Skeptic, Rebecca Watson, Reports.
Headline- It Stands to Reason, Skeptics Can Be Sexist Too,
I spoke out about sexual harassment among atheists and scientists. Then came the rape threats
I learned about the skeptics back in college, when I worked in a magic store and performed gigs on the side. I was a huge fan of James "The Amazing" Randi, a magician who offers a million dollars to anyone who can prove they have paranormal abilities. (There's a huge overlap between magicians and skeptics, both of whom are interested in the ways we fool ourselves.)
BUT, surprise findings at a Queensland school, reveal illiterate socially dysfunctional, father deficient school kids, are attracted to magicians tricks, -their behavioural and intellectual deficits, match the conduct of adult online "skeptics". Link below this video.)
When I first started finding a large audience on my skepticism website, on my podcast, and on You-Tube, I wasn't terribly bothered by the occasional rape threat, sexist slur, or insult about my looks. There was something downright amusing, about a creationist calling me a cunt, while praying that I'd find the love of Jesus. The threats were coming from outside of my community. Outside of my own "safe space".
It wasn't until I started talking about feminism to skeptics that I realized I didn't have a safe space,
When I first got involved with the skeptics, I thought I had found my people , a community that enjoyed educating the public about science and critical thinking. The sense of belonging I felt was akin, I imagine, to what other people feel at church. (I wouldn't exactly know, like most skeptics, I'm an atheist.) (note the religious drive reported by this prominent skeptic) I felt we were doing important work, making a better, more rational world and protecting people from being taken advantage of. At conventions, skeptic speakers and the audience were mostly male, but I figured that was something we could balance out, with a bit of hard work and good Public Relations.
Then women started telling me stories, about sexism at skeptic events, experiences that made them uncomfortable enough, to Never Return . At first, I wasn't able to fully understand their feelings, as I had never had a problem existing in male-dominated spaces. But after a few years of blogging, podcasting, and speaking at skeptics' conferences, I began to get emails from strangers, who detailed their sexual fantasies about me. I was occasionally grabbed and groped without consent at events. And then I made the grave mistake, of responding to a fellow skeptics You-Tube video, in which he stated that male circumcision was just as harmful as female genital mutilation ( that is, FGM). I replied to say, that while I personally am opposed to any non-medical genital mutilation, FGM is often much, much, more damaging than male circumcision.
The response from male atheists was overwhelming. This is one example,
Honestly, and i mean HONESTLY.. you deserve to be raped and tortured and killed. swear id laugh if i could !
I started checking out the social media profiles of the people sending me these messages, and learned that they were often adults who were active in the skeptic and atheist communities. They were reading the same blogs as I was, and attending the same events. These were "my people" , and they were the worst.
Thinking the solution was to educate the community, I started giving talks about the areas, where feminism, and skepticism overlap. I encouraged audiences to get involved with issues, like ending FGM, fighting the anti-woman pseudoscience, of the religious right, and aiding those branded as witches, in rural African villages.
In June of 2011, I was on a panel at an atheist conference in Dublin. The topic was Communicating Atheism, and I was excited to join Richard Dawkins , one of the most famous atheists in the world, with several documentaries and bestselling books to his name. Dawkins used his time to criticize Phil Plait , an astronomer who the year prior had given a talk in which he argued for skeptics to be kinder. (Note the headkicking Dawkins is not in favour of kindness.) I used my time to talk about, what it is like, for me to communicate atheism online, and how being a woman might affect the response, I receive, as in rape threats and other sexual comments.
The audience was receptive, and afterward I spent many hours in the hotel bar discussing issues of gender, objectification, and misogyny with other thoughtful atheists. At around 4 a.m., I excused myself, announcing that I was exhausted and heading to bed in preparation for another day of talks.
As I got to the elevator, a man who I had not yet spoken with directly, broke away from the group and joined me. As the doors closed, he said to me, Dont take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting. Would you like to come back to my hotel room for coffee? I politely declined and got off the elevator, when it hit my floor.
A few days later, I was making a video about the trip, and I decided to use that, as an example of how not to behave, at conferences if you want to make women feel safe and comfortable. After all, it seemed rather obvious to me, that if your goal is to get sex or even just companionship, the very worst way to go about attaining that goal is to attend a conference, listen to a woman speak for 12 hours about how uncomfortable she is being sexualized at conferences, wait for her to express a desire to go to sleep, follow her into an isolated space, and then suggest she go back to your hotel room for "coffee," which, by the way, is available at the hotel bar you just left.
What I said in my video, exactly, was, (in a very pleasant off hand tone), Guys, don't do that, with a bit of a laugh and a shrug. (She was actually offering, in passing, 1 minute social counselling to a large, angry, socially incompetent, male audience, about how to succeed with women), What legions of angry atheists apparently heard was, Guys, I won't stop hating men, until I get 2 million YouTube comments calling me a 'cunt.' The skeptics boldly rose to the imagined challenge.
