No, not “to everyone”. Everywhere. io9 talks about three of our communities – skepticism/atheism, sci-fi fandom, and computer hacker culture.
But it’s also happening in comics, in video games, in the movie industry. In every area where a woman tries to improve their lot, or to break those rigid gender roles by entering areas that are otherwise traditionally populated by men, she faces exponentially more abuse and vitriol than men in those areas.
In every aspect of our society, there is a hidden war on women.
Everywhere that “man” is “default person”, men are actively fighting the merest possibility of changing that presumption. If you’re a woman in a man-dominated area, you face tens and hundreds of times more pushback. Why? Because these specific men don’t like people encroaching on their privilege.
You might not think you’re seeing that kind of pushback, personally. You might NOT see that pushback — and if so, lucky you! But you might also think that it’s part and parcel with being a woman. You might even think that it’s just a tell that this field is rough-and-tumble, and that you need to toughen up if you expect to make it — and that any failure to toughen up and take the abuse is damning of women in general, that if you can’t “man up” and swallow the abuse then you’re failing your gender by showing exactly why the men saying women don’t belong there are right. You might think that by demanding people stop treating women with so much disrespect that we’re infantilizing women.
And worse, you might even think that those damn uppity feminists yelling about the jackasses are tarring the whole community with what some tiny subset of that community is doing, and that means that the community as a whole doesn’t have a misogyny problem, just that tiny subset. Just like how the whole body doesn’t have a cancer problem, just the tiny subset that has cancer. So instead of fighting that tiny subset, you’re fighting against the “encroaching invaders” that feminists represent, who are attempting to change the status quo. Who are attempting to fight the problem.
But this is happening everywhere. We atheists and skeptics seem to think we’ve got some kind of moral high ground, that we’re immune to motivated reasoning, to unskeptical and uncritical cognitive biases, to racism and sexism and other bigotries because they’re just so irrational. And even while we believe ourselves to be immune, we provide apologetics for the bigots instead of challenging them. We talk about the burden of proof and presumption of innocence, even while we see all the evidence before us that there’s a problem. We talk about the damage of mislabelling people as misogynists, instead of the damage of hurling rape and death threats at women for being women.
The thing is, if you’re getting involved in this debate by attacking those folks who point out that these things are happening, then you are, in fact, no better than the bigots because you’re giving them cover, and you’re doing their jobs for them. You’re attacking the solution to the problem instead of the problem. So when people start taking a “with us or against us” siege mentality, it’s not a surprise to me. And it’s not something I can really take to task.
If people get unfairly tarred as being a misogynist just because they’re helping and granting succour to the misogynists in the community, I can’t bring myself to be upset about that. Sure, it’s rather sad that some good people who are simply unaware of the scope of the problem are being tarred as villains when they’re merely unintentionally helping the villains. But at that point, it’s incumbent upon us to get informed before pontificating on a subject like whether or not the skeptical community has a misogyny problem.
If you don’t know if it has a problem, and you declare that it doesn’t, then you’re assuming that the evidence everyone else was looking at is wrong. Or you’re unaware of that evidence. Or you’re assuming that you have to prove each case beyond a shadow of a doubt before you’re allowed to build trending data.
If you look at the vast sweep of interactions in our community, it’s plainly obvious that by being a girl, you statistically risk higher incidences of harassment, trolling, derision and vitriol. Unless, that is, you’re one of those girls who has managed to take the abuse you’ve gotten, and you say “okay, it’s okay, I’ve got a thick skin, I can take the abuse. I’m not like those uppity feminists, I’m a chill girl, it’s all good.” Then you get less villainy. Or the villainy you get, you’re expected to be able to take it in stride, because you’ve already proven you’re “one of the guys”.
You know why you’re getting less evil thrown at you for this? Because you’re expected to be the example that’s trotted out every time someone points out just how much abuse you face by being a woman on the internet. You’re expected to step up and say “look at those feminazis, demanding that all men be subjugated to their whims, what bullies they are!” every time someone says “hey, we shouldn’t put up with trollishness directed at women in our community.”
By you sticking your head up to fight the people fighting the problem, you’re part of the problem. If that gets you “mislabeled”, boo fucking hoo.