Puzzling Reactions to Skeptic Women

Some of the reactions to the recent statement by Skeptic Women remind us that not everyone in the atheist, skeptic, and/or secular communities is interested in "good faith" communication. Some would rather create and attack straw men than address differences of opinion.


  1. A group of women in the atheist, skeptic, and/or secular communities recently wrote a letter in which they indicated that they have felt safe and welcome in these communities. You can (and should) read it for yourself before proceeding.
  2. The reactions to this statement have been mixed. Several women have signed on in support of what was expressed. Other women and men expressed reasonable disagreement with some of the contents. And still other women and men demonstrated that they are either unable or unwilling to engage what the statement said, preferring instead to engage in irresponsible distortion to make it seem as if the statement's authors said things that are nowhere to be found in the letter.
  3. That's what you read, huh? I wonder where you read that. Neither the statement which you put in quotes nor the sentiment it communicates can be found in the letter. This means that if you read it, you must have read it from your own mind. It seems to me that this might tell us something about you but tells us nothing about the actual letter.
  4. Really? Writing this statement - a statement that in part explains how a group of women in our community have been silenced - is "like women who've never been raped writing about how awesome and safe and loved they feel." How so? How does someone saying that they have had a different experience have anything to do with rape? Are we really to assume that someone who has had a different life experience than you and chooses to express it is "sickening" in some way? You realize tThat makes you sound awfully intolerant, right?
  5. Which problem are we referring to here? Rape? Harassment? Where in the statement do the authors say that these things do not exist? How is saying, "I haven't had that experience" akin to saying, "Nobody has had that experience" or "That experience doesn't exist" - even remotely? I have not personally been a victim of sex trafficking. Does saying that mean I am claiming sex trafficking does not exist? How does this work?
  6. Indeed! What were you saying about a lack of empathy? It seems that the women who authored this letter are being accused of being some sort of rape apologists merely because they decided to explain that their experience in the atheist, skeptic, secular communities has been a bit different than the experience of some women. It isn't enough that they've long been called "chill girls," "gender traitors," and "sister punishers;" now they must be denying the existence of rape. So yes, maybe we should talk about empathy a bit more.