This is a guest post by Robin Marie.
In the beginning, there was “Elevatorgate.” Rebecca Watson, a feminist atheist blogger, politely explained how not to hit on women. Richard Dawkins, the most famous leader of the “New Atheists,” decided he needed to condescendingly explain to Watson that since she is not a Muslim woman, it was self-indulgent of her to speak about her experiences of sexism. Not coincidentally – as far as I am concerned – Dawkins decided this after sitting on a panel with Watson where she extensively explained how being a skeptic and a feminist netted her the delightful catch of dozens of e-mails every day – from other skeptics – offering alternatively to pleasure her like no one else had before (the “fan mail”) or, to rape her violently to set her straight (the hate mail). I think all this talk about sexism in the atheist community made Dawkins very uncomfortable – but then he realized, no worries: there’s nothing a little comparison to the Muslim Barbaric Other can’t fix.
Over the next few years – the controversy over “Elevatorgate” began two years and two months ago, to be exact – the feminist atheist community blossomed. We now have conferences organized for skeptical, non-believing women; we have multiple bloggers who focus on the intersectionality of race, gender, and religion; and we have an association of atheists, called Atheism +, which defines itself explicitly along the lines of giving a shit about these other social ills.
What we also have, however, is a community of people devoted to attacking feminist atheists. The most polite of these express their position with the classic reactionary posture of “reverse discrimination” – by talking about white privilege and male privilege, feminist atheists are actually irrationally stereotyping all men/white people, and are on a quest to destroy anyone who disagrees with their dogmatic, unfounded social analysis. The worst of them, on the other hand, create web sites and twitter feeds devoted to attacking these women endlessly, threatening them with rape and calling them cunts, whores, and every other invective in the book. They fill these same women’s inboxes with these verbal assaults every day.