I couldn't be less interested in writing about this anymore, but, in the interest of continuing to document what happens in response when a female atheist explains why she is alienated by movement atheism, and offers solicited advice on how to fix that, I feel obliged to make a note of it.
There's a lot I find troubling about his post, but I will make only two observations in response, both of which concern this section:
In her latest post, McEwan wrote:1. I will note, again, that my original post with which Lee took issue included this paragraph: "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." He ignored that paragraph in his first piece in order to make the accusation that I sounded as though I were "saying that atheism has only one voice, and it's the voice of the sexists." Only when I subsequently singled out "men in movement atheism who make a practice of being good allies to women" was Lee satisfied that I was not monolithizing movement atheism.
I will say, again, that I know there are men in movement atheism who make a practice of being good allies to women. (At least straight, white, cis women. And some men more broadly than that.)I'm glad to hear that! And since that was the only part of McEwan's original post that I had any reservations about, I dare say we might even have reached a consensus. Notwithstanding the noise and clamor of the misogynists, they're not the majority.
For someone who claims this isn't about cookies, that he's "not saying that anyone has a duty to express gratitude for allies at every opportunity, or that we should expect constant praise for showing a minimum of decency," it's incredible that until I said something which he could read as explicit praise of who he views himself to be, he was accusing me of monolithizing movement atheism as "the voice of the sexists."
That claim was dependent on disappearing my praise of female atheists; it was dependent on disappearing the fact that I'd offered solicited advice in good faith to atheist men who wanted to be better allies (why would I do that if I believed atheism was a sexist monolith?); it was dependent on ignoring the entire post I wrote about the "small but vocal group."
I had shown and stated in multiple ways already that I did not believe movement atheism to speak with a singular sexist voice. But amidst a lot of valid criticism I had made of the people who do engage in misogyny, Adam Lee's primary objective was not to listen meaningfully to any of that criticism. It was to accuse me, despite a preponderance of evidence to the contrary, of being unfair because I hadn't said, in words he found sufficiently inclusive, that there are good guys, too.
That is not being an ally. That is a cookie-seeking mission.
Which brings me to:
2. Lee chose to again quote only one line of a 1,000+ word piece, the very next paragraph subsequent to his excerpted quote is:
But I shouldn't need to keep saying that over and over. Obliging me to salve the consciences of men affiliated with a movement which, irrespective of their efforts, is still incredibly hostile to lots of women outside (and inside) of it, is antithetical to being an ally and incompatible with making me feel like there is a place for me in the movement, if I want my role to be anything but deferential gratitude to men for being decent human beings.So, he selectively quotes another piece to pat me on the head for explicitly acknowledging men who show me basic decency, but ignores the following paragraph which explains why obliging me to keep saying that very thing is fundamentally not the behavior of a good ally, and does this in a piece titled "On Being a Good Ally." Neat!
I don't know how many times in how many different ways I can say this: Lecturing marginalized people on the ways in which they need to make privileged people more comfortable is not just failing to be a good ally; it is deeply hostile behavior that centers the comfort of the already-privileged. Maintaining one's comfort cannot be an objective of someone keen to shed hir privilege.
I genuinely don't know whether Lee is failing to understand why this arc has been so deeply problematic, especially under the banner of professing to be my ally, or whether he is simply ignoring my argument in order to find some way to still be right by calling it a draw. In either case, whether it takes more empathy work or a willingness to shed the vestiges of gotta-win, to actually be a reliable ally he's got to allow his privilege to be penetrated with the idea that cherry-picking and tone-policing and running marginalized people's feelings and perceptions through a validity prism are all utterly incompatible with ally work.
I'm offering that advice in good faith, to someone who says he wants to be a good ally.