Well isn’t this a pleasant surprise: Jen McCreight asked the BlagHag readers who they thought was the most influential female atheist of 2011, and they voted for me! MEEEEE!

They also voted for a number of other impressive people, like Greta Christina, Jessica Ahlquist, Maryam Namazie, Ophelia Benson, Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Amanda Marcotte, and the Godless Bitches Podcast team. Plus, the other Skepchick contributors got kudos in the nomination thread, with specific shout-outs to Natalie Reed, Maria Walters, Debbie Goddard, and Elyse Anders. If you’re looking for even more great women to start following, check out the comments for a lot of quality suggestions.

It’s flattering and also odd for me to be even included in a list like that. I know (from some of the surprisingly bitter comments that Jen had to delete from the announcement post) that some people feel I don’t deserve it, if only because I’m being rewarded for something that happened to me, as opposed to something I did. I find it very interesting that these people keep insisting on casting me as a victim, all while spitting on my supporters for, yes, making me out to be a victim. In fact, there was hardly a moment last year when I felt as though I was remaining passive, and those who supported me encouraged me to stay active and vocal.

Anyway, the important point is that I appreciate the recognition. I thank Jen and her readers, and all those who were an inspiration to me last year.

There is a tinge of sadness to my acceptance of this award. You see, while I may have won the “Screen Actors Guild Award of Atheism,” I was not even nominated for what is surely the “Oscar of Atheism,” The Hitchie, given out by the prestigious Examiner newspaper, which as we all know dates back to the early 19th Century when it published such noted writers as John Stuart Mill and Lord Byron.

The Hitchie, of course, is named for a true hero who we’re all familiar with. Taking a cue from Hitch’s strong moral fiber, award-giver Staks Rosch said he created his list of five Hitchie nominees based entirely on merit. Well, almost: “I tried to not pick the usual suspects (Dawkins, Harris, etc.),” he posted paradoxically, “because they always win these things and I wanted a more even handed award contest.

He did make clear, though, that despite the fact that he was admittedly ignoring merit in order to even the playing field, he wasn’t going to make the field so even that any women or people of color [edit: other than George Takei and our dear friend Hemant Mehta, who insists that he is not just a very tan white person] could have stood a chance. Many commenters and several bloggers, like Ophelia Benson and Greta Christina, took Rosch to task for his suggestion that any woman or [additional] person of color on the list would have been a “token.” Rosch’s response to many of the commenters on BlagHag was, I’m sure you’ll agree, the only reasonable one considering his commitment to merit:

I think next year I’ll do it strictly by the numbers and Richard Dawkins can win it.

As for this year, the token non-Richard Dawkins winner was Friend of Skepchick Matt Dillahunty. Congrats to Matt! I should note here that if the Hitchie is the Oscar of atheism, then surely Matt is the Marlon Brando of atheism, since instead of accepting the award himself he sent a lesbian feminist to the ceremony dressed entirely in traditional feminist garb. He also pledged to use the surely substantial Hitchie prize money as a starter fund for a competing award ceremony called “The Bitchie,” which he says he named after me because, had he not, I just would have won it every year. Thanks, Matt!

Featured image can be seen & bought here. Hitchie statuette not available for purchase at this time.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org and appears on the weekly Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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133 Comments

  1. Profile photo of QuestionAuthority
    January 6, 2012 at 11:37 am —

    Yayyy, Rebecca!

  2. Profile photo of gonzblinko
    January 6, 2012 at 11:40 am —

    I believe that you deserved this award not for what was done to you but, rather, because you decided to take a principled stand. You could have been a nice girl and just shut up but, instead, you inspired a large portion of the skeptic/atheist community by standing in a shit storm for us. You displayed tremendous courage and I applaud any reward you get for it.

    • Profile photo of teragram42
      January 6, 2012 at 12:51 pm —

      I thought speaking up was much nicer than shutting up, but appreciate your point about the expectation that nice girls keep their mouths shut.

      Keep on speaking, and only make it nice if it should be!

  3. Profile photo of Brian G
    January 6, 2012 at 11:44 am —

    I think I speak for *everyone in the Universe when I say “Boo-ya!”

    *I do not speak for everyone in the Universe

  4. Profile photo of spurll
    January 6, 2012 at 11:44 am —

    Awesome.

  5. Profile photo of Rey Fox
    January 6, 2012 at 11:48 am —

    Pretty ludicrous to suggest that the award was merely due to something that happened to you when you considered that that sort of thing most likely happened to lots of women last year. You’re just the one who decided to say something about it.

  6. Profile photo of Chad K Brown
    January 6, 2012 at 11:48 am —

    When I hear the words “female atheist” you are the first to come to mind so.. yeah!

    congrats, keep up the good work and poo on folks who don’t understand feminism.

  7. Profile photo of Rey Fox
    January 6, 2012 at 11:49 am —

    Also, don’t drop that, it’s frageelee.

  8. Profile photo of GideonBanner
    January 6, 2012 at 11:51 am —

    I can’t think of anyone else that really spread like wild fire starting debates on every corner of the internet. I think even your detractors (who I am not one of) have to admit that’s a lot of influence. Congrats Rebecca. ^.^

  9. Profile photo of phlebas
    January 6, 2012 at 11:56 am —

    Wait, you’re an atheist?

  10. Profile photo of captaintripps
    January 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm —

    Congrats on being BlagHagtastical! Keep up the good work.

    On a side note: while I can think of numerous women who have contributed more to atheism in 2011 than George Takei, aren’t he and Hemant Mehta examples of “people of color” nominated for the Hitchie?

    • Profile photo of captaintripps
      January 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm —

      Ah, I see you’ve amended that now. Very tan. Ha!

      • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
        January 6, 2012 at 12:53 pm —

        Yeah, that was my mistake. I glossed over it b/c of the Hitchie guy saying that Neil Degrasse Tyson would have been a token black choice who didn’t deserve it, and I expanded “black” to PoC.

