You’ve probably guessed at this point that I’m talking specifically about the latest round in a long-line of dust-ups over the treatment of female skeptics and the subsequent dismissal of their concerns. It seems like every time anyone mentions anything to do (even obliquely) with Rebecca Watson, a chorus of idiotic voices arise. To be sure, the worst offenders are those who decide to use the opportunity to showcase their ridiculous retrograde stupidity, but there is always a depressing number of people who decide instead to accuse both sides of needing to ‘take it down a notch’ or wonder why we can’t just be ‘on the same side’ or that they have ‘better things to do’.
First of all, this fight is fundamentally a fight about how we address sloppy and uninformed thought processes, not just about sex and gender, but about how we respond to pseudoscientific claims. The comments section of pretty much any open thread about feminism will be replete with phony ‘explanations’ for why women are just not cut out for scientific thinking, or how assault victims are just in it for the attention, or how ‘uppity cunt’ or ‘bitch’ are just value-neutral generic insults that have nothing to do with gender. These are the ‘why are there still monkeys’ retorts of an unthinking mind presented with a reality that does not conform to their worldview laden with stereotypes and mental shortcuts.
This movement is deeply interested in these lazy thought processes, because they are the exact same type of heuristics that give us pretty much everything that makes religion so appealing and dangerous. It is unbelievably foolish of us to pretend that we can use our skeptical toolbox to decry (often derisively) the intellect of those who would devote their lives to Christian apologetics, but then not fight over the exact same lazy approach that gives us “Men’s Rights Activists”, “Race Realists”, Randian Libertarians, and any other group that wishes to avail itself of the fruits of rational inquiry without subjecting their own ideas to its critical gaze.
So no, we don’t have something ‘better to do’ than fight about feminism – it’s the exact same fight we’re having against religion.
Something to ponder carefully (and yes, I’m looking at you, @JMAbrassart – though you’re definitely not the only one; but I used to think of you as a friend, and I wish I’ll be able to do so again in the future).
For more details, see this timeline and the subsequent detailed discussion at Stephanie Zvan’s Almost Diamonds, another blog of note. Read also Ashley Miller’s original post and its follow-ups to have an idea why some of us think there’s a problem. Oh, and for those who summarily dismiss Rebecca Watson for being (according to them) "divisive" and "rude": go read the actual statement she wrote on June 1st before presuming to judge.