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Posted by on Oct 29, 2012 in Atheism, Drama, Feminism, Freethought Blogs | 157 comments

Why Does Rebecca Watson Get So Much Sexist Abuse Via The Internet?

While this post applies to several prominent and outspoken women in the atheist community, I’m going to focus on Rebecca Watson, because she seems to be the easiest target for most of the sexist online vitriol. First of all, if you’re engaging in anything other than legitimate criticism of her arguments or behavior, I beg you to stop. I know that I’m probably directing this request (and it is a request, not a demand) at people who aren’t guilty, but still, I might as well ask. Whatever your goals or issues are in this “feminist war,” attacking Watson in a sexist manner is inappropriate and counterproductive. Further, it’s unprofessional and cruel. It demonstrates to people who already despise atheists that atheists are immoral, and confirms their worst fears. If this is a movement and a community, then any abuse against fellow members is inappropriate, and this, of course, also includes abuse by Watson and her clique.

Many of you believe that Watson thrives on victimhood and attention, and benefits from it financially. I’m not a mind reader, so I don’t know if this is true. But if it is, then please think about what happens when she’s trolled in a sexist manner. She gets the attention she seeks; she collects ad revenue; and moreover, it appears that she’s proved her case. So if for no other reason than that, please stop. Whether the threats against Watson are real threats or not, some of the emails and comments on her Wall O’Hate make me feel physically ill. And while it appears that some of those are typical 4chan/Anon garbage, and there’s no indication that the majority of those comments are coming from atheists, some clearly are. At least two of her stalkers appear to be seriously obsessed. Anyway, don’t feed into the drama. Real people are getting hurt, and often, those people are not the targets you intend.

Now, I’d like to give my opinions on the reasons for Watson’s trolling and online harassment. These are not facts, and I can be persuaded that I’m wrong. However, I do not believe that Watson is getting trolled because she’s a woman. Many vocal women on the Internet do not get any negative sexual attention, and the only online abuse (including sexist name-calling and comments) I’ve received has been from atheist feminists. But unlike Watson, I can say exactly who most of them are, and what they said or did. It is also worth noting that men like PZ Myers and Greg Laden are maligned just as often as Watson, yet are not as vocal about it. And oddly enough, it works like this: the less you care or protest, the less online abuse you get.

Having said all that, here are the reasons I see for Watson’s abuse that have little to do with her gender:

1. Prior misconduct, such as the JREF forum incident;
2. Online attacks — Krauss, Dawkins, Dunning, McGraw, etc.;
3. Attacks from the speaker’s platform — Kirby, McGraw;
4. Attacks from other feminists on her behalf;
5. Hypocrisy: for example, using female sexuality to get attention, then blaming others for noticing female sexuality once the goal is achieved;
6. A condescending attitude toward anyone who disagrees with her;
7. An inability to accept criticism and deal with it productively;
8. Use of abusive language and gendered slurs;
9. Mistakes in presentations and speeches, going off-topic;
10. Lack of expertise or experience in many of the areas she speaks about, poor fact-checking;
11. Celebrity that many deem to be undeserved;
12. Perceived dishonesty;
13. Inability to take on a true leadership role;
14. Failure to address topics of concern to the majority of the community;
15. Immaturity;
16. Sexism;
17. Consistent troll-feeding behavior.

This is the short list.

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  • Yep.

  • Tony Sidaway

    You’re casting around for excuses. Notice how if Watson is criticised, you call it criticism. but if she criticises someone (as she criticised McGraw) you call it “attacks.” Most of the criticism seems to be manufactured (think of the McGraw case, where Watson was faulted for commenting on public statements made about her, which is not at all controversial and indeed is expected).

    You seem to agree that there is a problem of misogyny in organised skepticism, and even urge people to stop aiming grossly misogynistic comments at her. But you still see her as the problem. Yet the misogyny that exists in our movement was almost invisible until Watson made it the focus of discussion. This is probably a better explanation fo why she attracts to much abuse: she hit the nail on the head and is continuing to hit it.

    • bluharmony

      I think the problem of sexism exists everywhere, but probably less so in atheism/skepticism than in other places. In any case, troll comments are not an accurate way to measure the problem. Further, most female bloggers and speakers active online have not and will never experience the harassment Watson gets. Why the difference? It’s not like most of us are any less concerned about women’s rights, but for most of us that comes as part of a broader belief in human rights in general. In any case, this is my opinion. If you have evidence to persuade me otherwise, I’m definitely willing to consider it.

      • B-Lar

        Why the difference? Could it be that Watson has a team of dedicated detractors who closely inspect everything she says and does for anything which could be expanded into “criticism”? Could this be because she is an actual activist who doesnt cave in the face of overwhelming “criticism”?
        Shit you get on the internet can be directly correlated to how much you are aiming to change the status quo and how prominent you are in those efforts. I have a hunch that Watson gets so much greif because the idea that a woman who would say “Guys, dont do that” is fucking scary to a lot of (maybe even most) guys who want to be able to do what they like and who have been able to do what they like, unchallenged. She has a large pool of people who have something that they would lose if her ideas become mainstream. Hence people making lists of her supposed faults and her continued celebrity.

        • bluharmony

          Especially if you’re making all women out to look feeble and pathetic, while attacking them in your own community. We need to make the world better for everyone, not just for Rebecca Watson.

          • Clare45

            You hit the nail on head there, Maria. Many equality type feminists, myself included, think women should be empowered to act for themselves, not expect men to bend over backwards to give them a “safe space”. The “poor me” victim psychology is pathetic and really annoys me, after we have fought so hard to be treated as equals. Do we want to go back to the days when men held doors open for us and treated us like delicate flowers?

          • bluharmony

            I don’t mind being treated like a delicate flower, as long as it’s done with my express or implied consent. Otherwise, I want to be treated just like any other human being.

          • I agree. There is a time and a place to be treated like a delicate flower, but for a group demanding equality for women, then demanding special treatment for those self-same women, something is wrong. Look at how men are treated in the same situation, expect nothing better or worse than that. That’s equality.

          • bluharmony

            Exactly. As for my personal relationships, I will conduct those as best suits the parties involved.

    • What do you consider a “misogynistic comment”? To me it would be dismissing her because she is female, implying the sexist position that women are incapable of rational over emotive thinking. However, what seem to pass for “misogyny” is what happens when there’s any criticism of Watson, or any other woman in particular, usually by treating them like a rational adult who can be critiqued like anyone else, and mocked when they are particularly stupid. That is then treated like a blanket statement on women in general. Therefore, from now on, I will be treating any criticism of me as anti-male bias and bigotry against persons of Scottish ancestry.

      If you are going to be that way, stop demanding rationality from theists and other purveyors of horseshit.

    • Tony,

      Notice how if Watson is criticised, you call it criticism. but if she criticises someone (as she criticised McGraw) you call it “attacks.” Most of the criticism seems to be manufactured (think of the McGraw case, where Watson was faulted for commenting on public statements made about her, which is not at all controversial and indeed is expected).

      I agree with the first part and disagree with the second. Perhaps it’s right to say it’s an ‘attack’ to criticise Watson’s personal conduct towards McGraw, since it’s the criticism of an individual’s actions rather than an idea they hold. I suppose those on the receiving end are more likely to call it an ‘attack’ than ‘criticism’ and vice versa. Perhaps an ‘attack’ is something that talks negatively about a person’s character, and ‘criticism’ talks about their ideas or actions. It’s a tricky one.

      I disagree about the McGraw case though – McGraw talked about ideas, and Watson responded by claiming on stage that McGraw was ‘parroting misogynistic thought’ and was ‘ignorant of Feminism 101’. The issue wasn’t simply that she responded to McGraw but that she used unnecessarily emotive and ad hominem language, especially as the student was good-willed and undeserving. It would have been fine to say “here’s the objection and here’s why I respectfully disagree”.

      Same with her article about Dawkins’ comments on Pharyngula. No need to attack him on the basis of his gender or race or announce a boycott. Just say why he’s wrong!

