Reddit Makes Me Hate Atheists

Before I joined Reddit, I never thought of myself as a masochist. The great thing about Reddit is that you can subscribe to particular subreddits that represent your interests – in my case, that might be skepticism, atheism, feminism, science, and pictures of baby animals – and ignore the subreddits that make you angry, like Men’s Rights, Beating Women, Space Dicks, and [Choose Prefix] Jailbait. The problem is that Reddit is infested with shitty, racist, sexist, bigoted people, to the point where it’s nearly guaranteed that some of those people will post in your special interest subreddit. The larger the subreddit, the better the chance that this will happen.*

And so it is with r/atheism. R/atheism is very large, and so it is jam packed with assholes. And yet! I continue to read it every day. I read it even though I usually learn nothing new from it and it only serves to create and foster inside me an intense hatred of my fellow atheists.

Two days ago, 15-year old Redditor Lunam posted a thread called “What My Super Religious Mother Got Me For Christmas“, in which she linked to a photo of herself holding Carl Sagan’s Demon-haunted World:

What a cool thing to happen! A touching tale of religious tolerance. I’m sure the comments will be appropriately celebratory and, seeing as she’s 15, nonsexual. LOL.

“The jeans I’m wearing right now are older than her. But then again, they’re full of holes.”

“Aaaaaand so is she…”

“I was trying not to, but it needed to be said.”

Look you guys, it needed to be said! Obviously someone had to make it clear that this 15-year old girl has various orifices that these grown men could stick their penises into. Swimmerhair is just the man who took the fall. He’s just saying what everyone’s thinking, as made clear by the 167 upvotes he got [the numbers to the right of usernames are net points, then the breakdown of upvotes in orange and downvotes in blue. That breakdown is not necessarily perfectly accurate but it is close].

But hey, you know, in some countries it’s totally legal for a grown man to have sex with a 15-year old. So let’s add abduction and rape to the mix:

There are about 900 more comments to get through. Get comfortable.

“Relax your anus, it hurts less that way.” (+1715, -648)

“Blood is mother nature’s lubricant.” (+570, -175)


“Tears, natures lubricant”

I won’t show all of these, but there were several dozen “clever” scientific double entendres about having sex with the 15-year old in question, all of which were heavily upvoted:

But hey, at least some of the Redditors in the thread were the right age** to be sexualizing a 15-year old girl who had the temerity to post a picture of her face on the Internet:

If it’s not enough that the 15-year old girl is getting a nonstop flood of rape offers from grown men, there are also plenty of posts trying to make her feel bad for being such a stupid fucking female:

SinghNYC has been holding onto that image for WEEKS just waiting for some dumb fucking female to post a picture. POW, take that, female! These examples showing otherwise mean nothing. Nothing! Also, I’m sure this is not a guy but is actually a stupid female:

And this guy, too:

And this guy:


CMETRIQ took it to the next level and linked to PROOF that only stupid females include their stupid faces in their pictures:

Which linked to this:

See? Ignory_is_bliss doesn’t show his face! He even used a throwaway account to post that picture and he doesn’t even give away whether he’s a man or a woman in any of his posts with that account. Because that’s what a man does! Like a man.

These examples only came from the top voted comments on the thread – there are more than 700 that I haven’t even looked at. There are also several threads that were started to mock the original, like:

That’s 21-year old motivational speaker Lizzie Velasquez, who has a debilitating syndrome so rare it doesn’t even have a name. HA HA.

Don’t worry, though. I’m sure that none of this had any negative impact on Lunam, the 15-year old girl who posted her picture on an atheist site in the hopes of enjoying a conversation with her fellow atheists:

“Dat feel when you’ll never be taken seriously in the atheist/scientific/political/whatever community because you’re a girl. :c”

“well, if you will say things like “dat feel”…”

Oh right. It’s her fault for writing like a 15-year old. Not for having all those holes for men to stick their dicks in or for being a girl who took a chance to join an online discussion. Fuck you, r/atheism.

*Every subreddit has moderators, and there are some subreddits where the moderators actually moderate discussion and keep it from turning shitty. r/atheism is not one of those subreddits.

**J/K, there is no right age to be that shitty.

EDIT: I feel like I should once again mention that r/shitredditsays makes Reddit worthwhile.

EDIT 2 (1:43pm ET): On Facebook, Boozer Brödy linked me to this thread, in which another hilarious jokester posted a parody with porn star Sasha Grey. Awesome.

I’ll also add a quick note for those of you (not yet in the comments below, but elsewhere) who cry, “So what! Terrible people are everywhere! It’s the Internet!” You? You are awful, too. R/atheism is a huge community of atheists, and here is an example of a young woman attempting to join it, to get more involved, who is sexualized and mocked for being a girl. Why would she ever want to be a part of any atheist community, if that’s how she’s treated? The next time you look around your atheist events and wonder where all the women are, think of this and know that there are at least some of us who aren’t willing to just accept this culture without trying to change it.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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    1. Instead of making you hate atheists, it would make more sense to hate the assholes and their upvoters which you cite in the article… and the non-moderator at reddit who allowed this crap to flourish. (I applaud Beleth for providing a (lightly but still moderated) sub-forum at SGU forums for stuff that might offend the more sensitive among us and putting it in a somewhat isolated “sandbox”).

      Meanwhile, it is definitely worthwhile to expose this shit for what it is. Lunam should be contacted by a Skepchick to point her to the many excellent forums which are appropriately moderated.

      Not to excuse this crap in any way, let’s keep it in perspective. There are about 2,000,000,000 internet users worldwide. Maybe half of these are capable of posting in some at least semi-intelligible attempt at English. Of these, maybe a couple of thousand do in fact post such crap and/or approve those messages. Any unmoderated forums have attracted these kinds of creepy posts since the dawn of the internet in the mid-1980s when ISPs still provided their own proprietary message boards. It isn’t any different than the crap that gets scrawled on (mostly men’s) toilet walls and the motivation is probably similar. In the case of men’s toilet walls, it is generally not as specifically misogynist, but is more about ensuring that homosexuals know how the creeps feel about them. I suspect that walls of unisex toilets would have similar content to that under discussion here. The point is that the overwhelming majority of humans are neither condoning, nor are they responsible for this outrage. Most are “mouse potatoes”, consuming content without creating any, and of those who do create “content” (you have to have an unjustifiably broad definitions of “content” to include the above mentioned crap) — a tiny fraction are responsible for the entire seemingly overwhelming mountain of shit the internet produces.

      Not in any way to belittle the problem, but let’s not let it warp our perceptions of our fellow humans too much. Let’s not forget that the folks who responded as most did here to this latest outrage reflect the thoughts of the actual moral majority… and let’s also not forget that those who make the most noise, get to set the tone of public discourse and policy.

  1. I use reddit quite a bit and still find it to be a valuable site. However, I spend quite a large time down-voting rape and sexist “jokes” (which are not unique to r/atheism). It doesn’t frustrate me too much that such crap gets posted (after all, assholes exist in this world, and some of them have keyboards). What frustrates me is that threads like some of what you have shown end up as the top-voted threads.

    There is no excuse for that. Reasonable people need to get off their asses and bury this crap in down-votes. We need to badly outnumber the neanderthals and drive their karma scores through the floor. We probably *do* outnumber them, but we need to get hard-core about having zero tolerance for sexism (even if it initially made you laugh).

    Let’s train ourselves, and fix the reddit community along the way. Don’t leave, come back, gird up, and down vote the shit until “Hur-hur, you have a vagina!” is relegated to a handful of novelty accounts.

    1. Yeah, that’s why I stuck to the top-rated comments – to show that it’s not just one or two assholes. It’s a whole community of people who congratulate one another for being awful.

      1. The only thing that struck me about this interaction (it’s no surprise to me that there are people who will jump at the opportunity to say creepy and inappropriate things behind the veil of anonymity) was that the OP expressed her displeasure at not being able to partake in meaningful conversation as a member of the community.

        Anonymity works both ways. It emboldens people who have the urge to speak with malice and it provides everyone with the opportunity to be judged only by what they say without consideration of race, creed, age, gender or orientation.

        By providing her own image in a post meant to highlight a book she received as a gift, she sacrificed her account’s access to anonymity and to participation based on her words alone.

        Yes, it’s sad that people jumped at the opportunity to make light of raping a 15 year old girl and yes, it would be nice if her post would’ve fizzled with a few upvotes and the “isn’t that nice” responses it warranted, but nothing is really lost here. She can, and should, still participate in the discussions she believes she has lost the privilege of participating in, and /r/atheism — despite its flaws — provides a venue for her to do so in the future using a different name and with no one being the wiser because of this incident.

        1. I approved this comment so that you’d be able to reread it and think about it and maybe realize how awful and point-missing it is. You’re saying that it’s okay because women can join in on the discussions on Reddit so long as they never reveal that they’re women and so long as they’re okay discussing topics with a bunch of asshole misogynists.

          Don’t ask, don’t tell, right? Just let everyone assume you’re a guy. That’s the default, anyway, right? Straight, male, white. Diversity can go fuck itself. Great solution.

          1. I think you’re assuming that in order to partake in a meaningful discussion we must first state our gender and age.

            Quote the part where I said what happened was okay, if you don’t mind contextualizing the words you’re putting into my mouth.

            /r/atheism cannot help if what OP is looking for is universal acceptance based on her gender. There are, however, a lot of level-headed and well-intentioned men and women there who would be happy to engage a young mind in skeptical thought. An image post to the front page is not the best way to reach this audience.

          2. No one is saying that one “must” reveal your sex or gender, but rather that if you do, it shouldn’t matter, and you shouldn’t be targeted just because you are a woman.

            The thing is, the default online is “man”. So, people generally assume that the poster is a man, unless something indicates otherwise (and that indication might not even be true). As soon as the asshole men start figuring out (rightly or not) that the poster isn’t a dude, then the insults and misogyny come flying.

            That’s not right. She should be able to post and she shouldn’t have to hide the fact that she’s a woman (so therefore most people would assume she’s a man) to avoid being harassed.

          3. I post on reddit often. I usually don’t mention my gender. Sometimes I will mention my family and it will be clear I’m male. Once or twice I posted a picture and I was in it, outing me as a white guy. I’ve never not been taken seriously as a result. Never had to worry about it. Actually – I never thought about worrying about it.

            Shouldn’t EVERYONE who posts on r/atheist (or other informational subreddits) have the same privilege? I just used the word “privilege” – should that even BE considered a “privilege”?

          4. kylev misses the point too. I refuse to try to correct assholes from being what they are, I am not their mom and dad, and disapproval actually may fuel their coarseness, I just refuse to join them, and will find another site and perhaps create one more open and moderated, YES, I said moderated one(as this one we’re on), is it that Reddit moderators are afraid of losing hits to the site?(I actually read that argument at r/atheist from someone saying Becca W wrote what she did about this to get hits to her blog). So be it, hits be damned, tell them to get the F**K out, we don’t want you here anyway. The only way to combat sexism, misogyny, and disrespect for women is to shut them down, disallow their freedom of speech, they’ll find a place that allows that kind of stuff. Pushback against them as hard as they puchback against women who are trying to raise the civility. It is like the entire discourse in this country is one in which anything goes, as in my opinion is equal to anyone else’s, no matter how misinformed. I am not entitled to my opinion simply cuz’ I have one, but I am entitled to my “informed” opinion and I should not waste anyone’s time spouting vitriol that has no regard for the facts(or nonsense regarding sexism, misogyny, or disreapect). If my “informed” opinion is right or wrong, then I be should expect to catch hell for it either way and open and willing to be challenged. This will work only if we have all agreed not to spout ill-informed nonsense, with the stipulation that our facts may be challnged. As it is, without requiring being “informed,” our opinion becomes entitled, however wrong it is. Of course, the same idea can be construed in voting as a citizen as when an informed voter has the same vote as someone who is colossally uninformed, so, the move is to raise the level of discourse through some requirements. Basic civics, or knowledge of current events, I dunno, I don’t pretend it’ll be easy. The same can be done with normal discourse between people.
            fontaine missed the whole thing, I was surprised you let it go, too, seems he’s wanting the 15 yr old’s exposure through her picture and the response by others to be her fault, when really as long as she is anonymous and no one knows she is a woman, then they can think she is a man and talk as we are all men here, fact is her picture is irrelevant, but due to her openness and honesty she felt no distrust as any atheists would enjoy knowing their religious relatives had given a book that they may think has to do with atheists due to the words Demon-Haunted or perhaps due to Carl Sagan the author being an atheist, whatever, she should not have to guard her gender, her femininity, her physical picture, or even her atheism, or her anonymity being exposed, under no circumstances should she have been attacked and made a joke of no how, no way, period. I have refused in my life to laugh at hurtful ethnic humor, or racist humor(yes, I cringed listening to Richard Pryor, but if he was nearby, I would have called him out to just stop it), or jokes about disability, none of it. When folks are self deprecating, maybe I can understand or be amused by that as we are all able to laugh at ourselves from time to time and joining others as they laugh at themselves is not the same as telling a joke about someone else that they do not and cannot join in the laughter about), but not when someone else is telling jokes about others that are hurtful and antagonistic or hostile.
            My bias of women is seeing them in their roles as nurses, mothers/homemakers, secretaries, sales clerks, teachers at all levels, relatives(I know, not an occupation) but that changed as I saw the possibility of other roles, with more opportunities for women, Gloria Steinem’s, and Betty Freidan’s message comes to mind. I also saw the pushback by men not wanting things to change, comfortable as women being their mothers or wives(often as only sex objects?)
            If the 15 year old had been a man, there would not have been any of the uproar that occurred here. I feel bad for her, and want to tell her to look for other forums, they do exist and just run don’t walk away from this r/atheist site. Yeah, Yeah, I’m a Feminist.

        2. So … basically … we women should never reveal that we are women, and if we do, well, geez, it’s our fault! We asked for it!

          So, basically, what you’re saying is that just by being women, and by revealing to the world that we are women, we are asking for and deserve this sort of harassment?

          Just … wow.

          1. Women should be seen and not heard. Or was it heard but not seen? No, neither … that’s it. You don’t want to tempt these weak minded, horny guys. They are not in control of themselves …

            It’s all very logical you see!

            [Hmm, I seem to have misplaced my sarcasm sign … well, most of you can figure it out …]

          2. Just, whoa. My mouth is so full with the words you’re adding to what I said!

            I’m just not sure where you are seeing the part where I defend or dismiss the abhorrent comments that were made to the OP.

            It’s possible that you don’t know how reddit works, as I’m guessing you don’t frequent that cesspool. When you post to the front page, EVERYONE sees it. Pedophiles, convicted rapists, adulterers, pastors, liars; there is no filter. They are all invited to comment on a post they see, and they all do. Am I saying that by revealing to the world that you are a woman you are asking for people who hate women or who prey on women to comment? Yes. That will happen. There is no filter, although I wish there was.

            I am not excusing this behavior, nor did I say that I was.

          3. ” provides a venue for her to do so in the future using a different name and with no one being the wiser because of this incident.”

            That is a quote. From you. You said she should hide her identity as a woman to avoid being harassed. That’s what you said. Word for fucking word. I put nothing in your mouth; you said it.

            Basically: If you’re a woman and post on Reddit, you’ll get harassed. So just remain anonymous and don’t reveal your gender.

            Instead of focusing on the disgusting harassers, you put the blame squarely on the victim. Good job!

          4. And if she doesn’t wnat to stay in a place that would harass her just because she’s a woman, and where people are telling her to change her name and hide her gender if she does want to continue without harassment, I don’t blame her at all, and I’d be surprised if she decided to stick around. I certainly wouldn’t want to stick around, and this isn’t really helping my opinion of Reddit as a hole. I still have no desire or plan to participate or really read any of the threads, because it’s really not a comfy place for women.

          5. Apparently I can’t respond past 5 responses deep so I’ll have to try and squeeze a lot of response into right here.

            I didn’t say she should hide her identity. I said reddit provides a venue where people can participate anonymously without fear of facing the misogyny that is still present despite concerted efforts from several leaders within the movement to resolve the problem.

            Is it ideal? No. Is it worse than not participating at all? That’s up to each person to decide individually.

            And can we please stop with the “basically, he’s (even though I never said I was a man, you’ve assigned me that gender) saying” summaries? It’s not honest and it’s not what I’m saying. I understand you’re upset about the way she was treated but I’m trying to have a discussion. I don’t need you to speak on my behalf.

          6. I don’t know why you’re quoting facts about the treatment of women on the internet to me. I know these things. I see them. Go ahead, scout out my comment history. Find one instance where I have reacted to the gender of a person on reddit, either positively or negatively.

            To treat me like the filth who posted these comments is not only unfounded, it’s counterproductive. Am I anatomically similar to the people at the root of this problem? Yes. And the sooner you can make the distinction between the people trying to have a discussion and the people making rape jokes, the sooner we might start making steps forward.

            In the meantime, though? I’ll keep soaking up your anger as you lash out at me. Come back tomorrow and read the replies you’ve made. You can’t fight hate with hate. If you react to everyone who comes to you with comments — whether you disagree with them or not — in this way, progress is a long ways off.

          7. “reddit provides a venue where people can participate anonymously without fear of facing the misogyny”

            No. Just because it’s not *directed* at someone in particular doesn’t mean they don’t have to “face the misogyny.”

            And did you really also just pull a tone troll ( Telling someone that you “know they’re upset” but that you’re “just trying to have a discussion” is tone trolling ((

            You really are digging yourself in deeper the more you comment.

          8. And now you’re being PATERNALISTIC on top of it??? Did you seriously just admonish her? It sounded like “go to your room and think about what you’ve done, young lady!”

            Please, just freaking stop.

          9. I told myself I was done with this discussion but hey, Will.

            I don’t know what tone trolling is, but it sounds like an easy way to justify someone responding out of character to an argument.

            A: “I feel this way.”


            A: “Sorry, I was just trying to have a discussion.”

            How is this person A’s fault?

            Secondly, if I can’t say that I feel a bit like a scapegoat because it’s paternalistic, there are some larger problems at play that I’m not interested in getting in to. Would you be happier if I’d start swearing and getting angry? Would that elevate us all to the same level?

            Well, sorry Will, I won’t do it. Now go to your room and think about what you’ve tried to pin on me, young man.

          10. You do realize that I was talking in generalities, and not necessarily about you specifically? Except where I quoted you, of course, when you basically said that women should remain anonymous to avoid harassment.

            You keep saying we women can post “anonymously” and not be harassed. And I said: That is because “anonymous” generally means “male”. So, basically, just go with the default of “male” to avoid harassment. That, in itself, is misogyny. You’re defending sexism and misogyny.

            And, no, I won’t go to my room. I’m being perfectly pleasant. Interesting, however, that you think I’m somehow being too aggressive. Is it because I have a vagina and I’m not keeping my proper place? Guess I should just post anonymously so you can assume I’m male and therefore treat me with respect.

          11. I think it’s considered bad internet etiquette (and I know it’s considered bad real life etiquette) to respond directly to someone using generalizations. Even in the event that you don’t believe it to be rude I have a very hard time seeing any way it could be construed as constructive.

            But I think I’m noticing a pattern. There’s no constructive intent here. This is an anger circlejerk where people can come and piss all over the injustices they perceive in the system. Fuck any and all comers who try and view things from a different angle, especially should that be one of optimism or problem solving.

            You really ought to cut it out with the “basically said” stuff. I know what I said. I don’t need you to tell me what I “basically” said. I just fucking said it. I know exactly what I said, and how you basically twisted my words isn’t of any interest to me.

            I’ve been saying that ANYONE can post anonymously and avoid harassment. I don’t know how powerful you are in the fields of mysticism and divination, but I know that I do not automatically assume that words spoken online are coming from a male’s mouth. You may be able to reliably predict the behavior of millions of other endlessly complex internet users, but at least try to keep from speaking on my behalf. I know it would really make you feel good if I did because it would be that much easier to hate everyone, but I don’t. So, no, basically don’t use your shitty, faulty logic to call me a misogynist.

            Your last paragraph makes me fucking sick. I don’t care what you’ve got between your legs, if you act like a self-righteous and belligerent know-it-all I’m going to react accordingly. All of the absurd gender biases you attributed to my simple disagreement with you reveals the depths of your mistrust and hatred. Motherfucking Eve Ensler could disagree with you in the comment section of your favorite blog and you’d call her a misogynistic troll.

            I’ve had enough of this. I was hoping that this would be a good place to discuss an unfortunate event: how quickly true colors show themselves.

            It’s fine if you want to remember me as the tone troll who got the last word. My mind has been made up as to the makeup of the skepchick community.

          12. I apologize! You clearly have said absolutely nothing worthy of objection. You simply came in and stated your completely objective feelings with absolutely no hint of sexism or privilege, and you were screamed at by a gaggle of shrill banshees as a result! For NO REASON other than the fact that YOU ARE A MALE and have the AUDACITY to TALK!

            Back in reality, though, what you did was come on here and make excuses for sexism and misogyny, accuse women of being too emotional to have a conversation, basically tell them to remain hidden if they want to be heard or to shut up if they don’t want to remain hidden. And you pretend like you’re the first privileged person to waltz into a thread here and make these arguments, as if they have not been made ad nauseum. In defense of misogyny and sexism!

            But no, you’re completely innocent. Nothing you wrote here was deserving of any scorn. I mean, these are all completely original feelings you expressed that have never before left the lips of another man directed at a woman. Right?

            You are not a scapegoat. You have made comments here that have been called out as sexist and typical of misogyny and your response, instead of listening, is to become paternalistic and defensive. It doesn’t matter what TONE anyone took when telling you these things. Someone being angry does not negate the validity of their argument, and it is a typical sexist tactic to try to dismiss someone’s statements using their tone (this is tone trolling, as I told you earlier). And this is assuming that anyone in this thread was ACTUALLY angry at you. I doubt anyone was genuinely angry at you–probably more like people get annoyed by the same tired sexist arguments being repeated.

          13. Stop acting like a martyr, fontaine. Flounce all you want to, it doesn’t change the fact that you have essentially told women that they should remain anonymous if they want to avoid harassment. And, as Will has said, your arguments are tired and cliched.

