Speaking Out Against Hate Directed at Women: Aron Ra

Speaking Out Against Hate Directed at Women: Aron Ra

Welcome to the seventeenth installment in my series where I ask leaders from the secular community to speak out against hate directed at women.

Today, I bring you the words of Aron Ra. Aron is a YouTube vlogger, atheist activist and science advocate, producer of the Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism, a frequent co-host on the Magic Sandwich Show, and Texas’ State Director of American Atheists.

 

Aron asks some relevant questions in regards to what sort of behavior should and should not be tolerated and also speaks to the idea that each of us has an important role in stopping the negativity we have, and are continuing to see in our community.

 

Aron’s words after the jump.

From Aron:

For me, the best part of being involved in the skeptical/atheist community has been working with people who are genuinely sincere. Folks as fair as Matt Dillahunty or as compassionate as Seth Andrews are rare in the general populace. I have a number of associates in this ‘movement’ whom I feel close to and admire quite a bit, but we are not all on the same page, not about everything. Not everyone is all that sincere. Not all of us are completely sensible either. We have libertarians too, a topic for another time. Not all of us are environmentalists either. Some don’t understand the importance of biodiversity. Some of the humanists –and some skeptics too- seem to resent the portion of themselves that are atheist. Likewise I realize what a hypocrite I am that I still eat meat. Then there’s this whole feminism vs misogyny thing. On this point, I feel that I must even address some of my own family and friends.

On one level, we’re talking about anonymous internet nobodies spewing meaningless vitriol in an attempt to demean or belittle anyone not hiding behind the facades of silly secret names. How is that excusable? You may say, “Haters gonna hate; don’t feed the trolls”, and yeah, I get that. But are you telling me this is acceptable? Because it sounds like you’re telling me to accept it. It doesn’t matter what the medium is, does it? Does the excuse that they’re not really serious somehow make that OK? How could it? Is it ever acceptable for anyone to tell someone else that they should be raped? That’s a simple yes-or-no question, and the answer is obvious with no justifiable alternatives. I’m all about tolerance, but it is never permissible to threaten violence for any reason other than self defense –against a violent attack. Nor is it advisable to ignore such threats. Remember Tony48219? Remember Jared Loughner?

Remember that we’re not talking about religizombies either; we’re talking about plainly prejudiced people who consistently identify as, associate with, and participate in the freethinking community –both virtually and personally. Yes or no, are these the sort of people you want to have seen as representative of your position? Or typical of it? Or welcome in it? Because when you minimize the threat they impose, you are enabling them.

If you’re tired of hearing what’s-her-name complain about this all the time, why not solve the problem? Could it help to pretend that isn’t a problem? Or not enough of one to warrant your attention? Should you become part of the problem yourself? Do you think a bit of name-calling would be an appropriate response? If you not only permit it –by ignoring it- but actually contribute to it at all, then you’re aiding and defending those trolls –which is much worse than feeding them. If you’re well-known in this movement, you’ll be seen as a spokesman for despicable behavior. I have seen it happen.

Sure it is possible to go too far the other way, but don’t let that intimidate or confuse you. It’s really very simple. If you would immediately criticize some creationist just for posting logical fallacies, and you would defend the rights of homosexuals or any other minority, then why be silent when it comes to threats against women? If you would gleefully ridicule some noob on an academic error, then why hold your tongue when it comes to something much worse? Especially when it emanates from within your own camp! Could there be any excuse then?

How should we react when a woman is threatened with violence? It drains exactly none of our resources to show a little solidarity on an issue this clear. You might say you’d rather focus on more important matters, but why is this not equal to everything else on your list? And for all the exact same reasons? If you saw it happen in person, with real people right in front of you, what would you do then? Think about that for a moment. Imagine it happening. Now seriously ponder your natural reaction to that for a moment longer.