      • bluharmony

        I agree with Notung’s analysis and concede to the attack/criticism language being partially a result of whether you’re on the receiving end. At any rate you should attack/criticize the argument or improper actions, not the person as a human being. But even this is a difficult distinction, especially when angry. Let’s just say that there are ways to disagree politely, and I have not seen Watson employ those while engaging in argument. Still, let me be absolutely clear — I do not hate Watson — and I don’t believe she (or anyone else) deserves the sexist comments she gets. If there were anything I could do to make them go away, I would.
        The other problem with the McGraw incident is that McGraw’s argument in respect to objectification was no less valid than Watson’s (unless Watson is a mind-reader). Watson could say that she *felt* objectified, but not that she actually was. And finally, if objectification was the real issue, Watson should have raised it in her initial video and not during the unrelated speech.

    • The reason Rebecca Watson and her ilk are being treated the way they are being treated is because of the way they act. Nobody treated her side like this before they started running around, calling everyone misogynists, calling them C.H.U.D.s who should slither back to the sewers, suggesting that anyone who doesn’t drink their Koolaid is a sub-human monster, etc. They are reaping what they sowed. If Rebecca Watson doesn’t want to be treated badly, she needs to stop acting like a self-entitled bitch. She’s getting what she deserves.

      There simply is no serious misogyny in organized skepticism, any more than there is in society as a whole. In fact, there is likely less in organized skepticism, yet Rebecca and her shit-patrol seem dedicated to turning atheism into a feminist utopia and anyone who disagrees with that aim is to be drummed out of the community.

      If Rebecca wants to know why she’s being treated badly, she simply needs to look in the mirror.

      • You’re right in a sense – a major (sole?) reason why they are getting trollish comments is a result of their actions. I disagree however that they ‘deserve’ it. I don’t think the answer to hate is more hate.

        Analogy – someone not looking both ways as they cross the road is the reason for injury, but it wouldn’t mean they deserved injury.

        Confusion between advice (practical) and blame (moral) is often the reason for arguments and misunderstandings about ‘victim blaming’.

        • bluharmony

          This is an excellent point.

        • Nobody “deserved” the misogynist accusations either, yet the Atheism+ people throw them around like nobody’s business. Like it or not, hate begets hate. Look where the hate started, you’ll know who deserves the blame.

          • B-Lar

            Nobody? not even those who behave like misogynists?

          • Copyleft

            Please define that behavior… and please tell us you have something better than ‘disagrees with a self-proclaimed feminist.’

          • B-Lar

            Someone who is dismissive of women, (listens charitably to men considerably more so than with women, dismisses women by assuming that their emotional ladybrains are too emotional to make rational decisions), who dehumanises women (considers them as objects, judging by appearance rather than character), who considers themself superior to women, (women should know their place and not complain) or perhaps someone who plain old hates women. Actually, I think that there arent many people who simply “hate women” which is why I am fairly pleased that the definition is being expanded a la recent news in Australia.
            Also, “disagrees with a self-proclaimed feminist”? I reckon you could have come up with the answers above yourself, but you didnt want to. Why would that be?
            Now, your turn. Nobody? Nobody deserves to be branded a misogynist? Even if they are one or behave just like one to the casual observer?

          • bluharmony

            When the definition of misogyny is expanded to include any disagreement with the ideas in a specific Marxist-feminist school of thought, then it loses all meaning. Questioning ideas — even a woman’s ideas — is necessary to any real intellectual discourse. Without the ability to question ideas and without providing evidence to support assertions, you’re left with nothing but dogma and ideology. To see women as so irrational and childish that they can’t participate in real intellectual discourse and accept reasonable disagreement is patronizing, sexist, and wrong.

          • B-Lar

            No one is claiming that misogyny’s defition is being expanded to cover disagreement with any particular school of thought. If by disagreeing with someone, say on a topic like for example women not being harrased by high profile creeps at conferences, by using language and arguments which are typically used by misogynists to justify not losing their power to do what they like, then you are both disagreeing with a school of thought that says “its not right for people to be harrassed like that” (go morality) and you are also appearing to the observer to be a misogynist. Lets go over that again.

            Objecting to the idea that people shouldnt be harrassed at conferences, check.

            Using silencing, tone policing, abusive language and behaviour used by misogynists. Check.

            The problem is not your disagreement. The problem is the way you disagree and what you are disagreeing with says something about you and people are watching. (generally of course. The General You.)

            You are living up to your reputation a treat here. Can I just say that I havent before seen a comment worded in such an artful way as to be perfectly true and yet subversive of the truth at the same time. Its like you write with hidden daggers! Poetry.

          • bluharmony

            The daggers of truth. I know, they hurt.

          • You have to remember, they (and I mean the whole core group, not just Rebecca Watson) started off by labeling anyone who didn’t buy into their philosophy hook, line and sinker, misogynists. It wasn’t aimed at any individuals, thus negating individual actions, it was aimed at anyone who didn’t sign on to their little crusade. Look at Richard Carrier’s infamous “you’re either with us or climb back into the sewers” post.

            That’s how those people operate and some are trying to excuse that behavior.

          • B-Lar

            I thought Carriers post was unashamedly correct. being nice and accomodating is all very well if you have a load of people who can think calmly and rationally about problems. If however, you are up against a bunch of people who wont accept that their behaviour is harmful because of cognitive biases then seperation is the only rational answer. Some people think that being an atheist means not believeing in god and thats it. Some people think that the tools we used to determine that there is no god should be applied to all aspects of our societies and minds.

            If you arent on board, get the hell out of the way. Carrier got it dead on. Why should we pander to people who think that its okay to treat women like objects, to dismiss their concerns? Why should we care about people who rationalise their actions so much that it leads to obsessive behaviour? It makes no sense? How can you explain to someone who isnt thinking clearly that they arent thinking clearly? Why would you bother when you can actually provide support to those who are actually subjugated by society? Strategically it makes sense to only recruit people who actually care about a cause to a cause.

            We separate the wheat from the chaf because the wheat is the good bit and the chaff is waste. If we included the chaff because we dont want to hurt its feelings, everyone gets sub optimal bread.

          • bluharmony

            *You* are treating women like objects when you deny the majority of us free agency and independence of thought.

          • Casey Wollberg

            “We separate the wheat from the chaf because the wheat is the good bit
            and the chaff is waste. If we included the chaff because we dont want to
            hurt its feelings, everyone gets sub optimal bread”

            It says a lot about your movement when your parameters for inclusion are inspired by a passage from the holy text of an iron age cult.

          • bluharmony

            Who’s trying to separate the wheat from the chaff? Anyone who doesn’t believe in god(s), is agnostic, or is simply curious is welcome. And it’s not an organized movement, anyway. It’s the us v. them part that has to go.

          • Casey Wollberg

            This true believer is describing a purity test for inclusion. He or she probably doesn’t know that or agree that that is what it is, but that is what it is. If you don’t toe the ideological line, you’re out. That’s what it means to be a believer, after all.

          • B-Lar

            Pretty sure that line in the bible doesn’t talk about hurt feelings or sub-optimal bread…

            If I was making my point and citing the bible as the authority for my statement, then you might have a point there, but since I was using a commonly understood (you did understand it, right?) metaphor (you do know what a metaphor is, right?) you have less of a leg to stand on.

            I mean, christ, if you think we should dismiss every turn of phrase that occurs in the bible as unusable (simply because it is in the bible), then your critical thinking is already in the toilet. What does that say about YOUR movement?

          • Casey Wollberg

            My movement? I don’t have one, nor do I have need of one. That was my real point. It’s cultish, and this is coming from someone who was raised in a cult and recognizes certain things when he sees them. As for my statement about your use of biblical language, it was tongue in cheek (you do know what that is, right?).

          • bluharmony

            Moreover, some of us have a different opinion as to what is wheat and what is chaff. The wheat is those who work toward secularism & against atheist discrimination. Others have different interests in atheism, such as disproving Christianity and fighting creationists, and that’s fine, but it’s not my thing. Nothing else belongs in this movement, and therefore it’s precisely the chaff you speak of. As for women being treated badly, I certainly haven’t noticed it except when said women try to use the movement to further their own personal goals, which have nothing to do with skepticism of atheism.

            But more generally speaking, all human beings are worthwhile, even when wrong. So I’m doing away with your “chaff” analogy completely. We are all wheat, some prefer one kind, and others prefer another. And that’s how it should be.

          • I agree that almost everyone who has been called a ‘misogynist’ did not deserve to be, and by throwing around terms like that they cause it to lose its meaning. Nevertheless, I still disagree that ‘hate begets hate’ (which has some truth to it) entails ‘the hateful deserve hate’.

