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10 January, 2012

I <3 r/atheism

Atheism doesn't just have a sexism problem online. It has a ton of problems. It can't even let other atheists have their own opinions. It encourages mean, insulting and dismissive behavior, while complaining about mean, insulting and dismissive behavior.

The latter, I think, is worse than the former simply because the former can't even be addressed without the latter getting in the way. Not only that, but there are some pretty big names that make up this cold bloc of dismissive, arrogant people. In just a day, I lost respect for at least two people who are very well known in the skeptical community and who have had a huge influence on me. I suppose the bigger the pedestal, the harder they fall. My bad; I will remember not to put people up there next time.

It wasn't even that the disagreement was all that big of a deal. I saw certain jokes as pathetic and crude and the other person saw them as threatening. I saw this person post another joke that I thought was pathetic and crude and wondered how she thought it was funny, considering her opinion on the other jokes. After asking for her to clarify (which she did in a very dismissive, reactionary way), she called me a name in a totally passive-aggressive follow-up tweet. So I wrote about it on r/atheism. And I called her a bitch, because she deserved being called names more than I did, with her shitty behavior. It wasn't even that I was defending the jokes she didn't like, it was simply the fact that I disagreed with her that started the whole thing.

I got a lot of support from r/atheism. I even had people very eloquently explain their differing viewpoints. And then the Atheist high and mighties released their hounds. I saw posts down voted to oblivion for no reason other than they agreed with me, by people sent from a blog far away in the cold Midwest. The posts voted down weren't insulting, they weren't threatening. It was simply time to shut them up and let the lock-step take care of me.

The most poignant part of this whole thing, I think, is that people were calling me lazy, sexist, misogynist and a number of other things just for holding my own opinion (which wasn't even very far from her own)! Most of the people doing so were saying things like, go back to your plumbing work and how would I feel if I were a woman or if I had been raped? (I have been sexually abused by a significant other in my past, for the record, and I'd be glad to talk about it. I know an honest rape threat when I see one). They were using insults against me as if I were a male because they couldn't tell from my username and just assumed I was. So in the end, I had sexism directed at me by these people calling me a sexist. That, my friends, is sad.

But r/atheism, you showed me that you can be different. I almost didn't join reddit because I heard on this person's blog how mean you were to women, but you were nice to me and she wasn't. Keep doing what you're doing. I love you, r/atheism. Thank you for the support.

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