Misandry: A How-To

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.)

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 mstdn.social/@rebeccawatson Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky @rebeccawatson.bsky.social

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  1. Glad you that you haven’t been silenced. Keep sticking it to ‘the man’! (and by ‘the man’ I mean asshole commenters on the internet).

  2. This whole mess makes me wanna build some pyres and stakes and institute an Inquisition. Too bad we can’t declare heresies in atheism, this misogynist bullshit deserves the label. People being treated like this is one of the things that will just make me absolutely furious.

    The temptation to hunt down the author of that one email where the IP is visible and do mean things to his computer is overwhelming.

    1. You will find that going to those extents is not necessary at all.

      These people burn by the thought of other people agreeing with the bloggers they are harassing. If we make sure to let them know that our opinion has not been silenced and that we will be even louder than before, their brains will explode.

      Let them give more things to hate.

      1. @vexorian: “These people burn by the thought of other people agreeing with the bloggers they are harassing.

        Yes. They also burn when mocked and ridiculed, which is why I think Rebecca’s grace and great sense of humor in the face of the shitstorm has been so infuriating for them.


    2. I can totally relate to your violent fantasies about teaching the misogynazis (it could catch on:) a lesson it human decency by torturing them. (/yes, the irony was intentional) Reading their ignorant bullshit and the effect this has had on Jen makes me furious. These imbecilic, hateful know-nothings are a plague on the entire atheist/skeptic movement. May they be reduced to online circle-jerks (Oh…wait, they’re already doing that). OK then, may they be reduced to in person circle jerks at an anti-humanist atheists-against-social-justice-and-basic-human-decency conference (If they use that title for a conference, they owe me money ’cause I own the copyright!). Though let’s be realistic, they could never get enough support or have the organizational skills to pull such an event off.

  3. The fact that this is still an issue is really depressing. I sincerely hope that you decide to stick with it, but will understand if you do not. I consider myself a feminist and I have and will continue to speak up whenever I hear someone behave like a misogynist. It’s not easy for me, I can’t imagine how hard it must be for women. The whole thing is just very frustrating. I hope that your personal support structure is strong.

  4. Rebecca, one person can make a difference. You have made a difference. You are making a difference. That is why you are in the cross-hairs. Nobody demands the death of the inconsequential.

    Keep being a good skeptic and decent human being. Don’t let them drag you into their quagmire. We will send you support and pictures of baby animals.

    1. Yes, this. You are making a difference.

      Individually, I am very privileged. I’m a tall, straight, white, highly educated male with nice hair. Even though I consider myself a feminist, it would be _very_ easy for me to go through my life completely oblivous. You have been a big part of keeping me aware of the problems that are out there, and changing my mind on why some of them are problems. I have changed my behavior, and my reactions to other people’s behavior because of it. There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to do everything I’d like to do, but I do what I can.

      Thank you.

      1. What Ryan and ximinez said. You (and your colleagues, but you seem to be the hub) woke me from my dogmatic slumber so that I’m now in Feminism 102, anyway. And I see that for all the bullying male geeks endure during jr high/high school, it doesn’t automatically open their eyes to the oppression of others when they (the male geeks) have become privileged.

  5. Thanks for this. I hope one day I’m able to be as brave as you and Jen and all the other bloggers and feminists and everyone else who is speaks up when they encounter assholes like these. I made an account to post his comment though, so hopefully a step in the right direction? Seriously, though, thank you. Whenever I’ve encountered assholes or argued with them IRL (somehow so much less scary than online) I come here and other blogs like it to remind myself that there are decent, non-assholey people out there.

  6. I wish I could make it all go away, but I can’t. I can certainly help by calling out my friends, family, and other bloggers for misogynist remarks. I ask that you keep up the fight. Please continue doing all that you do. This is one of the few blogs I follow on a regular basis. Both you and Steven Novella are the reasons I am a feminists and a skeptic. I believe you are making a difference. You are definitely making a difference to me. Thank you, Rebecca.

  7. I am a complete non-entity in the atheist/skeptic movements, but I do what I can on forums and blogs to fight this idiocy. You’ve been an inspiration to me and I’m hoping my daughters will view you as a role model.

  8. You made a difference to me, and you still do.

    Also, am I allowed to ask if you ever did take that stray cat to the vet, or does that count as missing the point too much?

  9. I have been a lurker on Skepchick for some time now, and this post finally inspired me to comment.

    Thank you, thank you for shining sunlight on this reality. Your willingness to stand up to bullying constantly challenges me to do the same in my own corner of the world.

    I feel so helpless when I see this kind of thing happening online. What can I/we do to help?

    1. I’ve got you beat. I’m ashamed to share a chromosome with these asshats AND to code in a language sharing a name with one.