          • bluharmony

            Right, which dovetails nicely with my views on free will.

          • Whether you think it should beget hate or not, the simple reality is that in most circumstances, it does. Someone brought up PZ Myers and pointed out that he gets a lot of hate from the religious. Why? Because he directs a lot of hate at the religious. Someone like Hemant Mehta doesn’t get nearly as much because his behavior is typically different.

            You reap what you sow.

          • AtheistNavyVet

            wrong Cephus … your statement is pure victim blaming …. Atheists & Feminists fight back against millenia entrenched genocidal theocratic patriarchy ….. growing big tits did not sow rape nor does PZ thrusting back @ theocracy deserve hateful creationism …. there is no PERFECT GHANDI Atheism to CONVERT all believers to Pacific Atheism…. it is a street fight with tampon terrorists until every KKK cross carrying Jihadist Hindu widow burning is shamed away from their ignorant violence

    • An Ardent Skeptic

      IMO, our biggest problems in this community aren’t misogyny and sexual harassment, they are hypocrisy and a lack of empathy for our fellow human beings.

      Stef McGraw is entitled to question the assertions and arguments of others. In fact, it comes with the job title of skeptic. When doing so, it is best done without engaging in personal attacks. Stef did so.

      When responding to the questions that one should expect, one should, again, stick with the arguments and not engage in personal attacks. Unfortunately, Rebecca did not do so. Her language was demeaning and she actually made some accusatory statements about Stef’s character which many of us find completely unacceptable. Particularly when it was done from the podium in front of 100 of Stef’s peers.

      Rebecca claimed in that talk that there were people in that audience (and since she specifically called out Stef, we should reasonably assume that she was including Stef in these statements) who were keeping women away from conferences and would laugh at the concerns of women who have been raped.

      Attacking a young woman from the podium in this way makes me have to question Rebecca’s claim that she is trying to make the community a more welcoming place for women. I would certainly understand how Stef would have been made to feel unwelcome in this community by Rebecca after what Rebecca said about Stef’s knowledge, intelligence, and lack of compassion.

      Stef McGraw has conducted herself with intelligence, dignity, grace and decorum throughout this entire affair. The rest of the community would do well to follow her example. I am pleased to know that we have young people like Stef in this community. She gives me great hope for the future of the atheist and skeptic movements.

      For a complete transcript of Rebecca’s discussion of sexism in the community at the CFI Student Leadership Conference:

      For a breakdown of the specific treatment of Stef McGraw during that talk:

      • bluharmony

        This. A million times this.

  • Pingback: A thoughtful, fair, reasoned profile of the worst woman in the universe | Butterflies and Wheels()

  • First off, are the level of attacks she receives REALLY disproportionate to any other blogger? Any blogger who speaks out on controversial issues is going to get some trolling. She’s been a little tight lipped about the evidence, and much of the evidence she has presented were stuff her minions have gathered from other sites and not directly sent to her. The signal to noise ratio is a little high here.

    • bluharmony

      I would argue that any amount of abuse against anyone is inappropriate. In a utopia, there would be none at all.

      • This is why it is so important to be able to disagree without being abusive. As AAS noted, a “lack of empathy for our fellow human beings” contributes to the underlying problem here.

        There is also the inability of certain parties (on all sides) to distinguish between criticism and abuse. I am constantly working on this myself.

      • Regressive Goosesteppers

        Nevermind that the abuse in this situation is coming from Rebecca Watson and her shrill, sexist generalizations.

    • Regressive Goosesteppers

      If anything, it’s far less, and the vast majority of “attacks” sent to Watson are merely criticizing or picking apart her own sexism and hypocrisy.

      So, naturally, as a feminist, anything that contradicts her is misogynistic and a vicious attack and must be silenced at all costs. She just desperately wants to be a victim, and demands priviledge and perferential treatment accordingly.

  • Missed a point.

    18.Use of guilt by association fallacy. If some in the set of people who disagree with me are rape threateners, then all who disagree with me must be guilty.

  • “men like PZ Myers and Greg Laden are maligned just as often as Watson, yet are not as vocal about it.”

    But they’re rarely maligned in sexual terms, and, when they are, those terms imply contempt for women (eg, they’re girly men, they just want to get in Rebecca’s pants, they’re manginas.)

    PZ gets a lot of hate mail, but most of it comes from creationists and the like. Rebecca gets that plus sexist threats and trolling and rape jokes from people–some of them fairly well known, like Emery Emery–within our community.

    In other words: the problem isn’t criticism. The problem is sexism. You say it in the title of your post: Sexist.Abuse. Then you try to define the problem out of existence by suggesting she deserves it.

    None of Rebecca’s perceived faults warrant.sexist.abuse.

    Also, Rebecca uses gendered slurs? News to me. She may have years ago–I don’t know–but no more.

    • Do you consider Watson responding to initial criticism of her “Guys, don’t do that video” by implying her critics should turn to various forms of masturbation because they are sexually inadequate –evinced, of course by their disagreement with her and therefore incapable of navigating any woman at all– to be maligning someone in sexual terms?

      • bluharmony

        That entire video was highly inappropriate, and straw-womaned the argument that was being made against Watson’s behavior. In general, I find statements prescriptive statements about mental or sexual normalcy to be wrong. In my opinion, of course.

      • AtheistNavyVet

        McCarthyism & red baiting & hate towards women Atheists will only die out like Thor & Athena worship when all Atheists give up their pseudo intellectual false pride. DR Madalyn O’Hair took this on when she gave her I Don’t Like Atheists Very Much Speech….. American Atheists have been building up Atheist Pride with more resistance than support since 1983. Old fart Atheists & Humanists & Rationalists et al have battled back against Feminist Atheists since Margaret Sanger & Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Few Atheists dare fight male entitlement & Webster himsel f MIS-defining Atheism or the notion women have the absolute right to let our species die out than submit to rape.

        • Regressive Goosesteppers

          “McCarthyism & red baiting & hate towards women Atheists”

          You clearly do not spend any time in reality.

    • bluharmony

      Re: gendered slurs — She has in the past and, arguably, she did in her recent podcast from Dragoncon. Also, please understand — in no way am I saying that she deserves the sexist comments. She doesn’t. No one does. And that includes any comments about her appearance, the way she dresses, and so on.

      • Thank you for reaffirming that she does not deserve the sexism.

        Nobody is saying she should be above criticism.

        But, again: in your post you admit she receives sexist criticism–a lot of it–and then you suggest her perceived faults are the reason for the sexism. “Why Rebecca Watson gets so much sexist abuse…”

        There is no excuse or justification for sexism.

        Look at it this way. Imagine Clarence Thomas–whom I despise–gets a lot of racist abuse. I would not write a blog post saying “Why Clarence Thomas Gets So Much Racist Abuse” and then list his faults. His faults are a separate issue.

        I might well write a post or article detailing his faults, but if I felt the need to do so while he was undergoing a particular torrent of racist abuse I would decouple my criticism from that abuse. I would not use it as a reason for the abuse because, at the end of the day, it isn’t the reason. If people who hate Clarence Thomas call him a nigger because they’re mad at him and that sort of slur makes for an easy insult, that’s still racism. And that racism needs to be addressed whether or not you like its target in a given case.

        Gonna bow out now, thanks for listening.

        • bluharmony

          I think you make a valid point. Of course, part of the reason for the sexist abuse is because what she says is offensive to many men (and quite a few women), and it relates to gender relations. The other part is simply sexism.

          But sexism is a problem in our society as a whole; I wince every time someone criticizes Hillary Clinton (or Anne Coulter, even) for her appearance rather than her political positions. Thank you for well-reasoned contributions. I appreciate them.

        • AtheistNavyVet

          My name is Larry Carter Center. As Dick Gregory said over 44 years ago CALL ME MISTER Nigger. Call Rebecca Watson MS Atheist. Grow up Atheists. Heal your collective SEIGE MENTALITY. Stockholm Syndrome. The god gawd gott word has only an object inside the brains of believers. And all alleged deities HAVE NO DICK. No penis no sperm to rape or breed alleged baby gods 4 years before real King Herod died on the fake calendar year zero. As long as Atheists are obsessed with nipples & ejaculating near Feminist Atheists I WILL FIGHT BACK IN FRONT OF ABORTION CLINICS withRW & any other decent human to repel & defeat patriarchal theocracy & tampon terrorists 843-926-1750 @AtheistVet @Greens926_1750

          • John Public

            seek help, because you are ill

    • Vic

      The people who sent her these threats and abuse look for the most hurting insults. I’m not a linguist, but in those languages I know, the worst insults are often derived from bodily functions, e.g. our digestive tract or sexuality.

