Alright, so there has been a lot of talk about sexism in the atheist/skeptic community lately. Most of this has taken place online and at skeptic conferences. Before I go into my opinions about this issue, I feel like I should give you a brief history about how this controversy started.

About a year ago, a prominent atheist blogger, Rebecca Watson, posted a video about her experience at a conference in Dublin. She talked about how she was drinking with some friends until 4 A.M. She left the bar and took the elevator to her room with a man who asked her if she would like to come to his room for “coffee.”

Rebecca Watson said that this event made her feel uncomfortable and sexualised. She said that the issue of sexism in the atheist/skeptic community needed to be addressed in light of this incident.

Several bloggers in the community addressed Rebecca’s position as an overreaction. They said that while the man in the elevator didn’t have the best judgment, Rebecca overreacted to the incident and that sexism in the atheist community was not as big an issue as she made it out to be.

Rebecca then called out one of these bloggers during a keynote speech she gave at another conference. This triggered more debate online, which drew in the attention of the bigger players of the community such as P.Z. Myers and Richard Dawkins. Myers agreed with Rebecca, while Dawkins pointed out that sexism in other parts of the world was far worse than the incident that Rebecca experienced.

This controversy caught the attention of many others in the community, including youtubers, The Amazing Atheist and Thunderf00t. The Amazing Atheist talked about the stupidity of the entire debate, while Thunderf00t brought up the over-exaggeration of sexism in the community.

Now I will give my opinion on these events. I would like to note that I do not hold any of these ideas in stone and am willing to debate and discuss these opinions with anyone who is willing to debate rationally.

First off, I am in the camp that says that Rebecca overreacted to the event.  I do feel like the man in the elevator was an idiot for hitting on her in an elevator, where she couldn’t walk away easily.  But, this man didn’t seem to push the subject, so I feel the subject could have ended at that moment.  I also think that Rebecca should have taken the high road when bringing up the issue.  This seems to be a simple case of social stupidity that could have been addressed as such in Rebecca’s videos and speeches.

Now in regards to the negative attention that Rebecca has received in light of this incident, I am sickened that people would mock her with threats of violence and rape.  That behavior is unacceptable in a civilized society.  However, in the internet culture, that behavior is relatively common these days; I myself have received a few threats of rape for my post about sexism in the GOP.  If these threats seem genuine, if the person making them gives personal information that shows serious intent, then they should be dealt with by contacting the proper authorities.  But, Rebecca addresses these as all being genuine to further an agenda.  I think that a little bit of common sense would show that there are other issues and causes to the behavior of these internet trolls.

Now when it comes to the opinions of other bloggers such the The Amazing Atheist and Thunderf00t,  I think that everyone is entitled to their opinion.  I also believe that opinion should never have any effect on policy or action when it comes to social issues.  Logic and reason must overcome opinions and feelings when it comes to issues like this.  And on that note, I wish to address a small but important issue that has recently arose from this debate.

P.Z. Myers has a blog called Freethought Blogs.  He recently banned Thunderf00t from this blog for rationally discussing this issue on Freethought Blogs.  Now while I understand that having a new voice come into a debate and criticizing a strongly held view can be upsetting, P.Z. Myers sunk to the level of an ignorant bigot in banning Thunderf00t through strawman arguments and gut reactions.  If issues like sexism are ever going to be worked out and solved, it is going to be thought rational debate and logical arguments.  Not knee-jerk reactions and emotional outpouring.  I am ashamed to call myself a future teacher if people like P.Z. Myers can hold the same title that I will soon hold.

In the end, I think that the issue of sexism in the skeptic community is something to be looked at so that people of all genders, creeds, sexuality, and races can be welcome.  But I feel like this issue has polarized the community, turning free thinking individuals into pluralized mobs that only react on empty emotion.

But what do you think?  Am I right, wrong, or neither.  Is sexism a rampent problem in the atheist/skeptic community?  Leave a comment and I’ll be sure to join in on the debate.