  10. Radical feminism isn’t about hating men. It’s about the radical idea that women are people. (Not that man-hating isn’t an option. It is. It just isn’t mandatory.)

    Assholes are the most abundant material in the universe. My hypothesis: they’re what dark matter is REALLY made of.

    Dealing with them on their level is tempting, but ultimately you get fed up with a diet of constant negativity. Trolls have an advantage there; they thrive on hate. You can’t beat them at that game.

    In my experience, keeping calm while neatly slicing through their ill-formed arguments helps. As does making your point and getting the heck out of there for a while. I do this on some sites I like who are full of horrid commenters: state my case, and get out of there. I don’t hang around to be a public punching bag.

    Women deserve safe spaces and the men who attack them are 100% responsible for their own cowardice and cruelty.

    Know that the men who hate you do so for emotional reasons, and your logic won’t sway them. But it will reach others.

    Worldwide feminist revolt is the ultimate solution to misogyny, but until the revolution comes, the above is a reasonable strategy. And making an effort to support other women bloggers on the internet, particularly in the science/technical sphere. The sexism there seems particularly condescending and nasty, maybe because it’s perpetrated by highly intelligent men who use every mean-spirited trick in the book to establish their alpha-male, Smartest Dude in the World status, and who see smart women as a threat.

    Best wishes to Jen.

      1. That’s not necessarily true. While the loudest and most visible Radical Feminists you’ll encounter on the interwebs identify as “trans-critical” (scare quotes because it’s a dog whistle for really disgusting levels of transphobia), there are a number of RadFems that are trans-positive.

        That said, I totally understand wanting to distance oneself from the label due to the transphobes. Even though I’m a feminist that has taken a number of lessons from RadFem writers I don’t generally identify as a Radical Feminist because the stereotype is so pervasive. It is worth making a note, however, that if a woman identifies herself as a Radical Feminist she has NOT made a statement about her opinion of trans* issues.

        1. True, that. To be a radfem, you only need to believe that patriarchy is the foundational form of all oppressions. Transhating is optional. Personally, I’m more of a socialist feminist – but they do have a point on how very very important patriarchy is as an axis of oppression.

          1. Just read the wiki page, it’s just a confusing term I guess. Normally radical in that context of a political movement means that violence is an option. I don’t think it’s enough to have a really big beef with the world. Certainly non-ironic misandry would be a prereq.

            But if it’s just a different academic school of thought…

      1. Actually dark energy is the most abundant (70%) stuff in the universe. That would also explain its repulsive nature. If I was the rest of the universe, I would also keep accelerating forever to get as far away from these people as possible.

        1. Definitely a COTW… maybe even COTM! :) Bjarte Foshaug sounds like the name of a character in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. Douglas Adams’ death, imho, is one of the great tragedies of this century.

  11. I had hoped for more from a group of people who meet with a philosophical theme. Getting angry back at them does not help. Please know that you make a lot more of difference than is apparent. I have had to rethink a lot of things that you and also the SGU have brought up and have grown because of it. Thanks so much

  12. Thanks for posting this, Rebecca. By making yourself a prime target for this stuff, you’ve become a real-life superhero.

    I wish it weren’t this bad. I wish there were some way to get these assholes to stop and actually see what they’re doing. I wish, when you filled an e-mail or tweet with threats and rape jokes and slurs, clicking “send” would bring up a “this will be CC’d to your mother, sister, daughter, wife, or another woman you care about. Do you want to continue?” warning. Anything to get these people to stop circumventing reason and empathy to serve this insane, irrational hatred.

    Instead, I guess we just have to keep doing what we can, and relying on people like Rebecca and Jen and other outspoken feminist women to go far above and beyond any call of duty.

  13. If it helps – you and all the other feminist bloggers are making a difference. By making me feel more confident to speak up when I get bashed for something related to being a girl, cause if you can do it online against the hordes of haters, I can sure do it to a couple of friends. By making me think more critically about how gender is portrayed and women are discriminated against within our culture, both the wider “everybody” culture and athiest/skeptic/nerd culture. By making me more conscious of saying “I suck at Left for Dead because I don’t like the game enough to practice” instead of “because I have two X chromosomes.” By making me mad enough to explain to my male friends why it is not ok if they are accepting of another guy’s women-hating ‘jokes’. By making me confident that yes, I am just as science-y as the next graduate student applicant, just as smart and just as analytical, and my gender has nothing to do with that. Thank you for refusing to shut up.

  14. This whole thing, from the elevator to the FTB stuff to the response to A+, has been a major WTF moment for me. In many cases what sold me on the seriousness of the problem across the movement as a whole was not so much the original event, but the way the community, even many of the supposed ‘leaders’, have responded.

