Will There Be More Surly Grants?

So far, every single day since TAM, I have woken up to hate-filled messages on the internet. I have been called every nasty name in the book. I have been lied about, I have been threatened. I have been the punch-line to jokes where I don’t understand the part that is supposed to be funny. I have been called ‘poison’ dripping into the heart of this movement. I have been written about, repeatedly, on websites that actively encourage people to hate me specifically and women like me. I have been mocked, parodied and relentlessly hassled, by people who are claiming to be part of a movement that I had vowed to support.

This harassment happens to me online. Every. Single. Day. I rarely talk about it because talking about it draws more attention to me from the haters, as will this blog post. I realize that.

I do not retaliate, I rarely respond. I simply soldier onward, because I understand that if I give up, other good people will want to give up too. I deflect some of the hate.

A typical day.

Wake up.
Make coffee.
Block hateful messages on twitter or other social media.
Ignore videos and blog posts made about me or people I respect from the day before.
Make art.

rapist murderer blocked
“@SurlyAmy HI. I’m a potential rapist, murderer, bad dancer and joke teller. Please don’t call the police for typing hurtful words at you.”

I’m not ever sure how these people find out about me or get the idea to tweet at me or why they think something like that would be funny or relevant or in any way a good thing to type at a complete stranger. I do realize that there are groups of people online who are actively encouraging people like this to lash out at me, and many other prominent women in the atheist and skeptic community. Every single day these messages and much, much worse get sent to the women who have been targeted. I am part of the targeted group. Let that sink in.

I do not for a moment, understand it.

Disagree with us all you want, but hunt people down online with a goal of insulting, mocking or threatening them? That’s not skepticism, rationalism or by any stretch of the imagination, humanism.

It gets exhausting.

I have spent the last three or four months trying to come up with a solution. How can I stop the hate directed at us? How can I stop the hate direct at me?

I tried getting quiet. I posted less. I tweeted only about art and my dog. I still got hate messages.

I released a bunch of my art into the creative commons.
I still got hate messages.

I took time off the internet altogether. People blogged and made videos about things I said or did 6 months ago. I still got daily hate messages.

I got called a “professional victim.” I am not a victim. I am a target. I tried to lay low.
I still got hate messages.

I watched as many of my good friends, friends from skepticism, most of whom were women, quietly walked away. Since TAM, I have seen five women, each of whom I called friend, simply leave. They no longer wish to participate online or at events. They quit, because they saw what was happening to me, to Rebecca, to Melody, to Stephanie, to Greta, to Jen and to Ophelia and to other women who spoke out. They didn’t want to deal with it. It wasn’t fun anymore. I don’t blame them at all for leaving but I do seriously miss them. Their voices have been silenced. All of us lose from their absence.

I still got hate messages.

I thought about quitting too.

But I wasn’t sure what exactly I could quit. I suppose I could quit this blog and quit going to events but I can’t quit being a woman who is an atheist and a skeptic, who also has an internet connection and an online business. Besides, I am just as much a part of this community as anyone else. I have just as much a right to be here as anyone else. I am an artist who is inspired by science, skepticism and rationalism.

I have to hold out hope that that there are WAY more good people in that Venn diagram than assholes.


I still get hate messages.

But I have decided that I am here to continue to show that the two sides in this harassment issue are not equal.


There are harassers and there are targets.

We need to rise above. As humans and as a community.

For my part in this, I will continue to simply do good in the face of this constant abuse. I will not respond with hate. Nor will I walk away. I will do good things. Things that help others. Things that make the world directly around me a tiny bit better. It’s the only thing I know how to do. My goal is to continue to help make skepticism an obtainable method that can help protect people from being scammed or taken advantage of. Skepticism can lead you on the road to intellectual enlightenment and science education. Skepticism should be available, as a tool for everyone.

skeptical method by amy

And atheism, as a movement, can welcome those who have felt oppressed by the confines of religion to be free from that oppression and encouraged to think rationally. As a movement it can help those free from religion, find friends and to know that each of us can be good without god.

atheist gray 1

I hope that some of the people who have been active in harassing us will realize that it isn’t ok. You can stop this. And if not, we can find more good people to join this movement to stamp out the hatred and move forward.

And I will make art.

Now, to answer the question that was posed in the title of this post, will there be more Surly Grants?


Surly Womens grant

I think it is important that we dispel the myth that any of us here at Skepchick or any of the feminists in this particular group that have been targeted, hate men or in any way want to discourage men. To help do that, I will be offering grants to pay for the admission of MEN to the Women in Secularism event happening in Washington, DC, May 17-19.

I am also offering to pay the admission for WOMEN to go to the American Atheist event in Austin, Texas, March 28th-31st. Because we now, more than ever need to encourage women to participate in the atheist community.

I will be making necklaces to help raise money to do this. I havent finished them yet but I should have a post up about them on Monday.

I promise that I will pay the admission for at least two people to each event. If you can’t afford to go on your own and would like to go to either event, please fill out the application here. Please only apply for me to pay for your admission to American Atheist Con if you identify as a woman and please only apply for the Women in Secularism event if you identify as a man. EDIT 1:37pm: If you identify as both male and female, you may pick either grant.

If you can donate anything to help me do this please go here. You can pick if you want to help me send MEN to WiS or WOMEN to the American Atheist’s Con.

Here is a link to more info on the Surly Grants which is a project run by me alone, I use my own money that I make selling jewelry and through donations to pay admissions to events. I know the website is geared mostly towards helping women get involved, as that was my initial goal, but I feel very strongly that we need more men to join us at Women in Secularism if we are ever going to rise above the hate.

Together we are strong and as a community we can rise above and do better.

I’m going to go delete hate messages and then make the jewelry for the fundraiser

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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  1. And people wonder why I’m so damn brash and aggressive. Because being “nice” doesn’t fucking cut it. ?And, in a way, it’s a form of protection for me.?

    I adore you, Amy.