There was a time when one could get away with telling really offensive jokes, or expressing deep-seated hatred against any other demographic, and it would be nervously tolerated. Why is it not that way anymore? Because the pockets of humanity who permit that are dwindling. That means progressive people are having a positive impact, and there is just no defensible alternate position on this matter.

Aron Ra is a YouTube vlogger, atheist activist and science advocate, producer of the Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism, a frequent co-host on the Magic Sandwich Show, and Texas’ State Director of American Atheists.

Thank you for taking the time to speak to us, Aron. I hope your questions inspire more progress in the days to come.

Prior posts in this series can be found here:

Speaking out against hate directed at women: David Silverman

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Dale McGowan

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Ronald A Lindsay

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Nick Lee

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Barry Karr

Speaking out against hate directed at women: David Niose

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Matt Dillahunty

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Jim Underdown

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Michael Payton

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Michael Nugent

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Dan Barker

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Carlos Alfredo Diaz

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Todd Stiefel

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Michael De Dora

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Paul Fidalgo

Speaking out against hate directed at women: Phil Plait

More to come.

Avatar of Amy
Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and writes about vegan food. Follow her on twitter: @SurlyAmy or on Google+.

18 Comments

  1. Avatar of mrthumbtack

    AaronRa’s last point really struck a cord with me. As a carpenter, I’ve worked in a lot of all-male environments where bad-mouthing women was what you were expected to do, and you were mocked if you expressed disagreement. While he’s right, “the pockets of humanity who permit that are dwindling,” they’re not gone yet.

    • Avatar of onamission5

      I have, too, working in the restaurant industry. While more gender diverse an industry than construction, it’s still widely expected that women (especially those in the kitchen) will participate in or silently tolerate the sexist bullshittery that goes on, unquestioningly.

  2. Avatar of zylla

    I think I was in 4th grade when I leaned over to a friend of mine and asked “Do you want to hear a Pollack joke?”

    His name was Jim Pelczynski* and he said, “I’m a Pollack, but yeah, I like Pollack jokes.”

    That brought me up short and I hesitated. I was genuinely confused and embarrassed. It had never occurred to me before that “Pollack” actually referred to an actual group of people, I just knew it as a word to describe someone stupid, like knucklehead.

    I told him the joke, whatever it was, and never told another “Pollack joke”, and tried to think about other jokes or comments that were hurtful.

    The point being that once I had pointed out to me that something I was doing was wrong, even though my friend did not state it overtly, I analysed it and changed my thinking and my actions. Why is this so hard for people?

    *I may be misremembering or misspelling his name. It’s been nearly 40 years.

  3. Avatar of DataJack

    Once again, a very good message. I especially like how you are getting such a diverse range of people to write these columns, Amy.

  4. Avatar of Otoki

    This piece is actually Aron breaking down, step-by-step, point-by-point, the reasons WHY people should show solidarity or speak up about these issues. It takes every fucking bullshit excuse and forces people to face them. Love it.

  5. Avatar of mdevile

    AronRa — I would do your taxes.

    Thank you for this.

  6. Avatar of delphi_ote

    “You might say you’d rather focus on more important matters, but why is this not equal to everything else on your list? And for all the exact same reasons?”

    I feel like lots of people need to read that quote and think about it.

  7. Avatar of Grand Lunar

    AronRa has struck me as one of the best YouTubers ever.
    And now he’s even more so in my eyes.

    I like this part best:
    “You might say you’d rather focus on more important matters, but why is this not equal to everything else on your list? And for all the exact same reasons? If you saw it happen in person, with real people right in front of you, what would you do then? ”

    This could be a direct response to Thunderf00t’s attitude.

    I feel unfortunate to work at one of the few pockets where bad attitudes toward women are held. One is by a person that I otherwise like.
    Never had the chance to confront the guy about it (it’s a quick lube place, so it’s difficult to really get time for deep conversation). And I don’t hang out with him outside of work.

    It angers me more than my manager refuses to hire women, claiming it could cause a conflict of interest.
    I want to confront him on this by saying “So women are good enough for the military to hire but not this place?”
    But I also fear of losing my job over such a thing.