  15. To be fair, if you are the kind of guy who whine on about man-hating feminists, there’s a pretty good chance that many feminists do indeed hate you (I know I do). Your mistake is thinking that this is because of your gender rather than your repugnant, insufferable, ugly personality, your rude, obnoxious, boorish behavior, your petty, small-minded, self-righteous sense of entitlement, your sociopathic disregard for the feelings of your fellow human beings unless they happen to have/be a dick like yourself, your hateful, intolerant, fascistic bigotry, and your general lack of any traits that any person in his/her right mind could find anything other than infinitely disgusting. And I haven’t even gotten to the bad part yet.

  16. Rebecca, I registered just to be able to comment and tell you that you’re wonderful person who makes a real difference in combating this… this nonsense. You give other women the courage to speak out, and it unfortunately continues to be necessary. Please don’t be silenced, and keep up the awesome work.

  17. @Rebecca, as long as you carry on, you and the Skepchicks have my support.

    I hope Jen takes a well earned break then comes back even stronger.

    Also, what Bjarte Foshaug said – brilliant! I’ll bet most of these foul comments come not from serious Skeptics or Atheists but from fat, pimply, immature latency boys wasting their lives in their mother’s basements.

  18. I’m just going to start shouting “misandry” as a non-sequitur to everything from now on. Is that a new sofa in your living room? MISANDRY!

    Keep on, keepin’ on, Ms. Watson!

  19. I hope the viciousness of the misogynists is a sign that they are losing. You have inspired me to be a better, more informed, feminist skeptic. So thank you for your important internet presence, and take care.

  20. It does make me squinge a little bit when people say they’re “feminist, but not on of THOSE feminists.”

    There’s always a group to hate.

    I miss the radicals that were in my life back in Oly WA in the late eighties. What I don’t miss are the moderate voices who were always there to shut up the radical ones. Sometimes I was that moderate voice, and I blame myself for that.

    1. When someone says that, I always say: “Oh realy? I am one of **those** feminists.”

      And then, I just smile at them.

  21. You write “…they can’t handle the avalanche of hatred they get from skeptics and atheists.” Do you KNOW that the people doing this are skeptics and/or atheists? It seems to me the only thing they have in common is they read the Skepchick and Freethought blogs, and related Twitter posts. Some may well be atheists/skeptics, but surely those of other beliefs/mindsets, or of “no” beliefs one way or another, who haven’t even thought about the issues and don’t care, they just want to hurt others on the Internet, could also be doing this. Actually, I think the last bit describes all of them. If they say anything about themselves, I strongly believe that both rules #1 and #2 of spam apply.

    On the technical and legal side, save ALL emails with full headers (with IP addresses AND date-and-timestamps), tweets. etc., and get court orders for Twitter to cough up IP addresses, and to the relevant ISP’s to get customer/student/whatever names and addresses. It may help to have an attorney do these things, but you should be able to do them yourself. I saw this work 15 years ago when email spam was becoming an epidemic, and before spam became a wholesale problem solved by filters and blocking lists instead of by deleting individual ISP accounts of “chickenboner” spammers. Any judge who sees a communication with rape and death threats should surely give a court order for the relevant Internet services to identify these perps. From there you can take civil action and/or give the info to the relevant police or District Attorney who may decide to place criminal charges. Having police knock on the door asking these scum or their parents about “posting rape and death threats on the Internet from this location” might be remarkably effective.

    1. Read this.

      It has to do with “stalking” but it’s related.
      The intro

      Stalking between intimate partners is widespread and often associated with lethal abuse.
      Despite the enactment of anti-stalking laws in every state, relatively few stalkers are cited or
      arrested by law enforcement; even fewer are prosecuted. Consequently, it is unclear whom law
      enforcement identifies as stalkers, for what activities, and how the criminal justice system
      responds to those identified. More important, it is unknown if the under-identification and
      charging of stalking make any difference, specifically whether or not they compromise victim
      safety and/or offender accountability.

      And this is only one report from one state. Every other state is the same, I guarantee it.

      I had an online stalker. He caused me to lose my job. I had IP addresses and everything from his place of business.

      No one gave a shit.

      1. The cops may not be interested in your case, but lawyers will be and a civil suit for proven damages will be just as great a deterrent as temporary loss of internet privileges and/or a small fine (which is all you can hope for in a criminal court in such cases). You might want to consider looking for a contingency fee lawyer, especially if the stalker has any assets that might be liquidated to satisfy a judgement.

    2. Cool! A real ‘no true sceptic’ comment. And of course, there’s a nugget of truth in there. The trolls are doing scepticism wrong. But then, so are you in your comment, and then, so am I in this comment.