      I think bluharmony’s blog post does not look for a justification why RW receives abuse but aims to analyse the motives. And I agree with the analysation.

      RW antagonized many with the points listed above and due to her reach in the community (those who sent her threats, I suppose, actually know who she is, else that would render RW’s point of sexism irrelevant), so she reached a large number of people who disagree with her.

      So, the number of reasonable, argument-based responses to her is particulary large, as far as I can see, and the number of trolls is, in proportion, particulary large in this case.

      And those who do sent her abuse will use insults they think hit the heaviest. And that involves sexuality, appearance etc. the most shallow and ugly of insults.

      My personal speculation is that many are not convinced misogynists or sexists, as RW paints them. They use sexualized slurs because it suits them.

      That does not make their actions any better. They have lost any credibility and any of my sympathy at the moment they decided to make a threat or an insult.

      I have said, and will say it again, that the abuse RW receives is wrong. It should not happen. She doesn’t deserve it, because nobody deserves it.

      I just think the conclusion drawn from these threats is wrong, and the conclusion made about the rest of the community, who do not send abuse, but supposedly support them with “passive sexism”.

    • CommanderTuvok

      She is quite fond of using the term “twat”, as demonstrated on a recent episode of the SGU. Yes, Rebecca uses gendered slurs because as Queen Bee she is allowed to.

  • I know that putting links to all the issues you listed would be very difficult, but a few would definitely help those who are not up to speed with the drama.

  • Rebecca can go to hell.

    She consistently demonizes me, and characterizes my fight for equality as monstrous and misogynistic.

    I support atheism. I support feminism. I do not support ignorant misandric attacks. I do not support bigotry.

    She wraps herself in a flag of oppression and uses that position to raise money and oppress others.

    She can go to hell.

    If it helps any, Peezus and Greg Bin Laden can go to hell as well.

    • bluharmony

      I realize you feel passionately about this, and I can appreciate that, but please refer to my comment policy, above. Thanks!

      • Okay, thank you for the warning. In the future, I will refrain.

    • Regressive Goosesteppers

      “She wraps herself in a flag of oppression and uses that position to raise money and oppress others.”

      Uh, yeah, that’s modern feminism in a nutshell, which you purport to support.

      • bluharmony

        Once again, I refer you to my comment policy. Your views are welcome here, but please be respectful to others whose views differ from your own. Thank you.

  • FFS if I hadn’t read Stephanies post and come here from that I’d be pretty sure this was a parody. I’ll pick a few…

    11. Celebrity that many deem to be undeserved;
    Good way to look bitter at someone else’s success. I hate to ask how you think she got her ‘undeserved celebrity’ status. Also do you really think of her as a ‘celebrity’?

    12. Perceived dishonesty;
    At least it is perceived… Why not her lies, damn lies and abominable lies?

    14. Failure to address topics of concern to the majority of the community;
    Sorry missed the poll, can you point me to it? Not sure what these ‘topics’ may be… Then to the election where she promised to represent the majority of atheist-sceptics? I really must pay more attention to what is going on.

    16. Sexism;

    Bleaurgh, Stephanies parody pretty much says it all…

    • bluharmony

      That’s Ophelia 😉

      The relevant topics have to do with atheism, skepticism, and science, FWIW. Yes, she is an internet celebrity, and — I’ve heard — even made a how-to-guide on how to become an internet celebrity in ten days. This is hearsay, and I don’t know if the video exists. It could be a rumor, so if someone could provide more info, that would be great.

      As for the sexism, no, I was referring to a photo of a semi-nude headless woman in one of Watson’s calendars, and talk of ignoring what young women think and fantasizing about tickle fights with them instead. But if you want to bring up misandry, OK.

      Finally, is Watson generally perceived as dishonest by her detractors? You decide.

      • Hehe commenting late at night, I suppose I was bound to confuse them eventually! They seem to be tag-teaming the slymepit and its extant or ex-members at the moment. Maybe to move some of the focus from RW.

        Is this a truism?
        “…is Watson generally perceived as dishonest by her detractors? ”

        What am I supposed to make of that fact? I’m sure Romney is generally perceived as dishonest by his detractors. I’m sure Obama is generally perceived as dishonest by his detractors. As is everyone by their detractors!

        Maybe someone who makes any mileage out of that has their head too far into the detractor-corner to see things clearly?

    • B-Lar

      My favourite was “perceived dishonesty”. It works on so many levels!

      • Clare45

        No different from your snide comment referring casually to Maria’s “reputation”!

      • bluharmony

        I’ll gladly share what my personal perception is, if you wish. I just didn’t think it relevant.

    • Copyleft

      I see Oolon’s still making the rounds of all blogs that dare to mention the Holy Rebecca (stalker much?). Keep fighting the bad fight, Oolon! A+ and Watson are jokes among honest skeptics.

      • Yeah I followed a link from FtBs! Oh no, what a stalker! Now I just need to rename my blog anti-ElevatorGate, literally follow and write about all the anti-nuts, tweet to them constantly, photoshop pics of them, demean and slur them and I can make you right for once 😀 (Sorry too lazy)

        SGU, a joke? A lot of the major atheist movement leaders on the Skepchick fighting hate directed at women series, a joke? Pretty much all sceptic-atheist conferences adopting harassment policies, a joke? It’s a bad fight all right – but being pretty easily won by the honest sceptics. They who shout loudest and insult the most are not the winners, at least not since you left school.

  • I think where it really started is when she assigned to a class (all guys) the guilt of one man making her feel uncomfortable in an elevator. One can see here the parallels to your run of the mill bigot who assigns the guilt of 9/11 to all muslims. Instead of apologizing, she doubled down and made it a crusade. Now all the men of the atheist movement have been slandered and the inevitable payback ensued. And it’s going to keep on going until we stop using all these “-ist” words to label each other.

    One bright spot is that if Justicar’s numbers are right, FTB’s traffic is going down and this war has diminished their influence on the community. All it takes to be over is for the rest of us to draw a line under it like Thunderf00t did and simply move on.

    • “One bright spot is that if Justicar’s numbers are right, FTB’s traffic is going down”

      Can you give me a link to that?

      • masakari2012

        That video is somewhere among the many videos that Justicar/Integralmath has made about FTB. Good luck finding it….

        • bluharmony

          Well, their attempt at “pharyngulation” didn’t work out either. Justicar still had more fans than critics. Sadly, it didn’t work out that way for the poor ice cream man, whose shop is now closed after PZ sent his troops to give him bad reviews. Though I don’t know if that was the actual cause for the business closure, it couldn’t have helped. No regret about ruining lives from that bunch. No forgiveness for mistakes. No compassion. No understanding of human frailty. Zero.

        • Thank you.

          • bluharmony

            The fact that they have TheNonStampCollector now should change things…

  • B-Lar

    Hmmm… Seems legit..

  • Clare45

    “14. Failure to address topics of concern to the majority of the community;”
    She appears to be using her internet celebrity to push her “feminism 101” agenda at conferences, instead of addressing true skeptic and atheist concerns, or even as Dawkins wrote in his sarcastic and witty letter to “Dear Muslima”, addressing much needed concerns regarding treatment of women in Muslim countries. American women have little cause for complaint.

    • Copyleft

      What I resent most is the attempt to hijack skepticism and make it serve feminist interests. Skepticism is not feminism–indeed, in many areas, skepticism is in direct conflict with radical feminism, as radical feminism is an irrational ideology that reacts with great hostility to rational inquiry.

      • bluharmony


  • Eritrea

    Why does anyone get abuse on the internet:

    – Because people want to abuse them, to upset them because they are angry with them or for a laugh.

    Why do women get certain types of abuse which men do not:

    – Because the aim of the abuser is to upset the person, and they assume no man is going to be as upset by “You’re sexy for a fat slut, I’d fuck you hard till the stupid falls out”

    Why some women get a lot more of that abuse, while others get as little as the average man:

    – If you piss people off and make a big deal about the badness of misogynist insults then you will get abuse targeted at what people think will upset you. Misogynist insults.
    If you react to that abuse visibly then people who are doing it to get a rise out of you will be happy and continue.
    If people are trolling you for being “wrong” because they think that’s acceptable behavior and you attack them by calling them misogynists or “explain away” their trolling as patriarchal howls of rage against your successful feminist advocacy they will only troll you harder for being “wrong” about why they’re trolling *and* for reacting and showing them that their childish (and possibly criminal) rants are hitting a target.