            As I have said, oh, three times, the default online is (usually) male. But as soon as a woman reveals herself to not be a man, that’s when the vitriol happens. This sort of stuff does NOT happen to men. If it had been an attractive young guy on the other end, those disgusting comments never would have happened.

            Your answer to this is for women to remain anonymous, ignoring the fact that that means we have to pretty much lie about our identity, because if we don’t, crap like this poor girl had to go through, and then we’re harassed just because we are women. Instead of addressing the sexism and misogyny, and the people who are saying some REALLY disgusting stuff, you focus on the victim. Typical. Tired. And you know what? Fuck you.

        3. Excuse the fuck out of me? My comment below was just disappointment, now I’m just pissed.

          “She can, and should, still participate in the discussions she believes she has lost the privilege of participating in, and /r/atheism — despite its flaws — provides a venue for her to do so in the future using a different name and with no one being the wiser because of this incident.”

          So, let me get this shit straight. Because a bunch of losers decided to get all creepy when a 15 year old girl showed off a thoughtful gift, because a bunch of losers decided that her youth and her femaleness was the point of her post, and not the book, SHE ought to come back and hide behind a username? SHE should change her name and become anonymous, not the fuckheads talking about raping a 15 year old girl? Are you fucking high?

          Nevermind, even stoners aren’t this fucking dense.

          Fuck you and your privilege-soaked bullshit.

          1. Don’t you know? It’s always up to the oppressed minority/individual/victim to avoid being harassed, or raped, or oppressed, or victimized.

            Basically, what he’s saying: If you’re a woman, well, you deserve it.

          2. The reason I said she should continue to participate is because she seemed to express dismay over not being able to:

            “Dat feel when you’ll never be taken seriously in the atheist/scientific/political/whatever community because you’re a girl. :c”

            I don’t want her to abandon skepticism because of a bunch of fuckheads.

        4. Are you seriously saying that women should avoid being openly female in public, or else they bring misogyny on themselves? And that she should stay in a place that clearly has no interest in her other as a “jailbait” life support system for her genitals?

          1. No, I’m not seriously saying those things. I don’t remember saying them anywhere, in fact. I don’t think I even mentioned a “‘jailbait’ life support system for her genitals”, although I may just not be remembering my post correctly.

            In what fundamental way are a woman’s contributions to the skeptic community different from a man’s? Are you less of a woman if you don’t add a disclaimer to every post you make stating your gender?

            There are unhappy misogynists that frequent /r/atheism. They frequent reddit. They’re everywhere. There are also people who want to foster constructive discussions regardless of the participants’ gender. We just don’t speak as loudly as the drivel.

          2. You really aren’t getting it, fontaine. It SHOULDN’T matter what her gender is, but it’s clear that it DOES, because as soon as a woman reveals herself, the harassment and misogyny drastically jumps up. Not to mention women are taken far less seriously. Additionally, the default is “man” — if you don’t reveal your gender, most people assume if you post online, especially in a place like Reddit, that you’re a man. That’s not in any way a good thing. If you do happen to reveal your gender, for whatever reason (and it may be a personal thing and not because you are trying to “say something” in relation to your gender and Skepticsim, like you keep implying), and you’re a woman, shit goes south, and it goes south fast.

            I’m a woman. I generally have user ids that reveal that (Marilove, for instance). It’s not because I’m trying to attach my gender to my opinion or ideas or thoughts on skepticism. It’s because it’s my fucking identify and I shouldn’t have to hide it just to avoid harassment. I shouldn’t have to hide my fucking identity to avoid people like you trying to claim that, because I’ve revealed that I’m a woman, I must have some sort of agenda.

          3. Look, I’m going to go ahead and out myself as being on fontaine’s side. I understand what you and marilove are saying, but you have to understand what fontaine is saying as well, which I believe I can adequately sum up:

            1) Yes, it’s terrible that we live in a misogynistic world.
            2) But it is still the world we live in.
            3) Do all you can to change it, I won’t stop you — I would gladly help the cause if I had the opportunity.
            4) But understand that /r/atheism is easily dodged and there ARE ways to have intellectual discussions while avoiding rape jokes if you’re a female.
            5) Please, take everything fontaine (and myself) says exactly as it is and do not make up points that are not blatantly stated… This is probably my biggest pet peeve, having grown up with a delusional and dangerously mentally ill mother.

            That aside, there is just one more thing that bothered me about your commentary… “dat” is not a staple of teen slang and it is very apparent she inserted it there to have the same effect that “le” (for example, “le me, derping about”) has. While I agree, the response was unwarranted, you are probably not correct; this wasn’t a typical 15 year-old phrase… But that’s neither here nor there.

          4. @ butido: ‘this wasn’t a typical 15 year-old phrase’, What is that suppose to mean exactly? If it is neither here nor there why say why did you bring it up in your statement?

          5. @Butido:

            You’d combat misogyny if you “had the opportunity”? You do. Just stop posting. And the next time you feel the need to say something stupid, don’t. Your opinions, those of the Straight White Male, are not as important as you think

          6. @fontaine (It won’t let me respond directly to you)
            Watching you deny the very things you’re saying is making me laugh. I keep thinking about the scene from BASEketball when Coop and Remer create the game in an attempt to look better in front of more successful people:

            Yeah, so one person makes a shot and then the next person has to make the same shot or they get a letter.

            So it’s like horse?

            No! It’s not like horse!

            LMAO! Own up to what you’re saying.

            @Butido (It won’t let me respond directly to you)
            1) Yes, it is. That’s why we’re trying to make it better.
            2) Yes, it is. That’s why we’re trying to make it better.
            3) We are trying to change it by calling out shit like this when it happens. Letting assholes know this behavior is NOT okay is a small part of making it better.
            Your words “Do all you can to change it, I won’t stop you — I would gladly help the cause if I had the opportunity.” are lies. You have the opportunity to help all the time but especially right now by also calling out this shit but you’re not taking it. Instead you’re basically telling us to shut up and take it because it’s how the world is. You are obviously interested in upholding the status quo and stopping any change.
            4) I can’t speak for readdit because I choose to not go there.

          7. Fontain – sorry not used to how the thread is working here…

            If I hide my identity as a woman and encounter hatefilled rapist fantasies in reddit threads…Should I act as if they roll off my back like water off a ducks? So that I can enjoy the high minded atheist discussions tucked in between? If I am incognito and being all anonyrational and guylike…then I guess I will be enabled with super powers which enable me to abandon other 15 year old females to their fate on the internet. Or perhaps send them a polite PM about how to be anon on the internet…So their intelligence can shine above and beyond their gender.

            So what happens when that anon wants to go to a professional conference in the future. Perhaps she’s spent time in forums making a fine reputation as a rationalist dude. Does she go in drag?

            What I think you do not understand is my gender IS part of how I react to that and the level of justice I seek. You might as well ask me to cut off my leg then ask me to sit by while a 15 girl is treated like this.

            This is not to argue for essentialism but to say gender is not something that one takes on and off like a cloak. It is a very idealized conceptual space – that beyond my gender, race, class – there is the platonic me – unsullied by my experience as a gendered human.

            We do not just live online – we live in classes, schools, workplaces, with peers and bosses…. And our survival depends on knowing the “good people” from those that wish us harm. When 1700 redditers upvote a comment about making a 15 year old bleed from the anus… THAT affects ME. That affects her and that affects all the other people there. It affects me in how I relate to men, to the workplace and to my own self esteem.

            It normalizes rape jokes for the young ones not surrounded by good people, it isolates the rest of the women in the forum.

            Asking us all to wear a mask and pretend to be male – imagines that we are not still living our lives in a world in a body – and that world tolerates this online and off.

            Pretending I am a man to enjoy the high minded discourses on the interwebs does not enlighten me. It assumes that I have nothing to offer that might be deeply related to my experience in this body. It certainly doesn’t expand my mind. It tells me there is little to be gained by playing in a sandbox dominated by the same old shit. The question isn’t why I tolerate it..or don’t.

            The question is why do you?-

        5. Eeeeyeah, ’cause 15 year olds usually have better sense than to post stupid things on the internet. This is totally her fault!

      2. The whole community? Really? We’re talking maybe 1,000 assholes in a subreddit with 350,000 subscribers.

        Are you saying 0.003% of a subreddit’s subscribers = “the whole community?”

        1. why does the 350K tolerate it if it reflects so badly on reddit…which does have a reputation for being a shitty place for women. that 350K HAS the power to at least attempt to fix it… but they don’t or haven’t yet. So until then who is to blame?

      3. People on the internet say awful crap when they think they are anonymous and posting on an open forum?

        You don’t say.

    2. I think the problem was that this girl’s post just quite frankly wasn’t that interesting and didn’t warrant much discussion beyond “oh hey that’s cool,” so most of the people who would have defended her probably just glanced at the pic, maybe typed a quick comment, and moved on, leaving the small group of assholes behind. I didn’t even notice any of the comments until it was posted here because I didn’t spend much time on the thread.

    3. Yep, asshole control is still humanity’s oldest and biggest problem.

      Life is too short to waste on unmoderated discussion groups. There are many interesting, well run forums out there (like this one, for instance).

      Rebecca, what makes you think that all or even a majority of the assholes you cited are, in fact atheists? Wherever there is an unmoderated forum, the asshole trolls come out to play and egg each other on.

      Several of the photos indicate that their posters have religious delusions. The FFRF regularly publishes what they call “crank mail” which contains many semi-literate rants on much the same level as the crap you cite here.

      The interim solution, IMHO, to this issue is to urge the young victim of this vituperation to participate in Skepchick forums and to boycott Reddit until they institute come kind of quality control.

      Meanwhile, with a few unfortunate prominent exceptions, the folks setting the ideological tone (you and the SGU “rogues” are great examples) for atheist organizations do tend to be socially progressive and opposed to all forms of discrimination and asshole behavior.

  2. Wow. Just, wow. I don’t use Reddit, but judging by this it looks like a complete cesspool. Those comments are just way beyond the pale. This is really infuriating.

    1. It’s not a complete cesspool, Will, but that shit is always bubbling just under the surface to erupt when and where you least expect it. It’s a too representative slice of the internet, and another data point in the difficulty of having a civilized social discussion site of large size.

  3. *open RSS feed*
    *see new post from Skepchick*
    Oh, pretty girl. Oh hey, that’s the same edition of Demon Haunted World I have! Cool!
    *Read text above picture*
    She’s only 15? Damn, now I feel like a creepy letch. Oh no, this is about Reddit. This is going to remove all hope I have for humanity, isn’t it?
    *Read, read, read*
    I wonder if it’s legal to selectively cull the population based on their Reddit posts.
    On the upside, I feel slightly less creepy now.

  4. I’ve got to the point where I just avoid the comment section of just about any site… Well except for Skepchick I always read those comments. BUT every other site it’s really just a place for trolls to feed each other (stating the obvious). It seems those types have always existed (here’s where I date myself) I have had a CB radio since the 80’s and people are always brave when they’re hidden behind a microphone, or in the modern equivalent a keyboard.

    I’m not sure what the solution is other than just ignoring them. BAck in the 80’s my friends would just track down the offenders on the radio and either pull down their basestation with a grappling hook or do brodies (burn outs) on their front lawn… so really just as mature as the idiots that make the comments.

    So I guess the lesson is, it’s no wonder aliens haven’t contacted the Earth.

    1. No, our experience has shown that ignoring doesn’t work. Exposing the misogyny and holding it up for public ridicule does.

      1. There’s only three reasons I can think of for why the “ignore it” strategy could work. The first is they’ll get bored and go away. This sometimes works with drive-by trolls. They don’t stop being trolls, they just bother someone else, so it’s not really a cure for the underlying condition, but does (sometimes) alleviate the symptoms. This doesn’t apply to the present case anyway; it sounds like these people live on reddit and find it a conducive environment, and they aren’t getting ignored. They are getting lots of attention up-voting each other. So this reason is inapplicable.

        The second reason is they’ll eventually grow up and stop doing it on their own. Without any negative feedback, why would this happen? Growing up is a learning experience. An essential element of all forms of learning is feedback. Ignoring things is the deliberate withholding of feedback, which will prevent any learning. In addition to taking a long time, there is no evidence that this will work, and strong argument against its theoretical basis.

        The third reason is that eventually the malicious idiots will grow old and die and will be replaced by younger people who aren’t quite as full of hate. (This is the same as Max Planck’s cynical theory of why scientific revolutions succeed.) The first part of this reason is clearly true, but is there any evidence that the replacements will be any better? Since many of the Reddit misogynists claim to be teenagers (and apologists have excused them for just this reason), it seems unlikely.

        The fourth of my increasingly misnamed trilogy of reasons why ignoring this might be the best strategy is that anything else is doomed to failure. (“Haters gonna hate.”) This is clearly not true. Even if calling out the bigots doesn’t change their behavior, it can and does promote self-examination in bystanders (yeah Someguy) and it lets Lunam and others in similar situations (i.e. all women, minorities, and anyone else who gets ganged up on by the bigots) know that they’ve got people in their corner.

        That or we take off and nuke it from orbit (which unfortunately would kill both Newt and Lunam.)

        I’m not sure I’ve said anything that SallyStrange and Marilove and Will and Eamc and lots of others haven’t already said (probably better), but at least I got to quoteplagerize Riley Freeman, Ripley and Max Planck all in the same comment!

    2. Ignoring them: better known as “sitting there and taking it while not making a fuss that would bother real people”.

      That hasn’t worked. Ever.

      1. Exactly. “Ignore it and it’ll go away” works about as well for misogyny as it does for lumps and strange-looking new skin moles.

    3. I have been following skepchick irregularly since Elevatorgate (Rebecca, you are now one of my sheroes ;-) but never logged in to reply.

      On reading the comment here by teambanzai, however, I have to say that I think

      “pull[ing] down their basestation with a grappling hook or do[ing] brodies (burn outs) on their front lawn”

      sounds like a FABULOUS idea, immature or not, and I would love to work out a way to do that in cyberspacce!

      Thanks to all of you who speak out against sexism and misogyny.

  5. I also downvote when I see responses like this. However I tend to avoid reading the comments just because of the hateful and immature responses such as shows. I generally just click the link to the story, view it, and then move on.

    1. This is why every thread has mostly positive-voted messages no matter how shitty the entire thread is. People tend not to read it if they don’t like it.

  6. I found Reddit when I asked friends for a recommendation for a place that had the traffic of SomethingAwful without being as generally horrible and shitty. I have no idea what ever possessed my friends to recommend Reddit. I’ve stuck around because there are a few subreddits that are actually worth reading, but the place is mostly a cesspit.

    Have you found r/GodlessWomen yet?

    1. A possible point in their defense: At one point, many many years ago, reddit was a haven for tech/geek/science minded people who were tired of the signal to noise ratio on slashdot and had too much self respect to engage on digg. That was a looooong time ago. It has changed and obviously not for the better.

  7. This is so sad. I, like many others here, have specifically avoided places like Reddit because I don’t want to see that kind of crap. I only comment in places that have solid moderation, however, that self-selection leads to this kind of permissive behavior from the crotches that have self-selected to stay. Maybe what we need to turn a community like r/atheism around is for all the non-neanderthals to take an active part in community policing, even if it would expose us to our more loathsome counterparts.

  8. I noticed how you completely ignored how the OP said “bracin’ mah anus” which started the cavalcade of comments to begin with. It’s not like she came on saying “please don’t sexualize me in this thread” and people did it anyway (which is what you did and why I sided with you on the elevator incident). She explicitly invited it, people reacted to it, they went too far.

      1. By which I mean, I think it is a socially-approved standard (even in the patriarchy) to refrain from victim-blaming for two more years. Maybe just one. You know how cunning women are, 16 year olds are always inviting all kinds of abuse, of course.

        Hope I don’t have to point out the sarcasm, but you never know, so just to be on the safe side, sarcasm was used in this post.

    1. Wow, she “invited” it?? Are you serious? Do you really think that her saying “Bracin’ mah anus” was *sexual* and an invitation to sexualize her? It couldn’t be she was saying (in a typically teenage way) that she was bracing herself?

      Of course not. She is a girl, and any mention from a girl about her body is automatically an invitation to sexualize. She did not “explicitly” invite being sexualized–what a completely stupid thing to say.

      1. Wait, so you think “bracin’ mah anus” has absolutely no sexual connotation whatsoever? What, pray-tell, would be a non-sexual reason for one to brace their anus then? Please, enlighten me.

        I was referring to that single thread only anyway, which I did say was taken too far. The rest of the thread was far more insane though.

        1. Nope, it doesn’t necessarily have any sexual connotation.

          I was watching a year-in-review thing for a news show last night, and one of the reporters, earlier this year, was reporting something in a highly volatile environment, outside of the US. There was a very loud BOOM! which was later attributed to some flight tests or something, but the poor reporter at the time of course didn’t realize that. You could see her jump. I said something like, “MAN! She must have tightened her butt muscles something fierce! I would have peed my pants!”

          “Tightening your anus” which is basically what she said, generally means … preparing for the worst, as it were. There was nothing sexual about it. The fact that people — including you — automatically assume she was talking about anal sex (nothing indicated that AT ALL), and then you try to claim that it’s her fault because she was “being sexual” (when she wasn’t) … well. It’s telling, isn’t it?

          If a man had said the same thing, do you honestly think the replies would have been anything like that? Would you have assumed a man was talking about anal sex?

          1. If a man had said the same thing, do you honestly think the replies would have been anything like that? Would you have assumed a man was talking about anal sex?

            Not that it justifies the response in any way, but truthfully? Yes, yes I would have. It honestly didn’t occur to me that “bracin’ mah anus” would have any other connotation than anal sex, regardless of the sex or sexual orientation of the writer.

            That a couple of sexual jokes would appear in response to a comment like that from anyone should be no surprise; I think the issue here is that this was not “a couple of sexual jokes”, but some pretty intense and offensive stuff.

          2. Right; I do agree that if a few Beavus and Butthead-type jokes had come up, it would be no big deal (I have a dirty mind, too), but man … it went overboard and quickly .

            That said, tightening your anus muscles, when talking in generalities, generally means preparing for something. Or tightening them because you just got the ever living shit scared out of you. Get it? You are trying to keep that shit inside!

        2. Marilove hit the nail right on the head, but I will add this. Even if I were to grant you for the sake of argument that “bracin’ mah anus” was a sexual phrase, that is still not “explicitly” inviting people to sexualize, objectify, and threaten her. I think you need to look up the definition of “explicit.”

          Your comment also smacks of victim blaming. If she *just hadn’t posted* that, she wouldn’t have triggered the “cavalcade of comments,” right?? Sounds an awful lot like blaming rape victims for being raped because of the way they dress or talk.

          1. Yep, exactly, and I guarantee that that is exactly what she meant with that phrase. It has nothing to do with anal sex (generally).

          2. And I actually thought about my butt muscles clenching this weekend, when I narrowly missed getting hit head-on (someone attempted to pass in a two-lane highway and severely missed judged, so much so that I had to swerve into the dirt to avoid the head-on collision. That shit was not cool, and I very nearly shat myself.) So that’s twice this weekend that this phrase, in its various forms, have come up. This is not an uncommon phrase, and I’m pretty confident in saying that the girl in question wasn’t talking about anal sex.

        3. Frankly bracing one’s anus is typical response to seeing a tragedy such as a car wreck, or as when one time when I was flying around a curved road in my Honda Prelude, a sporty car, going much too fast, and my father told me this when the danger was over: “my asshole just shrunk up like a morning glory.” So, you could say that if you have ever seen the Morning Glory flowers, they shrink up at certain times of the day, and look like, yes you guessed it, an anus. Bracin’ one’s anus does not have to have anything to do with anal sex. Or sex at all for that matter. Being afraid or being startled will give the same response, your anus will tighten up, check it out sometime, and you may not have noticed when someone dies they often will crap all over themselves as they do not have control over the bowels or anus/or bladder, it is lost depending on their physical state. So, in a way, we are always Bracin’ ourselves activating anus muscles to keep from crapping ourselves and making a mess, for what may happen if we don’t, but she is just going a little further and stating it, that she is ready to cringe from highly negative critical comments about to happen.

      2. I interpreted that bit of youthful slang as a reference to a tendency to soil one’s self in a scary event. She knows the world online and is preparing for the onslaught. Being young, she probably figures the benefit as of higher value than I, old fart, would.

    2. Yep, that 15 year old girl totally stated that she was aware of the treatment women posters get, and was therefore asking for it. Right. Totally.

      Do you have hobbies besides being willfully obtuse or part of the problem?

    3. I took the comment as a sign that she was bracing for negative comments. Even if there had been an overtly sexual comment form Luman it wouldn’t excuse the vile abuse that was unleashed in the thread.

    4. Shorter moralnihilist: Yeah, bitch totally was asking for it.

      There was no excuse for the way that thread went. None.

      1. Exactly. She was 15, for god’s sake.

        And EVEN IF you want to see that one aside as an invitation to slut-shaming (it wasn’t, and if you think it was, you’re a douchenozzle), it STILL wouldn’t excuse the rampant,free-floating misogyny on the thread.

    5. And if she had said “well fuck me”, would that have been sexual? Even though that is a well known phrase of exasperation, not sexual? Would she still have “explicitly invited it” then?

      No, just as she didn’t here. Saying that she did is remarkably ignorant.

  9. This is absolutely disgusting.

    My heart goes out to Lunam. Please don’t let this discourage you from trying to engage and be present in the community. These kinds of things are awful, and hurt, I know, but it’s by not shutting up, and not letting them silence us, or reduce us to our bodies, that bit by bit we’ll change things for the better.

    Though sadly I certainly can’t blame you if you wish to never deal with these creeps again. :(

    I haven’t spent much time there, but almost every experience I’ve had there has taught me Reddit is a HORRIBLE place.

  10. “The next time you look around your atheist events and wonder where all the women are, think of this and know that there are at least some of us who aren’t willing to just accept this culture without trying to change it.”

    I am so glad you added this, Rebecca, because it addresses an issue that’s been bothering me for quite some time. I appreciate you bringing disgraceful situations like r/atheism to our attention; what should we do to change it now that we know about it?