      Bottom line, the trolls themselves think of themselves as sceptics. And how would the outside world be able to distinguish them from us?

  22. Think of it this way, Rebecca: you must be doing something right to stir up all the cowards from their dark holes. They must feel threatened in some way, imagining their little world will come crashing down upon them. The fact that they can only rely on comments on the internet shows their cowardace.

    I say NEVER step down.
    Be stronger than those asshats.
    By staying visible, you show you’re stronger than any of them, no matter what they might say. You show that you’re better than them, because you’re willing to stick up for what you KNOW is right and just.

    Best of all, you have many people that have your back.

    Because to step down would only make things worse.
    It would only give the assholes more courage to take down anyone that stands up for what is right.

    Let’s ALL show them that the line has been drawn on the floor.

  23. Your bravery, you and the other skepchicks, is inspirational. I don’t understand how the people against you can possibly think this behaviour is ok for rational human beings who want to be a useful part of society.

    I know that watching the mess that keeps emerging on the internet has made me speak up more often when people IRL say things which are “not ok” (rape jokes, casual sexism, casual other-isms), and while it has got me some looks, a few people have actually taken a moment to think about it.

    I think we all (not you – you’re doing so much!) need to speak up. Not to be BETTER, I just want to be EQUAL. And not afraid.

  24. Why, this isn’t an argument for misandry at all. It’s a plea for rational thought! Bait and switch! Bait and switch!

  25. I too intend to be increasingly loquacious in order to cause chagrin and frustration to wrack the innards of our discourteous opponents. I look forward to our mutual endeavors to this end. Loquacity forever, fistbump, have a pleasant and high-volume evening.

  26. Rebecca –

    Your anger is caused by a very small minority of the 50% of us with a Y chromosome. The majority of us are embarrassed and disgusted by their behavior.

    I hope you and others affected by this intimidation can stand up to it.

  27. For what it’s worth, I used to be a pretty big asshole. I never said anything as awful as what these people are saying, but I was convinced we lived in a post-feminist world and pooh-poohed people who claimed otherwise.

    Through a gradual series of events I changed. It started with finding the skeptics movement, then the SGU, and through that Skepchick. Once I discovered RSS readers and a vast array of interesting bloggers, my world has never been the same. So, I (think I) have become a better person, and your writing had something to do with that. Don’t doubt your power to effect change.

  28. Until Jen is back, and/or we completely banish misogyny from the internet for all time (whichever comes first), I damn well plan on being twice as loud. The more of us speak up, the more idiot bigots will realize the futility of trying to harass us all into silence. In the long run, we’re absolutely winning this fight, even if that fact is easy to miss when we’re in the trenches.

  29. You, the other skepchicks, Ophelia, Greta, and all the others (including Jen), are fucking amazing, badass and superheroic. <3

  30. I just wanted to add my (male) voice to those thanking you for all the great work you do, and deciding to continue on, regardless of all the crap you’ve had to deal with.

  31. To the members of The He-Man Woman-Haters Club:

    Since most of you fuckwits are young enough to be my sons, if not grandsons, before you hit “Send” on your oh-so-clever tweet or e-mail to Rebecca, Jen, Amy, Stephanie, Ophelia or any other ‘uppity female,’ ask yourself how you’d feel if I walked up to your mom on the street and said it to her. Y’all make pond scum seem full of beauty and meaning.

  32. I’m 62, have seen a lot of misogyny in my life. So encouraged that young women are standing up and fighting the good fight. I don’t really understand the mindset that would cause someone to wish harm on another human, but there we are, some of us are broken, and I don’t think there’s any way to fix that degree of brokenness. My wish is that you stay safe and strong and proud.

  33. Getting ‘angry back at them’ is the only reasonable reaction. Stewing in helpless resentment is not.

    My natural reaction is to gather together with like-minded people and an adequate supply of pitchforks and torches.

    If it were so easy, these pigs would be long gone.

    Name them, shame them, thrash’em. They are beyond any sympathy and beneath contempt.

    1. Cute. Not everyone has the resolve to take this level of vitriol. It is up to those of us that can handle the violence (and it is violence) to compensate for those who can’t. Victim-blaming helps no one. You want an Atheist/Skeptic community where women like Jen feel comfortable participating? Get to work on letting the misogynists know they are not welcome. Those who chose to walk away don’t owe us anything. We owe them.

  34. I would say you have made a difference with me, this whole saga has opened my eyes and I’ve actively changed my rather naive opinions I’ve developed over my teenage years, which have thankfully not survived into adulthood.

    I think a lot of it stems from unchanged and unchallenged opinions from teenage years, if you immerse yourself in the wrong crowd, those ideas get reinforced until they become unassailable.

    Through me, most of the ideas ive encountered by reading writers like you have spread to my friends, who simply never really thought about it that way before.

