Posted by: CJ | October 25, 2012

Modern Feminism is complicated….

There’s an article on slate today about sexism in the atheist community. It’s one of those pieces where the speaker makes important, relevant points. Except that I’m unsure how far to take them. She, more or less, says (some parts of) the atheist community have been very critical and derisive of atheist females that are uncomfortable being sexualized/objectified. Which is, of course, a fair and valid opinion to have, and one that should be respected. I don’t have any issue with that. Or any issue saying that the people that have harassed the author and her compatriots should probably learn the art of self-censorship.

And yet……….my inner-small town Methodist midwesterner has to ask…..WTF did you think was going to happen when you ditch communal belief in an anti-materialist, anti-sexuality religion and instead start big events like “boobquake”, where you show off your busts en masse to show there’s no correlation between bare bosoms and tectonic plate shifts.

Similarly, my inner-socially awkward geek (actually that’s my outer personality too) has to ask…..WTF did you think would happen when you start hanging around the traditional warrens of very socially awkward geeks? We’re rabid, hateful, spiteful jackasses that routinely cross whatever lines are laid down. That’s why so many of the geeks are agnostic or atheist–we can’t abide anyone else telling us what to do. Why would you think it’d be any different when the issues relate to you?

It’s not that females in those communities deserve the treatment they’ve gotten, or even that they were asking for it. It’s that they perhaps sound a little clueless when they complain that they’re getting objectified too much for their liking after reveling in freedom from sexually oppressive belief systems in a community with a large number of socially awkward horny males that aren’t getting laid enough.

I guess what I’m getting at is I’m not sure how far to push these arguments. There of course should be anti-harassment policies in place at the conventions, and guys should behave themselves, etc.. But at the same time…it seems like there’s more to be done than just say, “guys don’t bother the ladies”. It seems like there should also be discussions about appropriate norms in general. Is “boobquake” appropriate, or is that too sexualized? How do we dispel the assumption that the guy has to make the first move? Or is the bigger issue not that the guy shouldn’t make the first move, but he needs to be aware of when is/is not the appropriate time to do so?

I suppose many of these issues are just typical things for males and females to learn as they transition from adolescence and young adulthood to a more settled, and wise, state of being. Learning when is/isn’t an appropriate time and place to proposition someone, and knowing how and what is appropriate to flaunt when. It perhaps just seems like more of a clusterfuck now. Instead of individuals embedded in a tightly knit multi-generational community going through it we have a mono-generational, multi-regional subcommunity in a very not tightly knit distributed community very publicly going through these issues.

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