If you’re going to call Richard Dawkins sexist you have to actually address sexism

If you’re going to call Richard Dawkins sexist you have to actually address sexism September 19, 2014
Photo: James Willamor
Photo: James Willamor

An opinion piece in The Guardian by fellow Patheos blogger Adam Lee focused on the recent controversy surrounding Richard Dawkins, in which Lee accused Dawkins of being ignorant and sexist.

Much like Lee, I came to atheism on my own and Dawkins played a major role in my activism, but unlike Lee, I am not ditching Dawkins for simple disagreements.

Lee would most likely argue that these are not simple disagreements however as he seems to have joined the ranks of Ophelia Benson and PZ Myers in doing everything they can to pin hateful labels to Dawkins, instead of dissecting what he has said or simply realize that I cannot agree with everyone on every issue and that sometimes I will disagree with some of my favorite people.

I strongly disagreed with Dawkins “Dear Muslima” letter and did not hide this fact and I was very happy to see that he decided to apologize for the letter years later, realizing it was wrong and in poor taste.

Yet now Dawkins is being criticized for standing up for Sam Harris who found himself in a bit of controversy surrounding a remark he made about atheism and critical thinking being more of a guy thing.

Harris’ remark carried some strong sexist implications, but before he even took to his blog to explain the comment, he was quickly labeled sexist and declared an enemy of women everywhere.

After his full explanation of his remarks, the same who accused him of being sexist continued to do so. Harris explanation did not do a whole lot to change what he said, but they did show, in my opinion that even if those remarks were sexist, and that Harris still needed to be corrected that he was not being sexist, he was just mistaken.

PZ Myers took to my Twitter account to ask why Harris had not apologized after being shown by PZ and Benson that his remarks were sexist.

Simply, simply yelling at someone claiming they are sexist is not the best way to influence someone’s way of thinking. Does anyone expect that Harris would just immediately say that he is wrong and everyone else must be right? Of course not. Yet this hostile name calling and finger pointing seemingly upset Dawkins who came to his friends defense, after all Harris and Dawkins are good friends I would assume that Dawkins does not find Harris to be sexist, and Dawkins took to Twitter to ask if bloggers could be faking outrage for clicks in which they get paid:

Dawkins is right, some bloggers do, does that mean that those like Benson or Myers did? No, and I do think Dawkins was wrong to insinuate they did without proper evidence.

After all, I am a blogger who is paid per click as well, so of course we pick stories people want to read, but it doesn’t mean we are faking our outrage over the topics.

Yet this is not sexism, Dawkins may be wrong about clickbating, but is that enough to justify disowning him? I wouldn’t think Lee would either, except other than the Dear Muslima letter Lee spends all his time focused on clickbaiting, except for a one line mention of Dawkins comment about drinking and rape, but Lee never expands on this, he just tells the reader Dawkins is wrong for mentioning clickbating and oh he said this about rape, but by taking no time to explain the context of the tweet, Lee only paints Dawkins in the negative light he is going for and continues to ask his friends why Dawkins is wrong about clickbaiting.

So why title an article “Richard Dawkins has lost it: ignorant sexism gives atheists a bad name” and never mention Dawkins sexism? Clickbait maybe?

To be fair, it is possible The Guardian picked the title, but nothing Lee discusses has anything to do with Dawkins being a sexist, but the title sure implies he is one. Yet on Lee’s blog he states the article is about, “ It’s about Richard Dawkins’ indefensible regression to gross and ignorant sexism.” But where? Where does Lee even once address this gross and ignorant sexism? This is a story about clickbaiting and speaking to other writers, whom all have a history of trying to discredit Dawkins in every way possible, who are now mad at Dawkins for such a comment.

Yet it is even harder to call Dawkins wrong when the very article accusing him of being wrong about clickbaiting is titled to be an article about ignorant sexism.

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