    I think its similar to religion, in that the vast bulk of people dont think about it too much, and so go on supporting blindly the hardcore fundamentalist misogynists, even though they themselves only need a small amount of information and reason to lift them out of ignorance. So while you might think its futile when confronted with these kinds of bile-spewing nutcases, remember that they represent a minority kept buoyant by a vast majority who can be swayed quite easily by the kinds of writing you do.

    My circle of friends simply never thought about these things before, and so their teenage bitterness at girls went unconfronted and accepted. Its simply a matter of ignoring the vitriol of that hardened few (who seem many simply because of how loud they are), and keeping on keeping on, because you are making a difference with the people that matter: those that can be swayed by reason, compassion and evidence.

  35. While I’m passionate about the issue of feminism and social justice within the Atheist/Skeptic movement… what happened to the stray?! I gotta know!

  36. Just reading a smidge of the bullshit you and other female activists like you have to deal with makes me feel nauseated. I honestly don’t know how anyone endures a barrage like that and keeps going the way you seem to do, with a smile, a wink, and a hearty “No, dear, fuck YOU.”

    Keep on, however you do it.

  37. Rebecca, I look up to you (even though I am probably a bit older than you). I have a young daughter, and when I think about role models for her, you come to mind.

    At Geek Girl Con I saw you, Jen, Amy, and other skeptical women speak, and I thought: These women are so brilliant and badass. They make me proud to be a skeptical feminist.

  38. Rebecca, what you are doing is so very important. We’d got your back, keep on doing what your doing. I’m proud to say I know you…and I DO tell everyone who will listen :) (Victor’s mom) I’m sorry Jen stopped blogging. I was very impressed with her when I met her at the Oakland RAM. I will miss reading Jen’s blog, but she has to take care of herself first. She is the only ‘her’ she has.

  39. Sometimes it just feels as though the entire world is hurtling toward some sort of climactic showdown between the admirable and the unspeakable. There are so many utterly contemptible people out there, pushing so many different, horrible philosophies onto us, it’s hard sometimes to know which way to turn. This is only one slice of it, and all we can do is the best we can.

    Keep up the good fight. You are not alone.

  40. “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.”

    And what a goddamned difference you have made. You, and Jen, and Greta, and Ophelia, and Natalie, and Stephanie, and at the risk of this list being Too Damn Long, every single skepchick, and hundreds more who I couldn’t possibly name because there are just too many fan-fucking-tastic women who make huge differences in both the Atheist community and the world at large.

    You’re all inspiring, both in your ability to step up and take abuse for what’s right, and in your ability to step down every now and then and do what’s right for yourself.

    And you all become even more inspiring every time these misogynist assholes act up. When I first heard about ElevatorGate and was still transitioning from MRA to feminist, I assumed that you must have made some huge, ridiculous deal about the elevator thing. Because the MRAs were making big deals about it, so it had to be a big deal, right?

    And then I watched the video and was entirely gobsmacked at how all that you had said was four words. I was so amazed at how big of a deal had been made over four words that any sympathy or notion of sanity period on the part of the MRAs was entirely and thoroughly shattered. I realized that they were, 100%, just wrong and evil people. More importantly, I realized that you were strong as fuck to put up with them.

    And now that it’s gotten this far, culminating with Jen having to quit, I am more empowered than ever to be the radical, militant feminist that these assholes fear so much.

    But it’s important to mention that it’s not just anger at the stupidity and awfulness of these hateful people empowering me. It’s also you- meaning all of you who have been subjected to this- And your amazing ability to just keep fucking going that’s not only making me want to fight but making me feel like I can.

    I just want to put this out there. When they’re at their worst, you’re at your best. At your best, you are amazing and inspiring, and you are also life and world changing.

    Anyways, to get to the real issue here;

  41. We need better mechanisms to deal with all this hate. I would love a global blacklist that anyone can subscribe to, so that if you abuse a few people, they can report and get you banned from everyone who is subscribed. Twitter, for example, does it for spammers, and I don’t think it would be too hard to set up something similar for haters.

    Unfortunately the assholes seem to have lots of free time, so they will get around the walls, but it is worth making it as difficult and frustrating as possible.

  42. As well as the shouty sexists there are also a stack of us quietly out there thinking that what you write is great and inspirational. Maybe we should say so more often… I am so much better educated now as a result of reading feminist sceptical blogs… I thank you.

  43. Thank you for fighting for both skeptics and women. Without a doubt I’d still be spraying Rescue Remedy in my mouth if it weren’t for that video up there of you explaining homeopathy. I didn’t know a feminist community existed outside of the radical/punk scene I was involved in growing up. It’s been refreshing to find out that there is, and it is tied to things that in my 30’s I have more of an interest in (science & separation of church & state). So again, thank you.

