You know what I really hate? Half the population. You know the type: sometimes slightly larger than the other half of the population, often with shorter hair, fewer wombs, more penises. MEN, amiright? The worst! Let’s kill them all and institute a matriarchy-by-default, where we radical feminists can hang out, watch The View, and kiss each other with our forked tongues while scissoring. It’s going to be awesome!
Oh, what’s the matter, men and men-lovers? Feeling the need to send me angry e-mails? I suppose it’s lucky you have all that free time to do it, now that you no longer need to send hate mail to Jen McCreight, a woman who has successfully been bullied off the Internet by people telling her she’s an ugly feminazi bitch because she suggested that some atheists might find empowerment under a more specific label that would emphasize their interest in social justice issues.
Jen isn’t the first feminist to get beaten down by bullies, and she won’t be the last. In the past two weeks, I’ve heard from four people who have independently told me that they can’t handle the avalanche of hatred they get from skeptics and atheists when they publicly promote a feminist agenda. You know the agenda I’m talking about: the one where we ask the community to be more welcoming to women by not constantly propositioning them and making rape “jokes” about them.
Those friends have been silenced, and for the most part they weren’t even public about the fact that they were no longer going to be public. Jen was, but I want you to understand that she is the tip of the iceberg. For every outspoken feminist who you see step down from the spotlight, there are many more who do so quietly. There are even more who see those examples and make the decision to never step into the spotlight in the first place. The bullying of feminist skeptics and atheists creates a chilling effect not unlike that of English libel law – so many awesome voices silence themselves before they can be silenced by misogynists.
There have been many times in the past year that I’ve considered stepping down, too, and many times when friends and family have specifically asked me to step down for my own safety and mental health. I’m not entirely sure why I don’t, but I think it’s some combination of obstinance and a genuine belief that if one person can make a difference than that one person should make a difference.
A few months ago, there was a very friendly stray cat hanging around our house. I told my neighbors that if he came within grabbing distance, that I’d take him. My neighbor pounded on my door at 11pm, holding a wiggling, crying cat. She pushed him through the door to me, and I took him to the basement and set him up with food and blankets and water, trying to be quiet because my boyfriend was sleeping. The stray mostly ignored the array of riches I provided him and stood on the basement stairs, crying. I planned to take him to the vet the next day for a check up, but my own cats started crying, freaking out and pawing at the door to the basement. They’re sensitive, snuggly cats and it pained me to see them so anxious. By midnight, basically everyone in the house was crying. My boyfriend (the only one not crying, despite the fact that I woke him up) explained that I could just let the stray out, and recapture him another day when the vet was open. I refused because he might be hit by a car, or he might impregnate another cat, or he might just be sad and alone.
“It’s not your job to save all the stray animals in the world,” he said.
“But if I don’t,” I said, “who will?”
I seriously said that awful, maudlin thing, with more sincerity than I think I’ve ever said anything before. I think that everybody wants to believe that if they don’t help that cat, someone else will. But at some point, someone actually has to step up and do it.
I didn’t, though. I let the stray out and then laid in bed snuggling my cats, feeling like absolute shit for the rest of the night.
Anyway, you do what you can do.
I suspect that if everyone steps up and speaks just as loudly as Jen did, there’s no way the assholes would have enough time in their day to bully all of us. But I get that not everyone can do that. I can do it, though, so until everybody steps up, I’ll just try to be twice as loud in the hopes of acting as some kind of asshole lightning rod. I figure that most assholes hate reading, so they won’t really make it past the first two paragraphs of this post. I’m not a radical feminist, and I love (many) men, but facts don’t really seem to matter to the assholes so I may as well run with it.
Hey assholes! Look over here!
All screenshots are selected from the previous two-months’ worth of asshole comments sent to me directly, except the one retweeted by Richard Dawkins. I don’t know where the above gif comes from but I want to shake the artist’s hand. (UPDATE! Thanks to commenter reinforcements, we now know that this is the work of Emmy Cicierga.)