I wrote this, originally, to console someone who was sick to death of her efforts being met with rape threats and death threats and inaccurate accusations. I debated posting it, knowing it would undoubtedly bring with it some backlash. I spend my free time volunteering for atheist, humanist, and skeptic causes only to be constantly met with people telling me that I am not a “real” activist. There are other things I could be doing. It is hard to watch all of the misogyny and sexism go on in this movement. It’s hard to watch people as wonderful as Pamela Gay be torn down for coming forward with her story.
It’s exhausting to know that there are people who hate you and believe ridiculous, untrue things about you, no matter how clear and unoffensive you have tried to be. I am tired of being accused of being in it for the money when being involved in atheism costs me loads of money every year — travel costs I don’t ever expect to see returned by my blog. I’m tired of every post being a target and rage commenters trying to tear me down for my appearance, education, and family. I have never been targeted by religious people the way I am by atheists. And how much worse is it to be targeted by a group of people you spend your free time working to help.
I am tired of being worried about legal threats and hackers, people who have targeted me as “collateral damage” to others as well as those who’ve directly targeted me. I am tired of getting flooded on Facebook by people I don’t know whenever I post something vaguely in the area of things they label social justice warrioring. I’m tired of everything being a fight. I’m tired of trying to be the bigger person. I’m tired of feeling like all the abuse is pointless because there’s no movement. I’m tired of people with power laughing or shrugging off sexual assault and harassment. I’m tired of people making value judgments about those who’ve been harassed — demanding you have had certain experiences to be able to comment on them and then mocking you if you come forward with those experiences.
I am, in short, very tired. And I don’t have it the worst, by any stretch of the imagination.
But then, sometimes, strangers come up to me or email me and thank me. They thank me specifically for talking about things that get me the most bile. There are people who hear what you say and change their mind, but they’re usually not very loud, because changing your mind is hard and takes a while and is difficult to talk about when you’re in the middle of it. I have many friends who became not very close friends for a little while because I was on the SJW side of things and they weren’t sure which way to go who are now among my strongest allies.
That said, I’ve had a hard time blogging lately because, on top of all the drama of day to day life, it’s so infuriating and upsetting to deal with the internet assholes. It’s hard to find the reward. Every post is a constant decision to put up with attacks. I have to remind myself that it’s worth it. And sometimes, it’s just not. Sometimes, I am just not in a place where I can deal with the abuse. Ultimately, while changing minds is a lofty and important goal, it’s also not our responsibility. If you’re tapped out, you are, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no reason to subject yourself to this if you don’t find it rewarding. And there are less hostile audiences within the movement as well. The SSA, for example, has been nothing but wonderful to me.
I don’t know if that helps at all, just know I feel what you’re feeling an awful lot. You’re not alone.