    1. There’s no easy answers, but, a few basics…

      Do your absolute best to listen when women approach you with concerns about this kind of thing, and as a first instinct, assume their concerns are legitimate rather than not. Err on the side of believing they have a valid complaint rather than giving the benefit of the doubt to whoever may claim she’s overreacting or whatever.

      Be open to criticism, and work hard not to become defensive or hostile. Bringing issues of sexism to light is rarely meant as an attack on men, an accusation, or an assignment of blame. Sexism is a systemic problem, and a cognitive process we’re ALL susceptible to, not simply the byproduct of “sexists” and overt, institutionalized discrimination.

      Do not permit gaslighting or the portrayal of women who do raise concerns as “drama queens” and “over-sensitive”.

      Make clear, unambiguous statements that sexism, misogyny, sexual harassment, and bigotry are NOT acceptable within the community.

      Prioritize the rights of women and minorities to feel safe and welcome over the “right” of privileged parties to use sexist, bigoted or abusive language. Inclusion of diverse backgrounds is more helpful to the free exchange of ideas within skepticism and atheism than the ability of some to use hostile, discriminatory language.

      And finally, remember that it is never as simple as “a few bad apples”. Together, we all bear a communal responsibility to ensure that the behaviour and attitudes of the “bad apples” is not normalized or regarded as okay.

      Heina wrote a really excellent article on this a few days ago… “Bring Your Girlfriends”: Or, How Not To Appeal To Women. Check it out! It’s really good. :)

      1. Now the question is: How do we get this firmly implanted in people’s heads? The reason this happens on reddit is that fundamentally, our society IS still quite sexist, and reddit is a lightning rod for SexisNow the question is. How do we get this firmly implanted in people’s heads. The reason this happens on reddit is that fundamentally, our society IS still quite sexist, and reddit is a lightning rod for it because people can be anonymous.

        So I pose the question to everyone here, how do we solve this?

        One of my big thoughts is to focus on the youth. Promote equality of the sexes before people have firmed ignorant ideas in their head. Clearly it’s not the only battlefront, but I think creating childhood programs in and out of schools that focus on what true equality really means and how to promote it would do a lot to help the next generation see the ones that preceded it as ignorant fools.

        1. I hear you asking dr. dr. professor and I’m thinking about it. I can’t give you a step by step program to end misogynist crap on the internet; I kind of think that everyone’s journey is marked by their individual experience and comfort level but having said that, I think I can give you some suggestions on what to explore next. Some of them might work for you.

          You see the problem. You don’t want to try to unsee it. No really, this is a big step, i’m not patting you on the head. Misogyny is kind of invisible when you’re not the constant object of it (AND THAT IS NOT YOUR FAULT,) and some of the interpretations of a systemic, sexist, misogynist culture you might encounter from listening to women might seem exaggerated or strident or angry or far-fetched or …just uncomfortable.

          Keep this in mind: We’re not making it up. No matter how outlandish it sounds, no matter how angry it sounds, we’re telling you what the world of women is like. And if it makes you sick, if it makes you uncomfortable, that just means that you actually have feelings. If it pisses you off, I’m glad it does. It pisses me off too, and I’m glad you feel the same.

          But don’t waste time saying that you’re not like that or that most men don’t do things like that. That’s filed under “stuff we know already” and it got listed downcomment.

          When you have heard enough – when you have learned enough of what it is we’re talking about when we talk about sexism, misogyny, the rape culture, and feel like you could explain it to someone else, well. You could waste your time speaking against it – but not to us. “Stuff we know already,” remember? But there are a lot of people who need to be told – other men. And the more men who speak out against this crap and call it what it is and don’t allow apologies or excuses for misogynist crap, the less socially acceptable it becomes.

          It’s kind of an awful thing, but you’re a man and you have more social influence and more credibility than I do, because we live in a systemically sexist society. I speak out – I can be ignored as a shrill hysteric manhating lesbian, even if a dozen other women speak up to agree. But a dozen men calling it out? Much more social weight. I know. The very thing we want to smash. The irony, it is bitter.

          But that’s my suggestion. As I said, some of it might work for you. If you’re thinking that you can’t dismantle this shit on your own, think of it as one more person taking up the work.

    2. You should probably mod your boards, especially when this shit comes up… Like it is right now… About this very subject… Lead by example Beleth.

      1. Wicked Combover, as I’m sure you’re aware, the discussion of this topic on the board I administer is taking place in the lightly-moderated section of the board. That’s by design. Topics are allowed there that aren’t allowed anywhere else on the board.

        If a moderator’s intervention is what is needed, shouldn’t Reddit moderators be held to that standard as well?

    1. It will only get better if we do the work. I some day you can stand the stench, I encourage you to gird yourself in detachment and wade into that sewer, with a view to making it smell less foul.

  11. I’d also like to add that aside from the single “bracin’ mah anus” comment and the thread that followed (which the OP shouldn’t have said but then again doesn’t excuse the other people who took it even further), these comments are disgusting. What’s even more disgusting is the silent approval given by the people who upvoted them.

    Reminder to Reddit users: there is a “Report” link for every post. If you see something offensive like this, report it.

  12. ahhh! reddit, a haven for stupidity, intolerance and general assholiness(yeah I made up my own word, deal with it) if you combine it with 4chan, you get a black hole of shitty behavior.

    Sometimes I try to stand up for Redditors(redditors? really?… okay) and claim that they can say whatever they want it’s free speech after all, but when I read stuff like that the only thing I can feel is disgust. Yeah they have the right to say those things but should they, the answer is of course no. Besides, articles like yours ridiculing the statements they make is free speech too, it’s the kind that stands up for a 15 year old girl that’s being harassed by pervy internet trolls. I only wish there were more people on reddit who would do the same.

    1. The problem is not with the free speech of the trolling asshats – the problem is the lack of speech and action by those who tolerate it.

  13. The reply to the “black plague” post (with almost three times the upvotes):

    “So what you’re saying is it would take her more than a lifetime to recover from how devastatingly bad it was?”

  14. I really had no idea it was so bad and so widespread. Thank you, I guess, for opening my eyes. I have to wonder if these are jerks are even atheists or if they just troll around being disgusting and liking each others comments.

    Have any of you been treated badly at an atheist conference? I have never attended an atheist conference, but this year I went to TAM, which was my very first skeptical conference, and I felt completely welcomed and accepted. Perhaps skeptics are more evolved. I truly think that Skepchick has helped educate the skeptical community. When I first started reading Skepchick, I didn’t understand the relevance of feminism to skepticism. Now I do.

    1. It is not a problem restricted to atheists on the net, it’s endemic to online culture. It’s just disappointing when it seems to be popping up in a community which prides itself on rationality.

      And yes, the trolls on that subreddit may not be atheists at all – but atheists are tolerating it and upvoting it…or playing apologist or trying to explain the interwebs to our girly brains in some cases. Which only compounds the problem and the pain…

  15. And there are some heavily-upvoted rebuttals to these posts. Why didn’t you post any of the replies to GamerKiwi’s post, including the one with the list of 23 pictures of guys doing the same thing?

      1. Would you mind just getting up and off of Reddit? It will never change. Screw them, I say let them swim in their own filth anyway. Folks can do better who are not sexists, misogynists, or have no respect for others, I say let them swim there until they see the light. I am no one’s Mom or Dad, and I should not care about their behavior unless it impacts women negatively(or Men, but we know there is not exactly a real problem there anyway, not a big one as I see it). I could be wrong, but women are still getting a raw deal, and trying to change Reddit is matter of wasted time, I say find a blog that respects women and post there and raise the level of discourse up where it should be, and out of the Reddit gutters. CSICOP,, American Atheist, and other sites are there and there are ways to branch off from there. Don’t waste time with the reform of a site that doesn’t want it at its core. Spend your time wisely.
        OOPS! marilove, I’m sorry, I was Replying to moralnihilist just before you, sorry.

    1. Yeah, Rebecca! Why didn’t you re-post the *entire* thread here for us to see! You have GOT to be hiding something! I mean, it’s not as if we can click a link and go look at it for ourselves…oh, wait…

      I’m so confused why you’re trying to poke holes in Rebecca’s post. Are you trying to make her out to be some sort of villain who is misrepresenting misogyny?

      1. It just pisses me off a little how all these anti-reddit posts NEVER include and give credit to the users who do see this behavior as inappropriate and at least acknowledge that not everybody is like this. I’m not saying this isn’t a major problem or that it’s defensible. I’m just tired of these “this ENTIRE WEBSITE AND EVERYONE ON IT SUCKS” type posts.

        1. Except, she did mention that not everyone in Reddit is like this. Several times. She also linked to the reply. Of course, you didn’t really read the entire post, did you? You just saw someone rightfully criticizing Reddit, and then got super-defensive. Typical.

        2. It’s very interesting that you get more upset at the possibility that many people have not had the rosy experiences with a website you like than you do about well-documented misogyny on it. Perhaps you should consider why your priorities are the way they are.

          1. Very good point, Becca. It’s interesting that people get SO UPSET when the rampent misogyny at Reddit is pointed out, yet then just shrug off the misogyny by saying something like, “Eh, it’s the internet! It happens!” Or, “But not everyone is like that! STOMP!”

          2. Excellent point, Becca. As marilove says below, these kinds of people (who get more upset about generalities that don’t even exist than they do about rampant misogyny) are most definitely part of the problem.

        3. EXCEPT SHE DID! You’re just so determined for her to be wrong that you’re willfully refusing to see the part of her post that does exactly what you’re accusing her of not doing.

          1. He gets far more upset when people criticizes Reddit and Reddit’s users (and it’s not like the stuff that’s being criticized is being made up; it’s right there, in black and white!) than he cares about how the women there are treated. Pretty typical, actually. They get upset when people (particularly women) complain about the rampent sexism, but they don’t get upset or even care about the rampent sexism. It’s pretty telling. These people are part of the problem, even if they aren’t directly involved.

    1. Atheist, male, and pervert are not mutually exclusive categories. They *are* atheists, the *are* males, and you should stop giving atheist males a free pass as if they magically stopped being atheists or males when they engaged in this type of behavior.

      1. I am biased surely, but religious perverts are far higher in number, please don’t blame their sense of perversion on being atheist. I say this due to the fact that there are higher numbers of theists than atheists. So, it stands to reason there are more religious perverts existing than there are atheist perverts. Atheists are actually more discriminated agsinst than any other group. So, there may be a blemish on a site that is supposedly made up of atheists, but really can anyone know how many are actually atheists, and not just trolls looking for sites to make trouble since they may have nothing better to do. Often the Israeli settlers will commit crimes and blame it on the Palestinians to turn folks more against the Palestinians, same here, maybe. So, please do not throw such a large blanket over nontheists.

        1. Or, in the actually reality-based answer: Sexism and rape culture are everywhere, and thus yes, in religious and atheist groups equally. UNLESS atheist dudes feel like turning their skepticism on themselves and actually thinking about the bullshit nonsense they believe instead of back-patting themselves not not believing in Bigfoot.

          Stop fucking letting sexist atheists off with this No True Scotsman bullshit.

        2. It would take all of two seconds for each actual atheist in the subreddit to downvote & reply to these so-called “troll posts”. Instead they’re the top-ranked comments and the majority of replies are from dudebros slapping each other on the back. There are three possibilities here: there the non-atheist trolls VASTLY outnumber the atheists, the trolls ARE the atheists, or the trolls aren’t atheist but the atheists don’t mind that their community is deeply hostile towards women. As an atheist woman I see no functional difference between scenarios 2 and 3, and scenario 1 is so unlikely it’s laughable. IME it’s a mix of 2 and 3.

          As for the oppression olympics game (“atheists are the most discriminated against”), that’s again pretty damn dubious and would vary by your location/situation anyway. Again, atheist woman, and if I had to pick between blipping out 100% of misogyny directed at me versus 100% of religious discrimination directed at me, I would pick the former in a heartbeat. Nobody’s ever threatened to rape me or break my nose because I’m an atheist. I’ve never been followed back to my car by a group of theists, all twice my size, while they loudly discuss how much they enjoy raping atheists together and hey isn’t that a tasty-looking one just over there. When I was 14 I wasn’t standing in a drugstore with two of my closest atheist friends as moral support while they bought pregnancy tests, and begging them to get tested for STDs, because they had been raped by adult theists who thought it was acceptable to treat atheists like human trash. The amount of harassment I’ve received for being atheist has been negligible compared to the amount I’ve received for being a woman. Keep in mind I live in a so-called “first world country” and I’m only talking about real-life discrimination — throw the cesspool that is Reddit et al into the mix and anti-atheist discrimination is only a rounding error.

          It seems I only ever hear that atheists have it the worst from those who aren’t in any other minority groups, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

    2. I can almost see moodydaniel’s point. These perverts are (almost certainly all) male, and (probably mostly, perhaps nearly all) atheists, but one hopes that these are irrelevancies, like their opposable thumbs and upright posture.

      As an atheist, I, too, hope it wasn’t that quality that makes them vile perverts, lechers, and haters of young girls (and grown women).

      But I see your counterpoints, too. We have a responsibility to clean our environment, and as atheists, and in my case a male and redditor, r/atheism is like my front yard. I will leave shortly to try to get some of these persons shamed and/or banned.

  16. Ugh, I’m sorry but I’m looking at this thread and it’s making me even more pissed off. Here’s a comment that just drove me up the wall:

    NukeThePope (_) 70 points 2 days ago* (226|164)
    Allow us old men the small luxury of fawning over you. It’s really… exciting when a (presumably) clever and friendly mind comes in such a pretty package. You are the girlfriend most of us would love to have.
    It’s not that we don’t take you seriously as an atheist/scientist/whatever. It’s that people who are knowledgeable about this stuff are a dime a dozen but people who are both knowledgeable and hot looking are much rarer.
    Meanwhile, while everybody’s (figuratively) climbing all over you, is your mother already doing anything tonight?? ;)
    EDIT: To the horde of assholes who choose to be offended at this comment, please take note: At the time I wrote this it wasn’t yet known that she’s 15. I’d guessed her to be between 17 and 21. No, I don’t want a 15 year old girlfriend, and my own personal standards of “young girl” are meanwhile at age 30. But I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that many Redditors, if she turned out to be legal, would be only too happy to have a pretty girlfriend like her. If you have a problem with that statement, then fuck you.


    I love the “who chose to be offended” part. Yes that’s right, It’s MY fault I’m offended because I CHOSE to feel that way, just like how I CHOOSE to be offended by racists so therefore there must be nothing wrong with it. Here’s my response:

    Even if she weren’t 15, what the fuck does her being attractive have to do with the subject of the thread? Why the fuck does that even have to come up in the conversation? Do I need new glasses because I’m pretty sure she was trying to have a discussion about the book she got and not how she looks.
    Have you ever considered the fact that maybe there aren’t so many “clever and friendly minds in such a pretty package” because every time you see one people in the community collectively “Deeeeerppp ohhh yer so puurrrrrty!” gush over her looks? Seriously, you’re whole tone is like “oh yeah yeah of course you’re smart and whatever, BUT OMIGOSH YOU’RE SO GOOD LOOKING!!!!”
    Seriously. The fact that /r/atheism cares so fucking much whether or not women include their face in more pic posts than men just makes me embarrassed to be a part of this community.

    1. This is mostly non sequitur, but I am just now struck by an incongruity. You express outrage, here and in several other comments, and your name is “moralnihilist”.

      But yes, NukeThePope is quite an oblivious, self-excusing idiot.

        1. It just mismatches your ideas. It’s like you were named “Steaklover” and were promoting vegetarianism. Perfectly acceptable, but amusing to me.

  17. I really hope that most of the comments were not from atheists, but as we all know too well, crotchery comes in all forms, shapes, sizes and no one is immune to it. I almost want to join reddit just so I can tell her we’re not all like that. :(

    On the chance that she sees this thread: Enjoy the book, Lunam, it’s wonderful. I read it earlier this year for the first time. And please don’t let the reddit crowd discourage you.

    1. Consider this an upvote for your 2nd paragraph.

      While decrying the nasties out there, let’s not forget to encourage those dealing with it.

      Go, Lunam! Enjoy the book. I read it almost a year ago, time to break it out again.
      Go Rebeccah! Keep up the good work.

      1. I just read the book a fifth time last summer and enjoyed it as I did when I read it when I first got it in 1998. Yes, enjoyed the book and take to heart the oodles of examples of pseudoscience presented, I also have the original Parade Magazine newspaper insert, by Carl Sagan, called, “Why We Need to Understand Science,” that told the story of his driver, William F Buckley, who thought he was enagaged in science talking about non science stuff, in the article, then, of course it was about how bad it is that kids know so little about science today(that was in September 10, 1989)which is the same story in The Demon Haunted World(published in 1996), book in the 1st chapter.

  18. Ugh. That’s my dose of internet rage for the day. :/ I wish combating this type of bullshit wasn’t so rage-inducing and soul-sapping. I’d love to spend all day down-voting this kind of bullshit, but I don’t like the toxicity that I have to deal with to do it. More power to those who can & do, but I have enough internet-induced rage to deal with without the cesspool of reddit threads as well.

    1. …sooooooo true…so while we deal with this shit IRL…we should spend the rest of our waking hours cleaning up what others refuse to…that sounds fair!

  19. I like to think that as we move beyond religious dogma and bronze age thinking we’ll become more enlightened, more accepting, more intelligent and that will show in our attitudes to one another.

    Then someone shows me atheists on reddit and I become sad.

  20. I remember seeing that post but I didn’t look at the comments, probably because there was nothing that needed to be said. I’ve been losing lots of hope that one day people like that will be shouted down by a more tolerant society…

    Can I rant something here?

    Last night I came to work and a female co-worker told me that an hour before I arrived someone asked for her phone number and got angry and called her a bitch when she wouldn’t give it.

    When I woke up this morning I checked facebook and learned my sister was almost ran off the road in the middle of no where last night by some creepy guy. We don’t know why exactly yet but I’m really glad she’s ok (and got his plate number).

    It’s an hour since I found (2) out, I came here and read this.

    This kind of thing shouldn’t be happening, I’m upset and I wish this kind of alienation upset more people, but for some reason society thinks it’s ok. My girlfriends shouldn’t all have a creepy story about some empathetical jerkass , but they do! And it pisses me off.

  21. I’m far from defending the comments above. I think it sucks a lot out of the quality of community that exists in the subreddit. That being said (and it may have been mentioned, but I might have missed it), but this subreddit has been recently added to the list of default subscriptions I believe. What that means, for people that don’t use Reddit, is that everyone get’s subscribed to that subreddit by default, which will bring in a lot of comments and posts now that are of a significantly lesser quality of comments within it. This includes these kinds of shitty comments. It’s a fact of any anonymous web community that there are people out there that will post things like this, but from my experience it has been a vast minority. I realize the author had tried to make this point, but it seems to have been quickly brushed aside by some of the commenters here, and I think they may have gotten the wrong idea.

    Reddit has some shitty parts to it, but it also has some really great parts. the Atheism subreddit has done some amazing things for charity in many forms, including organizing hundreds of thousands of dollars* in donations to various charities over the last couple years alone, in addition to moral and emotional support to people within it’s community.

    Coming from someone who unfortunately sees a lot of this kind of anonymous hate speech on the internet, I would be willing to guess that a substantial amount of the people behind these offensive posts are not “grown men” as the author has put, but more likely, immature teens. As the site itself seems to be taken over by high-school age children, see above comment about /r/atheism being a default subreddit.

    TL;DR Yes there are some jerks on the internet. They post terrible things that are offensive, and it sucks that they take away from our experience and community, but Reddit and the Atheism community are getting painted with a very wide brush here. People who do not partake in the Reddit atheism subreddit seem to have the wrong idea of the community as a whole.

    * Couldn’t find actual figures, but I know someone must have it.

    1. ” I would be willing to guess that a substantial amount of the people behind these offensive posts are not “grown men” as the author has put, but more likely, immature teens.”

      That is demonstrably incorrect. You don’t even need to go into their posting histories . . . teens are not talking about having jeans older than a 15-year old girl. Teens are not saying they’d fuck her if they weren’t so old. Teens are not talking about laughing so hard their office mates noticed. Teens are not saying they’re in their 50s but would definitely have sex with her if she was 18.

      It really doesn’t take much effort to see that these are adults, but even if they were teens – does that make it better that this is the future of the atheist community?

      1. You’re right a lot of them probably aren’t, and the point is not really necessary. It doesn’t matter if they are teens or grown men, it is a much larger social issue within anonymous internet communities. A large number of people take anonymous as a right to post things as offensive as possible in any forum, be it 4chan, Reddit, XBox Live, Omegle, Chat Roulette, etc.

        The actions really do upset me, especially within the atheism subreddit. With this subreddit part of the default subscriptions, it’s an unfortunate reality of the system. The community is exposed to people that did not go looking to become members, like it used to be, and as a result, the community is damaged.

        It seems a shame to create an article with an important message and title it in a manner that makes athiests look bad, when in reality, a significant group of people within it are not necessarily atheist to begin with.

        1. Instead of defending your atheist identity – how about actively defending that space along with women who have an atheist identity?

          It is not about you…but you could be doing something about it.

          1. My atheism buy the way, came directly out of my experience AS a female. The messages I got in church were intolerably oppressive to me as a woman. I would hope that strong allies are capable of making this space the “atheist/skeptic/rationalist/freethinking community safe for other young women seeking to escape one oppressive culture (religion) to land smack dab in the middle of another oppressive culture – online forums.

            If it it rationalized and tolerated by the rationalist community…. Where are we to go?

      2. I’m with you, though you did not actually state this explicitly, it is not just a “minority” that are bad but most people are “good.” That is a false religious argument that there is good in all of us. That said, they stand with themselves and are not the problem, we have to go after the far too many people who are comfortable seeing women in only a few ways, who are misogynistic and poison the discourse and engage in sexism when they are with their buddies and they encourage each other to stay that way. Misogyny and sexism is a mindset that is based in the Judaism/Christian views that women are to be subservient to men as men are with god. Until we get the basics right it’ll never change and it may sound cut and dried but hitting back with the same force of intent to keep things as they are is necessary in order to change that mindset. It is cultural and more which means it can be changed. Jeanette Rankin, the first Congresswoman elected one time before women even had suffrage, in 1916, and then she was again elected in 1940, said of women, “We’re half the people; we should be half the Congress.” Maybe true representation will happen with a 50-50 Congress women to men ratio. I’m sure the assaults on women’s rights this year would be different if there were more women deciding the laws. So, to with women in the Congress it will perhaps elevate the cultural status as well, let’s hope that it happens before that has to be done.

