Anti-Feminist Atheists Inevitably Choosing Sexism Over Commitment to Rationality

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, November 27, 2012 13:31 EDT
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I’ve blogged here in the past about the dogged and weird pro-harassment* cult that erupted in the atheist/skeptic movement, one that is very small but, being composed by a lot of unstable people have nothing better to do than harass others, can nonetheless make a pain of themselves.** By and large, their main obsession is screaming incoherently against anyone who wants to put policies in place at conferences that would make it harder for them to harass people, but this has turned over time into a larger faith-based belief that anything a feminist believes must be wrong. Any doubts that the last vestiges of reason are finally releasing their grip on this cult were removed this morning, when PZ Myers wrote about how a rabid anti-feminist completely lost his shit over feminist opposition to douching.

Yes, douching.

I recommend reading PZ’s entire post, as it’s a stellar example of the kind of “critiques” that the rabid anti-feminist cult comes up with of feminism, including disingenuously quote-mining PZ to make it seem like he said the opposite of what he did, which is basically an admission of not having an argument. To summarize: Someone on the Atheism+ forum, which is a pro-social justice atheism forum, posted a fairly straightforward argument that is a good example of blending skepticism and feminism, pointing out that douches are unnecessary and even bad for your health products that sell by exploiting misogynist narratives framing ladyparts as dirty. What’s funny is this is a non-controversial point from a science perspective, and the forum poster made that clear by linking a study that compiled decades worth of research on douching, concluding that not only is douching not necessary, but it contributes to conditions such as PID and ectopic pregnancy. What the forum poster was doing was traditional skeptical work: Pointing out the social pressures, in this case misogyny, that cause people to make choices that the scientific evidence strongly recommends against. It’s no different than, say, attacking anti-vaccination nonsense.

It’s unclear if the angry, uh, “critic”, who goes by the name @NYBoxTurtle, simply is such a huge fan of douching that he will brook no criticism of it, or if he hates feminists so much that anything they say must be wrong, even if it’s something as simple as, “Huh, looks like snow today.” Probably a bit of both, as the only real reason one could think the sickly smell of douche sprayed over a vagina whose bacterial balance is now screwed up is an improvement over the smell of healthy vagina is if you hate women that much. Either way, he uses tactics to try to undermine scientific findings that even creationists would find intellectually dishonest.

This is why I’m comfortable believing if feminists hang in, they will win. Rigid anti-feminism tends to go in this direction of hostility to rationality. There’s just too much dissonance between sexist beliefs and reality. I predicted this years ago with the Raving Atheist, that he would choose his hardline opposition to reproductive rights over his atheism when the cognitive dissonance became too great, and that’s what he did. First the anti-feminist atheists gave up trying to produce actual evidence for their claims, and now they’re starting to attack scientific consensus in a creationist style. I’m guessing some of them convert to Christianity, which is more conducive to anti-feminist beliefs, before this is all over.

*Since they invariably show up and disingenuously claim not to be pro-harassment, I’ll explain briefly why they are. 1) The original and most continuous source of their anger is their opposition to conference policies banning sexual harassment. Since the only people harmed by such policies are harassers, they are quickly becoming a defense league of harassers. Any time I’ve asked any of them to come up with actual evidence that feminists wish to ban consensual sexual interaction, they’ve responded with nonsense that has nothing to do with my request. 2) They like to harass people, which would be the likeliest explanation for why they oppose conference policies that ban harassment. Those policies do, after all, ban their favorite hobby.

**It’s really just a time issue. People who have better things to do than harass others simply don’t have the time to swamp Twitter hashtags with their bile or deluge your comments section or email you repeatedly. People who make harassment a priority apparently have nothing but time on their hands.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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