    What a quandry.

  8. Avatar of dr. dr. professor

    Sexism has existed in every industry I’ve been in (Aerospace Engineering, 3D Simulations, Game Industry). And It’s more acceptable than racism because you know, women are crazy.

    The game industry is a technical arena where a lot of the workers ARE women, but that doesn’t stop many large companies from hiring go-go dancers and courtesans to flirt with the men at their after parties.

    It’s going to take a lotta work to fix sexism. It is far from dead.

  9. Avatar of Norbert Burghart

    You might say you’d rather focus on more important matters, but why is this not equal to everything else on your list?

    I take this as a late response to a certain “Dear muslima” comment.

  10. Avatar of ethyachk

    An excellent entry made all the better because I could hear Aron Ra’s voice in my head as I was reading it.

  11. Avatar of oolon

    The paragraph ending with “If you’re well-known in this movement, you’ll be seen as a spokesman for despicable behavior. I have seen it happen.”

    Is likely directed at Thunderf00t… But given he is now linking to ‘A Voice for Men’ unfortunately TF is doing a bit more than just ignoring the problem.

  12. Avatar of Madfishmonger

    Aron I say to you: “YAY! And thank you.”

  13. Avatar of alter

    AronRa, I cannot tell you how much this means to me. You are my goddamn hero. I am seriously crying right now.

  14. Avatar of Luna

    I agree especially about the Solidarity comment. If men feel they are to be respected, then it goes both ways.

    And Aron Ra, feeling like a hypocrite for eating meat is outdated. We now know that sun grown coffee, palm oil, driving a car etc are all extremely bad for the environment. Also, some people simply cannot absorb nutrients in plants and need animal products to be healthy.

    Growing our own food and using multi-crop growing is more important than giving up meat altogether. That’s what the science says.

  15. Avatar of cityzenjane

    Thank you so much for this Aron…especially the bit about taking time out to correct noobs about some academic point. I find it astounding that in the 8 or so years I’ve been tracking this primarily on YT…the extraodinary amount of time mostly white males put in to debunking the utterly ridiculous claims made by religious people…not once but over and over and over again…For YEARS. Repeating ad nauseum the better arguments of their heros and icons… not adding one bit of original thought to the discourse. These are the same people that want secular women to shut up about sexism because it’s a “waste of time” to attempt to deal with it….the mind boggles.

    Let’s take on something more substantive than the RIDICULOUS claims of creationists…we’ve done it to death …have we not?

    Let’s tackle something a bit more impactful….the role of religion in the suppression of women and the cultural impact and holdover which STILL has a grip on people…many secular men and women included.

  16. Avatar of cityzenjane

    Sorry ….need to add….

    dismantling creationism, intelligent design, faith healing, anti-vaxxers are essentially all LOW HANGING FRUIT….easy pickins… Dealing with the impact of a few thousand years of religious indoctrination, memes, culture – the warp and weave of which invades the most intimate parts of our lives – even when we ARE non-religious is a MUCH thornier problem because it challenges us much closer to home…and sometimes AT home.

    So let’s declare that last round won -in spades….and LEVEL THE FUCK UP.

  17. Avatar of Timothy Clark

    First off, sorry for the high number of comments in the short span of time. I’ve just discovered this site and can’t stop pouring through it.
    Thank you AronRa. I have often wondered your views regarding these issues. And thank you Amy. I long thought that I was one of few atheist men who cared about the rights of women. Your series has shown me that that is simply not the case. Thank you! I love this quote because it is exactly what I’ve asked on a number of occasions:
    “If you would immediately criticize some creationist just for posting logical fallacies, and you would defend the rights of homosexuals or any other minority, then why be silent when it comes to threats against women? If you would gleefully ridicule some noob on an academic error, then why hold your tongue when it comes to something much worse? Especially when it emanates from within your own camp! Could there be any excuse then?”

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