        • Profile photo of captaintripps
          January 6, 2012 at 1:44 pm —

          Asserting that a force of nature such as Neil DeGrasse Tyson could be a token anything is high-grade assclownery.

  11. Profile photo of WhatPaleBlueDot
    January 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm —

    I didn’t vote for you, but I sure think you’re a fine recipient. Congratulations! And I totally agree with you about the Hitchie.

  12. Profile photo of Melody
    January 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm —

    Rebecca, I have a lot of admiration for you. You persevered when others would have given up. Congratulations! It’s much deserved.

  13. Profile photo of justinvacula
    January 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm —

    Rebecca, you linked the Examiner newspaper in your post. Staks doesn’t write for the Examiner newspaper. He writes for Examiner.com, an online-only publication.

    I don’t approve of the token language by any means and Staks could have presented himself much better.

    I want, though, to address the initial concern which seems to be, at my estimation, that not including women in an atheist of the year poll of five persons is problematic to the point of warranting many blog posts including one alleging that Staks “forgot about women.” Some commenters and readers may even have gone far as to claim that Staks, in not including women in a poll of five people, is in some way sexist/not valuing women.

    I find it hard to believe that it is a >huge problem< that women were not included in a contest of five persons. Perhaps if it were a poll of 25 or 50, I'd be more sympathetic to this concern.

    On my group's website, http://www.nepafreethought.org, there is a poll titled "Who is your favorite freethinker?" in which 15 people voted. 7 of the freethinkers included in this poll are all males. Is this a huge problem? I'd like to know. Am I missing something here?

    I agree with you and many others that women should be included in the atheist/skeptical movement and our 'frontrunners/persons on posters/whatever' should not be all 'old white guys.' Recent conventions have done a great job in doing this – particularly TAM, NECSS, American Atheists, etc.

    • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
      January 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm —

      “Rebecca, you linked the Examiner newspaper in your post. Staks doesn’t write for the Examiner newspaper. He writes for Examiner.com, an online-only publication.”

      Hmm, no, I’m pretty sure that’s the one. Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Staks Rosch, etc.

      “On my group’s website, http://www.nepafreethought.org, there is a poll titled “Who is your favorite freethinker?” in which 15 people voted. 7 of the freethinkers included in this poll are all males. Is this a huge problem? I’d like to know. Am I missing something here?”

      If you gave people a choice of seven people to pick as their favorite freethinker and you couldn’t think of a single woman (or person of color, I’ll note) between the time of Galileo and the present, then yes, I’d say that’s a pretty sad problem you’ve got there.

    • Profile photo of violets
      January 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm —

      While it’s disappointing not to see any women, I think the larger problem is the language Staks used to address it. He suggested that any inclusion of a women (or an African-American person) would have been a “token” gesture. The implication of that word choice is that no women or African-Americans were actually deserving of the award on their own merits, which is demonstrably untrue.

      Further, on being offered examples, he dismissed the accomplishments of the examples as not being good enough to merit award, yet two of the five winners have done nothing but be famous actors who happen to be atheists. The weren’t nominated for merit, but for popularity, so that kind of destroys the argument that this was a pure meritocracy.

      It would be much less of a problem had there been five nominees with concrete and impressive contributions to the atheist community, and the response had been “there were many worthy women/minorities, but these five people just happened to have the biggest accomplishments this year.”

      • Profile photo of marilove
        January 6, 2012 at 3:59 pm —

        Not to mention that Neil DeGrasse Tyson is still considered a “token” because he’s black, even though his contributions are for *sure* greater than anyone included on the list. That’s incredibly telling, that even Niel DeGrasse fucking Tyson is considered a token.

        • Profile photo of MarianLibrarian
          January 6, 2012 at 11:48 pm —

          Also it’s not fair to include Dawkins and Harris because people will vote for them because they deserve the award more than the people included, and it’s not fair to include Tyson, any other black person, or any woman because people will vote for them because they’re black and/or women and can’t possibly deserve it. Or something. His whole line of thought makes total sense.

  14. Profile photo of justinvacula
    January 6, 2012 at 12:36 pm —

    What I am getting at here (mentioning the inclusion of women at conventions as speakers) is that there are indeed some concerns (and these are being addressed), but other concerns [such as what I see as a fundamental complaint that not including a woman in a poll of five people is a huge problem that warrants blog posts and leads people to conclusions that someone forgot about women or are otherwise sexist] don’t seem to be as valid or worth much of the discussion.

    • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
      January 6, 2012 at 12:39 pm —

      Yeah, those 8 sentences I wrote about it were really out of line. Well, 6 sentences if you don’t count his quotes.

  15. Profile photo of spokesgay
    January 6, 2012 at 12:39 pm —

    Shorter justinvacula: “Yes, but. . .”

  16. Profile photo of justinvacula
    January 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm —

    No, Staks doesn’t write for the Examiner newspaper. Examiner.com and The Examiner are quite different. I too, write for Examiner.com (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Examiner.com).

    Failing to include a woman in a poll of seven people or five people isn’t an indication that someone “could not think” of a woman, but rather that one was just not included. In such a small selection size, can one really expect to include a great deal of diversity? We can also say, “One could not think of a single Latino, Asian-American, Vietnamese-American, bisexual, transgendered person, etc…”

    • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
      January 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm —

      “No, Staks doesn’t write for the Examiner newspaper. Examiner.com and The Examiner are quite different.”

      I’m pretty sure they’re the same.

      “Failing to include a woman in a poll of seven people or five people isn’t an indication that someone “could not think” of a woman, but rather that one was just not included. ”

      OK, I was actually being nice when I suggested you couldn’t think of a single woman or person of color to include on a list of favorite freethinkers. A list that could literally have any number of names you wanted. The fact that you could but decided not to is sort of worse?

      • Profile photo of Luarien
        January 7, 2012 at 9:01 pm —

        Not only are they intrinsically related, but the Wikipedia article that was linked about Examiner.com says this;

        “The company derives its name from Anschultz/Clarity’s 2004 purchase of the San Francisco Examiner which had previously owned the examiner.com domain.”

        So, yeah, same company.

    • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
      January 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm —

      Also, you know that women are like, half the population, right? Because from your comment it seems like you don’t know that.

    • Profile photo of ZenPoseur
      January 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm —

      Welcome to this episode of Simple Answers to Simple Questions. Our guest today is Justin Vacula.

      In such a small selection size, can one really expect to include a great deal of diversity?

      Yes. Yes one can.

      This had been another edition of simple answers to simple questions. I’d like to thank our guest Justin Vacula.

  17. Profile photo of justinvacula
    January 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm —

    I’m not saying that what you are writing about is out of line.

    • Profile photo of spokesgay
      January 6, 2012 at 1:11 pm —

      Nope. You’re it “just saying” wasn’t fair, and it wasn’t a major issue, and it wasn’t worth the time. But you’re not saying it was out of line.

  18. Profile photo of Felicity
    January 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm —

    Yay, Rebecca! Keep being awesome in 2012. I have no doubt you will succeed.

  19. Profile photo of Malfeitor
    January 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm —

    Congratulations Rebecca!

    Does the award come with a slow cooked baby, or do they just send it UPS in dry ice?

  20. Profile photo of justinvacula
    January 6, 2012 at 1:08 pm —

    In October of 2011, I authored a post that listed five people who I would love to see debate William Lane Craig. I noted Michael Shermer, Theodore Shick, Matt Dillahunty, and Daniel Dennett. I also included Massimo Pigliucci even though he had debated Craig in the past.

    Here is my reasoning, from the post in which I intentionally wanted to create a short list that I noted “obviously won’t include everyone”:

    Theodore Shick
    Shick, co-author of How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking in a New Age (and much more), is a great philosopher who can apply the methodology presented in his book to show that belief in God is irrational. It was a great pleasure to hear him talk at King’s College in Pennsylvania! Shick did so in “Think” magazine. Let’s see it happen in 2011/2012 in a debate.

    Massimo Pigliucci
    Pigliucci did an amazing job debating Craig and some others (Horner, Ham…) in the past, but it’s been quite a while. He’s easily one of my favorite living philosophers and would do atheists (and everyone else) a great service in debating Craig.

    Matt Dillahunty (!)
    Matt Dillahunty, host of The Atheist Experience, is a phenomenal debater who does amazingly in an impromptu setting (and even better in a non-impromptu setting). His show (and that of other ACA members) has worldwide renown and Matt is known by many as a fierce ‘defender of atheism.’ He’s addressed all of Craig’s arguments (or variations of them) on the show and would do really well debating Craig. The question for Craig should be this: “Why haven’t you offered a debate challenge to Dillahunty yet (or called his show to debate on-air)?” Matt, of course, as many fans know, is quite busy right now, but hopefully the future will bring a Dillahunty/Craig debate!

    Daniel Dennett
    Why hasn’t Dennett, one of the ‘new atheists,’ debated Craig yet? Dennett has debated McGrath, Plantinga, and D’Souza. Dennett obviously has a strong background in philosophy and would do a great job against Craig.

    Michael Shermer
    Shermer is a wonderful debater on so many topics. He is able to apply skepticism and decisively show that many arguments for supernatural claims (in addition to others) are deeply flawed.

    Do you find a problem with this list?

    • Profile photo of scribe999
      January 6, 2012 at 1:16 pm —

      So, which women and/or minorities did you consider before coming up with the final list?

      • Profile photo of justinvacula
        January 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm —

        I recently wrote a letter to the editor to a local newspaper that included text from one of Shick’s works, heard him speak live, read his “How to Think about Weird Things” book and had it as a textbook for a class. He would also be quite a ‘new face’ to many in the movement even though he is well-published.

        Pigliucci, as I noted, is one of my favorite living philosophers. He did wonderfully against Craig in the past, I listened to every podcast of his, watched all of his debates, and enjoyed him speaking at NECSS. He was an easy pick.

        Dillahunty, Dennett, and Shermer were also quite easy picks (and I’ve outlined the reasoning above).

        I wanted a short list and these were some of the first people who came to mind who, as I noted, >I< would love to see debate Craig.

        • Profile photo of marilove
          January 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm —

          “So, which women and/or minorities did you consider before coming up with the final list?”

          Wow. You couldn’t even answer that question with one woman and/or minority. Not even one. Which means that you didn’t even *consider* a woman and/or minority. Just white men. You do realize that that isn’t a good thing, right? Not when there are tons of examples of minorities, including women, that should be considered when these types of lists/contests/whatever come up. It means that you aren’t even *attempting* to branch outside of your “white, man” box. You aren’t looking anywhere else to even have the ability to know that other freethinkers aside from white men exist!

          How do you not realize that that is a problem? That’s not to say you’re a terrible person, because we all have our biases and sometimes it takes a bit of a nudge or kick to realize those biases … but to continue to ignore that perhaps, just maybe, you might have a bias you aren’t totally aware of, means you probably are kind of a terrible person.

        • Profile photo of scribe999
          January 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm —

          And have you ever read or seen Ayaan Hirsi Ali? Have you spent any time listening to Jamila Bey? Perhaps Hemant Mehta? Basically, you went with your first instincts based on what you were already comfortable with. Where you kinda fall short in terms of responsible journalism: you didn’t bother to research for subjects outside of your comfort zone to see if, maybe, your personal worldview wasn’t that wide to begin with…and btw, nobody’s personal worldview is by default.

          What a dull list (not the people on it…the curation is what’s dull). Two guys who already debated Craig. One guy (Dillahunty) is a bit of a no-brainer.

          Schick: “He would also be quite a ‘new face’ to many in the movement even though he is well-published.” Wow? Seriously? You don’t get the irony here? You see no problem with reasoning that one of your choices is an obscure white guy who needs to be publicized instead of an obscure woman or minority? And do you even know if he’s good at debating? You speak of lectures and books, but not debates.

          Dan Dennett…aside from his impressive CV, you went with him because he hasn’t debated Craig yet? Good job…a lot of interesting people haven’t, but you went with an obvious guy yet again.