    1. (As a note, being agressive and brash is not the same thing as being hateful :D)

      I’m glad you’re still doing this, Amy; we need more people like you in this world!

      Also, what’s up with the random question marks? I thought it was my copy/pasting from Word, but I didn’t do that this time!!

        1. It probably is from Word. Various unprinted characters get translated to question marks. I have also seen this as a result of a change made by spell checking.

          1. It’s possible I did copy/paste from Word and I just have a shitty memory. LOL

  2. I’m incredibly impressed with your strength and dedication to this. The new grants are a fantastic idea, and a great response!

  3. <3 You are awesome. I love your art and I wear your jewelery almost everyday. I am so glad to have people as nice and talented as you in the movement. Don't let the dicks on the internet stomp you out. They are full of crap. Thank you for everything you do.

  4. “Please only apply for me to pay for your admission to American Atheist Con if you identify as a woman and please only apply for the Women in Secularism event if you identify as a man.”

    But but but… :(

    PS. Much love and support, Amy! Miss you!

    1. I mean no disrespect, it’s the best way I could think of phrasing it to keep people from applying to the wrong event. If you gender identify as both you may pick either grant.

  5. Art. Charity. How you’ve chosen to “fight” back is so positive…so the *opposite* of the treatment you receive…it’s really inspiring. Thanks. Thanks for being a cool example. Thanks for having a donation page too!

  6. Human garbage like that are why I don’t identify as a “humanist.” I can’t pretend that “men” like that have any inherent worth or dignity, or that respecting them or wishing for their well-being is a worthy goal. I’m not that good an actor.

    1. I identify as a humanist and I certainly am not like those men. Please don’t paint such a broad brush. Please, if you do feel you are a humanist, identify as one. Don’t let the hateful jerkwads take over the name.

      I cringed, just like I do when people say, “I don’t call myself a feminist because I don’t want to be grouped in with “those” kinds of feminists!!!”

      It’s not particularly helpful, you know?

      1. You misunderstand. I don’t identify as a “humanist” because a humanist, to my way of thinking, must believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all humans. I don’t believe in the inherent worth and dignity of these sexists and trolls and other vermin. Therefore I am disqualified from the title of “humanist.”

        1. I prefer to think that they are the ones who aren’t human, therefore don’t fit under the umbrellas of worth and dignity. Especially dignity. :)

          1. As psychologically satisfying as that particular approach often is (oh, yes, it is), declaring a group of asshats to be ‘inhuman’ eliminates their agency (and thereby, their responsibility for their actions). No, they are human–all too tragically human, in fact. The key is to rub their noses in that fact–“You’re a human being. You can choose not to be like this. Your choice says far more about you than it does about those you attack.”

    2. You are absolutely right. I think these people have no self worth or self dignity, and only by denigrating others can they feel better about themselves. What they need is psychological help.

      1. What they need is to be silenced. I don’t care if they’re scared of change, I don’t care if they’re intimidated by women, I don’t care if they hate themselves. I don’t care if they get psychological help and become better people, or if they all hold hands and jump in a lake. As long as they fuck off, one way or another, that’s problem solved as far as I’m concerned. Playing nice with the rats in your house will only breed more rats.

  7. I don’t know if this is the place for it, but – what the fuck? I still don’t know what happened, and I’ve been here.
    I don’t know how you guys (all of the feminist women here and at FtB) aren’t angry all the time. It makes me a little overwhelmed with rage and sadness, and I’ve just been a bystander.
    I still don’t know what the hell they’re so upset about. None of it makes any sense at all to me. There’s no inquiry or criticism, just a need to be right and a need to be hurtful.

    Much Respect.

    1. I don’t know how you guys (all of the feminist women here and at FtB) aren’t angry all the time.

      Paraphrasing something Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote recently, I’d say it is because anger as a way of life, especially the hateful and vengeful kind, is something only the privileged can afford.

      If you’re unprivileged, and have been suffering crap all your life because of your race/gender/whatever, you run out of the energy for that kind of anger. Being angry when your anger can’t do anything for you is not empowering, it’s just depressing. At some point, all you really feel is a desire for it to stop.

      It’s different for these guys (the guys who are harrassing Amy & Co.) Acting out anger is empowering for these guys, because what they’re doing is one of the socially sanctioned privileges of being male: i.e., treating women like crap. In contrast to many male privileges, it’s one that even the most unprivileged of men can enjoy. Not to get all rad-fem, but this is how Patriarchy keeps going, because these men are Patriarchy’s enforcers, the one who use force and intimidation to keep women in their place (thus relieving the more ethical males of the necessity of getting their own hands dirty.)

      1. I can’t really agree with this. When you’re at rock bottom, anger can keep you going, and anger can certainly drive you to fight for justice.

        TNC is astute and talented, but I think he is generalizing his own temperament here.

  8. I’m sorta in the same boat as punchdrunk. I feel more sad than enraged, though.

    I sent in a “maybe,” because I feel there’s a generation gap between myself and the (apparently) much younger people that I see in the skeptical movement. I don’t know what a 55 y/o white guy can contribute.

      1. Not currently being active (other than online where I try to pick my battles wisely), I’m not sure what you mean by “support,” Jim.
        Do you mean verbally, financially, “Just by being a warm body that shoes up?”

        1. I seem to remember seeing a blog post or something about being a “good ally”, but now I can’t remember. If I remember or find it, I’ll post it.

          Be supportive in any way you can.

          And SPEAK UP if you see your fellow men being sexist or whatever. The more you speak up, the better.

    1. Hi QA! Good to see you. I’m nearly 60 BTW (but this is not a competition!)

      Another thing we can do is educate ourselves about the very real oppression experienced by modern women, and band together to call out and stop this unacceptable online behaviour.

  9. @QA, I’m 58, and you can contribute encouragement, as I do. Amy, I’ve met you and have one of your necklaces hanging from the mirror in my car (“Question Everything”). I have great respect for who you are, how you communicate, and how you stand for what you believe in.