  44. I can barely believe people can be such assholes, let alone people that are supposedly slightly more intelligent than average.

    I almost feel guilty for being a man. I don’t even know what to do to help.

    Also, I hope the kitty is well.

  45. While I’m not a big fan of the Atheism+ label, I support everything it stands for and I totally understand why Jen McCreight stepped aside. I also have to deal with depression and sometimes stuff just gets too much.

    That’s why all the bile and gloating that followed her last blog post really disgusted me to the core. She said it was making her ill and all some people could do was pile on. Really really horrible.

    And the petition to get Rebecca booted off the SGU was just childish. (Which leads me to suspect it was just trolling.) I mean what did they think was actually going to happen? Rebecca, you dealt with that far better than I could have.

    I’m far too lacking in confidence and assertiveness to do anything other than leave bland platitudinous comments on the internet, so I all I can say is not all of us men are arseholes (I refuse to say assholes!) And keep doing what you’re doing, Rebecca, the SGU has consitently been one of my favourite podcasts. We know who’ll really win in the eternal bird / monkey war…

  46. I was trying to think of something witty or clever to say but my brain’s not up to it right now.

    But I just want to add a voice to the chorus of support.

    I’m very saddened to hear about Jen deciding to quit speaking up on the internet but I can fully understand it.

    What you’re doing and continuing to do is great and admirable and is clearly making a positive difference.

  47. “There are even more who see those examples and make the decision to never step into the spotlight in the first place.”

    Yes. Exactly.

    Rebecca, I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of people like you. I would really like to become a vocal activist and join the fray – I just can’t afford to at this point in my life. I’m afraid of the effect the backlash might have on my family and future job prospects. I’ve already gotten negative responses just for posting articles on my Facebook page! No, I’m too chickenshit to put myself out there. But I get a little braver each day. I get a little braver because of you and Jen and Amy and Ophelia and Stephanie and Greta and Ashley and all the rest. So thank you.

  48. I have to run, but I do need to say I’ve enjoyed following your blog for many years. It’s made me think and re-think about many things. Won’t say I always agree, but certainly make good points, and more recently have brought illumination to alot of things I may not have seen on my own. It’s a crime everytime a brilliant voice gets silenced by barbarians.

  49. I can honestly say that the barrage of hate and the extreme intensity of it directed at women in the online skeptic community is pretty much the reason that I have just stopped participating. I went to TAM once, in 2009, and while it was great to meet people in the community, there were moments where I was very uncomfortable and didn’t feel okay or safe, and I have not been to any other skeptic or atheist event since. I just don’t see the point anymore. I can be a skeptic without a community.

    I see these attacks on twitter towards Rebecca and Amy and it makes me so angry. What kind of thought process goes towards thinking it’s okay to say that raping someone to shut them up is a good idea?

    Another thing I have noticed, since I don’t post for Skepchick anymore, is I will get comments about how much I must “hate the Skepchicks” since I left, and I must have some sort of inside scoop on how they operate and how big of jerks they must be etc etc etc. Uh, no. I don’t hate the Skepchick writers. I am pretty close with a lot of them, and still provide artwork for things they do. And the only “inside scoop” I have is that I miss the hilarious email threads.

    Anyways, I can’t actually thank you enough for everything you do, Rebecca. <3

  50. This makes me so angry. You have my full support, which I regret amounts to typing supportive words. I’m very appreciative of the work you and so many others (Jen, Ophelia Benson, Greta Christina, Surly Amy)do to confront this misogynist crap. To be honest, I’ve basically stopped reading atheist blogs at this point and switched to feminist spaces like The Crunk Feminist Collective because I’m just sick of the bullshit.

  51. Don’t let the turkeys get you down. But also please do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself. You have countless anonymous legions behind you.

    Also, capes are awesome. Maybe at the next Skepchick event there could be a workshop on cape handling. I would love to wear a purple sparkly cape, but I’m quite clumsy and definitely need some tips. (I’ve decided my alter ego is The Feline Avenger. It’s kind of embarrassing how much thought I’ve actually put into this.)

    Is there a Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) group in your area? They should have traps to lend/rent to help you get the cat fixed. *about to climb up on TNR soapbox* It’s the best thing you can do for that cat! In an ideal world, all cats (all beings, actually) would have comfortable homes, like the one that’s trying to lay on my keyboard right now. TNR is the most humane, effective way to deal with the cat overpopulation problem. OK, preaching to the choir, I suppose, but I’m pretty committed to the TNR cause. *steps off soapbox*

    1. Calling them “turkeys” is pure unadulterated anti-avianism. The turkey is a noble and intelligent bird and Ben Franklin wanted to make them our national symbol. Other than that, I also want to state my support.

