You, Sir, Are No Robert Ingersoll


Before I went on vacation last month, you may recall how I tangled with a mob of nasty sexists who misleadingly call themselves "men's rights activists". Most of their comments were pure ad hominem filth, not worth the trouble of responding to, but there was one I wanted to address: from an atheist MRA who fears that feminism is ruining both science and atheism, and who thinks that some famous historical freethinkers would have taken his side.Surprisingly, my largely religious family was … [Read more...]

Richard Dawkins’ Commendable Step on Sexism


Well, this is most welcome news:[W]e have to be able to manage disagreement ethically, like reasonable adults, as opposed to brawling like enraged children who need a nap. It should go without saying, but this means no death threats, rape threats, attacks on people's appearance, age, race, sex, size, haircut; no photoshopping people into demeaning images, no vulgar epithets.Richard adds: I'm told that some people think I tacitly endorse such things even if I don't indulge in them. … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: July 26


I got back from Iceland yesterday and I'm still catching up on news that happened while I was away. Here are a few of the stories from my backlog:• More to come on this, but for now I'll just mention it briefly: a very welcome joint statement by Richard Dawkins and Ophelia Benson denouncing all forms of harassment, sexist and otherwise. I'm not prepared just yet to say this wipes the slate clean, but I'm cautiously optimistic!• Anti-abortion fanatics disrupt a Unitarian … [Read more...]

I Think the MRAs Are Mad At Me Again

Quiche is delicious.

[Content note: This post contains obscene and sexist language that I wouldn't normally allow on my site. Consider yourself advised.]I wrote in May about the "men's rights activists" - a tribe of angry misogynists who, despite the name, have no interest in actual issues of justice that affect men but only want an excuse to insult and degrade women. A large faction of MRAs are atheists, but there are some who subscribe to traditional Christianity as well.One of the latter faction, who goes … [Read more...]

Sexist Religion Still Isn’t a Democracy


In past eras when ignorance and prejudice were the norm, religious authorities could decree ignorant and prejudiced rules without anyone taking notice. But in the centuries since, the world has changed, while religious morality has largely stayed the same; and to many believers of the modern era, those unchanging doctrines, born in a darker time, are archaic relics at best and an embarrassment at worst. The passage of time casts the contradictions between moral progress and ancient dogma into … [Read more...]

Religious Violence Isn’t a Mental Illness, and Neither Is Misogyny


In the wake of the mass shooting in California last month, committed by a killer who left a long, misogynist manifesto vowing to punish women for not dating him, many pundits and commenters have strained to blame something other than sexism for his rampage. The most common claim is that the shooter, Elliot Rodger, was mentally ill, that the illness was the real cause of his killing, and the misogyny is just what his disturbed mind happened to latch onto as an excuse; if not for that, it would … [Read more...]

Male Entitlement Is a Deadly Drug

When I wrote about atheism's MRA problem, I wrote that it was imperative to drive these sexists off because of the harm they do through harassment and threats against women. Now there's a much more graphic and horrible example of the threat posed by misogynists: a mass shooting in the California town of Isla Vista this weekend, in which seven people died including the shooter.The apparent killer left a video monologue ranting about how he had been unfairly spurned by women, whom he accused … [Read more...]

Facing Up to Atheism’s MRA Problem


We've known for a while that there's an ugly strain of aggressive anti-feminism within the larger atheist community. Now it appears that we know where they congregate: the "men's rights activist" subgroup on Reddit ran a survey of their members, which found that the vast majority (94%) identify as atheist or religiously indifferent.That came as a surprise to me, although the other numbers were more or less what I'd have expected. MRAs are overwhelmingly white (98%), between the ages of 17 … [Read more...]

TV Review: Cosmos, Episode 8

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 8, "Sisters of the Sun"In earlier episodes, Cosmos has conspicuously missed opportunities to highlight the scientific contributions of women. I found that all the more perplexing because it's co-written by Ann Druyan, whom we know is attuned to feminist issues. In fact, it's because of her that Cosmos even has that title: Carl Sagan originally wanted to call it "Man in the Cosmos", until she persuaded him otherwise by pointing out the sexist … [Read more...]

A Lesson in the Premature Counting of Chickens


Several months ago, I reported on an article by Dr. Karen Stollznow that laid out her experience of sexism within the skeptical community, alleging years of on-the-job sexual harassment by a colleague. Soon after her article was published, CFI's Benjamin Radford was accused, though not by Stollznow, of being that colleague.I'd heard rumblings that Radford was threatening to sue Stollznow for libel, but those were just rumors until a few days ago. The first I heard of this was over the … [Read more...]