    Just keep up the good work you do. There are haters all over this planet, and they hate Women, Jews, Gays, Atheists, Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and anyone else who is either physically different from or thinks differently than them.

    Keep n mind that we scare them. It’s why they lash out. It makes them feel superior somehow.

    As a result, they make themselves little and insignificant, if not loud.

    Ignore them as long as you can, and you just grow larger.

    1. I am trying to still be positive towards the general skeptical movement, but it is getting more and more difficult as time goes on.

      You keep up the good work and try not to let the @holes get you down!

  10. Amy, watching how you, Jen, Rebecca and others have been treated has definitely muted my enthusiasm for the skeptical movement; not to mention the disappointing silence of others. The invitation to go trail riding in the woods and hills before or after Seattle’s Geek Girl Con still stands! (And last year we acquired a wonderful palomino Morgan you’d love!)

  11. Amy, no matter what, keep up the good fight. You should never, ever, need to justify your beliefs, and you shouldn’t have to put up with that kind of abuse. Hopefully, someone is willing to take this on and fight it alongside you. What they’re saying to you is evil.

    And you don’t need that in your life.

  12. I am sorry that the exhausting collection of hate messages continue. But know there are many of us who support, and will continue to support you, and others, through this. I would love to expose these individuals to their employers, to their friends, to their significant others. I would love the light of day to shine on these individuals so that all could see them as they are.
    It is tiresome- it is weary – I’m impressed you keep going, and I admire you all the more for it.

  13. Amy, you may have been absent from the Twitters or other social media for some of the time, but pretty much every day since TAM you’ve been demonstrating genuine goodness and being a better person in spite of the daily harassment. I hope the messages of support that this thread will invariably fill up with can help counterbalance all that other unwanted and uncalled-for crap.

    And thank you for the birthday wishes! Best to get in early (the actual day is next Tuesday). This was a simple thing you did, merely because I tweeted how a present had arrived in the mail yesterday, and you selflessly returned a bit of goodwill. I love the Waves Surly-Ramic, and how it obviously pays homage to The Great Wave off Kanagawa.

    (As to the Venn diagram — I think there are both good people AND assholes in each of those intersections, but the thing to note is that sadly, some people can migrate back and forth between being an asshole and being decent on a fairly rapid basis. I don’t really get the motivation of the people who are utterly determined on being assholes, and why we’re currently afflicted by so many of them. Keep blocking and ignoring ’em, they’re not worth it.)

  14. You and the other targeted women in the skeptical movement are some of the most wonderful, intelligent, and *proactive* members! I am white, CIS-hetero male, and I definitely identify myself not only as an atheist and a skeptic, but as a feminist. I do not always feel qualified to speak (type) on feminist matters, but I try when I can. Skepchick is a daily visit for me, and I appreciate every single one of you.

  15. This –> ” I will continue to simply do good in the face of this constant abuse. I will not respond with hate. Nor will I walk away. I will do good things. Things that help others. Things that make the world directly around me a tiny bit better.” is a beautiful approach. Combined with a generous and inclusive offer for men to benefit from your grants, let the hate dissipate.

  16. I’m glad to see you still keeping things positive. I don’t know how you do it. I met you at the last GeekGirlCon, and was very impressed.

    In my own local atheism circles, I have actually stopped attending meetups. We had one older man verbally abuse a newcomer who was a secular buddhist in order to “keep atheism pure”, and then at another meeting I was told by a different older man that A+ was akin to the cults at Jonestown and Waco Texas. This guy was so virulent and hateful, and he just kept going. I took a stand, and pointed out my own feminist leanings, but the rest of the group was silent. I know later, that some of them found his rhetoric reprehensible, but the silence made me feel they were complicit in his hate.

    So now, I don’t go to local atheist spaces because I just don’t have the strength to deal with such hateful people. It gave me a huge insight into the strength of character that you and the rest of the Skepchicks must have to stand against this relentless targeting. I have nothing but respect for the lot of you, and can’t stop singing your praises. I’m very glad you haven’t been forced out. It gives me hope that I can enter atheist spaces, presenting as a woman, and have a place there.

    1. Wow, I feel lucky that kind of stuff is rare in the atheist/skeptic groups I frequent in my town.

      Occasionally some crazy people show up but they usually realize pretty quickly that the group will not let them create a platform for their craziness and they move on.

    2. I took a stand, and pointed out my own feminist leanings, but the rest of the group was silent. I know later, that some of them found his rhetoric reprehensible, but the silence made me feel they were complicit in his hate.

      There’s an old canard that “Silence implies consent.” The one time I’ve found it to be true is when one person claims to be speaking for another, or for a group. So, to Question Authority, here’s an example of ‘what you can do’. If you’re in a group, and someone is being an asshat, you can stand up.

      To avoid white-knighting, if a member of the targeted group is already taking the lead, let them do so–just let them, and the rest of the group know that they aren’t alone. Even just nodding, or a vocal, “That’s right,” from some of the others would very likely have helped Ethicalcannibal feel like she wasn’t alone in the room.

      If no one else speaks out, on the other hand, then you should take it upon yourself to do the standing up.

  17. Amy,

    I was introduced to the topics via the SGU a few years ago. Initially, I was very much excited about the skeptical community. The enthusiasm has tapered off over time mainly due to the kinds of behavior you have described.

    Now I am just a lurker. I don’t post much. I read a few blogs that I enjoy. I listen to a few podcasts that I enjoy. I no longer go to any kind of con or local meets.

    My take on the situation is that there are too many voices, and little to no leadership. There are too many factions: science, skepticism, atheism, liberalism, libertarianism, feminism, and more “isms” I fail to recall right now.

    Being the Homo Sapiens that we all are, if your “isms” aren’t the same as my “isms” it is just a matter of time before war breaks out. It seems the war is well engaged right now. One would think this is a gold mine for any curious cultural anthropologists.

