readers, I can say that I, like commenter #3 above, I often do not engage in forums where woman’s issues (rape, abortion, discrimination) become part of larger discussion in which men may be supplying the majority of voices. It just requires to much of my time and emotional energy (these issues do hit really close to home, and hearing an “objective” male opinion, much less the claim that men can speak better to these issues, is just more upsetting than I want to deal with.)

    But I am speaking more generally about the Blog culture then your site, I have seen no diminishment or summation of feminist issues on your posts. Also your addressing this issue is a first step toward addressing it. It is so much harder to push against an unnamed problem.

    Thank you

  • L

    I’m a female atheist but not a regular reader. I’m only here because I was just getting into a talk about this subject, the atheist movement and it’s lack of women and reasons for that, and you happen to be on the same subject. The gender disparity is news to me and here is why.

    I read your site a lot last year when I was sorting out my lack of believe and realizing I identify as atheist, and all the things that meant for me. Now, I’ve figured it all out and moved on with my life. I don’t see the need to focus on what I don’t believe in. You’re still on my blog feed because I like your blog, but I only read it if something happened lately that pissed me off about religion. I do not find your blog negative, but I don’t spend a lot of time reading comments, either. I find your blog informative and level-headed. Your blog has never offended me; it’s my favorite atheist blog, though I don’t know many.

    Religion annoys me so I don’t like thinking about it more than necessary, that’s all. A lot of atheism is negative–it has to be, all we share is negative belief. My life is good since I’m able to shut religion out of it. Reading about it reminds me and makes me bitter. I didn’t realize women were unwelcome in the “atheist movement”, I don’t disbelieve it though, nor does it intimidate me. Women get that treatment a lot. I get the hypocrisy factor though. Supposedly you freethinkers should be above the misogyny, but evidently are not. No surprise to me. I don’t hold atheists to higher standards. There are all different types.

  • unintentionalhypocrite

    Hello, more female input here. I have never found your blog off-putting or sexist in any way, though as others above me have pointed out, the comments may be different, but that’s not your fault. I very rarely comment, but that’s not because I feel threatened by the male voices on here – I just feel I don’t have anything new or original to contribute because there are always other people who articulate similar views to my own but in a much more eloquent fashion, regardless of whether they’re male or female. And I guess I’m reluctant to jump into arguments because, if my experience of arguments with friends on Facebook is anything to go by, I can be pretty hopeless at them; I can find it quite draining and having arguments in the public domain on top of the ones I have in private seems like overkill…That being said, I have on the rare occasion left comments where nobody had yet pointed out things that I felt needed to be pointed out. I have tried to start a blog, because I feel I ought to be less afraid and get some of my opinions out there, but so far it hasn’t gone beyond an introduction. (It probably doesn’t help that I’ve decided to make it bilingual). I do have an online gallery, but I don’t think anyone can say it’s a hotbed of philosophical/political thought. Unless you can find deep social commentary in pictures of hairy-legged women and fat men.

  • http://peternothnagle.com Peter N

    I thought that running a brief demographic poll of your readers was a great idea, and the results are fascinating. It would be illuminating if such a poll were presented on other atheist blogs — particularly, I wonder what the gender and age breakdown is among readers of popular blogs written by women. Are most of their readers men also?

    An aside to L, above… I have been “over” religion for many years, but I think keeping up on atheism is well worth the effort. First of all, religion is worked deep into the fabric of our society, so atheism, as a critical study of religion, provides an important perspective on the serious questions we face. Also, atheism is much more than “the negative belief” we all share. Atheism is a positive worldview, that values knowledge, reason, the scientific method, and evidence-based solutions to the problems facing humanity.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    Happy blog anniversary!

    I’m a female reader, and I absolutely love your blog! Your writing always makes me think and I love the fact that you obviously put effort and time into your writing.

    There are sometimes comments that I think are against or dismissive of women, especially on posts about abortion (though your posts on the topic are excellent). However, the comments section is much better (in my experience) then some other blogs. I tend not to even look at comments on certain sites, because even though I like the bloggers, the comments sections tend to fill up with wrong or discriminatory statements. This is one of the few blogs where I actually look forward to reading the comments, because people makes interesting contributions.

    Concerning women being socially conditioned, I used to not comment on blogs at all. I’m not sure how much that has to do with being female. In the past, I’ve usually preferred to be gender neutral when writing online, and would only offer information about my gender if asked. Now, I think the name probably makes it obvious, but in some ways, it can be comforting to be anonymous, with no one knowing personal information, so that you’ll just be evaluated based on what you write.

    Given I don’t think you’re being offensive to women, I’m uncertain if you can appeal to women by changing the content. There are often times when people say things about what most women find appealing and I find myself totally disagreeing with it. If I make a suggestion about what women would like, many other women would probably disagree with me.

  • L

    Peter N, if we are talking about secular humanism or free thought then I agree with your stated positive shared values. Maybe this is semantics but I didn’t consider Atheism a worldview in itself. Usually in my travels, under the heading of Atheism, I see critique of religion.

    I do think it is important that people are out there critiquing religion publically, but I am glad that others are handling that for me because I get so angry and I am trying to hold on to my shred of tolerance toward religion. Perhaps I am just taking a break.

    I did think more about the topic of commenting in blogs. It could be the academic nature of the posts. There are less women in political discussion as well as countless other areas. Perhaps this is the same across the spectrum of discussion and debate and not at all unique to atheism.

  • http://atheistwiki.wikispaces.com Jon Jermey

    I think that women are less inclined in general to be iconoclastic than men, particularly where social institutions are concerned. In many social groups it seems to be that the women take on a disproportional amount of the socialising role, while men are more concerned with material achievements. Priorities tend to be different, with women giving a higher priority to maintaining and preserving functioning social systems.

    So I suspect that if you ran the same poll in other iconoclastic blogs, especially political or legal blogs that advocated major changes to the system — hard line Republicans, Marxists, Scientologists or whatever — you would find the same disparity. My impression is that women are just in general more committed to the status quo. And yes, I know there are lots of exceptions, and no, I’m not about to try and explain it in terms of Social Darwinism. It’s an observation, that’s all.

  • former reader

    it’s kind of funny that this is the post i was greeted with today. i haven’t checked your blog in months, and i haven’t read regularly in a couple of years. for me, it’s because i don’t think that religion/atheism is actually the most pressing issue in the world. i think privilege/oppression is a better focus, because those issues (like racism, sexism, classism, heteronormativity, etc.) tend to play out in nasty ways on both sides of religion/atheism. and it just got to be too irritating hanging out in circles with mostly privileged men (usually white, middle class or above, straight, American) talking about atheism and being mad about religion like it was the most important issue ever. because, for me, i no longer care what people believe when it comes to religion – all i care about is, are they able to look at themselves critically, acknowledge their privileges, admit when they make mistakes, and fight with me for a better world? and i don’t think the atheist movement is a good place to organize with all those issues in mind.

    i also agree with jemand and Suzu – a lot of atheist men tend to, in my experience, have this complex where they think they’re the most objective, and they talk about everything with this super rational air that is really counter-productive and off-putting.

    now, none of this has anything in particular to do with you, Ebon. i read a lot of atheist blogs for a few years, and this was probably the last or close to the last one i stopped reading regularly, because i remember that you were pretty good at addressing issues like sexism, racism, etc., and you have a heart to your writings that’s very compelling. but atheism is your focus, and it just can’t be mine – i have so many more problems as a woman and a queer person, and my friends have too many issues with those anymore, for atheism to be a useful focus for me.

  • Michus

    I thought I would chip in my first comment on this blog. I’ve been a long time reader but never really wanted to join the discussion before this post.

    I am a male reader and an avid internet user and I have to say (for better or more likely for worse) I have been conditioned to assume by default that what I read was written by a male or that when I communicate in a forum or other medium that my expected audience will be male or at least largely male. I’m not sure when or why that’s happened to me, it’s probably because I spend a lot of my online time playing a predominantly male-occupied MMO (95%+ male population) but I think that it might not just be my perception alone that the internet is largely a male medium.

    I don’t like this or even understand how it’s happened exactly, but I think that because a lot of communication (written by men) online assumes a male, or at best a gender-neutral audience, that we could be continuing an unspoken ‘boy’s club’ tradition.

    I don’t really know, it’s a complicated subject. While on the topic however I wanted to re-iterate a point someone made earlier in the comments that it must be a unique experience for a woman to be able be somewhere on the internet and be treated like… well, like a guy. As she said the internet is anonymous and if people assume the default is male then they tailor their comments and communications to that audience subconsciously. Perhaps some component of the disparity among gender in online populations has to do with the way female commentators and communicators are assumed to be and are treated as male? Perhaps this kind of experience is wildly different from how people engage and interact with them in person in the real world?

