I know someone who argues that women need to accept responsibility for a sexually charged atmosphere at our events. Some women “dress like sluts” and “act like whores” which leads some men to miscalculate or something and sexually harass women — even the ones who don’t dress and act all slutty and whorish. This is textbook victim blaming and I really doubt this person would say that an African-American person who was called a racial slur needs to accept the fact that since some other African-Americans at the conference “acted really black” they can place all the blame on the person who acted wrongly.
I despair and come close to just saying “fuck it” and abandoning my participation in the skeptic and atheist communities on at least a weekly basis because of how often I see unconscionable behavior not only happen but being defended by man, and in some cases at least tolerated by very prominent leaders in our community. Sam Harris has famously argued that “moderate”, liberal theists provide cover for religious extremists. I see the same thing happening here. People who defend “minor” sexist acts and ideas, or who even just avoid talking about it are providing cover and a safe-haven for the people who threaten to rape 15 year old girls on reddit and who actually commit sexual assault and rape.
Your silence in the face of sexist behavior and speech and your attempts to “calm things down” when we call people out for being horrible are interpreted as support by not only the ones we’re talking to at that moment but also that quiet person in the back who has horrible ideas and a will to use them. Every time you say “Yes, but…” there may be a real shitball like the “Amazing” Atheist who is thinking to himself that you agree with him.
– Sasha Pixlee