        For women to get the vote, an entire male Congress had to vote for it to happen, and there was a fight in the states to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment, but the fight for it started in the late 1700s as the country was being founded, so make no mistake what we as a society are, in order to change the culture fighting back under extreme duress by certain males, going to have to do to change the status quo. A society with no sexism, no misogyny, and without the subtle games played that force women to accept things as they are can happen, it can happen but it requires a price be paid. Let’s hope it will not be a Pyrrhic victory in order for women to be seen equally and justifiably so.

    2. Rebecca only included things that were up-voted by the rest of the community. It’s not like these were just some random people who made some gross comments and were forgotten. They were up-voted, and up-voted by a good chunk of the regulars. So your points really don’t stand.

      1. That’s an important point. I still think the atheism subreddit is generally positive, and exposes/helps more than people have the chance to post hateful things like this.

        Unfortunately, I also think the community as a whole has become very damaged by adding as a default subreddit, which brings in a whole slew of people that are not looking to become part of the community, and with that, some good from exposure, but also a lot of bad in the form of just terrible people.

        1. Maybe generally positive for you, a man. But what about women? Most women I know stay far away from Reddit, because when a woman posts on Reddit, and makes it clear they are a woman, they are most assuredly going to get harassed. This is a really great example, and it’s not like it’s rare.

          I only read Louis CK and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s AMA posts on Reddit, but even then I felt a bit weird and creeped out, because I knew if I made a post and it was obvious I was a woman, I’d get a slew of harassment. I generally avoid Reddit, and a lot of women I know do as well.

          1. Well, I can’t attest to that, as you have figured out from my avatar, that I am a man. I think we are agreeing with each other in some form.

            This was a pretty nasty thing and am ashamed it came from a place I somewhat frequent. But it’s also worth mentioning that probably 98% of my use of Reddit has not been posting comment/links, but observing and reading. I guess that makes me a “lurker” but I hope this doesn’t discourage too many people from potentially being exposed to some good information. For instance, I had never been to this site before, and am now looking through it (although not the introduction I would have hoped for).

          2. Wow, Louis CK and Neil deGrasse Tyson posts somewhere om Reddit? I must remove my blanket statement from all to just most on Reddit are vile creatures now. Seems incongruent, but I’m sure they raise the level of discourse by doing so, it just seems surprising cuz’ they are like an oasis.
            I recall a story by Neil DeGrasse Tysomn about him as a high schooler where Carl Sagan wined and dined him as a possible new student at Cornell, and how amazed he was that Sagan gave him so much of his time and made him feel just so important, and from then on Sagan became a mentor for Neil deGrasse Tyson. I listen to him give lectures and he really comes off as someone a lot like Sagan in explaining to laypersons about Astronomy and Cosmology, and science in general, really.

          3. Here’s an exercise…create a 15 year old girl avi with a cute picture and spend the next two weeks on the net trying to participate in debates…Be sure to dress and act like a 15 year old girl.

        2. I think the problem is — and this has already been addressed several times in these comments — is that whenever the issues of Reddit or other harassment online is brought up, people automatically say things like this:

          “It’s the internet! What do you expect?”

          “Oh, they aren’t all like that!” Etc.

          It brushes off the very real problem. It makes it seem it’s not such a big deal because, “Oh, it’s just the internet, and hey, there are some good guys there!”

          1. So what’s the solution to the problem?

            It’s clearly societal, because I think a lot of people in our society think in a sexist manner and reddit just allows it to flow like water.

            Not sure what is to be done about it. Thoughts?

          2. First of all, people need to stop brushing these complaints off, and saying things like, “Oh, it’s just the internet!” Or, “Get thicker skin!” or similar. That would be a good start. Or how about people stop getting all defensive when their precious Reddit is criticized? That would help, too.

            And, hey, treating women as humans and not sexual objects, that’d be a good start too.

          3. While I know people do say that, that’s not what I’m trying to say. I’m trying to say that it’s a larger social issue with the internet. It deserves attention, but it is a macro issue observed on the micro scale. To say this group of people are terrible because some people posted some shitty things is important to discuss, but focusing on a specific forum is like focusing on the branch of a substantial weed. The weed definitely needs to be addressed, but it would do us all good to stop trying to cut a branch or leaf off and start focusing on the root.

            I think “deviladv” put it more clearly with “Reddit doesn’t make me hate atheists… it makes me hate humans.”

            Basically, (trying not to sound like a defender of Reddit) I feel like this is a people problem, not a Reddit/Atheist problem. If she had posted this in /r/pics (another subreddit) I would expect similar problems. Anonymous speech on this scale is still is still relatively new to us, and I’m really hoping that we as a global society can regain the empathy that we have lost over the years, and curb this kind of behavior.

          4. //First of all, people need to stop brushing these complaints off, and saying things like, “Oh, it’s just the internet!” Or, “Get thicker skin!” or similar.//


            //And, hey, treating women as humans and not sexual objects, that’d be a good start too.//

            Yes, and this requires a fundamental change in society’s thought process. Question is, HOW do we make that change?

          5. Also try not to explain what “the real problem is” or the “macro” or whatever.

            We know there is sexism everywhere. We know how it affects us personally, we know how it affects us professionally. We see how it affects our kids (our boys and our girls)…

            When we say there is a problem and this is an aspect of it….PLEASE don’t tell us we don’t understand the problem well enough.

          6. “Yes, and this requires a fundamental change in society’s thought process. Question is, HOW do we make that change?”

            We change the behavior first, not the thoughts, which means communities need to make it clear that harassing/bigoted behavior is not acceptable. Preferably this includes actual moderation, which would piss off those Reddit addicts who still really believe that votes are enough to ensure comment quality and that they should have the right to harass people to their hearts’ content. I don’t think any honest person can deny that sites which depend on votes for their “moderation” see the discussion quality tank once the site gets popular. See slashdot, digg, and now reddit. Whether or not the mods get their act together, posters need to call out and downvote bigotry and harassment when they see it.

            There are a few benefits to going after the behavior before the thoughts. First, communities like /r/atheism will give off a less hostile vibe, which means more women will feel comfortable there. Secondly, people of all stripes won’t have to wade through shit to find actual discussion. Thirdly, young or otherwise-impressionable people won’t be egging each other on to be as shitty as they can possibly manage, which is going to affect how they think and how they behave elsewhere.

            Of course I don’t really expect to see any of this happen on Reddit. I honestly don’t believe that the majority wants change. Most seem to enjoy harassment and bigotry, if not as perpetrators then as spectators (hence the upvotes). Part of the problem is that Reddit is just not designed to be anything other than a mob-rule cesspool. Majority rules, minorities drool; it’s built right into the voting system.

        3. And another point: soiranfaster commented down-thread and has said that he/she tries to make a point to speak out against this kind of crap, and he/she is — unsurprisingly– down-voted because of it.

          Reddit isn’t exactly a comfy place for women. It is, however, a great place for sexist assholes. Sure, sure, there may be a few good guys, but the assholes are way, way, way louder and more prominent, and I, as a woman, would rather avoid that kind of crap.

    3. This is a similar argument that people use to defend various organized religions. Ignore the bad things the church does because it does some good things too. Different orders of magnitude, but the same argument.

      Charity work is great, more people should do it, but it doesn’t mean you can get a criticism-free pass.

      Really you should be trying to increase the good and get rid of the bad altogether. And part of that is criticizing the stupid s&*t people do/say.

    4. “I’m far from defending the comments above… That being said…”

      No defensible statement ever starts this way.

  22. That would be the trickledown from If you enjoy the misogyny, bias, and generally male tone of reddit you’re gonna LOVE 4chan. Try it. You’ll regret it! I personally recommend /b/ for maximum WTF.

    1. That’s not fair. 4chan is (as far as I can tell) intended to be a pervert site. That’s its whole raison d’être.

      You might as well blame sewers for smelling like poop.

  23. Ungh. I tried to wade into Reddit and very quickly learned that it was not a place for me, thanks to this kind of assholery. It’s so frustrating that a young, enthusiastic atheist was ridiculed, threatened, and completely shut down by a group of supposed comrades-in-arms. And it’s a shame that it’ll happen to many many more.

    Why are people such assholes?

  24. Wait, what, seriously? Fucking seriously?

    I hope she finds this post and these comments as well.

    By the way, anyone daring to post “No True Scotsman” defenses should really be taking it to r/atheism, because they’re making themselves look really fucking shitty, and it’s not an observers fault for seeing the shit.

    1. Great comment Niki (and hi from MBZ!)

      If the Reddit r/atheism sub-reddit looks like it is capable of becoming a misogynistic cesspit, then it really is up to the redditors there to do something themselves to fix it – don’t let sexist, creepy shit slide, don’t continually upvote it, argue against the people who are running the place down, don’t contribute to the seedy culture.

      I’ll admit my observations of the site are biased by seeing lots of stuff from the r/ShitRedditSays sub-reddit – to the extent where I think it would be a good thing for it to be nuked from orbit. My conclusion is that the culture of the site has obviously got some significant problems which many of the regulars (and the management) seem to have no interest in fixing, or altering to improve things.

  25. These types of posts are exactly why I’m an active Redditor. I spend a fair amount of my free time calling shenanigans on these types of comments and posts, because someone’s got to do it, and I suppose it might as well be me. I get downvoted into oblivion for it, of course, but that’s okay – I just make a new account every month or so, and keep on keepin’ on.

  26. I think, if you hate it, maybe it is time to move on out of it / give it up. This is not coming from a “love it or leave it” perspective, but from the experience of seeing various online communities change over time – whether due to business policies or just the nature of the audience. No matter how much you write, I don’t think you’re going to stem the rising tide of jackassery that’s taking over reddit in general and r/atheism specifically. I know, it’s against the broad cliches we so love to embrace, but there comes a time to turn your back on things that don’t really bring you any real joy or happiness, and focus that energy on things which you find more rewarding.

  27. Disgusting behaviour from a bunch of 4chan escapees. Another reason for me not to bother trying reddit.

    But on the origonal post, cool mom, awsome book. I have Demon-haunted World too. Mine’s hardback. Lets the see the trolls make an inuendo out of…! *facepalm* nevermind.

  28. Reading your thoughts of this, Rebecca, made me feel something akin to despair. Not because I think atheists, per se, are like this; rather men are (frequently), and being an atheist obviously does nothing to mitigate such tendencies (I’ve seen the exact same behaviour among groups of males in countless contexts).

    I think this is by far the strongest evidence I’ve ever seen for the notion that atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief in the supernatural and says nothing at all about any other walk of life.

    I hope you will keep trying to raise awareness of this problem. People like myself and certain Professors have never been on the receiving end of this kind of thing and have trouble understanding it. I really had to think on it for a while before I could understand why you were so angry with Dawkins over the lift thing (and I confess, my first urge was defensiveness against you), but you have shown me, both here and with your response to the Dublin lift event (I was at that conference and saw you speak btw), that merely saying women are equal is not enough. Even when a person intellectually agrees with that, their actions or words may not reflect such a sentiment, and they may not even be aware of such an antithesis. I fear I must plead guilty to not being as good a feminist as I thought I was, but now that you’ve helped me understand this I hope I can do better from now on. Specifically, up to now I think I took womens equality as self-evident and not requiring special consideration, but I’m now seeing that even in the best of circles it cannot be taken as a given. Even in myself, I must always be vigilant.

    I only hope that intellect wins out over what I can only describe as a lads-only culture/biological urge.

  29. Frankly, I’m pretty desensitized to this kind of stuff. When I first saw the thread I just chuckled at some of the jokes. After being on certain subreddits long enough, you come to expect the comment thread to be filled with a bunch of puns instead of thoughtful discussion. People want upvotes and humor is the easiest way to get them.

    So the way I tend to view the creepy jokes (the mild ones anyway) is not as legitimate offerings of intercourse but as attempts at self deprecating humor. In other words: yes, reddit has a reputation for being filled with pedophiles and everyone on the internet is a creep… let’s make a joke about how creepy we are collectively. And, indeed, the upvotes flow. It seemed plainly obvious to me that this is what was happening. And anyone responding with horror seemed, to me, to be missing the point entirely. Like when a local news station declares that pedobear is actually a pedophile mascot instead a joke about pedophiles themselves.

    But despite all that, I wanted to know what the original poster thought and that really made me rethink things:

    For the record, the pedo-ish coments disgust me. You have no idea what me or the other men and women on this site have been through. I’m sure if someone who has been sexually abused read through this they’d be upset. Just stop. Seriously. It’s possible to be funny without being creepy.”

    1. Couple things.

      1. Self-deprecating humor is making jokes about yourself, not about another person. “Blood is nature’s lubricant” and “I’d go at that so hard my whole body would appear blue on approach” are not jokes about the joker; they are jokes about a minor child who started a conversation about an intellectual topic and who is not playing along.

      2. Making rape jokes as a group is nothing at all like a local news station joking about fictional mascots for a group of generic people.

      You say that people are responding with horror but missing the point. What is the point? If the point is that a group of atheists think it’s fair game for a girl who posted on the internet to be subjected to group abuse with onlookers cheering on the abusers, then that is horrifying.

      1. Maybe I wasn’t clear.

        Briefly glancing at the thread, I initially thought it was a bunch of self deprecating humor and that the original poster didn’t mind. Maybe it is hard to believe that I could hold such a view, but that is what I thought.

        I later found out that the original poster was in fact disgusted at the whole thing. And in light of that, I’ve rethought things and I think the situation is rather horrifying myself.

    2. It’s not self-deprecating humor when a bunch of men who have a reputation (deserved or no) for being pedophiles make “jokes” about being pedophiles. It’s just creepy. What is wrong with them, and what is wrong with you?

        1. Next time, check the impulse to wave away sexism as no big deal. Just because it doesn’t affect you doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect others. Just because you’re desensitized doesn’t mean that’s a good thing. Maybe the fact that you’re desensitized to fucking rape jokes aimed at an earnest atheist 15-year-old is part of the fucking problem.

    3. You read those comments and see ‘self deprecating humour’, I have a physical panic response. Comments like those on that thread are horrifying, joking or not. And frankly, if the OP wasn’t bothered by them they would still create a hostile environment for the rest of us. If you really are that desensitised, you should probably worry.

  30. I’m sorry, I don’t really have anything intelligent to say. I’ve been following the conversation over on G+ and I just have to wonder.

    What the fuck is wrong with people?

    How the hell does one person treat another person this way?

    If you’re going to make crude jokes, make crude jokes with people you know well who have just as sick a sense of humor as you do.

    You don’t go on and on with complete strangers.

    I mean seriously, what the fucking fuck, you know what I mean?

  31. I’ve had some very positive experiences on reddit, but it’s shit like this which keeps me away. It’s a very frat-boy mentality, and it’s extremely immature.

    On the other hand — thank you, Rebecca, for introducing me (albeit indirectly) to the wonderful, amazingly positive Lizzie Velazquez. What a remarkable woman! :)

  32. Unfortunately I’ve not had the time to read all the above comments, and I just need a place to vent about Reddit; there is nothing insightful in the following comment and it really is just my observations of the Reddit community at large.

    Reddit as a whole is seemingly male-dominated (as you’d expect, I guess.) and it is just one massive circlejerk. Post after post of the same material, with little le me, le derp, le derpina ragecomics where they aggressively put down a religious individual for daring to practice their faith openly, and will afterwards ask how to make friends on r/askreddit. Christmas for r/atheism becomes the time when everyone gets to show how lovely they all are and how every one of them is a decent human being with those same ragecomics where someone saying merry christmas to them doesn’t offend them. Wow, congratulations on not being an asswipe.
    But in honesty most of reddit is exactly that; a bunch of lonely men posting shit reminiscent of 4chan.
    Atleast on 4chan they know they’re fucked up.

  33. I am a very non-violent person.
    But some people deserve a brick in their faces.
    If I could. I would.

  34. I got to thinking: I don’t really know what this reddit thing is or how it works. I’ve never reddited anything. It’s something that exists on the periphery of my awareness.

    But if you can message people on it, perhaps you should tell her that a community exists on the net where being 15 years old and a girl won’t prevent you from being taken seriously (I mean this one, obviously).

  35. Hi SkepChick
    I agree that the redditors can be hateful. What I have noticed is that there are a lot of young people on there that troll the boards. When you see a lot of these comments if you take a moment to view some of the folks and what they have posted you will find that a lot of the more disturbing posts are not made by Atheists.

    Recently r/atheism has become a default reddit for EVERYONE that subscribes. So a ton of the comments are viewed right on the front page. This draws a lot of hateful comments from people who are not normal viewers of r/atheism.

  36. Wow, that was brutal. I’ve never attended a full fledged event, is this representative of how women are treated at atheist events?

    1. I haven’t been to one, but I’ve talked with several women who have, and no. People are not that rude in real life. There’s still harassment and inappropriate come-ones and sexist behavior of course, but not so much that it’s going to stop me from going to one.

    2. I’ve never been to one, but I have to say, even if they’re not saying it, I’ve seen enough of what they’re thinking and would like to say/do if they had the courage, and I wouldn’t go if you paid me.

  37. I wish atheists would stop saying, “Oh, it’s a HUMAN problem, not an atheist problem.”

    Incorrect statement. The correct formulation is: “It’s a human problem AND an atheist problem.” If atheists refuse to take responsibility for solving their part of the problem, then what right do we have to expect anyone else to try to solve their part of the sexism problem?

      1. I wish (insert group here) would stop saying, “Oh, it’s a (insert all-encompassing term) problem, not an/a (insert group here) problem.”


        I understand your point but saying that it is a problem of the entire group and a sub-group is redundant. All humans should take responsibility for solving their part of the problem. This statement is all-encompassing, thus pointing to any single group is redundant.

        A particular Atheist is human.

        All humans should be responsible.

        o yeah, and All Atheists (that are human) should also be responsible.

        The Atheist is a human, thus adding all atheists (that are human) does not add to the group.

        Fixing the problem with humanity (the all encompassing term) will fix that problem with all of its subgroups (in this case Atheists).

        1. Somehow, you think it will be *easier* to fix the problem with ALL of humanity, as opposed to within the skeptic/atheist community? Really?

          1. After reviewing my post I fail to see where I asserted anything about the ease at which the problem is fixed. Your putting words in my mouth, and I do not appreciate it.

          2. You are lecturing people about focusing on the problem of misogyny within a specific community because it is “a human problem” that needs to be fixed in all of humanity, which will then filter down into all of these subgroups. What I am telling you is that it will be easier to focus on our own communities and fix the problems there.

            Your post comes across as saying that we should not be focusing on this problem as an atheist problem, but as a human problem. I’m saying that’s way too broad to actually do anything meaningful with. We need to start with our own local communities and working out from there.

          3. As I said in my original post, I am not disputing her point, I am disputing her statement. Her point as an ideal is valid, her statement (what everyone is agreeing with) is (as I stated in my OP) redundant.

            I never made a statement asserting anything about what you have stated, nor about her point except to agree that it is valid.

          4. So you’re making a semantic argument, then? You agree with her point, but you think that she’s being redundant in the way she’s stating it?

            If that is your point, then you need to be more clear about it, because that’s not at all how it comes across. And I completely disagree that it is redundant because of the reasons I gave. This is NOT a problem in *all* communities. It is not a problem for each and every human being. So, it is not redundant. It is a problem in certain segments of certain societies. It is a problem that has to be fixed on smaller scales before there is any hope of large-scale solution.

        2. It’s an internet rule, anyone who feels compelled to announce to the world that he is logical, objective, a freethinker, a skeptic, or whatever, is usually a colossal idiot.

          Sadly you’re no exception.

          1. If you had said, “You guys are human, and its a human problem, so you need to do your part.” I would have +1’d you like everyone else. I simply cannot agree with redundant statements because they don’t get us anywhere. If the members of a group are human then of course it is their problem.

          2. Also, thank you for taking to time to insult my intelligence without at least posting what you found idiotic/stupid and pointing it out for support.

          3. Congratulations logical fallacy, for lowering the S/N ratio of the thread with a pointless demonstration of your pedantry. *slow clap*

          4. Troll requests evidence that he is not as smart as his pseudonym announces.

            Troll then admits that he is trolling.

  38. Some of the comments here are encouraging.

    It’s still very sad, though. I won’t even go on imgur anymore. I tried fighting it but the constant downvotes got to be too much. It just seems pointless. I wouldn’t even dream of going to Reddit to bother swimming against the tide there. Especially not with an obviously female username. I learned my lesson there already.

  39. I have a confession to make. I had seen a couple of your blogs/articles before & honestly thought that you were exaggerating or maybe even being too sensitive, well how wrong can a person be? So sorry to have doubted you, even i can see how bad this really is, i even signed up here to post this, right now i’m sad at r/atheism & myself, sadly this girl may now assume were all like that, way to go boys!

  40. The problem is there is no escape from it.
    Women have complained about street harassment for years. They have been dismissed, just as this behavior is being justified and dismissed. It is everywhere. Now that same behavior is in your face on the internet. And still it is justified or dismissed.
    This is the reality women live, that many men do not want to know about or believe even when it is right in front of their face.

  41. I haven’t read through all the comments on here yet… so maybe someone has suggested this already…but don’t you think it would be helpful to send this girl some sort of message from skepchick with a link to your site? If you are worried about her feeling like she won’t be accepted or taken seriously in the science or atheist community, it might be nice for someone to reach out to her. Yes, it’s shitty that something like this happened and will continue to happen. I, however, think it would also be bad if people who see and know about this only complain about how horrible it is and don’t try to support this girl. It seems like a lot of your readers are supporting her in the comments, but it might mean a lot to her to know that and hear from a powerful female voice in the science/skepticism/atheist field. Yes, she is just one girl and the behavior is the bigger point here, but she is a girl who wants to be taken seriously and be a part of a scientific minded community.