    I don’t know if that’s any kind of answer, but I have only a male’s perspective of the internet and have no idea what it would be differently perceived by a female.

    It is a curious topic though, and one that clearly deserves examination and improvement.

  • http://myhgwellsblog.blogspot.com/ davelong

    This is an excellent blog, and the problem may well lie with the wider atheist community, not with anything you’re doing. Too much sexism? Afraid so, and too little willingness among us chaps to challenge it.

    Ever since I came across the term ‘mansplain’ I’ve been thinking about how I talk to friends who are women. The fact that they still are my friends may suggest I’m doing all right, but it may also indicate high tolerance thresholds.

  • Godless Granny

    I’m not only female but also over 65. I love this blog and don’t want anything major to change. It is well thought out and well written. The comments are intelligent, for the most part. I really don’t know why the ratio of men to women is so out of whack.

    I have some advantages over other women. I grew up in an argumentative family–note, arguments, not fights. These arguments were over ideas and opinions and at the end of the day, everyone was still friends. So I’ve never been upset by heated discussions, though I do think reason can suffer as the heat rises. My mother was never afraid to express her opinions.

    Though I’ve encountered my share of dismissive men, that doesn’t bother me. I don’t allow myself to be patronized. I’m generally smarter than they are.

    Other forums with gender imbalance ask the same question about why more women don’t participate. I’m active in some computer hardware and software support forums and there are WAY more men than women.

  • Ally

    First, can I just say that I love that you included a genderqueer option for the poll? I identify as female myself, but I am also part of the LGBT community, and that’s exactly the sort of small, everyday recognition that makes me smile. :)

    As I said above, I’m female, so I thought I’d put my two cents in here. (I haven’t read the above comments, though, so hopefully I’m not being too repetitive…) I honestly haven’t noticed anything here that I would class as anti-feminist. I’ve always thought that Daylight Atheism specifically and the atheist community in general is very nicely pro-feminism, pro-LGBT rights, and just generally pro-minority. In fact, at times I’ve felt you were a little more feminist than myself! (But I’m rather a strange feminist, so that’s probably just me!) I don’t tend to read the comments often, though, so I can’t speak for them.

    If I had to offer any explanation, it’s this: women in general feel more pressure to be kind, loving, and nurturing than men. Women are the emotionally sensitive, tolerant ones, according to society. So I think there’s a lot more pressure on women to be ‘open-minded’, and that’s the root of the large amount of women engaged in these new-age, liberal religions nowadays. This explains the gender disparity in atheism in general, but I think it also explains the gender disparity on atheist blogs such as this one – if a woman does decide that she is an atheist, I think she is more likely than a man to turn out more accomodationist, and the sort of ‘we just want to put a better face on atheism and open up dialogue with other religions’ atheist than the more confrontational atheist you see at places like Daylight Atheism. Not that that’s a bad thing – I personally prefer Daylight Atheism’s more straight-talking style – but I think it’s likely that that kind of atheism’s ‘angry atheist’ image would, in general, put off more women than men.

    On the other hand, I’ve noticed this gender disparity other places, too. Less Wrong, a blog devoted to rationality and logic, invariably turns out a similarly biased gender ratio. That makes me wonder whether there’s also something about cultural ideas about men and logic and women and creativity that is fuelling this – men are meant to be science and numbers, while women are meant to be art and imagination. Maybe that’s why female atheists are being less drawn to these more scientific blogs, because they feel it suits them less?

    As a final thought on the subject of less female atheists in general, I wonder this: women tend to see themselves as an underpriviledged group in society (as, of course, they often are), so it’s understandable that many of them would push hard for tolerance and equality. Maybe that’s why women tend to be less confrontationalist and prefer liberal religion to atheism – they see atheism as ‘anti-tolerant’ and thus bad, ignoring or not realizing that the atheist community is one of the most liberal (and yet sensibly so) ones out there. And as for women in more religious cultures, maybe the persecution leads them to seek comfort, as I believe you’ve mentioned another time as a possible source for religion among ethnic minorities? Especially if the religion is one that treats women as inferior – it’s a lot harder to leave your religion, I imagine, when you’ve been told all your life that you’re less intelligent than the male preacher telling you to believe.

  • kennypo65

    Perhaps the gender disparity has something to do with the fact that young girls are less likely to be encouraged when they take an interest in science and mathematics. Perhaps we can prepare the next generation of women early, when they are still little girls e.g.- A telescope instead of a Barbie doll. Young children of both sexes have very inquisitive minds, but I think that gets stifled later on by the assignment of gender roles. A mind thats better trained to question will eventually question everything,
    even faith.

    Full disclosure: These are some of the birthday and xmas gifts that I gave my niece (age 10) over the years.

    A chemistry set

    Microscope

    “Evolution” by Daniel Loxton, books by Sagan , Asimof, Hawking, and others.

    telescope

    She loves science, especially her telescope. She says that her heroine is Carolyn Porco, and she wants to be a planetary scientist just like her.

  • http://superhappyjen.blogspot.com SuperHappyJen

    I have a vagina and boobs and I love your blog.

    Not a lot of Canadian content, though. I have to look elsewhere for issues facing my own country. Nothing to do with attracting women, except a lot of us live north of the border. :)

  • http://betterthanesdras.wordpress.com Abbie

    Well, the site is blue. Why would I read a boy-colored site????

  • Nancy

    I am a 49 yo white female atheist. I find your blog posts very appealing and have especially enjoyed those that acknowledge women. I rarely read comments. If I do read them, I don’t have the time or inclination to compose a well written reply. I’m guessing there are many more female readers than are accounted for in your poll. This is the first time I have submitted a comment.

  • David Ellis

    “This is the hypothesis that I find the most plausible, and the one that troubles me most. Am I doing something to make atheist women feel unwelcome or uninterested?”

    I suspect AnonaMiss is probably right in saying that it’s most likely a result of the way men and women tend to use the internet more than something about your site being off-putting to women. That said, I’d be interested in seeing other atheist bloggers running the same poll, including women bloggers like Greta Christina and Jen McCreight, to get a larger overview of the readership of atheist blogs.

  • Mackrelmint

    Hi Ebon,
    I’ve been reading and enjoying your blog for years and am also a Canadian woman (Hi SuperHappyJen!). Aside from the fact that your posts are intelligent, thoughtful and articulate, I enjoy coming here because of the tone you set and maintain. I appreciate being in a space where profanity and flaming isn’t the norm and where comments are moderated to keep them free of personal attacks and abuse. That sort of behaviour certainly keeps me away from other online forums.

    I’ve been hearing about the supposed absence of female atheists and have wondered if folks aren’t conflating the absence of women from online US-based forums (and calling that the atheist community) with the absence of female atheists in general (and worldwide?).

    I agree with Jemand and Grimalkin in that a lot of little reasons may add up to a greater disparity in readership. I also think that Michus made a very important point –that men and women alike, we’ve often been socialized to consider the default as male and so while the comments here are usually also intelligent and articulate (and a reason to read them too), in a culture where women’s opinions are often undervalued, dismissed, or only considered if coming from a man, women may be less likely to put their voice out there and join in, despite the anonymity of online forums. Although I’ve been a regular reader for years, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve commented here and comment about as infrequently elsewhere although I do have other favourite blogs, such as reading Dale McGowan’s site, The Meming of Life, in spite of not being a parent.

    I do find this a female friendly space and appreciate the feminist perspective you bring. I’m not sure that you specifically need to do anything differently to attract more women (for god’s sake just don’t introduce anything pink to the colour scheme ;).

    Finally, for me, although I enjoy visiting atheist sites and can appreciate some righteous anger now and then (Hurrah for Greta!), I don’t consider myself an atheist activist and many atheist sites seem to come from that sole perspective. I enjoy Dale’s site because of how he tackles daily living as a non-believer, albeit with an interest in secular parenting. I define myself first as a secular humanist and would much prefer to be identified by others as simply someone who cares for others and is working to make the world a better place rather than primarily as an atheist, despite how many atheists also see that as part of their atheist identity.

    I’m beginning to ramble now. Thanks for the question and interest Ebon. Thanks especially for maintaining your site and your fantastic (albeit not Canadian) content. ;)

  • Hailey

    I don’t believe that there’s really anything that needs to be changed in order to attract more females. I had some input on this, but upon reading all of the other comments I see others have already covered my points well and I’ll save you from pointless reiteration.