      I was also very sorry to hear Jen quit blogging (hope she comes back soon), but as usual I’m late and she’s closed off comments, so I want to state this here. She apologizes in her last post to her supporters, saying she feels like she failed us for not bearing up to the torrents of hatred. Jen, if you happen to read this, you don’t need to apologize and you don’t owe us anything. We all owe you an enormous debt for sticking up for truth and decency. You are a superhero and deserve your very own cape.

      Also, back to CatFurniture’s comment, I found your last paragraph about TNR very confusing until I realized you were talking about Rebecca’s stray cat.

  52. My head wants to explode from all this. Why is it so fucking hard to understand?

    Crap. Now I need a cat to snuggle.

  53. I’ve been a long time reader of this blog. I rarely comment because I feel like I have nothing to add. I am beginning to think that simply adding my voice in support is mostly what’s needed. Rebecca, you are awesome. This is supposed to be the movement of reason. You, the SGU, PZ and the others have always used reason to make your point. The haters are simply wrong, and like bullies do, they resort to violence. People who use threats and bullying to press their agenda need to be named, shamed and made the outcasts. Keep fighting the good fight!

  54. Strangely, all of this going on makes me think back to my days in the pagan community. I saw people (commonly men, though plenty of women) get away with some of the most despicable behavior I’d ever witnessed, and when I spoke up, I was hushed, told it would be handled “internally” and generally shamed into silence. To be fair, a majority of it was just oogy behavior that made people uncomfortable, but why should anyone have to endure that to belong to a community with which you resonate and feel a connection? I feel that it was silenced because it was already a fringe group and they didn’t want to give anyone reason to target them. But isn’t that exactly what people who want to victimize others want? Shame them, control them, make them afraid if needed? And you have a ready-made victim pool when you’re dealing with a group that’s already facing obstacles by its mere existence. I’m sure this has all been said before by people far more articulate, but I feel I needed to say it and to also say that being more vocal in the skeptic community is my goal. I’m just not quite there yet.

  55. I am delurking to say how much I appreciate what you and the other Skepchicks do. I learn a lot from your point of view.

    Brad McDowell

  56. I’ve been reading Skepchick since just before that thing with the elevator, but I registered under my real name and then barely ever commented. I need a nom de guerre to be loud, and I want to be loud. So I’m here with a new name to tell you that you’ve made a big difference to me.

    Before all this hit, I was essentially a Chill Girl, if a bit old for the label. I was atheist and anti-anti-vax, but not very engaged. Then I saw the assholes come out from under their rocks to attack someone who seemed a lot like the person I would have liked to have been a few years ago. I saw the gas lighting in the Grothe incident. I followed it all from the sidelines. It changed me. I’m not sure what I can do, but I’m going to try to do it anyway.

  57. Rebecca, I appreciate your voice and your actions, battling against the jerks and idiots and other assorted decency-challenged megafauna! I am consistently in awe of your mad sarcasm skillz.

  58. I don’t have anything of substance to add. Just to say, thank you Rebecca. I’m a feminist atheist and every time I read your posts I get heartened that someone intelligent and thoughtful is out there. You just never know who is reading or what it will mean to them. So, thanks.

  59. I find it brave and heartwarming what skepchick and it’s writers have taken on in the last year. I find courage and solace reading the posts on skepchick. (I do find courage and solace elsewhere, but it just doesn’t feel quite as kick ass!) Keep up the good work!

  60. Rebecca,
    There is no dishonor in taking care of yourself. The fools and morons of this world exhaust us all. Do what you need to, to be happy and healthy. This battle will never be won overnight and you have certainly paid the price of duty.

  61. Assholes have been on the internet since before the WWW arose… and before that, there were “breather” phone calls. I suspect those have become much rarer because it is just too much trouble to dig up a woman’s phone number, dial it, and try to freak her out when you can achieve the same result and as a bonus, get a flurry of negative feedback by just typing shit into a comment box.

    I’m glad Rebecca and most of the brave women who hold similar views have continued doing what they’re doing despite the flood of offensive comments. I suspect that a lot of the hateful comments are religiously motivated and come from people who feel deeply threatened by anyone who doesn’t share their absurd fantasies… and especially by women who refuse their “God given” designation as chattel.

    I don’t think it is a “no true scotsman” fallacy to suggest that self-proclaimed atheists who have not shaken off the religiously inspired idea that women are somehow not fully human are not really atheists.