    1. I was contacted by a lot of different people. I appreciate everyone and their efforts to show me that not all atheists are like that. I know they aren’t. I just hope some day people will be able to overcome issues like this entirely, when a girl can post a picture of herself next to something and not be ridiculed and sexualized.

      1. I’m glad they didn’t drive you off the internet; we need you more than we need any of them.

        After you finish “The Demon Haunted World” may I recommend “The Blank Slate” by Stephen Pinker? You can have your library get it for you, and you can find a video presentation on somewhere. It’s not directly atheist at all, but it’s good Science.

      2. Don’t give up. We’re with you! It’s astonishing how little people think before saying things, and I would normally expect people to think more before writing. The Internet proves me wrong. And if these people did think about what they were saying, they’re only worse. It’s hard to describe my disgust right now. I hope you’re not taking it too bad. Don’t let it take away the joy of getting “The Demon Haunted World” from you!!

      3. Progress is being made among the atheist community. Some dudely types are even slowly starting to turn their skepticism to the things they believe, instead of just the stuff they don’t.

        Enjoy Demon-Haunted World. It’s a beautiful, amazing book.

      4. Lunam,

        Please do stick around. The maturity and aplomb that you’ve displayed is truly inspirational.

  42. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Ms. Watson used the Lunam thread to explain why: “it (r/atheism) only serves to create and foster inside me an intense hatred of my fellow atheists.”
    Apparently ms. Watson assumes that most of the repulsive posters on the thread are indeed atheists.
    Mythyx wrote: “Recently r/atheism has become a default reddit for EVERYONE that subscribes. So a ton of the comments are viewed right on the front page. This draws a lot of hateful comments from people who are not normal viewers of r/atheism.”
    I know nothing about Reddit and like to keep it that way, but if it is true what Mythyx wrote, doesn’t that mean that there is still hope for the American Atheist community?

    1. I think there’d be more hope for the American Atheist community if there were posts over there from atheists identifying themselves as atheists who denounce crap like that. For example, someone could start a new topic over there chastising every person that made a disgusting remark (not by name, not by name) and telling them that they are making atheists look bad. Confront the behavior where it happens instead of trying to convince people who are appalled by it over here to give it another chance.

      Downvoting nasty posts is all fine and good, but it’s a fairly hidden strategy at the user level and not really putting the opinions of the American Atheists Who Despise Crap Like This at the forefront. Identify yourselves in the place where this abuse happens and call out sexism there. That’s what gives people hope.

      1. Hello karenx,

        Well, I’ve done it. Put on snorkling gear, took a deep breath, registered on Reddit and posted a comment.
        I’m afraid I had to use some rather graphic language to get my point accross.

  43. I was arguing in that thread, specifically against the gentleman who believed she should allow him the ‘luxury’ of objectifying her. Reddit has a lot of problems, but I’ve been finding some worthwhile small communities on there that prevent me from dropping the site. /r/godlesswoman is a good alternative to /r/atheism that disallows sexism and homophobia. /r/lgbt is a nice community for those on the lgbt spectrum and allies alike. /r/feminism, /r/srsgaming, etc. There are pockets of people who don’t stand for the misogyny, racism, and homophobia you see on the main site.

    And I know not everyone wants to deal with it, but I also go on the main boards and argue against those that spread discriminatory rhetoric. It’s not always going to get through to people, but I hope at least now and then someone is left with things to think about when their casual flinging of ‘jokes’ is questioned.

    1. Who has the time to go around policing the world and moralizeing to them? Not saying you’re suggesting that. But calling folks out for their sexism and misogyny as it is happening has value. Find the good sites and use the time wisely and just leave the filth where they are, they will not change unless they have an epiphany of some kind(doubful but it does happen). It is perhaps a matter of separating the chaff from the wheat, as you do that, you don’t go back and try to change the chaff into wheat, in that case it is a done deal. But, of course, we’re talking about people, and since Ms magazine came out in the 70s I am so amazed this stuff is still a problem with far too many people, you would have thought we as humans would have upstaged this type of stuff long ago and instilled in our children(disclosure, never had kids, so maybe I’m speaking out of turn here on that)that women are far more than they are given credit for,(not patronizing)and treating women as they are fellow human beings and not any kind of an object for men’s pleasure(there is more to being an object than a sex object). We all have blind spots and I hope I’m not usually showing mine, but I welcome criticism as it requires vigliance to not be swept away with the tide of women hating folks like the MRAs and such, though they just cannot die out already, and fighting them brings out their ire. It doesn’t help when beautiful women are on the covers of most magazines as I think it subjogates women by using their good looks and sensuality to sell magazines. I doubt that men and women would stop being attracted to each other if as a group women were not held as secondary to men and were treated fairly by all(don’t forget the women misogynists are out there)instead as a group humans are frequently misoneistic, and perhaps not so much just misogynistic which keeps them in the status quo.

  44. Actually, it’s /r/ShitRedditSays that makes me despair of late – I too have had to shake my head at those who supposedly share my views on /r/atheism but nowhere is this more apparent than /r/SRS.

    I suppose my main problem is that /r/atheism allows for discussion on any level – the trolls will remain trolls whom you have to scroll past, but discussion can happen around that. /r/SRS has become a strange group of unquestioned finger pointing. Finger-pointing is indeed the point of the subreddit and it certainly does draw attention to some horrific corners of the site and equally horrific popular comments. But whenever I feel (as a feminist, as an atheist, as a socialist, regardless) that the finger pointing isn’t appropriate or that it is maybe an exaggeration to point at a specific comment when it isn’t so bad, I am immediately shut down, shut up and accused of being a sexist, racist, hateful pig myself.

    In fact, for the post for which I was banned, the only explanation given to me was a separate comment, which itself expressed the opinion I was putting forward in my inquiry, yet because I’d put it forward as a question that they took as criticism, it was enough to silence me. /r/SRS have some of the noblest goals on reddit, but it’s proving to be one of the best recent examples that good intentions can be corrupted by adhering to a “don’t ask” policy, by silencing dissent, by refusing discussion, and by blindly defending each others’ backs.

    I wish it could hold itself to the high standard by which it holds the rest of reddit.

  45. I’ve never been to Redittville and now I’m not sure I want to; but perhaps it would be interesting to give it a go using Jane Fox or something similar as a moniker.

  46. Everyone’s always telling me that I should join Reddit. When they do, I just think of all the things like this I’ve seen from it and laugh. I’m perfectly happy without additional stupidity and hate in my life and there are other places I’d rather be on the internet.

  47. Dear Rebecca Watson,

    I appreciate your post, and my takeaway is to remember that any group of people make a community, and it is our shared responsibility to make communities a welcome, safe, and inviting place. I will take a more active role in making that so.

    I wanted to share a concern, however. As an atheist who struggles with low self-esteem, it’s rather discouraging to read about “an intense hatred of my fellow atheists”. Hate can be a powerful tool, but tends to be an indiscriminate one.

    With kindness,


    1. I linked it earlier, and I’ll link it again.

      Read it. Please.

      People need to stop focusing (and lecturing) on “hate” or “anger” or the tone of this post or any of the comments here and start focusing on the very real, very hurtful misogyny that is absolutely rampant in our community. Obviously this is “a human problem,” but we have to start somewhere, and it might as well be here in our own communities. Focus your disgust at the misogyny, NOT the anger at the misogyny.

      1. Thank you for sharing that. Growing up around a lot of anger and verbal abuse, I’m particularly sensitive to it.

        From what I’ve learned anger is NOT an unhealthy emotion, and telling someone not to feel the emotion they’re feeling can be traumatizing.

        I hope that my comment did not take away from the message of the article. If it did, my apologies. I’d like very much to remove misogyny from our communities. My opinion that I’m more and more nervous to share, is that healthy communities are rarely built on hate. I did not mean to lecture, but rather to share my own emotion after reading this very powerful article.

        1. I say this as someone who can’t stand even when voices are raised around me, you seem to be confusing anger with hate. Hate is a terrible motivation to form a group, but anger, on the other hand, is a powerful motivator.

          Anger starts revolutions. Anger motivates change. Civil rights, suffrage, GBLT rights, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall street movements (as much as I hate comparing the two even for this), most if not all social change attempts come from the positive application of “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!”. Heck, if anything that movements lead by say Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. prove is that you can be effective and nonviolent while still being angry enough to demand change.

          I mean, people quit drugs and start taking care of their bodies out of anger at what they perceive as hitting rock bottom. I left my family behind when I got angry enough to realize that the way I was being treated was bullshit.

          Yes, anger can be taken too far, towards outright hate, but that is mostly the fault of those wielding it, not it emotion itself.

          I don’t want to sound critical, especially since I have a similar experience with verbal and physical abuse growing up and being forced to suppress damn near ever emotion, but I just wanted to share how anger can be a positive tool. All the passivity in the world won’t change anything.

          1. I quite agree, hate is not the same as anger, or as I like to call it, outrage. For many years I have had a slow burning outrage going on about the way things are and I refuse to join the causes of it. Slavery became an outrage and eventually the Jim Crowe era and folks began to do something about it and though there have been successes there are over 1000 rightwing hate groups who most have as a basis for existence their hatred of black, or people of color and immigrants even today there is still the pockets of folks who will never get it, and they form their little groups of hatred, but they are also isolated as some of the Reddit groups should be. Does anyone think members of these groups should be talked to to change their views for the better? Won’t work, they must come out of the sewer themselves and clean themselves up. Oh, and they have websites to spew their hatred and vitriol, do you want to go there, maybe call them out? Why waste the time and effort? Sorry for this hackneyed phrase, but let sleeping dogs lie.

  48. A few years back when I picked my nym, I did think to pick one where the gender was ambiguous, for exactly this reason, even though it was for Jezebel! This post is really making me regret doing that.

    1. You can have more than one nym. Get over to reddit, pick yourself a fighting nym, and have at it. If you want to.

  49. I think you might be proud of some of the responses from the Reddit community.

    As a male, Redditor, and atheist I share your concerns. You’ve truly opened my eyes to the patriarchal bullshit that continues to permeate our culture (even one as counter-cultural as the atheist movement). I’ll try to pay attention more from now on, downvote, and outright not tolerate this kind of behavior. We can’t ignore it any longer.

  50. I think a lot of people with X privilege don’t understand the pile-up that can make it hard for those who don’t have it to keep slogging. For instance, I went into a record shop yesterday, and right away, I had to fight down that urge to turn on my heel and leave. Why? Was I not in the mood to dig through records? No. Was it that the place stunk? Not at all.

    It was because, as usual, I was the only woman in the room. And the room had a bunch of guys in it. I hate that. I worry that they’re staring at me. I worry that they’re sneaking peeks at what I’m stacking up, looking for something that I like that they don’t that they can then use to reassure themselves that “girls” don’t have good taste. Even though I know anyone who would do that probably has shittier taste than me, I don’t like it. I worry that they’re going to hit on me. All this without a single man doing shit to me. It’s frustrating, because the men in there haven’t done shit to me, and most probably have no desire to do so. I’ve heard a lot of people whine that record stores are snobby places where people sneer at you, and it actually doesn’t happen to me much, so I think they’re projecting their fears out. I know my fears are mostly just fears.

    But they’re fears based in realities. Realities like this Reddit thread. Realities such as knowing how many men out there are chomping at the bit to use sex as a weapon against you, because your willingness to use your mind or to be something other than a hole to fuck threatens them. I’ve come across those men in real life, and just as online, they are all too ready to police what they think are “their” spaces and run women out. All it takes is one asshole, and the accumulated dread of being “different” will run most women off.

    It’s fucking wrong is what it is. Women are entitled—yes, entitled—to engage in discourse about atheism, music, fungi, whatever the fuck we want. And using sex as a weapon to keep us from doing so is horrible. That other men won’t stand up angrily against this is read by the men who do as support. Also, women who are attacked this way take male silence as support.

    I know that if I was shamed for buying X by some dude whose only authority was a penis at the record store, no man would stand up for me. In the moment, that would make me think they all agreed, and make me not come back, ever. Well, it’s me, so I might fight, but me at a younger age, for sure.

    If you blow this off, it’s taken as support. Something to consider.

  51. Just in case anyone cares reddit has also got a sub that of the MRAs outing of feminist womens names addresses and employers for the purpose of targeting them IRL. Some of the information is correct and some is not, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Yes it is a violation of reddit TOS but since it is not on the main then the mods have decided to let it slide.

  52. I hate to make the obvious point here, I really do, but there’s only a handful of solutions to this problem, marilove, and none of them are very savory (Fuck, I love lists tonight:

    You can heavily moderate /r/atheism and limit a redditor’s ability to make these types of jokes.

    You can give women the right to make rape jokes about men — OH WAIT! They do have that right.

    You can magically change every man’s disposition to think sexual things about attractive females.

    This is a problem without a just solution, friend. I’m right with you, but what can you do?

      1. People ask me frequently why Pandagon has such a pleasant commenting environment, where real discussions can happen. I have one answer: banhammer. People who aren’t contributing don’t get to stay. After a few bannings, you actually find you don’t have to ban very often. People who are trolls know they are trolls, and tend to stay away from spaces where the banhammer is wielded with confidence.

      2. Agreed. So here are two suggestions:

        1. Find out who (if anyone) is moderating r/atheism and ask them wtf????
        2. Create a new moderated thread, I suggest: r/|atheism| (silly math joke).

        1. /r/atheism’s mods are purposely hands-off and do not censor content. Therefore there’s no filter on what people post and naturally the discussion and quality of the content goes downhill.

          Someone started an alternate subreddit /r/atheos which will be moderated.

        1. And on /r/atheism (and a lot of other subreddits) you wouldn’t be. Not saying I agree with it, but that’s how it is. It’s one of the things I hate about Reddit, this entire “hands off” policy when it comes to content. Some of the best forums I’ve ever been to were the ones that had strict rules of conduct while at the same time allowed open questioning. It’s why structured, moderated debates are more interesting than random people in a room shouting over each other.

        2. As a recent father of a perfect beautiful daughter I am alarmed to realize that there is not only such filth out there but also that the probability is 1.0 that not all of the comments are idle jokes by teenage trolls, given the violence and sexually violent world we live in. The man who requested permission to fantasize about having this 15 y.o. as his girl friend might or might not be a garden variety creep. If I was this girl’s dad I would be livid with rage and yes I think my anus would be braced because some of it scares me shitless.

          Number one, even knowing she has done nothing wrong, I would read her the riot act on safety online. Not trying to victim-blame, just thinking like a parent. Every 15 y.o. harrassed online is somebody’s daughter or son, and I know if more men could feel this way and be scared of it happening to their own family- flesh and blood, it would make a difference. Maybe not with the troll kids, but the adults who look the other way.

          I would be hiring private detectives and attorneys to find out everything about some of those screennames to make their internet life a hell. The assumption is there is nothing there, no grounds for action but I know I would be looking for any possible grounds to report them to law enforcement. Sorry but isn’t it illegal to solicit a minor? It makes me sick. I used to hang out in atheist forums and I don’t remember it being this bad.

          After all that, I do want to say I hope to impart godless values to my daughter. It will be her choice of course. I can only hope she will find a less hostile atmospher in the atheist-skeptical communities.

      3. There’s nothing wrong with moderation. In fact I think it’s the best solution for a nasty problem. Some people may call that censorship. So what? If people do not have the self-censorship that is required/desired in a civilised society, let’s put at least some safeguards in place.
        There are plenty of opportunities for the unsavoury bastards to express their odious opinions elsewhere.

    1. Bullshit, butido, there’s a really simple solution, which is that redditors individually and corporately work at creating a community where people are respected as human beings, and that when people are denigrated because of attributes such as their gender, sexuality, age, colour, etc. etc., these instances are not relentlessly up-voted for lulz and treated as suitable for a string of put downs, slurs, and lewd jokes to show how edgy and clever these asshole commenters are. It’s not just the inaction of the moderators that is the problem – it’s the compliance of many of the redditors to allow the ridiculing and bullying of a 15-year-old girl.

      1. I vote for the internet equivalent of public floggings.

        Ban them with a public explanation as to why.

        Loudly and openly.

        The reditors would have to have some morals for this to work so it may not really be workable.

      2. You’re basically asking everyone who ever visits the subreddit to agree with you on what’s right and good. Good luck with that. It’s an anonymous forum. People seek it out because they can say anything they like without censorship. That is a double edged sword that can be used for good and evil. Censorship is a not an answer, it’s basically ignoring the problem. You think that because you don’t read the bad comments, those people don’t exist? Or do you think that in censoring them you’ve changed anybody’s minds?

        At least in an open forum, you’re allowed to rebut them. That’s all you can ever hope to do. The problem is many people, myself included, just tend to avoid the worst parts of the internet by simply leaving the site rather than get involved in the shit storm. That’s why this type of thing seems so prevalent, nobody cares enough to dissent.

        Honestly, I’m not sure it does matter even though it does bother me to an extent. I don’t think that this is at all representative of society at large. This is just a microcosm of the internet and, at the end of the day, I’m not sure I’m changing anybody’s minds either way. As a wise person once said “You can’t reason anybody out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.”

        1. ”You think that because you don’t read the bad comments, those people don’t exist? Or do you think that in censoring them you’ve changed anybody’s minds?”

          Hmmm, Social Problem Management Catch 22. I know this one.

          I once helped co-mod an internet community of 20,000 members that was heavily, heavily moderated. We listened to input and took advice and considered the over-all desires of the community, of course, but at the end of the day, we made the final decision on how things were gonna go down and keeping the community peaceable and inclusive mattered more than individual opinion. We kept that peace with an iron fist and as much as we had a big group who either loved it or were oblivious, there were internet places in the same fandom we simply couldn’t go if we didn’t want to see a metric ton of hate flung our way. We could keep said hate out of our spaces though constant effort and monitoring, but the other 99% of the internet was beyond us.

          And that’s really the inherent catch with all safe spaces. You can clean the trash out of your house, but where does it go? What happens to those mouth-breathers on Reddit if they’re all banned or socially shamed into silence? I don’t say this to imply that anyone here should CARE what happens to them, I mean more in the sense of — do you really think that shutting them up in one space isn’t going to cause their vitriol to breathe into new life in some other space?

          I feel worried and uneasy because of how close this comes to apologizing or dismissing the issue and I do think safe spaces are vital as a band-aid and stop-gap measure, I just don’t think silencing and shaming as a tool for social change is ultimately effective.

          1. So is the number of people who will behave shitty online to women and other humans static or does creating a tolerant and encouraging environment for hate normalize hateful behavior?

            There were bullies when I was a kid ( a long time ago ) they were never as creepy, shitty, mean, brutal, pedo as a large subset of humans online are now comfortable being.

            The rules made by geeks 30 years ago are NOT working.(Don’t feed the trolls etc) They do not scale. What is increasing it the range of tolerated abuse online….and off.

            This is a real problem happening to real humans in real life.

          2. @eamc: What I’m getting out of your statement is that you believe that tolerating and normalizing hateful behavior will encourage it’s use and spread, and that such behavior has been increasing online and off due to tolerance of it. Is this correct?

            If so, I agree to the first part — I disagree that this ugliness wasn’t always there to the same degree, the internet just creates a more permanently recorded and visible outlet — I’m just not entirely sure how this relates to my comments.

            I think… maybe because I disagreed with using shame and social ostracism as a way to end hateful behaviors, it implied I’m instead prompting tolerance or turning a blind eye to them? Again, is this correct? I don’t support tolerance of unacceptable behaviors, nor silent allowance of them.

            My thing with shame is that I think shaming and socially excluding sexist men until they “wise up” and start acting acceptably will be as effective, in the long run, as punishing people for stealing and using drugs has been in ending crime. It don’t work because, shockingly, people have reasons for their actions that have nothing to with whether or not those actions are tolerated by others. There’s also the element of the backlash causing them to go “underground” with their thoughts and behaviors, rather than changing them.

            Take someone who believes to the core of their being that they have the right to say and do something and it doesn’t matter how tightly you block off their avenues to do it, it’s all gonna find an outlet eventually.

          3. Online you are modeling behavior for a lot of young people. If you tolerate it, if it goes on as “just the internet” if you legitimize it with the “assholes will always be with us” – You are creating space for new assholes every day.
            Normalizing homophobia, racism, sexism and treating people like shit in general really does make it more common.

            Also assuming that people can’t be influenced to be better to each other ignores all the people who have actually tried and become better humans.

            There’s a certain nihilism in debates about the internet climate. Our nature is fluid and we are deeply influenced by our peers and what they model and tolerate socially.

            Speaking up and fighting back are the ethical thing to do.

    2. Unlikely to be implemented solution:

      Allow redditors to indicate when posts are vulgar, unpleasant or trolling. Once enough of people have voted for this, give the post a provisional label of “pointless garbage” or something. Create a filter on reddit that allows users to filter the “pointless garbage” posts. Hide the post, but keep a box showing there was a post. If people want to read, ask them to click on the post and warn them of the potentially horrible content. Community moderation and personal protection.

  53. Ms. Watson, you have found some truly outstanding asshattery. I wish I could say “exceptional” but the evidence is against it. But I don’t think you should hate Atheists, or even r/atheism.

    You should hate Reddit. Maybe not every single redditor, because you seem a decent one, and I try to suppress my own asshat urges, but clearly there are too many vile persons on Reddit to endure.

    I suggest we gain some control there and and try to beat down the subhumans a bit. Want to start with r/atheism?

  54. Huh. I used to think that complaints about sexism on reddit were overblown, and that a few off color/creepy comments were being interpreted as the norm.

    But you’re right, this entire thread was deeply offensive and repulsive. Worse still, the tone is pretty prevalent across most threads. I can’t imagine what effect reading this stuff will have on a young woman’s self esteem and worldview.

    I do agree with other commenters that this culture that has developed and metastasized is not unique to /r/atheism though. It’s far more prevalent in the more juvenile subreddits such as /r/funny, into which the broader shock-meme culture from the internet at large has leeched more thoroughly Frankly, /r/atheism is one of the tamer ones, which sadly shows how far reddit has fallen.

    Years ago, I wouldn’t have thought that a sexless medium like an internet forum could expose such stark misogyny, but there it is. I’m not sure what to do with this realization, but I guess it’s a first step.

    PS – thanks for introducing me to Lizzie Velasquez. I had not heard of her.