    That being said, a few people mentioned that females will often assume gender-neutral online identities in order to be treated on the same equal ground as males. I used to be guilty of the same thing, and still am in some ways. And I have noticed that male internet users will react to a female on the internet differently now that they know their gender–and this sugar coating or distance does bother me. I still almost exclusively use male characters as an avatar when I play in the online MMORPG world, if only to avoid playing into the sexual subjectivity of women (why are the women almost always scantily clad, fit and attractive?) and to be treated as if I were a male gamer as opposed to a female one. I don’t like the often awkward interface I receive from males when I announce that. I don’t want to be considered cute or rare for playing Monster Hunter: Tri online, I want my skills to be gauged in the same way other males gauge each other.

    This extends too, to the atheism community. I have for years argued on the internet under the guise of a male beneath a gender-neutral title, because then I was taken more seriously by the internet users I was speaking to as opposed to “aww, isn’t that cute, the lady has opinions; lets smile and nod.” I remember attending a professional debate at my university last year, where I spoke with a few other atheists (all male) and it did bother me that some of them seemed much more interested in my personal information than anything I had of worth to contribute to the discussion (hey, how old are you? where do you live? can I have your number? Do you have a Facebook?).

    I think it’s harder for men to treat women on equal ground than people think. Not that I’m being sexist about it myself, it just happens… And places like this, where female commenters are exposed to a majority of more vocal male commenters, are setting up that same kind of social pressure that I, at least, have been conditioned to avoid or blend neutrally into. I don’t believe there’s much that can be done about that, but I often recommend this blog to my other female atheist friends (we do exist, I have plenty female atheist friends in varying age groups) however, none of them seemed to care to stick around and check this blog daily as I have for years. It just doesn’t hold their interest because they accept atheism as part of their lives, but not something so important to their identity. They take their lack of faith casually, which I do not. They spend their time on the internet more often than not pursuing their passions on other forums (one is a huge marvel comic buff, and I’m sure she’d much rather find some news on the new Captain America movie than worry about religion). It all just boils down to what one considers most relevant to them.

  • Sarah Braasch

    Ebon, you’re awesome.

    Please do not turn accommodationist on us or do anything else to appeal to women.

    Just keep doing what you’re doing — denouncing religion and myth and superstition; standing up for science and reason and logic and reality; and providing a forum in which disparate views are encouraged and debated and all persons who are willing to treat their fellow human beings with dignity are themselves treated as such in kind.

    And, I’ll keep being an angry, outspoken, new atheist woman, if you’ll have me.

    Change takes time.

    I will not stop insisting that the best thing a woman can do to attain her own rights, her own humanity, as well as those of her sisters across the globe, is to denounce religion and myth and superstition.

    Women also have to take responsibility for themselves. Stand up for themselves. Refuse to be silenced. Speak out.

    Victimhood status doesn’t let anyone off the hook.

    It is not sexist or anti-feminist to say this.

    I don’t have a problem with the men on this site. I am more than happy to jump in the fray and to make my voice heard.

    I don’t want to silence them or to make them feel like they have to temper themselves. (Oh, tread carefully, women are present. We don’t want to upset the ladies’ delicate sensitivities. No!)

    I want them to air their true thoughts in the disinfecting sunlight of public discourse in the free and open public marketplace of ideas.

    I’ll meet them there — to give them a piece of my mind.

    Secularism is one of the most important issues of our time. There are no human rights without secularism. There are no women’s rights without secularism. There is no democracy without secularism. This is why I devote considerable time and energy to the cause. I know — secularism is not atheism, it’s not anti-religion. But, I think one of the best ways to fight for secularism is to also advocate against religion.

    If we can get more people to give up their stupid myths — this will make it a lot easier to fight for secularism.

    And, who is always trying to destroy secularism — the religious.

  • axemaiden

    /delurking

    UK female disabled atheist, age 41. As with much of the blogosphere, I read here, but don’t comment.

    I’d also like to second everything Jemand said. This is not a safe space for me, as a woman or as a disabled person (some atheist/humanist views on abortion and assisted dying are particularly problematic for many disabled people). I see this as a predominantly male space where women are welcome, in contrast to Greta Christina’s blog for example, which is very definitely a female space where men are welcome. I am much more comfortable there.

    I’d also say as a UK reader, this is a very USian space. The major concern of US atheists seems to be arguing with creationists. That’s less of a concern for us in the UK. I’m personally more interested in religious influence (of all kinds) in government, for example, since here we don’t have any doctrine of separation of church and state – in fact they’re intertwined.

    As for what you can do – I’d say bring greater diversity onto the site by seeking out a greater variety of guest bloggers, and concenrtate less on arguing with the religious POV.

  • http://www.facepunch.com/member.php?u=298989 Jeep-Eep

    No whinging about feminists and barely veiled misogynist crap?

    bbk, I am disappoint.

    Seriously, I was expecting him to be all over this.

  • http://superhappyjen.blogspot.com SuperHappyJen

    HAiley, interesting that you should mention MMORPG games. I have a male friend who plays as a woman sometimes because people are nicer to him and give him stuff. When I used to play I had a male character and a female. I never got hit on as a male. It’s an interesting experiment pretending to be the opposite gender online.

  • RipleyP

    As a male I cannot recognize if there are issues with the site that would disincline female readership. I see the site as being open to all. However I hold the bias of being in the majority gender so it is quiet probable that I cannot see things as clearly as I would like.

    I remember a debate in law school where it was suggested there was a large disparity between the genders and their approach to conflict. It was a long while ago and I can’t seem to find a reference to support my post.

    The debate was extended to envisage legal systems that were less male oriented and included the feminine perspective.

    The whole debate started with a discussion of male and female children dealing with conflict. The boys were very rule oriented and sought to enforce rules and impose penalty for breaches.

    Often the boys were cited as saying the other who was outside the rules would get in trouble. This reflects a lot of the adversarial system found western legal systems (excluding the European inquisitorial systems)

    The girls were more oriented towards resolving dispute by means more attuned to a collective good. It appeared less confrontational and adverserial. The sanction that sticks in my mind from the girl’s perspective was to remove emotional supports. The “I don’t like you anymore” technique.

    The feminine approach suggests a more collective approach in encouraging involvement rather than obedience. A failure to meet the standards led to exclusion from the community but rather than punishment for a breach this was more an incentive to remain within the community.

    This I admit is a very simplistic explanation and most likely lacks the depth (and a citation to support) it truly deserves.

    Using the above it may be atheism is conflict centered and this has an impact on its attractiveness to women.

    I am only able suggest further mechanisms for potential causative factors such as this factor. I apologize that I have no suggestions as to how to control for this potential factor or even detect if it exists.

  • http://rejistania.wordpress.com Rejistania

    My 2 (Euro)cents on this issue: The current obsession with gender balance is unappealing. It sounds to me as if I am not accepted for being me, Rejistania, female, atheist, conlanger, roleplayer, etc with all my personality but only because I am part of a selected group or caste. This is something, which makes me as an atheistic, conlanging, roleplaying, female PERSON very uncomfortable. I am not sure how many people agree with this, if any, but this is how I feel.

    That said, when you do not try to include us into the movement, you still post VERY relevant feminist articles which I really like to read.

  • Theldyrn

    Rejistania

    ‘Roleplayer’ means instant acceptance in my book. All attributes after that are moot.

    As for the gender disparity, perhaps its caused by the percentage of women being below some important critical mass, and that individual women here feel “isolated in a sea of men.” Just a wild theory.

  • http://www.uncrediblehallq.net/ Chris Hallquist

    I’m going to be the asshole here and say I don’t quite get what jemand and the people seconding her are saying. For example:

    >i also agree with jemand and Suzu – a lot of atheist men tend to, in my experience, have this complex where they think they’re the most objective, and they talk about everything with this super rational air that is really counter-productive and off-putting.

    This is an incomplete explanation. I think there’s a grain of truth to this statement about atheist men, but why couldn’t it be just as off-putting to other men? You need to add the hypothesis that women are much more sensitive to the particular brand of assholery you sometimes find in the atheist community.

    Is that really what this commenter wants to say?