    I cringe just reading the personal attacks on this blog. I applaud you for moving forward with your convictions in the face of your enemies. It is courageous and heroic. Unfortunately, I think there are many people like me that are just avoiding the conflict and the chaos.

    Without the leadership needed to bring people together, this movement has no hope of growing or moving into mainstream thought.

    1. Amy isn’t a leader? Why are you complaining about a “lack of leadership” instead of about the vocal assholes who are doing the harassing? Do you ever speak up, or do you just cover your eyes and ears until it’s over, and then complain that no one stood up to the assholes?

      Because it seems to me that you’re acting exactly like what/whom you’re trying to criticize. IRONY.

      1. Marilove,

        Thank you for responding to me.

        I neither criticized or complained, or at least I didn’t intend to. I presented my opinion that the movement was splintered across various groups that were fighting one another, and that they lack the leadership to find common ground to productively move forward.

        I shared that the fighting has diminished my interested in being engaged, and I speculated that other people are also disengaging in the movement due to the fighting.

        I appreciate and applaud people like Amy that continue to forge ahead regardless of the personal attacks.

        I understand the irony in my tendency to disengage instead of stepping forward to help lead, while simultaneously pointing out the need for common leadership across factions. You’re right. That said, I don’t believe I have the credentials, nor the “voice” to help provide that leadership.

        I trust this day finds you well, and I look forward to reading your posts in the future.

    2. No, it’s just that everyone with a brain and decency needs to be taking a zero tolerance policy for hate speech, harassment, and boys club cronyism. As more and more people stand up for this, it will become less and less acceptable.

      And that’s what harassment needs to be, something to be ashamed of, a scarlet letter.

  18. Stay strong, Amy. I’m so sorry you have to deal with such crap from those vicious pathetic losers, and I so admire your determination not to be beaten.

  19. Amy,
    You need a PR secretary for deleting hateful crap. That way, you don’t have to see the verbal diarrhea from useless, unimportant losers, and you can just focus on fighting the good fight. I’m serious. Delegate. Find a devoted young feminist intern to take care of that nonsense. Accept the fact that these losers have nothing to say that you should care about. Free yourself, and give that task to someone who won’t be as personally affected by the assholes.

    1. Amy, if I consistently got up before you do in the morning, you could give me your Twitter account info and I would totally block and delete all the haters before you have your coffee. We need someone in an earlier time zone…

  20. Your positive attitude is so inspiring. I just wanted to say thanks for all the work you have done for the skeptic community. :)

  21. Uh, the Venn diagram that you present makes no sense. Atheists who have too much free time to spend on the internet are “good people,” but if they are also skeptics then they are then also “assholes?” Does that even make sense to you as a poster on a “skeptical” website?

    And people with too much internet free time who are skeptics are “good people,” but if they are also atheists are, “assholes?”

    You fail at reasoning so hard that I no longer wonder why I rarely visit this site anymore.

    1. You fail at having a sense of humor. It was not meant to be taken entirely seriously, dude. For Pete’s sake. Don’t be an ass.

    2. Also, how very telling that, out of EVERY THING SHE WROTE, *this* is what you focus on? The absolute disgusting harassment she gets on a daily basis didn’t even make a dent in your little world, did it? You hardly even noticed. Nope, you just honed right in on a silly little graph that wasn’t even supposed to be taken seriously, just so you could flounce around and tell us how very much you despise us. Yet you took the time to log in and comment…


      Perhaps you belong in the previous thread about “hate watching/reading”.

    3. I get the feeling you have Internet and too much free time on your hands. How about you promise not to be an ass in comment sections anymore and I’ll promise not to make jokes with Venn diagrams. Deal?

      1. No Amy no deal. You can’t reason with these assholes. They need to be called out for the horrible people they’re being.

      2. Errr sorry for the strong reaction, I just realized I may be standing in front instead of behind with that comment. My apologies to you for that.

        I am just getting really irate hearing this kind of hateful bullshit. Really, it’s not that hard to have simple respect for women and respect for someone who dares speak out.

        I’m starting to think more and more like Marilove that if someone can’t have this basic decency, they deserve NONE in return.

    4. with a lazer like focus you managed to find the important part of this article: a comedic venn diagram you can be pedantic about.

      Fuck off, dude. If this is all you have to nitpick, can’t you just leave and bother someone else? Maybe a prominent female skeptic has bought some shoes and you can call her a hypocrite for it.

      1. Exactly. That’s how this sexist skepticism works.

        Forget listening to the actual content… let’s pick some little detail to get emotional about and criticize them about that. Then let’s label our emotional response as skepticism and congratulate ourselves on what great Skeptics we are!!! <— This describes it.

  22. Amy —

    I can’t offer much that will help. I do admit to being baffled.

    Not at you. At the people that do this. I expressed a similar sentiment on FtB: I wake up and read this from you and wonder what planet I am on.

    I mean, I just don’t have the energy to be hateful to people like that, nor the goddamned time. (Holy crap, people making videos? That takes a couple of hours at least, when you include the time fidgeting to get the sound right and such).

    Do one of these folks have anything else in their lives but harassing you? I’m just… I dunno. Beyond shocked, although I shouldn’t be. Maybe just disappointed in humanity.

    I mean, I have “met” people on the ‘net I didn’t agree with. But I can’t be hateful about it. It just seems like a waste of laptop battery. What does anyone get out of it? Wouldn’t getting drunk be more fun than harassing you? Smoking a bowl? Getting drunk and smoking a bowl? Scrabble? Television?

    No matter how mad I am at someone, I would pick any of those before bugging you just to make you feel bad. What the hell would be the point?

    So good for you Amy for not getting driven away by jerks, who evidently must all be independently wealthy :-) given the time they seem to have.

    I’m glad to hear you aren’t letting people drive you away. Maybe there’s a creative Twitter blocking app out there somewhere. I hope so, and I hope this dies down at some point. I wish there was something more concrete I/we could do to help.