          The problem is that you aren’t aware you have a problem. It’s like the wealthy people in Dickens’ novels who can’t understand why the poor just can’t find work…it’s not they’re problem, so they don’t even bother looking.

          “I wanted a short list and these were some of the first people who came to mind who, as I noted, >I< would love to see debate Craig." — actually, there you are lying. You said it was your "webmaster's" poll. And I hope that's how you worded your poll's title: "A narrow shortlist of MY personal favorite atheists that users are being directed to select from".

          • Profile photo of scribe999
            January 6, 2012 at 3:11 pm

            Whoops, sorry, mixed up the posts on your post and your poll. My apologies for that last part.

        • Profile photo of Luarien
          January 7, 2012 at 8:56 pm —

          So…why did you simply repeat your last post?

          Do you have no opinions on, specifically, women and/or minorities, specifically, that’d be good debate opponents for Craig?

          I mean, even if you focused just on the more minority options of your original list you still mentioned Dennett again who, while a fantastic speaker and thinker, is still Upper Middle Class Older White Guy.

          You can’t be so uninformed about the online atheist community to not have any opinions on women or minority speakers, thinkers, and activists.

    • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
      January 6, 2012 at 1:16 pm —

      Why are you changing the topic? Did you forget about the previous one several inches up, in which you were wondering if there was something wrong with giving people the choice of seven white men from which to choose their favorite freethinker, and I told you that yeah it is, and then you ignored it? Is it because you don’t really want to know that you’re doing something wrong? You’d rather just keep doing it?

      • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
        January 6, 2012 at 1:18 pm —

        And think carefully about your answer, here, because I’m kind of thinking of banning you for evasion and general thick-headedness.

    • Profile photo of utakata
      January 6, 2012 at 4:58 pm —

      @justinvacula

      I think Rebecca Watson, Jen McCreight and/or Greta Christina would destroy William Lane Craig. I am not sure why you haven’t consider them.

      • Profile photo of mrmisconception
        January 6, 2012 at 5:06 pm —

        As would Beth Presswood, Jen Peeples, Tracie Harris, or Lynnea Glasser, and they get lots of practice taking apart ridiculous arguments live.

        • Profile photo of utakata
          January 6, 2012 at 7:02 pm —

          Well…to be honest I haven’t heard of those names…least yet. But since you appear to be a regular here in good standing, you’re probably right. :)

  21. Profile photo of Improbable Joe
    January 6, 2012 at 1:20 pm —

    Congrats Rebecca!

    I’d like to say that my vote was the one that put it over the top, but it was a landslide. I expect to see you spending the year cutting ribbons and thrift shop opening and using your weird natural “trolling, but in the best possible sense” to shine a light behind the refrigerator of the skeptical/atheist movement and set the roaches scurrying. :)

    And like I said over at B&W (I think?), I seriously think that the reason Staks is getting his ass kicked up and down the Internet is directly related to ElevatorGate. Sexism that would have gone mostly unnoticed and unmentioned a couple of years ago, now gets called out immediately and very little slack is given when someone produces a half-assed notpology for it. This summer’s shitstorm was a catalyst for a lot of people to see things they didn’t want to see, and for a lot of people to see that they weren’t alone in the sexist bullshit they faced.

    Rebecca, I think you get most of the credit for that, and there should be more awards coming your way. Plus a cookie the size of a hubcap. And a kitten.

  22. Profile photo of justinvacula
    January 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm —

    I want to talk about the initial concern of “Not including a woman in a poll of five people is a huge problem,” so I’m providing other examples to see what you will say instead of just generalizing what you think across the board from only one example.

    Let me elaborate on the poll of seven. Our webmaster put this poll up and these seven persons are his favorite freethinkers, so he selected these seven for the poll. Is this still a problem?

    I agree that the token language is problematic. I don’t though, understand why not including women in a poll of five people is very problematic because, as I noted, one could object ad nauseum noting others who were not represented. In such a small poll, everyone — simply by the numbers — can’t possibly be represented.

    I would, though, agree that out of a larger list whether it be a poll or a list of speakers, that ‘all white old guys’ would be a problem.

    • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
      January 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm —

      No for real though, you don’t know that women are half the total population of earth?

      • Profile photo of justinvacula
        January 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm —

        You obviously know that the answer to this question is yes.

        • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
          January 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm —

          It’s not obvious when you pretend that including a woman in an unlimited list of Freethinkers would be some extraordinary act akin to listing one person representing each and every marginalized group on the planet.

          Seriously, man. Have a good long think about this before you keep digging your hole, here.

          • Profile photo of justinvacula
            January 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm

            I’m not claiming that “including a woman in an unlimited list of Freethinkers would be some extraordinary act akin to representing each and every marginalized group on the planet.”

            The point of my ‘ad nauseum objection’ is this (as I thought I explained well): We can look at polls of a limited amount and say, “Well, group x/person with trait y/person from country z is not represented” as this obviously would be folly if, from this observation, that there is a problem with the poll or the beliefs of the person creating the poll because the poll was limited to begin with any group x, person y, country z, etc could not possibly be all represented in a limited poll.

            Again, if the poll were, say, to include 25/or were a much larger list, I would agree that there ought to be more diversity in the poll, but I just can’t see why this is a problem in a poll of five. I would like to hear an argument rather than sarcastic comments such as “you don’t know that women are half the total population of earth.”

            As far as the poll of seven was concerned, again, the webmaster who made the poll listed his favorite freethinkers. I can’t see why this is a problem. Sure, the list could have included many more persons and was indeed unlimited, but he simply made a short list.

          • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
            January 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm

            justinvacula:

            “Again, if the poll were, say, to include 25/or were a much larger list, I would agree that there ought to be more diversity in the poll, but I just can’t see why this is a problem in a poll of five.”

            OK, so now we know that you think there should be at least 25 men on a list before there needs to be one woman. So, 25x the actual ratio of men to women.

            Aaaand you still don’t see that that’s kind of shitty? Again: think this over carefully.