  • jemand

    @Chris, actually yes. Women in this society are constantly dealing with specific kinds of uncertainty, and this uncertainty daily influences their lives in ways and on subjects it doesn’t with men. For instance, birth control, rape, and abortion. These aren’t academic debates to women, these are issues we have to live with *every day.* On a deeply personal level, cultural narratives force us to live with considerably more uncertainty with these things than men, will the pharmacist steal our prescription? Will teabaggers influence public policy enough that our birth control or abortion will not even be covered by our private health insurance? Will the police believe us if we are raped? How much victim blaming will we have to deal with?

    We can’t be “detached” and *appearing* detached can sometimes look more objective, more rational, less emotive or “hysterical.” Many atheist men who have abandoned religion but who have NOT closely examined how sexism pervades society with the same skeptical air given to religious systems, end up sounding rather entitled and clueless simultaneously when discussing “women’s issues.”

    So I DO think atheist men building on the cultural default of viewing male issues as universal, men as default, women’s rights as “special” or women as somehow “different” from the norm and rather inscrutable at that, can tap into society’s penchant for treating a male voice as somehow more “authoritative” and for valuing detachment as a proxy for rationality and objectivity. Often these forces undermine women’s contributions to the conversation on the exact same subjects that uniquely affect women!

    I have no idea why you think it would be surprising women would be more sensitive to this particular brand of assholery than men. It seems exceedingly obvious to me.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    @kennypo

    Full disclosure: These are some of the birthday and xmas gifts that I gave my niece (age 10) over the years.

    A chemistry set

    Microscope

    “Evolution” by Daniel Loxton, books by Sagan , Asimof, Hawking, and others.

    telescope

    I have 2 nieces and both of them get science related gifts from me – it’s the only type of gift I give them.

  • Mrnaglfar

    For instance, birth control, rape, and abortion. These aren’t academic debates to women, these are issues we have to live with *every day.*

    Come now; surely you don’t believe all women are of one mind about these issues, especially on the subject of abortion. There are most certainly women for which these subjects are academic debates, no matter what their circumstances in life are.

    I have no idea why you think it would be surprising women would be more sensitive to this particular brand of assholery than men. It seems exceedingly obvious to me.

    I could think of one reason: there are many men that care about these issues just as much as women do, because they affect everyone. These aren’t questions of men vs women, nor are they “women’s issues”; they’re societal issues, in which everyone has a stake. I think a pharmacist not issuing a prescription because of their own stance on abortion or birth control is ludicrous; I think women being denied the right to abortions is terrible; I think a woman getting raped is a tragedy and her not being believed is just as bad.

  • bbk

    For what it’s worth, I didn’t answer the survey, either. But maybe once we get that RealID system going, websites such as this can block male readers until the gender disparity disappears. Harrison Bergeron comes to mind more and more as these ongoing discussions evolve.

    What I gather from some of the lurkers is that they don’t necessarily have a problem with this blog. A few are espousing an above-it-all superiority as their reason for not participating, but for the most part they seem to have a benevolent opinion. The contingent that is really angry at the blogsphere and specifically men such as myself are actually frequent commenters. This vocal contingent is heavily feministic and this blog makes appeals to feminist ideas, whereas the majority of women don’t identify heavily with feminism. That brings me to Rejistania’s comment, which to me has a lot of significance. It’s what I originally opined, many threads ago, as a much better approach to inclusion.

  • Suzu

    @ 39, Mrnaglfar

    Was the “come now” really necessary?

    thats all

  • Mrnaglfar

    Nope. It was meant to be informal, not patronizing, if I’m inferring what you’re suggesting correctly.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Thanks, everyone, for your feedback. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought over the weekend.

    I’ve read all the comments in this thread, and my overall impression was that no one answer dominated. In a way, I suppose, that’s reassuring. It reassures me that there’s probably nothing obvious I’m doing that’s driving away women, because I’m confident that if there was, you all would have told me about it loud and clear. On the other hand, it means that redressing this imbalance will be harder, precisely because there’s no single, obvious thing to do.

    After doing some research, I also found out, to my surprise, that the 80-85% male figure isn’t unique to this site. Similar numbers have been cited for Sunday talk show guests, Hollywood producers, U.S. congresspeople, and even the contributors of Wikipedia. I’m not really sure how to explain this, or even if the same causal factors are at work in every case. (No, I don’t think this proves the gender gap is genetically determined or any other such nonsense.)

    Among the people who suggested an answer to my question, and keeping in mind that many people suggested a combination of factors, the responses divided broadly into two categories. One popular answer was that men and women participate in community differently – women tend to be less interested in debating religion than men are or just prefer activities on the internet other than blogs. The theory that women experience greater social pressure against forthrightly expressing their views would also fall under this category. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot I can do about this.

    The other popular answer had to do with the preponderance of misogynist trolls that always show up in these threads, and that is something I can act on. Several commenters made the point that for women, issues of equality and choice are real, tangible, life-and-death dilemmas, and it’s an immensely draining, frustrating, and infuriating experience to argue with idiots who’ll run their mouths all day about man-hating feminists and otherwise treat the matter as nothing but a point-scoring exercise. And I totally get that. I concede that in the past, I may have erred on the side of being too accommodating when it comes to the irrelevant, derailing but-what-about-the-men whines that always seem to crop up, and it may be possible to find a better balance.

    I don’t intend to make this site a “safe space”, if that term is taken to mean an arena where certain opinions are ruled out of bounds. Daylight Atheism has always been a place where all points of view can be expressed and all beliefs can be challenged. However, it’s also true that a warning against sexism and all other forms of bigotry has been part of my comment policy from the beginning, and it’s about time for a reminder of that.

    I’m not going to name names, but… OK, actually I am going to name names. This comment from bbk is the kind of ridiculous bullshit I’ve had just about enough of:

    The contingent that is really angry at the blogsphere and specifically men such as myself are actually frequent commenters.

    bbk, you are not arguing in good faith. Your exaggerated sense of victimhood and self-pity bears no relation to the actual discussion in this or any other thread on this site, and your thinly veiled misogyny is unacceptable. I’ve put up with this nonsense for a long time, but I’m telling you that there is a line. I recommend you not try to find out how close you can come to crossing it.

  • funny_hats_time

    Hey, I’m an RSS- reader, and I thought that, as a female atheist, I ought to drop in.
    I really don’t know what to say. I always knew I was in the minority, but until I saw these numbers, I didn’t quite realize just how much (at least here). I haven’t noticed anything that would make women feel uninterested or unwelcome about this site. Really, I’m as surprised as anyone. So… Yeah. If there is anyone here who can enlighten me as to why women wouldn’t want to be here, it would be much appreciated if you’d mention it to me.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Going to have to disagree with you on this one, Ebon. Whether or not you agree with the views bbk has expressed, I don’t see misogyny, nor do I see arguing in bad faith – no degree of it that’s widely different from pretty much any of the regular commenters around here, anyway.

    And, whether or not you agree with what he has to say, I think people’s treatment of him – yours included – can be more knee-jerk and less charitable than I’m sure people like to give themselves credit for. Speaking frankly, I feel the well may have already been poisoned for some around here regarding bbk, and no matter what faith he argues in they will be reluctant to accept anything he has to say, provided they will accept anything at all, before they just write him off as you seem to have.

    Let’s be honest here; does the “preponderance”, as you put it, of “misogynist trolls” that show up amount to anyone else outside of bbk in your mind? Because if there are misogynists showing up around here all the time, I must just not be reading those threads.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    @Mrnaglfar
    I would agree. BBK has a more nuanced position than he is being given credit for and while I don’t necessarily agree with him whole-heartedly there is nothing inherently misogynistic in what he says or the way he says it. Besides, without a bit of controversy we would all be sitting here in smug politically correct agreement and learning nothing. My understanding of feminist issues has deepened somewhat precisely because people like Jemand and Sarah have responded robustly to BBK.

  • jemand

    Actually, Mrnaglfar, when Ebon points out someone is treading very close to the line on allowable misogynistic comments… and you rejoin that in fact he is generally just posting within the normal for a lot of the regular commenters…. haven’t you just proved the point there is a problem?

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    Indeed, bbk makes all kinds of nuanced, sophisticated arguments. Unfortunately, they rarely have anything significant to do with the topic he was supposed to be addressing.

    Oblivious, not malicious.

  • Elizabeth

    I’m a bit late to this discussion, but as a female I don’t feel sidelined or anything by your blog…in fact, I love your balanced, rational postings here. I read a couple of the other “big” blogs (Pharyngula, Greta Christina, Friendly Atheist, etc) regularly as well.
    I even read the comments on all the sites, so I know how crazy it can get sometimes.

    I am personally very impressed with how supportive your posts are for women & LGBT and other persecuted groups. I know sometimes comments can get a little weird, but nothing like what happens on some other places.

