Who can blame her? Jen’s only human, she’d rather be cheerful than depressed, and nothing makes you depressed like facing a constant barrage of bullying and negativity, every single day you expose yourself.
Hell, I’ve become nauseated just as an observer. She and Natalie Reed have every reason to walk away from the flood of abuse they’ve received. I’m amazed at how much of it they put up with before doing so, and continue to marvel at the resolute courage showed by other women in their position, like Greta Christina and Rebecca Watson in particular. Definitely not those alone though; any blogger, especially female bloggers, have come in for a world of abuse if they made any noise whatever about the bigotries they’ve faced, particularly from their fellow atheists, over the past year or two, and that’s just what I’ve seen.
I confess, I wasn’t particularly aware of how much misogyny was really out there in the atheist community until these women spoke up. I may even have muttered quietly to myself a Dawkins-esque “Surely they exagerrate somewhat?” (I didn’t say it out loud, because I knew that I didn’t have good evidence for doubting their word either. I’m a bit surprised that Richard Dawkins of all people, a rightfully world-reknowned scientist, slipped up on an unwarranted assumption.)
Well, no more. The evidence has poured forth since then. These women have been bullied in the vilest way by misogynistic Internet trolls, mostly anonymously or pseudonymously, in not a few cases kleptononymously* so as to inflict more damage, by pretending to be a friend turned enemy or the blogger herself in order to smear her reputation.
(* A word I just made up to describe people pretending to be another known person – if there’s already such a word I’m sure someone will let me know.)
The latest barrage of bullshit came with the advent of A+. You’d think it was a harmless enough thing, and you’d be right; it’s a grouping of atheists who also want to be involved in issues of social justice. That’s it, that’s all. It’s not an attempt to crush everyone who refuses to assimilate, there are no secret tattoos or blood oaths required, there isn’t really anything at this point beyond the idea itself, some variations on a logo, a website for discussion and a nascent project or two (such as a crowdsourcing to closed-caption videos for the hard of hearing).
The big problem was that one of the first social ills addressed was feminism, mostly at the very basic level of pushing back against outright misogyny and sexism. It’s no surprise that this was one of the first issues to come up, because it’s been an increasingly obvious problem for the last couple of years, and Jen’s own experience of it was a large factor in inspiring her to do something positive to get away from all that, thus A+ was born.
And like shit after bunnies or supervillains after superheroes, the F- crowd sprang out from every cranny and nook and they reacted with a bewilderingly intense fury, using every hyperaggressive, low-down, mendacious, bullying tactic in the book.
They’ve accused the A+ people of being divisive, of trying to redefine atheism, of being misandrists, of bullying. It’s ironic in the extreme, especially that last part; I don’t see anyone in the A+ movement sockpuppetting as an opponent of A+ in order to pretend to talk about explicit sex acts, for example, or hurling page after page of unprovoked vile profanity at them, or even trying to get them fired from a job – all of those are things that the F- trolls have done. They say that people are trying to muzzle them through bullying, but so far I’ve seen only two voices shut down that way, Natalie Reed and now Jen McCreight.
There is a divisive force at work here, and they’ve succeeded in getting me to see the conflict as just that – not a misunderstanding, not a differing set of priorities, but a thing with two sides. That’s not the A+ people who did that, not atheism-plus, but the F- crew, fairness-minus. They’ve revealed themselves from the start to be people with attitudes I find foreign and unpleasant, but they’ve gotten worse rather than better; they are abhorrent to me and I’m going to abhor them. They divided the atheist community into these two sides, and I’m making my side plain here.
I’m A+; if you’re not, I’m fine with that. It matters not one whit.
If you’re F- though, you can just fuck right off away from me.