(Note, she is naively attempting to install, by impromptu teaching, the concept of empathy, but the message taken by the dysfunctional men, is something that required headkicking the woman, the messenger. Just like we often see on the NET, from pseudoskeptics)
She now continues the story. Even Dawkins weighed in. He hadn't said anything while sitting next to me in Dublin as I described the treatment I got, but a month later he left this sarcastic comment on a friend's blog,
Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and " yawn " don't tell me yet again, I know you aren't allowed to drive a car, and you can't leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you'll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering, your poor American sisters have to put up with.
Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep"chick", and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn't lay a finger on her, but even so
And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.
Dawkins' seal of approval only encouraged
My YouTube page and many of my videos, were flooded with rape "jokes, threats, objectifying insults, and slurs. A few individuals sent me hundreds of messages, promising to never leave me alone. My Wicky-peedia page was vandalized.
Graphic photos of dead bodies were posted to my Facebook page.
(Just like the shoe salesman skeptic leader in Australia, Daniel Rafaelle, making deaththreats and facing criminal charges)
Twitter accounts were made in my name, and used to tweet horrible things to celebrities and my friends. (The worst accounts were deleted by Twitter, but some, such as this one, are allowed to remain so long as they remove my name.) Entire blogs were created about me, obsessively cataloging everything I've ever said and (quite pathetically) attempting to dig up dirt in my past. The best they seemed to come up with was that I obtained a bachelor of science in communication from Boston University. The horror! I actually made a joke about this in one of the first talks I ever gave, many years ago: Don't take my word for it I'm not a scientist. I have a BS in communication. I literally majored in talking bullshit.
Nevertheless, my shameful past, as a college graduate was "exposed" and passed around on social media and forums and blogs, as triumphant skeptics demanded I stop writing and speaking about science, since I lacked the proper credentials. (Interestingly, no one has ever petitioned for my three non-scientist podcast cohosts to be removed from the show. Probably just a coincidence.)
Just a week after Dawkins' Dear Muslima comment, I was scheduled to speak at The Amazing Meeting, (TAM), a skeptics' conference in Las Vegas, that in years past I had fundraised thousands of dollars to send dozens of women to.
In the weeks leading up to TAM, a man tweeted that he was attending, and that if he ran into me in an elevator, he'd assault me.
Meanwhile, other skeptical women are being bullied out of the spotlight, and even out of their homes. My fellow writer on Skepchick, Amy Davis Roth, moved after her home address was posted on a forum dedicated to hating feminist skeptics. (note the Hate group reference) In September, blogger Greta Christina wrote that "when I open my mouth to talk about anything more controversial than Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster recipes or Six More Atheists Who Are Totally Awesome, I can expect a barrage of hatred, abuse, humiliation, death threats, rape threats, and more." And Jen McCreight stopped blogging and accepting speaking engagements altogether. I wake up every morning to abusive comments, tweets, and emails about how I'm a slut, prude, ugly, fat, feminazi, retard, bitch, and cunt, (just to name a few), she wrote. I just can't take it anymore.
I know that this article will only rile up the sexist skeptics. I'll hear about how I'm a slut, who deserves whatever I get, about how I'm a liar who made everything up, about how I've overreacted, and about how I should just ignore the trolls, and they'll go away. I've written this article anyway, because I strongly believe that the goals of skeptics are good ones, like strengthening science education, protecting consumers, and deepening our knowledge of human psychology.
Those goals will never be met if we continue to fester, as a middling subculture that not only ignores social issues but is actively antagonistic toward progressive thought. (What an indictment of a skeptic group, by an insider)
I also believe that old line about sunlight being the best disinfectant. Ignoring bullies does not make them go away. For the most part, the people harassing us aren't just fishing for a reaction,-they want our silence. They're angry that feminist thought has a platform in their community. What they don't get, is that it is also my community.
Dear readers, can we see, the criminal Orwellian reverse titling trick, used to attract unsuspecting prey, namely this lady, Rebecca Watson ? She was attracted by magic tricks, and naively and literally believed that JREF was an Educational Foundation. When in fact its a Hate Group dedicated to headkicking religious people, and in particular, stalking and issuing rape, dismemberment and death threats, to women.
There is profit in proliferating this Orwellian doublespeak elucidation, widely, and referring permanently, to the PSYCH OP , that is CSICOP , as a Hate Group , just like the Ku Klux Klan, whose only goal, was to foster the scientific method, and critical thinking. Right? Didnt they, wisely quote Darwin?
Randys JREF Hate Group needs to become a single term when discussed on the NET. Its a simple wake up cue, to innocent readers, to prevent them falling victim to the lure of magicians tricks. Much cruel headkicking lurks behind that, lying in wait. And possibly rape and murder.