    I feel like overall it’s a place of (mostly) rational discourse.

    Your Ebon Musings writings are vital as well. They are rational, well-thought out, intellectually satisfying writings that I have recommended to a couple of other people who are questioning religion.

    I don’t think you should change a thing about how you post – I don’t even think you need to do too much about commentators that go wacko. Freedom of speech applies to everyone, much as I might not want to hear what they say.
    I figure a lot of it is just “internet bluster” – easy to say in the anonymity of cyberspace, but put some of these assholes in front of an actual woman or gay person or whatever and they would clam up.

    Maybe other women can’t distance themselves like that – I don’t know. I said in your original poll post that I don’t feel like the “average” woman – most everything specifically designed to appeal to women (see–>Oprah etc.) makes me GAG…so if you went “pink” I’d probably stay away.

    I belong to a Board Game Meetup group that is quite balanced between men and women, but there is one man who comes all the time with his wife who is one of what I call the “know it all” types of men. He never shuts up and he is always right.
    But – whenever I see new people come to our group, especially a woman, I deliberately put myself out and play with this guy so the new person can go play with others in our group to not subject them to “Dave”.

    I say this to show that I have a high tolerance for male bullshit so maybe that’s why I can read comment threads here and elsewhere with equanimity…there’s always a few “Daves” on these threads. They love to hear themselves talk but I can let it roll off my back. It’s the ones who *aren’t* here on the internet commenting that scare me more – they might actually be out *doing* something….

  • monkeymind

    I’m surprised that no one has commented on bbk’s Vonnegut reference. Harrison Bergeron was a character in the story about a society where equality was achieved by requiring the brilliant, beautiful, and talented to be handicapped be blindfolds or other impediments so they were on an equal footing with everyone else.

    So, apparently bbk reads these posts about inclusiveness and improving gender balance as calls for him to dial down his brilliance so as not to overwhelm the poor ladies.

    Commenters who have been exposed to the blooming, buzzing confusion of bbk’s ideas about history and historiography, or to his elaborate straw sculptures of feminists and feminism: do you really think that excess brilliance is bbk’s problem?

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF
  • bbk

    I guess I have to explain the whole story before that, too, gets misconstrued (at the moment I don’t want to touch Ebon’s comment with a ten foot pole). First, Harrison Bergeron was the name of the story, not just a character. Harrison Bergeron was representative of the right. He claimed himself to be an emperor and offered rewards to those who would be his subjects. He, just like the right, does not want true Democracy, and just like the right, he is so powerful that he can hardly be stopped. So no, frankly, I don’t relate to him. If you’re on the left, like me, the character you’re supposed to identify with is the Handicapper General who killed Harrison with her shotgun. This character represents the predicament of someone who wants a good world (she shoots a would-be tyrant) in a society that so hopelessly misunderstands equality. And, ironically, she needs to be brilliant herself in order to come up with all the clever handicaps. I relate to her, as did Vonnegut, and it’s not meant to be mean-spirited if I say that Ebon fills her role on this blog.

    Harrison’s mother is Vonnegut’s real target. She even has the last words, inane as they are, and says them twice. She is what represents the average American. She requires no handicaps. She says that she would make a great Handicapper General because she is so extremely average that no one could possibly know more about being average than herself. She is the reason why I thought that this ongoing debate is starting to resemble the story more and more.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    So, the women in this thread who are pointing out that women have a unique perspective on women are like Harrison’s mother? That’s not any better.

  • Sarah Braasch

    I’m afraid I’m going to have to stick up for bbk too.

    I think our discussions on feminism would lose something if he didn’t participate.

    Our discussions wouldn’t be very interesting if we just sat around patting each other on the back, yessing each other, and admiring each other for how wonderful we all are. (Not that everyone thinks I’m wonderful. Probably far from it, as evidenced by the many angry comments directed my way as well.)

    We need someone to push us, to make us question our ideas.

    bbk has often made me question my positions, made me clarify my positions, made me reshape my positions, and really helped me to solidify and justify where I stand on many issues.

    That’s why I participate in these discussions.

    To learn, to teach, to share, and to improve my powers of persuasion.

    We would lose something without bbk.

    I find bbk occasionally obnoxious, but he’s hardly a troll.

  • jemand

    Sarah, yes, exactly, we don’t need a pile of single opinions, and late in the day on a lot of threads dealing with women, we DO end up with very close to a pile of single opinions from dudes who know it all and who are quite not self-reflective, especially because of the gender imbalance in readership.

    Sometimes bbk does make interesting and thoughtful points, and I would be sad if he left. But then he repeats them over and over again whether or not they are relevant and a few others posters do too, and it gets frustrating. I most certainly would NOT be sad if he decided to make fewer, more carefully crafted posts instead of saying something careless and spending the next 10 posts backtracking and trying to say he didn’t really mean that.

    Because of the apparent gender imbalance of the readership, I would appreciate it if men realized their viewpoints are already being highly overrepresented in the comments, and if they would read through and make sure nobody else already said the *exact same thing* they plan on saying.

    Hell, half the time, these tedious commenters THEMSELVES have made the same point five times already and they end up repeating themselves (because there are more of them to spell each other if the conversation flags at all) and they wear out all opposing viewpoints but for a few apparently exceptional holdouts.

    So, bbk, Mrnaglfar if you other dudes I think could benefit from taking a long time crafting your posts because you plan on making your point very well, very clearly, impossible to misconstrue the *first time* and then let other people have their say, I think it would improve comments. This would also have the added benefit that you’d probably catch condescending and dismissive language such as “come now” addressed at the women you are talking to. Stuff like that is easily misunderstood (if you actually meant it in the way you claimed when called out on it) and just isn’t worth it.

    It is precisely *because* it’s frustrating when we have a bunch of dudes yessing each other on the back on how feminists don’t want men to have fun, or men are affected *just as much* by abortion as women are, etc. that I object to the way some comment threads end up.

    Different viewpoints ARE important and it’s hard to be confronted and challenged on your ideas when the vast majority of women’s voices are chased away or just simply absent from the discussion.

    When it becomes “no” “yes” “no” “no” “no” “no” “yes” “no” “no” “no” “yes” “no no no” on whether something is detrimental or disproportionately affects women or other minorities, and when it’s the privileged majority who are monopolizing the conversation and contributing most of the “no” votes, it gets pretty unwelcoming. And the problem there is certainly NOT the inability of men to have their ideas heard.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve really appreciated the way this discussion has happened here in this thread, but I have noticed that it usually gets bad later in a thread’s life…. so let’s hope this one stays productive!

  • Mrnaglfar

    Actually, Mrnaglfar, when Ebon points out someone is treading very close to the line on allowable misogynistic comments… and you rejoin that in fact he is generally just posting within the normal for a lot of the regular commenters…. haven’t you just proved the point there is a problem?

    I think there is a problem is where misogyny is perceived, yet absent. For instance:

    So, apparently bbk reads these posts about inclusiveness and improving gender balance as calls for him to dial down his brilliance so as not to overwhelm the poor ladies.

    That’s a rather uncharitable reading of the reference bbk made. Of course, I don’t see anyone stepping up who’s typically not on “bbk’s side” to correct that statement. Same way I don’t see people not on his side stepping up to take down strawmen of his positions that other people feel the need to erect.

    So, bbk, Mrnaglfar if you other dudes I think could benefit from taking a long time crafting your posts because you plan on making your point very well, very clearly, impossible to misconstrue the *first time* and then let other people have their say, I think it would improve comments.

    I always take the time to read over what I write before I post it. I’ve found out that it rarely matters in terms of the response, because too many people will so badly misunderstand what I’m writing that it’s a near waste of my time. There’s no such thing as impossible to misconstrue when the people reading it seem to almost be trying to misconstrue the point based on a long-ago poisoned well. Another good for instance:

    This would also have the added benefit that you’d probably catch condescending and dismissive language such as “come now” addressed at the women you are talking to. Stuff like that is easily misunderstood (if you actually meant it in the way you claimed when called out on it) and just isn’t worth it.

    The internet doesn’t convey tone well, especially when you don’t personally have a sense for who you’re talking to. One could take the “come now” to be patronizing or neutral depending on how they’re expecting to take it. Of course, one could always ask for clarification and then accept it when offered, but more often than not we see people automatically jumping to strawmen and refusing to believe said clarification. I’m glad it was accepted in this case; I can’t even count the number of times I’ve had someone telling me what I believe, despite my protests to the contrary.

