The Invasion of Identity Politics
My original motivation for starting a YouTube channel was simply to offload a little bit of the frustration I felt having just come out of Atheism+. I never intended to be famous, I never intended to heralded as some sort of champion of atheism, I just wanted to explain to people that atheism is a simple disbelief of a single idea and does not have room for ideological positions. I wanted to debunk ideologies and identity-politics in a funny and amusing way.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying an atheist can't also be an ideologue, be who you want to be, but when one tries to tack an ideological identity onto a non-ideological identity, some people are going to have a problem with that. Atheism is simply a position of disbelief on one thing, the existence of a god. Some atheists choose to identify as atheists. Using atheism as an identity has never made much sense to me as the question of whether a god exists or not has never seemed very important, nor has it grasped my attention for longer than a minute or two. I am atheist, as in I do not believe in a specific god's existence, but I don't think of myself as an atheist, a person who chooses to use his lack of belief in a god as an identity; as a piece of clothing he wears to show everyone who he is. That's why I call myself a skeptic. Skepticism is what lead me to my atheistic position, but it may also one day lead me to believe. It all depends on where the evidence leads me.
I feel I have to remind people that there is such a distinction because I often speak of atheists and speak on behalf of atheists even though I don't personally use that term to describe myself. I'm also mentioning this distinction because there are people who treat atheism as if it were an ideology; an ideology whoms goal is to remove god from everything, remove belief from everything and abolish religion. Unfortunately I do not feel that way. I think it would be easy to argue that most people on this planet require superstition, belief, faith and organizations to feel like they have purpose and to help them get through tough times. Telling these people that their beliefs are archaic and harmful to society is not only an insult, but it's probably wrong. Not entirely wrong, as religion has done some terrible things in the name of it's ideals, but 90% of religious people on this planet believe in higher powers because they need to believe to get by, not because they want to believe everyone is going to hell. Sure, I want a separation of church and state in it's practical application, but if the state has religious traditions that don't impede my ability to be an individual than I can't really complain that it needs to stop. Let the people do what they want to do, let the people believe, let the people organize, let the people put a nativity scene outside of City Hall. That doesn't hurt anyone.
What I personally want to do is stop the flow of misinformation, lies, bad science, bad philosophy, bad ideas and bad logic and I want to do this in an entertaining way. Making people laugh is my number one priority in life. I started off by doing a couple videos about bad science from creationists with the intention of moving onto other subjects, but somehow that never happened. I became so popular within atheist circles that I got caught in it. I never wanted to be a champion of atheism, I wanted to be a champion of skepticism, but somehow I ended up as a famous atheist that makes atheist videos. My first video, originally titled Confessions from a Born Again Atheism Plusser, then renamed How the Armoured Skeptic was Born, was meant to launch my channel as a platform to debunk ideologies in general, not just religious ideologies, but it became apparent to me that a large chunk of my subscribers were ideologues. I got scared, I didn't want to lose my subscribers, but now that I've been around the block a few times I am no longer nervous. I want to debunk all bad ideas, not just religious ones. I want to make all people laugh, not just atheists.
So, now that I'm done this rant, on to the point of this blog.
When I joined Atheism+ I was completely new to atheism. I felt I needed a leader and that I wanted to be part of a group of people who were doing the right thing, whatever that thing may be. I really wanted to be part of a community of people who were on the right side. After coming out of religion it seemed clear to me at the time that atheism was the natural next step. When I started joining atheist groups online I noticed a new organization called Atheism+. They spoke with such authority about equality, acceptance and rights. They would say "We believe gay people should be accepted, we believe we should fight for the rights of minorities, we believe women should be treated equal" and this all sounded great. I absolutely agree with these sentiments. Who wouldn't, right? They also spoke of open-dialogues, debate and discussion. Richard Carrier (one of the founders) said he welcomed debate. This sounded perfect for me.
Well, the experience didn't quite live up to the brochure.
The leaders gave voices to only a select few bloggers and celebrities. These bloggers would express opinions about what kind of problems exist in society and when commenters would ask questions about specifics or disagree with a single point in a blog, the commenters would get banned, bashed, berated, attacked, doxed, publicly shamed or called a rapist. It wouldn't matter if one were to agree with the over-all point of the blog, if one disagreed or questioned one small part than that person was basically Hitler to the rest of the community. I personally was called a rape apologist because I denied there was a rape culture and I was called a rapist because I denied that consensual drunk sex was in any way a form of rape. I didn't take these accusations lightly and after days of fighting it I was doxed and my boss called me into his office to ask what these rape accusations were all about.
Atheism+ was supposed to bring the atheist community together, but instead it ripped it in two. The worst part is that many of the famous atheists, Steve Shives, Matt Dillahunty, Aron Ra and many others who helped me come out of religion and taught me to use logic and reason to come to my decisions had all thrown out basic logic and reason and embraced a feminist mindset. Be skeptical, unless it's about feminism, be logical, unless it's about feminism, be reasonable, unless it's about feminism, debate ideas you disagree with, unless it's feminism. Someone disagree with you? Call them an MRA, misogynist, rapist or a terrible human being that is on the wrong side of history.
After this experience I decided independence was my best rout and I have been an individual ever since. I manage to enjoy content from PZ Myers, Richard Carrier, Aron Ra, Matt Dillahunty and more, even though I disagree with them, but they, however, have decided that because I don't buy into their ideology that I am not worth their time. This is the problem with ideologies. They teach that if people disagree with you than they are evil.
I was always on the fence when it came to Steve Shives. His series, An Atheist Reads, was one of the first video series I watched when I came out of religion. Steve's logical break-downs of theistic arguments were always impressive and he taught me the importance and practical application of skepticism. How, then, could he throw out such well developed skills when it comes to his feminist ideologies? Why does he not only fail to employ these skills with feminism but also attacks those who do? More on that in my next video.
