Pretties vs. Uglies
I’m not going to rehash the most recent episode in the atheist blogosphere drama involving the Bolshoi Ballet, acid, harassment, and Ophelia Benson. But I’d like to make a few comments:
First, I disapprove of Benson’s conduct and treatment of others. But these are her decisions to make, and I’m sure my disapproval means nothing to her. If this is how she wishes to carry on, it’s her right to do so, just as it is the right of her opponents to criticize and even mock her actions.
Second, we still live in a world where women are valued largely by their looks. Sure, intelligence and a great personality are wonderful assets, but almost all studies show that being good-looking is a foot in many a door.
Third, I do not find Ophelia Benson to be ugly or unattractive. However, the fact that she regularly refers to herself as such makes me wonder if it’s something that bothers her. In any case, if I were criticizing Benson, I would never refer to her looks. Her looks have little to do with the conduct that upsets me.
Fourth, it is an oft unspoken truth that attractive and/or affluent women (and even men) have it much easier in life than the rest of us. So it wouldn’t surprise me if attractive women were less likely to be “gnu feminists.”
Finally, it is absolutely unacceptable to tweet the following to any woman: “@OpheliaBenson: Maybe a vial of acid would do you some good. You already look like you were set on fire and put out with a wet rake.” After reading that, I no longer care about what Benson has said online; I can only think about how hurtful it must be to receive such messages on a regular basis. While I’m in no way defending her actions over the last several years, nothing she’s done merits this sort of abuse.
And that is all.