    1. ufischer, I foolishly believed that atheism was a logical result of skepticism, as was social justice; I actually consider the three to be interconnected. My first rude awakening was discovering that many atheists are not skeptical at all, nor are they particularly rational. I’ve met atheists who believe in reiki, telepathy, ghosts, etc, (but no deity.) I’ve met atheists who believe in ancient aliens and that Big Pharma has secretly found the cure for cancer. Atheism is NOT an indicator of rational thinking. Skepticism, however, *is supposed to be* based on rational, critical thinking – skeptics HAVE NO EXCUSES.

      1. Right, I sit corrected. (depressing how often that happens) :) I forgot about the Bill Maher school of atheism. You’re right. My comment should have used the “Skeptic” instead of “Atheist”. Anyone who still clings to the religiously motivated belief that women are not fully human is not a skeptic and certainly not a humanist.


  62. Ye gawds and little fishes. What is wrong with these people? Nasty, hateful little bullies who never got out of the girl-cooties stage. These mamzers are a disgrace to their gender and their species.

    Rebecca, you’re great. Skepchick is great.Jen is great, and I hope she returns some day.

  63. I’m a straight white male with a professional job. I’m also a feminist, thanks in large part to Rebecca.

    Keep it up. Not all of us are ignorant assholes; lots of us, in fact, appreciate your work.

  64. Three cheers! I really appreciate your blog, read it every day. I am trying to be more vocal now. You’re doing an awesome job, and I hope more of us can step up too.

  65. From nothing, something, like the skeptic’s (read ‘scientific’) argument to the creation of the universe. You dared speak out about your feelings from a single moment, at first blush ‘average’ moment, in an elevator, which made you feel uncomfortable. From that moment, a wider appreciation, understanding and awareness of issues women must face has arisen in thousands, perhaps tens-of-thousands of people. Women have been speaking up about their fears and experiences, leaving those of us with human empathy disgusted and angered, but wanting to fight to make things better.

    Unfortunately, the same act of courage has also unveiled the fact that our species, for many, hasn’t evolved past the poo-flinging and ‘mount anything that moves’ stage. Don’t be discouraged by the unwitting losers in this argument. Be proud and emboldened by the fact that you have changed many people to become better to one another.

    To the juvenile animals who continue to harass and harangue, every single epithet and threat you utter to Ms. Watson dishonours and discourages the women in YOUR life. If you think you’re the only ones acting this way, consider that your actions encourage others and it will come back to roost in your home. Your mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, daughters, nieces, female cousins ALL have to encounter YOUR style of repugnant bullshit time after time after time in their lives because assholes like you encourage it and partake in it. One quarter of all the women you have in your life will unfortunately become victims of rape or sexual molestation because of your cowardice and jumping on the good ol’ boys bandwagon. Why don’t you all fucking grow spines and stand up for those women, rather than being little puppets of testosterone-boosted moronic peer pressure? The moment you grow up and grow the kind of courage Ms. Watson has displayed, the safer and better this world is for the women around YOU.

  66. No fucking way should you let these insipid, bitter, useless fucking tossers get the better of you!

    Seriously, fuck them!

    Bunch of total, useless wankers. Keep writing, don’t give in.

    Don’t let the wankers win!

  67. Rebecca, I am so glad you don’t let the assholes drive you off the interwebs.
    You are my Hero (Heroine? Girls can be Hero’s I reckon.)
    I listen to the SGU on my IPod every week – I get withdraw symptoms if I miss one. You guys totally rock!
    Hope you enjoy Melbourne Australia – I probably wont get to see you there (I did the atheist Con in April ) – no more pennies in the piggy bank…
    Lots of Love from a Tasmanian fan.

  68. I have been a queer feminist for a very long time. I have been attacked in meatspace, but never, ever as hatefully as I have seen Rebecca, Amy, Greta, Jen, et al attacked.

    While I haven’t been surprised at the attacks themselves (rape threats, etc.), I have been surprised by how long it has gone on. I survived verbal abuse mostly because these attacks were limited by the number of people in the room and the time that people had on their hands to stay in the room. Today, with the internet, it is never ending and builds steam in a way that was not possible previously.

    I give all of you who are dealing with this, whether you are taking a break or taking them on, a huge amount of credit for your bravery.

  69. You did a very brave thing, young lady. You are sincere and truthful in what you say. It is as hard being black on the Internet as it is being a female. I just want to say you should be having donations for this website so we all can show our support for you by gibings moneys up in dere. God bless.

  70. Something everybody needs to do, all the time: let the dirtbags know we’re here, and that we think they’re dirtbags. They take our silence as assent, and that’s on us. If they knew, *from every single one of us* how furious we’ve become, and how so very little we think of them, they’ll go away, and not come back.

  71. Since I don’t read a lot of atheist blogs, I have not heard of this before. It’s really sickening, especially considering how much the goals of atheist activists and feminist activists may be aligned. We would be so much stronger united.

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