I am not really familiar with SkepChick, and have not visited that site until now, when the controversy rages around it. Apparently the Atheist penchant for vilifying instead of edifying has extended to its own, as Atheists and Skeptics have attacked SkepChick. That is why the SkepChick is going Feminist.
”So here we are today. I am a feminist, because skeptics and atheists made me one. Every time I mention, however delicately, a possible issue of misogyny or objectification in our community, the response I get shows me that the problem is much worse than I thought, and so I grow angrier. I knew that eventually I would reach a sort of feminist singularity where I would explode and in my place would rise some kind of Captain Planet-type superhero but for feminists. I believe that day has nearly arrived.”But, along with the hate mail from Atheists, the main object of her distress is Richard Dawkins. Apparently Dawkins wrote the following to her, and its source was validated by PZ Meyers:
“Dear MuslimaSkepChick continues,
Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and . . . yawn . . . don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.
Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so . . .
And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.
”That comment and many like it were sent to me in response to a video I did about the horrors of female genital mutilation, which, by the way, is a cultural practice and not relegated to Muslim women. I’ve spoken about the topic a lot, and the worst of my hate mail from atheists is about that.To be sure there were Atheists and Skeptics who sent her messages of support. But even the support from PZ Meyer was backhanded, at least according to Melissa McEwan at Shakesville.
So to have my concerns – and more so the concerns of other women who have survived rape and sexual assault – dismissed thanks to a rich white man comparing them to the plight of women who are mutilated, is insulting to all of us. Feminists in the west have been staunch allies of the women being brutalized elsewhere, and they’ve done a hell of a lot more than Richard Dawkins when it comes to making a difference in their lives.
That wasn’t the end, of course. Dawkins went on to compare my experience with his frustration at riding in an elevator with a person chewing gum (presumably he was once accosted by such a person who rubbed Bubble Yum into his silky white hair). You can read all his comments to date at Shakesville or one of the other sites linked above. ”
The radical feminization of SkepChick seems to disallow the ridicule of one’s own group members; that is reserved for the other “Other”; one should not eat one’s own. In this case the Atheist/Skeptic grouping is fragmenting into male vs. female, with the males showing off their disreputable chauvinism and the females retreating into the moated defenses of female retreat disguised as female dominance.
One of the interesting comments at McEwan’s shakesville was this:
”This reminds me of when Christopher Hitchens couldn't believe that waterboarding could be torture until he experienced it himself. Why do these dudes need to actually experience something themselves before they can empathize with others? Why can't they put themselves in someone else's position WITHOUT having to experience it themselves? I've never been waterboarded, but I still know it's terrible. Dawkins has never been creeped out by someone in an elevator, and because of that, he can't possibly imagine that anyone else has ever been either? Give me a break. Learn to logic, Dawkins.”Now, repeating this sentence:
” Why do these dudes need to actually experience something themselves before they can empathize with others? Why can't they put themselves in someone else's position WITHOUT having to experience it themselves?”It should be obvious: it is because they are Skeptics! Other people’s experiences have no meaning to skeptics – by definition. What others experience is not knowledge; personal experience is merely a fault-prone emotional state, and therefore of no value to the skeptic. Just as the Atheist is totally free to define and redefine a moral system that he likes, so the Skeptic is free to define what is and is not knowledge for supporting a worldview that he likes. When relativism is the controlling function, sooner or later minority subgroups will go afoul of the dominant majority: it is inevitable when the answer is always about the holder of the question, never about anyone else. Never is the tyranny of the majority more palpable than in a relativist grouping. And when ridicule and personal attack is the modus operandi of the group as a whole, then the subgroups will turn on each other. It’s interesting to watch from the outside.
But something else should be bubbling to the level of consciousness here. Skepticism is never productive. There is no production of new knowledge by Skepticism. It is purely destructive. Skepticism always attempts to destroy the knowledge which it cannot itself have: personal experiential knowledge.
And PZ comes under fire for some of his posts which objectify women, here and hhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifere. Also PZ supports Title IX for women on the condescending theory that they are too weak to fend for themselves in thttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifhe real world, placing them in a category with blacks and other "weak" minorities.
SkepChick has triggered the cult’s denial mechanism which underlies Skepticism itself. And even though she doesn’t like it, she remains a Skeptic and Atheist and backs into a corner of the cult which she thinks provides for a defense against the rest of the cult. It will be interesting to see where she goes from there.
A recent overview of the SkepChick-Dawkins debacle is here. And a cartoon commentary is here.