  55. internet anthropic principle: “The message determines the audience”. If people don’t like that kind of stuff, they are not likely to be there reading the thread and voting on the messages. Ergo the upvote/downvote ratios are as meaningless as internet polls and almost nothing gets downvoted far into the negative no mater how shitty it is. So crowdsourcing the moderation doesn’t work. Ultra high traffic forums are impossible to moderate manually. Consequently every forum on the internet with equal or greater traffic than r/atheism is an utter cesspool. Also, the larger the forum, the less important reciprocity/reputation is and the more people have to read selectively because there’s too much content to keep up with (thus strengthening the internet anthropic principle and making upvotes/downvotes even less meaningful).

    In short: there is no solution. If you don’t like some shit on an enormous forum/cesspool like r/atheism, then don’t read it. Manual moderation (=censorship) by an anointed few does not scale to that volume of posts. Even if it were possible you couldn’t just wave a magic censorship wand and make the misogyny go away. The feminist cause is better served by posting rebuttals than by stepping up the censorship. Censorship is pointless.

    1. What the fuck are you talking about? Censorship? What fucking censorship? Look, dudes who want to make rape threats as a response to a girl initiating a conversation about Carl Sagan’s book online have to go to a different website in order to do so freely, that’s not censorship. That’s just social life. So fuck off. That’s not censorship either, there’s a whole wide internet out there for you to spout your inane opinions in. It’s just that we encourage a certain type of culture around here–a culture that challenges rather than accepts misogyny. Since you’re all about accepting misogyny, I think you’d be happier interacting with more like-minded people.

      1. Nothing in the cited examples are credible threats that would be sufficient to involve police; they’re douchebags’ idea of jokes.

        Also, you appear to have no fucking clue what was written in the post that you just replied to. Can’t expect dumb homo sapiens to think straight when they’re all riled up.

        Deleting other people’s words from a public medium because you don’t like them is censorship. Nothing in the definition of censorship implies you have to do it perfectly in all possible mediums or as an agent of the government to count as censorship. Moderation is just a friendly euphemism for censorship.

        If you want to create your own exclusive subreddit that is obsessively moderated so that people enjoy a little bubble that is free of reminders of what people are really like, then you are perfectly free to create it. I might even prefer it to r/atheism. But the largest forums (youtube, 4chan, yahoo answers, etc) are and always will be shit because manual moderation doesn’t scale up and crowdsourced moderation is biased by the anthropic principle.

        Posting rebuttals to the shit on reddit is great. But these rebuttals should focus on persuading people rather than censoring them.

        1. You do realise that you are posting your comment on a moderated thread right?

          It is fairly simple and effective, you require registration and anyone being obviously and offensively misogynistic gets banned.

        2. First of all, none of what’s happening involves censorship. Second of all, why not use both tactics? Sometimes persuasion works, sometimes public shaming works, sometimes exclusion works. Frankly, I don’t care if a misogynist has been persuaded not to be a misogynist, as long as he understands that he can’t do it in public without catching a lot of shit for it.

          1. “Frankly, I don’t care if a misogynist has been persuaded not to be a misogynist, as long as he understands that he can’t do it in public without catching a lot of shit for it.”

            Because it’s more important for you to feel self righteous than to actually change anything?

          2. It’s funny how you mistake “changing the situation so I as a woman don’t feel excluded just for my womanness” for “not changing anything.”

            A sexist asshole is still a sexist asshole, but if he’s deciding that it’s better to be quiet about his sexism rather than vocal about it, that’s a change, a positive one for me and for any female-identified person.

            I guess the only important thing to you is the mental state of the sexist asshole.

        3. Ahh, right. So harassment and intimidation are fine as long as they stay on just this side of the law, and words mean whatever you want them to. YOU SOUND LIKE A VERY RATIONAL AND SKEPTICAL PERSON.

          Perhaps you should think long and hard on why you’re so committed to the “right” men to make rape threats and “jokes” at a teenage girl. Is there something you’d like to tell us?

  56. Glad to see lunam here. Reminds me that that book is one I still need to read, and I wish someone had given me a copy of it (or something similar) when I was 15. May have saved a lot of years of believing in bullshit. :)

    1. It really is a fantastic book. I reread it every 7 or 8 years, but generally have to buy a new copy as I’ve lent mine out and it never returned :)

  57. I’d like to focus on the finger-pointing that’s taking place here, as I think everything productive that can be said on the matter of misogyny on the internet has already been said. I also think that there’s a major misconception about how reddit and its various subreddits work. I keep seeing comments to the effect of, “If this is how atheists act, I’m ashamed to call myself an atheist,” or “this is why I stay away from Reddit.” This, to me, is akin to a parent keeping their child from having any access to the internet because “the internet is full of pedophiles.”

    Reddit is one thing, and one thing only: a link dump with the ability to comment. Anyone can post a link, image, or text; anyone can comment on any of these things. Subreddits are a way of keeping reddit tidy. Posts about politics go into /r/politics. Posts about atheism go into /r/atheism. You, as a user, can then customize your homepage so that you only see content posted to your chosen subreddits; or, like myself (lazy), just take the default collection of subreddits that are chosen for you (pics, politics, gaming, askreddit, *atheism*, et al.) It’s important to note that /r/atheism is one of the default subreddits. That means anyone who hasn’t taken the time to customize their homepage will see atheism posts. What does this mean in connection with this discussion? Not everyone who reads /r/atheism are necessarily atheists. Considering less than 8% of the US population consider themselves atheist, I would make the assumption that a fairly small cross-section of the eight million (8,000,000) redditors that might read /r/atheism posts are actually atheist, and even if those who made the horrendous comments were indeed atheist, they do not represent our community in any way, shape, or form. In fact, after reading this article, I followed a link on /r/atheism to a subreddit on atheist safe-havens, where redditors ( many of them couples or teenagers living with their parents) were offering food, water, shelter, and solace to any of the multitude of teens who are thrown from their homes by their zealously religious parents upon “coming out.” Reddit makes me LOVE atheists.

    “Reddit” didn’t attack this girl. “/r/atheism” didn’t attack this girl. A group of sad individuals with poor judgement, poor social skills, twisted senses of morality, and zero tact who stumbled across this girl’s post made these awful comments. Reddit is not the seething cesspit of the internet, full of godless heathens, misogynists and pedophiles that it’s being portrayed as here in the comments of this site (that award goes to /b/ on 4chan). It is a news and other oddities website. It has neither a personality nor an agenda. It does not censor, and it does not exclude. What it does have is an enormous user base, and – as stated countless times in the above comments – some people are cruel for the sake of cruelty; some are perverse for the sake of perversion.

    Those of us who comment actively within our respective subreddits tend to think of those places as our community. I frequent atheism, politics, worldnews, gaming, askscience, iama, pics, and countless others. I relish the thought that every day, hundreds or thousands or millions of people will be sharing information with me. I like that I have an opportunity to share information on topics in which I am educated, and that I am constantly educated by others in turn.

    tl;dr The media that allows uncensored communication and sharing of information is not the issue; miseducation of a small group of those who use said media is. Vilifying one does not remedy the other.

  58. I learned to utilize anonymity on the internet almost immediately so I understand where fontaine was coming from. It took me a lot longer to open my eyes to the handicap inflicted upon women- I still don’t give a second look to most of it without having it pointed out.

    A lot of defense mechanisms kick in as soon as any nasty trait is attributed to you. I know I would really want to wriggle out of the grasp of those terms and even just a few years ago I’d have probably thrown up a lot of the shields he did.

    I think this could have been salvaged by narrowing the focus so he wasn’t right over the (truth) flame. A lot of people really don’t want to see that there are difficult problems in plain day to day life so if you can ease them into subject I think you can get a lot of gradual converts.

    In this case I’m thinking giving him a shot to say he stands against a few of those things and then instead of “what you said means this and this and this” just give him a question where he can state that he wouldn’t stand by any of those things. Kind of a wimpy way of dealing with people but you’ve got to switch gears fast if they won’t admit to a mistake almost immediately (or just throw them out as a lost cause by forcing them.)

    Though when I feel like it (intuition?) I do much more forceful shocks to people than anything here so maybe I’ve got no leg to stand on with best approach methods.

  59. I have never had much to do with Reddit, but I know that so much of this is what happens on Tradechat everywhere in World of Warcraft. As soon as some level of anonymity is obtained, so many people become truly awful

    Also, so glad that I came across this site. I really love it!


  60. You know, I am inclined to suggest that the only real difference between reddit and 4chan is that reddit has somewhat better PR. This really is just complaining that shit smells bad.

    Look, we all had high hopes for reddit. We wanted it to be a little club where we could hang out and be okay about stuff. But it’s just too fucking big, and too fucking “the internet”. It has millions of users, and a hell of a lot of them are not nice people. I’m disappointed too.

    However, I don’t see what this has, at all, to do with atheism. It is like that in every major subreddit. Hell, just the other day I was pointing out to someone that the only subreddit that isn’t terribly hostile to women is /r/gonewild, because if they started acting like pigs in there, there would be tangible consequences.

    Reddit is made of shit. I’m sorry, but if you want respect as a woman, you’d do better in a strip club full of republicans.

  61. Aside from the obvious douchebaggery of it, is it even legal to make sexual comments (esp. rape threats) to someone who identifies as a minor?


  62. skepgineer: I’ll try to make this a brief response.

    Not moderating comments benefits only some by allowing them to perpetuate preexisting advantages (like the ability to intimidate and harass people), so arguing that any moderation equals censorship because power is pretty short-sighted and rather ignorant.

    I’d be embarrassed, if I were you, by the insistence that douchey behavior is ‘what people are really like.’ Speak for yourself, buddy.

    The first amendment (I’m assuming you are American) and interpretations thereof falls squarely, in my reading, in opposition to what you asserted about censorship. It’s something institutions do, and you do not have a ‘right’ to say anything you want on a website. You never have, in general. Speech has consequences; in this case, the consequence is to be critiqued.

    You don’t get to decide what is a credible threat to anyone but you. That would be the sort of thing the moderators of a site or the victim of the threats gets to decide. I’ll pretend that you just don’t read the news, but FYI, women get assaulted often, and the rationale tends to be ‘because she asked for it by __________.’ It’s real fucking hard to figure out what isn’t a credible threat when it’s people you don’t know.

    1. “Not moderating comments benefits only some by allowing them to perpetuate preexisting advantages (like the ability to intimidate and harass people), so arguing that any moderation equals censorship because power is pretty short-sighted and rather ignorant.”

      Whether moderation benefits or harms anybody is completely orthogonal to whether it falls under the definition of censorship. Suppressing other people’s public communications because you don’t like them is the definition of censorship, regardless of whether you’re the government, the website owner, or a hacker.

      “I’d be embarrassed, if I were you, by the insistence that douchey behavior is ‘what people are really like.’ Speak for yourself, buddy.”

      It is what many people in any large open forum are like. Heavily moderated forums are like gated communities and all of them are relatively small.

      “The first amendment (I’m assuming you are American) and interpretations thereof falls squarely, in my reading, in opposition to what you asserted about censorship. It’s something institutions do, and you do not have a ‘right’ to say anything you want on a website. You never have, in general. Speech has consequences; in this case, the consequence is to be critiqued.”

      This paragraph made me facepalm at your lack of comprehension, because nowhere did I say it was illegal for a website owner to censor his own website. The first amendment just says the government is not allowed to censor things (except certain exceptions carved out by the supreme court). It is perfectly legal for the owner of a communication medium to censor it, but not necessarily the right thing to do. Begging that owner to censor their medium more is also perfectly legal, but not necessarily the right thing to do.

      The admins of r/atheism are not bloody likely to hire 10 people to read and moderate every comment, and even if they did, there would be a lot of collateral damage. If they somehow made it awesome then it would grow to the point that they couldn’t afford to hire enough moderators.

      “You don’t get to decide what is a credible threat to anyone but you. That would be the sort of thing the moderators of a site or the victim of the threats gets to decide.”

      I get to think whatever the hell I want to think. It is nearly impossible to make a credible threat on a medium like 4chan or larger subreddits because of the sheer amount of bullshit that is posted. (c.f. poe’s law)

      “I’ll pretend that you just don’t read the news, but FYI, women get assaulted often, and the rationale tends to be ‘because she asked for it by __________.’ It’s real fucking hard to figure out what isn’t a credible threat when it’s people you don’t know.”

      No shit Sherlock. But all that crime happens in meatspace. On the internet, if you are careful not to divulge your real name or where you live (like the OP of the reddit thread) it is impossible for random people to follow through on comments such as “I’d occupy her habitable zone” (which, btw, is obviously a punny expresssion that the OP is very good looking and therefore the commenter is desirous of having sex with her, but not in a rapey way). Having police investigate such puns would actually increase assaults by wasting time that they could be spending on real law enforcement activities.

      1. skepgineer:

        Do you read the law? Here, let me go ahead and get you some data.

        This is from a 2003 case, the US v. the American Library Association, over the issue of censoring library patrons use of the internet provided to them to view porn. The original ruling, enacted in Pennsylvania, which stated that it was unconstitutional for libraries to be asked to censor patron access, was overturned by the US Supreme Court, which ruled that censoring the access of patrons is not a violation of their First Amendment rights.

        The case can be found here:

        The next case is the US v. Bell, from 2005. The Supreme Court ruled that in cases like Bell’s, where someone is online disseminating fraudulent or dangerous information, they do not enjoy the protection of the First Amendment and that the US government can employ permanent injunctions against persistent offenders.

        The case can be found here:

        The next case is the US v. Mento III, in which the US Supreme Court ruled that the US government has a compelling interest in censoring child pornography and prosecuting people who disseminate it. The ruling also states that the internet is an important venue for the dissemination of child porn, and that it does not violate the First Amendment protections to censor material like that.

        The case can be found here:

        The US law, as expressed by the US Supreme Court for the last ten or so years, is not behind your assertions about the nature of censorship and its evils. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that censoring online speech is not a violation of the First Amendment, no matter what some people on the internet think of it.

        As far as whether or not it is bad to censor, as I pointed out earlier, if a community is not moderated, it is shaped by the same societal forces which cause problems broadly in society. People who have social power and authority replicate the misuse of that power and authority, making community policing or moderation the only way to insure that everyone has free speech. Otherwise, the only people with the ability to speak are those who have that ability elsewhere. I’m frankly rather surprised you don’t know this. You can take the visual identity out of your online presence, but you can’t take the ideological identity out of it. People are remarkably consistent that way: they express themselves using the mechanisms they are familiar with, which are constituted as a function of society.

        As far as the categorical assertion that people are just like that, you should probably expect the assertion that people online should be expected to threaten to rape or hurt people to cause strong reactions. I repeat myself from earlier: you are speaking for yourself, there.

        I didn’t tell you what to think, I told you to stop telling other people what to think, chuckles. You don’t get to determine what’s a threat for others.

        Actually, plenty of crime happens online as well. Attached, for your education, is a quote from the cyberbullying laws starting to be enacted in the US (this is from CA, about a case concerning hate speech against an underage student’s sexual orientation and death/rape threats): “We affirm because defendants did not make the requisite showing that plaintiffs’ complaint is subject to the anti-SLAPP statute. In particular, defendants did not demonstrate that the posted message is protected speech. Further, defendants contend the message was intended as “jocular humor.” Assuming the message was a “joke”-played by one teenager on another-it does not concern a “public issue” under the statute.”

        The term SLAPP is one used by the parents of the students posting death and rape threats on the other student’s website. They argued that threatening this student with death or rape was in the public interest and/or just a joke. The CA Supreme Court ruled that this was not protected speech.

        The case can be found here:

        You are arguing from ignorance.

        1. Speaking of arguing from ignorance. The first case you cited doesn’t say what you claim it says. The point was that Congress can withhold funds from libraries that don’t put filters on their computers to prevent children from being exposed and being able to access pornographic or inappropriate material. The finding was that adding the filter software did not abrogate first amendment rights because the computers are not for creating online content, they are for viewing it. Also any adult could get a librarian to lift the restrictions for them. If anything the cited case could be used as an argument that Lunam shouldn’t have access to Reddit to begin with. The next two citations are actually repeats of the original citations instead of what you intended them to be. And the last case was decided the way it was because the defendants and plaintiffs had access to each other in real life. They attended the same school and therefore the possibility of actualization of these threats made them far more serious than anonymous threats between strangers. The SLAPP defense was ridiculous on its face and of course the CA court .. “slapped” it down.

          In my opinion the best use of r/atheism would be to post links to moderated places for discussions without assholes like the ones who commented so heinously or “up-voted” those comments. Apart from that, avoid it. I would suggest avoiding it altogether except I can see the value in throwing a rope to people like Lunam who follow the same religious beliefs but don’t have a local support network.

          1. Holy lack of reading comprehension, Batman!

            I claim the first case states that the Supreme Court found it was not a violation of the First Amendment for libraries to censor their patrons. And I quote, from the summary: “Because public libraries’ use of Internet filtering software does not violate their patrons’ First Amendment rights, CIPA does not induce libraries to violate the Constitution, and is a valid exercise of Congress’ spending power.”

            You’ll notice the does not violate the First Amendment rights of patrons right up in front there. As in, they don’t think that censoring patron’s internet is a violation of free speech. I can’t believe I’m having to spell that out. The case was about the funding for the programs which filter user access, true. But it’s a case which determines (the way Supreme Court cases do), a boundary for the limits of internet speech. I’m not sure what else you can take from the case.

            “If anything the cited case could be used as an argument that Lunam shouldn’t have access to Reddit to begin with.”

            That would be a non-sequitur, unless you know she was accessing from a library, or unless you’re arguing fault on her parent or guardian’s fault for not supply censoring software.

            Here’s the proper second link: the title, US v Mento III, can be used to find it on Findlaw, if you could have been arsed to bother:

            So, do you have any comments on the two middle cases other than to criticize a repeated link, or is that above you?

            On the third case, the harassers were no longer proximate to the child in question, who had moved away from the area. Instead, they posted threats, his new address and school, and speculation designed to inform the people where he had moved that he was queer. You’re right that the fact that they knew him was important, but they were no longer living in the same town, which you would have seen had you read and not skimmed the opinion.

            Maybe you don’t know this about the law, but Supreme Court cases (and in general), are used to provide updated strictures to the Constitution and to law in the US. These cases are all legal precedents which can and probably are being used to provide nuance to a Constitution which did not (of course) anticipate the internet. Using case law to discuss the law IS discussing the law.

            “In my opinion the best use of r/atheism would be to post links to moderated places for discussions without assholes like the ones who commented so heinously or “up-voted” those comments. Apart from that, avoid it. I would suggest avoiding it altogether except I can see the value in throwing a rope to people like Lunam who follow the same religious beliefs but don’t have a local support network.”

            Well, aren’t you kind to suggest to her that she shouldn’t go on websites? I just love that it’s her problem for being there, and not the asshole’s problem for being an asshole. It’s nice to know that you are comfortable telling women and girls to just ‘stay away’ from any place full of assholes. It’s obviously her fault for going to Reddit.


      2. Quick question? Would you believe in banning or deleting comments that are only advertisements for goods or services? IE “Spam” – Not all of which is automated, some of which is typed out by actual humans.

        If so, what makes this so different from a guy contributing nothing to a discussion but how much he wants to poke a 15 year old girl, who wanted to talk about a thoughtful gift from her mom, with his cock?

        If the answer is something about natural urges and expression and right to be attracted, well, the spammer has a natural urge to obtain what comprises his livelihood, and a right to express himself as regards the goods he’s selling, and a right to want to profit, right? So, we MUST NOT deny spammers THEIR RIGHTS! Y/N?

        If “Advertising for my Cock and Telling you What It Wants To Do right now, regardless of the topic” is so very damn different, tell me why?

        If not, I expect you to Stand Up for Spam.

  63. I sympathise with the fact that you’re offended with the disgusting men making those comments to such a young girl on r/atheism, but that’s hardly a reason to hate on atheists. These sorts of morons ARE everywhere, atheism doesn’t have a monopoly on sexist, disgusting, bigoted men/people. By saying you hate atheists as a result of what’s happened here is as if you’re suggesting these people have done these horrible things BECAUSE they’re atheists. An ignorant notion in and of itself, as if one should hate all Germans for what Hitler and the third reich achieved in the WWII.

    Again I reiterate that I sympathise with you, and I too have taken offence at this post in r/atheism. That said though it’s no reason to ‘hate atheists’. Hate on r/atheism and their lack of moderation, or on bigoted sexist idiots, but atheism is blameless here. Be mature.

        1. Just that it seems pretty stupid to imagine that a bunch of self-described atheists are going to start hating atheISM because of the comments of a group of atheISTS.

          As the headline says, it’s atheISTS that are the problem, not atheISM. AtheISTS who are being hated, not atheISM.

          Your lecture is redundant.

  64. Billy Clyde Tuggle: Yes, actually, it is illegal to threaten to rape a 15 year old girl. It’s just not typically taken seriously because “it’s normal/they were only joking/it’s only words/thoughtcrime bullshit rationales/etc.” It becomes evidence usually in retrospect, as proof of premeditation, though federal and state-level cyberbullying initiatives have started to change how seriously it can be taken.

    We don’t do a very good job, here in the US, of taking sexual harassment and threats seriously and consistently, especially when they expose the power dynamics between traditionally oppressed groups and the people who maintain authority in the culture. It’s a rather profound cultural failing.

  65. petedarwin: Actually, there’ve been a number of posts here and elsewhere which discuss the problems with the movement of atheism and the authors who inform that movement. This post is focused on reddit and atheism; this does not mean that there are no critiques to be made of the movement/philosophy itself.

    1. I agree with you that the movement/philosophy isn’t above criticism and needs it in many cases. I just think in this case it’s a little callous to be blaming atheism for the comments of these people, when in reality it played no part in motivating said comments. But yes, clearly the fact that people upvoted this stuff, as well as the blatant absence of decent moderation is an issue that needs to be addressed in r/atheism.

  66. There’s a bunch of destined-to-die-alone wankers. Without falling into some “no true Scotsman” fallacy, if I were writing a creed for atheists, somewhere near the top of the list would be “making up for 3000 years of church sponsored misogyny, all people to be treated equally regardless of race/gender/sexuality”, and I don’t think I’d get many objections from folks who understand the world.