    Somewhere there’s an anthropologist who can make sense of this, I hope.

    1. I quite agree with this. I cannot understand the thought process behind it.

      So someone sits down and read a statement they disagree with for some reason. My reaction to this would span from “Ignoring the statement”, “Writing a short message about why I disagree” and up to “Deleting that blog from my favourites and stop reading it” (or similar). If the person is visible elsewhere, I might put them on my ignore list, stop listening to the podcast or other such drastic methods.

      At no point would my reaction be “Spend a large amount of my own time on sending hateful messages to the person” or even more silly: “Create my own blog where I spend a lot of time writing about this person”, since that would just waste my own time on someone I obviously dislike.

      On the other hand, if I feel that the person is actually harming people (Anti-vax, holocaust deniers, etc.), I could see some logic in spending time educating the general public. Might this be what the people in question think? That “Equal rights for everyone”, “Don’t harass people” and other equally controversial statements are as dangerous as “Don’t vaccinate, your children will become autistic”?

      1. [Reply to Tom, with rambling asides to Dr. Dr. Professor and Amy.]

        Tom, on your last paragraph: that would make sense as a motivation if they actually made arguments (good or loaded with logical fallacies) against those propositions, but they don’t. Unless they engaging in some form of extreme ad hominem logical system in which a syllogism consists of one statement (e.g. “Amy is a poopie-head”) instead of two statements and a conclusion (e.g. A: “Feminists want women to be treated fairly in the workplace.” B: “My parents want me to move out of the basement and get a job.” Conclusion: “Amy is a poopie-head.”)

        Amy, maybe you could make up a batch of “Amy is a poopie-head” Surlies and distribute them to these people? They would function as the Scarlet Letters suggested by the good professor in an earlier comment.

        (PS: Don’t let me get started on the whole idea of shaming as a means of social control, though. These people spread ugliness to everything they touch. Maybe that’s why you annoy them so much, Amy, it’s because you’re an artist? PPS: My niece loves her new “I Prefer Facts” Surly, everyone thought I had it made especially for her.)

  23. it still leaves me slack jawed with amazement that people who identify as skeptical and pride themselves on their rationality act like this.

    I mean, I know it’s a rule that 10% of any group or movement is going to be made up of massive assholes, but it’s depressing to be confronted by it.

    Amy, I wish you all the best. I’m blown away by your response to these people, taking their hate as a spur for greater generosity and amazing art.

    You’re what skepticism should be about.

    1. I think it’s more than 10%. I think sexism is something ingrained in society, and lots of people rather than be skeptical, choose not to challenge themselves.

      Skepticism is easy when you’re challenging others, but when you have to turn it on yourself, that’s uncomfortable and people will squirm, scream, and kick to avoid having to look themselves in the mirror and say “I. am. wrong.”

  24. Amy – I can hardly even begin to imaging how horrible this abuse must be. Your determination to carry on in spite of it is inspiring

  25. Hey Amy!
    I think it is important that you don’t let the bastards win.
    More power to you!
    I purchased a pendant from you with a Trilobite theme as a present for my wife. We both love it.
    I like the idea of art that has a science theme – and I like the idea of supporting you.
    Sending you some Love from the other side of the world (Tasmania)

    1. Hey, Mark, if you see a 10 year old girl wandering around West Hobart with another trilobite Surly, that’s my niece!

  26. Thank you for continuing the grant program. Thank you for extending it to men. And thank you for not giving up.

  27. Amy, I’m so sorry you have to fight this fight, but I am even more grateful that you do so with such courage, generosity, and skill. I hope knowing that you inspire others helps, even a little.

  28. This goes to show, once again, why Amy is exactly the kind of person any movement worth supporting should be competing to attract, and her detractors are [EXPLETIVE DELETED]. Donated to both programs to show my support. (PS: I hope this year’s TAM is a flop)

  29. Amy,

    In a small way, I feel sorrier for the a$$holes who are harassing you (and the other leaders in this movement to evolve skepticism). You have the wonderful privilege of being who you are. You get to have SurlyAmy and all her awesomeness inside your head all day. Those other sad folk (your harassers) have to live with dark, tortured, rage-monsters inside their heads all day. It twists their every thought into a mean, hateful caricature of the truth. What an awful, horrible way to live their lives! A tragedy, really, given that it’s all of their own making.

    So if it helps, just remember that they have to live out their lives with a rabid, paranoid badger running around inside their heads. You, on the other hand, get the happy prize of SurlyAmy dancing about in your head, making beautiful art, and changing the world for the better. Pretty clear who won THAT contest! :)

  30. That’s me up there, in the Twitter screen cap, calling out that jerk for harassing Amy. I have noticed one thing about these disgusting creeps: they never have a (sane) response to why they behave this way. They all cite (completely distorted or often wholly made-up) behavior on the part of the women they harass. What they don’t realize is it wouldn’t even matter if what they are accusing these ladies of is true (and it never is). The point is they do NOT have the right to cyber-follow people around and “punish” them.

    But that’s not their real motivation. What they are really doing is self-justifying their desire to anonymously be cruel to strangers. Their behavior is that of a cowardly bully, hiding behind the cover of the Internet.

    1. Thank you!!! And thanks to everyone who has or plans on donating. I already got some great applicants! We have hope for a better tomorrow.

  31. Hi Amy, You’re great. The haters are pathetic. The idea that disagreements should be dealt with anonymously and by flaming is a tragedy.

    But please get rid of that Venn diagram. I know what you’re trying to express by it, but it’s anathema to a critical thinking and mathematical mind. If you take it literally, I and most people I know are “assholes”. :-(

    1. Dude. It’s a joke. Not meant to be taken literally. Or seriously. IT IS A JOKE.

      We already went through this.

      1. Hey Marilove remember when women ruined atheism and skepticism by asking to be treated with respect and then I ruined critical thinking with a joke Venn diagram?