Steve wasn't the only one who changed his tune. Matt Dillahunty and Aron Ra were both major internet celebrities that made their fame championing reason and logic over dogmatic belief. Somehow these two were also able to ignore their skeptical skills and embrace a feminist mindset. Being a feminist on it's own isn't the real issue though, it's the way they respond to questions and criticism. Matt, who has his own television show on Public Access in Texas is well known for hanging up on people that call in to debate. Sometimes he does it for good reason, like when a theist refuses to play by the rules of debate, but sometimes he does it because he's angry. Hardly a hero. Matt has been caught hanging up on atheists who asked him questions regarding feminist issues in Atheism+. Aron too did a seminar on why the world needs feminism. These are two men I used to look up to and now I'm left wondering why their impressive skills in logic and debate elude them when it comes to social issues.
Ultimately, the fact that these people are feminists is not what bothers me, I could not care less if everyone on the planet identified themselves as a feminist, what bothers me is that these people, these champions of reason and logic, get angry, harsh, irrational when faced with questions and criticism regarding their public statements on social issues. What bothers me is that they don't see how similar a religious belief is to an ideological belief. Steve reacts to all criticisms about his feminist positions with anger, rage, insults and unfounded accusations of misogyny, and he reacts to simple lines of questioning with blocking accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Steve has gone as far as to say "The MRA are all misogynists" and "Fuck the MRA" when asked questions by Men's Rights Activists. This is the way a close-minded brain-washed individual would react when faces with an opposing viewpoint. This is how a Christian would react when faced by questions and criticisms from a Muslim. Feminism does not have room for individual thought, feminism does not have room for questions, feminism does not have room for debate, feminism does not like to be challenged. You are either with them or against them and there are countless examples of people overreacting to simple questions and polite disagreement.
Look at the Gregory Allen Elliot case. Gregory is a graphic designer, an artist in Canada, who used Twitter, a public forum, to disagree with a feminist. Gregory has since been arrested and has spent over $100,000 defending himself in court because he was accused of harassment. Harassment? How did he harass this feminist? Did he stalk her? No, he just followed her on Twitter... Did he make sock-accounts and berate her with several hateful messages every day? No, he used his personal account and did nothing but reply to public tweets... Did he make fake accounts to get around being blocked? No, she never blocked him. Gregory Allen Elliot was nothing but polite. The worst thing he did was try to convince people that a public mob-like protest was a bad idea.
There are going to be people who will tell you that anti-feminists harass feminists and that anti-feminists are hateful or MRAs. Before you agree to jump on a bandwagon like that, always ask for proof. Whenever an ideologue is backed into a corner they'll use buzz-words to try to instantly discredit their opponent. Theists call an opponent an infidel or heretics. This is a way to label their opponents in a way that creates an instant feeling of disdain in the heads of their fellow ideologues. Feminists like to use words like rapist, rape-apologist or misogynist. These are lofty accusations and it is frustrating that the feminist community as a whole does not require strong proof of these kinds of accusations. A person's life could be ruined if he/she is labeled a misogynist or a rapist, yet these words are tossed around with as much care as food pellets at a petting zoo. My life could have been ruined simply because I didn't agree that consensual drunk sex between an established couple was rape.
Feminism tried to invade the atheist community and ultimately failed. However, this is not much of a victory for reason... The Atheist community is still split in two. There are those who listen and believe and there are those who use skepticism. The biggest lesson I learned from Atheism+ is that not all atheists are skeptics. Some atheists really do act the way that Christians accuse atheists of acting.
This was only the beginning of my journey of discovery. The feminist mind-set has made it's way into every other organization, ideology and community. The Canadian Government is currently led by a man who identifies as a feminist. I did not vote for him.
Hollywood is being divided by feminists too, demanding better representation of women in movies. Unfortunately everything that women do in movies is "problematic" regardless of the intention of the film maker. Even Joss Whedon, a feminist, was attacked for making Black Widow too strong and independent a character with too much dimension. This is somehow just as bad as making a woman too weak and dependent with too little dimension. Feminists are also demanding more female directors in Hollywood. Lets ignore the fact that there are very few female directors in general to fill those roles, even if we did artificially elevate more women into directorial roles I am assuming that if they aren't feminist the feminist community will universally hate them anyways.
Feminism has dug it's way into the gaming industry. Every game is now scrutinized for having too weak a female presence or too strong a male presence. Female characters must be strong and independent and not require a man, yet they also must not be strong or independent because they are then somehow a "Ms. Male" character. They must not wear revealing clothing because that is objectification, yet people must not demand they change their clothing because that's oppression. Anita Sarkeesian hated Laura Crofts outfit because it was too revealing, yet the girl in Beyond Good and Evil wore the exact freaking same outfit and Anita used that as a positive example of women in video games. Anita also said a female version of Link in the Zelda series would be a "Ms. Male" version and would be bad, yet she re-tweeted Movie-Bob's article on why a female Link would be a good thing.
Regardless of the organization they have infiltrated, everything regarding female representation is always wrong, no matter what. Every complaint, when met with a fix, is simply just flipped into a complaint about the fix. When trying to appease a feminist, one will find himself/herself in a no-win scenario where everything is problematic because... feelings. If it FEELS wrong to a feminist it is wrong. This is the logic we're up against. There is literally no winning, there is no appeasing, there is only the victim and the oppressor. Is this the world we want to live in?
I choose to treat each person as an equal. If it is too traumatizing for someone to be treated as an equal instead of a victim-class individual who needs to be babied, then perhaps this person should stay home.