    I think dealing with that issue would greatly improve the quality of discussions around here as well.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Let’s be honest here; does the “preponderance”, as you put it, of “misogynist trolls” that show up amount to anyone else outside of bbk in your mind?

    Perhaps, but I’m dealing with the most egregious examples first.

    Besides, without a bit of controversy we would all be sitting here in smug politically correct agreement and learning nothing.

    I don’t agree that those are the only options. There’s room for plenty of interesting conversation about feminism, as well as plenty of intelligent dissent, and I hope we’ll see some of it in the comment threads for some upcoming posts. What I don’t see a need to accommodate is bbk’s brand of ignorance which holds that feminists hate men in general and him specifically (displayed most recently in comment #40, as well as before that, again before that, and yet again before that, as well as a few other times I’m probably forgetting). He persists in this delusion no matter how many times he’s corrected on it. At this point, I don’t know if it’s an issue of reading comprehension or an issue of honesty, but I don’t care anymore, and I feel that I’ve tolerated it for long enough.

    Also, for the record: the reason I’m discussing this is because, if I didn’t think he was capable of improvement, I would just have banned him. I haven’t done that, and I’m not going to do that, because I know he can contribute relevant and perceptive comments when he wants to. But lately, I feel as if every thread about these issues turns into the same predictable fight, and that has to stop. I think more interesting and enlightening conversations will ensue if the deadwood is cleared away, as jemand said in #55.

    My understanding of feminist issues has deepened somewhat precisely because people like Jemand and Sarah have responded robustly to BBK.

    None gladder than me to hear that, Steve, but as you can see from jemand’s comment (#3), it’s not necessarily a role that she or others relish playing. It’s tiresome to deal with someone who keeps repeating the same misconceptions over and over – and bbk’s latest snide comment about blocking male readers shows that his position hasn’t changed in the slightest despite the many, many people who have explained these things to him so well. As I did with cl, when someone is monopolizing threads to a point where other readers are staying out of the discussion so as not to have to interact with him, I take action, and that’s definitely a point that’s been reached here.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve really appreciated the way this discussion has happened here in this thread, but I have noticed that it usually gets bad later in a thread’s life…. so let’s hope this one stays productive!

    Thanks, jemand! As part of my new proactive policy, I think the following is the kind of comment where a derailing often gets started, so let me step in:

    I always take the time to read over what I write before I post it. I’ve found out that it rarely matters in terms of the response, because too many people will so badly misunderstand what I’m writing that it’s a near waste of my time. There’s no such thing as impossible to misconstrue when the people reading it seem to almost be trying to misconstrue the point based on a long-ago poisoned well.

    Let me propose a simple guideline for situations like this: If someone tells you that they’re bothered by something you said, the correct response is almost never, “I didn’t intend to be offensive, therefore you are wrong to take offense.” That’s the response of entitlement – no different from a pastor delivering a sectarian prayer at a town council meeting, expressing his wishes that everyone present will come to worship Jesus, and when someone objects, saying, “I didn’t mean to offend anyone! Why are all you atheists so sensitive?”

    Here’s a novel suggestion: if you ever find yourself in this situation, try considering why another person might have been offended and respond in a way that acknowledges this, rather than instantly getting defensive and denigrating their right to feel as they do, as this comment does. Take it from me, you’ll be surprised how far it goes in establishing a presumption of good faith on your part.

  • Mrnaglfar

    If someone tells you that they’re bothered by something you said, the correct response is almost never, “I didn’t intend to be offensive, therefore you are wrong to take offense…if you ever find yourself in this situation, try considering why another person might have been offended and respond in a way that acknowledges this, rather than instantly getting defensive and denigrating their right to feel as they do, as this comment does.”

    Your suggestion isn’t novel. I quickly caught on when someone questioned my phrasing; I understood why one might have felt offended (those reasons involving an ambiguous phrase and a series of primes about sexism and expectations of it, along with the knowledge of the genders in question and our past discussions. We all know the interesting things expectations can do to people’s version of reality).

    If someone gets offended at something I say because of how they interpreted it instead of asking for clarification, maybe the problem doesn’t lie with me. If someone insists I hold views I don’t and they’re offended at those views, maybe the problem doesn’t lie with me.

    For instance, I could say I’m offended at – what I perceive to be – your patronizing tone there. The way you state that suggestion is novel to me; as if I hadn’t thought of it before. Makes it feel like you’re talking down to me and insulting my intellect.

    You should (do) know that felt offense is not always anchored to reality, and there are people who will take offense very, very easily over any number of topics. I’ll clarify my intent if it’s needed or if someone asks, but I’m not going to apologize for – or feel bad about – something I didn’t do. Just because they might have felt offense, it doesn’t follow that my behavior was actually off-base and I need to sit down and reconsider things. I’m not saying my behavior couldn’t have been off-putting, all things considered, but it’s not a logical necessity by any means.

    Atheists put a billboard somewhere, some religious people feel offense at it, and your response wasn’t “those atheists need to think about why the religious people felt offense and not denigrate the right of the religious people to feel offense”. So you might want to reconsider throwing around words like “entitlement” when they suit the point you’re currently trying to make, but don’t hold across others.

    They have a right to feel whatever offense they want; I also have a right to feel their feelings are unwarranted or silly. I even have the right to tell them that to their face.

    If fact, you may want to reconsider your own accusations of misogyny towards bbk. I’m sure you could understand why such accusations – especially when unwarranted – may cause offense or defensiveness. Maybe you’ll come to the conclusion that you don’t give him as fair of a shake as you think you might. It could even go a long way towards establishing your good faith. It’d certainly do more than outright threats of banning him from commenting because of your felt – and in my mind, misguided – offense.

  • jemand

    Mrnaglfar, do you think women’s feelings, mine especially and those who have commented to say what I said rang true to them, are unwarranted and silly? In context, what is the point of your entire last post, unless your answer to that is yes? If you are NOT trying to imply my feelings are unwarranted and silly, your latest comment is rather academic hair-splitting which is quite off topic. If you are ON topic, however, the options are even more dire.

    Your first comment on this thread seems to indicate fairly clearly that you don’t see much of a problem at all with the fact that fewer women are reading and commenting here, and hypothesize women might just be less intellectual.

    In a later comment you find yourself denying the different experiences of women and men on such issues as pregnancy and contraception; you are *correct* that these are societal issues, but very, very wrong when you claim women and men are equally invested in them. You may think various things are “ludicrous” or “terrible” but you will NEVER experience the fear of it *happening to you,* a fear women deal with every day.

    Then you claim people are *trying* to misconstrue your points and accuse anyone who doesn’t see things your way of doing so because they’re trying to look for things to get offended by, they’ve “poisoned the well.”

    Then you start accusing even our host of acting in bad faith!!

    You are right that not always when offense is felt does it follow that the action triggering it was necessarily off-putting. However in practice, when you end up doubling down, getting defensive, starting to play the “who was offended more” game, and implying those who disagree with you are simply looking for trouble and being silly– *especially* when you are laying that charge against feminists, for whom there is actually a long history of dismissal using those *exact same phrases,* the case for you to sit down and reconsider things gets really quite strong indeed.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Mrnaglfar, do you think women’s feelings, mine especially and those who have commented to say what I said rang true to them, are unwarranted and silly?

    I wouldn’t be so careless as to generalize to the feelings of all women, nor would I be so careless to generalize to all your feelings. The only feeling I think is silly or unwarranted is the taking offense at an incorrect impression of something someone said, no matter the source.

    our first comment on this thread seems to indicate fairly clearly that you don’t see much of a problem at all with the fact that fewer women are reading and commenting here, and hypothesize women might just be less intellectual.

    See? There’s that uncharitable reading poking its head out. I don’t see a problem with there being fewer than men here largely because there is nothing stopping women from participating or reading if they feel interested. Same reason I don’t see a problem with there being fewer women who spend their time playing certain video games. I don’t equate equality and freedom with various skews in gender ratios on their face value alone. However, that second part isn’t an accurate portrayal; I hypothesized that women may simply be more interested in reading other things or having different discussions, not that they’re any less intellectual than men.

    In a later comment you find yourself denying the different experiences of women and men on such issues as pregnancy and contraception

    I didn’t deny different experiences; I merely pointed out that issues of pregnancy and contraception affect many people, men and women, and to consider them “women’s issues” isn’t a good way to frame them. These are things many men care just as passionately about as women do – myself included – even if their experiences or reasons aren’t the identical. I’d be rightly pissed off at anyone trying to infringe on rights to abortion or contraception, just like I was ready to tell the anti-abortion group on my campus today to eat shit if one of them dared speak to me. I feel all this despite never being able to personally undergo an abortion (though I have been there with other people who have gone through them). I know my life would be radically different were it not for access to contraceptives and abortion rights, both in terms of my happiness and the happiness and security of women in general.