    The real reason FTB. A+ and Pharyngulites get all the abuse they get:

    – They are *nasty abusive people* who have deliberately nurtured a culture of abuse and hatred of people who dare to be “wrong” and it’s coming back to bite them in the ass because they do not control ALL of the people who think like that, and some of them think the FTB, A+, Pharyngulites are “wrong” and deserve some of their own medicine.

    Lesson learned: Do not breed such a toxic culture of abuse and Out-Group hatred. Do not coo over and encourage your “Horde” proudly as it savages others then expect to be protected from the negativity you spew out.
    “Go fuck yourself with a Rusty Knife” directed at specific people over the internet is much worse than “I am not a Skepchick” worn at an event with Skepchicks present. If you encourage the former you should not be surprised or whiny when you get the latter.

    And Dawkins doesn’t get away scott free. He was an early populariser of this recent wave of nastiness and contempt – and it bit him in the ass when he said what he said about Skepchick – it may have been a reasonable criticism or not but regardless, the way he said it was nasty, contemptuous and sarcastic, and the reaction was not what he expected – a little cheer and a pile on perhaps, certainly not a backlash.
    Those who live by being a dick will most often end up on the receiving end of dicks.

    • Copyleft

      I must admit, my first reaction to the article title–“Why does RW get so much sexist abuse via the Internet?”–was “Umm, ’cause it’s the INTERNET, duh.”

      Sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc., are dedicated to nonstop verbal abuse, vulgarity, insults, flamewars, and yes, even rape and death threats. That’s built into the nature of the sites; you’ve set up an enormous urban wall to which anyone can add whatever random graffiti strikes their fancy. Why is anyone surprised that so much of it is crude and hostile? Indeed, why would you expect anything else?

      I suspect that many women have been living somewhat sheltered lives where face-to-face interaction ensured that everyone would treat them seriously and with respect. To those women I say: Welcome to what it’s like to be a man, where nobody gives a damn about your feelings, no one feels any need to respect you, and everyone is only too happy to tell you to cram it.

      • Vic

        I think the last part is slightly generalising. I, as a man, have received respect and friendliness for now other reason than being human and I’m sure I happened to others.

        Doesn’t what you describe reflect rather poorly on the state of the internet, which itself is a reflection of human nature unshackled by the rules of personal social interaction?

        I say that as somebody who regards RW, A+ and consorts very critical. I think it’s a valuable goal to make the internet more peaceful, but not by thought policing or trying to oppress freedom of expression as perpetrated by them.

        Certain things have improved IRL. Certain crimes, certain beliefs and inequalities are less accepted nowadays than they were before.

        Women’s rights, black civil rights, nowadays LGBT rights become acceptable by the mainstream. It was a slow process and fueled by numerous factors, and it’s still an ongoing process.

        I think parallel developments are not impossible in the virtual world. I’m even convinced they are at work right now and the internet will look different in a few years.

    • Regressive Goosesteppers

      So, basically, you think sexist nutjobs liek Watson should be free to sa and do whatever they want free of any sort of retort or criticism, because anyone who would DARE speak back to a feminist MUST be a “misognynist” as per your presuppositions which you’ve based on your own sollipsism, atavism and sexist generealization.

  • And just recently you tweeted, “I give up”. I’m glad you didn’t.

  • ZedZero

    I haven’t seen this discussed so I will bring it up. RW had a following of people, mostly men, she had cultivated for several years where would flirt with audience. Nothing too big but, giggle over marriage proposals and make sex jokes. She then makes the infamous “ Guys, don’t do that” video. Well, who did she make that statement to? Her fans and virtual friends on YouTube. She accused the innocent, who liked her and maybe even had a crush on her. This blanket accusation of potential guilt hurt feelings and alienated a lot of people.

    Maria did not do this ““I know that I’m probably directing this request (and it is a request, not a demand) at people who aren’t guilty, but still, I might as well ask.” She leaves an out from guilt for whoever needs it. And the lack of acrimony towards her shows in her comment section.

    So, I am looking at this list of “leaders” all supporting the basic premise that harassment is a problem and should be address. They made these declarations for Surly Amy (I think of us most agree too, the differences are limited to degree but that’s not the point.) as a gesture of support.

    Speaking out against hate directed at women: David Silverman
    Speaking out against hate directed at women: Dale McGowan
    Speaking out against hate directed at women: Ronald A Lindsay
    Speaking out against hate directed at women: Nick Lee
    Speaking out against hate directed at women: Barry Karr
    Speaking out against hate directed at women: David Niose
    Speaking out against hate directed at women: Matt Dillahunty
    Speaking out against hate directed at women: Jim Underdown
    Speaking out against hate directed at women: Michael Payton
    Speaking out against hate directed at women: Michael Nugent
    Speaking out against hate directed at women: Dan Barker
    Speaking out against hate directed at women: Carlos Alfredo Diaz
    Speaking out against hate directed at women: Todd Stiefel
    Speaking out against hate directed at women: Michael De Dora
    Speaking out against hate directed at women: Paul Fidalgo
    Speaking out against hate directed at women: Phil Plait
    Speaking out against hate directed at women: Aron Ra

    So why are these people not mentioned in the Slate article? Why is the Slate article a complete reset of the problem rather than a recap and status report of all that she and her fellow travelers have accomplished, failures and or lessons learned?

    I think RW is and James Dobson has a lot in common. James Dobson is a famous evangelical who howls about his neglect until the politicians running for office come to him a few months before the election and kiss his ring, and get his endorsement, then in January or so when he is back to being ignored he drops a political bomb on the politician to regain his needed attention. He did this like clockwork and politicians fear and hate him for doing this but, it works.

    Now we have another one here who after, I think won a few battles and gained concessions from people who really had no part in this, decides she has yet to get what she probably really wants now and that is revenge on Dawkins, so she lobs her bomb on Slate. Then here again, she is so obtuse she stabs this long list of prominent atheist in back. I wonder what they are thinking about her pushing the restart button and being left without acknowledgement or cover. Will they knuckle under and kiss the ring a second time? Or are our atheist leaders just solicitous politicians after all?

    • bluharmony

      This is a great comment.

      I know you wanted my opinion on GWW/Karen at some point, but I can’t find the comment right now. I watch her videos occasionally, and sometimes she’s right on point, but other times she goes to far. She’s very angry with feminists, and I’m not. I understand where many are coming from, just not the Myers-Watson faction, and not the rad fems. I understand the MRAs, too, but I’m not one of them. I don’t believe that women have equal opportunity yet in all fields, and I don’t believe that the justice system is unfair to men. I can be persuaded otherwise with sufficient evidence, though. But assertions and contradictory data won’t do it for me; just as they don’t do it with extremist feminism.

  • AtheistNavyVet

    because too many Atheists are choosing to fight Feminists inside our Atheist houses NOT OUTSIDE AGAINST rapist theocrats COWARDS call RW ” cunt ” instead of fight Ann Coulter with the same word where the whole world can respond

  • AtheistNavyVet


  • AtheistNavyVet

    shouldn’t Atheists build each other up and knock down rapist theocrats ? keep it simple ? eyes on the prize …. no body worships Thor or Athena anymore NEXT JEEBUSH Jeehobah Ghost Holes OFF OUR MONEY no more preying to the flag …. sex ed not sexism in schools BIOLOGY not bibles

    • Eritrea

      I suspect that you are neither an atheist nor a navy vet. You sound like a deliberate troll posting things that make atheists sound stupid and fanatical.

  • xtog42

    ##. Traitorous Behavior — Lacking nothing else to say, she uses her new found celebrity to turn her guns on the atheist community by suggesting that said community has an inordinate problem with sexism and provides nothing but anecdotal evidence for her deliberate misguided unnecessary unwarranted self-destructive friendly fire.