          • Profile photo of hertta
            January 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm

            Say the men to women ratio in the atheist community were 3 to 1. If one were to pick people at random, the chances of getting an all male list of five would be about 24%. For an all male list of seven the chances are at 13%. But these list were not picked at random. The men just all were so much more deserving than any woman. Including a woman (or Neil DeGrasse Tyson) would have been tokenism.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm

            “Again, if the poll were, say, to include 25/or were a much larger list, I would agree that there ought to be more diversity in the poll,”

            …How can you see this as at all logical or right when there are a TON of minorities in the movement that you could have chosen? Why is it that a list has to include a certain number of men before one can even *start* to consider diversity? What the hell, man.

          • Profile photo of MarianLibrarian
            January 6, 2012 at 11:59 pm

            @hertta

            Wait, Neill Degrasse Tyson has done fantastic, amazing things for the atheist/skeptical community. In addition to being one of the best (if not the best, which I think he is) science popularizer around right now, he is one of the few who is putting a “nice” face on atheism complementary to the toughness of people like Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens, or Rebecca. He is one of the Big Names in our community. Including him should be a given, yet he gets excluded in order to avoid tokenism? That’s not just racist, that’s a horrible, bitter, post-modern ironic form of racism that would make me laugh if it weren’t so awful.

        • Profile photo of mouthyb
          January 6, 2012 at 1:42 pm —

          And so, since women are slightly over half the population of the world, why are there no women on the list? I’m essentially repeating what Rebecca asked, which, I notice, you haven’t answered.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 6, 2012 at 2:42 pm

            Because, apparently, we shouldn’t start to consider women or minorities until “enough white men” are included on the list (which seems to be around 25). Then it’s cool to be diverse. But not until we have plenty of white men!

    • Profile photo of digger
      January 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm —

      Don’t see that it needs to be a problem or an issue. Just acknowledge that the list wasn’t diverse enough and expand the variety next time.

  23. Profile photo of scribe999
    January 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm —

    Oh, and good on ya, Rebecca. Some mighty fine names on that list and you trounced them all, like some kind of sports metaphor!

  24. Profile photo of James K
    January 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm —

    I’m glad you won the Blag Hag award Rebecca, I think via Elevatorgate you did something very important for the atheist and sceptic communities – you gave us a chance to examine ourselves.

    If we are better able to understand the world that the various fundies and true believers it is only because we have a greater inclination to see the world as it is, not as we would wish it to be. And that goes double for ourselves otherwise we risk developing the sort of unjustified sanctimony that is so typical of fundies.

    Elevatorgate and the subsequent fallout taught me a lot of things I didn’t know about what women deal with, from the day-to-day unwarranted crap to those appalling “Lads’ Mags” to the truly disturbing way too many men in our community want women to remain silent.

    In short, you’ve taught me new things and made me think a lot this year, and what better contribution could I ask for from a atheist be they female, male or neither?

  25. Profile photo of Natalie
    January 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm —

    Um… I kinda ended up on the final list there, Rebecca. :p

    • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
      January 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm —

      I know! I listed you along w/ the other Skepchick contributors.

      • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
        January 6, 2012 at 1:42 pm —

        (Sorry if it wasn’t clear. For brevity’s sake it was easiest to list you along w/ the other writers.)

        • Profile photo of Natalie
          January 6, 2012 at 1:46 pm —

          Sorry… I just parsed it as “these were the people on the list” and “but lots of skepchicks were nominated”… but -shrug-

  26. Profile photo of mrmisconception
    January 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm —

    Congrats Rebecca, sorry it had to come with such a big plate of shit sandwich.

    @justinvacula
    You’re right that the list did not have to include a woman to be valid but you are wrong that it is not a problem.
    It is a problem in that it shows the narrow viewpoint, and the privilege that protects that viewpoint, that is inherent in too much of society.
    And no, the solution is not to include a token woman but rather to get to the point where merit is given to women to such a degree that tokenism never need be considered.

  27. Profile photo of justinvacula
    January 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm —

    Rebecca, you are strawmanning me. I did not, at any point, claim that there should be at least 25 men on a list before there is a woman, but rather said that objections to “there are no women” when considering a list of five people doesn’t seem to me to be a huge problem -with and this is the case with other demographics we can conjecture. I did, though, say that I would see a problem (and I will even say a huge one) if there are no women in a longer list. This is a huge difference.

    • Profile photo of marilove
      January 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm —

      You actually said “if the poll were to, say, include 25/or were a much larger list, I would agree that there ought to be more diversity in the poll.” YOU ACTUALLY SAID that if the “list was large enough” that’s when more diversity should be included. You actually said that. You basically said that first, we have to represent white men — and we have to have *a large enough pool of white men* — before we should start thinking about including minorities and/or women. That’s what you said. Word for fucking word. Do not try to claim you didn’t say that when it is a direct fucking quote directly from your fucking fingertips.

    • Profile photo of Improbable Joe
      January 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm —

      “I’m not saying your the worst player on the team, I’m just saying that you’re not getting off the bench unless every other player on the team is injured or ejected from play. Even then, we’re going to ask around among the cheerleaders and band and see if any of them want to suit up before we put you in the game. Again, I’m absolutely not saying you’re unfit to play, so don’t try to twist this around and make me look bad.”

  28. Profile photo of yarro
    January 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm —

    Congratulations! Well deserved!

  29. Profile photo of Tom K
    January 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm —

    Congrats Rebecca! Keep up it up there are a lot of people that really appreciate it. :-)

  30. Profile photo of ZenPoseur
    January 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm —

    I can’t keep my mind from going back to the Sotomayor confirmation battle, and hearing stuff like, “Come on, there’s already two women on the Supreme Court! That’s plenty. We need to get back to being serious here.” Like there’s some limit to the number of women and minorities you can have before you’re no longer serious.

    But apparently there’s no limit to the number of white guys you can include in anything.

    • Profile photo of Improbable Joe
      January 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm —

      Because being a straight white Christian male is “normal” and EVERYTHING else is a deviation from normal.

