[Content Note: Misogyny; fat bias.]
1. I wrote a piece about being a female atheist alienated from movement atheism.
2. I got the usual pushback—I'm hysterical, I'm overreactionary, I'm looking for things about which to get angry, it's my own damn fault for not working to change movement atheism from the inside, it's a "small but vocal group," blah blah fart—as well as lots of support from people who felt I represented their experiences, many of whom in turn got systematically ignored and/or pushback of their own.
3. PZ Myers asked: "What can I do better?"
4. Taking his question in good faith, I made some suggestions for atheist men who genuinely wanted an answer to that question.
5. I got the usual pushback—go fuck yourself, fat cunt, stupid cunt, cunty-cunt-cunt, blah blah fart.
6. I wrote a follow-up that outlined why it is, exactly, that telling me it's just—just!—a "small but vocal group" is not useful, why "Hey, the rest of us aren't like those knuckleheads!" is not a comfort, why silence is not good enough, and why people who are keen to make movement atheism more inclusive have to get louder than the "small but vocal group."
7. I got the usual pushback—I'm a big meanie poopyhead for wondering why PZ would have "reservations" about my advice because it isn't tailored specifically to atheist men; I'm "uncharitable"; my tone is THE WORST and I am terrible; Shakesville is totes garbage; and the always-popular Hey, I think you're totally wrong, but feel free to explain basic feminism to me and try to change my mind.
I started out writing about why I didn't want to have anything to do with mainstream movement atheism, but, in the end, this entire endeavor has revealed that whether I want anything to do with mainstream movement atheism is irrelevant, because mainstream movement atheism doesn't want to have anything to do with me.
Message received. I'll show myself out, etc.
Of course I don't actually mean me, per se. What I mean is people from various marginalized populations, who challenge the kyriarchal structures at work in mainstream movement atheism, despite its claims to aspire to better.
What I mean is that people are watching how this played out, and people watch how every iteration of attempting to have a serious conversation about inclusion plays out, and every time this happens, it's not just about shouting down one critic, but conveying to everyone following the totally predictable pattern that they still are not welcome, that they still are not safe.
This type of alienation has been a constant refrain of my life, as I have sought meaningful inclusion in male-dominated spaces: Geekdom is for boys; gaming is for boys; music superfandom is for boys; political blogging is for boys; god is for boys; not-god is for boys.
And across each area of interest, there are the cyclical wonderments from the gatekeepers about where all the women are and how do we—the Good Ones—make our space more inclusive for women.
The answer starts with this: You've actually got to want us there.
My admiration for the women who hang in and stick it out and fight the same fights over and over. That is a valid and commendable choice, even though it's not mine.
I'll be over here carving out my own space, in the shape of a fat cunt.