    Good thing that it’s titled “atheism” not “secular humanism”, at least there is still a label we can use an not be associated with these imbeciles.

  67. Embarrassing. I generally think it’s okay to joke about anything and I really HATE the joke police. But there’s a time and a place. A girl is trying to get her voice heard in an atheist community = anal rape jokes? No. It’s rude, it’s off topic and it’s just plain creepy.

    If you think “now YOU’RE being the joke police”, well okay: joke police sentence you to 8 years in prison for being really really boring. If you’re going to scare young girls away from the atheist community, at LEAST be funny. Would be nice to at least get a “haha!” out of a loss like that.

  68. this whole thing brings up two thoughts for me:
    first, there are so many of these perverts on reddit that chances are some of them *aren’t* going to ‘die alone’ and actually have family, possibly even female children; second, a pit of vileness this profound makes the guy who’s merely paternalistic, ignorant of his privilege, and mildly misogynistic think that he’s not only one of the ‘good guys,’ but is practically a feminist by comparison. It lowers the level of discourse everywhere, not just on reddit, when these ‘not as bad as them’ guys go around spewing unenlightened nonsense and then wondering why the wimminz are getting so upset over the course of 20 posts.

    1. Like a lot of the internet it’s a place where they kiss each other’s asses and the usual negative feedback they would get is nearly absent. Just like with politicians this leads to an “I can get away with anything” mindset, or for those already in it “there’s nothing wrong with me doing this.”

      Of course these people don’t know better. These environments take away most of the tools for teaching them not to do things like this. It’s only fairly recently that society has replaced the missing tools out in public spaces so people in general are behind (what ought to be) the curve.

  69. Has anyone noticed that reddit is less sexist during mornings and afternoons on EST, when most everyone in the US is at work and Europe is getting off of work, and more sexist in the evenings and nights, when the US gets off of work and Europe is going to sleep?

  70. Whether this putrid rot is spreading among atheists or football fans, it is always out of place.
    Rape jokes? Really?
    And though one’s outrage ought not be any less potent if the target has passed the age of majority, there is something especially foul about these boors firing their fusillade at a fifteen-year-old.
    Thirty seven years ago I was a seventeen-year-old boy working at a supermarket. One Saturday afternoon, as I shared our dingy break room with a bunch of butchers, a sixteen-year-old female co-worker walked in to grab a soda.
    She was barely a few paces in before this group of lecherous, middle-aged men started hurling lewd innuendo about her body, in general, and explicit offers of a free “breast exam”, in particular.
    All I did was sit there, squirming, while she hurriedly made her retreat. And to this day, every time I think about that occasion, I feel deeply ashamed for keeping silent and, thereby, lazily giving tacit approval.
    All the remarks you’ve highlighted make me deeply angry and sick inside.

  71. This is exactly why I don’t use reddit. I tend too lose all hope for humanity when I read shit like that.

  72. I don’t know where you’ve been, petedarwin, but on this and several dozen other blogs we’ve been sort of having a lengthy and detailed conversation.

    Basically, it centres around a single question: is it reasonable for atheist women to demand that atheist men treat them at least as well as those same atheist men expect to be treated by the wider world?

    So this time it is specifically about behaviour among atheists and their close allies.

    If you think there might be merit in the question, you have some reading up to do. If you’re waiting for the rest of society to improve first just remember that we already tried that. It didn’t work!

    1. Applying some of that math I took up from college biology courses our population can probably still be fairly effective with a fairly large percentage of freeloaders who just wait for us to do all the work.

      There’s a bit of a danger when they make arguments for just waiting though- if they actually convince a lot of people that the waiting method is effective and preferable then we could be overloaded with it and have our voice dwindle down to a small enough minority that…
      Well with biology the species would die out or at least have to pass through a bottleneck. Luckily with ideas people can realize something doesn’t work and then drop it almost in unison to produce a surge that would get us back to about where we are now.

      It would still be a shame to lose that many years. Why wait for decency when we can fight for it today?

    1. Ha ha, yes, I do have severe selection bias! I only selected the top-rated comments on one of the top-rated threads on the subreddit. I selected an actual, documented case of Redditors chasing a 15-year old girl out of the atheist community using sexual come-ons.


      1. And you ignored all the replies that told the offenders off, which outnumbered the offensive comments themselves. You had a point to make, which you ultimately diluted by simply ignoring the fact that a very large number of people on the very reddit you criticize came to the defense of the girl and chastised the idiots. Also in the top rated comments.

        I do think that sometimes you have a hair-trigger and need to take a more balanced view of things. There’s a lot of teenagers on reddit, and the vast majority of teens are immature idiots (which kinda makes sense, considering they are *teens*).

        So maybe it’s reddit, and not atheists you have a problem with?

        1. Sweeping generalizations is sweeping.

          When making such claims one would assume they would least cite numbers and studies to back that up. So have you asked each person making the offending comments in r/atheism threads that they are infact just “teenagers?” If not, what evidence do you have to back your assertion up?

          Furthermore where do you get off in dissing teens are mostly “imature”? Yes, in my personal experience I’ve met and seen a lot of teen that are “immature idiots”. I have also met and seen equally a number adults that are “immature idiots”. (Fox News has proven for example there is vast number of the latter with well paying jobs.) So you really can’t make that claim of “vast majority of teens are immature idiots”, and blame it all on teens, can you?

          Finally…does that excuse their behavior and the things that Rebecca has highlighted? If these so called “immature teens” where to knock over a variety store, would you sit there and shrug, it’s “teens being teens” instead of calling the proper authorities? No, most would call them on it. This is what we’re doing here.

    2. Wait, aren’t you the asshole who tried to slut-shame Julia Galef on PZ Meyer’s blog today (

      Right. Of COURSE you’d be on here defending reddit by lecturing a woman about her totally imbalanced irrational behavior because, you know, she totes cannot control her emotions! Gosh, Rebecca, how DARE you get angry at rape jokes aimed at a 15-year-old girl on reddit! Where is your BALANCED view? There are GOOD PEOPLE ON REDDIT! No need for anger!

      Glad we cleared that up. *eyeroll*

  73. Actually somethingawful is not nearly as shitty if you stay out of FYAD, and sometimes GBS. There is a huge thread about reddit in the Debate and Discussion forum there. I would link to the thread, but SA is blocked at work.

    At least on SA people get banned or probated for doing that kind of thing. That and the amateur astronomy thread going on is really awesome.

  74. Hello, I am the Managing Editor on The Redditor Magazine, and I have no idea how to contact you or send you an email so I will leave this comment.

    You’re going to receive a lot of hate for this blog post, Redditor’s don’t like being called out for their bullshit. They are all just trying to make each other laugh and yes, sometimes at other peoples expense. As a long time Redditor, we have created something for people that have grown tired of meme’s, shallow comments, and novelty accounts.

    Not all of Reddit is bad, and I know what you’re saying, you’re pointing out a specific part you don’t agree with. We try to filter out a lot of the stuff. You should check out our project over at our subreddit r/theredditor and you’ll see Reddit in a whole new light.

    Or don’t, I really don’t care. I just came here to say, it’s a good community but some shit gets really annoying to deal with and you’re pointing some of it out, now you will see a shitstorm commence. I unsubscribed from r/atheism long ago because it was like dealing with your super christian aunt at christmas. I respect peoples religious views, I just don’t like to push mine or have others push theirs onto me, to each their own.

    Anyway, feel free to check out the better side of reddit users and the community at r/theredditor, it’s a free pdf we do for fun. Or don’t and delete this comment.

    If you want to have a correspondence, feel free to email us at [email protected], or not. I just felt compelled to leave a comment and opinion, normally something I would not do. Have a good day.

    1. Shorter reddit editor: “I really don’t care (rape threats against a 15 year old girl, WHATEVS), but here’s a veiled threat about all the hate you’re going to get from redditors, and can I please have your email?”


      1. Way to twist my words, I wish I could delete my comment.

        What I’m trying to say is Reddit = Good, People = Bad

        You cannot blame Reddit for your problems. I just wanted to message the poster of this blog to let them know that Reddit is not all that bad, a lot of good has come from this site. But I don’t want to argue at all. Whatever.

        This is why we can’t have nice things. Please delete my original comment, since I cannot.

        1. I blame the people who post on Reddit for Reddit’s problems. Since you are one of those people, you share in the responsibility. But apparently you are more interested in telling us something that only an idiot could be unaware of: there are a few non-rapey douchebag posters who use Reddit. No shit, Sherlock.

          You’re still disgusting, and your requests to delete your comment show that you’re aware of that.

        2. ” I just wanted to message the poster of this blog to let them know that Reddit is not all that bad, a lot of good has come from this site.”

          OH, sod off. This has been told to us already quite a few times, int his comment section, and we have, several times, pointed out why that is NOT AT ALL HELPFUL. Yet people keep coming here to say it.

          You are completely brushing off our complaints, and essentially claiming that they aren’t important because “not everyone is like that!”

          NO SHIT, SHERLOCK. But we aren’t focussing on the very few who “aren’t like that”; and you are derailing our discussion.

          If you don’t have anything new to add, just go away.

        3. Yes, of course the problem is not at reddit, they are all great people over there.

          No, the problem is that people keep pointing out the problems. How dare they.

          Please thicken your skin. What is being discussed here is not an overarching attack on everything that is reddit, it is pointing out a problem that exists in a little corner of reddit, one that we would hope would be better than that, not total damnation.

          If someone is to point out the lack of rear seat legroom in a Camaro it is not the same as saying GM makes nothing but crap. See the difference? Bathwater pointed out, baby intact? Your extreme defensiveness is unnecessary.

          Oh, and thanks for the head up on the “shitstorm” that is coming, Rebecca would have never have seen it coming without a warning.

          Are all the redditors this dense or are you special?

    2. “I have no idea how to contact you or send you an email”

      Uh, that would be the big giant hot-linked word “CONTACT” right up there under the logo, genius.

      As for the rest of your post, it sounds an awful lot like you’re looking for cookies (

      “You cannot blame Reddit for your problems.” Who in the hell blamed reddit for their problems? Learn to read.

  75. Rebecca, I’m grateful there are people like yourself that are calling attention to this sort of stuff, even while likely knowing what kind of trolling would happen in response.

    Aggressive moderation would certainly make Reddit a nicer place, but calling attention to the drek that some think is okay, and making it clear it’s not, that’s probably the only way it’s going to change.

  76. It’s disheartening to see the shear *number* of assholes out there. Like Rebecca points out, it’s not just the commenters, it’s the hundreds of people voting them up too.

    I don’t think it’s especially a problem of the atheist community though. It’s the Internet in general and the anonymity it affords. Just look at YouTube, etc.

    But it *is* the responsibility of each community that wants to be a safe and welcoming place for new members to create places that are in fact safe and welcoming. That’s never going to work on sites like Reddit, with its high level of anonymity, weak reputation system and dysfunctional moderator community.

    Trying to educate people and raise awareness can only go so far. Some people are incorrigible, and there is no way to keep them out.

    The sad fact is that to keep the assholes out requires pretty intense moderation, perhaps based on a stronger reputation based system such as slash. Preventing incidents like this will require a concerted effort to create a well known and strongly moderated forum where new members of any age, sex, race, (former) religion, etc. can feel safe and welcome.

    1. Particularly with atheism you would think things would be better. We reject a solid majority of the reasons that others use to treat women as inferior and all of the intellectual angles leads people into atheism would be enough to lead them into feminism as well…

      If they cared. Instead the atheist community is generally very resistant to giving women decent treatment, and it stands out that much more when we’re the ones that are supposed to be better than that.

  77. Oh fake reddit editor…fishing for Rebecca’s email are we? The mix of trying to sound adult enough to be an editor with getting defensive about redditors (you?) who think rape jokes are just about the lulz is quite entertaining.

  78. I saw that post. Checked out what she got and thought, ‘Cool! Lucky her.’ I then carried on browsing and never read any of the comments associated with that post. The comments make me sad. :(

  79. I know! Gosh how i hate this. Wtf people im so sick of freedom of speech thing used at a pass for any kind of shit. r/atheism is the biggest circlejerk of all and its disturbing to see how people are. All i can think of writing is a big fuck you.

  80. I remember my Mom warning me when I first got into online discussion forums that people acted differently. There were some wonderful people, yes, but others took the anonymity and ran with it.

    She was right.

    People love the idea that they’ve found a place where they can say and do whatever they want. Online you can tell a pretty woman or a handsome man that you’re sexually attracted to them and you’ll never get shot down. You’re faceless. You’re meaningless. That gives your comments worth and meaning. You get to be the bold, fearless socialite you’ve always dreamed of being.

    But then someone else pushes the envelope. It’s probably an IRL sociopath, sitting in front of his computer watching degrading pornography of gang-bangs and cum-shot girls while his little daughter drinks out of the bathroom sink because she’s too disgusted to go past the father and the family computer to get a glass from the kitchen (hey-o).

    And as soon as your rickrolling carefree computer persona sees that, something changes. The internet goes from a swingin’ dinner party where all everyone is beautiful and no one gets hurt to, well, high school. Suddenly you’re saying what you think other people want to hear. Suddenly you’re saying what the sociopath said.

    I’m not surprised someone told that fifteen year old girl that he would rape her until she bled. It’s why I didn’t click on that post. I upvoted her, and walked away. And now I’m ashamed. I owe her an apology. I didn’t want to see the sociopaths. I was selfish. Because of it, a young mind got ignored while her idea of her own body was violated again and again.

    I’m ashamed of myself.

    I hope we didn’t kill the scientist in her. For all we did as a community, we may as well have chopped of her clitoris, wrapped her from head to toe, and quoted 1 Timothy 2:12 at her.

  81. Well, this is an unfortunate event, but I think it is safe to say that most of the people commenting here don’t understand what it means to post a picture of yourself on the front page of a website that gets over a million hits a day. This was not just posted in r/atheism – r/atheism is a default subreddit – meaning, it’s contents can reach the front page of reddit much easier than posts in non-default subreddits. With that in mind, the people that see the posts on r/atheism the majority of the time are not even atheists, they are just a random cross section of the people that access reddit as a whole. This, unfortunately, includes all sorts of assholes, as well as many very intellectual and thoughtful people. It’s like a cross section of humanity.

    Now lets break down the post a little… We have a young attractive girl posting something about a book that has to do with atheism. What percentage of that 1 million hits do you think cares about atheism? What percentage do you think cares about books? Ok, now what percentage just sees a pretty girl and doesn’t care about what she’s holding? I’d say that is the lion’s share by a LONG shot. Now what does a cross section of the final category look like, in terms of motives for replying to her post… hmmm.

    It’s not hard to figure out how this all came about. It is unfortunate, but it’s just the way things are. You can’t get a cross section of humanity, totalling ~1 million people and expect that they are all saints. This is just life on the Internet.

    To blame it on r/atheism is just misguided.

    1. Blahblah, No True Scotsman, blah blah bitch was asking for it.

      Fuck off and get new material, you apologist shitsmear.

        1. If you define “narrowminded” as “regarding rape threats against a 15-year-old girl as simply beyond the pale and a cause for alarm no matter how many page hits Reddit gets” then yes.

          1. I wasn’t even discussing that. You just ignored everything in my post and resorted to name calling. I’m done with you.

          2. Exactly. You weren’t discussing rape threats against a 15-year-old girl, because you were too busy making excuses for Reddit’s culture by pointing to the fact that the larger culture is also massively sexist, as if that weren’t a problem.

            You’re a sexist asshole yourself, and being done with me is a smart call, unless you enjoy having your sexism called out.

        2. Yes, I’m very narrow-minded for having no time or patience for yet another douchebag reheating the same bullshit about how reddit’s sterling reputation trumps any and all evidence, and that threatening to rape a 15 year old gets you of the good person list.

          1. What I have gotten from this site so far: sexist women, twisting the words of anyone that posts a counterargument, no matter how rational or civil, for their own bizarre feminist circlejerk

    2. Shorter deadcom: “A large percentage of people posting on Reddit are virulent misogynists who make rape jokes and rape threats against 15-year-old girls… and that’s to be expected! There’s no problem here!”

      1. No, a large percentage of people willing to reply to a picture of an attractive female on the front page of one of the most popular sites on the Internet are virulent misogynists. That’s all I am saying. The rest just move on to the next picture of a kitten or whatever.

        Anyway, it’s useless arguing on this site, there is no hope.

        1. What exactly is it that you think you’re arguing? That Reddit is about as misogynist as our culture in general? Wow. Us silly ladies with our fuzzy pink ladybrains would have never had that startling insight without you to point it out. Stop mansplaining, and stop making excuses for misogyny. I’m just out of patience for it today.

        2. Hope of what? That we understand the world is full of misogyny?

          We’re feminists… We’re why you know it’s a problem in the first place.

          You find it tolerable. And hope to make us also find it tolerable? Is that the hope..?

    3. Why don’t you actually READ some of the comments. They are CLEARLY from atheists (rape punning on Sagan, etc). And to those who are saying that most happened BEFORE they found out that she was 15. Yeah… no. Even if you don’t read the reddit thread, at least read what Rebecca mined from that, with examples of people making rape comments KNOWING she was a 15 year old girl. Way to stick your heads in the fucking sand.

    4. “I think it is safe to say that most of the people commenting here don’t understand what it means to post a picture of yourself on the front page of a website that gets over a million hits a day.”

      I think we’re all quite clear that this means, if you’re female, that you’re going to get sexually harassed and threatened with rape. Even if you’re only 15 years old.

      The real question is why you are more interested in defending Reddit’s reputation than you are in changing this state of affairs.

    5. The problem isn’t that there are shitheads posting rape jokes- it’s the overwhelming support they receive for doing it.

      Well the flood of rape jokes is a problem too but I think we’re more willing to tolerate that one.

  82. The pervasiveness of this type of behavior makes me wonder if the majority of heterosexual men are dickheads. People are often quick to point out that “not all men are like that” and “there are lots of good guys out there,” but our internet culture, our culture in general, and my personal experience leads me to believe that most heterosexual men think about sex almost non-stop and view women primarily as sexual objects.

    1. Eh. My impression is that a sizable minority are sexist assholes who can’t see women as anything but sexual object, and the majority are indifferent because it doesn’t affect them.

      Which is why I say that indifference is just as serious an offense as hate, since the outcome is pretty much identical.

      1. A sizable proportion of men are actual sex offenders. In the late 80s, a national U.S. sample of college men reported that 25% had been involved in some form of sexual aggression; 7.7% had engaged in acts meeting the legal definition of rape (Koss et al., 1987). A more recent study found that 58% of men admitted to some form of sexual assault, ranging from forced sexual contact to completed rape, with 14% reporting completed rape (Zawacki, Abbey, Buck, McAuslan, & Clinton-Sherrod, 2003).*

        Less deviant “sexist asshole” types – the sorts who might refer to a woman as a “piece of ass” or perpetuate damaging sexist stereotypes are certainly well represented too. It’s anybody’s guess as to what percentage of the male population is comprised of assholes, but my hunch is more than half.

        *these citations are taken from the article found

  83. Yes, horrid comments.
    Title perhaps should be reddit makes me hate americans.
    I’m assuming the users are mostly North Americans… I’ve never heard of it; but inserting the hatred of any other group of people will do to illustrate the point I wish to make.

    Those users of reddit are idiots.

    “I hope we didn’t kill the scientist in her. For all we did as a community, we may as well have chopped of her clitoris, wrapped her from head to toe, and quoted 1 Timothy 2:12 at her.”
    …however, is also not the response of a sane individual.

    In summary: you’re all idiots. I will no longer call myself an atheist lest I be associated with any of you. (or them). (you/them=all)

    1. It would actually help to READ THE POST rather than just basing your entire opinion on one little title that is clearly hyperbolic in an attempt to show frustration.

      You know what is fucking frustrating? Whenever women talk about this kind of obvious and blatant sexism and misogyny, it is ignored. Instead, people get defensive that their precious reddit is being criticized. Or they try to shut us up by telling us to just “ignore” it. Or they try to shut us up by telling us that “not everyone is like that!” or “that’s normal! it happens! what’s the big deal!”

      Instead of focussing on the actual problem, you focus on anything and everything else.

      You are part of the problem.

      1. Ooh, I just noticed… was that a reply to me? I’m part of the problem?
        What ridiculous grandstanding.
        I’m merely pointing out that generalising a group of people that have nothing in common apart from the lack of religion is absurd. This illustrates the problem with trying to turn a lack of religion into a religious designation and assign behaviours to and rules of comportment to “atheists”.
        Again: I don’t read reddit, and why would I want to. Those comments are disgustingly puerile and immature.
        But don’t put me in your little pigeon-holes (atheists should [enter behaviour here])

        1. “But don’t put me in your little pigeon-holes (atheists should [enter behaviour here])”

          Oh, I see! So you don’t want to be pigeon-holed into “atheists should act like decent human beings and not sexualize women, particularly minors, and throw rape jokes at them.” Nor do you want to be pigeonholed into, “Atheists should speak out against the sexism that is rampant in our culture, both online and off. Atheists should also stop telling women what we already know (that this stuff exists, and that not everyone is like this, and blah blah blah.”

          I see.

  84. Hey folks–apparently a lot of Redditors think that we’re unaware that not every single last person who posts on Reddit is a rapey misogynist asshole. They would like to inform us that such assholes exist in meatspace as well and sometimes don’t even read Reddit at all!

    I don’t know about you all, but I was utterly astounded by this news and all of its startling implications!

    1. I’m as shocked as you are, Sally! I dropped my monocle into my tea when I learned it! Thank goodness there are so many men here to teach us these things about sexism over and over and over! I mean, pink ‘n’ fuzzy ladybrains record nothing of actual experience in these matters.

    2. And they also exist in other reddit threads! So probably aren’t atheist at all! Nope, no misogyny problems in the atheist community at all! So we can go back to talking about shoes!!

      1. Atheists only hang out in atheist-themed places. DUH! If they appear anywhere else, they’re not really atheists.

        And it’s not like cleaning up the mess in one’s own house is a good idea or anything. just complain that other people have a mess too, and the shit on the floor vanishes!