    She attempts to rally atheists to distance themselves from the best soldiers we have in the fight against religious tyranny (Dawkins, Grothe, etc) over trumped up dog whistle BS — cheer leading essentially a separatist regime of self-righteous condescending snark-masters,…and for what purpose? To champion the enactment of harassment policies at conventions? To help the atheist marketing department? Atheists cannot afford Stalinist purges, we are still the most hated and distrusted group on the planet. Having some sexists in our midst in no way supports the idea that atheists are inordinately sexist, it is just the reality of damn near any group on the planet, to make anything of it is simply grandstanding at your own teams expense.

    To do this she picks up an attack line that has been used to beat atheists over the head for CENTURIES and tries to give it credence in an inane passive-aggressive way and then people wonder why she became a target for invective? (The attack line – you can’t trust your daughter with an atheist, especially ones who ask you to hang out for coffee while sharing an elevator).

    Not only that but she marginalizes real sexism by acting like a late-night elevator proposition has some relevance concerning sexism within the atheist community. In taking an innocuous event and inflating it way out of proportion she makes the argument that the reason more women are not in atheist groups or going to conventions is because of atheist sexism,…totally disregarding the role of religious propagandists that may have something to do with it. She makes the same point they make and have been doing so since atheism began — if a religious group wanted to plant a mole within the atheist community, could they have come up with a better useful idiot?.

    If women are not becoming atheists at a fast enough rate, I hardly believe that sexism in the atheist community is more to blame than religious propaganda,…something she as far as I know never considered or weighed against whatever non-anecdotal evidence she claims to have.

    If her concern was with women involvement in atheism, why didn’t she take time to research and speak on the issue of religious bigotry and the subjugation of women in the church, since by almost any sort of common sense would tell us that that is where the problem lies? She could have investigated surveys of religious people and what they tell their daughters about atheists, she could have investigated the extent to which religious groups attempt to persuade followers from marrying atheists, she could have gone into the historical aspect of religious sexual tyranny,….but no.

    She choose to lazily attack her own compatriots in their most sensitive spot with no research or evidence outside some anecdotes and her personal impressions. If she had delivered a data-based critique of our community, maybe she would not have taken so many personal shots, since people would have been able to address her data rather than her motives, but without data to address the community in their need to defend themselves from this ridiculous fact-less accusation had no recourse but to make the issue personal — of course that comment in no way justifies the over the top abusive responses she provoked.

    The defensiveness of the atheist community to fake/phony charges of sexism was perfectly predictable — we have been dealing with it for ages. In the future hopefully event organizers will concern themselves more about finding people with interesting progressive things to say in conferences rather than giving popular people with nothing new to say a megaphone to pimp their websites or books as they do about making policies that no one reads and many people feel are unnecessary, or next to impossible to craft and enforce in a meaningful or useful way.

    What she did was pimp self-hate to the atheist community, unfairly, unjustly and in bad form and in doing so lost a lot of supporters for her and her defenders. Atheism will roll right along of course, but it is disappointing to see people who should have their eyes on the ball have their eyes on the balls.

    • bluharmony

      Excellent comment. In my opinion, of course.

    • kfreed

      “if a religious group wanted to plant a mole within the atheist community, could they have come up with a better useful idiot?”

      I believe you’ve hit the nail on the head… perhaps not a traditional religious group, but a Libertarian one:

      “Outspoken Atheist” C.J. Werlemen gets it right:

      “Why Libertarians Play the Clowns in the Circus Show Called the Republican Party – Having the Christian Right and neo-Confederates as your ideological partners should be cause for worry”

      Rebecca Watson just gave the bogus Libertarian “Men’s Movement” (the secular equivalent of the Religious Right/Tea Party anti-women movement) all the ammunition they need to divide and conquer. She’s the right-wing’s “feminazi” stereotype come to life, demonstrating to the entire world that both the skeptic and feminist movements are intellectually and morally bankrupt.

      The skeptic/feminist communities need to rid themselves of Rebecca Watson and her self-serving antics and start doing something about the Religious Right’s infestation of government. Women, atheists, minorities, and gays all have serious problems to contend with and Rebecca Watson and her merry band of schreechers are nothing but a distraction from the landslide of actul misogynistic, bigoted policy prescriptions being legislated into law by Tea Party religious fundamentalists, an accounting of which can be found here:

      • Regressive Goosesteppers

        “Rebecca Watson just gave the bogus Libertarian “Men’s Movement” (the secular equivalent of the Religious Right/Tea Party anti-women movement)”

        Wow. Even for someone who thinks AlterNet is a valid source, you’re a shrill, deluded, fallacy-spouting, disengenuous halfwit.

        “the landslide of actul misogynistic, bigoted policy prescriptions being legislated into law by Tea Party religious fundamentalists”

        In other words, the usual bullshit about how there’s an imaginary “War on Women” being waged because we don’t pay for abortions with stolen tax dollars, and the Feminist zealots are butthurt that women aren;t toemized and shown preferential treatment. Moron.

    • Regressive Goosesteppers

      If Dawkins (eugenics obsession and Animal “Rights” terror-cultism intact) is the best we atheists have, it’s a small wonder we’re losing.

      • bluharmony

        I ask this of everyone, so please don’t feel singled out. But it’s important that commenters are respectful to each other here. There are very few sites where actual debates can occur, and I’d like this to be one of them. I’m sure you have many valid points to contribute, but your tone makes it difficult to sift through them. Thank you so much, and thank you for sharing your views.

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  • Fb

    The kind of “vocal women” who do not get bullied sexually are the ones who are vocal about things that do not criticize male behavior. They are the ones who may be vocal about an issue as long as they don’t step on men’s toes. Just like the kind of commentary you gave here. You are an example of what women need to do in order to avoid sexual bullying: do not criticize men, and bring up the relatively few examples of men being victimized to counter her argument.

    Misogynistic men like it when women like you do that. And i’m sure you like what it gives you in return. It gets you pats on the head and some relative safety from misogyny. Just make sure you stay in the approved lines and keep stepping on eggshells. And criticize women, while turning a blind eye to the misogyny. (sorry, telling them to please stop calling names is not brave) and you won’t have to deal with anything. Except the fact that you are not brave enough to call out the b.s.

    But that’s ok, other women will do that, and you’ll reap the benefits without having to have a spine.

    • Fb

      One other thing, I am not going to take on Rebecca’s behavior, because it is not relevant to the issue of Maria’s apologist response here. Regardless of what Rebecca did, she got rape threats. That is ALL you need to focus in here. not that she kinda deserved it because she was trolling (because she wore a short skirt) or was egging them on (because she really wanted it, the slut) or whatever other rape apologist lameness you are trying so hard to shoehorn into this argument. Have the guts to take on the attempts to sexually humiliate her, or just do yourself and everyone a favor, and just don’t put your dog in this fight. Also, your thing about the feminists who attacked you (I’m sure there were just hordes of them, just like the hordes of men who attacked Rebecca, right, Maria?) is a pretty transparent way of trying to get men on your side in this battle.

      • bluharmony

        I’ve been raped, and anonymous online trolling is nothing like it. Just so you know.

        • Fb

          Oh, I”m sorry, “I was raped, therefore I can legitimately support rape apologist responses” is ridiculous. Don’t expect me to start coddling you or back off from criticism because you decided to use rape as some kind of shield from it. You used all the same bs that is used to blame women for rape, so you can withstand someone calling you out on that bs now.

          • bluharmony

            That kind of comment is not better than what RW has been getting, In fact, it’s worse. I shows that you *seriously* condone rape and have no compassion for survivors or their individual responses.

          • Fb

            you can’t just throw out stuff and hope it sticks. Telling you that you can’t use the victim card to get out of a discussion you don’t want to have (because you’ve been called out on bs) does not make me condone rape. And you know that. This is seriously cowardly.
            Rape does not make you innocuous to being critcized, Maria, (and btw, maybe you could consider you’re not the only one who’s been raped? But some survivors aren’t as willing to exploit it for personal benefit in a dicsussion.) Stop with the sudden pandering for me to treat you with kid gloves, stop with the “Ive been raped” diversion tactics (and I promise you, other rape survivors don’t appreciate your using rape as a diversion tactic to get you off the hook.)

          • bluharmony

            By the same token, some nasty words on the internet don’t make Watson innocuous from being criticized. I’ve received sexist internet abuse from feminists too, but I don’t use it as an excuse for anything — the only time I got upset was when my home address was posted in a hate thread, and when attempts have been made to ruin my career. Nor am I using my rape as an excuse for anything; I’m just exposing your double standards. In any case, good. Glad we agree. No matter who the women are, some conduct is unacceptable. Be it a random troll comment or an actual rape. That, according to your logic, includes me. But no one, including Watson, is except from criticism notwithstanding, and in her case, there’s a lot to criticize. That’s not to say she hasn’t done some good things — she most certainly has.