      • Profile photo of marilove
        January 6, 2012 at 3:27 pm —

        It would just be nice for people to admit this when they are confronted with it, especially when it’s ridiculously obvious, like in justinvacula’s case above. Instead, they get ridiculously defensive and use doublespeak to try to prove that they hold absolutely no biases and that those biases had nothing to do with their decisions/actions.

        People make mistakes. It happens. It doesn’t mean you’re a terrible person. Be self-aware enough to admit your mistakes. Try to change your behavior. Don’t stick your heels in the ground and cover your ears and eyes and go “la la la!”

        • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
          January 6, 2012 at 3:41 pm —

          Exactly. Nobody cared about the Examiner clown until he started posting insulting shit about merit and tokens on BlagHag and elsewhere. And if justinvacula’s reaction to my response to him had been, “Oh, we hadn’t thought of that, thanks.” then nobody would be shaking their head sadly in his general direction right now.

          Someone needs to start a Tumblr called “Yo, Is This Sexist?”

          • Profile photo of justinvacula
            January 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm

            I am really disappointed with the level of discourse from comments here. I’ve read sarcastic comments in response to what I have typed ‘Don’t you realize women are half of the population’ and personal attacks from commenters. I have been accused of doublespeak and evasion. I’ve been called thick-headed.

            There’s an idea in Philosophy called the principle of charity. When trying to interpret one’s argument/intentions/reasoning, according to this, it’s best to interpret the argument/intentions/reasoning as, you might expect, in the most charitable manner. Interpreting my comments to mean “A list needs to have 25 men before a woman is in the list” is probably the most uncharitable interpretation possible – and especially so considering I typed a decent amount.

            Rebecca writes that “nobody cared about the Examiner clown.” I agree that the token language and the general jist of his initial posts and comments were problematic. Not everyone has a huge following on the internet. So what? To call someone a ‘clown nobody cared about’ based on their ideas on one topic or some problems with some reasoning is really unfair. Have you taken time to read what he has written on other topics before arriving at this conclusion?

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm

            QUOTE, from you: Again, if the poll were, say, to include 25/or were a much larger list, I would agree that there ought to be more diversity in the poll,

            YOU SAID IT. You said, in black and white, that if the pol “were to include 25″ people “or were much larger” then “there ought” to be more diversity.

            How the hell can you deny that you said something when it it is black and white? You’re being incredibly disingenuous. Sam above asked you if you even CONSIDERED a more diverse choice, even if you didn’t end up choosing someone other than white, straight man … and you couldn’t even name one person that you considered that wasn’t a white, straight man. And you seem to think this is just a-okay? That even though there are plenty of women and other minorities who have done some great work … you can’t even name one that you considered?

            This is not something you should be proud of, or try to defend.

          • Profile photo of Luarien
            January 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm

            Nah, to fit in with the tumblr meme crowd, it’d have to be imnotsexistbut.tumblr.com or fuckyeahsexism.tumblr.com.

          • Profile photo of 4charactersonly
            January 7, 2012 at 8:56 am

            @justinvacula, I’ll try a more charitable interpretation. I assume that what you meant was that only in a list of, for example, 25 people would the lack of women be statistically significant.

            Well, in a list of five people, assuming that women are fifty percent of the population and the gender of the people chosen is not considered (i.e. the chance of a position on the list being given to a woman is 0.5),the chance that there are no women on the list is 1/32, or 3.125%.

            Also, the chance that there are no women on the list goes below 1% at only a list of seven people.

            So, at a 95% confidence interval, for a list of 5, no women on the list is significant. No women is also significant for a list of 7 at a 99% confidence interval.

            For a list of 10, a 99.9% inerval, and so on.

            So this suggests that the listees were not chosen irrespective of gender.

            There are flaws with this analysis. I have no idea of the ratio of atheist men to women. I have less of an idea of the ratio of (for lack of a better word) *prominant* atheist men to women, who are presumably more likely to win.

            And, of course, this is no evidence of a bias against women in atheism/skepticism in general. We would need to survey enough lists of atheists to determine whether this one list is representative of a trend or simply an outlier.

            (Please excuse me if my statistics are wrong, I’m a little rusty :-p. I welcome criticism)

        • Profile photo of Improbable Joe
          January 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm —

          Well… and even when you’re not “straight white Christian male” you can still be wrong and make mistakes and allow your privilege to blind you a bit. I’m only 35% of that description, and I’m personally still sort of crap at trans issues, I think mostly because I forget that it is academic to ME but life and death to THEM.

          And that’s probably at the heart of the problem with where people with one privilege unintentionally step on the toes of people without that privilege… it isn’t ill feelings or bigotry, it is forgetting that for the people living it, it isn’t just an intellectual exercise that they can walk away from when they get tired of talking about it.

          That’s sort of OK, as long as when it is pointed out to you, you can stop talking for a minute and stop trying to win. Maybe it is OK to say “sorry” and walk away, even if you don’t think you were wrong, and at the very least maybe consider that the other person isn’t wrong either? Better that, then to dig in and defend a position that at best isn’t coming off very well.

          • Profile photo of Buzz Parsec
            January 7, 2012 at 5:06 am

            Actually, Justin, you can win! Just stop digging, drop the shovel, step back and say “I don’t really understand what you are talking about but I’ll think about it next time and look around a little more and listen to a variety of peoples’ ideas before making any lists of people for various future projects or polls or debate candidates or whatever.” Thinking and listening and investigating is how people learn, and learning is the fundamental goal of skepticism. Do this and you’ll be a shining example to us all.

  31. Profile photo of zylla
    January 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm —

    The award is well deserved for your very influential actions. Congratulations, Rebecca! You are appreciated!

  32. Profile photo of Jack99
    January 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm —

    Congratulations, Rebecca! Well earned.

    Last year can’t have been easy for you. May your supporters grow in number and in strength.

    I also think it is extremely rude of justinvacula to rain on your parade.

  33. Profile photo of justinvacula
    January 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm —

    I’d like to continue the discussion, but this will be the last comment I’m going to make tonight. I’ll be busy for the rest of the evening preparing for an interview/podcast. Thanks.