  85. I don’t want to make this into a victim blaming thing, but going to Reddit and complaining that you’ve encountered a lot of stupid, uneducated, racist, misogynistic brain-donors is a little bit like jumping in the sea and complaining about all the water. It’s the online equivalent of going to a Tea Party rally – You know it’s happening, you know it’s going to piss you off – So you don’t go there.

    1. “I don’t want to make this into a victim blaming thing, but…”


      “I’m not racist, BUT…”
      “I’m not homophobic, BUT…”
      “I don’t hate women, BUT…”

      Yeah, you just put yourself in THAT club. Congratulations.

          1. Personally, I do not read it that way, but I can see how you might read it that way. In that particular instance, she probably could have gotten the point across without using a name. On the other hand, I think it is important to call people out on stuff like that. It’s a really weak attempt at an example of Rebecca doing this.

            Regardless, it doesn’t matter WHO is doing it. As sallystrange said, two wrongs do not make a right. And, really, your posting this is only an attempt to discredit Rebecca and has no bearing on my argument that this person is victim blaming even though they are claiming not to.

    2. I don’t want to make this into a victim blaming thing, but [insert victim-blaming statement].

      It’s amazing to me that people are still unaware that this formulation, “I’m not doing X, condoning Y, or excusing Z, but X, Y, and Z” will always end badly.

      If you have to make a disclaimer, then perhaps you should stop and modify your statement so that the disclaimer is no longer necessary.

          1. Look, I agree with the thrust of the post, but I thought, this being an ostensibly “skeptic” site that pointing out inconsistency, incoherency and bias might be encouraged.
            Perhaps I am wrong about that?


          This is about atheists and men in general being sexist pigs. This has nothing to do with Rebecca.

          But, apparently, people are more concerned with people speaking out against their precious Reddit than they are about 15 year old girls being told how they should be raped until they bleed.


    3. Custador, I can see the point of your suggestion to avoid places like Reddit if they can be awful. Although I can appreciate your suggestion to women to protect themselves from such places, I think it is valid to explore why women want to change the environment of places such as Reddit so that they can participate there.

      Women deal with misogynist, stupid, sexist people all the time, every day. We can only isolate ourselves from such terrible behavior so much, before it seriously puts such a crimp in our style that we can’t live our lives in the way that we want to.

      I can see why a person would want to use Reddit. It appears that it can and at times is, a great social networking tool. It can be hard to connect to other Atheists. Personally, I live in the Midwest and during the whole of my life I have made one friend that believes as I do. So for a person to want to use a social networking site such as Reddit; it is a simple solution to the problem of connecting with other Atheists.

      Here is the problem with using social sites such as Reddit, as you have pointed out, the site seems to have some people that can say and do ugly things. Truth told, that is the way real life is and this behavior happens all the time on and offline. Maybe it is worth braving these waters to connect with other people that believe as I do. I don’t think the problem is a young woman using the site, but the people that were treating her so badly.

      I think most people understand there are people on Reddit that say and do some pretty shitty things. I will continue to be utterly outraged by bad behavior and support people who fight against it. I believe in them and think it is a fight worth having. The threat of bad behavior is not going to keep me from exploring my world and living my life. I hope that young woman finds the community that she is looking for. I think that it is awesome that Rebecca draws light to issues and situations by using her blog. It makes a great place to have these discussions.

  86. It’s one website. One single site. Populated largely by hormonal 14 year old boys (and yes, a few grown men, sadly) who still think it’s clever to be as offensive as possible. But you know they’re there – So surely you either have to accept their bullshit as an unfortunate side-effect of the site or simply choose not to go there? Yes, their attitudes suck and they’re a bunch of idiots, but since you have no moral or ethical right to censor them just because they’re offensive idiots, deal with it! Either ignore them or don’t go there.

      1. @ BeardofPants: What gives YOU the right to change it? That’s up to the site owners, not you. The only way you have a right to incentivise them to do that is to deny them your business.

        1. So, people only have the right to deny a business their money. Boycotting, public campaigns to expose wrongdoing–those are beyond the pale for you. Why is that exactly?

          You are sounding more and more like a cognitively challenged sexist who is reacting emotionally because his privilege is being threatened.

          1. And you sound very much like you take great delight in knee-jerk reacting by calling people sexist when they disagree with you. I disagree with you on this issue. That does not make me sexist.

          2. You disagree with me… that it’s worth trying to change the culture at a website so that it’s no longer par for the course for grown men to make rape threats against young girls.

            Actually, that DOES make you sexist. Not because you disagree with me, but because of the content of this particular disagreement.

          3. That’s a lovely straw-man you just burned, but you’re still not arguing against my actual position or what I actually said. I think I’ve made it clear enough that I don’t regard the crap posted on Reddit as acceptable – I’ve just disagreed with you on how to go about changing it, not that it should be changed.

            You don’t seem to be reading what I’m saying, you seem to be reading what you expect me to say.

          4. Custador is an accomodationist when it comes to religion. Funny how he has no problem being confrontation with feminists.

          5. Please explain this, Custador:

            “What gives YOU the right to change it? That’s up to the site owners, not you. The only way you have a right to incentivise them to do that is to deny them your business.”

            Why on earth would you say that we have no right to incentivize Reddit to change their commenting policy, except by avoiding Reddit? That makes no sense. Why is it out of bounds to publicly criticize them? What is the fucking problem?

        2. Hats off to you, custador. I’m an Internet Libertarian, and yet, this is one of the stupidest, most context-ignoring, self-strawing “Vote with your DOLLARS!” arguments I have EVER heard. I mean that, and really am kind of impressed.

          1. Ideology turns functioning grey matter to poop on a fairly regular basis. I am surprised by your surprise.

          2. eamc – Oh! I’m not surprised, I just meant I hear this particular strain of stupid argument all the time, as a libertarian from the land of the “Power of the Dollar,” and it’s usually not THIS stupidly put. Not surprise, just kind of impressed at the purity of this stupid example XD

    1. So, basically, we’re supposed to just “ignore” and “accept” sexism and misogyny. That’s what you’re saying, isn’t it? It happens, so we should just ignore it.

      You and people like you are part of the problem.

      Maybe if more people spoke up about this type of crap, it would help. But nope, instead, people and people like you just ignore it. You are part of the problem.

      1. I love how you all engage so calmly and persuasively with disagreement rather than getting all aggressive and shouty at the newcomer… Go ahead and call me passive-aggressive, compete the hypocrisy trifecta.

        1. Where is this shouting? You think people are shouting at you, just because they think you are wrong?

          You do seem very much like part of the problem. If you spent more time telling men who make rape threats to knock it off as you did telling me and others like me to just ignore it, you wouldn’t be part of the problem. I doubt that’s the case, however. I conclude, rationally, that you are part of the problem. If you think I’m wrong then present evidence, rather than whining about some non-existent shouting and trying to pretend as if YOU are the one who’s now being victimized.

        2. Do you think any of what you said is new and brilliant? Do you think we haven’t been told this crap over and over again? We’re tired of it.


          -Not all of Reddit is like this. We know that. We are not focusing on that. Please don’t derail the discussion by saying something stupid like, “But, but not everyone is like that!”

          -Don’t say we “asked” for it by daring to be women and going online, or daring to be women going to reddit. Really, people? That’s victim-blaming, full stop. We didn’t ask for anything. We do not deserve to be treated like subhumans just because we are women.

          -Yes, we are aware that places like reddit are full of misogynist assholes. Part of our point is that we want to change that. Ignoring the problem will not change it. Stop suggesting that we just ignore the problem and/or go somewhere else.

          -Yes, we are aware that this kind of crap exists elsewhere, but that’s not what we are talking about here. Stop derailing the conversation.

          Am I missing anything?

          Seriously, you are not the first dude to come here and say this crap. We’re tired of it. Say something new, at least.

        3. And you think that was yelling? Because I bolded something? Wow. Gaslighting, indeed.

          You keep saying the same shit that we’ve heard over and over again. Get some new material.

    2. Pay closer attention please. Many of the rape comments identified themselves as old men. I think one specifically said he was in his fifties though there were plenty that sounded like there were in that range.

  87. @ Will and SallyStrange: WordPress isn’t allowing me to nest replies properly, sorry. However:

    I most certainly DIDN’T [insert victim-blaming statement], so to be frank the accusation from you that I did is just silly. Rebecca chooses to expose herself to that environment – It is what it is – so she isn’t a “victim” in that sense. I accept that I shouldn’t have used the word in the first instance.

    Honestly, why expose yourself to a torrent of sexism when you don’t have to?

    And what’s the alternative? Censorship?! Hells no!

    Vote with your virtual dollars: Marginalize those parts of the internet where people act like that by not using them. They’re businesses! No users, no business. Can you think of a better way to incentivise websites to police who they give a platform to?

    1. First of all, you need to explain how moderating out rape threats counts as censorship.

      Second of all, this IS an example of incentivizing websites and other content providers to stop providing a platform for virulent misogyny. I don’t see how ignoring it, rather than kicking up an embarrassing ruckus, is going to convince anybody to not let rape assholes dominate their forums.

    2. Your attempted explanation of how you did not victim blame was….blaming victims.

      I don’t think Rebecca has ever said she was a victim of reddit. The main victim here was a 15-year-old girl who was subjected to threats of rape and violence. Though this type of sexism and misogyny harms *many* people.

      Oh, that’s right. It’s HER FAULT for having the audacity to visit a website. It’s not the fault of the misogynistic assholes–she just shouldn’t have posted on a popular atheist forum if she didn’t want to be harassed!

      Yes, you are fucking victim blaming.

      1. Will, I’m sorry, but you’re behaving like an angry, reactionary idiot. We’re not talking about the 15 year old girl, we’re talking about Rebecca. Twisting my words and swearing at me isn’t helping.

        1. O RLY? Because I thought “we” as in Rebecca Watson and all the commenters, were talking about a 15 year old girl.

          Should SHE have known better too?

          1. Apparently, he didn’t even bother to read the post in question. Nice. He just had to waltz in and mansplain how we should just ignore disgusting displays of misogyny. We should just ignore grown men telling a 15 year old girl that they want to rape her until she bleeds. Yet, somehow, it’s all about Rebecca?

            And he’s calling us idiots. Hah!

          2. For some reason I can’t respond to marilove… I hope you don’t mind that I respond here.

            I hope others besides me see the hypocrisy in criticizing others for ignoring “disgusting displays of misogyny” while using the term “mansplaining” which is an undeniably bigoted and misandrist term.

          3. Charles Darwin on a cheese cracker!

            Haven’t we dispatched with this idiocy yet?

            Mansplaining is no more misandrist then mothering is misogynist. Both describe a behavior that can be ascribed to members of either sex but are seen to be the purview of one particular sex, right or wrong.

            What is so maddening about mansplaining is not the further explanation part but the condescension that come with it.

            It is not a perfect term but it is easier than typing “condescending over-explanation” every time.

        2. “We’re not talking about the 15 year old girl, we’re talking about Rebecca. ”



          Did you even read the post?

          This is not about Rebecca. THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH REBECCA. This has to do with a 15-year-old girl that was told by adult men that they wanted to rape her until she bled.

          You really didn’t read the actual post in question, did you? You just have some sort of agenda against Rebecca.

        3. You’re god damn right I’m angry. See my multiple posts above about how ANGER IS NOT THE ISSUE. And, further, using people’s anger against them is a silencing tactic. So stop talking about people’s emotions and start talking about their arguments–which is exactly what I’ve done to you when I pointed out that you are victim blaming.

          I’m fucking sick of people trying to explain this shit away–and that’s *exactly* what you’re doing. You’re saying to ignore it or that people should EXPECT to be treated that way in certain places. Unacceptable.


          You blame victims and make excuses. Your warped view of “freedom of speech” and “censorship” is what’s “not helping.”

        4. I’d recommend you step out of this. You don’t particularly want to admit any problems in society nor address them so what reason do you have to be here?

  88. custador, you are mistaken. What we are saying and have been saying for many years is that this is the experience of women in public. Walking down the street in real life, the interwebs, wherever. That is the point.
    You seem to be saying that the behavior should be expected if you go here or there.
    What we are trying to get you to see is that it is expected because it happens wherever we go. You can tell the child expected it by her comment that she was bracing herself.

    That is the point.
    That is also why you saying that it should be expected sounds just plain ignorant.
    Some places are worse than others, true. But it is only a matter of degree. You can either blow it off or take the point that is being made.
    For further edification you might check out the hollaback sites.

  89. So if reddit is, by and large, full of flaming idiots, (something i’ve found to be true), why go there? At all?

    There are other sites, other places, where you can go and get the things you want from forums, without the crap you hate. Go there. When people refer you to something reddit, tell them “I don’t read that site, I think it’s a swamp of crap, and I’m not giving them eyeballs. Have you a link to the non-reddit version?” People may not agree with your opinion, as some will do, but most people who know you (the generic “you” not “specific person you”) will most likely give you a different link and you can then see what they wanted you to see.

    It’s really simple, and quite effective. If you want to tell reddit why you’re not going to read their site anymore, and why you’ll recommend to your friends they don’t, that’s probably not a bad idea. But if you keep going back, what, exactly, happens?

    Places like reddit survive by traffic. They’ve little other content. As long as you provide traffic, or link to them at all, they’ve gotten what they need from you. If there’s no penalty for being a douche collective, why stop? Maybe that’s what they want to be, and that’s their choice, but if it pisses you off, stop going to that site. Find somewhere else to go that is more inviting, friendly, what have you, and give THAT site your eyeballs and your traffic and whatnot.

    I have a lot of pity for anyone trying to run forums. It is insanely hard to balance open, free speech and keeping the dipshit level down. I watch my son try to do it on some RPG forums he helps run. He hates using the banhammer, but he’s realizing it’s about the only weapon he has to keep the suck out.

    It’s why I’m glad when a site known for forums has other content, so if the forums suck, I can avoid them. I read Ars Technica, because it has awesome content. The forums can all be left paralyzed on a hillside for wolves, but because of how Ars built their site, I never have to read them.. At all. Which means I get to read the great content, and ignore the forums. If that wasn’t the case, then I’d lump them in with slashdot, reddit, et al, and not read the site.

    The one article I wrote for Ars? Still ignored the forums. When the guy from Ars who edited the article asked if i was going to “get in there and mix it up”, I said “No. That’s not mixing it up. That’s just getting into a fight where everyone loses. Except the assholes, and while I can indeed be an asshole, I try to not be THOSE kinds of assholes. So thank you, but no.”

    Some friends of mine told me I was getting torn up in there. My response? “Of course I am. I wrote an article and posted it on the internet. The idea I’m not getting called six kinds of flaming salad-tossing moron is impossible. Had I said “I like cheese”, the reaction would be the same, because people suck. However, that doesn’t mean I have to validate the suck. If someone actually wants to email me about the article, i’m easy to find, by all means, please do, I like discussion. Those forums aren’t discussion, they’re just diarrhetic monkeys. I do not encourage that behavior on any level, so why would I do so just because it’s about me personally?”

    You, collectively have a great way to show reddit how you feel. But if you choose to patronize them, even though you all seem to feel quite strongly about it, then you’re part of the problem no matter how much you downvote. You’re showing reddit that letting the douchebags run rampant = profit.

    Just in case it wasn’t clear: Yes. I personally boycott reddit, the Ars forums, slashdot, and others. I recommend the same to my friends, and tell them why. It’s a boycott, plain and simple. Those can be quite effective, but you kind of have to not give them traffic for it to work in this case. Even better, create something as an alternative to r/atheism and when the monkeys try to ruin it too, show them the door. Post the rules in an easily found space, and apply them evenly and fairly. If people don’t like it, there are other places on the internet they can go.

    If reddit sucks so much, to where you feel you must apologize for reading the non-sucky parts, are they really not sucking?

      1. I’ll just copy & paste it here:


        -Not all of Reddit is like this. We know that. We are not focusing on that. Please don’t derail the discussion by saying something stupid like, “But, but not everyone is like that!”

        -Don’t say we “asked” for it by daring to be women and going online, or daring to be women going to reddit. Really, people? That’s victim-blaming, full stop. We didn’t ask for anything. We do not deserve to be treated like subhumans just because we are women.

        -Yes, we are aware that places like reddit are full of misogynist assholes. Part of our point is that we want to change that. Ignoring the problem will not change it. Stop suggesting that we just ignore the problem and/or go somewhere else.

        -Yes, we are aware that this kind of crap exists elsewhere, but that’s not what we are talking about here. Stop derailing the conversation.

        Am I missing anything?

        Seriously, you are not the first dude to come here and say this crap. We’re tired of it. Say something new, at least.”

        1. Am I missing anything?

          About everything I actually wrote. But then again, it’s the internet.

          Seriously, you are not the first dude to come here and say this crap. We’re tired of it. Say something new, at least.”

          tl;dr: boycott != ignoring.

          1. Um. You’re basically saying: “Either ignore it, or boycott it.” So yes, boycot = ignoring. Because instead of ADDRESSING THE ISSUE, you are telling us to either just accept it … or just not visit the site, even if we want to (because as others have mentioned, not all of Reddit is full of sexist dickheads, and there can be some great value to that site).

            You are not actually addressing the sexist assholes. YOu are, unsurprisingly, putting ALL of your focus on the victim.

            Do YOU stand up to those sexist assholes? Do you stand up to sexism in your day to day life? Or do you just shrug and ignore it? If you dont’ stand up to this sort of stuff, YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

    1. Major case of fucking de-ja-vu. Almost word for word. “Why go there?”

      Did you even bother to read any of the other multitude of comments already left, that say exactly what you have just said, and which we have already addressed?

      Oh, wait, we are women, so why listen to us, eh?

      1. Actually, yes. Yes I did read and repeating one option is a way of showing more than one person agrees with it. However, that’s not “ignoring” it or not listening to women. Unless by “listen” you mean “must always agree with” in which case we have a terminal terminology clash that shan’t be fixed anytime soon.

        Reddit is, as currently constructed, a morass. Of what, it doesn’t matter, pick the pejorative that works better for you. But one option when presented with such a place is to in fact, not patronize it. I dislike, intently, Chik-Fil-A’s policies towards homosexuals. So, I don’t go to Chik-Fil-A, a decision being made by many people. I also let them know why I’m no longer willing to spend money there. I like the food, but the corporate policies are not something I’m willing to put up with.

        Same thing with Reddit. The way women, or to be honest, “most people” are treated there is bullshit. So I have, as I see it, three choices:

        1) Go there, put up with it, and hope for the best. Chances of working: effectively nil.

        2) Go there, downvote and castigate people who are being jerks. Chances of working: greater than nil, but not by much, and the risk of turning into a slightly different version of what I’m fighting? Very. High.

        3) Don’t go there. Recommend to people I know they not go there. Don’t link to them. Don’t use their stupid little website buttons. Give them nothing that they would like to have from me, and generally try to starve them of their oxygen. Maybe even tell them why. Chances of working: if it’s just me, nil. The more people who do this? The effectiveness becomes much higher.

        “ignoring the problem” is option 1. Boycotting the site is actually not ignoring it. It’s taking action in the one way that will hurt reddit the most. It’s website economics 101. Here, a link to a faq on how reddit makes money:

        Reddit noticing a radical drop in eyeballs and people pointing to that post saying “THIS is why I won’t visit your site anymore” is either going to start changing how they do things, or they’re going to lost advertisers, because the ROI will go to shit, and that is your best leverage with reddit.

        You want them to change how they do things. I completely agree with that. THey should. If we disagree anywhere, it’s on technique.

          1. What if we don’t want to boycott? You keep saying, “Well, just boycott!” What if we don’t want to?

            For the record, I don’t visit Reddit because I don’t really enjoy it there, for a million different reasons (including but not just because of the blatant and disgusting sexism that is rampent there). Mostly I just have other sites I prefer to visit.

            But some women would like to be able to enjoy Reddit without being told how many ways they should expect to be raped until they bleed.

            What you’re essentially saying is that we should just ignore it, or be run off and go somewhere else. Neither are acceptable.

            You keep concentrating on the VICTIMS, rather than the misogynist assholes. This has been a running theme in this comment section. Instead of focusing on the changes that should be made to assure that women are welcome at Reddit, you just keep telling us to shut up and go away.

          2. @marilove:

            What if we don’t want to boycott? You keep saying, “Well, just boycott!” What if we don’t want to?

            Okay. I’m not saying boycotting is the ONLY answer. It is AN answer, and given how reddit stays in business, one that with the right numbers, would be a particularly EFFECTIVE answer, but it is in no way the ONLY answer. If you disagree with boycotts, friggin’ awesome. Doesn’t make you wrong. Me supporting boycotts? Doesn’t make me wrong. It’s two different approaches to solving a problem, neither of which are exclusively right/wrong, just different. Why must every other idea be wrong for an idea to be right? I disagree with the idea of going in and waging war in a baboon cage. Doesn’t mean that idea is wrong, just that not everyone agrees it’s the best solution. Same thing with boycotts. Disagreeing with a possible solution or approach is not a personal attack.

            For the record, I don’t visit Reddit because I don’t really enjoy it there, for a million different reasons (including but not just because of the blatant and disgusting sexism that is rampent there). Mostly I just have other sites I prefer to visit.

            Same here. I find that reddit has little content that would override the feces-throwing.

            But some women would like to be able to enjoy Reddit without being told how many ways they should expect to be raped until they bleed.

            Yep. No disagreement here at all.

            What you’re essentially saying is that we should just ignore it, or be run off and go somewhere else. Neither are acceptable.

            By that standard, the following were “Ignoring it” or “being run off”:

            Various boycotts leading up to the American Revolution
            The Montgomery Bus Boycott
            The various anti-apartheid boycotts of South America in the mid-to-late 20th century
            The NAACP boycott of Miami in the late 90s, which was rather effective.
            The recent fairly effective boycott of GoDaddy

            and so forth. Boycotting, while not the only effective technique to force change in a corporate entity, (which is what Reddit is), as it requires some coordination, largish numbers in the customer population, and a willingness to be put out if you regularly do business with the corporate entity. However the historical proof that a boycott is an effective way to force a change in corporate, and even government behavior is real, and therefore undeniable. Boycotting is not “ignoring the problem” nor is it “being run off”.

            You keep concentrating on