            Further, it is obvious to anyone who has read and understood what’s written, that this is not rape apologia. First and foremost, because there’s no actual rape at issue (except mine, which you just said was irrelevant).

          • Gish88

            Still going to keep trying to play that victim card, huh?
            So, what you expected FB to do, once you laid that card on the table, was to back off and say “Oh, Im’ sorry, I had no idea. Now that I know you were raped, I will take as a given anything you say about rape. And I will tell you that everything you say is right, and I won’t ever criticize you again.”
            And of course, you are all that matters now. Abuse toward anyone else does not count, because your trumps everyone else’s.

            Manipulation is manipulation, and rape survivors are just as capable of it.

          • bluharmony

            And that’s why I wrote a whole article listing the various reasons why *sexist* abuse toward someone else should stop. Yep, you’re making perfect sense now.

          • you’re saying why rebecca watson brought sexist abuse on herself. It’s in your title. you threw in “anyone harassing her is being unprofessional” because you pretty much have to in order not to look like you’re supporting sexist abuse. But you’re focusing on her behavior. Your thesis should have been “sexist abuse is not OK ever” and not even brought up anything Rebecca did.

          • bluharmony

            So, I’m subject to “criticism” despite being raped (and I’m told I’m playing the victim if I even mention it), but Watson can’t be criticized despite online trolling. Noted.

            And, obviously, I already said that sexist comments are NEVER appropriate. That doesn’t mean that Watson can’t be criticized about anything, ever, despite what OB’s acolytes may say. And explaining why something happens doesn’t condone it.

          • Clare45

            Sorry Maria, our posts crossed so I see you have already made the same point.

          • Clare45

            Sorry to but in, but I think the point is that Maria was a real victim, whilst Rebecca with her internet threats has not actually been raped or even close, and therefore is not a victim. Victim blaming only applies if the person is a real victim. It is not a diversion tactic to mention it. It is an attempt to bring some reality to the discussion.

          • Gish88

            What Maria was trying to do was say only her victimhood counts. Any other form of abuse does not matter. It’s the old “there are starving children in Africa, so why are you talking about racism in the U.S.?” thing, only Maria’s version was being much more manipulative.

          • bluharmony

            I was not and did not, and there’s no evidence you can possibly find to support your lame assertion.

          • Gish88

            Well, not having evidence is not something that’s bothered you, is it? (FB was parroting stuff, not speaking independently, etc.) It’s all up there in posts for anyone caring to read.
            Now, I’m done with you. I’ll leave you to keep believing whatever you desperately need to believe and keep playing the victim to get by in life.

          • bluharmony

            The only person who used the word “parroting” was RW. I can point you to the threads where FB’s comments are repeated verbatim, time and time again. Try Pharyngula and B&W for starters. And to say that I’m the one playing the victim is irony beyond belief. Hope you stick the flounce.

          • And I could bring up threads where things you’ve said here are pretty much said verbatim, even if you haven’t read those threads. I think what you are trying to say is that what FB has said sounds a lot like what others have said. That does not mean s/he is “parroting.”It just sounds like it to you because it’s the other side of the argument, and people are going to sound similar. Talking points just emerge naturally. Trying to cast off what someone has said just because someone else said it similarly is no way to discuss.

          • bluharmony

            Theze people live in some alternate universe where reality isn’t relevant and the worst thing that can happen to you is a troll internet comment, seems like. Thanks. It did go to the victim-blaming garbage, especially since there was no victim and no blaming.

          • Gish88

            serious sexual harassment and rape threats aren’t imporant enough to you, because they didn’t happen to you, they happened to Rebecca. So you can say they don’t matter.

            You know what? I was kidnapped and starved for three days and told that my family was dead. So, my victimhood is worse than yours. Until you can prove to me that you have an even WORSE victimhood, I won’t take you seriously.
            THis bean counting about who has the right to say what or be bothered by what based on their personal histories is childish.

          • bluharmony

            What are you talking about? You’re not even on topic.

          • um, no it doesn’t. The fact that you just accused someone of condoning rape just because they brought up the fact that you brought up your rape apropos of nothing is absolutely hideous. You wanted to talk about Rebecca’s abuse. Sorry, but your rape is irrelevant to this. I understand you tried this move because it would either get the person to back off, and if they didn’t you could accuse them of being insensitive. It was totally inappropriate. It didn’t work. And you’re angry because it didn’t work.

          • bluharmony

            No, I was simply responding to the rape apologia accusations. I was not apologizing for rape, since there was no rape. I can be criticized despite what’s happened to me in the past, and as you can see, for some reason, Watson can’t. Although I wasn’t even criticizing her, just simply explaining what made people so angry in the first place. Obviously, now that she’s caught the eye of MRA groups and 4chan/anon, she’s being trolled. And I’m sorry about that, but sadly that’s what happens on the internet, and it is evidence of sexism in our society.

    • bluharmony

      I suppose you failed to notice that I support legal reparations until equality is reached. And that I condemn rape threats, comments on appearance and similar (last post)? And what this actually gets me is harassment from people like you, as well as blatant libel and real-life harmful consequences from people with high-profile blogs; it most certainly doesn’t get me any pats on the back. So, you couldn’t possibly be any more wrong if you tried. The reason I don’t get rape threats is simply this: I don’t blame men for things they did not do, and I don’t ask them to do ridiculous things that don’t increase my safety or well-being in any way.

      • Fb

        Oh, you support reparations! That gives you a free pass on all the rape apologist stuff you said here. And way to play the victim card. I’m criticizing you, therefore I”m “harassing” you. And yay! you listened. Of Course, that’s what I said:The reason you don’t get rape threats (as if rape threats are OK towards people who don’t do what you do?) You don’t blame men for anything. You stay within the lines of what men expect from women commentators, and you make sure not to ruffle the feathers of men. So, what you are telling everyone is this: even though there are very serious behaviors particular to men toward women, you won’t address them because not being called names, and not receiving the treatment that women who dare to look at these things get, is more important to you.

        BTW, everyone condemns rape threats, even those that do the threatening. Saying “You people really need to be nicer and more professional” takes absolutely no courage. Standing up to the b.s. and calling it out takes courage. But you’ve told us that you don’t do that. because you’re afraid of men’s abuse.

        • bluharmony

          Are you really unable to comprehend what’s written? Explaining and excusing are two different things. I did the former, but never even came close to that latter. As such, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Not to mention your contempt for women with independent opinions — something that you apparently don’t have, so you just ape the words of others, without understanding anything that’s going on around you.

          • Fb

            “contempt for women with different opinions?” Because I”m critcizing yours? And you don’t have that contempt AT ALL, do you, Maria? As is evidenced in your cheap shots, (I’m not speaking independently, just aping it– which you of course aren’t doing becuase you’re obviously in the right here, amirite?) accusations (I’m harassing you, I have contempt) derailing (again, I’m harassing you and have contempt) , and failure to address critcism, you are the height of rational discussion.

          • Gish88

            Maria, if you aren’t standing up against something, you are condoning it. It doesn’t matter that you’re failing to stand up against it out of fear of retribution. You can “explain” things all you want, but that doesn’t get you credibility points.

          • bluharmony

            Please read again. I clearly state that rape threats are inexcusable and cruel, no matter who they’re coming from. What else would you like me to do? By your logic, I suppose you’re condoning male assault and murder, right? And so was RW when she made fun of Dawkins’ rape threats (before talking about the seriousness of her own)?

          • but you brought up Rebecca’s behavior as the reason as to why it happened. The ONLY reason sexist abuse happens is because sexist abusers attack. Period. So, your thesis here is at best ridiculous and at worst blaming the target for “bringing on” sexist abuse. I think you should really stop and read what your critics are saying rather than just assume that because they are pointing out some concerning things about your post they are personally attacking you.

          • bluharmony

            No, I stated that Watson’s behavior is the reason for harassment, not sexism. Please read carefully. Sexist comments are used for various reasons, including sexism in our society, but also because Watson began this “war” by using sexist insults herself, and that’s what’s most likely to upset her. There’s no excuse for it, so I asked for it to stop, using every argument I could find.