        1. And FEMINISTS are told they can’t take a joke! YEESH, people! It was supposed to be a silly, meaningless Venn diagram, which is fantastic because most Venn diagrams are pretty useless anyway. THUS THE JOKE YOU GUYS.

          Now laugh. It’s okay! I promise.

          And now that you’ve laughed at a silly joke, don’t you feel better?


          Amy, I swear. If it wasn’t the Venn diagram, it would have been something else to nit pick.

          1. Yeah, it’s odd I thought people were going to be mad at my ‘skeptical method’ design, since I was reducing a movement to a simple method, not the stupid Venn diagram with assholes at the center. Ah well, moving on…

          2. It is clear that you were adding a bit of humor to the entire post in an attempt to lighten up a personal and rather depressing topic, in an attempt to move on and not dwell. But these people can’t see that. They are so caught up in being “Kkeptics”, they don’t even know what it’s like to be a human being any more.

      2. AND before someone replies, “But what if it is taken seriously!” OR, “But people are taking it seriously!” I will just repeat:

        Dude. It’s a joke. Not meant to be taken literally. Or seriously. IT IS A JOKE.

        We already went through this.

        Sooo, don’t bother replying with that comment. :D I swear I’ll just copy/paste that little bit of text in reply. SO just re-read that bit of text every time you think of some “but!” reply, okay? Okay.

  32. Amy, my wife just walked in, took one look at that Venn diagram,(without any explanation) and broke out laughing.

    Hasn’t anybody heard of artistic licence?

    I like Marilove’s “KKeptics” cept I would add an extra K.

    Cue the tune “Deutschland Uber Alles”

    “Skeptics have a sense of humour
    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha”…

    You vill NOT enjoy that Venn diagram!!

  33. Look, peeps, I better say something. I was late aboard USS Skepchick, but it was one of my first encounters with this new thing called “Skeptics” and ILWIS. DGMW, I’ve been a member of a Humanist group for 25 years and knew all about Kurtz and Randi and so on, but I hadn’t realised that something new was growing, exemplified by the conferences: TAM, Skepticon, etc. and the blogs: Pharyngula, Skepchick, etc. Here in Britain I discovered that the likes of Sid Rodrigues and Simon Perry were growing a “Skeptics in the Pub” network, and I spent a year helping to start the chapter here in Birmingham. I invited both Rebecca and Tracy to be among our first speakers.

    The Humanist movement has been built on equality, and since my image of what a science nerd is like comes mainly from “Weird Science” it seemed important to me that the new SitP avoided being macho or sexist or whatever, and obviously I can’t speak for the women who come to the meetings, but the fact that there are so many of them, and the atmosphere is so positive, augurs well. I can’t say that SitP has succeeded entirely in its equality mission, since the monthly talks are upstairs, so we fail from the point of view of accessibility, and that’s one reason that I dropped out of organising for them.

    In the intervening time since Rebecca came to speak to us I’ve been shocked and saddened by what’s happened to the Skeptic movement. Both “sides” take some responsibility for this, since mountains were made out of molehills and the situation was allowed to get completely out of hand. Having said that, I’m on your side, since, to put it in simple terms, you are the oppressed and it would be ridiculous to side with the oppressor. Or to put it in even simpler terms, you are right. Rebecca is still one of my Skeptic heroes (if heroes are allowed) and the continued mistreatment of Rebecca, Amy and everyone else by both a band of flaming nerds and by certain august individuals who should know better, disgusts me.

    (Did you see Thunderfoot sucking up to Ana Kasparian today? It worked. :-( God, she loved it, and I was the only one on Twitter who pointed out to her that she should perhaps check who this smooth-talking guy is.)


    Whoa. Even though you’re having to put up with terrible abuse, and hence continually on the defensive/offensive, you really shouldn’t treat regular visitors to your forum in the way you treated me and the other guy. I’ve got a good sense of humour, and I got the joke, but somehow it didn’t sit well with me, hence the comment, and I felt hurt by your response. (I hadn’t read the earlier kerfuffle so I suppose I got off quite lightly!) Has Skepchick degenerated into a club for insiders? If you don’t want people to comment, except to say what you’d like them to say, you might as well make the site private. Otherwise, seeing what I’ve just seen, you’re just going to turn people off. (And don’t say that you don’t care.)

    “I swear, if it wasn’t the Venn diagram, it would’ve been something else to nitpick” was mean. You don’t know me, yet you treat me as a troll.

    “These people can’t see that. They are so caught up in being Skeptics that they don’t even know what it’s like to be a human being any more.”

    Excuse me? Are your senses so dulled from battle that you can’t see how offensive that is? Wow. All I did was make a comment and suddenly I’m subhuman.

    Please don’t do this. I love the Skepchicks very much, and I’ll continue to upbraid the antifeminist egodicks who assume that everyone’s on their side, but you’ve got to let your supporters and ordinary Joes and Janes be negative from time to time without accusing us of lack of sympathy/empathy.

    1. Had you taken the trouble to establish your credentials first, the response may well have been different.

      Was Marilove supposed to guess all that by osmosis or something? Especially when a similar negative comment had already been made? That was asking for trouble.

      What you copped was probably largely fallout from the earlier comment. But if you think that was harsh, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

    2. Geeze, Adrian. Look I’m sorry if my diagram wasn’t mathematically accurate. I was just trying to make a joke about everyone being assholes. Please try to understand that we get attacked constantly for every little thing we say or do. No matter how offensive or non offensive it is. So yes, we are a bit battle fatigued and yes, we can occasionally jump to conclusions and lash out when we get nit picked. We don’t want to drive good people away but at the same time we can’t be expected to be gracious to every person that rolls up on us and blindsides us without doing their homework as to what we have been through. Please, give us the benefit of the doubt in these difficult times. Humor is one of the things we have managed to hold on to.

      1. I don’t think you stand a chance here mate, best be quiet because it would seem your “Credentials” haven’t been examined. WTF?

