Further thoughts on Dawkins and Harris

Richard Dawkins has double down once again. Hell, he’s digging a hole so deep that it’s got to be getting pretty hot in there.  You can read the latest Tweets from Dawkins here, where he shits on PZ Myers, ostensibly a friend of his.  What are his reasons? I don’t know? Why does he dismiss the criticisms-explained at length, from many people-about his actions or those of Sam Harris?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that both Dawkins and Harris have a problem.  They refuse to confront the ugly shit inside them. The following is a comment I left at Pharyngula:

As I started to compose this comment, I thought: we’re not asking much of people like Dawkins and Harris. That all people are asking is that they listen to what we’re saying. That they open themselves up to criticism and accept that they can be wrong. That they peel back their layers of privilege and recognize the signs of the internalized sexism they’ve carried with them their entire lives.

But then I thought:
Framing it that way appears as if this is an easy task.
I remember when I started confronting my biases. It *wasn’t* easy. I remember when I started seeing how women were treated. When I started listening to what women were saying. When I started recognizing the signs of sexism.
I was horrified.
It was everywhere.
I couldn’t escape it.
I couldn’t go to work and escape it.
I couldn’t go to a gay bar and escape it.
I couldn’t go to the movies or turn on the tv and escape it.
I saw it in the way people dressed.
I saw it in the way people acted.
I saw it in the way people spoke.
I saw it in the way people interacted.

One of the most striking moments for me came when I was sitting at a local gay bar and having a conversation with a friend. We were talking about effeminate gay men and drag queens and dating sites and more. This was maybe 2 years ago. I’d accepted that feminism was a worthy cause and was becoming comfortable calling myself one. But I was still in the process of understanding the sexist views I had.

Well one of those sexist views up and slapped me across the head right then and there.

I realized as my friend and I spoke, that all those people talking about how they won’t date a “girly gay man”…
•or those times when I said that phrase, followed by “I want to date a man bc he’s a man. I don’t want a date a man who acts like a girl”…
•or those people who put at the top of the Adam4Adam, Manhunt, or Grindr profile “not interested in nellie men, only want masculine men”
…I realized then and there that we…I…was trapped in thinking about gender in very rigid terms. I realized that I thought “men are supposed to be this way, and women are supposed to be this way”. I thought that any deviation from that was wrong. I thought that there was something wrong with a man acting like a woman, or having traits or characteristics typically associated with women. I realized how deep sexism ran. It runs so deep it affects how we view ourselves, as well as the people around us. It shapes our opinions of our friends, our family, our coworkers, even strangers.

Reflecting on that, I realize now, that we *are* asking for a lot from Dawkins and Harris.

But you know what?
We’re not asking the impossible.

We are not asking either of them to do anything we aren’t willing to do ourselves…what we are continually doing ourselves. We’re asking them to be better people. We’re asking them to look deep inside themselves and confront all that is ugly within them.

That’s where it becomes difficult.
Who wants to accept that there’s ugly shit inside you?
Who wants to accept that you can be capable of being a sexist/homophobic/racist/transphobic bigot?

That is hard to do.
It ain’t easy.

But that’s how we’re going to become better people.
That’s how we become a better species.
It’s not going to be a cakewalk. It won’t be unicorns and butterflies and chocolate covered strawberries. It’s going to be tough and it’s not going to end. It’s going to be a continual process that we carry with us for the rest of our lives.

Confronting the internalized issues that we all have is not easy.
But it’s damn well worth it.
And it’s something Every. Fucking. Person. Should. Do.

That’s the only way we’re going to reshape this world and leave it better for those who come after us.

I…We are not holding Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins to some impossible standard. We’re holding them to same standard we hold ourselves and others to. They continue to fail to measure up to that standard.

One day I hope they’ll recognize what they’re doing and dig deep…deep into their core and realize that they have some shit to come to terms with. I hope they do this because not believing in gods is NOT. FUCKING. ENOUGH.

Further thoughts on Dawkins and Harris
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