    Then you claim people are *trying* to misconstrue your points and accuse anyone who doesn’t see things your way of doing so because they’re trying to look for things to get offended by, they’ve “poisoned the well.”

    I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, but you already implied some things – incorrectly – about what views I hold.

    When people are primed for sexism, they’re more likely to see it. When people start classifying others into in-group and out-group, they will behave differently towards them. These are just facts of human psychology, and while they do vary in terms of degree, you can safely put money on the fact that they happen here too. It doesn’t always imply malicious intent (though I’m sure that is the case sometimes). I know Ebon is very dedicated to reading, honesty, and generally being a great person; that doesn’t mean he won’t falter time and again, as well all will. I have no problem pointing out to him times when that might be happening. He’s a great guy, he’s just not a perfect one.

    I agree with you that the “getting more offended” game isn’t productive to these discussions most of the time, though I can think up some plausible reasons for why it seems to pop up all the time in almost every social setting.

    I know I made this recommendation before, but if you’re in the market for some light reading, I’d suggestion “Why everyone (else) is a hypocrite” by Robert Kurzban. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in recent memory, even if it just scratches the surface of a lot of these issues.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    As I did with cl, when someone is monopolizing threads to a point where other readers are staying out of the discussion so as not to have to interact with him, I take action, and that’s definitely a point that’s been reached here.

    For instance, has anyone else noticed that a post on the religious right’s attitudes towards women and their efforts to ban abortion, including the specific effort to ban abortion even to save the life of a mother has since turned into a discussion about men’s rights? It’s not an accident that this has happened, and it’s why I’ve often complained about bbk complaining about his man-parts. His insistence of saying, “Well what about me and other white men” in every single thread that’s devoted to anything that has to do with women, minorities, or equal rights is nothing more than an attempt to hijack threads.

  • jemand

    Mrnaglfar, the reason I waited until this late in the thread to write that summary of your posts, is because you are fairly careful not to let any single comment or single instance be unarguably objectionable. Any one of the problematic issues I pointed out above (and a few I didn’t highlight), taken alone, can have a reasonable explanation and could be me misunderstanding things.

    But, you have a pattern. Pointing out this pattern can’t be so easily denied by going back and trying to explain each and every single instance with some different excuse. Reminds me of the creationists who find some *different* problem in every different dating technique, even though they all pretty much agree with each other.

    I am not “offended,” but dealing with you *is* getting tedious, and I’m not being “silly” when I say that. I’m nearly at the point where my reply will be simply “see my posts above.”

  • Mrnaglfar

    Pointing out this pattern can’t be so easily denied by going back and trying to explain each and every single instance with some different excuse

    I can’t say for each and every single instance, since I just don’t remember them all, but I feel that I’m not giving different explanations; I’m giving the same explanation over and over again to generally the same people over and over again.

    Reminds me of the creationists who find some *different* problem in every different dating technique, even though they all pretty much agree with each other.

    Forget about the creationists; there’s nothing special about them. Those practices are fairly common even in the scientific literature. I remember reading review after review of A Natural History of Rape that accused the authors of trying justifying rape because it’s “natural”. I also remember reading the authors of responding, noting that they warned against the naturalistic fallacy something like 17 times throughout the book.

    The question remains of how so many people could so badly botch that simple point. It isn’t even a subjective or ambiguous one. It was almost as if these reviews were written about a different book that was written by different authors. It gets tedious for me too, having to spend so much time on replying with “you’re reading something that isn’t there” every time. I’ve hit that same point you have before many times; it’s why I stopped debating with people online for the most part.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    @EbonMuse:

    Daylight Atheism has always been a place where all points of view can be expressed and all beliefs can be challenged.

    That’s one of the things I like about this site. I’ve also noticed that many people who comment take the time to explain their views, which is greatly appreciated.

    @Sarah Braasch and jemand: I just wanted to add that, like Steve, I have also learned a lot from what you contribute.

    @bbk (comment 40):
    No one is objecting to male readers. They’re disagreeing with the content of what you, specifically, are writing.

    @OMFG (comment 61): Yes, I noticed that, too. Even though the post was specifically about women who were dying due to medical complications during pregnancy, it somehow became a thread about men being able to give up responsibilities of taking care of the child if women can have an abortion.

  • FWB

    Just finished reading through the comments on this article. It may be of interest that the percentage breakdown of males and females on your site is similar to the percentage of each sex responding to our web-based survey of unbelievers. We have 2588 usable surveys (surveys were not included for analysis if they did not include key demographic data or were otherwise insufficiently complete). There were 667 females and 1921 males, 74% male. These numbers include those who checked boxes self-identifying as atheists, agnostics, neither or both. 2054 checked the atheist box, of whom 674 also checked the agnostic box, leaving 1380 who checked the atheist box but not the agnostic box (pure atheists?). Other unbelievers identified themselves with other labels (see details at the link posted).

    I have yet to run across a survey which does not show males in the majority of those identifying as atheists. This seems to hold true over different times and countries.

    A preliminary report on our survey is here:

    http://www.arts.uwaterloo.ca/~acheyne/RAVS/Beyond_Disbelief_short.pdf

    I’ll pull out some statistics from our survey on differences in opinions and attitudes between males and females and post them later.

  • FWB

    Oh, forgot to mention that the sample in the survey mentioned in my last post was obtained from humanist, skeptic, atheist, agnostic, freethinker etc. organizations and blogs. Thus, the unbelievers sampled may very well differ in various ways, and very likely do, from a sample of such people gathered from some central, neutral website frequented by denizens of the web who are close to an unbiased sample of people on the Internet. If anyone knows of such “unbiased” sites, please let me know! :-)

    One of the ways our sample may differ is that their lack of religious belief is more salient than that of unbelievers who do not join relevant organizations or frequent the relevant websites. Not every atheist sees the fact of being an atheist as an important part of his or her identity. I’ve met atheists who seldom gave the matter a second thought.

  • bbk

    @Sharmin, who said anything about readers? One can block men from posting comments. No one’s stopping men from attending sporting events, either, but one university is cutting men’s track and field and cross country (sports I competed in) while keeping the women’s teams and adding women’s golf. This seems to be an acceptable solution to gender disparity in our society, so why not on this blog?

    Was it snide? Yes, it was snide. But was it out of line? It was truthfully based on comments here on Daylight Atheism by a reader who wanted RealID for the internet so she could ignore all the 20-something suburban white dudes. I respect the person who said it greatly and I wasn’t attacking her, but the premise of being told that these are women’s issues and we’re only looking for solutions from women. Hence my reference to Vonnegut. You may not like what I said, but it was prescient and a reflection of how issues of gender disparity are often resolved. And hence my Vonnegut reference. Our society is filled with people who think that the rich can teach us all how to get rich, parents know best how to raise kids, beltway insiders know best about making progress, and that a guy we’d want to have a beer with knows best about what’s good for the country. Everyone would make for a great Handicapper General and we please one another by inviting each other to role play once in a while.

    And, by the way, who reprimanded Jeep-Eep from making his snide remarks before I even commented? It’s inexplicable to me how Ebon only notices infractions by people who disagree with him. And how’s that for a good-faith reading of something I said, Jemand? Should I have worded things differently, you think? I agree with Mrngalfar that it really doesn’t make a difference what I say, because I can say nothing and people still apply their preconceived notions of why I’m wrong and why I disagree with them. This isn’t the only thread, look at the Egypt threads. Did people offer apologies and admit they were wrong after they read what I actually had to say on the matter? Hardly! Well, I have certainly apologized, admitted to misreading or misconstruing the intent or even unnecessarily derailed a thread – but I had apologized when I was clearly wrong. Does Ebon give me credit for that? No. He pedantically tells me that I better learn to realize when I’m wrong and accept the opinions he agrees with as being right if I’m ever to be respected on this blog. But if you choose to misread, misconstrue, and put words in my mouth then don’t expect me to apologize for it.

    Thanks for everyone who defended me, even if it was in a Voltaire fashion.

  • monkeymind

    It was truthfully based on comments here on Daylight Atheism by a reader who wanted RealID for the internet so she could ignore all the 20-something suburban white dudes.