    3. I would say, yes, our senses are dulled from battle. Our good faith efforts have been attacked too much here for it to be otherwise. I don’t know how to remedy it, so many people log in here to score ‘points’ that it’s become impossible to assume anyone we don’t recognize doesn’t have an axe to grind. It’s usually a pretty sure bet.
      We’re human, and we’re tired.
      I’m sorry that innocent bystanders get caught in the crossfire, but the alternative is not to engage at all.
      The constant drumbeat of hostility has taken a toll, even on the commenters.

    4. Me, me, me. I, I, I.

      What a huge block of self-centered whoa-is-me.

      Perhaps if you had read the comments before repeating already said and replied to bullshit, you could have saved yourself a lot of time.

  34. I am a little sensitive too because I just got told that I was forgiven for “acting like a cunt” on Twitter, because I objected to this dude encouraging people to sexually harass me.

    But you know what? That kind of thing happens all the damn time and if you really want people to be nicer then you need to work a lot harder on changing the culture. Maybe if you spend more time engaging with your fellow men and making it clear that there are men who don’t tolerate sexist remarks, then a.) you would understand the humor and b.) it would come more naturally to you to remind yourself that vocal feminists on the internet are besieged by harassers.

  35. This morning, I hope you wake up to this single message of support.*

    You rock. Get on with your bad self and ignore those assholes. :)

    *I hope you wake up to many, many more, as well!

      1. You know this is only the second time i’ve come to Skepchick & as someone who you probably term an “abuser” or some such i thought i’d check out what the other side had to say on home turf (so to speak). After reading your post i had some sympathy with your position & was going to say how awful i thought it was that you get unsolicited abuse from strangers but then i reach the comments section where you seem to think it’s OK to call people less than human (even your supporters) & allow dog-piling on anyone who has even the mildest disagreements with anything you say or do. My sympathy & any understanding just went bye bye (as will i). If anyone wants to reply to this i will read it but don’t expect an answer however much you goad me, so there is no need to block or ban me which is something else i was told you people (i still see you as people) do regularly. I don’t believe your not enjoying this as it would be so easy to compromise or even try to reach out to people like myself who was prepared to listen & maybe try to see both sides. Whatever you & the people commenting here are getting from this i’m not sure but it seems no-one here has the slightest desire for this shit to end despite what they say. IMO it seems like you expect the right to say anything you like & not be called on it….That’s no skepticism i know but fits right in with what i know of Feminism. I would suggest you try to find something else to ruin. See ya! ps It’s nice to see you still paying for some of your mates to go to outside sometimes.

  36. Can we specifically donate to send Thunderf00t to WiS?

    (Yes, I know, it probably wouldn’t do any good even if we could. Hope springs eternal.)

  37. Amy, I had a thought – another little tiny circle in the middle of the diagram would satisfy both logic and humour!

    Sorry for Godwining your thread.

    Much love and respect to you for this project and everything you do.

  38. Great post, Amy. You help people all the time so you win by default, by conviction and by hard work.

    Don’t think that your efforts aren’t appreciated and don’t underestimate how many people are on your side.

  39. “Both “sides” take some responsibility for this, since mountains were made out of molehills and the situation was allowed to get completely out of hand”

    Do I really have to do this? It turns out I do.

    First, spare me the scare quotes. You’re trying to imply that it’s other people who think there are sides, not you. But then you go right ahead and talk about sides. You’ve eaten your cake, you cannot also have it.

    Second, assuming sides equate to sexes, you’re accusing one ‘side’ only of making those mountains and – I suspect – the other ‘side’ of “allowing” the….situation… to get “out of hand”.

    Or to put it another way, it looks like you think that men have been asleep at the switch while women make darling claims about their rights. Damn it but those sleeping men have somehow occasionally allowed women to awesome things. They can’t be allowed to think they just went ahead and did it all by themselves.

  40. Amy,
    You’re an amazing and inspiring person. Congratulations on having the strength and determination to carry on with doing what is right. Thank you for providing help and support to others so selflessly.

  41. I wrote “sides” like that because there is lots more that unites Skeptics than divides us, except when it comes to the professional trolls who have continued to piss into the cracks and gleefully watched the frost smash the rocks. And the “sides” in this to-do are not women versus men. Quite a lot of women have jumped on the antifeminism bandwagon or are fangirls for Dawkins, Thunderfoot etc. And quite a lot of men, whether or not they are feminists, are pro-equality and against any idea that women should “just have to put up with” all this shit.

    And you can’t expect commenters to “establish their credentials”. Hard as it is, you’ve got to give people the benefit of the doubt. The golden rule, and all that.

    HST, although my motto is “Set Phasers to Ignore” I do get it that there’s far too much bullying going on now to just try and carry on regardless, and I ought to leave off with critiquing your behaviour and do something more useful like join whatever counteroffensive you’ve got going on.

    Here’s my email: [email protected] and I hereby invite the haters to send me their worst and give Amy and the others a break for five minutes, dammit.

    1. You say you’re on our side but all you’re doing is nit picking stupid things RIGHT AFTER SOMEONE ELSE DID THE SAME THING.

      Read the foments. Take the time to UNDERSTAND and LEARN.

      Andi, no. We don’t have to do anything.

      If you are on our side, stop derailing. Read the comments! Stop tone trolling. Stop making it about you.

      I was mean? Did you read the shit women skeptically have to deal with? What amy has dealt with?

      I wasn’t mean. I am just tired of the self centered mansplaining.

      If you’re an ally, act like one! This isn’t about you!

  42. Seeing all of the hate launched at you and other women during the past few years has been really disheartening.

    Sadly, the anonymity and interpersonal distance of the internet seems to make it quite easy for people to lash out and hurt each other. However, in some ways, it seems to be far worse in atheist/skeptic venues than other parts of the progressive blogosphere I’ve frequented.