            Then I explained why people don’t like Watson. That is all.

  • Chill Chick

    Watson has no real talent except self-promotion. She is the Sarah Palin of the speptical movement.

    • Regressive Goosesteppers

      You misspelled “Hillary Clinton”.

  • Gish88

    “here are the reasons I see for Watson’s abuse that have little to do with
    her gender”…

    –And yet, the abuse she’s getting (about things not having to do with her
    gender) is entirely about her gender. This is the BLARING issue you do not

    But these are comments coming from misogynists, and you better not
    address this blaring issue, otherwise you’ll get it too. You want to be safe, so
    you want the misogynists on YOUR side. Hence the kowtowing,
    carefully-avoiding-the-white-elephant post you wrote here.

    –Also, you’re actually giving helpful advice to the misogynists. Really?:

    “Many of you believe that Watson thrives on victimhood and attention, and
    benefits from it financially. I’m not a mind reader, so I don’t know if
    this is true. But if it is, then please think about what happens when
    she’s trolled in a sexist manner. She gets the attention she seeks; she
    collects ad revenue; and moreover, it appears that she’s proved her
    case. So if for no other reason than that, please stop.”

    .. telling them to be more careful with their misogyny? Telling them their sexist comments are wrong not because sexist comments are fundamentally wrong, but because the comments are helping Rebecca win. Sexism is bad… unless it’s happening to someone you don’t agree with.

    Sorry, but this is pathetic.

    • bluharmony

      Actually, yes, I address this issue and will do it again just for the sake of those with reading comprehension problems — gender-based comments are wrong, no matter what. Like I said, there’s no evidence most of them are coming from atheists. Some are, and those are, just like the rest, inexcusable, sexist, and do not accomplish any valid goal. Got it?

      There’s another reason the trolls focus on gender, and that’s because Watson has made it clear that those are the comments that will get a response — in other words, food for trolls. I address this as well, but not everyone can read, so I empathize with your plight. Now take your bile, and go back to the blogs that spew it. You’re in the wrong place.

      • Fb

        “There’s another reason the trolls focus on gender, and that’s because Watson has made it clear that those are the comments that will get a response — in other words, food for trolls”

        I know you think you’re being perfectly rational in telling us that it was Rebecca’s fault that she got gender-based vindictive insults, and that you’re just going to keep on doing that without getting a clue as to what you’re really doing, but… well, I don’t think anything else need be said.

        Gish got it right. You DO NOT understand that sexist behavior is not acceptable EVER…. not even when “someone was asking for it, someone was obviously (according to you anyway) baiting them.

        Hey, there was a girl yesterday who went outside in short boxers and a camisole. She was totally trolling for sexist comments. So sexism is wrong, except in certain cases when you say it’s OK. Right, Maria?
        Get it yet?

      • Gish88

        Oh , I see. You want to dicuss these issues and have your voice heard, unless, of course, someone disagrees with you. So, if I agree and compliment you and say nice things, then you’re cool. If I point out where you’re inconsistent, I’m spewing “bile.” Looks like you’re not really mature enough to have this conversation.

        • bluharmony

          Oh please, ad homs are such a good way to argue.

          • You’re the one that accused a critic of “spewing bile.” bluharmony, if you aren’t going to respond to your critics, fine. But don’t use this “you guys are so mean attacking me!” crap as your excuse, especially when you’re doing exactly what you’re accusing your critics of. Because that only serves to show people that you are afraid your critics are right. And wow, the blogger that brought me here was dead-on about you.

          • bluharmony

            So, you believe people should continue sending nasty messages to Rebecca Watson? OK, noted.

      • “There’s another reason the trolls focus on gender, and that’s because
        Watson has made it clear that those are the comments that will get a

        I know that stopping a thief in progress might get me smacked. Because stopping a thief often leads to “smacking behavior.” So, you will grudgingly admit that it’s uncivil for the person to smack me, but then tell me I also “brought violence on myself” because I knew there was a chance the person might get violent.

        Maria, as long as we’re doing mind reading here the way you’ve done with Rebecca (“Watson has made it clear that those are the comments that will get a response” etc.) I think it’s clear to everyone here that your concern is not laying out any path to justice, but simply to put down someone who just kind of bugs you.

        • bluharmony

          No, I’m saying that sexist comments against men, including gendered slurs used by Watson and her supporters, bring on more of the same. No mind reading needed for that, but thanks for yours.

  • ThePrussian
  • hehehe. You made this post over a month ago. hehehehehehe!

    • bluharmony

      Miss you. 🙂

  • AtheistNavyVet

    I have not seen one single video clip or a single direct source example of Rebecca Watson errors…. all of the attacks on her are hearsay, 2nd source descriptions or alleged quotes from dubious sources…. I’m really tired of all this shit. Atheism fights theocracy & patriarchy. Our Atheism is not defined by xian webster as “denying god” but is defined by ourselves as freedom from theism. We have no alleged gods in our heads. And Feminism is the simple notion women are the only people who can consent to reproduce. Women decide if and when to have sex & give birth. Males can only consent to participate. All else is rape. Patriarchy is rape. Theocracy is rape. The Vatican is a rapist pedophile cabal. Got a problem with what I just posted ? Why make nice with perpetrators ? 843-926-1750 @AtheistVet come each Saturday 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at our abortion clinic to fight the tampon terrorists before you pretend we are in error fighting religious fanatics anywhere on this planet

    • bluharmony

      Nope, they’re actually clear examples of errors and misrepresentations. Further, she is not the subject of this post. And finally, you apparently don’t know what “hearsay” means.

      Enough of your rambling comments, please. You’re making no sense.

  • Nice post, especially in its analysis of her “whys.” Some good comments here. Per the poorly-informed line, yeah, when she starts pointing out what’s really wrong with Pop Ev Psych, but works from cheap talking points, then an Ed Clint goes over the top back with a stereotyped Pop Ev Psych talking points list, one wants to say a pox on both their houses re RW and some of her “foes.”

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  • bloomingdedalus
    • bluharmony

      Yep, that is what a bigot looks like.

  • kfreed

    From what I’ve seen of Rebecca Watson, the reason she gets pummeled online is because she posted a stupid video about being propositioned for coffee in an elevator and went from posting her vapid, self-serving, stupid video to labeling entire communities of people who did not agree that her stupid video merited sympathy as “misogynists,” men and women alike.

    She’s an idiot and an embarrassment to both the skeptic movement and to feminism. If people make their dislike for her antics known, she’s given them ample reason. “You reap what you sow” applies to atheists as well. Law of probability. Behave like a giant douche, get treated like one.

    Female, Atheist, Feminist

  • Regressive Goosesteppers

    Oh, PLEASE. The only sexism pertaining to the Rebecca Watson is of her our fashioning.

  • MarionDelgado

    Watson’s original comment on the elevator thing was solicited, by the people she addressed. in defiance of all evidence, the professional atheists believed women were as interested as men in their gatherings. They therefore asked, why no women?? what can we do to be more woman-friendly? and she logically said, don’t drunkenly accost women who are trapped alone with you in an elevator at these events, if you’re serious. And she was right. I can’t see how her point is controversial, and it’s in fact helpful.

    However, in point of fact, you will probably rarely get as many women as men at a pure (not-aimed-mainly-at-women) atheist event. There are lots of things it’d be hard to get as many men to as women, conversely. As I wouldn’t go to one, either, that’s not a ding on women as an aggregate. Also: . That’s no reason not to listen to advice like Watson’s, but your metric should be growth, not parity.

    The New Aheists and official Skeptics are mostly neocons and market fundies, and many professional feminists are either narcissists – academic careerists – or identifying with them. So the rift didn’t bother me. I am a third generation free-thinker and my concerns are mostly about minority concentrations of power and wealth, and about the environment. The attempt to construct an identity politics (and a libertarian-friendly one, at that) out of atheism is a non-starter for real progressives, surely.

    • bluharmony

      If a cause matters to you enough, then I’m sure you can survive a friendly invite to coffee (and possibly more) in order to fight for it. That said, I am not offended by men who take no for an answer. That’s what this man (if he even exists) did, and thus, in my eyes, he did no wrong. Also, without being mind readers we cannot judge what his real intentions were, and moreover, I do not consider Watson to be an honest person, so what she says really doesn’t make an impact on me.