    Uh, what? If you’re referring to Sarah’s comment #47 on this thread, you’ve badly mangled what she said. Talk about uncharitable readings. If you mean some other comment by a woman commenting about RealID and white suburban dudes, can you please provide a reference? Because the comment by Sarah Braasch above was the only google seems to know about.

    He pedantically tells me that I better learn to realize when I’m wrong and accept the opinions he agrees with as being right if I’m ever to be respected on this blog.

    Speaking strictly for myself, I would respect you more if you didn’t whine about people putting words in your mouth and then turn around and do it to other people, multiple times, blithely. Also, being lectured on historiography by someone whose own history study has never progressed beyond Glenn Beck style conspiracy theories does not win you much respect from me.

  • bbk

    What does “based on” say to you? Did I not acknowledge that it was a snide remark? What does that mean to you? And did I not say I have a great deal of respect for Sarah and was not attacking her? Did you not get the part about how the proponents of Title IX also did not intend to dismantle men’s collegiate sports, but that’s what happened anyway?

    It’s apparent to me, while I’m having my reading comprehension skills attacked by a guy who botches a Vonnegut reference in order to call me a narcissist, that this is all pretty hilariously sad.

    Monkeymind, maybe you’re misreading what I wrote, yet again. And you certainly were nitpicking. We know that when Sarah was talking about 20-something college educated suburban white boys, she was thinking of sexist antics such as by DKE at Yale and not about the entire demographic. I don’t know about you, but I would like to ignore them too. But that doesn’t mean I think that RealID is a great idea. That is how I read it, it’s the general gist of that conversation and I don’t see what your problem is, monkeymind. Is it a really horrendously erroneous misreading of her comments to say that she would like to ignore groups like that? She did say that she doesn’t take anonymous comments seriously and implied, as many women who are targeted by sexist remarks do, that members of these demographics would not make these comments with their real names attached. (Sarah, I disagree, because of DKE. Members of their frat have told us Iraq had WMD’s, lying to all of our collective faces, and they didn’t seem to mind that we all knew where their house was.)

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Well, I see bbk is marinating in self-pity, so nothing new there. I strongly encourage him and everyone else to bear in mind my warning that from now on, I’m going to come down much harder on derailing of feminism threads than I have in the past.

    I think I’ve addressed all the substantive comments, so I’m going to close this thread soon, probably sometime tomorrow PM. If anyone has anything else to say, speak now or forever hold your peace (or e-mail me, of course).

  • monkeymind

    BBK, I’m not commenting on your snide remark, but the fact that you reported her comment as

    a reader who wanted RealID for the internet so she could ignore all the 20-something suburban white dudes.

    That’s not what she said. I reproduce it here in its entirety:

    I don’t think that only women should reveal their genders or post naked pics of themselves.

    I think everyone should. It would demystify the sexual taboo of public nudity. I have a body, including lady parts. And, so do you. Maybe not lady parts, but you understand what I’m saying.

    Let’s all get over it and move on with our lives.

    I think that the idea that we NEED anonymity in order to engage in free speech, to protect ourselves from those who would attack us for our speech, is a very dangerous road to tread.

    I’m not saying that this isn’t true in some circumstances; I’m saying that this is not an idea we would wish to feed, if we want to maintain our open, democratic society.

    Instead, how bout we teach everyone to grow up and learn not to kill other people for their ideas or identities.

    It’s the same idea in support of desegregation (racial or gender or whatnot) and the burqa bans.

    Sure, you can make the argument that women or blacks or gays (don’t ask don’t tell) are safer from those who would wish to harm them if they remain segregated, cloaked, in the closet.

    But, is that a society you would wish to live in?

    How are we teaching people to live together with one another without killing one another in a pluralistic society, if we just concede the argument?

    If we just say, you know, you’re right, we’re all assholes who are going to rape, lynch, torture one another for our ideas and identities, so we should just all either hide our identities from one another or segregate ourselves into our disparate identity / idea groups.

    I think it’s time for humanity to grow up.

    And, I was just commenting on another thread about how I inadvertently assume that everyone with whom I am conversing is just like me — a 35 year old pissed off former fundie gnu atheist woman, which led me to comment here again.

    I do think women have a responsibility to reveal their genders — on behalf of all women.

    So, you all know that the online world is not only populated by 20 something college educated suburban white boys.

    Comment #47 by: Sarah Braasch | February 11, 2011, 3:03 pm

    This is not nitpicking, this reveals a consistent pattern of re-interpreting people’s remarks.

    Sarah is saying women need to confront the pressures that make it expedient for women to hide their identities as women. I looked through all the other comments on that thread, and there was nothing about using RealID to ignore suburban white males. Nothing. Sarah’s comments were about not bowing down to the pressures that force women into the safety of anonymity. (I think she’s a crazy utopian, but I like that in a person.)

    You took a statement that was about the need to get people to acknowledge that the Internet is not populated exclusively by white males, and you interpreted it as “I want to use RealID to ignore white males.” This is a consistent pattern in almost every discussion about diversity. You repeatedly interpret any discussion about increasing diversity as an attack or a threat to white males. Why should this be?

    Another example of re-interpretation from the same post of yours:

    …the premise of being told that these are women’s issues and we’re only looking for solutions from women.

    When has anyone said “we’re” only looking for solutions from women? In your head, that’s where.

  • monkeymind

    Sarah, I apologize if I’m stepping on your toes by reproducing your comment and defending it. It was just such an egregious example of bbk’s creative re-interpretation. I’m aware that you can defend yourself and your words better than I can. If you think I have misinterpreted anything, please let me know.

  • monkeymind

    BTW, I’m not a guy, and I referenced the publicly available version of the Vonnegut story, not the version that bbk seems to have read.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Thanks for that illustrative example, monkeymind. Now, in the interests of this thread not becoming another example of the poor-oppressed-me derailing that I created it to preempt, let’s bring this line of conversation to a close. Any other feedback?

  • bbk

    Frm rvw f Hrrsn Brgrn:

    “Jst s Twn cld nt hv sld dvntrs f Hcklbrry Fnn nd Pdd’nhd Wlsn f thr sympthy wth frcn-mrcn chrctrs hd bn bvs, s Vnngt cld nt hv sld stry vrtly sympthtc t lvlng. nstd, th Hndcppr Gnrl pprntly rclls th lks f Jhn Wlks Bth, prpnnt f slvry. (Bt th cmng nlyss wll rvl tht Hrrsn s th n wh mbds fdl scty.) s strgglng wrtr, Vnngt hd t pt srfc n ths stry tht wld ppl t hs dnc. nd t dd. Mr spcfclly, t dd s bcs t pprd t rhrs cntrl tnts f th dmnnt cltr’s dlgy. t ppld t th ltrl-mndd wth sch ccrcy tht Wllm F. Bckly’s Ntnl Rvw rprntd t s mrlty tl bt th dngrs f frskng prvt ntrprs.”

    http://fndrtcls.cm/p/rtcls/m_m2455/s_4_35/_91040892/?tg=cntnt;cl1

    Sms tht t tms thr s ltrl ndrstndng nd dpr ndrstndng tht r smtms t dds wth ch thr. t wld xpln lt f thngs rznd hr.

    [Have I made myself clear? —Ebonmuse]

  • bbk

    That you are adverse to vowels? Perfectly. That “any other feedback” meant anyone besides me? That too.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    If I need to spell it out, “any other feedback” referred to feedback pertinent to the topic of this post, not to your continued insistence on talking about things that were irrelevant and pointless in the first place. That is absolutely the last I’m going to say about this. Do not give me reason to take further action.

  • Sarah Braasch

    I like you too, monkeymind.

    I may just have you post on my behalf in the future.

    Thought I should get that in before Ebon shuts this thread down.

    I like bbk too, though.

    And, I like Ebon. And, Sharmin. And, jemand. . . .

  • Sarah Braasch

    Sorry, Ebon.

    My post was definitely irrelevant.

    Just thought we should end on an upbeat note.

    Night all.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    @EbonMuse: I appreciate your willingness to monitor threads relating to feminism, but I hope you are not too strict, so that it doesn’t just become a group of people agreeing with each other. Thanks for caring about the topic.

    @monkeymind and Sarah Braasch: Thanks, monkeymind, for posting that comment from Sarah from a previous thread. Sarah, your comment made me think about the various risks and benefits of anonymity vs. honest identification.

    The posts about people playing video games under a character of a different gender really made me consider the different ways people can be treated based on their gender, even when online. (I was in the middle of writing a really long comment, but decided it would be better to go to take some time to gather my thoughts and post them on my own blog.)


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X