  34. Profile photo of Masala Skeptic
    January 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm —

    Congratulations, Rebecca. I am shocked and thrilled that my name was even on a list vaguely associated with all these amazing people. <3

  35. Profile photo of carolw
    January 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm —

    And Justin Vacuous nails the flounce.
    Congrats, Rebecca. You’ve been a great inspiration to me. I think I’ve gotten even more steel in my backbone thanks to you. Keep on fighting the good fight, girl!

  36. Profile photo of andiis
    January 6, 2012 at 5:23 pm —

    Yaaaayyy!!!! you good thing…

  37. Profile photo of Luarien
    January 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm —

    Congrats!

    Also, I totally just watched a documentary on Native Americans the other day that mentioned the Marlon Brando thing.

    Incidentally, what is traditional feminist garb? Is there a regalia associated with it? Is it difficult to carry around a burning bra?

    • Profile photo of mouthyb
      January 6, 2012 at 6:04 pm —

      Judging by MRA comments (since they believe they’re the only people paying attention to the evil feminazis), I think a pair of testicles as earrings, jackboots and a pink uniform, man cowering under your feet is optional.

      • Profile photo of marilove
        January 6, 2012 at 6:17 pm —

        I don’t know that a “feminazi” would wear pink. :P

        • Profile photo of Improbable Joe
          January 6, 2012 at 6:41 pm —

          Maybe, but only as an accent. An all-pink uniform would look like you fell in a vat of Pepto-Bismol.

          • Profile photo of marilove
            January 6, 2012 at 6:53 pm

            Or you’d be mistaken as a member of a Sheriff Joe Chain Gang. Hah!

            True story: Once I was riding the bus, and this kid came on, all hip-hopped out. Impossibly baggy pants that you were sure were going to fall off. Underwear showing. Fancy sneakers with the big lip. Fancy, perfectly clean hat sitting juuust so and to the side.

            IT WAS ALL PINK!

            It was awesome and glorious.

          • Profile photo of Improbable Joe
            January 6, 2012 at 7:35 pm

            Holy shit, that must have been EPIC!

            …was he wearing a rose gold chain, Mr T style?

        • Profile photo of mouthyb
          January 6, 2012 at 7:22 pm —

          Red with the blood of our enemies? Personally, if I was designing the uniform, it would include a GIANT vulva.

        • Profile photo of Luarien
          January 6, 2012 at 7:25 pm —

          Two words;
          Pink camo

  38. Profile photo of DangerousTalk
    January 6, 2012 at 6:17 pm —

    I didn’t say that the nominees were based on merit. I said that the nominees were based in large part on the open nomination process and then a editorial process which was obviously flawed. But who really cares about facts anymore anyway if it fits the narrative. I have already apologized and scrapped any future Hitchie award plans. I have learned a lot and if people still want to turn me in the the evil sexist, oh well. My record speaks for itself and I am always trying to improve as we all should. So I am sorry for a lot of things. I handled the situation wrong in many ways. I hope you can accept my apology. I enjoy your blog from time to time and my goal is to be a better person and to continue fighting the religious right.
    In Reason,
    -Staks

    • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
      January 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm —

      Apology accepted. I’m sorry I called you a clown.

      • Profile photo of Improbable Joe
        January 6, 2012 at 6:38 pm —

        You’re way nicer than me. No wonder I don’t get any awards… :(

        • Profile photo of marilove
          January 6, 2012 at 6:49 pm —

          I know you and I have gotten into it before, but I like your style. :) Plus, I am terrible at holding grudges unless you are just awful.

          • Profile photo of Improbable Joe
            January 6, 2012 at 7:34 pm

            I don’t remember it, but I’m sure I was AT LEAST 51% to blame for it. I’ve got my flaws but I try not to BE my flaws, you know?

            And I don’t hold grudges because I’m terrible with names and have no clue who I’m supposed to be angry with this week. :)

      • Profile photo of Luarien
        January 6, 2012 at 7:27 pm —

        Eh, I wouldn’t be sorry were I you.
        That’s not only a class nonpology but it also seems like he might smell of cabbage and have small hands.

        And I would know, I’m a gypsy.

    • Profile photo of Improbable Joe
      January 6, 2012 at 6:38 pm —

      Seriously? You’re dumber than I thought. If you’re sorry, you don’t start by saying “but who really cares about facts anymore anyway if it fits the narrative” as though you’re the victim of some sort of evil feminist conspiracy. What you should really take away from this is that you didn’t become the bad guy until you started playing the victim, and the more defensive you are the worse you look to everyone who isn’t a sexist asshole.

      This has been a clinic in notpologies from the start: “I wish there had been women on my list, but no women have done anything worth awarding.” “I know I didn’t get it right, but most of my critics are irrational and full of hate.” “I’ve apologized, but you’re all still wrong for judging me.”

      • Profile photo of MarianLibrarian
        January 7, 2012 at 12:09 am —

        I have to agree with ImprobableJoe, here. It was magnanimous of Rebecca to accept it, but it sure didn’t sound too apologetic to me.

      • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
        January 7, 2012 at 10:00 am —

        Here’s the thing: I think it’s hard for someone to get publicly called on the stupid bullshit that’s so ingrained in them that they never noticed before. That won’t stop me from calling them on the stupid bullshit, but if I get the feeling that they are at least now starting to think about it and adjust their views, that’s good enough for me.

        Yes, I could take issue with some of his post, but why bother? He’d only dig in further. No point.

        • Profile photo of dysomniak
          January 8, 2012 at 1:56 am —

          Besides, there are plenty of people here willing to dish out unmerciful wrath while Rebecca keeps her hands clean.

          Congratulations on the award, I was going to vote for you but everyone else beat me to it.

  39. Profile photo of hugsvalan
    January 6, 2012 at 7:21 pm —

    Congratulations, Rebecca! I just wanted to add that you have been the most influential skeptic/atheist of 2011 to me personally as well. I guess that counts as a minor award, at least? I’ll have to knit you a statuette or something. (It will probably be small, since I’m not a patient knitter, but then again your cats might enjoy playing with a tiny knitted unicorn?)