    There seems to be a kind of hyper-competitive verbal posturing that fills a good part of the atheist/skeptic blogosphere. (Although, Skepchick is refreshingly devoid of this.) It reminds me a lot of boys I knew in high school who would engage in no-holds-barred insult matches. Any boy with a quick, hurtful wit achieved admiration and status among other boys. Each day was filled with verbal sparing matches as boys competed for higher social status. A hurtful jab could come just as readily from a friend as it could from an enemy.

    Not so long ago, many folks in the movement seemed focused upon ridiculing and insulting outside people and institutions which were determined to be irrational forces working against science and secularism. Now, those same behaviors have turned inward and are ripping the movement apart, person by person.

    When a sizable subgroup of people become so focused upon verbal aggression toward those inside and outside of the movement, I think it’s time to ask if the efforts of the movement are beginning to sink into dysfunction. I think it’s also fair to ask how resorting to aggressive posturing as a common tactic is fostering an unhealthy social environment—an environment which is driving people away from movement atheism/skepticism.

    1. No, the problem is not ridicule. The problem is bigotry. Ridicule can be deployed to mock bigotry. That is a good use of ridicule. Ridicule can also be employed to enforce bigotry. That is a bad use of ridicule.

      It’s not the tone, it’s the content.

      1. For people who aren’t religious, there sure is a lot of ‘turn the other cheek when your enemy smites you’ bullshit advice.
        Lie back and think of England, ladies –
        Then the bigots are sure to stop seeing you as inferiors!

      2. Some religious people are bigots and many are not.

        I was referring to the tendency of internet atheism to respond to religious people with ridicule. I was also indirectly referencing Richard Dawkins who called for ridiculing religious people during the Reason Rally (with virtually no critique of the suggestion coming from movement atheism).

  43. Amy, given that you live in California, its penal code section 422 defines someone being guilty of committing a criminal threat as “Any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person, with the specific intent that the statement, made verbally, in writing, or by means of an electronic communication device, is to be taken as a threat, even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out, which, on its face and under the circumstances in which it is made, is so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey to the person threatened, a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat, and thereby causes that person reasonably to be in sustained fear for his or her own safety or for his or her immediate family’s safety, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year, or by imprisonment in the state prison.”

    When are we going to stop treating these idiots as mere idiots? I wish you had outed him; these dopes need to be outed. I read this knucklehead’s tweet to you that he is a potential rapist as a criminal threat against you as defined above in CA penal code. I can find no other way to interpret telling another person that you’re a potential rapist as anything other than a threat; this guy is a criminal.

    This isn’t free speech; no one has a First Amendment right to physically threaten another person. He may have been joking, but I’ll take this idiot’s claim at his word that he’s a potential rapist, and as such, he is dangerous. Moreover, he and other morons who utter such things to harass, intimidate, and threaten people need to be punished accordingly.

    I know the likelihood of the police taking this seriously is minimal, but you can sue someone civilly for these threats. I know it’s a lot of money to involve lawyers, but maybe we should start a legal fund so that we can start suing these idiots. I don’t believe in deterrence but routine activities theory shows that crime is most likely to occur where there are motivated offenders, suitable targets, and lack of capable guardians. So we should ramp up the capable guardians by suing these morons and making them realize that they’re not engaging in witty banter, they’re breaking the law. It may not stop the next moron, but at least it will cull the herd.

    Anyhow, other than outing them, we need to stop trying to convince these morons that they’re wrong through blogs, discussion posts, and twitter. The message is clearly not being received. If we really want to get their attention, we need to sue them. It may not stop them but it sure will hurt them where it counts: their wallets.

    Keep up the good work…

    1. I couldn’t decide if it was better to out him or not. Usually we do, and of course we get flack for that approach too and I did retweet his tweet to my followers. I am a firm believer that “don’t feed the trolls” is a load of horse-shit and is just another way of convincing women and other online harassment targets to keep quiet and take the abuse. When I wrote this didn’t feel like giving him the extra attention he would get from this post. He, as far as I could tell is not one of the regular harassers that we deal with everyday. At least it was not an account that I recognized, but I totally hear what you are saying. And I agree that when appropriate we should taking legal action. A legal fund would be a great idea.

      1. I feel for you guys having to deal with this; none of it is easy.

        I’m glad you, Rebecca, Pamela Gay, et al are continuing to speak out on misogyny/gender stupidity. It has no place in any community, let alone one that prides itself on skepticism, critical thinking, and reason. That’s why I encourage you take legal action. It ramps up the stakes for these guys and as skeptical as I am about it, maybe it will make some of them realize how wrong they’ve been; that if we’re really a community that prides itself on skepticism, critical thinking, and reason, that those things will win out.

    2. @digithead, @Amy, that’s great.

      Trouble is there seems always to be some “plausible deniability” built into the threats, isn’t there?

      “I’m a potential..” “I’m thinking of..” “You should be..”

      Enough, though, to cause distress to the targets, i.e. the Skepchicks. I find that to be particularly gutless and cowardly.

      It would be great to see an example made of even one such asshole as a warning to the others.

      As a bonus, that would set a legal precedent making further prosecutions easier. That in itself would be of wider value given that a lot of internet law is new.

      I would contribute to the fund.

  44. You’re the best, Amy. And good to see there will be more grants.

    And you always have friends here to back you up.
    We can fight these haters.
    And I think, one day, we’ll win.

  45. As a response to this post, I have tried to publicly support (via Twitter or comments) at least one feminist woman every day. If you can get crap every day, I can try to lend support to try to counter it. I guess it’s only a small gesture, but I get to think about not simply feminist issues but what I appreciate about specific ladies on the front lines of skepticism, fandom, etc.

  46. I’m fed up with this. It’s typical behaviour tho. When people get a bit offended, lots of people offend them because they can’t understand why that person gets offended thus creating an endless completely useless circle of bullshit. Regardless of whether I agree or not whether someone should be offended – IT’S NONE OF MY GODDAMN BUSINESS.

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