  40. Profile photo of gregladen
    January 6, 2012 at 7:51 pm —

    Rebecca, thanks for everything you’ve done, and congratulations.

  41. Profile photo of Flying sardines
    January 6, 2012 at 11:29 pm —

    CONGRATULATIONS!! Well done and well deserved. I voted for you (as StevoR my username there.) as well as Greta Christina and Maryam Namazie.

    You rock Rebecca and you’ve certainly shaken up alot of peopel last year. I was one of them. You’ve made this Aussie male into a feminist and opened my eyes to a lot and I thank you for that.

    Hope 2012 sees more power and a great year to you too.

  42. Profile photo of benjaminsa
    January 7, 2012 at 12:02 am —

    Congratulations, and I hope you get some bag swag and screw the Oscars, stupid politcally correct bull anyway.

  43. Profile photo of benjaminsa
    January 7, 2012 at 12:02 am —

    Congratulations, and I hope you get some bag swag and screw the Oscars, stupid politically correct bull anyway.

  44. Profile photo of MarianLibrarian
    January 7, 2012 at 12:10 am —

    Congratulations! If I’d known about the poll, I’d have voted for you.

  45. Profile photo of Stephanie Zvan
    January 7, 2012 at 1:02 am —

    There was never a chance in a nonexistent hell that it was going to anyone else. Well earned, Rebecca.

  46. Profile photo of skippybkroo
    January 7, 2012 at 1:05 am —

    congrats, rebecca! well deserved.

    so, hey, you want to go to my room for some coffee?

  47. Profile photo of skippybkroo
    January 7, 2012 at 1:35 am —

    that was a joke, pls. don’t flame me!

  48. Profile photo of
    January 7, 2012 at 2:27 am —

    Hmm, atheism award (hardly “major” as it’s from a blog in your own clique) yet the post is labelled “feminism”. Instructive.

    And is that a dig at Hitchens? I note that this blog had a pretty piss poor comment on his passing.

    • Profile photo of BeardofPants
      January 7, 2012 at 2:32 am —

      It’s pretty obvious you have an axe to grind. Go grind it elsewhere.

    • Profile photo of MarianLibrarian
      January 7, 2012 at 8:08 am —

      I doubt you care to hear any opposition, based on your comment here as well as your comment weirdly bashing Rebecca on Heina’s completely unrelated Conspiracy post, but just in case, the line “I won a major award” is from a movie. This post is labeled feminism because it’s about a feminist topic–the fact that Staks Rosch made a point of not including women because he claimed it would be a token choice. But the idea that you think it’s somehow bad for a blog post to be tagged “feminism” is telling. And of course the fact that people don’t seem to be fawning over Hitchens enough for you is a personal offense.

      Normally on this blog I try to hold back, because when people come in swinging, everyone else here tends to be so level-headed and reasoned, even when the people who come here only to argue and level insults act like total jerks get really obnoxious. Then of course they claim the Skepchick regulars are being mean and attacking them. Me, I’m holding back right now. A lot. But you clearly came here just to troll, and I don’t understand why you are being tolerated.

      • Profile photo of
        January 8, 2012 at 1:34 am —

        Oh ok, didn’t get the film reference. Which film is it?
        Sorry to come across all trollish… it’s easily done though sometimes on the internet when you just say what you think and all that. Even that sounds like sarcasm, but it wasn’t meant to!
        I don’t think that the Stak guy really “made a point” of not including women though did he? That seems like spin.
        Re Hitchens: The link “a true hero” links to Wil Smith which is obviously a gag… I just jumped to the wrong implication. The post announcing Hitchens’ death got 4 comments… this already has 126. That’s all. So, sorry for that. Just an internet trigger finger. We’ve all done it haven’t we? :)
        Anyway, thanks for holding back!

        • Profile photo of pentatomid
          January 8, 2012 at 6:00 am —

          I think it’s from the movie ‘A christmas Story’. That’s also where the weird leg lamp comes from.

        • Profile photo of Beleth
          January 8, 2012 at 2:33 pm —

          The actual quote is “It’s a Major Award. I won it!”, but it’s a forgivable transposition.

    • Profile photo of Rebecca Watson
      January 7, 2012 at 9:57 am —

      So, you have no sense of humor and you worship Hitchens so much that you see insults to him even in a heartfelt tribute to him? WELCOME TO SKEPCHICK, great to have you here!

    • Profile photo of tielserrath
      January 7, 2012 at 6:59 pm —

      Some people loved Hitchens. Some hated him. Some, like me, disagreed with some of what he said, and thought that other times (the free speech debate, for example) he was remarkable at making me really think about the issues.

      We are allowed to differ in our opinions of the man – I don’t think he would have wanted it any other way.

  49. Profile photo of tielserrath
    January 7, 2012 at 6:56 pm —

    Congratulations, Rebecca.

    Well deserved. I can’t exactly say the last year has been fun, but it’s hardened my resolve to stand up against all this shit. I’m only a part-time online misogynist-stomper, but I do what I can.

    Any chance of seeing you at the Global Atheist Con in March?

  50. Profile photo of Beleth
    January 7, 2012 at 9:54 pm —

    Congratulations, Rebecca!

  51. Profile photo of svantevit
    January 8, 2012 at 8:35 am —

    Congratulations, Rebecca.

    Best regards from Berlin, Germany

  52. Profile photo of lactosefermenter
    January 8, 2012 at 9:18 am —

    Congratulations Rebecca. The award is well-deserved. I know it can’t be easy standing up for your convictions in the face of such overwhelming and deep-rooted bigotry, but somehow you do it while maintaining a sense of humor. Keep fightin’ the good fight.

  53. Profile photo of dirkternirk
    January 9, 2012 at 4:00 am —

    When I think “Hitch”, I don’t think “strong moral fiber”, I think “Imperialist, sexist dickhead”.

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